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Getting Closer to Waking Up

(Excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. To hear a podcast version of this text, go here.)

DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It's the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

OBJECTIVE OF PRONOIA: To explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.

HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower.

PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.

GUIDING QUESTION: "The secret of life," said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do." What is that task for you?

UNDIGNIFIED MEDITATIONS TO KEEP YOU HONEST: Brag about what you can't do and don't have. Confess profound secrets to people who aren't particularly interested. Pray for the success of your enemies while you're making love. Change your name every day for a thousand days.

MYTHIC ROLE MODELS: Prometheus and Pronoia. In Greek mythology, Pronoia was the consort of Prometheus, the divine rebel who pilfered a glowing coal from his fellow gods so that he could slip the gift of fire to humans.

TOP-SECRET ALLIES: Sacred janitors, benevolent pranksters, apathy debunkers, lyrical logicians, ethical outlaws, aspiring masters of curiosity, homeless millionaires, humble megalomaniacs, hedonistic midwives, lunatic saints, sly optimists, mystical scientists, dissident bodhisattvas, macho feminists, and socialist libertarians who possess inside information about the big bang.

DAILY PRACTICE: Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections.

POSSIBLE REWARDS: You will be able to claim the rewards promised you at the beginning of time -- not just any old beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, freedom, and justice, but rather: exhilarating beauty that incites you to be true to yourself; crazy wisdom that immunizes you against the temptation to believe your ideals are ultimate truths; outrageous goodness that inspires you to experiment with irrepressible empathy; generous freedom that keeps you alert for opportunities to share your wealth; insurrectionary love that endlessly transforms you; and a lust for justice that's leavened with a knack for comedy, keeping you honest as you work humbly to liberate everyone in the world from ignorance and suffering.

USAGE NOTE: We employ the adjectival form "pronoiac" rather than "pronoid." That way, it rhymes with "aphrodisiac" and resonates with "paradisiacal" instead of being conditioned by "paranoid."

DISCLAIMER: Material in this book may be too intense and controversial for some readers. It contains graphic scenes of peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. You will not find any references to harsh, buzzing fluorescent lights in a cheap hotel room where a heroin dealer plots to get revenge against the authorities at his old high school by releasing sarin gas into the teachers' lounge. There are no reports of Nazi skinheads obsessed with re-creating the 14th-century Tartars' war strategy of catapulting plague-ridden corpses into an enemy's citadel.

Completely absent from these pages are any stories about a psychotic CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has intentionally disfigured his face to help him elude the CIA, which wants to arrest him for the treasonous sale of his company's nanotech weapons technology to the Chinese. You should therefore proceed with caution if you are a jaded hipster who is suspicious of feeling healthy and happy. Ask yourself: "Am I ready to stop equating cynicism with insight? Do I dare take the risk that exposing myself to uplifting entertainment might dull my intelligence?" If you doubt your ability to handle relaxing breakthroughs, you should stop reading now.




PRONOIA Invites Surrender to the Unfathomable
by Rick DelVecchio

Rob Brezsny says the apocalypse is now, so let's dance.

"We are in fact living through the apocalypse," the astrology columnist-author-musician declares in his radically optimistic self-help bible, Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings, a surprise top-1,000 seller on Amazon.com.

The biblical idea of apocalypse is the terrifying end of things, followed by judgment. Brezsny's version takes away the fear and the finality and redefines apocalypse as a slow, subtle, revolving process of death and rebirth in which we're all invited to take part.

In the end, according to him, we can't lose. But -- and this is the trick -- first we have to be willing to play the game.

Brezsny argues that the game is stacked in favor not so much of steady happiness as happy accidents -- iridescent streams of fruitful, fulfilling or inspiring moments in the mundane. He wrote the book in order to provide evidence, tips and inspiration for people who sense that theory is right but who find that media and education provide little in the way of guidance.

"We're not looking for starry-eyed optimism and repressed boosterism," Brezsny said. "Pronoia is not boosterism for empty-brained people. I think the media tend to emphasize that part of human experience that doesn't work. There are a lot of people who don't identify that as their primary state of existence."

READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW

Proliferation of the Pronoia Meme

Here's what singer-songwriter Jason Mraz has said about me and my book PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA:

"Meet Rob Brezsny. He writes everybody's favorite astrology column, Free Will Astrology. I dig him for his powerful yet playful insights, his poetry and his humor. I recently got turned onto his book, Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia. Believing not that the world is out to get you, but rather, the world is there to GIVE you, takes you to a powerful place.

"Rob's website alone can give you a lift just by smelling it. Today I salute him for his dedication to inspiration."

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Go to Youtube to see Mraz talk about the concept of pronoia during one of his live shows.

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Jason Mraz is one of the most famous agents of pronoia. More than any other celebrity I know of, he's out there feeding the conspiracy to shower blessings on all of creation. In his blog, he encourages readers to view the world as a fount of glory; he urges them to be sources of goodness and gratitude.

I'm glad to see that his song "I'm Yours" is officially the longest running hit in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

What does it mean when an intelligent optimist like Mraz has such mainstream popularity? Here's what I suspect: The media may relentlessly wallow in news about what's wrong and bad and rotting, but many people are resisting that hypnotic hum as they wake up to the glorious other side of the story.


Mirabilia Report

(Mirabilia n. events that inspire wonder, marvelous phenomena, small miracles, beguiling ephemera, inexplicable joys, changes that inspire quiet awe, eccentric enchantments, unplanned jubilations, sudden deliverance from boring evils; from the Latin mirabilia, "marvels.")

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research reports that the average cloud is the same weight as 100 elephants.

* The seeds of some trees are so tightly compacted within their protective covering that only the intense heat of a forest fire can free them, allowing them to sprout.

* Thirty-eight percent of North America is wilderness.

* Anthropologists say that in every culture in history, children have played the game hide and seek.

* With every dawn, when first light penetrates the sea, many seahorse colonies perform a dance to the sun.

* A seven-year-old Minnesota boy received patent number 6,368,227 for a new method of swinging on a swing.

* As it thrusts itself into our Milky Way Galaxy, the dwarf galaxy Sagittarius is unraveling, releasing a thick stream of dark matter that is flowing right through the Earth.

* A chemist in Australia finally succeeded in mixing oil and water.

* Except among birds and land mammals, the females of most species are bigger than the males.

* The South African version of TV's Sesame Street has an AIDS-positive Muppet named Kami.

* The sky not only isn't falling--it's rising. The top of the troposphere, the atmosphere's lowest layer, is slowly ascending.

* To make a pound of honey, bees have to gather nectar from about two million flowers. To produce a single pound of the spice saffron, humans have to handpick and process 80,000 flowers. In delivering the single survivor necessary to fertilize an ovum, a man releases 500 million sperm.

* Some Christians really do love their enemies, as Jesus recommended.

* Kind people are more likely than mean people to yawn when someone near them does.

* There are always so many fragments of spider legs floating in the air that you are constantly inhaling them wherever you go.

* "The average river requires a million years to move a grain of sand 100 miles," says science writer James Trefil.

* Because half of the world's vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, the whole island smells like vanilla ice cream.

* Your body contains so much iron that you could make a spike out of it, and that spike would be strong enough to hold you up.

* In his book *The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead,* physicist Frank J. Tipler offers what he says is scientific proof that every human being who has ever lived will be resurrected from the dead at the end of time.

* In the Ukraine you can buy Fat in Chocolate, a food with a layer of dark chocolate covering a chunk of pork fat.

* Robust singing skill is correlated with a strong immune system in songbirds. Male birds with the most extensive repertoire of tunes also have the largest spleens, a key measure of immune system health.

* Bali has 80,000 temples.

* Romanian physicists created gaseous globes of plasma that grew, reproduced, and communicated with each other, thereby fulfilling the definition for life.

* In an apparent attempt to raise their volume above the prevailing human din, some nightingales in big cities have learned to unleash 95-decibel songs, matching the loudness of a chainsaw.

* There is a statistically significant probability of world-class athletes and military leaders being born when Mars is rising in the sky.

* Some piranhas are vegetarians.

* In the pueblos of New Mexico, bricks still measure 33 by 15 by 10 centimeters, proportions that almost exactly match those of the bricks used to build Egypt's Temple of Hatshepsut 3,500 years ago.

* Childbirth is often joyful even though it's painful.

* In hopes of calming flustered lawbreakers, Japanese cops have substituted the sound of church bells for sirens on police cars.

* Scientists believe they'll be able to figure out why cancer cells are virtually immortal, and then apply the secret to keeping normal cells alive much longer, thereby dramatically expanding the human life span.

* Clown fish can alter their gender as their social status rises.

* When she is born, a baby girl has all the ova she will ever have.

* Bluebirds cannot see the color blue.

* Gregorian chants can cure dyslexia.

* Bob Hope donated half a million jokes to the Library of Congress.

* Bees perform a valuable service for the flowers from which they steal.
* "Leafing through Forbes or Fortune [magazine]s is like reading the operating manual of a strangely sanctimonious pirate ship," wrote Adam Gopnik in *The New Yorker.*

* Revlon makes 177 different shades of lipstick.

* Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body.

* The most frequently shoplifted book in America is the Bible.

   
week of Monday, July 21, 2014
Glory in the Highest

Human biology has changed dramatically in the past three centuries, says Noble Prize-winning economic historian Robert Fogel -- and especially in the last 100 years. People in the developed world live twice as long as they used to. They weigh more and grow taller. They're far hardier and healthier and smarter. When sickness comes, they're better at defeating it than their ancestors were, and they're not as likely to contract diseases in the first place.

"We're just not falling apart like we used to," says Fogel. "Even our internal organs are stronger and better formed." What has occurred is "not only unique to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of human beings who have inhabited the earth." (Sources: "The Human Equation," by Lydialyle Gibson, and "So Big and Healthy Grandpa Wouldn't Even Know You," by Gina Kolata, The New York Times)

We're talking about a revolution. In the mid-19th century, Americans of all ages were much sicker than they are now. Child mortality was almost 25 percent, and of those kids lucky enough to survive into adolescence, 15 percent more expired before age 15. Chronic malnutrition was a horrendous curse, compromising immune systems from birth.

During the Civil War, one-sixth of the teenagers who applied to serve in the Union army were rejected because of chronic ailments like malaria, tuberculosis, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, and hernias. As for the older folks, the average ex-soldier in his 60s had at least six health problems, four more than a sexagenarian is likely to have today.

What happened between then and now? First, we harnessed electricity, made it universally available, and used it in a myriad ways to improve our lot. All of the other boons I'm about to name -- improvements in our diet, medicine, sanitation, and workload -- were organized around this fantastic, unprophesied new resource.

Our relationship with food has changed dramatically in the last century and a half. We discovered more accurate information about our nutritional needs and gained access to a greater variety and abundance of food. The perfection of the science of refrigeration and the eventual universal availability of refrigerators made a big difference, too. Victory over widespread malnutrition meant that infants got a better start on building strong bodies, making them less susceptible to sickness throughout the course of their lives.

The drastic upgrade in the state of the human body was also made possible by steadily growing medical expertise, including the discovery of the germ theory of disease and radical new treatments like antibiotics and vaccination. Physicians got better training, large numbers of new hospitals opened, and more people made medicine their career. Among the diseases that were wiped out were diphtheria, typhoid, cholera, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, smallpox, and polio.

Innovations in sanitation have been key to the upgrades in the way our bodies work. Everything and everyone are far cleaner than they used to be. People bathe more frequently and devote more attention to their hygiene. Among the most important developments in this triumph were two practical miracles: indoor plumbing and the installation of municipal sewer systems. It took a while. As late as 1920, only one in 100 American homes had a toilet or even a bathroom -- outhouses were standard -- and toilet paper was a luxury. For those few with bathtubs, a full-body cleanse was often a once-a-week ritual, and entire families might use the same bathwater. Fogel says that even into the early 1900s, "Chicago exported a lot of typhoid down to St. Louis," by disposing wastewater in the Illinois River.

Garbage disposal used to be a hit-and-miss proposition until the 20th century. Private citizens might bury their refuse in their backyards, take it to public incinerators, or offer it to pigs at local farms. But eventually, local governments took over the task. During my lifetime, every city where I've lived has done a stellar job of hauling my trash away.

In the middle of the 19th century, the average American worked 78 hours a week, often at exhausting manual labor and without the help of machines. As work became easier and of shorter duration, our health soared. Technological aids like washing machines and automatic heating systems also contributed to the rising tide of physical well-being.

All of the improvements I've mentioned have flourished because of the most important change of all: greater wealth and more available resources. Despite periodic economic downturns, per capita income in the developing nations has grown enormously in the last 150 years. Elsewhere, too: Wealth in India and China has doubled since 1989, according to The Economist magazine. As a result, more of us have been able to afford to take better care of ourselves. And more of us have been able to do the research and experimentation and development that advance the common good.

Even poor people are better off than they used to be. During the 17 years when my annual income was less than $10,000, well below the official poverty line, I had many amenities the average American didn't have in 1900: electricity, telephone, bathtub, toilet, hot running water, refrigerator, radio, electric hotplate, space heater, TV, cassette player, shampoo, public transportation, asthma medicine, access to a laundromat, garbage collection, and sewer system.

Read the rest of this excerpt here:

Glory in the Highest, Part 1

Glory in the Highest, Part 2

Glory in the Highest, Part 3



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For my account of the background of "Glory in the Highest," go here.

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You Have More Resources at Your Disposal Than You Realize

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

World Kiss

Unhappy Hour

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 If Your Desires Are Holy

Bigger, Better, More Interesting Problems

Evil Is Boring

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Here's another excerpt from the book:

In recent years, the doom and gloom prophets have become even more strident and brazen in blurting out their cacophony of curses.

Joining them in the mad rush to shower condemnation on the entire human enterprise have been millions of emboldened everyday complainers who've also become addicted to the sick thrill of chronic rage.

I'm sometimes tempted to view the growing hordes of fulminators as a black magic army flinging hexes and maledictions on everything they see.

But whenever I brush up against that fear, I stop my mind from its careening and refocus my inner eyes. Breathing out the jive and breathing in the love, I survey all the evidence I've been gathering of an antidotal force rising up.

When my book on pronoia first came out in 2005, I felt isolated in my seemingly eccentric invitation to celebrate the glory we're surrounded by, to name the thousands of ways that the universe proves its love for us, to notice all the miracles and help we receive.

But I soon realized that I was by no means a lone crank crying in the wilderness. I became aware of an ever-growing rebel crusade -- swarms of pilgrims and activists and artists and creative optimists who had signed on to the conspiracy to shower blessings, devoting themselves to the work of not just saving the world but making it more beautiful and mysterious and interesting.

I wasn't under any illusion that they were suddenly arising because of my influence. Rather, my sense was that my book was just one symptom of an energy that was awakening in the whole world. I was a current in the flood.

For years, I've been compiling data about other currents in the flood, making them known through this free weekly email newsletter. A Beauty and Truth Lab researcher named Darin Wilson has created a website that is archiving these pronoiac resources. The posts are categorized and tagged, and there's built-in search. You can find the site here.

Now check out a few of the many sources that report The Other Side of the Story:

Good News Network

Change the World News

Great News Network

Positive News

Gimundo

Good News Daily

Good News Blog

Ode magazine

Yes magazine

Happy News

Heroic Stories

Positive Economic News

Good News Economist

NPR report on good news

New "positive change" magazines thrive



For my next big writing project, I might have chosen to write a sequel to PRONOIA, the book I first published in 2005. But instead I opted to fatten up that first edition.

And it was a pretty massive fattening. The inspiration kicked in really hard in June of 2008, and by the time I finished the manuscript in July 2009, I had stuffed more than 55% brand new extra material into the original text -- the size of a whole new book.

So the revised and expanded version of PRONOIA is richer, meatier, and more concentrated. It's lusher and plusher, having benefited from the personal adventures that ramped up my understanding of pronoia these last few years, as well as from all the mojo that my readers blessed me with as they told me about their experiences with pronoia.

The wilder and riskier new edition of PRONOIA has 17 totally new pieces. It also has amplified and intensified versions of many of the central pieces of the original book, including "This Is a Perfect Moment," "Glory in the Highest," "World Kiss," and "I Me Wed," the ceremony for you to use if you want to marry yourself.

I got especially pumped up and carried away while revising "Glory in the Highest," which is a manifesto celebrating the everyday miracles we take for granted, the uncanny powers we possess, the small joys that occur so routinely we forget how much they mean to us, and the steady flow of benefits bestowed on us by people we know and donít know. In the new edition of the book, this piece is eight times longer than it was in the first edition.

The new edition of PRONOIA also has 14 brand new Sacred Advertisements. Don't worry -- if you're new to *Pronoia* -- the Sacred Ads aren't real ads. Here's an example:

"This perfect moment is brought to you by the imaginary lightning bolts you can shoot out the ends of your fingers anytime you want to."

Like the 2005 edition, the revised and expanded PRONOIA has an abundance of space for you to write and scrawl and draw your responses to what you read. It's designed to make you my collaborator as we conspire together to incite the Great Awakening.

Enjoy my new creation. It makes me very happy to offer it to you!

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Read excerpts from the revised and expanded edition of PRONOIA:

Burn, Baby, Burn

Prayer for Us

The Mystery of Your Thirst

Gazing into the Abyss of Happiness

The Evolution of Ecstasy



WHAT IS PRONOIA?

DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It's the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is our birthright.

PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.

DISCLAIMER: The material in PRONOIA may be too intense and controversial for some readers. It contains graphic scenes of peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. You should therefore proceed with caution if you are a jaded hipster who is suspicious of feeling healthy and happy. Ask yourself: "Am I ready to stop equating cynicism with insight? Do I dare take the risk that exposing myself to uplifting entertainment might dull my intelligence? If you doubt your ability to handle relaxing breakthroughs, you should stop reading now.

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Buddha in Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond, that closes tightly in and sweetens,--
this entire world out to all the stars
is your fruit-flesh: we greet you.

Look, you feel how nothing any longer
clings to you; your husk is in infinity,
and there the strong juice stands and crowds.
And from outside a radiance assists it,

for high above, your suns in full splendor
have wheeled blazingly around.
Yet already there's begun inside you
what lasts beyond the suns.

--Ranier Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow
from New Poems

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If you have encountered examples of the following evidence, tell us about it. Send your testimony to the Beauty and Truth Laboratory at Truthrooster@gmail.com.

1. bliss that flows toward you because you've made a habit of expecting it and cultivating it;

2. good news that's really interesting; fascinating stories that provide an antidote to the media's obsession with hardship, anguish, deterioration, and death;

3. states of emotional wealth and psychological health: the missing half of the story;

4. mirabilia: mysterious revelations, rejuvenating prodigies, ineffable breakthroughs, beguiling ephemera, sudden deliverance from boring evils;

5. plain old everyday miracles;

6. the good news you've gone out and created.



   
 

 
What We're Reading
Words to live by:

  1. Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman
  2. The Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body Antero Alli

 
What We're Listening To
Music that's rocking our world:

  1. Excellent Italian Greyhound Shellac
  2. Is This Desire P.J. Harvey
  3. Noah's Ark CocoRosie
  4. The River P.J. Harvey

 
 

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