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Week of October 3rd, 2019

Optimism is a revolutionary act

The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.

—Pete Seeger

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Read past issues of the newsletter.

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The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.

The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.

—John Muir

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I invite you to meditate on the relentlessness of your yearnings to give love and receive love.

Recognize the fact that your urge to merge will never leave you in peace, will never allow you to remain static, will always ask you to outgrow and transcend the current version of You.

Accept that your yearnings to blend your fate with the fates of others will forever torment you, delight you, bewilder you, and inspire you.

Understand that your desire for intimate connection will just keep coming and coming and coming, teaching you new secrets and keeping you creatively off-balance and stimulating you to constantly revise your ideas about who you are and what you purpose is .

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It's life-affirming to cry when you're sad about your life. There are many other good reasons to cry, too.

Have you ever burst into tears after having a sudden rush of insight into a nagging problem?

If you traveled to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and stood in front of the artist's paintings, chances are you would sob in appreciation for the raw beauty.

I have a friend who regards her crying spells as surrogate orgasms. They bring a surging release of pent-up emotions, and leave her deeply relaxed and in love with life.

NASA's chief scientist for Mars exploration confessed what stirs his emotions up from the depths. "When I first gazed at the images of the Martian landscape from Surveyor's camera," said Jim Garvin, "I was moved to tears."

Myself, I experience my tears as a well-earned triumph, whether they're driven by loss or fullness and joy; they're the sign of the inner work I've done to feel things deeply.

I've found, too, that sadness is often at the root of my anger.

When I feel rage at Trump's latest cruel and ignorant behavior, for example, it's because I'm profoundly sad about the dire consequences that his actions have and will have for human beings. I'm heartbroken about the suffering he perpetrates.

I'm not saying that sadness is "better" than anger. But I think it's important to understand that our anger often comes out of our sadness, and that we need to feel the sadness as much as the anger.

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Each morning is all mornings.

The oak tree's shadow is the messiah.

The elephant shrew and the supernova are equals.

The Honda Accord is as natural as the Grand Canyon.

The skin is a temporary boundary, and so is the planet's surface.

The swallowtail butterfly is a savant.

Logic is crazy love.

The bat-eared fox is a razor-backed musk turtle.

Jubilation is an ecologically sound strategy.

No one knows how to sing the end of time because there is no end of time.

The critically endangered white rhinoceros is a forgotten birthday.

The vulnerable arctic wolf is emancipated from sin.

Purity is a sacrilegious vortex of panic.

Listening is the apotheosis of arrogance.

Our serpent thoughts keep us linked to original mirth.

The bumble bee redeems our unfertilized prophecies.

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I invite you to launch a new tradition or instigate a fresh trend or make a beautiful thing that will last for a thousand years. I'm talking about an amazing marvel or useful innovation or unique creation that will improve the lives of countless humans all over the planet for the next 40 generations.

Does that feel too ambitious? How about this: Launch a new tradition or instigate a fresh trend or create a beautiful thing that will last for the rest of your long life -- an amazing marvel or useful innovation or unique creation that will continue to teach and amuse you all along the way—and maybe a few people whom you will inspire, as well.

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Since I'm working so hard on new books, I don't get out much these days. But I just completed a five-day journey to New York City.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, which assures us that the world has gone to hell, I found abundant evidence that the world is filled with goodness.

Everywhere I went — restaurants, airports, bookstores, museums, sidewalks, and people's houses — I was blessed with an extravagant profusion of "raw, unalloyed, agenda-less kindness" — a term articulated by David Foster Wallace.

I am still in a blissful shock from the healing joy of it.

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My guess is that there's no such thing as "enlightenment." It's impossible for a human being to permanently own a perfect realization of the nature of reality.

But if there is anything that comes close to resembling "enlightenment," it's the visceral sensation of feeling close to all living things, and experiencing an ever-renewing empathy and affinity for all living things.

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On September 13 at the Strand Bookstore in New York, I got to participate in an outpouring of magic words and emotional intelligence with soul genius poets Ariana Reines, CAConrad, and Zoe Brezsny.

Such amazing luck to be part of this team!

See a few photos of the night

More photos from The Strand

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(Hear the meditation below as a spoken-word piece)

This is a perfect time for you to learn more about the difference between your fearful fantasies and your authentic, accurate intuitions.

It's always a good time to do that, of course, but even more so right now. This is an exciting turning point, when the future is up for grabs. Worn-out old habits of thought are unraveling. Structures that have kept us enthralled to fake values are crumbling. The coming months and years will be ripe with opportunities for us to lay the foundation for a new world that's actually fit for the human soul.

And in the midst of this grand mutation, it's predictable that so many so-called leaders are trying to fill up our imaginations with poison. They want us to buy into their belief that fear and loathing should be our default emotions.

In the face of their toxic paranoia, it's wise to remember that we always have the power to turn away from their terror-mongering and tune in to the guidance of the still, small voice within us -- the still, small voice of intuition that will, if we allow it, lead us very capably through every twist and turn of our destiny, even when our destiny brings us right into the thick of our civilization's massive transformations.


Knowing the difference between your fearful fantasies and your authentic, accurate intuitions is one of the greatest spiritual powers you can possible have. So let's explore what it means: knowing the difference between the frightening, alienating pictures that sometimes pop into your imagination, as opposed the simple, warm, clear direction that is always available from the deepest source within you.

Strangely enough, many people get these two things confused. They are especially prone to believing that the frightening, disempowering images that erupt in their mind's eye are coming from their intuition.

For many people, if they get an image of a scary future possibility popping into their imagination, they worry that it's a prediction of some event that will actually occur in their lives. For instance, they may have a fantasy of themselves getting into an accident, or maybe they dream of losing a loved one, or maybe they internalize the sickening vision of some talking head on TV who slaps them upside the head with a prediction of imminent doom. When these people get images like these stuck in their imagination, they may begin to obsess on the fear that these things are literally going to happen.

Almost every time, scary fantasies like this are not true intuition. Our true intuition is just not very likely to be fueled by fear, and it rarely if ever motivates us to act by making us feel afraid.

No. Our true intuition emerges from the wise, loving core of our being. It blooms in us like a slow-motion fountain of warmth. It reveals the objective truth about a person or situation with lucid compassion. It shows us the big picture.

Fearful fantasies, on the other hand, burn and itch and make us feel like we're coming apart. They drain our energy and cloud our judgment. They fill us with obsessive urges to run and hide or do something desperate and melodramatic.

I don't want to say that true intuition is always calm and emotionally neutral. It isn't, necessarily. But I will say this: The emotions that accompany true intuition are never alienating. They don't make us feel superior to other people or fill us with hatred and terror. They don't disempower us or make us feel helpless.

True intuition may rouse our anger, but if so, it is the kind of invigorating anger that leads to clarity and constructive action, and thus it is an anger that ultimately relaxes us.

True intuition may show us a difficult truth, but it always does so with a suggestion of how to deal gracefully and courageously with that difficult truth. True intuition may reveal imminent changes that could compel us to adjust our behavior, but it always does so in a way that empowers us.

Let me emphasize this point: True intuition may not always reveal that everything will be fine, or that we will be able to continue to live in the ways be have been living -- true intuition is certainly not falsely optimistic -- but if it does alert us to circumstances that are in flux, and how we will have to transform ourselves, it does so with love and poise and clarity, not with fear.

Here's one more thing. Just as our true intuition never works by scaring the hell out of us, neither does it flatter us with grandiose suggestions about how superior we are. In fact, it may often gently inform us of some correction that should be made in our attitude. It may tactfully but firmly lead us to the understanding that we have been suffering from some form of ignorance and that we need to wake up and get smarter.

True intuition reveals the story of our lives from our soul's point of view, not our ego's. In my understanding, true intuition is the voice of our own personal inner teacher, which just happens to be the divine part of us. The certainty that true intuition provides us is therefore not loud and puffed up, but rather humble and graceful.


This is a perfect moment to think on these things, and to add some insights of your own. It's also an excellent time to flush away the fearful fantasies that may have seeped into your imagination -- and thereby make it possible for you to hear your true intuition better.

One way to facilitate this process, by the way, is to cut way back on the amount of terrifying and disorienting images you allow to flow into your imagination from the TV, Internet, newspapers, movies, and other mass media. In fact, I invite you to consider the possibility of going on a media fast for a while and spending more time in nature than you usually do.

In conclusion, my beloved companions on this beautiful, interesting planet, please get to work on seeing your fearful fantasies for what they are and enhancing your connection to your true intuition.


"Fear Versus Intuition" is from the soundtrack for my book
*Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings*. which is available here:

at Amazon
at Powells

(Hear the above essay as a spoken-word piece)

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Buddhist modes of meditation are great! But there are many other ways to meditate, too—in fact, an infinite number. I agree with Christopher Bamford, who says:

"As a free deed, meditation is naturally individual, uniquely our own. It is where we most fully become ourselves. Its practice is also always individual.

"There are no rules. Just as every potter will elaborate his or her own way of making pots, so every person who meditates will shape his or her own meditation. No two people will do a given meditation in exactly the same way. The same meditation practiced daily will be different every time.

"Every meditation is experimental. One never knows what is going to happen. Improvisation is essential . . . Meditation is something to play with . . . There is no 'wrong' way of doing the meditation, except not doing it!"

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The Great Art consists of making continuous conscious effort to align our thoughts and feelings with the highest ideals we have thus far been able to comprehend.

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Activism Works!

A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history.

On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions.

—Andrew Harvey

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

Read past issues of the newsletter.

Sign up here for your free subscription.

 photo Picture16-2.png


Some people don't want to register evidence that contradicts their foregone conclusions about humans' damaging presence on the planet.

It's dangerous to do so, they feel, because it threatens to make us complacent and fall under the delusion that our work as freedom fighters is done. Celebrating progress is a foolish indulgence that would sap our motivation to keep agitating for even greater justice. Focusing on the good stuff tempts us to ignore the continuing bad stuff.

I understand that position. It's the stance of many devoted activists who have a ferocious devotion to the extinction of suffering. I respect their work and am rooting them on. But I'd also like to suggest that there are alternate ways to wage the war on stupidity, violence, and tyranny.

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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Howard Zinn wrote: An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time.

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 lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Read more.

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It takes just 3.5% of a population actively participating in non-violent protests to ensure serious political change.

No government can withstand a challenge of 3.5% of its population without either accommodating the movement or (in extreme cases) disintegrating.

For example, in 1986, millions of Filipinos took to the streets of Manila in peaceful protest and prayer in the People Power movement. The Marcos regime folded on the fourth day.

In 2003, the people of Georgia ousted Eduard Shevardnadze through the bloodless Rose Revolution, in which protestors stormed the parliament building holding the flowers in their hands.

Earlier this year, the presidents of Sudan and Algeria both announced they would step aside after decades in office, thanks to peaceful campaigns of resistance.

Read more.

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"Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume there is no hope, you guarantee there will be no hope."

—Noam Chomsky

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So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don’t like, what we don’t want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don’t want, what we don’t like, what we want to change.

So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn’t climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell in love with the world. So it is my feeling of connection that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected.

—Julia Butterfly Hill

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I do understand if, during the course of reading about good news, you're visited by thoughts like, "But what about all the terrible things in the world?" or "Brezsny's totally imbalanced in his perspective!"

Please know that in tallying up the profuse blessings that surround us, I'm not implying that utopia is at hand. My education and my predilection for empathy have made me acutely aware of the suffering of human beings, whether they live next door or 10,000 miles away.
But I also regard it as my fun duty to counterbalance the hordes of cynical storytellers in the media and entertainment industries who tirelessly assure us that life on Earth is a dismal hell. I think it's smart to aggressively identify all the ways the world works for us.

I also want to suggest that it doesn't help those who are suffering if we hate or feel guilty for our own blessings. To dwell for a few stolen minutes on the beauty and pleasures of our lives is not tantamount to ignoring all the sad and bad things.

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Many great and effective activists have come to the conclusion, as I have, that cultivating hope and optimism is crucial to being effective as an activist. They include Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and Julia Butterfly Hill.

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Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit

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Activism works. And there are millions & millions of activists.

1. Spain said it would create a new marine wildlife reserve for the migrations of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean and will prohibit all future fossil fuels exploration in the area.

2. Following "visionary" steps by Belize, UNESCO removed the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world, from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites.

3. Colombia officially expanded the Serranía de Chiribiquete (also known as The Cosmic Village of the Jaguars) to 4.3 million hectares, making it the largest protected tropical rainforest national park in the world.

4. Mexico said its population of wild jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas, grew by 20% in the past eight years, and 14 Latin American countries signed an agreement to implement a regional conservation program for the big cats through 2030.

5. In the forests of central Africa, the population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, was reported to have increased by 25% since 2010, to over 1,000 individuals.

6. Canada signed another conservation deal with its First Nations people, creating the largest protected boreal forest (an area twice the size of Belgium) on the planet.

7. Chile passed a new law protecting the waters along its coastline, creating nine marine reserves and increasing the area of ocean under state protection from 4.3% to 42.4%.

8. The Seychelles created a new 130,000 square kilometer marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, protecting their waters from illegal fishing for generations to come.

9. New Caledonia agreed to place 28,000 square kilometers of its ocean waters under protection, including some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs.

Read many more specific examples of how well activism is working in the comments section of this post.

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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

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Sacred activism is the fusion of the mystic’s passion for God with the activist’s passion for justice -- creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing. "

—Andrew Harvey

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Musician David Byrne offers a website called Reasons to be Cheerful. It's dedicated to articulating solutions to problems. More here.

This Lake Belongs to Everyone. A city on Lake Erie convinced its waterfront property owners to give the public their waterfronts for free. It’s a case that could transform the Great Lakes forever.

Portugal’s Wildly Successful Decriminalization Experiment. By decriminalizing even “hard” drugs like heroin and cocaine, Portugal drove down HIV rates and overdose deaths—and proved beyond a doubt that harm reduction works.

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