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Week of June 3rd, 2021

What If Your Drive to Experience Pleasure Enhances Your Spiritual Growth?

For one human being to love another is the most difficult task of all. It’s the work for which all other work is mere preparation.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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Imagine that the whole world belongs to you. The birch trees in New Hampshire's White Mountains are yours, and so are the cirrus clouds in the western sky at dusk and the black sand on the beaches of Hawaii's Big Island.

You own everything, my dear sovereign—the paintings in all the museums of the world, as well as the Internet and the wild horses and the eight-lane highways.

Please take good care of it all, OK? Be an enlightened monarch who treats your domain with reverent responsibility. And make sure you also enjoy the full measure of fun that comes with such mastery. Glide through life as if all of creation is yearning to honor and entertain you.

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What is the holiest river in the world? Some might say the Ganges in India. Others would propose the Jordan River or the River Nile. But I say the holiest river is the one that's closest to where you are right now.

Go to that river and commune with it. Throw a small treasure into it as an offering. Next, find a holy sidewalk to walk on, praise the holiness in a bus driver, kiss a holy tree, and shop at a holy store.

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What if the Creator is like Rainer Maria Rilke's God, "like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence"? What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?

What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to deepen your perceptions and change the way you think about everything? Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.

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Say this: "Novel intuitions are now erupting from my smart heart, awakening me from any trance I've been ensnared in. I am hereby breaking and escaping obstructions that have hindered my ability to express my soul's code. All of my unique capacities are being unleashed, all of my potentials activated. I recognize that I'm a miraculous work of art, a masterpiece unlike any other ever created in the history of the world."

Say this: "I am a genius. I am a lucky, plucky, good-sucking genius."

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Go to the ugliest or most forlorn place you know--a drugstore parking lot, the front porch of a crack house, a toxic waste dump, or the place that symbolizes your secret shame--and build a shrine devoted to beauty, truth, and love.

Here are some suggestions about what to put in your shrine: a silk scarf; a smooth rock on which you've inscribed a haiku or joke with a felt-tip pen; coconut cookies or ginger candy; pumpkin seeds and an origami crane; a green kite shaped like a dragon; a music CD you love; a photo of your hero; a votive candle carved with your word of power; a rubber ducky; a bouquet of fresh beets; a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

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With grace and persistence, you will be able to claim the rewards promised you at the beginning of time -- not just any old beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, freedom, and justice, but rather:

• exhilarating beauty that incites you to be true to yourself;

• crazy wisdom that immunizes you against the temptation to believe your ideals are ultimate truths;

• outrageous goodness that inspires you to experiment with boisterous empathy;

• generous freedom that keeps you alert for opportunities to share your wealth; insurrectionary love that endlessly transforms you;

• and a lust for justice that's leavened with a knack for comedy, keeping you honest as you work humbly to liberate everyone in the world from ignorance and suffering.

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Proposed Experiment: Compose a declaration describing an experience, state of mind, or project you'll be most excited to cultivate at the center of your life during the next six months—starting now.

Write it out in longhand on a piece of paper. Put that statement in a place where you will see it regularly.

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1. If everything seems to be under control, we're probably not moving fast enough.

2. If we're not pretty much always a bit confused, most likely we're not thinking deeply enough.

3. If we're not feeling forever amazed, maybe we're not seeing wildly enough.

4. The truth is fluid, slippery, vagrant, scrambled, promiscuous, kaleidoscopic, and outrageously abundant. And yet it's worth trying to corral!

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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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Love thrives when neither partner takes things personally, so it's wise for us to cultivate a devotion to forgiveness and divest ourselves of the urge to blame.

Love is a game in which the rules keep changing, so it's wise for us to be crafty and improvisational as we stay alert for each unexpected twist of fate.

Love enmeshes us in your partner's unique set of karmic complications, so it's wise to make sure we're very interested in his or her problems.

Love is a laboratory where we can uncover secrets about ourselves that have previously been hidden, so it's wise to be ravenously curious.

Love is never a perfect match of totally compatible saints, so it's wise for us to not let sterile fantasies seduce us away from flawed but fecund realities.

Love is not a low-maintenance machine, so it's wise for us to work hard on cultivating its unpredictable organic wonders.

Love is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of DreamWorks or Disney, so it's wise for us to not allow our romantic story be infected by the entertainment industry's simplistic, sentimental myths about intimate relationships.

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Homework: Write an essay on at least two of the following topics:

1. "How I Used My Nightmares to Become Smart and Strong"

2. "How I Exploited My Problems to Become a Spiritual Freedom Fighter"

3. "How I Fed and Fed and Fed My Monsters Until They Ate Themselves to Death"

4. "How I Turned Envy, Frustration, and Smoldering Anger into Generosity, Compassion, and Fiery Success"

5. "Why Perfection Sux"

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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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This is my hypothesis: That in order to understand anything or anyone, you have to love it. And by love it, I don’t mean feel romantic passion for it or from it, or any other version of love that is tinged with expectation or sentimentality. This is a kind of love that’s characterized by compassion, empathy, and lovingkindness.

To open yourself up with love to an iris or redwood tree or hermit crab is to assert that you find those life forms worthy enough to bestow blessings upon; and furthermore, that you find them worthy enough to communicate with.

Because when you open yourself to a creature or living thing with love in order to understand it, you make it possible for that singuklare form of intelligence to communicate with you — most likely in its own language, which is not English, nor even verbal; and through the lens of its own unique intelligence, which is not (in the case of the iris, redwood, or crab) the intelligence that is housed in a human brain.

When you open yourself in love in order to understand a creature or living thing, you are telling that creature or living thing not only that you want to perceive its essence, but that you are also willing and even interested in being influenced by its essence, being changed by its essence.

You’re telling it that you’re receptive to be touched by its specific intelligence speaking through its special language — not your own intelligence and language.

This gives the creature or living thing — iris, redwood, or crab — a great gift: which consists, in part, of the opportunity to give you a great gift.


Every creature and living thing is a node in the Divine Consciousness, is a special case of the intelligence of the All, and longs to express itself in such a way as to give you a present.

I mean that literally. Everything LONGS to express itself so that you can take it in. And everything LONGS to thereby give you the gift of itself.

This is not a selfish longing to be seen for itself so much as a longing to give you the special wisdom and beauty that it alone possesses and channels: a longing to give the unique glimpse at the Divine Consciousness that comes through it alone.

In giving your loving attention to the iris or redwood or crab, you are showing it that you want to understand it. This allows the iris or redwood or crab, in turn, to give you the tremendous and mysterious gift of its special intelligence, expressed through its unique language.

The gift you receive is double: You’re able to get out of yourself, able to transcend your narrow interests and intelligence sufficiently to learn how to understand the iris or redwood or crab in its native tongue.

The second gift is that you’re able to harvest the actual benefits of the “information” that the iris’s intelligence and language convey (and redwood’s and crab’s), whether than information comes in the form of an intuition about the nature of reality, or an opening in yourself of the part of the universal God hologram that corresponds to the iris or redwood or crab.

(Yes, you are a tiny hologram of the Universal Projector, the One and Only Hologram, but sometimes, in order to “turn on” parts of the Universal Hologram within you, you have to open to those parts in the physical world."

This is an important part of my strategy to enter into a variety of altered states in my quest to viscerally commune with the Divine Consciousness, a.k.a the mind of Goddess.

If I can learn to speak the language of the iris and redwood and crab, and somehow awaken in myself the part of my intelligence that is like an iris’s and redwood’s and crab’s (and it’s all there, since I contain or rather am a hologram of the All-in-One), then I have in effect achieved an altered state.

I have jolted myself out of my normal human humdrum awareness and added to my repertoire a fresh perspective, an additional mode of perceiving and understanding the world: as the iris or redwood or crab does.


Let’s say I can do this every day, in little or big ways.

At least once every day, and sometimes more on my freer days, I can open my heart-brain with love in the attempt to understand the essence of the iris or redwood or crab (or the cat named Truly or my neighbor Patricia or the gopher snake I encountered on the trail while hiking) — and can thereby allow those life forms to do what comes naturally for them, to do what they were made to do, which is to unveil themselves to me in glorious extravagant fullness, with their own love nature bursting . . .

and so the iris or redwood or crab or cat or human or snake can initiate me into the mysteries of their intelligence, teach me how to experience the world as they do, and bestow on me the power to alter my state of awareness — giving me yet more tools for knowing Goddess’s mind not just conceptually but with gnosis – with visceral understanding.

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We are dissident bodhisattvas rebelling against those forces that feed fear and ignore love.

We are spiritual freedom fighters rising up to protect nature and foment peace and demand justice.

We are subversive mystics stoking the cool blue fires of poetry and lobbying for the liberated imagination.

We are militant ecstatics invoking the transformative powers of pleasure to sanctify and beautify our one and only Earth.

We are mutinous purveyors of grace who redistribute the wealth so that all creatures may have the means to thrive.

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Invitation: Go inward and contact the wisest source you know—call it your higher self, your holy guardian angel, Goddess or God, the genius of nature, or your strongest intelligence. Then pose this inquiry: What do I need to become aware of that I wouldn't even know to ask about?

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Many people today believe that cynicism requires courage. Actually, cynicism is the height of cowardice. It is innocence and open-heartedness that requires the true courage—however often we are hurt as a result of it.

—Erica Jong

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Veterans of war who've been wounded by shrapnel often find that years later, some of the metal fragments eventually migrate to the surface and pop out of their skin.

The moral of the story: The body may take a long time to purify itself of toxins.

The same is true about your psyche. It might not be able to easily and quickly get rid of the poisons it has absorbed, but you should never give up hoping it will find a way.

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Novelist and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn departed this life in 1998, but she articulated a message that's important for us to hear.

She wrote, "People often say, with pride, 'I’m not interested in politics.' They might as well say, 'I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.'"

Gelhorn added, "If we mean to keep control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics."

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It's a free country. We're free to desecrate nature and live without any thought for our fellow creatures and adamantly believe every borrowed idea that settled into our heads when we were coming of age or when we were full of anger.

We're free to scarf down pesticide-laden junk food and memorize Ford truck jingles and vote for old white straight male millionaires.

On the other hand, we're also free to go on jubilant picnics in the wilderness using sustainable dishware and cleaning up after ourselves.

We're free to formulate master plans to achieve our own precious dreams in ways that will also serve our fellow creatures and bestow blessings on our descendants.

We're free to radically revise our philosophy of life every once in a while to account for the ever-changing contours of our own destiny and the ever-evolving urgencies of our shared culture and history.

We're free—FREE!!!!—to care dearly about what foods we put in your body and keep expanding our acceptance of other humans exactly as they are and meditate daily on what we could do to refine and deepen the ways we express love.

I bring these thoughts to our attention because I hope to encourage us to become connoisseurs of freedom and masters of the art of liberation.

Hypothesis: To serve our emancipatory ambitions most effectively, we are primarily motivated by the desire to give our gifts and express our love.

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You're older than yourself. Your shadow feels a deep affection for you. You know how to mock charisma. You invent ever-new zodiacs. You never use your pain to show off. Genius! Prodigy!

You pray for things you don't want just to keep your sorcery clean and sweet. Feral paradises relax you. You never steal -- you only change the owners' names. You never hate, since that would kill all your jokes. Virtuoso! Maestro!

You know the best places not to hide. You ask trees questions. You burn black flags in the war of pot versus pan. You are the highest, most spiritual greed -- the mushroom light of gratitude. You know the violent tenderness when everything is named. Gifted! Unique!

Black is the only halo that fits you. Ruthless compassion is your favorite disguise. Joy without payment keeps you safe and dangerous at the same time, which is how you love it. Transition-Master! Eternal Transformer!

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I hope you can obtain the Avatar Elixir stashed in the golden obelisk in the underground fortress beneath the glass mountain. It will allow you to produce the "triple-helix" energy that will give you the power to cross freely back and forth through the gateway between universes.

Then wild creatures will seek out your influence. Rivers and winds will become your allies. The cells of your body will communicate with you clearly and joyfully. Every star in the sky will shine directly on you.

And if for some reason you're not able to get your hands on that Avatar Elixir, you may be able to achieve similar results by drinking a bottle of beer stashed in the lower left rear section of the beverage cooler at a convenience store within five miles of your home.

Magic might be wherever you think it is.

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Congratulations. Every cell in your perfect animal body is beginning to purr with luminous gratitude for the magnitude of the riches you endlessly receive.

You are becoming aware that each of your heart's beats originates as a gift of love directly from the Goddess herself.

Any residues of hatred that had been tainting your libido are leaving you for good.

You are becoming telepathically linked to the world's entire host of secret teachers, pacifist warriors, philosopher clowns, and bodhisattvas disguised as convenience store clerks.

In other words, you're on the verge of détente with your evil twin. And you're ready to submit to a multiple-choice test, which goes like this:

How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to:

a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years;

b. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire;

c. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm;

d. steal something that's already yours.

The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew.

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