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


Endless Day

Milliken Creek, Napa Valley, California, USA

December 16, 2011



"If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." ... Ludwig Wittgenstein

This essay, Endless Day, is the companion piece to
  1. One Day
  2. One Day One Life: A Reflection On Time
in that order.

I am indebted to Dr Robert Lee "Bob" Culver who inspired this conversation, and to George Swan who contributed material.




There's a lot to do. You've got a lot to do. I've got a lot to do. That's not a burden. It's an opportunity.

When I prioritize what there is for me to do and in what order I'll do it (and I don't just mean what there is for me to do today  - I mean what there is for me to do in Life  - I mean the totality of what my life is about), filtering it all through "I've only got one life to live" is a good way of tightening up the range of priorities. It's a good way of narrowing down what the worthwhile choices are. Filtering priorities through "I've only got one life to live" is a good way of focusing whatever's in front of me.

"... whatever's in front of me"?  What exactly does that mean? This  is what's in front me. This  is what there is for me to do. Focusing it through "I've only got one life to live" takes all the guesswork  away from what there is to do ie from whatever's in front of me. It takes all the figuring out  away from what (if I may risk saying it this way) I'm meant  to do. It alleviates our fascination with discovering our purpose  in Life. Saying "I've only got one life to live" brings my purpose in Life into sharp focus. Simply put, my purpose in Life is to live my life. Said more pointedly, my purpose in Life is to live my life fully. And if this sounds like  living life selfishly  (small  "ess"), it's actually not possible to go very far in transformation avoiding living a life fully in service  to others and to Life itself, given at some point the hard line between self  (small "ess") and The Self  (big "ess") blurs.

Simply put, my purpose in Life is to live this  life. My purpose in Life is to live the only life I've got. My purpose in Life is to live the one life I've got. Everything else comes from this. Another way of saying this is: Everything else falls out of  this.

Now, there's one problem with "I've only got one life to live". The problem with "I've only got one life to live" is its built in implication  there's really more than one  life to live.

How so? Here's how:

In Zen, I can't say "... only got one ..."  without calling into possibility many, many  more than one, yes? If you have any doubt about the always implied Zen complement  (in this case, the "only one"  to "many"  implied complement), then try this:

Do not  think of a blue monkey ... do not think of a blue monkey ... do not think of a blue monkey ... promise  me you won't think of a blue monkey ...

See what I mean?

So I need to be very clear exactly what's implied when I say "I've only got one life to live". When I say "I've only got one life to live", I need to be very clear exactly which  life (of the implied possible many) I'm talking about.

Firstly, I have a life of simple physical existence. By virtue of waking up in the morning breathing with my heart beating, I have a life. Yet as basic as this life is ie as primal  as this life is, it's not the life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live". I have a life as the writer  of Conversations For Transformation. As committed as I am to it, it's not the life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live". I have a life as a father. As high priority as it is for me, it's not the life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live". I have a life as an American citizen  living in these United States. As urgent as it is (dare I say as demanding  as it is?), it's not the life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live".

The latter three examples (and others unspoken) are simply roles  I play as I act the ever evolving part of Laurence Platt  in the show called "My Life"  on the Broadway theatre stage called Planet Earth. None of them are the life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live".

Furthermore, in any conversation centered on the premise "I've only got one life to live", reincarnation  is bound to enter the frame front and center stage  sooner or later. And in any conversation centered on the premise "I've only got one life to live", the so-called "after life"  is sure to come into the picture sooner or later, also vying for attention. None of the lives suggested by reincarnation (with its embedded notion of many lives both before  as well as after  this life), nor this life followed by another "after life" (fraught, depending on whom you listen to, with either agony or bliss) offset or conflict with the premise "I've only got one life to live".

When I say "I've only got one life to live", it's none of the above. What then is this only one life to live  referred to in the premise "I've only got one life to live"?

In order to get which life I'm referring to when I say "I've only got one life to live", I'll start with the notion I've got more than one life  to live: my primal physical existence, the life of a writer, the life of a father, the life of a citizen, and more.

<aside>

I'll also include reincarnated lives before and after this one. I'll also include an after life.

But while I can 'fess up  to having primal physical existence, and the life of a writer, and the life of a father, and the life of a citizen, and more, the question of reincarnated lives before and after this one, and the question of an after life following this one, are open inquiries  for me - which is to say I personally have no direct experience  of them. However neither do I reject them as occurring in another person's experience - that is, if another person says  they occur in their experience.

I prefer to say this: in terms of "I've only got one life to live", they're not pivotal for me. In fact, in terms of "I've only got one life to live", neither reincarnated lives nor an after life are powerful distinctions for me.

<un-aside>

If I look at each of these "lives", I could consider each of them like a day. As each day ends, so each life ends. At the end of each day is a transition period (in which it may or may not  be useful to include death), a period of sleep, a night, before the start of the next day, before the start of the next life. But I'm not looking at these lives when I say "I've only got one life to live". I'm not looking at the lives which end like a day ends. I'm looking at the Life which is like an endless  day. I'm looking at the Life in whose perimeter all other lives show up. I'm looking at the Life which is the context  for all the other lives. I'm looking at the Life which is the stage on which all the reincarnated lives come and go, and come and go. I'm looking at the Life which is the stage on which both this  life and the after life  play.

This is the endless day, the Life which lasts for all eternity. This is the endless day, the Life which was here before anything else showed up. This is the endless day, the Life which will be here after everything else is gone. This is the endless day called Life  as distinct from my  life, as distinct from your  life. This is the endless day, the Life before all lives, the Life during all lives, the Life after all lives (reincarnation), the Life which includes both this life and the next life (after life), the Life to which I refer when I say "I've only got one life to live".

Now, there's one ironclad distinction for the endless day Life as in "I've only got one life to live", for the endless day Life which precedes all lives and succeeds all lives (reincarnation), for the endless day Life which precedes this life and succeeds the next life life (after life), which is worth anything. It's that the endless day Life can only be lived right here  (wherever you are), and the endless day Life can only be lived right now  (whatever time and date it is wherever you are) in successive moments of now  ... and now  ... and now  ... and now  ... and now. That's the world in a grain of sand, and eternity in an hour (as William Blake may have said).

That's vast. But lest this vast becomes too significant  (which really means if you and I make  it too significant), it's important to see there's a "So what?!"  in this vast (there's a "So what?!" to be seen in any  vast actually). And the "So what?!" in this  vast, the "So what?!" in this endless day is this:

In living the endless day Life as the only Life there is to live, which is to say in living my life as Life itself, which is to say in living my life as the context for all other lives and for Life itself, which is to say in living the Life which has no breaks like an endless day, which is to say in living my life as referred to in the premise "I've only got one life to live", I still need to pay my bills - and on time. I still need to play by the rules. I still need to abide by the laws of the land. I still need to pay attention to the details. I still need to be responsible. I still need to make my bed and wash the dishes and take out the trash. I still need to remember to floss.



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