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week of August 17, 2017
Experiment: Don't take things too seriously or too personally or too literally

My book
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.

Here are excerpts:

I imagine the possibility of establishing a tradition of uplifting gossip, full of praise and gratitude. What about, if instead of naming the shadowy aspects of our friends and acquaintances behind their backs, we identified, celebrated, and propitiated their divine glory and shining wonder?

Vow: I name the most beautiful truths about everyone I meet. I extol and congratulate. Cherish and cultivate. Quicken and animate.


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WHAT PART OF YOUR LIFE DO YOU NEED TO SHED?

Here's a letter we wrote to America's richest woman, Oprah Winfrey.

"Dear Oprah," we began. "Please buy up all the Pizza Huts and convert them into a network of Menstrual Huts. Create 10,000 or 100,000 local neighborhood sanctuaries where women can retreat while they're in the throes of their monthly appointment with dying and purification -- or any time they need a break from the tyranny of the clock.

"Let the men come, too. They need sabbaticals. We're all desperate for a regular chance to drop out of the crazy-making grind, to find respite from civilizations' crimes against the rhythms of sleep and love and play.

"Men may actually need the Menstrual Huts even more than women. They mistakenly imagine that they can drive themselves on and on and on. Their poor bodies don't have a built-in menstrual mechanism to cyclically slow them down. And so they mostly never stop to peer into the heart of their own darkness. Which is why so many of them tend to find evil everywhere else except in themselves, and fight it everywhere else except in themselves.

"Just a theory to consider: If men got a chance to have periodic breakdowns and negotiate in a safe place with the toxic feelings that just naturally build up inside everyone over time, maybe they wouldn't wreak so much havoc out in the world. Maybe Menstrual Huts would save the world."

Our letter to Oprah went on for two more pages, but you get the gist. She has not yet responded to our plea.

In the meantime, we suggest that anyone who's interested create their own local Moon Lodges and Menstrual Huts. Here's a list of self-inquiries that could help to guide the time in the sanctuary

1. What feelings and intuitions have you been trying to ignore lately?

2. Which parts of your life are overdue for death?

3. What messages has life been trying to convey to you but which you've chosen to ignore?

4. What red herrings, straw men, and scapegoats have you chased after obsessively in order to avoid dissolving your most well-rationalized delusions?

5. What unripe parts of yourself are you most ashamed or fearful of? How can you give those parts more ingenious love?

6. What parts of yourself have the least integrity and don't act in harmony with what you regard as your highest values? How can you bring them into alignment with your true desires?

7. Is it possible that in repressing things about yourself that you don't like, you have also disowned potentially strong and beautiful aspects of yourself? What are they?

8. Are those really flaws that are bugging you about the people whose destinies are entwined with yours, or just incompletely developed talents? Are those really flaws that are bugging you about yourself, or merely incompletely developed talents?

9. Some people try to deny their portion of the world's darkness and project it onto individuals or groups they dislike. Others acknowledge its power so readily that they allow themselves to be overwhelmed by it. We believe in taking an in-between position, accepting it as an unworked gift that can serve our liberation. Where do you stand?

10. It's easy to see fanaticism, rigidity, and intolerance in other people, but harder to acknowledge them in yourself. Do you dare?


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YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION AND FOLLY

"You are my inspiration and my folly. You are my light across the sea, my million nameless joys, and my day’s wage. You are my divinity, my madness, my selfishness, my transfiguration and purification. You are my rapscallionly fellow vagabond, my tempter and star. I want you.“

Experiment: Memorize the lines above, which were written by George Bernard Shaw, and deliver them to the one with whom you’d most like to weave your fortunes more closely together. If there is no human you feel moved to address so tenderly, speak them to a favorite muse or angel.


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TRACK DOWN THE SPIRIT IN ITS LAIR

"The goal is to break through the machinery of cultural conditioning, in the same way that the shaman does, and to attempt to discover something authentic—something authentic outside the self-generated language cloud. And what this authentic thing is, is that the universal mind is alive, is sentient, is perceiving, is there to meet you when you come through from the other side.

"So we're not talking about psychedelics as a spotlight to be turned on to reveal the detritus of our own personal unconscious. It is not a spotlight. It is not shining from behind you; it is shining ahead of you. The same organizational principles that called us forth into self-reflection has called forth self-reflection out of the planet itself.

"And the problem then is for us to suspect this, act on our suspicion, and be good detectives and track down the spirit in its lair. And this is what shamans are doing. They are hunters of spirit."

- Terence McKenna


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Here's a testimony from one of my readers: "Dear Rob - I appreciate that you have never sold out to advertisers. Your site is one of the most restful places to visit on the Internet. I don’t know how you manage to make a living from doing Free Will Astrology! - Grateful Reader"

Here's my response: Dear Grateful: Thanks for noticing! If you'd like to make a donation to support my work, please visit my Virtual Tip Jar at Paypal. Or mail a check to me at 454 Las Gallinas Avenue, #255, San Rafael, CA 94903.

You can also support my work by buying the Expanded Audio Horoscopes I create every week. These forecasts are different in tone and content from the written horoscopes I provide here. They're my four- to five-minute-long ruminations about the current chapter of your life story. They're available here.


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Let me remind you who you really are: You're an immortal freedom fighter who longs to liberate all sentient creatures from their suffering. You're a fun-loving messiah who devoutly wants to help all of your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.

Try to remember. You're a vortex of fluidic light that has temporarily taken on the form of a human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins. And why did you do that? Because it was the best way to forge the identity that would make you such an elemental force in our 14-billion-year campaign to bring heaven all the way down to earth.

I'm not speaking metaphorically here. You are a mutant deity in disguise -- not a Buddha or a Christ exactly, but of the same lineage and conjured from the same fire. You have been around since the beginning of time and will be here after the end. Every day and in every way, you're getting better at playing the preposterously amusing master game we all dreamed up together before the Big Bang bloomed.

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Lately, I must admit, our work has seemed almost comically impossible. Many of us have given in to the temptation to believe that everything is upside-down and inside-out. Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround us. Pessimism is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories about treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.

So no, at this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game, it's not easy to carry out our mission. We've got to be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life. We've got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by those messiahs among us who bravely volunteered to play the role of know-it-all deceivers.

We have to learn how to stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the sour, puckered mass hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as "reality."

Maybe most importantly, we have to be ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free. We have to be both disciplined and rowdy.

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What can we do to help each other in this work? Read more here.


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GIFTS FOR YOU?

Here are the gifts I want to give you: green velvet gloves, a canoe made out of jewels, a donkey clown piñata full of crickets, toasters made of pure gold falling through the sky at the end of magenta parachutes, a going-steady ring from a vending machine at the drug store, a protective gargoyle from the Chartres Cathedral, an antique hammer and sickle, a strawberry chocolate cake baked in the shape of a question mark, fistfuls of sparklers, a bottle of holy water from the River Jordan, photos of lightning on a giant poster, ruby slippers, a map of human DNA drawn up by the Human Genome Project, a refrigerator magnet cast in the likeness of the Dalai Lama, and a mask of your face fashioned from purple day-glo Play-Doh.


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HIDING, By David Whyte:

HIDING is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Even hiding the truth from ourselves can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time.

Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear.

Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others.

What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control.

Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed.

Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.

Excerpted from ‘HIDING’ in CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

- 2015 © David Whyte


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THANK YOU!

Thank you for creating your own fantastic reality, as it inspires me to make my own!


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YOUR REPERTOIRE

What thought or trick do you use to help liberate yourself from unnecessary suffering?

What joke do you play on yourself when you're taking yourself too seriously?

How do you compassionately bust yourself when you realize you've been indulging in hypocritical behavior?


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YOUR DISQUIET

"All disquiet springs from a search for quiet," the poet Rumi would like you to know.

"And so the best way to cultivate inner peace," I add, "might be to learn to love the way everything keeps changing."

"All illnesses spring from scavenging for delicacies," Rumi adds to his previous epiphany.

'"o maybe pluck the simple, inexpensive riches that are right in front of you," I conclude.


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BEST TRANSGRESSION

"The true transgression today is no longer sex, but a dedicated commitment to love."

- Slavoj Žižek


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ABDANDON DREADRY TASKS

“I gladly abandon dreary tasks, rational scruples, reactive undertakings imposed by the world, for the sake of a useless task deriving from a dazzling Duty: the lover’s Duty. I perform, discreetly, lunatic chores; I am the sole witness of my lunacy. What love lays bare in me is energy.”

— Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

I would add that the lover’s Duty may be expressed toward a beloved person, animal, place, creation, or task.


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GLIMPSE THE SUBLIME

"The sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear's boundary, beyond one's previous conception of the beautiful."

- Rusty Morrison


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UPLIFTING GOSSIP

I imagine the possibility of helping to establish a tradition of uplifting gossip, full of praise and gratitude. What about, if instead of naming the shadowy aspects of our friends and acquaintances behind their backs, we identified, celebrated, and propitiated their divine glory and shining wonder?

Vow: I name the most beautiful truths about everyone I meet. I extol and congratulate. Cherish and cultivate. Quicken and animate.


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Experiment: Figure out how you need to transform yourself in order for the world to give you what you yearn for.


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MESSAGE FROM YOUR ANCESTORS

Attention, please. This is your ancestors speaking. We've been trying to reach you through your dreams and fantasies, but you haven't responded. That's why we've commandeered this space. So listen up. We'll make it brief.

You're at a crossroads analogous to a dilemma that has baffled your biological line for six generations. We ask you now to master the turning point that none of us have ever figured out how to negotiate. Heal yourself and you heal all of us. We mean that literally. Start brainstorming, please.


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OUTWIT THE NUMBING TRANCE

How can we outwit and escape the numbing trance that everyday routine seems to foster? What can we do to stay alert to the subtle miracles and intriguing mysteries and numinous beauty that surround us on all sides?

Some possibilities:

1. Make it a daily practice to refresh the ways we perceive the world.

2. Scan regularly for opportunities to play and for creatures that like to play.

3. Assume that the entire world is a constantly changing source of oracular revelation that has meaning for us.

4. Experiment with what happens when we use empathy and intuition to imagine how animals and other people experience life.

5. Don't take things too seriously or too personally or too literally.

6. Expose ourselves regularly to provocative myths and intriguing symbols. Seek out stories that bend and twist our beliefs. Be open to exploring events and phenomena that elude rational explanation.

7. Regularly give our unconscious minds the message that we want to feel deeply.

8. Cultivate a willingness, eagerness, and receptivity to being surprised.

9. Others?


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HEALTHY OBSESSIONS

I invite you to experiment with the theme "Healthy Obsessions." Not "Melodramatic Compulsions" or "Exhausting Crazes" or "Manias That Make You Seem Interesting to Casual Bystanders," but "Healthy Obsessions."

To do it well, you will have to take really good care of yourself as you concentrate extravagantly on tasks that fill you with zeal. This may require you to rebel against the influences of role models, both in your actual life and in the movies you've seen, who act as if getting sick and imbalanced is an integral part of being true to one's genius.


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THE NATURE OF MAGIC DOORWAYS

Alice finds her way to Wonderland by falling down a rabbit hole. Dorothy rides to Oz on a tornado. In C. S. Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Lucy stumbles into the magical land of Narnia via a portal in the back of a large clothes cabinet.

In the sequels to all these adventures, however, the heroines must find different ways to access their exotic dreamlands. Alice slips through a mirror next time. Dorothy uses a Magic Belt. Lucy leaps into a painting of a schooner that becomes real.

Moral of the story: The next time you seek passage into a magic interlude or alternate reality, the doorway may be unlike anything you've experienced before.


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MANY TYPES OF CREATIVITY

"Creativity is conceived as a reproductive act with a tangible result -- a child, a book, a monument -- that has a physical life going beyond the life of its producer. Creativity, however, can be intangible in the form of a good life, or a beautiful act, or in other virtues of the soul such as freedom and openness, style and tact, humor, kindness."

- James Hillman


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EXPERIMENT: Live life as if you're just going to keep getting smart and kinder and wilder.

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Starved for good news? Try this batch of stories that document all the uplifting events going on around the world.


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TO-DO LIST

1. Say these words into a mirror: "It’s bad luck to be superstitious."

2. Fantasize that our so-called "dark sides" are sweet and creamy.

3. Watch TV with our third eyes.

4. Put on inflatable sumo wrestler costumes and play bagpipes as badly as possible.

5. Imagine we have guardian angels who look like Malcolm X and Eugene Debs.

6. Plant orchids on a strip-mined hill.

7. Dream we’re red-tailed hawks soaring over a shopping mall.

8. Forgive ourselves for the blindness that put us in the path of those who betrayed us.

9. Put bumper stickers on our cars that say, "My goddess can kick your god’s ass!"

10. Hire a puppet troupe to reenact our life stories using marionettes in Renaissance costumes.

11. Buy seven used gowns worn to the Academy Awards show by famous actresses, and send them gratis to seven Guatemalan teenagers.

12. Meditate on how one of the symbols of plenitude in Nepal is a mongoose vomiting jewels.

13. Thank our mothers for the pain they endured while birthing us.

14. Review in painstaking detail the history of our lives, honoring every moment as if we were conducting a benevolent Judgment Day.

15. Create royal crowns for ourselves out of shower cap, rubber bands, and light bulbs.

16. Test to see if people are really listening to us by asserting that Karl Marx was one of the Marx Brothers and that Joan of Arc was married to the Biblical Noah.

17. Teach an animal to dance.

18. Make believe we are the ocean king and thunder queen.

19. Actually kiss the earth now and then.

20. Find many good excuses to say, as physicist Niels Bohr once did, “Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true.”

21. Ask butterflies if they will hang out on our faces for a while.


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Thank you for creating your own fantastic reality, as it inspires me to make my own!


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YOU'RE A MAGICIAN

I'm not a major fan of occultist Aleister Crowley, but I appreciate some of his ideas. His definition of magic is pure and true: 'the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.'

He wasn't simply referring to the esoteric transformations attempted by wizards and witches wielding spells and conjurations. He meant anyone who seeks to make practical shifts in his or her life.

Let's say you grew up conditioned to feel shame about behavior there's no good reason to feel shame about, and you resolve to do whatever it takes to dissolve that shame, and you succeed in doing it. That's magic.

Or maybe you no longer want to attract bad listeners and flaky collaborators into your sphere, and you promise yourself you will alter that pattern, and you ultimately achieve your goal. That's magic, too.

One other example: You decide you want to be a skilled songwriter, and spend years learning to play an instrument, analyzing the songs you love in order to understand how they're constructed, and cultivating your creativity. That's magic at work.

I invite you to identify an example of one or two of your own magic skills.


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YOUR MIND IS ALWYS FREE

At every moment, your mind is free – free to reject any thoughts, impulses, and feelings that are barreling into it from who-knows-where. Free to leap to some fresh perspective, inspiring though, or deep feeling.

It’s true! You can have deep feeling ten seconds from now if you want. All you have to do is turn your mind to a memory that stimulates deep feeling or to a future fantasy that stimulates deep feeling.


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EXPERIMENT

Experiment: Weed out the wishy-washy wishes and lukewarm longings that keep you distracted from your burning desires.


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EMPATHY FOR DELUSIONS

Being acutely aware of the fact that I have entertained a great number of delusional, nonsensical, and wasteful thoughts and feelings over the course of my life, I have empathy for those who don't yet know that they entertain a great number of delusional, nonsensical, and wasteful thoughts.


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THOUGHT EXPERIMENT'

Here's a thought experiment you could try for the next 24 hours: Every time a negative or fearful thought rises up, substitute a thought, imagination, or memory that energizes you and makes you feel genuinely good.


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RADICAL AUTHENTICITY

"I've been practicing radical authenticity lately," my friend Brandon told me. "I'm revealing the blunt truth about unmentionable subjects to everyone I know. It's been pretty hellish -- no one likes having the social masks stripped away -- but it's been ultimately rewarding."

"I admire your boldness in naming the currents flowing beneath the surface," I replied, "but I'm curious as to why you imply they're all negative. To practice radical authenticity, shouldn't you also express the raw truth about what's right, good, and beautiful? Shouldn't you unleash the praise and gratitude that normally go unspoken?"


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TO HELL WITH MY SUFFERING

"To hell with my suffering," wrote Arthur Rimbaud in his poem "May Banners." I invite you to make that snappy phrase your mantra for now. Anytime you feel a sour thought impinging on your perceptions, say, "To hell with my suffering."

And immediately follow it up with an expostulation from another Rimbaud poem, "It's all too beautiful."

You could be ruthless about it. If you sense an imminent outbreak of pettiness, or if a critical little voice in your head blurts out a curse, or if a pesky ghost starts to nag you, simply say, "To hell with my suffering," and then, "It's all too beautiful."


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TELEPATHICS ANONYMOUS

Telepathics Anonymous is a 12-step program for those who aren't aware of how the thoughts and feelings of others leak over into their own.

Are you suffering because you imagine your psyche is an utterly separate and sealed-off territory? Would reality make a lot more sense if you knew for sure that you are in continual extrasensory contact with more souls than you can imagine?

Telepathics Anonymous offers proof that human minds overlap all the time!

As a get-­acquainted gift, Telepathics Anonymous would like to present you with an omen concerning the future of your relationship with love. Look for it exactly 95 hours and 19 minutes from right now.


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ATTUNE YOURSELF TO BEAUTY

What do you need to kill off in yourself in order to tune in to the beauty that's hidden from you? What worn-out shticks are blinding you to the blessings that life is conspiring to give you?

Which of your theories may have been useful and even brilliant in the past but are now keeping you from becoming aware of the ever-fresh creation that unfolds before you?


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THROW A PARTY FOR ALL THE PEOPLE YOU ARE

Throw a party for all the people you've ever been and all the different selves who live within you. Invite the teenager who once seethed with frustrated potential and the four-year-old who loved nothing more than to play.

Include the hopeful complainer who stands in the shadows and dares you to ask for more, as well as the brave hero who comes out every now and then to attempt seemingly impossible feats of happiness.

Don't forget any of the various personalities who have contributed to making you who you are, even the "bad" ones. Celebrate your internal diversity. Marvel at how good you are at changing.

(For extra credit, you could also invite all the characters you've been in past incarnations, like the Balinese puppet-maker and the Nigerian herbalist and the Chinese midwife and the African savannah elephant.)


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FOUR ADDICTIONS

Our ability to pursue our dreams can be inhibited by four addictions:

1. an addiction to what other people think of us;

2. an addiction to creating melodrama in a misguided quest for excitement;

3. an addiction to believing we're imprisoned by what happened in the past;

4. an addiction to negative thoughts that fill us with anxiety.

(Thanks to success coach Tom Ferry for these ideas.)

The good news is that it is your birthright to beat all four of those addictions. The work won't come fast or early, and it may never be perfect. But it's quite possible.


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DO YOU REALLY NEED TO CHANGE THE SUNSET?

"When I look at a sunset, I don't say, 'Soften the orange a little on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple in the cloud color.'" Pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers was describing the way he observed the world. "I don't try to control a sunset," he continued. "I watch it with awe."

He had a similar view about people. "One of the most satisfying experiences," he said, "is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset."


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ALTER YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS?

refusing to use the word "I" for 72 hours

acting with absolutely no ulterior motives

dancing in the dark, in slow motion, with your clothes on inside-out

witnessing an event considered impossible by your rational mind

reviewing in painstaking detail the history of your life

creating something beautiful out of something ugly

achieving telepathic connection with all of creation

forcing yourself to laugh for ten minutes straight

calling everything by its wrong name

renouncing your horoscope

making animal noises

looking at yourself in the mirror for an hour


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WHAT IS WILDNESS?

Here's the definition of "wildness" offered by Robert Bly in his book, "The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart": To be wild is not to be crazy like a criminal or psychotic, but "mad as the mist and snow." It has nothing to do with being childish or primitive, nor does it manifest as manic rebellion or self-damaging alienation.

The marks of wildness, Bly says, are a love of nature, a delight in silence, a voice free to say spontaneous things, and a vivacious curiosity in the face of the unknown.


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POWER OF YOUR IMAGINATION

When I studied method acting with filmmaker David Mamet, he urged us to cultivate such a vivid imagination that we could taste the pretend coffee that we drank out of an imaginary cup.

We'd feel the heft of the cup in our hand and the steamy heat rising. We'd hallucinate the bitterly flavorful smell, and the muscles of our face would move the way they might if we were sipping the actual factual coffee.

Pop star Lady Gaga didn't work with Mamet while she was maturing as an actress, but she got similar teachings. She told New York magazine that she can "feel the rain, when it's not raining." And more than that: "I can mentally give myself an orgasm."

It's your birthright to develop an imagination like that. You'll have to work hard at it, though.

Are you interested?


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CHANGING THE SUNSET

"When I look at a sunset, I don't say, 'Soften the orange a little on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple in the cloud color.'" Pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers was describing the way he observed the world. "I don't try to control a sunset," he continued. "I watch it with awe."

He had a similar view about people. "One of the most satisfying experiences," he said, "is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset."


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SHADOW SCHOOL

You're a gorgeous mystery with a wild heart and a lofty purpose. But like all of us, you also have a dark side -- a part of your psyche that snarls and bites, that's unconscious and irrational, that is motivated by ill will or twisted passions or instinctual fears.

It's your own personal portion of the world's sickness: a mess of repressed longings, enervating wounds, ignorant delusions, and unripe powers. You'd prefer to ignore it because it's unflattering or uncomfortable or very different from what you imagine yourself to be.

If you acknowledge its existence at all (many of us don't), you might call it the devil, your evil twin, your inner monster, or your personal demon. Psychologist Carl Jung referred to it as the shadow. He regarded it as the lead that the authentic alchemists of the Middle Ages sought to transmute into gold.

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Astrologer Steven Forrest has a different name for the shadow: stuff. "Work on your stuff," he says, "or your stuff will work on you." He means that it will sabotage you if you're not aggressive about identifying, negotiating with, and transforming it.

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The shadow is not inherently evil. If it is ignored or denied, it may become monstrous to compensate. Only then is it likely to "demonically possess" its owner, leading to compulsive, exaggerated, "evil" behavior.

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"The shadow, which is in conflict with the acknowledged values, cannot be accepted as a negative part of one's own psyche and is therefore projected -- that is, it is transferred to the outside world and experienced as an outside object. It is combated, punished, and exterminated as 'the alien out there' instead of being dealt with as one's own inner problem." -- Erich Neumann, *Depth Psychology and a New Ethic*

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The qualities in ourselves that we deny or dislike are often the very qualities that we most bitterly complain about in other people. So for instance, an old friend of mine named Mark had a special disgust for friends who were unavailable to him when he really needed them. But I was witness to him engaging in the same behavior three different times, disappearing from the lives of his friends just when they needed him most.

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"Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event," said Jung. If you disown a part of your personality, it'll materialize as an unexpected detour.

Everyone who believes in the devil is the devil . . . .

TO READ THE REST OF "SHADOW SCHOOL," go here.


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FREE YOUR BODY!

Free your body. Don't ruminate and agonize about it. Do it simply and easily. LOVE YOUR BODY!

Be brave and forceful, gentle and graceful. Free your sublimely imperfect, riotously intelligent body. Allow it to be itself in all of its mysterious glory. Love your body exactly as it is.

Praise your body. Thank your body. Tell it you adore its uncanny majesty . . . you yearn to learn more of its secrets . . . you promise to treat it as your beloved ally.

Be in love with your body, no shame, no apology. Be in awe of your body's unfathomable power to endlessly carry out the millions of chemical reactions that keep you alive and thriving.

How can you not be overwhelmed with reverence for your hungry, curious, resourceful, unpredictable body?

Study your body's magic. Exult in the blessings it bestows on you. Celebrate and hone its fierce animal elegance.


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"I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself."

- Friedrich Nietzsche


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Always keep 2 pieces of paper in your pockets. One says, "I am a speck of dust;" the other, "The world was created for me."

- Rabbi Bunim



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Your radiance needs to be fed by other radiances.


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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."

Read the rest of "RECEPTIVITY REMEDIES"


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YOUR THOUGHTS ARE MAGIC

"Scientific American" chimes in on the power of pronoiac thinking: "Your thoughts can release abilities beyond normal limits. Better vision, stronger muscles -- expectations can have surprising effects."

Excerpt:
"Thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits."

Read more . . .


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THE MORE SPECIFIC YOUR GOALS, THE BETTER

"Having very broad and abstract goals may maintain and exacerbate depression. Goals that are not specific are more ambiguous and, therefore, harder to visualize. If goals are hard to visualize it may result in reduced expectation of realizing them which in turn results in lower motivation to try and achieve them."

- Researchers at the institute of Health, Psychology, and Society

Read more. . .


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BEING KIND IS GOOD FOR YOU

Research shows:

1. Exercising compassion stimulates the same pleasure centers associated with the drive for food, water and sex.

2. Practicing compassion with intention has a positive physiological effect on the body. It can lower blood pressure, boost your immune response and increase your calmness.

3. Not only are we hard-wired to be kind, but it is essential for the survival of our species.

4. Recognizing common fears or vulnerabilities rather than differences -- be it with a difficult friend, an abrasive colleague or a noisy neighbor -- calms the nervous system, boosting feelings of contentment and self worth.

More . . .


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Cancer cells are constantly developing in our bodies. Luckily, our immune systems routinely kill them off. Similarly, our minds always harbor pockets of crazy-making misconceptions and faulty imprints. They usually don't rise up and render us insane thanks to the psychic versions of our immune systems.

How can you stay strong in your ability to fight off madness? You know the drill: Eat healthy food, sleep well, get physical exercise, minimize stress, give and receive love. But as an aspiring pronoiac, you have at your disposal other actions that can provide powerful boosts to your psychic immune system. Here are examples:

Scheme to put yourself in the path of beautiful landscapes, buildings, art, and creatures.

Exercise your imagination regularly. Get in the habit of feeding your mind's eye with images that fill you with wonder and vitality.

Eliminate uhs, you knows, I means, and other junk words from your speech. Avoid saying things you don't really mean and haven't thought out. Stop yourself when tempted to make scornful assertions about people.

Every night before you fall asleep, review the day's activities in your mind's eye. As if watching a movie about yourself, try to be calmly objective as you observe your memories from the previous 16 hours. Be especially alert for moments when you strayed from your purpose and didn't live up to your highest standards.

With a companion, sit in front of a turned-off TV as you make up a pronoiac story that features tricky benevolence, scintillating harmony, and amusing redemption. Speak this tale aloud or write it down.

Take on an additional job title, beautifier. Put it on your business card and do something every day to cultivate your skill. If you're a people person, bring grace and intrigue into your conversations; ask unexpected questions that provoke original thoughts.

If you're an artist, leave samples of your finest work in public places. If you're a psychologist or sociologist, point out the institutions and relationships that are working really well. Whatever you do best, be alert for how you can refine it and offer it up to those who'll benefit from it.

If you're going through a phase when you feel you have nothing especially beautiful to offer, or if you think it would be self-indulgent to inject your own aesthetic into shared environments, turn for help to great artists and thinkers.

Sneak O'Keeffe or Chagall prints onto unadorned walls in public places, for instance. Memorize poems by Rilke and Hafiz, and slip them into your conversations when appropriate. Use Vivaldi's Stabat Mater in C Minor as your ring tone. Scrawl passages from Annie Dillard's Teaching a Stone to Talk on the walls of public lavatories.


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PLEASURE MIGHT BE SPIRITUAL

Assume that your drive to experience pleasure isn't a barrier to your spiritual growth, but is in fact essential to it.

Proceed on the hypothesis that cultivating joy can make you a more ethical and compassionate person.

Imagine that feeling good has something important to teach you every day.

What might you do differently from what you do now?


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"EVERYONE IS MY TEACHER"

I invite you to say the following, and see how it feels:

Everyone is my teacher.

Everywhere I go, I am a student.

Every person I meet is in some way my superior.

I vow to shut up and listen on a frequent and regular basis.


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The poet Kabir says:

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think . . . and think . . . while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time
before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten --
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment
in the City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest
that does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

- Kabir, translated and rendered by Robert Bly


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Here are practical ways I carry on the work of championing and embodying the Divine Feminine:

I regard relationship as a crucible for spiritual work.

I think of the practical expression of kindness and compassion and ethical behavior as an essential spiritual practice.

I assume that a crucial element of spiritual practice is the consciousness and compassion we bring to the sometimes chaotic and messy details of being human beings.

I proceed as if loving and caring for animals and plants and the Earth is the test of our spiritual intentions.

I regard play and fun and humor as not diversions from "serious" spiritual work, but rather being at the center of it.

There are more, but I'll stop for now. What about you? What are the practical ways you carry on the work of loving Goddess? Tell me at Truthrooster@gmail.com.


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DON'T GO NUMB!

How can we influence people to stop their extermination of nature? How can we motivate people to stop committing genocide against animal species? [Choose Method A or Method B or a blend of both.]

Method A.

1. Nag people with scientific data that shocks them into acknowledging how much harm human activity is inflicting.

2. Shame them about the sin of bequeathing their descendants a damaged, impoverished planet.

3. Badger them to dissolve the unethical greed that leads them to consume so many of the earth's resources and produce too much waste.

4. Criticize them for being too stubborn and ignorant to change their destructive habits.

5. Goad them with financial incentives to do the right thing even if they don't want to do the right thing.

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Method B.

6. Express smart love for the interconnected web of life.

7. Celebrate the fact that there are other forms of consciousness and intelligence besides just the human kind.

8. Embody the hypothesis that spending time in wild places enhances one's mental hygiene and physical health.

9. Value the feminine as much as the masculine.

10. Cultivate the art of empathy, and demonstrate how to make it work in everything you do.

11. Show what it means to think with your heart and feel with your head.

12. Stay in close touch with the Mysterium, the other real world that is the root of the material world.

13. Vow to bring the I-Thou dynamic to bear on all your relationships.

14. Be as curious about intimacy as you are about power.


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X-RATED PRONOIA

Much of my book *Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia* is rated PG. Some is R. But there's one story that's X. Not in the same way that porn is. While it's uninhibited in its rendering of ecstatic eroticism, it's a feminist meditation on spiritual intimacy, not a heap of vulgar stereotypes.

Still, when the book came out, I decided not to send full copies of the book to certain relatives of mine who are a bit prudish. So I came to a compromise: Using a razor blade, I sliced out the nine pages in question and gave my loved ones the mostly-intact remainder.

Here are those nine pages.


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DISCIPLINE YOUR WILDNESS

Clarissa Pinkola Estés suggests that we all need to periodically go cheerfully and enthusiastically out of our minds. Make sure, she says, that at least one part of you always remains untamed, uncategorizable, and unsubjugated by routine. Be adamant in your determination to stay intimately connected to all that's inexplicable and mysterious about your life.

At the same time, though, Estés believes you need to keep your unusual urges clear and ordered. Discipline your wildness, in other words, and don't let it degenerate into careless disorder.


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I invite you to speak the following words:

"I pledge to see my problems as tremendous opportunities and my flaws as imperfect or unripe talents."

"I pledge to remember that I am not only a sweating, half-asleep, excitable, bumbling jumble of desires, but that I am also an immortal four-dimensional messiah in continuous telepathic touch with all of creation."

"As long as I live, I vow to die and be reborn, die and be reborn, die and be reborn, over and over again, forever reinventing myself."

"I vow to love and honor both the life I wish I had and the life I actually have. I vow to love and honor my highs and my lows, my yeses and noes, my give and my take.

"I pledge to wake myself up, never hold back, have nothing to lose, go all the way, kiss the stormy sky, be the hero of my own story, ask for everything I need and give everything I have, take myself to the river when it's time to go to the river, and take myself to the mountaintop when it's time to go to the mountaintop."

"I promise to be stronger than hate, wetter than water, deeper than the abyss, and wilder than the sun."


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IMAGINAL HYGIENE

"Imaginal hygiene is the inner art of self-managing your imagination, to defend it from forces that compromise, pollute, colonize, shrink, and sterilize it, and to cultivate those that illuminate, expand, and nourish it."

The above is an excerpt from a wonderful piece by M. T. Xen, which I highly recommend.

You can also listen to my six-minute take on the power of your imagination.

Or read my piece here.


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THE 80% RULE

Readers of my horoscope column "Free Will Astrology" are sometimes surprised when I say I only believe in astrology about 80 percent. "You're a quack?!" they cry. Not at all, I explain. I've been a passionate student of the ancient art for years. About the time my over-educated young brain was on the verge of desertification, crazy wisdom showed up in the guise of astrology, moistening my soul just in time to save it.

"But what about the other 20 percent?" they press on. "Are you saying your horoscopes are only partially true?"

I assure them that my doubt proves my love. By cultivating a tender, cheerful skepticism, I inoculate myself against the virus of fanaticism. This ensures that astrology will be a supple tool in my hands, an adaptable art form, and not a rigid, explain-it-all dogma that over-literalizes and distorts the mysteries it seeks to illuminate.

Read the rest of this essay.


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I AM YOU AND YOU ARE ME AND WE ARE ALL TOGETHER

"Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.

"The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath.

"Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation"


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LIVING IN THE INQUIRY

“I find that a lot of people are more invested in position-taking than they are in the inquiry. Generally speaking, I am in the inquiry. I live in the question. People have so many positions, and usually the evidence is not strong enough for them really to be so confident in those conclusions. There are just a lot of things that are not certain.”

- Jerry Brown, quoted in The Atlantic


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WHERE DOES HELP COME FROM?

I get many requests from people who are going through challenging times in their lives and would like my personal advice. I wish I could respond to these inquiries, because they are often profound and well-thought-out, demonstrating an ability to define the problems at hand with lucid insight.

Unfortunately, I can't respond. My various lines of work are too demanding to add any other tasks to my life, no matter how interesting they might be. But I've developed a general response to those people who seek my personal input. I'm offering it below.

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I'm honored that you regard me as someone who might be able to provide answers or solace, but I don't think it would be responsible for me to fling advice your way without knowing more about the complexities of your problem. And I'm afraid I can't give the time necessary to explore those complexities.

The only thing I'll suggest, as you seek to clarify your situation, is for you to arrange to go on a retreat. During that time of withdrawal from the world's everyday madness, I urge you to avoid all media and to be as silent and relaxed as it's possible for you to be.

During the first part of your retreat, spend hours visualizing in your mind's eye the entire story of your life, from the earliest memory to the present moment.

During the second phase of your retreat, begin your meditations by establishing contact with the highest source of wisdom and love within you. You can call this source God or Goddess or your Guardian Angel or Higher Self. Spend luxurious time in dialogue with this source, making sure to ask these questions:

1. "What is it I want more than anything else?"

2. "What is the best way to serve the mission I came to Earth to carry out? What are the very best gifts I have to offer other humans?"

3. "What path will allow me to ultimately learn the most about wise love?"

4. "How do I need to change in order to get what I want, carry out my life's mission, and learn about wise love? What influences and attitudes do I need to eliminate?"

During the third phase of the process, write out a mission statement: what you want to accomplish by the time you die many years hence. Then create a master plan of the actions you will take in order to make that mission statement come true. Include three actions you will take in the next month to get more serious about accomplishing your mission.

During the fourth phase, visualize the following scenarios in lush detail: that God/Goddess loves you, that the entire universe is conspiring to give you the lessons and blessings and kicks in the ass and liberations you need exactly when you need them, and that you are ready to welcome that love and guidance with all your heart.

P.S. I'm a big believer in trusting your intuition. Even if it doesn't lead you to what your ego thinks is a successful outcome, your intuition will always guide you to the experiences that your soul needs.


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“To love. To be loved. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

- Arundhati Roy


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"Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end. Our divided, schizophrenic worldview, with no mythology adequate to coordinate our conscious and unconscious — that is what is coming to an end.

"The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth — that is the world as we know it that must pass away.

"What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us."
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- Joseph Campbell, "Thou Art That, Transforming Religious Metaphor"


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SPIRIT GATE

Some acupuncturists identify an energetic point in the ear called the spirit gate. If it's stuck closed, the spirit is locked in; if it's stuck open, the spirit is always coming and going, restless and unsettled.

What's ideal is that the spirit gate is not stuck in any position. Then the spirit can come and go as it needs to, and also have the option of retreating and protecting itself.

I invite you to imagine that right now a skilled acupuncturist is inserting a needle in the top of your left ear, where it will remain for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, visualize your spirit gate being in that state of harmonious health I described.


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My book
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.

Here are excerpts:

Experimental hypotheses:

1. You don't need anything that shrinks you or deflates you or tames you.

2. Influences that pinch your imagination are taboo, as is anything that squashes your hope or crimps your life force.

3. You have license to gravitate toward situations that pump up your insouciance and energize your whimsy and incite you to express the most benevolent wickedness you can imagine.

4. You may have fun fattening up your soul so it can contain a vaster sense of wonder and a more daring brand of innocence.


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ARE YOU CONSPIRING TO PERPETRATE PRONOIA?

Even now, secret allies are cooking up mysteries that will excite you and incite you for years to come.

Even now, the Earth, moon, and sun are collaborating to make sure you have all you need to make your next smart move.

But here's the loaded question: Are you willing to start loving life back with an equal intensity? The adoration it offers you has not exactly been unrequited, but there is room for you to be more demonstrative.

Half of the art of pronoia is about being improvisationally receptive to life's elaborate scheme to shower you with blessings. The other half is about learning to be a co-conspirator who assists life in doling out blessings—to help everyone else get exactly what they need, exactly when they need it.

Visualize yourself being able to recognize the raw truth about the people you care about. Imagine that you can see how they already embody the beauty their souls' codes have promised as well as how they still fall short of embodying that beauty.

Picture yourself being able to make them feel appreciated even as you inspire them to risk changes that will activate more of their souls' codes.

P.S. All of creation loves you very much.


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THIS IS A PERFECT MOMENT

The crisis is dire. The danger is real. The suffering is mounting. And yet, this is also a perfect moment to rise and redeem and resurrect.

Here’s why, according to me:

As we stand on this brink, as we dance on this verge, we cannot let the ruling fools of the dying world sustain their curses. We have to rise up and fight their insane logic; defy, resist, and prevent their tragic magic; erupt with our sacred rage and supercharge it.

Read (or hear) the rest.

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Here’s why, according to my brother-from-another-mother Mark Morford:

“This is the perfect time. To advance the cause. To birth the warrior. To deepen your resolve for more life at all costs. At the gates of hell, you plant seeds. In the midst of mania, you intend calm.”

Read the rest.


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YOUR POWER TO HEAL

"Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme creative act."

- Ram Dass


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Every week since 1995, I have offered my Free Will Astrology horoscopes for free here on my website. If you would like to support my ongoing work, please visit my Virtual Tip Jar at Paypal


You can also support my work by buying the Expanded Audio Horoscopes I create every week. These forecasts are different in tone and content from the written horoscopes I provide here. They're my four- to five-minute-long ruminations about the current chapter of your life story. They're available here.


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WHAT I DO

I love creating a collection of twelve horoscopes each week for my readers. The Good Times newspaper in Santa Cruz, California published my first batch in January 1978, and I would love to keep writing them until at least January of 2038.

In order to live up to that challenge with integrity, I will have to continue doing what I have been doing since January 1978: relentlessly reinvent the way I create them. When I look back at the horoscopes I composed in 1978 and 1985 and 1992 and 2000 and 2008, I am amazed at how different they are from the way I approach my craft now. I could swear it was another person who wrote them.

And that's how it should be. It's good evidence that I'm living up to my ideal of how to be a creative artist. Experimenting with endless revision. Being willing to dispense with the old formulas, even those that have worked pretty well, so as to welcome the surprises life offers. Killing off the old ways so that new ways can emerge.

That's not just a sound strategy for me to pursue as a creative writer. It's also a cornerstone of my plan to master the art of being a human being. The blunt fact is that life has an extreme fondness for change. The Creator likes to keep things moving right along.

So if I hope to cooperate and even collaborate with the Primal Flux, I have to be adept at transformation. I have to celebrate the central formula of Hermetic magick: "Dissolution is the secret of the Great Work." Breaking down psychological fixations is an indispensable spiritual discipline, says the wisdom of the ages. Killing off one's illusions is a prime duty of a devotee of magick.


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From the Boulder Weekly: "For 28 years, Rob Brezsny has been covertly practicing poetry in the form of a weekly astrology column. Free Will Astrology runs in more than 100 newspapers nationwide . . ." Read more.


 
 

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