How to Bend Reality to Your Will and Become Unstoppable | Moran Cerf on Impact Theory

Tom Bilyeu
Published on Jan 10, 2017

From robbing banks to earning a PhD in neuroscience, former hacker Moran Cerf has unique perspective on what makes people tick. In this episode of Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu, Moran explains the brain science of how self-narrative determines our reality.

Moran is a fascinating blend of a wide variety of disciplines, and this diversity has led him to explore some promising, albeit nontraditional ways of investigating the brain, namely cracking open the skull and peering inside whilst the person is still living. His discoveries have made him a much sought after speaker and leading thinker who’s influencing academia and business in equal measure. His innovative theories about the brain have been published in Nature, the highest-ranking journal in the world, and he consults regularly for hit shows such as Mr. Robot and Limitless.

His education is a wondrous grab bag of joy and includes a PhD in neuroscience from Caltech and both an MA in philosophy and a BSc in physics from Tel Aviv University. He’s a visiting faculty member at MIT’s Media Lab, and was named one of the 40 leading professors under 40.

Moran is the Alfred P. Sloan professor at the American Film Institute where he teaches a screenwriting course on science and film. He holds multiple patents and is a multi-timed national storytelling champion whose talks have garnered him millions of views. He is the professor of neuroscience and business at the Kellogg School of Management and the neuroscience program at the Northwestern university.

In this episode, Moran and Tom investigate the hidden powers of the brain and how they can be harnessed to achieve greatness.


[2:35] Moran recalls the four times that he physically robbed a bank.

[7:40] Moran discusses why we don’t actually make our own decisions.

[12:17] Tom and Moran talk about the multiple puppeteers in our brains.

[16:07] Moran expounds on how to move past the point of giving up.

[20:48] Moran admits how making a big mistake changed his life.

[26:56] Tom and Moran talk about how you can rewrite your past.

[31:31] Moran describes how you can get more motivation.

[35:48] Moran shares how you can literally change overnight.

[42:10] Tom and Moran talk about how to use self-deception as a tool to push forward.


[4:00] British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of the DNA molecule –

[21:55] Neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani –

[23:50] Limitless TV series –

[25:41] The brain substance Myelin –

[39:33] Galileo Galilei –

[53:59] Moran story on The Moth, one of the 10 most popular Moth Stories of all time:





Reading List



Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future | Michio Kaku on Impact Theory

Tom Bilyeu
Published on Apr 17, 2018

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist following in the footsteps of Einstein. With his String Field Theory, he aims to crack open the answers of the universe. His gift of making such an intimidating subject so accessible is how he’s helping popularize science for others to digest and explore on their own. Learn why he’s so optimistic about our future on this episode of Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu.

Michio describes how his family background influenced his outlook on life. [3:25]
Tom and Michio discuss creating and developing wonder in the human mind. [10:43]
Michio breaks down his process of discovery and what keeps him curious. [22:39]
Michio predicts what human’s future on other planets will be. [38:50]
Michio shares the impact he wants to have on the world. [46:03]

“That’s what we physicists do, we invent the future.” [10:40]

“I would rather work on one big problem and fail than work on lots of little problems and succeed.” [29:40]



Parallel Worlds – [1:53]
Physics of the Future – [1:54]
The Future of the Mind – [1:55]
The Future of Humanity – [1:55]
Grit – [14:55]
Asimov’s Foundation Series – [34:46]

String Field Theory – [00:42]
Theory of Everything – [7:00]
Marshmallow Test – [13:22]
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – [16:40]
Alpha Centauri – [40:11]
Von Neumann Probe – [40:13]

Science Fantastic – [2:42]
Exploration – [2:43]

Edward Teller – [1:06]

God is an anarchist; being is the monarch

Ontology teaches us that there is no supreme being, only being.  And you and I are that being.  Since there is only being, thus being is one.  Since being is one, there is no hierarchy in being.  Since there is no hierarchy in being, God (being itself) is an anarchist.  Or said another way, being is the monarch.

Walt Whitman on Democracy and Optimism as a Mighty Form of Resistance

By Maria Popova (

“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Zadie Smith wrote in her spectacular essay on optimism and despair. The illusion of permanent progress inflicts a particularly damning strain of despair as we witness the disillusioning undoing of triumphs of democracy and justice generations in the making — despair preventable only by taking a wider view of history in order to remember that democracy advances in fits and starts, in leaps and backward steps, but advances nonetheless, on timelines exceeding any individual lifetime. Amid our current atmosphere of presentism bias and extreme narrowing of perspective, it is not merely difficult but downright countercultural to resist the ahistorical panic by taking such a telescopic view — lucid optimism that may be our most unassailable form of resistance to the corruptions and malfunctions of democracy.

That is what Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) insisted on again and again in Specimen Days (public library) — the splendid collection of his prose fragments, letters, and diary entries that gave us his wisdom on the wisdom of treesthe singular power of musichow art enhances life, and what makes life worth living.

Walt Whitman (Library of Congress)

Shortly before his sixtieth birthday and a decade after issuing his immensely prescient admonition that “America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without,” Whitman writs under the heading “DEMOCRACY IN THE NEW WORLD”:

I can conceive of no better service in the United States, henceforth, by democrats of thorough and heart-felt faith, than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy.

Having lived and saved lives through the Civil War, having seen the swell of “vast crops of poor, desperate, dissatisfied, nomadic, miserably-waged populations,” having witnessed the corrosion of idealism and the collapse of democratic values into corruption and complacency, Whitman still faces a dispiriting landscape with a defiant and irrepressible optimism — our mightiest and most countercultural act of courage, then and now and always:

Though I think I fully comprehend the absence of moral tone in our current politics and business, and the almost entire futility of absolute and simple honor as a counterpoise against the enormous greed for worldly wealth, with the trickeries of gaining it, all through society in our day, I still do not share the depression and despair on the subject which I find possessing many good people.

Zooming out of the narrow focus of his cultural moment — as we would be well advised to do with ours — Whitman takes a telescopic perspective of time, progress, and social change, and considers what it really takes to win the future:

The advent of America, the history of the past century, has been the first general aperture and opening-up to the average human commonalty, on the broadest scale, of the eligibilities to wealth and worldly success and eminence, and has been fully taken advantage of; and the example has spread hence, in ripples, to all nations. To these eligibilities — to this limitless aperture, the race has tended, en-masse, roaring and rushing and crude, and fiercely, turbidly hastening — and we have seen the first stages, and are now in the midst of the result of it all, so far. But there will certainly ensue other stages, and entirely different ones. In nothing is there more evolution than the American mind. Soon, it will be fully realized that ostensible wealth and money-making, show, luxury, &c., imperatively necessitate something beyond — namely, the sane, eternal moral and spiritual-esthetic attributes, elements… Soon, it will be understood clearly, that the State cannot flourish, (nay, cannot exist,) without those elements. They will gradually enter into the chyle of sociology and literature. They will finally make the blood and brawn of the best American individualities of both sexes.

Three years later, and ten presidencies before a ruthless government began assaulting and exploiting nature as a resource for commercial and political gain, Whitman revisits the subject under the heading “NATURE AND DEMOCRACY—MORTALITY”:

American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices — through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life — must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or it will morbidly dwindle and pale. We cannot have grand races of mechanics, work people, and commonalty, (the only specific purpose of America,) on any less terms. I conceive of no flourishing and heroic elements of Democracy in the United States, or of Democracy maintaining itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part — to be its health-element and beauty-element — to really underlie the whole politics, sanity, religion and art of the New World.

Specimen Days remains one of the most timelessly insightful books I have ever encountered. Complement this particular portion with Iris Murdoch on why art is essential for democracy, Rebecca Solnit on lucid optimism in dark times, and Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman’s animated tribute to Leonard Cohen’s anthem to democracy, then revisit Whitman on the essence of happiness and his advice on the building blocks of character.

Philosopher Martin Buber on Love and What It Means to Live in the Present

by Maria Popova (

“Love is the quality of attention we pay to things,” poet J.D. McClatchy wrote seven decades after the brilliant and underappreciated philosopher Simone Weil observed that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

The type of attention that makes for generous and unselfish love is what the Austrian-born Israeli Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (February 8, 1878–June 13, 1965) examined in I and Thou (public library) — the 1923 existentialist masterpiece in which Buber laid out his visionary relation modality that makes us real to one another.

Martin Buber

Echoing Tolstoy’s insistence that “love is a present activity only [and] the man who does not manifest love in the present has not love,” Buber extends his distinction between the objectifying It and the subjectifying Thou into the most intimate domain of relation, and writes:

The present, and by that is meant not the point which indicates from time to time in our thought merely the conclusion of “finished” time, the mere appearance of a termination which is fixed and held, but the real, filled present, exists only in so far as actual presentness, meeting, and relation exist. The present arises only in virtue of the fact that the Thou becomes present.


True beings are lived in the present, the life of objects is in the past.

Love, Buber argues, is something larger than affect — not a static feeling, but a dynamic state of being lived in the present. In a counterpoint to the Proustian model of love, he writes:

Feelings accompany the metaphysical and metapsychical fact of love, but they do not constitute it… Feelings are “entertained”: love comes to pass. Feelings dwell in man; but man dwells in his love.

Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being

In consonance with psychologist turned pioneering sculptor Anne Truitt’s definition of love as “the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery,” Buber writes:

Love does not cling to the I in such a way as to have the Thou only for its “content,” its object; but love is between I and Thou. The man who does not know this, with his very being know this, does not know love; even though he ascribes to it the feelings he lives through, experiences, enjoys, and expresses… Love is responsibility of an I for a Thou. In this lies the likeness — impossible in any feeling whatsoever — of all who love, from the smallest to the greatest and from the blessedly protected man, whose life is rounded in that of a loved being, to him who is all his life nailed to the cross of the world, and who ventures to bring himself to the dreadful point — to love all men.

Half a century after naturalist John Muir observed that “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe,” Buber adds:

We live our lives inscrutably included within the streaming mutual life of the universe.

I and Thou, which explores what it means to expand the boundaries of the self and grant others the dignity and sanctity of Thou, is a superb read in its entirety. Complement this particular portion with Adrienne Rich on how honorable relationships refine our truths, Erich Fromm on what is keeping us from mastering the art of loving, and a lovely illustrated meditation on the many meanings and manifestations of love.

“What is your passion?” vs “what is your Love?” from Hanz Bolen, HWM

“What is your passion?” vs “what is your Love?”

Etymology: Passion
Proto Indo Eureopean- 5000 yrs ago
Pei – “to hurt”

Pati – “to suffer”!
Physical suffering of Christ on the cross
or meaning
Angry emotional

Many of the modern applications of ‘passion’ no longer convey the idea of suffering at all. It’s present use is one describing an intense desire, which is often sexual in nature. The modern use also defines passion as being an irrational force that is also irresistible. The older version did not identify whether the force compelling you to action was rational or irrational nor did it specify whether it could be resisted. The change in the meaning of the word has increased the power of ‘passion’ over its original definition.

Consider what is your passion vs what is your compelling love?


Sunday Night Translation Group begins anew

After a few weeks of well-deserved vacation, the Sunday Night Translation Group has been reborn with a few alterations.  We decided to be less of a support group and more of a Translation group, looking, as does the Sunday morning Translation group, more at sense testimony going on in the world and less on what is going on in our individual lives.

Our goal is to begin at 7pm Pacific time via GoToMeeting (instead of Skype), come to an agreed-upon sense testimony by 7:30pm and finish Translating by 8pm or so.  At which time sharing of 5th steps will begin along with insights gained along the way, finishing up the meeting by 8:30 pm Pacific time

All Translators are welcome.  Please join our meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. 

You can also dial in using your phone. 
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212 

Access Code: 209-771-837

First GoToMeeting? Let’s do a quick system check:

Sunday Night Translation Group – 7/29/18

Translators:  Mike Zonta, Melissa Goodnight, Richard Branam

SENSE TESTIMONY:  Value can be appeared or disappeared beyond individual control.

5th Step Conclusions:

  1. Value is one, indivisible/individual all-knowing, all-seeing, all-appearing, the only control in the Universe.
  2. One Infinite, Consciousness Beingness,  That I AM,  is always informing and expressing the  limitless worthiness of perfect principle,  which is the sovereign authority,  continually maintaining rulership dominion overall.
  3. Truth is always Autismical assurance, Being our own Real Estate, self enuring, thriving living life, this I am I, individuated Consciousness awareness emanating its’ own Kingdom of Splendorous well Beingness, always in total control.

Alan Watts on faith

All belief in God is lack of faith.  You’re still clinging.  Faith is the state of total let go.

–Alan Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a British philosopher who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Wikipedia