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




Dealing With Life:

A Tale Of Two Contexts

Marriott Hotel Lobby, Napa, California, USA

November 13, 2014



"The set of conditions that constitutes a situation you are dealing with includes not only what is ordinarily thought of as 'the facts', but just as importantly includes the way of being and acting of the people who are involved in the situation and of the people who are dealing with the situation. In addition, the conditions that constitute a situation you are dealing with include what outcomes are seen as possible, and what show up as possible actions for realizing those outcomes. The way in which all of the foregoing occurs for one depends on the context one has for that situation."
 ... 
I am indebted to Steve Zaffron who inspired this conversation, and to Reg Leonard who contributed material.




You won't get exactly the same answer from everyone - that I promise you. If you ask people to share the one essential idea they got (ie they get)  from participating in Werner's work, I'll bet you good money their responses are going to cover a wide spectrum. Transformation, to be sure, is the ballpark, the general arena in which most of their shares will occur. But the specifics, the particular distinctions, the exact ideas and manifestations of the way transformation shows up  for each person, will assuredly be prioritized differently from person to person. And there are millions  of people who have participated in Werner's work worldwide.

So if I were to proffer one such distinction from my own experience of the way transformation shows up for me, while it'll probably resonate with many other graduates of Werner's work and with many people who aren't graduates of Werner's work, I don't expect all people will necessarily assign it the same value as I do.

That said, the essential idea I get from participating in Werner's work is the difference between content  (the conditions, the circumstances, the what happens  as I'm dealing with life) and context  (the space  in which what happens, shows up). And the truth is before I participated in Werner's work for the first time, I had no idea there was a difference. Gee! I didn't even know there was such a distinction as context, and I certainly didn't know I had "space" (whatever that meant). What I did know about ie what I could articulate and distinguish, was the content (for which I didn't yet have the word "content"), the conditions, the circumstances, the what happens  in my life. What I didn't yet know about ie what I couldn't articulate and didn't distinguish, was the context, the space in which what happens, shows up. At that time I had it that what happened, happened to me, and I also had it that I had no say in the matter. At that time I didn't realize there were other possibilities.

I didn't get it then (but I do get it now) that until I differentiated between content and context, I would be left quite literally powerless over the conditions and circumstances in my life. Furthermore, I didn't get then that without distinguishing context, all that was available to me was to react to, to resist, to try to change, and to improve (which is just another form of resist and try to change) the conditions and circumstances in my life. And trying to do that, I noticed (much to my chagrin, although I never told the whole truth about it) was always a losing battle.

Contrary to what we're thrown to believe, contrary to the hopes and dreams cherished by our culture (and by most of the cultures on our planet, I assume), there's very little power and there's very little mastery anyone has over the conditions and circumstances in their life. The universe just keeps on unfolding as it always does, however it always does. A life pitted against the universe as it keeps on unfolding as it always does however it always does, has about as much power over the conditions and circumstances as the bouncing ball in a penny arcade bagatelle  game. Even though I got that (which is to say even though I suspected  it), I just couldn't bring myself to admit it. Be it the truth or not, I cherished the belief that it wasn't supposed to be that way. To me that justified avoiding confronting it.

Power and mastery, you could say, only became possible for me when I could distinguish there's a context I have for the conditions and circumstances in my life. What's more, power and mastery only became possible for me when I became open to the idea that the context I have for the conditions and circumstances, is created by me, unlike the conditions and circumstances themselves which aren't created by me.

To venture into the realm of context is to venture into the realm of real, profound power (Thank You Werner). Once in the realm of context, which is to say once in the inquiry  into the possibility  of context, I started noticing there is, for any set of conditions and circumstances in my life, not one but two  contexts.

First there's the default  context. The default context is determined by the past, by what I've already learned  about any set of earlier conditions and circumstances, by what my brain now dictates  I should do in any set of similar conditions and circumstances (an assertion, by the way, which is now proved by the latest advances and research in neuroscience). The default context determines my interactions with any particular set of conditions and circumstances, and consequently the way I (predictably, repeatedly, over and over and over again) deal with them.

Distinguishing the default context for any set of conditions and circumstance in my life, was the start of my taking responsibility for the (predictable) outcomes of the conditions and circumstances. Once I became willing to be responsible for the default context for any set of conditions and circumstances, it became possible for me to create a new unpredictable discontiguous  context for any set of conditions and circumstances. And notice the idea of creating a new unpredictable discontiguous context for ourselves, isn't far-fetched at all. Isn't creating a context what we always do? Isn't creating a context what we're really good at doing?  Isn't creating a context what we always did, unknowingly or knowingly, when we created the default context for any set of conditions and circumstance in our lives, in the first place?

So this created context for any set of conditions and circumstances in my life, is the second  context for any set of conditions and circumstances. It actually occurs alongside yet prior to  the default context for any set of conditions and circumstances. Ergo  for any set of conditions and circumstances I'm dealing with, there's not one but two contexts: the default context, and (the possibility of) a new unpredictable discontiguous created context.

Listen: more than the default context for any set of conditions and circumstances I'm dealing with, the created context (indeed our ability at all times in all conditions under all circumstances, to create any  context we choose) is the accessable source of our power and mastery in dealing with life.

It's really dirt simple. Dealing well with life at the level of content (conditions and circumstances) is essential if we're going to function coherently in the world. Yet only  dealing with life at the level of conditions and circumstances, is devoid of any responsibility for them and for the way they show up for us. It's also devoid of any real power and mastery over them. To develop real power and mastery over the conditions and circumstances in life, consider dealing with life at the level of context.

Dealing with life at the level of the default context is a start: it allows the advent of responsibility and of taking responsibility for the way conditions and circumstances show up in our lives. But it's dealing with life at the level of ie coming from  a freely created unpredictable discontiguous context for all conditions and circumstances, which is the genesis  of real power, mastery, and leadership across the board in dealing with life.


Postscript:
The presentation, delivery, and style of Dealing With Life: A Tale Of Two Contexts are all my own work.
The ideas recreated in Dealing With Life: A Tale Of Two Contexts were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by  .


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