“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Feelings of Pronoia

It really was such a delicious feeling, to discover a new word today, whose meaning (whether it is true or not) really speaks to my condition.

I just got back from leading worship at Oxford Unitarians, and was feeling pretty darn chipper anyway. So I turned the computer on, to check my e-mails and have my customary squint at Facebook. To be confronted with a lovely post from a friend, which she in her turn had shared from somebody called Anthony Smith:

"My new favourite word is Pronoia (the opposite of paranoia). It's the belief that everything in the universe is conspiring to support you."

My heart instantly leapt in recognition - yes, I do believe that this is what the universe is like, oftener than we might believe.

And yet I had never heard it before. So I put it into google, as you do, and was surprised to find multiple references, including a dedicated website pronoia.net. Somebody called Rob Brezsny has written a book called Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings. Here is an excerpt from it, quoted by the website Free Will Astrology

"DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It's the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

OBJECTIVE OF PRONOIA: To explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.

HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower.

PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.

GUIDING QUESTION: "The secret of life," said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do." What is that task for you?"

It all sounds a little bizarre. But then I noticed that the book also suggests a daily practice, which I find quite interesting:

"DAILY PRACTICE: Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections."

I really cannot argue with any of that. Maybe more of us need to become pronoiac (which is apparently the preferred adjective). Maybe it might make the world a happier place ... who knows?

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