week of April 17, 2014
Be a WeaveWhat if there's no contradiction between being your idiosyncratic self in love with your life and serving others with the best gifts you have to give?
What if exploring your inner world to activate your personal genius dovetails perfectly with fighting to recreate the soulless culture we're embedded in?
What if working on your own salvation makes you a more effective force in liberating others from their suffering?
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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.
My most recent book is
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It's also available here.
Below is the text of a spoken-word piece based on a text in the book.
You can listen to it here.
GLORY IN THE HIGHEST
Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you donít fully understand, youíre still breathing and your heart is beating, even though youíve been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that's just right for your body's needs, as it was before you fell asleep.
You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process millions of years to perfect.
The interesting gift of these vivid hues is furthermore made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into light and heat and energy for your personal use.
Your hands work wonderfully well. Your heart circulates your blood all the way out to replenish the energy of the muscles and nerves in your fingers and palms and wrists. And after your blood has delivered its blessings, it finds its way back to your heart to be refreshed. This wondrous mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every minute of your life.
You can smell intoxicating aromas. You can hear provocative and soothing sounds. You can taste a thousand different tastes. How is any of this possible? You can think thoughts any time you want -- big, wide, colorful thoughts or tiny dark burrowing thoughts. You can revel and wallow in great oceans of emotion. What colossal secret intelligence or improbable series of fabulous accidents conspired to bestow these superpowers upon you?
READ AND HEAR THE REST OF THIS PIECE
MAKE ROOM FOR MORE
Is your schedule too rigid to allow magic to seep in? Then mutate that schedule, please.
Is your brain so crammed with knowledgeable opinions that no fresh perceptions can crack their way in? Then flush out some of those opinions.
Is your heart so puckered by the stings of the past that it can't burst forth with any expansive new invitations? Then unpucker your heart, for God's sake.
YOUR SOUL MATE?
If you bury your face in your tear-stained pillow and beg God to please send you your soul mate, please don't slur your words in such a way that they sound like "cell mate."
My novel THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE is available as an actual book:
or in a Kindle edition
See the spectacular cover
Read the first four chapters
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
Hear a song from the soundtrack for The Televisionary Oracle
Don't kill your television yet . . .
Below is another excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.
(Mirabilia: events that inspire wonder, marvelous phenomena, small miracles, beguiling ephemera, inexplicable joys, changes that inspire quiet awe, eccentric enchantments, unplanned jubilations, sudden deliverance from boring evils; from the Latin *mirabilia,* "marvels.")
* The National Center for Atmospheric Research reports that the average cloud is the same weight as 100 elephants.
* The seeds of some trees are so tightly compacted within their protective covering that only the intense heat of a forest fire can free them, allowing them to sprout.
* The average river requires a million years to move a grain of sand 100 miles, says science writer James Trefil.
* Thirty-eight percent of North America is wilderness.
* Anthropologists say that in every culture in history, children have played the game hide and seek.
* With every dawn, when first light penetrates the sea, many seahorse colonies perform a dance to the sun.
* A seven-year-old Minnesota boy received patent number 6,368,227 for a new method of swinging on a swing.
* A chemist in Australia finally succeeded in mixing oil and water.
* Some Christians really do love their enemies, as Jesus recommended.
* The closest modern relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex may be the chicken.
* Kind people are more likely than mean people to yawn when someone near them does.
* The most frequently shoplifted book in America is the Bible.
* There are always so many fragments of spider legs floating in the air that you are constantly inhaling them wherever you go . . . .
READ THE REST of MIRABILIA REPORT here: http://bit.ly/zWK11D
PROTEST THE DULLNESS
"It is respectable to have no illusions -- and safe -- and profitable and dull," said author Joseph Conrad.
Taking our cue from his liberating derision, I propose that we protest the dullness of having no illusions. Let's decry the blah gray sterility that comes from entertaining no fantastic fantasies and unreasonable dreams. How boring it is to have such machine-like mental hygiene!
So I invite you to celebrate your crazy ideas. Treasure and adore your wacky beliefs. Study all those irrational and insane urges running around your mind to see what you can learn about your deep, dark unconsciousness.
(P.S.: But I'm not saying you should act on any of those phantasms, at least not now. Simply be amused by them.)
Here's a description of my relationship with the concepts in the book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia
THE HONEY AND VINEGAR TASTERS
John Keats wrote that "if something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." I celebrate that hypothesis in my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. I further propose that the universe is inherently friendly to human beings; that all of creation is set up to liberate us from our suffering and teach us how to love intelligently; and that life always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it (though not necessarily what we want).
Dogmatic cynics are often so mad about my book's title that they can't bring themselves to explore the inside. Why bother to actually read about such a preposterous idea? They accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, disingenuous Pollyannaism, or New Age delusion.
If they do manage to read even a few pages, they find that the blessings I reference in the title are not materialistic fetishes like luxurious vacation homes, high status, and a perfect physique. I'm more interested in fascinating surprises, dizzying adventures, challenging gifts we hardly know what to do with, and conundrums that compel us to get smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier. I also enjoy exposing secret miracles, like the way the sun continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into heat, light, and energy for our personal use.
But I don't take the cynics' fury personally. When I suggest that life is a sublime mystery designed to grow us all into strong, supple messiahs, I understand that's the equivalent, for them, of denying the Holocaust. They're addicted to a formulation that's the opposite of Keats': If something is not ugly, it is probably not true.
Modern storytellers are at the vanguard of promoting this doctrine, which I refer to as pop nihilism. A majority of journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, talk-show hosts, musicians, and pundits act as if breakdown is far more common and far more interesting than breakthrough; that painful twists outnumber redemptive transformations by a wide margin, and are profoundly more entertaining as well.
Earlier in my life, I too worshiped the religion of pop nihilism. In the 1980s, for example, I launched a crusade against what I called "the global genocide of the imagination." I railed against the "entertainment criminals" who barrage us with floods of fake information and inane ugliness, decimating and paralyzing our image-making faculties. For years, much of my creative work was stoked by my rage against the machine for its soulless crimes of injustice and greed and rapaciousness and cruelty.
But as the crazy wisdom of pronoia overtook me in the 1990s, I gradually weaned myself from the gratuitous gratification that wrath offered. Against the grain, I experimented with strategies for motivating myself through crafty joy and purified desire and the longing for freedom. I played with ideas that helped me shed the habit of seeing the worst in everything and everyone. In its place I built a new habit of looking for the best.
But I never formally renounced my affiliation with the religion of cynicism. I didn't become a fundamentalist apostate preaching the doctrine of fanatical optimism. In the back of my wild heart, I knew I couldn't thrive without at least a tincture of the ferocity and outrage that had driven so much of my earlier self-expression.
Even at the height of my infatuation with the beautiful truths that swarmed into me while writing Pronoia, I nurtured a relationship with the awful truths. And I didn't hide that from my readers.
Yes, I did purposely go overboard in championing the cause of liberation and pleasure and ingenuity and integrity and renewal and harmony and love. The book's destiny was, after all, to serve as a counterbalance to the trendy predominance of bad news and paranoid attitudes. It was meant to be an antidote for the pandemic of snark.
But I made sure that Pronoia also contained numerous "Homeopathic Medicine Spells," talismans that cram long lists of the world's evils inside ritually consecrated mandalas. These spells diffuse the hypnotizing lure of doom and gloom by acknowledging the horror with a sardonic wink.
Pronoia also has many variations on a theme captured in William Vollman's testimony: "The most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something thatís a complicated, tricky problem that you donít 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.
Below is another excerpt from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.
LETTERS TO THE BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB, Part 1
We who are devoted to pronoia created the Beauty and Truth Lab and not the Beauty and Truth Think Tank because we want to put our ideas to the test in the field -- to apply them in unpredictable situations beyond our control and see whether they're useful to people who aren't necessarily steeped in the mystique of pronoia.
One way we've gone about that is to encourage the public to testify and ask questions about their practical experiences with pronoia. Below is Part 1 of a collection of exchanges that have unfolded since we began discussing pronoiac themes on the BeautyandTruth.com website and in the weekly astrology newsletter.
DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: I'm a very analytical person, with a doctorate in nuclear physics and a high-tech job. All my training and business savvy tell me that Rob Brezsny's astrology column is superstitious mumbo jumbo, yet every time I've faced a crisis in the last 10 years, his horoscopes have provided accurate wisdom and counsel when things seemed darkest.
The same is true about the book Pronoia. The scientist in me knows that you Beauty and Truth Lab people are utopian nutcases. It's absolutely demented to regard the universe as friendly and to fantasize that there's some vast, invisible conspiracy of blessing-bestowers. And yet I have to confess that whenever I try the pronoiac strategies you describe, my life veers in the direction of synchronicity and delight.
On the one hand, none of this makes any sense. On the other hand, I don't care that it doesn't make any sense. Somehow I'm able to draw sustenance from something whose power I don't understand or even believe in. In any case, thank you! - Humble Genius
DEAR HUMBLE GENIUS: You've described a quality that we aspire to in our efforts to cultivate pronoia: the ability to be helped by powers that are beyond our understanding.
DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: Does pronoia make you feel like you're falling in love? Not just with a person but with life itself? And can that be scary? Is it possible that you might feel a chord of gorgeous terror resound in your gut when you entertain the thought that every person and even every animal and plant and rock in the world is ganging up to make your life interesting -- almost more brilliantly interesting than you can bear? Does pronoia threaten to cause all perceptions, all sensations, all interactions to verge on being orgasmic?
I've been heading in this direction lately and it's freaking me out. Can extreme happiness be dangerous to my well-being? - Butchtastic
DEAR BUTCHTASTIC: First thing we'll say is that while pronoia inevitably feeds the soul, it doesn't necessarily further the agendas of the ego. The anxiety that's welling up may be the result of your old self-image clinging to the shrunken expectations it had gotten used to thinking of as essential to its identity.
The second thing is that when people invite pronoia to take over their perceptual filters, they often feel as if they're falling in love with a Scary Yet Friendly Vastness that kicks their butts until they wake up to the secret beauty they've been ignoring.
DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: I'm battling mixed emotions. On the one hand, I have frequent surges of intense compassion that make me want to build houses for poor folks. On the other hand, I'm beset by flashes of vanity that make me want to spend my money on Prada shoes and expensive jewelry rather than on trips to Third World countries to help Habitat for Humanity. Is it crazy and self-defeating to want both things? - Torn and Guilty
DEAR TORN AND GUILTY: Try honoring both your urge to express beauty and your desire to aid your fellow humans. We have a vision of you wearing a gold tiara and Prada's Sculpted d'Orsay pumps as you wield your hammer, framing a wall for a new house in Haiti.
DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: In your book Pronoia, you say, 'The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.' I have a different view. I often find that I disagree with what the Universe decides is best for me. But that usually turns out to be a good thing. It's fun for me to always be arguing with God! I learn a lot and generate a lot of high energy from trying to outmaneuver the divine will. What do you think about that? - Cagey Dissident
DEAR CAGEY: Congratulations! You are the thousandth dissident to testify that pronoia is not, in fact, the One Truth and the Only Way -- thereby proving to our satisfaction that we have successfully prevented our beloved Beauty and Truth Lab from being a shill for a fundamentalist ideology. Please accept our most fantastic thanks. Your prize will be on its way to you soon!
DEAR BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB: The chemo treatments burned out all the math skills in my brain, which were already pretty meager. On the other hand, they awakened my ability to feel perfectly at ease while in the midst of paradoxical situations that everyone else finds maddening and uncomfortable.
The chemo also made me ridiculously tolerant of people's contradictions, sometimes even their hypocrisies, and freed me to enjoy life as an entertaining movie with lots of interesting plot twists rather than as a pitched battle between everything I like and everything I don't like. I guess I could say that my cancer helped turn me into a pronoiac! - The Chaos Artist Formerly Known as Risa Kline
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Are you in quest of an Intimate Ally? A Soul Friend? A Wild Confidante?
Check out Match.com via Free Will Astrology's link.
Look for a Co-Pilot, Co-Conspirator, or Collaborator . . . an Agent to represent you or a Disciple to worship you . . . a Secret Sharer who'll listen better than anyone or an Amazing Accomplice with whom you can practice the Art of Liberation.
Here's another excerpt from my book. You can read or listen to a podcast of the whole thing here.
PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.
HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower.
DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It's the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.
OBJECTIVE OF PRONOIA: To explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.
GUIDING QUESTION: "The secret of life," said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do." What is that task for you?
UNDIGNIFIED MEDITATIONS TO KEEP YOU HONEST: Brag about what you can't do and don't have. Confess profound secrets to people who aren't particularly interested. Pray for the success of your enemies while you're making love. Change your name every day for a thousand days.
TOP-SECRET ALLIES: Sacred janitors, benevolent pranksters, apathy debunkers, lyrical logicians, ethical outlaws, aspiring masters of curiosity, homeless millionaires, humble megalomaniacs, hedonistic midwives, lunatic saints, sly optimists, mystical scientists, dissident bodhisattvas, macho feminists, and socialist libertarians who possess inside information about the big bang.
DAILY PRACTICE: Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections.
You can read or listen to the rest of this piece here.
MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES
5 Habits of Highly Compassionate Men
"Having compassion leads to increased happiness, freedom from gender stereotypes, and better relationships with others."
10 Things Creative People Know
"Everyday creative activities like knitting and cooking can boost your levels of serotonin and decrease anxiety."
"More solar power was installed in the United States last year than the previous 30 years combined, and the per unit cost of solar power is falling so rapidly itís soon likely to drop below that of coal." - Robert Reich
Unphotoshopped images of 32 beautiful places.
On Wednesday, March 27th, Texas got almost one-third of its electricity by harnessing the wind.
sThe rate of childhood obesity has dropped 43% over the last decade, and sales of sugary soft drinks and cereals have plummeted.
See a compendium of past pronoia resources
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