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Week of December 1st, 2016

Thousands of things go right for you every day

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

Below is an excerpt.

Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some hocus-pocus you don't fully understand, you are still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you have been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that's just right for your body's needs, as it was before you fell asleep.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

You can see! Light of many colors and shapes floods into your eyes, registered and transmitted to your brain by a complex web of neurons that took Goddess or evolution billions of years to perfect.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

The interesting gift of these vivid colors and shapes is made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which ceaselessly detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into light and heat and energy for your personal use.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

You can raise a glass of water to your lips. You can button your shirt. You can wash your hair and beat on a drum and draw infinity signs on a piece of paper. Your hands work wonderfully well. Your heart circulates your blood all the way out to replenish the energy of the muscles and nerves in your fingers and palms and wrists. And after your blood has delivered its blessings, it finds its way back to your heart to be refreshed. This astonishing mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every minute of your life.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Language is another stupendous marvel. Millions of souls have cooperated intricately for untold centuries to cultivate a system of communication that you understand very well. Your ability to speak and read and write makes you feel strong and dynamic. It provides you with a crucial resource to make sense of the riotous cavalcade that always surrounds you. It enables you to indulge in one of your favorite pleasures, which is to hear and tell stories.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

According to my inside sources, you have personal possession of the universe's most monumental and mysterious accomplishment.
We take it for granted and refer to it with the pedestrian term "consciousness" . . . but this mercurial flash and dazzle that whirls around inside your head is outlandishly spectacular. You can think thoughts any time you want to -- soaring, luminescent, flamboyant thoughts or shriveled, rusty, burrowing thoughts . . . thoughts that can invent or destroy, corrupt or redeem, bless or curse.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

But wait. There's more. You can revel and wallow in great oceans of emotion. Whether they are poignant or intoxicating or somewhere in between, you relish the fact that you can harbor so much intensity. You cherish the privilege of commanding such extravagant life force.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

The best part of being in possession of the universe's most monumental and mysterious accomplishment is this: You have at your disposal a prodigiously potent creative tool. It's called your imagination. If there's a specific experience or object you want to bring into your world, the first thing you do is visualize it. The practical actions you take to live the life you want to live always refer back to the pictures in your mind's eye.

And so every goal you fulfill, every quest you carry out, every liberation you achieve, begins as an inner vision. Your imagination is the engine of your destiny. It's the catalyst with which you design your future.

I've got to ask you: How is any of this even possible? What colossal secret intelligence or improbable series of fabulous accidents conspired to bestow upon you all these superpowers?

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Of the millions of things that have gone right for you during your time on Earth, the first was your birth. It was a difficult miracle that involved many people who worked very hard on your behalf. No less amazing is the fact that you have continued to bloom ever since then, with new cells being born within you all the time to replace the old cells that are dying.

At this very moment, there are 50 trillion cells in your body, and each of them is really a sentient being in its own right. They all act together as a community, consecrating you with their breathtaking collaboration. It's just like magic.

Glory Glory Hallelujah

To celebrate our extreme good fortune, I invite you to sing praises and exaltations. Please repeat after me.

Everywhere we look: glory

Every time we move: glory

Every step we take: soaring glory

Every breath we take: roaring glory

Soaring roaring uproarious glory
is our story

Soaring roaring uproarious glory
is our story

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What you can do to help save America from tyranny, by Timothy Snyder:

* Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

* Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

* Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

* Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

* Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

* Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying.

* Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

* Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

* Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

* Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

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.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am the most total nobody in a world full of nobodies. I am a sex-laugher and a friendly shocker and a fantasy doctor . . . a time traveler and a jinx unraveler and a curiosity savior. I champion the art of adoration and I fight the genocide of the imagination.

The people I trust the most are those who are always 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.

Self-ass-kicking lessons are available here.

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"Remember that at any given moment there are a thousand things you can love."

- David Levithan

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The English language is in a state of rapid ferment. New words are barging into the dictionary at an unprecedented rate, even as old familiars fall into disuse. There's one exception to this trend: profanity. Boring favorites like "fuck," "shit," and "asshole" have gained an acceptance unthinkable 30 years ago, but fresh curse words are rarely coined.

At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we find the overused classics inadequate for expressing our evolving rage at injustice, bigotry, mass delusion, ignorance, and ugliness. Furthermore, as deadening clich?s, they don't satisfy the pronoiac mandate to use language with sonorous precision.

How can you purge the clich?d ire that dilutes the useful, inspired stuff? One good method is to make fun of it by expressing it bigger than life. Try this. Go alone to a place where it's safe to feel blind rage. Envision a person or thing you love to hate, then unleash the following mantra 15 times in the most vulgar tones possible:

"You miasmic heap of shaved-off cemetery warts. You mangled preen of politicians' tongue scabs. You brackish tripe of experts' ego tinkles. You fragile crap of orphaned tyrants. You demented cluster of fickle weasel vows. You curdled slosh of rotting fracas-spawned opinions."

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Working with the Hermetic Qabalah has been the core of my spiritual transformations for decades. It's also the foundation of my creative life as a musician, performer, writer, and astrologer.

So I have long been in love with the Qabalistic Tree of Life, which is a symbol of reality. The Tree can be read as a map of how Divine Intelligence eternally creates the universe . . . and a map of the human soul . . . and a map of how the human soul may best align and resonate with Divine Intelligence.

I love the fact that the Tree is composed of three trunks, or "Pillars": the Pillar of MERCY, the Pillar of BALANCE, and the Pillar of SEVERITY. All are vital aspects of the Creation.

The three planets that reside within the Pillar of Severity are:
Saturn, the power of creative limitation
Mars, the power to dissolve harm and fight for what's right
Mercury, the power of intellectual discernment

At this particular moment in our cultural evolution, I am drawn to emphasizing work with the Pillar of Severity.

Of course I won't neglect my devotion to the concerns of the Pillar of Balance and the Pillar of Mercy -- ultimately, all need equal attention -- but I have done an abundance of work and play through those two Pillars for many years.

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How do we summon the right blend of practical love and constructive anger?

How do we refrain from hating other people even as we fight fiercely against the hatred and danger they have helped unleash?

How do we cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we neutralize the bigoted, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?

How can we be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life?

How can we stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the mass hallucinations that are metastasizing?

In the face of the danger, how do we remain intensely dedicated to building beauty and truth and justice and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free?

Can our struggle also be a form of play?

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Sometime in the next 24 hours, try saying this to someone (but only if you really mean it): "Thanks for making my life better."

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In the California race to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris, daughter of Indian & Jamaican immigrants, was voted the nation's first Indian-American and second black female Senator.

In Oregon, Kate Brown was the first openly LGBT person to be elected to a US governorship.

Lisa Blunt Rochester earned Delaware?s sole seat in the House of Representatives, becoming both the first woman and the first African-American to represent Delaware in Congress.

In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to a state legislature.

Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is the first Latina elected to the Senate.

Tammy Duckworth took back Obama's Senate seat in Illinois.

In Florida, Stephanie Murphy was the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, defeating a 23-year Republican incumbent.

Pramila Jayapal will be the first female Indian-American Congressional Representative. An immigrant from India at 16, she was elected to represent the Seattle area on a Bernie-Sanders-style platform.

In NJ, Josh Gottheimer, first time Democratic candidate, beat Representative Scott Garrett, seven-term Republican incumbent and one of the most conservative Tea-Party-aligned members of Congress.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was ousted in Arizona.

A woman handily won the popular vote for President of the United States.

Please tell me your own nominations for PRONOIA RESOURCES:

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Some readers have been surprised by the fact that I'm heartbroken and outraged about Trump's victory. "It's not pronoiac to be so sad and angry," one person said.

To correct that misunderstanding, here's a relevant passage from my book *Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia*:

Pronoia is fueled by a drive to cultivate happiness and a determination to practice an aggressive form of gratitude that systematically identifies the things that are working well. But it is not a soothing diversion meant for timid Pollyannas strung out on optimistic delusions.

It's not a feel-good New Age fantasy used to deny the harsh facts about existence. Those of us who perceive the world pronoiacally refuse to be polite shills for sentimental hopefulness.

On the contrary, we build our optimism not through a repression of
difficulty, but rather a vigorous engagement with it. We understand that the best way to attract blessings is to grapple with the knottiest enigmas.

Each fresh puzzle is a potential source of future bliss -- an exciting
teaching that may usher us to our next breakthrough.

Do you want to be a pronoiac player? Blend anarchistic rebelliousness with open-hearted exuberance. Root your insurrectionary fervor in expansive joy instead of withering hatred. Enjoy saying "no!" but don't make it the wellspring of your vitality. Be fueled by blood-red yeses that rip against the grain of comfortable ugliness.

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?Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.?

― Audre Lorde, *A Burst of Light*

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The wise Charles Eisenstein writes: "We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead.

"Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we?d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt.

"For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer.

"Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from 'doctrine' to 'doctrine' ? and they have no idea what to do.

Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism.

When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum."

Read Charles Eisenstein's whole piece

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I'm not na?ve. In my years on the planet, I have witnessed and experienced the atrocities of racism, misogyny, homophobia, militarism, nativism, plutocracy, hate-mongering, and bigotry of many stripes.

Since I was 16 years old, I have fought these evils. That's why I have had knives brandished at me by bigots -- bottles thrown at me and insults hurled at me. While participating in political protests, I have been tear-gassed and clubbed by police. I have felt the barrel of a cop's gun against my head, and have been strip-searched and harassed by law enforcement officers.

And much, much more. I won't mention here all the abuses I've seen directed at gay, female, black, Hispanic, or impoverished people I care about.

And yet I am finding it a challenge to fully integrate the fact that 60 million Americans just voted for a person whose own words have revealed him to be a racist, misogynist, homophobic, militaristic, plutocratic hate-mongerer. I'm heartbroken. My grief and anger are deep.

I'm open to the possibility that some redemption will ultimately emerge from this tragedy, even it takes decades. I will search for and work to create that redemption.

But for now it's my duty to explore the teachings of this pain.

One thing that's important to my process is to ask whether my perceptions of Trump's dangerous intentions are real. Am I projecting my fears onto him? Have I been fooled into exaggerating his terror? So far, my answers to those questions is "No." I invite you to send me good evidence to the contrary.

Here and here are compilations of the evidence Trump himself has provided.

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A voice in my dream said to me: ?I believe redemption will come from this disaster -- that the Trump election is a desperation move to preserve a dying paradigm. And I affirm that the work to birth the new paradigm requires me to steadfastly practice the seemingly impossible discipline of love.?

Here?s how I replied to the voice in my dream: I agree. But we also need the fuel of our anger. Which is why I'm meditating on these questions:

How do we summon the right blend of practical love and constructive anger?

How do we refrain from hating other people even as we fight fiercely against the hatred and danger they have helped unleash?

How do we cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we neutralize the bigoted, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?

How can we be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life?

How can we stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the mass hallucinations that are metastasizing?

In the face of the danger, how do we remain intensely dedicated to building beauty and truth and justice and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free?

Can our struggle also be a form of play?

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A reader who is upset about my outrage at the election results sent me this meme: "Believe there is good in the world."

Here's my response: For more than a decade, I have been a tireless advocate for the importance of believing there is good in the world. But if we believers in the world's wonder and glory fail to identify and acknowledge the world's suffering, our advocacy is empty and feeble; our credibility is zero.

To celebrate the good -- indeed, to create and cultivate the good -- we must deal regularly with the darkness.

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

Below are excerpts.

I cheerfully celebrate the mantra, "I don't know." It's a source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.

It's fun to say. "I don't know."

I love to let go of the drive to have it all figured out: "I don't know."

I exult in proclaiming the only truth I can be totally sure of: "I don't know."

I empty my mind and lift my heart: "I don't know."

I use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of my oneness with the Great Mystery: "I don't know."

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"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth."

- Patti Smith

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Keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times. One says "I am a speck of dust," and the other, "The world was created for me."

- Rabbi Bunim of P?shiskha

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What do you need to kill off in yourself in order to tune in to the beauty that's hidden from you? What worn-out shticks are blinding you to the blessings that life is conspiring to give you?

Which of your theories may have been useful and even brilliant in the past but are now keeping you from becoming aware of the ever-fresh creation that unfolds before you?

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"Even though I'm often in a mess, inside me there's still a calm, clear, harmony of music."

- Vincent van Gogh

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You're a gorgeous mystery with a wild heart and a lofty purpose. But like all of us, you also have a dark side -- a part of your psyche that snarls and bites, that's unconscious and irrational, that is motivated by ill will or twisted passions or instinctual fears.

It's your own personal portion of the world's sickness: a mess of repressed longings, enervating wounds, ignorant delusions, and unripe powers. You'd prefer to ignore it because it's unflattering or uncomfortable or very different from what you imagine yourself to be.

If you acknowledge its existence at all (many of us don't), you might call it the devil, your evil twin, your inner monster, or your personal demon. Psychologist Carl Jung referred to it as the shadow. He regarded it as the lead that the authentic alchemists of the Middle Ages sought to transmute into gold.


Astrologer Steven Forrest has a different name for the shadow: stuff. "Work on your stuff," he says, "or your stuff will work on you." He means that it will sabotage you if you're not aggressive about identifying, negotiating with, and transforming it.


The shadow is not inherently evil. If it is ignored or denied, it may become monstrous to compensate. Only then is it likely to "demonically possess" its owner, leading to compulsive, exaggerated, "evil" behavior.


"The shadow, which is in conflict with the acknowledged values, cannot be accepted as a negative part of one's own psyche and is therefore projected -- that is, it is transferred to the outside world and experienced as an outside object. It is combated, punished, and exterminated as 'the alien out there' instead of being dealt with as one's own inner problem."

- Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic


The qualities in ourselves that we deny or dislike are often the very qualities that we most bitterly complain about in other people. So for instance, an old friend of mine named Mark had a special disgust for friends who were unavailable to him when he really needed them. But I was witness to him engaging in the same behavior three different times, disappearing from the lives of his friends just when they needed him most.


"Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event," said Jung. If you disown a part of your personality, it'll materialize as an unexpected detour.

Everyone who believes in the devil is the devil . . . .


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Read Dissident Horoscopes for Samhain (and Halloween) Insurgents -- by Job Disney, Rob Brezsny's only partially evil twin:

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Here are three of our deepest spiritual aspirations, which we invite you to steal for your own use:

1. to develop the capacity to thrive in the midst of raging contradictions;

2. to be discerning as we protect ourselves from people's flaws while at the same time being generous as we celebrate their beauty;

3. to refrain from dividing the world into two groups, those who help and agree with us and those who don't.

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Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it. Study the difference between wise suffering and dumb suffering until you get it right. Commit crimes that don't break any laws. Visualize Buddha at the moment of orgasm. Build illusions that make people feel so beautiful they can't stand to be near you.

Pretend to be crazy so you can get away with doing what's right. Sing anarchist lullabies to homosexual trees. Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks. Review in detail the history of your life, honoring every moment as if you were conducting a benevolent Judgment Day. Eat money. Suck gravity. Drink the sun. Dream like a stone. Sing in the acid rain.

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May a good vision catch me

May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me

May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me

May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.

May I awaken into the story that surrounds,

May I awaken into the beautiful story.

May the wondrous story find me;

May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers

arise beautifully between my body and the body of this land,

between my flesh and the flesh of this earth,

here and now,

on this day,

May I taste something sacred.

?David Abram

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?Your job," my philosophy teacher Norman O. Brown once told me, "is to find the holy in the mundane, and, failing that, to create the holy in the mundane."

What's the secret job you do -- the one hardly anyone knows about?

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Here's my request to anyone who greets my posts about good news and glad tidings with fierce reminders of how messed-up everything really is. My request is that the next time I offer some really BAD, depressing news, which I do periodically, that you counter my thrust by reminding us of some wonderful, life-affirming thing that is unfolding in the world.

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Jorge Luis Borges said that Judas was actually a more exalted hero than Jesus. He unselfishly volunteered to perform the all-important villain's role in the resurrection saga, knowing he'd be reviled forever. It was a dirty job that only an egoless saint could have done. Jesus suffered, true, but enjoyed glory and adoration as a result.

Let's apply this way of thinking to the task of understanding the role that seemingly bad people play in pronoia.

Interesting narratives play an essential role in the universal conspiracy to give us exactly what we need. All of us crave drama. We love to be beguiled by twists of fate that unfold the stories of our lives in unpredictable ways. Just as Judas played a key role in advancing the tale of Christ's quest, villains and con men and clowns may be crucial to the entertainment value of our personal journeys.

Try this: Imagine the people you fear and dislike as pivotal characters in a fascinating and ultimately redemptive plot that will take years or even lifetimes for the Divine Wow to elaborate.

There is another reason to love our enemies: They force us to become smarter. The riddles they thrust in front of us sharpen our wits and sculpt our souls.

Try this: Act as if your adversaries are great teachers. Thank them for how crucial they've been in your education.

Consider one more possibility: that the people who seem to slow us down and hold us back are actually preventing things from happening too fast. Imagine that the evolution of your life or our culture is like a pregnancy: It needs to reach its full term. Just as a child isn't ready to be born after five months of gestation, the New Earth we're creating has to ripen in its own time.

The recalcitrant reactionaries who resist the inevitable birth are simply making sure that the far-seeing revolutionaries don't conjure the future too suddenly. They serve the greater good.

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Abraham Maslow's definition of *real* listening: to listen "without presupposing, classifying, improving, controverting, evaluating, approving or disapproving, without dueling what is being said, without rehearsing the rebuttal in advance, without free-associating to portions of what is being said so that succeeding portions are not heard at all."

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?The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates: considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artists; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.?

- Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"

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I think that the percentage of good things occurring in the world far outnumbers the tragic, miserable, horrific things -- maybe 85 to 15 -- and yet the tragic, miserable, horrific things get a disproportionate amount of credit and attention.

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In my value system, it is immoral to complain without ever praising; it's immoral to criticize without also identifying what's working well.

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"The shamanic faith is that humanity is not without allies. There are forces friendly to our struggle to birth ourselves as an intelligent species. But they are quiet and shy; they are to be sought, not in the arrival of alien star fleets in the skies of earth, but nearby, in wilderness solitude, in the ambience of waterfalls, and yes, in the grasslands and pastures now too rarely beneath our feet."

- Terence McKenna, "Food of the Gods"

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News Flash: The zodiac isn't wrong. Your sign isn't changing. Ignore the misinformation that has been rumbling around the Internet.

Every year or so, another astronomer erupts into the mainstream media with a portentous announcement about how, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs are no longer aligned with the actual constellations. Often the supposed 13th constellation, Ophiuchus, is also invoked as a further proof of how delusional astrologers are.

What it means, according to these fake "experts," is that astrology is invalid. Most of the people who think they're Tauruses are actually Aries. Most Scorpios are really Libras. And so on.

A typical offering was from Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society. "When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces," he speculated, "it's really not in Pisces." His erroneous supposition swept through the Internet, including stories on Gawker and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, among other places.

I understand that scientists like him would prefer not to lower themselves to the task of actually doing research about how astrology works. But if they're going to question its foundations, they should at least learn it well enough to know what they're talking about.

Here, briefly, is the lowdown on what certain astronomers are too lazy to find out for themselves.

The astrological signs are not defined by the constellations you see in the sky. In antiquity, when both astrological and astronomical thinking were based on insufficient data, the names of the constellations happened to be paired with the astrological signs. Today, those pairings are no longer in sync: Astrological signs do not line up with the constellations in the same way they did way back then, due to the precession of the equinoxes.

Modern Western astrologers understand this perfectly. It's irrelevant to their work because the information upon which they base their hypotheses does not involve a study of distant stars or constellations. Rather, their data have to do with the movements of the planets in our own solar system within a zone of influence defined by the relationship between the Earth and Sun.

The key demarcation points in that relationship are the equinoxes and solstices. At the Northern Hemisphere's vernal equinox, which occurs on about March 20th of each year, the Sun enters into the sign of Aries. At the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice, the sun enters into the sign of Cancer. The locations of the constellations are irrelevant; the "influence of the stars" isn't considered.

To reiterate: Western astrologers don't work with stars or constellations. Their focus is our solar system. They study the patterns of the planets and the moon as they pass through 12 zones defined by the relationship between the Earth and sun. Those zones have the same names as constellations because of a historical quirk, but they are unrelated to the constellations.

When Parke Kunkle triumphantly says, "There is no physical connection between constellations and personality traits," as if he has finally stamped out the delusions of us astrologers, he doesn't realize that we agree with him completely. We don't deal with constellations.

There aren't ever many corrective articles in the mainstream press -- most publications are content to let their un-fact-checked stories stand as if they were gospel -- but the New York Times and the Daily Beast did have the journalistic integrity to make a correction to Kunkle's nonsense.

s My astrological colleague Deborah Houlding has a cogent response, too .

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

Below are excerpts.

Alert, relaxed listening is the radical act at the heart of our pronoiac practice.

Curiosity is our primal state of awareness.

Wise innocence is a trick we aspire to master.

Open-hearted skepticism is the light in our eyes.

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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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Invitation: In a contemplative state, contact the highest source you know, and ask this question: What do I need to become aware of that I wouldn't even know to ask about?

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I wish you joyous and mysterious eruptions of profound gratification and gratitude.

I wish you fluid insights and "ah-ha!" revelations that lead to cathartic integrations on a regular basis.

I wish you the ripening of lucky trends you've worked hard to earn, resulting in the kind of healing that allows your generosity to flow.

I wish you captivating yet relaxing adventures that enable you to weave together diverse threads of your experience, inspiring you to feel at home in the world.

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"Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, casual blessings, and teachers who unknowingly speak to your condition."

- Sam Keen

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One of my favorite Facebook Teammates, Danielle Egnew, says:

1. I am not interested in what is wrong. I am interested in what is RIGHT.

2. If you have solutions, I'm interested. Come share them with me. I will share mine with you.

3. I've gone bored with shock-jock cynicism. I refuse to sacrifice further IQ points at the altar of the lowest common denominator.

4. FEAR is not my University.

5. Providing a shoulder to cry on is part of my human design.

6. Lies are boring. Us-against-them is boring. Mean, insulting, cutting, bullying, defensiveness, nastiness -- boring, boring, boring...ZzZz...

7. I'm not interested in distracting myself with the illusion of limitation.

8. Debates are for the undecided. I'm happy to discuss.

9. Consensus is my religion.

10. Love is the language of God.

11. I am at peace in the knowledge that at any given time, someone will be completely unhappy with my perspective.

12. I don't need to be "in control". I *do* need to be aware.

13. I'm awake. In this awareness, there can sometimes be pain, loneliness and fear.

14. This awareness does not define reality, but the state of my own reality in that moment.

15. There is nothing on this earth that love cannot heal.

16. I am designed to radiate love. And so are you.

17. I assume the best, as I'm simply not interested in the worst.

18. I do not mistake hyper-vigilance for provision.

19. Anger is a symptom of pain.

20. Love is my bottom line.

Danielle Egnew is here.

My Facebook page is here.

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"Give us this day our daily hunger," prayed French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. It was his personal variation on the "Give us this day our daily bread" line from the Lord's Prayer.

Proposed experiment: Ask the Divine Wow or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or your Higher WildSelf to furnish you with a steady flow of strong, righteous desires.

Say this: "Give me this day my holiest longings."

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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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"I think the whole world's gone mad."

"Nah. It's always been like this. You just don't get out enough."

?Neil Gaiman

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One of life's great bounties is its changeableness, which ensures that boredom will never last very long. You may underestimate the intensity of your longing for continual transformation, but the universe doesn't.

That's why it provides you with the boundless entertainment of your ever-shifting story. That's why it is always revising the challenges it sends your way, providing your curious soul with a rich variety of unpredictable teachings.

Neuroscientists have turned up evidence that suggests you love this aspect of the universe's behavior. They say that you are literally addicted to learning. At the moment when you grasp a lesson you've been grappling with, your brain experiences a rush of a natural opium-like chemical, boosting your pleasure levels. You crave this experience. You thrive on it.

So the universe is built in such a way as to discourage boredom. It does this not just by generating an endless stream of interesting novelty, and not only by giving you an instinctive lust to keep learning, but also by making available an abundance of ways to break free of your habitual thoughts.

You can go to school, travel, read, listen to experts, converse with people who think differently from you, and absorb the works of creative artists. You can replenish and stretch your mind through exercise, sex, psychotherapy, spiritual practices, and self-expression. You can take drugs and medicines that alter your perspectives.

And here's the best part of this excellent news: Every method that exists for expanding your consciousness is more lavishly available right now than it has been at any previous time in history.

Never before have there been so many schools, educational programs, workshops, and enrichment courses. Virtually any subject or skill you want to study, you can. You don't even have to leave your home to do it. The number of online classes is steadily mounting . . . .

Read the rest of this essay.

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A common obstruction to a vital intimate relationship is what I call the assumption of clairvoyance. You imagine, perhaps unconsciously, that your partner or friend is somehow magically psychic when it comes to you -- so much so that he or she should unfailingly intuit exactly what you need, even if you don't ask for it.

This fantasy may seem romantic, but it can undermine the most promising alliances.

To counteract any tendencies you might have to indulge in the assumption of clairvoyance, practice stating your desires aloud.

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?Beauty is not a luxury but a strategy for survival.?

- Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World

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

Below are excerpts.

To achieve what the Zen Buddhists call "beginner's mind," you dispense with all preconceptions and enter each situation as if seeing it for the first time. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities," wrote Shunryu Suzuki in his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "but in the expert's there are few."

As much as I love beginner's mind, though, I advocate an additional discipline: cultivating a beginner's heart. That means approaching every encounter imbued with a freshly invoked wave of love that is as pure as if you're feeling it for the first time.

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Aldous Huxley was the renowned 20th-century intellectual who wrote the book Brave New World, a dystopian vision of the future. Later in his life he came to regret one thing: how "preposterously serious" he had been when he was younger.

"There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet," he ruminated, "trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That?s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling . . . Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you?re feeling deeply."

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"I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself. And behold, then this ghost fled from me."

- Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kaufman

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Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat:

Rob Brezsny has written "Free Will Astrology," the most widely syndicated feature in North America's alternative weeklies, for years. He is a truth-seeker, a buoyant optimist, a true believer in love and optimism, a child at play in the wonderland of life, "a master of rowdy bliss," and a writer whose imagination is wild and untamed.

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is a revised and expanded edition of the radical and life-changing manifesto he wrote in 2005. With great zest and an inimitable creativity, Brezsny sees the present moment as the perfect moment:

"In the New Earth we're creating, we need lusty compassion and ecstatic duty, ingenious love and insurrectionary beauty. We need radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks."

Instead of the gloom and doom message which is so prominent in the media, Brezsny suggests "the cause of zoom and boom." Throughout this extraordinary book, he celebrates many of the qualities we have incorporated in our vision of Spiritual Literacy: imagination, wonder, gratitude, reverence, play, beauty, compassion, connections, mystery, and more.

Instead of a negative and toxic view of the world, Brezsny contends that the universe is basically friendly. This means we don?t have to live our days in paranoia; we can choose instead to align with pronia: "a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it."

He hopscotches even further: "Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower."

Proving his point in an awesome segment in the book titled "Glory in the Highest," Brezsny presents a few of the everyday miracles which we overlook, the positive qualities we possess in abundance, the special wonders of this age, and the varied gifts and services provided by strangers we do not even know.

There's a common perception that tales of carnage, revenge, horror, mayhem, and tragedy are more real and engaging than stories of triumph, liberation, and reconciliation.

Brezsny's Beauty and Truth Laboratory proclaims that succumbing to pop nihilism propagated by the media is toxic for our spiritual health and well-being. Instead of watering the seeds of violence within yourself, take a break and savor the joy of a small moment of silence or pleasure. "Bow down to the greatest mystery you know." Or "pick blackberries naked in the rain."

In The Pronia News Network, Brezsny delivers up a treasure trove of quips, quotes, snippets, and epiphanies for all of us who are sick and tired of all the bad news that surrounds us and threatens to sink us in a sea of despair. Here are bits and pieces from Brian Swimme, Gandhi, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Krishna Das, Ken Wilber, Emily Dickinson, and many more positive voices with good news to share.

We were also mightily impressed by the many informal and creative spiritual practices suggested in the paperback. Here are a few examples:

* "Take an inventory of the extent to which your "No" reflex dominates your life. . . . Retrain yourself to say "YES" at least 51 percent of the time."

* " 'There are two ways for a person to look for adventure,' said the Lone Ranger, an old TV character. 'By tearing everything down, or building everything up.' Give an example of each from your own life."

* "Salvador Dali once staged a party in which guests were told to come disguised as characters from their nightmares. Do the reverse. Throw a bash in which everyone is invited to arrive dressed as a character from the most glorious dream they remember."

There are many other essays and probes in this endlessly inventive work that we haven't even mentioned in this brief review. Suffice it to say, this is a rollercoaster ride that surprises, entertains, and edifies in equal measures. It is the perfect resource to lift your spirits and send you on your way rejoicing!

- Book review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

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Potential code words for your Dream Incubation Experiments:

vorfreude : (n.) the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures

numinous: (adj.) describing an experience that makes you overwhelmed yet fascinated, awed yet attracted?the powerful, personal feeling of being viscerally inspired

ostranernie: (n.) encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliariaing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply

smultronst?lle: (n.) lit. "place of wild strawberries"; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness

rasasvada: (n.) the taste of bliss in the absence of all thoughts

firgun: (n.) the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else's pleasure or fortune, with a purely generous heart and without jealousy

(Words gleaned from

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How can we influence people to stop their extermination of nature? How can we motivate people to stop committing genocide against animal species? [Choose Method A or Method B or a blend of both.]

Method A.

1. Nag people with scientific data that shocks them into acknowledging how much harm human activity is inflicting.

2. Shame them about the sin of bequeathing their descendants a damaged, impoverished planet.

3. Badger them to dissolve the unethical greed that leads them to consume so many of the earth's resources and produce too much waste.

4. Criticize them for being too stubborn and ignorant to change their destructive habits.

5. Goad them with financial incentives to do the right thing even if they don't want to do the right thing.


Method B.

7. Express smart love for the interconnected web of life.

8. Celebrate the fact that there are other forms of consciousness and intelligence besides just the human kind.

9. Embody the hypothesis that spending time in wild places enhances one's mental hygiene and physical health.

10. Value the feminine as much as the masculine.

11. Cultivate the art of empathy, and demonstrate how to make it work in everything you do.

12. Show what it means to think with your heart and feel with your head.

13. Stay in close touch with the Mysterium, the other real world that is the root of the material world.

14. Vow to bring the I-Thou dynamic to bear on all your relationships.

15. Be as curious about intimacy as you are about power.

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"I call the high and light aspects of my being spirit and the dark and heavy aspects soul.

"Soul is at home in the deep, shaded valleys. Heavy torpid flowers saturated with black grow there. The rivers flow like warm syrup.

"Spirit is a land of high, white peaks and glittering jewel-like lakes and flowers. Life is sparse and sounds travel great distances."

- The Dalai Lama, as quoted by James Hillman in A Blue Fire

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

Below are excerpts.

Dear Co-Conspirators: Congratulations on having such ambidextrous brains and hearts. Due to your ever-growing ability to blend supple rationality with robust intuition, you're not falling prey to the inane strains of insanity that are going around. Instead you're achieving glorious victory after glorious victory over the fearful fantasies that pass for normalcy.

Best of all, you're increasing your mastery of the art of paradox; more and more you're attuned to the amusing fact that when the mythic shifts hit the fan, the apparent opposites turn inside-out and trade places. The rot prepares the way for the splendor. The chaos becomes the source of the rejuvenation. The end of the world mutates into the beginning of the world.

Please accept the thunderous applause of my one hand clapping. The people who take everything personally and seriously may not recognize your ingenious work, but we connoisseurs of the liberated imagination do.

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"Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health. Everything absolute belongs to pathology." So proclaimed Friedrich Nietzsche in *Beyond Good and Evil.*

Note well that he used the adjective "joyous" to describe distrust, not "cynical" or "grumbling" or "sour."

The key to remaining vital and strong while questioning every so-called absolute is to cultivate a cheerful, buoyant mood as you do it.

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Sometimes hope is an irrelevant waste of time, even a stupid self-indulgence. Let's say, for instance, that I'm intently hoping that a certain disagreeable person I've got to communicate with won't answer when I call on the phone. That way I can simply leave a message on his voice mail and avoid an unpleasant exchange. But it doesn't matter what I hope. The guy will either answer or not, regardless of what I hope.

But there is another kind of hope that's potentially invigorating. Let's say I hope that we humans will reverse the environmental catastrophes we're perpetrating. Let's say that my hope motivates me to live more sustainably and to inspire others to live more sustainably. Then my hope is a catalyst.

I invite you to give two examples from your life about the two kinds of hope.

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People ask me what they should do now that Mercury, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are all retrograde. Here's one possible answer: Stick to drinking low-fat water; avoid the high-fat H20 whenever possible. Likewise, inhale only the kind of oxygen that's low in cholesterol, and don't allow your eyes to take in fatty landscapes or other calorie-rich sights.

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"Lama Surya Das, the ?Buddha from Brooklyn,? is one of the handful of Westerners who have been teaching meditation for decades. And yet, he says we?re doing it wrong.

Lama Surya Das says there are other ways to meditate besides those that are currently popular: "So many people seem to be moving narcissistically into self-centered happiness-seeking and quietism, not to mention the use of mindfulness for mere effectiveness," he says. "True meditation generates wisdom and compassion, which may be very disquieting, at least in the short term."

"'Quiet your mind' or 'calm and clear your mind' are instructions I hear way too much," he says. "Some teachers actually encourage people to try to stop thinking, when in fact meditative awareness means being mindful of thoughts and feelings, not simply trying to reduce, alter or white them out and achieve some kind of oblivion."

"The anti-intellectual meditators, thought-swatters and imagination-suppressors have long ruled meditation-oriented circles in the West," he says. "But authentic meditative practices can enhance and even unleash the creativity and imagination.'

You don?t have to quiet the mind to do many of the types of meditation he proposes. They don't involve trying to find a quiet 'moment of Zen' apart from the messy, noisy world of work, family and children, but rather inviting all of the noise into meditation.

These thoughts are from an article by Jay Michaelson in

Lama Surya Das's new book.

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My first invitation: Weed out the wishy-washy wishes and lukewarm longings that keep you distracted from your burning desires.

My second invitation: Refuse to think that anyone else knows better than you what dreams will keep your life energy humming with maximum efficiency and grace.

Third invitation: Say this out loud to see how it feels: "I know exactly what I want. I know exactly what I don't want. I know exactly what I kind of want but I won't waste my time on it because it sidetracks me from working on what I really want."

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"Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality."
- Tom Robbins

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"When one has not had a good father, one must create one," said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. What does that mean? How might you go about "creating" a good father?

Well, you could develop a relationship with an admirable older man who is an inspiring role model.

You could read books by men whose work stirs you to actualize your own potentials.

If you have a vigorous inner life, you could build a fantasy dad in your imagination.

Here's another possibility: Cultivate in yourself the qualities you think a good father should have.

Your ideas?

Even if you actually had a pretty decent father, I'm sure he wasn't perfect. So it still might be interesting to try out some of these ideas.

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Dear Beauty and Truth Lab: Help! My old Buick's transmission is dead, my credit cards are maxed, my kid's got to see the dentist real bad, and the one-speed bike I ride everywhere is about to collapse. I'm working two low-paying jobs already, although I just applied for a more lucrative gig as a strip-club dancer, only I'm having so much mysterious pain in my joints I'm not sure how sexy my gyrations will be. Please clue me in to some tricks that will help me keep a pronoiac attitude in the midst of the mess that is my life. - Pickled

Dear Pickled: Here's the first thing I want to tell you: Pronoia does not assume that material comfort is a sign of divine favor. The universe is an equal-opportunity provider, conspiring to shower blessings on every one of us in the same abundance. But while the blessings may come in the form of money and possessions, they're just as likely to consist of other gifts that aren't as concrete.

Here's a hypothetical example. Let's say you have the gift of feeling at home in the world no matter where you are. The universe has determined that it's the exact skill you need in order to fulfill the specific purpose you came to earth t