In response to our culture’s ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking.
While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we recommend balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the Bliss Blitz.
During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion. Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you’re bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure.
"The laws of physics appear ‘fine tuned’ for our existence. Even slight deviations in the laws would result in a universe devoid of stars and life.
"If, for instance, the force of gravity were just a few percent weaker it could not squeeze and heat the matter inside stars to the millions of degrees that are necessary to trigger sunlight generating nuclear reactions.
"If gravity were only a few percent stronger, however, it would heat up stars, causing them to consume their fuel faster. They would not exist for the billions of years needed for evolution to produce intelligence.
I kick my own ass and wash my own brain. I push my own buttons and trick my own pain. I burn my own flags and roast my own heroes. I mock my own fears and cheer my own zeroes.
Nothing can stop me from teasing my shadow. I’m full of empty and backwards bravado. My wounds are tattoos that reveal my true beauty. I turn tragic to magic and make bliss my duty.
I honor my faults till they become virtues. I play jokes on my nightmares till I’m sure they won’t hurt you. I sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees and love songs with punch lines to anonymous seas.
I won’t accept gifts that infringe on my freedom. I shun sacred places that stir up my boredom. I change my name daily, pretend to be nobody. I fight for the truth if it’s majestically rowdy.
Gravity fucks me and I fuck it back. The sun is my sex slave, the moon smokes my crack. I pump up my conscience with idiot laughter. I’m living happily, in love ever after.
I brag about what I can’t do and don’t know. I take off my clothes to those I oppose. I’m so far beyond lazy, I work like a god. I’m totally crazy; in fact that’s my job.
The Christian writer and philosopher C.S. Lewis once said something to this effect: “I thank God that He hasn’t given me all the things I’ve prayed for, because as I look back now I realize it would have been disastrous to have received some of them.”
Dear Co-Conspirators: Congratulations on having such ambidextrous brains. Due to your ever-growing ability to blend supple rationality with robust intuition, you’re not falling prey to the inane strains of insanity that are going around.
Instead you’re achieving glorious victory after glorious victory over the fearful fantasies that pass for normalcy.
Best of all, you’re increasing your mastery of the art of the paradox; more and more you’re attuned to the amusing fact that when the mythic shifts hit the fan, the apparent opposites turn inside-out and trade places. The rot prepares the way for the splendor. The chaos becomes the source of the rejuvenation. The end of the world mutates into the beginning of the world.
Please accept the thunderous applause of my one hand clapping. The people who take everything personally and seriously may not recognize your ingenious work, but we connoisseurs of the liberated imagination do.
I suspect that none of us has the capacity to foretell the future of the human race. No one — not psychics, not doomsayers, not intelligent optimists, indigenous shamans, no one.
There is a strong case to be made that this is the worst oftimes, and an equally strong case that this is the best of times; a strong case that everything will collapse into a miserable dystopia and a strong case that we are on the verge of a golden age. It’s impossible to know in any “objective way” which is “truer.”
Anyone who asserts they do know is just cherry-picking evidence that rationalizes their emotional bent. The variables are chaotic and abundant and beyond our ken.
In the meantime, I’m doing what I can to create a golden age.
"Love is being stupid together," said French poet Paul Valéry. While there’s a grain of truth to that, it’s too corny and decadent for my tastes.
I prefer to focus on a more interesting truth, which is this: Real love is being smart together. If you weave your destiny together with another’s, he or she should catalyze your sleeping potentials, sharpen your perceptions, and boost both your emotional and analytical intelligence. Your relationship becomes a crucible in which you deepen your understanding of the way the world works.
Think of an example of your closest approach to this model in your own life. Then formulate a vow in which you promise you’ll do what’s necessary to more fully embody the principle “Love is being smart together.”
"Watch out for the dark side of your own idealism and of your moral sense," says Howard Bloom. "Both come from our arsenal of natural instincts. And both easily degenerate into an excuse for attacks on others.
When our righteous indignation breathes the flames of anger against a ‘villain,’ we all too often become a fang in nature’s scheme of tooth and claw.”
What’s the dark side of your idealism and morality?
What’s true about the word “God” may apply as well to “soul”: Much of the meaning has been sucked out of it. It’s a flabby ghost that has lost its life force.
Say “soul” and you’re liable to numb your listeners’ attention. At best you may inspire them to picture a vague floating blob that feels more like an abstract concept than a real presence.
That’s a shame, because the eminence that’s lazily referred to as “soul” is as crucial to you waking up tomorrow as your heart.
"If you need to visualize the soul," wrote Tom Robbins, "think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved."
As part of the Beauty and Truth Lab’s ongoing crusade to wrestle the English language into a more formidable servant of the ecstatic impulse, we’re pleased to present some alternate designations for “soul.” See if any of the following concoctions feel right coming out of your mouth:
1. undulating superconductor
2. nectar plasma
3. golden lather
4. smoldering crucible
5. luminous caduceus.
If none of these work for you—or even if they do—create your own terms.
P.S. Here’s Robbins’ conclusion: “By waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe.”
IT’S BAD LUCK TO BE SUPERSTITIOUS. I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate. I really get antsy when you refuse to be patient. If you don’t stop berating yourself, I’m going to have to cut you down to size.