Prayer for Us
Welcome Homeexcerpted from PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia
Let me remind you who you really are: You’re an immortal freedom fighter in service to divine love. You have temporarily taken on the form of a human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins, in order to liberate all sentient creatures from suffering and help them claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright. You will accept nothing less than the miracle of bringing heaven all the way down to earth.
Your task may look impossible. Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround you. Pessimism is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories about treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.
To grapple against these odds, you have to be both a wrathful insurrectionary and an exuberant lover of life. You’ve got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as you resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by very self-important people who act as if they know what they’re doing. You have to learn how to stay in a good mood as you overthrow the sour, puckered hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as reality.
What can we do to help each other in this work?
First, we can create safe houses to shelter everyone who’s devoted to the slow-motion awakening. These sanctuaries might take the form of temporary autonomous zones like festivals and parties and workshops, where we can ritually potentiate the evolving mysteries of pronoia. Or they might be more enduring autonomous zones like homes and cafes and businesses where we can get regular practice in freeing ourselves from the slavery of hatred in all of its many guises.
What else can we do to help each other? We can conspire together to carry out the agenda that futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard names: to hospice what’s dying and midwife what’s being born. We need the trigger of each other’s rebel glee as we kill off every reflex within us that resonates in harmony with the putrefaction. We need each other’s dauntless cunning as we goad and foment the blooming life forces within us that thrive on the New World’s incandescent questions.
Here’s a third way we can collaborate: We can inspire each other to perpetrate healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, blasphemous reverence, holy pranks, and crazy wisdom . . . .
What? Huh? What do tricks and mischief and jokes have to do with our quest? Isn’t America in a permanent state of war? Isn’t it the most militarized empire in the history of the world? Hasn’t the government’s paranoia about terrorism decimated our civil liberties? Isn’t it our duty to grow more serious and weighty than ever before?
I say it’s the perfect moment to take everything less seriously and less personally and less literally.
Permanent war and the loss of civil liberties are immediate dangers. But there is an even bigger long-term threat to the fate of the earth, of which the others are but symptoms: the genocide of the imagination.
Earlier I cited pop nihilist storytellers as vanguard perpetrators of the genocide of the imagination. But there are other culprits as well: the fundamentalists. I’m not referring to just the usual suspects—the religious fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.
Scientists can be fundamentalists. So can liberals and capitalists, atheists and hedonists, patriots and anarchists, hippies and goths, you and me. Those who champion the ideology of materialism can be the most fanatical fundamentalists of all. And the journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, poets, and other artists who relentlessly generate rotten visions of the human condition are often pop nihilist fundamentalists.
Every fundamentalist divides the world into two camps, those who agree with him and like him and help him, and those who don’t. There is only one right way to interpret the world—according to the ideas the fundamentalist believes to be true—and a million wrong ways.
The fundamental attitude of all fundamentalists is to take everything way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally. The untrammeled imagination is taboo. Correct belief is the only virtue. Every fundamentalist is committed to waging war against the imagination unless the imagination is enslaved to his or her belief system.
And here’s the bad news: Like almost everyone in the world, each of us has our own share of the fundamentalist virus. It may not be as virulent and dangerous to the collective welfare as, say, the fundamentalism of Islamic terrorists or right-wing Christian politicians or CEOs who act as if making a financial profit is the supreme good or scientists who deny the existence of the large part of reality that’s imperceptible to the five senses.
But still: We are infected, you and I, with fundamentalism. What are we going to do about it?
I say we practice taking everything less seriously and less personally and less literally. I suggest we administer plentiful doses of healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, blasphemous reverence, holy pranks, and crazy wisdom.
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