A story of growing into a sacred understanding
of our fellow beings that happen to be non-human,
with the gracious help of my spiritual master,
Adi Da Samraj.
I grew up in Papua New Guinea, where I was fortunate
to have been able to keep many exotic indigenous pets.
And so I came to love animals. But I must confess this:
I somehow developed an attitude that farm animals, such
as rabbits and chickens, were not as special or important
as say, a Harpy eagle, a tree kangaroo, an Eclectus
parrot, or a cassowary. More about that to come!
At a certain point in my life, I took up the spiritual
Way of Adidam created by the contemporary spiritual
master, Adi Da Samraj. Among the many extraordinary
gifts Adi Da has given to humankind is Fear-No-More
Zoo in California. Adi Da founded Fear-No-More Zoo in
November 1974, aiming to provide through it (among other
things) a rather remarkable education for its human
In that process of sensitizing yourself to non-humans
and placing no barriers between yourself and them,
you have to go beyond your previous mind about
non-humans as sort of non-beings.
— Avatar Adi Da Samraj
And so, with my love of animals, it seemed natural
to find myself at one point the zookeeper of Fear-No-More
Zoo! One of the creatures being kept in the zoo at that
time was the giant French lop-eared rabbit. The zoo
housed a number of them, and the grand dame of the group
was a very large ginger-red rabbit named "Strawberry
Back then I knew very little about Adi Da Samraj's
teaching about non-humans, and had much to learn. Because
of the prejudices and preferences developed from my
background with exotic species, it took me a long time
to come to the point of accepting the rabbits as no
less important than the beautiful Bactrian camel also
at the zoo. I found I had very little interest in the
rabbits. And I could not fathom why my spiritual master
For a good long while, I toyed with various proposals
to sell them, until one day I finally decided I just
had to get beyond my resistance to them. I knew I needed
to do this for their sake and for mine. And so I completely
rebuilt their enclosure, making it much more interesting
for them, a much happier place from top to bottom. And
for a while after that, I really did feel a connection
to them. But over a few months I noticed that my old
ways of looking at them were returning. I was extremely
One day, Strawberry Tea fell ill. She was an old rabbit
who had many litters in her time. She was developing
a tumor on her side, which would eventually end her
life. During the long haul with her, in her last weeks
and days, two things were going on for me. I was still
facing up my resistance to rabbits, and still not really
acknowledging them as I knew I should. And, curiously
enough, I was simultaneously falling in love with Strawberry
The day came when I knew it would be her last. I could
sense it from her. As I bathed her that day, to remove
the urine and feces from her golden fur, almost all
of my resistance dissolved. I was bent over her on the
lawn, gently washing her face and body and paws. I remembered
Adi Da's deep intimacy with non-humans, his love and
embrace of them all. She lay there on the towel, relaxed,
breathing deeply, trusting. Her eyes were open. My heart
melted. Not just because she was dying, but because
I suddenly felt her not anymore as a mere rabbit, but
as an actual person. She had become more like an old
woman to me now, in a sense no different than my own
grandmother. And I clearly saw that she was no more,
and no less, deserving of love than I, or anyone else.
I felt so close to her at one point that afternoon
that there was no difference, no separation between
us. That we each were of the same Being was irrefutable
to me now. As I gently put Strawberry Tea in her hutch
for the evening I knew this would be the last time I
would see her alive. Looking at her limp, wasting body,
I wept because she was dying, and because I now loved
her, and I was greatly relieved.
And then, the very next morning, I awoke only to discover
with a shock that my feeling of resistance to rabbits
had returned. I couldn't believe it! In my sleep, I
again had withdrawn from them emotionally. I felt ridiculous
that I was even going through all this emotional struggle
around some rabbits.
Before I headed down to the zoo to begin my day and
check on Strawberry Tea, I noticed an envelope addressed
to me, from a friend who knew nothing of what I was
going through. As I opened it I was still in the midst
of my "ordeal with rabbits." I asked out loud, "Why
does Adi Da even like rabbits? What does he see in them?"
As I finished this frustrated plea for help of some
kind, I pulled out the contents of the envelope. It
was a small color photograph of Adi Da Samraj in the
early 1970's. He was bending forward toward — of all
things — a cute black and white rabbit, his arm stretched
out toward it, with a bright orange carrot in his hand.
A big grin beamed from his face.
In that split second, at the height of my crisis around
this issue, my spiritual master mysteriously showed
me that he liked rabbits. He LIKED them! It was as simple
as that. Somehow that was now enough for me. I could
like them too! From that day on, I have experienced
no similar problem with rabbits, or any other animal.
On that day, and ever since, it became obvious to me
that all beings are equally important. They are beings,
not things. I'd always mentally thought this way, but
now I could really feel it and understand it as well.
When I found Strawberry Tea motionless in her hutch,
I was sad but calm. With a simple ceremony, I buried
her body in the zoo graveyard alongside Laughing Man
Creek. I was profoundly grateful toward her for what
she showed me and took me through, and profoundly grateful
to my spiritual master, for the deep healing he brought
to my heart. This entire incident was an incredibly
valuable lesson for me. And it took me a step closer
to the intimate connection my spiritual master has with
all beings, and which is the potential for all of us.
As he describes it:
I am in conversation with all beings and things.
It is not that only human beings are full of 'soul'
and everything else should be chopped up and eaten
for lunch! If you examine beings other than the
human, feel them, are sensitive to them, enter
directly into relationship with them, you discover
that they are the same — and not just the somewhat
bigger ones, like my parrots, but the mosquitoes,
too, which you swat out as if they were nothing.
At heart, human beings are manifesting a potential
that is in all and that is inherent in conditional
existence itself. Whether this potential is exhibited
or not, whether it is made human or not, makes
no difference whatsoever to the divine self-condition.
All is one. All are the same. All equally require
divine compassion, love, and blessing, the thread
of communion with the divine made certain and
true and directly experienced. All. Therefore,
the sphere of my work is all beings and things.
Literally it is so. This is literally how I work.
— Adi Da Samraj, November 4, 1993
For more information about the zoo visit http://www.fearnomorezoo.org.