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Week of October 7th, 2021

Cultivating Excellent Desires

Whether it's your time to gather your strength in the shadows or exude your lust for life in the sun, fresh power to transform yourself is on the way.

Life always delivers the creative energy you need to change into the new thing you must become. You can count on it! So be alert for it. Be receptive to it.

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Here's a link to my free weekly email newsletter, featuring the Free Will Astrology horoscopes, plus a celebratory array of tender rants, lyrical excitements, poetic philosophy, and joyous adventures in consciousness. It arrives every Tuesday morning by 7:30 am.

Read past issues of the newsletter since May 12.

Read past issues of the newsletter from before May 12.

Sign up here for your free subscription.

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Whether it's your time to gather your strength in the shadows or exude your lust for life in the sun, fresh power to transform yourself is on the way.

Life always delivers the creative energy you need to change into the new thing you must become. You can count on it! So be alert for it. Be receptive to it.

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Our own personal happiness is impossible and hollow unless we are also in service to others. With this in mind, I propose an extension of the Bodhisattva's Vow.
The Bodhisattva Vow: "My own personal quest for illumination is incomplete, and my own personal enlightenment is meaningless, unless I am also in some specific way devoted to easing the suffering of others."

I suggest we take this Vow a step further and say, "My quest for illumination is incomplete, and my enlightenment meaningless, unless I am also in some specific way devoted to the goals of easing the suffering of others and helping them experience joy and pleasure and liberation and meaningfulness."

A cornerstone of this Extended Version of the Bodhisattva's Vow is that we are committed to providing the fundamental needs of all humans beings—their food, shelter, medical care, money—so that they have the ability to expand into joy and pleasure and liberation and abundance.

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Some religious traditions preach the value of banishing or renouncing your desires. I do not subscribe to those traditions, so I will never urge you to banish or renounce your desires.

I prefer to encourage you to cultivate excellent desires. Here are a few I highly recommend:

• a desire for interesting riddles and fascinating challenges that excite both your mind and your heart;

• a desire for comrades who enjoy your specific idiosyncrasies and eccentricities;

• a desire to attract ongoing encounters with nonstandard beauty so as to always ensure a part of you remains untamed;

• a desire to help create a world in which everyone gets the food, housing, and health care they need;

• a desire for good surprises and unpredictable fun;

• a desire for group collaborations that enhance the intelligence of everyone in the group;

• a desire to keep outgrowing what worked for you in the past and a desire to ceaselessly explore and invent new approaches to being yourself;

• a desire to be playful and creative with your libidinous energy;

• a desire to help cultivate the health and beauty of the natural world;

• a desire for revelations and experiences that steer you away from thinking and acting like the machines you interact with so much;

• a desire to keep reinventing and reinvigorating your relationships with those you love;

• a desire to keep refining and expanding your ability to learn from non-human intelligences;

• a desire to keep refreshing your quest for freedom and deepening your capacity to be free;

• a desire to move your body in ways that delight your soul;

• a desire to help eliminate bigotry, misogyny, plutocracy, racism, and militarism.

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CONDUIT MAGAZINE: Can you say what you mean by "Free Will Astrology"? It sounds like an oxymoron.

ROB BREZSNY: My approach to astrology is different from some mainstream astrologers. when I first began writing the column many years ago, I didn't like astrology columns, and I didn't like a lot of the ways astrology was practiced.

Then as now, astrology in the hands of many practitioners tends to make people afraid of the future, fills them with ideas about there being some sort of fixed destiny that they're being pulled toward and that they're helpless to resist. This kind of thinking was and still is repulsive to me.

I didn't like astrology columns, because they were watered-down versions of the complex art of astrology, which was practiced, after all, by groundbreaking psychologist Carl Jung.

So when I first got the opportunity to write an astrology column, I decided that if somebody was going to do it, it might as well be me—someone who was trained in poetry, loves language, and respects the free will of the people who might read my work.

The bedrock of my practice has always been the idea that the planets may impel, but they don't compel. A study of the configurations of planets shows us the archetypal forces that are coalescing, dissolving, and becoming active in our lives. That can instruct us on how to use our free will to best activate the best versions of those archetypal forces as they coalesce and dissolve.

So for me, "Free Will Astrology" conveys the notion that we have far more power than we might imagine over the way that we express the bigger forces at work in our lives.

My aspiration is not to condemn my readers to a particular fate that they can't avoid, but rather to show them the options that are available: the higher level, the mid-level, and the low-level ways in which they might express the archetypal forces, and to nudge them in the direction of finding where the highest-level expression of those forces might be.

Read more of this interview.

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"I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving.

"We are alive within mystery, by miracle."

—Wendell Berry, "Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition"

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Want to learn more about the difference between your fearful fantasies & your authentic, accurate intuitions?

Listen to my podcast.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

—Arthur C. Clarke

The supernatural is only the natural of which the laws are not yet understood.

—Agatha Christie

Any technology that does not appear magical is insufficiently advanced.

—Barry Gehm

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Reverence is one of the most useful emotions. When you respectfully acknowledge the sublime beauty of something greater than yourself, you do yourself a big favor. You generate authentic humility and sincere gratitude, which are healthy for your body as well as your soul.

Please note that reverence is not solely the province of religious people. A biologist may venerate the scientific method. An atheist might experience a devout sense of awe toward geniuses who have bequeathed to us their brilliant ideas.

What about you? What excites your reverence? I invite you to explore the deeper mysteries of this altered state of consciousness.

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How can we outwit and escape the numbing trance that everyday routine seems to foster? What can we do to stay alert to the subtle miracles and intriguing mysteries and numinous beauty that surround us on all sides?

Some possibilities:

1. Make it a daily practice to refresh the ways we perceive the world. Can you imagine what it would be like to change how you use your eyes?

2. Scan for opportunities to play and for creatures that like to play. Test the hypothesis that playing is a prime strategy for liberation.

3. Assume that the entire world is a constantly changing source of oracular revelation that has meaning for us—perhaps a meaning we have never before realized or understood.

4. Experiment with what happens when we use empathy and intuition to imagine how animals and other people experience life.

5. Don't take things too seriously or too personally or too literally.

6. Expose ourselves to provocative myths and intriguing symbols. Seek out stories that bend and twist our beliefs. Be open to exploring events and phenomena that elude rational explanation.

7. Give our unconscious minds the message that we want to feel deeply.

8. Cultivate a willingness, eagerness, and receptivity to being surprised.

9. Others?

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"Having very broad and abstract goals may maintain and exacerbate depression. Goals that are not specific are more ambiguous and, therefore, harder to visualize. If goals are hard to visualize it may result in reduced expectation of realizing them, which in turn results in lower motivation to try and achieve them."

—Researchers at the institute of Health, Psychology, and Society


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I invite you to experiment with the theme "Healthy Obsessions." Not "Melodramatic Compulsions" or "Exhausting Crazes" or "Manias That Make You Seem Interesting to Casual Bystanders," but "Healthy Obsessions."

To do it well, you will have to take really good care of yourself as you concentrate extravagantly on tasks that fill you with zest and zeal. This may require you to rebel against the influences of role models, both in your actual life and in the movies you've seen, who act as if getting sick and imbalanced is an integral part of being true to one's genius.

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"Blissipline is the commitment to experiencing a little or a lot of bliss every day; the practice of expanding one's capacity for bliss and being open to receive it in any moment." A "blissiplinarian" is "someone who enforces pleasure and invites opportunities for more pleasure," while a "blissciple" is a person who aspires to master the art of blissipline."

—Rana Satori Stewart

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Both are true: Life is a bitch and then you die AND life is a conspiracy to shower you with blessings. Everything is totally fucked up AND everything is perfect just the way it is.

This anti-belief belief system could be considered Taoism 2.0. It's a fresh spiritual tradition that doesn't know it exists yet. It's not just the old Chinese-style Tao, but rather the Oxymoronic Tao -- a mutated, updated, Californicated version of the Tao: Tao with an attitude.

Not the calm, abstract, passive, world-weary, everything-is-everything Tao of the ancient sage Lao-Tse, but the fragrant, shimmering, electrifying Tao of the outrageous now, where each discrete glint of individuated beauty is discernible amidst the mass of confusion, rousing us to revelry and activism.

Not a Tao sitting in cool unflappable contemplation of the ultimate unity of the wound and the cure, but rather a Tao that foments an aggressive affirmative action program for artfully highlighting and rejoicing in the incongruous juxtapositions; a Tao that romances the contradictions with an exuberant experimentalism and whips up slathering throbs of ripe mojo.

The Oxymoronic Tao is a Tao that doesn't pacify and dial down our martial force. Rather, it supercharges us, hooking us up to the elemental power that flows wherever opposites unite.

Here's the bonus. With the Tao as our fuel, our vision opens to the reality that opposites are always uniting everywhere. It makes anything and everything we gaze upon turn into the philosopher's stone, the REAL grail, the pearl of great price, the treasure beyond measure.

The Oxymoronic Tao ushers us into a blissful abyss where we are pummeled and caressed by an erotic crush of screamingly tender contradictions.

Our fixations crack apart. Our egos ache. We swoon with the stark elation that comes from knowing how freaking interesting everything is.

We're shocked and healed, healed and shocked. Every terror is a source of wonder that rips us out of our ignorance. Every miracle blows our minds so mercilessly we can't help but cry out with a bewildered, primordial longing for more.

Here's what I will have to do to live full time in the Oxymoronic Tao: I will master the art of living in The Overt Real World and The Other Real World at the same time. I will love them both.

My state of awareness will be a synergetic blend of dreaming while awake and being awake in my dreams. I will be at home in a ceaseless lucid dream with my eyes wide open, the sun at midnight filling up half the sky and the full moon at noon in the other half.

When I fully inhabit the Oxymoronic Tao it will be because I've become adept at living outside of time, peering down lovingly at our special snatch of history with the liberated compassion that comes from being blended with the eleven-dimensional consciousness of the Gender-Fluid Logos—

even as I exult in the curious sensation of being ground up by the wheels of linear time . . . even as I exercise my skill for joyfully plucking the essential teaching from each perplexing, glorious, shattering, victorious moment . . . even as I thrill to the majestic spectacle of my body constantly transforming into a different version of itself, its atoms regularly exchanged for new ones in the cyclical interplay of apocalypse and rebirth.

That's not happening yet. My wild heart isn't quite mature enough. I have not achieved the knack of being torn apart and woven back together a hundred times a day, every day, by life's wrenching insistence on cramming delight and loss into every single perception. Three times a day, yes, and ten on good days, but not yet a hundred.

I do have an ever-growing tolerance for, even a budding attraction to, being seared by the way extravagant beauty and desolate longing are always arriving entwined.

But I'm not yet strong enough to surrender to being seared and pleasured ceaselessly. And I will need to be able to do that in order to come live and feel at home full time in the Oxymoronic Tao.

I'm more than halfway there, though. I know what it's like to be annihilated by the pouring-out-of-my-skin empathy I feel for you and all the other creatures I live among.

And I know what it's like to reel with rapture as I am rocked by the yelping, visceral thrill of my blood resonating with your blood, of my nerves reliving the memory that they are made of the same star dust yours is.

Someday I will be able to hum, ever-changing and ever-constant, in the grip of both those states simultaneously. Not just in rare fits of agonizing joy, but on an ongoing basis. As a constant meditation. As a daily spiritual practice.

In my lucid dreams, I am already there. I have achieved the triumphant crucifixion. I have procured the gift from the future. I have begun to incarnate the mutant archetype into my flesh and blood.

For now, I'll call the archetype the Oxymoronic Tao, although if I am true to its serpentine laws, I will no doubt have to change its name frequently in the coming years.

That's one of the secrets, I suspect, to making sure it will keep working for me, turning everything and everyone into the philosopher's stone, the grail, the pearl of great price, the treasure beyond measure.

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"What people really need and demand from life is not wealth, comfort or esteem but games worth playing."

—Robert de Ropp, The Master Game

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"Creativity is conceived as a reproductive act with a tangible result -- a child, a book, a monument -- that has a physical life going beyond the life of its producer. Creativity, however, can be intangible in the form of a good life, or a beautiful act, or in other virtues of the soul such as freedom and openness, style and tact, humor, kindness."

—James Hillman

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