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


Cutting Out My Ability To Manipulate

Monticello Deli, Monticello Road, Napa Valley, California, USA

October 31, 2015



"I am nothing. What a relief." ... Jim Carrey



I've discovered myself engaged in and absorbed by a worthwhile new project. This really is the best way to say it ("I've discovered myself  engaged in and absorbed by a worthwhile new project") because it's an ongoing project even though it's not one I consciously started. Unlike other projects I've started, I discovered myself spontaneously engaged in this one. It's the perfect segue  ie it's the appropriate next thing to do, given everything that came before it. To describe it analogously, it's like pruning the leaves of my house plant. I could also say it's like trimming my fingernails: simple routine, basic maintenance. To describe it actually, this project is cutting out my ability to manipulate.

I'm a good manipulator, speaking candidly. Really I am. I'd say we're all  good manipulators - except you haven't designated me the job of speaking for you and / or for speaking for all of us in this regard (it's only you who can say for yourself whether you're a good manipulator or not). Part of being a good manipulator is not 'fessing up  that you're a good manipulator ie it's not telling the truth that you're a good manipulator. One of the tools in a good manipulator's toolbox is being covert about it ie being dishonest  about it. Good manipulators don't admit to manipulating: they just ... manipulate.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
manipulate


verb (INFLUENCE)
MAINLY DISAPPROVING to control something or someone to your advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly
<unquote>

The thing I've realized in this project while confronting my own mostly unexamined ability to manipulate (that is, mostly unexamined until now)  is my manipulating (or at least my attempting to manipulate) is not so much manipulating something  and / or someone  (as the dictionary definition states) but rather manipulating or attempting to manipulate experience itself. And it's my manipulating (or at least my attempting to manipulate) experience itself, which is the precursor to ie which leads to manipulating or attempting to manipulate something and / or someone. Here's what I mean by that:

One way I can have an experience of something or of someone (which is to say one way I can have any  experience) is to simply have the experience. In other words, I can have the experience without judgement, without downplaying, without resistance, without avoidance, exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't. Another way I can have the experience is to not  have the experience (or at least to attempt  to not have it), to judge it, to downplay it, to resist it, to avoid it, to have it be different  than the way it is ie to have it be anything other than  the way it is.

The latter is what I call manipulating experience itself - or at least it's attempting to manipulate experience itself, since experience is what it is anyway, regardless of my attempts to change it and / or avoid it etc. Yet it's a tenet of transformation, a bastion  if you will, that before you can transform anything, you have to be able to be with it exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't.

In this regard, it's almost impossible  for me to have transformation ongoingly in my life, without cutting out my ability to manipulate experience itself. As long as I haven't cut out my ability to manipulate experience itself ie as long as I'm not being with the experience I'm having exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't, it's almost impossible to experience being whole and complete. And it's when I'm not experiencing being whole and complete that I'm most likely to manipulate (or attempt to manipulate) something and / or someone, to compensate for not experiencing being whole and complete.

It's the stuff about which dramas and soap operas are written: building something, or building a relationship with someone, when we're manipulating the experience of being whole and complete at the outset ie when we're compensating for not experiencing being whole and complete at the outset, is fraught with so many fundamental built-in flaws as to be almost certain to fracture and fail at some point in the future.

Part of this malaise starts with the very human error of confusing the experience of being whole and complete, with the experience of being nothing  (that's nothing, like inadequate  or like insufficient, or nothing, like in the flung angry put-down "You're nothing!"). But the seminal experience the sages describe as "being nothing" is actually the experience of "being everything  ... and  nothing" - which is the experience of the possibility of Self-realization, the experience of the possibility of enlightenment, the experience of the possibility of transformation. And we naïvely confuse the nothing component of the experience of being whole and complete, with being inadequate ie with being insufficient. That's what's likely to get us misconstruing it and recoiling from it, and then attempting to manipulate it.

This spontaneously started project of cutting out my ability to manipulate, and especially unflinchingly  cutting out my ability to manipulate any experience, leaving me at choice  to be with it exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't, is both pivotal as well as pragmatic in living transformation.



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