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


Happy Memories, Great Feelings

Washington DC, USA

September 20, 2009



This essay, Happy Memories, Great Feelings, was conceived at the same time as

The Walk To Paradise Garden
Photography by William Eugene Smith
Ahhh!  ... the happy memories and all those great feelings  from the yesterdays.

Unexamined, the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays are the undertow, the backwash we rail against yet can't get enough of, which inexorably drags us back into the past. Examined, the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays are simply the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays.

That's more than just clever Zen wordplay. Unexamined happy memories and great feelings from the yesterdays (in other words, the good old days  syndrome) not only get in the way of today  and now  being an open new source of happiness and greatness. It's worse than that. The undertow from the good old days  syndrome skews  away from looking to the future  as a source of happiness and greatness. When that happens, there's nothing to look forward to. Literally, there's no future worth living into. When there's no future worth living into, life and all the tomorrows simply and unbearably just creep on in this petty pace  (as William Shakespeare may have said).

When the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays are simply the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays, not only is today / now / the present  freed up to originate new  happy memories and great feelings, but - smarter yet - so is the future. In other words, when the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays are simply the happy memories and all those great feelings from the yesterdays, there's an open future worth living into. It's no longer only the past  which is drawn from for happy memories and great feelings. When only the past  is drawn from for happy memories and great feelings, that's what's called hankering.

I'd like to examine happy memories and great feelings - twice. Once, as they are in childhood. Then again, as they are in adulthood.

It's a paradox. Childhood's happy memories and great feelings aren't tempered by anything. There isn't anything in the way. We create them, and we know how  to create them. But it's not devious knowing. It's not figuring out  knowing. It's not clever  knowing. The truth is children don't have adult  knowing. Children have natural  knowing. They have Zen mind ie beginner's  mind.

As children, we may not be able to articulate how  we naturally create happy memories and those great feelings. But then again, we don't need to. In childhood, happy memories and those great feelings come easily, effortlessly, spontaneously. Yet in adulthood when there's infinitely more freedom of expression, when there's infinitely more freedom of choice, when there's infinitely more freedom of movement than in childhood (we can say  what we want, we can do  what we want with whom we want, we can go  where we want when we want), our innate knowing, our natural  knowing the source of great feelings, is often tempered, is occasionally blurred, and is sometimes even buried entirely. They appear to be less available or even not available at all.

Less freedom in childhood. Yet more happy memories, more great feelings. More freedom in adulthood. Yet less access to the source of, to the ability to create, on demand, happy memories and great feelings. They happen when they happen, to be sure, yet less easily, less effortlessly, less spontaneously than in childhood when freedom was in shorter supply.

That's the paradox.

Here's a suggestion for resolving the paradox: consider that around the time it became a paradox, that's when you stopped keeping your future open. That's when you stopped seeing possibility in front of you. With no possibility in sight in your future, that's when you started relying on the happy memories and great feelings from your past to carry over  into your present and into your future. That's what's known as resting on laurels. Resting on laurels may work briefly, temporarily, interimly. But ultimately, resting on laurels doesn't work. It's more than that, actually. When it comes to living life powerfully, when it comes to living a life you love, when it comes to being fully Self expressed and living into a future worth living into of your own creation, resting on laurels can't  work.

Furthermore, since the happy memories and great feelings from your past have already happened  and are therefore static  and non-regenerative, expecting them to carry over into your present and into your future is what's known as coming from scarcity.
Werner Erhard distinguishes a resolution (it's a correction, actually) for this state of affairs, for this false sense of scarcity. It's to put the past in the past  rather than in the future. Like any stroke of brilliance, in hindsight it's obvious  the past belongs in the past and not in the future. But then again, hindsight is always 20/20 vision.

With the past in the past, there's only open space, only possibility  in the future. That's when the future is wide open. That's when anything you create as a possibility and stand for happening, can happen.

If you look, you may notice that's what we once naturally knew as children when we still had untainted Zen mind, beginner's mind. That's what we once naturally knew as children, and then forgot or became too clever and too sophisticated to continue to know as adults. We forgot the joy in life, the source of all those happy memories and great feelings we have, is the possibility of what could happen, rather than what's already happened.

I wonder: was this the original intention of the massively misinterpreted "Lest ye be as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."?



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