Hey beautiful people,
We have wrapped up reviewing the applications for Beyond Self-Discipline (BSD). We received a lot of interest, and so many awesome people have applied, hence we will probably run a second cohort either in May or June. You can apply on the website if you are interested in being considered for upcoming cohorts. If you are interested in our design process, you can watch this video with Daniel Thorson from the Monastic Academy …
Next week’s events:
Hyposubjects w/ Dominic Boyer. March 28th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Metamodern Magick w/ Scoutleader Wiley. March 29th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Living from Eros w/ Pamela von Sabljar. March 30th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
The Anti-Social Credit System w/ Harry Bergeron. March 31st @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Check out what is happening in our wisdom gym:
Collective Journaling. Daily @ 8:00 AM ET. Patreon event. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing. Every Tuesday @ 3:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Embodiment Hour. Every Thursday @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 60 mins.
Collective Presencing. Every Friday @ 8:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing. Every Friday @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Stoic Breath. Every Sunday @ 10:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 60 mins.
Newly posted events:
Firehoses of Bullshit: Why Propaganda is Done Best with a Moral Panic w/ Cactus Chu. May 2nd @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Conspirituality w/ Matthew Remski. May 4th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Unfolding in the Meta-Crisis: The Need for a Paradigm Shift w/ Steve March. May 10th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
March 27th, 2022
Kazandjian and I talked to DT from the Monastic Academy about Beyond Self-Discipline (BSD). We are doing a series of advisory interviews - some we will release and some we will not - about how to design a bespoke ecology of practices together. The conversation pumped me up, and I wanted to cohere my thoughts and write up some rough notes on BSD here.
I sense two broad moves are needed in the development of BSD: establishing a provisional theory and a lean praxis, both of which I can muse about in these journals.
So, what is BSD?
An experience and an experiment.
I like guarding the shit out of my premises, and BSD is too young to promise a “course,” especially one that is aimed at transformation. I am pretty confident I can host fun and beautiful experiences, but BSD is not just an experience for experience’s sake, it’s also an experiment. What kind of experiment? It is a daemonic-inspired one aimed to address the ongoing philosophical inquiries in these journals, mainly this one…
How to become less foolish together?
My provisional answer is to establish a “wisdom commons” with “friends of virtue.” How though? Well, as usual, a Vervaekian response comes to mind: establish an ecology of practices oriented towards wisdom (or being “less foolish”). We’ve crafted and refined this response, translating it into a living question, which is the crux of the BSD experiment:
Can a reliable system (or “psychotechnology”) be created that helps one design and redesign their ecology of practice in a way that is responsive to what matters most right now?
I like the “what matters most right now” (aka at our “knife’s edge”) phrase because it captures wisdom, transformation, and the meta-crisis of our lives: the confluence of all the personal crises that are affecting us. It is always wise to do what matters most; doing what matters most will surely lead to some transformation, and it also addresses whatever crisis is present, assuming one is present, and assuming it’s one’s responsibility to be responsive to it.
What matters most will not always be clear though, and this is what BSD is going to be designed towards: becoming clear about what matters most to you.
We are looking to various places to help us with this experiment. Monasteries are one, hence why we interviewed DT, as he is the curriculum designer at the Monastic Academy, the only integral/metamodern-friendly monastery I am aware of. However, the ecology of practice is designed for you. Not everyone can afford to go to a monastery, and outside of the monastery setting everyone’s time needs are different, hence a bespoke ecology of practices is needed to meet their specific situation.
The closest thing to bespoke ecology of practice design I am aware of in the self-help literature is the habit design stuff à la James Clear (Atomic Habits) or BJ Fogg (Tiny Habits). Athletic trainers also come to mind, as they do ecology of practice design, but towards clear performance objectives, not towards wisdom ones. The only book I can think of directly related to this experiment is Ken Wilber’s Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, an influence on the project. If you know of any others, please let us know.
After years of personal experimentation, research, and engagement in advisory interviews with the likes of DT, we are operating now with six provisional propositions with regard to this experiment. The category headings of these provisional propositions are: bespoke, protean, the others, ontologically agnostic, digitally decentralized, and three harmonies. I’ll unpack each now…
Bespoke. One’s ecology of practice needs to be bespoke to their circumstances. Each one of us has specific health needs, relationship needs, daemonic/dharmic calling, goals, and professional responsibilities, all of which differ from one another. The one size fits all approach will not work in the wilderness of life, and yes, adopting a clear ecology in a monastic, educational, athletic, or military setting (aka “total institutions”) will help with transformation, but not everyone has the luxury or calling to be in such institutions.
Protean. One’s ecology needs to be protean. In the wilderness of life, it is not wise to inflexibly stay with one ecology forever. Adaptation is needed to respond to what is happening in your life and the wider world. What often happens when an injury, sickness, or a life event occurs - or when one travels - is that your ecology is disturbed and you default to unconscious practices, aka “bad habits.” We are hoping that becoming conscious of designing one’s ecology in a holistic way, learning to recognize when and if it needs to change, will help afford an “ecology agency.” And besides, the best ecology of practices is the one that gets you to the next.
The Others. As the famous Timothy Leary phrase goes: You’re never alone. Find the others. We often feel alone though, and it especially sucks if we are trying to figure out how to pursue what matters most alone. We are also plagued by biases, bounded rationality, and limiting beliefs, which hopefully others can help spot. We are designing the program in such a way that the others who are joining not only can help you keep accountability to your ecology, but also help stress test if it is oriented towards what matters most.
Ontologically Agnostic. While my personal ontological framework is Godly, I sense whatever this experiment is does not need any explicit ontological commitments at the outset. We are working with reality, regardless of what ontological commitments each participant has. I sense this is important in order not to scare away people, and also to see what kind of cross-pollination can emerge from ontological diversity.
Digitally Decentralized. While what Erving Goffman calls “total institutions” (from barracks to convents) do have transformational utility, they also have failure modes, aka conformism and cult-like dynamics. This is especially the case for intentional change communities focused on “inner work.” The digital aspect of BSD helps prevent this, and we are hoping that the BSD process can create enough ecology agency that the experience can be replicated anywhere and anytime with friends of virtue.
Three Harmonies. The harmony question came up with our conversation with DT, and our provisional thoughts are this: each practice needs to be in harmony with other practices (aka the ecology). The ecology needs to be in harmony with one’s philosophy of life. The ecology also needs to be in harmony with reality (aka what is happening now in life). It is going to be impossible to perfectly know this, but I sense the orientation is what matters here. A possible fourth harmony might be with the others themselves, which might be the secret spiritual goal of such an experience.
In addition to these six provisional propositions, we are working with at least three provisional ingredients in designing one’s ecology: superordinate attractor, categorization framework, and organization template. To unpack these…
Superordinate attractor. What are all the practices in service towards? Potentially, wisdom, awakening, individuation, happiness, etc. Our working hypothesis is this needs to be bespoke and proteanly held. For example, in DT’s recent Willow experiment the superordinate attractor was becoming an “omni-harmonizing agent.”
Category framework. What is the categorization framework that will house the practices? Again, we are viewing this as bespoke and proteanly held. We are also wondering if being too precious about this is even needed for the first iteration of BSD. Here is an example framework from the Willow experiment:
Ethics (bridging the is-ought)
Perception (object-subject divide)
And Ken Wilber’s Integral Life Practice (ILP) framework (dated 2008):
There are many more that can be borrowed, or made up. A potential bifurcation that might be a throughline through the BSD experience: practices aimed towards transformation (meditation, journaling, breathwork, etc.) versus practices aimed towards efficient life maintenance (GTD, second brain, timeblocking, etc). I imagine “existential boundary work” is going to be needed to carve out space towards operating in Game A while transforming towards Game B.
Organization template. One needs a place to organize, edit, and track their ecology of practices. This is something we will be providing before the experience begins.
There are more rough notes I can sketch out here, but I am jumping on a call with Kazandjian soon to do some work. Overall, the framing that this is an experiment is pretty cool, but viewing this thing as a “philosophical experiment” feels cooler.
There are tons of scientific experiments out there, but where are the philosophical ones? Perhaps a “philosophical experiment” can be defined thus: an experiment emerging from a philosophical inquiry and is carried out to help answer it.
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