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


Internal States

The Ink House, St Helena, California, USA

October 21, 2007



This essay, Internal States, is the companion piece to
  1. So What
  2. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
  3. Romantic Sensations
  4. Machinery Embedded In Hamburger
  5. What Goes On Internally
in that order.

It is also the first in the trilogy Internal States:
  1. Internal States
  2. Internal States II
  3. Internal States III: Way Of Being
in that order.




Like potters' clay, we're thrown  to be distracted by and to brood over our internal states. That thrown-ness by definition keeps transformation at bay. By "internal states" I'm alluding to (for want of better words) our emotions, our feelings, our opinions.

We place inordinate stock  in, we're invested heavily  in what we feel, in what we emote, in what we opine. There's nothing wrong with that. Of all the components that comprise what it is to be human, what we feel, what we emote, and what we opine defines, in a certain sense, what we are. Yet when I look intently in this regard at what I've invested in, it's with a sinking, embarrassed sensation I realize if I've regarded my feelings, my emotions, and my opinions as the coin of the realm  of being human, then I've been dealing in counterfeit currency  for most of my life.

We're gladly willing to own as their author  feelings and emotions which produce pleasure, which result in feeling good. We have it  that our opinions are the right  ones. As human beings, we resist and even try to alleviate  (with beliefs, philosophies, therapies, and even with suppressants like drugs and alcohol) feelings and emotions which produce angst, which result in feeling bad. And no one in their right  mind considers holding opinions they themselves regard as wrong.

Furthermore, when we assert what we feel, when we assert our emotions, when we assert our opinions (which we invariably blend into  and neglect to distinguish from "the truth"), we have it that we're acting consciously, that we're making deliberate choices to be  certain ways. We have it that the feelings and emotions which produce pleasure and which result in feeling good are the ones we control. We have it that we've no control over the feelings and emotions which produce angst and which result in feeling bad. We say those ones run us. Yet looking closer I see they're all on automatic.

I have about as much control over my internal states, both those which produce pleasure and those which produce angst, as I have over the Hawai'ian weather. If I don't like the way the Hawaiian weather is right now, I can either choose to wait a few moments and it'll change, or I can choose to simply have it be the way it is. You can choose to wait for it to change. You can choose for it to be the way it is. Only a fool chooses for it to be the way it isn't.

I assert as human beings we're thrown to fixing our internal states, to futzing  with them, to alleviating them, to voting  for the ones we like, to impeaching  the ones we don't like. I assert when we interact with our internal states this way, it's simply the machine trying to avoid being a machine.

There's no way out. The machine can't avoid being a machine.

One particular way of life with its own particular ramifications for living is available in a world in which the machine futilely tries to avoid being a machine, a world in which the machine, believing it can, tries to regulate its own internal states.

Another possibility is revealed when I grant my internal states freedom to be what they are, whatever they are, like the Hawaiian weather. That's not easy. It calls for a higher degree of responsibility, a higher degree of intentionality. It requires I be with, embrace, and work with what's so  senior to my internal states.



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