The Way Home!
Our friend, Steven Callahan, has written us that his book “Capsized” is now in a second printing. In Steve’s words, “‘Capsized’ chronicles four men’s 119-day drift aboard a flipped, half-flooded boat, spending most of their time crammed into the space of a double bed with 20” of headroom. To me, the book is many things – a story of redemption and discovery of what is important in life, the discovery of love; a tale of true friendship; and a yarn with a surprising amount of humor. It chronicles the longest survival voyage in cold waters of which I am aware. It demonstrates the ultimate safety of multihulled boats. At base, it focuses on how even very different people must learn to rely upon and support one another to survive and create a functional society, despite their weaknesses. It reveals how everyone possesses strengths and desirable qualities, but also how even strengths can become liabilities at times while at the same time, people’s weaknesses can emerge as strengths or things we actually need.”
Steven is perhaps most known to the public for his best-selling book Adrift, which chronicles his own seventy-six day ordeal at sea after losing his boat in a storm. Since then, he has been an active writer, speaker, designer, and adviser on nautical matters. Most recently, Steven worked with noted director Ang Lee in the production of the Oscar-winning film, Life of Pi.
We are delighted by this good news about the book “Capsized”. In our view, it is an excellent story, highly readable, and thoroughly suited for film. We urge those who are capable of making it happen, to do so. Although Nancy and I rarely make it to movie theaters, we enjoy watching movies on DVD, and we look forward to having “Capsized” on our television screen soon! In the meantime, we wish Steven and his wife, TZF’s long-time friend Kathy Massimini (co-author of “Talking with Children about Loss”), continued success and joy in this venture and in all their work, inner and outer.
For more about Steven Callahan, personally and professionally, please visit his website “Steven Callahan and Associates” at http://www.stevencallahan.net
Today, I locked TZF’s Open Forum. As we have aged, it seems to me the time has come to make a few changes. Shutting down Open Forum is one of those. However, there is a lot of good stuff there, some of which may be of interest to future TZF visitors. So, rather than remove the forum, I have decided simply to lock it down; that is, convert it to “read only” mode.
In the past few weeks, two long-time, good friends of The Zoo Fence have died. One is the writer of the article Fully Involved, and the other is author of Christ: Yes, Religion: No, as well as a frequent contributor to TZF’s Open Forum where he was known by the username W4TVQ, and to TZF’s Open Space — not to mention his contributions at other spiritual and theological forums across the internet.
In the words of another equally good friend of The Zoo Fence, their time has come, ours is coming.
TZF, and we personally, will miss both of these good friends. We wish them wisdom, strength, endurance, enthusiasm, and love, endless love, as they continue their onward journeys.
The shift was necessary because the group that provides the software for TZF’s Open Forum (phpBB.com) announced that future updates of their software would require a version of PHP which was not available on the server where TZF had been. That server had a PlusMail platform, which I had gotten quite used to over the years. Anyway, that is why we had to move to a different server. The new server has a cPanel platform, which I am now learning to use. So far, I like it.
While transferring Open Forum’s files between the two servers, I encountered a wrinkle generated by the fact that the servers had different versions of MySQL, the software which manages the board’s database. It got a little complicated (by which I mean, over my head), but eventually, with the help of a couple of internet support forums, I deciphered the problem, found a solution, and it worked! However, in that process, some Open Forum passwords were jumbled. So, if you find you are unable to log into Open Forum, write me, and I will fix it.
Thank you for your patience
During the next ten days or so, I will be moving all the files that comprise The Zoo Fence website from one server to another at our host OLM.net. To some extent, this activity will be in the background, invisible to the website’s visitors. But at some point, there will be a period during which TZF, including Open Forum, will be inaccessible. Browsers directed to TZF will yield an error message like “website not found”. It will be so only for a short time. I thank you all for your understanding and patience.
I am done. I have come to the end of The Zoo Fence. Since January 1996, when The Zoo Fence was first published in its original hard-copy form, I — and Nancy too (she is sometimes known on TZF as Anna) — have put into this website in one form or another everything I know about the spiritual process. Whatever I know, whatever I have to share, I have freely shared here.
I know that The Zoo Fence has been useful to some, for they have told me so. I am grateful for that. In the hope that it will continue to be of use to some others, The Zoo Fence will remain in place more or less indefinitely.
I will continue to post new items to Here’s A Thought and probably the Gazebo, and there are Theophyle cartoons in my head which I want to draw and eventually post. In addition, there are a couple of items in train which I will post in the next days or weeks. And there may be additional contributions from others to Open Space, which I will post. But that is likely to be the extent of it.
Forum will remain in place, and I will participate there irregularly
from time to time as I am doing now. However, The Sand Box feature will no
longer enjoy the protected status it has had. That is, The Sand Box will
be as open to view as is everything else on Open Forum, indeed as is everything
else on The Zoo Fence. Therefore, any Open Forum members who have contributed
material to The Sand Box which they would prefer not be publicly viewable,
should log in and delete those entries.
frequent visitors to The Zoo Fence are aware, the page Selections,
Sources & References provides source information for the many
selections and quotations and other stuff that appear scattered
here and there throughout the website. Originally, I had included on
that page, also known as que.html, source information
for prayers that appear in The
Quiet Room, but because the source page has now grown so large (as
the website itself has grown), I have moved the source information for
The Quiet Room material to a separate source page, called quepray.html. This
event will be of interest only to those who, like me, have an interest
This week's selection at TZF’s Here’s A Thought is from Bart Ehrman’s Lost Christianities, which I have been reading along with his Misquoting Jesus; both books are about the New Testament and particularly the Gospels. Their focus is not theology as such, but the evolution of early Christian and pre-Christian sects, the conflicts and controversies among and between them, and how that influenced the development of New Testament canon: who wrote the books, how many books were there to start with, why were some books included and others rejected, and so on, as well as detailed consideration of the additions, deletions, alterations, and errors in the texts, some significant, some minor, some intentional, some accidental.
These are scholarly books in the sense that Ehrman is a scholar, and his work is well researched with lots of end notes. But they are an easy read, and offer a fascinating look into the evolution of Christian scripture. I enthusiastically recommend them to all seekers.
As expected, other books have been written attacking Ehrman’s work and in “defense” of the New Testament. I have not read them, but I have read reviews of them, from which I gather that they are essentially apologetic (in the theological sense of the word, meaning that instead of addressing Ehrman’s points, they pretty much simply reassure the faithful that there is nothing to worry about).
For my part, I do not doubt for a moment that the canon we have today has gone through numerous manipulations along its way to us. Even among current spiritual groups whose teachers or gurus are still alive, Anna and I have seen manipulation of the leader’s and the group’s history, in one case even rewriting a living teacher’s autobiography to remove mention of events in his life which now seem inappropriate to a man of his presumed stature.
For me, none of Ehrman’s conclusions detract from the power of the Gospels. On the contrary, Ehrman’s books have made the Gospels more, not less, meaningful. In my mind now, they fit far more comfortably and sensibly with the scriptures of the world’s other great spiritual traditions.
I had hoped to post at TZF’s Ampers&and a
lengthy excerpt from Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities”. Unfortunately,
the publisher denied me copyright permission to do so.
is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day intended to celebrate
those who are serving and who have served in the nation’s armed forces,
particularly those who have lost their lives in that service. This year
I am moved to include TZF in that celebration by changing the website’s
home page to the Brother Theophyle cartoon on war. It will be so for only
today. Those of you who use the regular index.html page as your portal to
TZF need make no changes. Tomorrow we will be back to normal.
morning, I added to TZF’s My Space feature
a link to LibForAll
Foundation. I like the sounds of it a lot, and I recommend a visit.
I learned of the website by reading Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New
York Times about a recent
conference at Notre Dame University described as “an international
conference … on the latest scholarship about the Qur’an”.
It is a good column, and an interesting conference.
am delighted to report that we have received and granted a request from
a Vietnamese student at a university in Korea for copyright permission to
translate The Cranberry Tales into
Vietnamese for posting on his blog. From his messages to us, he seems an
enthusiastic fellow who is up to the considerable challenge he has undertaken
for himself. I will report his progress here as we learn of it, and again
when the task is completed. In the meantime, we wish him well in his effort
to teach the Vietnamese language to Pilikia, Cantachiaro, Tancredi, and
morning, I restored TZF’s regular home page. Barack Obama is now in office,
doing his thing, hopefully restoring some balance to this country (and the
world), and TZF can return to normal, whatever precisely that is. We continue
to wish him well. The special home page I posted last month (about which,
see the item immediately below this) is still at the site, but the only
link to it is this one.
From the beginning, I have purposely kept politics out of The Zoo Fence. The Google blog is the closest I have come to commenting publicly about politics, and even there I have written little and rarely. I ran a special home page after the events of September 11, 2001, because they seemed to me to call for notice. That page remained in place for about a month. Likewise, the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States is so immense an event from almost every imaginable angle and perspective that it demands attention. Accordingly, today I posted a special home page. It will remain in place for a while, by which I mean I don’t know just now how long I will leave it up. Once opened, the page displays for a few seconds, and then jumps to TZF’s familiar home page (which is temporarily renamed indexa.html).This automatic jump works in most browsers, but not all; so I’ve included a clickable link, too.
I just wanted to explain what and why I’m up
to — particularly for our long-time, frequent visitors.
As some of you will have noticed, The Zoo Fence website (zoofence.com and zoofence.org), including TZF’s Open Forum (and our email), was down and inaccessible much of yesterday and today. Our domain host, OLM, experienced technical problems which took longer than expected to resolve. I regret the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience. Unfortunately, computers, like lots of other stuff, do these kinds of things from time to time.
In the process of their work, the OLM technicians needed to restore TZF to their server using their backup files, which were made a couple of days ago. As it happens, during that interim, I had uploaded some new or revised files which were not reflected in OLM’s backup package. Fortunately, I keep copies of all TZF files, and so today I have been able to replace those few files (notably the new Theophyle cartoon) which OLM inadvertently lost.
Now, the affirmation “I keep copies of all TZF files” in the preceding paragraph does not include Open Forum material. What that means is that if any new Open Forum members signed on, or if any existing members worked on their profile (like, changed their password), or if anyone made any new posts in the last day or so, that information may have been lost, and, if so, will need to be redone.
I guess this event is just one more example of why God created the eraser!
Other than this cyber wrinkle, we are looking
forward to, and we expect, an exciting and uplifting new year ahead, and
we wish the very same for all our friends and visitors.
are some extraordinary photographs of the recent volcanic eruption in Chile
The first ten or so, of the accompanying electrical storm, are breathtaking.
frequent TZFers know, for some years TZF’s bookstore
pages have been “in association with Amazon.com”, meaning
that we are able to sell books, videos, and other stuff through Amazon.com
directly on The Zoo Fence, and Amazon pays us a small percentage for each
sale so transacted
… for which we are grateful, particularly to those TZFers who regularly
make the extra effort to purchase from Amazon through TZF! Now, Amazon has
initiated a new feature, called “aStore” (presumably for “Amazon
Store”, a play on eStore?), which seems to me to be essentially the
same service writ large. All the same, I have installed the page, and we’ll
see how it plays. To jump directly to this new feautre, please click
folks at phpBB.com who provide the software
that drives TZF’s Open Forum have issued an update
to it which I installed yesterday and this morning. Happily, it went without
incident. The instructions that accompany their update and upgrade packages
are normally clear and easy to follow. However, for me at least, the process
is a little scary because the scripting language of the software is PHP,
about which I am not as fluent as I am in straight HTML, for example. It
can get particulalry iffy where I need to insert or reinsert my own tweaks
to their scripts, which their updates sometimes undo, like the TZF logo
& “Open Forum”) on each page. Like the rest of life, it is
a learning process! As the kids say, we should be good to go now, but please
let me know if you encounter any unexpected difficulties or obstacles at
the author’s request, I have re-posted Fully Involved at
TZF’s Integral Health after having removed it
about a year ago, also at her request. The author is a long-time friend
of The Zoo Fence. The piece is the story of her son’s leukemia, and how
she and her husband dealt with the emotional, physical, and insitutional
rigors associated with the disease. Thus, it is a mother’s story, and compelling
as such, but it is all the more so because she happens to be a Registered
Nurse (RN), and therefore brings to the telling all the knowledge and experience
which that profession offers.
morning, I posted a new submission to TZF’s Open
Space. It is an article entitled The Awakening,
and is apparently also the first chapter of a book by the author. I do not
know any more about the author or the experience reported in the article
than appears on that page. However, I can say that it is a beautiful story
nicely told. I am glad to have it on TZF.
folks at phpBB.com have
issued a new version of the software that drives TZF’s Open
Forum. I am in the process of installing it now. I expect that it will
be up and ready to go tomorrow or the next day. I will post updates here.
Thanks for your patience.
Update December 19 morning: The new software is installed and, on first glance, it seems to be working fine. Accordingly, I expect to re-open the forum Thursday (tomorrow) or Friday.
Update December 19 evening: The new version of phpBB software appears to be performing correctly. It looks different, and it has some new features, but it seems okay, so I am opening it. All the usernames and threads appear to have transferred successfully. However, if you have any trouble logging in, or anything that does not seem to work properly, please let me know.
Also, please note that the internet address (URL) has changed. It is now http://www.zoofence.com/openforum
I have added a link at TZF’s home page to
a blog I started some time ago. Originally, I chose not to link it to
The Zoo Fence because the focus of TZF from the beginning has intentionally
been “spiritual” – that is, matters related to the spiritual
quest, path, and growth process – and the blog, except for a couple of
items – is not about that; it is more about “the world”. But
all the while, I have been fully aware that one cannot successfully separate
the two, as indeed is the underlying premise of what we call The
Simple Way. So, today I have overruled my earlier decision, and linked
the two together in fact as they always have been in substance.
regular visitors to TZF have observed, Open Forum has been inaccessible
for several months. The reason, as a few have guessed, has been the nearly
epidemic increase in spammers who “visit” the forum with no intention
other than to leave behind links to advertising sites and various other
unpleasant websites, or simply to use up server space for no reason other
than to complicate the lives of others. It seems pretty clear that TZF generally
nor Open Forum itself is being specifically targeted. Rather, these rascals
write computer programs which then search the internet for any forums using phpBB
software (as we do), and then there leave behind their footprints …
or worse. Mostly, it is just a nuisance, but it got to be a sufficiently
serious nuisance (a couple of days, there were hundreds of such “visits”),
that I decided to turn off the forum for a while. Eventually, I will turn
it back on, but I have not yet decided just when.
Zoo Fence, including Open Forum, will probably be inaccessible this coming
Friday, September 5, from about midnight to about four in the morning on
Saturday, September 6, while OLM,
our domain service provider, performs maintenance on their equipment. We
apologize to TZF visitors who may be inconvenienced by this interruption.
few days ago, we received a message from an artist named Mindy
Sommers introducing us to her work. This morning, I posted one of her
pieces, titled “Forgiveness” – which is part of a deck of tarot-like
cards she created – to TZF’s page “Forgive
You, Forgive Me” at http://www.zoofence.com/cons16.html.
To see the work, scroll past the article, toward the bottom of the page.
Once you have enjoyed that piece, I urge you to visit the artist’s
website at http://www.dreamincolortarot.com,
where you will find one of the most beautiful assortment of colors I have
ever seen on the internet. My compliments to the artist who mixed them,
but equally to whoever created the graphics from her artwork and designed
the website itself.
years, I posted on TZF’s Technical
Stuff page reports of virus and other alerts that we received from Symantec
or McAfee, or that I came across elsewhere. I stopped doing that because
there are just too many of them, and most people seem now to have anti-virus
software installed, and, perhaps most importantly, Symantec offers a free
alert service that updates itself automatically, which I have installed
on the Technical Stuff page. To see it, please click
here. I will continue to use that page to alert or inform TZFers of
other tech stuff that may be of special interest.
Monday, May 30, from about 12:00 AM to about 5:00 AM Central Daylight Time
which is 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM Coordinated Universal Time (also called Universal
Coordinated Time, Universal Time, and Greenwhich Mean Time), all of the
features on The Zoo Fence website, including Open Forum, will be inaccessible
while our hosting service performs maintenance on their servers and related
equipment. We regret this inconvenience, and thank you for your understanding
I instituted a new feature on The Zoo Fence called “Miscellanea”
to which I moved three items of mine that had been at TZF’s Open
Space. They never really belonged there, because Open Space is specifically
intended for the work or contributions of TZF’s visitors. The problem
was, I didn’t know where else to put them, so that’s where they
ended up. Now they have a place. Miscellanea,
as the name is intended to suggest, is where I’ll put anything that
doesn’t seem to fit exactly anywhere else on TZF.
we altered TZF’s sub-title from “A Commentary on The Spiritual
Life” to “A Commentary on Life & Living”. The former
still appears on some of the site’s graphics, and will do so until
I get around to effecting all the changes; but at TZF’s two home pages
(index and index3), where
visitors are first introduced to us, the new sub-title is in place. We took
this action because the distinction “spiritual” in the expression “a
spiritual life” no longer seems to us to be appropriate. That is, the
phrase “a spiritual life”
suggests that there is such a thing as a life that is not spiritual, a non-spiritual
life, and increasingly that does not make sense. As we explain at The
Simple Way, if God is Infinite, then the entirety is Godly … or spiritual.
And if that’s the case, then “a spiritual life” is a redundancy.
At the same time, I moved the lines “Silence your thoughts …” from
index.html to consdr13.html, where is The Simple Way (scroll
down the page, just below the painting of the lion). For now, it seems more
have revised TZF’s Definitions pages.
The new set of pages is arranged alphabetically, so that the first
page contains words that begin with the letters A, B, or C, the second
page has words that begin with the letters D, E, or F, and so on. The definitions
index page remains the same, except instead of a single (very long)
column of words, there are now two (fairly long) columns. Those of you who
are familiar with HTML will understand that this process required editing
a LOT of hyperlinks across the entire website. I am (reasonably) confident
I got them all, and that wherever a word on the site is hyperlinked to its
definition on the definitions pages, the link works. Again, reasonably confident.
If you should discover such a link that does not work properly, please tell
me (write to us at “zoofence AT gmail DOT com–
but don’t forget to change the letters “DOT” to a dot or
period and “AT” to @). Thanks.
we have been receiving so much spam, sometimes as many as fifty spam messages
a day, that I have reluctantly decided to take some action that may stem
the tide. It is my understanding that spammers send robots across the internet
harvesting anything they find that has the symbol @ in it, which they take
to be an email address and then send spam messages to it. The obvious solution
is to remove our email address from the site. However, I do not want to
do that because many visitors seem to enjoy writing us, and we certainly
enjoy hearing from you. Therefore, today I am trying an alternative, which
I hope will help. Wherever it appears on this site, I have altered our email
address to a format which I hope the robots will not be able to use, as in the entry immediately above this one. I know that this change will
inconvenience (and undoubtedly confuse) some TZF visitors, and I apologize
for that; but I hope you will understand the need for it.
visitor to TZF has just published a new book about spirituality and celibacy
(about which please see here) in which
she has reproduced our own article, Do We Have To
Give Up Sex?. Curiously (or perhaps not), that article has drawn as
much attention as anything else on TZF (among the other most remarked upon
items are The Quiet Room, Anna’s
Page, the article about forgiveness, Bo Lozoff’s
piece at Ampers&nd, and our definitions pages,
where particularly namaste, ahimsa, religion,
and seeker). Frequent visitors may remember
that a little over a year ago, the TAT Forum, which is dedicated to the
teaching of Richard Rose, reproduced the same
article on their site, at http://www.tatfoundation.org/forum2003-01.htm (towards
the bottom of that page).
morning, I inadvertently deleted an incoming email message sent to our link
exchange address suggesting a link exchange. The message started out by
referring to TZF as a “content rich site” (for which observation
we are very grateful!). I apologize to whoever sent that message, and if
you are reading this item, please resend the message. This is the second
or third time that we know of when we have inadvertently deleted
“real” messages. Clearly, the spam/scam/virus/worm epidemic has
made us counterproductively cautious. We are going to have to do some re-thinking.
at index.html I replaced “The very One” with
“Your very Self”. For those interested, the history here is: When
those seven lines first came to me, many years ago, the sixth line was “Your
very Self”. Then, when we added the septet to the front door of The
Zoo Fence, the general consensus here was that we should replace that line
with “The very One” which seemed to us more likely to be compatible
with the many paths and various traditions TZF
visitors travel. Now, we are moved to restore the original, and so I have
done so. I hope that’s okay with everyone here!
Wertman has written us about a new CD of spiritually uplifting music that
he has published. It is called “May The Spirit Be With You”. On
his site at http://www.songsofpeace.homestead.com,
there is a link to several song clips which we enjoyed, and I am sure others
Page has been restored. I apologize for any inconvenience its absence
may have caused, and I thank you for your patience.
am working on Anna’s Page, and so for the
next few days her stuff will not be accessible. I apologize for the inconvenience.
we received a message from a TZF visitor who has set up a site to collect
stories and reports of miracles and other nice news. It’s a happy venture,
and we wish it well. The URL is http://www.tobeablessing.com.
have decided to close down TZF’s Open Forum. There are numerous serious,
mature “spiritual” forums on the internet, more nearly every day,
including many that are dedicated to some of the specific topics that have
been addressed on Open Forum. Thus, it seems to me that our forum does not
fill a real need. To help bridge whatever gap this decision may create for
other TZFers, I have added a “Groups & Forums” category to
TZF’s Links page where I will list some that
come to our attention. The Zoo Fence itself will remain unchanged. I thank
all of you who have participated at Open Forum, and, as always, wish you
bountiful success and joy along your own continuing inner journey.
This item just goes on and on … I originally posted the second paragraph below (which begins “The story continues” – if you have not yet read it, you may wish to do so before continuing) on August 20. Now, October 4, I have received a message from TZF’s cherished friend, Wayne Manning of Unity Auburn, who stumbled across the same attribution error way back in 1995. He writes me that someone had given a colleague of his “a framed copy of the quote, attributed to Mandela. It was taken from the very reputable and usually reliable UTNE magazine. Still, it just didn’t ring quite true, so I did an exhaustive search on his inaugural speeches (there were four, as I recall, in different cities, with no two exactly alike) and the quote appeared in none of them. We then contacted UTNE who, as I remember, printed a small retraction on page umpty-ump in a subsequent edition. Marianne has since made numerous public statements owning the quote, in print and verbally, but the ‘folk myth’ continues”.
The story continues …
On October 28, 2000, I posted to TZF’s “Here’s
A Thought” a few lines that I
came across on a website dedicated to Nelson Mandela. There, they had been
cited as being from his 1994 inaugural
speech, and so I attributed them accordingly. Then, in June, 2001, a
TZF visitor wrote to inform us that although the lines in question were
spoken by Mandela, they originally appeared in Marianne
Williamson’s book, A
Return to Love, which was first published in 1992, two years before
Mandela was said to have spoken the words. Thus, I concluded that Mandela
was quoting Williamson, and I changed the attribution accordingly. Now,
today, I have received a message from another TZF visitor correcting me
once again by informing me that those lines never were spoken by Nelson
Mandela! And, in fact, a search of the speech itself at the African National
site, confirms that. This visitor writes, “A search of all of Mandela’s
archived speeches at the ANC site does not find the quotation, either. I’ve
been searching elsewhere, too, but have found no solid evidence that these
words ever crossed his lips. I have come across a couple of people who inquired
directly to the ANC, and were told that he never spoke them”. I am
very grateful to this second visitor for re-setting us straight! For me
personally, the lesson of this episode is to check carefully before attributing
words to anyone! I apologize for this confusion. On the other hand, had
I caught the error back in October 2000 before posting the lines, I would
not have enjoyed the exchange of email messages with the two TZF visitors
which the error generated, and that would have been a loss.
again, we extend our heartfelt thanks to those of you who use TZF’s Bookstore page
as your access to Amazon.com.
As you may know, we receive a small commission from Amazon on all purchases
(books or anything else Amazon sells) made by TZF visitors who go to Amazon’s
site from our bookstore. What
you may not know is how much we appreciate it. Of course, we have no way
of knowing who you are (Amazon reports only the sales & commissions
to us, not who made them), but whoever you are, we know you are generous
and thoughtful, and we thank you for that, very much!
June, I added the feature “Eco-Consciousness”
to The Zoo Fence. The page is coming along nicely, if it is still working
on its personality. Today, I added an “eco-links”
page to it, providing links to other sites whose focus also is on the planet,
its inhabitants, environment, prognosis, and so on, broadly defined.
long-time friend Art Hale has written a new book, “Christ, Yes: Religion,
No”. In it, Art makes a nice distinction between Jesus as a “preeminent
teacher, way-shower and spiritual guide” and “the sectarian chauvinism
of the 30,000-plus Christian denominations”. This issue is not unique
to Christianity, of course, and the book will be of interest to a seeker
on any path. For more, please visit http://www.iuniverse.com where
the book is available online or in hard copy.
TZFer wrote us about this NASA site - http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html.
Check it out for some eye-popping graphics … like “Saturn
at night”. Wow! Thanks for sharing the URL.
check out this
site suggested to us by TZF’s ISP
Administrator. It’s a view of the planet at night from space …
pitch black except for electric lights! What a view. To get the full affect,
some evening after dark, browse to it with MS Internet Explorer, then press
F11 (Full Screen). Then, turn off your room lights. I’ve put a link
to it on TZF’s Thisenthat page,
recently came across a wonderfully powerful poem by Maya Angelou written
in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. It is “A
Brave and Startling Truth”. I had hoped to post it at TZF’s Ampers&nd,
but unfortunately we have been denied copyright permission to do so. Still,
I heartily recommend your reading it at any of the numerous sites across
the web where it does appear (here is one
Yesterday morning, as I was putting together the “Here’s A Thought” item for
the week, I was suddenly, unexpectedly, and irresistibly moved from within
to retire the candle that had been at TZF’s front
door since September 11, and restore the site’s original first
page. So, I did. Thus, I made the change for no logical, topical, or
rational reason, but just because somehow it was clear to me that it was
time to do it. In the weeks since the candle has been in place, a number
of TZFers have commented on it, and I thought you’d like to know why it has
I posted to TZF’s Integral Health a
piece written by
a good friend of The Zoo Fence, whose son, and therefore whose family, has
been dealing with leukemia in all its ramifications since 1986. Theirs is
a moving story, but it is also a powerful reminder to us all that we err
grievously when, in illness, we look to our doctors, nurses, and other technicians
to do it all for us. That is, just as we need their help, so too do they
need ours, and in this mother’s words, the best way we can help is to
become fully involved. We extend our thanks to her and her family for
sharing this part of their life
with The Zoo Fence, and we wish them joy and peace and health.
Today I posted to TZF’s EcoConsciousness page
a poem called “The Power of Toads”. The poet is Pattiann Rogers,
whom I first heard of a few weeks ago while listening to a radio program
on which she was featured. Other than her publisher’s website (Milkweed Editions
at http://www.milkweed.org), the only
site I could find dedicated to her work is http://www.mindspring.com/~pattiann_rogers/.
I don’t know whether that’s her own page or a tribute posted by a fan. In
any case, I really like the work. It is clean and clear and refreshing. I
am delighted to have “The Power of Toads” on The Zoo Fence.
TZF’s in the Big Apple … virtually. Some days ago, we received an email
message from Beth Vishnevsky, a columnist for the Greenwich Village Gazette. She asked about
reproducing Bo Lozoff’s “Simple Living, Simple Joy” which we
have at TZF’s Ampers&nd. Well,
we’re pleased to report that (1) Beth quotes Bo’s article in her column this
week and (2) she mentions The Zoo Fence as the site where she first came
across it. Back in prehistoric times, one of our favorite television programs,
set in New York City, used to open (or was it close?) with the line, “there
are ten million stories in the naked city”. Well, if so, TZF’s now a
small part of one of them!
A few days ago, we watched an excellent PBS television program produced by
Bill Moyers about the environment, called Earth
on Edge. I heartily recommend it. The planet’s health, and what we are
doing about it, is frequently in the news, but too often more argumentatively
than informatively. For obvious reasons, the subject generates a lot of noise
on both sides – accusations, denials, defenses, and so on. This treatment
by Moyers seems to me to avoid posturing. It is, simply, about what it’s
about, and it is more than just a little scary. Afterward, talking about
it amongst ourselves, we decided to add to TZF a new page called Eco-Consciousness. We’re
not sure what form it will take, but for now it’s there, and we’ll see what’s
Yesterday, on public radio (PRI), there was a program about the relationship
between sacred music and sacred spaces. A fellow being interviewed mentioned
visiting somewhere in South America where he heard pygmies performing their
sacred music outside, in the rain forest. To that, the interviewer opined, “I
guess pygmies don’t have sacred spaces”. I presume she was referring
to cathedrals, temples, and the like. Nonetheless, the fellow responded,
“Oh, yes, they do. The rain forest is their sacred space. They consider
it sacred because God created it”. Very nice.
Today, I moved the
“flags over TZF” feature to its own page. Regular visitors
will remember that initially I had been posting those here; but this page
began to get a little crowded. I love posting new flags to that feature,
so I am very grateful to visitors who sign in at TZF’s Guest Register, and
let us know what country they’re coming from.
As discussed on this page, this morning I removed TZF’s Frequent Visitor’s
page. As I explained, the combination of faster computer processors, video
cards, and internet connections seems to have pretty much rendered the graphics-free
access page obsolete.
Today, we visited a Unitarian-Universalist
Church in Ellsworth, Maine. At the front of the meeting
room, next to the podium, on a low bookshelf, there is a set of books that
sets the tone of the space very nicely. Among the titles are: The Origin
of The Species (Charles Darwin); Science and Religion; The Philosophy of
Humanism; A Chosen Faith; World Bible; Holy Bible; The Qur’an; The Tanakh;
Apocrypha & New Testament; Black Elk Speaks; Native American Wisdom;
Lost Goodness of Early Greece; The African Religions; Dhammapada; Rig Veda;
Lao Tzu; Confucianism.
TZF has just learned that last month Jack Schwarz of Aletheia died
at his home in California. Along our spiritual path, there have been a half
dozen or so things (people, books, encounters) about which Anna and I rightly
say: “This changed everything”. Jack Schwarz is among those sacred
few, and we are very grateful. We will miss him. We wish him love and peace
This morning, I posted in The Quiet Room a prayer
attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (sixteenth century founder of the Jesuits).
I took the prayer from the book, Martyrs
& Miracles. Now, here’s the thing. In the book, the seventh line
reads “that you dispose of me”. That doesn’t seem to me to make
sense; and I wonder if the publisher didn’t leave out a word, so that it
would read something like “that you may dispose of me”. That is,
in effect, “I surrender myself to You, that You may do with me as You
see fit”. Anyway, I searched the web for the prayer, to determine if
there is a word missing here, and could not find it. So, with apologies to
St. Ignatius and Carolyn Trickey-Bapty (the book’s author), I took the initiative,
and added the word “may”. So far, no lightning or thunder. If any
TZFer can help here, I would be extremely grateful (send email to editor(at)zoofence.com).
A longtime friend of TZF called yesterday to
say that one of her computers had been infected by a Trojan horse, a particularly
destructive form of computer virus. Fortunately, she subscribes to a virus
protection program, and so was spared what could have developed into a very
unhappy experience. All of which should remind us all that some very nasty
viruses are out there, and they can infect even the nicest sorts of people.
So, please, (1) protect yourself with an anti-virus program like Norton’s or McAfee’s,
(2) update it at least weekly, and (3) do not open or click on or in any
other way activate attachments to e-mail messages unless you are ABSOLUTELY
certain they are clean.
There is a web service which, from time to time, graciously alerts us to
links on The Zoo Fence that do not work, usually because the site to which
they point either no longer exists or has moved. Dead links are a real source
of frustration for surfers, and, with as many onward links as there are on
The Zoo Fence, it is difficult for us to ensure they are all always current.
So, I very much appreciate the notices this service sends us. Evidently,
they have developed a robot that wanders around the web looking for, and
alerting webmasters to, what they call “link rot”. They call themselves “Seven
Twentyfour”, and their motto is “always watching the web”.
If you own a large website with a lot of onward links, particularly a commercial
site where your visitors are your customers whom you would like to keep happy,
I urge you to visit this site, and consider their service. The URL is http://www.seventwentyfour.com/
Here’s another site passed along by our ISP Administrator – The URL is http://www.shibumi.org/eoti.htm.
When you’re done there, back into the site’s other pages (delete the “eoti.htm” in
your browser’s address space, and press your keyboard’s Enter key). Whoever
Dan Hughes is, he has a sense of humor.
A couple of evenings ago, we rented the movie “The
Devil’s Advocate” with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. While this is
most certainly not for the entire family (which is why I am not putting it
on TZF’s “Books & Videos”
page), and it is not a film I would want to watch just before retiring for
the night, there are nonetheless a lot of very powerful ideas here, particularly
for a seeker reaching to understand the nature of temptation, and how we
so often get ourselves into trouble with the very best of intentions. A warning:
There are a few demons, some disturbing scenes, and even a little blood & gore,
so you may want to stand ready at the Mute and Fast Forward buttons. But
if you are an Al Pacino fan, as I am, you’ll love him here.
We saw Franco Zeffirelli’s movie “Brother
Sun, Sister Moon” about the young adult years of Francis of Assisi. It is
nice, even sometimes very nice, but also a disappointment. Francis was undoubtedly
a powerful and inspiring seeker, and while some of that comes across, here
he seems a little too wimpy. And I believe there are some historical inaccuracies,
as well. Properly told, the story of Francis, his conversion, his journeys,
his relationship with Clare, the founding and development of the Franciscans
and the Poor Clares, would make a wonderful movie. But this isn’t it. Still,
it’s worth seeing.
We saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie “Little Buddha”
about a Tibetan Buddhist monk looking for the reincarnation of his teacher
in an American boy. That story is accompanied by a beautiful and inspiring
retelling of the life and teaching of the historical Buddha.
It’s a beautiful story, well told. We loved it. [PS Tomorrow, the 29th, is “Leap
Year”, another Y2K hurdle for our computers. We’ll see.]
My in-laws visited this weekend, and in discussion offered this bit of ancient
wisdom: “A person persuaded against his or her will is a person of the
same opinion still.” As seekers, we do well to learn
that lesson, and to remember, just as we do not like being pushed, we should
not push others, however much we may be convinced that it’s “for their
own good”. Remember, too, that whatever we have learned along the path,
whatever we have Remembered, isn’t actually ours anyway!
Wandering the web this morning, I came across a site called “The Watchful
Shepherd” at http://www.watchful.org/. It breaks my
heart to consider that such a site is necessary! … but I am grateful to
those who manage it.
We just rented and watched the movie “Meet Joe Black” starring
Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, and others. It is wonderful! The script, direction,
acting, editing … all of it is flawless. I urge you to find it at a video
store, and then set aside an evening to be enchanted, entertained, and taught!
“Markings” by Dag Hammarskjold: Do not look
back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you
back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward --
your destiny – are here and now.
I was in South Africa yesterday (Is the internet great, or what!) visiting
a TZF visitor’s website, and there I found this magnificent
dancing fool! I gratefully reproduce it here with its creator’s permission.
As graphics software programs grow in size, complexity, and price (and, yes,
capability), it’s nice to be reminded how much can be accomplished with just
a few keyboard strokes (and a great imagination). Thanks, Peter!
“Discourses of Rumi”
by A. J. Arberry, Jesus, upon whom be peace, was asked,
‘Spirit of God, what is the greatest and most difficult thing in this world
and the next?’ He replied, ‘The wrath of God.’ They asked, ‘And what shall
save a man from that?’ He answered, ‘That you master your own wrath, and
suppress your rage.’
On the advice of a good friend of TZF, I purchased
from Amazon.com, and have just received, a translation
of the Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. It
includes excellent commentary and notes. Already I like it a lot. On first
handling, I was surprised to find the book opens from left to right. Of
course, I assumed an error at the bindery! I even queried Amazon about it.
They reminded me the volume includes the original Arabic, which, like Hebrew
and unlike English and some other languages, is written from right to left.
That explained the layout. But now, I find I am discomforted by having to
turn the pages “the wrong way.” How many such habits and predilections
do we have that we are not even aware of, and how much do they interfere
with our accepting “what is” the way it is!
A good friend of TZF recently sent us several excellent books by Timothy Freke, a British (I think) writer and seeker. Among them is “The Hermetica - The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs.” A set of religious and philosophical teachings, the Hermetica is attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth, which name was translated into Greek as Hermes or Hermes Trismegistus. Hermeticism has been an important influence in the development of Western thought. Consider these few lines describing Atum, an ancient Egyptian name for the One:
It’s all right there, in two short paragraphs.
Notice he writes that “any individual can reach this supreme actionless
state.” Any individual. All that’s
wanted is our sincere aspiration. With that, the rest will follow.
A recent TZF visitor left an invitation in our Guest Book to visit their website,
which is dedicated to Vivekananda, and am
I glad they did! Among its very nice features is a
“Childrens” page, where I found this wonderful anecdote contributed
by “Daksha Patel, London” [I have edited it slightly]:
I have been reading from “Women Saints, East and West” (Vedanta
Press), and it is a very nice book indeed, not only for its content but
also for its reminder that not all Teachers are
From “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (Ballantine), page 340 -
Speaking of his experience during a pilgrimage (Hajj) to the Ka’ba in Mecca
with Muslims of all races and colors, “We were truly all the same (brothers)
- because their belief in one God had removed the ‘white’ from their minds,
the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.
… I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept
the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the
Oneness of Man.”
From the book “Vivekananda, The Yogas and Other Works” -
This morning, looking through an old journal, I came across this lesson
by Farid-ud-Din Attar, a Persian Sufi poet, copied from the book “The
Message in Our Time” by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan —
There is a family of red foxes that lives
in the woods nearby. Last evening, our neighbor saw one of the kits calmly
trotting into her barn. This morning, she found the fox in an empty horse
stall, curled up against one wall, as if asleep. But the fox was not asleep;
the fox was dead. There is a wound on one leg that may have been the cause
of death. The warden reports it is not unusual for foxes to select a barn
as a place to die.
Those who knew TZF in hard copy may remember the
“The Seven Giant Steps” we lifted from J. Vaughn Boone’s book, “De
Riva - The Magic Formula”. Today, I posted it on the site, on the first letters page. We shared a podium
with Vaughn many years ago, and loved him instantly. He is a wonderful fellow,
who sheds healing and light everywhere he goes, on whomever he encounters.
Wherever he might be now, we wish him well.
The world will miss King Hussein of Jordan. Inextricably
caught between all sides in the endless ‘Arab-Israeli Conflict,’ King Hussein
was a bright light, preaching sanity, practicing good sense, and reaching
for resolution. He was a direct descendant of the Prophet, and it showed.
In the words of Muhammad, ”Do you love your Creator?
Love your fellow beings first.”
We just saw the movie “City of Angels.” If you want to understand why you are in the flesh, why each of us has chosen a separate and separative, incarnated identity, with all their ups and downs, please see this movie.
I have come across a site that offers several excellent essays
on “Centering Prayer” – what it is, how to do it, suggested book
titles, some references. On the use of a “Sacred Word” to help
in centering and focusing, consider this observation: Sometimes
you will need the sacred word only a few times, and other sessions you will
need to use it a thousand times. Remember that whenever you use it, you
are saying to God “I want to be with you, and I consent to You being
with me and changing me in any way that You want to.” So don’t be discouraged
during the times you need to use it frequently - that is just so many more
times you say YES to God!
I have just been to a website called
“Mysticism in World Religions” at http://www.digiserve.com/mystic/.
If you have not been there, I urge a visit. You will find a wealth of quotations
from the world’s great mystics. There is a very nice page called “Comparison
of Mysticism in World Religions” where the treatment of various
subjects (like ego, desire, humility, grace) by different religions is compared.
We recently saw the movie
“Kundun.” Directed by Martin Scorsese, this is the story of the
current Dalai Lama, from early childhood to his escape out of Tibet into
India. It is wonderful!
A good friend of TZF suggested we read The Cosmic Serpent - DNA & The Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby, and we’re glad she did. Narby is an anthropologist who, while doing research in Peru’s Amazon jungle, discovered what he interprets to be a link between what western scientists know about the nature of DNA and what Amazonian shamans know about everything. Specifically, he suggests that the serpent mythologies present in virtually all cultures, are really about the double helix we know as DNA. Narby’s findings and his conclusions, not to mention his experiences under the influence of a local hallucinogenic plant, make for interesting reading.
In one of the episodes of the PBS television program “A Science Odyssey
with Charles Osgood,” there is a wonderful comment by Robert Kirshner,
astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics, that, although he is talking
about his own work as a scientist, is almost a perfect description of a
seeker’s path, making once again the point that those at the farthest limits
of science and religion are reaching for the very same thing.
Rented the movie “Michael”, about a mission on earth by the Archangel
Michael. We liked it so much we watched it twice! John Travolta plays the
title role, and he performs it flawlessly. I have heard that some folks
dislike the film because of the way it depicts the lead character. I can
understand their discomfort, for it puts into question many of the assumptions
all of us have about angels. For example, in this movie, Michael has a sweet
tooth gone berserk (”You can’t eat too much sugar,”
he tells us), he smokes cigarettes, he eats sloppily, he sleeps standing
up and he snores, he evidently enjoys sex, his wings are soiled, he can
be a little crude, and he loves to do battle (he even picks a fight with
a bull in a pasture!). But, through it all, Michael is thoroughly, delightfully,
consistently, and unquestionably angelic.There is never any doubt that he
is a Divine Creature.
From Adonais by Percy Blysshe Shelley,
”Love is presupposing love; to have love is to presuppose love in others; to be loving is to presuppose that others are loving.” W.H. Auden in “The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard.” Thus, one might say that he or she is wise, and believe, rightly or wrongly, that others are unwise. But one cannot believe that he or she is loving and that others are not, for to be truly loving is to recognize love in all.
”What is demanded of man is not,
as some existential philosophies teach, to endure the meaninglessness of
life; but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness
in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic.” Viktor
E. Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The mind cannot understand
the meaning of life, of one’s life, because the mind is part of or an aspect
of that life. Just as a flashlight can cast light on anything in the universe
except itself! For that, one has to go beyond the instrument, to what precedes
If you came here from TZF’s
”A vessel that grows as it is filled will never be full. The soul is like that: The more it wants, the more is it given; the more it receives, the more it grows.” From “Meister Eckhart” by Raymond Blakely (page 233, Harper).
Discover magazine (5/97) article about Richard Zare at Stanford, talks of Alfred North Whitehead (English philosopher & mathematician, 1861-1947) as having defined Unitarianism as “the belief that there is at most one God.” What an extraordinary way to put it! It is almost impossible to read it without considering it.
”God speaks in metaphors to men.” Qur’an, 24:37 (trans. N. J. Dawood, Penquin) Notice there are no qualifiers, no “usually,” “sometimes,” “mostly.” Just, God speaks in metaphors. Thus, this is offered as the answer to the question everyone of us asks from time to time: How does God speak to mankind? And the answer is, In metaphors. Of course, it must be true. After all, clearly God cannot speak other than the Truth, and the Truth cannot be spoken (cf. Lao Tzu among numberless others). (Who said, “I never spoke the Truth in all my life”?) So, if what you and I each call “my life” (the world, reality) is ultimately the One being that (What else can it be, the One being Infinite, and there being no thing else but the One?), then our lives too must be metaphors. Consider that.
From “The Sufis” by Idries Shah (page 396, Doubleday/Anchor,
available on our Bookstore page):
On EWTN (Global Catholic Television Network), a program covering the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris, an American cleric (I think he said he was from New York) reports that on the day (presumably many years ago) he became a bishop, he encountered Mother Teresa outside St. Peter’s church in Rome. Although he recognized her, Mother Teresa would not have known him, he said. Anyway, she approached him, and said, simply, gently, “Give God permission.” Nothing more, just “Give God permission.” What an idea. An infinite, omnipotent divinity, the creator of everything, the creator that is everything everywhere always, the creator that is us … needs our permission! Think about that.
On a Public Broadcasting System television program “Michelangelo, Restored” about the restoration of the frescoes in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, the artist is quoted as having said or written, “If life was found to be agreeable, then so should death, for it comes from the hand of the same Creator.” As I recall, they said this was a response by Michelangelo to someone who was worried about death. I tried to find the item on PBS’s web site, to be sure I have the quotation right, and for the citation, but was unsuccessful. Any TZF visitors know? Anyway, Michelangelo’s absolutely right. If God created death, then what’s to fear? Why don’t we know that?
From Malcolm Muggeridge’s book “Jesus Rediscovered” (page 70, Doubleday), quoting Hugh Kingsmill: “What is divine in Man is elusive and impalpable, and he is easily tempted to embody it in a collective form – a church, a country, a social system, a leader – so that he may realize it with less effort and serve it with more profit. Yet the attempt to externalise the kingdom of heaven in a temporal shape must end in disaster. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions, nor established by arms. Those who set out for it alone will reach it together, and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves.” Wow!
PBS’s NewsHour (7/9/98), a “Dialogue on Race” chaired by Jim Lehrer, with President Clinton and others, discussing racism in the US. Recalls to mind Rodney King’s haunting question, “Can’t we all get along?” What’s a seeker’s perspective on this issue? Can we all “get along” in any meaningful (that is, fundamentally peace-full) way as long as we consider ourselves to be different, separate, apart? If each of us starts from the presumption that “I am me, and you aren’t,” then our relationships, however well intentioned we may be, will always start from confrontation, and will always be informed by it. Each of us will constantly be defending our limits and observing the other’s! (What a waste, not to mention misuse, of energy! No wonder we’re all so tired all the time!) Even a “group hug” cannot erase that fundamental sense of separation. So, as long as you and I each think of ourselves as being white-not-black or black-not-white, Catholic-not-Protestant, straight-not-gay, Arab-not-Israeli, even male-not-female, or whatever-not-whatever else, we will never be able truly to erase the arbitrary, artificial boundary we place between us because as fast as we erase it with one side of our brain, we will be redrawing it with the other – like Emmett Kelly’s clown act, trying to sweep away the light beam! So, the answer to racism, or any other form of ’ism, is not some form of “being nice” but the discovery of our True Nature, remembering who we are in Truth. That alone can erase all of the boundaries, definitions, and fortifications each of us has erected around ourselves, and they will disappear not because erasing them is “the right thing to do” but because there simply won’t be any. Thus, ultimately, True Peace requires no effort! Find out “Who Am I?” – even just seek to find out “Who Am I?” – and racism will dissolve and disappear on its own. How can a true seeker discriminate against another when she or he knows the other to be himself or herself?
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