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


Cheese To A Rat

Mill Valley, California, USA

March 20, 2012

"The pathway to having isn't wanting. If you want something, you need to have a different relationship with it other than wanting it, in order to have it."  ... 
"Faint heart never won fair lady." ... Miguel de Cervantes
This essay, Cheese To A Rat, is the prequel to Life Partners.

I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick who inspired this conversation, and to Barbara "Bobbie" Ractliffe Fairhead Coetzee who contributed material.




I'm looking at who I'm being when I want something. The specifics  of exactly what it is I want, may or may not be relevant here. In all likelihood, they aren't. Here are two different scenarios, two different contexts  in which I want something:

One, I can want something when I'm incomplete  - which is to say I can want something coming from  being incomplete. When I want something coming from being incomplete, for example when I want love, ease, agreement, approval, fun etc, I can have it that when I get what I want, it will fill the holes  in the incompletion, so to speak.

There's a real danger here. As we all know, there's only one thing powerful enough to fill the holes in incompletion. The only thing powerful enough to fill the holes in incompletion is being  complete. All efforts I expend wanting and acquiring things to complete me when I'm coming from being incomplete are really just wasted times, efforts, and moneys. They're wasted because in truth they can't possibly fulfill what I want them for. The holes in incompletion, it turns out, can't be filled by anything.

Two, I can want something when I'm complete  - which is to say I can want something coming from being complete. Wanting something coming from being complete is a different order of things than wanting something coming from being incomplete. Rather than futilely wanting something to fill the holes in incompletion, wanting something when I'm coming from being complete is an opportunity to expand my life into whatever's next for me, completion itself already being fait accompli.
Werner Erhard shares an experiment comparing rats' intelligence to humans'. A piece of cheese is placed at the end of one of four tunnels of a maze. Rats and humans then navigate the maze to find the cheese. But once the cheese is found, the experimenters move it to the end of a different tunnel.

Photograph courtesy pet-care-portal.com
"I'm only interested in cheese."
The difference between rats and humans, they discovered, is once humans find cheese at the end of a tunnel, they remember that tunnel, and then they go down the same tunnel again and again forever  regardless of whether the cheese is there again, or not. A rat, on the other hand, is only interested in cheese. And to find it, a rat will try any  tunnel. A rat will do whatever it takes  to get cheese - like giving up what it already knows, which includes and isn't limited to giving up being the way it's always been.

A rat, unlike a human being, goes for cheese with its entire being. There's no line, there's no daylight  showing through, between "I want cheese" (say what it is I want) and "How do I get cheese?" (come up with a plan to get what I want) and "Go get cheese" (implement the plan to get what I want). For a rat, there's no doubt (not for one second)  it's cheese he wants. There's no figuring out a plan to get cheese, and there's no waiting for permission  to implement the plan to get cheese. A rat is a get cheese machine. It's more than that actually. It's a rat is a want cheese get cheese  machine. You could even say a rat is successful at getting cheese because getting cheese is just the future possibility  of its life realized. Simply by being exactly what he really is, a rat gets cheese. That's all it takes for a rat. When it comes to getting cheese, a rat is smart - very  smart.

So when I look at who I'm being when I want something, I'm clear I better be coming from being complete or else whatever it is I want, isn't worth having. Also, when I'm coming from being complete, I'm complete whether I get what I want or not  - smart, yes? But more than that, when I'm being that what I want is the future possibility of my life realized, then my entire being, who I am, and the way I am  stands behind me supporting me getting what I want.

To forward getting what I want, I'll give up what I already know. To forward getting what I want, I'll look at ways I've been being, then I'll give up those ways I've been being which don't work. To forward getting what I want, I'm willing to give up my reputation (I'll give up my arrogance too). I'm not interested in holding on to what I already know or ways I've been being which don't work or my reputation or my arrogance. I'm only interested in cheese.



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