I'm a Star, You're a Star(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)
You're a star -- and so am I. I'm a genius -- and so are you. Your success encourages my brilliance, and my charisma enhances your power. Your victory doesn't require my defeat, and vice versa.
Those are the rules in the New Earth -- quite unlike the rules in the Old Earth, where zero-sum games are the norm, and only one of us can win each time we play.
In the New Earth, 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.
Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Chekawa (1220-1295) specialized in bodhicitta, seeking enlightenment not for personal gain but as a way to serve others. On his deathbed, he prayed to be sent to hell so that he might alleviate the suffering of the lost souls there.
As you explore pronoia, you will discover that like Chekawa, you have a huge capacity to help people. Unlike him, you'll find that expressing your benevolence doesn't require you to go to hell. It may even be unnecessary for you to sacrifice your own joy or to practice self-denial. Just the opposite: Being in service to humanity and celebrating your unique power will be synergistic. They will need each other to thrive.
The Golden Rule is a decent ethical principle, but it could be even better. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" presumes that others enjoy what you enjoy. But that's wrong. There are many things you'd like to have done unto you that others would either despise or be bored by. Here's a new, improved formulation, which we call the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would like to have you do unto them.
Using this improved formula is not just a virtuous way to live, but is also the best way to ensure the success of your selfish goals. The rituals and spells of various occult orders purport to be supercharged techniques for imposing your personal will on the chaotic flow of events, but I say that practicing the Platinum Rule outstrips all of them as an exercise to enhance your potency and happiness.
At the heart of the pronoiac way of life is an apparent conundrum: You can have anything you want if you'll just ask for it in an unselfish way. The trick to making this work is to locate where your deepest ambition coincides with the greatest gift you have to give. Figure out exactly how the universe, by providing you with abundance, can improve the lot of everyone whose life you touch. Seek the fulfillment of your fondest desires in such a way that you become a fount of blessings.
The Bible quotes the radical first-century spiritual activist Jesus Christ as follows: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
This approach is as important to my well-being as getting good food and exercise and sleep. It's self-destructive for me to hate anything, including things that are easy to hate and that I might be naturally inclined to hate. As much harm as fundamentalist Christians have wreaked on our culture, for instance, feeling disgust for them only makes me sick. It feeds the very "us versus them" thinking that I'm pledged to root out, thereby making me a hypocrite and tainting my integrity. My mental and physical health suffer, and that diminishes my ability to get what I want.
I got an e-mail from a beauty and truth fan who calls himself Drek, Agent of the Future. "How come, in the long list of human fears, 'showing one's true self' is never included?" Drek mused. "Compared to the electrifying and terrifying prospect of shedding our protective masks and expressing our raw souls, snakes and death and public speaking really don't seem that scary."
I wrote Drek back to congratulate him for facing his greatest fear. I said I thought his struggle to reveal his naked beauty was as great a service to humanity as the work of Buddhist teacher Geshe Chekawa.
"To be an altruist, you must first be an egoist." - George Gurdjieff.
"Before you can give yourself away, you have to have a self to give." - Isabel Hickey, Astrology: A Cosmic Science
"In a gift-giving society, an individual gains prestige and satisfaction by receiving, then adding to what has been received and passing it on." So says Lewis Hyde in his book The Gift, Imagination, and the Erotic Life of Property. "In a consumer society," he continues, "prestige and satisfaction are gained through accumulation and acquisition. Nothing is given, nothing is passed on."
Though you have been born and raised in a consumer society, your attraction to pronoia suggests you have the ability to live in a gift-giving society. One of the best ways to change yourself to help create such a society is to expand your capacity for both accepting and bestowing largesse.
Pronoia isn't just a matter of raking in the blessings offered to you by the universal conspiracy, nor is it merely about aiding the conspiracy to disseminate blessings to everyone else. It's a balance of the two.
The Beauty and Truth Lab's youngest practitioner is a teenage poet, Deirdre Vonn. She's modest about her art. She worries she hasn't earned the states of awareness she writes about. "I don't know if I'm really as sensitive and deep as my poetry implies," she confessed once as she handed me a pristine, wrenching poem.
I understand her concern. Am I as consistently generous as my writings might make me appear? Nope. But in the effort to provide delicious and nutritious oracles for my readers, I am constantly pushing to live up to the moral artistry I espouse, becoming in the process a more interesting and useful person.
How about you? Is there a gift you can give or service you can provide that will awaken your sleeping endowments? Is there beauty you can bring to life in your environment that will compel you to become more of a charismatic, ingenious star?
"You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself flowers in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men and women are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight, as misers do in gold, and kings in scepters, you never enjoy the world." - Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditation
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved