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Week of May 12th, 2022

You Have More Help Than You Might Imagine

Jump-Up-and-Down Pronoia Therapy

Experiments and exercises in becoming a delightfully excitable, actively receptive, smoothly inquisitive Master of Discerning Joy


1. There's a three-mile stretch of Interstate 880 south of Oakland, California, that I call the Singing Highway.

For reasons I don't understand, it generates low humming melodies every time I drive over it, similar to the guttural chants of Tibetan monks. Sometimes I swear I can even hear lyrics.

Once, as I was driving to the airport on the Singing Highway, I swear I heard the same lyric repeating over and over again:

"a shortcut to the path with heart
a shortcut to the path with heart
a shortcut to the path with heart"

Where's the path with heart for you? What would it involve for you to take a shortcut to get on it?


2. If a cow is given a name by her owner, she generates more milk than a cow that's treated as an anonymous member of the herd.

That's the conclusion of a study done by researchers at Newcastle University in the UK. "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name," said Dr. Catherine Douglas, "can significantly increase milk ­production."

Building on that principle, I suggest that you give everything in your world names, including (but not limited to) houseplants, insects, cars, appliances, and trees.

It will help you get more up-close and personal with all of creation, which is an effective way to cultivate pronoia.


3. Qabalist teacher Ann Davies told a story about a U.S. Army general negotiating with a cannibal chief in New Guinea during World War II.

The general wanted the chief to rally his tribe to help American troops fight the Japanese.

The chief refused, calling the Americans immoral.

The general was shocked. "We are not immoral!" he protested. "The Japanese are immoral!"

The cannibal chief replied, "The Japanese and Americans are equally immoral. You both kill far more people than you can eat."

Using this tale as your impetus, describe how parts of your moral code may not be rooted in an absolute standard of what's good and evil, but rather bound by the idiosyncrasies of your culture and historical era.


4. In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke urged an aspiring bard to change the way he imagined the Supreme Being.

"Why don't you conceive of God as an ally who is coming," Rilke said, "who has been approaching since time began, the one who will someday arrive, the fruit of a tree whose leaves we are?

"Why not project his birth into the future, and live your life as an excruciating and lyrical moment in the history of a prodigious pregnancy?"

How would your life change if you made this idea your working hypothesis?


5. Comment on the following rant, which Beauty and Truth Lab operatives put on flyers and tacked up on laundromat bulletin boards all over San Francisco:

"The Doctrine of Original Sin? We spit on it. We reject it. We renounce it and forget it and annihilate it from reality.

"In its place we embrace the Doctrine of Original Fun. This reformulation asserts that it is our birthright to commune with regular doses of curious beauty and tricky truth and insurrectionary love.

"A robust, heroic joy is even now roaring through us, bringing us good ideas about how to apply the metaphor of ingenious foreplay to everything we do.

"We will not waste this euphoric deluge on any of the million and one numbing little diversions that pass for pleasure among the ecstasy-starved pursuers of mediocre joy. Rather, we will remain ever alert for the call of primordial delight."


6. Psychotherapists say it's not only naughty but counterproductive to blame others for your problems. A skilled practitioner urges her clients to accept responsibility for the part they've played in creating their predicaments.

The reason is as much pragmatic as it is ethical: When you're obsessed with how people have done you wrong, you have little ambition to change the behavior in yourself that led you into the mess.

While I endorse this approach, I also know that dogmatic adherence to it can warp your mental health as much as any other form of fanaticism.

That's why I urge you to enjoy an unapologetic Blame Fest. Choose a time when you will find fault with everyone except yourself. Howl in protest at the unfair slights people have committed against you. Wallow in self-pity as you visualize the clueless jerks who have done you wrong.

For best results, bark your complaints in the direction of no one but God, an inanimate object, or your mirror.


7. "Esoteric astrology teaches that anyone whose future can be predicted by any means is living like a robot. It assumes that some people are more robotic (predictable) than others; and that further implies some of us have more free will than others." Author Carolyn L. Vash wrote that in the Noetic Sciences Review.

How much free will do you have?


8. We all have a war going on inside ourselves. What's yours? Is it a just and fruitful war or a senseless and wasteful war, or both?

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I've observed that some people are proud about how little sleep they need. They regard it as a sign of vitality that six hours provide all the refreshment they require. Personally, I rarely get less than nine and a half hours, and usually prefer ten.

Maybe it has to do in part with how active I am while asleep. I've been remembering and recording an average of 3 dreams a night since I was 19.

Dreamwork is a vocation for me. I regard it as having been crucial to my development as a creative writer and musician.

How about you? What is your relationship to sleep and dreams? Is there a dream you had that you'd care to share?


To reiterate and emphasise: I wouldn't have been able to become the person I wanted to become without honoring my need for sleep and my love for the worlds I live in during dreams.

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"Aren't we privileged to live in a time when everything is at stake, and when our efforts make a difference in the eternal contest between the forces of light and shadow, between togetherness and division, between justice and exploitation? Oh, be joyful that you are a warrior in this great time!

"Will we rise to this battle? If so, we cannot lose, for rising up to it is our victory. If we represent love in the world, you see, we have already won."

—Doris "Granny D" Haddock, political activist

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My ability to become who I aspired to be would have been impossible without the right to legal abortion.

Earlier in my life, one of my women partners and I had abortions. I am so fortunate we weren't forced to bring children into the world that we couldn't properly care for.

Ultimately, my wife and I chose exactly when we did want to welcome a new human—once I had enough money and emotional maturity to do so.

Legal abortion made it possible for me to be a conscious, loving father for the one child I welcomed and helped to raise.

My life is successful, and an important factor contributing to that grace has been legal abortion.

PS: No, contraception does not always work. It is not 100% effective. That's just one of many reasons why we need legal, free, widely available abortion


A recent CNN survey found that 69% of Americans said they would not like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe, compared to 30% who said they would.


Sad and shocking: Nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties already lack a clinic that offers abortions.


Abortion pills are safe to prescribe without in-person exams. Patients can have their medication mailed to them after a remote telehealth consultation with a clinician. The FDA also allows mail-order pharmacies to ship abortion medications to patients.

More info.

This is by no means a perfect solution. All of us are trying to find ways to deal practically with a very tough circumstance, and this is one way.


To anyone who says there's no difference between the two main political parties: Trump installed three conservative Supreme Court Justices who are key in overturning Roe v. Wade: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

PS: In the 2016 presidential election, Trump received 2.9 million votes LESS than Hillary Clinton.

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Man is at the nadir of his strength when the earth, the seas, the mountains are not in him, for without them his soul is unsourced, and he has no images by which to abide.

—Edward Dahlberg, The Sorrows of Priapus

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David Pearce writes: "The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved because they served the fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment.

"They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture—a motivational system based on heritable gradients of bliss.

"States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health.

"Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown. The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed absurd.

"Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as psychological pain, too, could ever be banished is equally counter-intuitive.

"The feasibility of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of social policy and ethical choice."

—David Pearce

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When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.

—Ralph Ellison


You’re something between a dream and a miracle.

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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My most recent book is finally available as an eBook:
Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

The eBook includes a new foreword and a new piece, “Strange Blessings,” that weren't in the Revised and Expanded edition.

(This eBook, like the Revised and Expanded edition, has 55% additional new material beyond what the first edition had.)

PRONOIA as an ebook at Amazon

PRONOIA as an ebook at Barnes and Noble

If you have the Apple Books app, click on it and search for "Pronoia."


You can also buy the hard-copy edition of PRONOIA at

Available at Powells

Available at Barnes & Noble

Available at Amazon

A free preview of the book is available here

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Shapeshifting Pronoia Therapy

Experiments and exercises in becoming an aggressively sensitive, thunderously receptive, ethically mischievous Master of Mutant Intimacy

1. Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell explores the relationship between mind and body. He thinks you can achieve optimal physical health if you're devoted to shedding outworn self-images.

In his book *The Shaman's Body*, he says, "You have one central lesson to learn—to continuously drop all your rigid identities. Personal history may be your greatest danger."

Kate Bornstein, author of *Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us*, agrees. Raised as a boy, she later became a woman, but ultimately renounced gender altogether. "I love being without an identity," she says. "It gives me a lot of room to play around."

What identities would be healthy, even ecstatic, for you to lose? Describe the fun you'd have if you were free of them.


2. I was never the class clown. I am not a troubled but devilishly handsome wastrel living on a trust fund.

I've never beaten up anyone, have steadfastly not aspired to write like Raymond Carver, and have never played strip Scrabble with a junkie violinist on a leaky waterbed in a Key West penthouse.

There are so many things I am not and will never be, and I'm glad I know about them. It helps me stay focused on exactly who I am.

What about you? Who aren't you? Fantasize about all the paths you will never take. Put it in writing.


3. "Keep exploring what it takes to be the opposite of who you are," suggests psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the book *Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention*. This advice is one of his ideas about how to get into attunement with the Tao, also known as being in the zone.

How would you go about being the opposite of who you are? Try it and see if it drives you into a state of euphoria.


4. Writing on, Scott Rosenberg recalled how in his youth he loved to play the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

"You'd have to choose not one but two 'alignments' for your character," he mused. "Good and evil, of course, but also 'law' and 'chaos.' And among the people I ran with, 'chaotic/good' was the thing to be, because it let you trust other people and still have fun."

Try out the "chaotic/good" approach for the character you play in your actual life.


5. To create a pearl, an oyster needs an aggravating parasite inside its shell. It builds layers of calcium carbonate around the invader, gradually fabricating the treasure.

How long does it take from the initial provocation to the finished product? Five years for a pearl of average size, and as many as 10 years for a big one.

Our question for you: How many years have you been engaged in the process of transforming your irritant into a masterpiece? How many more years do you think you still have to go?


6. Ariel was going through a hard time. She'd been weaning herself from a painkiller she'd taken while recovering from surgery. Her cat ran away, and there was a misunderstanding at work.

One night while at a nightclub with her friend Leila, she spied her ex-boyfriend kissing some woman. Meltdown ensued. Ariel fled the club and ran sobbing into the street, where she hurled her shoes on top of a passing bus.

Leila retrieved her and sat her down on a bench. "Because up until now you've displayed such exemplary grace in the face of chaos," Leila said, "I'm giving you a free Crazy Pass. It gives you a karma-free license to temporarily lose your mind."

This compassionate humor helped Ariel feel more composed. The rest of the night she partied with elegant savagery, achieving major relief and release without hurting ­herself.

Now I'm awarding you, too, a free Crazy Pass. How will you use it?


7. Attention please. This is your ancestors speaking. We've been trying to reach you through your dreams and fantasies, but you haven't responded. That's why we've commandeered this space.

So listen up. We'll make it brief. You're at a crossroads analogous to a dilemma that has baffled your biological line for six generations.

We ask you now to master the turning point that none of us have ever figured out how to negotiate. Heal yourself and you heal all of us. We mean that literally. Start brainstorming, please.


8. When playing the card game known as bridge, you're fortunate if you're dealt no cards of any particular suit. It allows you to use the trump suit to win tricks.

Identify a situation in your own life where a lack of a certain resource can work to your advantage, allowing you to be a free agent, an X-factor, a wild card; freeing you to capitalize on loopholes that aren't normally available; giving you access to luck that comes to you through what you're missing.


9. I give thanks for the dented rusty brown and gray 1967 Chevy 10 pick-up truck that my neighbor parks askew on the shoulder of the road near my house.

Its messy beauty snaps me back to sanity when my own perfectionism threatens to de-soul me, or when all the shiny, sleek, polished things of the world are on the verge of hypnotizing me into believing that only they should be considered attractive.

Are there equivalent triggers in your life?


10. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress. While serving seven terms, she was an outspoken warrior who fought tirelessly for the rights of women, minorities, and the poor.

"My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear," she said, "is my mouth, out of which comes all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency."

One of Chisholm's most famous exploits was her visit to segregationist politician George Wallace in the hospital after he was shot. Her supporters complained that she was consorting with the enemy.

But years later it paid off. Wallace helped her win the votes of southern congressmen when she sponsored legislation to give domestic workers a minimum wage.


11. The "Kumulipo" is an old Hawaiian prayer chant that poetically describes the creation of the world.

The word literally means "beginning-in-deep-darkness." Here darkness doesn't connote gloom and evil.

Rather, it's about the inscrutability of the embryonic state; the obscure chaos that reigns before germination.

Talk about a time you dwelt in kumulipo.

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David Whyte writes: "HIDING is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light.

"Even hiding the truth from ourselves can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time.

"Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear.

"Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

"Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

"We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others.

"What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

"Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control.

"Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed.

"Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future."

—David Whyte
Excerpted from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

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I’ve noticed people everywhere just keep getting crabbier and grumpier as the months go by, quicker and stronger in their impulse to complain and deride.

I understand why—stress levels are astronomical—but I have resolved, as much as possible, to be an oasis of non-crabbiness and non-grumpiness.

I am not a perfect oasis, though—as you can see from this message, which expresses sadness about universal grumpiness.


PS: I have personally been very nonstop happy since July 2020 because the creative energy has been flowing through me in such abundance, praise Goddess.


Rebecca Solnit writes: "One thing I often think these days is that tons of people are having a visceral emotional response to the terrible pressures and fears of our time, but they're turning that into an intellectual analysis of why they need to believe this crazy shit or attack that vulnerable target.

"That way they believe they're having a rational response to something external rather than an emotional one to something internal, and this will go on indefinitely as long as the true source of that energy is not clear.

"I'm not sure how else to explain the large numbers of people who seem to have gotten on board with a lot of luridly weird and hostile stuff."

"Confusing emotions with analyses is such a pandemic unto itself."

Rebecca Solnit, who ALWAYS posts interesting stuff, is here.

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My daughter Zoe Brezsny performs two poems, "Timelapse Passionflower" and "Sunken Meadow Park II," on SALUTATIONS, a new album that features an amazing group of contemporary women musicians, writers. and artists.

The album is available digitally, on BandCamp, or on vinyl

A portion of the proceeds will benefit ABO Comix, a collective that amplifies the voices of LGBTQ prisoners through art and correspondence, establishing penpalships and other initiatives between the free and incarcerated.

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