We have never met. In fact, I wasn’t a member of your site and have only recently learned that frequent visitors to your site referred to it as “the garden”. I also learned that your site was very popular.
I am just a reader who found you to often be very insightful and uniquely visionary. Your articles appeared on many sites. In fact, some sites seemed to post everything you wrote.
The garden idea is actually beautiful. Yet those attacking you are belittling everything about your website in the same mean-spirited way they are tearing you apart.
I’ve been pondering this recent mess — feeding frenzy, really — where people who claimed to love and admire you suddenly turned viciously on you. There’s a hysteria around all of this that is very hard to understand. People are being triggered into a sort of madness it seems.
We humans are a very strange species. We can be so incredibly blind and reactive.
I know that you do know the way we can get. You know because you are one of us and we all can get pushed and pulled into dark places we thought we had risen above.
We are flawed. We are growing in understanding and expanding our awareness, which means we still get stuck. We still listen to fear and are affected by it.
We become confused. We can lose our connection to real knowing and we can let fear cause us to stop taking right action.
Seeking to be right, we look for facts to guide our way. Sometimes we mistakenly make the assumption that published data is fact. We forget to do our own fact-checking with logic, intuition and spiritual intelligence.
If it’s false, it can’t be a fact. Yet information that is declared to be fact is often false. Facts, when presented by people we think of as authorities or as smarter than us, can make us feel right. We really like to feel right because we were raised in a co-dependent world that shamed us. Being right brings praise from others who agree with us. Unfortunately, being right is not the same as being true.
Home, Not-So-Sweet Home
If we feel right, then we feel safe. It’s a false sort of safety, but we are so used to falseness that it feels just like home.
With pride (always fear-based and in contrast to self-knowing) as replacement for backbone, we become more assured about how right we really are. We defend our rightness at all costs, because, after all, our pride is now at stake. We link arms with others to defend that same false narrative. Data, whether true or not, can give us a false sense of power.
Fearful states such as this often bring on a sense of urgency, telling us we must build something solid to stand on. And we must do it quickly.
We’ve been domesticated and maimed from our wild, loving state into more fearful versions of ourselves. We know this, yet we can forget to be watchful for our own blind spots and for our trigger points.
We can forget that we have chosen to live for truth and we can forget our own solemn oath to first do no harm.
In these blind moments, we’ve forgotten that we’ve nothing to fear.
Fear is desperate. Truth stands outside of time.
Who are we anyway?
Are we, Zen, the loving, infinite beings you have always reminded us that we are? Are we really the awakening?
Many of us know we were born for no other reason than to become as true as we can be. That doesn’t mean, by any means, that we’ve always been or always will be true.
But, when we are in sync with truth, we know there can be no other life purpose than to love and to express the true nature of our being. We know that we are already the one we are looking for.
As I read your many articles through the years, I knew you were one who was serious about living the truth. I also knew that you knew there is nothing easy about being true, and that you were committed to staying the course nonetheless.
The problem with being vulnerable and the fear of being fooled
Being a lover of truth is not easy. We find ourselves fooled over and over. If we move forward with courage we always risk being fooled or trapped or temporarily stuck. It takes work to remember who we are and to regain the confidence that we are unstoppable. It takes work to stop looking for solutions outside of ourselves and to trust the deep truth within. It takes work to let go of fear, to know that we can always heal and to understand that we can never die.
The monster under the bed or the elephant in the room?
There’s nothing like a monster under the bed to get us pulling the blankets over our heads and the wool over our own eyes, especially when the monster was first identified as “the elephant in the room”.
We were told by self-proclaimed experts-in-the-know that there was a monster walking about freely in our “awakened” village and that he had disguised himself as an intelligent, caring and dynamic writer and teacher. This man monster in our midst was supposedly the elephant in the room that we’d all been too blind to see.
As it turns out, Zen, this monster is supposedly you.
With friends like these...
Apparently someone in your wide group of contacts, who you had been consulting “in confidence” and who you considered a friend, decided to pass your confidential communications along to another person in your network.
This person felt it imperative that we all be told that you were involved with a “cult” called Children of God (which you left 17 years ago), and that you had been in this cult for 27 years. Many jumped on the bandwagon of urgently “outing” you with whatever bits of unverified gossip and wild speculation they could get their hands on. A series of open letters to Zen Gardner were written.
“Facts” were put together quickly from old mainstream media sources about COG which, incidentally, had nothing to do with you. But they were shocking and inflammatory — thus making great click bait. For some very odd reason, these “friends” could not respect your own sense of time and did not protect your dignity (something any real friend would do) by contacting you privately and hearing your truth before going public.
The COG you joined as a young man called for deep commitment with serious Bible study. Many sincere truth seekers found their way into cults back then. Many still do. The Children of God declared itself to be a family– a true family . This “family” hook lured many of us into groups that offered to become the loving families we never had. Unfortunately, as all control systems eventually do, the COG eventually morph into a giant dysfunctional mess, with sordid elements working their way in.
According the mainstream media, COG had members who were involved in free sex (which, of course, has nothing to do with being free) and had a deviant leader and some members who practiced pedophilia. Yet, according to articles by ex members, COG started out with the requirement of no sex before marriage. Somehow that practice was dropped and the directives from “on high” started to support a free sex lifestyle. Like members of most religions, people were left confused yet wanting to keep faith and wanting to have something real to believe in.
Whenever pedophilia is mentioned, we are all sickened. Just as when we hear about torture, rape, or other seriously violent and damaging acts, we shift into cognitive dissonance. We can’t imagine anyone ever doing those things. We also look for a way to take action, which can include looking for someone to blame.
Apparently, as a former member of COG, you are now being held responsible for all that went on there.
Pedophilia within the Catholic church is being widely exposed now. However, it is not being used as a reason to tar and feather all Catholics.
Pedophilia is rampant in Hollywood, in government and politics, and likely in every segment of society. Child abuse is condoned in many religions and claimed to be for the child’s benefit.
Projecting our fears and failures onto other people (you, Zen, for example) is cowardly, anti-love, and it is also a lie. We are all responsible for our collective ignorance and must wake up, speak out and take action where and how we feel called to.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
Zen, I acknowledge that when I heard about the pedophilia I was stunned. I had moments of doubt about my gut feeling that you were being targeted for some reason.
I imagine many who read this have gone through confusion about all of this. In the meantime, your betrayers continue to use memes, gossip, blog posts, videos and podcasts to spin and spread their dark hallucinations.
I’ve wondered how you got from being deep within a cult like COG to being the insightful man I experienced through your writing.
I know from my own life as a seeker that, in my younger years, I was perfect cult bait. I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional family (as so many of us were). I was aware that the world was sick and I questioned everything about the nature of this reality. My wounded self really wanted to belong somewhere and to have something to believe in. At age 17, I joined a “spiritual family”. It took me years to disengage from the mind and heart control of that experience. But through it all, I came to understand how controlled we ALL are.
It would be good to hear your story one day. I would venture a guess that it took a lot of mini awakenings along the way for you to free yourself from the group and then to later write with such clarity about how the whole world is a cult.
I expected your readers and friends to have questions about your past, but I didn’t anticipate all of these vicious attacks. I expected intelligent conversation that we all could learn from. I’ve been greatly disappointed and, in some cases, sickened by the way hysteria has dominated the discussion up to this point.
I was completely dumbstruck at the suggestion that you take down your website in order to do “self-work” — as if the rest of us are so high and mighty.
Who do we think we are to treat another human being this way?
Apparently, we, in these moments of arrogant blindness, have no memory of who we really are. We’ve forgotten to ask love’s guidance and have been triggered into self-righteous, reactive ignorance.
Instead of attacking you, shouldn’t we give you the opportunity to continue to share your ideas and life story? Doesn’t this offer us a door into deeper discussion?
The hive mind of the “awakened”
Zen, what sort of madness is causing us to cast you out of the village and to build a Zen-proof fence?
What triggered the fear virus that is causing your friends and readers to hallucinate that you are an evil caricature of yourself instead of seeing who you really are?
What specific fears are pushing us to shut out your voice from our most important conversations when this could be an expansion of insight for us all?
I imagine there are other readers who, like me, sense in their gut that a horrible mistake has just been made.
I ask now that our intelligent research community actually do research. Several writers have already pointed out that no one has come forward with any evidence that you were part of anything linked with pedophilia. In fact, the opposite is true and there is only testimony of your kind, wise and gentle nature.
By staying in respectful conversation, we would engage with energies to empower us all.
In this moment, I am wondering how we have the nerve to use the words “truth movement”. I’m wondering where all the self-described empaths are. I’m wondering what happened to all of that love and light so many talk about.
In this moment, I can’t bear to think that we don’t have what it takes to choose love over fear. If we allow even one of us to be treated as you are being treated then we have failed.
I ask all to question what is really going on around this attack on you.
I ask that we face our fears, realizing that by not facing our fears we allow ourselves to be triggered, and may unwittingly do great harm.
I ask all who read this to remember who we really are.
With love, Kathleen
I Know The Way You Can Get
from “I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz”, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:
Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.
Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
And into one’s self.
O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:
You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.
You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.
You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
Just Wanting to help.
That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!
All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!
This article may be freely shared as long as the text is unaltered and the original author, Kathleen Stilwell, is clearly identified with a hyperlink back to the original article.
Born a truth seeker, she stumbled her way through a life guided by intuition, studying a broad range of topics including metaphysics and psychology, learning from mistakes, experiencing many awakenings, and finding her greatest challenge and sacred responsibility in being a mother, and now a grandmother.