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


Base Nature

Rutherford Hill, Rutherford, California, USA

August 25, 2007



This essay, Base Nature, is the companion piece to
  1. The Wolf Who Cried Boy
  2. Empty Windows
  3. Having Said Everything There Is To Say
in that order.

I am indebted to my father Asher Manfred Platt and to my mother Andee Platt who inspired this conversation.




There's a point in my life when transformation occurred. There are my actions after transformation. There are my actions before transformation. I'm responsible for my actions after transformation. That's good news. I'm also, however, responsible for my actions before  transformation, whether I want to be or not. That's not always good news.

Before transformation I had no distinction of and no accountability for my base nature. From time to time it ran wild. Those are the times of my life I'm least proud of. Those times of my life are hardest to confront.

I'm watching the movie of my life. There's me  acting from my base nature. I'm mortified, withered, shocked at myself. Yet I'm riveted, transfixed. I can't look away. There's me  up there on the silver screen really doing what I'm doing, really saying what I'm saying. That's hard to confront. Base nature is hard to confront. It's even harder to own.

I'll never have not done  what I've done. I'll never have not said  what I've said. Transformation can't and doesn't save me from my deeds nor from my speech before transformation. What transformation can do and does do is reach back into my past and recontextualize  what I did and what I said before transformation. Transformation can't and doesn't change my base nature. What transformation can do and does do is recontextualize my base nature.

In the olio  of human behavior, cruelty epitomizes base nature to me. The cruelty in my own base nature is my hardest past to live with. Whether it was distinguished at the time or not, it's hard to confront. And especially  if it was distinguished at the time, it's even harder to confront. It doesn't make any difference whether or not my base nature was directed at animals or at human beings although for the most part it's been easiest to clean it up  afterwards when it was directed at human beings.

I'm confronting instances of cruelty in my life before transformation when I was barely a teenager, and earlier. I'm not confronting them to wallow  in them nor to make myself wrong for what I did. I'm confronting them to experience them fully without judgement, to be accountable for what I did, to take responsibility for what I did, and to be complete  with what I did. I'm responsible for what I did before transformation not because of this  reason nor because of that  reason, not because I'm to blame  for what I did before transformation nor because I should  take responsibility for what I did before transformation. I'm responsible for what I did before transformation because I say  I'm responsible for what I did before transformation.

I'm confronting instances in my life when I was cruel to animals. I poke a chameleon with a sharp stick. It dies. I shoot frogs in a pond with a BB  gun. Many die. I hurt a puppy, my pet cocker spaniel Sancho  given to me by my parents. I loved that puppy. I named him Sancho after Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's companion in the 1602 novel "Don Quixote" by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I was sad (but it was my own doing) when my parents, concerned, then gave Sancho to my uncle Lenny who promptly renamed him Tweeger. Tweeger lived a long and happy life with uncle Lenny and his family.

Don't ask me why  I was cruel in those instances. I don't know.

Many years later in my life, now transformation. I clean it up with the chameleon, with the frogs, and with Sancho. I go into my own space where they still live as me. I say I've no explanation for my cruelty to them. I say I've got a base nature as do, I suspect, all human beings although I'm careful not to use it as an excuse.

I apologize to the chameleon. I apologize to the frogs. I apologize to Sancho. I ask their forgiveness. An amazing thing happens. A miracle occurs right there and then when transformation reaches back and recontextualizes my past. I get the chameleon loves me. I get the frogs love me. I get Sancho loves me. I get they've forgiven me. I'm so moved my eyes mist over then spill tears onto my face. I cry softly - with relief, with release. I get I love them. I get I always loved them. But back then in my life before transformation I loved them with no accountability coming from  my base nature. Today I love them coming from transformation.

I'm confronting instances in my life when I was cruel to human beings. There's an old adage which says "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me". I see how dead wrong  it is. It's verbal cruelty (saying something or not  saying something) which can cause the deepest hurt.

It's arduous  looking into this. First I see my own base nature. That's hard enough to confront. Then I see men's  (not man's: men's) base nature. Don't ask me if men's base nature is crueler than women's. I don't know that either. I suspect it is although I'm careful, again, not to use it as an excuse. It's an awful  realization: "man's  inhumanity to man" is a self-serving myth, a lie in fact. It's "men's  inhumanity to man" whether we, the boys of summer, like it or not. It's our base nature. Even as I give space to my own base nature, even as I let it be  and simply observe it without making it wrong, as a man  I stand ashamed  for the repercussions of men's base nature in the world, for the possibility killer  it is, totally disproportionate to women's.

The way I complete instances in my life when I was cruel to human beings (those times when I said something or didn't say something which caused hurt) this way:

I make a list of anyone and everyone, dead or alive, I know  I've hurt. Then, over a period of almost a year I systematically set out to contact each of them and complete with them. There are a couple of hundred people on this list. My parents are on this list. All the people who love me and whom I love yet am inconsiderate of and unkind to are also on this list. With some of them I haven't had any contact in decades. Part of the process is to locate them, wherever they are on the planet. I do this through telephone calls (local and international - I spend a small fortune  on international telephone calls), making inquires, writing letters (e-mail has not yet arrived on the scene).

Eventually I contact almost everyone on the list. I 'fess up. I apologize. I ask for forgiveness, and I say I'm OK if they don't grant it. The thing is, I say, I know  what I did, I know what it cost me, and I invent a new possibility of being honest, open, and respectful. People are very, very generous. They get it. They forgive me. There's nothing left.

I also complete with those who've died, and with those I can't trace, like this: I go into my own space where they still live as me. I say I've no explanation for my cruelty to them. I say I've got a base nature  as do, I suspect, all human beings although I'm careful, as before, not to use it as an excuse. I apologize. I ask for forgiveness. It works - just as it works with Sancho. I am, after all, the keeper of the cruelty of my own base nature whenever it showed up directed to animals or to human beings.

My completion with my mother Andee and hers with me transforms what's possible for us as family. My completion with my father Asher Manfred and his with me takes our transformation as family to breakthrough levels, totally completing my base nature by taking full responsibility for it.



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