[Excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny]
You're an immortal freedom fighter who has adopted the mission to liberate all sentient creatures. You're a fun-loving messiah who devoutly wants to help all of your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.
Try to remember. You're a vortex of fluid light that has temporarily taken assumed the form of a human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins. And why did you do forget? Because it was the best way to forge the identity that would make you an elemental force in our 14-billion-year campaign to bring heaven down to earth.
You are a mutant deity in disguise -- of the same lineage as a Buddha or Christ, and conjured from the same fire. You have been around since the beginning of time and will be here after the end. You're learning. You're getting better at playing the preposterously amusing master game we all dreamed up together before the Big Bang bloomed.
Lately, I must admit, our work has seemed almost comically impossible. Many of us have given in to the temptation to believe that everything is wrong wrong wrong. Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround us. 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 half-truths are readily believed.
So, at this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game, it's not 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 messiahs among us who bravely volunteered to play the role of know-it-all deceivers.
We have to learn how to stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the sour, puckered mass hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as "reality."
Most importantly, we have to keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free, even as we are ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth. We have to be both disciplined and rowdy.
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 of humanity. These sanctuaries might take the form of temporary autonomous zones like festivals and parties and workshops, where we can ritually explore and potentiate the evolving mysteries of pronoia (the antidote to paranoia). 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.
We can conspire together to carry out the agenda that futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard names: 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.
Here's a third way we can collaborate: We can inspire each other to perpetrate healing mischief, friendly shocks, compassionate tricks, irreverent devotion, holy pranks, playful experiments, and crazy wisdom.
What do tricks and mischief and jokes have to do with our quest? Isn't America in a permanent state of war? Isn't the global biosphere in freefall collapse? Hasn't the paranoia about terrorism decimated our civil liberties? Isn't it our duty to grow more serious and weighty than ever before?
On the contrary: I say this is 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 they are only symptoms of an even larger, long-term threat to the fate of the earth: the genocide of imagination.
Elsewhere, on pages 184-186 of my book, I have identified pop-nihilist storytellers as the vanguard perpetrators of this genocide of the imagination. But there is another culprit as well: fundamentalism.