Week of November 19th, 2020

The End of Scorpio Season

What's dying within you? Is it a passion that has expired? A dream that has gone to seed? A goal you neglected for so long that it can't be resuscitated? A bad habit you're finally finished with? A situation that no longer serves you?

If it's time for that part of you to die, help it die. I mean create a ritual in which you formally complete your relationship with it, let go of it for good, and begin the grieving process. In honor of its passing, write a testimonial or draw a symbolic picture, then bury that remembrance in the earth near a tree you love.

When you're done with the funeral, eat some fresh fruit.

In doing this ritual, you may be making room for a new thing that'll be born out of the emptiness.


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FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

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HARNESSING OUR ADDICTIVE AND OBSESSIVE TENDENCIES

We all have addictive and obsessive tendencies. They are fundamental to being human. So the challenge is not to eliminate them -- that's not possible -- but rather to harness them. If you hope to keep them from dragging you down, you must work hard to channel them into activities that enhance your life.

How are you doing on this score? Are you chronically dependent on drugs, gambling, fearful emotions, sugar, or chaotic relationships?

Or are you, instead, hooked on the courage you summon when you face your fears and the willpower you invoke as you free yourself from your limitations?

Now is an excellent time to upgrade your addictive and obsessive tendencies.

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To my thoughts, psychotherapist Jill Marlene adds hers:
"This is totally how I approach therapy. Everything that everyone has ever done to survive their life, has some sort of strength in it, and if we can change behaviors that are maladaptive to ones that are more adaptive, using those same strengths, we can preserve the individual beauty of the person And manage the dysfunction through the strengths."


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FAIRY TALE JUSTICE

"In fairy-tale justice, as in the deep psyche, kindness to that which seems less is rewarded by good, and refusal to do good for one who is not beautiful is reviled and punished. When we enlarge ourselves to touch the not-beautiful, we are rewarded. If we spurn the not-beautiful, we are severed from life and left out in the cold."

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes


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WITH EACH BREATH

With each breath, you take into your body 10 sextillion atoms, and—owing to the wind's ceaseless circulation—over a year's time you have intimate relations with oxygen molecules exhaled by every person alive, as well as by everyone who ever lived.

—Source: Guy Murchie's book, *The Seven Mysteries of Life*


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BE SCARIER THAN YOUR FEARS

EXPERIMENT: Be scarier than your fears. If an anxious thought pops into your mind, bare your teeth and growl, "Get out of here or I will rip you to shreds!" If a demon visits you in a nightly dream, chase after it with a torch and sword, screaming "Begone, foul spirit, or I will burn your mangy dreck!"

Don't tolerate bullying in any form, whether it comes from a critical little voice in your head or from supposedly nice people who are trying to guilt-trip you. "I am a brave conqueror who cannot be intimidated!" is what you could say, or "I am a monster of love and goodness who will defeat all threats to my integrity!"


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SALVATION NOW!

The poet Kabir says:

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think . . . and think . . . while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time
before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten --
that is all fantasy.

What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment
in the City of Death.

If you make love with the divine now,
in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth,
find out who the Teacher is,
believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this:
When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest
that does all the work.
Look at me,
and you will see a slave of that intensity.

—Kabir, translated and rendered by Robert Bly


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DISSOLVING OUR ILLUSIONS

Some of your illusions seeped into you before you learned to talk. Others sneaked into you later, while you were busy figuring out how to become yourself. Eventually, you even made conscious choices to adopt certain illusions because they provided you with comfort and consolation.

There's no need to be ashamed of this. It's a natural part of being a human being.

Now here's the good news: You have the power to shed at least some of your illusions in ways that don't shatter your foundations.

Here's one way you could begin the process, declare this intention at noon every Sunday for the next three months: "I am calling on all the power I have at my disposal, both conscious and unconscious, to dissolve my illusions."


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HOPE FOR A GREAT SEA-CHANGE

From "The Cure at Troy" by Seamus Heaney;
quoted recently by Joe Biden

Human beings suffer
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave…
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.


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OUR WOUNDS

Mythologist Michael Meade says that the essential nature of every human soul is gifted, noble, and wounded. I agree. Cynics who exaggerate how messed-up we all are, ignoring our beauty, are just as unrealistic as naive optimists.

But because the cynics have a disproportionately potent influence on the zeitgeist, they make it harder for us to evaluate our problems with a wise and balanced perspective.

Many of us feel cursed by the apparent incurability of our wounds, while others, rebelling against the curse, underestimate how wounded they are.

Meade says: "Those who think they are not wounded in ways that need conscious attention and careful healing are usually the most wounded of all."


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LOSE SOME, WIN MORE

A month ago, I couldn't have imagined that some of my readers were Trump and QAnon fans. Now I know. 427 of them have unsubscribed from my free weekly newsletter as I've expressed my grief and dismay that they voted for a person who has no value whatsoever as a human being, let alone as the leader of the world's most powerful nation.

The good news is that in response to the loss of these 427 subscribers, 693 new subscribers have signed up. Thanks, everyone!

If you'd like to help add more subscribers, you can sign up here for the newsletter.


(PS: Last week there was a small glitch in the sign-up process that made it hard for some people to sign up. That has been fixed.)


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LET'S PRAISE AND DEFINE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Asha Sanaker wrote all the words in this section, which is a meditation on the nature of emotional intelligence:

For me, emotional intelligence is personal, in that it connotes a person who has committed to understanding their own emotional history and tendencies, in order to make more conscious choices about how to act, or not, out of their emotions. The emotionally intelligent person takes full responsibility, always, for their emotions and how the way that they bring those emotions to the world impacts it.

Emotional intelligence is also relational, because it enables the individual to attend to patterns of emotional behavior in others, and account for those emotions constructively in how they communicate and behave in response to what they sense in the other, hopefully with an eye towards greater connection and deeper mutual respect and care.

Essential to this is a clear sense of "what is mine and what is yours." Folks who are emotionally intelligent can be empathic, but they work to be clear about what comes from them and what they are absorbing from others.

Finally, emotional intelligence is social. The emotionally intelligent person understands that institutions and systems encourage certain emotions and discourage others. These same institutions and systems often are based on power hierarchies, so they dictate who is "allowed" to feel what and when.

The emotionally intelligent person understands this and stands aside from it as much as possible, refusing to submit blindly to it, or force others to submit blindly. The emotionally intelligent person wants everyone to own themselves, and not to be owned.

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So, for instance, right now there are huge calls for "unity" on the part of the Democratic Party, and folks who have been at risk at the hands of the current administration (particularly BIPOC) are being asked, implicitly and explicitly to find empathy for Trump voters so we can all "come together."

That is not a demand that displays emotional intelligence. It does not acknowledge either the responsibility Trump voters carry for how they have weaponized their fear and hatred against BIPOC, or the power imbalance of asking the powerless to assuage the feelings of the powerful.

All of this is what I mean when I say lack of emotional intelligence is one of the two greatest plagues on this nation. Emotionally intelligent people can't be manipulated to weaponize their emotions to serve anyone else's agenda. That makes them very, very powerful. And very, very threatening to the powers that be in this country.

Asha Sanaker


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I agree with what Asha Sanaker has said, and add the following:

My way of defining emotional intelligence contains the context of kindness, empathy, and sensitivity. The emotional intelligence consists of creating connection that is equal in its power dynamic; that is freed from manipulative agendas; that seeks authentic communion and connection for its own sake, as a form of play that generates magic.

In this model, emotional intelligence has a moral and ethical intention—a quest not to assert one's own needs as more important than the other's, but rather to recognize the other as a Thou (in Martin Buber's sense) who is as worthy of being treated as fairly and kindly as oneself.

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In my opinion, here is what emotional intelligence is NOT: being skilled at understanding other people's feeling states so as to manipulate those people; reading people's subtle emanations and signals with acuity and using that knowledge to coax them to see things your way, sell them things, influence them.


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HELPING TO RETURN AMERICA TO SANITY

What can we do to encourage the people of Georgia to elect two Democratic Senators in the state's run-off election on January 5?

If and when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in, the US Senate will have 50 Senators who vote with Democrats and 50 who vote with Republicans. Vice-President Kamala Harris will have the tie-breaking vote in any deadlocks.

Mitch McConnell will then have a much reduced power to block President Biden's agenda, as McConnell worked so hard to do against President Obama.
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What can we do to help ensure this Third Happiness happens?

We can donate money to the Democratic Senate candidates:

Raphael Warnock

Jon Ossoff

Another good place to donate to help Georgia's Democratic Senate candidates is to Stacey Abrams' FairFight

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If you're interested in writing postcards to Georgia voters for the runoff election on January 5, check out postcardstoswingstates.com. They give good guidance on how to proceed.

Here's another postcard-writing website.

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Author Asha Sanaker tells me this:

The voter registration cut-off for the Georgia run-off election is December 8th. Which means all of the amazing Black women who were responsible for flipping Georgia for Biden are going to be due our unending thanks AGAIN. They are:

Stacey Abrams of Fair Fight

Tamieka Atkins of ProGeorgia

Helen Bulter of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda

Deborah Scott of Georgia Stand-Up

Nsé Ufot of New Georgia Project


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Seek Teachings Everywhere

As a bee seeks nectar from all kind of flowers, seek teachings everywhere. Like a deer that finds a quiet place to graze, seek seclusion to digest all that you have gathered. Like a madman beyond all limits, go wherever you please and live like a lion completely free of all fear.

—ancient Tibetan text


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GRATITUDE FEST

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 celebrations 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?


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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.


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If you'd like to donate to me:

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

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