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?
UNDIGNIFIED MEDITATIONS TO KEEP YOU HONEST: Brag about what you can’t do and don’t have. Confess profound secrets to people who aren’t particularly interested. Pray for the success of your enemies while you’re making love. Change your name every day for a thousand days.
MYTHIC ROLE MODELS: Prometheus and Pronoia. In Greek mythology, Pronoia was the consort of Prometheus, the divine rebel who pilfered a glowing coal from his fellow gods so that he could slip the gift of fire to humans.
TOP-SECRET ALLIES: Sacred janitors, benevolent pranksters, apathy debunkers, lyrical logicians, ethical outlaws, aspiring masters of curiosity, homeless millionaires, humble megalomaniacs, hedonistic midwives, lunatic saints, sly optimists, mystical scientists, dissident bodhisattvas, macho feminists, and socialist libertarians who possess inside information about the big bang.
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.
POSSIBLE REWARDS: You will be able to claim the rewards promised you at the beginning of time — not just any old beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, freedom, and justice, but rather: exhilarating beauty that incites you to be true to yourself; crazy wisdom that immunizes you against the temptation to believe your ideals are ultimate truths; outrageous goodness that inspires you to experiment with irrepressible empathy; generous freedom that keeps you alert for opportunities to share your wealth; insurrectionary love that endlessly transforms you; and a lust for justice that’s leavened with a knack for comedy, keeping you honest as you work humbly to liberate everyone in the world from ignorance and suffering.
USAGE NOTE: We employ the adjectival form “pronoiac” rather than “pronoid.” That way, it rhymes with “aphrodisiac” and resonates with “paradisiacal” instead of being conditioned by “paranoid.”
DISCLAIMER: Material in this book may be too intense and controversial for some readers. It contains graphic scenes of peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. You will not find any references to harsh, buzzing fluorescent lights in a cheap hotel room where a heroin dealer plots to get revenge against the authorities at his old high school by releasing sarin gas into the teachers’ lounge. There are no reports of Nazi skinheads obsessed with re-creating the 14th-century Tartars’ war strategy of catapulting plague-ridden corpses into an enemy’s citadel.
Completely absent from these pages are any stories about a psychotic CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has intentionally disfigured his face to help him elude the CIA, which wants to arrest him for the treasonous sale of his company’s nanotech weapons technology to the Chinese. You should therefore proceed with caution if you are a jaded hipster who is suspicious of feeling healthy and happy. Ask yourself: “Am I ready to stop equating cynicism with insight? Do I dare take the risk that exposing myself to uplifting entertainment might dull my intelligence?” If you doubt your ability to handle relaxing breakthroughs, you should stop reading now.
(Excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.)