I consider this the Magnum Opus on modern Mastery. It is a biological law; each of us is a completely unique genetic creature. We each have an unique inclination guiding us towards a unique future, if we’d learn to listen. This book is the book to help you connect with that inclination and grow it into a meaningful life; a masterful life.

Pragmatic Application

Read it.

Book Notes 

I’m getting goosebumps just reading the table of contents. I can feel that this book is going to be special. I am open. I can see that many of the people I enjoy are all over this book.

The Evolution of Mastery

The Visual and the Social

First thread, he starts 3 million years ago talking about our evolutionary ancestors. He makes the claim that the two important factors that made us into us were our unique visual properties and our unique social aspect.

This gave rise to mirror neurons, and in humans we have a kind of upgraded mirror neuron, we can put our minds inside another person or even inside the inorganic. He says this is what led to mastery/third-intelligence/intuition. Intuition developed before language and that is why when we experience it, it seems to precede language and not need language.

He likes the word Grain, and ladder-of-intelligence. His argument so far is essentially, accepting the length and focus required to gain mastery is ideal, it is in accord with our evolutionary past. Do not be tempted by shortcuts and wishful thinking.

The Keys to Mastery

This dude is explaining the Daimon and I’m getting goosebumps lol.

The Key to Mastery is to listen to your inclination toward what interests you. Follow that thing. Each of us is a unique genetic symphony that has never existed before and will never exist again.

Essentially, one of his key arguments is that Growth Mindset is what is needed and is superior to Fixed mindset. He is also circulating around the Individuation Process without calling it such. There a lot of interesting threads I am seeing.


Chapter 1
Discover Your Calling: Your Life’s Task (Your Daimon)

Opening Story is about Leonardo Da Vinci’s life.

Keys to Mastery

Socrates and Goethe both called their inner voice their Daemon.

This book is just continuing to blow my mind. He and I are writing about the same thing but my approach is mostly Jungian and I have never read his work before. This first chapter is all about the Daemon. I’ll be rereading this.

This part is essentially a written version of my introduction to the Individuation Process. I need to read this again. I need to integrate, argue, and refine this. This is absolutely amazing.

Strategies for Finding your Life’s Task

1) Return to Origins – what were you naturally drawn towards as a child before parents and culture taught you what was important?

Our Life’s Task is a emmination of this primal inclination in childhood. It was not taught. We were born with it, and it is always waiting to be tapped back into.

2) Occupy the Perfect Niche – let your inclination guide you to a new field of study of expertise. Your daemon is unique, so naturally the expression of it will be a new niche.

There are two ways, pick a field and keep looking for side fields that more adequately fit, or master separate fields and merge them into something new.

3) Avoid the False Path – Rebel against the path that is given to you by your parents. You must. You have to let your inner inclination guide you.

This links so perfectly to the Jungian idea that the initial crime must be made. We must rebel against the family to start our individuation process.

4) Let Go of the Past – Times will change and your Life’s Task may take you to new occupations. Do not let the external world guide you. You are on your own. Listen. (More reasons to use the daily pages.)

5) Find Your Way Back – Money and Fame and Power can lead you away from the path to your Life’s Task. Whenever you find this happening. Find your way back. (The daily pages help here too.)

He tells the story of Buckminster Fuller and it fucking resonates. Bucky tried to kill himself and he heard a voice that told him not to. I haven’t tried to kill myself but I have had a very specific experience of a voice speaking to me. “The Unconscious is real. Find your tribe.”

Chapter 2 – Apprenticeship
Opening story is of Charles Darwin and his embarking on the Beagle. This voyage was Darwin’s apprenticeship. Nature was his teacher.

Keys to Mastery

He claims, when studying the Masters, we can find an Ideal Apprenticeship.

The overlapping principle in apprenticeship is Transformation.

The Three Stages of Apprenticeship

1) Deep Observation – The Passive Mode

There are two goals of this phase
1) Learn the Game
2) Understand the Power Relationships

2) Acquisition – The Practice Mode

Most important phase. Find what the essential skills are, and begin practice.

3) Experimentation – The Active Mode

Shortest stage but most influncial. This is where you begin trying new things. Creating your own way, your style.

Strategies for Completing the Ideal Apprenticeship

1) Value Knowledge over Money
2) Keep expanding your horizons
3) Revert to a feeling of inferiority
4) Trust the Process
5) Move toward resistance and pain
6) Apprentice yourself in Failure
7) Combine the “how” and the “what.”
8) Advance through trial and error

Chapter 3 – The Mentor Dynamic
Opens with the story of Micheal Faraday. Poor boy becomes bookbinder becomes scientist’s assistant becomes the greatest electrical scientist of his day. Outlines the Mentor dynamic.

Keys to Mastery

Submit your ego. A human mentor is ideal. They will streamline your learning. In person mentors are ideal. If this can not be done, books will do. (He doesn’t give any section headings in this part.)

Strategies for Deepening the Mentor Dynamic

1) Choose the mentor According to your needs and inclinations

Basically, choose the right mentor. Find one that suits your Daemon.

2) Gaze deep into the Mentor’s Mirror

Find a mentor who will not shy away from showing you who you are, all flaws included. Maybe even magnified.

3) Transfigure their Ideas

Absorb all you can from your mentor, but do not become them. Change their knoweldge by merging it with your inclination/Daemon.

4) Create a back-and-forth Dynamic

Get to a level with your mentor where you two can share ideas back and forth.

Chapter 4 – Social Intelligence
Opens with the story of Ben Franklin. How this man was at the beginning, very bad with social intelligence, but through practice, became maybe the greatest in social understanding of any American alive in his age. I like it.

Do not focus on changing someone’s hardware, learn how to appeal to the hardware and deep software and channel it in new directions.

Keys to Mastery

Understand the Naive Perspective and discard it (essentially this is Jungian Projection.)

One must have a Specific understanding of Human nature – Understanding the Individual

One must also have a General Understanding of Human Nature – tendencies of the whole Species

Specific Knowledge – Reading People

Give words the least weight when trying to understand someone. Look for tone, body language, actions and motives. Words are the tool people manipulate most often.

It can be trite, but taking time to imagine yourself in someone else’s life is a great way to understand them. It is not about you. it is about them.

General Knowledge – The Seven Deadly Realities

Passive- Aggression

Envy – We all compare ourselves to others. My hacking of this is to use this automatic function as a guide post. Those I wish to be like, they have habits and tendencies I can learn, those I hate on, show me how I do not want to be. All of it teaches me.

People who are particularly insecure are prone to envy. People who are overly gracious are hiding envy. Self-depreciate. Do not try to make people look stupid. This is an issue I have. I need to reign in my ego when talking to people sometimes.

Conformism – When in a group you do not lead, learn the rules of the group and stay within them. Your time to shine will come.

Rigidity – An extension of conformity. Resist the urge to change groups that have a rigid way of thinking. You will garner negative attention. Follow their rules outwardly while you maintain your open spirit inwardly.

My Hacking of this is Model-Agnosticism and Psychedelic experiences

Self-Obsessiveness – Everyone is selfish. When seeking help, appeal to what would benefit them. This is a good rule of thumb.

My hacking of this is my philosophy of Selfishness largely molded my Ayn Rand. I am selfish, and I think there is a way to hone it where it is good for others. but I don’t have to lie to myself. And those that accuse you of being selfish as an insult are people who wish they had more control over their lives so they could be more selfish. Shadow.

Laziness – He says to conceal ideas and to be wary or people who wish to collaborate.

Flightiness – People are verbs. Don’t try to understand them as nouns. Their whims fleet and dance upon the pages of time.

Passive-Aggressiveness – A result from the primal fear of direct confrontation. We are all passive-aggressive. Call it out when you see it. Encourage others to call you out when they see you doing it. You do it ya fuck lol.


Strategies for Acquiring Social Intelligence

Speak through your Work – Whatever idea I try to introduce, do so carefully. Do not rush the final product. Gather mountains of evidence and gain respect from those within the establishment. It is not about my glory, it is about helping the generations after me.

Craft the appropriate Persona – To allow yourself the most time to focus on your art, your inclinations, create a persona that reduces the amount of friction you attract from strangers

See yourself as others see you – Understand how others see you. This is a good meditative exercise. Watching myself on video can help me understand this too.

Suffer Fools Gladly – Use idiots as material in creative works. Use criticism as refining tools. All people teach lessons.

Chapter 5 – The Create Active Mind

Opening Story of Mozart and how he revolutionized the Opera. This stage is focused on learning the field well enough to revolutionize it.

Keys to Mastery (My field to master is scientific method and statistics.)

He talks about the Original Mind, the Conventional Mind, and the Dimensional Mind.

My field to master is the scientific method as it is used in psychology. This means statistics and the like. These are my skills that need mastering so I can get to a place one day where I revolutionize the way we help people.

Step One: The Creative Task

Commit to something you are obsessed about. No one can run you off of this track. Find a goal that is both challenging and yet slightly above what you think you can do.

Step Two: Creative Strategies – Five ways to loosen the mind of its habitual thoughts

Cultivate Negative Capability – Endure and Embrace mystery and uncertainty. You are a finite creature attempting to under the infinite.

Allow for Serendipity – Allow for chance to come into your life. One way to do this is to study things seemingly outside your field, the second, have hobbies outside your area of study. (For me, basketball, drawing, walking, working out.)

Alternate the Mind through “The Current” – Continue to cycle between speculation and Observation/Testing. This will lead to new insights.

Example: Thinking of Individuationing as a Tree, then a Planet, etc.

Alter your Perspective – Think about the “How” of something, not the “why.” The How is focused on how the whole interacts with itself. It is a Holistic approach.
Don’t Rush to generalities and ignore details.
Avoid confirming paradigms and ignoring anomalies.
Don’t fixate on only the present, which excludes what is absent.
Revert to primal forms of Intelligence –CULTIVATE THINKING IN IMAGES

Step Three – The Creative Breakthrough

Tension forces insight. DEADLINES!

Emotional Pitfalls



Strategies for the Creative-Active Phase

The Authentic Voice – Follow your daemon, master your field, your voice will come.

The Fact of Great Yield – Hone in on empirical facts that are anomalies. (Mine is PERSONALITY TRANSFORMATION)

Mechanical Intelligence – Create now and refine. There will be mistakes. PERSONALLY TEST WHAT YOU CREATE.)

Natural Powers – Allow openness at the start of a project and refine as you go. Always seek to improve. Take pleasure is the slow evolution of the idea.

The Open Field – Always move to the edge of your knowledge and comfort. Create from there into a new and open field. The grass is always greener on explored fields.

The High End – Pull back your perspective and maintain the larger perspective. Why do you do what you do? For what reason? Don’t get lost in the technical detail.

The Evolutionary Hijack – Channel openness and adaptiveness. Let Chance enter your plans.

Dimensional Thinking – Pursue what obsesses you, try to understand the whole, not one of the specific parts.

Alchemical Creativity and the Unconscious – Explore your Shadow and Culture’s Shadow.

Chapter 6 – Mastery
Opens with the story of Marcel Proust

My question: What is the healthiest way for culture to be constructed?

Keys to Mastery

At this level, the rational mind melds with the intuitive mind that has been honed over 20,000 hours of practice.

Also cultivate the feeling the destiny. This is what you are meant to do. Every failure and setback are lessons.

The Roots of Masterly Intuition

Draws a distinction between Instinct and Intuition. We are meant to obtain intuitional knowledge. This kind of understanding makes the complex simple, we see the whole, the Tao.

The Return to Reality

Reality is a united, interconnected whole. Our normal way of thinking is to separate the whole into distinct pieces so we can analyze them. Returning to Reality is understanding that all is connected and effect each other.

Strategies for Attaining Mastery

1) Connect to your Environment (Primal Powers) – Nature is the greatest teacher. Hone your mind to understand the ebb and flow of Nature, in any form, yields valuable information. Essentially, we can learn by observing at any moment.

2) Play to your Strength – Supreme Focus – Understand yourself enough to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Play to your strengths. (Mine: reading, organizing, talking ideas out/debating.)

3) Transform yourself through Practice – The Fingertip Feel – When you practice a skill long enough, it will become a feeling, not a thought. You will react as an animal. Quickly and accurately.

4) Internalize the Details (The Life Force) – Dive into the details of your craft, because you seek to understand for understandings sake, at the bottom of the details is God. Don’t rush over the opportunity.

5) Widen your Vision (The Global Perspective) – Keep perspective beyond the immediate now. Understand why you do what you do. Keep your vision global.

6) Submit to the Other (The Inside-Out Perspective) – When trying to understand another, submit to their perspective. Do not hold them as a force to contend with, bow before them to understand them.

7) Synthesize all forms of knowledge (The Universal Man/Woman) – Listen to your daemon and seek the underlying connecting pattern in all the things you love. It is through this search for the thread that you will see your daemon in it’s entirety. Only at the end of life, through mastery and tenacity. Good luck.