Even after my little outburst on Friday, I’ve found a great equalizer and the rebalancing of my social environment. It was almost as if the great push I experienced was pushing me in a direction that led to a greater understanding of myself, the people around me and even strangers who I have become friends with. Maybe it’s not the most amazing of revelations but when it’s tangibly happening around you, it’s nice to see. Even in the most minor way possible – it’s a sense of calm through my own perspective. It’s a feeling of support from the universe that we can all experience in one way or another. This strange equalizer, crafted a situation where my own abstinence of certain habits were broken and I indulged in the company of it. Yet days before I was set on a life of pure ascetism which leads me to take notice of the will of the Tao nudging me back to balance: of both indulgence and absolution.

“He who tiptoes cannot stand; he who strides cannot walk.” Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24

In a sense is the Universe (God, Yahweh, Tao) ultimately an actor for benevolent balance? In all beings balance means different things but ultimately one who is balanced is a still lake and at peace. I was talking to a Muslim friend some time ago who told me that Islam is the way of the middle path – this of course sounds familiar to me. In both Abrahamic ideologies and the ever more ancient Asian teachings such as Buddhism and Taoism and Jainism (I’m excluding Hinduism here as I’m not educated enough to comment) balance seems to be the goal. Balance in oneself is to be in tune with The Way and a state of living nirvana.

Was it a coincidence that in his philosophies, Zeno of Citium – my moniker namesake -, founded a school of such balance? Neither overly indulgent like the Epicureans or wholly ascetic like the Cynics: a duty to the natural order of things and others and balance within the self. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying: a very real possibility.

“The Whole is either a god – then all is well: or if purposeless – some sort of random arrangement of atoms or molecules – you should not be without purpose yourself.” Meditations 9.28

The purpose I find myself working for is balance. To welcome the great equalizers and be grateful for them. While not everyone will find purpose in being a still lake in the perception of chaos, it still stands to reason that everyone should be grateful for the equalizers and opportunities all the same. I think perception plays a big part in being able to observe the things that create equality of forces in our environment. Even in the most rationalist sense, our bodies seek balance in the form of homeostasis as a biological imperative.

“Calm acceptance of what comes from a cause outside of yourself, and justice in all activity of your own causation.” Meditations 9.31

Lady Justice’s scales have to be balanced, don’t they? Balance the needs of the body, balance the needs of the mind, balance the needs of the soul: you will find the Way, the middle path, whatever that may be.

Basically: have a balanced diet of life. Too much cake or too little cake does no one any good.



Another Test

Last night I was tested again in my faith of the universe and my own philosophy. Marcus Aurelius talks about life being cyclical and what shook me has happened before. It was almost familiar, the gut wrenching feeling and chill of the blood. I knew the sensation immediately yet it was worse this time, much more physical. It was almost as if my mind had checked out; electing to fuck off and let the body do it’s thing while it disconnects and turns inward.

By all stoic accounts, I handled it poorly: drank a lot and spiralled into over thinking. Yet it took a near stranger to put things into perspective. Her words echoed the philosopher in my head that was drowned by cortisol. It’s funny as without this event, I’m not sure I’d have had the opportunity to talk to this person in such a candid way and connect with a stranger on the internet to become friends (or at least friendly).

“All that happens is an event either within your natural ability to bear it, or not” Meditations 10.3

Did I pass the test? Or did I pass it at my own standards? The damage to a reputation of a man several years dead means nothing to me as he no longer exists. The person writing this as we speak is fresh and new and his reputation has no bearing on me now. False narratives created to hurt a man long dead is meaningless, the only person affected is the malignant story teller. It’s not my virtue affected, it’s theirs. How many others can speak of this? How many other people on the planet who have evolved from caterpillar to moth must still carry the sins of the larvae? Perhaps I’m being too fast, perhaps I’m still gestating in the chrysalis.

My friends tried to make me see this yet it was the words of a stranger that I am truly bloody grateful for.

“Lying, too, is a sin against the same goddess: her name is Truth, and she is the original cause of all that is true. The conscious liar sins to the extent that his deceit causes injustice: the unconscious liar to the extent that he is out of tune with the nature of the Whole and out of order with the nature of the ordered universe against which he fights.” Meditations 9.1.2

I was a prolific liar, a conscious one who cared little for the injustices around me. Differentiating not giving a fuck and being generally a fucker was a talent lost on me. So when I hear of lies, conscious or unconscious, can I really judge? I know the damage they can cause in the material world but in my soul, do I have the right to feel anything other than pity? Failing that: apathy.

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” – Jesus, John 8:7

And so:

“There is no blame. If you can, put him right: if you can’t, at least put the matter right. If that too is impossible, what further purpose does blame serve?”Meditations 8.17

Maybe one day, I’ll have to face the consequences of the lies of another in person. When that day comes, it’s not the alleger that’ll be my priority, it will be the consequences. Even then, what use is it worrying about now? What use is another’s false feelings about me to me?

After all, it’s 2021. It’s far simpler than it used to be when it comes to shutting out the noise. Two words on every device connected to the internet: shut down.


Quick Quote Post

This is going to be a short post.

Something however has stuck with me all day from Meditations that I’d thought I’d share. It speaks for itself and puts things into words better than I can – tonight at least. I know how arrogant that sounds but I’m now four cans of IPA down and I’m feeling bold enough to take on the Emperor.

“My soul, will you ever be good, simple, individual, bare, brighter than the body that covers you? Will you ever taste the disposition to love and affection? Will you ever taste the free of need, missing nothing, desiring nothing live or lifeless for the enjoyment of pleasure? Or time for longer enjoyment, or amenity of place, space, and climate? Or good company? No, will you not be rather satisfied with your present state and take pleasure in all that is is presently yours? Will you not convince yourself that all your experience comes from the gods, that all is well and all will be well for you, all that gods see fit to give you, now and hereafter, in the maintenance of that perfect Being which is good and just and beautiful, which generates all things, sustains and contains all things, embraces all things as they dissolve into the generation of others like them? Will you ever be such as to share the society of gods and men without criticism of them or condemnation of them?” Meditations 10.1

Go ahead, ask yourself those questions in succession. I did, am and will continue to. They are difficult to answer with words and harder with action. Yet, no one said the Path would be easy.



I’ve spoken before about visiting the Kaaba, the Basilica and the pagoda of Cebu in some Abrahamic-meets-Taoist adventure.

It occurs to me that I want to do this but I don’t want to go alone. Isn’t it strange? That feeling of knowing that self-sufficiency isn’t enough. Is it anxiety or is it something else? I was thinking about this today as I sat alone at lunch in the little workroom making notes in Meditations as I normally do. While I would be enriched and in awe of these places, where does my learning take me if I don’t have someone to share it with? Where does learning take any of us? Or perhaps it’s far simpler than that and this pilgrimage I want is less of a pilgrimage and more of a grand adventure inspired by some Doctor Who forgotten episode.

This need for independence and self-sufficiency that I’ve strived for all my life is all well and good yet in the face of real adventure, real enlightenment, I find myself in need of a companion.

“Pick me up and throw me where you will. Wherever I land I shall keep the good within me happy – satisfied, that is, if attitude and action follow its own constitution.”Meditations 8.45

In a way, despite this yearning, this is a solitary mission. By removing the judgement of such yearning imposed upon myself, I remove the thought and by removing the thought I remove the feeling. But there is no feeling – just a deep vacuole where something should be. I wonder how many others feel this or have felt this.

“All things are the same: familiar in experience, transient in time, sordid in substance. Everything now is as it is was in the days of those we have buried” Meditations 9.14

In the time of the Spanish Flu, I suppose there was such yearning for touch and connection. In the time of plagues past from 1346 to even further back in 165, was there such a feeling?

Or perhaps it’s more cosmic than that. The twin flame school of thought describes that all souls are made of two parts that require coming together to become balanced (how very Taoist). Perhaps this is my own souls way of telling me in feeling rather than words that both parts of me needs to go on this journey and the experience is so important to the wholeness of my being that I need to wait until both parts are joined.

Obviously, I’m not going bloody anywhere for the time being which something we all have to deal with. In the meantime, I’ll plan for lighter trips, staycations around the UK until the time is right. Of course, I won’t be able to find pizza like I would in Rome in Whitby but I suppose the fish and chips in Rome wouldn’t be quite the same either.

For now, this particular pilgrim is perfectly happy with waiting, with chicken and chips and Coronation Street.


Bigger on the Inside

Your brain, your mind, in my opinion should and does act like Doctor Who‘s TARDIS.

It’s impregnable. It can take you anywhere and it’s vast, so infinitely vast that it defies sense. This TARDIS, your space-time capsule, is parked within a larger, more traditional vessel: your body. Let’s break it down further into sci-fi analogies: you are a Doctor Who timelord – immortal and with a complicated lore – inside a TARDIS parked in the Emperor’s chair of Star Wars‘ Death Star with it’s millions of moving parts and crewmembers – not unlike the brilliant flow of your own biology. You, this grand instillation of craftmanship are an institution in a single point in space and time wholly present in its own environs yet with infinite potential to wherever, whenever, anywhere in time or space within.

I’m not an expert on biology so the analogy there is loose but like the Death Star, I know for a fact that I too have a vulnerable exhaust port.

Let me break down the known lands of your TARDIS:

The Console Room: this is where the magic happens. All the drama and big decisions are made here and it’s your waking mind where you see everything. It reflects your personality; it can be clean and crisp and ordered or a little grungy and a mess but loveable, nonetheless.

The Library: here is the ever expanding databanks of your mind. Within is stored everything you’ve ever experienced and learned. Of course some of the books are a little dusty and a few of the servers at the back have gone offline after years of neglect, but they still hold the data that makes you you.

The Secondary Console Room: here all of your subconscious thoughts are directed without you even knowing. They work tirelessly without reward to keep you going and learning even as you sleep, as the main console room is vacant for the night.

The Engines: this area is another unseen hero. As you think and do, the engines keeps everything else powered and moving, using a labyrinth of wires connected to the grander “Death Star”, directing more mechanical decisions. That spark of life, that electrical charge begins here and directs everything else.

Living Rooms: rooms of requirement for particular personal needs or reasons to hold specific memories, purposes or responses.

The Wardrobe: is where we see ourselves, the masks we wear, the cultivation of our identity and sense of self.

The Bedroom: where we retreat within to sleep, truly sleep and dream while the Engines and Secondary Console rooms keep ticking over. This is a room perhaps we all recognise the most, spending 1/3 of our lives here.

The Zero Room: the perfect zen place where we return to in meditation free of thought and all feeling. Here we can heal ourselves and float in the nothingness. Here the laws of physics do not apply even in by our own metaphysical understanding, where telepathy is the only form of communication with the outside.

The Eye of Harmony: the clue for this is in the name. In Doctor Who the Eye is practically the soul of the TARDIS that connects it with the multiverse. We have a similar mechanism in spiritualism: The Third Eye also known as the pineal gland. While in the show it’s a angry orange star, for us, it is a deep indigo expanse much like the very vortex of time itself that can take us anywhere in the multiverse.

Finally, there is the timelord: you. The immortal soul inhabiting this TARDIS, pottering around, having adventures, going everywhere at once but never moving from your point in space. Through the rewrites and reincarnations, you evolve and may find yourself in new TARDIS’ with different interiors, different Death Stars that are not at all Death Stars and more like the Enterprise-D from Star Trek. And so, when it is time to leave to a new incarnation, do so with the grace of a true series finale and a spectacular bow out.

To close, and like a bad habit, I shall echo the words of Marcus Aurelius to remember:

“Things of themselves cannot touch the soul at all.” – Meditations 5.18

Like the well-dressed timelord you are, you soul is, despite the threat of danger: you’ll be fine and you’ll be back.


The Tao: First Steps

“What dies does not pass out of the universe. If it remains here and is changed, then here too it is resolved into the everlasting constituents.” Meditations 8.18

One day, I will visit Taoist pagodas in person and take a pilgrimage for myself. I was planning on doing an Abrahamic Grand Tour: Vatican City, Jerusalem, Mecca and back again in an infinity loop shape, stopping back in Rome to connect with the Italian roots. I owe it to my own journey to see these places in person from the Basilica to the Kaaba to the pagoda in Cebu.

The brief introduction to Taoism in the Midnight Gospel seemed to click with me and the idea of being actively passive and an observer of balance is far more attainable than the more Buddhist ideals of total ascetism.

In a future post, I’ll show off my growing collection of Penguin Classics that range from stoic thinkers to now include Lao Tzu and Confucius. While the latter is a little rigid for my tastes, I’m rushing through my dissection of Meditations to be able to get to the Tao Te Ching. Yet perhaps, like a Taoist, I should forget the rush and go with the river. After all, is that not in accordance with Nature?

Who knows, perhaps I might be found in Goa in a few years time with a beard much like Lao Tzu, in a B.O stinking kimono and a disposition of a vacant Rick Sanchez (sans the pickle). But who does that benefit, this luxurious exile? Myself? No, where is the balance in that indulgence, who is the beneficiary?

Perhaps, that’s another quest, another pilgrimage of the self: find the balance, find The Tao.

“Virtue is the result of true balance. Virtue has no shape or form yet nothing can be without it.” – Confucius


Posts, Pictures and Format

I’ve been perusing other blogs and I’ve seen that pictures are the best way to grab people’s attention and make a blog more colourful. And I’ve also noticed that my shorter posts are more popular than my longer reads.

I’ve only been doing this for 15 days and I feel like I’m getting into a nice post-dinner routine with my writing. Unfortunately for the growth of my blog: I don’t like using pictures that I haven’t taken myself. Double unfortunately: I am living in Lockdown 3 (or maybe 4, who knows, I’ve lost count) Britain and leaving my house is a treat outside of work. So I may compromise and introduce more gratuitous cat pictures to grow my blog. This started off as a cathartic journal but I’ve received some good verbal feedback that I should continue to grow and expand. A big fucking compliment, by all accounts as I was happy to ramble to myself.

Gratuitous Cat Picture

My post length may also slim down a little, as I’ve seen the more successful blogs being tagged as “2 min reads” for quick consumption. I’m open to that if it makes my content more accessible but I’m still going to be posting longer reads for topics that deserve the respect of in depth discussion.

As for my formatting of the blog entire, it’s a game of trial and error. If you suddenly see great changes or magic categories appearing at the side or some other shenanigans, bare in mind, it’s a work in progress. The format greatly reflects my own journey and as my thoughts come together and are able to be categorised in a much more digestible way, things will shift around.

Thanks for taking the time to check this post out and all my others. Again as I mentioned in my Welcome post which is buried around here somewhere, I am grateful and privileged to have you take an interest in my journey and I hope it resonates with you. I hope some lessons that I’m learning can teach you something about your own Path and help you along your way, even in the most minor way possible.


Vices and Virtues and the Patriarchy

Only mere days after I post about not biting my nails: I mangle my right index finger, exposing the nail bed beneath it.I know why of course, I allowed discussion and reflection of the current socio-political climate of the UK and world entire get to me.

In short: fuck the patriarchy.

As someone who has benefited from its institutions all of my life and seen the raw truth of it laid bare in my degree studying the media, I say: fuck that shit. As an institution, it perpetuates and demands expectations and reactions from people to indulge in their vices. As a man, you must do as men do which is: do battle on every level of existence. Even Marcus Aurelius was of the same line of thinking in the patriarchal Roman Empire where the very names of women were simple off-shoots of the male counterparts. Octavius becomes Octavia; Cassius becomes Cassia; Julius becomes Julia, and so on.

“The art of is more like wrestling than dancing, in that it stands ready for what comes and is not thrown by the unseen.”Meditations 7.61

Does it need to be so unnecessarily machismo to be an effective soundbite? In the stoic world, where all things happen according to Nature, why would anyone view it as a wrestling ring? This violence is hardwired in us as part of this damaging institution, and even I am guilty of it, as expected. I am a rather skinny, 169cm unimposing figure yet I’ve always admired the cold and imposing brutality of DC‘s Batman, Star Wars‘ Darth Vader, and Britain’s finest dinosaur: James Bond – despite in truth being nothing like them in nature or stature. It’s taken me years of reflection to shake this weird love of pseudo-fascist and outright fascist icons that perpetuate this image of dominance equals cool, cold-heartedness equals cool, ruthlessness equals cool, sexism equals cool, and to an extent a rather clear cut Napoleon complex that comes with it. Yet, are any of these characters happy and healthy? These patriarchal figures that little boys aspire to be – with the broad chests, chiselled jaws and nihilistic worldview – are they happy in mind and healthy in spirit? Are the people around them? You could make an argument for Batman being a positive figure but in reading the excellent Batman: White Knight series, Sean Murphy does a brilliant job at dissecting this (no spoilers, here).

Wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation are the four core virtues of stoicism. You could argue, in a perfect world, the police service (and I used the word service intentionally here), should reflect these tenets. But what about the events of Clapham Common and subsequent police overreaction to peaceful vigil attendees says: wisdom, courage and moderation. I would say, in my view, that the women who attended that vigil and are now protesting are practising an expression of wisdom, courage, justice and moderation. They are wise in the choice of cause and precaution, remaining distanced from each other and wearing face coverings to mitigate spreading of a virus. They are courageous for facing down an overwhelming force of both police and negative media coverage. They are fighting for justice – justice for Sarah Everard and all the women who have experienced violence of any kind. Finally, they are doing so with considered moderation, protesting peacefully and in a measured way. Of course, if this descends into a riot I’ll not be surprised; being tackled to the floor for laying flowers funnily enough, tends to piss people off.

Foolishness, cowardice and intemperance – who does that sound like? Was it courageous of four officers to tackle Patsy Stevenson to the ground? Was it wise to surround statues and shout to protect them, statues of dead men, while women cry out to be treated as equals? Was it a tempered at all?

I can say fuck the patriarchy while not being absolved of my own sins for indulging in it. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had to take responsibility for the things I’ve done. I’ve hurt women in the past through gaslighting and using and objectifying. The dark place defence doesn’t exist and I have no defence for a very shameful part of my life where I felt entitled to treat people as I pleased. Would I change this? No, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that I’d be able to look back now and reflect on how each action made each person feel and hold true to a new conviction of virtue rather than vice without it. Preferably, I would have come to these conclusions before being entirely toxic in my actions but it still doesn’t change anything. Does this bring much comfort to the dozen or so exes and tens more friends who I have lost or hurt along the way? No, of course it doesn’t. I will take responsibility for what I have done, but also what I haven’t done – whether objectively good or bad or subjectively good or bad.

Yet all I can do now is reflect and be better. Like every other self-identifying man on the planet should, and now is the time if there ever was one. I want to be the change I see in the world as Gandhi said (I’m paraphrasing, here). Why wouldn’t anyone? Is it not in accordance with Nature to evolve? To be changeable and flexible and learned? To see the suffering of others and stand for them, with integrity and conviction, surely is a tenet of what being a good person is – irrespective of ideaology.

Perhaps one could argue that it’s entirely typical of a man to think about himself during a time where he should be thinking of others but my defence of that would be that if I (or he) can’t endeavour to reflect and make changes at home, I (or he) can hardly make them abroad. All I have is my perspective, all I can give is my virtue.

“To be rigid and arrogant; to be above this generation and distant from its ways; to talk of great principles; to be critical and disparaging: these are approved by scholars who dwell in the mountains, by men who are not of this age, who are worn and weary or who cast themselves into the deep.

To preach benevolence, righteousness, loyalty and faithfulness; to be humble, moderate, selfless and civil: these are the marks of self-development and are the signs of the scholars who wish to reform this generation.”The Book of Chuang Tzu, Chapter 15: “The Rigid and Arrogant”


Lazy Sunday

On this lazy Sunday it was suggested by my household members, X and Y, that I see about moving to a commune in Goa at some point in the next 5 years. It has everything that appeals to me: white sandy beaches, clear waters, yoga classes, good food – the works. Yet for some reason, maybe it’s because I’ve seen the DiCaprio film The Beach and enough Charles Manson documentaries to last a lifetime, it didn’t appeal to me. There’s something that seems incredibly odd about it and the whole situation falls into my own uncanny valley. Sure, it would be idyllic. I would sit about most days reading stoic works and discovering Taoism (which is another post in itself), basking in the sun like a fat bastard iguana. So what’s holding me back? Am I so attached to grim old England and it’s people that I can’t imagine being so far from it and them. Or is it fear? A cosmic horror of the unknown: what if I get there and don’t like it and there’s no turning back?

There’s a phenomena called Paris Syndrome commonly experienced by particularly Japanese tourists who visit France. With Paris being so hyped as the city of love and Western sophistication, the reality is so overwhelming to some that it can cause deep psychological trauma. They experience a number of symptoms commonly associated with schizophrenia.

Now, I’m not saying I’m fearful of such a thing, because that’s not a reasonable thing to worry about. Perhaps it’s just the Taurus in me, stubbornly clinging onto my roots and being unchangeable in the face of what could be a blissful experience. But do any of us need a blissful surrounding to have a blissful experience? Even from the foundations of stoicism, a core belief is that fulfilment can only be found from within. I could find myself in Goa, sweating my arse off, curling my back into all sorts of yoga shapes to try to be one with the commune and be entirely miserable.

Happiness is not a place.

Perhaps that’s why the COVID-19 Lockdown and the subsequent sequels haven’t seemed to bother me.

“Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind…” Meditations 4.3

No matter how far you run, the finish line is always where you started.

I know this post is short, I did tell you in the title it’s a lazy Sunday…



I recently stopped biting my nails. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember and now for the first time in as long as I can remember, they have white caps on the top. For anyone else this may be a totally normal phenomena but for me this is fucking weird.

What caused this sudden stop? I don’t know. Perhaps it has a thing to do with my meditations on the crown chakra and to activate this chakra, one must be able to release earthly attachments. One of the things that I feel is an attachment, is an attachment to this particular bad habit. A habit that countless hours of “Stop Biting Your Nails” Youtube hypnosis couldn’t cure. It was a matter of waking up on morning three weeks ago and deciding just not to bite them anymore.

Funnily enough, this was about a week into my reading of Meditations – and this is where I find some quote that could have burrowed into my subconscious. Before, I took breaks from biting my nails and then resumed because I knew I would again eventually, and I activated the mad paranoid bomb-vest of self-destruction. Perhaps stoicism in general has helped me disarm that; would you damage your car intentionally? No. So why damage the organic vehicle?

The same argument can be made for drugs, alcohol and self-harm. But at least for the latter experience, I am grateful for not ever feeling the need to in a physical way. Then again, in the past I’ve done lots of things that could be described as self-harm. Anyone who knows me could tell you that I’ve got a track record for having no willpower. From sobriety to maintaining a romantic relationship for longer than three months.

Is it stoicism or boredom that kicks our bad habits? That’s a question to other stoics who may be reading this. Does a bee, who’s a part of the Whole like human beings, harm itself knowingly? No. It would be a detriment to the hive…

“What does not benefit the hive does not benefit the bee either.” Meditations 6.53

I’m a believer in both fate and personal responsibility. I am accepting of all the bad choices I have made and habits I have kept or broken to this point with acknowledgement of both of those factors. That being said, I wonder why now is the time I’m able to stop myself from biting my nails? From a contextual perspective, nothing has changed in my personal, professional, financial or spiritual circumstances. One could say I’ve even more reason to anxiously bite my nails with certain workplace dramas and fractured friendships and minor conflicts with family members. I’m still taking my daily citalopram tablets and I’m still in love with someone who has made it clear to me that she is not in a position to reciprocate romantically. The externals are stagnant. Yet, my internal world is experiencing a shift.

Can we guess why?

“Dig inside yourself. Inside is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.Meditations 7.59

I say “perhaps” a lot in my posts and that’s down to fact that in my quest to be a wise man, I am avoiding the absolutes. I know that ultimately, I know nothing.

However, that being said I know that already, I can observe tangible effects of this philosophy. Of course it feels strange to look at my nails now and the sensation is entirely alien. Yet, I’ve got no desire to bite them or pick them off. Is this willpower or is this knowing full well that the only person I’ll disappoint is myself in doing it so why would I do that?

“Love the art which you have learnt, and take comfort in it. Go through the remainder of your life in sincere commitment of all your being to the gods, and never making yourself a tyrant or slave to any man.” Meditations 4.31

In this case, what’s more appropriate would be:

“…and never making yourself a tyrant or slave to any habit.