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


Act Three

Sonoma, California, USA

December 20, 2015

"There are certain things you can only know by creating them for yourself."  ...   quoted by Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist 
This essay, Act Three, is the companion piece to Cosmic Joke: Suspension Of Disbelief.

I am indebted to Professor Sanford "Sandy" Robbins who inspired this conversation.




People who have participated in Werner's work on more than one occasion (ie people who are graduates  of Werner's work) may tell you the best way to participate in this work is to listen with suspended disbelief. What does that mean? How do you listen with "suspended disbelief"? Actually you already know how. You do it often. Listening with suspended disbelief, interestingly enough, is akin to the way you listen when someone tells a joke.

A mallard waddles into a restaurant. "Can I help you?" asks the Maître D'. "Oh, yes (quack quack)"  says the mallard, "Do you serve duck?".

It's a joke  (a mallard  goes into a restaurant? ... do you serve duck?  ... get it?). But you wouldn't get it if you weren't listening with suspended disbelief. You wouldn't get it if you were like "Wait a minute: mallards don't talk!  And in any case, why would a mallard go into a restaurant?". To get the joke you'd have to suspend disbelief (at least temporarily) until you heard the punch line.

When your participation in Werner's work reveals what's so  about you and your life, it's like hearing (often for the first time) a glorious cosmic joke which, to really get it, requires listening with suspended disbelief.

Having said all that:

Life is a play with three acts. What follows is a brief synopsis of them (it works best to listen this with suspended disbelief until you hear the punch line).



Act One: The Past



The past has nothing to do  with who you are in the present, and the past has nothing to do with how you act  in the present.

We know  (which is to say we're thrown to believe)  we're this  way, and we know we're that  way because this  happened in the past, and because that  happened in the past. Yet I assert the past has nothing to do with who we are in the present, and the past has nothing to do with how we act in the present.

The past is what happened. You can't change the past, and you can't change who you were  in the past. With some analysis, you may be able to gain a bit of insight into who you were being in the past. But even with that insight, you can't change who you were in the past.



Act Two: The Present (The Current Era)



We have it that who we are in the present (ie who we are in the current era)  and how we act in the present, is given by something that happened in the past. Yet I assert who we are and how we act in the present, isn't given by the past at all: who we are and how we act in the present, is given by the future into which we live. Restated in the context of life as a three act play, we have it that how it is in act two, is given by act one. Yet I assert how it is in act two, is given by act three.

We like to think we can make up the present as we go along, and furthermore, that we can make it up any way we like. But think about that for a moment: the present may not be as flexible as it can appear to be at first glance. The present (ie the current era, act two) must conform to certain fixed restrictions. For starters, it must be a bridge  between act one (the past) and act three (the future into which we live). So consider the script for act two is already written:  it must  get you to act three. It has to make sense  when act three opens. It has to be consistent  with act three: clearly if you become a world class ballerina in act three, you can't have an accident and lose your legs in act two.

So act two may have a lot less to do with act one, and a lot more to do with act three than we typically have it. Also consider this: whatever I can do to give myself access to the future into which I live, allows me to rewrite that future, and consequently to rewrite act two. Rewriting act two effectively re-casts  how I experience the current era ie it effectively re-casts how the current era shows up  for me.



Act Three: The Future Into Which We Live



If it's true that the future into which we live, gives us being and action in the present, then if we put the past into the future, it will appear as though who we are in the present, is given by the past  (to get this, remember to suspend disbelief  until you hear the punch line).

There are many, many  futures. There's the hoped-for  future. There's the predictable  future. There's the probable, almost certain  future. There's the unimagined  future. Then there's the future into which we live (ie act three). What's the future into which you live? If you wanted to tell me what the future into which you live is, then with some introspection you could tell me. Knowingly or unknowingly, you've already  written the script for act three. Act three appears to be pre-set.

And it is. But what frees me from the pre-set future into which I live, is knowing I'll survive it.

How can I be so certain I'll survive the future into which I live? I'm certain because I survived the past, and the future into which I live will be more of the past. So I can let that  future be (remember, there are many, many futures), and see if I can create being in a new future in a way that gives life to the present. Now that  would be a future worth living into!

When I create a future worth living into, it gives new life to the present - that is to say a future worth living into gives new life to the current era. In other words, it's act three  not act one, which gives life to act two, without changing any of the circumstances of act two.

So in the three act of play of life, the past (ie act one) has nothing to do with who we are in the present (ie in act two), and nothing to do with how we act in the present. It's the future into which we live (ie act three) which gives life to who we are in the present, and to how we act in the present.



You Got It!



That's the punch line of this cosmic joke. You got it (yes they do serve duck)!

You can now stop suspending disbelief.


Postscript:

The presentation, delivery, and style of Act Three are all my own work.

The ideas recreated in Act Three were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by Werner Erhard, Werner Erhard, then presented by him in a paper titled A Breakthrough in Individual and Social Transformation at the Eranos Conference in Ascona, Switzerland on Sunday June 18, 2006.




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