Dec 31, 2021
“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural–you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you have this condition? As you venture into life, the story begins with a friend discovering he has this condition and finally admitting it. Yes, I indeed have it too. It is called Pronoia.
A person suffering from paranoia feels others are conspiring against them. Paranoia is the irrational and persistent feeling that people are 'out to get you' or that you are the subject of persistent, intrusive attention by others. This unfounded mistrust of others can make it difficult for a person with paranoia to function socially or have close relationships.
On the other hand, a person experiencing pronoia feels the world (The Universe) conspires to do them good. Yes! It is contagious. As per Wikipedia:
In 1993 the writer and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow defined pronoia as "the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."
Long before the term was coined, author J.D. Salinger referred to the concept later to be called pronoia in his 1955 novella, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. In it, the character Seymour Glass writes in his diary, "Oh, God, if I'm anything by a clinical name, I'm a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy."
The writer Philip K Dick referred to pronoia as an antidote to paranoia in his private work, Exegesis.
WARNING!!!! DANGER!!! RED ALERT!!! According to JSTOR, part of ITHAKA, "Pronoia is a form of denial that protects the fragile person's self-esteem from criticism and rejection. It can arise from persistently grandiose thinking in a narcissistic personality."
My knowing of pronoia is not to ignore the suffering in life rather accept it and with time embrace it. I am strongly influenced and inspired by the likes of Dr Gabor Mate, Thich Nhat Hanh, Marcus Aurelius, Buddha, Guru Nanak Jee, my departed father in law and many more. All these people convey the message life will have suffering but life is not suffering. Instead, life is discovering the infinite abundance we are been given even in a rough, scary and tough situation. Yes, at the time of suffering we are unable to see that, which is natural for humans.
On daily basis, we swing like a pendulum between wholesome and unwholesome states. The wholesome states are generosity, love and wisdom. The unwholesome states are greed, hatered and delusion. Such states are triggered by "the vicissitudes of life".
To pass through "the vicissitudes of life" means to face the ups and downs. Vicissitude simply means meaning "change" or "alternation". We will experience these vicissitudes no throughout our lives no matter what our intentions or actions. The vicissitudes of life are pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute. Simply put we are oscillating between craving and aversion. Pronoia is about creating and developing a state of equanimity.
Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas, having an even mind; aequus even; animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, vicissitudes or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. It is not being natural. It is the appreciation of the three universal truths that is impermanence, everything is continuously changing and the law of cause and effect.
Thus Pronoia Returns Back To The Four Noble Truths
1. There Is Suffering (Symptom) - Cognitive-behaviour therapy such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) is used for psychological treatments which takes inspiration from this truth.
You may say, think and feel “there is suffering” is morbid and pessimistic. Thus, let me dig deeper and say this means there is dissatisfaction, disillusion, problem, pain, challenges in life. This could happen with your health, wealth, relationships or any aspect of your existence.
In my world, I translate this suffering into “Courage”. Ask yourself the question are you willing to tap into courage to be aware and realise life is not suffering (although there is suffering in life) but life is full of abundance?
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. ― Marcus Aurelius
2. Cause of Suffering (Diagnosis) - Our intensity of suffering/ dissatisfaction is caused by our perception, experience, beliefs and the way we have been conditioned from our childhood. This happens especially when we are facing conflicts, misunderstandings, doubts or going through adverse times.
In fact, Dr Garbour Mate research shows, we carry our ancestors’ expressions in our DNA that we can experience as our own suffering/ dissatisfaction. We reincarnate certain behaviours, thought patterns, emotions, actions on a regular basis and many of these we do it on daily basis thus label as life sucks.
In my world, I translate this cause of suffering into “Clarity”. Ask yourself the question are you willing to gain clarity to clean the suffering whenever you encounter it?
“The attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain.” ― Gabor Maté
3. Cessation of Suffering (Prognosis) – We play a major part in our difficulties; thus we are also the solution to our dissatisfaction.
We may not be able to change the things that happen to us or what others do upon us but we can transform our responses. That means one can end suffering and that does not mean that you stop getting suffering in life. The father of evolution, Charles Darwin, summarises what hinders us from the cessation of suffering as: “It is our arrogance, our admiration of ourselves”.
In my world I translate this cessation of suffering into “Conviction”, getting into a state of being free from doubt, the deep knowing there is a solution to suffering. Ask yourself the question are you willing to strengthen your conviction that suffering can end whenever you encounter it?
"Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes."- Buddha
4. Walk The Path (Prescription) – There is a solution to all suffering and the only way to discover it is by passing through it. Not conquer it, not fight, not crush but embrace it. That means to be in a state of compassion.
A non-struggling, peaceful mind is a possibility when we bring compassion into our existence. Think about it why would Stanford University's setup Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, there must be something extraordinarily amazing about compassion. Compassion is the key as it encompasses intelligence, conscious communication and emotional wisdom.
In the teachings of the four noble truths and my world "walk the path "translates into “Compassion”, not apathy or sympathy or empathy. Compassion is the solution. Ask yourself the question are you willing to take the hand of compassion for yourself and others whenever you encounter suffering?
"Have JIGRA (Braveheart) and you will see miracles happen in your life." - Mulk Raj Sakhujha
Therefore the act of pronoia involves walking the eightfold path on a daily basis. This requires training, learning and development in three essential aspects called WED: (a) Wisdom (b) Ethics (c) Discipline. In this manner, making you mindful to kindle courage, clarity, conviction and compassion in any situation by walking the eightfold path.
You to win the hearts of people because you learn to deal with their true feelings. Through courage, clarity, conviction and compassion you gain the ability in embracing conflicts (within yourself and others), enriching relationships (knowing yourself and others better) and tapping into emotional wisdom (easily distinguish negative and positive emotions, feelings, actions, thoughts). All lead to being in a state of mind-flow thus elevating every aspect of your work and life.
Walking The Eightfold Path Is About Getting W.E.D.
“Wise View” is having wholesome concepts and ideas.
“Wise Intention" is having wholesome determination and awareness.
“Wise Speech” is having wholesome verbal (words), vocal (voice) and visual (body language) communication.
“Wise Action” is having wholesome behaviour that is in accord with the truth.
“Wise Livelihood” is having wholesome ways to make a living/ working with others.
“Wise Effort/Diligence” is having wholesome ways to cultivate actions, skills and thoughts.
“Wise Mindfulness” is having wholesome ways to remove those toxic sticky mental and emotional habits and judgments.
“Wise Concentration” is having wholesome ways in knowing nothing is permanent, everything is continuously changing and for every effect, there is a cause.
Let us join forces and conspire (together) with The Universe to develop leadership communication for you, your team and your loved ones resulting in courage, clarity, conviction and compassion. Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway® To Radically Cultivate & Elevate Success.
Welcome to your life of pronoia and looking forward to doing great work with you. Que sera, sera whatever will be, will be. Thank you. Peace be with you. Amor Fati.
“Whatever kind of seed is sown in a field, prepared in due season, a plant of that same kind, marked with the peculiar qualities of the seed, springs up in it.” ― Guru Nanak Jee