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


Cause In The Matter

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, California, USA

February 21, 2007



This essay, Cause In The Matter, is the companion piece to Five Ways To Be With Being Hit On.

It is also the prequel to Cause In The Matter II: Congruent With Life.

I am indebted to Cherie Gannon-Taylor and to Gwynn Barton who inspired this conversation.




Who is cause in the matter  of my life?

In the conversation for transformation, many questions evoke pure fun - for example "What do I really  want?". Other questions are profound and eternal - for example "Who am I?". And then there's one specific question which is senior  in the conversation for transformation, a graduate  question, a question which separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys.

That question is "Who is cause in the matter of my life?". I mean really:  who is cause  in the matter of your life?

Consider this - not like it's the truth  but rather like a powerful place to stand regardless of the circumstances. It's a blanket statement, one of those rare generalities in the conversation for transformation. It covers all situations, all circumstances, all experiences:

You were there - you're cause in the matter.



Proof By Extreme



I was with Werner when he worked with a woman who survived a Nazi extermination camp. Most of her family in there with her weren't so lucky. Tortured pain was quite understandably etched deep into her face. It was clear it had been etched that way for many, many years.

I'm a surfer. I know what I like to surf. I like to surf warm five to six foot playful left point breaks on which I can noseride and let the feathering curl part my hair. But when I watch thirty foot Banzai Pipeline  tubes thunder in to the north shore on O'ahu Hawai'i, or when I'm mesmerized as icy forty foot monsters pound Mavericks  off California's Half Moon Bay, I know my limitations.

I had a sense I could make a difference with the woman who survived the Nazi extermination camp. But when I realized it would mean taking the conversation for being cause in the matter all the way to being cause in the matter of being in a Nazi extermination camp, frankly I balked. I know my limitations.

But then again, I'm not Werner. Werner took the conversation for being cause in the matter with her all the way to being cause in the matter of being in a Nazi extermination camp.

When she got she was cause in the matter (and she did  get it!) her whole face changed. The tortured look just vanished. Actually that says it way  too mildly. Forty years  of tortured look just vanished. You could see she finally had closure. She was radiant.

I had just witnessed a quiet miracle. Something had just taken place that simply could not have taken place. Something had happened that simply wasn't possible.

I'll never forget Werner's comment to the group after she thanked him.


        SHE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING THERE. IT'S THAT GOD-DAMNED  SIMPLE!




Transformation 101



In any authentic conversation for transformation, being cause in the matter is front and center stage. In the matter of living a transformed life, it's more than simply you're in charge  of your own life. You already know that. It's you're cause  in the matter of your own life. That's "Transformation 101"!

Being cause in the matter is much maligned, much misunderstood. I'm cause in the matter of my life. That doesn't mean I'm to blame or that I'm guilty or that I'm at fault, accountabilities with which it's variously confused. Being cause in the matter of my life is easy for me to get when I have a great love affair, for example. If I have a great love affair, I say it's my life, I caused it and I'm glad to take responsibility for it.

But what if I'm raped? Being raped would be my life too. I say there's no way  I caused it and I'm not responsible for it. Someone else did it to me. It seems being cause in the matter of my life would be almost impossible to get if I was raped. Actually it's more than almost  impossible - it's seems it would be totally out of the question.

So I ask the question: where's my responsibility for my life then? Is it even valid or meaningful to ask where's my responsibility  if I'm raped? Who is cause in the matter of my life if I'm raped? Or is the very question itself rendered meaningless given the horrific violence of the circumstances?

These are tough questions  for which I have no answers. I'm not inquiring into being cause in the matter of my life to come up with the truth, with answers. I'm inquiring into being cause in the matter of my life to come up with a powerful place to stand regardless of the circumstances.

I sit with it in my lap like a hot brick. I notice my inquiry is a conventional  inquiry. I notice I have an already outcome  for my inquiry, which is this: in the hypothetical matter of being raped, it's not possible  I could be cause in the matter.

But I notice that  outcome doesn't give me any power. It doesn't give me any new space. It doesn't transform my life. If I was raped it wouldn't give me closure.



Being Cause Is A Choice



Taking on  being cause in the matter isn't conventional. It requires taking a huge step, an unreasonable step, a radical step, an unconventional step. Taking on being cause in the matter isn't taking on blame, shame, guilt, or fault. It simply means acknowledging I was there. I wasn't around the corner when it happened. I wasn't somewhere else when it happened. I  ... was  ... there.

I may not want to take that on. As a matter of fact, if I don't take on that I'm cause in the matter of being raped, millions upon millions of people would agree with me. I'll get a lot of agreement ... but I won't get closure.

If I do take on being cause in the matter of being raped, it's a place of great power and of great bigness, a place of closure. Actually it's more than that: it's a stand of enormous heart.

You can't make  anyone take on being cause in the matter. It's a stand I choose to take on, or not. There's power and bigness and closure if I do. And I don't have to.



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