Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


100 Watt Light Bulb

Landmark Forum For Reviewers, Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California, USA

October 3, 2010



This essay, 100 Watt Light Bulb, is the companion piece to A Red Rag To A Bull.

It is also the fourth in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: It is also the prequel to Pitoned To The Cliff Face.




There's nothing wrong with being lit up. There's nothing wrong with being overjoyed. There's nothing wrong with being happy. Life, for almost everyone I know (myself included ie especially  myself included), wouldn't be tolerable if it weren't for having at least one or more of these experiences at least some of the time. And I'm not about to propose anything to the contrary - far from it in fact.

In this conversation I do intend, however, to look at the inverse  experiences of being lit up, of being overjoyed, of being happy: the experiences of being shut down, of being depressed, of being sad, and how we try to avoid them. Then I intend to make a powerful observation about the essential nature of all  experiences - both the experiences we prefer  as well as their inverses.

If you were to say why  you're shut down (which is to say if  and when  you're shut down - because you are, at least from time to time) or why you're depressed or why you're sad, you'll probably have a good reason  or two or three for being shut down or for being depressed or for being sad. You'll probably have it that being shut down or being depressed or being sad is in reaction  to something happening. You may even say you're shut down or you're depressed or you're sad "because of"  something.

If the truth is told, that's probably accurate. It's in the ballpark. It's good enough for jazz. Something in the circumstances triggers ie reactivates  something in the machinery, bringing on being shut down or being depressed or being sad. If you continue to tell the truth about it, there'd be no doubt  being shut down or being depressed or being sad is in reaction to something which reminds you of a similar earlier upset. You're triggered even before you realize it. You're reactivated even before you realize it. You're shut down or you're depressed or you're sad even before you realize it - which is to say the experience  of being shut down or being depressed or being sad comes on  even before you realize it. And you and I spend an inordinate  amount of time looking for a way out  of ie looking for ways to avoid  being shut down, to avoid being depressed, to avoid being sad.

Here's the thing (I really want you to get this): being lit up and being overjoyed and being happy come from the same place, from the same triggering mechanism, from the same reactivation machinery as being shut down and as being depressed and as being sad. Yet who spends as much time avoiding  or trying to change or trying to fix being lit up or being overjoyed or being happy, as we spend avoiding or trying to change or trying to fix being shut down and being depressed and being sad? Indeed, who spends any time at all  avoiding being lit up or avoiding being overjoyed or avoiding being happy? Certainly not I. Certainly not most of the people I know. And most likely not you either. Yet if the truth be told, they all come from the same place. They're the same class  of experience. They're all  triggered by ie they're all in reaction  to something circumstantial. They're all just reactivation.

There it is. As I said earlier, I personally have no intention to do anything about it. Without being lit up, without being overjoyed, without being happy at least some of the time, Life for the most part wouldn't be tolerable. I do however intend to suggest when you're lit up like a 100 watt light bulb, when you're overjoyed, when you're happy, consider Life hasn't changed. You're still a machine, only this  time you're a machine experiencing being lit up or experiencing being overjoyed or experiencing being happy. And the machine looks to being lit up and to being overjoyed and to being happy as a way to escape the predicament  of being a machine and as a way to avoid the domination of being a machine and as a way to get out from underneath the tyranny of being a machine.

All of that's inauthentic. And it's just as inauthentic gravitating toward ie trying to be  lit up or trying to be overjoyed or trying to be happy as it is avoiding being shut down and avoiding being depressed and avoiding being sad.

Now, be careful. I'm not saying don't  be lit up. I'm not saying don't  be overjoyed. I'm not saying don't  be happy. I'm saying when you're lit up like a 100 watt light bulb be responsible for being lit up like a 100 watt light bulb. Be responsible for the experience. You're just as responsible for it as you are for being shut down.



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