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


Doing To Not Be

Rutherford House, Rutherford Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

August 1, 2014



"The unexamined life is not worth living." ... Socrates
"An untransformed life is not worth living."  ... 


Being is what we are. Being is what we express. One way or another. No exceptions.

We human beings spend an inordinate amount of time doing things in order to avoid being  (that's my assertion) which is to say we spend an inordinate amount of time doing things in order to avoid the experience of being, in order to avoid experiencing what we ordinarily experience in the day to day business of being alive. It's crazy. I started noticing this about us at about the same time as I started noticing it about myself. Gradually it dawned on me how much of the many seemingly innocuous activities I engage in are (if the truth be told) designed to avoid being. It's truly crazy: being alive yet avoiding being.

I don't know why  we avoid experiencing being. I don't know why I  avoid experiencing being. I don't know why we're that way. We're just that way. Now I've started looking at exactly where I avoid being, at what I do to avoid being. I've started discerning everyday actions which are based solely on avoiding being, as differentiated from those grounded in being. I'm really not interested in why we avoid being (that is, whenever we do) - to tell you the truth, I've never found "Why?"  inquiries to be powerful. Rather I'm simply interested in distinguishing what I do to avoid being, then looking to see whether or not I'm willing to give up doing it - whatever it is.

One of the most arduous tasks I've ever set myself is taking stock of everything I do in order to avoid being ie making an inventory of everything I do which has the specific purpose of avoiding experiencing what we ordinarily experience in the day to day business of being alive. For me, this process is an essential component of the commitment to live authentically, a crucial part of being committed to living an examined life. Living an examined life requires me to be authentic about where I'm being inauthentic  (as Werner Erhard may have said).

Any behavior which falls into the category of behavior designed to avoid being, is what I call "Doing to not be". Now it's perhaps true that this particular phrase I've coined "doing to not be" is inelegant, unrefined, and even arguably grammatically bruised. So I want you to know I reviewed it over and over again before I set it in stone as the title for this essay. When it first occurred to me as "doing to not be", it was good enough for jazz  though it called for some refinement. I experimented with various alternate forms. But in the end I'm back to square one (first thoughts are the thoughts of genius), staying with it the way it first occurred to me in its rough cut form. And now, having fully fleshed it out, I see it can be no other way: it is  "doing to not be" - that's the form that does say it best.

"Doing to not be" refers only secondarily to the things I do to avoid experiencing being. Primarily it refers to the crazy state of affairs in which we human beings do things in order to avoid experiencing being, at all. And the only questions worth asking in this regard are "Am I willing to give it up?" and "Am I willing to not  do to not be?" and "Am I willing to experience being, with nothing in the way?"  and "Am I willing to experience being, naked?"  (notice that's "being, naked"  which is not the same as "being naked" - it's a subtle difference) and "Am I willing to experience being, unmitigated?".

Of course the answer to all of the above, is yes - at least my  answer to all of the above is yes. Actually: is there any other option? Not for me, there isn't. And I'm going out on a limb here: I'll bet you good money there's no other option for you either, if you tell the truth about it. Anything other than yes is 1000% incompatible with transformation.

Here then is (at least some of)  my inventory of doing to not be:

Over-eating, sleeping late, veging  out, gossiping (gossiping is arguably the #1 most effective way  to avoid being), not exercising, overindulgence in alcohol (consuming more than that with which it's safe to drive a car, is overindulgence), opting for computer games (or any digital passtime like texting, Facebook-ing, Instagraming-ing, e-mailing etc) over face to face  conversation (social media is not  communication).

Now listen: I didn't say there's anything wrong  with eating too much (on occasion), sleeping in, another glass of wine, or playing Solitaire. So if you're following this conversation as if I'm opining about doing the right  thing as opposed to doing the wrong  thing, then you're missing the point entirely. Rather this is about the possibility of taking on and telling the truth unflinchingly  about whether anything we do, whatever we do, no matter how benign, is really something we do in order to avoid being, is really something we do in order to avoid experiencing  being ie is really something we're doing to not be  - hence the phrase.

If it is, if it is avoiding being, then I have a choice, you have a choice, we have a choice: to give it up ... or not.



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