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week of October 11, 2018
What's Your Most Important Desire?

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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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YOU HAVE MORE FREEDOM THAN YOU ARE USING

"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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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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KNOW YOUR WOUNDS

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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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REPRESSION AND SUPPRESSION

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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IS THERE ANY SUCH THING AS FREE WILL?

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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Wherever you stand, be the soul of the place.

-Rumi


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MY THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT TROUBLES

If you'd care to read my thoughts and research concerning recent political and cultural events, you can find them here.


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EMPATHY IS A SUPERPOWER

Proposed bottom-line spiritual philosophy: For any one of us, our life is based on the principle that whatever hurts other people hurts us; that the injustices experienced by others are also injustices experienced by us.

None of us can truly be free, fulfilled, and powerful unless we are working to ensure that everyone can be free, fulfilled, and powerful.
These are not vague abstract ideals. They’re the central source of our soul's code and how we organize our beliefs, our emotions, and our actions.


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THE MESSY DARKNESS

Don't pretend you can't see the messy darkness. Admit to its presence. Accept its reality. But don't get tangled up in it, either.

Gaze into the abyss so as to educate yourself about its nature, but don't become entranced by its hypnotic power.

Scheme to reclaim your power from soul-sucking influences. But don't turn the process into a blood-and-thunder showdown that wreaks epic chaos.

You may be amazed at how much protection and relaxation you can generate for yourself simply by being a poised lover of life who is free of melodramatic reactions.


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THE DEVIL'S LONELY

The devil follows me day and night, because he is afraid to be alone.

- Francis Picabia


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CAN THE IMAGINATION SAVE US?

Feminist philosopher Susan Griffin relates a story that exemplifies the possibility of envisaging solutions that defy conventional logic:

Along with many others who crowd the bed of a large truck, poet Robert Desnos is being taken away from the barracks of the concentration camp where he has been held prisoner.

Leaving the barracks, the mood is somber; everyone knows the truck is headed for the gas chambers. And when the truck arrives no one can speak at all; even the guards fall silent.

But this silence is soon interrupted by an energetic man, who jumps into the line and grabs one of the condemned.

Improbable as it is, Desnos reads the man's palm. Oh, he says, I see you have a very long lifeline. And you are going to have three children. He is exuberant. And his excitement is contagious. First one man, then another, offers up his hand, and the prediction is for longevity, more children, abundant joy.

As Desnos reads more palms, not only does the mood of the prisoners change but that of the guards too. How can one explain it? Perhaps the element of surprise has planted a shadow of doubt in their minds. If they told themselves these deaths were inevitable, this no longer seems so inarguable.

They are in any case so disoriented by this sudden change of mood among those they are about to kill that they are unable to go through with the executions.

So all the men, along with Desnos, are packed back onto the truck and taken back to the barracks.

Desnos has saved his own life and the lives of others by using his imagination.

The story poses a question. Can the imagination save us?

Robert Desnos was famous for his belief in the imagination. He believed it could transform society. And what a wild leap this was, at the mouth of the gas chambers, to imagine a long life! In his mind he simply stepped outside the world as it was created by the SS.

Full story by Susan Griffin

Radical feminist philosopher, essayist and playwright, Susan Griffin is on Facebook here.


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SANCTIFY YOUR INTERESTING WOUNDS

Steal some useful fire. Imitate a dusky breeze. Praise the wavering sky. Sanctify your interesting wounds. Mutate a waning pleasure. Alchemize your mysterious sighs. Untame your timid healing. Redraw the map of your wild heart. Trick eternity with your electric humor.

Mock gratuitous sarcasm. Swagger some lusty justice. Sing your best fury. Retool your amazement. Analyze the beauty in your original breath. Memorize a new future. Rebirth your achy symbols. Celebrate your surrender to forgiveness.

Anything you'd like to add?


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WE ARE BEYOND "THE RESISTANCE"

We are beyond “The Resistance.” We are the catalysts for freedom, justice, and equality for all.

Michelle Alexander writes: "Resistance is a reactive state of mind. While it can be necessary for survival and to prevent catastrophic harm, it can also tempt us to set our sights too low and to restrict our field of vision to the next election cycle, leading us to forget our ultimate purpose and place in history.

"Every leap forward for American democracy — from slavery’s abolition to women’s suffrage to minimum-wage laws to the Civil Rights Acts to gay marriage — has been traceable to the revolutionary river, not the resistance. In fact, the whole of American history can be described as a struggle between those who truly embraced the revolutionary idea of freedom, equality and justice for all and those who resisted."

Read more.


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YOU'RE NOT VANQUISHED

As long as you can go on creating new roles for yourself, you are not vanquished.

― Gail Godwin


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


Below is an excerpt. It's from the piece called "Subterranean Pronoia Therapy."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here's another excerpt from Pronoia.

HOW IS ENLIGHTENMENT LIKE A MILLION-DOLLAR VACATION HOME?

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

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

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

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

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

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CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION FROM ENLIGHTENMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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