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




Everything's New Yet Nothing's Changed:

The Implication

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

November 7, 2017



"I have to be willing to accept the possibility that I wasted my life on what I have stood for and keep standing for it as my word."  ... 
"It's entirely appropriate for persons interested in est  to be interested also in Zen."  ... 
This essay, Everything's New Yet Nothing's Changed: The Implication, is the seventeenth in a group of eighteen on Nothing: Is is also the eleventh in an open group on Zen: I am indebted to Anne Peterson who contributed material for this conversation.



If, when you consider participating in Werner's work for the first time, you were to ask me what you'll get out of it (looking to me to cast the deciding vote), I would say "Nothing!". Many of us will struggle with a Zen answer like that. We'll go straight from "Well, if I'll get nothing  out of it ..." to "... then why bother?"  real fast.

Mostly, when we consider investing our time in something, it's a given  we expect to get something in return. It's unnatural (and by "unnatural" here I mean counter‑intuitive)  to go ahead ie to sally forth into new territory knowing  we'll get nothing from our venture (ordinarily we don't consider nothing  to be valuable).

What does it even mean  "to get nothing out of participating in a new venture"? The answer, it would seem, could occur in one of three realms. The first is you'd "get nothing out of it" could imply it would prove to be a waste of your time: "I got nothing out of it: it was a waste of my time.". The second is you'd "get nothing out of it" could imply you'd discover the distinction "nothing" by participating in it: "I got nothing  out of it: in it, I discovered what nothing  really is.". Just notice this  "nothing" in this sense, isn't merely another something  - "nothing" in this sense ... is ... really ... just ... nothing.

<first aside>

Some people, unable to tolerate nothing as nothing, will cleverly try to make "nothing" mean "no-thing"  - as in "I got nothing out of it: I got no thing  out of it.".

Don't do that.

Rather, sit with nothing as nothing  in your lap - like a hot brick.

<un-aside>

"Nothing" in this sense, is really very Zen. To discover nothing  is the holy grail of Zen.

<second aside>

Yes of course, describing anything as the "holy grail" of Zen epitomizes the pernicious trap known as the "stink  of Zen".

But for now, it'll do. Here it's good enough for jazz.

<un-aside>

The third is you'd "get nothing out of it" could imply there's nothing to get:  "I got nothing out of it: there's nothing to get:  THIS is IT!". There's nothing to figure out, there's nothing to realize, there's nothing to attain (you know, exactly the way we don't  live life, yes?). This  kind of nothing is the hardest to describe because every description of it, drives it back into the realm where "nothing" is another something. No, this  nothing ... is ... really  ... really ... nothing  (Man! that's slippery ...). Here's what's totally awesome  about this: if there's nothing to get, then you and I are already  whole and complete (and perfect) exactly the way we are and exactly the way we aren't with nothing needed to be added and nothing needed to be taken away or changed (now that's  a platform from which to look at what's possible!).

Speaking unflinchingly, when I say "There's nothing to get" (that's "nothing" in the third realm), what comes up from time to time is a concern: what if getting there's nothing to get, is an error?  What if getting there's nothing to get, is wrong?  What if it's a mistake?  What if it's (plainly and simply) just foolish?  There are other issues too, like when I say "Since I got nothing, everything's new yet nothing's changed", I'm really dealing with two  nothings (follow me on this): the nothing I got as nothing, and the nothing that (hasn't) changed (it's complicated) (keep your eye on the former nothing, the nothing I got as nothing:  I'll refer to it again next).

What resolves the concern for me is this: realizing when I say "There's nothing to get", it's a linguistic act  ie it's a "speech act". In other words, it's only so because I say so, and it's only so as long as  I say so. Consider in transformation, "nothing" is the coin of the realm  (that's actually a very good analogy: it does me no good to deal in counterfeit coin, just as it does me no good to deal in counterfeit nothing). When I, standing in transformation, say "Everything's new yet nothing's changed", I'm presencing my experience of nothing as nothing. How? By constituting it in language. If nothing  is constituted anywhere else, then it's nothing as just another something. And as soon as I'm no longer saying it (which is to say as soon as I'm no longer standing for it), "nothing" goes back to being just another "something", and it's possible I wasted all the time I invested in bringing forth nothing as nothing. Without me standing for it (which is to say without me speaking it ongoingly), it has no persistence, no existence at all. (Gee! I hope you get that.) I keep speaking it because I said I would. When I do, "Everything's new yet nothing's changed.".

And now, this question: when I, standing in transformation, say "Everything's new yet nothing's changed", what is this "new" element in everything, when nothing's changed, in transformation? Consider this (not like it's the truth  because that will ruin it quickly, but rather like a "What if  ..." ie like a maybe):  this "new" element is the allowing of the presence of true Self  - that is to say it is  the presence of true Self. It's the possibility of who we really are, being. The implication is when nothing is another something, there's no possibility  of who we really are, being (listen: don't believe that because I said it: rather try it on for size for yourself to see if it fits).

That's very Zen too. And it's entirely appropriate for persons interested in transformation to be interested also in Zen (as Werner Erhard may have said).



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