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

Confronting The Machinery

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

Labor Day, September 7, 2009

"You are a machine."  ... 
This essay, Confronting The Machinery, is the companion piece to I am indebted to Victoria Hamilton-Rivers who inspired this conversation.

Werner Erhard's famously blunt assertion "You are a machine" rocks as effectively as it teases millions into completely reassessing, into newly looking into our true nature. Taken literally at face value, it's not surprising it's a tough idea to fully come to grips with. But if you do take it on and own it like an inquiry, it makes for a fascinating unfolding process of discovery which, once you get clear about who (and what)  you really are, sets up a ground breaking breakthrough with discontiguous yet predictable outcomes.

Confronting it as Werner's immutable position, "You are a machine" at first leaves some people flabbergasted, others horrified, some aghast, others in sheer disbelief, and some virulently skeptical. Others, on the other hand, are left in a state of profound peace and ecstasy with the bliss that only comes with natural knowing, with the joy that only comes with an authentic "A-Ha!"  experience. In many instances there's also an accompanying respectfully incredulous yet delighted "Damn!  Why didn't I think of this before? Of course!".

Here's something to consider: I assert if you interpret Werner's "You are a machine" as primarily  and only  intended as an opinion masquerading as a statement of fact, that is to say as a point of view for you to debate and / or argue with, or as a position to disagree  with or to agree  with, you'll not only miss the point entirely - you'll totally miss who Werner is in the matter as well. Please understand debate and argument, disagreement and agreement are not only healthy: they're pragmatic tools useful in assessing new material ... AND  ... they're just not very powerful  tools in this  context, given what's available, given what's possible. In this  context, to get this, to get what's being said, to really  get it, you have to listen with new ears  so to speak. You have to listen with beginner's mind.

Speaking rigorously (which implies selecting each word carefully both for it's impact as well as for the accuracy of what it invokes), I assert it's not so much Werner's "You are a machine" which yields results per se  although clearly that's the source of the idea and the origin of it's breakthrough implications. Rather it's you  confronting Werner's "You are a machine" which yields the pay dirt. In other words, the source of the breakthrough is you, eyeball to eyeball with, nose to nose with, face to face with ie confronting  the machinery.

When confronting  something rather than trying to understand  it causes a breakthrough in being, we call that "something" an access. Confronting Werner's "You are a machine" is an access to who you really are. Who you really are is a being, as in human being.

Make no error about what I'm saying here: "You are are a machine". Period. End of story. Don't expect to be reading anything subsequent soon in this or the rest of these Conversations For Transformation which will get you off the hook.

Confronting Werner's "You are a machine" is, metaphorically speaking, an entry level  course, a qualifying  reference without which you're precluded from registering in Transformation 101. Confronting, then getting, then being complete  with the automaticity  is arduous at times, often uncomfortable, even harrowing. It's also, from another vantage point which sooner or later shows up spontaneously in any inquiry into the true nature of who we are, blind numbingly  simple, obvious, clearly what's so. To avoid getting it, to cover it up, to pretend  it's not so, is about as naïve as a clock asserting it has no automaticity  either. If you could observe and interact with a clock asserting it has no automaticity, you'd listen compassionately, watching it wrestling with the inexorable truth about its own nature.

As you start telling the truth about the automaticity, as you start distinguishing  the automaticity, you invariably start to notice the context for the automaticity, you invariably start to notice the space  in which the automaticity shows up. Only then can the authentic languaging of who you really are, begin: you're a human being, you're the context for the automaticity ie for the machinery. You're the space  in which the automaticity shows up.

So why not simply assert first, rather, "Who you are is a human being" instead of "You are a machine", and cut out the middle man  entirely - so to speak?

Furthermore, if who you really are is a being, is it erroneous to assert "You are a machine"? And if it isn't, is it a paradox or, worse, a lie to assert "You are a machine" when what you intend is for people to get the being they really are?

It's not erroneous. Neither is it a lie. And - truth be told - it's not even a paradox either. By being who you really are, that is to say by being the machinery  you really are, you get out of the way of the inevitability  of who you really are. You let be the inexorability  of who you really are. You stop resisting  who you really are. When you be the machine you really are, you assume ie you inherit  the power to create. In other words, who you are is a creating  machine. You're a magnificent  creating machine, in fact.

But don't let that acknowledgement distract you. Don't let your ego  become gratified by the compliment and side-track you. As your true nature, as what  you are, you're a machine. Period. End of story.

Sit with it in your lap like a hot brick.

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