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

Deadly Distractions

Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA

November 21, 2009

This essay, Deadly Distractions, is the companion piece to
  1. Distraction / Consolation: Getting Away From Who I Am
  2. Resting On Your Laurels Is Deadly
  3. A Belief System Blind To Itself
in that order.

It is also the prequel to Back Into The Soup (And Out-Here Again).

It as was written at the same time as

Werner Erhard speaks of certain actions and ways of being as deadly distractions.

Deadly distractions are, on many occasions, innocuous actions and ways of being, like joking around, making flip  comments, gossiping, or chit-chatting  for example. Or they could perhaps be more devious ways of being, like adding meaning and blame to being upset, trading transformation for success, or justifying being right  ie standing in righteousness.


It's more than simple naïveté:  it's pure illusion  there's any lasting payoff  in righteousness. But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.


Deadly distractions can also result from going for the "goodies". When you're feeling good, when you're feeling accomplished and lit up like a one hundred watt light bulb without acknowledging  you're lit up like a one hundred watt light bulb, in other words when you're stroking your own ego without acknowledging you're stroking your own ego, such behavior is also within the domain of deadly distractions.

They're deadly  because their cost, not accounted for in the expediency of the moment, is presence of Self  and integrity are distracted and compromised. Indeed, feeling good and feeling accomplished, two of the most sought after and prized feelings in life, may even be the two deadli-est  distractions of them all because they're seldom examined and therefore they distract and compromise presence of Self  and integrity disproportionately.

Deadly distractions include what I call futzing:  going over and over and over  a thought in your mind in a fervent attempt to have it not be there, or to have it not be the thought it is, whatever it may be about. Futzing  is really a form of obsessing. Until futzing  and obsessing are distinguished for what they are, they're deadly distractions. Inherent in futzing  and obsessing is the mistaken belief they serve some purpose. In fact, the only purpose futzing  and obsessing serve is distracting and compromising presence of Self  and integrity.

What I call buying into  also occurs within the domain of deadly distractions. One of the most valuable gifts a human being can give another is the gift of listening coming from transformation. Here I'm actually not referring to the listening which occurs between people in day to day conversations, and nor am I referring to the elevated listening which occurs between people when ideas are floated and exchanged. Here I'm referring to the very specific listening which occurs in situations when one person is processing out/through some unworkability in their life, is stuck and is committed to creating a breakthrough in what's possible, or is simply venting  (hopefully with the agreement that it's OK to do so), and another is listening openly and dispassionately coming from transformation.

Compassion, empathy  and sympathy  are three of the finest qualities human beings are endowed with. But when compassion and / or empathy and / or sympathy overtake  listening openly and dispassionately coming from transformation, a condition I call buying into  sets in. Not only does buying into  distract and compromise one's ability to really  listen and support another person, but it also distracts and compromises presence of Self  and integrity. Buying into  is a classic deadly distraction.

The thing about deadly distractions which makes them so pernicious is they're couched in our most basic, most everyday, most socially acceptable behavior. They come forth contageously during cocktail party  inauthenticity, in making blame, and in being right. They're particularly prevalent in the struggle to feel good  and in the drive to succeed. Free association thinking, a quintessentially human activity, is prime turf for deadly distractions. And blurring the line between the story  and the experience  is arguably the deadliest distraction of them all.

If you think you'll ever give up  deadly distractions, think again. Being human, you'll have deadly distractions forever. Hankering to give up deadly distractions is about as futile as hankering to give up your right eye. Resisting deadly distractions is about as futile as resisting your right eye. It's a law of nature that any behavior you resist persists (as Werner Erhard may have said). Rather than futilely attempting to give up deadly distractions or trying to resist them, instead take on distinguishing  them. Try on owning  them. See what happens when you tell the truth about them. Watch what occurs when you declare  them to your committed listeners and friends. As soon as you declare them, their inauthenticity starts to lose their grip. In its place a clear space comes forth in which the possibility of being anew can be invented.

Deadly distractions are weighed by and are measured against the distraction from and the compromise of presence of Self  and integrity. Being unclear on this concept  rendered the misinterpretation of the work of transformation which resulted in labeling the 1970s "The Me  Decade". In fact in this sense, "me"  is simply the equivalent of ego, another of the deadly distractions - deadly, that is, in the context in which I'm speaking. "Me"  is neither a source of power nor of compassion nor of making a difference. The being you really are is. Deadly distractions, from time to time, just get in the way.

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