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Week of February 18th, 2021

Beauty and Liberation Here and Now

The lesson that life constantly enforces is "Look underfoot." You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world.

—Naturalist John Burroughs

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Today I am Master of the Obvious. I am a Simpleton Stating the Prosaic Truth. I am telling anyone who cares to listen that of course Western medicine and Big Pharma do bad and self-serving things.

You know who else does bad and self-serving things? Every system and organization on earth: corporations, religions, governments, the media, academia, publishing, the film and art and music industries, the big tech companies, the college football industry and all the other professional sports industries . . . and many, many more.

Toward all these bad and self-serving institutions, we develop a discerning skepticism, based on accurate evidence. We criticize them. We do what we can to reform them. And we acknowledge that they also do some good and helpful things that we're grateful for.

So we go forward, holding in our minds a poised understanding of their contradictions, as intelligent people do. We cultivate an awareness that everything is flawed and imperfect, and that many imperfect and flawed things (not all) also have value and beneficence.

We meditate on the psychological concept of co-emergence, which postulates that every beautiful, useful thing is intertwined with some challenging problem; that every challenging problem has some inspiration and education to offer us.

We meditate on what my daughter said when she was five years old, "There's nothing in the world that is either all good or all bad."


PS: Of course scientists who develop vaccines are motivated in part by money and ego and personal bias, like everyone else on the planet.

Of course there are problems with things that are created by people under the influence of money and ego and personal bias.

But that's universally true. NOTHING ever created or offered is perfect. Everything and everyone is cracked or broken in some way. And we wander on, doing our best to cultivate equanimity, summoning as much grace and courage as we can under the influence of the Universal Blemish.


To specifically apply this line of thought to the covid vaccines: No, they are not PERFECTLY safe and effective. Nothing is! Nothing on earth is perfectly safe and effective!

But the vast preponderance of evidence from knowledgeable scientists all over the world is that the covid vaccines are very safe and very effective.

Furthermore, they are our best hope for emerging from the pandemic. Again, the vast preponderance of scientific evidence supports that conclusion.

Here's some of that evidence: Pfizer vaccine sharply reduces symptomatic Covid-19 in the real world, Israeli researchers say.


PS: There's a lot about Big Pharma I dislike. And in general, the US health system, despite being marginally better in recent years thanks to Obamacare, is still an abomination compared to the health systems of virtually all other Western nations.

Bottom line: I passionately want universal single-payer health coverage for all in the US. Anything less than that is a travesty.


On the other hand, I am also extremely grateful for Big Pharma and the US medical system as it is and has been. I would not be here if it weren't for them. I'd literally be gone from the earth. They saved me. Thank you!

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by Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.

You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.

You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.

Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.

Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

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Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane.

—Anne Lamott


Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.

—Rebecca Solnit


The perfect is the enemy of the good.



Excellence does not require perfection.

—Henry James

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The fundamentalist person delusionally imagines that perfection is a desirable and possible goal.

The fundamentalist takes everything way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally.

The fundamentalist divides the world into two camps, those who agree with him and those who don't. There is only one right way to interpret the world, and a million wrong ways. Correct belief is the only virtue.

To the fundamentalist, the liberated imagination is a sinful taboo. He not only enslaves his own imagination to his ideology, but wants to enslave our imaginations, too.

And who are the fundamentalists? Let's not remain under the delusion that they are only the usual suspects—the religious fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.

There are many other kinds of fundamentalists, and some of them have gotten away with practicing their tragic magic in a stealth mode.

Among the most successful are those who believe in what Robert Anton Wilson calls fundamentalist materialism. This is the faith-based dogma that swears physical matter is the only reality and that nothing exists unless it can be detected by our five senses or by technologies that humans have made.

Life has no transcendent meaning or purpose, the fundamentalist materialists proclaim. There is no such thing as a divine intelligence. The universe is a dumb accidental machine that grinds on endlessly out of blind necessity.

I see spread out before me in every direction a staggeringly sublime miracle lovingly crafted by a supernal consciousness that oversees the evolution of 500 billion galaxies, yet is also available as an intimate companion and daily advisor to every one of us. But to the fundamentalist materialists, my perceptions are indisputably wrong and idiotic.

Many other varieties of fundamentalism thrive and propagate. Every ideology, even some of the ones I like, has its share of true believers—fanatics who judge all other ideologies as inferior, flawed, and foolish.

I know astrologers who insist there's only one way to do astrology right. I know Buddhists who adamantly decree that the inherent nature of life on Earth is suffering.

I know college administrators who would excommunicate any psychology professor who dared to discuss the teachings of Carl Jung, who was in my opinion one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

I know pagans who refuse to consider any other version of Jesus Christ beyond the sick parody the Christian right has fabricated.

None of the true believers like to hear that there are at least three sides to every story.

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Poet Diane Di Prima said, "The only war is the war against the imagination. All other wars are subsumed in it."

The delusional drive for perfection, which fundamentalism is driven by, is in one sense a war against the imagination—which just wants to be free to explore eternal variety and paradox.

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Unexpected wonders happen, not on schedule, or when you expect or want them to happen, but if you keep hanging around, they do happen.

—Wendell Berry


"You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.

—Wendell Berry


When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

—Classicist scholar and author Edith Hamilton


Our word "idiot" comes from the Greek name for the man who took no share in public matters.

—Edith Hamilton


Responsibility is the price every person must pay for freedom.

—Edith Hamilton


Convention, so often a mask for injustice.

—Edith Hamilton

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In his talk on February 5, mind-expanding astrologer and philosopher Richard Tarnas delivered the most inspiring and emotionally rich visionary revelations I've heard in many years: uplifting, inspiring, and soul-shaking in the best ways.

It was an emotionally rich explanation of how the universe is an ensouled, sentient intelligence that we now have an initiatory opportunity to get back into communion with, as indigenous people have enjoyed for millennia.

You can watch it here.

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If you'd like to read about the current state of scientific thinking about the covid vaccines, this is one of the best articles I've seen lately:

"What If We Never Reach Herd Immunity? Hitting the threshold might actually be impossible. But vaccines can still help end the pandemic."


What does it mean that the cvoid vaccines have 95% efficacy?


The mistakes and the struggles behind America’s coronavirus tragedy.

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"All of science overturned by a single tweet.Random non-expert on the Internet proves new claim by tweeting it; all scientists in all fields abandon centuries of work." [Warning: Satire]


"Honey, come look! I've found some information all the world's top scientists and doctors missed." [Warning: Satire]

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The coronavirus vaccines are a triumph. They are saving lives today; they will help end this pandemic eventually; and they will pay scientific dividends for generations.

“Once the history of this is written, they are going to be referred to as some of the greatest achievements of science,” Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina sociologist with a track record of prescience on the coronavirus. "It’s the kind of thing you would have national celebration and fireworks and church bells ringing."

Read more.

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"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out."

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The Beauty and Truth Lab's rapturists have formulated a batch of personal ads for you to borrow. If you're a Crafty Optimist or Mystical Activist or Ceremonial Teaser who aspires to put the elation back in relationship, check them out here:

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Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so deeply that you have become nonchalant about the enormity of the grace it confers.

So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to being born. If you're smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness.

Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection. The spirits of allies who've left this world continue to send their tender regards, as well.

Do you "believe" in angels and other divine beings? Whether or not you do, I can assure you that there are hordes of them beaming their uncanny consecrations your way. You are awash in torrents of love.

As tremendous a gift it is to get love, giving love is an equal boon. Many scientific studies demonstrate that whenever you bestow blessings on other people, you bless yourself. Expressing practical compassion not only strengthens your immune system and bolsters your health, but also promotes self-esteem, enhances longevity, and stimulates tranquility and even euphoria.

As the scientists say, we humans are hardwired to benefit from altruism.

What's your position on making love? Do you regard it as one of the nicer fringe benefits of being alive? Or are you more inclined to see it as a central proof of the primal magnanimity of the universe? I'm more aligned with the latter view.

Imagine yourself in the fluidic blaze of that intimate spectacle right now. Savor the fantasy of entwining bodies and hearts and minds with an appealing partner who has the power to enchant you.

What better way do you know of to dwell in sacred space while immersed in your body's delight? To commune with the Divine Wow while having fun? To tap into your own deeper knowing while at the same time gazing into the mysterious light of a fellow creature?

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I invite you to speak the following vows out loud:

As long as I live, I vow to die and be reborn, die and be reborn, die and be reborn, over and over again, forever reinventing myself.

I promise to be stronger than hate, wetter than water, deeper than the abyss, and wilder than the sun.

I pledge to remember that I am not only a sweating, half-asleep, excitable, bumbling jumble of desires, but that I am also an immortal four-dimensional messiah in continuous telepathic touch with all of creation.

I vow to love and honor my highs and my lows my yeses and noes, my give and my take, the life I wish I had and the life I actually have.

I promise to push hard to get better and smarter, grow my devotion to the truth, fuel my commitment to beauty, refine my emotions, hone my dreams, wrestle with my shadow, purge my ignorance, and soften my heart—even as I always accept myself for exactly who I am, with all of my so-called foibles and wobbles.

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I was not yet writing my astrology column when I looked like this — but I was studying astrology at Goddard College under the tutelage of Peter Kubaska, who later became the President of the Theosophical Society.

Peter's mentors were Alice Bailey, Dane Rudhyar, Isabel Hickey, and Helena Blavatsky, so those four also had a big influence on me in the early days.

Here's the story of how I got started writing the astrology column.

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I'm always hungry for good news pertaining to Native Americans; always elated when I find some; always buoyed by any signs that their culture and power are ascending.

Here are eight joys:

Nez Perce Tribe reclaims 148 acres of ancestral land in Eastern Oregon.

Deb Haaland, member of the Laguna Pueblo, will soon be the first-ever Native American to run a Cabinet-level agency, as she takes on the job of Secretary of the Interior.

PBS News Hour interview with the US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, a member of Oklahoma's Muscogee Creek Nation and the first Native American to serve in that role:

The Blackfeet Nation Won a Decades-Long Fight to Protect lands and waters sacred to the Blackfeet and critical for wildlife habitat.

New tiny home village in Tacoma to serve Puyallup Tribal members experiencing homelessness:

Joe Biden: Tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone

Colleen Echohawk, Pawnee and Athabascan, is the current director of the Chief Seattle Club (a Native-led non-profit serving unhoused urban Natives in Seattle). She is running for Seattle's mayor

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes embrace return of National Bison Range amid national focus on tribal management.

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Dear Progressive Radio Station KPFA:

I love you. You are an oasis, a reality check that keeps me sane, one of the media outlets that actually reflects some of my values. You're also the only radio station that has over the years given me airtime to spout my particular brand of the truth. Thank you for that.

But there is a sorrowful complaint I harbor against you: When you cover the news, you're just too damn angry all the time.

Don't misunderstand me. I respect the power of anger to rouse clarity. In the face of the demented pathology loose in our culture, compassionate people have a duty to wield wrath constructively.

We of the pinko persuasion *should* bitch and resist, dissent and howl, be appalled and righteously critical. We *should* name the liars and expose the lies.

But that just ain't enough. For you, KPFA, to be so droningly, chronically pissed off in your coverage of the global predicament is deathly boring.

But more importantly: To dwell exclusively on fear and loathing threatens to paralyze the hearts of us listeners; it wounds our ability to be uproarious, imaginative, infectiously effective revolutionaries.

We can't afford to be motivated primarily by outrage. We've got to cultivate ingenious joy and celebratory fervor as we create and define the beautiful culture we want to inhabit.

Dear KPFA, it wouldn't take much to fix the gross imbalance. I'm not asking you to even come halfway over to my view. Just a nod in the direction of PRONOIA would make a huge difference.

What if your hard-working news program "Flashpoints" could devote, say, 80 percent of its material to protesting the ugliness and ignorance, and 20 percent to conjuring visions of beauty, truth, justice, poetry, love, goodness, and soulfulness? I would take even 10%.

I'm not talking about New Age BS or the sentimental hallucinations of Pollyannas. I mean deep thinkers who have spiritual and psychological perspectives to blend with their political savvy. I mean poets and visionaries and prophets who leaven their critiques of the empire with the language of the soul.

Which leads me to my next point. If we're sincere in our devotion to the business of creating a better world, then we cannot afford to imitate (and therefore reproduce) the one-dimensional, literalist, fanatical, party-line, scapegoat-creating modes of thought that the patriarchy has specialized in.

What that means is:

1) We have to be in ongoing conversation with our own personal shadows; in other words, we have to apply the same revolutionary zeal to dissolving our own internal fixations as we do to toppling the ignorance we see in the world around us.

2) We have to be humble about how complicated the world is, and therefore we have to be less than arrogantly certain in claiming we always know what's best in every situation; we have to be subtle, multi-leveled, and willing to acknowledge the ambiguity inherent in real life.

3) We have to understand that political struggle is half-baked unless it's anchored in soul work. What's soul work?

a. A ruthless, ongoing self-examination that continually regenerates our shadows.

b. The cultivation of less literal modes of knowing the world.

c. A desire to translate our high ideals into the marrow of our everyday interactions.

d. A determination to keep from becoming predictable rhetoricians forever hammering home our pet theories even as the world is recreating itself right in front of our blind eyes.

4) Our political work proceeds with far more efficacy and grace if it's mixed with at least some amount of poetry and myth and magic and ritual and soul.

Since you, KPFA, are one of the best practitioners of the political work I believe in, I would love to see you integrate these principles.


PS: I'm assuming that readers know I am not singling out KPFA. Much of the progressive news media has this same failing, imo.


PS: Dear KPFA: Thank you for hosting Caroline Casey's "Visionary Activist" show for the last 24 years. It is an oasis of soulful beauty. However, it constitutes just 0.6% of your weekly programming. If we could get Casey on for 15 more hours per week, we'd have a chance at getting up to the bare minimum 10% of soulful beauty programming.

Info about Caroline's show is HERE and HERE


The only famous journalist who has featured poets on nightly TV newscasts (that I know of) is my old friend Jeffrey Brown on the PBS News Hour. Here is his interview with the US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, a member of Oklahoma's Muscogee Creek Nation and the first Native American to serve in that role:

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