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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rob Breszney: Flaming Boddisatvah

My friend Lucy Betteridge loves to post discoveries in the Newsfeed section of facebook. Today she linked to Free Will Astrology. I just went to the website to read my horoscope; just for fun. It was fun. I liked what he had to say. It wasn't your typical, "avoid high stress environments today Gemini" horoscope. It was so unusual that I went to the home page of the website and found this essay that Rob Breszney, matermind behind Free Will Astrology, wrote. I was inspired.

The following essay is called "Liberate Your Imagination". The idea of "liberation" is one that is very strong for me. There are so many people in the world that are trapped in one way or another. Whether in a war-torn country, a horrible marriage, a bad job, or as Breszney maintains...inside their own world view. I think great art is about liberation. The poem to liberate pain, the song to ignite the heart, the play to point at the box you've put yourself in, the painting to inspire new landscapes inside of your own heart. I think art is a great liberator and a champion of the kind of rekindled imagination explored here.


The following piece is adapted from my book
PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

Let me remind you who you really are: You are one of the chosen ones. You're a luminous being. A primordial miracle. A resplendent avatar. You are a deity in disguise--not a Buddha or a Christ, but of the same lineage and made from the same mojo.

I want to be sure you get what I'm saying. You're an immortal messiah. You have been around since the beginning of time and will be here after the end. Every day and in every way, you're getting better at playing the mysterious master game we all dreamed up together before the Big Bang bloomed.

Let me put it another way. You're a rebel creator longing to make the whole universe your home and sanctuary. You are a dissident bodhisattva joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of divine love that are packed inside every moment.

It's time to remember. You are a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs that has temporarily taken on the form of a human being, agreeing to endure amnesia about your true origins. And why did you do that? Because it was the best way to forge the exquisitely unique and robust identity that would make you such an elemental force in our 14-billion-year campaign to bring heaven all the way down to earth.

You and I are freedom fighters scrambling and finagling and conspiring to relieve all of our fellow messiahs from their suffering and shower them with more blessings than they know what to do with.


Lately, I must admit, our work has seemed almost comically impossible. Many of our brothers and sisters believe that everything is upside-down and inside-out. Is war really peace? Is slavery really freedom? Is ignorance strength? How did it all get so insane?

Even many of the smartest among us seem to have lost their vision. Cynicism has become a supreme sign of intelligence. Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are popular.

At this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game, it ain't easy to carry out our mission. We've got to be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life. We’ve got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by those among us who bravely volunteered to play the role of deceivers.

We have to learn how to stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the cockeyed mass hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as reality.

Maybe most importantly, we have to be ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free. We have to be both disciplined and rowdy.

That's especially thorny because of the fact that a genocide of the imagination is raging world-wide. It threatens to render our imaginations numb and inert and passive and tame.

I know you know what I mean.

Aren't you psychically assaulted by dangerous images every day? Don't the media relentlessly blast you with their trendy doom and gloom fixation, barraging you with messages about how bad life is? Doesn't the entertainment industry force-feed you insipidly paranoid scenarios in the same way a French foie gras farmer crams eight pounds of corn down the gullet of his prize goose every day?

Aren't your eyes and ears constantly scalded by blistering harangues to buy stuff you don't really need? Isn't the sacred temple of your imagination pounded ruthlessly by smart bombs whipped up by evil advertising geniuses in their Madison Avenue laboratories? Hasn't your ability to envision the astounding intricacy and richness of the web of life gotten hijacked and hooked on decadent fantasies about new possessions that would allegedly make you happier?

Your imagination is supposed to be the engine of your destiny. It is the wizard's wand you can use to design your future. Your imagination is your power to create mental pictures of things that don’t exist yet and that you want to bring into being. Every human creation on this earth has begun as a vision in someone's imagination.

Your imagination is also your very own all-purpose joy stick, your snakeskin bag of magic tricks. It's your remote-control channel-changer, and the only reliable rearranger of anything anywhere anytime. It's your X-Factor, your wild card, your wicked funny instigator, your Goddess-sanctioned trouble-maker -- your swarming, terraforming, always-morning brainstormer.

Love desperately needs your imagination. As psychologist James Hillman says, "For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, and boredom. Intimacy fails not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."

Your imagination is the single most important tool you have in your daily fight to be free. It is the source of every act of liberation you will ever need to pull off.

But how can your imagination flourish--how can it dream up scenarios that energize you to create your own version of heaven on earth--if you are forever deluged by dazzling psychic toxins that sting and sap and wound your lust for life?

Too many of our brothers and sisters have fallen victim. Their swarming terraforming always-morning brainstormers have been cruelly fooled into acting as if their deepest desires are impossible lies. As a result they live incoherent lives corroded by chronic anxiety.

I for one am no longer willing to tolerate the epidemic obsession with big bad nasty things and flashy trite empty-hearted things. I say it's time for us to re-consecrate and regenerate and lubricate and liberate and take back our imaginations. Here are my demands.

DEMAND #1: I demand that Amnesty International launch a crusade against a form of terrorism I call the genocide of the imagination.

DEMAND #2: I demand that you periodically go on a media fast. For a week at a time, once a season, avoid all TV, movies, novels, yalk shows, newspapers, magazines, and Internet.

DEMAND #3: I demand that you learn to tell the difference between your own thoughts and those of the celebrities who have demonically possessed you.

DEMAND #4: I demand that People magazine do a feature story on "The World's Fifty Sexiest Perpetrators of Beauty, Truth, and Rowdy Bliss."

DEMAND #5: I demand that you wear underpants on your head and dance naked in slow motion whenever you watch movies on TV about tormented geniuses who create great art but treat everyone in their lives like crap.

DEMAND #6: I demand that you refuse to be entertained and entranced by bad news--by stories whose plots are driven by violence, abuse, terrorism, bigotry, lawsuits, greed, crashes, alcoholism, disease, and torture.

DEMAND #7: I demand that you seek out and create stories that make you feel that the universe is friendly and life is on your side. You could hunt down stories about how, for example, rising rates of intermarriage are helping to dissipate ethnic and religious strife worldwide; how the violent crime rate in America has been steadily declining for 30 years; how death rates from cancer are shrinking; the birth rate among teenage mothers is the lowest it's been in six decades; acreage devoted to organic farming is increasing rapidly; the number of refugees and weapons sales all over the world are way down from the level they were 15 years ago, and how the actual bare naked truth is that levels of literacy and education and political freedom and peace and wealth are steadily growing all over the world.

DEMAND #8: When you're too well-entertained to move, screaming is good exercise. Which is why I demand that you scream now and then whenever you're soaking up slick crap generated by the imaginations of people who are devoted to money, power, and ego instead of love, reverence, and play.


There is another force that fuels the war against the imagination--and that's fundamentalism.

The fundamentalist takes everything way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally. He divides the world into two camps, those who agree with him and those who don’t. There is only one right way to interpret the world, and a million wrong ways. The fundamentalist not only enslaves his own imagination to his belief system, he wants to enslave our imaginations too. The liberated imagination, God forbid, is taboo.

In one of her poems, Diane DiPrima declares that a war against the imagination is raging worldwide. "The only war that matters is the war against the imagination," she says. "All other wars are subsumed in it." If she's right, then the war against terrorism is a symptom of the war against the imagination. The war against our civil liberties is a symptom of the war against the imagination. The war against the environment, the war against the poor, the war against some drugs--all symptoms.

It's the fundamentalists who want this war. They fight it and force everybody else to fight, too.

And who are the fundamentalists? It's not just the usual suspects; it's not just the religious fanatics of Islam and Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism.

There are many other kinds of fundamentalists, and some of them have gotten away with practicing their fundamentalism in a stealth mode. Among the most successful are those who believe in what Robert Anton Wilson calls fundamentalist materialism. That's the faith-based dogma that swears physical matter is the only reality and that nothing exists unless it can be detected by our five senses or by technologies that humans have made.

There is no inherent meaning or purpose to the universe, the fundamentalist materialists proclaim. There is no divine intelligence. The universe is a dumb accidental machine that grinds on endlessly out of blind necessity.

I see spread out before me in every direction a staggeringly sublime miracle lovingly crafted by a supernal consciousness that oversees the evolution of 500 billion galaxies, yet is also available as an intimate companion and daily advisor to every one of us. But to the fundamentalist materialists, my perceptions are dead wrong and utterly idiotic.

There are many other varieties of fundamentalism. Every ideology, even the ones I like, has its share of true believers, fanatics who judge all other ideologies as inferior, flawed, and foolish.

I know astrologers who insist there's only one way to do astrology right. I know Buddhists who adamantly decree that the inherent nature of life on earth is suffering. I know progressive activists who sincerely believe that every single Republican is either stupid or evil or both. I know college administrators who would excommunicate any psychology professor who dared to discuss the teachings of Carl Jung, who was in my opinion one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. I know pagans who refuse to consider any other version of Jesus Christ beyond the sick parody the Christian right has fabricated.

There are true believers everywhere. And they don't like to hear that there are at least three sides to every story. They don't like to hear that everyone has a piece of the truth.

And here’s the really bad news: Many of us here, including me, are infected with the fundamentalist virus. Each of us is fanatical, rigid, and intolerant about products of the imagination that we don't like. We wish that certain people would not imagine the things they do, and we allow ourselves to beam hateful, war-like thoughts in their direction.

We even wage war against our own imaginations, commanding ourselves, sometimes half-consciously, to ignore possibilities that don't fit into our neatly constructed theories. Each of us sets aside certain precious beliefs and symbols that we give ourselves permission to take very seriously and personally and literally.

Our fundamentalism, yours and mine, may not be as dangerous to the collective welfare as, say, the fundamentalism of Islamic terrorists and right-wing Christian politicians. It may not be as destructive as the CEOs who worship financial profit as the supreme measure of value and the scientists who ignore and deny every mystery that can't be measured.

But still: We are all infected, you and I. We are fueling the war against the imagination. (What's your version of the virus?)

This has got to stop. We are primordial miracles. Resplendent avatars. Deities in disguise. Rebel creators. We are wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life dedicated to navigating our way through this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game. It is our sacred duty to keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free, and to make sure that all of our fellow messiahs, even those who volunteered to play the roles of ignorant deceivers, have the chance to keep their imaginations wild and hungry and free.

How might we start curing ourselves of the virus and move in the direction of becoming more festive, relentless champions of the liberated imagination?

For starters, we can take everything less seriously and less personally and less literally.

We can laugh at ourselves at least as much as we laugh at other people. We can blaspheme our own gods and burn our own flags and mock our own hypocrisy and satirize our own fads and fixations.

We can enjoy the pleasures of healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, irreverent devotion, holy pranks, playful experiments, and crazy wisdom.

We can inspire each other to perpetrate healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, blasphemous reverence, holy pranks, and crazy wisdom.

We can be humble enough to understand that it's a crime against life to act like a know-it-all who has everything all figured out.

1 comment:

TrevMillar said...

Thank you so much for posting that.