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Week of June 23rd, 2016

Where Will Your Opportunities Be During the Next Ten Months?

I invite you to listen to my IN-DEPTH, LONG-TERM AUDIO FORECAST for your life in the coming months.

Normally my Expanded Audio Horoscopes cover the immediate future. But this week, I'm reporting on the themes that I think will be important for you during the second half of 2016 and beyond.

Where are you likely to find most success? How can you best cooperate with the cosmic rhythms? What questions should you be asking?

To listen to your BIG PICTURE horoscopes online, GO HERE. Register and/or log in through the main page, and then click on the link "Long Term Forecast for Second Half of 2016."

They're available on your tablets and smart phones as well as your computers.

The in-depth, long-range Expanded Audio horoscopes cost $6 apiece if you access them on the Web (discounts are available for multiple purchases), or $1.99 per minute if you want them over the phone. For phone access, call: 1-877-873-4888.

What will be the story of your life in the second half of 2016 and onward into 2017? How can you conspire with life to create the best possible future for yourself?

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My book
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is available at Amazon and Powells.

Below are excerpts.

How Pronoia Works: There was once a poor farmer who could afford to own just one horse. He cared well for the animal, but one summer night, the horse escaped through a weak fence and ran away.

When his neighbors discovered what had happened, they visited to offer their condolences. "What bad luck!" they exclaimed. The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

A week later, the fugitive horse sauntered back to the homestead, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son managed to corral all of them. Again the neighbors descended. "What great luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer replied. "Maybe not."

Soon the farmer's son began the work of taming the new arrivals. While attempting to ride the roan stallion, he was thrown to the ground and half-trampled. His leg was badly broken. The neighbors came to investigate. "What terrible luck!" they exclaimed. The farmer replied, "Maybe. Maybe not."

The next day, soldiers visited the farmer's village. Strife had recently broken out between two warlords, and one of them had come to conscript all the local young men. Though every other son was commandeered, the farmer's boy was exempted because of his injury. The neighbors gathered again. "What fantastic luck!" they exclaimed. "Maybe," the farmer said. "Maybe not."

-Source: an old Taoist folktale

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The Italian city of Florence harbors the richest trove of art treasures in the world. Its many museums are hot spots for outbreaks of a rare psychological disorder. Foreign tourists sometimes experience breakdowns while standing in the presence of the tremendous beauty, and are rushed to the psychiatric ward of Florence's Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.

"Many visitors panic before a Raphael painting," reports Reuters. "Others collapse at the feet of Michelangelo's statue of David."

Psychiatrists have referred to this pathology as the Stendhal syndrome, named after the French novelist who wrote about his emotional breakdown during a visit to the city's art collection in 1817.

As you embark on your explorations of pronoia, you should protect yourself against this risk. Proceed cautiously as you expose yourself to the splendor that has been invisible or unavailable to you all these years.

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What you may need is a more curious and mysterious sweetness. A wilder, stronger sweetness. A sweetness that shatters illusions.

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If you?ve ever watched The Simpsons TV show, you?ve probably heard Homer Simpson?s favorite toast. ?To alcohol,? he proclaims, ?the cause of and solution to all of life?s problems.?

My own salute is different. ?To the Divine Trickster formerly known as God,? I say, ?the cause of and solution to all of life?s problems.?

I invite you to compose a prayer in which you simultaneously curse and thank the Primal Source.

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Researchers at Rowan University announced a blood test they say can diagnose early-stage Alzheimer?s in patients with 100 percent accuracy.

Former President Jimmy Carter's campaign to rid the world of Guinea worm disease has resulted in a reduction to just two cases -- down from three million.

The Washington D.C. city council approved the phase-in of a $15 minimum wage.

John Oliver and the crew at HBO's Last Week Tonight highlighted unscrupulous debt collectors by setting up a debt-buying business and absolving 9,000 people of their medical debt.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade entered a permanent injunction barring backwoods Alabama judges like state Chief Justice Roy Moore from enforcing any laws barring same-sex marriage rights.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2nd Amendment doesn?t guarantee the right to carry concealed weapons.

All the above are from

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Your lucky number is 3.14159

Your magic talisman is a thousand-year-old Joshua tree whose flowers blossom just one night each year and can only be pollinated by the yucca moth

Your special time of the day is the moment just before the mist evaporates

You have fire in your blood and sea salt in your tears

Your vision of power is the red-tailed hawk soaring over the shopping mall

The colors of your soul are ivory vermilion, sable, and jade

Your soil of destiny is peat moss

The legendary deed that most resembles the method in your madness is the story of the hero who tames the monster without touching it

You have a secret name that will be revealed to you very soon

Your sweet spot is between the true believers and the scoffing skeptics

Your holiest pain comes from your ability to sense other people's cracked notions about you

Your magic verbs are dig, descend, and disclose

The garage sale item you most resemble is an old but beautiful and sonorous accordion with a broken key

Your mythic symbol is a treasure chest dislodged from its hiding place in the earth by a flood

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I heard an interview with the German film actor Udo Kier. He specializes in playing villains. "Evil has no limit," he sneered, blustering like a naughty genius. "Good has a limit. It is simply not as interesting."

How many times have I heard that idiotic clich?? Most everyone everywhere seems to agree with Udo Kier. And I'm in a tiny minority in my belief that evil is boring. There seem to be few thinkers, communicators, and creators who share my curiosity about exploring the frontiers of righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity.

Some pretenders do make counterfeit attempts: Hollywood producers who produce sentimental fantasies with artificially happy endings, advertising executives who sell the pseudo-positivity of narcissistic comfort, and New Age gurus who ignore the darkness with their one-dimensional appeals to sweetness and light.

But how dare Udo Kier -- and all his like-minded devotees of the entertainment value of evil -- proceed on the assumption that "good has a limit" and that "good ?isn't as interesting" when there are so few smart artists and thinkers who are brave and resourceful enough to explore the frontiers of beauty and truth and joy and compassion?

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An article at lists 12 of the most common and pernicious cognitive biases that that prevent us from being rational. One is "Negativity Bias":

"People tend to pay more attention to bad news ? and it's not just because we're morbid. Social scientists theorize that it's on account of our selective attention and that, given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound.

"We also tend to give more credibility to bad news, perhaps because we're suspicious (or bored) of proclamations to the contrary. More evolutionarily, heeding bad news may be more adaptive than ignoring good news (e.g. "saber tooth tigers suck" vs. "this berry tastes good"). Today, we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news.

"Steven Pinker, in his book *The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,* argues that crime, violence, war, and other injustices are steadily declining, yet most people would argue that things are getting worse -- what is a perfect example of the negativity bias at work."

Read the article for more info on the other 11 cognitive biases.


I consistently see people react to ideas about pronoia with anger and bile -- pissed off that I have the temerity to suggest that life is a great blessing. They are deeply committed to the idea that life is mostly just a terrible ordeal.

In the course of trying to understand this attitude, I have come across a lot of evidence that the brain is indeed hard-wired to overemphasize negativity. The articles I cite below are just some of many sources suggesting this.

My point in bringing it up is to reinforce what I say in my book: It takes hard work to cultivate the pronoiac frame of mind.

Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in "negativity bias."

The brain is hard-wired to be negative.

We may be hard-wired for bad news.

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Everything I love most happens most every day."

~ Howard Norman, translator of Algonquin, Cree, and Inuit folklore

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Here's the beginning of a story on me from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Rob Brezsny says the apocalypse is now, so let's dance.

"'We are in fact living through the apocalypse,' the astrology columnist-author-musician declares in his radically optimistic self-help bible, *Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings,* a surprise top-1,000 seller on

"The biblical idea of apocalypse is the terrifying end of things, followed by judgment. Brezsny's version takes away the fear and the finality and redefines apocalypse as a slow, subtle, revolving process of death and rebirth in which we're all invited to take part.

"In the end, according to him, we can't lose.

"But -- and this is the trick -- first we have to be willing to play the game.

"Brezsny argues that the game is stacked in favor not so much of steady happiness as happy accidents -- iridescent streams of fruitful, fulfilling or inspiring moments in the mundane. He wrote the book in order to provide evidence, tips and inspiration for people who sense that theory is right but who find that media and education provide little in the way of guidance.

"'We're not looking for starry-eyed optimism and repressed boosterism,' Brezsny said. 'Pronoia is not boosterism for empty-brained people. I think the media tend to emphasize that part of human experience that doesn't work. There are a lot of people who don't identify that as their primary state of existence.'

"The writer, whose weekly Free Will Astrology column runs in over 100 newspapers, marshals evidence that beyond the daily grind's bland unease unfold alternate states rich with intimacy, hilarity and good luck. 'More wonderful things happen,' he said, 'than anybody seems to be willing to admit.'"

Read the rest of the story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Congratulations. Every cell in your perfect animal body is beginning to purr with luminous gratitude for the enormity of the riches you endlessly receive.

You are becoming aware that each of your heart's beats originates as a gift of love directly from the Goddess herself.

Any residues of hatred that had been tainting your libido are leaving you for good.

You are becoming telepathically linked to the world's entire host of secret teachers, pacifist warriors, philosopher clowns, and bodhisattvas disguised as convenience store clerks.

In other words, you're on the verge of d?tente with your evil twin. And you're ready to submit to a multiple-choice test, which goes like this:

How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to:

a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years;

b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain;

c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire;

d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm;

e. steal something that's already yours.

The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew.

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The sage and her student were standing by a pool discussing longing and ambition.

?What do you want more than anything else?? the sage asked.

?To perfect my ability to love all of creation the way I love myself,? the young man replied.

At that moment, the sage tackled the student and shoved his head beneath the water. Accustomed to letting his teacher shape the unpredictable contours of his education, he did not resist.

One minute went by. Then another. The student began to struggle and kick. His teacher was strong.

Finally she released her grip and the student surfaced, fighting for breath.

?What did you want more than anything else during these last few minutes?? the sage inquired.

?Nothing else was in my mind except the desire for air,? gasped the student.

?Excellent,? beamed the sage. ?As soon as you are equally single-minded in your desire to perfect your ability to love all of creation the way you love yourself, you will achieve your goal.?

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Many of us have a superficial notion of the nature of healing, writes Peter Kingsley in his book "In the Dark Places of Wisdom." We think that ?healing is what makes us comfortable and eases the pain.? But the truth is, ?what we want to be healed of is often what will heal us if we can stand the discomfort and the pain.?
I invite you to work with this theme. See if you can stave off your urge for ease as you marinate longer in the aching confusion. ?If we really face our sadness,? says Kingsley, ?we find it speaks with the voice of our deepest longing. And if we face it a little longer we find that it teaches us the way to attain what we long for.?

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EXPERIMENT: Call everyone ?mom? or ?mommy? for a week. I?m serious. Pretend as if every single person you meet has the potential to give you some mothering. Expect the entire universe and everything in it to treat you with nurturing attention and thoughtful care.

You may experience some disappointments along the way, of course. There?ll be some people who don?t quite understand the game or want to play it. But you may be surprised by how many lively folks do respond to your invitation to treat you as their lovable child, their winsome little babycakes.

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Your yearly reminder: You don?t have to be anything you don?t want to be.

You don?t have to live up to anyone?s expectations.

There?s no need to strive for a kind of perfection that?s not very interesting to you.

You don?t have to believe in ideas that make you sad or tormented.

You don?t have to feel emotions that others try to manipulate you into feeling.

You are free to be who you want to be.

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"Is it bad to live without a hell?" poet Pablo Neruda asks in *The Book of Questions.* Let's add these queries to his: Is it dangerous to live without the awakening force that an enemy provides? Is it naive to think you can achieve great success without the driving motivation that comes from thinking about ideas you hate?

Consider the issue from another angle. Dentists love tooth decay. Treating cavities provides them with a steady income. Likewise, exterminators are dependent on termites, lawyers need crime, and priests crave sinners. Lots of people have symbiotic connections with nasty stuff. In fact, isn't it true that most of us nurture our feelings for the things we love to despise and fear?

What's your favorite poison or adversary? Assume that your exposure to pronoia is changing you in ways that will require you to update your relationship with it. Speculate on how you'll go about this task.

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All of creation is alive and conscious, and all of creation deserves our burning, churning, yearning love. All of it. Not just the people and creatures and things that we personally find beautiful and helpful and interesting. But everything. All of creation.

If we want to become 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 Omnidirectional Goddess Cuddling. Anything less is a lie, an obscene limitation.

Hear the rest of this song.

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Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Artemisia had just begun menstruating, and was suffering from debilitating cramps. Massive doses of ibuprofen were not relieving the distress, so she went to her regular acupuncturist, Dr. Lily Ming, to get relief.

Dr. Ming had Artemisia lie down on the table and proceeded to insert 10 needles in her belly and hand and ear. Then Dr. Ming introduced a treatment that Artemisia was unfamiliar with: She lightly pounded the nail of Artemisia's left big toe with a small silver hammer for a few minutes.

"Why are you doing that?" Artemisia asked.

"It is good for the uterus," the doctor replied.

Indeed, Artemisia's cramps diminished as the doctor thumped, and in the days to come they did not recur.

After the session, as Artemisia prepared to leave, the usually taciturn Ming started up a conversation. Artemisia was surprised, but listened attentively as Dr. Ming made a series of revelations. The most surprising was Dr. Ming's description of a traumatic event from her own childhood.

During the military occupation of her native Manchuria, a province of China, she was forced to witness Japanese soldiers torturing people she loved. Their primary atrocity was using hammers to drive bamboo shoots through their victims' big toes.

The moral of the story: Dr. Ming has accomplished the heroic feat of reversing the meaning of her most traumatic imprint. She has turned a symbol of pain into a symbol of healing.

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"The true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded."
- Abraham Lincoln

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The Great Green Wall is a planned project to plant a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert as a means to prevent desertification. Read more . . .

Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters. Read more . . .

The global under-five mortality rate has dropped by half since 1990. Meanwhile, maternal mortality figures have also declined dramatically, by 45% globally, with the highest rates of reduction in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Four million more lives could be saved every year for under $5 a person. Read more . . .

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

I invite you to become an exhilarationist, which is the opposite of a terrorist: Conspire to unleash blessings on unsuspecting recipients, inspiring them to feel good. Give anonymous gifts or provide some beauty or healing to people who can't do you any favors in return.
Before bringing your work as a exhilarationist to strangers, you might want to practice with two close companions.

Offer them each a gift that fires up their ambitions. It should not be a practical necessity or consumer fetish, but rather a provocative tool or toy.

Give them an imaginative boon they've been hesitant to ask for, a beautiful thing that expands their self-image, a surprising intervention that says, "I love the way you move me."

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We're all family. You have at least a million relatives as close as tenth cousin, and no one on Earth is any further removed than your fiftieth cousin.

With each breath, you take into your body 10 sextillion atoms, and, owing to the wind's circulation, every year you have intimate relations with oxygen molecules exhaled by every person alive, as well as by everyone who ever lived. (Source: Guy Murchie, *The Seven Mysteries of Life*)

Right now you may be carrying atoms that were once inside the lungs of Malcolm X, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, and Cleopatra.


Your body contains about four octillion atoms. That's four with 27 zeroes after it. Believe it or not, 200 billion of that total were once inside the body of Martin Luther King, Jr. For that matter, an average of 200 billion atoms of everyone who has ever lived and died is part of you. I am not making this up.


Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told *The Washington Post* the following fun facts: "There are more molecules of water in a cup of water than cups of water in all the world's oceans. This means that some molecules in every cup of water you drink passed through the kidneys of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Abe Lincoln, or any other historical person of your choosing."

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"The Way of Abundance is all too often misconstrued as a shallow sense of 'getting what one wants,' 'eliminating the negative,' or 'being free from pain.' Even the often-touted 'manifesting your dreams,' offers a psychological disposition that generally remains fixated around manifestation as 'the project of me.'

"But the 'project of me' can never be enough, for it does not meet 'the other,' and real living involves meeting. The touch and contact with all of life, the full freedom of non-separation, the completeness of full relationship, and the radiance of compassionate ecstasy is what we are inherently hungry for."

- Rick Jarow, "Alchemy of Abundance"

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If you're afraid you're running out of good ideas, start writing a booklet entitled, "My Inexhaustible Supply of Good Ideas."

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Below are more excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

Plato long ago recognized that besides eating, sleeping, breathing, and having sex, every creature has an instinctual need to periodically leap up into the air for no other reason than because it feels so good.

Seeing as how you have probably not been attending to this need for a very long time, and seeing as how it's essential to creating the mood that will lead to the best decision-making, I encourage you now to do just that.

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Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues
Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos
Refuse the gifts that infringe on your freedom
Shun sacred places that fill you with boredom
Keep in mind it's bad luck to be superstitious
The official story's always fictitious
Pump up your karma with idiot laughter
The promised land's here, not in some hereafter

We are searching for the answers
so we can destroy them and dream up better questions

Use your third eye to watch TV
Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees
Think with your heart and feel with your head
Spit a mouthful of beer as far as you can
Kick your own ass and wash your own brain.
Make fun of your fears and heal your own pain
Play games with no rules, save your own life
Push your own buttons and be your own wife

We are searching for the answers
so we can destroy them and dream up better questions

Plunge butcher knives into accordions
Forgive yourself of all your mistakes except one
Commit funny crimes that don't break any laws
Shock yourself with how beautiful you are.
Tell jokes to clowns and cook feasts for chefs
Sing songs to the birds, and kill your own death
Mangle your anger, transform it to pleasure
Change your name, steal your own treasure

Go wash some water
Mock your own hypocrisy

Go burn some fire
Brag about your perplexity

Go wash some water
Advertise your secrecy

Go burn some fire
Overthrow reality

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"May I feel all I need to feel in order to heal; may I heal all I need to heal in order to feel."

- Marguerite Rigoglioso

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Proposed experiment: See if you can discover what has been hidden from you. Peel off the disguises. Outwit the hype. Forgive but also work around the fear that drives the deceptions and delusions. Penetrate to the raw truth that is buried beneath the official story and the sincere propaganda. And be alert for the forgotten treasure, lost keys, missing links, or magic elixir.

To help you achieve success in these endeavors, keep in mind the advice of inventor George Washington Carver: "Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."

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"We should not think of our past as definitely settled, for we are not a stone or a tree," wrote poet Czeslaw Milosz. "My past changes every minute according to the meaning given it now, in this moment.?

So, yes, you have the power to re-vision and reinterpret your past. Keep the following question in mind as you go about your work: "How can I recreate my history so as to make my willpower stronger, my love of life more intense, and my future more interesting?"

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I published the original version of Pronoia in 2005. For my next big writing project, I might have chosen to write a sequel. But instead I opted to fatten up the first edition.

The Revised and Expanded edition of Pronoia, which came out four years later, is MUCH fatter. It has 55% brand new extra material, or 92 more pages and 63,000 additional words -- the size of a whole new book.

There are 17 totally new pieces. It also has amplified and intensified versions of many of the central pieces of the original book, including "This Is a Perfect Moment," "Glory in the Highest," "World Kiss," and "I Me Wed," the ceremony for you to use if you want to marry yourself.

I got especially pumped up and carried away while revising "Glory in the Highest," which is a manifesto celebrating the everyday miracles we take for granted, the uncanny powers we possess, the small joys that occur so routinely we forget how much they mean to us, and the steady flow of benefits bestowed on us by people we know and don?t know.

In the new edition of the book, "Glory in the Highest" is eight times longer than in the original. Read it: Hear a short version of it:

The Revised and Expanded edition of Pronoia also has 14 brand new Sacred Advertisements. Don't worry -- if you're new to Pronoia -- the Sacred Ads aren't real ads. Here's an example:

"This perfect moment is brought to you by the imaginary lightning bolts you can shoot out the ends of your fingers anytime you want to."

Like the 2005 edition, the revised and expanded Pronoia has an abundance of space for you to write and scrawl and draw your responses to what you read. It's designed to make you my collaborator as we conspire together to incite the Great Awakening.

P.S. The following prophecy is even truer today than it was when I first made it a couple of years ago: Civilization may be unraveling in a lot of areas; some of its structures may be collapsing; but it is also in the midst of a tremendous upheaval of creativity -- a flood of innovation and genius and love pouring out of millions upon millions of people -- a Great Awakening that is far louder and stronger and more interesting than the sleepy resignation and corrosive maliciousness and ignominious decline that the media prefers to focus on.

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Below are excerpts from Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

The people I trust the most are those who are always tenderly wrestling and negotiating with their own shadows, making preemptive strikes on their personal share of the world's evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing their darkness on those around them.

I aspire to be like that, which is why I regularly kick my own ass.

(For a demonstration of how to kick your own ass, go here -- about three minutes in.)

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What thought or trick do you use to help liberate yourself from unnecessary suffering?

What joke do you play on yourself when you're taking yourself too seriously?

How do you compassionately bust yourself when you realize you've been indulging in hypocritical behavior?

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"You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."

- Elizabeth Gilbert

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Please bring strange things.

Please come bringing new things.

Let very old things come into your hands.

Let what you do not know come into your eyes.

Let desert sand harden your feet.

Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.

Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.

Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.

May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.

May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.

May your soul be at home where there are no houses.

Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.

Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

- Ursula K. Le Guin

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

List of things to do:

1. Expect nothing, but ask for everything.

2. Gently but gleefully smash an unnecessary personal taboo.

3. Jump for joy and click our heels together in a place that has always felt oppressive.

4. Buck tradition with wit and compassion, not wrath and cynicism.

5. Refuse to occupy the old niches, especially the ones we've trapped ourselves in for the sake of peace and harmony.

6. Carry two gifts with us at all times in case we run into any fresh beauties who aren't lost in their own heads.

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"To overcome our neural bias for negativity, we must repetitiously and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can."

The article never advises us to refrain from saying no when discernment and boundary-making are necessary. It argues that we have a neural bias, a built-in biological predilection for negativity, that may have served our distant ancestors but is now a deep handicap.

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Hypotheses: All of creation is set up to liberate us from our suffering and teach us how to love intelligently. Life always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it -- although not necessarily what we want.

Hypothesis: If something is not beautiful, it is probably not true.

Hypothesis: Life is a sublime mystery designed to eventually grow us all into strong, supple messiahs. (It may take a while.)

Hypothesis. Pop-nihilism is a prominent modern philosophy. Many journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, talk-show hosts, musicians, politicians, and pundits act as if breakdown is far more common and far more interesting than breakthrough; that painful twists outnumber redemptive transformations by a wide margin, and are profoundly more entertaining as well.

More like this: "The Honey and Vinegar Tasters"

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"Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style."

- Rebecca Solnit

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"Scientific American" chimes in on the power of pronoiac thinking: "Your thoughts can release abilities beyond normal limits. Better vision, stronger muscles -- expectations can have surprising effects." Excerpts:

"Thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits.

?People have significant psychological resources to improve their well-being and performance, but these resources often go unused and could be better harnessed.? The mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains? performance.

"If mindsets can change us, maybe we can deliberately choose our mindsets to improve our abilities. We can choose to adopt a mindset that improves creativity, for instance. People who think of categories as flexible and actively focus on the novel aspects of the environment become more creative."

More . . .

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

You are constitutionally incapable of adapting nicely to the sour and shrunken mass hallucination that is mistakenly called "reality." You are too amazingly, blazingly awake for that.

You are too crazy smart to try and master the stupidest secrets in the game of life. You are too seriously delirious to wander sobbing through the sterile, perfumed labyrinth looking in vain for the most ultra-perfect mirror. Thank the Goddess that you are a fiercely tender throb of sublimely berserk abracadabra.

You will never get crammed in a neat little niche in the middle of the road at the end of a nightmare. You refuse to allow your soul's bones to get ground down into dust and used to fertilize the killing fields that proudly dot the ice cream empire of demeaning luxuries. You are too robust and unruly and rapturous for any of that.

Now please speak the following affirmations out loud:

"I am a genius."

"I am a lucky plucky genius."

"I am a lucky plucky good-sucking genius."

- Read more.

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In order to live, you?ve got to be a demolisher. You take plants and animals that were once alive and rip them apart with your teeth, then disintegrate them in your digestive system.

The inside of your body is always nurturing a slow fire, burning up the oxygen you suck into your lungs.

You didn?t actually cut down the trees used to make your house and furniture, but you colluded with their demise.

Then there?s the psychological liquidation you?ve done: killing off old beliefs you?ve outgrown, for instance.

I?m not trying to make you feel guilty -- just pointing out that you have a lot of experience with positive expressions of destruction.

Can you think of other forms this magic takes? As an aspiring master of pronoia, it?s one of your specialties -- a talent you have a duty to wield with energetic grace.

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"In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits test the hearts of humans by showing up in various forms that disguise their divinity. They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes, or with muddy feet. They show up with skin like old wood, or in scales made of rose petal, as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman, as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can.

"The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms."

- Clarissa Pinkola Est?s

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Scientific American chimes in on the power of pronoiac thinking: "Your thoughts can release abilities beyond normal limits. Better vision, stronger muscles -- expectations can have surprising effects."

More excerpts:

"Thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits."

?People have significant psychological resources to improve their well-being and performance, but these resources often go unused and could be better harnessed.? The mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains? performance."

"If mindsets can change us, maybe we can deliberately choose our mindsets to improve our abilities. We can choose to adopt a mindset that improves creativity, for instance. People who think of categories as flexible and actively focus on the novel aspects of the environment become more creative.

Read more . . .

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"My idolatry: I?ve lusted after goodness. Wanting it here, now, absolutely, increasingly."

- Susan Sontag

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Green sea turtles of Florida and the Pacific coast of Mexico are no longer an endangered species. Officials hailed decades of conservation work for saving the long-imperiled creatures.
More . . .

in 1981, a pediatrician saved the life of a 3.2-pound premature baby boy by working around the clock to beat the odds & stabilize him. In 2011, the pediatrician was pinned inside a burning vehicle after a car collision, but was saved by the premature baby, who had grown up to become a paramedic.
More . . .

Romanian woman saves victims of sex trafficking, gives them shelter, counseling and an education.

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

It's always the beginning of the world.

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.

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My horoscopes are not rooted in or justified by any belief system, doctrine, fairy tale, authoritative teacher, elaborate secret joke, mystical wishing, well-rationalized bias, or rebellion against science. My horoscopes are fueled by poetry and in service to the liberated imagination.

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Thursday, April 21 is Dare to Be Boring Day! We all deserve a break from the oppressive demands to appear smart and to be entertaining. On Dare to Be Boring Day, it is socially unacceptable to demonstrate your wit and verve. Long?winded, rambling monologues full of obscure details are mandatory. The more clich?s and buzzwords you use, the better.

Tell worn-out stories your friends have already heard many times. Flesh out your disjointed sentences with awkward silences. Discuss at length your plans for switching laundry detergents, the collection of matchbooks you had as a child, and the time you almost traveled to the Wal-Mart in another town, but didn't.

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Your opinion, please: When you are waging a righteous battle, is it better to be constantly feeding off your anger about the situation you're trying to change?

Or are you more likely to be an effective fighter if you're relatively clear and calm, holding a vision of the new reality you want to create?
Or neither? Other choices? Your thoughts?

Write to

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What Jesus Christ really taught: "For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.

"Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' And he will answer, 'I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'"

- Matthew 25:42-45

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

John Keats wrote that "if something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." I celebrate that hypothesis in my book.

I further propose that the universe is inherently friendly to human beings; that all of creation is set up to liberate us from our suffering and teach us how to love intelligently; and that life always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it (although not necessarily what we want).

Dogmatic cynics are often so mad about my book's title that they can't bring themselves to explore the inside. Why bother to actually read about such a preposterous idea? They accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, disingenuous Pollyannaism, or New Age delusion.

If they do manage to read even a few pages, they find that the blessings I reference in the title are not materialistic fetishes like luxurious vacation homes, high status, and a perfect physique.

I'm more interested in fascinating surprises, dizzying adventures, challenging gifts we hardly know what to do with, and conundrums that compel us to get smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier.

I also enjoy exposing secret miracles, like the way the sun continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into heat, light, and energy for our personal use.

But I don't take the cynics' fury personally. When I suggest that life is a sublime mystery designed to grow us all into strong, supple messiahs, I understand that's the equivalent, for them, of denying the Holocaust. They're addicted to a formulation that's the opposite of Keats': If something is not ugly, it is probably not true.

Modern storytellers are at the vanguard of promoting this doctrine, which I refer to as pop nihilism. Many journalists, filmmakers, novelists, critics, talk-show hosts, musicians, and pundits act as if breakdown is far more common and far more interesting than breakthrough; that painful twists outnumber redemptive transformations by a wide margin, and are profoundly more entertaining as well.

Earlier in my life, I, too, worshiped the religion of pop nihilism. In the 1980s, for example, I launched a crusade against what I called "the global genocide of the imagination." I railed against the "entertainment criminals" who barrage us with floods of fake information and inane ugliness, decimating and paralyzing our image-making faculties. For years, much of my creative work was stoked by my rage against the machine for its soulless crimes of injustice and greed and rapaciousness and cruelty.

But as the crazy wisdom of pronoia overtook me in the late 1990s, I gradually weaned myself from the gratuitous gratification that wrath offered. Against the grain, I experimented with strategies for motivating myself through crafty joy and purified desire and the longing for freedom. I played with ideas that helped me shed the habit of seeing the worst in everything and everyone. In its place I built a new habit of looking for the best.

But I never formally renounced my affiliation with the religion of cynicism. I didn't become a fundamentalist apostate preaching the doctrine of fanatical optimism. In the back of my wild heart, I knew I couldn't thrive without at least a tincture of the ferocity and outrage that had driven so much of my earlier self-expression.

Even at the height of my infatuation with the beautiful truths that swarmed into me while writing Pronoia, I nurtured a relationship with the awful truths. And I didn't hide that from my readers.

Yes, I did purposely go overboard in championing the cause of liberation and pleasure and ingenuity and integrity and renewal and harmony and love. The book's destiny was, after all, to serve as a counterbalance to the trendy predominance of bad news and paranoid attitudes. It was meant to be an antidote for the pandemic of snark.

But I made sure that Pronoia also contained numerous "Homeopathic Medicine Spells," talismans that cram long lists of the world's evils inside ritually consecrated mandalas. These spells diffuse the hypnotizing lure of doom and gloom by acknowledging the horror with a sardonic wink.

Pronoia also has many variations on a theme captured in William Vollman's testimony: "The most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that?s a complicated, tricky problem that you don?t know how to solve."

Furthermore, the book stops far short of calling for the totalitarian imposition of good cheer. I say I can tolerate the news media filling up half their pages and airwaves and bandwidths with poker-faced accounts of decline and degeneration, misery and destruction. All I seek is equal time for stories that inspire us to adore life instead of fearing it. And I'd gladly accept 25 percent. Even 10 percent.

So Pronoia hints at a paradoxical philosophy more complex than a naive quest for beauty and benevolence. It welcomes in a taste of darkness, acknowledging the shadows in the big picture.


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"I scarcely know where to begin, but love is always a safe place."

? Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Louise and Frances Norcross, March 1886

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Are you willing to 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, never demeaning the present by comparing it to an idealized past or future?

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"People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels."

- Charles Fort

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Maxim's "Hot 100" is the magazine's list of the planet's sexiest women. Sports Illustrated has its yearly Swimsuit Issue, which presents a bevy of twenty-something women dressed in skimpy bikinis. Esquire's regular feature "Women We Love" is a gathering of skinny young celebrities. Now here are some of my current favorite beauties.

The images are from photographer Katarzyna Majak's assemblage of witches and healers of Poland.

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

Conventional wisdom implies that the best problems are those that place you under duress. There's supposedly no gain without pain. Stress is allegedly an incomparable spur for calling on resources that have been previously unavailable or dormant. Nietzsche's aphorism, "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger," has achieved the status of a maxim.

There's a bit of truth in that perspective. But it's clear that stress also accompanies many mediocre problems that have little power to make us smarter. Pain frequently generates no gain. We're all prone to become habituated, even addicted, to nagging vexations that go on and on without rousing any of our sleeping genius.

There is, furthermore, another class of difficulty -- let's call it the delightful dilemma -- that neither feeds on angst nor generates it. On the contrary, it's fun and invigorating, and usually blooms when you're feeling a profound sense of being at home in the world. The problem of writing my books is a good example. I have abundant fun handling the perplexing challenges with which they confront me.

Imagine a life in which at least half of your quandaries match this profile. Act as if you're most likely to attract useful problems when joy is your predominant mood. Consider the possibility that being in unsettling circumstances may shrink your capacity to dream up the riddles you need most; that maybe it's hard to ask the best questions when you're preoccupied fighting rearguard battles against boring or demeaning annoyances that have plagued you for many moons.

Prediction: As an aspiring lover of pronoia, you will have a growing knack for gravitating toward wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. More and more, you will be drawn to the kind of gain that doesn't require pain. You'll be so alive and awake that you'll cheerfully push yourself out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before you're forced to do so by fate's kicks in the ass.

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"You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."

? Elizabeth Gilbert

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Relationship" is a dull term for something so interesting. Try "link-flash" instead. Rather than calling people your "friend" or "partner," call them your "accomplice," your "freestyle," or your "lightning."

Boring terms like "significant other," "boyfriend," "girlfriend," & "spouse" could be retired, too. Try "lushbuddy," "heartbeat," or "jelly roll."

Feel free to coin your own surgecrafts and questbursts. Post them here!

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"I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me."

? Wendell Berry, "Woods"

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Some readers became enraged when I quoted William S. Burroughs and Carlos Castaneda. "Terrible men!" they said. Other readers were miffed because I quoted the evangelical pastor Rick Warren in a horoscope.

Here's how I respond to these grumbles: If I refused to learn from people unless I agreed with everything they had ever said and done, I would never learn from anyone.

Furthermore, I don't necessarily agree with every nuance of every quote I cite. They may teach me, rile me up, and provoke me to think, but that doesn't mean I endorse them 100 percent. What's more likely is that I question some aspect of their thought.

What about you? Have you set up your life so that everyone is either on or off your good list? If so, consider the possibility of cultivating a capacity to derive insight from people who aren't perfect. Have fun learning from people you partially agree with and partially disagree with.

Here are examples of some of the other people from whom I have drawn important teachings and inspiration despite their sins:

Gertrude Stein thought she was as important a writer as Shakespeare and Homer.

Dr. Seuss had an affair with another woman while his wife was suffering from cancer, and his wife subsequently committed suicide.

Einstein cheated on his wife and treated her horrendously.

William Blake lived in absolute filth.

Early feminist author George Sand cheated on her husband.

Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old cousin when he was 26.

Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife.

The painter Peter Paul Rubens married a 16-year-old female when he was 53.

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Below are more excerpts from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.


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."

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"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."

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Is the world a dangerous, chaotic place with no inherent purpose, running on automatic like a malfunctioning machine and fundamentally inimical to your happiness?

Or are you surrounded by helpers in a friendly universe that gives you challenges in order to make you smarter and wilder and kinder?
Trick questions! The answers may depend, at least to some degree, on what you believe is true.

I invite you to formulate a series of experiments that will allow you to objectively test the hypothesis that the universe is conspiring to help you.

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Howard Zinn said: "Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.

"We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our liv