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week of December 8, 2016
Your imagination is the most important asset you possess

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

Below is an excerpt.

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 by a lake or sea.

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.

Fearful fantasies regularly pop up into our awareness, many disguising themselves as rational thoughts and genuine intuitions. Those fearful fantasies may hijack our psychic energy, directing it to exhaust itself in dead-end meditations.

Every time we entertain a vision of being rejected or hurt or frustrated, every time we rouse and dwell on a memory of a painful experience, we're blasting ourselves with a hex.

Meanwhile, ill-suited longings are also lurking in our unconscious mind, impelling us to want things that aren't good for us and that we don't really need. Anytime we surrender to the allure of these false and trivial and counterproductive desires, our imagination is practicing a form of black magic.

This is the unsavory aspect of the imagination that the Zen Buddhists deride as the "monkey mind." It's the part of our mental apparatus that endlessly spins out pictures that zip around with the energy of an agitated animal. If we can stop locating our sense of self in the relentless surge of the monkey mind's slapdash chatter, we can be fully attuned to the life that's right in front of us. Only then are we able to want what we actually have.

But whether our imagination is in service to our noble desires or in the thrall of compulsive fears and inappropriate yearnings, there is one constant: The prophecies of our imagination tend to be accurate. Many of our visions of the future do come to pass. The situations we expect to occur and the experiences we rehearse and dwell on are all-too-often reflected back to us as events that confirm our expectations.

Does that mean our mental projections create the future? Let's consider that possibility. What if it's at least partially true that what we expect will happen does tend to materialize?

Here's the logical conclusion: It's downright stupid and self-destructive to keep infecting our imaginations with pictures of loss and failure, doom and gloom, fear and loathing. The far more sensible approach is to expect blessings.

That's one reason why I'm reverent in composing my messages for you. If I'm to be one of the influences you invite into the intimate sanctuary where you hatch your self-fulfilling prophecies, I want to conspire with you to disperse fear and invoke relaxation and joy.


Listen to me speak the above essay .


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GLORY IN THE HIGHEST

Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some hocus-pocus you don't fully understand, you are still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you have 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.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

You can see! Light of many colors and shapes floods into your eyes, registered and transmitted to your brain by a complex web of neurons that took Goddess or evolution billions of years to perfect.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

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

Glory Glory Hallelujah

You can raise a glass of water to your lips. You can button your shirt. You can wash your hair and beat on a drum and draw infinity signs on a piece of paper. 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 astonishing mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every minute of your life.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Language is another stupendous marvel. Millions of souls have cooperated intricately for untold centuries to cultivate a system of communication that you understand very well. Your ability to speak and read and write makes you feel strong and dynamic. It provides you with a crucial resource to make sense of the riotous cavalcade that always surrounds you. It enables you to indulge in one of your favorite pleasures, which is to hear and tell stories.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

According to my inside sources, you have personal possession of the universe's most monumental and mysterious accomplishment.
We take it for granted and refer to it with the pedestrian term "consciousness" . . . but this mercurial flash and dazzle that whirls around inside your head is outlandishly spectacular. You can think thoughts any time you want to -- soaring, luminescent, flamboyant thoughts or shriveled, rusty, burrowing thoughts . . . thoughts that can invent or destroy, corrupt or redeem, bless or curse.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

But wait. There's more. You can revel and wallow in great oceans of emotion. Whether they are poignant or intoxicating or somewhere in between, you relish the fact that you can harbor so much intensity. You cherish the privilege of commanding such extravagant life force.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

The best part of being in possession of the universe's most monumental and mysterious accomplishment is this: You have at your disposal a prodigiously potent creative tool. It's called your imagination. If there's a specific experience or object you want to bring into your world, the first thing you do is visualize it. The practical actions you take to live the life you want to live always refer back to the pictures in your mind's eye.

And so every goal you fulfill, every quest you carry out, every liberation you achieve, begins as an inner vision. Your imagination is the engine of your destiny. It's the catalyst with which you design your future.

I've got to ask you: How is any of this even possible? What colossal secret intelligence or improbable series of fabulous accidents conspired to bestow upon you all these superpowers?

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Of the millions of things that have gone right for you during your time on Earth, the first was your birth. It was a difficult miracle that involved many people who worked very hard on your behalf. No less amazing is the fact that you have continued to bloom ever since then, with new cells being born within you all the time to replace the old cells that are dying.

At this very moment, there are 50 trillion cells in your body, and each of them is really a sentient being in its own right. They all act together as a community, consecrating you with their breathtaking collaboration. It's just like magic.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

To celebrate our extreme good fortune, I invite you to sing praises and exaltations. Please repeat after me.

Everywhere we look: glory

Every time we move: glory

Every step we take: soaring glory

Every breath we take: roaring glory

Soaring roaring uproarious glory
is our story

Soaring roaring uproarious glory
is our story


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

What you can do to help save America from tyranny, by Timothy Snyder:

* Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

* Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

* Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

* Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

* Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

* Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying.

* Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

* Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

* Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

* Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

Read more.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.


Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am the most total nobody in a world full of nobodies. I am a sex-laugher and a friendly shocker and a fantasy doctor . . . a time traveler and a jinx unraveler and a curiosity savior. I champion the art of adoration and I fight the genocide of the imagination.

The people I trust the most are those who are always wrestling and negotiating with their own shadows, making preemptive strikes on their personal share of the world's evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing their darkness on those around them. I aspire to be like that, which is why I regularly kick my own ass.

Self-ass-kicking lessons are available here.


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"Remember that at any given moment there are a thousand things you can love."

- David Levithan


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NEW CURSE WORDS

The English language is in a state of rapid ferment. New words are barging into the dictionary at an unprecedented rate, even as old familiars fall into disuse. There's one exception to this trend: profanity. Boring favorites like "fuck," "shit," and "asshole" have gained an acceptance unthinkable 30 years ago, but fresh curse words are rarely coined.

At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we find the overused classics inadequate for expressing our evolving rage at injustice, bigotry, mass delusion, ignorance, and ugliness. Furthermore, as deadening clichés, they don't satisfy the pronoiac mandate to use language with sonorous precision.

How can you purge the clichéd ire that dilutes the useful, inspired stuff? One good method is to make fun of it by expressing it bigger than life. Try this. Go alone to a place where it's safe to feel blind rage. Envision a person or thing you love to hate, then unleash the following mantra 15 times in the most vulgar tones possible:

"You miasmic heap of shaved-off cemetery warts. You mangled preen of politicians' tongue scabs. You brackish tripe of experts' ego tinkles. You fragile crap of orphaned tyrants. You demented cluster of fickle weasel vows. You curdled slosh of rotting fracas-spawned opinions."


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PILLAR OF SEVERITY

Working with the Hermetic Qabalah has been the core of my spiritual transformations for decades. It's also the foundation of my creative life as a musician, performer, writer, and astrologer.

So I have long been in love with the Qabalistic Tree of Life, which is a symbol of reality. The Tree can be read as a map of how Divine Intelligence eternally creates the universe . . . and a map of the human soul . . . and a map of how the human soul may best align and resonate with Divine Intelligence.

I love the fact that the Tree is composed of three trunks, or "Pillars": the Pillar of MERCY, the Pillar of BALANCE, and the Pillar of SEVERITY. All are vital aspects of the Creation.

The three planets that reside within the Pillar of Severity are:
Saturn, the power of creative limitation
Mars, the power to dissolve harm and fight for what's right
Mercury, the power of intellectual discernment

At this particular moment in our cultural evolution, I am drawn to emphasizing work with the Pillar of Severity.

Of course I won't neglect my devotion to the concerns of the Pillar of Balance and the Pillar of Mercy -- ultimately, all need equal attention -- but I have done an abundance of work and play through those two Pillars for many years.


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ROMANCING THE PARADOX

How do we summon the right blend of practical love and constructive anger?

How do we refrain from hating other people even as we fight fiercely against the hatred and danger they have helped unleash?

How do we cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we neutralize the bigoted, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?

How can we be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life?

How can we stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the mass hallucinations that are metastasizing?

In the face of the danger, how do we remain intensely dedicated to building beauty and truth and justice and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free?

Can our struggle also be a form of play?


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Sometime in the next 24 hours, try saying this to someone (but only if you really mean it): "Thanks for making my life better."


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In the California race to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris, daughter of Indian & Jamaican immigrants, was voted the nation's first Indian-American and second black female Senator.

In Oregon, Kate Brown was the first openly LGBT person to be elected to a US governorship.

Lisa Blunt Rochester earned Delaware’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, becoming both the first woman and the first African-American to represent Delaware in Congress.

In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to a state legislature.

Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is the first Latina elected to the Senate.

Tammy Duckworth took back Obama's Senate seat in Illinois.

In Florida, Stephanie Murphy was the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, defeating a 23-year Republican incumbent.

Pramila Jayapal will be the first female Indian-American Congressional Representative. An immigrant from India at 16, she was elected to represent the Seattle area on a Bernie-Sanders-style platform.

In NJ, Josh Gottheimer, first time Democratic candidate, beat Representative Scott Garrett, seven-term Republican incumbent and one of the most conservative Tea-Party-aligned members of Congress.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was ousted in Arizona.

A woman handily won the popular vote for President of the United States.

Please tell me your own nominations for PRONOIA RESOURCES: Truthrooster@gmail.com.


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Some readers have been surprised by the fact that I'm heartbroken and outraged about Trump's victory. "It's not pronoiac to be so sad and angry," one person said.

To correct that misunderstanding, here's a relevant passage from my book *Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia*:

Pronoia is fueled by a drive to cultivate happiness and a determination to practice an aggressive form of gratitude that systematically identifies the things that are working well. But it is not a soothing diversion meant for timid Pollyannas strung out on optimistic delusions.

It's not a feel-good New Age fantasy used to deny the harsh facts about existence. Those of us who perceive the world pronoiacally refuse to be polite shills for sentimental hopefulness.

On the contrary, we build our optimism not through a repression of
difficulty, but rather a vigorous engagement with it. We understand that the best way to attract blessings is to grapple with the knottiest enigmas.

Each fresh puzzle is a potential source of future bliss -- an exciting
teaching that may usher us to our next breakthrough.

Do you want to be a pronoiac player? Blend anarchistic rebelliousness with open-hearted exuberance. Root your insurrectionary fervor in expansive joy instead of withering hatred. Enjoy saying "no!" but don't make it the wellspring of your vitality. Be fueled by blood-red yeses that rip against the grain of comfortable ugliness.


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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

― Audre Lorde, *A Burst of Light*


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The wise Charles Eisenstein writes: "We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead.

"Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt.

"For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer.

"Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from 'doctrine' to 'doctrine' – and they have no idea what to do.

Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism.

When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum."


Read Charles Eisenstein's whole piece


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I'm not naïve. In my years on the planet, I have witnessed and experienced the atrocities of racism, misogyny, homophobia, militarism, nativism, plutocracy, hate-mongering, and bigotry of many stripes.

Since I was 16 years old, I have fought these evils. That's why I have had knives brandished at me by bigots -- bottles thrown at me and insults hurled at me. While participating in political protests, I have been tear-gassed and clubbed by police. I have felt the barrel of a cop's gun against my head, and have been strip-searched and harassed by law enforcement officers.

And much, much more. I won't mention here all the abuses I've seen directed at gay, female, black, Hispanic, or impoverished people I care about.

And yet I am finding it a challenge to fully integrate the fact that 60 million Americans just voted for a person whose own words have revealed him to be a racist, misogynist, homophobic, militaristic, plutocratic hate-mongerer. I'm heartbroken. My grief and anger are deep.

I'm open to the possibility that some redemption will ultimately emerge from this tragedy, even it takes decades. I will search for and work to create that redemption.

But for now it's my duty to explore the teachings of this pain.

One thing that's important to my process is to ask whether my perceptions of Trump's dangerous intentions are real. Am I projecting my fears onto him? Have I been fooled into exaggerating his terror? So far, my answers to those questions is "No." I invite you to send me good evidence to the contrary.

Here and here are compilations of the evidence Trump himself has provided.


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A voice in my dream said to me: “I believe redemption will come from this disaster -- that the Trump election is a desperation move to preserve a dying paradigm. And I affirm that the work to birth the new paradigm requires me to steadfastly practice the seemingly impossible discipline of love.”

Here’s how I replied to the voice in my dream: I agree. But we also need the fuel of our anger. Which is why I'm meditating on these questions:

How do we summon the right blend of practical love and constructive anger?

How do we refrain from hating other people even as we fight fiercely against the hatred and danger they have helped unleash?

How do we cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we neutralize the bigoted, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?

How can we be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life?

How can we stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the mass hallucinations that are metastasizing?

In the face of the danger, how do we remain intensely dedicated to building beauty and truth and justice and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free?

Can our struggle also be a form of play?


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A reader who is upset about my outrage at the election results sent me this meme: "Believe there is good in the world."

Here's my response: For more than a decade, I have been a tireless advocate for the importance of believing there is good in the world. But if we believers in the world's wonder and glory fail to identify and acknowledge the world's suffering, our advocacy is empty and feeble; our credibility is zero.

To celebrate the good -- indeed, to create and cultivate the good -- we must deal regularly with the darkness.


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

Below are excerpts.

I cheerfully celebrate the mantra, "I don't know." It's a source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.

It's fun to say. "I don't know."

I love to let go of the drive to have it all figured out: "I don't know."

I exult in proclaiming the only truth I can be totally sure of: "I don't know."

I empty my mind and lift my heart: "I don't know."

I use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of my oneness with the Great Mystery: "I don't know."


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"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth."

- Patti Smith


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Keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times. One says "I am a speck of dust," and the other, "The world was created for me."

- Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha


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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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"Even though I'm often in a mess, inside me there's still a calm, clear, harmony of music."

- Vincent van Gogh


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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.

+

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.

+

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.

+

"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

+

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.

+

"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 . . . .

READ THE REST OF SHADOW SCHOOL


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Read Dissident Horoscopes for Samhain (and Halloween) Insurgents -- by Job Disney, Rob Brezsny's only partially evil twin:



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Here are three of our deepest spiritual aspirations, which we invite you to steal for your own use:

1. to develop the capacity to thrive in the midst of raging contradictions;

2. to be discerning as we protect ourselves from people's flaws while at the same time being generous as we celebrate their beauty;

3. to refrain from dividing the world into two groups, those who help and agree with us and those who don't.


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Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it. Study the difference between wise suffering and dumb suffering until you get it right. Commit crimes that don't break any laws. Visualize Buddha at the moment of orgasm. Build illusions that make people feel so beautiful they can't stand to be near you.

Pretend to be crazy so you can get away with doing what's right. Sing anarchist lullabies to homosexual trees. Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks. Review in detail the history of your life, honoring every moment as if you were conducting a benevolent Judgment Day. Eat money. Suck gravity. Drink the sun. Dream like a stone. Sing in the acid rain.


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May a good vision catch me

May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me

May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me

May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.

May I awaken into the story that surrounds,

May I awaken into the beautiful story.

May the wondrous story find me;

May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers

arise beautifully between my body and the body of this land,

between my flesh and the flesh of this earth,

here and now,

on this day,

May I taste something sacred.

—David Abram


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”Your job," my philosophy teacher Norman O. Brown once told me, "is to find the holy in the mundane, and, failing that, to create the holy in the mundane."

What's the secret job you do -- the one hardly anyone knows about?


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Here's my request to anyone who greets my posts about good news and glad tidings with fierce reminders of how messed-up everything really is. My request is that the next time I offer some really BAD, depressing news, which I do periodically, that you counter my thrust by reminding us of some wonderful, life-affirming thing that is unfolding in the world.


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Jorge Luis Borges said that Judas was actually a more exalted hero than Jesus. He unselfishly volunteered to perform the all-important villain's role in the resurrection saga, knowing he'd be reviled forever. It was a dirty job that only an 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.

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.

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.


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Abraham Maslow's definition of *real* listening: to listen "without presupposing, classifying, improving, controverting, evaluating, approving or disapproving, without dueling what is being said, without rehearsing the rebuttal in advance, without free-associating to portions of what is being said so that succeeding portions are not heard at all."


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“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates: considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artists; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

- Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"


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I think that the percentage of good things occurring in the world far outnumbers the tragic, miserable, horrific things -- maybe 85 to 15 -- and yet the tragic, miserable, horrific things get a disproportionate amount of credit and attention.


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In my value system, it is immoral to complain without ever praising; it's immoral to criticize without also identifying what's working well.


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"The shamanic faith is that humanity is not without allies. There are forces friendly to our struggle to birth ourselves as an intelligent species. But they are quiet and shy; they are to be sought, not in the arrival of alien star fleets in the skies of earth, but nearby, in wilderness solitude, in the ambience of waterfalls, and yes, in the grasslands and pastures now too rarely beneath our feet."

- Terence McKenna, "Food of the Gods"


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News Flash: The zodiac isn't wrong. Your sign isn't changing. Ignore the misinformation that has been rumbling around the Internet.

Every year or so, another astronomer erupts into the mainstream media with a portentous announcement about how, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs are no longer aligned with the actual constellations. Often the supposed 13th constellation, Ophiuchus, is also invoked as a further proof of how delusional astrologers are.

What it means, according to these fake "experts," is that astrology is invalid. Most of the people who think they're Tauruses are actually Aries. Most Scorpios are really Libras. And so on.

A typical offering was from Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society. "When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces," he speculated, "it's really not in Pisces." His erroneous supposition swept through the Internet, including stories on Gawker and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, among other places.

I understand that scientists like him would prefer not to lower themselves to the task of actually doing research about how astrology works. But if they're going to question its foundations, they should at least learn it well enough to know what they're talking about.

Here, briefly, is the lowdown on what certain astronomers are too lazy to find out for themselves.

The astrological signs are not defined by the constellations you see in the sky. In antiquity, when both astrological and astronomical thinking were based on insufficient data, the names of the constellations happened to be paired with the astrological signs. Today, those pairings are no longer in sync: Astrological signs do not line up with the constellations in the same way they did way back then, due to the precession of the equinoxes.

Modern Western astrologers understand this perfectly. It's irrelevant to their work because the information upon which they base their hypotheses does not involve a study of distant stars or constellations. Rather, their data have to do with the movements of the planets in our own solar system within a zone of influence defined by the relationship between the Earth and Sun.

The key demarcation points in that relationship are the equinoxes and solstices. At the Northern Hemisphere's vernal equinox, which occurs on about March 20th of each year, the Sun enters into the sign of Aries. At the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice, the sun enters into the sign of Cancer. The locations of the constellations are irrelevant; the "influence of the stars" isn't considered.

To reiterate: Western astrologers don't work with stars or constellations. Their focus is our solar system. They study the patterns of the planets and the moon as they pass through 12 zones defined by the relationship between the Earth and sun. Those zones have the same names as constellations because of a historical quirk, but they are unrelated to the constellations.

When Parke Kunkle triumphantly says, "There is no physical connection between constellations and personality traits," as if he has finally stamped out the delusions of us astrologers, he doesn't realize that we agree with him completely. We don't deal with constellations.

There aren't ever many corrective articles in the mainstream press -- most publications are content to let their un-fact-checked stories stand as if they were gospel -- but the New York Times and the Daily Beast did have the journalistic integrity to make a correction to Kunkle's nonsense.

s My astrological colleague Deborah Houlding has a cogent response, too .


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

Below are excerpts.

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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Some of your illusions seeped into you before you learned to talk. Others sneaked into you later, while you were busy figuring out how to become yourself. Eventually, you even made conscious choices to adopt certain illusions because they provided you with comfort and consolation.

There's no need to be ashamed of this. It's a natural part of being a human being.

Now here's the good news: You have the power to shed at least some of your illusions in ways that don't shatter your foundations.

Here's one way you could begin the process, declare this intention at noon every Sunday for the next three months: "I am calling on all the power I have at my disposal, both conscious and unconscious, to dissolve my illusions."


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Invitation: In a contemplative state, contact the highest source you know, and ask this question: What do I need to become aware of that I wouldn't even know to ask about?


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I wish you joyous and mysterious eruptions of profound gratification and gratitude.

I wish you fluid insights and "ah-ha!" revelations that lead to cathartic integrations on a regular basis.

I wish you the ripening of lucky trends you've worked hard to earn, resulting in the kind of healing that allows your generosity to flow.

I wish you captivating yet relaxing adventures that enable you to weave together diverse threads of your experience, inspiring you to feel at home in the world.


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"Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, casual blessings, and teachers who unknowingly speak to your condition."

- Sam Keen


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One of my favorite Facebook Teammates, Danielle Egnew, says:

1. I am not interested in what is wrong. I am interested in what is RIGHT.

2. If you have solutions, I'm interested. Come share them with me. I will share mine with you.

3. I've gone bored with shock-jock cynicism. I refuse to sacrifice further IQ points at the altar of the lowest common denominator.

4. FEAR is not my University.

5. Providing a shoulder to cry on is part of my human design.

6. Lies are boring. Us-against-them is boring. Mean, insulting, cutting, bullying, defensiveness, nastiness -- boring, boring, boring...ZzZz...

7. I'm not interested in distracting myself with the illusion of limitation.

8. Debates are for the undecided. I'm happy to discuss.

9. Consensus is my religion.

10. Love is the language of God.

11. I am at peace in the knowledge that at any given time, someone will be completely unhappy with my perspective.

12. I don't need to be "in control". I *do* need to be aware.

13. I'm awake. In this awareness, there can sometimes be pain, loneliness and fear.

14. This awareness does not define reality, but the state of my own reality in that moment.

15. There is nothing on this earth that love cannot heal.

16. I am designed to radiate love. And so are you.

17. I assume the best, as I'm simply not interested in the worst.

18. I do not mistake hyper-vigilance for provision.

19. Anger is a symptom of pain.

20. Love is my bottom line.

Danielle Egnew is here.

My Facebook page is here.


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"Give us this day our daily hunger," prayed French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. It was his personal variation on the "Give us this day our daily bread" line from the Lord's Prayer.

Proposed experiment: Ask the Divine Wow or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or your Higher WildSelf to furnish you with a steady flow of strong, righteous desires.

Say this: "Give me this day my holiest longings."


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Even if you don't call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life's ceaseless invitation to change.

It's to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don't be satisfied with the world the way it is; don't sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it's in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul's code.


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"I think the whole world's gone mad."

"Nah. It's always been like this. You just don't get out enough."

—Neil Gaiman


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One of life's great bounties is its changeableness, which ensures that boredom will never last very long. You may underestimate the intensity of your longing for continual transformation, but the universe doesn't.

That's why it provides you with the boundless entertainment of your ever-shifting story. That's why it is always revising the challenges it sends your way, providing your curious soul with a rich variety of unpredictable teachings.

Neuroscientists have turned up evidence that suggests you love this aspect of the universe's behavior. They say that you are literally addicted to learning. At the moment when you grasp a lesson you've been grappling with, your brain experiences a rush of a natural opium-like chemical, boosting your pleasure levels. You crave this experience. You thrive on it.

So the universe is built in such a way as to discourage boredom. It does this not just by generating an endless stream of interesting novelty, and not only by giving you an instinctive lust to keep learning, but also by making available an abundance of ways to break free of your habitual thoughts.

You can go to school, travel, read, listen to experts, converse with people who think differently from you, and absorb the works of creative artists. You can replenish and stretch your mind through exercise, sex, psychotherapy, spiritual practices, and self-expression. You can take drugs and medicines that alter your perspectives.

And here's the best part of this excellent news: Every method that exists for expanding your consciousness is more lavishly available right now than it has been at any previous time in history.

Never before have there been so many schools, educational programs, workshops, and enrichment courses. Virtually any subject or skill you want to study, you can. You don't even have to leave your home to do it. The number of online classes is steadily mounting . . . .

Read the rest of this essay.


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A common obstruction to a vital intimate relationship is what I call the assumption of clairvoyance. You imagine, perhaps unconsciously, that your partner or friend is somehow magically psychic when it comes to you -- so much so that he or she should unfailingly intuit exactly what you need, even if you don't ask for it.

This fantasy may seem romantic, but it can undermine the most promising alliances.

To counteract any tendencies you might have to indulge in the assumption of clairvoyance, practice stating your desires aloud.


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“Beauty is not a luxury but a strategy for survival.”

- Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World


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

Below are excerpts.

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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Aldous Huxley was the renowned 20th-century intellectual who wrote the book Brave New World, a dystopian vision of the future. Later in his life he came to regret one thing: how "preposterously serious" he had been when he was younger.

"There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet," he ruminated, "trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling . . . Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply."


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"I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself. And behold, then this ghost fled from me."

- Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kaufman


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Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat:


Rob Brezsny has written "Free Will Astrology," the most widely syndicated feature in North America's alternative weeklies, for years. He is a truth-seeker, a buoyant optimist, a true believer in love and optimism, a child at play in the wonderland of life, "a master of rowdy bliss," and a writer whose imagination is wild and untamed.

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is a revised and expanded edition of the radical and life-changing manifesto he wrote in 2005. With great zest and an inimitable creativity, Brezsny sees the present moment as the perfect moment:

"In the New Earth we're creating, we need lusty compassion and ecstatic duty, ingenious love and insurrectionary beauty. We need radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks."

Instead of the gloom and doom message which is so prominent in the media, Brezsny suggests "the cause of zoom and boom." Throughout this extraordinary book, he celebrates many of the qualities we have incorporated in our vision of Spiritual Literacy: imagination, wonder, gratitude, reverence, play, beauty, compassion, connections, mystery, and more.

Instead of a negative and toxic view of the world, Brezsny contends that the universe is basically friendly. This means we don’t have to live our days in paranoia; we can choose instead to align with pronia: "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."

He hopscotches even further: "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."

Proving his point in an awesome segment in the book titled "Glory in the Highest," Brezsny presents a few of the everyday miracles which we overlook, the positive qualities we possess in abundance, the special wonders of this age, and the varied gifts and services provided by strangers we do not even know.

There's a common perception that tales of carnage, revenge, horror, mayhem, and tragedy are more real and engaging than stories of triumph, liberation, and reconciliation.

Brezsny's Beauty and Truth Laboratory proclaims that succumbing to pop nihilism propagated by the media is toxic for our spiritual health and well-being. Instead of watering the seeds of violence within yourself, take a break and savor the joy of a small moment of silence or pleasure. "Bow down to the greatest mystery you know." Or "pick blackberries naked in the rain."

In The Pronia News Network, Brezsny delivers up a treasure trove of quips, quotes, snippets, and epiphanies for all of us who are sick and tired of all the bad news that surrounds us and threatens to sink us in a sea of despair. Here are bits and pieces from Brian Swimme, Gandhi, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Krishna Das, Ken Wilber, Emily Dickinson, and many more positive voices with good news to share.

We were also mightily impressed by the many informal and creative spiritual practices suggested in the paperback. Here are a few examples:

* "Take an inventory of the extent to which your "No" reflex dominates your life. . . . Retrain yourself to say "YES" at least 51 percent of the time."

* " 'There are two ways for a person to look for adventure,' said the Lone Ranger, an old TV character. 'By tearing everything down, or building everything up.' Give an example of each from your own life."

* "Salvador Dali once staged a party in which guests were told to come disguised as characters from their nightmares. Do the reverse. Throw a bash in which everyone is invited to arrive dressed as a character from the most glorious dream they remember."

There are many other essays and probes in this endlessly inventive work that we haven't even mentioned in this brief review. Suffice it to say, this is a rollercoaster ride that surprises, entertains, and edifies in equal measures. It is the perfect resource to lift your spirits and send you on your way rejoicing!

- Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


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Potential code words for your Dream Incubation Experiments:

vorfreude : (n.) the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures

numinous: (adj.) describing an experience that makes you overwhelmed yet fascinated, awed yet attracted—the powerful, personal feeling of being viscerally inspired

ostranernie: (n.) encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliariaing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply

smultronställe: (n.) lit. "place of wild strawberries"; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness

rasasvada: (n.) the taste of bliss in the absence of all thoughts

firgun: (n.) the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else's pleasure or fortune, with a purely generous heart and without jealousy

(Words gleaned from other-wordly.tumblr.com


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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.

+

Method B.

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

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

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

10. Value the feminine as much as the masculine.

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

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

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

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

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


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"I call the high and light aspects of my being spirit and the dark and heavy aspects soul.

"Soul is at home in the deep, shaded valleys. Heavy torpid flowers saturated with black grow there. The rivers flow like warm syrup.

"Spirit is a land of high, white peaks and glittering jewel-like lakes and flowers. Life is sparse and sounds travel great distances."

- The Dalai Lama, as quoted by James Hillman in A Blue Fire


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

Below are excerpts.

Dear Co-Conspirators: Congratulations on having such ambidextrous brains and hearts. Due to your ever-growing ability to blend supple rationality with robust intuition, you're not falling prey to the inane strains of insanity that are going around. Instead you're achieving glorious victory after glorious victory over the fearful fantasies that pass for normalcy.

Best of all, you're increasing your mastery of the art of paradox; more and more you're attuned to the amusing fact that when the mythic shifts hit the fan, the apparent opposites turn inside-out and trade places. The rot prepares the way for the splendor. The chaos becomes the source of the rejuvenation. The end of the world mutates into the beginning of the world.

Please accept the thunderous applause of my one hand clapping. The people who take everything personally and seriously may not recognize your ingenious work, but we connoisseurs of the liberated imagination do.


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"Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health. Everything absolute belongs to pathology." So proclaimed Friedrich Nietzsche in *Beyond Good and Evil.*

Note well that he used the adjective "joyous" to describe distrust, not "cynical" or "grumbling" or "sour."

The key to remaining vital and strong while questioning every so-called absolute is to cultivate a cheerful, buoyant mood as you do it.


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Sometimes hope is an irrelevant waste of time, even a stupid self-indulgence. Let's say, for instance, that I'm intently hoping that a certain disagreeable person I've got to communicate with won't answer when I call on the phone. That way I can simply leave a message on his voice mail and avoid an unpleasant exchange. But it doesn't matter what I hope. The guy will either answer or not, regardless of what I hope.

But there is another kind of hope that's potentially invigorating. Let's say I hope that we humans will reverse the environmental catastrophes we're perpetrating. Let's say that my hope motivates me to live more sustainably and to inspire others to live more sustainably. Then my hope is a catalyst.

I invite you to give two examples from your life about the two kinds of hope.


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People ask me what they should do now that Mercury, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are all retrograde. Here's one possible answer: Stick to drinking low-fat water; avoid the high-fat H20 whenever possible. Likewise, inhale only the kind of oxygen that's low in cholesterol, and don't allow your eyes to take in fatty landscapes or other calorie-rich sights.


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"Lama Surya Das, the “Buddha from Brooklyn,” is one of the handful of Westerners who have been teaching meditation for decades. And yet, he says we’re doing it wrong.

Lama Surya Das says there are other ways to meditate besides those that are currently popular: "So many people seem to be moving narcissistically into self-centered happiness-seeking and quietism, not to mention the use of mindfulness for mere effectiveness," he says. "True meditation generates wisdom and compassion, which may be very disquieting, at least in the short term."

"'Quiet your mind' or 'calm and clear your mind' are instructions I hear way too much," he says. "Some teachers actually encourage people to try to stop thinking, when in fact meditative awareness means being mindful of thoughts and feelings, not simply trying to reduce, alter or white them out and achieve some kind of oblivion."

"The anti-intellectual meditators, thought-swatters and imagination-suppressors have long ruled meditation-oriented circles in the West," he says. "But authentic meditative practices can enhance and even unleash the creativity and imagination.'

You don’t have to quiet the mind to do many of the types of meditation he proposes. They don't involve trying to find a quiet 'moment of Zen' apart from the messy, noisy world of work, family and children, but rather inviting all of the noise into meditation.

These thoughts are from an article by Jay Michaelson in huffingtonpost.com.

Lama Surya Das's new book.


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

My second invitation: Refuse to think that anyone else knows better than you what dreams will keep your life energy humming with maximum efficiency and grace.

Third invitation: Say this out loud to see how it feels: "I know exactly what I want. I know exactly what I don't want. I know exactly what I kind of want but I won't waste my time on it because it sidetracks me from working on what I really want."


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"Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality."
- Tom Robbins


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"When one has not had a good father, one must create one," said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. What does that mean? How might you go about "creating" a good father?

Well, you could develop a relationship with an admirable older man who is an inspiring role model.

You could read books by men whose work stirs you to actualize your own potentials.

If you have a vigorous inner life, you could build a fantasy dad in your imagination.

Here's another possibility: Cultivate in yourself the qualities you think a good father should have.

Your ideas?

Even if you actually had a pretty decent father, I'm sure he wasn't perfect. So it still might be interesting to try out some of these ideas.


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Dear Beauty and Truth Lab: Help! My old Buick's transmission is dead, my credit cards are maxed, my kid's got to see the dentist real bad, and the one-speed bike I ride everywhere is about to collapse. I'm working two low-paying jobs already, although I just applied for a more lucrative gig as a strip-club dancer, only I'm having so much mysterious pain in my joints I'm not sure how sexy my gyrations will be. Please clue me in to some tricks that will help me keep a pronoiac attitude in the midst of the mess that is my life. - Pickled

Dear Pickled: Here's the first thing I want to tell you: Pronoia does not assume that material comfort is a sign of divine favor. The universe is an equal-opportunity provider, conspiring to shower blessings on every one of us in the same abundance. But while the blessings may come in the form of money and possessions, they're just as likely to consist of other gifts that aren't as concrete.

Here's a hypothetical example. Let's say you have the gift of feeling at home in the world no matter where you are. The universe has determined that it's the exact skill you need in order to fulfill the specific purpose you came to earth to carry out. Having a prestigious job and big salary, on the other hand, might be exactly what you don't need.

The question of what gifts are essential revolves around your precise role in the universal conspiracy to perpetrate blessings.

The second meditation I'll offer you is a passage from the Gospel of Matthew: "Whoever has, shall be given more and more, while whoever has nothing, even what he has will be taken away from him."

Pronoiac translation: Whatever you choose to focus your attention on, you will get more of it. If you often think of everything you lack and how sad you are that you don't have it, you will tend to receive prolific evidence of how true that is. As you obsess on all the ways your life is different from what you wish it would be, you will become an expert in rousing feelings of frustration and you will attract experiences that assist you in rousing frustration.

If, on the other hand, you dwell on the good things you have already had the privilege to experience, you will expand your appreciation for their blessings, which in turn will amplify their beneficent impact on your life. You will also magnetize yourself to receive further good things, making it more likely that they will be attracted into your sphere. At the very least, you will get in the habit of enjoying yourself no matter what the outward circumstances are.

Bear in mind that you are a great wizard. You can use your powers to practice white magic on yourself instead of the other kind. The most basic way to do that is to concentrate on naming, savoring, and feeling gratitude for the blessings you do have—your love for your kid, the pleasures of eating the food you like, the sight of the sky at dusk, the entertaining drama of your unique fate. Don't ignore the bad stuff, but make a point of celebrating the beautiful stuff with all the exuberant devotion you can muster.


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Do play soccer in bunny slippers at dawn in a supermarket parking lot with a gang of Vipassana experts who have promised to teach you the Balinese monkey chant.

Don't decorate your thigh with a slipshod tattoo of the devil pushing a lawn mower.

Do wear a T-shirt that says, "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most."

Don't glide into a bar, scout around for the person whose face has the most pain etched in it, and ask that person to come home with you.

Do shake your fist at the night sky as you call out, "I defy you, stars!"

Don't pile up framed photos of old flames in a vacant lot and drive a monster truck over them.

Do write a cookbook filled with recipes you've channeled from dead celebrities.

Don't gaze into a mirror and spout, "God damn you, why can't you be different from who you are?!"

Don't lie on a floor surrounded by wine-stained poetry books, crumpled Matisse prints, abandoned underwear, and half-eaten bowls of corn flakes as you stare up at the ceiling with a blank gaze, muttering gibberish and waving your hands as if swatting away demons.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Everyone's my teacher. Everywhere I go, I'm a student. Everyone is in some way my informant, my revelator, my direction connection to the Divine Wow.

The animals, too: They are my confidants, my beloveds, my spirit guides.

And yes, the plants! My godparents, my role models, my advisers.

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

Playful, mysterious intelligences surround me in every direction. I'm available!

(Yes, to you, too, wind and sun and sky and mountain and rivers and oceans and rocks: I greet you daily as my family members, my agent provocateurs, my fellow celebrants.)


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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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"We create ourselves by what we choose to notice. Once this work of self-authorship has begun, we inhabit the world we've created. We self-seal. We don't notice anything except those things that confirm what we already think about who we already are.

"Meditative traditions refer to the observer self. When we succeed in moving outside our normal processes of self-reference and can look upon ourselves with self-awareness, then we have a chance at changing. We break the seal. We notice something new."

- Margaret Wheatley


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"There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears," writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her book *Women Who Run with the Wolves.*

But the magic of that formula may not unfold with smooth simplicity, she says: "The teacher comes when the soul, not the ego, is ready. The teacher comes when the soul calls, and thank goodness -- for the ego is never fully ready."


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"Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy."

- Abraham H. Maslow


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
California Governor Jerry Brown signed six new gun-control bills into law.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that Mississippi's anti-LGBT "religious objection" hate law is unconstitutional.

NASA putting the Juno probe into Jupiter's orbit after a 1.8 billion-mile journey.

The Department of the Interior issued a rule making it harder for coal companies to dodge royalty payments and shortchange taxpayers when mining on public lands.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson blocked the state of Kansas from cutting off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.

Justin Trudeau was the first Canadian prime minister to march in an LGBT pride parade.


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I invite you to say any or all of the following lines out loud:

I love everything about me

I love my uncanny beauty and my bewildering pain

I love my hungry soul and my wounded longing

I love my flaws, my fears, and my scary frontiers

I will never forsake, betray, or deceive myself

I will always adore, forgive, and believe in myself

I will never refuse, abandon, or scorn myself

I will always amuse, delight, and redeem myself


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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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LOVE TIPS

Love thrives when neither partner takes things personally, so cultivate a devotion to forgiveness and divest yourself of the urge to blame.

Love is a game in which the rules keep changing, so be crafty and improvisational as you stay alert for each unexpected twist of fate.

Love enmeshes you in your partner's unique set of karmic complications, so make sure you're very interested in his or her problems.

Love is a laboratory where you can uncover secrets about yourself that have previously been hidden, so be ravenously curious.

Love is never a perfect match of totally compatible saints, so don't let sterile fantasies seduce you away from flawed but fecund realities.
Love is not a low-maintenance machine, so work hard on cultivating its unpredictable organic wonders.

Love is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hollywood, so don't let your romantic story be infected by the entertainment industry's simplistic, sentimental myths about intimate relationships.


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"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change," said psychologist Carl Rogers.


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We are dissident bodhisattvas rebelling against all those forces that feed fear and ignore love.

We are spiritual freedom fighters rising up to protect nature and foment peace and demand justice.

We are subversive mystics stoking the cool blue fires of poetry and lobbying for the liberated imagination.

We are militant ecstatics invoking the transformative powers of pleasure to sanctify and beautify our one and only Earth.

We are mutinous purveyors of grace who redistribute the wealth so that all creatures may have the means to thrive.


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The world is young, your soul is free, and you're smart enough to fall in love with every experience you have.


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TYPES OF LOVE?

The ancient Greeks had a variety of names for different kinds of love. Here are some, according to Lindsay Swope in her review of Richard Idemon's book Through the Looking Glass.

1. "Epithemia" is the basic need to touch and be touched. Our closest approximation is "horniness," though epithemia is not so much a sexual feeling as a sensual one.

2. "Philia" is friendship. It includes the need to admire and respect your friends as a reflection of yourself—like in high school, where you want to hang out with the cool kids because that means you're cool too.

3. "Eros" isn't sexual in the way we usually think, but is more about the emotional gratification that comes from merging souls.

4. "Agape" is a mature, utterly free expression of love that has no possessiveness. It means wanting the best for another person even if it doesn't advance your self-interest.

I invite you to coin some additional new words for other kinds of love.


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"Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love."

- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History


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I'm not doing personal horoscope readings, and haven't done them for years. There's too much other fun work to do! Writing my column! Creating audio horoscopes! Authoring books! Recording music! But during the time I did do personal readings, I gave a set of guidelines to those who enlisted my services. I'll provide them below. Maybe they will be of use to you if you're ever shopping for an astrologer to do your chart.

When I do a personal chart-reading, it's crucial that I talk WITH you, not AT you. I perform my best service when I'm in dialog with you. It's also important that I not set myself up as a fount of divine wisdom. For me to act like an all-knowing expert tends to shut down your access to your own hidden sources of knowing.

I've been wary of certain styles of fortune-telling ever since a fortune-telling astrologer told me when I was 19 years old that I was going to die at age 23. I spent that whole year of my life looking for omens of death in my dreams. During the last week before my 24th birthday, I cowered in fear and barely went out of the house.

I survived, of course, and vowed that in my own role as "fortune-telling astrologer," I'd never plant seeds in people's psyches that made them feel they had no control over their destiny. Good astrology doesn't cripple your willpower, but rather pumps it up.

One of my favorite ways to describe the kind of work I do is to say that I predict the present, not the future. In other words, I try to home in on the unconscious patterns and invisible forces that are coming to bear on you now. My job is not to show off my psychic powers by, say, giving you the numbers you should play to win the lottery or revealing when your future soul mate is going to discover you in the checkout line.

I want to help you read your own mind by uncovering secrets buried in your subconscious. I want to inspire you to figure out what part of your own long-term cycles you're in. I want to conspire with you to get to the heart of your highest potentials. Our main goal is not to find all the answers. It's about framing better questions than the ones you've been stuck on.

Astrology isn't a fixed set of strict formulas. It's a gaggle of evocative symbols that should stimulate your imagination and challenge you to create your own true myths. I want us to seize the poetic license to imagine all sorts of wild ideas, some of which can be taken at face value as wise suggestions (but not final solutions), and some of which may be ways to jolt you out of your ruts.

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The reading I'll do with you consists of two sessions: the exploratory session, which is always by phone, and then the main reading. During the exploratory session, I get to know you a little better and find out what you want out of your reading. Because a chart can be read on so many different levels, this first step is crucial.

During the exploratory session, I'll ask you to give me four questions or issues you want to have addressed during your reading. Please think about these beforehand. This is an important part of the process that is emblematic of my approach to doing a reading. I don't want you to be a passive sponge, attributing to me a kind of divine expertise. I expect you to participate with a strong and passionate quest to uncover new ways to look at your life.

During this exploratory session, I'd also love it if you can tell me an important dream or series of dreams you've had. They'll help further focus our investigations into your mysteries. But if you don't have any dreams to bring, don't worry about it.

The main reading itself usually lasts one and a half hours. If we've had a good exploratory session, I'll probably come into the reading with some strong intuitions about where to go and how to proceed. But I encourage you to interrupt me, question me, or add your own input at any time during the process.


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In her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, 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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Can a stretch of land be a person in the eyes of the law? Can a body of water?

In New Zealand, they can. A former national park has been granted personhood, and a river system is expected to receive the same soon.

The unusual designations, something like the legal status that corporations possess, came out of agreements between New Zealand’s government and Maori groups. The two sides have argued for years over guardianship of the country’s natural features.

Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”


MORE . . .


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Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities."

MORE . . .


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"How does my spiritual practice and daily life serve the earth? How does my spiritual practice and daily life affect the poorest third of humanity? How will my spiritual practice and daily life affect the generations to come in the future?"
~ Starhawk


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.


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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WHERE IS MAGIC?

I hope you can obtain the Avatar Elixir stashed in the golden obelisk in the underground fortress beneath the glass mountain. It will allow you to produce the "triple-helix" energy that will give you the power to cross freely back and forth through the gateway between universes.

Then wild creatures will seek out your influence. Rivers and winds will become your allies. The cells of your body will communicate with you clearly and joyfully. Every star in the sky will shine directly on you.

And if for some reason you're not able to get your hands on that Avatar Elixir, you may be able to achieve similar results by drinking a bottle of beer stashed in the lower left rear section of the beverage cooler at a convenience store within five miles of your home.

Magic might be wherever you think it is.


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"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out."

- Erich Fried


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THE SEASONS OF ROT AND REGENERATION

Each one of us is a blend of life and death. In the most literal sense, our bodies always contain old cells that are dying and new cells that are emerging as replacements.

From a more metaphorical perspective, our familiar ways of seeing and thinking and feeling are constantly atrophying, even as fresh modes emerge. Both losing and winning are woven into every day; sinking down and rising up; shrinking and expanding.

In any given phase of our lives, one or the other polarity is often more pronounced. But sometimes they are evenly balanced; the Seasons of Rot and of Regeneration happen at the same time.

Where are you at in the cycle right now?


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IT'S ALL ALIVE

Yua is a term the Yupiit people of Alaska use for the spirit that inhabits all things, both animate and inanimate. A rock, for instance, has as much yua as a caribou, spruce tree, or human being, and therefore merits the same measure of compassion.

If a Yupiit goes out for a hike and spies a chunk of wood lying on a frozen river bank, she might pick it up and put it in a new position, allowing its previously hidden side to get fresh air and sun. In this way, she would bestow a blessing on the wood's yua.

(Source: Earl Shorris, "The Last Word," Harper's, August 2000)


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

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.

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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"The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity."

—Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


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HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE GREAT MYSTERY?

The ever-evolving truth is far too complicated and fluid and slippery and scrambled and gorgeously abundant for one human being to completely master.

I'm lucky to have gotten my percentage of mastery up to about 3%. On a good day, that’s how much I understand of the Maddening and Delightful Mystery we are embedded in.

Here's a hypothesis that's a cornerstone of my 3%: It's smart and healthy to joyfully rebel against everyone who assuredly tells me that they know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

How well do you understand the Great Mystery? What's your percentage?


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THE ACTIVISM OF LOVE

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill spent two years living in a redwood tree she named "Luna." Her goal was to save it from being cut down by a logging company. She succeeded both literally and mythically. Luna was spared from death, as was a surrounding three-acre swath of trees. Hill became an inspiring symbol of artful, compassionate protest.

Later she told Benjamin Tong in the DVD "The Taoist and the Activist": "So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don't like, what we don't want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don't want, what we don't like, what we want to change.

"So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn't climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell in love with the world. So it is my feeling of 'connection' that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected."


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You may be interested in reviewing the long-term horoscopes I wrote for you early this year. They discuss your best potential destiny for all of 2016. To see them, go here.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

EXPERIMENT: I invite you to act like a person who's in love. Even if you're not currently in the throes of passion for a special someone, simulate that state.

Everywhere you go, exude the charismatic blend of shell-shocked contentment and blissful turmoil that comes over you when you're infatuated.

Let everyone you meet soak up the delicious wisdom you exude. Wield compassion like a performance artist who exults in carving up pessimism and cynicism.

Dispense free blessings and extra slack like a rich saint high on natural endorphins.

Without straining, direct your perceptions to discern the most noble and attractive qualities in each creature you encounter.


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GOOD PROBLEMS

Is there anything more dangerous than getting up in the morning and having nothing to worry about, no problems to solve, no friction to heat you up? That state can be a threat to your health, because if untreated it incites an unconscious yearning for any old dumb trouble that might rouse some excitement.

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 riddles 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.

Conventional wisdom implies that the best problems are those that place you under duress. There's supposedly no gain without pain. Stress is allegedly an incomparable spur for calling on resources that have been previously unavailable or dormant. Nietzsche's aphorism, “That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger,” has achieved the status of an ultimate truth.

I half-agree. But it's clear that stress also accompanies many mediocre problems that have little power to make us smarter. Pain frequently generates no gain. We're all prone to become habituated, even addicted, to nagging vexations that go on and on without rousing any of our sleeping genius.

There is, furthermore, another class of difficulty--let's call it the delightful dilemma--that neither feeds on angst nor generates it. On the contrary, it's fun and invigorating, and usually blooms when you're feeling a profound sense of being at home in the world. The problem of writing my book is a good example. I've had a good time handling the perplexing challenges with which it has confronted me.

Imagine a life in which at least half of your quandaries match this profile. Act as if you're most likely to attract useful problems when joy is your predominant state of mind. Consider the possibility that being in unsettling circumstances may shrink your capacity to dream up the riddles you need most; that maybe it's hard to ask the best questions when you're preoccupied fighting rearguard battles against boring or demeaning annoyances that have plagued you for many moons.

Prediction: As an aspiring lover of pronoia, you will have a growing knack for gravitating toward wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. More and more, you will be drawn to the kind of gain that doesn't require pain. You'll be so alive and awake that you'll cheerfully push yourself out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before you're forced to do so by divine kicks in the ass.


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"In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined."

- Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin

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"I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's."

- William Blake

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"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet," said author Toni Morrison, "then you must write it."


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Today I speak and feel and act on Cesar Chavez's famous prayer:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can feel free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

The Antarctic Ozone Hole Is on the Mend. Global regulation of chlorine compounds is giving the atmosphere time to heal.

Here are some things that wre working pretty well:

* Low-income shoppers now get discount at California farmer markets

* San Francisco just issued the country’s broadest ban on styrofoam

* Gizmo attaches to garbage disposals, turns food waste into compost

* One teen’s crusade to make sure his classmates get enough rest

* inside the Chicago program that is slashing youth crime rates


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Why the World Is Better Than You Think, by Peter Diamandis:

"We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by negative news from every angle. If you turn on CNN (what I call the Crisis News Network), you'll predominantly hear about death, terrorism, airplane crashes, bombings, financial crisis and political scandal.

"I think of the news as a drug pusher, and negative news as their drug. There's a reason for this. We humans are wired to pay 10x more attention to negative news than positive news.

"Being able to rapidly notice and pay attention to negative news (like a predator or a dangerous fire) was an evolutionary advantage to keep you alive on the savannas of Africa millions of years ago.

"Today, we still pay more attention to negative news, and the news media knows this. They take advantage of it to drive our eyeballs to their advertisers. Typically, good news networks fail as businesses.

"It's not that the news media is lying — it's just not a balanced view of what's going on in the world.

"And because your mindset matters a lot, my purpose of my work is to share with you the data supporting the positive side of the equation and to give you insight to some fundamental truths about where humanity really is going. The truth is, driven by advances in exponential technologies, things are getting much better around the world at an accelerating rate.

"NOTE: This is not to say that there aren't major issues we still face, like climate crisis, religious radicalism, terrorism, and so on. It's just that we forget and romanticize the world in centuries past — and life back then was short and brutal."

Read more . . . .


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THE INCREMENTAL APPROACH

I'm all about the gradual, slow-simmering approach to just about everything.

My aspiration is to be reverential and devotional toward the cumulative effects of small minute-by-minute meditations in the midst of "ordinary" life and the manageable day-to-day self-transformations that are hard but not too hard.

When I was young I loved to cultivate senses-reeling ecstatic breakthrough, but now I'm more inclined to commune with the chronic, low-level ecstatic union that thrives on opening to every little experience I encounter. Neither is "better," of course. I'm just talking about what has been right for me in recent years.

I would love to practice tantra 24/7, worshiping and drawing inspiration from each small gift the daily rhythm brings.

An important prod that led me in this direction was my 18+ years as a householder -- when I transitioned from being a rock and roll singer leading ecstatic magick-based communal rituals to being a writer and living with my partner and our child.

I don't recommend that for everyone, but it worked for me. Learning to communicate with a child and be fully alive in an intimate relationship were crucial in me learning to expand and deepen my capacity to communicate with a wide variety of beings.

Another way to think about my work as an oracle is that my Qabalistic studies and magickal work have, more and more, been grounded in the challenges of daily life. I'm more qualified than I used to be to speak about the tests and trials of being a human being, and that has rendered the wild, transcendent aspects of my knowing more useful.


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"kisemanito," a Cree word whose meaning is "the great positive good force in the universe."


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Fantastic pronoiac news, as reported in the new book The Humane Economy: The fight against human cruelty to animals is being won.

Examples: Petco and PetSmart have turned the conventional pet store model on its head by forswearing puppy mill suppliers in favor of shelter dogs;

the Body Shop uses safe ingredients instead of animal tests for their cosmetics;

major food retailers like Whole Foods, Chipotle, and even Costco and Walmart are embracing animal welfare standards that are one by one unwinding the horrors of the factory farm.

More info . . . .


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Pronoia doesn't promise uninterrupted progress forever. It's not a slick commercial for a perfect summer day that never ends.

Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow.

The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing.

But whether it's our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow, fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way.

Our suffering won't last, nor will our triumph.

Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need to change into the new thing we must become.


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USEFUL REVERENCE

Reverence is one of the most useful emotions. When you respectfully acknowledge the sublime beauty of something greater than yourself, you do yourself a big favor. You generate authentic humility and sincere gratitude, which are healthy for your body as well as your soul.

Please note that reverence is not solely the province of religious people. A biologist may venerate the scientific method. An atheist might experience a devout sense of awe toward geniuses who have bequeathed to us their brilliant ideas.

What about you? What excites your reverence? I invite you to explore the deeper mysteries of this altered state of consciousness.


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GLOBALIZATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

More than 240,000 people died in the earthquake that struck Tangshan, China in 1976. The relief effort was negligible compared to the help that arrived in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. This clued me in to the possibility that a dramatic globalization of consciousness is underway.

People currently living on the planet are increasingly aware of how intimately interdependent we all are. Thirty years ago no one had heard of the butterfly effect -- the theory that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Japan can affect the weather in Texas. Now millions understand the principle.

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In his well-researched book Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, Paul Hawken argues that organized political action devoted to advancing the rights of others is a relatively new phenomenon. The drive to abolish slavery was where it began. In recent decades it has grown exponentially, becoming a global crusade to improve social justice, economic conditions, human rights, and environmental health.

By Hawken's estimates, there are well over a million organizations engaged in the effort, which thrives without centralized leadership, charismatic front men, or a fixed ideology. Because of its grass-roots ubiquity, it is largely invisible to the mass media and underestimated by politicians.

Some day, maybe 500 years from now, our descendants will have installed the art and science of universal compassion as the first law of civilization. And I bet they will give honor to us, the people alive on the planet today, as the heroes who gave critical mass to their prime directive.

For those who are dogmatically predisposed to thinking that the world is a hellhole and life is a bitch, no amount of contrary evidence will change their minds. The cynic who asked me the following question didn't really want an answer: "Tell me how your pronoia explains a child in Darfur starving to death after watching soldiers kill his mommy?"

While I don't claim to have the authoritative response to that accusation, I think it's worthwhile to consider the possibility that suffering is, among other things, a difficult gift we humans are given in order to prod our evolution.

On a personal level, our longing to escape our suffering is a primal force in making us smarter. On a collective level, nothing refines and ennobles us more than our passion to keep others from suffering. For every dead child in Darfur, 100 people in other places on the planet have responded with a commitment to create a world in which future Darfurs won't happen.


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"If the Angel decides to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner."

- Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.


How Pronoia Works: There was once a poor farmer who could afford to own just one horse. He cared well for the animal, but one summer night, the horse escaped through a weak fence and ran away.

When his neighbors discovered what had happened, they visited to offer their condolences. "What bad luck!" they exclaimed. The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

A week later, the fugitive horse sauntered back to the homestead, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son managed to corral all of them. Again the neighbors descended. "What great luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer replied. "Maybe not."

Soon the farmer's son began the work of taming the new arrivals. While attempting to ride the roan stallion, he was thrown to the ground and half-trampled. His leg was badly broken. The neighbors came to investigate. "What terrible luck!" they exclaimed. The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

The next day, soldiers visited the farmer's village. Strife had recently broken out between two warlords, and one of them had come to conscript all the local young men. Though every other son was commandeered, the farmer's boy was exempted because of his injury. The neighbors gathered again. "What fantastic luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer said. "Maybe not."

-Source: an old Taoist folktale


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The Italian city of Florence harbors the richest trove of art treasures in the world. Its many museums are hot spots for outbreaks of a rare psychological disorder. Foreign tourists sometimes experience breakdowns while standing in the presence of the tremendous beauty, and are rushed to the psychiatric ward of Florence's Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.

"Many visitors panic before a Raphael painting," reports Reuters. "Others collapse at the feet of Michelangelo's statue of David."

Psychiatrists have referred to this pathology as the Stendhal syndrome, named after the French novelist who wrote about his emotional breakdown during a visit to the city's art collection in 1817.

As you embark on your explorations of pronoia, you should protect yourself against this risk. Proceed cautiously as you expose yourself to the splendor that has been invisible or unavailable to you all these years.


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What you may need is a more curious and mysterious sweetness. A wilder, stronger sweetness. A sweetness that shatters illusions.


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If you’ve ever watched The Simpsons TV show, you’ve probably heard Homer Simpson’s favorite toast. “To alcohol,” he proclaims, “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

My own salute is different. “To the Divine Trickster formerly known as God,” I say, “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

I invite you to compose a prayer in which you simultaneously curse and thank the Primal Source.


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Researchers at Rowan University announced a blood test they say can diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s in patients with 100 percent accuracy.

Former President Jimmy Carter's campaign to rid the world of Guinea worm disease has resulted in a reduction to just two cases -- down from three million.

The Washington D.C. city council approved the phase-in of a $15 minimum wage.

John Oliver and the crew at HBO's Last Week Tonight highlighted unscrupulous debt collectors by setting up a debt-buying business and absolving 9,000 people of their medical debt.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade entered a permanent injunction barring backwoods Alabama judges like state Chief Justice Roy Moore from enforcing any laws barring same-sex marriage rights.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to carry concealed weapons.

All the above are from dailykos.com.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.


Your lucky number is 3.14159

Your magic talisman is a thousand-year-old Joshua tree whose flowers blossom just one night each year and can only be pollinated by the yucca moth

Your special time of the day is the moment just before the mist evaporates

You have fire in your blood and sea salt in your tears

Your vision of power is the red-tailed hawk soaring over the shopping mall

The colors of your soul are ivory vermilion, sable, and jade

Your soil of destiny is peat moss

The legendary deed that most resembles the method in your madness is the story of the hero who tames the monster without touching it

You have a secret name that will be revealed to you very soon

Your sweet spot is between the true believers and the scoffing skeptics

Your holiest pain comes from your ability to sense other people's cracked notions about you

Your magic verbs are dig, descend, and disclose

The garage sale item you most resemble is an old but beautiful and sonorous accordion with a broken key

Your mythic symbol is a treasure chest dislodged from its hiding place in the earth by a flood


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I heard an interview with the German film actor Udo Kier. He specializes in playing villains. "Evil has no limit," he sneered, blustering like a naughty genius. "Good has a limit. It is simply not as interesting."

How many times have I heard that idiotic cliché? Most everyone everywhere seems to agree with Udo Kier. And I'm in a tiny minority in my belief that evil is boring. There seem to be few thinkers, communicators, and creators who share my curiosity about exploring the frontiers of righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity.

Some pretenders do make counterfeit attempts: Hollywood producers who produce sentimental fantasies with artificially happy endings, advertising executives who sell the pseudo-positivity of narcissistic comfort, and New Age gurus who ignore the darkness with their one-dimensional appeals to sweetness and light.

But how dare Udo Kier -- and all his like-minded devotees of the entertainment value of evil -- proceed on the assumption that "good has a limit" and that "good ­isn't as interesting" when there are so few smart artists and thinkers who are brave and resourceful enough to explore the frontiers of beauty and truth and joy and compassion?


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An article at io9.com lists 12 of the most common and pernicious cognitive biases that that prevent us from being rational. One is "Negativity Bias":

"People tend to pay more attention to bad news — and it's not just because we're morbid. Social scientists theorize that it's on account of our selective attention and that, given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound.

"We also tend to give more credibility to bad news, perhaps because we're suspicious (or bored) of proclamations to the contrary. More evolutionarily, heeding bad news may be more adaptive than ignoring good news (e.g. "saber tooth tigers suck" vs. "this berry tastes good"). Today, we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news.

"Steven Pinker, in his book *The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,* argues that crime, violence, war, and other injustices are steadily declining, yet most people would argue that things are getting worse -- what is a perfect example of the negativity bias at work."

Read the article for more info on the other 11 cognitive biases.

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I consistently see people react to ideas about pronoia with anger and bile -- pissed off that I have the temerity to suggest that life is a great blessing. They are deeply committed to the idea that life is mostly just a terrible ordeal.

In the course of trying to understand this attitude, I have come across a lot of evidence that the brain is indeed hard-wired to overemphasize negativity. The articles I cite below are just some of many sources suggesting this.

My point in bringing it up is to reinforce what I say in my book: It takes hard work to cultivate the pronoiac frame of mind.

Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in "negativity bias."

The brain is hard-wired to be negative.

We may be hard-wired for bad news.


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Everything I love most happens most every day."

~ Howard Norman, translator of Algonquin, Cree, and Inuit folklore


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Here's the beginning of a story on me from the San Francisco Chronicle:

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

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

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

"In the end, according to him, we can't lose.

"But -- and this is the trick -- first we have to be willing to play the game.

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

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

"The writer, whose weekly Free Will Astrology column runs in over 100 newspapers, marshals evidence that beyond the daily grind's bland unease unfold alternate states rich with intimacy, hilarity and good luck. 'More wonderful things happen,' he said, 'than anybody seems to be willing to admit.'"


Read the rest of the story from the San Francisco Chronicle.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Congratulations. Every cell in your perfect animal body is beginning to purr with luminous gratitude for the enormity of the riches you endlessly receive.

You are becoming aware that each of your heart's beats originates as a gift of love directly from the Goddess herself.

Any residues of hatred that had been tainting your libido are leaving you for good.

You are becoming telepathically linked to the world's entire host of secret teachers, pacifist warriors, philosopher clowns, and bodhisattvas disguised as convenience store clerks.

In other words, you're on the verge of détente with your evil twin. And you're ready to submit to a multiple-choice test, which goes like this:

How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to:

a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years;


b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain;

c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire;

d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm;

e. steal something that's already yours.

The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew.


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The sage and her student were standing by a pool discussing longing and ambition.

“What do you want more than anything else?” the sage asked.

“To perfect my ability to love all of creation the way I love myself,” the young man replied.

At that moment, the sage tackled the student and shoved his head beneath the water. Accustomed to letting his teacher shape the unpredictable contours of his education, he did not resist.

One minute went by. Then another. The student began to struggle and kick. His teacher was strong.

Finally she released her grip and the student surfaced, fighting for breath.

“What did you want more than anything else during these last few minutes?” the sage inquired.

“Nothing else was in my mind except the desire for air,” gasped the student.

“Excellent,” beamed the sage. “As soon as you are equally single-minded in your desire to perfect your ability to love all of creation the way you love yourself, you will achieve your goal.”


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Many of us have a superficial notion of the nature of healing, writes Peter Kingsley in his book "In the Dark Places of Wisdom." We think that “healing is what makes us comfortable and eases the pain.” But the truth is, “what we want to be healed of is often what will heal us if we can stand the discomfort and the pain.”
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I invite you to work with this theme. See if you can stave off your urge for ease as you marinate longer in the aching confusion. “If we really face our sadness,” says Kingsley, “we find it speaks with the voice of our deepest longing. And if we face it a little longer we find that it teaches us the way to attain what we long for.”


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EXPERIMENT: Call everyone “mom” or “mommy” for a week. I’m serious. Pretend as if every single person you meet has the potential to give you some mothering. Expect the entire universe and everything in it to treat you with nurturing attention and thoughtful care.

You may experience some disappointments along the way, of course. There’ll be some people who don’t quite understand the game or want to play it. But you may be surprised by how many lively folks do respond to your invitation to treat you as their lovable child, their winsome little babycakes.


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Your yearly reminder: You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be.

You don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations.

There’s no need to strive for a kind of perfection that’s not very interesting to you.

You don’t have to believe in ideas that make you sad or tormented.

You don’t have to feel emotions that others try to manipulate you into feeling.

You are free to be who you want to be.


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"Is it bad to live without a hell?" poet Pablo Neruda asks in *The Book of Questions.* Let's add these queries to his: Is it dangerous to live without the awakening force that an enemy provides? Is it naive to think you can achieve great success without the driving motivation that comes from thinking about ideas you hate?

Consider the issue from another angle. Dentists love tooth decay. Treating cavities provides them with a steady income. Likewise, exterminators are dependent on termites, lawyers need crime, and priests crave sinners. Lots of people have symbiotic connections with nasty stuff. In fact, isn't it true that most of us nurture our feelings for the things we love to despise and fear?

What's your favorite poison or adversary? Assume that your exposure to pronoia is changing you in ways that will require you to update your relationship with it. Speculate on how you'll go about this task.


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WORLD KISS

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 Cuddling. Anything less is a lie, an obscene limitation.

Hear the rest of this song.


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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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"The true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded."
- Abraham Lincoln


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

The Great Green Wall is a planned project to plant a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert as a means to prevent desertification. Read more . . .

Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters. Read more . . .

The global under-five mortality rate has dropped by half since 1990. Meanwhile, maternal mortality figures have also declined dramatically, by 45% globally, with the highest rates of reduction in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Four million more lives could be saved every year for under $5 a person. Read more . . .


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

I invite you to become an exhilarationist, which is the opposite of a terrorist: Conspire to unleash blessings on unsuspecting recipients, inspiring them to feel good. Give anonymous gifts or provide some beauty or healing to people who can't do you any favors in return.
Before bringing your work as a exhilarationist to strangers, you might want to practice with two close companions.

Offer them each a gift that fires up their ambitions. It should not be a practical necessity or consumer fetish, but rather a provocative tool or toy.

Give them an imaginative boon they've been hesitant to ask for, a beautiful thing that expands their self-image, a surprising intervention that says, "I love the way you move me."


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We're all family. 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. (Source: Guy Murchie, *The Seven Mysteries of Life*)

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

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Your body contains about four octillion atoms. That's four with 27 zeroes after it. Believe it or not, 200 billion of that total were once inside the body of Martin Luther King, Jr. For that matter, an average of 200 billion atoms of everyone who has ever lived and died is part of you. I am not making this up.

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told *The Washington Post* the following fun facts: "There are more molecules of water in a cup of water than cups of water in all the world's oceans. This means that some molecules in every cup of water you drink passed through the kidneys of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Abe Lincoln, or any other historical person of your choosing."


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"The Way of Abundance is all too often misconstrued as a shallow sense of 'getting what one wants,' 'eliminating the negative,' or 'being free from pain.' Even the often-touted 'manifesting your dreams,' offers a psychological disposition that generally remains fixated around manifestation as 'the project of me.'

"But the 'project of me' can never be enough, for it does not meet 'the other,' and real living involves meeting. The touch and contact with all of life, the full freedom of non-separation, the completeness of full relationship, and the radiance of compassionate ecstasy is what we are inherently hungry for."

- Rick Jarow, "Alchemy of Abundance"


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If you're afraid you're running out of good ideas, start writing a booklet entitled, "My Inexhaustible Supply of Good Ideas."


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Plato long ago recognized that besides eating, sleeping, breathing, and having sex, every creature has an instinctual need to periodically leap up into the air for no other reason than because it feels so good.

Seeing as how you have probably not been attending to this need for a very long time, and seeing as how it's essential to creating the mood that will lead to the best decision-making, I encourage you now to do just that.


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ANTI-INSTRUCTIONS

Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues
Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos
Refuse the gifts that infringe on your freedom
Shun sacred places that fill you with boredom
Keep in mind it's bad luck to be superstitious
The official story's always fictitious
Pump up your karma with idiot laughter
The promised land's here, not in some hereafter

We are searching for the answers
so we can destroy them and dream up better questions

Use your third eye to watch TV
Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees
Think with your heart and feel with your head
Spit a mouthful of beer as far as you can
Kick your own ass and wash your own brain.
Make fun of your fears and heal your own pain
Play games with no rules, save your own life
Push your own buttons and be your own wife

We are searching for the answers
so we can destroy them and dream up better questions

Plunge butcher knives into accordions
Forgive yourself of all your mistakes except one
Commit funny crimes that don't break any laws
Shock yourself with how beautiful you are.
Tell jokes to clowns and cook feasts for chefs
Sing songs to the birds, and kill your own death
Mangle your anger, transform it to pleasure
Change your name, steal your own treasure

Go wash some water
Mock your own hypocrisy

Go burn some fire
Brag about your perplexity

Go wash some water
Advertise your secrecy

Go burn some fire
Overthrow reality


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"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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Proposed experiment: See if you can discover what has been hidden from you. Peel off the disguises. Outwit the hype. Forgive but also work around the fear that drives the deceptions and delusions. Penetrate to the raw truth that is buried beneath the official story and the sincere propaganda. And be alert for the forgotten treasure, lost keys, missing links, or magic elixir.

To help you achieve success in these endeavors, keep in mind the advice of inventor George Washington Carver: "Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."


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"We should not think of our past as definitely settled, for we are not a stone or a tree," wrote poet Czeslaw Milosz. "My past changes every minute according to the meaning given it now, in this moment.”

So, yes, you have the power to re-vision and reinterpret your past. Keep the following question in mind as you go about your work: "How can I recreate my history so as to make my willpower stronger, my love of life more intense, and my future more interesting?"


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I published the original version of Pronoia in 2005. For my next big writing project, I might have chosen to write a sequel. But instead I opted to fatten up the first edition.

The Revised and Expanded edition of Pronoia, which came out four years later, is MUCH fatter. It has 55% brand new extra material, or 92 more pages and 63,000 additional words -- the size of a whole new book.

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

I got especially pumped up and carried away while revising "Glory in the Highest," which is a manifesto celebrating the everyday miracles we take for granted, the uncanny powers we possess, the small joys that occur so routinely we forget how much they mean to us, and the steady flow of benefits bestowed on us by people we know and don’t know.

In the new edition of the book, "Glory in the Highest" is eight times longer than in the original. Read it: http://bit.ly/GloryGloryGlory. Hear a short version of it: bit.ly/highestglory

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

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

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

P.S. The following prophecy is even truer today than it was when I first made it a couple of years ago: Civilization may be unraveling in a lot of areas; some of its structures may be collapsing; but it is also in the midst of a tremendous upheaval of creativity -- a flood of innovation and genius and love pouring out of millions upon millions of people -- a Great Awakening that is far louder and stronger and more interesting than the sleepy resignation and corrosive maliciousness and ignominious decline that the media prefers to focus on.


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Below are excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

The people I trust the most are those who are always tenderly wrestling and negotiating with their own shadows, making preemptive strikes on their personal share of the world's evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing their darkness on those around them.

I aspire to be like that, which is why I regularly kick my own ass.


(For a demonstration of how to kick your own ass, go here -- about three minutes in.)


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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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"You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."

- Elizabeth Gilbert


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Please bring strange things.

Please come bringing new things.

Let very old things come into your hands.

Let what you do not know come into your eyes.

Let desert sand harden your feet.

Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.

Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.

Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.

May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.

May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.

May your soul be at home where there are no houses.

Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.

Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

- Ursula K. Le Guin


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

List of things to do:

1. Expect nothing, but ask for everything.

2. Gently but gleefully smash an unnecessary personal taboo.

3. Jump for joy and click our heels together in a place that has always felt oppressive.

4. Buck tradition with wit and compassion, not wrath and cynicism.

5. Refuse to occupy the old niches, especially the ones we've trapped ourselves in for the sake of peace and harmony.

6. Carry two gifts with us at all times in case we run into any fresh beauties who aren't lost in their own heads.


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"To overcome our neural bias for negativity, we must repetitiously and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can."
http://tinyurl.com/d3jhcxh

The article never advises us to refrain from saying no when discernment and boundary-making are necessary. It argues that we have a neural bias, a built-in biological predilection for negativity, that may have served our distant ancestors but is now a deep handicap.


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Hypotheses: All of creation is set up to liberate us from our suffering and teach us how to love intelligently. Life always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it -- although not necessarily what we want.

Hypothesis: If something is not beautiful, it is probably not true.

Hypothesis: Life is a sublime mystery designed to eventually grow us all into strong, supple messiahs. (It may take a while.)

Hypothesis. Pop-nihilism is a prominent modern philosophy. Many journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, talk-show hosts, musicians, politicians, 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.


More like this: "The Honey and Vinegar Tasters"


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"Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style."

- Rebecca Solnit


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"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." Excerpts:

"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.

“People have significant psychological resources to improve their well-being and performance, but these resources often go unused and could be better harnessed.” The mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains’ performance.


"If mindsets can change us, maybe we can deliberately choose our mindsets to improve our abilities. We can choose to adopt a mindset that improves creativity, for instance. People who think of categories as flexible and actively focus on the novel aspects of the environment become more creative."

More . . .


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

You are constitutionally incapable of adapting nicely to the sour and shrunken mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." You are too amazingly, blazingly awake for that.

You are too crazy smart to try and master the stupidest secrets in the game of life. You are too seriously delirious to wander sobbing through the sterile, perfumed labyrinth looking in vain for the most ultra-perfect mirror. Thank the Goddess that you are a fiercely tender throb of sublimely berserk abracadabra.

You will never get crammed in a neat little niche in the middle of the road at the end of a nightmare. You refuse to allow your soul's bones to get ground down into dust and used to fertilize the killing fields that proudly dot the ice cream empire of demeaning luxuries. You are too robust and unruly and rapturous for any of that.

Now please speak the following affirmations out loud:

"I am a genius."

"I am a lucky plucky genius."

"I am a lucky plucky good-sucking genius."

- Read more.


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In order to live, you’ve got to be a demolisher. You take plants and animals that were once alive and rip them apart with your teeth, then disintegrate them in your digestive system.

The inside of your body is always nurturing a slow fire, burning up the oxygen you suck into your lungs.

You didn’t actually cut down the trees used to make your house and furniture, but you colluded with their demise.

Then there’s the psychological liquidation you’ve done: killing off old beliefs you’ve outgrown, for instance.

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty -- just pointing out that you have a lot of experience with positive expressions of destruction.

Can you think of other forms this magic takes? As an aspiring master of pronoia, it’s one of your specialties -- a talent you have a duty to wield with energetic grace.


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"In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits test the hearts of humans by showing up in various forms that disguise their divinity. They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes, or with muddy feet. They show up with skin like old wood, or in scales made of rose petal, as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman, as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can.

"The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms."

- Clarissa Pinkola Estés


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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."

More excerpts:

"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."

“People have significant psychological resources to improve their well-being and performance, but these resources often go unused and could be better harnessed.” The mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains’ performance."

"If mindsets can change us, maybe we can deliberately choose our mindsets to improve our abilities. We can choose to adopt a mindset that improves creativity, for instance. People who think of categories as flexible and actively focus on the novel aspects of the environment become more creative.

Read more . . .


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"My idolatry: I’ve lusted after goodness. Wanting it here, now, absolutely, increasingly."

- Susan Sontag


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Green sea turtles of Florida and the Pacific coast of Mexico are no longer an endangered species. Officials hailed decades of conservation work for saving the long-imperiled creatures.
More . . .

in 1981, a pediatrician saved the life of a 3.2-pound premature baby boy by working around the clock to beat the odds & stabilize him. In 2011, the pediatrician was pinned inside a burning vehicle after a car collision, but was saved by the premature baby, who had grown up to become a paramedic.
More . . .

Romanian woman saves victims of sex trafficking, gives them shelter, counseling and an education.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


It's always the beginning of the world.

Even if you don't call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life's ceaseless invitation to change.

It's to this part of you -- the restless, inventive spirit -- that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don't be satisfied with the world the way it is; don't sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it's in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul's code.


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My horoscopes are not rooted in or justified by any belief system, doctrine, fairy tale, authoritative teacher, elaborate secret joke, mystical wishing, well-rationalized bias, or rebellion against science. My horoscopes are fueled by poetry and in service to the liberated imagination.


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Thursday, April 21 is Dare to Be Boring Day! We all deserve a break from the oppressive demands to appear smart and to be entertaining. On Dare to Be Boring Day, it is socially unacceptable to demonstrate your wit and verve. Long­winded, rambling monologues full of obscure details are mandatory. The more clichés and buzzwords you use, the better.

Tell worn-out stories your friends have already heard many times. Flesh out your disjointed sentences with awkward silences. Discuss at length your plans for switching laundry detergents, the collection of matchbooks you had as a child, and the time you almost traveled to the Wal-Mart in another town, but didn't.


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Your opinion, please: When you are waging a righteous battle, is it better to be constantly feeding off your anger about the situation you're trying to change?

Or are you more likely to be an effective fighter if you're relatively clear and calm, holding a vision of the new reality you want to create?
Or neither? Other choices? Your thoughts?

Write to Truthrooster@gmail.com.


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What Jesus Christ really taught: "For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.

"Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' And he will answer, 'I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'"

- Matthew 25:42-45


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

John Keats wrote that "if something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." I celebrate that hypothesis in my book.

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 (although 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. Many 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 late 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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"I scarcely know where to begin, but love is always a safe place."

– Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Louise and Frances Norcross, March 1886


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Are you willing to push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections, never demeaning the present by comparing it to an idealized past or future?


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"People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels."

- Charles Fort


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Maxim's "Hot 100" is the magazine's list of the planet's sexiest women. Sports Illustrated has its yearly Swimsuit Issue, which presents a bevy of twenty-something women dressed in skimpy bikinis. Esquire's regular feature "Women We Love" is a gathering of skinny young celebrities. Now here are some of my current favorite beauties.

The images are from photographer Katarzyna Majak's assemblage of witches and healers of Poland.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Conventional wisdom implies that the best problems are those that place you under duress. There's supposedly no gain without pain. Stress is allegedly an incomparable spur for calling on resources that have been previously unavailable or dormant. Nietzsche's aphorism, "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger," has achieved the status of a maxim.

There's a bit of truth in that perspective. But it's clear that stress also accompanies many mediocre problems that have little power to make us smarter. Pain frequently generates no gain. We're all prone to become habituated, even addicted, to nagging vexations that go on and on without rousing any of our sleeping genius.

There is, furthermore, another class of difficulty -- let's call it the delightful dilemma -- that neither feeds on angst nor generates it. On the contrary, it's fun and invigorating, and usually blooms when you're feeling a profound sense of being at home in the world. The problem of writing my books is a good example. I have abundant fun handling the perplexing challenges with which they confront me.

Imagine a life in which at least half of your quandaries match this profile. Act as if you're most likely to attract useful problems when joy is your predominant mood. Consider the possibility that being in unsettling circumstances may shrink your capacity to dream up the riddles you need most; that maybe it's hard to ask the best questions when you're preoccupied fighting rearguard battles against boring or demeaning annoyances that have plagued you for many moons.

Prediction: As an aspiring lover of pronoia, you will have a growing knack for gravitating toward wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. More and more, you will be drawn to the kind of gain that doesn't require pain. You'll be so alive and awake that you'll cheerfully push yourself out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before you're forced to do so by fate's kicks in the ass.


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"You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."

— Elizabeth Gilbert


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Relationship" is a dull term for something so interesting. Try "link-flash" instead. Rather than calling people your "friend" or "partner," call them your "accomplice," your "freestyle," or your "lightning."

Boring terms like "significant other," "boyfriend," "girlfriend," & "spouse" could be retired, too. Try "lushbuddy," "heartbeat," or "jelly roll."

Feel free to coin your own surgecrafts and questbursts. Post them here!


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"I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me."

– Wendell Berry, "Woods"


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Some readers became enraged when I quoted William S. Burroughs and Carlos Castaneda. "Terrible men!" they said. Other readers were miffed because I quoted the evangelical pastor Rick Warren in a horoscope.

Here's how I respond to these grumbles: If I refused to learn from people unless I agreed with everything they had ever said and done, I would never learn from anyone.

Furthermore, I don't necessarily agree with every nuance of every quote I cite. They may teach me, rile me up, and provoke me to think, but that doesn't mean I endorse them 100 percent. What's more likely is that I question some aspect of their thought.

What about you? Have you set up your life so that everyone is either on or off your good list? If so, consider the possibility of cultivating a capacity to derive insight from people who aren't perfect. Have fun learning from people you partially agree with and partially disagree with.

Here are examples of some of the other people from whom I have drawn important teachings and inspiration despite their sins:

Gertrude Stein thought she was as important a writer as Shakespeare and Homer.

Dr. Seuss had an affair with another woman while his wife was suffering from cancer, and his wife subsequently committed suicide.

Einstein cheated on his wife and treated her horrendously.

William Blake lived in absolute filth.

Early feminist author George Sand cheated on her husband.

Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old cousin when he was 26.

Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife.

The painter Peter Paul Rubens married a 16-year-old female when he was 53.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

KNOW WHAT YOU'RE FIGHTING FOR

Activist and author Naomi Klein tells a story about the time she traveled to Australia at the request of Aboriginal elders. They wanted her to know about their struggle to prevent white people from dumping radioactive wastes on their land.

Her hosts brought her to their beloved wilderness, where they camped under the stars. They showed her "secret sources of fresh water, plants used for bush medicines, hidden eucalyptus-lined rivers where the kangaroos come to drink."
After three days, Klein grew restless. When were they going to get down to business?

"Before you can fight," she was told, "you have to know what you are fighting for."


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THE BALANCE BETWEEN CYNICISM AND OPTIMISM

"I've found a nice balance," writes EarthMover, one of my readers, "between living like someone who has overdosed on delusional optimism and someone who thinks everything and everyone sucks. I can see things as they really are instead of through either rose-colored glasses or crap-colored glasses.

"That means I can cultivate true objectivity, not the fake cynical kind. I free myself from negative emotional biases that used to cloud my ability to see the partially hidden beauty all around me.

"At the same time, I'm not addicted to the idea that I should be eternally happy and blithe and sweet. When the dark moods descend on me, I trust them. I know they are openings into equally sacred perceptions and insights."


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IS THE WORLD DANGEROUS, OR ARE YOU SURROUNDED BY HELPERS?

Is the world a dangerous, chaotic place with no inherent purpose, running on automatic like a malfunctioning machine and fundamentally inimical to your happiness?

Or are you surrounded by helpers in a friendly universe that gives you challenges in order to make you smarter and wilder and kinder?
Trick questions! The answers may depend, at least to some degree, on what you believe is true.

I invite you to formulate a series of experiments that will allow you to objectively test the hypothesis that the universe is conspiring to help you.


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TO BE HOPEFUL IN BAD TIMES IS NOT FOOLISHLY ROMANTIC

Howard Zinn said: "Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.

"We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.

"If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

- Howard Zinn, from "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress."


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"That in a person which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness."

- Antonio Porchia


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

INTERVIEWER: You confuse me in the way that you praise rational thought and the scientific method, yet reserve the right to believe in astrology, angels, miracles, and other woo-woo.

ROB BREZSNY: Thousands of amazing, inexplicable, and even supernatural events occur every day. And yet most are unreported by the media. The few that are cited are ridiculed.

Why? Here's one possible reason: The people most likely to believe in wonders and marvels may be superstitious, uneducated, or prone to having a blind, literalist faith in their religions' myths. Those who are least likely to believe in wonders and marvels are skilled at analytical thought, well-educated, and yet prone to having a blind, literalist faith in the ideology of materialism, which dogmatically asserts that the universe consists entirely of things that can be perceived by the five human senses or detected by instruments that scientists have thus far invented.

The media is largely composed of people from the second group. It's virtually impossible for them to admit to the possibility of events that elude the rational mind's explanations, let alone experience them. If anyone from this group manages to escape peer pressure and cultivate a receptivity to the miraculous, it's because they have successfully fought against being demoralized by the unsophisticated way wonders and marvels are framed by the first group.

I try to be immune to the double-barreled ignorance. When I behold astonishing synchronicities and numinous breakthroughs that seem to violate natural law, I'm willing to consider the possibility that my understanding of natural law is too narrow. And yet I also refrain from lapsing into irrational gullibility; I actively seek mundane explanations for apparent miracles.


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MAGIC SECRET

"The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words," said Terence McKenna, "and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish."

Here's my version of that hypothesis: What world you end up living in depends at least in part on your use of language.

Do you want to move and breathe amidst infertile chaos where nothing makes sense and no one really loves anyone? Then speak with unconscious carelessness, expressing yourself lazily. Constantly materialize and entertain angry thoughts in the privacy of your own imagination, beaming silent curses out into eternity.

Or would you prefer to live in a realm that's rich with fluid epiphanies and intriguing coincidences and mysterious harmonies? Then be discerning and inventive in how you speak, primed to name the unexpected codes that are always being born right in front of your eyes. Turn your imagination into an ebullient laboratory where the somethings you create out of nothings are tinctured with the secret light you see in your dreams of invisible fire.

P.S. "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words," wrote Philip K. Dick in his essay, "How to Build A Universe That Won't Fall Apart in Two Days."

Listen to "Magic Secret".


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"The degree of a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic."

- novelist Lisa Alther

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

- F. Scott Ftizgerald


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OUR BODIES ARE WILD

Gary Snyder says: "Our bodies are wild. The involuntary quick turn of the head at a shout, the vertigo at looking off a precipice, the heart-in-the-throat in a moment of danger, the catch of the breath, the quiet moments relaxing, staring, reflecting -- are universal responses of this mammal body.
.
"The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating, it is a life of its own.
.
"Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside, and unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly outside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in the mind, in the imagination, than ‘you’ can keep track of -- thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden.
.
"The depths of the mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches -- the bobcat that roams from dream to dream.
.
"The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track of some of what goes in and out (and sometimes making expansionist plots), and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild."
.
- Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Sea World announced it will stop breeding killer whales in captivity.

LGBT-rights activists in Oklahoma contributed to the defeat of all 27 "slate of hate" bills in the Oklahoma legislature.

The Portland, Oregon city council unanimously authorized the City Attorney to sue Monsanto for contaminating its waterways with PCBs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines to help clamp down on the over-prescription of opioid painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin that kill 40 people a day in the U.S.

President Obama blocked oil drilling in the Atlantic and appointed Raffi-Freedman-Gurspan the first transgender person to be White House LGBT liaison.

District Attorney Tim McGinty lost re-election in Ohio after ignoring the police murder of Tamir Rice. Cook County, Illinois' State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her election over the cover-up of the police murder of Laquan McDonald.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

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."

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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 the center of its own suffering and struggle.

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NOT HAVING TO BE RIGHT. Fostering an ability, even a willingness, to be proven wrong about one of your initial perceptions or pet theories; having an eagerness to gather information that may change your mind about something you have fervently believed; cultivating a tendency to enjoy being corrected, especially about ideas that are negative or hostile.

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RELENTLESS UNPRETENTIOUSNESS. Possessing a strong determination to not take yourself too seriously, not take your cherished beliefs too literally, and not take other people's ideas about you too personally.

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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.

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- More healthy states of mind are listed in "The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism"


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If you'd ever like to make a contribution to me via Paypal, here's where to do it.


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"The most powerful starting point for any endeavor is not the question 'What do I want?', but 'What does Life (God, Consciousness) want from me? How do I serve the whole?'"

- Eckhart Tolle

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"From a Sufi perspective, the whole universe is a phenomenon of desire. The Divine desire pervades all things and beings, empowering each according to its capacity. For the mystic, the truest education is the education of desire. By means of this education the indwelling Divine desire is liberated from the constraints of the ego and becomes a force for the transfiguration of the world."

- Pir Zia Inayat-Khan


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Tell your friends and family: Subscribing to my free weekly newsletter is a good way to ensure that they see the Free Will Astrology horoscopes every week, and right on time. Subscribe here


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UNSOLVED PROBLEMS ARE GREAT TEACHERS

"There is nothing you can learn from as much as a problem you cannot fully solve. Unsolved problems can be some of the greatest tormentors, but also the greatest teachers. Unsolved problems keep the mind hungry and the eyes open.

"Small-minded people have found premature, final answers to great unresolved questions. Absolutisms and fundamentalisms abound for those who do not have the inner strength to live with unsolved problems.

"Many of the greatest discoveries and epiphanies have occurred as partial solutions to problems never fully solved. The ego, of course, desires closure, but some life problems are only closed with the coffin lid. Our desire to pursue unresolved problems is a major part of what keeps us alive and searching.

"One of the greatest life skills and signs of maturity is the ability to live with ambivalence, ambiguity and unresolved problems. As Deng Ming Dao says, 'Never underestimate the power of a partial solution.' It takes wisdom, courage and inner strength to live with unresolved problems and to resist trying to close them prematurely."

"Take another look at the unsolved problems you live with and recognize their inestimable value to your soul. Allow your desire to solve them to draw you into the misty labyrinth of life. And as you wind your way though the twists and turns, pause to appreciate some of the partial solutions, and remember that the journey is the destination."

- Jonathan Zap

Check out Jonathan Zap's online do-it-yourself oracle:.


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DREAMING TRUE

According to biologist Francis Crick, our nightly dreams consist of nothing more than hallucinations produced as the brain flushes out metabolic wastes.

Of the many arguments that can be mustered against this odd theory, none is more forceful than the life of Harriet Tubman. After escaping from slavery in 1849, she helped organize the Underground Railroad and personally led 300 slaves to freedom.

Few history books choose to convey the fact that she sometimes relied on her dreams to provide specific information about where to find safe houses, helpers, and passages through dangerous territory. Robert Moss tells the whole story in his book Dreaming True.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


I resolve not to automatically assume that negative feelings are more profound and authentic than positive ones, or that cynical opinions are smarter and more accurate than the optimistic kind.

And you?


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RADICAL CURIOSITY. Characterized by the following traits: an enthusiasm for the mystery embedded in the mundane; a preference for questions over answers; an aversion to stereotyping, generalizations, and jumping to conclusions; a belief that people are unsolvable puzzles; an inclination to be unafraid of both change and absence of change; a strong drive to avoid boredom; a lack of interest in possessing or dominating what you are curious about.

WILD DISCIPLINE. Possessing a talent for creating a kind of organization that's liberating; knowing how to introduce limitations into a situation in such a way that everyone involved is empowered to express his or her unique genius; having an ability to discern hidden order within a seemingly chaotic mess.

VISIONS OF THRILLING EXPLOITS. Experiencing an eruption of intuition that clearly reveals you will attempt a certain adventure in the future, as when you spy a particular mountain for the first time and know you'll climb it one day.

UNTWEAKABILITY. Having a composed, blame-­free readiness to correct false impressions when your actions have been misunderstood and have led to awkward consequences.

More healthy states of mind.


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"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

- Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by M.D. Herter Norton

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"Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage. Courage is the most desperate, admirable, and noble kind of love."

- Delmore Schwartz


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"A writer -- and, I believe, generally all persons -- must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource," said author Jorge Luis Borges. "All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

I agree that this advice isn't useful just for writers, but for everyone.


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"The great lessons from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred. To be looking everywhere for miracles is a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous."

- Abraham H. Maslow

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"The lesson that life constantly enforces is 'Look underfoot.' You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world."

- Naturalist John ­Burroughs

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"If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion."

- Lin-Chi, translated by Thomas Cleary

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"We want to be God in all the ways that are not the ways of God, in what we hope is indestructible or unmoving. But God is fragile, a bare smear of pollen, that scatter of yellow dust from the tree that tumbled over in a storm of grief and planted itself again."

- Deena Metzger, *Prayers for a Thousand Years,* edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


YOU ARE ALWAYS IN LOVE

You have always been in love. You will always be in love. In fact, it is impossible for you NOT to be in love. You'd be unable to get out of bed each morning unless there were someone or something that roused your heart and stirred your passionate imagination.

So please admit that you are alive because of love; that you are MADE of love.

I invite you to write a list of the five things you love most, and devote some time in the coming days to expressing your appreciation.


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DROP YOUR RIGID IDENTITIES

Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell believes you can achieve optimum physical health if you're devoted to shedding outworn self-images. He says, "You have one central lesson to learn to continuously drop all your rigid identities. Personal history may be your greatest danger."

Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, agrees. Raised as a male, she later became a female, but ultimately renounced gender altogether. "I love being without an identity," she says. "It gives me a lot of room to play around."

What identities might be healthy for you to lose? Describe all the fun you'd have if you were free of them.


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GETTING EVERYTHING YOU WANT

If I ever produce a self-help manual called *The Reverse Psychology of Getting Everything You Want,* it will discuss the following paradoxes:

a. People are more willing to accommodate your longings if you're not greedy or grasping.

b. A good way to achieve your desires is to cultivate the feeling that you have already achieved them.

c. Whatever you're longing for has been changed by your pursuit of it. It's different from what it was when you felt the first pangs of desire. To make it yours, then, you'll have to modify your ideas about it.

d. Be careful what you wish for because if your wish does materialize it will require you to change in ways you didn't foresee.

Any others you can think of?


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YOU'RE SMARTER THAN YOU KNOW

How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to:

a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years;

b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain;

c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire;

d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm;

e. steal something that's already yours.

The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew.


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"You've probably heard the rumor that 'Life is suffering' is Buddhism's first principle, the Buddha's first noble truth. It's a rumor with good credentials, spread by well-respected academics and Dharma teachers alike, but a rumor nonetheless.

"The truth about the noble truths is far more interesting. The Buddha taught four truths — not one — about life: 1. There is suffering. 2. There is a cause for suffering. 3. There is an end of suffering. 4. There is a path of practice that puts an end to suffering.

"These truths, taken as a whole, are far from pessimistic. They're a practical, problem-solving approach — the way a doctor approaches an illness, or a mechanic a faulty engine. You identify a problem and look for its cause. You then put an end to the problem by eliminating the cause."

- Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

HOW TO BE YOUR OWN PROPHET

I suspect that none of us has the capacity to foretell the future of the human race. No one -- not psychics, not doomsayers, not intelligent optimists, indigenous shamans, no one.

There is a strong case to be made that this is the worst of times, and an equally strong case that this is the best of times; a strong case that everything will collapse into a miserable dystopia and a strong case that we are on the verge of a golden age. It’s impossible to know in any “objective way” which is “truer.”

Anyone who asserts they do know is just cherry-picking evidence that rationalizes their emotional bent. The variables are chaotic and abundant and beyond our ken.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to create a golden age.

P.S. The best way to prepare for the unpredictable is to cultivate mental and emotional states that ripen us to be ready for anything:

* a commitment to not getting lost inside our own heads;

* a strategy to avoid being enthralled with the hypnotic lure of painful emotions, past events, and worries about the future;

* a trust in empirical evidence over our time-worn beliefs and old habits;

* a talent for turning up our curiosity full blast and tuning in to the raw truth of every moment with our beginner's mind fully engaged;

* and an eagerness to dwell gracefully in the midst of all the interesting questions that tease and teach us.

Everything I just described also happens to be an excellent way to prime yourself for a chronic, low-grade, always-on, simmering-at-low-heat brand of ecstasy -- a state of being more-or-less permanently in the Tao, in the groove, in the zone.


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LOVE IS BEING STUPID TOGETHER?

"Love is being stupid together," said French poet Paul Valéry. While there's a grain of truth to that, it's too corny and decadent for my tastes.

I prefer to focus on a more interesting truth, which is this: Real love is being smart together. If you weave your destiny together with another's, he or she should catalyze your sleeping potentials, sharpen your perceptions, and boost both your emotional and analytical intelligence. Your relationship becomes a crucible in which you deepen your understanding of the way the world works.

Think of an example of your closest approach to this model in your own life. Then formulate a vow in which you promise you'll do what's necessary to more fully embody the principle "Love is being smart together."


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THE END OF APOCALYPSE

Many people alive today are convinced that our civilization is in a dark age, cut off from divine favor, and on the verge of collapse. But it's healthy to note that similar beliefs have been common throughout history.

As far back as 2800 BC, an unknown prophet wrote on an Assyrian clay tablet, "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end." In the seventh century BC, many Romans believed Rome would suffer a cataclysm in 634 BC.

Around 300 BC, Hindus were convinced they lived in an "unfortunate time" known as the Kali Yuga—the lowest point in the great cosmic cycle. In 426 AD, the Christian writer Augustine mourned that this evil world was in its last days. According to the Lotharingian panic-mongers who lived more than a 1,000 years ago, human life on earth would end on March 25, 970.

Astrologers in 16th-century London calculated that the city would be destroyed by a great flood on February 1, 1524. American minister William Miller proclaimed the planet's "purification by fire" would occur in 1844. Anglican minister Michael Baxter assured his followers that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1868. The Jehovah's Witnesses anticipated the End of Days in 1910, then 1914, then 1918, then 1925. John Ballou Newbrough ("America's Greatest Prophet") promised mass annihilation and global anarchy for 1947.

The website "A Brief History of the Apocalypse" lists over 200 visions of doom that have spilled from the hysterical imaginations of various prophets in the last two millennia.

Our age may have more of these doomsayers per capita than previous eras, although the proportion of religious extremists among them has declined as more scientists, journalists, and storytellers have taken up the singing of humanity's predicted swan song.

In her book For the Time Being, Annie Dillard says, "It is a weakening and discoloring idea that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time but that it is too late for us. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha's bo tree."

Walt Whitman:
“There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”

I invite you to go sit under that tree by your street.


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IMAGINE TRANSFORMATION

"You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter the hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible.

"Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia. My young people’s vocabulary . . . their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse.

"Do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?"

- Junot Díaz, "Art, Race and Capitalism"


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YOU'RE A LUCKY, PLUCKY GENIUS

You are constitutionally incapable of adapting nicely to the sour and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." You're too amazingly, blazingly insane for that.

You're too crazy smart to lust after the stupidest secrets of the game of life. You're too seriously delirious to wander sobbing through the sterile, perfumed labyrinth looking in vain for the most ultra-perfect mirror. Thank the Goddess that you are a fiercely tender throb of sublimely berserk abracadabra.

You'll never get crammed in a neat little niche in the middle of the road at the end of a nightmare. You refuse to allow your soul's bones to get ground down into dust and used to fertilize the killing fields that proudly dot the ice cream empire of monumentally demeaning luxuries.

You're too brilliantly cracked for that. You're too ingeniously whacked. You're too ineffably godsmacked.

(This is an excerpt from a longer piece. Read the rest here.)


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SACRED ADVERTISEMENT

This perfect moment is brought to you by those 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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WHERE THE SPIRITUAL MEETS THE PRACTICAL

"How does my spiritual practice and daily life serve the earth? How does my spiritual practice and daily life affect the poorest third of humanity? How will my spiritual practice and daily life affect the generations to come in the future?"

~ Starhawk


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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.

READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE.


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YOU ARE ALWAYS IN LOVE

You have always been in love. You will always be in love. In fact, it is impossible for you NOT to be in love. You'd be unable to get out of bed each morning unless there were someone or something that roused your heart and stirred your passionate imagination.

So please admit that you are alive because of love; that you are MADE of love.

I invite you to write a list of the five things you love most, and devote some time in the coming days to expressing your appreciation.


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Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell believes you can achieve optimum physical health if you're devoted to shedding outworn self-images. He says, "You have one central lesson to learn to continuously drop all your rigid identities. Personal history may be your greatest danger."

Kate Bornstein, author of *Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us,* agrees. Raised as a male, she later became a female, but ultimately renounced gender altogether. "I love being without an identity," she says. "It gives me a lot of room to play around."

What identities might be healthy for you to lose? Describe all the fun you'd have if you were free of them.


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If I ever produce a self-help manual called *The Reverse Psychology of Getting Everything You Want,* it will discuss the following paradoxes:

a. People are more willing to accommodate your longings if you're not greedy or grasping.

b. A good way to achieve your desires is to cultivate the feeling that you have already achieved them.

c. Whatever you're longing for has been changed by your pursuit of it. It's different from what it was when you felt the first pangs of desire. To make it yours, then, you'll have to modify your ideas about it.

d. Be careful what you wish for because if your wish does materialize it will require you to change in ways you didn't foresee.

Any others you can think if?


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How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to:

a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years;

b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain;

c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire;

d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm;

e. steal something that's already yours.

The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew.


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"You've probably heard the rumor that 'Life is suffering' is Buddhism's first principle, the Buddha's first noble truth. It's a rumor with good credentials, spread by well-respected academics and Dharma teachers alike, but a rumor nonetheless.

"The truth about the noble truths is far more interesting. The Buddha taught four truths — not one — about life: 1. There is suffering. 2. There is a cause for suffering. 3. There is an end of suffering. 4. There is a path of practice that puts an end to suffering.

"These truths, taken as a whole, are far from pessimistic. They're a practical, problem-solving approach — the way a doctor approaches an illness, or a mechanic a faulty engine. You identify a problem and look for its cause. You then put an end to the problem by eliminating the cause."

- Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

How Brazilian Women Are Using Graffiti to End the Cycle of Domestic Violence. From street art to law reform, women across Brazil are taking a stand against gender-based violence.

Boston Reduces Veteran Homelessness by 85%, Housing 533 Vets in 18 Months.

Largest Desalination Plant in Western Hemisphere Opens in Thirsty California.


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HISTORY OF PRONOIA

My book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings is the only tome that has ever been written about the subject of pronoia. But other authors have worked a bit with the concept.

In his novella Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, J.D. Salinger wrote about pronoia without using the term. "Oh, God," one of his characters says, "if I’m anything by a clinical name, I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”

The actual term "pronoia" was coined in 1976 by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, who defined it as "the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."

Another early contributor to the concept was psychologist Fraser Clark, founder of the Zippies. In the 1990s he referred to pronoia as "the sneaking hunch that others are conspiring behind your back to help you." Once you have contracted this benevolent virus, he said, the symptoms include "sudden attacks of optimism and outbreaks of goodwill."

Neither Terence McKenna or Robert Anton Wilson ever invoked the word "pronoia" as far as I know, but they both added nuance to the concept. McKenna said, "I believe reality is a marvelous joke staged for my edification and amusement, and everybody is working very hard to make me happy."

Wilson offered advice about the proper way to rehearse a devotion to pronoia: "You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends."

Without using the term "pronoia," Paulo Cuelho added to its meaning: "Know what you want and all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


ELATIONSHIP LOVE SPELLS FOR BEAUTY & TRUTH LAB ALLIES

The Beauty and Truth Lab's rapturists have formulated a batch of personal ads for you to borrow. If you're a Crafty Optimist or Mystical Activist or Ceremonial Teaser who aspires to put the elation back in relationship, check them out here.


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"Everyone carries with them at least one piece to someone else's puzzle." So wrote Lawrence Kushner in his book, *Honey from the Rock.*

In other words, you have in your possession certain clues to your loved ones' destinies -- secrets they haven't discovered themselves.

Wouldn't you love to hand over those clues -- to make a gift of the puzzle pieces that are most needed by the people you care about?

Search your depths for insights you've never communicated. Tell truths you haven't found a way to express before now. More than you know, you have the power to mobilize your companions' dreams.


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You understand that you can never own love, right? No matter how much someone adores you today, no matter how much you adore someone, you can't force that unique state of grace to keep its shape forever. It will inevitably evolve or mutate, perhaps into a different version of tender caring, but maybe not.

From there it will continue to change, into either yet another version of interesting affection, or who knows what else?

Are you making any progress in getting the hang of this tricky wisdom?


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I invite you to act like a person who's in love. Even if you're not currently in the throes of passion for a special someone, pretend you are. Everywhere you go, exude that charismatic blend of shell-shocked contentment and blissful turmoil that comes over you when you're infatuated. Let everyone you meet soak up the delicious wisdom you exude. Dispense free blessings and extra slack like a rich saint high on natural endorphins.


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Imagine that the merger of you and your best ally has created a third thing that hovers near you, protecting and guiding the two of you. Call this third thing an angel. Or call it the soul of your connection or the inspirational force of your relationship. Or call it the special work the two of you can accomplish together. And let this magical presence be the third point of your love triangle.


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"For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."
- James Hillman


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Gertrude Stein defined love as "the skillful audacity required to share an inner life." It suggests that expressing the truth about who you are is not something that amateurs do very well. Practice and ingenuity are required.

It also implies that courage is an essential element of successful intimacy. You've got to be adventurous if you want to weave your life together with another's.


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"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."

- George Bernard Shaw


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Whenever I write about romance and togetherness, I attract a storm of complaints from readers who are solitary. "How dare you imply that everyone has or should have a partner!?" is a typical protest. "I'm quite content being alone!" is another.

Let it be known that I do not believe your happiness depends on having a spouse or lover. What I do suspect, though, is that your soul needs some sacred relationship in order to thrive, whether it's with a good friend, a beloved animal, a beautiful patch of earth, the Divine Wow, or anything that's not you.

Whenever I invite you to seek deeper, wilder communion, feel free to interpret it as a call to explore any kind of intimacy that draws you closer to the secret heart of the world.


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"The Orgasmic Roots of Pronoia" is one of the few NC-17-rated pieces in my book. Here's a link.

NSFW! PROCEED WITH CAUTION! This material has graphic references to love, lust, tenderness, bliss, and rapture.


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Dear Readers,

I've gathered together all the Free Will Astrology horoscopes that address the far-reaching themes of your destiny in the coming months. Read a compendium of your written horoscopes for 2016.

In addition to these, I've created three-part, in-depth EXPANDED AUDIO HOROSCOPES about Your Long-Range Future. They go even further in exploring your prospects and challenges in 2016.

Who do you want to become in the coming months? Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? How can you exert your free will to create adventures that'll bring out the best in you, even as you find graceful ways to cooperate with the tides of destiny?

To listen to these three-part, in-depth reports,GO HERE.

Register and/or log in through the main page, and then access the horoscopes by clicking on "Long Range Prediction." (Choose from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

If you'd like a boost of inspiration to fuel you in your quest for beauty and truth and love and meaning, tune in to my meditations on your Big-Picture outlook.

Each of the three-part reports is seven to nine minutes long. The cost is $6 per report. There are discounts for the purchase of multiple reports.

P.S. You can also listen to an Expanded Audio Horoscope for the coming week.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

"Don't be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous."

- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

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"I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself. And behold, then this ghost fled from me."

- Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kaufman

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"I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces 'intelligence.'"

- Susan Sontag

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"Magic is no more than the art of employing consciously invisible means to produce visible effects. Will, love, and imagination are magic powers that everyone possesses; and whoever knows how to develop them to their fullest extent is a magician. Magic has but one dogma, namely, that the seen is the measure of the unseen."

- W. Somerset Maugham

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"Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation."

- Andre Gide

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"My idolatry: I’ve lusted after goodness. Wanting it here, now, absolutely, increasingly."

- Susan Sontag

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"Only a shipwrecked person who has just escaped drowning could understand the psychology of someone who breaks out in laughter just because he is able to breathe."

- Kōbō Abe, The Woman in the Dunes

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"To cut through the charades of this world, to despise it, may be the aim of great thinkers. My only goal in life is to be able to love this world, to see it and myself and all beings with the eyes of love and admiration and reverence."

– Hermann Hesse

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"I like to cry. After I cry hard it’s like it’s morning again and I’m starting the day over."

- Ray Bradbury


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


CLOWN CHAKRA

Dionysian scientists at the Crazy Wisdom Institute of Applied Surpiseology have discovered the existence of the Clown Chakra. Located between the Gut and Sex Chakras, it houses the sense of humor and determines one's capacity for spiritually cleansing laughter.

Sadly, it's largely shut down in many people, resulting in the current global epidemic of taking things too damn seriously.

(P.S. I have embedded a subliminal prompt within this message that is designed to awaken and arouse any part of your own clown chakra that may be dormant.)


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MAKE THE INVISIBLE DARK FORCE BEAUTIFUL

Make the invisible dark force beautiful. Create a song out of your moans. Brag about your wounds. Dance reverently on the graves of your enemies. Sneak a gift to your bad self. Dissolve the ties that bind you to hollow intelligence.

Train yourself in the art of unpredictability. Play forever in time's blessing. Lift up your heart unto the wild sun. Distribute your favors to the little ones who can never pay you back. Fall out of love with fear. Make beautiful messes in the midst of ugly messes.

Anything I missed?


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LOVING THE CHANGES?

Whether you're a fan of a monotheistic God or a pluralistic
Goddess, you've undoubtedly noticed a deeply rooted quirk about
the Divine Temperament: an extreme fondness for change. The
Creator really likes to keep things moving right along.

Earlier in my life, I bore a grudge against this incorrigible
inclination. But after repeatedly having my karma crumpled for
resisting it, I realized I'd better get used to it. In recent years,
I've come a long way in retraining myself to be cheerfully
cooperative with the primal flux.

As a reward, the Cackling Goddess (my current favorite name for
the Sublime Mystery) has blessed me with a relentless series of opportunities to prove how well I've learned my lesson. She just keeps throwing changes my way, daring me to adjust with as much skill and grace as I can muster.

And you?


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VOWS

I invite you to speak these vows out loud:

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

"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.

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

"I promise to push hard to get better and smarter, grow my devotion to the truth, fuel my commitment to beauty, refine my emotions, hone my dreams, wrestle with my shadow, purge my ignorance, and soften my heart -- even as I always accept myself for exactly who I am, with all of my so-called foibles and wobbles."


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


UNLEASH YOURSELF

Even if you don't call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life's ceaseless invitation to change.

It's to this part of you -- the restless, inventive spirit -- that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don't be satisfied with the world the way it is; don't sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it's in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul's code.


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GREAT AWAKENING

Civilization may be unraveling in a lot of areas; some of its structures may be collapsing; but it is also in the midst of a tremendous upheaval of creativity -- a flood of innovation and genius and love pouring out of millions upon millions of people -- a Great Awakening that is far louder and stronger and more interesting than the sleepy resignation and corrosive maliciousness and ignominious decline that the media prefers to focus on.


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YOUR HOLIEST DESIRE

I invite you to devote five minutes to visualizing the fulfillment of your holiest desire, followed by five minutes of visualizing the fulfillment of a loved one's holiest desire.


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YOUR ILLUSIONS

Some of your illusions seeped into you before you learned to talk. Others sneaked into you later, while you were busy figuring out how to become yourself. Eventually, you even made conscious choices to adopt certain illusions because they provided you with comfort and consolation.

There's no need to be ashamed of this. It's a natural part of being a human being.

Now here's the good news: You have the power to shed at least some of your illusions in ways that don't shatter your foundations.

To begin the process, declare this intention at noon every Sunday for the next six months: "I am calling on all the power I have at my disposal, both conscious and unconscious, to dissolve my illusions."


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Eleven Reasons Why 2015 Was a Great Year For Humanity:

1. We got a lot closer to global, universal education

2. Extreme poverty dropped below 10%  --  the lowest rate ever

3. More people got connected to the internet than ever before

4. Millions of people gained access to finance for the first time

5. AIDS deaths came down for the 15th year in a row

6. Malaria death rates are at an all time low

7. Polio is about to be eradicated forever

8. Fewer people went hungry this year than ever before

9. More people have access to clean water

10. Child mortality plunged for the 43rd year in a row

11. We reached a tipping point in the fight against climate change

Read more.


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THE BEST THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 2015

Slate has created a compendium of the best things that happened each day in 2015. Here are ten of the best:

1. Nigeria bans female genital mutilation.
2. HIV protection is effective in African women.
3. Hunger has become much less severe in the past 15 years.
4. States’ juvenile prison populations drop.
5. Homelessness declined 11 percent in the U.S. from 2010 to 2015.
6. Reforestation effort in Ecuador breaks world record.
7. Africa has its first polio-free year.
8. New Ebola vaccine is highly effective.
9. Energy storage technology, which is crucial for solar power, is making great progress.
10. People taking pre-exposure prophylaxis are staying HIV-free

See the best events of the other 355 days.

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SIX HOPEFUL BREAKTHROUGHS IN 2015

From the brilliant Yes! magazine:

1. The world set ambitious goals for climate stabilization, and real leadership came from the grassroots.

2. Black Lives Matters changed hearts, minds, and policing practices.

3. Bernie Sanders forced inequality and the power of Wall Street into the national debate.

4. The politics of scapegoating ran short of scapegoats.

5. Americans reassessed the U.S. role abroad.

6. The United States began a turn away from a prison state.

Read more.

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AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD NEWS

"There are fewer wars. Inter-state war has virtually disappeared. More countries around the world are democratic; more provide basic services like health care, clean water, and immunizations to their citizens; most adhere to a basic set of global rules and norms, participate in international institutions, and are integrated into an interdependent global economy."

Read more.

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THINGS ARE ACTUALLY GETTING BETTER, DESPITE WHAT THE MEDIA WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE

"The news is a systematically misleading way to understand the world," Steven Pinker says.

"Wars are far less common and deadly than in the recent past, terrorism is rare, and the European refugee crisis is nothing new.

"In the past five years alone, conflicts have ended in Chad, Peru, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, India, and Angola, and if peace talks currently underway in Colombia are a success, war will have vanished from the Western hemisphere.

"Attacks of the kind that killed civilians in Paris, Ankara, California, Beirut and Garissa in Kenya this year are big news because they are rare.

"Rampage shootings generate a huge amount of media publicity but account for a relatively tiny number of deaths."

Read more.

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THE U.S. IS SAFER THAN ANY MAJOR POWER HAS EVER BEEN

"When Americans look out at the world, they see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other.

"In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history."

Read more.

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OVERREACTION TO TERRORISM IS MUCH MORE DANGEROUS THAN TERRORISM

"Why do otherwise intelligent people keep saying silly things, like, 'We are probably in the most serious period of turmoil in our lifetime.'?

"Overreaction to terrorism is the true threat"

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SOURCES OF UNDER-REPORTED GOOD NEWS

Uplifting News

Good News Network


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

your debts forgiven

your wounds healed

your apologies accepted

your generosity expanded

your love educated

your desires clarified

your uniqueness unleashed

your untold stories heard

your insight heightened

your load lightened

your wildness rejuvenated

your leaks plugged

your courage stoked

your fears dissolved

your imagination fed

your creativity uncorked


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In 2016, I invite you to have an improbable quest playing at the edge of your imagination: a heroic task that provokes deep thoughts and noble passions even if it incites smoldering torment . . . an extravagant dream that's a bit farfetched but not entirely insane . . . a goal that stretches your possibilities and opens your mind . . . a wild hope whose pursuit makes you smarter and stronger even if you never fully accomplish it.


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Every January 1, many people make New Year's resolutions, promising to embark on programs of self-improvement. But your assignment now, should you choose to accept it, is to create a list of ANTI-resolutions.

Here are some questions to guide you:

1. What outlandish urges and controversial tendencies do you promise to cultivate in the coming months?

2. What nagging irritations will you ignore and avoid with even greater ingenuity?

3. What problems do you promise to exploit in order to have even more fun as you make the status quo accountable for its corruption?

4. What boring rules and traditions will you thumb your nose at, paving the way for exciting encounters with strange attractors?


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Imagine it's 30 years from now. You're looking back at the history of your relationship with desire. There was a certain watershed moment when you clearly saw that some of your desires were mediocre, inferior, and wasteful, while others were pure, righteous, and invigorating.

Beginning then, you made it a life goal to purge the former and cultivate the latter.

Thereafter, you occasionally wandered down dead ends trying to gratify yearnings that weren't worthy of you, but usually you wielded your passions with discrimination, dedicating them to serve the highest and most interesting good.


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One of the blessings I hope you can conjure up in 2016 is a growing skill in the right use of memory. What would that involve exactly?

On the one hand, it would mean you'd cultivate a strong grasp of historical patterns; you'd be a keen student of the twists and turns of your own life's journey.

On the other hand, you wouldn't force every new event to be evaluated solely in terms of what has happened in the past; you'd recognize that some experiences may be mostly fresh.

Other ideas?


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Forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who betrayed you.


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I wish I could do more than just fantasize about helping you achieve greater freedom.

In my dreams, I am obliterating delusions that keep you moored to false idols. I am setting fire to the unnecessary burdens you lug around. And I am tearing you away from the galling compromises you made once upon a time to please people who don't deserve it.

But it's actually a good thing I can't just wave a magic wand. Here's a much better solution: YOU will clarify your analysis of the binds you're in, supercharge your willpower, and set yourself free.


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Resolved: In 2016, you will experience miracles at the rate of about one every two weeks.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Take some paper and write "I am doing everything in my power to attract all the help and resources I need as I accomplish the following goal." Then compose a declaration that crisply describes exactly what satisfying, growth-inducing experiences you want most in 2016 -- and are willing to work hard for and even change yourself to attract, if necessary. Keep a copy of this magic formula under your pillow or in your wallet.


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Experiment: Imprint yourself with the intention that in 2016, you will seek out the GOOD news at least as often as you seek out the BAD stuff -- that you will regard tales of affliction and mayhem and corruption and tragedy as no more interesting or worthy of your attention than tales of triumph and liberation and pleasure and ingenuity.

If this idea appeals to you, here are sources of GOOD news to get you started:

Yes magazine

Reddit Uplifting News

Good News Network

Heroic Stories


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In 2016 I wish you joyous eruptions of profound gratification and gratitude; a constant flow of fluid insights and "ah-ha!" revelations that lead to cathartic integrations; a coming together of several different lucky trends, resulting in an exquisite healing; and captivating yet relaxing adventures that allow you to weave together diverse threads of your experience, inspiring you to feel at home in the world.


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"You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. That's a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control."

— Elizabeth Gilbert


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RE-DREAMING CHRIST

Some Christians might be shocked to learn that Jesus Christ is one of the Main High Magicians in the Beauty and Truth Lab's pantheon of deities and avatars.

They may believe that people like us -- Goddess-worshiping tantric Sufi Qabalist pagans who hang around with Zen trickster witches and espouse a socialist libertarian political philosophy -- couldn't possibly have an intimate and vivid relationship with the cosmic hero they claim to own. They act as if they have commandeered the trademark of one of the smartest wild men in history.

Christ was a champion of women's rights, an antidote to the established and corrupt political order, and a radical spiritual activist who worked outside religious institutions.

He was a passionate advocate for the poor and underprivileged. He owned nothing and had no use for the idea of "private property." He was uncompromisingly opposed to violence and war. Besides that, he was a master of love and he devoted his life to serving the Divine Intelligence. He even went so far as to say, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you, and give away all your possessions."

I want to be like Jesus Christ when I grow up!

(But it's quite OK with us if you don't want to be like him. The good thing about adoring Christ's pronoiac glory but not being a Christian is that we don't have any investment in wanting you to do as we do. We want you to do as you do!)

Is there any hijacked hero you'd like to liberate? Any spoiled treasure you hope to redeem? Any detoured savior you want to get back on track?

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"The whole point of Jesus's life was not that we should become exactly like him, but that we should become ourselves in the same way he became himself. Jesus was not the great exception but the great example."

- Carl Jung

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"When Jesus said 'I and the Father are one,' he meant that he was connected to the raw data feed of pure experience."

- Tim Boucher


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Here's a holiday gift you could give yourself: Resist and deflect and dissolve wrong-headed opinions about who you are and how you should live your life. (And I mean your own wrong-headed opinions as well as other people's.)


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

FREE MIND, WILD HEART

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."

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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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DIONYSIAN MANIFESTO

I kick my own ass and wash my own brain.
I push my own buttons and trick my own pain.
I burn my own flags and roast my own heroes.
I mock my own fears and cheer my own zeroes.

Nothing can stop me from teasing my shadow.
I'm full of empty and backwards bravado.
My wounds are tattoos that reveal my true beauty.
I turn tragic to magic and make bliss my duty.

I honor my faults till they become virtues.
I play jokes on my nightmares
till I'm sure they won’t hurt you.
I sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees
and love songs with punch lines
to anonymous seas.

I won't accept gifts that infringe on my freedom.
I shun sacred places that stir up my boredom.
I change my name daily, pretend to be nobody.
I fight for the truth if it's majestically rowdy.

I brag about what I can't do and don't know.
I take off my clothes to those I oppose.
I'm so far beyond lazy, I work like a god.
I'm totally crazy; in fact that's my job.

Read the unexpurgated version of the above poem.


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THE BEAUTY OF IRREGULAR THINGS

When you're an aspiring master of pronoia, you see the cracks in the facades as opportunities; inspiration erupts as you careen over bumps in the road; you love the enticing magic that flows from situations that other people regard as rough or crooked.

"That which is not slightly distorted lacks sensible appeal," wrote poet Charles Baudelaire, "from which it follows that irregularity -- that is to say, the unexpected, surprise and astonishment -- is an essential part and characteristic of beauty."


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YEAR REVIEW

How has 2015 gone for you? Have you been exerting your free will to create adventures that bring out the best in you, even as you have found graceful ways to cooperate with the tides of destiny?

If you'd like to review the Long-Range, Big-Picture Horoscopes I offered at the beginning of this year, check them out here.


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LAST NIGHT AS I WAS SLEEPING
by Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly (excerpt)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! --
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.

And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures


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YOUR LUCKY NUMBER

Your lucky number is 3.14159265

Your secret name is "Flux Luster"

The colors of your soul are sable, vermilion, and jade

Your magic talisman is a thousand-year-old Joshua tree whose flowers blossom just one night each year and can only be pollinated by the Yucca moth.

Your holiest pain comes from your ability to sense other people's cracked notions about you

Your sweet spot is in between the true believers and the scoffing skeptics.


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Animals bridges, which may also be known as ecoducts or wildlife crossings, are structures that allow animals to safely cross human-made barriers like highways. A wildlife crossing can include: underpass tunnels, viaducts, overpasses and bridges, amphibian tunnels, fish ladders, culvets and green roofs.

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How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030.

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The Las Vegas Police Department had a history of deadly force incidents that drew the criticism of experts, civil rights leaders, and the Las Vegas community. Today, they’ve curbed the trend of excessive force and serve as a model for law enforcement agencies.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be. You don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations. There’s no need to strive for a kind of perfection that’s not very interesting to you. You don’t have to believe in ideas that make you sad or tormented, and you don’t have to feel emotions that others try to manipulate you into feeling.


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Aldous Huxley was the renowned 20th-century intellectual who wrote the book *Brave New World,* a dystopian vision of the future. Later in his life he came to regret one thing: how "preposterously serious" he had been when he was younger. "There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet," he ruminated, "trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling . . . Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply."

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"When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to the San Francisco Zen Center, the students asked him what they could do to improve their practice. He had entered a monastery at age sixteen, was an ordained monk, and had endured the horrors of the war in Vietnam. I imagine they expected some rigorous prescription for deepening their spiritual life.

"Thich Nhat Han's response: 'You guys get up too early for one thing; you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.'"

- from "True Refuge," by Tara Brach.


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A conversation between two of the characters in my book The Televisionary Oracle:

"Remember, there is a difference between grateful anger and dehumanizing hatred," he shouted above the din.

"What do you mean?" I yelled back.

"Grateful anger is good darkness. Dehumanizing hatred is bad darkness."

"More clues, please."

"Grateful anger flows when you have engaged and studied your shadow. Dehumanizing hatred flows when you have ignored and denied your shadow. One is fertile, the other hysterical."

A mathematical formula: I liked that. I assumed he meant the shadow that Carl Jung described. The unripe and unillumined corners of the soul.

He continued: "Grateful anger is when you feel thankful for the irritating people and sickening situations that have spurred you to clarity and righteous action. Dehumanizing hatred is when you are so in love with your terrible emotion that you forget what needs to be changed and turn yourself into your enemy."

- The Televisionary Oracle


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"I became aware of the world’s tenderness, the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me, the blissful bond between me and all of creation, and I realized that the joy I sought in you was not only secreted within you, but breathed around me everywhere, in the speeding street sounds, in the hem of a comically lifted skirt, in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind, in the autumn clouds bloated with rain.

"I realized that the world does not represent a struggle at all, or a predaceous sequence of chance events, but the shimmering bliss, beneficent trepidation, a gift bestowed upon us and unappreciated."

- Vladimir Nabokov, "Beneficence" in "The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov"

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"Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed."
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jewish theologian and civil rights activist

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"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

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"The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to seeing them that we call them ordinary things."
- Hans Christian Anderson

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"I will wade out till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers. I will take the sun in my mouth and leap into the ripe air, alive, with closed eyes."
- E.E. Cummings

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"The whole existence is celebrating. These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious. The rivers and the oceans are wild, and everywhere there is fun, everywhere there is joy and delight."
- Osho

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"For aren't you and I gods? Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming. Laughter. Running."
- Vladimir Nabokov


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In early 2015, I wrote horoscopes for the coming year -- previews of the issues I thought you'd be facing and the opportunities that would come your way in the months ahead. I invite you to review them now and let me know if they were useful. Write to Truthrooster@gmail.com.


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If you'd ever like to make a contribution to me via Paypal, here's where to do it.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


The phrase "new roses" can serve as an antidote to neurosis -- as a kind of magical spell. You might invoke it when you're in danger of getting undermined by either your own neurosis or someone else's.

If you notice, for instance, that your subconscious mind is spiraling down into a sour fantasy stirred up by one of your habitual fears, you could mutter a cheerful round of "new roses, new roses, new roses."

If your allies slip into the same compulsive behavior that they tend to get stuck in whenever stress overflows, you could chant "new roses, new roses, new roses" in a tuneful, affectionate tone.


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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.

You're a star -- and so am I. My success encourages your brilliance, and vice versa. Your charisma enhances my power -- and vice versa.


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Life is a vast and intricate conspiracy designed to keep us well-supplied with blessings. What kind of blessings? Ten million dollars, a gorgeous physique, a perfect marriage, a luxurious home, and high status? Maybe.

But just as likely: interesting surprises, dizzying adventures, gifts you hardly know what to do with, and conundrums that dare you to get smarter. Novelist William Vollman referred to the latter types of blessings when he said that "the most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that's a complicated, tricky problem for you that you don't know how to solve."

The Christian writer C. S. Lewis said: "I thank God that He hasn't given me all the things I've prayed for, because as I look back now I realize it would have been disastrous to have received some of them."
Pronoia provides the boons and prods your soul needs, not necessarily those your ego craves.

Pronoia doesn't promise uninterrupted progress forever. It's not a slick commercial for a perfect summer day that never ends. Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow. The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing.

But whether it's our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow, fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way. Our suffering won't last, nor will our triumph. Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need to change into the new thing we must become.


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"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders."

-Andrew Harvey, *The Return of the Mother*

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"To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weakness -- that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things."

-Pablo Neruda, *The Book of Virtues*

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"No work is more worthwhile than to be a sign of divine joy and a fountain of divine love."

-Andrew Harvey


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"We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure."

-Macrina Wiederkehr


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"Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. Do you believe in free speech? Then speak freely. Do you love the truth? Then tell it. Do you believe in an open society? Then act in the open. Do you believe in a decent and humane society? Then behave decently and humanely."

- Adam Michnik


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"Give us this day our daily hunger," prayed French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. "Give us this day our holy longings," prayed me.


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This is what my Goddess friend Durga told me, and I believe her:

"1. I vow to Siamese-twin together my bad-ass, no-hype, wide-eyed self with my tricky, strategic, puzzle-loving self.

"2. I vow to rage on like a dancing warrior in the urban wilderness, keeping peak experiences and total slaphappy victory at the top of my priority list, while at the same time I play hide-and-seek with the dark delicious secrets that fuel my soul's lust for wicked meaning.

"3. I vow to deepen the collaborative efforts of my suck-out-the-marrow-and-spit-out-the-bones craziness and my listen-carefully-to-the-flow-of-the-underground-river caginess."


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Rojava is a Kurdish region in Northern Syria that’s ruled by feminists. Rojava’s constitution enshrines gender equality and religious freedom. Recruits to Rojava’s 6,000-strong police force receive their weapons only after two weeks of feminist instruction.

Wind-power company to replace bird-killing Altamont turbines.

California bans antibiotics in meat.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

The people I trust the most are those who are always tenderly wrestling and negotiating with their own shadows, making preemptive strikes on their personal share of the world's evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing their darkness on those around them. I aspire to be like that, which is why I regularly kick my own ass.

How-to-kick-your-own-ass lessons are available at 2:20 of this video:

How-to-kick-your-own-ass lessons are also available at 7:30 of this video:

Here's the "Kick Your Own Ass" anthem.


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"I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole."

- Lauren Oliver

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"We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger."

- T. S. Eliot, "The Cocktail Party"


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"The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them."

- Steve Hall

An interviewer urged the Dalai Lama to discourse on how to cultivate lovingkindness. His Holiness said, "That may be too much to ask. How about if we just work on getting the 'kindness' part right?"


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It seems that we are more often frightened than hurt, and that we tend to suffer more from imagination than from reality. ”
—Lucius Annaeus Seneca


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"Imaginal hygiene is the inner art of self-managing the 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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I mourn the bad news, and also offer a lot of good news.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


LIBERATE YOUR IMAGINATION

The fundamentalist takes everything way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally. He divides the world into two camps, those who agree with him and those who don't. There is only one right way to interpret the world, and a million wrong ways. Correct belief is the only virtue.

To the fundamentalist, the liberated imagination is a sinful taboo. He not only enslaves his own imagination to his ideology, but wants to enslave our imaginations, too.

And who are the fundamentalists? Let's not remain under the delusion that they are only the usual suspects -- the religious fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.

There are many other kinds of fundamentalists, and some of them have gotten away with practicing their tragic magic in a stealth mode. Among the most successful are those who believe in what Robert Anton Wilson calls fundamentalist materialism. This is the faith-based dogma that swears physical matter is the only reality and that nothing exists unless it can be detected by our five senses or by technologies that humans have made.

Life has no transcendent meaning or purpose, the fundamentalist materialists proclaim. There is no such thing as a divine intelligence. The universe is a dumb accidental machine that grinds on endlessly out of blind necessity.

I see spread out before me in every direction a staggeringly sublime miracle lovingly crafted by a supernal consciousness that oversees the evolution of 500 billion galaxies, yet is also available as an intimate companion and daily advisor to every one of us. But to the fundamentalist materialists, my perceptions are indisputably wrong and idiotic.

Many other varieties of fundamentalism thrive and propagate. Every ideology, even some of the ones I like, has its share of true believers -- fanatics who judge all other ideologies as inferior, flawed, and foolish.

I know astrologers who insist there's only one way to do astrology right. I know Buddhists who adamantly decree that the inherent nature of life on Earth is suffering.

I know progressive activists who sincerely believe that every single Republican is either stupid or evil or both. I know college administrators who would excommunicate any psychology professor who dared to discuss the teachings of Carl Jung, who was in my opinion one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. I know pagans who refuse to consider any other version of Jesus Christ beyond the sick parody the Christian right has fabricated.

None of the true believers like to hear that there are at least three sides to every story. They don't want to consider the hypothesis that everyone has a piece of the truth.

And here's the really bad news: We all have our own share of the fundamentalist virus. Each of us is fanatical, rigid, and intolerant about products of the imagination that we don't like. We wish that certain people would not imagine the things they do, and we allow ourselves to beam hateful, war-like thoughts in their direction.

We even wage war against our own imaginations, commanding ourselves, sometimes half-consciously, to ignore possibilities that don't fit into our neatly­constructed theories. Each of us sets aside certain precious beliefs and symbols that we give ourselves permission to take very seriously and personally and literally.

Our fundamentalism, yours and mine, may not be as dangerous to the collective welfare as, say, the fundamentalism of Islamic terrorists and right-wing Christian politicians. It may not be as destructive as that of the CEOs who worship financial profit as the supreme measure of value, and the scientists who ignore and deny every mystery that can't be measured, and the journalists, filmmakers, novelists, musicians, and pundits who relentlessly generate rotten visions of the human condition.

But still: We are all infected, you and I. We are fueling the war against the imagination. What's your version of the virus?

How might we start curing ourselves of the fundamentalist virus and move in the direction of becoming more festive and relentless champions of the liberated imagination?

For starters, we can take everything less seriously and less personally and less literally.

We can laugh at ourselves at least as much as we laugh at other people. We can blaspheme our own gods and burn our own flags and mock our own hypocrisy and satirize our own fads and fixations.

And we can enjoy and share the tonic pleasures of healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, irreverent devotion, holy pranks, playful experiments, and crazy wisdom . . . .

READ THE REST OF THIS ESSAY.


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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.


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A message I love, ritten by William Sebrans

"While people around the world process internally and externally their responses to the recent terror in France, Lebanon, Iraq, Cameroon, Chad, and all over the world -- doing so with all manner of goodwill, anger, political ruminations de jour, tactics, finger-pointing, judgment of each others' modes of expression, fear, silence, and noble resolve -- I remain left with two understandings:

"1. To re-commit daily to a practice of Self-realization that embodies the mystery of life, and that transcends the fierce drama and vicissitudes of human affairs -- as the Buddha and all great teachers have resolutely encouraged.

"2. To practice visible and invisible acts of kindness, forbearance, artfulness, and goodwill in the daily traffic of life.

"These practices and gestures will not generally make headlines, will not make us invulnerable to grief and shock, nor secure us the satisfying universal justice we might seek on this plane. They likely will not generate fierce debate, change policy, or get lots of likes in the Facebook lane. Nor will they pardon us from the eventual and even imminent demise of the body.

"They will, however, upgrade Life in the moment and endorse possibility in a way that marks a winged victory over the oppressive state of mind and transcends the dark illusions of our times.

"I think 'God' is indifferent, and should be, being beyond duality... But the Angels are rooting for us, is my bias of choice."

- William Sebrans



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Below is an excerpt:

Dear Goddess: Please make it immoral, illegal, irrelevant, unpatriotic, and totally tasteless for us to be in love with anyone or anything that's no good for us.

Teach us to know the difference between oppressive self-control and liberating self-control.

Awaken in us the power to do the half-right thing when it is impossible to do the totally right thing . . . .

Read or hear the rest of the Goddess Prayer.


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EXPERIMENT: Review in loving detail the history of your life. Remember how and why you came to be where you are now.

Extra Credit: Figure out a way to feel gratitude for it all.

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CRAFTY OPTIMISM

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 it's hard work to be lovers of life -- taboo, against-the-grain work. We've got to be both wrathful insurrectionaries and crafty optimists. We've got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully forged and seductively packaged by those among us who have 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 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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YOUR IMPROBABLE QUEST

I invite you to have an improbable quest playing at the edge of your imagination: a heroic task that provokes deep thoughts and noble passions even if it incites smoldering torment . . . an extravagant dream that's a bit farfetched but not entirely insane . . . a goal that stretches your possibilities and opens your mind . . . a wild hope whose pursuit makes you smarter and stronger even if you never fully accomplish it.


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1. Discourage all traces of shame.

2. Verify the irrational.

3. Multiply all opinions.

4. Blush perpetually in gaping innocence.

5. Burrow beneath the subconscious.

6. Bear no cross.

7. Extend all boundaries.

8. Pass from one world to another in carefree devotion.

9. Exhaust the primitive.

10. Generate the free brain.

11. Forego no succulent filth.

12. Acquire a sublime reputation.

13.. Make one monster at least.

14. Inhabit everyone.

These suggestions were generated by Kenneth Patchen.
See the rest.


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"Here is a new spiritual practice: Don't take your thoughts too seriously."
- Eckhart Tolle


"Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness."
- Eckhart Tolle

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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

For the first time, the Canadian government has a cabinet with an equal number of men and women.

The Mindful Life Project is an organization that brings meditation, yoga, and mindfulness training to classrooms.

"The Lax Kw’alaams Band, a Canadian first nations people living in a remote part of British Columbia, turned down an offer amounting to $267,000 per person to allow a natural gas pipeline and processing facility to be built on their lands."


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


EXPERIMENT: Be scarier than your fears. If an anxious thought pops into your mind, bare your teeth and growl, "Get out of here or I will rip you to shreds!" If a demon visits you in a nightly dream, chase after it with a torch and sword, screaming "Begone, foul spirit, or I will burn your mangy ass!"

Don't tolerate bullying in any form, whether it comes from a critical little voice in your head or from supposedly nice people who are trying to guilt-trip you. "I am a brave conqueror who cannot be intimidated!" is what you could say, or "I am a monster of love and goodness who will defeat all threats to my integrity!"


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I love your pilgrim soul and I love your ever-deepening eyes.

I love how unflinchingly you peer into the heart of your own darkness.

I love how you're making yourself more and more receptive to truths in their wild states.

I love how you can dive into your in passion but never shirk your commitment to the good and the true.

I admire the way you never bear a grudge against the mountains that are in your way, but rather just set to work getting around them.

I love your commitment to deciphering the code you left for yourself before you came into this life.


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In response to our culture's ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking.

While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we suggest balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the BLISS BLITZ.

During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion.

Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you're bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure. Try it for a day or a week: the BLISS BLITZ.


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“This body that we have, this very body that’s sitting here right now in this room, this very body that perhaps aches, and this mind that we have at this very moment, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.

"Furthermore, the emotions that we have right now, the negativity and the positivity, are what we actually need. It is just as if we looked around to find out what would be the greatest wealth that we could possibly possess in order to lead to a decent, good, completely fulfilling, energetic, inspired life, and found it right here."

- Jack Kornfield


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Devotional Pronoia Therapy. Experiments and exercises in becoming a gracefully probing, erotically funny, shockingly friendly Master of Orgasmic Empathy

1. What causes happiness? Brainstorm about it. Map out the foundations of your personal science of joy. Get serious about defining what makes you feel good.

To get you started, I'll name some experiences that might rouse your gratification: engaging in sensual pleasure; seeking the truth; being kind and moral; contemplating the meaning of life; escaping your routine; purging pent-up emotions. Do any of these work for you? Name at least ten more.

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2. Are other people luckier than you? If so, psychologist Richard Wiseman says you can do something about it. His book *The Luck Factor* presents research that proves you can learn to be lucky. It's not a mystical force you're born with, he says, but a habit you can develop.


How? For starters, be open to new experiences, trust your gut wisdom, expect good fortune, see the bright side of challenging events, and master the art of maximizing serendipitous opportunities.

Name three specific actions you'll try in order to improve your luck.

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3. Dumb suffering is the kind of suffering you're compulsively drawn back to over and over again out of habit. It's familiar, and thus perversely comfortable. Smart suffering is the kind of pain that surprises you with valuable teachings and inspires you to see the world with new eyes.

While stupid suffering is often born of fear, wise suffering 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 an interesting work of art and uncanny game that's worthy of your curiosity.

Come up with two more definitions about the difference between dumb suffering and smart suffering.

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4. Write the following on a piece of red paper and keep it under your pillow. "I, [put your name here], do solemnly swear on this day, [put date here], that I will devote myself for a period of seven days to learning my most important desire. No other thought will be more uppermost in my mind. No other concern will divert me from tracking down every clue that might assist me in my drive to ascertain the one experience in this world that deserves my brilliant passion above all others."

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5. The primary meaning of the word "healing" is "to cure what's diseased or broken." Medical practitioners focus on sick people. Philanthropists donate their money and social workers contribute their time to helping the underprivileged. Psychotherapists wrestle with their clients' traumas and neuroses. I'm in awe of them all. The level of one's spiritual wisdom, I believe, is more accurately measured by helping people in need than by meditation skills, shamanic shapeshifting, supernatural powers, or esoteric knowledge.

But I also believe in a second kind of healing that is largely unrecognized: to supercharge what is already healthy; to lift up what's merely sufficient to a sublime state. Using this definition, describe two acts of healing: one you would enjoy performing on yourself and another you'd like to provide for someone you love.

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6. Is the world a dangerous, chaotic place with no inherent purpose, running on automatic like a malfunctioning machine and fundamentally inimical to your drive to find meaning? Or are you surrounded by helpers in a friendly, enchanted universe that gives you challenges in order to make you smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier?

Trick questions! The answers may depend, at least to some degree, on what you believe is true.

Formulate a series of experiments that will allow you to objectively test the hypothesis that the universe is conspiring to help dissolve your ignorance and liberate you from your suffering.

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7. Those who explore pronoia often find they have a growing capacity to help people laugh at themselves. While few arbiters of morality recognize this skill as a mark of high character, I put it near the top of my list. In my view, inducing people to take themselves less seriously is a supreme virtue.

Do you have any interest in cultivating it? How might you go about it?

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8. Computer programmer Garry Hamilton articulated the following "Game Rules." Give examples of how they have worked in your life.

1. If the game is rigged so you can't win, find another game or invent your own. 2. If you're not winning because you don't know the rules, learn the rules. 3. If you know the rules but aren't willing to follow them, there's either something wrong with the game or you need to change something in yourself. 4. Don't play the game in a half-baked way. Either get all the way in or all the way out. 5. It shouldn't be necessary for others to lose in order for you to win. If others have to lose, re-evaluate the game's goals.

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9. "There are two ways for a person to look for adventure," said the Lone Ranger, an old TV character. "By tearing everything down, or building everything up." Give an example of each from your own life.


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In early 2015, I wrote horoscopes for the coming year -- previews of the issues I thought you'd be facing and the opportunities that would come your way in the months ahead. I invite you to review them now and let me know if they were useful.


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If you'd ever like to make a contribution to me via Paypal, here's where to do it.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Torrential Pronoia Therapy. Experiments and exercises in becoming a blasphemously reverent, lustfully compassionate, eternally changing Master of Transgressive Beauty.

1. Take inventory of the extent to which your "No" reflex dominates your life. Notice for 24 hours (even in your dreams) how often you say or think:
"No."
"That's not right."
"I don't like them."
"I don't agree with that."
"They don't like me."
"That should be different from what it is."
Then retrain yourself to say "YES" at least 51 percent of the time. Start the transformation by saying "YES" aloud 22 times right now.

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2. Become a rapturist, which is the opposite of a terrorist: Conspire to unleash blessings on unsuspecting recipients, causing them to feel good.

Before bringing your work as a rapturist to strangers, practice with two close companions. Offer them each a gift that fires up their ambitions. It should not be a practical necessity or consumer fetish, but rather a provocative tool or toy. Give them an imaginative boon they've been hesitant to ask for, a beautiful thing that expands their self-image, a surprising intervention that says, "I love the way you move me."

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3. In response to our culture's ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking. While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we recommend balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the Bliss Blitz.

During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion. Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you're bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure. Try it for a day or a week: the Bliss Blitz.

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4. What is the holiest river in the world? Some might say the Ganges in India. Others would propose the Jordan River or the River Nile. But I say the holiest river is the one that's closest to where you are right now.

Go to that river and commune with it. Throw a small treasure into it as an offering. Next, find a holy sidewalk to walk on, praise the holiness in a bus driver, kiss a holy tree, and shop at a holy store.

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5. Have you ever seen the game called "Playing the Dozens"? Participants compete in the exercise of hurling witty insults at each other. Here are some examples: "You're so dumb, if you spoke your mind you'd be speechless." "Your mother is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper." "You're so ugly, you couldn't get laid if you were a brick."

I invite you to rebel against any impulse in you that resonates with the spirit of "Playing the Dozens." Instead, try a new game, "Paying the Tributes." Choose worthy targets and ransack your imagination to come up with smart, true, and amusing praise about them.

The best stuff will be specific to the person you're addressing, not generic, but here are some prototypes: "You're so far-seeing, you can probably catch a glimpse of the back of your own head." "You're so ingenious, you could use your nightmares to get rich and famous." "Your mastery of pronoia is so artful, you could convince me to love my worst enemy."

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6. Salvador Dalí once staged a party in which guests were told to come disguised as characters from their nightmares. Do the reverse. Throw a bash in which everyone is invited to arrive dressed as a character from the most glorious dream they remember.

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7. When many people talk about their childhoods, they emphasize the alienating, traumatic experiences they had, and fail to report the good times. This seems dishonest—a testament to the popularity of cynicism rather than a reflection of objective truth.

I don't mean to downplay the way your early encounters with pain demoralized your spirit. But as you reconnoiter the promise of pronoia, it's crucial for you to extol the gifts you were given in your early years: all the helpful encounters, kind teachings, and simple acts of grace that helped you bloom.

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8. "You can't wait for inspiration," proclaimed writer Jack London. "You have to go after it with a club." That sounds too violent to me, though I agree in principle that aggressiveness is the best policy in one's relationship with inspiration.
Try this: Don't wait for inspiration. Go after it with a butterfly net, lasso, sweet treats, fishing rod, court orders, beguiling smells, and sincere flattery.

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9. Go to the ugliest or most forlorn place you know -- a drugstore parking lot, the front porch of a crack house, a toxic waste dump, or the place that symbolizes your secret shame -- and build a shrine devoted to beauty, truth, and love.

Here are some suggestions about what to put in your shrine: a silk scarf; a smooth rock on which you've inscribed a haiku or joke with a felt-tip pen; coconut cookies or ginger candy; pumpkin seeds and an origami crane; a green kite shaped like a dragon; a music CD you love; a photo of your hero; a votive candle carved with your word of power; a rubber ducky; a bouquet of fresh beets; a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Being a devotee of pronoia doesn't mean you will never have another difficult or painful experience. It doesn't obligate you to pretend that everything is perfectly right with the world. You don't have to cover your eyes whenever you come into proximity to a daily newspaper.

On the other hand, we're not going to waste our valuable space or your precious energy by giving more than equal time to stories of tragedy, failure, and tumult. They get far more than their fair share of attention everywhere else. Future historians might even conclude that our age suffered from a collective obsessive-compulsive disorder: the pathological need to repetitively seek out reasons for how bad life is.

Still, we feel the need to push a bit further in our acknowledgment of all the confusing evils of the world. It's hard to satisfy the paranoid cynics! Unless we demonstrate that we have some mastery of their ideology, they'll dismiss us as intellectual pussies. They will need proof that we're familiar with the data they favor.

Our Homeopathic Medicine Spells make it harder for the paranoids to dismiss us pronoiacs as naive optimists. They're designed to recognize the evils of the world, but in a controlled manner that prevents them from poisoning you. In this way, we can also practice what we preach, subverting any tendencies we might have toward fanaticism and unilateralism.

Each Homeopathic Medicine Spell consists of a contained space within which lies a recitation of Very Bad Things. The border around each space is a magical seal that we consecrated during a ritual invocation of the Cackling Goddess Who Eternally Creates Us Anew. Inspired through communion with Her fierce jokes, we also surrounded each seal with good mojo in the form of word charms and talismanic symbols.

As you gaze at the Homeopathic Medicine Spells, you'll be building up your protection against the dangers named inside the contained space. You'll also get intuitions about how to dissolve the pop nihilistic toxins within you that resonate with those dangers.

See the Spell


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There is no God. God is dead. God is a drug for people who aren't very smart. God is an illusion sold to dupes by money-hungry religions. God is a right-wing conspiracy. God is an infantile fantasy favored by superstitious cowards who can't face life's existential meaninglessness.

JUST KIDDING! The truth is, anyone who says he knows what God is or isn't, doesn't really know.

Now read Adolfo Quezada's prayer, then confess what you don't know about God. "God of the Wild, you are different from what I expected. I cannot predict you. You are too free to be captured for the sake of my understanding. I can't find you in the sentimentalism of religion. You are everywhere I least expect to find you. You are not the force that saves me from the pain of living; you are the force that brings me life even in the midst of pain."

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What if the Creator is like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke's God: "like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence"? What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?

What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to change the ways you think about everything? What if, as Rusty Morrison speculates in Poetry Flash, "the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear's boundary, beyond one's previous conceptions of the beautiful"?

Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.


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One goal of meditation is to empty the mind of its obsessively generated thoughts, habitual rationalizations, and addictive images. Alas, much of the media functions as a reverse meditation machine. Not only does it stir up your own mental clatter, it also floods you with the seething surge of other people's private pandemoniums.

Furthermore, it delivers this rattling racket with entertaining words and brilliant color and crystalline sound, driving it as deeply into your psyche as your own flotsam.

What might heal the effects of the media's reverse meditations? How about a day-long fast from all media once a month -- not just from Facebook, but the thousands of other sources that channel the collective's monkey mind?


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Increasing numbers of people are able to cultivate a chronic, low-grade ecstasy that never fully dissipates. This altered state often sensitizes their perceptions to the presence of subtle miracles that are hidden from others people. For these "everyday ecstatics," extraordinary stimulation and peak experiences are not necessary to sustain the constant flow of bliss . . .

[Read the rest of this exposé.]


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"We tend to associate the energy of intent with complicated or profoundly meaningful actions that require our full attention and effort in order to succeed. For example, walking a tightrope, taking a test, and taking a vow are all tasks that call us to be fully present and single-minded.

"However, intent can also be applied to everyday events, like eating breakfast or going to work. In fact, everything we do benefits from the presence of intent, which has the power to transform seemingly mundane tasks into profound experiences. You only have to try it to find out.

"From the moment we wake up, we can apply intent to our situation by simply saying to ourselves, 'I am aware that I am now awake.' We can use this simple tool throughout our day, saying, 'I am aware that I am driving to work.' 'I am aware that I am making dinner.' Or even, 'I am aware that I am breathing.'

"As we acknowledge what we are doing in these moments, we come alive to our bodies and to the world, owning our actions instead of habitually performing them. We may realize how often we act without intention and how this disengages us from reality. Applying the energy of intent to even one task a day has the power to transform our lives. Just imagine what would happen if we were able to apply that power to our entire day."

- By Madisyn Taylor of Daily Om


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

From the upcoming book, "The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World," by Steven Radelet:

"We live today at a time of great progress for the global poor. Never before have so many people, in so many developing countries, made so much progress. Most Americans believe the opposite: that the majority of developing countries are hopelessly mired in deep poverty, led by inept dictators, and living with pervasive famine, widespread disease, constant violence, and little hope for change.

"But in fact a major transformation is underway -- and has been for two decades now. Since the early 1990s more than 700 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, six million fewer children die every year from disease, tens of millions more girls are in school, millions more people have access to clean water, and democracy -- often fragile and imperfect -- has become the norm in developing countries around the world."

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Many people living in Africa need electricity, but don’t have it. Luckily, something of a solar power revolution is afoot in Africa, triggering a wave of innovation from solar energy entrepreneurs.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Here are some healthy, exalted, positive states of being you might want to consider cultivating:

* VIRTUOSO INTEGRATION. Consistently walking your talk; effectively translating your ideals into the specific actions; creating results that are congruous with your intentions; being free of hypocrisy.

* NOT HAVING TO BE RIGHT. Fostering an ability, even a willingness, to be proven wrong about one of your initial perceptions or pet theories; having an eagerness to gather information that may change your mind about something you have fervently believed; cultivating a tendency to enjoy being corrected, especially about ideas that are negative or hostile.

* RELENTLESS UNPRETENTIOUSNESS. Possessing a strong determination to not take yourself too seriously, not take your cherished beliefs too literally, and not take other people's ideas about you too personally.

* SACRED PERCEPTIVENESS. Seeing others for who they really are, in both their immaturity and genius, and articulating your insights to them with care.

* SELF-HONORING. Having an unwillingness to disparage, belittle, or hurt yourself; includes a taboo against speaking phrases like, "I'm such an idiot!" and "What's wrong with me?"

* TRANSCONSUMERISM. An absence of tendencies to predicate
happiness on acquiring material possessions.

* WHEEEE. A serenely boisterous intensely focused chaos of communion with streaming fountains of liquid light hurtling softly through the giggly upbeat tender assurance that all is well and a mysterious unimaginable intelligence is magnetizing us forward into ever-more wonderful throbs of naked truth that bestow the humble happy sight of life as a river of fantastically lucky artful change flowing through us forever.


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Here are three of our deepest spiritual aspirations, which we invite you to steal for your own use:

1. to develop the capacity to thrive in the midst of raging contradictions;

2. to be discerning as we protect ourselves from people's flaws while at the same time being generous as we celebrate their beauty;

3. to refrain from dividing the world into two groups, those who help and agree with us and those who don't.


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I don't know how to break this to you . . . and I realize it might come as a shock . . . but . . . are you ready? . . . You are God! The pure raw virgin snake mojo of the Universal Wow Power is flowing through your nervous system as if you were a supremely lovable messiah. You are so thoroughly infused with transcendental froufrou, so attuned to the higher purpose of woowoo, that it is hard if not impossible for you to make mistakes.

Don't fret, though. Your stint as the Wild Sublime Golden Master of Reality probably won't last for more than two eons, three tops. I'm sure that won't be long enough for you to turn into a raving megalomaniac with millions of cult followers.


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Is there really such a thing as free will, or are our destinies shaped by forces beyond our control?

Here's one way to think about that question: Maybe some people actually have more free will than others. Not because they have more money. (Many rich folks are under the spell of their instincts, after all.) Not because they have high-status positions. (A boss may have power over others but little power over himself.)

Rather, those with a lot of free will have earned that privilege by taking strong measures to dissolve the conditioning they absorbed while growing up. They've acted on the advice of psychologist Carl Jung: "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."


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There's a difference between repression and suppression. When you repress a difficult feeling or thought, you drive it so deeply into your unconscious mind that you forget about it. In effect, you hide it from yourself out of fear. And yet because this exiled material is of crucial importance, it refuses to remain buried. It ultimately re-emerges in disguise, often as an addiction or obsession, sometimes as an illness.
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Suppression, on the other hand, is a healthier mechanism. It involves you moving the problematic feeling or thought away from the center of your attention, but remaining aware of it. You're not motivated by fear, but by the intention to deal with the challenge at a time of your choosing.

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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Six ways Brazil is saving the Amazon.

McDonald’s announced that it will stop using eggs from caged hens in the U.S. and Canada.

Mercy Ships is an international charity. It uses transforms old ocean liners and ferries into floating hospitals. These ships provide free health care, community development projects, community health education, mental health programs, agriculture projects, and palliative care for terminally ill patients in 57 developing nations and 18 developed nations around the world


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Bless your appetite. May it be voracious and unapologetic.

Much respect for your buried needs and secret yearnings. May they flow into plain view for you to embrace and celebrate.

Congratulations for your willingness to name the unspeakable truths and acknowledge the embarrassing fears. May you be willing to rebel against your self-image for the sake of gaining access to deeper reserves of power and competence.


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You came into this world as a radiant bundle of exuberant riddles. You slipped into this dimension as a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs. You splashed into this realm as a lush explosion of ecstatic gratitude. And it is your birthright to fulfill those promises.

I'm not pandering to your egotism when I tell you these things. When I urge you to "Be yourself," I don't mean you should be the self that is greedy to win every argument and stockpile a heap of garish treasures and believe in the absolute truth of every hostile, paranoid thought your monkey mind comes up with.

When I say, "Be yourself," I mean the self that says "Thank you!" to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the rebel creator who's longing to make this entire planet your precious home and protected sanctuary. I mean the dissident bodhisattva who is joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of divine love that are packed inside every moment.

When I say, "Be yourself," I mean the spiritual freedom fighter who is bustling and finagling and conspiring to relieve your fellow messiahs of their suffering as you shower them with rowdy blessings.


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Change yourself in the way you want everyone else to change

Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks

Avoid thinking about winning the lottery while making love

Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it

Confess big secrets to people who aren't very interested

Write a love letter to your evil twin during a lunar eclipse

Fool the tricky red beasts guarding the Wheels of Time

Locate the master codex and add erudite graffiti to it

Sell celebrity sperm on the home shopping channel

Dream up wilder, wetter, more interesting problems

Change your name every day for a thousand days

Kill the apocalypse and annihilate Armageddon

Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues

Brag about what you can't do and don't have

Get a vanity license plate that reads KZMYAZ

Bow down to the greatest mystery you know

Make fun of people who make fun of people

See how far you can spit a mouthful of beer

Pick blackberries naked in the pouring rain

Scare yourself with how beautiful you are

Simulate global warming into your pants

Stage a slow-motion water balloon fight

Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos

Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees

Plunge butcher knives into accordions

Commit a crime that breaks no laws

Sip the tears of someone you love

Build a plush orphanage in Minsk

Feel sorry for a devious lawyer

Rebel against your horoscope

Give yourself another chance

Write your autohagiography

Play games with no rules

Teach animals to dance

Trick your nightmares

Relax and go deeper

Dream like stones

Mock your fears

Drink the sun

Fuck gravity

Sing love

Be mojo

Do jigs

Ask id


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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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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Here's a motto worth trying: "I refuse to dehumanize anyone, even those who dehumanize me." Aside from the ripples of delight that sends through the collective unconscious, it provides a great selfish benefit. Feeling even low levels of contempt and disdain tends to shut down your intuition, so if you instead practice being tolerant of people who are intolerant of you, you may find yourself getting smarter.

P.S. What would it be like to promote what you love at least as much as you bash what you hate?

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Activist and author Naomi Klein tells a story about the time she traveled to Australia at the request of Aboriginal elders. They wanted her to know about their struggle to prevent white people from dumping radioactive wastes on their land.

Her hosts brought her to their beloved wilderness, where they camped under the stars. They showed her "secret sources of fresh water, plants used for bush medicines, hidden eucalyptus-lined rivers where the kangaroos come to drink."

After three days, Klein grew restless. When were they going to get down to business? "Before you can fight," she was told, "you have to know what you are fighting for."


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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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How Apocalyptic Thinking Prevents Us from Taking Political Action. Over-reliance on the apocalyptic narrative causes us to fear the wrong things, and stifles effective activism.

"The deeper we entangle the challenges of the 21st century with apocalyptic fantasy, the more likely we are to paralyze ourselves with inaction -- or with the wrong course of action. We react to the idea of the apocalypse -- rather than to the underlying issues activating the apocalyptic storyline to begin with -- by either denying its reality ('global warming isn't real') or by despairing at its inevitability ('why bother recycling when the whole world is burning up?')."

Read the entire essay, which I didn't write but almost totally agree with:


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The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is composed of stories, not of atoms. The physicist Werner Heisenberg declared that the universe is made of music, not of matter.

And we believe that if you habitually expose yourself to toxic stories and music, you could wind up living in the wrong universe, where it's impossible to become the gorgeous genius you were born to be.

That's why we implore you to nourish yourself with delicious, nutritious tales and tunes that inspire you to exercise your willpower for your highest good.


- Listen to the above rap.


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UNCONDITIONAL, by Jennifer Welwood

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me.
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel­like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is pure delight,
To honor its form -- true devotion.

- by psychotherapist Jennifer Welwood


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1. Expect nothing, but ask for everything.

2. Gently but gleefully smash an unnecessary personal taboo.

3. Jump for joy and click your heels together in a building that has always felt oppressive.

4. Buck tradition with wit and compassion, not wrath and cynicism.

5. Refuse to occupy the old, worn-out niches, especially the ones you have trapped yourself in for the sake of peace and harmony.

6. Carry two gifts with you at all times in case you run into any fresh beauties who aren't lost in their own heads.


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"I tell you the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." - Vincent van Gogh

"Everything I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything exists, only because I love." - Leo Tolstoy

"Until you have loved, you cannot become yourself." - Emily Dickinson

"Love imperfectly. Be a love idiot. Let yourself forget any love ideal." - Sark

"For one human being to love another is the most difficult task. It is the work for which all other work is mere preparation." - Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

"If you do not love too much, you do not love enough." - Blaise Pascal

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong

"Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don't stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even galaxies." - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

"To love is to tilt with the lightning, two bodies routed by a single honey's sweet."
- Pablo Neruda

"The most vital right is the right to love and be loved." - Emma Goldman


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The Beauty and Truth Lab researchers' sunny dispositions are made possible in part by the mantra, "I don't know." It's an unparalleled source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.

It's fun to say. Try it: "I don't know."

Let go of the drive to have it all figured out: "I don't know."

Proclaim the only truth you can be totally sure of: "I don't know."

Empty your mind and lift your heart: "I don't know."

Use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of your oneness with the Great Mystery: "I don't know."

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Do you have an unconscious belief that the forces of evil are loud, vigorous, and strong, while good is quiet, gentle, and passive? Gather evidence that contradicts this irrational prejudice.

Are you secretly suspicious of joy because you think it's inevitably rooted in wishful thinking and a willful ignorance about the true nature of reality? Expose these suspicions as superstitions that aren't grounded in any objective data you can actually prove.

Do you fear that when you're in the presence of love and beauty you tend to become softheaded, whereas you're likely to feel smart and powerful when you're sneering at the ugliness around you? As an antidote, for a given amount of time, say a week or a month or a year, act as if the following hypothesis were true: that you're more likely to grow smarter when you're in the presence of love and beauty.

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"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."
- Helen Keller

"Sit quietly and listen with only one purpose: to allow the other person to express himself and find relief from his suffering."
- Thich Nhat Hạnh


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


REVERSAL WISDOM

So it turns out that the "blemish" is actually essential to the beauty. The "deviation" is at the core of the strength. The "wrong turn" was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.


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BLESSINGS COME IN MANY GUISES

Pronoia doesn't promise uninterrupted progress forever. It's not a slick commercial for a perfect summer day that never ends.

Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow.

The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing.

But whether it's our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow,
fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way.

Our suffering won't last, nor will our triumph.

Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need
to change into the new thing we must become.

Read the rest.


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GRATITUDE FESTS

Consider the possibility of celebrating regular Gratitude Fests. During these orgies of appreciation, you could confer praise and respect on the creatures, both human and otherwise, that have played seminal roles in inspiring you to become yourself.

Who teaches and helps you? Who sees you for who you really are? Who nudges you in the direction of your fuller destiny and awakens you to your signature truths? Who loves you brilliantly?

(P.S. Cultivating gratitude primes your power to experience ecstasy.)


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GO WITH WHAT FLOW?

When they say "Go with the flow," what "flow" are they talking about? Do they mean the flow of your early childhood conditioning? The flow of your friends' opinions? The latest cultural trends? Your immediate instinctual needs?

When they say "Go with the flow," are they urging you to keep doing what's easiest to do and what will win you the most ego points, even if it keeps you from being true to your soul's code?

Consider the possibility that there are many flows to go with, but only one of them is correct for you. Do you know which one? Maybe it's the one flowing in an underground cavern, far from the maddening crowd.


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SPIRIT IN ALL THINGS

Yua is a term the Yupik people of Alaska use for the spirit that inhabits all things, both animate and inanimate. A rock, for instance, has as much yua as a caribou, spruce tree, or human being, and therefore merits the same measure of compassion.

If a Yupiit goes out for a hike and spies a chunk of wood lying on a frozen river bank, she might pick it up and put it in a new position, allowing its previously hidden side to get fresh air and sun. In this way, she would bestow a blessing on the wood's yua.

(Source: Earl Shorris, "The Last Word," Harper's,)


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DAFFY DUCK SAYS

"That makes no sense, and so do I."
- Daffy Duck


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

200 coal plants announced to retire since 2010 in U.S. That's almost 40% of the country's coal plants.

India Virtually Eliminates Tetanus as a Killer.


At the World's First Empathy Museum,

Below are more excerpts from my book
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


LOVE COMING YOUR WAY

Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so deeply that you have become blasé about the enormity of the grace it confers.

So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to being born. If you're smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness.

Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection. The spirits of allies who've left this world continue to send their tender regards, as well.

Do you "believe" in angels and other divine beings? Whether or not you do, I can assure you that there are hordes of them beaming their uncanny consecrations your way. You are awash in torrents of love.

As tremendous a gift it is to get love, giving love is an equal boon. Many scientific studies demonstrate that whenever you bestow blessings on other people, you bless yourself. Expressing practical compassion not only strengthens your immune system and bolsters your health, but also promotes self-esteem, enhances longevity, and stimulates tranquility and even euphoria.

As the scientists say, we humans are hardwired to benefit from altruism. (Read more about the subject.)

What's your position on making love? Do you regard it as one of the nicer fringe benefits of being alive? Or are you more inclined to see it as a central proof of the primal magnanimity of the universe? I'm more aligned with the latter view.

Imagine yourself in the fluidic blaze of that intimate spectacle right now. Savor the fantasy of entwining bodies and hearts and minds with an appealing partner who has the power to enchant you. What better way do you know of to dwell in sacred space while immersed in your body's delight? To commune with the Divine Wow while having fun? To tap into your own deeper knowing while at the same time gazing into the mysterious light of a fellow creature?

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Firgun is a Hebrew word that means the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else's pleasure or fortune, with a purely generous heart and without jealousy; or of sharing credit fairly.

(Here's Wikipedia's entry on firgun.)

Mudita is word from Sanskrit and Pali that means sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others.

(More info.)

(Still more info.)


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See a photo of me doing Reverse Panhandling. This the time I stood at an exit ramp in San Rafael and offered passing motorists free money.


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Mythologist Michael Meade says that the essential nature of every human soul is gifted, noble, and wounded.

I agree. Cynics who exaggerate how messed-up we all are, ignoring our beauty, are just as unrealistic as naive optimists.

But because the cynics have a disproportionately potent influence on the zeitgeist, they make it harder for us to evaluate our problems with a wise and balanced perspective. Many of us feel cursed by the apparent incurability of our wounds, while others, rebelling against the curse, underestimate how wounded they are.

Mead says: "Those who think they are not wounded in ways that need conscious attention and careful healing are usually the most wounded of all."

Your task -- and your talent -- is to make realistic appraisals of your wounds.


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Revolutionizing the art of rebellion.

1. Experiment with uppity, mischievous optimism.

2. Invoke insurrectionary levels of wildly interesting generosity.

3. Indulge in an insolent refusal to be chronically fearful.

4. Pursue a cheeky ambition to be as wide-awake as a dissident trickster messiah.

5. Bring reckless levels of creative intelligence to all expressions of love.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

YOUR FIVE MOST ECSTATIC MOMENTS

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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YOU MAY BE A MAGICIAN

When many people think of a magician, they picture a stage performer who pulls rabbits out of top hats, does card tricks, and makes things disappear.

Other folks, more mystically inclined, visualize a wizard who uses incantatory spells to command spirits and attain occult power.

There is a third kind of magician. It's anyone who aspires to control her own thoughts, ceaselessly shepherding her psychic energy in a direction that will serve her highest values. For this kind of wonderworker, magic is the art of creating desirable practical changes.

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YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DESIRE

I invite you to write the following on a piece of red paper and keep it under your pillow. "I, [put your name here], do solemnly swear on this day [put date here] that I will devote myself for a period of seven days to learning my most important desire. No other thought will be more uppermost in my mind. No other concern will divert me from tracking down every clue that might assist me in my drive to ascertain the one experience in this world that deserves my brilliant passion above all others."

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If you're not feeling amazed, maybe you're not seeing wildly enough

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"If you are a poet, you will see that there is a cloud in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper."

—Thich Nhat Hanh, "Peace Is Every Step"


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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 three reasons why this is the best of times. Send to Truthrooster@gmail.com.

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


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Study Shows Mindful Meditation Helps Reduce Racial Bias.

The Most Generous Bride on Earth: Couple Feeds 4,000 Syrian Refugees on Their Wedding Day. This luminous Turkish newlywed spent her wedding day running a bread line for thousands of starving Syrian refugees.

American Geochemist Clair Patterson helped reduce lead levels within the blood of Americans by approximately 80% by the late 90s, after spending decades of fighting the industrial use of lead.


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If you'd ever like to make a contribution to me via Paypal, here's where to do it.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


YOUR ADDICTION

Your addiction is obstructing you from your destiny, and yet it's also your ally.

What?! How can both be true?

On the downside, your addiction diverts your energy from a deeper desire that it superficially resembles. For instance, if you're an alcoholic, your urge to get loaded may be an inferior substitute for and a poor imitation of your buried longing to commune with spirit.

On the upside, your addiction is your ally, because it dares you to get strong and smart enough to wrestle free of its grip; it pushes you to summon the uncanny willpower necessary to defeat the darkness within you that saps your ability to follow the path with heart.

(P.S. Don't tell me you have no addictions. Each of us is addicted to some sensation, feeling, thought, or action, if not to an actual substance.)


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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, and $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 of this.


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If you'd like to see a recent photo of me with my extra special good buddy and a big bowl of peaches, go here.


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"Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way." - Alan Watts


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LOVE TIPS

Hypothesis: The exciting qualities that attract you to someone in the first place may make you half-crazy if you go on to develop a long-term relationship.

That doesn't mean you should avoid seeking connections with intriguing people who captivate your imagination. It does suggest you should have no illusions about what you are getting yourself into.

It also implies you should cultivate a sense of humor about how the things that rouse our most intense love and passion often bring us the greatest tests and trials.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

I invite you to say any or all of the following lines out loud:

I love everything about me

I love my uncanny beauty and my bewildering pain

I love my hungry soul and my wounded longing

I love my flaws, my fears, and my scary frontiers

I will never forsake, betray, or deceive myself

I will always adore, forgive, and believe in myself

I will never refuse, abandon, or scorn myself

I will always amuse, delight, and redeem myself


To read the rest of this piece, go here.


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Here's an excerpt of a letter I wrote to America's richest woman, Oprah Winfrey.

"Dear Oprah," I 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."

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

In the meantime, I 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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People ask me what they should do now that Venus, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are all retrograde. Here's one possible answer: Stick to drinking low-fat water; avoid the high-fat H20 whenever possible. Likewise, inhale only the kind of oxygen that's low in cholesterol, and don't allow your eyes to take in fatty landscapes or other calorie-rich sights.


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"You are the hidden God. Wake up in the dream. Read between the lies. To question is the answer. The frontline is everywhere. There are no innocent bystanders. Truth is a three-edged sword. Practice infinite tolerance except for intolerance. Achieve strength through joy. Embrace your shadow. Change is stability. Creation never ends. Everything is verb. The way in is the way out. All things fornicate all the time. The going is the goal. Today is the day!"

- Reverend Adrian Cain


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A while back I sent my book The Televisionary Oracle to novelist Tom Robbins, and asked him if he would consider endorsing it. To my surprise, he replied. To my shock, he liked it a lot. He wrote this blurb for me: "I've seen the future of American literature and its name is Rob Brezsny"

The book he's talking about is here.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

DAILY PRACTICE: Are you willing to push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections, never demeaning the present by comparing it to an idealized past or future?

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


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Many of us have a superficial notion of the nature of healing, writes Peter Kingsley in his book "In the Dark Places of Wisdom." We think that "healing is what makes us comfortable and eases the pain."

But the truth is, "what we want to be healed of is often what will heal us if we can stand the discomfort and the pain."

I invite you to experiment with this theme. See if you can stave off your urge for ease as you marinate longer in the aching confusion.

"If we really face our sadness," says Kingsley, "we find it speaks with the voice of our deepest longing. And if we face it a little longer we find that it teaches us the way to attain what we long for."


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"Dear Rob: I sure don't like so much God stuff mixed into my horoscopes. Can you cut it out, please? I understand it's common for the desperate masses to believe in an Ultra Being, but you? Pul-lease. You're smarter than that. I just can't abide all the 'Divine Wow' and 'Cackling Goddess' nonsense that you dispense; it doesn't jibe with the practical, sensible, unsuperstitious, non-mushy world that I hold dear -- and that I see represented mostly accurately in your horoscopes. -Sally Skeptic."

Dear Sally: I can't accommodate you. You will have to keep dealing with the cognitive dissonance that arises from reading the oracles of a "smart" person who also has an intimate relationship with You-Know-Who.

Just so you're clear about how I perceive the Living Intelligent Consciousness That Pervades Every Cubic Inch of the Universe: It is the interplay of the Supernal Hermaphrodites: the Divine Wow mistakenly called "God" and the Blooming HaHa mistakenly called "Goddess."

More precisely, it is the Torrential and Torturous Ecstasy spawned anew every nanosecond by the glide of the Divine Wow's virile eternity against the Blooming HaHa's voluptuous infinity. It is the Cosmic Fuck that recreates the universe again and again in every nanosecond.

Here's my place in that mystery: I aspire to locate myself in the crux of the flux of the Cosmic Fuck.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


LOVE TIPS

Love thrives when neither partner takes things personally, so cultivate a devotion to forgiveness and divest yourself of the urge to blame.

Love is a game in which the rules keep changing, so be crafty and improvisational as you stay alert for each unexpected twist of fate.

Love enmeshes you in your partner's unique set of karmic complications, so make sure you're very interested in his or her problems.

Love is a laboratory where you can uncover secrets about yourself that have previously been hidden, so be ravenously curious.

Love is never a perfect match of totally compatible saints, so don't let sterile fantasies seduce you away from flawed but fecund realities.
Love is not a low-maintenance machine, so work hard on cultivating its unpredictable organic wonders.

Love is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of DreamWorks or Disney, so don't let your romantic story be infected by the entertainment industry's simplistic, sentimental myths about intimate relationships.


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INVITATION TO LOVE THE RIDDLES

I invite you to study the brazen contradictions . . .

and draw inspiration from the crazy-making incongruities . . .

and marvel at the mysterious ambiguities . . .

and give your compassionate attention to the slippery paradoxes . . .

and say lusty prayers of gratitude for the contradictions, incongruities, ambiguities, and paradoxes that are making you so much wiser and deeper and kinder and cuter.


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LET'S MAKE MORALITY FUN

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.


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TYPES OF LOVE?

The ancient Greeks had a variety of names for different kinds of love. Here are some, according to Lindsay Swope in her review of Richard Idemon's book "Through the Looking Glass."

1. "Epithemia" is the basic need to touch and be touched. Our closest approximation is "horniness," though epithemia is not so much a sexual feeling as a sensual one.

2. "Philia" is friendship. It includes the need to admire and respect your friends as a reflection of yourself—like in high school, where you want to hang out with the cool kids because that means you're cool too.

3. "Eros" isn't sexual in the way we usually think, but is more about the emotional gratification that comes from merging souls.

4. "Agape" is a mature, utterly free expression of love that has no possessiveness. It means wanting the best for another person even if it doesn't advance your self-interest.

I invite you to coin some additional new words for other kinds of love.


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"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change," said psychologist Carl Rogers.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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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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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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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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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"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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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Reading the news makes us feel like the world is falling apart: that we're on the verge of a total collapse. But in fact, we're living through what is, by objective metrics, the best time in human history. People have never lived longer, better, safer, or richer lives than they do now. Read more: http://tinyurl.com/o58aqcc

Here's a summary of the findings:

1. We're living longer than ever
2. Global GDP has surged.
3. Extreme poverty is in free fall.
4. Death from war are at historical lows.
5. Deaths from HIV/AISA are declining.
6. Many other diseases are declining.
7. The spread of democracy has made the world safer and freer.
8. More people than ever before have enough to eat.
9. Fewer mothers are dying in childbirth.
10. MThe child mortality rate is collapsing.
11. More kids than ever are going to school.

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More good news:

About That Overpopulation Problem: Research suggests we may actually face a declining world population in the coming years.

Overcrowding? Nah — the World’s Population May Actually Be Declining. The world's population isn't growing nearly as fast as it once did. In fact, experts say the number of humans could fall within our lifetimes.

The Rapid Slowdown of Population Growth.

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In calling attention here to some of the surprisingly good news about the world, I of course don't mean to imply that paradise is at hand. My recognition of the underreported progress and miracles is not equivalent to an endorsement of evil-doers. And I trust that after reading these words you won't go numb to the suffering of others and stop agitating on their behalf.

Just the opposite: I hope that you will be energized by the signs of creeping benevolence and waxing intelligence. As you absorb the evidence that an aggressive strain of compassion is loose in the world, maybe you will conclude that activism actually works, and you'll be motivated to give yourself with confidence to the specific role you can play in manifesting the ultimate goal: to create a heaven on earth in which everyone alive is a healthy, free, self-actualized, spiritually enlightened millionaire dedicated to living sustainably.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. The first is 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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EXPLORE THE BIG PICTURE OF YOUR LIFE with my Expanded Audio Horoscopes for the Second Half of 2015 and beyond.

Who do you want to become? Where do you want to go and what do you want to do?

How can you exert your free will to create the adventures that will bring out the best in you, even as you find graceful ways to cooperate with the tides of destiny?

To listen to my IN-DEPTH, LONG-TERM AUDIO FORECAST for YOUR LIFE during the coming months, register and/or sign in here.

After you log in through the main page, click on the link "Long Term Forecast for Second Half of 2015."

The horoscopes cost $6 apiece. Discounts are available for multiple purchases.

They're available on your tablets and smart phones as well as your computers.

You can also listen to your short-term forecast for the coming week by clicking on "This week (July 7, 2015)."

What will be the story of your life in the second half of 2015 and beyond? How can you conspire with life to create the best possible future for yourself?


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Whether or not you want to listen to my Big Picture audio reports for the rest of 2015 and beyond, you may be interested in reviewing the long-term horoscopes I wrote for you earlier this year.

To see them, go here.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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.


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What are the three miracles
that are most likely
to happen to you?


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"If everything seems under control," said auto racer Mario Andretti, "you're probably not moving fast enough."

I second that emotion. It applies to the entire human race, which is swirling through evolutionary tipping points at an accelerating speed.
But it's doubly apropos for you spiritual freedom fighters and renegade bodhisattvas, because you're the vanguard shock troops fighting to merge heaven with earth.

For your edification and amusement, I will add three corollaries to Andretti's wisdom:

1. If you're not pretty much always half-confused, most likely you're not thinking deeply enough.

2. If you're not feeling forever amazed, maybe you're not seeing wildly enough.

3. The truth is fluid, slippery, vagrant, scrambled, promiscuous, kaleidoscopic, and outrageously abundant.

How might you go about using these tricks to marinate yourself in a gentle state of ecstasy pretty much all the time?


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"Malefic ecstasy" or "pestilent ecstasy" is the feeling of intense pleasure that some people get as they think about and dwell on and talk about negative events. It explains why they go into a rage whenever I present evidence that although the world may be a realm where much suffering occurs, it is also a paradise full of blessings. They don't want their malefic ecstasy to be diluted.

I'm with poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "Earth's crammed with heaven."

P.S. My spiritual teachers say that being alive on this planet is the highest honor and privilege. It's an invitation to work wonders and perform miracles that aren't possible in any nirvana, promised land, or afterlife.


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I'd love to hear you riff on how it feels and what it's like for you to be the astrological sign that you are. Send your testimony to me at Truthrooster@gmail.com

Here are some examples: readers' thoughts on "How to Be a Sagittarius."

"Know how to have fun even when life sucks." -Mandy O.

"Embrace optimism for both its beauty and its tactical advantages." -Sam Austin, Staten Island.

"Paint a self-portrait with your nipples." -Marsha Coupe, Carmel, CA.

"Be a pompous ass, then laugh at yourself for being a pompous ass." -Peter Yates-Hodshon and Mare Hodshon-Yates, Tucson.

"Give names like 'Stinky' and 'Cubby' to your fears." -Joanne Helfrid, Upper Darby, PA.

"The best way to be like me, is not try to be like me at all, but to be true to yourself." -Catherine King, Greenfield, MA.

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Here's an example of a Gemini who told me how she went about being the best Gemini he could possibly be:

"Be amazed with and in awe of yourself. And try to keep doing new things to justify your amazement and awe. Be like the Native American heyoka who rode his horse backward, wearing only an apron in a blizzard, with sweat running down his chest. Talk to yourself; people can join in if they want to. Have a large papier maché ego; redecorate it often. Be like Grandmother Spider who created the world by imagining it. Be like Pygmalion and fall in love with your creation. Never imitate. Be a tricky, sticky tickler. No one will ever solve the Sphinx's precious riddle if she doesn't know the answer herself."
- Shimmering Elf


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


MAYBE IMAGINARY FRIENDS AREN'T ACTUALLY IMAGINARY

I have imaginary friends who help me. And yes, they sometimes even give me ideas for horoscopes. Are you OK with that? Among the many other perks my secret buddies provide, they show me where my phone and keys are when I've misplaced them -- a prime sign of their practical value.

What's your current status in regards to imaginary friends? Do you even have any? I invite you to seek them out and put them to work. In fact, I encourage you to do anything that might attract the input of undiscovered allies, behind-the-scenes collaborators, mysterious guidance, and divine assistance.

P.S. July 2 is Take Your Imaginary Friend to Work Day.


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MAKING A HABIT OF WAKING UP

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. We could cultivate in ourselves a sixth sense for the wake-up calls life sends us. We might develop a knack for responding with agile grace to the early, gentler ones so that we wouldn't have to be visited by the more stringent measures.

There's also another possibility: With hungry intent, we could seek out and hunt down invigorating jolts. We wouldn't wait to have our asses kicked, but would kick our own asses -- over and over again, with a creative ingenuity.

Who knows? We might even master the art of inducing shocks that feel really good.

Listen to the podcast of this mini-essay.


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"Ondinnonk" is an Iroquois word with two related meanings: 1. a secret wish of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams; 2. the spiritual part of our nature that longs to do good deeds.

How's your ondinnonk doing?


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We are dissident bodhisattvas rebelling against all those forces that feed fear and ignore love.

We are spiritual freedom fighters rising up to protect nature and foment peace and demand justice.

We are subversive mystics stoking the cool blue fires of poetry and lobbying for the liberated imagination.

We are militant ecstatics invoking the transformative powers of pleasure to sanctify and beautify our one and only Earth.

We are mutinous purveyors of grace who redistribute the wealth so that all creatures may have the means to thrive.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


So it turns out that the "blemish" is actually essential to the beauty. The "deviation" is at the core of the strength. The "wrong turn" was crucial to you getting you back on the path with heart.


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A SECOND KIND OF HEALING

The primary meaning of the word "healing" is "to cure what's diseased or broken." Medical practitioners focus on sick people. Philanthropists donate their money and social workers contribute their time to helping the underprivileged. Psychotherapists wrestle with their clients' traumas and neuroses.

I'm in awe of them all. The level of one's spiritual wisdom, I believe, is more accurately measured by helping people in need than by meditation skills, shamanic shapeshifting, supernatural powers, or esoteric knowledge.

But I also believe in a second kind of healing that is largely unrecognized: to supercharge what is already healthy; to lift up what's merely sufficient to a sublime state.

Using this definition, describe two acts of healing: one you would enjoy performing on yourself and another you'd like to provide for someone you love.

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HOW PRONOIA WORKS

There was once a poor farmer who could afford to own just one horse. He cared well for the animal, but one summer night it escaped through a weak fence and ran away.

When his neighbors discovered what had happened, they visited to offer their condolences. "What bad luck!" they exclaimed. The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

A week later, the fugitive horse sauntered back to the homestead, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son managed to corral them all. Again the neighbors descended.

"What great luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer replied. "Maybe not."

Soon the farmer's son began the work of taming the new arrivals. While attempting to ride the roan stallion, he was thrown to the ground and half-­trampled. His leg was badly broken. The neighbors came to investigate. "What terrible luck!" they exclaimed.

The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

The next day, soldiers visited the farmer's village. Strife had recently broken out between two warlords, and one of them had come to conscript all the local young men. Though every other son was commandeered, the farmer's boy was exempted because of his injury. The neighbors gathered again.

"What fantastic luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer said. "Maybe not."

(Source: an old Taoist folk tale)


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If you do not give birth to the brilliance within you, it will destroy you. If you give birth to the brilliance within you, it will free you.


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"A huge amount of freedom comes when you take nothing personally."
— Don Miguel Ruiz


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It's my birthday week. I celebrate for eight consecutive days, including the hidden "Funday" that's between Thursday and Friday. I encourage you to do the same when your birthday comes around.

To mark my personal festival, I welcome your birthday blessings, good wishes, and compassionate critiques.

If you are inclined to send me gifts, I welcome them at P.O. Box 150628, San Rafael, CA 94915. Email blessings go here: Truthrooster@gmail.com.

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Here's a motto worth trying: "I refuse to dehumanize anyone, even those who dehumanize me." Aside from the ripples of delight that might send through the collective unconscious, it provides a great selfish benefit. Feeling even low levels of contempt and disdain tends to shut down your intuition, so if you instead practice being tolerant of people who are intolerant of you, you just may find yourself getting smarter.


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Even if the voices in your head aren't real, they still might have good ideas.


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The Greek god Dionysus did not, in fact, encourage people to get sloppy drunk, lose control, and do stupid things. His preference was that they free themselves from their inhibitions by imbibing moderate amounts of alcohol. With this medicinal spur, they might get unstuck from their worn-out old behavior patterns and invite refreshing doses of wildness into their lives. Healing was the intention, not craziness and frenzy.

It is true that if someone was not willing to escape their rigidity -- if they clung to their hidebound attitudes and refused to open up to the call of self-transformation -- Dionysus might lure them into reckless inebriation.


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1. Help from the Princess of Cups
2. Unexpected celebration
3. You meet an alchemist
4. Warm wind on your special day
5. Waves of joyous chanting
6. Inspiration dissipates fear
7. Song of the healers
8. Message written in disappearing ink reappears
9. A wild dream within a safe dream
10. Time's gifts finally harvested
11. The valuable illusions of youth
12. Clarity in all of its splendor
13. Blue moonlight on the green earth
14. A whisper in the dark with a crucial clue
15. Are your ready for your close-up?
16. Meeting the guest on an island you love
17. A lily on your doorstep
18. A hidden cocoon
19. A heart surprised by sweet learning
20. What light reaches the ocean's floor
21. A ringing bell announces your victory
22. What comes next?
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.

Tell me what comes next at Truthrooster@gmail.com


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"When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data.

"But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world."

- author, green business leader and activist Paul Hawken


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


THE GREATEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE

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.


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IT'S ALWAYS THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD

It's always the beginning of the world.

Even if you don't call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life's ceaseless invitation to change.

It's to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don't be satisfied with the world the way it is; don't sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it's in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul's code.


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SHADOW BLESSINGS

(Listen to this piece.)

Life is a vast and intricate conspiracy that's guaranteed to keep you well supplied with blessings.

What kind of blessings? Ten million dollars, a gorgeous physique, a perfect marriage, a luxurious home, and high status?

Maybe. But it's just as likely that the blessings will be interesting surprises, dizzying adventures, gifts you hardly know what to do with, and 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.

It doesn't ask you to pretend that everything is sweet and harmonious all the time.

On the contrary, when you embody the spirit of pronoia, you build your optimism by loving your challenges, not repressing them.

You know that your problems are gifts from the Goddess that are designed to make you smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier.

You welcome each fresh puzzle as a potential source of your future bliss, as an exciting teaching that will usher you to your next breakthrough.

Now here's a spell to commit pronoia. I invite you to say it with me.

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;

Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within me;

Opening to my loss and pain and ignorance,
I remember who I am and what I'm here for.

Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me

and becomes itself transformed
into the blessing it always was.

Listen to this piece here.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Here are three of our deepest spiritual aspirations, which we invite you to steal for your own use:

1. to develop the capacity to thrive in the midst of raging contradictions;

2. to be discerning as we protect ourselves from people's flaws while at the same time being generous as we celebrate their beauty;

3. to refrain from dividing the world into two groups, those who help and agree with us and those who don't

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"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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"True life is lived when tiny changes occur," said Leo Tolstoy. I agree. It's rare for us to undergo rapid, dramatic transformations in short periods of time. That's why it's delusional to be forever pining for some big magic intervention that will fix everything. The best way to alter our course is slowly and gradually, by conscientiously revamping our responses to the small daily details.


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"The lesson that life constantly enforces is 'Look underfoot.' You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world."
- naturalist John Burroughs


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There is only One Being: the Living Intelligent Consciousness That Pervades Every Cubic Inch of the Universe. Every seemingly separate thing, from earthworm to human being to star, is a cell in the body of this One and Only Great One.

All of us cells feel pain as long as we have forgotten we are part of the One. But the forgetting was an essential rule that the One set up to begin the master game. Because of our illusion that each of us is alone and separate, we are under the impression that we must become distinctive and unique. As we work to create ourselves, adding intricate modifications to what we started out as, we give joy to The One, expanding and deepening the meaning of the master game.

At the point when the sense of isolation is greatest in each cell -- which is also the point when each cell experiences its uniqueness with maximum acuity -- the pain of separation triggers the longing to remember where we came from. Gradually, each of us figures out how to return home and reunite consciously with the One. But something fundamental in us has changed since we first fell under the spell of separateness. We have added the beauty of our individuality, our gift to The One.



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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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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Below is an excerpt.

"Nothing's going right in my life. I feel anxious and paranoid all the time. My relationships are a mess. Plus the whole world's going to hell!"

In my line of work, people make confessions like that to me.

My first response is usually something like this: "Do you habitually gobble junk food near bedtime, steal a paltry five hours of sleep per night, gulp two cups of coffee and no breakfast in the morning, then bolt to a workplace where you get no sunlight or exercise and sit in an uncomfortable chair?"

They often reply, "You must be psychic! How did you know?!"

My point is that many psychological troubles stem from our chronic failure to take good care of our physical needs.

Can you think of three things you can do to promote pronoia in yourself by taking better care of your body?


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In her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes 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, Estes 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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Homework: Write essays on one or more of these topics:

1. “How I Used My Nightmares to Become Smart and Strong”

2. “How I Exploited My Problems to Become a Spiritual Freedom Fighter”

3. “How I Fed and Fed and Fed My Monsters Until They Ate Themselves to Death”

4. “How I Turned Envy, Frustration, and Smoldering Anger into Generosity, Compassion, and Fiery Success”

5. “Why Perfection Sux”


-from my book, The Televisionary Oracle


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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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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? Keep in mind this thought from Lewis Carroll: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."


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"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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“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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A life-long dream of mine came true back in 2010, and I didn't even know it was a life-long dream until it happened. It struck unexpectedly on a Tuesday afternoon in April.

My daughter Zoe called on the phone from her college dorm room, wanting to discuss an essay she'd been assigned to read for her poetry class. She really liked it, but there were some points she wanted to understand better, and she thought my input might help. The essay was the "Surrealistic Manifesto," formulated in 1924 by the writer André Breton. Years ago, it was a crucial document in my own development as a young poet. The opportunity to share its heady brew with the beloved child I used to push on a swing was startling and blissful.

It was Zoe's birthday recently. She just finished her first year in the MFA Poetry program at Columbia University, and is well on her way to being an accomplished writer and provocative poet. She is also an intriguing and generous human being with impeccable integrity and enormous emotional intelligence. She has inspired me to live up to my ideals and share my wealth.

I don't throw the word "joy" around lightly, but Zoe's presence in my life is a fount of joy and a source of continuous blessings.

Zoe's journalism for the East Bay Express

Zoe's journalism for radio station KALW.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


Are you willing to push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart . . .
. . . even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections, never demeaning the present by comparing it to an idealized past or future?


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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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Ken Burns says one of the things that alarms him most at this moment in culture is that so many people are eager to express their opinions and so few are interested in telling stories.


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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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THE BLESSINGS OF CHANGE, from the book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

One of life's great bounties is its changeableness, which ensures that boredom will never last very long. You may underestimate the intensity of your longing for continual transformation, but the universe doesn't. That's why it provides you with the boundless entertainment of your ever-shifting story. That's why it is always revising the challenges it sends your way, providing your curious soul with a rich variety of unpredictable teachings.

Neuroscientists have turned up evidence that suggests you love this aspect of the universe's behavior. They say that you are literally addicted to learning. At the moment when you grasp a lesson you've been grappling with, your brain experiences a rush of a natural opium-like chemical, boosting your pleasure levels. You crave this experience. You thrive on it.

So the universe is built in such a way as to discourage boredom. It does this not just by generating an endless stream of interesting novelty, and not only by giving you an instinctive lust to keep learning, but also by making available an abundance of ways to break free of your habitual thoughts. You can go to school, travel, read, listen to experts, converse with people who think differently from you, and absorb the works of creative artists. You can replenish and stretch your mind through exercise, sex, psychotherapy, spiritual practices, and self-expression. You can take drugs and medicines that alter your perspectives.

And here's the best part of this excellent news: Every method that exists for expanding your consciousness is more lavishly available right now than it has been at any previous time in history.

Never before have there been so many schools, educational programs, workshops, and enrichment courses. Virtually any subject or skill you want to study, you can. You don't even have to leave your home to do it. The number of online classes is steadily mounting.

Travel is easier and faster than ever before. A few days from now, you could be white-water rafting along the Franklin River in Tasmania, or riding on "the train at the end of the world" in Tierra del Fuego, or observing Golden Bamboo lemurs in the rainforest of southeastern Madagascar. If you're on a budget, you can jet to exotic locales for free as an air courier, or you can travel cheaply as an eco-tourist, enjoying the natural pleasures of distant climes without demanding luxurious accommodations or expensive night life.

Let's talk about the Internet's role in helping the universe discourage boredom. Remember, it's still very early in the evolution of this budding global brain. But already it provides you with instant access to a substantial amount of all the information, images, and music ever created. And in another few years, the sheer entirety of the human mind's riches will be spread before you like a gargantuan feast. It's not yet true that every book ever written and every song ever recorded and every film ever made are accessible online, but it will be true sooner rather than later.

Today, without leaving your chair or spending any money, you can enjoy Kandinsky's painting "Improvisation No. 30" or archives of the Krazy Kat comic strips. You can listen to a Vivaldi concerto or a Black Sabbath heavy metal anthem, and you can read the history of the Peloponnesian War or the myths of the Tlingit Indians. You can hear Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech or watch a short film of the Three Stooges throwing pies in the faces of high society matrons or pore over every poem Emily Dickinson ever wrote.

For many of us, few freshly minted glories are more glorious than the Internet's prodigious gift of song. Thanks to the magic of electronic file transfer, there has never before been so much great music available, and from so many different cultures and genres, and so cheaply.

Enhancing this blessing has been the recent revolution in recording technology, which has made it possible for musicians all over the world to record their compositions at low cost. We not only have much better access to all kinds of music, but have far more new music to enjoy as well.

One further development has pushed our relationship with music into the realm of crazy goodness: portable MP3 players that allow us to listen to the burgeoning abundance of tunes anywhere and anytime we want . . . .

READ THE REST OF THIS ESSAY


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"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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"Make visible what, without you, might have never been seen."
- Robert Bresson


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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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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.

Read more.




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There is only One Being: the Living Intelligent Consciousness That Pervades Every Cubic Inch of the Universe. Every seemingly separate thing, from earthworm to human being to star, is a cell in the body of this One and Only Great One.

All of us cells feel pain as long as we have forgotten we are part of the One. But the forgetting was an essential rule that the One set up to begin the master game. Because of our illusion that each of us is alone and separate, we are under the impression that we must become distinctive and unique. As we work to create ourselves, adding intricate modifications to what we started out as, we give joy to The One, expanding and deepening the meaning of the master game.

At the point when the sense of isolation is greatest in each cell -- which is also the point when each cell experiences its uniqueness with maximum acuity -- the pain of separation triggers the longing to remember where we came from. Gradually, each of us figures out how to return home and reunite consciously with the One. But something fundamental in us has changed since we first fell under the spell of separateness. We have added the beauty of our individuality, our gift to The One.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

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?

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"You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in."
- Eliezer Yudkowsky

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Some people put their faith in religion or science or political ideologies. English novelist J.G. Ballard placed his faith elsewhere: in the imagination. "I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world," he wrote, "to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen."

How do you use the power of imagination to remake the world?


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"The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity."

- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


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"May a good vision catch me
May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me
May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me
May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.
May I awaken into the story that surrounds,
May I awaken into the beautiful story.
May the wondrous story find me;
May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers
arise beautifully between my body and the body of this land,
between my flesh and the flesh of this earth,
here and now,
on this day,
May I taste something sacred."

- David Abram (Writer/Activist/Ecologist)


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"Modern post-industrial societies tend to produce un-sane populations -- multitudes of people who are unbalanced in their adaptation to the destructive stress of daily existence. One of the symptoms of this un-sanity is the loss of contact between the waking ego and the depths of the self, a contact that requires involvement in dream experiences and information.

"Cultures generally resist change, and modern materialist societies are no different in this respect. Devaluation of dreaming and other spiritually efficacious experiences is part of the foundation of 'false consciousness' required by capitalist/materialist political economies.

"Materialist cultures require that the focus of awareness be upon the material conditions of life and away from involvement with the inner being which is the only road to spiritual maturation."

- Charles D. Laughlin, Communing with the Gods: Consciousness, Culture and the Dreaming Brain


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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions.

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The owner of a credit card processing business in Seattle is raising his employees' minimum wage to $70,000 by cutting his own salary. "The market rate for me as a C.E.O. compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd," he said.

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"Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us -- a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain -- it's also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It's made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse.

"Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it's asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we've committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I'm deep in my own.
- Leslie Jamison,

The Empathy Exams


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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.

It's only for one day. You can do it!

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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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"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


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From The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism, a list of positive emotions and states of being:

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."

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.

SONGBIRD-IN­A-TREE. The cultivated awareness that daily life presents countless opportunities to be buoyed by moments of ordinary extraordinary beauty, and that these moments are most available if you perceive with your senses and not with your internal turmoil.

More from The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism, a list of positive emotions and states of being.


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Each one of us is a blend of life and death. In the most literal sense, our bodies always contain old cells that are dying and new cells that are emerging as replacements.

From a more metaphorical perspective, our familiar ways of seeing and thinking and feeling are constantly atrophying, even as fresh modes emerge. Both losing and winning are woven into every day; sinking down and rising up; shrinking and expanding.

In any given phase of our lives, one or the other polarity is often more pronounced. But sometimes they are evenly balanced; the Seasons of Rot and of Regeneration happen at the same time.

Where are you at in the cycle right now?


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"In the end, we'll all become stories."

- Margaret Atwood


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I invite you to say this, or something like this: "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."


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How's your fight for freedom going? Are you making progress in liberating yourself from your unconscious obsessions, bad habits, and conditioned responses? Do you find that you're getting more skillful at minimizing your suffering? Are you turning out to be the hero of your own life?


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I hereby appoint you a dissident bodhisattva in charge of overthrowing the sour and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality," and replacing it with an authentic reality built on the principles of insurrectionary beauty, ingenious love, reverent justice, rigorous equality, and rowdy bliss.

Any other principles you want to add?

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I have an essay in a new book called Pluto: New Horizons for a Lost Horizon: Astronomy, Astrology, and Mythology

It's edited by one of my mentors, Richard Grossinger -- a person I consider one of the five smartest people in the world. It's published by North Atlantic Books, the visionary publisher that has published my last three books.

My essay is about the astrological, pychological, and mythopoetic meaning of Pluto. Here's an excerpt:

Scientists no doubt had sound. rational reasons to exile Pluto from the traditional solar system and transfer its realm to the Kuiper Belt with the other dwarf worlds, but they were also under the influence of deeply unconscious forces too. The expulsion of Pluto marked a symbolic turning point in the triumphalism and triumph of scientism, the ascendency of a mode of thinking that values only what's visible, measurable, and categorizable. But Pluto is more than the rocky planetoid representing it: Pluto is an essential phase of human consciousness.

It is no accident that the ostracism comes at a time when the Plutonian realm itself is being devalued and rendered inessential. The overall downgrading of Pluto is a milestone in the modern attempt to depreciate the soul's mode of awareness and make it subsidiary to the deductive mind. To banish Pluto is to deny that living in the soul has any value to us.


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“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness ... will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions."

- Andrew Harvey


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Here are some ways to get more respect:

1. Do your best in every single thing you do -- whether it's communicating precisely or upholding the highest possible standards at your job or taking excellent care of yourself.

2. Maintain impeccable levels of integrity in everything you do -- whether it's being scrupulously honest or thoroughly fair-minded or fiercely kind.

3. On the other hand, don't try so compulsively hard to do your best and cultivate integrity that you get self-conscious and obstruct the flow of your natural intelligence.

4. Make it your goal that no later than four years from now you will be doing what you love to do at least 51 percent of the time.

5. Give other people as much respect as you sincerely believe they deserve.

6. Give yourself more respect.

7. Others?


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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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More and more you're attuned to the amusing fact that the rot prepares the way for the splendor. The chaos becomes the source of the rejuvenation. The end of the world mutates into the beginning of the world.

Please accept the thunderous applause of my one hand clapping. The people who take everything personally and seriously may not recognize your ingenious work, but we connoisseurs of the liberated imagination do.


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"Reality is frequently inaccurate."
- Douglas Adams


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My book THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE has been reprinted:

Here's the Kindle edition.

Read excerpts.

Praise for the book:

"I've seen the future of American literature, and its name is Rob Brezsny." - novelist Tom Robbins

"Like a mutant love-child of Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin, Rob Brezsny writes with devilish humor, spiritual audacity, and erotic intensity. The Televisionary Oracle is a kick-ass gnostic tale. Prepare to be astonished." - Jay Kinney, author, Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions

"The Televisionary Oracle's heroine, Rapunzel, is one of recent literature's sexiest female protagonists." - Weekly Alibi

"The Televisionary Oracle is a book so weird it might drive you stark raving sane." - Robert Anton Wilson

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Hear a song from the soundtrack for The Televisionary Oracle.

Don't kill your television yet . . .


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Here's a prescription that may help you make optimal use of your precious life energy:

Set an intention to clarify your intentions about the essential matters in your life. Say "I am clarifying my intentions about . . ."

"who I really am"

"whom and what I love"

"how I want to serve my fellow creatures and the planet Earth"

"the unripe qualities in myself that I am ripening"

"what I need to do next"

"the best way for me to make money"

"the moral principles I hold most strongly"

"the truth about my relationship to the Source"

"the best use of my creative energy"

others?


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Below is an excerpt from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

I ME WED

I invite you to deepen and intensify your commitment to the most important person in your life -- you. One way to further that sacred cause is to get married to yourself. In my book, I've created a text you can refer to as you perform the wedding. Or you can use my text for inspiration as you create your own version.

Let's begin by telling a simple truth: You will probably never create a resilient, invigorating bond with the lush accomplice of your dreams until you master the art of loving yourself ingeniously. A wedding ritual that joins you to yourself could catalyze an uncanny shift in your personal mojo that would attract a fresh, hot consort into your life, or else awaken the sleeping potential of a simmering alliance you have now.

If you're feeling brave, try speaking the following words aloud:

"I am no longer looking for the perfect partner.
I am my own perfect partner."

Say it even stronger:

"I am no longer looking for the perfect partner
to salve all my wounds
and fix all my mix-ups
and bridge all my chasms.
I am no longer looking for the perfect partner
because I am my own perfect partner."

TO READ THE REST OF "I ME WED," go here.


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


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One of my heroes, radical historian Howard Zinn, said that pessimism tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we relentlessly imagine the worst possible outcomes, if we concentrate on all the things that are falling apart and going wrong, it cripples our capacity to make constructive changes. "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic," he wrote. "It gives us the energy to act."

More from Howard: "What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

Read MORE

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"Optimism is a strategy for making a better future," says Noam Chomsky. "Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume there is no hope, you guarantee there will be no hope."


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Sometime in the next 24 hours, try saying this to someone (but only if you really mean it): "Thanks for making my life better."

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Below are excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. You can hear my musical performance of it here.

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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I hope you can obtain the Avatar Elixir stashed in the golden obelisk in the underground fortress beneath the glass mountain. It will allow you to produce the "triple-helix" energy that will give you the power to cross freely back and forth through the gateway between universes.

Then the thunder and lightning will obey your commands. Rivers and comets will become your allies. Every star in the sky will shine directly on you. Animals will prove their love again and again. You will always know the truest words to say.

And if for some reason you're not able to get your hands on that Avatar Elixir, you may be able to achieve similar results by drinking a bottle of beer that's currently stashed in the lower left rear section of the beverage cooler at a convenience store within five miles of your home.

(Magic might be wherever you think it is.)


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Dear Beauty and Truth Lab: After reading your inspiring rants about pronoia, I've come up with my own personal set of pronoiac vows:

1. I vow to Siamese-twin together my bad-ass, no-hype, wide-eyed self with my tricky, strategic, puzzle-loving self.

2. I vow to rage on like a dancing warrior in the urban wilderness, keeping peak experiences and total slaphappy victory at the top of my priority list, while at the same time I play hide-and-seek with the dark delicious secrets that fuel my soul's lust for wicked meaning.

3. I vow to deepen the collaborative efforts of my suck-out-the-marrow-and-spit-out-the-bones craziness and my listen-carefully-to-the-flow-of-the-underground-river caginess. —Double Intense Pronoiac

Dear Double Intense: If we could give you a reward for your elegant audacity, it might be a descendant of Muchalinda, the giant cobra with seven heads that protected the Buddha as he meditated during a hailstorm.


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

This is a perfect moment.

It's a perfect moment for many reasons, but especially because you and I are waking up from our sleepwalking, thumb-sucking, dumb-clucking collusion with the masters of delusion and destruction.

Thanks to them, from whom the painful blessings flow, we are waking up.

Their wars and tortures,
their crimes against nature,
extinctions of species
and brand new diseases.

Their spying and lying
in the name of the father,
sterilizing seeds and
trademarking water.

Molestations of God,
celebrations of shame,
stealing our dreams and
changing our names.

Their cunning commercials
and blood-sucking hustles,
their endless rehearsals
for the end of the world.

Thanks to them, from whom the painful blessings flow, we are waking up.

Their painful blessings are cracking open more and more gashes in the shrunken and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." And through the fractures, ripe eternity is flooding in; news of the soul's true home is pouring in; our allies from the other side of the veil are swarming in, inspiring us to become smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier.

We are waking up . . .

As heaven and earth come together, as the dreamtime and daytime merge, we register the shockingly exhilarating fact that we are in charge -- you and I are in charge -- of creating a brand new world. Not in some distant time or faraway place, but right here and right now.

If you do not bring the genius within you, it will destroy you. But if you do bring forth the genius within you, it will free you.

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.

But overthrowing the living dead is not enough. Protesting the well-dressed monsters is not enough. We can't afford to be consumed with our anger; can't be obsessed and possessed by their danger.

Our mysterious bodies crave delight and fertility. Our ancient imaginations demand fresh tastes of infinity.

In the new world we're creating, we need lusty compassion and ecstatic duty, ingenious love and insurrectionary beauty. radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks.

I believe reality is a marvelous joke that is staged for my edification and amusement, and everyone is working very hard to make me happy.

In the New World we're creating,
We will ridicule the cult of doom and gloom.
We will embrace the cause of zoom and boom.
We will laugh at the stupidity of evil and hate;
we'll summon the brilliance to praise and create.
No matter how upside-down it all may appear,
we will have no fear
because we know this big secret:

Pronoia is real. All of creation is conspiring to shower us with blessings. Life is crazily in love with us--brazenly and innocently in love with us. The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

Earth is crammed with heaven.

The winds and the tides are on our side, forever and ever, amen. The fire and the rain are scheming to steal our impossible pain. The sun and the moon and the stars remember our real names, and our ancestors pray for us while we're dreaming.

We have guardian angels and thousands of teachers
provocateurs with designs to unleash us
helpers and saviors we can't even imagine
brothers and sisters who want us to blossom

Thanks to them, from whom the blissful blessings flow, we are waking up.

The roads they pave us
the places they save us
the tomatoes they grow us
the rivers they flow us

Their mysterious stories
and morning glories
Their loaves and fishes
granting our wishes

The songs they sing us
The gifts they bring us
the secrets they show us
above and below us

Thanks to them, from whom the blissful blessings flow, we are waking up.

We are free
We are free
We are free

Listen to my musical performance of "This Is a Perfect Moment".


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My book Pronoia has received more than 200 five-star reviews on Amazon.com, but it has also gotten a few negative reviews. This is my favorite:

"I bought this book based on the reviews and was 100% disappointed. It reads like the ramblings of someone who is on drugs. It's so super-creative, I can't follow it. It's full of poems and quotes and bored me to tears. After 30 minutes of trying to find something interesting to read in it, I gave up. There are no chapters, no ideas, just lots and lots of endless ramblings about how lucky we are to have a sun and working appliances. It's like someone threw up doodles, poems and hallucinogenic thoughts. This book is now sitting in my Goodwill box where it will remain until my next drop off. Save your money."


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"Do you change people first or do you change society? I believe this is a false dichotomy. You have to change both simultaneously. If you're changing only yourself and have no concern for changing the society, something goes awry. If you're changing only society but not changing yourself, something goes awry.

"Now, 'simultaneously' may be an overstatement, because I think there are periods when one has to concentrate on one or the other. And there are periods in a society, in a culture, when the emphasis is appropriate only on one or the other. What I'm trying to say is, never lose sight of either the internal world or the external world, the peace within and the peace based on justice outside."

- David Dellinger


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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

MIRABILIA

What are mirabilia? They're phenomena that inspire wonder, winsome curiosities, small marvels, eccentric enchantments. Here are a few:

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

* The average river requires a million years to move a grain of sand 100 miles.

* 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.

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

* In the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, the hero and heroine fall in love without ever gazing upon each other, simply by hearing tales about each other's good deeds.

* Twelve percent of the population believes that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

* 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.

* Singing Gregorian chants can cure dyslexia.

* All the gold ever mined could be molded into a 60-foot bust of your mom.

* The moon smells like exploded firecrackers.

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

* Black sheep have a better sense of smell than white sheep.

* There are about 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. Every square inch of your body has an average of 32 million bacteria on it.

* French author and statesman André Malraux observed that Jesus Christ was the only anarchist who ever really succeeded.

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


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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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You're an immortal freedom fighter who longs to liberate all sentient creatures from their suffering.

You're a fun-loving messiah who wants to help your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.

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?

Read the rest of this essay.


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The alchemists said the magic formula for enlightenment was Visita Inferiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem, or "Seek out the lower reaches of the earth, perfect them, and you will find the hidden stone"—the treasured philosopher's stone.

Jungian psychologists might describe the process this way: Engage in a relationship with the blind and sickly parts of yourself, perfect them, and you will awaken your hidden divinity.


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Abraham Maslow's definition of real listening: to listen "without presupposing, classifying, improving, controverting, evaluating, approving or disapproving, without dueling what is being said, without rehearsing the rebuttal in advance, without free-associating to portions of what is being said so that succeeding portions are not heard at all."


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Max Dashu runs the fantastic website "Restoring Women to Cultural Memory: The Suppressed Histories Archive." Check it out here. It's a compendium of stories about powerful women whose lives and work have been expunged from patriarchal versions of history.
Now she has created a new video that explores the rich cultural record of medicine women, seers, oracles, healers, trance-dancers, shapeshifters, and dreamers, around the world. Here's the trailer


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“With his book PRONOIA -- an instant pop classic -- Rob Brezsny offers a positive, participatory, proactive vision of the workings of our inner and outer universe, which will only give us as much pleasure, love, and ecstasy as we are prepared to accept.” - Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl

“I dig Rob Brezsny for his powerful yet playful insights, his poetry, and his humor . . . I salute him for his dedication to inspiration.”
- Jason Mraz, singer-songwriter

"This wild, wise, and subversive book is a must read for those who want to live a more imaginative and free life . . . Rob Brezsny is a Culture Hero." - Utne Reader

"The verbally acrobatic, mystically literate Brezsny lets fly a thousand zingers, each with the feel of having been carved with a poetic effort to express a hard reality instead of a platitude." - San Francisco Chronicle

"Rob Brezsny, the renegade wizard behind the syndicated 'Free Will Astrology' column, has dedicated himself to putting the 'pro' back into 'protest.' In his new book, Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, he presents his own irreverent manifesto, mixing activism and optimism. It reads like the I Ching on Ecstasy and is as insightful and puzzling as a Zen koan." - Body + Soul


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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia


GRATITUDE FEST

Would you like to make yourself smarter and more beautiful? Are you interested in increasing your capacity for ecstasy and improving your health? Consider the possibility of celebrating regular Gratitude Fests.

During these orgies of appreciation, you could confer praise and respect on the creatures, both human and otherwise, that have played seminal roles in inspiring you to become yourself. You would devote yourself to invoking and expressing thanks.

Who teaches and helps you? Who sees you for who you really are? Who nudges you in the direction of your fuller destiny and awakens you to your signature truths? Who loves you brilliantly?


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EVIL IS BORING

Who are the perpetrators of the genocide of the imagination? I call them the entertainment criminals.

They're the nihilistic creators and dramatis personae who spread the propaganda that trouble and strife and disintegration are more worthy of our attention than integrity and splendor and quantum leaps.

The entertainment criminals are the decadent fools who preach the bizarre doctrine that witty gloom is the mark of a deep thinker. They are the educated idiots who try to trick us into believing that optimism is solely for naive fools with no aptitude for critical thinking.

The visionary philosopher Buckminster Fuller said, "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."

To the entertainment criminals, Fuller's perspective is heretical. With the know-it-all certainty of religious fanatics, they imply with every word and image they produce that there is rarely such a thing as a beautiful solution.

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I heard an interview with the German film actor Udo Kier. He specializes in playing villains. "Evil has no limit," he sneered, blustering like a naughty genius. "Good has a limit. It is simply not as interesting."

How many times have I heard that idiotic cliché? Most everyone everywhere seems to agree with Udo Kier. And I'm in a tiny minority in my belief that evil is boring. There seem to be few thinkers, communicators, and creators who share my curiosity about exploring the frontiers of righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity.

Some pretenders do make counterfeit attempts: Hollywood producers who produce sentimental fantasies with artificially happy endings, advertising executives who sell the pseudo-positivity of narcissistic comfort, and New Age gurus who ignore the darkness with their one-dimensional appeals to sweetness and light.

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The word "imagination" gets little respect. For many people, it connotes "make-believe" and is primarily the domain of children and artists. But the truth is that your imagination is the engine of your destiny. It's the single most important tool you have in your daily campaign to be free. It's the source of every act of liberation you will ever need to pull off.

That's why it's so disturbing to know that all over the planet, the imagination is deeply wounded—paralyzed by the media's nonstop onslaught of toxic psychic waste. How can you generate images that energize you to create your highest good if your mind's eye is swarming with dazzling yet vacuous and fear-inducing stories crafted by the most monumental brainwashing juggernaut in the history of the world?

To get a sense of the growing devastation, I suggest you wander around a grade school playground at recess. You'll hear kids' conversations overflowing with the degrading narratives they've absorbed from their favorite sources of information and stimulation.

I call this ongoing tragedy the genocide of the imagination. Because of it, many people cannot access their greatest magical power. They have forsaken the sanctity of their sacred temples, allowing them to be defiled with soulless images and stories that are at odds with their deepest desires. As a result they live incoherent lives corroded by chronic anxiety.

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If we hope to prevent the genocide of the imagination, we've got to perpetrate massive, mirthful attacks of pronoia. But we have to do it without acting like True Believers, because fanaticism is anathema to our cause. Our strategy is to be blithe and flexible as we learn not just to believe, but actually perceive the truth that life is a benevolent conspiracy designed to keep mutating our immortal souls until they're so far beyond perfection that perfection is irrelevant.

We will succeed. We will overthrow the doom and gloom fixation and make the cause of zoom and boom irresistible. Our parties will be better than theirs. Our jokes will be funnier, our jobs more enjoyable, our lovemaking more revelatory. We'll dream up tricks to create an environment in which it's more fun and interesting to talk about wise bliss than clever cynicism.

We will build shrines devoted to righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity in the ugliest places we know. We will unleash praise and gratitude without regard for the taboos we shatter thereby. And we will perform senseless acts of altruistic chutzpah everywhere we go.


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I invite you to meditate on the relentlessness of your yearning for love. Recognize the fact that your eternal longing will never leave you in peace. Accept that it will forever delight you, torment you, inspire you, and bewilder you -- whether you are alone or in the throes of a complicated relationship.

Understand that your desire for love will just keep coming and coming and coming, keeping you slightly off-balance and pushing you to constantly revise your ideas about who you are.

Now read this declaration from the poet Rilke and claim it as your own: "My blood is alive with many voices that tell me I am made of longing."


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There are thousand of things in the world that provide you with only mediocre nourishment; the influences that deeply enrich you with their blessings are much smaller in number.

To say it another way: You derive a bare amount of inspiration and teaching from the great majority of people, songs, images, words, stories, environments, and sights; whereas you draw life-sustaining illumination and spirit-ennobling motivation from just a precious few.

I invite you to identify that special minority, and take aggressive steps to be in ongoing communion with it.


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Feel free to steal all or parts of this personal ad for your own purposes:

SACRED AGENT SEEKS FREAKY CONSORT
Tired of both boringly nice goodie-goodies and menacing lunatics trying to pass off their pathologies as "sexy"? I'm the happy medium: a straddler of the mysterious edge where bliss and struggle overlap, where the difference between light and dark just ain't that simple. I feel too deeply to pretend that every question has a correct answer. I cry too easily and love too much.

And you? Are you smart enough to be guided by your sacred dreams of transgression? Are you free enough to surrender over and over again to the waters of life? If you've got the courage, I've got the secrets. I'll be your wild-eyed, smart-mouthed, spread-eagled muse if you'll be mine.

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Here's another personal ad for you:

MY EYES REMIND YOU WHERE YOU CAME FROM.
Uncork me, angel. Unfurl me. Release me and restore me and unleash me. Not because I can't do it myself. Not because I'm just another narcissism-addict jonesing for a quick fix.

On the contrary. I'm the most self-sufficient self-starter I've ever met. It's from my position of strength that I aspire to whip up spectacular synergies in tandem with your holy rolling reverberations.

So keep in mind that I'm here to uncork you and unfurl you and release you and restore you and unleash you, too. That's the art of the game that stretches out before us in all directions. That's the beauty of the gritty reality that's disguised as a glittery fantasy. As you bless my risks and massage my unconsciousness and save my soul, I'll always vice your versa.

P.S. My last fortune cookie said, "You need nothing and want everything."


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Visionary Activist Principles, by Caroline Casey:

0. Believe nothing, entertain possibilities. Therefore everything hereafter is offered playfully.

1. Imagination lays the tracks for reality to follow.

2. Better to create prophecy than live prediction. What makes us passive is toxic. Predictions make us passive, but prophecy is active co-creation with the Divine.

3. The invisible world would like to help, but spiritual etiquette requires that we ask. Help is always available; operators (and cooperators) are standing by.

4. The only way that the gods know we're asking for help is through ritual.

5. If something is a problem, make it bigger. If you cook rage into outrage, it takes it from personal tantrum yoga into the realm of useful action.

6. We only possess the power of an insight when we give it expression.

7. Creativity comes from paradox. We aspire to be disciplined wild people who are radical traditionalists.


Check out Caroline Casey's website

and her Facebook page


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Traditionally, the Seven Deadly Sins—actions most likely to wound the soul—are pride, lust, gluttony, anger, envy, sloth, and covetousness. We have formulated a fresh set of soul-harmers, the Four Foolish Virtues. They are as follows:

1. being analytical to such extremes that you repress your intuition;

2. sacrificing your pleasure through a compulsive attachment to duty;

3. tolerating excessive stress because you assume it helps you accomplish more;

4. being so knowledgeable and opinionated that you neglect to be curious.

Any others you'd like to add?


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Every act of genius, Carl Jung said, is an act "contra naturam": against nature. Indeed, every effort to achieve psychological integration requires a knack for breaking out of the trance of normal daily life -- to do what doesn't come natural.

The eighteenth-century mystic Jacob Boehme had a similar perspective. The great secret to becoming enlightened, he said, is "to walk in all things contrary to the world."

Qabalist teacher Paul Foster Case agreed. He said that living an ethical and spiritually intelligent life demands that we reverse the usual ways of thinking, speaking, and doing.

The way I see it, tending to my sanity and being in service to the world require me to be in a chronic state of rebellion.

But here's an important caveat: While the rebellion can and should be partially fueled by anger at the consensual mass hallucination that's mistakenly referred to as "reality," it must be primarily motivated by love and joy and the desire to bestow blessings. A healthy proportion, at least for me, seems to be 15% rage, indignation, and complaint, and 85% compassion, celebration, and lust for life.


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Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it. Study the difference between wise suffering and dumb suffering until you get it right. Commit crimes that don't break any laws. Visualize Buddha at the moment of orgasm. Build illusions that make people feel so beautiful they can't stand to be near you.

Pretend to be crazy so you can get away with doing what's right. Sing anarchist lullabies to homosexual trees. Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks. Review in detail the history of your life, honoring every moment as if you were conducting a benevolent Judgment Day. Eat money. Drink the sun. Dream like a stone. Sing in the acid rain.


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"Everyone carries with them at least one piece to someone else's puzzle." So wrote Lawrence Kushner in his book, Honey from the Rock.

In other words, you have in your possession certain clues to your loved ones' destinies -- secrets they haven't discovered themselves.

Wouldn't you love to hand over those clues -- to make a gift of the puzzle pieces that are most needed by the people you care about?

Search your depths for insights you've never communicated. Tell truths you haven't found a way to express before now. More than you know, you have the power to mobilize your companions' dreams.


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Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so deeply that you have become blasé about the enormity of the grace it confers. So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to being born. If you're smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness.

Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection. The spirits of allies who've left this world continue to send their tender regards, as well. Do you "believe" in angels and other divine beings? Whether or not you do, I can assure you that there are hordes of them beaming their uncanny consecrations your way. You are awash in torrents of love.

As tremendous a gift it is to get love, giving love is an equal boon. Many scientific studies demonstrate that whenever you bestow blessings on other people, you bless yourself. Expressing practical compassion not only strengthens your immune system and bolsters your health, but also promotes self-esteem, enhances longevity, and stimulates tranquility and even euphoria. As the scientists say, we humans are hardwired to benefit from altruism. (To read more about the subject, go here: tinyurl.com/lyyd46.)

What's your position on making love? Do you regard it as one of the nicer fringe benefits of being alive? Or are you more inclined to see it as a central proof of the primal magnanimity of the universe? I'm more aligned with the latter view.

Imagine yourself in the fluidic blaze of that intimate spectacle right now. Savor the fantasy of entwining bodies and hearts and minds with an appealing partner who has the power to enchant you. What better way do you know of to dwell in sacred space while immersed in your body's delight? To commune with the Divine Wow while having fun? To tap into your own deeper knowing while at the same time gazing into the mysterious light of a fellow creature?

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The wildly disciplined, aggressively sensitive, ironically sincere, blasphemously reverent unbelievers shall inherit the earth by making sacred jokes through revolution.

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The Beauty and Truth Lab's rapturists have formulated a batch of personal ads for you to borrow.

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I invite you to act like a person who's in love. Even if you're not currently in the throes of passion for a special someone, pretend you are. Everywhere you go, exude that charismatic blend of shell-shocked contentment and blissful turmoil that comes over you when you're infatuated. Let everyone you meet soak up the delicious wisdom you exude. Dispense free blessings and extra slack like a rich saint high on natural endorphins.

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Imagine that the merger of you and your best ally has created a third thing that hovers near you, protecting and guiding the two of you. Call this third thing an angel. Or call it the soul of your connection or the inspirational force of your relationship. Or call it the special work the two of you can accomplish together. And let this magical presence be the third point of your love triangle.

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You understand that you can never own love, right? No matter how much someone adores you today, no matter how much you adore someone, you can't force that unique state of grace to keep its shape forever. It will inevitably evolve or mutate, perhaps into a different version of tender caring, but maybe not.

From there it will continue to change, into either yet another version of interesting affection, or who knows what else?

Are you making any progress in getting the hang of this tricky wisdom?

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"For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."
- James Hillman

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Gertrude Stein defined love as "the skillful audacity required to share an inner life." It suggests that expressing the truth about who you are is not something that amateurs do very well. Practice and ingenuity are required.

It also implies that courage is an essential element of successful intimacy. You've got to be adventurous if you want to weave your life together with another's.

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"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."

- George Bernard Shaw


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Whenever I write about romance and togetherness, I attract a storm of complaints from readers who are solitary. "How dare you imply that everyone has or should have a partner!?" is a typical protest. "I'm quite content being alone!" is another.

Let it be known that I do not believe your happiness depends on having a spouse or lover. What I do suspect, though, is that your soul needs some sacred relationship in order to thrive, whether it's with a good friend, a beloved animal, a beautiful patch of earth, the Divine Wow, or anything that's not you.

Whenever I invite you to seek deeper, wilder communion, feel free to interpret it as a call to explore any kind of intimacy that draws you closer to the secret heart of the world.

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I want to call your attention to one of the few NC-17-rated pieces in the book. It's called THE ORGASMIC ROOTS OF PRONOIA

NSFW! PROCEED WITH CAUTION! This material has graphic references to love, lust, tenderness, bliss, and rapture.


 
 

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