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week of August 21, 2014
You Are Everything

You have at least a million relatives as close as tenth cousin, and no one on Earth is any further removed than your fiftieth cousin.

With each breath, you take into your body 10 sextillion atoms, and, owing to the wind's circulation, every year you have intimate relations with oxygen molecules exhaled by every person alive, as well as by everyone who ever lived.

Right now you may be carrying atoms that were once inside the lungs of Malcolm X, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, and Cleopatra.

Source: Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life

Here's the accompanying photo by Fernan Federici

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As I stood by the creek at dusk, the silhouette of a woman in a kayak flowed my way. The last crease of the orange sun hovered on the horizon behind her. I spied the reflection of the first star shimmering in the violet water before I saw it in the sky.

The temperature was balmy. A translucent spider floated on a mild breeze at the end of an airborne silk strand. Nine geese in v-formation trumpeted as they soared overhead.

The woman drew close enough for us to see each other's faces, and addressed me. "We win!" she exclaimed jubilantly, standing up in her kayak and raising her arms. Her announcement delivered, she paddled away.

Here's the accompanying photo by Ro Loughran

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I invite you to think about your relationship to human beings who haven't been born yet. What might you create for them to use? How can you make your life a gift to the future? Can you not only help preserve the wonders we live amidst, but actually enhance them?

Lewis Carroll: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."

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The Divine Awkward in me honors the Divine Awkward in you

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"Freedom is in the unknown. If you believe there is an unknown everywhere, in your own body, in your relationships with other people, in political institutions, in the universe, then you have maximum freedom." - philosopher John C. Lilly

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Great work of art: the 89-year-old face of Lauren Bacall

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Here's another excerpt from
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

WHAT IS PRONOIA?
To hear this piece, go here.

OBJECTIVE: 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.

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 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.

TO READ AND HEAR THE REST OF THIS PIECE, go here.

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Here's another excerpt from
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

SHADOW BLESSINGS

Life is a vast and intricate conspiracy guaranteed to keep you well-supplied with blessings. What kind of blessings? A gorgeous physique, perfect marriage, luxurious home, high status, & $10 million? Maybe.

But it's just as likely that the blessings will be interesting surprises, dizzying adventures, gifts you hardly know what to do with, & conundrums that dare you to get smarter.

Novelist William Vollman referred to these types of blessings when he said that "the most important and enjoyable thing in life is grappling with a complicated, tricky problem that you don't know how to solve."

Sculptor Henry Moore had a similar idea. He said, "The secret of life 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."

So in other words, pronoia does not guarantee that you will forevermore be free of all difficult experiences . . . .

Read or hear the rest.

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There are at least three kinds of darkness:
1. pathology and evil;
2. the mysterious unknown;
3. the shadowy, unripe parts of our psyches that are on their way to becoming more interesting and useful but are still awkward and inarticulate.

You can help prevent outbreaks of the first kind of darkness by developing a closer personal relationship with the second and third types.

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Here's the homework I gave my readers: "Guess what age you'll be when you finally know exactly who you are."

In response, a woman named Bridjet wrote this: "I hope I NEVER completely know who I am! I love discovering new mysteries about myself; I love to change as everything else around me changes. It's one of the most beautifully thrilling things about life -- that the only constant is change. If I ever know completely who I am, it'll be a sad day -- because it will mean that I haven't changed in a long time, that I've become stagnant."

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That's the opening sentence of Charles Dickens' bestselling novel "A Tale of Two Cities." The author was describing the period of the French Revolution in the late 18th century, but he could just as well have been talking about our time -- or any other time, for that matter.

Of course many modern cynics reject the idea that our era could in any way be construed to be the best of times. They obsess on the idea that ours is the worst of all the worst times that have ever been.

Here's my request: Even if you are one of those cynics, be rebellious and come up with five reasons why this is the best of times.

If you like, you may balance your testimony with a litany of why this is the worst of times.

More from Dickens:
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness . . .

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Why is it so hard for Westerners of the last century to feel the intimate presence of the divine intelligences? Every other culture in the history of the world has had a more vital connection with the realm of spirit.

According to poet Gary Snyder, California's Yana Indians explained it this way: The gods have retreated to the volcanic recesses of Mt. Lassen, passing the time playing gambling games with magic sticks. They're simply waiting for such a time when human beings will "reform themselves and become 'real people' that spirits might want to associate with once again."

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As someone who loves science, I understand why scientists get impatient and riled up about those who reject the overwhelming evidence for evolution and human-caused climate change. I, too, am disturbed about the damage done by fanatical believers who not only insist on cultivating their ignorance, but also want to foist it on others.

But I am far less sanguine about the scientists and science-lovers who wax arrogant and authoritative as they dogmatically dismiss all "alternative medicine" as pseudo-science that can't possible work . . .

I am perplexed by the scientists and science-lovers who assert with an angry omniscience that there are absolutely no concerns, none, never, about the safety of genetically engineered foods . . .

I am amazed by the scientists and science-lovers who pontificate with unskeptical certainty, with a despotic and doctrinaire condescension more befitting a religious fundamentalist, that all so-called paranormal phenomena is impossible, that all consciousness stems solely from the activities of brain chemicals, that there is and cannot be any such thing as a "soul" or non-material intelligences or life after death.

Ideas about evolution and human-caused climate change may come as close as we humans can approach to absolute truth about the material world. But those other things I mentioned don't belong in the same category. To vehemently insist that they do is not warranted or logical. And it's certainly not scientific.

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In Plato's Theaetetus, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates spoke derisively about people who are eu a-mousoi, an ancient Greek term that literally means "happily without muses." These are the plodding materialists who have no hunger for divine inspiration and no need of higher insights about reality. They mistakenly believe that in order to be real, a thing must be perceivable by the five senses. They aren't trustworthy.

"Socrates argues that the invisible world is the most intelligible and that the visible world is the least knowable, and the most obscure." - Wikipedia

One of the worst consequences of religious fundamentalism, in my opinion, has been to give justification to the rise of militant cults of plodding materialists who are eu a-mousoi.

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"You have more freedom than you are using," says artist Dan Attoe.

I hope that taunt gets under your skin and riles you up. Maybe it will motivate you to lay claim to all the potential spaciousness and independence and leeway that are just lying around going to waste.

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"Maverick biologist" Rupert Sheldrake thinks there is a big problem in science, caused by those who employ it as a belief system, rather than using it as a method of inquiry. He thinks science is being held back by the former, and in his book *Science Set Free* he offers the "ten dogmas of science" that he thinks need to be treated with more suspicion than they currently are:

1. That nature is mechanical.
2. That matter is unconscious.
3. The laws of nature are fixed.
4. The totally amount of matter and energy are always the same.
5. That nature is purposeless.
6. Biological inheritance is material.
7. That memories are stored as material traces.
8. The mind is in the brain.
9. Telepathy and other psychic phenomena are illusory.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

The "science delusion" is the uncritical belief in these dogmas, treating them not as beliefs but as truths. Science is much more fun, much more interesting, much more free, when we turn these dogmas into questions.

Read more here.

See the book Science Set Free.

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Here's another excerpt from
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

"Welcome to the Beauty and Truth Lab"
To hear the song, go here.

Welcome to the Beauty and Truth Lab.

We're coming to you live from your repressed memories of paradise, reminding you that you can have anything you want if you will just ask for it in an unselfish way.

Welcome to the end of your nightmares, beauty and truth fans!

The world is young, your soul is free, and a naked celebrity is dying to talk to you about your most intimate secrets right now.

Just kidding.

In fact, the world is young, your soul is free, and at any moment you will feel a flood of ecstatic compassion for salamanders, oak trees, clouds, toasters, convenience store clerks, and even the ocean itself.

I'm your host. My name is the Sacred Janitor at the Edge of Time, and I'm proud to announce that this is a perfect moment.

It's a perfect moment for many reasons, but especially because you are on the verge of finally figuring out exactly what it is you really want more than anything else.

Bravo! Viva! Whoopee! Oooo Eureka! Hallelujah! Abracadabra!
Bravo! Viva! Whoopee! Oooo Eureka! Hallelujah! Abracadabra!

The Beauty and Truth Lab's experiments are brought to you by the pine trees whose seeds are so tightly compacted within their protective covering that only the intense heat of a forest fire can free them and allow them to sprout.

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Are you in quest of an Intimate Ally? A Soul Friend? A Wild Confidante?

Check out

Match.com via Free Will Astrology's link.

Look for a Co-Pilot, Co-Conspirator, or Collaborator . . . an Agent to represent you or a Disciple to worship you . . . a Secret Sharer who'll listen better than anyone or an Amazing Accomplice with whom you can practice the Art of Liberation.

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My most recent book is
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's also available here.

Here's an excerpt:

RECEPTIVITY REMEDIES

Alert, relaxed listening is the radical act at the heart of our pronoiac practice. Curiosity is our primal state of awareness. Wise innocence is a trick we aspire to master. Open-hearted skepticism is the light in our eyes.

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To achieve what the Zen Buddhists call "beginner's mind," you dispense with all preconceptions and enter each situation as if seeing it for the first time.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities," wrote Shunryu Suzuki in his book *Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,* "but in the expert's there are few."

As much as I love beginner's mind, though, I advocate an additional discipline: cultivating a beginner's heart. That means approaching every encounter imbued with a freshly invoked wave of love that is as pure as if you're feeling it for the first time.

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To be the best pronoiac explorer you can be, I suggest you adopt an outlook that combines the rigorous objectivity of a scientist, the "beginner's mind" of Zen Buddhism, the "beginner's heart" of pronoia, and the compassionate friendliness of the Dalai Lama.

Blend a scrupulously dispassionate curiosity with a skepticism driven by expansiveness, not spleen.

To pull this off, you'll have to be willing to regularly suspend your brilliant theories about the way the world works. Accept with good humor the possibility that what you've learned in the past may not be a reliable guide to understanding the fresh phenomenon that's right in front of you.

Be suspicious of your biases, even the rational and benevolent ones. Open your heart as you strip away the interpretations that your emotions might be inclined to impose.

"Before we can receive the unbiased truth about anything," wrote my teacher Ann Davies, "we have to be ready to ignore what we would like to be true."

At the same time, don't turn into a hard-ass, poker-faced robot. Keep your feelings moist and receptive. Remember your natural affection for all of creation. Enjoy the power of tender sympathy as it drives you to probe for the unimaginable revelations of every new moment.

"Before we can receive the entire truth about anything," said Ann Davies, "we have to love it."

. . . To read the rest of "RECEPTIVITY REMEDIES," go here.


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The Ancient Greeks' 6 Words for Love. Looking for an antidote to modern culture's emphasis on romantic love? Maybe we can learn from the diverse forms of emotional attachment prized by the ancient Greeks.

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Here's another excerpt from
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

THE OUTLAW CATALOG OF CAGEY OPTIMISM

(Here is the complete text.)

Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a 991-page textbook called the DSM-V. It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones.

Some time back, I began to complain about this fact, and asked readers to help me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM -- a compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. As their entries came in, we at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory were inspired to dream up some of our own. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating an Anti-DSM-V, or as we also like to call it, "The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism."

* ACUTE FLUENCY. Happily immersed in artistic creation or scientific exploration; lost in a trance-like state of inventiveness that's both blissful and taxing; surrendered to a state of grace in which you're fully engaged in a productive, compelling, and delightful activity. The joy of this demanding, rewarding state is intensified by a sense that time has been suspended, and is rounder and deeper than usual. (Suggested by H. H. Holiday, who reports that extensive studies in this state have been done by Mihaly Cziscenmihaliy in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.)

* AESTHETIC BLISS. Vividly experiencing the colors, textures, tones, scents, and rhythms of the world around you, creating a symbiotic intimacy that dissolves the psychological barriers between you and what you observe. (Suggested by Jeanne Grossetti.)

* AGGRESSIVE SENSITIVITY. Animated by a strong determination to be receptive and empathetic.

* ALIGNMENT WITH THE INFINITY OF THE MOMENT. Reveling in the liberating realization that we are all exactly where we need to be at all times, even if some of us are temporarily in the midst of trial or tribulation, and that human evolution is proceeding exactly as it should, even if we can't see the big picture of the puzzle that would clarify how all the pieces fit together perfectly. (Suggested by Meredith Jones.)

* AUTONOMOUS NURTURING. Not waiting for someone to give you what you can give yourself. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)

* BASKING IN ELDER WISDOM. A state of expansive ripeness achieved through listening to the stories of elders. (Suggested by Annabelle Aavard.)

* BIBLIOBLISS. Transported into states of transcendent pleasure while immersed in reading a favorite book. (Suggested by Catherine Kaikowska.)

* BLASPHEMOUS REVERENCE. Acting on the knowledge that the most efficacious form of devotion to the Divine Wow is tinctured with playful or mischievous behavior that prevents the buildup of fanaticism.

* BOO-DUH NATURE. Dwelling in the blithe understanding of the fact that worry is useless because most of what we worry about never happens. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)

* COMIC INTROSPECTION. Being fully aware of your own foibles while still loving yourself tenderly and maintaining confidence in your ability to give your specific genius to the world. To paraphrase Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral: following the Byzantine ploys of your ego with compassion and humor as it tries to make itself the center of everything, even of its own suffering and struggle.

* COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones: having the ability "to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone's birthright."

* CRAZED KINDNESS. Having frequent, overpowering urges to bestow gifts, disseminate inspiration, and perpetrate random acts of benevolence.

* ECSTATIC GRATITUDE. Feeling genuine thankfulness with such resplendent intensity that you generate a surge of endorphins in your body and slip into a full-scale outbreak of euphoria.

* EMANCIPATED SURRENDER. Letting go of an attachment without harboring resentment toward the stimuli that led to the necessity of letting go. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)

* FRIENDLY SHOCK. Welcoming a surprise that will ultimately have benevolent effects.

* HIGHWAY EQUANIMITY. Feeling serene, polite, and benevolent while driving in heavy traffic. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)

* HOLY LISTENING. Hearing the words of another human being as if they were a direct communication from the Divine Wow to you.

* IMAGINATIVE TRUTH-TELLING. Conveying the truth of any specific situation from multiple angles, thereby mitigating the distortions that result from assuming the truth can be told from a single viewpoint.

* IMPULSIVE LOVE SPREADING. Characterized by a fierce determination to never withhold well-deserved praise, inspirational encouragement, positive feedback, or loving thoughts; often includes a tendency to write love letters on the spur of the moment and on any medium, including napkins, grocery bags, and skin. (Suggested by Laurie Burton.)

* INADVERTENT NATURE WORSHIP. Experiencing the rapture that comes from being outside for extended periods of time. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)

* INGENIOUS INTIMACY. Having an ability to consistently create deep connections with other human beings, and to use the lush, reverential excitement stimulated by such exchanges to further deepen the connections. A well-crafted talent for dissolving your sense of separateness and enjoying the innocent exultation that erupts in the wake of the dissolution. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)

* JOYFUL POIGNANCE. Feeling buoyantly joyful about the beauty and mystery of life while remaining aware of the sadness, injustices, wounds, and future fears that form the challenges in an examined life. (Suggested by Alka Bhargava.)

* LATE LATE-BLOOMING. Having a capacity for growth spurts well into old age, long past the time that conventional wisdom says they're possible.

* LEARNING DELIGHT. Experiencing the brain-reeling pleasure that comes from learning something new. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)

* LUCID DREAM PATRIOTISM. A love of country rooted in the fact that it provides the ideal conditions for learning lucid dreaming. (Suggested by Kenneth Kelzer, author of The Sun and the Shadow: My Experiment With Lucid Dreaming.)

* LYRICAL CONSONANCE. Experiencing the visceral yet also cerebral excitement that comes from listening to live music played impeccably by skilled musicians. (Suggested by Susan E. Nace.)

TO SEE THE REST OF THE EXALTED, POSITIVE STATES, (GO HERE.)


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Here's another excerpt from
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's from the piece called "Subterranean Pronoia Therapy."

1. Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don't love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: "I must learn to love the fool in me -- the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool."

2. The greatest gift you can give might be the gift that you yourself were never given. Give that gift.

The most valuable service you have to offer your fellow humans may be the service you have always wished were performed for you. Offer that service.

An experience that wounded you could move you to help people who've been similarly wounded. Heal yourself by healing others.

3. No matter how holy and good, everyone in the world has a portion of the world's sickness inside them. It's known by many names: neurosis, shadow, demon, devil. Many people try to deny that it inhabits them. Others acknowledge its power so readily that they allow themselves to be overwhelmed and distorted by it.

At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we take a position between those two positions. We accept the fact that the evil is part of us, but treat it with compassionate amusement and flexible vigilance. Our stance is partly that of loving parents and partly that of warriors.

Once you make a commitment to explore the mysteries of pronoia, your shadow will try to play tricks on you that it has never tried before. How will you respond? We recommend an aggressive, tender, improvisational approach. Be ready for anything. Avoid both blithe excesses of tolerance and grave fundamentalism.

4. Philosopher William James proposed that if our culture ever hoped to shed the deeply ingrained habit of going to war, we'd have to create a moral equivalent. It's not enough to preach the value of peace, he said. We have to find other ways to channel our aggressive instincts in order to accomplish what war does, like stimulate political unity and build civic virtue.

Astrology provides a complementary perspective. Each of us has the warrior energy of the planet Mars in our psychological makeup. We can't simply repress it, but must find a positive way to express it. How might you go about this project?

5. In his book *The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World,* psychologist James Hillman writes: "The question of evil refers primarily to the anaesthetized heart, the heart that has no reaction to what it faces, thereby turning the variegated sensuous face of the world into monotony, sameness, oneness."

What would you have to do in order to triumph over this kind of evil in yourself?

6. "The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as the sunset," wrote J. Krishnamurti. "The obstacle is the path," says the Zen proverb. What frustrating puzzle do you love the best?

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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia.

HOW IS ENLIGHTENMENT LIKE A MILLION-DOLLAR VACATION HOME?

For some seekers, spiritual enlightenment is the ultimate commodity. They believe that through diligent meditation and self-­improvement, there will come a day when it will no longer elude their grasp. Breaking through to the singular state of cosmic consciousness, they will forever after own it, free and clear. Permanently illuminated! Never to backslide into the dull ignominy of normal human awareness!

Here's what I have to say about that: It's a delusion.

The fact is, the nature of perfection is always mutating. What constitutes enlightenment today will always be different tomorrow. Even if ­you're fortunate and wise enough to score a sliver of "enlightenment," it's not a static treasure that becomes your indestructible, everlasting possession. Rather, it remains a mercurial knack that must be continually re­earned.

If you want to befriend the Divine Wow, you must not only be willing to change ceaselessly -- you have to love to change ceaselessly.

Lucky you: All of creation is conspiring to help you live like that.

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CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION FROM ENLIGHTENMENT

This document certifies that _____________________ is immune to the lust for enlightenment and is exempt from the need to seek enlightenment.

This document also certifies that _____________________ has seen through the fraud of the enlightenment con game and is excused from further clawing and scraping to own a piece of that specious reward.

This document further certifies that _____________________ is free from the temptation to be consecrated as enlightened by any guru, saint, holy person, or religious organization that claims the right to do so.

Finally, this document certifies that _____________________ has already been enlightened a million times in a million different ways anyway, and that seeking even further enlightenment would be redundant and even greedy.

To ensure the continued validity of this document _____________________ vows to regularly renew these three understandings: that it is impossible to ever reach a complete and permanent state of enlightenment; that there is no single state of awareness that constitutes enlightenment; and that since the nature of reality keeps changing, the nature of enlightenment keeps changing as well.

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TO SEE THE ABOVE CERTIFICATE AS IT APPEARS IN THE BOOK, GO HERE.

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Some people who haven't actually read my book "Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia" suffer from the delusion that I think we should repress or ignore our negative emotions. I don't, of course.

If you don't have time to read my entire book and find out my real ideas about the matter, check out this short article (not by me) that is largely aligned with my perspective:

"How To Turn Negative Emotions Into Your Greatest Advantage"

Excerpt:

1. Anger can be fueled into creativity.

2. Struggling with adversity can profoundly alter your perspective.

3. Working through shame can help you cultivate compassion.

4. Pessimism can make you more productive.

5. Envy can spur you to become better.

6. Loss can lead to gratitude.

7. Negative thoughts and emotions present an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness.

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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia.

CRIMES THAT DON'T BREAK ANY LAWS
(To read the entirety of this feature, GO HERE.)

We are psychically assaulted by dangerous images and sickening words every day. The media relentlessly blast us with their trendy doom and gloom fixation, generating an endless onslaught of messages about how bad life is and what a mess the future will bring. The entertainment industry force-feeds us insipidly paranoid scenarios that keep our fear reflexes chronically throbbing.

Is this acceptable to you? It's not to me.

Our eyes and ears are constantly scalded by blistering harangues to buy stuff we don't really need. The sacred temples of our imaginations are pounded ruthlessly by smart bombs whipped up by evil advertising geniuses in their Madison Avenue laboratories. Our ability to envision the astounding intricacy and richness of the web of life has gotten hijacked and hooked on decadent fantasies about new possessions that would allegedly make us happier.

I for one am no longer willing to absorb the dazzling psychic toxins that sting and sap and wound our lust for life. I reject the epidemic obsession with big bad nasty things and flashy trite empty-hearted things. I say it's time for us to rise up and fight back -- to reconsecrate and regenerate our imaginations. Here are my demands.

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DEMAND #1: I demand that Amnesty International launch a crusade against a grievously unacknowledged form of terrorism. I call this crime against humanity the genocide of the imagination.

DEMAND #2: I demand that you refuse to be entertained by bad news. I demand that you seek out and create stories that make you feel strong and joyous and enigmatic.

DEMAND #3: I demand that *People* magazine do a cover story on "The World's 50 Sexiest Perpetrators of Beauty, Truth, and Love."

DEMAND #4: I demand that you learn the difference between your own thoughts and those of the celebrities who have demonically possessed you.

DEMAND #5: I demand that you wear underpants on your head and dance naked in slow motion whenever you watch TV movies about tormented geniuses who supposedly create great art but treat everyone in their lives like crap.

DEMAND #6: I demand that the sadomasochist storytellers disguised as journalists give prominent coverage to the startling fact that the world has become dramatically less violent since the end of the Cold War, and that we are currently living in the most peaceful era the human race has ever known. I further demand that the worshipers of cynicism who pretend to be clear-seeing news writers acknowledge that death rates from cancer are declining; that rising rates of intermarriage are helping to dissipate ethnic and religious strife worldwide; that Americans' IQ scores have been steadily rising for a long time; that the number of people living in poverty in the developing nations is declining dramatically; that the world is steadily becoming more free, and is now the most free it has ever been; and that the miracle of your breathing transpires about 10 million times a year, even though you never have to will it to continue.

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I have more demands, but I want to make sure you know that your imagination and the imaginations of everyone you know are at risk. And who's responsible? Who are the perpetrators of the genocide of the imagination?

TO READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE,
"CRIMES THAT DON'T BREAK ANY LAWS,"
GO HERE

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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia.

HEALING SHOCKS

Many of us are essentially asleep, even as we walk around in broad daylight. We're so focused on the restless narratives and repetitive fantasies unfurling in our heads that we only dimly perceive the larger story raging in all of its chaotic beauty around us.

To have any hope of permanently breaking out of our fuzzy trance, we require regular shocks. A single jolt might cause us to briefly come to attention and see the miracle of creation for what it is, but once the red alert has passed, we relax back into our fixation on the dreamy tales our mind never stops telling us.

In the course of its conspiracy to shower us with blessings, life does its best to provide us with a steady flow of healing shocks. But because it tends to err on the side of tenderness, its prods may be too gentle, allowing us to ignore them. Gradually, life will up the ante, trying to find the right mix of toughness and love, as it encourages us to WAKE UP!

But our addiction to the phantasmagoria is tenacious. The stream-of-conscious narratives and ever-bubbling fantasies, even when they're racked with torment and terror, are perversely entertaining. And so we may avoid responding to the kind shocks for so long that life finally has to resort to stronger medicine. Then we might get sick or lose our job or muck up our closest relationship.

It doesn't have to be that way . . . .

READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE -- and listen to it, too

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BONUS

You may also be interested in reviewing the long-term horoscopes I've written for you. They discuss your possible destiny for all of 2014. To see them, GO HERE.

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More from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia:

Dumb pain is the kind of pain you're compulsively drawn back to out of habit. It's familiar, and thus perversely comfortable.

Smart pain is the kind of pain that surprises you with valuable teachings and inspires you to see the world with new eyes.

While stupid pain is often born of fear, wise pain is typically stirred up by love.

The dumb, unproductive stuff comes from allowing yourself to be controlled by your early conditioning and from doing things that are out of harmony with your essence.

The smart, useful variety arises out of an intention to approach life as a beautiful, interesting game that's worthy of your curiosity.

I invite you to come up with more definitions about the difference between dumb pain and smart pain.

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PRONOIA'S VILLAINS

According to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, Judas was actually a more exalted hero than Jesus. He unselfishly volunteered to perform the all­important villain's role in the resurrection saga, knowing he'd be reviled forever. It was a dirty job that only a supremely egoless saint could have done. Jesus suffered, true, but enjoyed glory and adoration as a result.

Let's apply this way of thinking to the task of understanding the role
that seemingly bad people play in pronoia.

Interesting narratives play an essential role in the universal conspiracy to give us exactly what we need. All of us crave drama. We love to be beguiled by twists of fate that unfold the stories of our lives in unpredictable ways. Just as Judas played a key role in advancing the tale of Christ's quest, villains and con men and clowns may be crucial to the entertainment value of our personal journeys.

Try this: Imagine the people you fear and dislike as pivotal characters
in a fascinating and ultimately redemptive plot that will take years or even lifetimes for the Divine Wow to elaborate.

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There is another reason to love our enemies: They force us to become smarter. The riddles they thrust in front of us sharpen our wits and sculpt our souls.

Try this: Act as if your adversaries are great teachers. Thank them for how crucial they've been in your education.

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Consider one more possibility: that the people who seem to slow us down and hold us back are actually preventing things from happening too fast.

Imagine that the evolution of your life or our culture is like a pregnancy: It needs to reach its full term. Just as a child isn't ready to be born after five months of gestation, the New Earth we're creating has to ripen in its own time. The recalcitrant reactionaries who resist the inevitable birth are simply making sure that the far-seeing revolutionaries don't conjure the future too suddenly. They serve the greater good.

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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BE YOUR OWN SAVIOR

Some Christians believe Jesus will come back to fix this corrupt world. Certain Jewish sects propose that the messiah will soon appear on Earth for the first time. Among Muslims, many predict the legendary Twelfth Imam will return and bring salvation to humanity.

In India, devotees of Vishnu expect the avatar Kalki to arrive on the scene and carry out a series of miraculous redemptions. Even Buddhists prophesy Maitreya, the chosen one who will establish universal peace.

My divinations foretell a very different scenario. I suspect that the whole point of our spectacularly confounding moment in history is that each of us must become our own savior. And if we hope to accomplish that, relying on our best amateur efforts, we will have to stop waiting around for a supposed professional to do our work for us.

Franz Kafka had a view that's not necessarily mutually exclusive with mine: "The messiah will come when we don't need him anymore."

Let's also consider the evidence offered by William Blake, as quoted in *Poets and God* by David L. Edwards: "Jesus Christ is the only God. And so am I. And so are you."

One more clue, this time from Deepak Chopra: "Every person is a God in embryo. Its only desire is to be born."

- Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

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I invite you to write down brief descriptions of the five most pleasurable moments you've ever experienced in your life. Let your imagination dwell lovingly on these memories for, say, 20 minutes. And keep them close to the surface of your awareness in the next three days.

If you ever catch yourself slipping into a negative train of thought, interrupt it immediately and compel yourself to fantasize about those Big Five Ecstatic Moments.

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What were you doing a year ago today? Check out my horoscopes for this time of year in 2013 and see if my oracle was applicable to what you were going through:

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More from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia:

LETTERS TO THE BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB

DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: I've wrestled all my life with fear. But lately it's been even worse than usual. My personal demons seem to be winning, or at least getting the better of the fight. I think it's related to the fact that when I caught wind of the idea of pronoia, I started working hard to lose all my illusions. Now I'm thinking maybe that was a mistake. Perhaps I needed my illusions to keep the demons at bay? - Crybaby

DEAR CRYBABY: Hang on. This is the toughest part of your struggle. It may seem that the illusions you dissolved were the main barriers safeguarding you from your demons. But what's more likely is that those illusions were food for your demons. Very soon now the demons will have devoured the last of their fuel and will start to starve. If they don't die off, they will at least fly away in search of other nourishment.

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DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: Two months ago I met the first person with whom I am completely psychic. We fell deeply in love, of course. But it turned out that neither of us was ready or able to fulfill the potential of our connection because we are nowhere near as profoundly in love with ourselves as we are with each other. The good news is that through my love for him, I have intensified my desire to learn to love myself. The bad news is that we can't really be together as fate intended until we upgrade our self-love. Can you offer any consolation? - Lucky Yet Unlucky in Love

Dear Lucky: We appreciate your sage caution, but also offer this alternative view from actress Tallulah Bankhead: "If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."

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DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: Lately I've been practicing an evangelical kind of pronoia. In addition to proceeding as if the universe is conspiring to help me, I'm extending that assumption to my fellow planeteers. I'm meeting people and visualizing realistically wonderful futures for them, filled with interesting opportunities or at least fertile riddles.

For instance, yesterday I saw a morose woman staring blankly into space at Starbucks as if she were the loneliest person ever born. I visualized her falling into a deeply engaging conversation with a new friend, and feeling emboldened by that encounter to be proactive about seeking out people who stimulate her. Two days ago I saw an unruly kid acting crazy at the grocery store. I visualized for him a future of uncompromising individualism creating unique approaches to old problems.

This evangelical push is a real stretch sometimes. (It's a challenge to visualize a positive future for, say, a homeless panhandler.) But I like how it makes me feel. Maybe it's no coincidence that my physical health has markedly improved recently. And it seems to be making me more highly attuned to the sometimes subtle blessings that life does bring into my vicinity -- blessings I might have missed in the past. -Architect of Empathy

DEAR ARCHITECT: At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we work on the hypothesis that all of us are affecting each other all the time, either by direct contact, via telepathic contagion, or through the culture we co-create. If even 25 percent of that hypothesis is true, why not be a beacon of blessings, constantly broadcasting images that promote health and well-being? People just might live up to our expectations, just as easily as they can live down to them. Plus, as you noted, it has a tonic effect on the one who acts as a beacon of blessings.

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DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: You asked us readers this question: "The spiritual teacher A. H. Almaas believes that a genuinely creative act is always motivated by generosity. If that's true, how do you explain all the ego-obsessed 'geniuses' who treat everyone like dirt even as they churn out their supposedly brilliant art?"

Here's my answer: Those aren't really geniuses, and what they make isn't really brilliant art! It may be popular art, and it may earn a lot of money for the fake geniuses, but it's not brilliant. The truth is, many of the richest and most famous artists are those patronized for their ability to fetishize, glamorize, and trivialize our cultural pain. You can apply the same statement to supposed geniuses who apply their talent to the pharmaceutical industry or nuclear weapons. Creative and intellectual energy applied to cruelty, domination, and meanness is always stupid.

The true geniuses recognize that cooperation is a stronger evolutionary force than competition. They know that the only appropriate application for intelligence is to find ways to make us all feel stupendously good as much as possible. - Malian

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DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: My mom calls me fat but feeds me pork rinds. My strongest supporter is a person I want to wrap up like a mummy, shove into a canoe, and push into the middle of the lake. My exuberant imagination has taken me hostage, violating its own principles. I'm so ambivalent and indecisive about everything that even my addictive nature can't figure out what to be addicted to. I'd embrace my contradictions if I could, but they've got me surrounded like a pink-haired, cross-dressing SWAT team frothed up on multiple espressos. Can you point me in the direction of the pronoiac exit from this circus-like hell? - Crazy Crank

DEAR CRAZY CRANK: We detect a lot of wit and style in your meditations. Maybe that's the purpose of the limbo you're in: It's an opportunity to build your skill at being lively and feisty and smart no matter what your outer circumstances are.

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Are you in quest of an Intimate Ally? A Soul Friend? A Wild Confidante?

Check out Match.com via Free Will Astrology's link.

Look for a Co-Pilot, Co-Conspirator, or Collaborator . . . an Agent to represent you or a Disciple to worship you . . . a Secret Sharer who'll listen better than anyone or an Amazing Accomplice with whom you can practice the Art of Liberation.

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I invite you to write down brief descriptions of the five most pleasurable moments you've ever experienced in your life. Let your imagination dwell lovingly on these memories for, say, 20 minutes. And keep them close to the surface of your awareness in the next three days.

If you ever catch yourself slipping into a negative train of thought, interrupt it immediately and compel yourself to fantasize about those Big Five Ecstatic Moments.

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If you'd like to commune with the spirit I bring to the Expanded Audio Horoscopes, tune in to my free podcast, "Fear Versus Intuition." It's a meditation about the difference between your fearful fantasies and your authentic, accurate intuitions. It's here.

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"Healing mantra for the day: May I feel all I need to feel in order to heal; may I heal all I need to heal in order to feel."
- Marguerite Rigoglioso

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, two twisty healing stories with pronoiac themes:

(For more stories like this go here.)

Story #1
CONVERSATION WITH ETERNITY

Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Firenze Matisse traveled to Antarctica. On the first day, the guide took him and his group to a remote area and left them alone for an hour to commune with the pristine air and unearthly stillness.

After a while, a penguin ambled up and launched into a ceremonial display of squawks and stretches.

Firenze responded with recitals of his favorite memorized poems, imagining he was "engaged in a conversation with eternity." Halfway through his inspired performance of Thich Nhat Hanh's "Please Call Me by My True Names," the penguin sent a stream of green projectile vomit cascading against his chest, and shuffled away.

Though Firenze initially felt deflated by eternity's surprise, no harm was done. He soon came to see it as a first-class cosmic joke, and looked forward to exploiting its value as an amusing story with which to regale his friends back home.

Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Michael Logan was the first person to hear Firenze's tale upon his return from Antarctica. "You might want to consider this, Firenze," Michael mused after taking it all in. "Penguins nurture their offspring by chewing food -- mixing it up with all God's enzymes -- and then vomiting it into the mouths of the penguin babies. Perhaps you weren't the butt of a cosmic joke or some Linda Blair-esque bad review, but in fact the recipient of a very precious gift of love. Who knows?"

Now Firenze has two punch lines for his tale of redemptive pronoia.

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Story #2
FLIP-FLOP THE TRAUMATIC IMPRINT

Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Artemisia had just begun menstruating, and was suffering from debilitating cramps. Massive doses of ibuprofen were not relieving the distress, so she went to her regular acupuncturist, Dr. Lily Ming, to get relief.

Dr. Ming had Artemisia lie down on the table and proceeded to insert 10 needles in her belly and hand and ear. Then Dr. Ming introduced a treatment that Artemisia was unfamiliar with: She lightly pounded the nail of Artemisia's left big toe with a small silver hammer for a few minutes.

"Why are you doing that?" Artemisia asked.

"It is good for the uterus," the doctor replied.

Indeed, Artemisia's cramps diminished as the doctor thumped, and in the days to come they did not recur.

After the session, as Artemisia prepared to leave, the usually taciturn Ming started up a conversation. Artemisia was surprised, but listened attentively as Dr. Ming made a series of revelations. The most surprising was Dr. Ming's description of a traumatic event from her own childhood.

During the military occupation of her native Manchuria, a province of China, she was forced to witness Japanese soldiers torturing people she loved. Their primary atrocity was using hammers to drive bamboo shoots through their victims' big toes.

The moral of the story: Dr. Ming has accomplished the heroic feat of reversing the meaning of her most traumatic imprint. She has turned a symbol of pain into a symbol of healing.

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(For more twisty healing stories with a pronoiac theme, go here.)

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Here's another piece from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

I'M A STAR, YOU'RE A STAR
(To read the entirety of this feature, GO HERE.

You're a star -- and so am I. I'm a genius -- and so are you. Your success encourages my brilliance, and my charisma enhances your power. Your victory doesn't require my defeat, and vice versa.
Those are the rules in the New World -- quite unlike the rules in the Old World, where zero-sum games are the norm, and only one of us can win each time we play.

In the New World, you don't have to tone down or apologize for your prowess, because you love it when other people shine. You exult in your own excellence without regarding it as a sign of inherent superiority. As you ripen more and more of your latent aptitude, you inspire the rest of us to claim our own idiosyncratic magnificence.

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Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Chekawa (1220–1295) specialized in bodhicitta, seeking enlightenment not for personal gain but as a way to serve others. On his deathbed, he prayed to be sent to hell so that he might alleviate the suffering of the lost souls there.

As you explore pronoia, you will discover that like Chekawa, you have a huge capacity to help people. Unlike him, you'll find that expressing your benevolence doesn't require you to go to hell. It may even be unnecessary for you to sacrifice your own joy or to practice self-denial. Just the opposite: Being in service to humanity and celebrating your unique power will be synergistic. They will need each other to thrive.

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The Golden Rule is a decent ethical principle, but it could be even better. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" presumes that others enjoy what you enjoy. But that's wrong. There are many things you'd like to have done unto you that others would either despise or be bored by. Here's a new, improved formulation, which we call the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would like to have you do unto them.

Using this improved formula is not just a virtuous way to live, but is also the best way to ensure the success of your selfish goals. The rituals and spells of various occult orders purport to be supercharged techniques for imposing your personal will on the chaotic flow of events, but I say that practicing the Platinum Rule outstrips all of them as an exercise to enhance your potency and happiness . . . .

TO READ THE REST OF "I'M A STAR, YOU'RE A STAR," GO HERE.

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It's time for the Freethinkers Festival. To celebrate, feel free to indulge in any of the following festive acts:

1. Declare your independence from anyone who tries to tell you, either subliminally or directly, who you are or how you should live your life.

2. Declare your independence from your past, especially memories that oppress your sense of possibility and self-images that inhibit your urge to explore.

3. Declare your independence from peer pressure, groupthink, and conventional wisdom.

4. Declare your independence from beliefs and theories that hinder your ability to perceive the raw and unruly truth about new experiences.

Any other festive acts you'd like to suggest?

- Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

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You've heard of passive smoking, which occurs when the burning cigarette wastes of smokers snake into the lungs of innocent bystanders. Now poetry scientists at the Beauty and Truth Lab have identified a phenomenon they call second-hand depression, wherein victims inadvertently absorb the misery and cynicism of people who are spewing out negative emotions.

Be especially careful to protect yourself against that contamination. Refuse to be poisoned by the lazy blather of out-of-control naysayers.

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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

EVIL IS BORING
To read the entire text of this piece, go here.

To hear a shorter audio version, go here.

When an old tree in the rain forest dies and topples over, it takes a long time to decompose. As it does, it becomes host to new saplings that use the decaying log for nourishment.

Picture yourself sitting in the forest gazing upon this scene. How do you describe it? Would you dwell on the putrefaction of the fallen tree while ignoring the fresh life sprouting out of it? If you did, you'd be imitating the perspective of many modern storytellers, especially the journalists and novelists and filmmakers and producers of TV dramas. They devoutly believe that tales of affliction and mayhem and corruption and tragedy are inherently more interesting than tales of triumph and liberation and pleasure and ingenuity.

Using the juggernaut of the media and entertainment industries, they relentlessly propagate this covert dogma. It's not sufficiently profound or well thought out to be called nihilism. Pop nihilism is a more accurate term. The mass audience is the victim of this inane ugliness, brainwashed by a multibillion-dollar propaganda machine that in comparison makes Himmler's vaunted soul-stealing apparatus look like a child's backyard puppet show. This is the engine of the phenomena I call the global genocide of the imagination.

At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we believe that stories about the rot are not inherently more captivating than stories about the splendor. On the contrary, given how predictable and ubiquitous they are, stories about the rot are actually quite dull. Obsessing on evil is boring. Rousing fear is a hackneyed shtick. Wallowing in despair is a bad habit. Indulging in cynicism is akin to committing a copycat crime . . .

To read the rest of "EVIL IS BORING," go here.

To hear a shorter audio version, go here.

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Steal This Image from PRONOIA

"I am totally opposed to all duality"

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What if there's no contradiction between being your idiosyncratic self in love with your life and serving others with the best gifts you have to give?

What if exploring your inner world to activate your personal genius dovetails perfectly with fighting to recreate the soulless culture we're embedded in?

What if working on your own salvation makes you a more effective force in liberating others from their suffering?

- from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

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Are you turned off by the authoritarian, libido-mistrusting perversity of the right-wing moral code, but equally reluctant to embrace the atheism embedded in the left wing's code of goodness?

Are you hungry for a value system rooted in beauty, love, pleasure, and liberation instead of order, control, politeness, and fear, but allergic to the sophistry of the New Age?

Are you apathetic toward the saccharine goodness evangelized by sentimental, superstitious fanatics, but equally bored by the intellectuals who worship at the empty-hearted shrine of scientific materialism?

It may be time for you to whip up your very own moral code. If you do, you might want to keep the following guidelines in mind:

1. A moral code becomes immoral unless it can thrive without a devil and enemy.

2. A moral code grows ugly unless it prescribes good-natured rebellion against automaton-like behavior offered in its support.

3. A moral code becomes murderous unless it's built on a love for the fact that EVERYTHING CHANGES ALL THE TIME, and unless it perpetually adjusts its reasons for being true.

4. A moral code will corrupt its users unless it ensures that their primary motivation for being good is because it's fun.

5. A moral code deadens the soul of everyone it touches unless it has a built-in sense of humor.

- from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

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Are you in quest of an Intimate Ally? A Soul Friend? A Wild Confidante?

Check out Match.com via Free Will Astrology's link:

Look for a Co-Pilot, Co-Conspirator, or Collaborator . . . an Agent to represent you or a Disciple to worship you . . . a Secret Sharer who'll listen better than anyone or an Amazing Accomplice with whom you can practice the Art of Liberation.

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From an article about me:

"I have witnessed this growing narrative of the world as lost, as terrible, as a miserable pit of ugliness," Brezsny said. "Most of what's reported in the news, probably 95 percent, portrays human beings as corrupt, ugly, depressed, sad, sick. And that has never been my perception. My perception has always been that yes, there's a lot of suffering, but primarily people are really happy to be alive.

"So one of the passions that I felt was to ask people to at least consider the possibility that life is a lot better than they imagine."

That's what Pronoia is about -- furnishing 888 tricks for becoming a "master of rowdy bliss," according to the book's back cover. It's not a matter of becoming a Pollyanna-ish ninny, as Brezsny explained it to me. It's more like welcoming experience on all its frequencies, even the difficult ones, and considering that the universe continually gives you what you need, if not exactly what you want . . .

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE

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Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It's as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself—indeed, you make yourself—through the puzzling dilemmas you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers.

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Tip Jar for Me

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My most recent book is
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's also available here.

THE MYSTERY OF YOUR THIRST

Imagine this scene. You're really thirsty -- so dehydrated that you're feeling faint. Yet here's the weird thing: You're walking along the bank of a wide river that's so clear you could see the bottom if you looked.

But you're not looking. In fact, you seem oblivious to the surging force of nature just a few yards away.

Is it invisible to you? Are you so preoccupied with your suffering that you're blind to the very source that would end your suffering?

Up ahead you see a man. As you approach, you realize he's holding a bottle of water. You run to him and beg him to let you drink. He readily agrees. Gratefully, you guzzle the precious liquid, then thank him profusely.

As you walk away, he calls after you, "By the way, there's a lot more water over there," and he points to the river.

Do you hear him? If you hear him, do you believe him? Or do you keep walking, hoping to find another person with another bottle somewhere up ahead?

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Think globally,
but act locally.

Plan for the future,
but act in the present.

Dream of all the masterpieces you'd be thrilled to create,
but work on just one at a time.

Lust for every enticing soul you see,
but only make love to the imperfect beauty you're actually with.

Allow yourself to be flooded
with every last feeling that bubbles up from your subconscious,
but understand that only a very few of these feelings
need to be forcefully expressed.

Be passionately attuned
to all the injustices and hypocrisies you see around you,
but be selective when choosing which of those you will actually fight.

- The Televisionary Oracle

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My book THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE has been reprinted and is also available as an e-book:

Hard-copy book

Kindle edition

Read the first four chapters

See the cover

Read the review in Rain Taxi

Excerpts from that review:

"*The Televisionary Oracle* is a powerful example of how ancient mysticism may just be the best tool for revolutionary action, both for the individual and the society."

"What's amazing is how Brezsny's prose remains invigorating in the transition from weekly astrology to larger scope writing. The prose is still poetic, circular, almost dancing, combining the narrative voices of Anais Nin, Tom Robbins, David Ignatow, and a host of ancient mystics."

"Other New Age, spiritualist novels lead the reader to take a fresh look at the world by ignoring the economic and corrupt nightmares of capitalism and its pollution of culture. But instead of looking away and pointing to a daisy field or deities seated upon fluffy clouds, Brezsny alternates his world-as-an-illusion, 'utopia ahead' narrative with insightful cultural critique."

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QUESTION. How can an intelligent, educated person possibly believe astrology has any merit?

ROB BREZSNY. Many of the debunkers who're responsible for trying to discredit astrology have done no research on the subject. They haven't read smart astrological philosophers like Dane Rudhyar, don't know that seminal astronomer Johannes Kepler was a skilled astrologer, and aren't aware that eminent psychologist C.G. Jung cast horoscopes and believed that "astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity." The closest approach the fraudulent "skeptics" usually make to the ancient art is to glance at a tabloid horoscope column. To match their carelessness, I might make a drive-by of a strip mall and declare that the profession of architecture is shallow and debased.

That's one reason why these ill-informed "skeptics" spread so many ignorant lies. For instance, they say that astrologers think the stars and planets emit invisible beams that affect people's lives. The truth is, many Western astrologers don't believe any such thing. Astrologer Richard Tarnas says it well: Just as clocks tell time but don't create it, the heavenly bodies show us the big picture but don't cause it.

Here's another hoax spread by uninformed scientists: http://bit.ly/VCsmjT

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QUESTION. Because you pack your column with doses of humor and wild imagery, some people think you don't take astrology seriously.

ROB. On the contrary, I think this proves how much respect I have for astrology -- I mean REAL astrology. Not astrology as a superstitious belief system that generates boring predictions in dead language about trivial events that only our neurotic egos are obsessed with; but rather astrology as a mytho-poetic symbol system that expands your imagination about the big cycles of your life, liberates you from the literalistic trance that the daily grind tends to trap you in, and opens you up to the understanding that you're much more beautiful and full of potential than you've been taught to believe.

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QUESTION. You have said that you believe in astrology "about 80 percent." What's up with the other 20 percent?

ROB. I use the same 80-20 approach with every belief system I love and benefit from: science, psychology, feminism, and various religious traditions like Buddhism and Christianity and paganism. 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 mutating.

Read More: http://bit.ly/167qJ3j

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QUESTION. But don't you risk playing the same role the tabloid astrologers do: enticing people to take on a superstitious approach to life and seducing them into believing their fate is determined by supernatural forces beyond the influence of their willpower?

ROB. I call what I do predicting the present, not forecasting the future. My goal is to awaken my readers to the hidden agendas, unconscious forces, and long-term cycles at work in their lives so that they can respond to the totality of what's happening instead of to mere appearances. I want to be a friendly shocker who helps unleash their imaginations, giving them the power to create their destinies with the same liberated fertility that great artists summon to forge their masterpieces.

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QUESTION. How do you write your column? Do you use actual astrological data, or just go into a trance and let your imagination run wild?


READ THE REPLY TO THIS QUESTION, as well as the rest of this Q & A.:

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Listen to my song "World Kiss"

Excerpt of the lyrics:

All of creation is alive and conscious, and all of creation deserves our burning, churning, yearning love. All of it. Not just the people and creatures and things that we personally find beautiful and helpful and interesting. But everything. All of creation.

If we want to become the gorgeous geniuses we were born to be, if we want to give back as many blessings as we are given, we've got to be in love with every single part of the Goddess's extravagant masterpiece.

And so we can't possibly be mere heterosexuals. We can't possibly be mere homosexuals or bisexuals.

If we want to commune with the world the way the Goddess does, we've got to be Pantheosexuals -- we've got to be experts in the art of Polymorphous Perverse Omnidirectional Goddess Diddling. Anything less is a lie, an obscene limitation.


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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

A SPELL TO RE-GENIUS YOURSELF

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.

I've created a ten-minute ritual you can use to jump-start the process. To get yourself in the mood, say this out loud right now:

"I am a genius" . . . .

READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE (and listen to it, too)

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If you'd like to see the Youtube videos of me performing "A Spell to Re-Genius Yourself," go here:

Part One

Part Two

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Here's an excerpt from my essay and podcast: "You Are a Prophet":

Your imagination is the single most important asset you possess. It's your power to create mental pictures of things that don't exist yet and that you want to bring into being. It's the magic wand you use to shape your future.

And so in your own way, you are a prophet. You generate countless predictions every day. Your imagination is the source, tirelessly churning out images of what you will be doing later.

The featured prophecy of the moment may be as simple as a psychic impression of yourself eating a fudge brownie at lunch or as monumental as a daydream of some year building your dream home.

Your imagination is a treasure when it spins out scenarios that are aligned with your deepest desires. In fact, it's an indispensable tool in creating the life you want; it's what you use to form images of the conditions you'd like to inhabit and the objects you hope to wield. Nothing manifests on this planet unless it first exists as a mental picture.

But for most of us, the imagination is as much a curse as a blessing. We're often just as likely to use it to conjure up premonitions that are at odds with our conscious values. That's the result of having absorbed toxic programming from the media and from our parents at an early age and from other influential people in our past . . . .

READ and HEAR the rest

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What if there's no contradiction between being your idiosyncratic self in love with your life and serving others with the best gifts you have to give?

What if exploring your inner world to activate your personal genius dovetails perfectly with fighting to recreate the soulless culture we're embedded in?

What if working on your own salvation makes you a more effective force in liberating others from their suffering?

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Check out this collection of Dreamtime art by indigenous Australians on my Tumblr page:

Dreamtime Art 1
Dreamtime Art 2
Dreamtime Art 3
Dreamtime Art 4
Dreamtime Art 5
Dreamtime Art 6


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Dear Readers:

What nourishes you emotionally and spiritually?

I'm not talking about what entertains you or flatters you or takes your mind off your problems.

I'm referring to the influences that make you stronger and the people who see you for who you really are and the situations that teach you life-long lessons.

I mean the beauty that replenishes your psyche and the symbols that consistently restore your balance and the memories that keep feeding your ability to rise to each new challenge.

I invite you to take inventory of these precious assets. And then make a special point of nurturing them back.

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My most recent book is
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's also available here.

Below is the text of a spoken-word piece based on a text in the book. You can listen to it here.

GLORY IN THE HIGHEST

Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you don’t fully understand, you’re still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you’ve been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that's just right for your body's needs, as it was before you fell asleep.

You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process millions of years to perfect.

The interesting gift of these vivid hues is furthermore made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into light and heat and energy for your personal use.

Your hands work wonderfully well. Your heart circulates your blood all the way out to replenish the energy of the muscles and nerves in your fingers and palms and wrists. And after your blood has delivered its blessings, it finds its way back to your heart to be refreshed. This wondrous mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every minute of your life.

You can smell intoxicating aromas. You can hear provocative and soothing sounds. You can taste a thousand different tastes. How is any of this possible? You can think thoughts any time you want -- big, wide, colorful thoughts or tiny dark burrowing thoughts. You can revel and wallow in great oceans of emotion. What colossal secret intelligence or improbable series of fabulous accidents conspired to bestow these superpowers upon you?

READ AND HEAR THE REST OF THIS PIECE


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MAKE ROOM FOR MORE

Is your schedule too rigid to allow magic to seep in? Then mutate that schedule, please.

Is your brain so crammed with knowledgeable opinions that no fresh perceptions can crack their way in? Then flush out some of those opinions.

Is your heart so puckered by the stings of the past that it can't burst forth with any expansive new invitations? Then unpucker your heart, for God's sake.

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YOUR SOUL MATE?

If you bury your face in your tear-stained pillow and beg God to please send you your soul mate, please don't slur your words in such a way that they sound like "cell mate."

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Below is another excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

MIRABILIA REPORT
(Mirabilia: 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.

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

* 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.

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

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

* The closest modern relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex may be the chicken.

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

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

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

READ THE REST of MIRABILIA REPORT here: http://bit.ly/zWK11D

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PROTEST THE DULLNESS

"It is respectable to have no illusions -- and safe -- and profitable and dull," said author Joseph Conrad.

Taking our cue from his liberating derision, I propose that we protest the dullness of having no illusions. Let's decry the blah gray sterility that comes from entertaining no fantastic fantasies and unreasonable dreams. How boring it is to have such machine-like mental hygiene!

So I invite you to celebrate your crazy ideas. Treasure and adore your wacky beliefs. Study all those irrational and insane urges running around your mind to see what you can learn about your deep, dark unconsciousness.

(P.S.: But I'm not saying you should act on any of those phantasms, at least not now. Simply be amused by them.)

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Here's a description of my relationship with the concepts in the book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

THE HONEY AND VINEGAR TASTERS

John Keats wrote that "if something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." I celebrate that hypothesis in my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. I further propose that the universe is inherently friendly to human beings; that all of creation is set up to liberate us from our suffering and teach us how to love intelligently; and that life always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it (though not necessarily what we want).

Dogmatic cynics are often so mad about my book's title that they can't bring themselves to explore the inside. Why bother to actually read about such a preposterous idea? They accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, disingenuous Pollyannaism, or New Age delusion.

If they do manage to read even a few pages, they find that the blessings I reference in the title are not materialistic fetishes like luxurious vacation homes, high status, and a perfect physique. I'm more interested in fascinating surprises, dizzying adventures, challenging gifts we hardly know what to do with, and conundrums that compel us to get smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier. I also enjoy exposing secret miracles, like the way the sun continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into heat, light, and energy for our personal use.

But I don't take the cynics' fury personally. When I suggest that life is a sublime mystery designed to grow us all into strong, supple messiahs, I understand that's the equivalent, for them, of denying the Holocaust. They're addicted to a formulation that's the opposite of Keats': If something is not ugly, it is probably not true.

Modern storytellers are at the vanguard of promoting this doctrine, which I refer to as pop nihilism. A majority of journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, talk-show hosts, musicians, and pundits act as if breakdown is far more common and far more interesting than breakthrough; that painful twists outnumber redemptive transformations by a wide margin, and are profoundly more entertaining as well.

Earlier in my life, I too worshiped the religion of pop nihilism. In the 1980s, for example, I launched a crusade against what I called "the global genocide of the imagination." I railed against the "entertainment criminals" who barrage us with floods of fake information and inane ugliness, decimating and paralyzing our image-making faculties. For years, much of my creative work was stoked by my rage against the machine for its soulless crimes of injustice and greed and rapaciousness and cruelty.

But as the crazy wisdom of pronoia overtook me in the 1990s, I gradually weaned myself from the gratuitous gratification that wrath offered. Against the grain, I experimented with strategies for motivating myself through crafty joy and purified desire and the longing for freedom. I played with ideas that helped me shed the habit of seeing the worst in everything and everyone. In its place I built a new habit of looking for the best.

But I never formally renounced my affiliation with the religion of cynicism. I didn't become a fundamentalist apostate preaching the doctrine of fanatical optimism. In the back of my wild heart, I knew I couldn't thrive without at least a tincture of the ferocity and outrage that had driven so much of my earlier self-expression.

Even at the height of my infatuation with the beautiful truths that swarmed into me while writing Pronoia, I nurtured a relationship with the awful truths. And I didn't hide that from my readers.

Yes, I did purposely go overboard in championing the cause of liberation and pleasure and ingenuity and integrity and renewal and harmony and love. The book's destiny was, after all, to serve as a counterbalance to the trendy predominance of bad news and paranoid attitudes. It was meant to be an antidote for the pandemic of snark.

But I made sure that Pronoia also contained numerous "Homeopathic Medicine Spells," talismans that cram long lists of the world's evils inside ritually consecrated mandalas. These spells diffuse the hypnotizing lure of doom and gloom by acknowledging the horror with a sardonic wink.

Pronoia also has many variations on a theme captured in William Vollman's testimony: "The most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that’s a complicated, tricky problem that you don’t know how to solve."

Furthermore, the book stops far short of calling for the totalitarian imposition of good cheer. I say I can tolerate the news media filling up half their pages and airwaves and bandwidths with poker-faced accounts of decline and degeneration, misery and destruction. All I seek is equal time for stories that inspire us to adore life instead of fearing it. And I'd gladly accept 25 percent. Even 10 percent.

So Pronoia hints at a paradoxical philosophy more complex than a naive quest for beauty and benevolence. It welcomes in a taste of darkness, acknowledging the shadows in the big picture.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS ESSAY, GO HERE.

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Are you in quest of an Intimate Ally? A Soul Friend? A Wild Confidante?

Check out Match.com via Free Will Astrology's link.

Look for a Co-Pilot, Co-Conspirator, or Collaborator . . . an Agent to represent you or a Disciple to worship you . . . a Secret Sharer who'll listen better than anyone or an Amazing Accomplice with whom you can practice the Art of Liberation.

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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES


A Happy Life or a Meaningful One -- Do We Really Need to Choose?

"Plastic shopping bags, an abundant source of litter on land and at sea, can be converted into diesel, natural gas and other useful petroleum products, researchers report."
Read more.

"From an evolutionary standpoint, selfishness in humans is not beneficial."

"Why Are We More Optimistic About Ourselves Than About Our Society? It's easier to be hopeful about our individual futures than our collective ones because we have more control over them. But the two are inextricably linked." Read more.

"To My Friend the Climate Defeatist: Here's Why I'm Still In the Fight
It is good to mourn for what's being lost. But giving up just gives the fossil fuel industry what it wants." Read more.

10 Formerly Homeless People Who Used Rock Bottom As A Springboard To Greatness. Read more.

Unleashing Empathy: How Teachers Transform Classrooms With Emotional Learning. The secret to learning self-awareness, cooperation, and other “social and emotional learning” skills lies in experience, not in workbooks and rote classroom exercises.

A new treatment for hepatitis C "cured" 90% of patients with the infection in 12 weeks, scientists said: The study is a "major breakthrough" and marks a "turning point" in hepatitis C treatment, said experts.

The Majestic Lofoten Islands in Norway. Photo by Daniel Korzhonov.

5 Habits of Highly Compassionate Men
"Having compassion leads to increased happiness, freedom from gender stereotypes, and better relationships with others."

10 Things Creative People Know
"Everyday creative activities like knitting and cooking can boost your levels of serotonin and decrease anxiety."

"More solar power was installed in the United States last year than the previous 30 years combined, and the per unit cost of solar power is falling so rapidly it’s soon likely to drop below that of coal." - Robert Reich

Unphotoshopped images of 32 beautiful places.

On Wednesday, March 27th, Texas got almost one-third of its electricity by harnessing the wind.

sThe rate of childhood obesity has dropped 43% over the last decade, and sales of sugary soft drinks and cereals have plummeted.

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