These pages offer definitions to help visitors to this site understand what we think we are saying. They are not exactly dictionary or encyclopedia definitions, although some of it will be drawn from those sources, but rather explanations of what we mean by certain words. There are many more of these definitions pages of them on the full website at http://www.zoofence.com
A Course in Miracles (ACIM): Since its publication in 1967, this set of three books (now available in a single binding, as well as on audio tape and CD) has attracted much attention, and generated a variety of spin-off books, products, and hoopla. Undertaken in earnest, with discipline, patience, humility, and aspiration, it is what its title suggests. A search of the title at google.com or any of the other search engines, yields a wealth of responses. Please see the ACIM item here.
ADVAITA: A Sanskrit word meaning “nonduality”, advaita is that state or reality which cannot be known by the separate or separative ego (“I am me, and you are not me”) precisely because the separative ego lives in, depends upon, is a function of, a dual reality (“I am me, you are you, God is God”). In advaita there is no “you and me”, there is only one, the One. Just so, Advaita-Vedanta, one of the three chief branches of Hinduism, teaches that manifest creation (“the world”), the individual soul, and God are identical, one and the same one.
AHIMSA: From a Sanksrit word meaning “without injury, or non-harming”, ahimsa describes the principle and practice of non-injury to any living beings, whether by action, word, or thought. For many, it is the basis of vegetarianism. Consider this: Human beings arbitrarily separate the physical world into three distinct kingdoms animal, plant, and mineral, by drawing lines across the face of reality based upon parameters which we define. Then, we decide which inhabitants of those kingdoms are alive and which are not, and which among those which we consider to be alive, are more alive than others. So, for example, human beings conclude that lava is not alive, and cows are more alive than carrots. Naturally, we label ourselves as the most alive (most advanced) of all. As we see it in TZF, there is only one kingdom, the One, and it is entirely, absolutely, indivisibly, and thoroughly alive, for it is Life Itself, and all the lines, separations, definitions, labels, and distinctions which human beings place upon the One are false, illusory, and misleading. For us, ahimsa means living a life which seeks to understand, to apply, and to Real-ize That Truth. So, we consider what we eat to be less important than why we eat, or than what we think about what we eat. We believe that to look upon a thing as separate and distinct from, not to mention less than, ourselves, does both it and ourselves harm and injury, whether the thing be a ledge of rock, a leaf of lettuce, or a leg of lamb.
ASHRAM: This is a Sanskrit word indicating a spiritual community or any place where seekers meet, presumably for instruction, under the authority or auspices of a guru or Teacher.
AVATAR: From the Sanskrit for “passing down” or “passing over,” an avatar (sometimes avatara) describes the descent to earth of a deity, or of the Deity, in material, usually humanly, form. Thus, a Teacher so labeled is believed to be a direct and conscious incarnation of the Divine, born without any karmic baggage, come to earth for a specific purpose, such as to establish a new spiritual path or way.
BISMILLAH: In Islam, and perhaps particularly among Sufis, this word, which is Arabic for “In the Name of Allah”, is expressed as a prayer or a benediction before many activities.
BODHISATTVA: From two Sanskrit words meaning “ wisdom or enlightenment” and “being”, bodhisattva is a term applied in Buddhism to a seeker who reaches for enlightenment not only for himself or herself but also, and perhaps especially, for all “sentient” beings. Specifically, a boddhisattva elects not to enter into nirvana until all beings do so; in effect, to remain “behind” to guide and teach the rest of us toward enlightenment. Thus, a bodhisattva’s spiritual search is said to be motivated solely by compassion and love.
BUDDHA: A Sanskrit word meaning “awakened,” buddha describes a person who has attained full Enlightenment, and who therefore has transcended, and is released from, the cycle of birth-and-death that marks human existence. At TZF, buddha is synonymous with Teacher. When capitalized, as Buddha, the word usually refers to Siddartha Gautama (c. 566 c. 486 BCE), the founder of Buddhism, also referred to as Shakyamuni Buddha, or simply, the historical Buddha.
CHAKRA: Sometimes spelled cakra, chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel”, and refers to (1) a circle or group of spiritual seekers, and (2) to the centers or points (usually considered to be seven in number) of spiritual power that reside in or compose the human astral body. These points, or centers of consciousness, are considered to have correspondences with the physical body that run along the spine from the very base to the very crown. Each point represents a different kind or quality of subtle energy which can be focused and activated by various practices.
CH’I: Sometimes spelled qi, ch’i is a Chinese word meaning air, breath, or energy, among other things. We have heard it pronounced with a soft ch like cheese by some who should know, but we believe the proper pronunciation is key, hence the sometimes English spelling qi. On the other hand, pronunciation of Chinese apparently varies enourmously among the different regions of the country. However pronounced, ch’i is central to both Taoism and Chinese medicine, where it is the life force of all things.
CHRIST, PROPHET, BUDDHA: There is only One Thing in the Universe. (For a discussion of this idea, please see “The Simple Way”) It will answer to as many names as there are names. For, there being only One Thing, regardless of what name or word we utter, and whether or not we realize it, we speak of and to It. In effect, then, all words and all names are Synonyms for That. (In Tibetan Buddhism, it is said, “See all beings as Buddha, all places as Nirvana, and all sounds as Mantra”.) Although universally true, this identity of meaning is particularly apparent as regards words or names for Truth. Thus, all of the following words or names refer equally to the very same Thing: Allah, Avatar, Brahman, Buddha, Christ, Christ Consciousness, Eternal, Father, God, Great Spirit, Guru, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Infinite, Kali, Life, Light, Love, OM (or AUM), Mother, Prophet, Realization, Samadhi, Self-Realization, Son, Spirit, Tao, Teacher, Truth, Wisdom, Yahweh, Yoga. All of these (and they are only a random handful), and all of their like in every language and from every culture or tradition, are essentially the same word, the name of the Nameless Self-Same Priorly True Awakened State that is the Fundamental Basic Reality of every Spiritual Tradition, and which happens to be the natural, inherent birthright of every single apparent one of us. To be sure, in ordinary usage, all of us employ these words and others like them as if they referred to some particular person or thing or place that is separate and distinct from all other persons, things, and places. In order to communicate with one another, we pretty much have to do that with all words. But as seekers, we do well to remind ourselves frequently of what is True and what is not, what is Real and what is, however well-intentioned, an expression of ignorance. There is only One. It does not matter what we call It, or even whether we call It, the Fact Remains.
THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING: The author of this extraordinary book about the contemplative life leading to union is not known, although it has been attributed to several different fourteenth century English mystics. The “cloud of unknowing” in the title is that which forever hides perception of the One, God, from our every separative, egoic faculty. That is, however clever we may become, as long as we think, in effect, “I am me, and God is an other,” there must exist an invisible, impassable boundary between us. For, it is indelibly true that in the One, there are no others, and so, the only way truly to Know It, is to Be It. There is Surrender, which is Union.
DEVIL, SATAN, LUCIFER: Many (although not all) spiritual traditions include some reference to an “evil one” whose function or purpose is to trip us up. The problem TZF has with that understanding of the devil is this: If God is Infinite and if God is Good, then God’s Goodness is Infinite (for more on this idea, please see The Simple Way and The Creation of Self-Consciousness and our book In The Beginning). But if God’s Goodness is Infinite, then how can there exist anything which is not-Good (or evil)? The traditional response to this question is that God created “freedom of choice”, and the devil chose to be not-Good (just as, in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition and others, Adam and Eve are said to have done in the Garden of Eden). But if the devil chose to be not-Good, then presumably in the beginning the devil was Good. In that case, the question becomes, How could a Good thing make a not-Good choice? And so on. Thus, our sense of the devil is this: The ego (our separative sense that “I am me, and you aren’t“ and “What’s mine is mine, and not yours”) creates a devil “out there” as a convenient (and, too often, convincing) target on which to project all our faults and for which to blame all our failures (“the devil made me do it”) and by which to justify all our fears and hatreds; in a word, the source of all the unhappy consequences of our own ill-advised choices. As seekers, we recognize that if there is a devil, he (she? it?) resides within ourselves, and that it is there we must resolve it, with the Teacher’s guidance, by Remembering our True Nature. In this context, then, we consider the devil more as Lucifer, whose name comes from two Latin words lux and ferre, meaning “the light bearer”; that is, one who, properly employed, sheds light on our own selves. The word “satan”, which we believe first appears in the Bible at Zechariah 3, comes from the Hebrew “ha satan”, which means “the accuser”. It is not a name but a title or a description of a function. In Zechariah (and similarly in Job), it is apparent that Satan resides in heaven along with God, and that Satan’s function is to identify and call attention to our shortcomings, not to entice us to do bad things (what does it say about us that we would imagine a God who would allow, much less create, should a thing!).
DHARMA: From a Sanskrit word meaning to support, sustain, or uphold, dharma is the essential character or nature of all that is, of the universe and of each of us. Dharma is the natural and rightful order and foundation of everyone and everything. It is both why things are as they are and the path to awakening (that is, to the realization of why things are as they are), and as such, dharma is the underlying Truth of all spiritual traditions. Dharma and karma are intricately related; thus, think of dharma as one’s basic nature and destiny, and karma as the conditions in which and by which those play out. In Buddhism, dharma is one of the Three Jewels, which are: the Buddha or Teacher; the dharma, which is the teaching and associated practices; and the sangha, the community of monks.
FENG SHUI: Composed of the Chinese words for wind and water, feng shui (pronounced ‘fung shway’) is the ancient Chinese art of recognizing and utilizing the relationship between one’s harmony, health, and prosperity, and the physical placement and layout of dwellings, other buildings, and other stuff. Feng shui is not exactly geomancy, which is a form of divination or fortune telling by geography or other earth considerations, but it is related to it. Feng shui is based on the premise that ch’i, the universal life principle upon which we and all things depend for existence, flows according to certain rules, patterns, and contours; and prosperity of all kinds comes to those who conform their lives to them.
FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM, HAJJ/HADJ: The Five Pillars, or fundamental policy and practice, of Islam are: (1) The Shahada or declaration of faith: “None has the right to be worshipped except God [sometimes stated as: There is no god worthy of worship except God], and Muhammad is His messenger” (in Arabic “la ilaha illa Llah Muhammadun rasulu’Llah”); (2) Obligatory prayers, called Salat, performed five times daily; (3) Charity, Sakat, in the form of almsgiving and/or charitable work; (4) Self-purification or Ramadan through fasting, and (5) The pilgrimage or Hajj (sometimes Hadj) to Mecca (sometimes Makkah) at least once in a lifetime by those who are able.
GITA: The Bhagavad Gita or, more commonly, simply the Gita, is a section of the Mahabharata, one of the two great epics of Hinduism (the other being the Ramayana). Two enormous armies stand face to face on the field, poised for battle, awaiting only a signal to begin from the master bowman, Arjuna, who at the very last moment loses his nerve. His charioteer, the divine Krishna, urges him onward. The Gita is the ensuing conversation between them, in which Arjuna and, through him, we, are Taught the True Nature of the Universe. Finally, at Chapter 18, Verse 73, Arjuna proclaims: “My delusion is gone. I have regained my memory through your grace, O Krishna. I am firm; I am free from doubt. I will act according to Your word.” One of our favorite translations, from which those lines are quoted, is by Swami Nikhilananda (Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center). It includes an inspiring commentary. There are many other excellent translations; among them, a version by Sri Aurobindo, with his commentary (Sri Aurobindo Association, PO Box 372, High Falls, NY 12440); another by Winthrop Sargeant (SUNY), which offers, in addition to the English prose, a word-for-word translation and vocabulary, so the reader can readily see how each verse actually reads, and consider for himself or herself alternative translations; a wonderful translation with commentary by Paramahansa Yogananda (published by the Self-Realization Fellowship, 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90065); and, finally, the excellent Commentaries on The Vedas, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita by Sri Chinmoy (AUM Publications).
GOD: Obviously, this is an impossible word to define. After all, to “define” a thing means putting boundaries around it, and God is Infinity, the very absence of boundaries. Further, being Infinite, God is by definition (!) beyond the capacity of our separative egoic minds (“I am me, and you aren’t”) to understand. That is, despite our protestations to the contrary, most of us perceive God as being “out there” (or “up there”, even “in here”), as somewhere or something other than ourselves. And that’s the problem! In Truth, there is no such thing as a “God out there” because there is no such thing as “out there”. Once again, being Infinite, God is everywhere and no where, everything and no thing. God is our very Self which itself is The Very Self. Thus, at TZF we often say: There is no God but God, and God is All There Is.
GOD’S GENDER: The use of any gender pronouns (he, she, his, her, it, they) for God is, of course, silly. No pronouns suffice for the proper noun God because God fits into no word or words. In fact, “God” isn’t even God’s name. God, being Infinite, does not have a name, need a name, or want a name; or, we might as well say, all words are God’s name. After all, from the perspective of an Infinite Being, there are no others; so, of what use is a name? The only function our names and their pronouns serve is to enable us to distinguish ourselves from one another. To God, there is no such thing as “distinguish oneself from one another”. Still, we make do with the tools our minds can grasp. In TZF, we generally use the third person singular male pronouns (He, Him, His, and the label Father) because that is the common practice where most of our readers live. Still, we do from time to time use others, particularly the third person female pronouns (She, Her, Hers), especially when we are addressing God’s aspect as Mother. For a seeker, what is important is to avoid letting any construction become so habitual as to preclude all others. A rule of thumb: If you come across a form of address for God that makes you uncomfortable, it is probably time to adopt it.
GOSPELS: The word “gospel” is composed of two words from old English meaning “good news”, and is used to refer to reports of the life and teaching of Jesus. When capitalized, the term generally refers to the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which are called the “canonical gospels” because they alone have been accepted by traditional Christian churches as canon, meaning officially, institutionally recognized as genuine and inspired. Scholars have identified numerous other gospels, some of which predate the canonical gospels, and all of which have been suppressed over the centuries as heresy by ecclesiastical authorities. In our opinion, the best compilation in English of all the currently known gospels is “The Complete Gospels”.
GRACE: Grace is a wondrous word. But difficult too, for it may have as many meanings as there are spiritual traditions, as there are seekers. At TZF, we consider Grace to be a synonym for God, and as such, it is indefinable. For us, Grace is the Nature of God. Powerful, majestic, beautiful, comforting, miraculous, and free. Grace is our nature, too, if only we could believe it. Grace is to God like light to the sun. Wherever God is, Grace is everywhere, always. Thus, this is (we are) a Grace-ful Universe. We sometimes refer to Grace as a gift (“God’s gift of Grace”). In doing so, however, we do not mean to suggest that Grace is something offered to some, withheld from others. Rather, all of us are showered with Grace all of the time, unconditionally. But each of us perceives Grace differently, according to our willingness and capacity to receive it. Similarly, the sun’s light is always maximally present, issuing across a wide spectrum. And yet our eyes perceive only a small piece of it, and that only a few hours out of every twenty-four. A cat’s eyes see more of it, a dog’s less. But all of it is there all of the time. For those with eyes to see.
GURU: The Sanskrit word “guru” means venerable. It is composed of two other Sanskrit words, gu, meaning darkness or ignorance, and ru, meaning remover or dispeller. Thus, the guru is he or she who, or that which, dispels the darkness of ignorance: A venerable accomplishment by any measure! In common English usage, the meaning has been expanded or, some might argue, diluted to include a leader or mentor of any kind, or even simply an expert. A meaning suggested to us by someone who would know is “Spiritual Friend”. As we see it, the Guru holds a seeker’s Self-Realization in Divine Trust, until the moment we are ready to claim it (or be claimed by it). In Dada Mukerjee’s book “By His Grace”, Ram Dass writes, “They say in India that God is like the sandal tree, and the Gurus are like the winds that diffuse the perfume throughout the atmosphere”. However defined or translated, there are probably more who wear the title than it fits. In this context, always recall Ramakrishna’s observation that “God alone is the Guru.” See also the “The Righteous Teacher”. The term SADGURU, sometimes SATGURU, is a Sanskrit term meaning “true” or “perfect” guru. It is applied by some seekers to their own guru as an expression of faith or devotion or respect. We have seen it used also to mean the inner guru, the Divine within each of us, one of whose functions or characteristics is to be as an ever-present, ever-ready, always accessible, spiritual teacher or guide, perfectly tailored and matched to our own needs and capacity in a word, God as Guru (in Arabic, Ar-Rashid).
HADITH, SUNNA, SUNNI and SHIA: An Arabic word, hadith (sometimes al-hadith or ahadith) refers to the words and deeds of Muhammad; thus, hadith is, in effect, a record of the Prophet’s life. As such, hadith plays an essential role for Muslims in the interpretation and understanding of the Qur’an. SUNNA is “the way” or “the custom” of the Prophet; it includes not only the hadith but also all other aspects of Muhammad’s life. SUNNI and SHIA are branches of Islam; for a brief discussion and comparison of them, please click here
JESUS: “Jesus” is the English form of the Latin form of the Greek form of the Hebrew word Yeshua or Yehoshua. In fact, the man’s name was probably something like Issa Ben Yussuf. Does the name make any difference? For some, raised from childhood in the orthodox Christian tradition, the word Jesus is laden with memories and meanings that have little or even nothing to do with the needs of an adult seeker. For this reason, it is not uncommon that such seekers turn to Buddhism, Hinduism, or other spiritual traditions for inspiration and guidance. And yet, Jesus is so powerful a Teacher, and his Teachings are so powerful, it seems a cosmic shame to deny this Resource simply because of the circumstances under which we were first introduced to it. One solution may be to address him differently, as Yeshua perhaps, or Rabbi Issa, or, as he himself suggested, simply Teacher (“You call me Teacher and Master, and you’re right: that’s who I am.” John 13.13 SV). All that said, should we not acknowledge that it would be far more respectful of us to call him by his more likely true name, Issa, rather than Jesus, as we commonly do, a name based on the language of his oppressors? After all, the I in INRI atop the cross to which they nailed him is for Iesu, not Issa! Who among us thinks that those who knew him and loved him Peter, his brother James, the Marys addressed him by the name assigned to him by Rome? Then why do we? In the final analysis, of course, it is literally True that, seen one Teacher, seen them all. Thus, our observation has been that, whatever tradition seekers of Truth choose initially, in time they seem to drift naturally away from the ism, and come to rest in the Teachings themselves, there to discover that, just as all the Teachers themselves insist, all Teachers and all Teachings are One and the Same One in Truth. We suppose there exist an infinite number of books about Jesus. We have read some of them, many of which are good; but far and away the best … in our opinion … is “Jesus A Life” by A. N. Wilson. This is a mature study of the man and the phenomenon, human and spiritual. It is at once informative, challenging, disturbing, fascinating, and inspiring.
JI, DEV, DEVI, BHAGAVAN: In parts of India, ji is a term of respect added to some words, particularly names. Thus, for example, Jiddu Krishhamurti is sometimes referred to as Krishnaji, and Neem Karoli Baba as Babaji. Also, a seeker might refer to his or her guru as guruji (or, more likely, Guruji). Similarly, the suffix dev (from deva, meaning “shining one”; compare “deus” in Latin) may be used in reference to someone who has Realized God, or a Teacher. Thus, for example, Gurudev. Similarly, Devi is used in conjunction with the names of goddesses and female Teachers, as “Sarada Devi”. Bhagavan, sometimes bhagwan, is an epithet for God, meaning the exalted or most holy One. In India, seekers sometimes refer to or address their Teacher as Bhagavan or Sri Bhagavan.
JIHAD, ISLAM: Jihad is an Arabic word meaning exertion, struggle, or strife. In Islam, jihad is the struggle for the faith. It can manifest on the outer, as holy war, or on the inner, as the spiritual process. The latter is known as the Great Jihad. Note that the Arabic word ISLAM means submission or surrender to the Will of God, which is the very essence, the means and the end, of every True path or tradition. Thus, for each of us, the true jihad or holy war is our struggle against accepting God and Truth (not to mention, ourselves) as It Is and not as we would have them be. Happily, this is a conflict God always wins.
KARMA: The word means “act or deed”, and refers to any action, whether good or bad, that is willfully taken. The premise of karma is this: Every action is a cause that sooner or later will have an effect on the one who performed the action. Or, every deed produces its own fruit, which when ripe, falls onto the one who performed the deed. In a word, what goes around, comes around. Generally, this theory accompanies the theory of reincarnation, to explain that (1) we may not experience the effects of this life's actions until some later life, and (2) the circumstances of our current life may be the fruit of some former life or lives. Karma depends upon our separate and separative perception of ourselves (“I am me, and you aren't”), each of us living “my life” according to “my karma”. In Truth, God being all there is (for more about that, please see The Simple Way), there is no such thing as “me” and “my life” or of past and future, and therefore no person to experience and no when to accommodate cause-and-effect. Thus, the operative words in the first sentence above are “willfully taken”, for they suggest a separative “I”, an “I” that is perceived as “me, not you”.
KOAN: In Zen, a koan is a sort of word puzzle, assigned to students by their master. Strictly speaking, koans are not riddles, in that a riddle is a word puzzle which can, however tortuously, be solved rationally. Koans are intentionally beyond the power of the mind to solve. Their purpose is to force an intuitive leap which carries the student beyond the rational plane to an enlightened state, even if initially only for a moment. Although answers to some koans are publicly available, they are useless to a student, because the correct answer is not so much a particular set of words as it is the enlightened position from which they are delivered, and that cannot be faked, copied, or borrowed. Perhaps the most commonly known koan is “This [the master claps his or her hands together] is the sound of two hands clapping. What is the sound of one hand clapping.”
KORAN, QUR’AN: From the Arabic for “The Recital”, the Koran or Qur’an is the sacred scripture of Islam, delivered by God through the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in dreams, visitations, and auditions, over a twenty year period from about 610 CE. The Qur’an is composed of 114 chapters or surahs. As with any scripture or sacred document, it is impossible to single out one chapter as the most signifcant or telling, but if there is such, surely Surah 112 is it: “O Messenger say: ‘He, Allah, is but One! …’”. It is said that some of the power, impact, and breadth of this remarkable document reside in the original Arabic, both the language and the form, and that therefore no translation can be entirely effective. We expect it is likely true of all scriptures (even any written work?) that they are best read in their original language. Just so, in his book “Misquoting Jesus”, Bart D. Ehrman observes “… reading the New Testament in Greek is like seeing it in color, whereas reading it in translation is like seeing it in black and white: one gets the point but misses a lot of the nuances”. That said, the English renditions of the Qur’an we have encountered pack plenty of wallop. Two editions we really like are “The Koran”, translated by N. J. Dawood (Penquin) and “The Holy Qur’an”, translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an). We are sometimes asked how we can feel positively about Islam generally, considering the violence currently being perpetrated in its name, and about the Qur’an specifically, considering the passages within it which condone and even endorse violence, particularly against women. Our response is that other scriptures include passages we find offensive, and, speaking specifically as products of the West, we cannot imagine what the image of Christianity, the Bible, and the Gospels must be to those whose only knowledge of them is the Crusades and the Inquisition, not to mention the environment in the early American colonies, about which an excellent book on the subject, “Founding Faith”, writes “Forced worship, taxpayers paying ministers’ salaries, voting right limited to certain religious denominations, brutal punishments for worshipping in a different manner … were common in the colonies”. It seems to be unfortunately true that religion brings out the best and the worst in the species human, hence our preference for spiritual traditions over religions.
KRISHNA, RAMA, SIVA, HANUMAN: Perhaps the best-known Hindu deity in the West, Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu (sometimes perceived as the sustainer, in trinity with Brahma the creator and Siva (sometimes Shiva) the destroyer), is the Divine Teacher in the Bhagavad Gita. Rama, also an incarnation of Vishnu, is the hero of the epic poem, Ramayana. He and his wife Sita are considered the ideal husband and wife. Hanuman (sometimes Hanumanji, Hanumat), the monkey king who stands with Rama in battle, personifies perfect devotion of a servant to a master. (Speaking of Shiva as destroyer, we remember reading somewhere of a Teacher reassuring a seeker not to fear Shiva, for “He destroys only what you do not want.”)
KUNDALINI: Sometimes KUNDALINI SHAKTI (“serpent power”), kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning snake. It symbolizes the spiritual energy that lies sleeping, coiled like a serpent, at the base of the spine. As it awakens, it moves upward along the spine, into and through one center (chakra) after another, expressing or manifesting itself in various ways appropriate to each level, until finally it emerges through the top of the head, when the separate self (not to mention kundalini itself!) is recognized to have always been an illusion, and Union with the Infinite Self is Realized (or Remembered). A very good consideration of kundalini activity and symptoms is “The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence” by Lee Sannella.
MANTRA, JAPA, DHIKR & REPETITIVE PRAYER: Mantra (sometimes mantram) is Sanskrit for a word or a phrase given to a seeker by a Teacher or Guru as an indication of initiation to the spiritual process. The word or phrase (sometimes a name of God or a quotation from scripture) is considered sacred, and is to be kept secret. The seeker is instructed to meditate on the word or phrase, repeating it regularly and devotedly, which practice ultimately leads to God Realization. Japa (sometimes japam), also a Sanskrit word, refers to the devotional repetition of any name of God, and specifically to the repetition of a mantra, whether aloud or in silence. In Hinduism, the great mantra or MAHAMANTRA is simply “Ram Ram”, invoking the name and presence of Ram. (In the book “By His Grace” by Dada Mukerjee, Babaji (also known as Maharajji) is quoted as promising, “Everything is accomplished by taking the name of Ram”.) In Islam, dhikr (sometimes zikr) is Remembrance of God, which may take the form of devotional acts or the repetition of divine names. Similarly, repetitive prayer is a common practice in Christianity, such as, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” or simply the name “Jesus”, or the Hail Mary. Compare in Judaism the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” or (spelled, pronounced, and translated variously) Baruch HaShem “Thank God, Blessed is God.”
MARY MAGDALENE, MARY & MARTHA: This biblical Mary is commonly referred to as the Magdalene after Magdala, the town of her origin. One book we have read suggests that the reference is to the Hebrew word “great”, making Mary Magdalene actually Mary The Great. By tradition, she is considered to have been a prostitute, although there is no biblical authority for that conclusion. She was among “some women” who, along with the male twelve, traveled with Jesus; and it was they who financed the ministry, “out of their own means” (Luke 8). She is presumed to have been the woman who “wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them” (Luke 7:38 RSV). Mary Magdalene was clearly a sincere seeker, a devoted and close disciple of the Teacher. She was present at the crucifixion; she helped prepare him for burial; and she was the first to see him after he rose. Among scholars who believe that Jesus was married, Mary Magdalene is considered the most likely to have been his wife. Many biblical scholars believe that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, are the same person. The Gospels image of Mary of Bethany is of a contemplative, while her sister Martha is presented as an active (See Luke 10:38, John 12:1.) Some scholars suggest that the legend of the Holy Grail, commonly considered to be the cup held aloft by Joseph of Arimathea at the foot of the cross to catch blood flowing from the wounds of Jesus, is actually a reference to a child born to Jesus and Mary Magdalene, that the English words “Holy Grail” are a mis-translation of the French sangraal, which more properly translates “blood royal”, thus a reference to the “royal bloodline” carried by the child.
MAYA: In Hinduism, maya (a Sanskrit word meaning “deception, illusion, appearance”) is the power to produce, or the power that produces, the illusion that our separative self (“I am me, and you aren’t”), its life (what each of us calls “me” and “my life”), and its world are real. Maya is sometimes perceived as a veil that deludes the Divine Itself. (The Sufi poet Hafiz of Shiraz writes, “There is no veil between the lover and the Beloved; thou art thine own veil”. Likewise Ibn ’Arabi: “His Veil is [only a part of] His oneness; nothing veils other than He.”) Mahamaya is the goddess who personifies this power.
MOTHER OF GOD, MOTHER GOD: In virtually every tradition, there appears the Mother Goddess, or God as Mother. This Feminine Principle of the Universe, before Whom and without Whom there is and can be no thing, goes by many names, and exhibits various characteristics and tendencies. She is powerful and fierce; She is a protector and a teacher; She is generous, nourishing, and merciful. Whether as Juno, Aphrodite, Maya, Mary (also Maryam), Kali, Durga, Isis (also known as Myrionymos, Greek for “she of many names”), Kuan-yin (who is sometimes male, sometimes female) or some other, the Mother Goddess is the Omniscient Omnipresent Omnipotent Queen of all we imagine there to be, of Heaven & of Earth & of Hell. For countless seekers treading countless paths over countless centuries, “Mother” is safe harbor. In many traditions, “Holy Mother” is a title of respect and adoration given to female Teachers. In our opinion, a truly wondrous book about Mary, the woman and the mother of Jesus, and the ever-present, ever-potent place of the Mother in spirituality, is “Mary A Flesh-and-Blood Biography”.
MUHAMMAD: Muhammad (sometimes Mohammed, Mahomet) (570? - 632 CE), the founder of Islam, is regarded as the “seal of the prophets”, meaning the last of the line of prophets that begins with Adam and runs through the prophets of the Old and New Testaments, including Abraham, John the Baptist, and Jesus. At about age forty, Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel, through whom he received and recited the Qur’an.
MYSTICISM: Sometimes called the interior life, mysticism is a way that reaches for immediate (meaning no mediator or other mediating influence) awareness of God, and beyond that, for identity in God (in the words of Catherine of Siena, “My me is God”). Mysticism implies an intense spiritual commitment but recognizes that progress along the path is attained by Grace alone. A mystic’s relationship with God is intimate, constant, and boundary-less, until finally only God remains. Mysticism is at home in all traditions. It is not a religion, a theology, or a philosophy in itself, but a way to traverse any of those. A classic text on the subject is Evelyn Underhill’s “Mysticism”.
NAMASTE: This is a Hindu expression meaning, in Sanksrit, “(I) bow to thee”. It is delivered while holding the palms together in front of the bosom or heart, or in front of the face, or at the crown of the head, each position having a slightly different spiritual significance. As we see it, namaste provides an opportunity upon meeting anyone or anything to remind ourselves that we and it (whoever or whatever we may be greeting, whether it be a person, animal, plant, event, idea, etc.) are One and the Same One, differently appearing and distinct from us only apparently. Further, as seekers (spiritual students) we take the expression to include this thought: “I thank the Teacher for the Lesson your presence in my life represents, and I look forward to learning it.” The expression of this kind of sentiment upon meeting is common to most (if not all) spiritual traditions. For example, in Islam: “In the name of Allah, peace be upon you” (Arabic: “Bismillah, As-Salamu alaika”); and in Judaism: “Shalom” (peace).
NAMES OF ALLAH, LA ILAHA IL-ALLAH: In Islam, it is said there are ninety-nine names that belong to Allah or God alone. Among them is Ar-Rashid, sometimes Ar-Rasid, the Righteous Teacher. For the others, see “The Most Beautiful Names” compiled by Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti (Threshold & Amana). The Arabic word Allah is composed of two words, Ilah which means “God”, and al which is the article “the”; thus, Allah translates literally to “the God” (that is, the God than which there is no other) and as such it is God’s or Allah’s Primary Name. In Islam it is said, the best way to Remember God is to repeat La ilaha il-Allah, which translates “There is no god but God”. Inshallah (in sha'Allah) is Arabic for a prayer common in many, likely even all, traditions: “if God wills” or “God willing” in Latin, “deo volente”.
NOBLE TRUTHS: The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths are: (1) All life is suffering, meaning that as we currently live our lives, suffering is inescapable; (2) Suffering is caused by desire or craving; (3) The way to eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire or craving; and, (4) The way to eliminate desire or craving is to live rightly, meaning follow the Noble Eightfold Path, which means adopting: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration (Meditation). In concert, these weaken, reduce, and finally eliminate, our desires and their power over us by clarifying, purifying, focusing, and ultimately transcending our minds. Notice that, like so many other truly Realized Teachers, the Buddha here does not offer us an elaborate cosmology, with layers upon layers of deities and planes and other stuff, but rather he prescribes a simple (which is not to say easy) path that, when followed dutifully, joyfully, and with enthusiasm, brings us to a place (our Buddha Nature) from which we See as the One Sees, and where the question of suffering (like every other question) simply does not arise.
OM: OM (sometimes AUM) is a Sanskrit expression for the ineffable, rendering any further discussion of it clearly pointless! Most dictionaries and encyclopedias dissect the word, and then discuss the esoteric relationship and meaning among the resulting parts. Thus, for example, the three sounds (vocalized by the A, U, and M, in the alternative spelling), or the three curves in the written form om, are said to reflect the Divine Trinity, as, Brahman-creator Vishnu-preserver Siva-destroyer; or as, Creator (Father) Creation (Son) Creative Energy (Holy Spirit, or Mother); or as, the waking state, the dreaming state, the deep sleep state; and so on. These are usually understood to be followed by an unspoken, unwritten silence, representing the union, inherent indivisibility, or fulfillment of the parts. For a seeker, the important thing is that OM is not a word in the same way that spider is a word, and neither is it a sound in the same way that the noise made by a wine glass dropped to a marble floor is a sound. OM is the sound of the Universe, the seamless entirety, and as such, it is well beyond the range of the biological ear. But the inner or spiritual ear can hear it. Likewise, OM is the Word of God, the Logos (the Greek word for “word”), and as such it does not appear in any library catalog, although you can find it there or anywhere else you truly look for it. Ultimately, OM is God Itself the Source, the Process, and the Presence (as in, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, … and the Word became flesh …” John 1 RSV). OM is commonly an element of, sometimes the entirety of, chants or mantras, and it is undeniably beautiful to express, to hear, and to consider.
ORTHODOX, HERESY: From the Greek “ortho”, which means straight or correct and “dox”, meaning belief or opinion, orthodox refers to the approved form of a philosophy, ideology, doctrine, religion, and so on. Belief or opinion that does not conform to orthodoxy is labeled HERESY (from Greek for choice or to choose). For a seeker, the word orthodox raises the question, “Approved by whom?”, and the word heresy, “Am I bound by the disapproval of others?” (Whenever considering that general subject, we are always reminded of Terry Cole Whittaker’s superbly titled book, “What You Think of Me is None of My Business”.)
REALITY, TRUTH: These are words we use frequently. They cannot be defined, because it is the purpose of definition to limit, and these words point to what cannot be limited, what is infinite and eternal. In that sense, these words are beyond the capability of our limited minds to understand. Thus, Reality and Truth are about That Which is beyond the separative, egoic “I am me and you aren’t” body/mind personality each of us calls “me”. Reality or Truth is the Constant, the Eternal, the Beginningless & Endless One that is no one or no thing. It is not a person, a place, a phenomenon, an experience. It is beyond all of that, but somehow it includes all of that, too. One of the dictionaries on our desk offers the following: That which exists independently of ideas about it, independently of all other things, and from which all other things derive. As an admittedly flawed analogy, consider a production of William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”. On the stage, a great drama unfolds, shaped by prejudice, youthful beauty, romance, joy, delight, love, fear, anger, despair, faith, death the stuff of all our lives. But none of it is real. None of the characters is real, none of the emotions is real, none of the action actually occurs. There is no such person as “Romeo”, there is no such person as “Juliet”. They were never born, they never loved, they never died. It is all an illusion. The only reality in that context consists of Shakespeare as author, the actors as players, and ourselves as audience. All of those know the play is an illusion, and that all that is real is themselves. But still, the play is performed again and again, and again and again we laugh and we cry. As if it were real. Likewise, what you and we each call “my life” is thoroughly an illusion. Here, we do not truly know what is Real because each of us has taken on the identity of “me”, the principal character in “my life”. And just as neither “Romeo” nor “Juliet” can know Shakespeare, neither can the separate, separative (”I am me, and you aren’t”) self of our lives know our Reality. For that, we must transcend the character, and recognize and resume our True Identity in and as and with (choose a preposition) the Author, the Source, the Supreme, the One (choose a label). That is the spiritual process, transforming our current sense of identity bit by bit until finally it is transcended altogether, and we “Remember I Am”. Then, we Realize we never were the character, that we have never been born and cannot die, and that What Is always was and always will be. In a word, Reality destroys illusion.
REINCARNATION: This is the belief that the soul of a living being, upon the death of the body, returns to the earth in another body or form. As we understand it at TZF, one premise behind this theory is that a single physical lifetime, especially a lifetime interrupted by an “untimely death”, does not seem to offer a soul sufficient time to address its needs, redress its errors, come to an awareness of its purpose and nature (and act on that awareness), and otherwise do whatever it came to earth to do. For us, this concept raises the question, Who reincarnates? Thus, when someone says, for example, “In a former life, I was Cleopatra” or “I was Genghis Khan”, who precisely is speaking? Is it the current personality, or is it the soul? And if it is the latter, then awakening ourselves to the soul’s True Nature is an essential part of understanding reincarnation … and of transcending it.
RELIGION v. SPIRITUAL TRADITION: We are sometimes asked why we prefer the phrase “spiritual tradition” to the word “religion.” Religion suggests to us an outer-oriented, separative phenomenon, an institution frequently at odds with itself and others. Spiritual tradition suggests something inner-directed, inclusive, and at peace. Consider that history is crowded with religious wars and persecutions, one after another, destroying countless men, women, children, beasts, plants, and landscapes, and, whatever the outcome, everyone loses. The only spiritual war ever fought is waged within, only illusions are destroyed, the outcome is uniformly joyful, and everyone wins. (Return to Mobile Home Page)
SACRIFICE: This wonderful word is from two Latin words: sacer which means holy or sacred, and facere which means to make. Thus, to sacrifice is to make holy, which, from a seeker’s point of view, means to recognize as God’s what is God’s. As we see it, then, a seeker’s function is to sacrifice his or her life (including everyone and everything “in” it); that is, recognize it as God’s, and give it to God. This supreme sacrifice is an ongoing process only because we are unable (unwilling) to do it all at once, choosing instead to hold back a little of this and some of that. Finally (happily), we realize that, (1) God being all there is, it is impossible to lose anything, (2) the more we give to God, the more we have ourselves, and (3) when we truly release our lives to God (whose they always are and were anyway), we are free to enjoy them. From the separative ego’s point of view (”I am me and you aren’t”), the process of sacrifice always incurs loss (even if for a “good cause”), because, as the separative ego perceives it, “what is mine is mine, and what I give to God is no longer mine”.
SADHANA: This word refers to the entirety of a seeker’s path all the practices, the postures, the language, the clothing, the diet, and so on which, taken together, comprise the way each of us has chosen. Thus, in the spiritual context, the expression “Walking the walk” means, following one’s sadhana with honesty, devotion, determination, enthusiasm, and joy.
SAMSARA & NIRVANA: In Buddhism, samsara is the process of coming into being as (or seeming to be) a differentiated, separate and separative human being. In Hinduism, samsara is the endless cycle of birth and death to which all beings are subject. Thus, in both instances, samsara is the human egoic condition marked or shaped by the conviction that “I am me, and you aren’t”, and is itself a product of (or the manifestation of) our ignorance of our True Identity. The “opposite” of samsara is nirvana (sometimes nibbana), the “natural” state marked by complete illumination and liberation from all worldly characteristics or conditions, and the goal of virtually all spiritual traditions.
SAMSKARA is a Sanskrit word referring to patterns in our consciousness which define, determine, and inform our current condition, our personality. In a reincarnation sense, we inherit some of these from and through previous lives; others are generated in our current life; all are conditioned by our actions, which in turn shape our future lives.
SATSANG & DARSHAN: To be perfectly honest, we are not entirely clear about the distinction between these two powerful Sanskrit concepts. Darshan (sometimes darshana or darsana or darsan) means “view or sight”, and is about receiving a blessing or being purified simply as a result of paying respect to or being seen by a holy person or a holy site. Satsang (sometimes satsanga or sat-sanga) is derived from two words that mean “being in the company of the true”. Here, simply being in the presence of one who has realized the Self propels a seeker along his or her inner journey. As we see it at TZF, if the One is Infinite, then we are all always “in the sight of” and “in the company of” the Real. There being no “where” else, where else could we be? (For more on this idea, please see The Simple Way at Consider This!) So, to the extent that a seeker is able to recognize the One in everyone and everything always (or at least is truly aspiring to do so), he or she will be constantly enjoying the fruits of darshan and satsang. That said, our experience is that time spent in the presence of a Teacher in the flesh, in a book, in meditation is time spent best.
SEEKER:Seeker and its verb forms (like seeking) are words we use frequently. They are, in effect, what The Zoo Fence is about. What we mean when we use the word seeker is someone who has made a sacred commitment to himself or herself and to the Supreme (God), however perceived, in these or similar terms, written and/or spoken, but, in any case, repeated many, many times, “Above all else, I want to Know my True Nature.” Thus, for us, a seeker is one who has bravely and steadfastly set out on a journey to the Truth, a journey sometimes referred to as the spiritual path, and wherever it leads, the seeker will go. We might say that a seeker is a religious person, except that very often a seeker is not interested in religion as such, its definitions, prescriptions, proscriptions, and so on, except as they relate to his or her Search. A seeker’s overriding interest is in discovering the Truth about his or her Nature; therefore, he or she will often not mind crossing religious barriers and boundaries, if that is what it seems to take to find what he or she is looking for. There is no institutional prejudice, or impatience, or animosity here, only a thirst for Reality. Seekers are not necessarily easily recognized, for there are no telltale signs. To his or her colleagues, friends, and family, a seeker may appear no differently than themselves, working as they do, dressing as they do, relating as they do; just another banker or farmer, psychotherapist or store clerk, mom, dad, sister or brother. But that normal appearance is deceiving, for a seeker is different. And the difference is that seeking defines and determines a seeker’s self-perception, and therefore everything about a seeker’s life. To a seeker, seeking is not simply an activity, like hang gliding, which one can consign to weekends and holidays, or even just another goal, like financial security. Seeking is what a seeker is, always. Everything about a seeker exists or occurs in that context, and is colored by it. “Where I used to be simply an airline pilot [or whatever],” a seeker will tell you, if pressed, “now I am a seeker who flies airplanes [or whatever].” Whatever else a seeker does, or whatever else a seeker seems to be, a seeker is first and foremost, even only, a seeker. Thus, sometimes, we use the word monk to describe a seeker, because we like the image of one who may seem to live an ordinary life farming, nursing, making wine, or whatever, but who has consciously, voluntarily undertaken a permanent, indelible, life-shaping Commitment to the Divine, and who, beneath the cowl, is not the least bit ordinary. In a word, as one of the dictionaries on our desk defines it, a seeker is a person who seeks.
SELF-REALIZATION, REMEMBERING: Like Truth, God, and similar words, this is an impossible term to define precisely because the function of definition is to set the limits or boundaries of a thing so that the separative egoic mind (”I am me, and you aren’t”) can grasp it, and, by definition, Self-Realization is that place or condition that is beyond all limits and boundaries, and that is specifically beyond the reach of the mind. Self-Realization is Realization of the Self (the Supreme I than which there is no other) by It Self. Thus, in or at Self-Realization there is no “realizer who realizes something” (as in, “I realize today is Thursday”). In fact, the very absence of that duality is itself Self-Realization (compare, “I Realize I Am Thursday”). Thus, Self-Realization is thoroughly non-dual; so non-dual, it is not even non-dual, for even “non-dual” implies the existence somewhere of something else (duality) which it is not, and in Self-Realization there is no such implication. Further, Self-Realization is not achieved. Self-Realization is the Priorly and Always True, Perfectly Natural and Naturally Perfect, Infinite and Eternal State of What Is. As such, it is not properly a goal (in that a goal is something not had or a somewhere not here), although virtually all seekers consider it such, and understandably, because as seekers we think we need a reason to seek! Also, it is inaccurate to describe Teachers as Self-Realized (although most seekers, including we, do so), because at Self-Realization there is no such thing as “a Teacher” precisely because at Self-Realization there is no such thing as a person or a anything else. There whatever is, is simply, wholly, effortlessly, and spontaneously Whatever Is. Equally, of course, at Self-Realization there is no such thing as “not self-realized”! In the end, to understand Self-Realization you have to Be There (or, rather, Be Here), but when you’re there you realize you aren’t you (and never were) and you aren’t there (anywhere) and you certainly aren’t “Self-Realized”. You simply are. Or so the Self-Realized Teachers tell us! Among the most concise and clearest expressions of Self-Realization we have come across are, by Nisargadatta “There is no such thing as a person” and by Ibn ’Arabi “Thou art not thou, thou art He without thou”. Or, in a few words by Ramana Maharshi: “There is no such thing as realising the Self. How is one to realise or make real what is real? People all realise’ or regard as real what is unreal, and all they have to do is to give up doing so. When you do that, you will remain as you always are, and the Real will be Real. It is only to help people give up regarding the unreal as real that all the religions and practices taught by them have come into being.” And, again, Nisargadatta: “You have brought in duality where there is none. There is the body, and there is the Self. Between them is the mind, in which the Self is reflected as I am’. Because of the imperfections of the mind, its crudity and restlessness, lack of discernment and insight, it takes itself to be the body, not the Self. All that is needed is to purify the mind so that it can realize its identity with the Self.” At TZF, we often speak of Self-Realization as Remembering Who We Are. This, too, is misleading because it suggests a “rememberer” who remembers “something” that has been “forgotten”. But we like it because it reminds us as seekers that Self-Realization is already True. (Thus, my failure to “remember” What I Am has no effect whatsoever upon what I am, only upon what I seem to myself to be.) Every spiritual tradition has its own words to describe Self-Realization, of course, among them (although not necessarily precisely synonymous) are Awakening, Awareness, Enlightenment, Buddhahood, Christ Consciousness, Moksha, Nirvana, Samadhi, and Satori.
SHAKTI, SHIVA, BRAHMAN, ISHWARA: In the Hindu tradition, the Supreme and Its attributes are sometimes expressed as a variety of gods and goddesses. And there are so many, and their territories so apparently overlapping, that it can be difficult to keep them straight. Nonetheless, the appearance of many divinities is only that, an appearance. The primary Female Principle is Shakti (also Sakti), known too as Kali, Durga, and by other names. She is a personification of cosmic or primal energy. Shakti is Mother, without whom there can be, and there is, no person, no thing, no who, no what, no when, and no where. Her consort, SHIVA (also Siva), known as well by other names, is the oldest of the Vedic gods, and is sometimes expressed as one-third of a trinity, sometimes as the whole of it. The dance of Shiva and Shakti represents the delicate marriage or balance of male and female between and within everything. Thus, whatever is male, is female, whatever is female, is male. In Oriental imagery, this indissoluble, ineffable union is expressed by the concepts of yin (feminine) and yang (masculine), and in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, this idea is stated, “Have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,’ and … therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate,” (Matthew 19.4-6 IV). BRAHMAN (not to be confused with Brahma, who is God as Creator) is the Absolute Non-Dual Reality; Brahman is utterly without attributes or characteristics of any kind. ISHWARA (sometimes Ishvara) is Brahman with attributes, a personal God of the world. In Vivekananda’s words, “Ishvara is the supreme interpretation of the Absolute by human thought”.
TEACHER: In The Zoo Fence, the word Teacher with a capital T signifies one who has Realized the True Nature of the Self. Every tradition has its own word or words for this state or condition, of course; among them: an enlightened, liberated or awakened one; one who is Self-Realized or God-Realized; one who has achieved Buddhahood or Christ Consciousness; a Realizer, a Master, an Adept. And there are other words in other languages. We use some of those, too, but generally speaking, when we are referring to that sublime position in or beyond consciousness which ultimately cannot be named, labeled, or defined, we use Teacher. Conversely, a teacher with a lower case T is someone who has seen the Light but who does not as yet Know It to be himself or herself. In a word, an advanced seeker. Admittedly, this is sometimes a difficult line to draw, and, in the end, it is probably a false distinction. After all, if God is all there is, then God is at once the Teacher, the teacher, and the seeker, constantly shifting positions on an infinite spectrum of Awareness. Thus, in the final analysis, when we use the word Teacher, we mean God. It’s a little like a solar eclipse, whose nature and appearance, even existence, depends on where you are looking from!
YHWH, YAHWEH, JEHOVAH: In traditional Judaism, the Name of the Divine One is considered too sacred to be spoken. Accordingly, it is represented in English by the four letters YHWH, usually pronounced Jehovah or Yahweh or simply “the Lord.” Consider this: God, the INFINITE ETERNAL OMNIPRESENT ONE THAN WHICH THERE IS NO OTHER, is by definition beyond the capacity of the human brain, beyond the horizons of the mind, to encompass. Therefore, anything we say of God, anything we think of God, anything we believe of God, is hopelessly inadequate, misleading, fallacious, and deceptive. In a word, wrong. Just so, in our experience, sooner or later, among seekers, silence reigns.
YIN-and-YANG: In Taoism and Confucianism, yin and yang, represented by the symbol Yin and Yang are the two opposite and complementary principles or energies of the universe. They emanate from the Supreme One (T’ai Chi), and are, in effect, the Tao itself, the all-embracing first principle that gives rise to all else. It is the endless play or dance between yin and yang that is the movement each of us calls ”my life” or “the world.” Yin is associated with earth, feminine, dark, passive (among others), and yang is heaven, male, light, active, sovereign (and others). Despite the way they are written, spoken, and generally considered, yin and yang are not, and can never be, two separate, unique things. In fact, there is no such thing as yin, on the one hand, and yang, on the other. There is only yin-and-yang. Like the two sides of a coin (heads and tails), neither exists apart from the other. They are, thus, two faces of the very same all-inclusive One, and whatever differences we perceive between them exist, like all the differences we perceive in our world, strictly in our mind.
There are many more of these “definitions” pages of them on the full website at https://www.zoofence.com