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Week of December 9th, 2021

Yearning to Express Love Is a Good Thing

Yearning to Be Loved Is a Good Thing

Notice how you feel as you speak the following: "The strong, independent part of me resisted the embarrassing truth for a long time, but I finally came to accept that I'm someone who craves vast amounts of love.

"Ever since I surrendered to this need, it doesn't nag me all the time, as it used to. In fact, it feels comforting, like a source of sweetness that doesn't go away. I never thought I'd say this, but I've come to treasure the feeling of having a voracious yearning to be loved."

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Code words for experiments in enhancing your lust for life:

numinous: (adj.) describing an experience that makes you overwhelmed yet fascinated, awed yet attracted—the powerful, personal feeling of being viscerally inspired

ostranenie: (n.) encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliarizing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply

smultronställe: (n.) "place of wild strawberries"; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness

rasasvada: (n.) the taste of bliss in the absence of all thoughts

firgun: (n.) the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else's pleasure or fortune, with a purely generous heart and without jealousy

Mudita: (n.) sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others.

vorfreude : (n.) the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures

unne (adj.) to be happy on someone else’s behalf.

compersion (n.) an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.

The words and definitions are from

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Experiments and exercises in becoming a joyfully unpredictable, blithely receptive, uproariously sensitive Master of Smart Love

1. What causes happiness? Brainstorm about it. Map out the foundations of your personal science of joy. Get serious about defining what makes you feel good.

To get you started, I'll name some experiences that might rouse your gratification: engaging in sensual pleasure; seeking the truth; being kind and moral; contemplating the meaning of life; escaping your routine; purging pent-up emotions.

Do any of these work for you? Name at least ten more.


2. When many people talk about their childhoods, they emphasize the alienating, traumatic experiences they had, and fail to report the good times. This seems dishonest—a testament to the popularity of cynicism rather than a reflection of objective truth.

I don't mean to downplay the way your early encounters with pain demoralized your spirit. But as you reconnoiter the promise of pronoia, it's crucial for you to extol the gifts you were given in your early years: all the helpful encounters, kind teachings, and simple acts of grace that helped you bloom.


3. "You can't wait for inspiration," proclaimed writer Jack London. "You have to go after it with a club." That sounds too violent to me, though I agree in principle that aggressiveness is the best policy in one's relationship with inspiration.

Try this: Don't wait for inspiration. Go after it with a butterfly net, lasso, sweet treats, fishing rod, court orders, beguiling smells, and sincere flattery.


4. Have you ever seen the game called "Playing the Dozens"? Participants compete in the exercise of hurling witty insults at each other.

Here are some examples: "You're so dumb, if you spoke your mind you'd be speechless." "Your mother is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper." "You're so ugly, you couldn't get laid if you were a brick."

I invite you to rebel against any impulse in you that resonates with the spirit of "Playing the Dozens." Instead, try a new game, "Paying the Tributes."

Choose worthy targets and ransack your imagination to come up with smart, true, and amusing praise about them.

The best stuff will be specific to the person you're addressing, not generic, but here are some prototypes: 1. "You're so far-seeing, you can probably catch a glimpse of the back of your own head." 2. "You're so ingenious, you could use your nightmares to get rich and famous." 3. "Your mastery of pronoia is so artful, you could convince me to love my worst enemy."


5. In response to our culture's ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking.

While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we recommend balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the Bliss Blitz.

During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion.

Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you're bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure.

Try it for a day or a week: the Bliss Blitz.


6. Take inventory of the extent to which your "No" reflex dominates your life. Notice for 24 hours (even in your dreams) how often you say or think:
"That's not right."
"I don't like them."
"I don't agree with that."
"They don't like me."
"That should be different from what it is."
Then retrain yourself to say "YES" at least 51 percent of the time. Start the transformation by saying "YES" aloud 22 times right now.


7. "There are two ways for a person to look for adventure," said the Lone Ranger, an old TV character. "By tearing everything down, or building everything up."

Give an example of each from your own life.


8. Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt drew up an index to categorize the discomfort caused by stinging insects.

The attack of the bald-faced hornet is "rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door."

A paper wasp delivers pain that's "caustic and burning," with a "distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut."

The sweat bee, on the other hand, can hurt you in a way that's "light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm."

In bringing this to your attention, I want to inspire the pronoiac rebel in you. Your homework is to create an equally nuanced and precise index of three experiences that feel really good.


9. Late at night when there's no traffic, stride down the middle of an empty road that by day is crawling with cars.

Dance, careen, and sing songs that fill you with pleasurable emotions.

Splay your arms triumphantly as you extemporize prayers in which you make extravagant demands and promises.

Give pet names to the trees you pass, declare your admiration for the workers who made the road, and celebrate your sovereignty over a territory that usually belongs to heavy machines and their operators.


10. 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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I am quite sure that I would no longer be living on the Earth as "Rob Brezsny" if it hadn't been for the interventions of Western medicine and the pharmaceutical companies. So of course I'm grateful for their gifts to me.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean I approve of everything they do and think they are perfect servants. Not at all.

I passionately criticize the terrible things pharmaceutical companies have done (like their role in furthering the opioid epidemic and mass death from overdose), and I am angry that some practitioners of Western medicine don't make better use of the many fine alternative healing methods that are available.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's principle applies here: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."


I have used alternative medicine for over 30 years, too, and it has provided me with a lot of wonderful healing: Chinese Medicine and herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy, cranial sacral therapy, guided visualization, supplements, Somatic Experiencing, and medical intuitive counseling.

BUT . . . I have on several occasions had bad reactions to alternative treatments. The most egregious example was my experience with a naturopath in 2008. His treatment made me sick in ways that took a long time to recover from. I was much too trusting for far too long.

The point being, every healing modality has risks.

The point being: I can hold in my mind the seemingly contradictory ideas that various healing treatments may be helpful or may be hurtful.

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Gary Snyder says: "Our bodies are wild. The involuntary quick turn of the head at a shout, the vertigo at looking off a precipice, the heart-in-the-throat in a moment of danger, the catch of the breath, the quiet moments relaxing, staring, reflecting -- are universal responses of this mammal body.

"The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating, it is a life of its own.

"Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside, and unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly outside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in the mind, in the imagination, than ‘you’ can keep track of -- thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden.

"The depths of the mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches -- the bobcat that roams from dream to dream.
"The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track of some of what goes in and out (and sometimes making expansionist plots), and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild."

- Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

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29 essays by physicians, scientists, Ph.D.s, and other smart people, presenting evidence for the survival of consciousness after death: After Death Consciousness.

Some of the essays' titles:

Beyond the Brain: The Survival of Human Consciousness After Permanent Bodily Death

A Rational, Empirical case for postmortem survival based solely on mainstream science

The Eternal Life of Consciousness

Evidence for Survival of Consciousness in Near-Death Experiences: Decades of Science and New Insights

What would have to be true about the world? On evidence for the possibility of consciousness surviving death

Long Concealed, Now Revealed – Overwhelming Evidence for Life after Death

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The Healing You Need May Be More Available Than You Imagine

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Who are the people in your life who've helped make you real to yourself?

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Experiments and exercises in becoming a blasphemously reverent, lustfully compassionate, eternally changing Master of Transgressive Beauty

1. Is the world a dangerous, chaotic place with no inherent purpose, running on automatic like a malfunctioning machine and fundamentally inimical to your drive to find meaning? Or are you surrounded by helpers in a friendly, enchanted universe that gives you challenges in order to make you smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier?

Trick questions! The answers may depend, at least to some degree, on what you believe is true.

Formulate a series of experiments that will allow you to objectively test the hypothesis that the universe is conspiring to help dissolve your ignorance and liberate you from your suffering.


2. The primary meaning of the word "healing" is "to cure what's diseased or broken."

Medical practitioners focus on sick people.

Philanthropists donate their money and social workers contribute their time to helping the underprivileged.

Psychotherapists wrestle with their clients' traumas and neuroses.

I'm in awe of them all. The level of one's spiritual wisdom, I believe, is more accurately measured by helping people in need than by meditation skills, shamanic shapeshifting, supernatural powers, or esoteric knowledge.

But I also believe in a second kind of healing that is largely unrecognized: to supercharge what is already healthy; to lift up what's merely sufficient to a sublime state.

Using this definition, describe two acts of healing: one you would enjoy performing on yourself and another you'd like to provide for someone you love.


3. Are other people luckier than you? If so, psychologist Richard Wiseman says you can do something about it. His book The Luck Factor presents research that proves you can learn to be lucky.

It's not a mystical force you're born with, he says, but a habit you can develop.

How? For starters, be open to new experiences, trust your gut wisdom, expect good fortune, see the bright side of challenging events, and master the art of maximizing serendipitous opportunities.

Name three specific actions you'll try in order to improve your luck.


4. 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.


5. "Creativity is like driving a car at night," said E. L. Doctorow. "You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

I would add that life itself is like driving a car at night. You're often in the dark except for what's right in front of you. At least that's usually the case.

But for a few shining hours sometime while you're communing with this book, I predict you'll be able to see the big picture of where you're headed.

It will be as if the whole world is suddenly illuminated by a prolonged burst of light; as if you're both driving your car and also watching your journey from high above. Write about what you see.


6. To many people, "sacrifice" is a demoralizing word that connotes deprivation.

Is that how you feel? Do you make sacrifices because you're forced to, or maybe because your generosity prompts you to incur a loss in order to further a good cause?

Originally, "sacrifice" had a different meaning: to give up something valuable in order that something even more valuable might be obtained.

Carry out an action that embodies this definition. For instance, sacrifice a mediocre pleasure so as to free yourself to pursue a more exalted pleasure.


7. Those who explore pronoia often find they have a growing capacity to help people laugh at themselves. While few arbiters of morality recognize this skill as a mark of high character, I put it near the top of my list.

In my view, inducing people to take themselves less seriously is a supreme virtue. Do you have any interest in cultivating it? How might you go about it?


8 "Two chemicals called actin and myosin evolved eons ago to allow the muscles in insect wings to contract and relax," writes Deepak Chopra in The Book of Secrets. "Today, the same two proteins are responsible for the beating of the human heart."

If you use your imagination, you can sense the connection between the flight of a dragonfly and the intelligent organ that renews its commitment to keeping you alive every second of your life. So use your imagination.

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Although we are all born geniuses, the grind of day-to-day living tends to de-genius us. That's the bad news. The good news is that you have the power to re-genius yourself.

Here's a link to a ritual you can use to jump-start the process:


Gaze upward and stretch your arms out high. Say the following: "I am a genius."

Put your arms out to the side, parallel to the ground with palms up, and say this: "I am a lucky, plucky genius."

Swing your arms back and forth from behind you to in front of you as you say this: "I am a lucky, plucky, good-sucking genius."

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The rise of modernity served many extraordinary purposes: the rise of democracy; the banishing of slavery; the emergence of liberal feminism; the differentiation of art and science and morality; the widespread emergence of empirical sciences; an increase in average life span of almost three decades; the introduction of relativity and perspectivism in art and morals and science; the move from ethnocentric to world­centric morality; and the undoing of dominator social hierarchies."

—Ken Wilber, *A Brief History of Everything*

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The soul should always stand ajar,
That if the heaven inquire,
He will not be obliged to wait,
Or shy of troubling her.

—Emily Dickinson

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"The psychic health of an individual resides in the capacity to recognize and welcome the 'Other,'" writes poet and translator Rosanna Warren.

"Our word 'idiot' comes from the Greek *diotes*, whose primary sense is of privacy or isolation."

With this warning, Warren builds her case for the virtues of reading literature that has been translated from its native tongue.

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"There is a strong current of thought in the field of development economics that the single most important factor in improving a variety of outcomes in the developing world—whether it be overpopulation, economic growth, violence against women, public health—is increasing female education levels." - Andrew Leonard,

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Butterflies can't see their wings. They can't see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well.

—Naya Rivera

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I've been asking my allies whether they have discovered any of the 13 Useful and Soulful Secrets about the Real Reality — as opposed to the 13 Obvious and Sentimental Secrets about the Fake Reality. Below are among the best so far. I'd love to hear yours.

• Every act is an act of magick.

• You will find beauty in everything when you look for it. Conversely, you can ignore beauty if you really want to. But who wants to?

• In the long run, it's healthiest to side with those who tell the most truth.

• Confucius said, "All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by their right names."

• Don't stop learning just because you know it all.

• Truth is sneaky and mischievous, often hiding in unexpected places.

• Ssshhhh — Communication doesn't solve everything.

• William James said, "I will act as if what I do makes a difference."

• Don't let yourself be trapped into being who you used to be if that's not who you are anymore.

• Question your ego, and you will know when to question others.

• No one is ever able to tell the whole truth. That is a package of facts known only to the Eternal Intelligence formerly known as "God."

• Be kind to yourself. That is not the same as indulging yourself or spoiling yourself. It means to conduct your inner monologue as though you were counseling a friend whom you dearly love.

• Look for an oracle who will ask you the right questions.

• Whatever your problems are, someone has it far worse and someone has it far better

• Applaud creativity, even when it bothers you.

• Pretending you don't feel how you feel doesn't make you feel different.

• Thoughts are inevitable, but believing them is optional.

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