Getting Closer to Waking Up
LIFE IS BOTH WRETCHED AND GLORIOUS
BY Pema Chödrön
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected.
“But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.
“On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there.
“The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.
“Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
- Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
CAN THE IMAGINATION SAVE US?
by Susan Griffin
I heard the following story from a survivor of the holocaust: Along with many others who are crowded into the bed of a large truck, the surrealist poet Robert Desnos is being taken away from the barracks of the concentration camp where he has been held prisoner. The mood is somber; everyone knows the truck is headed for the gas chambers.
When the truck arrives at its destination, no one can speak at all; even the guards fall silent. But this silence is soon interrupted by an energetic man, Robert Desnos, who begins reading the palm of one of his fellow prisoners.
Oh, he says, I see you have a very long lifeline. And you are going to have three children. He is exuberant. And his excitement is contagious. First one man, then another, offers up his hand, and Desnos predicts longevity, more children, abundant joy.
As Desnos reads more palms, not only does the mood of the prisoners change, but also the moods of the guards. How can one explain it? Perhaps the element of surprise has planted a shadow of doubt in their minds. They are in any case so disoriented by this sudden change of mood among those they are about to kill that they are unable to go through with the executions.
So all the men, along with Desnos, are packed back onto the truck and taken back to the barracks. Desnos has saved his own life and the lives of others by using his imagination.
This story poses a question in my mind. Can the imagination save us?
Robert Desnos was famous for his belief in the imagination. He believed it could transform society. And what a wild leap this was, at the mouth of the gas chambers, to imagine a long life! In his mind he simply stepped outside the world as it was created by the SS.
Full story by Susan Griffin.
Want to Get Your Chart Read?
Do I give personal astrology readings? Although I love to, I'm not doing them these days. In addition to writing "Free Will Astrology" and my expanded audio horoscopes, I'm also working on new books and attending to that high art referred to as "having a life." There's no time left over!
If you want your chart done, I recommend a colleague whose approach to reading astrology charts closely matches my own. She's my wife, RO LOUGHRAN. We've been enjoying regular conversations about astrology since 1989! Her website's here.
Ro utilizes a blend of well-trained intuition, emotional warmth, and a high degree of technical proficiency in horoscope interpretation. She is skilled at exploring the mysteries of your life's purpose and nurturing your connection with your own inner wisdom.
In addition to over 30 years of astrological experience, Ro has been a licensed psychotherapist for 17 years. This enables her to integrate psychological insight with the cosmological perspective that astrology offers.
Ro is based in California, but can do phone consultations and otherwise work with you regardless of geographic boundaries.
Check out Ro's website.
“Genuine listening requires that you willingly bear witness to what someone else needs to say while simultaneously sparing them of your own solution, defense, dismissal, alternative reality, rebuttal, counterpoint, comparable story or more extreme example.
This kind of listening is a very ‘active’ part to play in a conversation. You have to believe for those moments that none of the things you might say could possibly be as valuable as hearing someone out.
You may need to employ every ounce of your strength of character to actually pay attention and not butt-in with your own bit. That kind of attention paid to another is powerful medicine.”
~ Gil Hedley, Integral Anatomy
The 80% Rule
Readers of my horoscope column "Free Will Astrology" are sometimes surprised when I say I only believe in astrology about 80 percent. "You're a quack?!" they cry.
Not at all, I explain. I've been a passionate student of the ancient art for decades. About the time my over-educated young brain was on the verge of desertification, crazy wisdom showed up in the guise of astrology, moistening my soul just in time to save it.
"But what about the other 20 percent?" they press on. "Are you saying your horoscopes are only partially true?"
I assure them that my doubt proves my love. By cultivating a tender, cheerful skepticism, I inoculate myself against the virus of fanaticism. This ensures that astrology will be a supple tool in my hands, an adaptable art form, and not a rigid, explain-it-all dogma that over-literalizes and distorts the mysteries it seeks to illuminate.
P.S.: I use the same 80-20 approach with every belief system I love and benefit from: science, psychology, feminism, and various spiritual traditions like Qabalah, Buddhism, paganism, and magick.
I take what's useful from each, but am not so deluded as to think that any single system is the holy grail that the physicists call the "Theory of Everything."
Unconditional, unskeptical faith is the path of the fanatic and fundamentalist, and I aspire to be a rowdy philosophical anarchist, aflame with objectivity and committed to the truth that the truth is always evolving.
week of Monday, January 15, 2018
Glory in the Highest
My book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below are excerpts.
The concept of pronoia proposes the hypothesis that life is a vast and intricate conspiracy designed to keep us well supplied with blessings. What kind of blessings?
Ten million dollars, a gorgeous physique, a perfect marriage, a luxurious home, and high status? Maybe.
But just as likely:
gifts you hardly know what to do with,
challenges that dare you to free yourself from the debilitating aspects of your suffering,
and conundrums that dare you to get smarter.
Novelist William Vollman referred to the latter types of blessings when he said that "the most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that's a complicated, tricky problem for you that you don't know how to solve."
The Christian writer C. S. Lewis once said: "I thank God that He hasn't given me all the things I've prayed for, because as I look back now I realize it would have been disastrous to have received some of them."
Pronoia provides the boons and prods your soul needs, not necessarily those your ego craves.
Pronoia doesn't promise uninterrupted progress forever. It's not a slick commercial for a perfect summer daythat never ends.
Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow. The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing.
But whether it's our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow, fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way.
Our suffering won't last, nor will our triumph.
Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need to change into the new thing we must become.
Pronoia works because there is a Divine Being who comprises the entire universe.
When I say, "Life is a conspiracy to shower us with blessings," I understand that this Divine Being is the Chief Architect, Builder, and Manager of the conspiracy.
She oversees the evolution of 500 billion galaxies and every single thing in them, yet is also available as an intimate companion and daily advisor to each one of us humans.
Some lovers of pronoia don't like this part of my rap. They want pronoia to be free of anything that smacks of God. Atheism works better for them. That's OK with me. No hard feelings.
Other lovers of pronoia don't appreciate me referring to the Creator as "She." They either want to stick with the pronoun that has been used for hundreds of years, or else don't want any gender associations whatsoever. That's OK with me. No hard feelings.
The Maker of the conspiracy constantly tinkers, always keeping the big, 14-billion-year-long picture in mind and moving in the direction of ultimate blessings for all concerned.
But the Maker also loves getting help from us. To the degree that we co-conspire, the inevitable blessings ripen more lyrically and in greater fullness.
Pronoia asks us to be awake to the shifting conditions of the Wild Divine's ever-fresh creation. It encourages us to be quite happy about regularly divesting ourselves of the beliefs and theories that guided us yesterday so that we can see clearly what's right in front of us today.
As much as we might be dismayed by the actions of our political leaders pronoia says that toppling any particular junta, clique, or elite is irrelevant unless we overthrow the sour, puckered mass hallucinationthat is mistakenly called "reality" including the part of that hallucination we foster in ourselves.
The revolution begins at home. If you overthrow yourself again and again, you might earn the right to help overthrow the rest of us.
Pronoia will change your past if you let it. It's the language you study at night in your dreams, the open secret of how to live forever, the Last Judgment transformed into a daily gift.
Pronoia is a gnostic art: Everyone is potentially a visionary capable of revealing more of its mysteries.
Here are excerpts from the revised and expanded edition of my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings:
Torrential Pronoia Therapy
This Is a Perfect Moment
Twisty Healing Stories with a Pronoiac Twist
Glory in the Highest, Part 1
Glory in the Highest, Part 2
Glory in the Highest, Part 3
It's Already December 21, 2012
The Orgasmic Roots of Pronoia
You Are a Prophet
Gazing into the Abyss of Happiness
Prayer for Us
The Evolution of Ecstasy
Burn, Baby, Burn
How I Got Started in the Beauty and Truth Business
If You Practice Pronoia, Your Life Will Suck
Evil Fears Laughter
Your Sins Forgiven for a Million Dollars
The Universe Is Made of Stories
What's the Most Important Question for You to Ask Today?
You possess exceptional capacities that are absolutely unique. You're a masterpiece unlike any other that has ever lived in the history of the world.
Furthermore, the precise instructions you need to ripen into your special talents have always been with you, even from the time before you were born. In the words of psychologist James Hillman, you have a soul's code.
You might also call it the mission you came to Earth to carry out; the divine blueprint that contains the open secret of how to be perfectly, unpredictably yourself; the master plan that is your heart's deepest desire.
Would you like help in deciphering it? The Divine Intelligence Formerly Known as God is always on call, ready to help. It's your birthright to ask Her a specific question every day about what you need to do next to express your soul's code; it's also your birthright to receive a response.
The divine revelation may not be as unambiguous as a little voice in your head. It might appear in the form of a TV commercial, an odd dream, or an encounter with a stranger. It could be demanding and difficult, delivering information you'd rather not have to deal with. Or it might show up as a clear and simple feeling of knowing exactly what to do, and it could be easy and fun.
What question will you ask the Divine Wow today?
P.S. "There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost. The world will not have it.
"It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open."
- Martha Graham, quoted by Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper and Promenade Home
Although we are all born geniuses, the grind of day-to-day living tends to de-genius us. That's the bad news. The good news is that you have the power to re-genius yourself.
Here's a recording of a ritual I did that you can use to jump-start the process: ReGenius Yourself
Here are videos of the the time I did this ritual at a theater in San Francisco:
You Are a Genius, Part 1
You Are a Genius, Part 2
What We're ReadingWords to live by:
What We're Listening ToMusic that's rocking our world:
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved