If you are Australian you may have heard of a young man popularly known as Zyzz (Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian). Zyzz, who was born in Moscow and moved to Australia with his family at the age of two, developed a cult following on the internet by cleverly marketing his major product: himself. Or more accurately, his body. Through his daily regimen of tough workouts, Zyzz transformed himself from a skinny kid into a 100 kilogram bodybuilder. He also sold protein supplements, was a part-time model, stripper and personal trainer. In his videos (see the video tribute to him, below) he can be seen flexing and strutting around, almost always with his shirt off.
In his videos Zyzz can be seen extolling the virtues of being a ‘sikunt’ (see video to work that out), becoming ‘aesthetic’ and shredded (high muscle definition), and having people ‘mire’ (admire) you. And of course there is the payoff that you can ‘bang bitches’. In one blog post he wrote of walking down the street in Bangkok without a shirt while the Bangkok women were admiring him. At that same time he also wrote of his pride in having increased his muscle mass by ten kilograms in the previous year, going from 90 kg to 100.
Zyzz has a legion of die-hard followers who worship him. If you look at the comments on his YouTube videos, many of his fans speak of him as being a god, or of erecting statues of him, of them sensing him around them as they workout. They encourage each other to get shredded, get aesthetic, be a sikunt, and bang bitches.
For those who dare to comment critically on Zyzz, his followers vent forth with a barrage of Fs and Cs, saying he only encourages people to live a healthy lifestyle and believe in themselves.
The big problem is that Zyzz is now dead. He died in August 2011 of a heart attack in a Bangkok sauna, leaving behind a 100 kilogram aesthetic corpse. He was 22 years old. Apparently, he had a genetic heart condition. He had experienced symptoms in the months before his death, including high blood pressure and shortness of breath, but apparently did not take the problem seriously enough.
I have spoken before of ego falls, the way that life – or the universe – corrects our self-delusions. The more we go into delusion, the greater the ego fall tends to be. In Zyzz’ case the correction was massive and fatal.
There was a big difference between what some fans try to represent him as, and what he actually was. Rather than living a life based on health and fitness as some claim, it appears he was a walking time-bomb. He was a regular user of anabolic steroids. He denied this when confronted in the media, but he can be seen clearly joking about his shriveled testacles in one of his videos, a common side-effect of steroid abuse. Thailand, where he died, is where many bodybuilders go, because steroids are legal and freely available at ten percent of the price of most western countries, where they are illegal.
He also smoked a packet of cigarettes a day, according to some people who knew him.
The cult of Zyzz is a cult of surfaces. It is not the depth of the human being that counts in such a philosophy, but the body, and the power, attention and fame it can bring.
Yet at a deeper level, the consciousness contained in the cult of Zyzz corresponds to a state of psycho-spiritual development. During this phase, the individual can become lost in self-obsession, vanity and narcissism. It has strong correlates with the rebel archetype. When Zyzz extolls his fans that “you are sikunts”, what he is saying is that they are rebels – people who reject the values of society, and choose freedom. Rebellion has a healthy expression, but only when anger at disempowerment, control and alienation is used to break the shackles that society imposes upon us. It can be a call to break out of depression and a sense of hopelessness. But in its unhealthy expression, it can be regressive. The rebel can become anti-social, hateful, self-obsessed. It can perpetuate the alienated ego state. Or become self-destructive. I am not saying Zyzz became all these things. Howevber, these are common characteristics of the problem I'm referring to.
In a sense, the cult of Zyzz reflects that there is something vital missing in our society and education systems. They are devoid of spiritual processes which might allow our youth to find something within themselves that is deeper than body image. The simple teaching of presence – being here now – would greatly alleviate this problem. When a person exists with presence as their default position (as opposed to the the mind and ego), then the shallowness of vanity is easily recognized. How simple it would be to teach presence tools to the young. Yet it is not happening anywhere in public education.
This will sound disrespectful, but Zyzz' death is a gift for the fans who worshipped him, who bought into the delusion. But the gift will only be for those who see through the surface, and acknowledge the lie behind the cult of Zyzz.
Indeed, this is what lies behind all ‘advances’ in spiritual ‘development’: we see a delusion, admit it for what it is, and choose to let it go.