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


Interpretation As Interpretation

The Tides, Bodega Bay, California, USA

July 14, 2008



This essay, Interpretation As Interpretation, is the companion piece to Opinion As Opinion.



It's a parallel universe  in which we live daily. Sometimes we're aware we're living in it. Mostly we aren't. It's the universe in which what we think about things and how we interpret them is the way it is  for us. In this parallel universe, it's not simply that what we think about things and how we interpret them, is the way it is for us. It's more than that. It's what we think about things and how we interpret them, is the way it is for us ... AND ... we don't have it  that what we think about things and how we interpret them isn't necessarily "the truth".

In other words, on those occasions when we're living in that parallel universe, we live as if our interpretations are real  and true. When we're living in that parallel universe, we don't live as if our interpretations are interpretations.

One way to correct this state of affairs (that is if, indeed, it requires any correction at all) is to catch ourselves doing it, to distinguish we're interpreting when we're interpreting. From time to time, the machinery  we are is thrown to interpret without distinguishing reality from interpretation. That's simply the nature of the machine. It's not powerful to make interpreting wrong, nor is it powerful to make yourself wrong for interpreting. Being built in  to the automaticity of the machinery, interpreting is an essential component of being human.

Distinguishing reality from interpretation is to draw the line between what's real and what's true. If a grizzly bear with a hungry look in his eyes is chasing you through the woods, that's real. If you imagine  or think about  a grizzly bear with a hungry look in his eyes chasing you through the woods, ask yourself is it true  a grizzly bear with a hungry look in his eyes is chasing you through the woods? Yes it may be true for you in your thoughts and in your imagination a grizzly bear with a hungry look in his eyes is chasing you through the woods. But it's not real. In the same way, our interpretations may be true for us, but they're not necessarily real.

Interpreting, then making interpretations significant, diminishes power. Distinguishing interpretation as interpretation  then leaving it alone, is the source of great power.

Given the way we human beings process input, leaving interpretation alone isn't easy for us. It's more than that actually. It's leaving anything  alone isn't easy for us. We're thrown to fixing. We're thrown to want to fix everything. We're thrown to want to fix our thinking. We're convinced something's wrong. We're addicted to getting better. To have it be that there's nothing wrong  requires incessantly giving up sticking our fingers in the machinery. But we won't give it up! We've been fixing ourselves for so long that now we believe there's gotta be some kind of payoff: "With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!". But there isn't. And there never was to begin with. In spite of this, we can't leave our interpretations alone. It's hard for us to just let 'em be. Even though it drives us crazy (literally), we continuously live as if our interpretations are real.

But interpretations aren't real. They're just interpretations. It's not that  we interpret which has us at odds with reality from time to time ie that we interpret at all. Neither is it what  we interpret ie the inference of our interpretations which keeps us from simply allowing what's so  to be. Rather, it's that we distinguish neither interpreting  nor interpretation  within the broader context of what's so. When I collapse my interpretation of reality with reality  and I don't distinguish I'm doing it, that's a train wreck right there just waiting to happen.

Distinguishing interpretation as interpretation, away from the parallel universe we live in from time to time, creates the possibility of being powerfully grounded here  and now.



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