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


Five Ways To Be With Being Hit On

Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 9, 2016

"There are certain things you can only know by creating them for yourself."  ...   quoted by Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist 
This essay, Five Ways To Be With Being Hit On, is the companion piece to Cause In The Matter.

It was written at the same time as Year Of The Tiger.

I am indebted to John Denver who inspired this conversation.




In the colloquial sense, being (quote unquote) hit on  doesn't refer to being struck, punched, or smacked - as if in a fist fight. Rather it refers to being targeted by sexual comments, innuendos, and / or advances which occur as unsolicited. Colloquially, being hit on is when mere flirting crosses the line. For the purposes of this conversation however, I'd like to extend the ambit of being hit on, to include any  circumstances in life which occur as unsolicited and even as unwanted, and to inquire into whether or not it's possible to be with anything  which happens to us which is unwanted ie whether or not it's possible to be with anything which happens to us against our will. So in this conversation at least, the ambit of being hit on is anything happening to us which is unsolicited, unwanted, and / or against our will.

The first thing to be clear about at the start of a conversation like this, is an effective  way of being with being hit on, results from a choice  we make when we're being hit on, and not from an expectation someone else imposes on us to not  be hit on. It doesn't work if I tell someone (like an order)  to get unstuck from having been hit on in the past (in any case, to do so would be callous, inhuman, and un-empathetic). Conversations about effective ways of being with being hit on, are only effective when they bring forth our choice in the matter. They gain power if, in participating in such conversations, we become willing to entertain the possibility of being cause in the matter of whatever's hitting on us. So there's a spectrum  here: it runs the whole gamut from playing the victim  in the matter of being hit on, to becoming source  of it ie to taking full responsibility for whatever's hitting on us.

Be careful: that doesn't mean there's absolute proof  you're cause in the matter of whatever's hitting on you. What it means is if you're willing to take on being cause in the matter of being hit on, freely like a choice ie like a stand, then extraordinary heretofore unthinkable  outcomes become possible.

I assert this is exactly what Werner's work provides: access to the heretofore unthinkable ie access to the heretofore unimaginable. The iteration of Werner's work as it is today (it's an ongoing, ever-unfolding work in progress), provides vast openings (gaping holes  if you will) from which new future possibilities emerge. Yet it's also unerringly effective in clearing up  whatever happened in the past - no matter how violent, no matter how horrific. For example, it's possible to disappear the violence of having been raped (yes it is) like a choice. It's even possible to disappear the horror of having been incarcerated in a Nazi extermination camp (yes it is) like a choice. Listen: now we're talking about traumas everyone knows  are impossible  (or at least extremely difficult)  to get over. And yet for the people who've experienced Werner's work and who've taken this on, it's become possible.



Five Ways



Here are five ways to be with being hit on (as defined earlier as anything happening to you, in the past or the present, which is unsolicited, unwanted, and / or against your will), the first two of which cede your power to whatever's hitting on you, and the last three of which leave you with successively greater power over whatever's hitting on you:


 1)  Play the victim.

Telling the truth that you're playing the victim of whatever's hitting on you, is the entry point into this inquiry into what other possible ways there are to be with being hit on. There's no possibility  in playing the victim, even though it's likely you'll garner a lot of agreement  from many people of good will, that you're the victim. Bear in mind however, that most (if not all) of the agreement will come from those who also have no possibility of playing anything other than the victim, indeed from those who, given even the slightest  insight into the possibility of not  playing the victim, would reach for it with open arms.

The idea in this conversation is to look and see whether or not it's possible to not play the victim of whatever's hitting on you. If you take on freely like a choice ie like a stand, that something else is possible other than playing the victim, that's what's required to begin the process of just being with being hit on. And when you can just be  with being hit on, then you've begun the process of becoming free of whatever's hitting on you.

Playing the victim cedes the power of determining what you do, to whatever's hitting on you.


 2)  Avoid what's hitting on you.

Run away from it. Hide from it. Avoid it. These are the easiest ways out, yes? But they come with a cost: the cost is they ensure it's what's hitting on you which determines your life. It's what's hitting on you which determines the actions you take to avoid being hit on. It's what's hitting on you which has the power to determine what you do. It's worse than that actually. It's that even in avoiding what's hitting on you, you're still ceding the power to determine what you do, to whatever's hitting on you, and that's a mere split-hair's breadth away from playing the victim of it.

Be careful: there's a martial arts  edict which has it that the best defense is not being where the blow lands. This isn't that. There's no mastery in running away from, in hiding from, in avoiding being hit on. By avoiding it, you cede your power to whatever it is that's hitting on you. In the martial arts edict, you keep your power by not being where the blow lands. There's a world of difference between the two.


 3)  Create the space for it (accept it's there).

Creating the space for something to be (which is to say accepting it's there), is the token required to get in through the turnstile of being with whatever's hitting on you. It's essential  to beginning the process of being free of whatever's hitting on you. You allow it to be so it  allows you  to be. If I can't or am unable to or am unwilling to accept what's hitting on me, then all that's available is to me is to play the victim of it, or to run away from it, or to hide from it, or to try to avoid it ie to resist it. Creating the space for it ie accepting it's there, is a requirement  if I'm going to recover my power over it. Creating the space for it ie accepting it's there, begins the process of regaining mastery over whatever's hitting on me.

It's a pragmatic thing. There's no conclusive proof to be had ahead of time that creating the space for whatever's hitting on you, works. And there's no explanation for why  it works either. So you can't first weigh up  whether or not it's worth doing. Creating the space for it ie accepting whatever's hitting on you is there, doesn't come with any guarantees. It's one of those things you can only know by creating them for yourself. Creating the space for whatever is hitting on you to be, starts the process of regaining your power. In other words, doing it is its own proof.


 4)  Move in close to it.

You could move in close to it (I mean that both literally as well as figuratively). You could take its hand and hold it (that's both charming and disarming). You could get into a dance with it (that's unexpected). Sure, in the heat of the moment when something's hitting on you, each of these three options may seem counter-intuitive (the intuitive options are to play the victim and / or to avoid what's hitting on you ie to get as far away from it as possible). So moving in close to it, holding its hand (both literally as well as figuratively speaking), and getting into a dance with it, are game-changers.

But it's more than they're game-changers just because they bring the unexpected to the situation at hand. It's more than they're game-changers just because they bring the counter-intuitive to the situation at hand. They're game-changers because they're the next step towards recovering your power from whatever's hitting on you ie they're the next step in regaining mastery over whatever's hitting on you. They're game-changers because moving in close to whatever's hitting on you, taking its hand and holding it, and getting into a dance with it aren't the acts of a victim.

Gee! I hope you get that ...

This is a very subtle, brilliant approach (thank you Werner!): rather than trying to alleviate the circumstances in which you're being hit on, simply bring forth actions which are the epitome of not being a victim  of what's hitting on you. And given the power play  which is often the raison d'etre  for what's hitting on you, taking actions consistent with not being its victim, is enough to regain your power over what's hitting on you. Taking actions consistent with not being the victim of what's hitting on you, also continues the momentum of regaining mastery.


 5)  Become the source of it (take full responsibility for it).

*** SPOILER ALERT!  ***: the way to regain power and mastery over whatever's hitting on you, is to become the source of it ie to take full responsibility for it.

No, this doesn't mean you take the blame  for it. It's closer to say that you take on becoming the source of your experience  of it ie that you take full responsibility for your experience of it - which includes taking full responsibility for being in the situation in which you're being hit on (here, "being in the situation" implies both "being physically present in the situation" as well as "experiencing the situation"). And you were there. And you did experience it. There's no blame in that. It happened.

There's no secret to becoming the source of what's hitting on you ie there's no secret to taking full responsibility for it. And if there were  a secret to taking full responsibility for it, it's to not confuse being responsible  for what happened, with taking the blame  for what happened. You take responsibility for being there and for experiencing it. And again, you were  there, and you did  experience it. There's no blame in that. It's what happened. Becoming the source of what's hitting on you ie taking full responsibility for being hit on, is what allows heretofore unthinkable outcomes to become possible ie it's what allows heretofore unimaginable outcomes to become possible. This is Werner's work, the possibility of heretofore unthinkable, unimaginable outcomes becoming possible.

Now I'm clear this approach may not be for the faint hearted. However, given the choice of either being hit on, or of regaining power and mastery over whatever's hitting on us, it's an approach that's worthy of consideration. For those who've taken it on, it works. It's even worked in cases of being hit on in violent, horrific ways (see my account in the next section titled Proof By Extreme). And it certainly works in ordinary day to day situations which aren't quite so arduous.


Proof By Extreme



I was with Werner when he worked with a woman who had survived being incarcerated in a Nazi extermination camp. Most of her family in there with her weren't so lucky. Tortured pain was quite understandably etched deep into her face. It was clear it had been etched there for many, many years.

I'm a surfer. I know what I like to surf. I like to surf warm, glassy, five to six foot playful left point breaks on which I can noseride and let the feathering curl part my hair. But when I watch thirty foot Banzai Pipeline  tubes thunder in to the north shore on O'ahu Hawai'i, or when I'm mesmerized as icy forty foot dark green monsters pound Mavericks  off California's Half Moon Bay, I know my limitations.

I had a sense I could make a difference with her. But when I realized it would mean taking the conversation for being cause in the matter, all the way to her being cause in the matter of being in a Nazi extermination camp, frankly I balked. I know my limitations.

But then again, I'm not Werner. Werner took the conversation with her, all the way to her being cause in the matter of being in a Nazi extermination camp.

When she got she was cause in the matter (and she did  get it!) her whole face changed. The tortured look just fell from her face. Actually that says it waaay  too mildly: forty years  of tortured look just vanished. You could see she finally had closure. She was radiant.

I had just witnessed a quiet miracle. Something had just taken place that simply could not  have taken place. Something had happened which simply wasn't possible.

I'll never forget Werner's comment to the group after she thanked him.


        SHE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING THERE. IT'S THAT GOD-DAMNED  SIMPLE!




Postscript:

The presentation, delivery, and style of Five Ways To Be With Being Hit On are all my own work.

The ideas recreated in Five Ways To Be With Being Hit On were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by Werner Erhard, then presented by him on The Tonight Show hosted by John Denver on Monday September 24, 1973.

Don't be perturbed by the near forty three year time differential. These ideas are timeless. Indeed, their impact happens out of  time.




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© Laurence Platt - 2016 Permission