|Let me remind you who you really are: You’re an immortal freedom fighter in service to divine love.|
“Welcome Home”, from Rob Brezsny’s book
“Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia”
You have temporarily taken on the
form of a human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins, in
order to liberate all sentient creatures from suffering and help them
claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright. You will accept
nothing less than the miracle of bringing heaven all the way down to
Your task may look impossible. Ignorance and inertia, partially
camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround you. Pessimism
is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism
masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories
about treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions
of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful
truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.
To grapple against these odds, you have to be both a wrathful
insurrectionary and an exuberant lover of life. You’ve got to cultivate
cheerful buoyancy even as you resist the temptation to swallow
thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively
packaged by very self-important people who act as if they know what
they’re doing. You have to learn how to stay in a good mood as you
overthrow the sour, puckered hallucination that is mistakenly referred
to as reality.
What can we do to help each other in this work?
First, we can create safe houses to shelter everyone who’s devoted to
the slow-motion awakening. These sanctuaries might take the form of
temporary autonomous zones like festivals and parties and workshops,
where we can ritually potentiate the evolving mysteries of pronoia. Or
they might be more enduring autonomous zones like homes and cafes and
businesses where we can get regular practice in freeing ourselves from
the slavery of hatred in all of its many guises.
What else can we do to help each other? We can conspire together to
hospice what’s dying and midwife what’s being born. We need the trigger
of each other’s rebel glee as we kill off every reflex within us that
resonates in harmony with the putrefaction. We need each other’s
dauntless cunning as we goad and foment the blooming life forces within
us that thrive on the New World’s incandescent questions.
Here’s a third way we can collaborate: We can inspire each other to
perpetrate healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks,
blasphemous reverence, holy pranks, and crazy wisdom . . . .
What? Huh? What do tricks and mischief and jokes have to do with our
quest? Isn’t America in a permanent state of war? Isn’t it the most
militarized empire in the history of the world? Hasn’t the government’s
paranoia about terrorism decimated our civil liberties? Isn’t it our
duty to grow more serious and weighty than ever before?
I say it’s the perfect moment to take everything less seriously and
less personally and less literally.
Permanent war and the loss of civil liberties are immediate dangers.
But there is an even bigger long-term threat to the fate of the earth,
of which the others are but symptoms: the genocide of the imagination.
Earlier I cited pop nihilist storytellers as vanguard perpetrators of
the genocide of the imagination. But there are other culprits as well:
the fundamentalists. I’m not referring to just the usual suspects – the
religious fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.
Scientists can be fundamentalists. So can liberals and capitalists,
atheists and hedonists, patriots and anarchists, hippies and goths, you
and me. Those who champion the ideology of materialism can be the most
fanatical fundamentalists of all. And the journalists, filmmakers,
novelists, critics, poets, and other artists who relentlessly generate
rotten visions of the human condition are often pop nihilist
Every fundamentalist divides the world into two camps, those who agree
with him and like him and help him, and those who don’t. There is only
one right way to interpret the world; according to the ideas the
fundamentalist believes to be true and a million wrong ways.
The fundamental attitude of all fundamentalists is to take everything
way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally. The
untrammeled imagination is taboo. Correct belief is the only virtue.
Every fundamentalist is committed to waging war against the imagination
unless the imagination is enslaved to his or her belief system.
And here’s the bad news: Like almost everyone in the world, each of us
has our own share of the fundamentalist virus. It may not be as
virulent and dangerous to the collective welfare as, say, the
fundamentalism of Islamic terrorists or right-wing Christian
politicians or CEOs who act as if making a financial profit is the
supreme good or scientists who deny the existence of the large part of
reality that’s imperceptible to the five senses.
But still: We are infected, you and I, with fundamentalism. What are
we going to do about it?
I say we practice taking everything less seriously and less personally
and less literally. I suggest we administer plentiful doses of healing
mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, blasphemous reverence,
holy pranks, and crazy wisdom.