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Week of March 24th, 2022

Everyone Is My Teacher

Everyone is my teacher.

Everywhere I go, I am a student.

Every person I meet is in some way my superior.

I vow to shut up and listen on a frequent and regular basis.

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Some of my readers complain when I quote a public figure they consider a bad person. For example, I once cited an interesting thought by Carlos Castaneda, and was subsequently besieged by complaints that he was a con man unworthy of our attention.

Once I cited philosopher Bertrand Russell, and a reader berated me: "Russell was a terrible father! How dare you give him any credence?"

Other barrages of gripes flooded in after I referenced those highly imperfect humans Dr. Seuss, George Sand, Mother Teresa, Pema Chödrön, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Here's how I respond to these grumbles: If I refuse to learn from people unless I agree with everything they have ever said and approve of everything they have ever done, I would never learn from anyone.

Furthermore, I don't necessarily agree with every nuance of every quote I cite. They may teach me, rile me up, and provoke me to think, but that doesn't mean I endorse them 100 percent.

What's more likely is that I question some aspect of their thought. But the key point is that I want to be available to learn from pretty much everybody.


Should we boycott the films of Leonardo DiCaprio of because he is prone to temper tantrums? Do we have good reason to burn our copies of William's Blake's visionary poetry after we find out he lived in filth? Does the scarcity of laughter in D. H. Lawrence's work give us license to condemn it and avoid it?

Should we shun Dr. Seuss, who had an affair with another woman while his wife was suffering from cancer?

Should we stop praising the life's work of Martin Luther King Jr. because he plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis?

Should we renounce the Theory of Relativity because Einstein cheated on his wife and didn't treat her with kindness?

Should we ignore George Sand's novels because she cheated on her husband?

Should we refuse to read the work of Clarissa Pinkola Estés because her editors at Ballantine Books said she was insufferably arrogant?

Should we ignore all male writers and artists throughout history who expressed misogyny—like 95% of them?

I could name a thousand others, but will stop here.

What about you? Have you set up your life so that everyone is either on or off your good list?

If so, consider the possibility of cultivating a capacity to derive insight from people who aren't perfect. Have fun learning from people you partially agree with and partially disagree with.

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I am a unique character. But the paradox is that I would never have been able to become my singular self without the inspiration, help, influence, and love of hundreds of other unique characters.

I like to keep in mind that all humans and all animals and all spiritual beings are potentially my teachers. Many of them have been spectacular teachers who have shaped me in unpredictable and unexpected ways.

I will never be able to express all the gratitude I feel. But I try to express it nevertheless!

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One of my beloved astrology mentors has passed on to the next realm: Alan Oken.

I'm so grateful for his teachings! He helped shape my own approach: astrology for the soul more than astrology for the ego.

When I was a young aspiring astrologer, I practically memorized his intricate analyses of the planetary aspects.

For example: What does it mean when a person has Venus conjunct Neptune in Scorpio in the first house? He was so precise in speaking about the relatively soulful and the relatively egoistic expressions of that configuration.

Edie Weinstein described his essence well: grounded and cosmic at the same time.

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Andrew Harvey writes: "Mystical systems are addicted to transcending this reality. This addiction is part of the reason why the world is being destroyed. The monotheistic religions honor an off-planet God and would sacrifice this world and its attachments to the adoration of that God.

"But the God I know is both immanent and transcendent. This world is not an illusion, and the philosophies that say it is are half-baked half-truths.

"In an authentic mystical experience, the world does disappear and reveal itself as the dance of the divine consciousness.

"But then it reappears, and you see that everything you are looking at is God, and everything you’re touching is God.

"We are so addicted, either to materialism or to transcending material reality, that we don’t see God right in front of us, in the beggar, the starving child, the brokenhearted woman; in our friend; in the cat; in the flea. We miss it, and in missing it, we allow the world to be destroyed."

—Andrew Harvey, Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action


Some people criticized Andrew Harvey's above statement for being too broad.

In response, I will say that of course it's too broad. Every statement ever made is too broad, because it can't possibly encompass all the nuances and exceptions of complicated, messy reality.

Furthermore, this passage is an excerpt from an entire book Harvey wrote about related subjects. He provides rich nuance there.

And indeed, there have been many examples of religious practitioners from all the monotheistic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who have devoted loving, practical action to healing and fixing and helping this world.

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Thomas Merton wrote: "Those who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening their own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others.

"They will communicate nothing but the contagion of their own obsessions, their aggressiveness, their ego-centered ambitions, their delusions about ends and means, their doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.

"We are living through the greatest crisis in the history of humanity; and this crisis is centered precisely in the country that has made a fetish out of action and has lost (or perhaps never had) the sense of contemplation. Far from being irrelevant, prayer, meditation and contemplation are of the utmost importance in America."

—Thomas Merton

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More by Andrew Harvey: "A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history.

"On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions.

"When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic and social institutions, a holy force—the power of wisdom and love in action—is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism."

—Andrew Harvey


Here's an interview with Andrew Harvey in which he talks about sacred activism.

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I am perfectly fine if you don't "believe" in God or Goddess—or, for that matter, if you don't "believe" in Vajrayogini or the Ojibwe creator spirit Nanabozho or the Hindu deities Shakti and Shiva or the Indigenous Australian creator god Baayama or the Yoruban gddess Yemaya.

It's perfectly fine with me if you don't need any spirit intelligences in your world and have zero interest in the supernal and transcendent.

But if you come to my sanctuary and confidently proclaim THERE IS NO GOD, I'm going to laugh at your arrogance.

And if you call me a stupid fool or a delusional idiot because I testify that I have a close intimate relationship with the Blooming HaHa (also known as the Goddess), I will gaze at you with perplexed disbelief.


Carl Sagan spoke like a true scientist when he said the following:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence.

"Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no God exists.

"To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.

"A wide range of intermediate positions seems admissable.

"Considering the enormous emotional energies with which the subject is invested, a questing, courageous, and open mind is, I think, the essential tool for narrowing the range of our collective ignorance on the subject of the existence of God."

Conversations with Carl Sagan

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I'll cavern you, and grotto you, and waterfall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous-sound you, and solitude you.

—John Keats in a letter to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds

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I get many requests from people who are going through challenging times in their lives and would like my personal advice. I wish I could respond to these inquiries, because they are often profound and well-thought-out, demonstrating an ability to define the problems at hand with lucid insight.

Unfortunately, I can't respond. My various lines of work are too demanding to add other tasks to my life, no matter how interesting they might be. But I've developed a response to people who seek my personal input. I offer it below.


I'm honored that you regard me as someone who might be able to provide answers or solace, but I don't think it would be responsible for me to fling advice your way without knowing more about the complexities of your problem. And I'm afraid I can't give the time necessary to explore those complexities.

The only thing I'll suggest, as you seek to clarify your situation, is for you to arrange to go on a retreat. During that time of withdrawal from the world's everyday madness, I urge you to avoid all media and to be as silent and relaxed as it's possible for you to be.

You don't necessarily have to go away to a private sanctuary. You can do it in your own home. And there's no need to try to do the retreat perfectly. Just do the best you can.

During the first part of your retreat, spend time visualizing in your mind's eye the entire story of your life, from the earliest memory to the present moment.

During the second phase of your retreat, begin your meditations by establishing contact with the highest source of wisdom and love within you. You can call this source God or Goddess or your Guardian Angel or Higher Self. Spend luxurious time in dialogue with this source, making sure to ask these questions:

1. "What is it I want more than anything else?"

2. "What is the best way to serve the mission I came to Earth to carry out? What are the very best gifts I have to offer other humans?"

3. "What path will allow me to ultimately learn the most about wise love?"

4. "How do I need to change in order to get what I want, carry out my life's mission, and learn about wise love? What influences and attitudes do I need to eliminate?"

During the third phase of the process, write out a mission statement: what you want to accomplish by the time you die many years hence. Then create a master plan of the actions you will take in order to make that mission statement come true. Include three actions you will take in the next month to get more serious about accomplishing your mission.

During the fourth phase, visualize the following scenarios in lush detail: that God/Goddess loves you, that the entire universe is conspiring to give you the lessons and blessings and kicks in the ass and liberations you need exactly when you need them, and that you are ready to welcome that love and guidance with all your heart.

P.S. I'm a big believer in trusting your intuition. Even if it doesn't lead you to what your ego thinks is a successful outcome, your intuition will always guide you to the experiences that your soul needs.

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Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
—George Bernard Shaw

Sometimes, being true to yourself means changing your mind. Self changes, and you follow.
—Vera Nazarian

The person who never alters their opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
—William Blake

The interesting thing is always to see if you can find a fact that will change your mind about something, to test and see if you can.
—Diane Sawyer

Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
—W. Somerset Maugham

Almost all of my many passionate interests, and my many changes of mind, came through books.
—Annie Dillard

The snake that can't cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

I wanted to be a ballerina. I changed my mind.
—Beverly Cleary

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Only the strongest people have the pluck to change their minds, and say so, if they see they have been wrong in their ideas.
—Enid Blyton

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.
—Walt Whitman

The willingness to change one’s mind in the light of new evidence is a sign of rationality not weakness.
―Stuart Sutherland

I came from a different mind-set growing up, and my mind has changed.
—Katy Perry

Total loyalty is possible only when fidelity is emptied of all concrete content, from which changes of mind might naturally arise.
—Hannah Arendt

There is no point in asking me general questions because I am always changing my mind.
—Michel Houellebecq

You have the RIGHT to change your mind
—Oprah Winfrey

A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.
— Carl Rogers

We are the sum of our efforts to change who we are. Identity is no museum piece sitting stock-still in a display case, but rather the endlessly astonishing synthesis of the contradictions of everyday life.
—Eduardo Galeano

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Some people understand emotional intelligence to be a skill at understanding other people's feeling states, having an intuitive grasp of them. That can be a very good thing!

But in this version, emotional intelligence can also be an ability to read people's subtle emanations and signals with such acuity that you can therefore coax them to see things your way, sell them things, influence them.

So people with emotional intelligence in this sense of the word may be highly manipulative.


My way of defining emotional intelligence contains the context of kindness, empathy, and sensitivity.

Emotional intelligence consists of creating connection that is equal in its power dynamic; that is freed from manipulative agendas; that seeks authentic communion and connection for its own sake, as a form of play that generates magic.

In this model, emotional intelligence has a moral and ethical intention—a quest not to assert one's own needs as more important than the other's, but rather to recognize the other as a Holy Thou who is as worthy of being treated fairly and kindly as oneself.


Here are further thoughts about emotional intelligence by Asha Sanaker, whose Substack newsletter is here.

For me, emotional intelligence is personal, in that it connotes a person who has committed to understanding their own emotional history and tendencies, in order to make more conscious choices about how to act, or not, out of their emotions.

The emotionally intelligent person takes full responsibility, always, for their emotions and how the way that they bring those emotions to the world impacts it.

Emotional intelligence is also relational, because it enables the individual to attend to patterns of emotional behavior in others, and account for those emotions constructively in how they communicate and behave in response to what they sense in the other, hopefully with an eye towards greater connection and deeper mutual respect and care.

Essential to this is a clear sense of "what is mine and what is yours." Folks who are emotionally intelligent can be empathic, but they work to be clear about what comes from them and what they are absorbing from others.

Finally, emotional intelligence is social. The emotionally intelligent person understands that institutions and systems encourage certain emotions and discourage others. These same institutions and systems often are based on power hierarchies, so they dictate who is "allowed" to feel what and when.

The emotionally intelligent person understands this and stands aside from it as much as possible, refusing to submit blindly to it, or force others to submit blindly. The emotionally intelligent person wants everyone to own themselves, and not to be owned.

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In his book My Other Life, Paul Theroux imagines another version of himself—the "story of a life I could have lived had things been different."

Hmmm. One of my other lives might have been that I kept on doing my music career, didn't quit, and just finished recording my 10th album, which has modest sales but is appreciated by critics.

What about you? I invite you to daydream about the inner potentials you've never developed, the interesting destinations you've never actually sought out, the initial interests that never grew into full-fledged relationships -- and then fantasize that you are in fact doing those things.

Aside from being fun, this experiment could lead you to actually try out some possibilities that maybe you should have considered long ago.

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Maxim's "Hot 100" lists the planet's supposedly sexiest women. Sports Illustrated has its Swimsuit Issue, with young women dressed in bikinis. Esquire's "Women We Love" features skinny young celebrities.

Here are some of my favorite beauties, all of whom are witches from Poland, my ancestral homeland:

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