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


Holes In The World

Soledad, California, USA

December 12, 2008



This essay, Holes In The World, is the companion piece to An Opening In The Universe.



The question is "Where are you and the world located in relation to each other?". Well? Where are you  and the world  located in relation to each other?

It won't be unusual, in fact it could be expected if you asked anyone the question "Where are you and the world located in relation to each other?" to hear something like "I'm in  the world and the world is all around  me.". In other words, we typically regard ourselves as being in the world, and we regard the world as being in front of us, behind us, to the left of us, to the right of us, above us, and below us.

However, if you examine this question and this typical answer with rigor  you'll notice the question is typically answered this way because it's mostly heard as a concept  and is mostly answered  as a concept.

But if you listen this question coming from your experience  and you answer this question coming from your experience, you'll notice the world is always  and only  in front of you as an experience. As a concept, however, you're in the world and the world is in front of you, behind you, to the left of you, to the right of you, above you, and below you.

There's nothing wrong with this concept. There's nothing wrong with having  this concept. Werner Erhard points out concepts are essential for living life successfully. You have to keep a wary watch out for the tendency to become a smart transformed rat. It's pure naïvete to develop the notion "experience 'good' / concepts 'bad'". If you didn't have the concept "turn the door knob", you'd never be able to get out of your house. As a concept, you're in the world and the world is in front of you, behind you, to the left of you, to the right of you, above you, and below you. But as an experience, the world is always and only in front of us.

I'm not speaking simplistically either. I'm not merely alluding to the obvious: that you and I, as the old adage reminds us, don't have eyes in the back of our heads and so we can't see what's behind us. Even if, as could be said, you can hear  something behind you even if you can't see it behind you, even if you can touch  something behind you even if you can't see it behind you, I assert coming from your experience, the world is always and only in front of  you. This includes that which you can see, that which you can hear, and that which you can touch. It's all always and only in front of us. For this conversation, we'll also designate that which you can smell  and that which you can taste  as also always and only in front of you.

Behind my experience of the world is nothing  - not as a concept but rather as an experience  of what's there when I turn around, so to speak, and look at what's behind my experience of the world. In my experience, the world is always and only in front of me. Behind the world in my experience is nothing. Who I am comes from nothing  into the world. Experientially, I come from nothing  into the world through an opening in the world, a hole in the world  - if you will. When I look through this hole in the world into the world, I'm awed  by what I see. But on those marvelous occasions when I have the presence of mind to turn around and look at what's behind  my experience of the world, there it is: nothing ...   It's beyond awe, and it knocks me on my ass - each and every single time.

Laurence Platt with Alexandra

Buellton, California, USA

2:08:01pm Wednesday March 27, 2010
Holes In The World
We stand, as it were, looking into the world through holes in the outside edge of the world, as if we're sticking our heads through the face holes cut out of those cardboard caricatures in a fairground amusement park (they're known as fairground cutouts  by the way) to be photographed. There's nothing behind us, and how we're seen in the world depends on whichever cardboard caricature we choose to stick our heads through.

It could be said the only difference between living a transformed life in the world and living an untransformed life in the world is choosing a cardboard caricature which authentically represents who you really are, to stick your head through into the world. In this way, you take responsibility not only for your own experience of the world but you also take responsibility for how others experience you in the world.

This isn't "the truth" ... and it may be. Rather it's a useful way of looking at what's real, a useful tool for distinguishing concept from direct experience. It's an arguably useful implement for distinguishing between what we've always unquestioningly  considered to be real ie what we've always unquestioningly known  to be real, and what's really  real.

There are many ways of looking at what's real, and there are many possible answers to the question "Where are you and the world located in relation to each other?". Here's another possible answer to the question "Where are you and the world located in relation to each other?" when answered coming from experience rather than as a concept. Rather than "I'm in the world, and the world is all around me" or "The world is always and only in front of me", another answer could be "I'm the context  for the world, and all the world is in me"  - like an experience.

But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.



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