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


Graduating From Doing To Being

Connolly Ranch, Browns Valley, California, USA

November 4, 2015



This essay, Graduating From Doing To Being, is the sixth in the septology Rosebud: I am indebted to Linda Zraik and to Paul Roth who inspired this conversation.



Being requires a muscle, a certain muscle, a muscle used not unlike a muscle for running or for lifting weights is used. A muscle works and continues working as long as it's exercised ie as long as you use it regularly. Yet it quickly becomes ineffective ie out of shape when you stop using it. I assert we stopped, for the most part, using our being muscle a long time ago, a supposition which is underlined and brought home each and every time there's a dearth in the quality of life. Given we're the authors of the quality of our lives, when there's a dearth in the quality of life, it's pretty convincing evidence our being muscle is out of shape.

There's being like existing. Then there's being like being present, like being alive. It's that  kind of being this conversation's about. We can put that kind of being into any environment - which is to say we can bring  our being to any experience. We can put who we are  into any space under any circumstances, regardless of whatever else is going on at the time. Exercising being (which is to say just ... being)  requires rehabilitating and exercising your being muscle (if you will). This idea of a "being muscle" is nothing new. And even if the idea  of a being muscle is new to you, its applicability isn't. Watch children play. They're fully engaged in doing. They're completely in action. Yet if you look closely, you can't help but notice all they're doing is being.

Those children were you and me once. All we did was play and be. And then we learned (Man! did we learn  ...) to get serious about life, to concentrate on doing, and to dismiss purely playing and being as a childish pursuit ie as something we were expected to wise up to, to get smart about, and to get over.

When we did that ie when we wised up to it, got smart about it, and got over it, we called it growing up. And dutifully grow up we did. Yet pretty soon it became obvious that the trouble with what we called growing up was in the process, we lost who we are. The cost  of growing up ie the price we paid  for growing up, was losing just being and the joy of simply playing and being who we are. And then  (if we tell the truth about it) we spent the rest of our lives from then on thinking about being (in one form or another) and trying to get it back  - or at least thinking about ways to get it back.

In the meantime, the world kept on grinding into us to forget about being, and to concentrate on doing and on learning how to do even more. Doing without being was always strangely unsatisfying - that is to say doing without being was s'posed  to satisfy yet it never did, did it? People who've done eveything, people who've achieved croesian  wealth yet who are famously dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and incomplete, are legion - perhaps they're best characterized by the William Randolph Hearst protagonist Charles Foster "Citizen" Kane who, at the end of his long, accomplished, milestone filled life, still famously wanted for one thing: his childhood toy, his sled Rosebud. Listen: on our deathbed is one heck of a place and time to start wondering whether or not a life lived only doing yet without being, was really worth it, yes?

Being is now. Being is here. It's not later when the current incident (whatever it is) is over. It's not soon when it's "a better time" and I'm more relaxed and have less on my plate, and fewer distractions, and when I can finally get around to it. It's not after a while when things have settled down. And it's not some place else where things look and feel different. It's now and it's here and it's with whatever's going on. If being requires a certain time, a particular place, a preferred condition or a specific qualification, then it's not being. Then it's a certain quieting maybe - but it's not being. Then it's a certain easing maybe - but it's not being. Then it's a certain relaxing maybe - but it's not being. Then it's a peak experience  maybe - but it's not being. If it's truly being, then it's being with whatever's going on (whatever it is) whenever it's going on and wherever it's going on, with whatever you're doing.

Graduating from doing to being is the next commitment, the next step worth taking - arguably it's the only  step which, when taken, really makes a lasting difference.



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