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

Empty And Meaningless And Free

Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma Valley, California, USA

May 25, 2018

"I had the realization that what my life was about was really meaningless, it was empty, and this realization that the things that I thought were so significant like looking good and winning, just the normal things that I guess most people think are important, that they really had no importance, that it was all empty and meaningless. When I broke through the sadness, broke through the sense of despair of having wasted my life, I all of a sudden realized 'My God! I'm free!'."
...   speaking with Robyn Symon, Emmy award winning producer of Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, about the moment of transformation 
"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."
... Blaise Pascal

"We are so fond of being out in nature because it has no opinions about us."
... Friedrich Nietzsche
This essay, Empty And Meaningless And Free, is the third in a septology inspired by the distinction Empty And Meaningless: It is also the prequel to Sitting Quietly In A Room Alone.

It was written at the same time as

It's an existential  problem. No, it's not just an  existential problem: it's the  problem in existentialism. Yet it may only be a problem for existentialism because it doesn't go far enough. Oh? What does that mean  Laurence?

If you take a long enough hiatus from looking for meaning  (you know, the meaning of Life, the meaning of random events, the meaning of portents, and all the other usual gang of suspects), you may notice three things:

 1)  There is no meaning (that's why you can't find it, by the way - not because your search for meaning isn't diligent enough), and

2)  you're programmed to make up  meaning, and

3)  any meaning you make up, is on top of the underlying given: that it doesn't mean anything: Life is empty and meaningless.

Almost everyone has had at least a glimpse of Life's emptiness and meaninglessness. That's a problem for existentialism because Life's emptiness and meaninglessness makes our lives  empty and meaningless, and you and I can't stand  the idea of our lives being empty and meaningless. It's a real  problem. I mean what is  my life if it's empty and meaningless? And: if my life is empty and meaningless, then is it worth living?  Although asked with a dour outlook, both of those are actually great  questions - not for what they appear to indicate on the surface, but because of what they point at in the depths of the ensuing inquiry.

Look: if you really  get it, you'll notice there's nothing significant  about it being empty and meaningless. It's empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless  (making it mean something that it's empty and meaningless, is more arrogance). Now if you're an existentialist, that's even worse. My God, it's terrible!  It sounds like double jeopardy:  one "empty and meaningless" was bad enough, and now you expect me to accept there's two???  But that's  the existential problem that (quote unquote) "doesn't go far enough". When existentialism says Life is empty and meaningless, that's a problem, a burden. But Werner takes it further:  Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless  - and that's anything but  dour: it's an opportunity for great freedom, fountains of creativity, and unfettered joy.

How stunning  is it to realize that all of our yearnings and all of our endeavors to experience being whole, complete, and free, fly in the face of the possibility that the basic construction  of human being, is already whole and complete and free. In other words, we struggle blindly (and ironically) to be that which we already are. What's in the way of us experiencing being whole and complete and free, is twofold:

 1)  We've added layers upon layers of unnecessary meaning and significance to our lives, almost none of which are required, and almost none of which (tell the truth!) work for us. Yet we keep missing and / or denying the fact that they're self-made, and can therefore be self-erased - or at very least self-demoted.

2)  When we jettison all the significance, what's left is the experience of being empty  and meaningless. Given the way we're thrown, we can't fully confront the emptiness and the meaninglessness of it all. If we're ever going to confront it, what's required is we recontextualize  (I love  that word) what it is to be empty and meaningless. Recontextualizing that it's empty and meaningless, is how we get from "It's empty and meaningless" to "It's empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless.". If you're not just an existentialist but a smart  existentialist, you're now sitting bolt upright, wide awake, paying attention, and mouthing "Oh wow! OH wow! OH WOW!". Existentialists never had freedom like this - and the reason is they never took their problem far enough.

One more idea before completing this: freedom travels in straight lines and in disguise (I don't know why - it just does) hiding in plain sight. The disguise in which it's draped, is emptiness and meaninglessness. It's a very  effective disguise, so effective that it's no wonder we don't see it ie it's no wonder we don't see it at first. Wake up! Please don't stay blind to it for one second longer than is absolutely necessary. We're running out of time. Life is almost over.

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