Week of June 4th, 2020

Calling Forth Our Deepest Longings to Care for Each Other

This devastating moment in history has the redemptive effect of calling forth our deepest longings to care for each other.

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Psychologists and spiritual teachers speak of the “dark night of the soul": an unprecedented period of crisis and difficulty and distress in a person’s life; a time when nothing makes sense, when all one's values and goals have come into question.

We are now experiencing, all together, America’s collective dark night of the soul.

There's no use in pretending otherwise. We shouldn't try to be falsely optimistic or pretend the collapse and breakdown that are happening aren't happening. The only way to survive a dark night of the soul and ultimately become available for redemption is to fully acknowledge it's upon us.

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One set of useful responses:

* Don’t go numb

* Be willing to dwell with poise and grace amidst the fear and uncertainty

* Don’t indulge in primitive, runaway thinking that concocts crazy stories

* Stay anchored in the quizzical here and now

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Grief and anger are appropriate responses. I'm going to honor mine, and not do a spiritual bypass that tries to skip to the end when everything's better again.


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OUR SPIRITUAL WORK INCLUDES ACTIVISM

Dismantling white supremacy and dissolving racism are crucial to our spiritual work.

Those of us who aspire to carry out the bodhisattva vow, who strive to do the Goddess's work, who yearn to create a world in which love is the supreme law, devote ourselves to healing the toxic bigotry that is at the heart of the American experiment.

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Things white people can do in behalf of racial justice, part 1

Things white people can do in behalf of racial justice, part 2


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SACRED ACTIVISM

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 and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions.

When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic and social institutions, a holy force - the power of wisdom and love in action - is born.

This force I define as Sacred Activism.

― Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism


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WHERE YOUR DEEP GLADNESS AND THE WORLD'S DEEP HUNGER MEET

“God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” writes theologian Frederick Buechner.

You’re free to ignore that call, of course. You can pretend that you don’t really know what brings you deep gladness, and you can act as if the world’s deep hunger is of no concern to you.

But if you hope to be proud of the life you have lived when, many years from now, you shed your mortal coil, you’ll probably at least experiment with using Buechner’s formula as a working hypothesis.


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KEEPING YOUR BODY HEALTHY IS A GIFT TO THE WORLD

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos—the trees, the clouds, everything.

―Thich Nhat Hanh


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THE LIGHTNING MEDICINE

"No one can give you the lightning-medicine."

—the people who cannot give the lightning-medicine


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THE MIRACULOUS IS CLOSE

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold.
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?

By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined dirty houses—
something not known to anyone at all
But wild in our breast for centuries.

—Anna Akhmatova, “Everything is Plundered, Betrayed, Sold"
(translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward)


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I WANT EVERYONE TO BE LOVED
(Listen to the song)

I want to be free
in the mystery of love
I want to be wild
when the world begins again
I want to wake up and listen
Be in love with my life and death
and I want you to be there with me

I want all the children
to have enough to eat
I want all the angry men
to destroy their own pain
I want us all to be happy
and crazy and safe and real
I want everybody to be loved

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Lots more of my music


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THE GIFT OF ATTENTION

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
—philosopher and activist Simone Weil

Attention is the natural prayer of the soul.
—philosopher Nicolas Malebranche


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IT'S A FAVORABLE TIME TO RENEW AND REINVIGORATE YOUR LOVE OF BEING ALIVE

In some ways, our current world situation seems to be not at all conducive for any of us to be cultivating and nurturing our ambitions. In some ways, now doesn't feel like the right time for us to be naming exactly what it is that we want from life and pushing forward with plans to experience exactly what it is we want out of life.

Because of the global pandemic, we are in an extended period of deep uncertainty. We are on our way to a new way of being and living, but no one knows what it will be.

So how can we realistically cultivate and nurture our ambitions in a time like this?

How can we even know what will be possible for us to achieve in the coming months and years?

How can we anticipate which of our personal goals will even make sense as the unknown transformations unfold?

These are all valid questions. They are essential to ponder.

At the same time, I propose that it's a favorable time for you to feed your desires to be the best you can be—at whatever tasks and roles you might end up carrying out in the coming months and years.

I propose that it's a favorable time for you to renew your love of being alive, and to fuel your yearnings to give back to life in return for all that life has given to you.

I propose that it's a favorable time for you to identify the unique talents and gifts you have to offer the world, and to re-consecrate your commitment to using those talents and gifts to create a beautiful life for yourself and find specific ways to offer them to the world.


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THE FREEDOM TO BE RESPONSIBLE AND COMPASSIONATE

Dear Rob: I follow your writing, and like a lot of it. But you seem to have gone off the rails and jumped the shark in your support of the dumb experts who advocate the lockdowns as a way to allegedly foil the spread of the coronavirus. I thought you supported freedom. I thought your concept of "pronoia" was about liberating us from control and manipulation. Why do you support the government telling us what to do? —Confused in Tampa

Dear Confused: My approach to freedom derives its inspiration from the freedom to love and care for and protect and help other people and all the creatures of the earth. The lockdowns serve the cause of cherishing life—thereby honoring and celebrating my freedom.

I don't mean to minimize the challenges of the lockdowns. Many of us are separated from loved ones and have lost our jobs or had our incomes reduced. Many of us feel alone and have faced dilemmas in our efforts to remedy non-COVID-19 health concerns.

But those are different issues from the minor inconvenience of having to wear protective masks in public and being careful to keep sufficient distance between ourselves and others. They're different from the very small problems of not being able to gather in groups at parks, salons, and tattoo parlors.

Those modest constraints on our freedom enable us to express a far-more robust kind of freedom, which is the freedom to take care of each other, to ensure we do no harm.


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DEAR READERS:

You've been so extraordinarily kind to me lately! Thank you for your generous donations and beautiful notes!

Here's the back story: In my last newsletter, I told you about how the alternative weekly newspapers have been suffering financially from the pandemic. I described how I've been allowing them to publish my horoscopes for free, hoping that will help them survive.

This means, of course, that none of those newspapers have been paying me, as they have done for so many years.

In response, many of you readers stepped forward to send me actual money. I've been amazed at your largesse! So many of you have also written me messages to express how much you love my work. I've been touched by the deep feelings you've conveyed.

At the risk of asking too much, I will remind you of the ways you can contribute to me:

1. Visit my Gift Page — and contribute to me now and then via the "Friends and Family" option.

2. Commit to offering me a regular donation through my Patreon page.

3. Send checks or cash to me at P.O. Box 4400, San Rafael, CA 94913.

4. Buy my Expanded Audio Horoscopes and/or Sunbursts, my Daily Text Message Horoscopes

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P.S.: No pressure, though! I understand that some of you don't have enough money yourself, and it wouldn't make sense for you to give some to me.


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WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT EACH OTHER?

we will not reveal
our conclusions until
the End of Times, which has
been scheduled repeatedly

and then canceled because
no one can imagine
what we would do
without each other

without these comings and
goings and the little gasp
of recognition that is all
we are allowed to leave behind

—excerpted from Eleanor Lerman's poem, "The Marfa Lights," from her book Strange Life


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CONSPIRACIES

Yes, there are actual conspiracies: Bad people do indeed work in coordinated ways behind the scenes to carry out nefarious plans.

But those conspiracies are uncovered by trained journaiists with strong research skills and a highly honed ability to track down objective evidence — not sloppy thinkers who can't tell the difference between their fantasies and real data.

and more here


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For those who want to learn about real conspiracies, they might stick to those that are researched and documented by very smart people who gather actual evidence. One such person is Naomi Klein.

Her book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" documents a phenomenon that might be described as a "conspiracy" — how "free market" believers have exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement their economic policies.


Good link to buy Naomi Klein's book.


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YOUR NAMES

Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents

Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear

Each of us has a name
given by the mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

—Israeli poet Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky

Translated from the Hebrew by Marcia Lee Falk


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FAITH IN THE IMAGINATION

Some people put their faith in religion or science or political ideologies. English novelist J.G. Ballard placed his faith elsewhere: in the imagination.

"I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world," he wrote, "to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen."

How do you use the power of imagination to remake the world?


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WILD KINDNESS

By practicing kindness all over with everyone you will soon come into the holy trance, definite distinctions of personalities will become what they really mysteriously are, our common and eternal blissstuff, the pureness of everything forever, the great bright essence of mind, even and one thing everywhere the holy eternal milky love, the white light everywhere everything, emptybliss, svaha, shining, ready, and awake, the compassion in the sound of silence, the swarming myriad trillionaire you are.

—Jack Kerouac


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IT'S NOT JUST THE DEATH; IT'S THE DECIMATION

Virologist Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says: "Many people think COVID-19 kills 1% of patients, and the rest get away with some flulike symptoms.

"But the story gets more complicated. Many people will be left with chronic kidney and heart problems. Even their neural system is disrupted. There will be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, possibly more, who will need treatments such as renal dialysis for the rest of their lives.

"The more we learn about the coronavirus, the more questions arise. We are learning while we are sailing. That’s why I get so annoyed by the many commentators on the sidelines who, without much insight, criticize the scientists and policymakers trying hard to get the epidemic under control."


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ANIMAL SMARTS

I'm always striving to upgrade my ability to commune with non-human intelligences.

See the fantastic photos.


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REAL HOPE, NOT FAKE HOPE

Rebecca Solnit writes: "I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both.

"Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; pessimism assumes it’s all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing.

"Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we don’t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.

"Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we may play in it.

"Hope looks forward, but it draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections.

"It means not being the perfect that is the enemy of the good, not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not assuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us."

Read Rebecca Solnit's essay


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GOOD QUESTIONS FOR YOU

• Which aspects of your soulful beauty are potentially of greatest service to the world?

• How can you express your uniqueness in ways that activate your most profound generosity?

• What could you personally do to make the world a better place for our descendants?

• What are the gifts and blessings that constitute your finest legacy?

• Can you foresee yourself becoming completely committed to performing the magic that no one else can do?


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