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Week of October 10th, 2019

The only appropriate state of the mind is surprise

The universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. There is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.

—Terry Pratchett

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“Admire as much as you can. Most people do not admire enough." So said Vincent van Gogh.

Admiring people who are worthy of our admiration doesn't cost us anything. Same with admiring animals and plants and natural phenomena: no pain involved. Same with admiring great accomplishments by our fellow humans: no agony or agitation required.

I'll go so far as to say that feeling and expressing admiration is a joyful form of healing.

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Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

—John Muir


When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.

—John Muir

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At a certain point, you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening.

—Annie Dillard

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The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.

—Annie Dillard

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The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

—Annie Dillard

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"A good song reminds us what we're fighting for," said Pete Seeger. So here's a good song by Rising Appalachia

Here's another good song by Rising Appalachia

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We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us.

—Annie Dillard

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In the belly of the furnace of creativity is a sexual fire; the flames twine about each other in fear and delight. The same sort of coiling, at a cooler, slower pace, is what the life of this planet looks like. The enormous spirals of typhoons, the twists and turns of mountain ranges and gorges, the waves and the deep ocean currents—a dragonlike writhing.

—Gary Snyder

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Hope has never trickled down, it has always sprung up.

—Naomi Klein

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In the eternal youth of Nature, you may renew your own.

—John Muir

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

—Pete Seeger

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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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