Week of July 25th, 2019

You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at

You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at.

—W. H. Auden


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YOU HAVE THE KEYS

You have the keys to promising doors that don't exist yet; save those keys.

You know the titles of rousing stories that haven't happened yet; write those titles down.

You've caught glimpses of your best future, but they're confusing because you can't imagine how you'll get to that future; imprint those glimpses on your memory.


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Here's a link to my free weekly email newsletter, featuring the Free Will Astrology horoscopes, plus a bunch of other stuff, including good news, lucky advice, and tender rants. It arrives every Tuesday morning.

Read past issues of the newsletter.

Sign up here for your free subscription.


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

You've heard the term "Higher Self"? We might define it as the aspect of your intelligence that is usually beyond the reach of your conscious awareness but is always looking out for you and always offering you guidance—if you take the trouble to tune in to it.

Fun fact: Your Higher Self is itself evolving. One of its goals is to activate the genius that comes fully awake through a synergetic meld of Higher Selfishness and Higher Selflessness: "where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet," in the words of Frederich Buechner.


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ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE?

Frans de Waal writes: "What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future―all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition.

“People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat?”

Frans de Waal’s book is available:

at Powells

or at Amazon


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TRY TO BE A LITTLE KINDER

One of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century, Aldous Huxley, wrote more than 20 books, including Brave New World.

In his later years he made a surprising confession. "It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life," he wrote, "and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'"


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'I have thousands of opinions still—but that is down from millions—and, as always, I know nothing.

—Harold Brodkey
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HAPPY IN THIS WONDERLAND

We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.

—G. K. Chesterton


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WANT TO GET YOUR ASTROLOGICAL CHART READ?

If you want your personal chart done, I recommend a colleague whose approach to reading astrology charts closely matches my own. She's my wife, RO LOUGHRAN. Her website is here.

Ro utilizes a blend of well-trained intuition, emotional warmth, and technical proficiency in horoscope interpretation. She is skilled at exploring the mysteries of your life's purpose and nurturing your connection with your own inner wisdom.

In addition to over 30 years of astrological experience, Ro has been a licensed psychotherapist for 17 years. She integrates psychological insight with astrology's cosmological perspective.

Ro is based in California, but can do phone consultations and otherwise work with you regardless of geographic boundaries.

Check out Ro's website.


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DO YOU HAVE A SOUL?

Some people imagine the word "soul" to be a New Age term, a lazy woo-woo concept favored by fuzzy thinkers. As evidence that this isn't the case, I offer references to "soul" by writers who don't fit those descriptions, starting with Walt Whitman.

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of
hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself — the latter I
translate into a new tongue.

—Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"

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How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies; how slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls!

—Henry David Thoreau

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The soul should always stand ajar,
That if the heaven inquire,
He will not be obliged to wait,
Or shy of troubling her.

—Emily Dickinson

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This earth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this earth. The intelligent, immortal being, the soul of the earth, and the intelligent, immortal being, the soul in the individual being—each is honey to the other.

—Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

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Ondinnonk is an Iroquois word with two related meanings: 1. a secret wish of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams; 2. the spiritual part of our nature that longs to do good deeds.

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In the best-known version of the Greek myth, Persephone is dragged down into the underworld by Hades, whose title is "Pluto." But in earlier, pre-patriarchal tales, she descends there under her own power, actively seeking to graduate from her virginal naiveté by exploring the intriguing land of shadows.

"Pluto" is derived from the Greek word plutus, meaning "wealth." Psychologist James Hillman says this refers to the psyche-building riches available in Pluto's domain. Hades, he says, is "the giver of nourishment to the soul."

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Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

—Oscar Wilde

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"There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears," writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes. But the magic of that formula may not unfold with smooth simplicity, she says: "The teacher comes when the soul, not the ego, is ready. The teacher comes when the soul calls, and thank goodness—for the ego is never fully ready."

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What is the "soul," anyway? Is it a ghostly blob of magic stuff within us that keeps us connected to the world of dreams and the divine realms? Is it an amorphous metaphor for the secret source of our spiritual power? Is it a myth that people entertain because they desperately want to believe there's more to them than just their physical bodies?

Here's what I think: The soul is a perspective that pushes us to go deeper and see further and live wilder. It's what drives our imagination to flesh out our raw experience, transforming that chaotic stuff into rich storylines that animate our love of life.

With the gently propulsive force of the soul, we probe beyond the surface level of things, working to find the hidden meaning and truer feeling.

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Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

—Pablo Picasso.

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"The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness," said the painter Joan Miró in describing his artistic process.

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"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul," wrote environmentalist Edward Abbey.

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"I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity," wrote author Sue Monk Kidd in her memoir. "When I looked it up in my dictionary, however, I found that the words 'passive' and 'passion' come from the same Latin root, pati, which means 'to endure.' Waiting is thus both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work . . . It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely."

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If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It's a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.

By waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe."

—Tom Robbins

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As part of the Beauty and Truth Lab's ongoing crusade to wrestle the English language into a more formidable servant of the ecstatic impulse, we're pleased to present some alternate designations for "soul." See if any of the following concoctions feel right coming out of your mouth:

1. undulating superconductor;

2. nectar plasma;

3. golden lather;

4. smoldering crucible;

5. luminous caduceus.

If none of these work for you—or even if they do—have fun creating your own terms.

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"Each person is a story that the Soul of the World wants to tell to itself," writes storyteller Michael Meade.

What does that Soul want to say through you?

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At times it seems to me that I am living my life backwards, and that at the approach of old age my real youth will begin. My soul was born covered with wrinkles — wrinkles my ancestors and parents most assiduously put there and that I had the greatest trouble removing.

– André Gide

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The soul moves in circles.

—ancient Greek philosopher Plotinus

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Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul, these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.

—philosopher Voltaire in a letter to his partner Marie Louise Denis

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You will never be able to experience everything. So, please, do poetical justice to your soul and simply experience yourself.

—Albert Camus

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I note the echo that each thing produces as it strikes my soul.

—Stendhal

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I am not quick moving. I have to wait for myself—it is always late before the water comes to light out of the well of my self, and I often have to endure thirst for longer than I have patience. That is why I go into solitude — so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern.

When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think as I really think; after a time it always seems as though they want to banish me from myself and rob me of my soul—and I grow angry with everybody and fear everybody. I then require the desert, so as to grow good again.

—Friedrich Nietzsche


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