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

Holding Down The Floor

Maxwell Bridge, Napa Valley, California, USA

July 10, 2014

"You're doing a great job holding down the floor, Sweetheart!"  ... 
This essay, Holding Down The Floor, is the companion piece to
  1. Showing Up
  2. On Misconstruing Enlightenment
in that order.

I am indebted to Charlie Hayes who inspired this conversation.

Any time and any way I phrase what enlightenment is, or if I'm giving my opinion about whether or not it's available if you don't retire to a cave or to a monastery, it's fraught with peril. That's because phrasing it invokes so much already always listening  / belief / concept that it's almost totally impossible for me to get a clear shot at it. Well ... almost  totally impossible.

Knowing these odds, it may be better for me to not say what I'm about to say at all. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained  (as Benjamin Franklin may have said) - so here goes:

One of the fundamentals of this internet series of Conversations For Transformation is distinguishing between (which is to say is tackling differentiating  between) already always listening / belief / concept, and experience. With this in mind, it could be said when I'm enlightened I've come into my experience of myself  - where "coming into" and "experience" are the operative words. You could also say this is transformation.


Is transformation enlightenment?

"Enlightenment" says Werner "has eastern connotations  which I don't require.".

He prefers enunciating the experience as transformation and doesn't use the term "enlightenment" at all.


Whatever you call it when you get it, it's so blindingly obvious  in hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision). And we (being the subject of the great cosmic joke) get it, then lose it, then get it again, then lose it again, then get it again over and over and over. It's slippery. God! It's so slippery!  We get it and then we conceptualize / intellectualize it, and so we lose it again. If we got then lost how we tie our shoelaces as often as we get then lose coming into our experience of ourselves, we'd spend all our waking hours tripped up and on the floor.

It doesn't matter why  we insist on looking at things through the twin lenses of concept and intellect, suffice to say we do (we're thrown  that way). There's nothing wrong with looking at things that way. But that's the great cosmic joke of which we're the butt: we insist  on conceptualizing and intellectualizing things, regardless of the fact that we already know  conceptualizing and intellectualizing everything is what keeps us stuck. We say there's gotta be a meaning. We say there's gotta be an explanation. We say there's gotta be something that causes all this. We say there's gotta be someone to blame ("The drive through  made the coffee too hot, so when I bought a cup and balanced it on my knee while I was driving and it spilled and scalded me, it was the drive through's  fault - they're  to blame!"). And we say (one of my favorites) "With all this manure, there must be a pony  in here somewhere" (as James Kirkwood may have said).

The skew  in our lives (if you will) is toward conceptualizing / intellectualizing, and away from the blindingly obvious coming into our experience of ourselves.

Photograph courtesy
Nanyang Technological University Buddhist Society

This Bodhi tree outside Nanyang House, was a sapling
from its parent tree which was a branch from the very
Bodhi tree Lord Siddhārtha Gautama Shakyamuni of
India sat under, attained enlightenment, and became
known as the Buddha.
Bodhi Tree
Watch: we conceptualize / intellectualize seeing. We're convinced we see  things - as if seeing is an action we take, as if it's something we do. If you regard seeing as an action we take, you conceptualize / intellectualize what seeing really is. Experientially  you and I don't see (like something we do) anything - a tree, for example. Experientially we don't see a tree. What happens experientially is a tree shows up.

Look into your experience and check it out for yourself. You don't have to do anything to see a tree, You don't even have to see  like something you do, to see a tree. Being transformed is coming into your experience of yourself. A tree just shows up. That's your experience.

Anything other than "A tree shows up" is the conceptualization / intellectualization of seeing, in which we haven't come into our experience of ourselves. So until we come into our experience of ourselves, we say "I see a tree.". That's our concept / intellect. However our experience  is "A tree shows up.".

Making the transformational shift (which is to say making the contextual  shift) from concept / intellect to experience, is a choice which occurs in an instant, out of time, not requiring years spent in meditation or therapy or intense disciplinary practice, spiritual and / or religious and / or otherwise - although for the most part, there's a prevalent, deeply rooted, widespread cherished belief that it does require a massive investment of time.

A woman I know asked me to recreate this distinction with her, to make it clear, to coach her. So I asked her "What's your experience right now? Nothing flowery  please. I want mundane. Give me mundane.". She said "I'm lying on the floor.".

That's mundane alright. Just what I asked her for. "Good" I said. "Now come into your experience of yourself"  I suggested, without explaining the phrase at all. "Rather than 'I am lying on the floor', try on 'I am holding down the floor'  instead.".

There was a pause, a moment of quiet contemplation as the languaging  of it made the experience accessible to her listening.

Then: "A-Ha!"  she said slowly, still lying on the floor, only now smiling, her eyes bright, wide open.

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