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


Be At Home In Your Experience

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 30, 2023

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same)." ... Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." ... Professor Albert Einstein
This essay, Be At Home In Your Experience, is the companion piece to If You Make It Wrong, It's Hard To Let It Go.

I am indebted to Paige Rose PhD who contributed material for this conversation.

She spoke it as a gift: with kindness, with consideration, and above all with empathy. She said "Be at home in your experience.". She spoke it as if she was reflecting on it / inquiring into it for herself, as if she experienced it for herself before recommending it. Her "your" was the generalized "your". She wasn't saying it to me specifically. But it was as if she were. She was speaking a truth which she'd realized for herself that worked (it's actually quite profound) and was now sharing with the world. Her "be at home in your experience" is wise I thought. It was transformative, if you will (and she wasn't even a graduate).

We're all in the ongoing-conversation-in-the-world in which we're all hell-bent on changing the experience ie in which we're all hell-bent on changing our  experience. And she wasn't only suggesting we stop attempting to change our experience. It was more than that: she was exhorting us to be at home  in our experience. Indeed. How profound. How utterly refreshing! Aren't we spring-loaded to do exactly not  that? Aren't we spring-loaded to try to change it?

It takes something to fully grasp the automaticity of the way we try to change things. We're spring-loaded to change our own experience, just as much as we're spring-loaded to change the world or at least to try to. Be careful: that there are things, conditions etc in the world that we'd do well to change, is not the point here (it's actually a distraction). We've been trying to change the world forever  ... and how's that going for us? The more we try to change the world ie the more things change, the more they stay the same: "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"  (as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr says pithily).

Don't get me wrong. Wanting to change the world comes from a good place - to which any leader who cares about her people will attest. People of goodwill everywhere recognize we could do better. But it's not the merits of the idea that's the problem. The problem is it's a spring-loaded idea ie it's a good idea, which is spring-loaded - which means it's on full-automatic, driven by survival. And any good idea spring-loaded, on full-automatic, and driven by survival is no different than a bad  idea spring-loaded, on full-automatic, driven by survival: both bring zero possibility of transformation, of anything new, zilch, nada.

We're so spring-loaded to try to change our experience (how many times have you heard "I'm working on myself"?)  and the world, that the practicality of ever being at home in our experience is dismissed out of hand. Try it on. See if you can be at home in your experience without changing one iota of it. Get to know what it's like, exactly the way it is. Stop changing things long enough to see what being at home in your experience is really like. Later if you want to, you can always go back to changing the world (it'll surely still be there, waiting for you to change it) as before. But hopefully by then you'll get what it is to be at home in your experience, and what it offers: the possibility of not being spring-loaded in a world which is patently spring-loaded. That's real power.

That was when I realized how much I respected and appreciated her. That was when I totally got it. She shared new ideas without being attached to them. If they worked for you, they were yours. If they didn't work for you, she wasn't diminished. You didn't have to agree with her for her to be at home in her experience. At least you don't get "at home" that way. You get it by trying it on. And she embodied what she spoke. I admire that quality in people. Greatly.

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