Collective Journaling w/ Peter Limberg and Co-Hosts. Daily @ 8:00 AM ET. Patreon event. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing w/ Ria Baeck and Co-Hosts. Every Friday @ 8:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing w/ Ria Baeck and Co-Hosts. Every Friday @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Out of the Mind & Into the Body: Mapping Hell to Regain Heaven w/ Jasun Horsley. October 22nd @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Jasun Horsley, parapolitical analyst and “hell mapper,” visits The Stoa tomorrow to discuss how a sophisticated mapping of hell can help us regain heaven.
October 21st, 2021
Wow. So, Beyond Self-Discipline (BSD) is awesome.
I am going to start live journaling about the BSD experience, as I think this will help with making what is happening more philosophically coherent for me, along with affording the space to bump into creative ideas. Also, doing this here might excite people to sign up for the official January launch. It is cool that me philosophically processing via journaling to myself, something I would do anyway if I did not have this medium, could serve as unintentional marketing towards something we are going to offer in the market economy.
Okay. So, what is this BSD thing?
Hm. How do I even explain this thing? I’ll start by explaining it structurally, then philosophically. The structure: a one-month experience where you are placed in a “digital gang” pursuing input goals (practices and negations), aka a “DIY ecology of practices,” that your digital gang holds you accountable to. They also can support you, challenge you, and strategize with you.
The minimum viable product (MVP) of BSD started this Saturday and is going for two weeks. We have a cohort of about 50 awesome people, which we are calling BSDv0. This MVP will be informing the official BSD launch in January. We are thinking of continuing on in November and December privately with about 10-20 people from BSDv0, in order to wildly experiment. We are thinking of calling this the BSD Lab.
While BSD is being launched out of The Stoa, I see BSD as a separate entity, hopefully something that lives outside The Stoa which could reach a wider audience. This is aligned with how I see The Stoa, a daemonic incubator where awesome stuff gets birthed from. I imagine BSD and The Stoa will eventually find right relationship with one another; perhaps the latter can serve as a research arm for the former, aka if we want to learn about a new meditative practice to implement in BSD we can invite a practitioner to The Stoa to experience it.
BSDv0 so far feels somewhat messy, in a really delicious way. We are realizing there is so much information to onboard people to make their experience beautiful. We are leaning into the mess, because that is an obvious part of a massively discounted MVP. It is also pretty consistent with the delicious mess that is this place called The Stoa. Messiness is also a part of the whole goal pursuit/accountability “mastermind groups” psychotechnology that we are using for BSD.
I have been doing mastermind groups for years and fucking up happens a lot during these groups: setting vague or uninspiring goals, getting lost in shame spirals, having judgements if members become motivational “black holes,” etc. It really is a delicious thing to navigate. I am navigating it right now.
Daniel and I are not only the designers of this experience, but we are full participants in it as well. There are 16 digital gangs in this cohort, and we have put ourselves in gangs, so we can fully be there in the experience with everyone else.
To pivot to the philosophical framing: the thing that really fucking excites me about BSD is that it is a combination of two modalities Daniel and I have been experimenting with for years: mastermind groups and philosophical fellowships. We have intensely been doing both with a good group of people here in Toronto, but always separate, never at the same time. I’ll explain what both are below ...
Mastermind groups. This term comes from the OG of self-help, Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. Here is how Hill describes a mastermind group: a friendship alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose. The term has become popularized in self-help circles, understood as “an accountability group that helps individuals set, pursue, and achieve their goals,” as I defined before at The Stoa.
Philosophical fellowships. This is a term John Vervaeke coined. As John just described to me in a text message, philosophical fellowships are: an umbrella term that puts emphasis on philia in order to disclose the connection to philo-sophia. “Philo-sophia” is the term John likes to use to describe the love of wisdom, contrasted to philo-nokia, the love of victory. Andrew Taggart’s philosophical practice (which influenced mine) is oriented towards philo-sophia. So is Ran Lahav’s Deep Philosophy modality. As is The Club - a philosophical fellowship that gamified the devil’s advocacy.
To bring in a Stoic framing to this: mastermind groups exercise the virtues of courage and temperance, aka doing shit that is difficult to do and not doing shit that is difficult not to do, while philosophical fellowships are exercising the virtue of wisdom, the mother of all virtue. I do not see anything out there today that successfully combines the psychotechnologies of mastermind groups with those of philosophical fellowships. BSD seems to be the place where these two modalities finally meet.
These two modalities need to be fused together, as there are serious failure modes when they exist on their own. Mastermind groups are great for success, but without being tethered to the virtue of wisdom, rivalrous dynamics emerge in the group, and the goals being pursued become disembodied. Success for its own sake becomes the superordinate goal and you end up playing “Game A” or captured by what Andrew calls “Total Work” - a way of life where everything in life (relationships, health, insights) become instrumentalized to serve work.
The failure mode of philosophical fellowships, especially when untethered from the virtues of courage and temperance, is that no bold action is taken, or the group becomes indulgent with what feels good. This is one of the main criticisms of the “dialogos conversations” or The Stoa and adjacent spaces more generally - we just talk, talk, talk, then talk about how to talk while using all these fancy terms nobody understands. It quickly becomes masturbatory if no actions are taken that are coherent with what was philosophized about.
Daniel and I want to change this and I think BSD has a chance to get this mix right. Philosophically speaking, BSD is really meant to be a trojan horse for “friendships of virtue” returning to culture writ large. This is Aristotle’s term I like to use to describe friendships in which you truly want your friend to be better and wiser. In these kinds of relationships you do not instrumentalize your friend towards some benefit, nor do you use each other for some mutual pleasure. No. These friendships are about virtue.
There are no institutions for us to cultivate friendships of virtue these days. This is why we need to create spaces for this and this is exactly what I am doing here - with The Stoa, with BSD, and with whatever wild daemonic project emerges next. As I told the BSDv0 cohort over the weekend, finding friendships of virtue has been an obsession of mine for my entire life. I have been engaging in underground virtue experiments for years now, attempting to get the formula for these friendships right.
Well, Daniel and I do not have the formula perfectly right, but things now are right enough to experiment courageously. Yeah, I feel all of this so hard right now. The time is here for virtue to make a fucking come back.
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