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


A Million Ways A Machine, One Free?

Archer Sky Terrace, Napa, California, USA

December 17, 2020

This essay, A Million Ways A Machine, One Free?, is the sixth in the septology You Are A Machine:
  1. You Are A Machine
  2. Confronting The Machinery
  3. You Are A Machine II
  4. Machinery Embedded In Hamburger
  5. You Are Still A Machine
  6. A Million Ways A Machine, One Free?
  7. On Full Automatic
in that order.

It's arguably the most vexing confront in the entire lexicon of Conversations For Transformation. It's also arguably the most perplexing. For sure it's one of the hardest distinctions to grasp. Yet it's unavoidable. It's like gravity. It can't be side-stepped. It can't be avoided - and Man! do we look furtively for ways to avoid it at any cost! We remain incurably optimistic that there's a way around it. More than that, we want  to believe there's gotta be a way out. I'm sorry, there isn't. There's no way out.

It's the realization that you are a machine. You're a no-choice stimulus-response machine totally run by automatic circuitry, the essential ones of which frantically avoid confronting being a no-choice stimulus-response machine totally run by automatic circuitry. Look: the machine not confronting it's a machine, is its primary defense mechanism. As long as it can maintain the illusion that it's not a machine, a machine can lay claim to being free ie to having freedom. But it's a faux  claimed freedom, an illusory freedom. Illusory, thrashing freedom is the only freedom available to a machine. When a machine spends more time laboring under illusory freedom than it does in actually being free, I call that "thrashing". "Thrashing" is a term I've borrowed from IBM  (International Business Machines) mainframe computer architecture.

The thrashing of a machine trying not to be a machine, is as absurd, as futile, as hopeless, and as ridiculous as a dog trying not to be a dog. Yet it's easier and more obvious for you to see for yourself how ridiculous a dog trying not to be a dog is, than for you to see for yourself how ridiculous you trying not to be a machine, are.

OK Laurence: in what way am I a machine? Look: it's not "way", singular. You're a million  ways a machine - and more. If that lands for you as implausible, here are three areas to test out: physical (your body), emotional (your feelings), mental (your thoughts and memories), the three areas which comprise your worldly existence.

Physical: your fingernails grow, your blood flows, your digestive system absorbs. The exhortation "Grow fingernails, grow!" isn't required from you. Neither is "Flow blood, flow!". Indeed "Stop  growing / stop flowing" has no effect ie is a non-starter. And let's face it: you have no clue  what your stomach is doing with the oatmeal you ate for breakfast this morning. Digestion happens by itself, mechanically, automatically, without your intention, without your permission, without your control.

Emotional: if your feelings and emotions weren't on automatic, you'd be in control of them. If you were in control of your feelings, you'd feel good all the time, from when you awoke in the morning, until you went to sleep at night. Tell the truth: do you feel good all the time? All  the time? How's that going for you? Enough said.

Mental: it's one of the first things we notice with the onset of transformed awareness: we don't think thoughts. Thoughts think us. And they never stop. Thinking is automatic. If you're seriously persuaded that thinking isn't automatic, stop thinking. You can't. Also notice when something suddenly reminds  you of something else, the recollection process ie the process of remembering, is fully automatic. Memories simply appear. Your control over the process, isn't required (it's simply irrelevant).

You are a machine. Face it: you're a million ways a machine. There's no way out - and how machine-like is to look for a way out! That said, for those million ways you are a machine, there may be just one way in which you're free: you speak. You language. Over what comes out of our mouths, we have total choice, total control, and freedom. Maybe. You are a machine. You will always be a machine. And you are a machine that can speak - which may be your one-in-a-millionth access to freedom.

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