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Riding compounding waves of inspiration



ax is an author, public speaker, and yoga instructor. He has spent more than a decade managing complex businesses across geographies for major IT multinationals.

In this show he deconstructs strategies and tactics for surviving and thriving in the post-industrial age we are entering into.

Always write it down

Max Zografos

The importance of typing our thoughts down has been discussed a lot. Classics like The Artist's Way have sung the praises of this habit, as have numerous personalities who shared their daily regimes.

By all accounts, this is one of the rituals "effective" people do first thing in the morning. Dump everything down.

During sleep we are in touch with something beyond our own thought. Something that transcends our individual capacity.

I don’t know about you but whatever this mysterious entity is, I want more of. If only I could be more conscious during sleep and type things down as they unravel, wouldn’t that be insightful?

I mentioned in last week’s post that Homer attributed his epic Odyssey to a Muse. There is nothing collaborative about it. He didn't confer, negotiate or even discuss with her. For all we know he merely took notes. He was a passive transcriber. What a fortunate man.

Until we reach said levels of inspiration-driven trance, all we can do is catch-up in the morning. It’s the closest we can get.

Until we figure it all out, we just need to take notes, type everything down, capture traces and clues, collect all evidence from that nightly encounter while it's fresh, before our busy day unleashes its gross [1] elements all over it [2].

[1] By the term gross, I don’t mean disgusting; rather indelicate.

[2] If you love hand-writing then go for it. Penmanship has several cognitive benefits compared to typing. I for one prefer a keyboard together with iA Writer and Dayone writing apps for their simplicity.

Is this what friendship is?

Max Zografos

Is there a sexual undercurrent in your friendships?

There most definitely is, and I mean this in a big way: All energy is sexual energy.

When we meet someone new, this energy is looking for avenues of expression. Will it be at the low and gross level, or the higher and subtler ones? Will we fuck them, start a business with them, meditate with, or reach even higher levels of attainment with them?

Tantric communion apparently involves sexual matching at the gross, mental and spiritual centres at the same time.

Which leads us to an interesting question; If such wonderful things happen when humans get together, what is—if any—the benefit of solitude? Could such thing as a "lone genius" ever exist?

Could it be that the communion we experience when physically alone, happens in accordance with something out there? A telepathic connection of sorts? Something no less sexual than what we'd have with a carnal partner? And if that’s the case, which type of communion is of higher value?

At the onset of Odyssey, Homer attributes his epic work to a Muse. I bet he didn't have a girlfriend, let alone beer buddies. He probably was a loner weirdo.

Which ultimately begs the question: are humans destined to be in the same physical space with each other, or not? It’s tempting to think that once we’ve evolved enough we won’t need such debased levels of cohabitation.

Our spiritual progress and evolution will be such that we won’t bother with the grossness of physical connection. Everything will be achieved telepathically and spiritually. Distance won’t exist. Space won’t exist. And who knows—perhaps time won’t exist either.

Maybe we will dematerialise into something beyond what we can imagine now. Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

Have a wonderful day. I’m off to work.

The Holiday of an Emperor

Max Zografos

Last week I started reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

It felt rather overdue since the biohacker, entrepreneur, and practical philosophy crowds were raving about it for years.

Amongst many themes, the Roman Emperor touches upon fame. How worthless it is for the individual and everyone else. And while his Meditations were not meant to be seen by anyone other than him, their publication will always be relevant and useful.

That’s what timeless means. Not to aim for short-term fame but rise above the muck, above the months, years, centuries of time and space, onto a higher altitude of universal service.

It’s interesting how the study of classics of such caliber makes me appreciate time. Why spend my limited reading hours on books that are anything less than timeless?

And here is something I’ve noticed about books. The more timeless they are, the more spiritual their inclinations prove to be. They are timeless because they speak the truth, and truth is spiritual. Truth is God, as Mahatma Gandhi professed. Here is an excerpt from Meditations:

A horse that has raced, a dog that has tracked, a bee that has made honey, and a man that has done good—none of these knows what they’ve done, but they pass on to the next action, just as the vine passes on to bear grapes again in due season. So you ought to be one of those who, in a sense, are unconscious of the good they do.

Reading it, gave me pause. And the pause lasted for a while until I recalled something along those lines in another timeless text: Zen in the Art of Archery 1.

This little tome was penned in the last century but the principles of Zen date back to 6th century China. The ultimate root of the word is the Sanskrit dhyāna, hailing from several centuries BCE. Here is an excerpt:

The spider dances her web without knowing that there are flies who will get caught in it. The fly, dancing nonchalantly on a sunbeam, gets caught in the net without knowing what lies in store. But through both of them “It” dances, and inside and outside are united in this dance. So, too, the archer hits the target without having aimed.

True mastery is so effortless and natural that it becomes spiritual. It doesn’t matter what it is that we become masters in. It is the state of Zen that matters, more so than the Art itself.

His conquests and spiritual transformations, so long as they remain “his”, must be conquered and transformed again and again until everything “his” is annihilated.

True mastery, it seems, is about forgetting ourselves— forgetting time and space. What’s more spiritual than that?

Think about it. The science of weaponry, as in the arrow, or the art of fighting, as in Kung Fu, or even money, as in investment, can all be used as a weapon. But true mastery is the exact opposite, as evidenced by Master Awa Kenzô, Bruce Lee, and Warren Buffet respectively. How does one become Good then?

Honest to God dedication to work seems to be the answer. Work without bullshit or self-talk. Quiet and disciplined long term effort.  What are you working on this Christmas?

1 [Click here for my reading notes from Zen in the Art of Archery]1

The Hidden Cost of Your Commute

Max Zografos

Have you ever wondered why there're so many ads on the London Tube, or any public space for that matter?

Wouldn’t you rather look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, The Birth of Venus, or American Gothic for that matter, instead of home insurance spam?

And if that's not possible then isn’t it time we adopted the internet payment model and travel for free? [1]

Tragedy of the commons

Unfortunately billboard ads are here to stay. The space they begrime is so “common” that nobody bothers—or knows how—to defend.

Besides, staring at ads never killed anyone, right? Wrong. Those colourful zombies vie for our attention and hence our life energy.

But while adverts are debilitating we shouldn’t be angry at them. Angry people consume more. We cannot point fingers; it’s a collective problem and ill will won’t fix it.

I believe the first step is to own our attention and understand that we are in charge. Those ads violate us because we let them to. We want them to penetrate and fill our emptiness. We want to be violated because our sense of self worth and capacity to be at peace was never allowed to flourish.

We’ve been trained to believe that we are not whole; that we need something (consumption) or someone (sex) to be complete. So our goals are externally focused and we are always craving.

The implications for us and the environment couldn't be more profound. How long can we keep craving? How long can our planet sustain that?

The underground billboard ads are the epitome of all this. They are intrusive, violating and bad for us. But if we cannot be angry then what can we do?

My yoga instructor once posed a question during class: “Does a sailor get mad at the sea when the waves become high and the going gets tough? No, all he does is negotiate with it, avoid it, find another route.”

In Greek mythology, the Sirens […] were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, portrayed as femmes fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. ~Wikipedia

Lately I’ve consciously tried to avoid the ads during my commute—it’s not easy, they’re everywhere. I keep eyes downcast when I walk down the Tube tunnels. And when aboard the train I try to remember to shut my eyes and move my attention inwards.

It doesn’t always work, of course. After a long day at work decision fatigue has rendered me incapable of noticing and avoiding them. Exhaustion has left me unable to fend for my attention. Isn’t this why ads are so rampant in the underground; the place where 4 million workers get to and from work on a daily basis?

Safeguarding our attention means we can afford to focus on areas and people that truly matter.

What will you choose to focus on today?

[1]: According to the TfL, 91% of operational expenditures are covered by fares, so good luck with that. Incidentally, I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind a 9% fare increase (on my extortionately expensive ticket) to replace those ads with something else.

Are you perfect

Max Zografos

I’ve recently discovered a small hack, in the form of a mantra, that allows me to soothe any negative thoughts that infiltrate my mind.

Whenever I get bad vibrations it’s an indication something is off-kilter. It’s the mental equivalent of pain. A brain signal asking me to change course.

What thoughts do I get? Well you know, the usual. Blaming, judging, crucifying people for things they’ve done, feeling victimised, wronged, and hence morally and ethically superior. You know the drill, ego crap.

Chita Vritti

I learned during my yoga training that thoughts are generated by ego, and are, therefore, quite partial.

Ego cannot be trusted, never.

Consciousness on the other hand, can. Why? Because consciousness makes observations, uncoloured by emotion. Consciousness says, "oh that’s a negative thought. Let’s observe it."

Consciousness, I find, has a better sense of humour too. The other day I was ruminating about some ancient old squabbles. Oh, how bad I was treated, how ignorant those fools were, how bad their taste was, and so on.

When I woke up to having this experience, my consciousness kicked in.

“You are having bad thoughts about those people," she said. “You mean . . . they are not perfect?”

The penny dropped

I blamed them for not being perfect. I condemned them for being fallible humans, just like me. Which means—deep breath—I was condemning my own self.

Whenever I catch myself harbouring negative thoughts for others, I try to remember to ask myself: “You mean they are not perfect? They are human? Just like you?”

That changes everything.