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


Being Without Trying

Vallejo Ferry Dock, Vallejo, California, USA

May 10, 2011



"The way a situation occurs for me (shows up for me) is colored and shaped by my context for that situation, and my way of being and acting are naturally necessarily correlated with (in‑a‑dance‑with) the way that situation occurs for me."
 ... 
speaking with The Leadership Course
This essay, Being Without Trying, is the companion piece to Source Of Action.

I am indebted to all the graduates of The Leadership Course everywhere who inspired this conversation.




If you asked me "How do you act?"  or (said another way) "How  do you put yourself into action?" (which is really another way of asking "What's the source  of your action?"), my answer would depend on when you asked me: whether you asked me before  I started listening Werner Erhard or whether you asked me after  I started listening Werner Erhard.

If you asked me before I started listening Werner Erhard I would have expressed the source of action as a concept. If you asked me after I started listening Werner Erhard I would express the source of action as context.



The Source Of Action: Concept



If you asked me "How do you act?" before I started listening Werner Erhard I might have answered something like this:

Let's nominate a very specific action. Let's say you asked me "How do you walk?". I might have answered (probably with an intonation which implies "Well ... duh!  ...") "I move my legs - first one, then the other, first one in front of the other, then the other in front of the other ..." etc.

But it's not a satisfactory answer, and here's why: it leads right in to another unanswered question, which is "Well ... how  do you move your legs?". And the way I might have answered that  question would have been with the rational, intellectual, conceptual, un-examined "Everybody knows  ..." accepted explanation, which is something like "My brain  sends impulses to the muscles of my legs, which contract ... and I walk ..." etc.

This answer (and all versions  of it) was for the most part how I viewed the source of any action. Before I started listening Werner Erhard I conceptualized  any action as sourced by ie as caused  by my brain sending impulses to the appropriate muscles ... which then act  ... etc.

But really  it's not a satisfactory answer. It's not satisfactory because all this answer does is lead right in to another  unanswered question, which is "Well ... if that's really how you act, then how do you get your brain to send impulses to your muscles?" ... which in turn  leads right in to another unanswered question ... etc ... and it never ends.

Now the point I want to make here is yes my muscles do contract and yes I do move and yes that's action. But really, no one has the foggiest idea  how we get our brains to send impulses to our muscles, especially not me. In other words, in this scenario I really don't know how I act. I do  act - that much is clear. I just don't know how  I act. And the explanation that I act by getting my brain to send impulses to my muscles may not even be true at all.

So: I act by getting my brain to send impulses to my muscles. Conceptual? Undoubtedly. True? Unlikely.



Contextual Shift



Many things in the way I live my life began showing up in a different light once I started listening Werner Erhard. Not a better  light. Just another way of regarding the same material. And what's pivotal in the contextual shift  which is always inherent in any conversation with Werner is being willing to confront that looking at things coming from  concept and belief, is different than looking at things coming from context.

Looking at the source of action coming from concept and belief leads to the widely held view that action is caused by getting our brains to send impulses to our muscles. The problem with this way of looking at the source of action is neither that it's the rational, intellectual, conceptual, un-examined "Everybody knows ..." accepted explanation, nor that it may not even be true at all. The problem with looking at the source of action as a concept is twofold: it reveals we really don't know  how we act, and it uncovers no opportunity for mastery.

Consider looking at the source of action coming from context  rather than coming from concept and belief. This isn't a better  way of looking at the source of action. There's nothing wrong with looking at the source of action coming from concept and belief. It's the way I might have answered the question "How do you act?" before I started listening Werner Erhard: I would have conceptualized the source of action ... that, and I wouldn't have taken transformation into account. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But looking at the source of action coming from context while taking transformation into account is what makes my answer different now - and that's all  that makes my answer different now. It's not a better answer to the question "How do you act?". It's just an answer to the question "How do you act?" coming from context instead of coming from the rational, intellectual, conceptual, un-examined "Everybody knows ..." accepted explanation.



The Source Of Action: Context



My answer to "How do you act?" now is this: I'm called to act  in response to the way a situation shows up for me.

"I'm called to act in response to the way a situation shows up for me" implies the way I be  in any situation is in response to the way the situation occurs  for me. For a while when I looked at this state of affairs as Werner articulated it, I was swamped  by my own perplexity. Does this imply, I asked myself, that my being  is the source of my action? or that my action  is the source of my being? It seemed circular ...

This inquiry eventually resolved itself when I saw I was creating a false dichotomy  from two components: one, my being, and two, my action. This dichotomy, I saw, is entirely arbitrary. They aren't separate at all. They're not "my being"  and "my action". They're my "being / action". They're like the front of my hand and the back of my hand: yes they're distinct one from the other but they can't be separated. I can't have one without the other. I can't have the front of my hand without the back of my hand. I can't have the back of my hand without the front my hand. I can't have being without action. I can't have action without being. Being and action can't be separated.

If you throw a tennis ball at me, my action "catching"  is how I'm called to act in response to the way the situation shows up for me: ball coming at face, hands reach up, catch!  And here's the thing: if I have a background consideration "I'm not a good catcher", in other words if I try to catch the ball in a context of "I'm not a good catcher" ie the tennis ball coming at my face occurs in a context of "I'm not a good catcher", I'll probably fumble the ball. But if I carefully watch the ball, if I watch it so closely I can see which way it's spinning  as it comes towards me, if I have a background consideration "I can see the ball in minute detail"  ie if I try to catch the ball in a context of "I can see the ball in minute detail" ie the tennis ball coming at my face occurs in a context of "I can see the ball in minute detail", then even if  I've had a background consideration "I'm not a good catcher", I'll catch the ball.

Same situation. Same action. Different context. Different result.

My action in any situation is called by the context in which that situation occurs for me. Shifting the context in which a situation occurs for me has the power to determine how I act in that situation.

<aside>

Shifting the context in which a situation occurs for me, for example shifting the context in which I try to catch a tennis ball from "I'm not a good catcher" to "I can see the ball in minute detail" isn't the same as "positive thinking". Neither is it the same as "cultivating a healthy self-image". A contextual shift is neither of the above.

But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

<un-aside>


Mastery Is Allowing The Power Of Context To Use You



Context is the source of my action. Context calls me to act. When I choose a powerful context it calls me to act powerfully, effortlessly.

Context uses  me. When I choose a powerful context it uses me powerfully. When I choose a powerful context it uses me for powerful action without effort. When I choose a powerful context it uses me for powerful being without trying.

Being without trying. Action without effort. This is mastery.


Postscript:

The presentation, delivery, and style of Being Without Trying are all my own work.

The ideas recreated in Being Without Trying were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by Werner Erhard.




Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2011 through 2016 Permission