week of September 20, 2018
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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.
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 jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight;
To honor its form – true devotion.
I imagine the possibility of helping to establish a tradition of uplifting gossip, full of praise and gratitude. What about, if instead of naming the shadowy aspects of our friends and acquaintances behind their backs, we identified, celebrated, and propitiated their divine glory and shining wonder?
WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?
"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
"If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness."
—David Foster Wallace
ASKING FOR SUPPORT!
It's hard for me to ask for help. One of my character flaws is that I feel like I'm burdening people if I seek their support. That's not very pronoiac, I know!
But I'm overcoming my neurotic tendency right now by asking for help and support.
If you would like to contribute to me and my ongoing work, please visit my Virtual Tip Jar at Paypal.
You can also contribute to my well-being by buying the Expanded Audio Horoscopes I create every week. These forecasts are different in tone and content from the written horoscopes I provide here. They're my four- to five-minute-long ruminations about the current chapter of your life story. They're available here.
HAVE YOUR OWN KIND OF FUN
Have Fun, even if it’s not the same kind of fun everyone else is having.
—C. S. Lewis
DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF OPTIMISM
The writing is on the wall. I'll tell you part of what it says: Be a crafty, discerning optimist who champions social and economic justice, not a careless, gullible optimist who basks in privilege and entitlement.
I invite you to keep a running list of all the ways life delights you and helps you and energizes you. Describe everyday miracles you take for granted . . . the uncanny powers you possess . . . the small joys that occur so routinely you forget how much they mean to you . . . the steady flow of benefits bestowed on you by people you know and don't know.
What works for you? What makes you feel at home in the world?
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."
LOVERS OF LIFE
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.
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below are some excerpts.
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.
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.
"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
"Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage. Courage is the most desperate, admirable, and noble kind of love."
- Delmore Schwartz
"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.
"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
"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
"If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion."
- Lin-Chi, translated by Thomas Cleary
"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
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.
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.
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved