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 Monk For No Reason

Frog's Leap, Rutherford, California, USA

May 3, 2014

"I do live in a monastery. My monastery is the whole world."  ...   answering the question "Have you ever lived in a monastery?" 
"Be a man for all seasons, a monk for no reason." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, A Monk For No Reason, was written at the same time as Conversations For Transformation receives its eight hundred and fifty thousandth view with the publishing of A Monk For No Reason.




Foreword:

This essay, A Monk For No Reason, pivots on the theme "This is it" articulated incisively by Alan Watts then brilliantly developed by Werner Erhard. It could be said the access  to "This is it" is to notice (distinguish) a particularly pernicious already always listening  saying something like: "This isn't it, something's wrong here, this isn't good enough.".

That's right: the access to "This is  it" is to distinguish an already always listening saying "This isn't  it.".

There's no particular situation during which this already always listening occurs or in which it doesn't  occur. If you tell the truth about it, you'll hear it in all situations. You'll hear it everywhere. It's omnipresent.

The essay is in two parts - that is to say it's a song (if you will) in two-part harmony. The first part, A Man For All Seasons, illustrates "This isn't it" occurring for a person who lives in the world. The second part, A Monk For No Reason, illustrates "This isn't it" occurring for a person who renounces the world.

Like I said: it's everywhere.


A Man For All Seasons



It's pernicious. It's rampant. It's a certain way of listening which, when it shows up, is always pertinent to the current situation, so it seems to be unique each time. Yet what it conveys, regardless of the situation, is always exactly the same: "This isn't it, something's wrong here, this isn't good enough.".

Alexandra and I were preparing to visit her deans at Roskilde Universitet  in Roskilde Denmark to finalize her second master's thesis. The journey we were planning would culminate an enormous triumph, a victory lap for Alexandra (for me too, actually). I shared with a friend about our upcoming travels and our purpose for going to Denmark. He said "You know Laurence, that's not a good time to go - it's very cold in Europe at that time of year.".

That's the way he listens. It's that way of listening which I call pernicious, a listening in which the possibility of human greatness could never show up, a listening in which Alexandra's triumph could never show up, a listening in which her victory lap could never show up. Even if he was correct about it being cold in Europe at that time of year, it's a listening in which the possibility of a sweater could never show up either.

This rampant way of listening doesn't intentionally denigrate celebrating. Rather, the thing about it is it's a listening which hears "This isn't it, something's wrong here, this isn't good enough" in anything and everything. I call it Eeyore's  listening (if you're a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh, you know what I mean). And there's nothing wrong with it. Eeyore's just being Eeyore. The thing is: without intervention, there'll never be any other possibility  for him.

I'm a man for all seasons. I enjoy dry baking heat and bucketing rain equally. I take them as they come. The weather is the weather. It is what it is. It doesn't determine who I'm being. Dress appropriately. That's how I handle the weather when I travel. Simple. Celebrating Alexandra's triumph is unaffected by the weather. When we celebrated in a summer heat wave in Rome recently, we celebrated ... and  ... it was hot. When we celebrated in a winter snow storm in London recently, we celebrated ... and  ... it was cold. Having it that the weather obfuscates the celebration ie having it that the weather determines the quality of the celebration, is tantamount to not showing up for the celebration at all.

I don't require the weather to be any particular way before Life can be great. However the weather, this is it.



A Monk For No Reason



One of my favorite people is a monk. He's a rare and beautiful man. He's so expressive and creative that I can get who I really am just by watching his facial expressions and his animated gesticulations. He beams like a lighthouse in a storm. He says he became a monk in order to get better as a person, to practice contemplation, and to seek enlightenment. Those are his reasons for becoming a monk.

I said to him "There's nothing to get. There's nothing to seek. You're already enlightened. Enlightenment is giving up the belief you're unenlightened. This is it. You really are a great man. If you're going to be a monk, why not just ... be ... a ... monk? Why not just be a monk for no reason?".

The way his mouth suddenly opened wide then shut again when he started responding, told me he had it on full knee-jerk automatic - at least at first. But then to his credit, he stopped. He listened. Then he nodded his head (to himself, not to me) and smiled.

"A monk for no reason" he repeated as if savoring each word, reflecting. "I like that" he said - to no one in particular.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2014 through 2016 Permission