week of March 23, 2017
Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for our amusement and illuminationEvery week since 1995, I have offered my Free Will Astrology horoscopes for free here on my website. If you would like to support my ongoing work, please visit my Virtual Tip Jar at Paypal.
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below are excerpts.
LETTERS TO THE BEAUTY AND TRUTH LAB,
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 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
ASKING FOR YOUR INPUT!
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 descriptions 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
"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
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
I've gathered together all of the long-term, big-picture horoscopes I've written for you, and bundled them in one place. Go here to read a compendium of your forecasts for 2017.
In addition to these written horoscopes, I've created 3-Part EXPANDED AUDIO HOROSCOPES that go even further in Exploring Your Long-Term Destiny in 2017.
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 your BIG PICTURE horoscopes online, go to RealAstrology.com..
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, and Part 3. Each part is a standalone report, not dependent on the other two.
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 a short-term Expanded Audio Horoscope for the coming week.
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below is an excerpt. You can listen to a podcast of it 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.
HEAR OR READ THE REST.
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.
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
"Psychological work focuses more on what has gone wrong: how we have been wounded in our relations with others and how to go about addressing that." So says psychologist John Welwood.
He continues: "Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate in order to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun."
P.S. We need both!
MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
17 Goals To Build A Better World:
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Read more about this.
All of creation is alive and conscious, and all of creation deserves our burning, churning, yearning love. All of creation. Not just little parts of it. Not just the special people and creatures and things that we personally find beautiful and helpful and interesting. But everything. All of creation deserves our burning churning yearning love.
If we want to fully evolve into 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 Kaleidoscopic and Omnidirectional Goddess Nuzzling. Anything less is a lie, an obscene limitation.
With this in mind, I invite you to perform the ritual of the World Kiss. To do the World Kiss, conjure up your most expansive feeling of tenderness -- like what you might experience when you're infatuated with a new lover -- and then blow kisses to all of creation.
Blow kisses to the oak trees and sparrows and elephants and weeds. Blow kisses to the wind and rain and rocks and machines. Blow kisses to the gardens and jails, the cars and the toys. the politicians and saints, to the girls and the boys and every gender in between.
And with each World Kiss you bestow, keep uppermost in your emotions a mood of irreverent adoration and horny compassion. And remember that it's not enough simply to perform the outer gesture; you've got to have a heart-on in each of your seven chakras.
Hear the song
15% REBELLIOUS RAGE, 85% COMPASSION AND CELEBRATION
Tending to my sanity and being in compassionate 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.
"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of others."
- Albert Einstein
"Freedom is in the unknown. If you believe there is an unknown everywhere, in your own body, in your relationships with other people, in political institutions, in the universe, then you have maximum freedom."
- John Lilly
"My doctrine is to think the thought that is unthinkable, to practice the deed that is unperformable, to speak the speech that is inexpressible, and to be trained in the discipline that is beyond discipline."
- Buddha, "The Sutra of Forty-two Sections"
Liviu Librescu, a Romanian-born Israeli and American scientist, teacher, and Holocaust survivor, held the door of his classroom closed during the Virginia Tech shootings, sacrificing his life while the gunman continuously shot through the door. 22 of his 23 students were able to flee out the window, reaching safety, as Librescu delayed the gunman.
First-grade teacher Victoria Soto hid all of her students in cabinets and cupboards during the Sandy Hook shooting, and stood blocking the door to her classroom when the shooter arrived. The shooter killed her, but every one of her students survived.
More about Librescu
More about Soto
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below are excerpts.
It’s reasonable and permissible to explode the past, misquote yourself, create new gods and goddesses from scratch, believe in the opposite of everything, forget the "important" fears that never came true, change the meanings of your code words, misspell your own name, and rewrite the epic twists of your myth.
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?
ACQUIRING GOOD PROBLEMS
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.
IN LOVE WITH ???
"I was often in love with something or someone," wrote Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. "I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With human beings whose names still move me."
I invite you to experiment with his approach to love. Make it a fun game: See how often you can feel adoration for unexpected characters and creatures. Be infatuated with curious objects . . . with snarky Internet memes . . . with fleeting phenomena like storms and swirling flocks of birds and candy spilled on the floor.
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."
HOW SOON IS NOW?
I like to complain and be outraged as much as the next aspiring bodhisattva. I derive a not-so-taboo pleasure from railing against our new Lord-of-the-Flies President and his snotty but lethal Trumpocalypse.
But I'm also passionate about crafting a new world that will bypass the vortex of nonsense, that will render the institutionalized mayhem defunct. I value Buckminster Fuller's perspective: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
Another favorite counsel comes from sociologist David Cooperrider: "Almost without exception, everything society has considered a social advance has been prefigured first in some utopian writing."
And that's why I like to commune with idealistic yet practical futurists who envision the best possible civilization we can create.
Now I'm happy to say that one of those rare Big Positive Thinkers is offering a new blessing. With his book How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation, Daniel Pinchbeck has secured his place in my Hall of Fame of Positive and Practical Insurrectionaries.
The book is a manifesto. A call to zealous and compassionate action. A well-thought-out and visionary formulization of effective tactics.
available at Powells
available at Amazon
MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
1. Say Goodbye to 40% of ocean plastics
2. The giant panda is no longer an endangered species
3. China announced plans to end the ivory trade
4. The US veteran homeless rate declined by 47% in the last 7 years
5. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge funded a medical breakthrough
6. China put a ban on certain coal mines
7. The manatee is longer on the endangered species list
8. The Colombian Government and FARC rebels signed a peace agreement
9. NASA Drone Juno flew 800 million miles
10. Canada protected 85% of the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest
11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas
12. Malawi saw its HIV rate drop by 67%
13. 20 countries created protected marine parks
14. Israel produces 55% of fresh water from the sea
15. Scientists developed an Ebola vaccine with a 100 percent success rate
16. World hunger hit a 25-year low
17. Tiger populations are coming back again after 100 years
18. Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct
19. Costa Rica’s electrical grid can run on renewable energy
20. India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours
What's the difference between the old edition and the Revised and Expanded version of my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia?
The Revised and Expanded version has over 63,500 new words and 73 new illustrations -- 55% additional material beyond what the first edition had. Basically, there's a whole extra new book crammed into it.
There are 2 extra chapters, 18 completely new pieces, plus 14 new
Sacred Advertisements. Many of the original pieces of the book were revised and expanded, as well. There are 73 new illustrations.
A central piece in the book, "Glory in the Highest," is nine times longer than it was in the original.
The newer edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.
Below is an excerpt.
THE OUTLAW CATALOG OF CAGEY OPTIMISM
(The complete text is here.)
Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a 991-page textbook called the *DSM-V.* It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones.
Some time back, I began to complain about this fact, and asked readers to help me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM -- a compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. As their entries came in, we at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory were inspired to dream up some of our own. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating an *Anti-DSM-V,* or as we also like to call it, "The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism."
* ACUTE FLUENCY. Happily immersed in artistic creation or scientific exploration; lost in a trance-like state of inventiveness that's both blissful and taxing; surrendered to a state of grace in which you're fully engaged in a productive, compelling, and delightful activity. The joy of this demanding, rewarding state is intensified by a sense that time has been suspended, and is rounder and deeper than usual. (Suggested by H. H. Holiday, who reports that extensive studies in this state have been done by Mihaly Cziscenmihaliy in his book, *Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.*)
* AESTHETIC BLISS. Vividly experiencing the colors, textures, tones, scents, and rhythms of the world around you, creating a symbiotic intimacy that dissolves the psychological barriers between you and what you observe. (Suggested by Jeanne Grossetti.)
* AGGRESSIVE SENSITIVITY. Animated by a strong determination to be receptive and empathetic.
* ALIGNMENT WITH THE INFINITY OF THE MOMENT. Reveling in the liberating realization that we are all exactly where we need to be at all times, even if some of us are temporarily in the midst of trial or tribulation, and that human evolution is proceeding exactly as it should, even if we can't see the big picture of the puzzle that would clarify how all the pieces fit together perfectly. (Suggested by Meredith Jones.)
* AUTONOMOUS NURTURING. Not waiting for someone to give you what you can give yourself. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)
* BASKING IN ELDER WISDOM. A state of expansive ripeness achieved through listening to the stories of elders. (Suggested by Annabelle Aavard.)
* BIBLIOBLISS. Transported into states of transcendent pleasure while immersed in reading a favorite book. (Suggested by Catherine Kaikowska.)
* BLASPHEMOUS REVERENCE. Acting on the knowledge that the most efficacious form of devotion to the Divine Wow is tinctured with playful or mischievous behavior that prevents the buildup of fanaticism.
* BOO-DUH NATURE. Dwelling in the blithe understanding of the fact that worry is useless because most of what we worry about never happens. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)
* 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 of its own suffering and struggle.
* 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."
* CRAZED KINDNESS. Having frequent, overpowering urges to bestow gifts, disseminate inspiration, and perpetrate random acts of benevolence.
* ECSTATIC GRATITUDE. Feeling genuine thankfulness with such resplendent intensity that you generate a surge of endorphins in your body and slip into a full-scale outbreak of euphoria.
* EMANCIPATED SURRENDER. Letting go of an attachment without harboring resentment toward the stimuli that led to the necessity of letting go. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)
* FRIENDLY SHOCK. Welcoming a surprise that will ultimately have benevolent effects.
* HIGHWAY EQUANIMITY. Feeling serene, polite, and benevolent while driving in heavy traffic. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)
* HOLY LISTENING. Hearing the words of another human being as if they were a direct communication from the Divine Wow to you.
* IMAGINATIVE TRUTH-TELLING. Conveying the truth of any specific situation from multiple angles, thereby mitigating the distortions that result from assuming the truth can be told from a single viewpoint.
* IMPULSIVE LOVE SPREADING. Characterized by a fierce determination to never withhold well-deserved praise, inspirational encouragement, positive feedback, or loving thoughts; often includes a tendency to write love letters on the spur of the moment and on any medium, including napkins, grocery bags, and skin. (Suggested by Laurie Burton.)
* INADVERTENT NATURE WORSHIP. Experiencing the rapture that comes from being outside for extended periods of time. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* 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. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* 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. (Suggested by Alka Bhargava.)
* LATE LATE-BLOOMING. Having a capacity for growth spurts well into old age, long past the time that conventional wisdom says they're possible.
* LEARNING DELIGHT. Experiencing the brain-reeling pleasure that comes from learning something new. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* LUCID DREAM PATRIOTISM. A love of country rooted in the fact that it provides the ideal conditions for learning lucid dreaming. (Suggested by Kenneth Kelzer, author of *The Sun and the Shadow: My Experiment With Lucid Dreaming.*)
* LYRICAL CONSONANCE. Experiencing the visceral yet also cerebral excitement that comes from listening to live music played impeccably by skilled musicians. (Suggested by Susan E. Nace.)
TO SEE THE REST OF THE EXALTED, POSITIVE STATES, GO HERE.)
Subterranean Pronoia Therapy
1. 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.
2. 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."
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?
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.
"The Orgasmic Roots of Pronoia" is one of the few NC-17-rated pieces in my book. For those of you over 18, here's a link.
NSFW! PROCEED WITH CAUTION! This material has graphic references to love, lust, tenderness, bliss, and rapture.
"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.
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?
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.
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.
"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."
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.
"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
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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Below are excerpts.
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."
WHERE DO YOU FIND REAL NOURISHMENT?
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.
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.
ROSE-COLORED GLASSES VERSUS CRAP-COLORED GLASSES
"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."
IN PURELY SPIRITUAL MATTERS, GOD GRANTS ALL DESIRES
"In purely spiritual matters, God grants all desires," said philosopher and activist Simone Weil. "Those who have less have asked for less." I think this is a worthy hypothesis for you to try out.
To be clear: It doesn't necessarily mean you will get a dream job and perfect lover and ten million dollars. What it does suggest is this: You can have any relationship with the Divine Wow that you dare to imagine; you can get all the grace you need to understand why your life is the way it is; you can make tremendous progress as you do the life-long work of liberating yourself from your suffering.
As we stand on this brink, as we dance on this verge, we cannot let the ruling fools of the dying world consummate their curses. We've got to rise up and fight their deranged logic; defy, resist, and prevent their tragic magic; uncork our sacred rage and supercharge it.
But overthrowing the psychopathic leaders is not enough. Protesting the well-dressed planet-rapers is not enough. We cannot afford to be consumed with our anger; cannot be obsessed and possessed by their danger.
Our mysterious animal bodies crave delight and fertility. Our ancient imaginations demand ever-fresh tastes of infinity.
In the new culture we are hatching, we need lusty compassion and euphoric duty, lyrical logic and insurrectionary beauty. In the new alliance we are mobilizing, we need radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks.
Listen to the whole song that these lyrics are excerpted from.
HOW TO BE BOTH A WRATHFUL INSURRECTIONARY AND AN EXUBERANT LOVER OF LIFE?
A voice in the depths of my meditation said to me: "It's possible that redemption will ultimately emerge from the looming Trumpocalypse. If you want to help ensure that it does lead to awakening and rebirth rather than mayhem and disaster, practice the discipline of warrior love."
Here’s how I responded to the voice: How do I do it? How can I cultivate and express an effective blend of practical compassion and constructive anger?
How do I refrain from hating Trump fans even as I fight ingeniously against the hatred and pathology they have unleashed?
How do I cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as I work to neutralize the bigoted, destructive, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?
How can I be both a wrathful insurrectionary and an exuberant lover of life?
How can I stay in a good yet unruly mood as I help overthrow the mass hallucinations that are on the loose?
In the face of the danger, how do I remain intensely dedicated to building beauty and truth and justice and love even as I keep my imagination wild and hungry and free?
Can my struggle also be a form of play?
LET'S KEEP CELEBRATING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S BIRTHDAY
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my heroes: a peaceful warrior who fought for justice with militant love. Studying his life, I learned that it's possible for a person to have both a well-honed intellect and a fierce spiritual faith. He showed me that uplifting passion, lyrical language, and inventive imagination are essential elements of political activism. He proved you can be devoted to divine mysteries without turning into a fundamentalist fanatic who hates non-believers.
Many people have forgotten that King was a leftwing Christian whose spirituality was at the heart of his work. Like United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, he was a political activist who was also deeply religious. For both King and Chavez, their relationship with the divine was a core element in their fight for social justice.
There are still a lot of spiritual people around who share their vision, but their voices are barely noticed by the media, which prefers to spotlight the shrill nonsense of rightwing fundamentalists (who are actually a minority even among Christians).
P.S.: Martin Luther King Jr. was not just the safe-for-all-political-stripes civil-rights activist he is often portrayed as today. He was an antiwar, anti-materialist activist whose views on American power would shock many of the same politicians who now scramble to sing his praises.
He came out strongly against the US war in Vietnam and called America "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." He decried the "triple threat of racism, poverty, and militarism."
"In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. King argued that the 'spiritual and moral lag' in modern man was due to what he later referred to as the 'triple evils' of society: capitalism, militarism and racism. For King, the genocide that took place in Vietnam, combined with the ongoing racism and extreme poverty, especially in the black community, only solidified the idea that the three were inextricably linked and part of the same fight for universal human rights." - Vincent Intondi
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.
WHY GOOD NEWS?
It's crucial to relentlessly report on the abominations that are erupting from the Trumpocalypse. But for the sake of our mental health, let's also keep track of the good news.
Here is a list of some.
OPTIMISM IS A SOUND STRATEGY
"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."
THE DOWNSIDES OF NEGATIVE THINKING
From the New York Times: "All humans have a tendency to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid danger and react quickly in a crisis.
"But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level, and ultimately damage our health."
Can we do anything to diminish the power of negative thinking? It's a complex, nuanced subject, but here's a good start
P.S. Many of us may be hesitant to diminish our negative thinking. Don't we actually need it now, more than ever, to help survive the Trumpocalypse?
One of my heroes, radical historian Howard Zinn, said that negative thinking 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 Zinn: "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 of Howard Zinn
KNOW AND LOVE WHAT YOU ARE 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."
"MY FEELING OF CONNECTION DRIVES ME, NOT MY ANGER"
In the late 1990s, 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."
My plan is to practice good imaginal hygiene -- curating the contents of my imagination with care and reverence -- while also fighting the Trumpocalypse and its associated racism, sexism, plutocracy, homophobia, nativism, and militarism with all my sexy smart anger in full regalia.
12 WAYS TO RESIST THE TRUMPOCALYPSE
12 Ways to Resist Trump That Only Take an Hour a Day. Including making your city a sanctuary, boycotting all Trump products, and reaching out to independents.
Read all about it here.
Cities and Towns Gear Up for Political Resistance Against the Trumpocalypse. In the years to come, community bills of rights are one strategy to shelter vulnerable populations.
Van Jones: ”What Trump wants to do at a policy level is much worse than most liberals understand. It's going to be a Blitzkrieg against everything we care about."
So: How to plan the resistance to Trump? Beyond direct action and street protest, five clear opposition strategies are emerging.
Read about it here.
MARRIED TO YOURSELF?
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.
Below is an excerpt.
(To read the whole text, go here.)
I ME WED
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.
MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
New York Governor Announces First-in-Nation Free Tuition Plan. "Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education they can, not to punish them for getting that education," says Bernie Sanders.
Costa Rica powered by renewable energy for over 250 days in 2016.
Dozens Of Cities And States Will Raise Their Minimum Wages For 2017.
Experiment: Imprint yourself with the intention that in 2017, 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:
Good News Network
Reddit Uplifting News
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.
In 2017, 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.
One of the blessings I hope you can conjure up in 2017 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.
Resolved: In 2017, you will experience miracles at the rate of about one every two weeks.
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?
A SPELL FOR YOU IN 2017
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
99 REASONS WHY 2016 WAS A GOOD YEAR
THE HISTORY OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DESIRE
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.
Forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who betrayed you.
PROMISES TO YOURSELF
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 2017 -- 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.
MY WISHES FOR YOU
In 2017 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.
CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS?
"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
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?
"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
"When Jesus said 'I and the Father are one,' he meant that he was connected to the raw data feed of pure experience."
MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
Teen girl uses crazy strength to lift a burning car off her dad.
Wealthy investors are launching a fund to fight climate change through energy innovation.
Hero veterinarian takes 900-mile journey to help Standing Rock horses
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