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


Devolution

Muir Beach, California, USA

October 31, 2008



This essay, Devolution, was written at the same time as
Werner Erhard directs a process which, of the myriads of processes he directs, captures my imagination as the  one which gets to the heart of the matter of what it is to be a human being.

To be sure, the heart of the matter of what it is to be a human being is like an infinitely-faceted jewel, each facet refracting infinite possibilities. So to assert one  process gets to to the heart of the matter of what it is to be a human being is certainly constraining the creative license. Yet for this conversation, citing just one process, indeed citing this  process specifically, is good enough for jazz.

The process goes something like this:

What's happening?

What's going on?

Tell me what you're experiencing right now.

The wind in your hair, the temperature on your skin, the different textures of your clothing, the tastes in your mouth, the damp smells of autumn in the air, the sounds of the evening traffic, what you're seeing, what you're hearing, what you're feeling (ie what you're emoting), what you're thinking (ie what thoughts are passing through), the entire multi-level multi-sensory gamut of your experience right now.

Tell me about it.

What's happening?

Right now.

Here's something to confront: if you told me what's happening with you right now, if you told me what you're experiencing right now, then you didn't do the process as I requested. Really!

Not doing the process as I requested doesn't mean you didn't listen to my request clearly. It doesn't mean you didn't get  my request. It doesn't even mean you didn't follow  my request. With regard to you saying what you're experiencing right now, I want you to get it's not possible for you to do it.

By the time you tell me what you're experiencing, it's after the fact. By the time you tell me what you're experiencing, you're not experiencing it anymore - it's over. By the time you tell me what you're experiencing, the experience you're describing is in the past. When you tell me what you're experiencing, you're not describing what you're experiencing. You're describing a concept  of what you were  experiencing, or you're describing a belief  in what you were  experiencing, or you're describing a memory  of what you were  experiencing. Or you're describing all of the above. But when you tell me what you're experiencing, the only thing you're not  describing is what you're experiencing. It's not possible to do that.

So you can never tell me what you're experiencing when you're experiencing it. All experience de-evolves ie devolves  quickly, immediately  in fact, to concept, belief, and memory.

This pull of devolution  is at the heart of the matter of what it is to be a human being. Knowing it won't enable you to survive better. You can't use it to make yourself into a better person. You can't change it ie you can't change that experience devolves this way - you can't stop it. And it's sheer futility to think you can fix  it. There's nothing to do about it. There's nothing you can  do about it. It's simply what's so.

Distinguishing devolution is as useful as distinguishing trees. If you don't distinguish trees, you collide with them when you run in the forest. Colliding with trees fills running with trepidation, reluctance, and the dread of powerlessness over un-workability, as well as giving rise to that certain look  on faces which results when chins, lips, cheeks, noses, and foreheads intersect suddenly, surprisingly ie hard  with trunks, bark, and branches.

What there is to get from distinguishing devolution  is secondarily the awareness of how your most cherished concepts, beliefs, and memories were laid down in the first place. Primarily, what there is to get from distinguishing devolution is the clarity of who you really  are. That's the real value of this distinction. That's this distinction's true worth. Distinguishing devolution (then setting it aside) reveals who you really are: senior  to, the context  for, the space of  concepts, beliefs, and memories, into which every one of your experiences (including this one you're experiencing right now) quickly and immediately ie unavoidably and inexorably  devolve.

It's been said the experience of transforming your life ie the experience of what it takes to transform your life, is characterized by distinguishing who you are as distinct from your concepts, beliefs, and memories ie by distinguishing who you are as distinct from the products of devolution. When you've distingished your concepts, beliefs, and memories, they're still your concepts, beliefs, and memories - only now, they can be clearly seen for what they are.

Living, analagous to running in the forest, gets much easier when you're no longer colliding with the trees.



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