text and photo © Jonathan Zap
They say that a good manager is one who emphasizes catching people doing things right. And yet, in our view of the world we tend to emphasize all the places where we think the cosmos is getting it wrong. The evolution of our brains emphasized threat detection over appreciation. From the point of view of the continuation of the genome, it is more important that a prairie dog detect the hawk overhead then to appreciate the quality of the sunshine or the abundance of air it’s able to breathe. Our minds are so often busy threat detectors worrying about what’s wrong or could go wrong. We don’t often stop to notice all the things that have gone right in the present moment. For example, right now you are interacting with an oracle and therefore you probably have eyes, and unlike all the other species on the planet you are able to comprehend complex language and explore new ideas.
This is an abundant universe. Put quotation marks around the voices in your head that are endlessly worried about scarcity of money, resources, opportunities, romantic partners, etc. Look up at a clear night’s sky and think about how much real estate is out there — ca. 100,000,000,000 stars in just our galaxy, and by some estimates 500,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe with many physicists now saying that our universe is just a tiny bubble in an ever expanding foam of multiverse. The universe has created 50,000,000,000,000 cells just to sheath you in a corporeal body for this one difficult incarnation where apparent scarcity and other hardships are part of the abundance of developmental forces.
My friend Rob Breszny wrote a book entitled Pronoia. According to the book, Pronoia is a term “…coined in the mid-1970s by Grateful Dead lyricist and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, who defined it as the opposite of paranoia: ‘the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.’ ”
It is easy to view life as a catastrophe, a catastrophe we can head off only by a white-knuckled grip on our body, money, possessions and relationships. But maybe your life is more of a “euchatastrophe” than a catastrophe.
Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien that refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story that result in the protagonist’s well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu-, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the “unraveling” or conclusion of a drama’s plot. It could be said that the ending of The Lord of the Rings is a Eucatastrophe. Though victory seems assured for Sauron, the One Ring is destroyed beyond all hope. Essentially a bad situation suddenly turns good.
For more on Pronoia, go to Rob Brezsny’s site, freewillastrology.com, and/or read my review of Pronoia:
Is the World Spiraling Toward Eucatastrophe or is that just my Pronoia? The latest edition of Pronoia was available on 9-22-09.
“Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.”
Accessing the water of life while in the Babylon Matrix.
From one vantage, it can seem like we live in an arid, toxic world of asphalt and metal with nothing to nourish our weary spirits. But look beneath the surface of our world and you can find the same primal nourishment that all humans have found. There are still people and other mammals capable of caring, and there have never been so many available in need of care.
The primal nourishment we need is love. It is the resource to allows our souls to develop. The other necessary side of that primal nourishment is the opportunity to love others and provide resources for their development.
According to some, there are more human beings alive today than all the human beings that have ever died. Most of them have some capacity for caring, and even more have some receptivity to be cared for. And if you don’t care for people, there are other life forms here capable of giving and receiving love.
And when we consider the availability of resources for self-development, our age seems to be rapidly metamorphosing into a golden age, which already has far more to offer than any other age we know. The internet, for example, is like a vast well of zeros and ones — you can send your bucket anywhere and, depending on your intentions, come back with muddy, toxic residue or sparkling, clear water. The closely guarded secrets of any esoteric tradition, once available only to the most advanced initiates who had reached the inner courtyard, are now only a three-second Google search away. According to historians, during the Dark Ages, the most educated people on the planet were monks with the extraordinary good fortune to live in one of a few monasteries that had libraries which, in the rarest cases, contained as many as one hundred books. Anyone reading this, by contrast, has access to more books, and other cultural resources, than they could process in tens of thousands of lifetimes. People walk around in our age with gadgets a quarter the size of a cigarette case that can hold vast libraries of music available to them twenty-four hours a day, and yet just a few generations ago a Czar or King could only access music through a live performance.
And when it comes to the ability to express ourselves culturally, to nourish others with our inner resources, the last fifteen years have been an upgrade that seems like replacing a four-cylinder engine with a warp core. Suppose in the Dark Age of 1990 I proposed that, as a person with a very limited income, I would make an oracle which contained close to six hundred cards, and which would be continually upgraded and expanded,and that, furthermore, I would make it available for free to several billion people. For most of human history I could propagate such an artifact at the speed of handwriting, while now it propagates at something closer to light speed.
In the town that I live in I can walk into a dozen stores where I can buy fruits, vegetables and other food products from all over the world. And if a bond of love exists between me and another person, no geographical distance keeps me from instantaneous communication with him. I can be out walking in the sunshine, or doing chores while having an engaging hands-free conversation with someone thousands of miles away. These are just a few of the commonplace miracles of the present era we usually take for granted.
We can all too easily poison ourselves by gazing anxiously at the darkness and deficiencies of our world. Look again and see that you have all the opportunities and then some that any human being has ever had to access the water of life.