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Week of August 22nd, 2019

Grace Emerges in the Ebb and Flow

Turns out your life purpose isn't supposed to be as small and silent and accommodating as possible! Good to know!

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

Read past issues of the newsletter.

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My book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia got quoted by Marianne Williamson.

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson posted an extensive quote from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia on her Facebook page

Here's the piece that Marianne Williamson quoted.

On this page you'll find links to a lot of other material from my book that you can read for free.

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Pronoia doesn’t promise uninterrupted progress forever. It’s not a slick commercial for a perfect summer day that never ends.

Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow.

The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing.

But whether it’s our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow, fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way.

Our suffering won’t last, nor will our triumph.

Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need to change into the new thing we must become.

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Ursula K. Le Guin writes: "Modernist manuals of writing often conflate story with conflict. This reductionism reflects a culture that inflates aggression and competition while cultivating ignorance of other behavioral options.

"No narrative of any complexity can be built on or reduced to a single element. Conflict is one kind of behavior. There are others, equally important in any human life, such as relating, finding, losing, bearing, discovering, parting, changing.

"Change is the universal aspect of all these sources of story. Story is something moving, something happening, something or somebody changing."

This book contains a host of short stories that escape the Nihilistic Netflixization of storytelling and hew to Le Guin's parameters:

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

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

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

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

Check out Ro's website.

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Experiment: keep checking yourself for irrelevant, self-perpetuating negativity and bitterness.

A certain degree of negativity and bitterness is sensible, even necessary. You can't stay healthy without cultivating a medicinal dose of the stuff.

But it's in your interests to cultivate just the amount you need, no more.

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The teacher Rudolf Steiner had a devotee who complained that after years of meditating and studying sacred texts he had not yet had a spiritual experience.

Steiner asked him if he'd noticed the face of the conductor on the train on which they were riding. The man said no. Steiner replied, "Then you just missed a spiritual experience."

My interpretation: You can expedite and intensify your education about spiritual matters by noticing the beauty and holiness in the most mundane things.

Also, this: Every event that happens is an opportunity to meditate.

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No matter what comes along, we’re always standing at the center of the world in the middle of sacred space, and everything that comes into that circle and exists with us there has come to teach us what we need to know.

—Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape

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“What you seek is seeking you.”

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My yoga mat has disappeared into the ground under my feet.

My ashram has become the coffee counter, a bad joke exchanged with the barista, a friendly smile creeping over a frozen face, and the whole world willing us along.

My temple is the shopping mall, the dentist’s waiting room, the empty meadow in the morning with its soft yellow light and virginal air.

My guru is the incubating roar in the belly, the melancholy of the evening and the hope and despair of raw existence itself.

Nothing needs to be added.

My enlightenment is the ordinary moment, this mundane experience drenched in the sweet nectar of my own attention.

My origin is the breath and the breath is my destination.

My lineage is the hungry cat greeting me on my evening walk, ambling beside me awhile, rubbing her fur against my shin, her fur soft like the cashmere blanket grandma used to wrap around us as the nights came in early, fur becoming skin, and the cat nonchalantly moving on to peruse a discarded sandwich wrapper, and me walking on.

My spirituality is deep in the earth; it is in the mud, the heat, the bowels, the awkward and the inconvenient, the cry for mother and the courage to penetrate unexplored regions of the psyche. It is the yearning for home and the happily exhausted return.

My bliss is nothing the mind could ever grasp, not in a billion years of searching.

My joy is simple, like those who have lived a full life and are ready to die.

I lie down in the meadow, my backpack my pillow, my hands entering into the silky, sticky grass, my entire life reduced to a single thought and memory and momentary vision, and then that is gone too, and I am gone with it all, replaced by the meadow itself, its soft yellow light and its clean invigorating air, its hope and its promise, its fullness and its mercy.

Do not look for me. You will not find me here, or recognise me if you do. I am invisible because I have become all that is seen and all that is known and unknown still.

I do not practice spirituality. I have been destroyed, deconstructed, de-boned and born again, reconstituted as man, formless as form. I have been recreated inseparable from this ordinariness, resurrected with the birds belly laughing on the electric wires at dawn.

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Fate Bait

Sometimes we have a strong sense of what our destiny is calling us to do, but we don't feel quite ready or brave enough to answer the call. We need a push, an intervention, a serendipitous stroke—what you might call "Fate Bait."

FATE BAIT is a person or event that awakens our dormant willpower and draws us inexorably toward our necessary destiny; it's a thunderbolt or siren song or stage whisper that gives us a good excuse to go do what we know we should do.

Do you have any ideas about how to put yourself in the vicinity of your fate bait?

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For years I've been in a hermetic mode, working on creating new books. (Not done yet!) But I'm emerging from my pastoral sanctuary to do a poetry show in New York City on Friday, September 13.

I'll be opening for two amazing poets whose work thrills me: Ariana Reines and CA Conrad. As an added aspect of crazy goodness, my daughter Zoe Brezsny will join me in opening the show.

Here's the info.

(And in the meantime, check out Ariana Reines' sensational new book.)

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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.

"Before we can receive the entire truth about anything," said my teacher Ann Davies, "we have to love it."

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To be the best pronoiac explorer you can be, I suggest you adopt an outlook that combines the rigorous objectivity of a scientist, the "beginner's mind" of Zen Buddhism, the "beginner's heart" of pronoia, and the compassionate friendliness of the Dalai Lama. Blend a scrupulously dispassionate curiosity with a skepticism driven by expansiveness, not spleen.

To pull this off, you'll have to be willing to regularly suspend your brilliant theories about the way the world works. Accept with good humor the possibility that what you've learned in the past may not be a reliable guide to understanding the fresh phenomenon that's right in front of you. Be suspicious of your biases, even the rational and benevolent ones. Open your heart as you strip away the interpretations that your emotions might be inclined to impose.

"Before we can receive the unbiased truth about anything," wrote my teacher Ann Davies, "we have to be ready to ignore what we would like to be true."

At the same time, don't turn into a hard-ass, poker-faced robot. Keep your feelings moist and receptive. Remember your natural affection for all of creation. Enjoy the power of tender sympathy as it drives you to probe for the unimaginable revelations of every new moment.

I'll quote this gem from Ann Davies again, because it's the foundation of my life: "Before we can receive the entire truth about anything, we have to love it."

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You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
—Buckminster Fuller


We have to encourage the future we want rather than trying to prevent the future we fear.
—Bill Joy


The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
—Dan Millman

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YOU CAN'T HAVE IT ALL, by Barbara Ras

But you can have the fig tree
and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green.
You can have the touch
of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m.
to say the hamster is back.

You can have the purr of the cat
and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says,
If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled,
and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so.

You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious,
like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot
over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.

You can have the skin at the center
between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like.
You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments,
never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard
who'll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.

You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something.
You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly.
You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget
hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together.

And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face,
half spice, half amnesia,
grateful for Mozart, his many notes
racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin,
and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva.
You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt
and you riding in the hot sand.

You can have your grandfather
sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while,
you can have clouds and letters,
the leaping of distances,
and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.

You can't count on grace
to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you
how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel,
farms in the mind
as real as Africa.

And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory
of the black swan on the pond of your childhood,
the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you
while the rest of the family slept.

There is the voice you can still summon at will,
like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this.

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Thomas Merton's notion of what makes a saint doesn't have to do with being a perfectly sinless paragon of virtue. The more important measure of sanctity, he said, is one's ability to see what's good and beautiful in other people. The truly holy person "retires from the struggle of judging others."

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