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

It's All Addiction For An Identity

Basque Café Boulangerie, The Plaza, Sonoma, California, USA

December 9, 2015

1) "Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you."
2) "'I' is not me. It's simply something that shows up for me. Be open to the possibility of being with this thing called 'I' so you're moved to tears by it. You can't master life until you master 'I'."
3) "If you're going to be a leader, you're going to have to have a very loose relationship with this thing you call 'I' or 'me'. Maybe that whole thing in me around which the universe revolves isn't so central! Maybe life is not about the self but about self-transcendence."
I am indebted to Charlene Afremow who inspired this conversation.

There's something great ie there's something I really love about cold, blustery, rainy wintry days sitting with friends, nursing steaming mugs of hot apple cider (especially as a means to keep my hands warm) and talking, allowing the conversation to follow the kind of paths conversations follow all by themselves when given free rein, on cold, blustery, rainy wintry days with friends.

The premise of the conversation she and I found ourselves in, is we're addicted to what we identify with  - in other words, we're addicted to whatever we falsely assume ourselves to be. What it takes to begin the process of becoming free from addiction, is taking responsibility for whatever we falsely assume ourselves to be (responsibility, by the way, is defined here as Werner's "willingness to be be cause in the matter" - it's not defined as being to blame for something, and nor is it defined as being guilty of anything). And this was a conversation among friends, so it wasn't spoken as "The Truth"  - rather, just as a postulate ie just as a maybe.

We identify with our body. Mostly when we look in the mirror, we don't say (or make the distinction) "That's my body.". Rather we relate to it as "That's me.". We identify with our internal states. We say "I'm sad.". We say "I'm happy.". We say "I'm angry.". We even say (as judgements ie as assessments) "I'm poor", "I'm rich.".

Well ... no you're not!  You're none of the above! What's probably closer to the truth is "I have  sadness" (or even better: "There is sadness"), "I have  happiness" (or even better: "There is happiness"."). But in the absence of any senior distinction for who we really are, the coin of the realm is identification. We identify. Then we become addicted to that with which we identify. And that's the beginning of the slippery slope  of misplacing and misconstruing who we really are right there.

In the interests of full disclosure, I want to say that while this wintry conversation came forth as an interesting train of thought, it didn't begin right there at the table with the steaming mugs of hot apple cider. It began waaay  earlier at my home as I considered Werner's "Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you.". If 'I' and even 'me", are not who I am, then they just show up for me like all the other pieces of my life show up for me. And if 'I' and even 'me', are not who I am, and are instead simply some of the pieces of my life which show up for me, then who am I really? 


In case you hadn't noticed it, look around you: you're deep in the heart of Werner territory now.


That particular quintessential  question is one which frequently comes up around Werner, so much so that any new instance of it is really revisiting  it, rather than proposing it again for the first time. And its answer is in a select group of awe-inspiring answers which I can come across again and again and again ... and always  get new value from - each and every single time.

Consider this: who I really  am is the space in which the items  and the events  of my life occur. Furthermore consider this too: included in all the items of my life which occur in the space of who I really am, are 'I' and 'me'.


If you can get this assertion without too much ado, I assert transformation will surely follow.


When I live life as the space in which the items and the events of my life occur, I'm living life "context" based. And when I live life as 'I' and / or as 'me', I'm living life "content" based. When I live life content based (which is to say when I live life identifying with 'I' and / or with 'me'), my relationship with all the other items in my life is best described as a kind of addiction. We're addicted to everything  with which we identity in a content based life: we're addicted to money, we're addicted to fame, we're addicted to love, we're addicted to sex and to physical sensations, we're addicted to accomplishment, we're addicted to being appreciated etc.

More than that, we have it that satisfying the addiction will validate who we are as content ("If only  I had more money ...", "If only I had more fame ...", "If only I had more love ..."). Yet what's plain is that when it comes to any addiction, too much is never enough  (as David Bowie may have said). On the other hand, when I'm being context ie when I'm being the space in which all the items and the events of my life occur (and especially when those items include 'I' and 'me'), I'm full and whole and complete as my natural expression of being. Here there's no addiction - only being.

We continued talking over more steaming mugs of hot apple cider. I mulled (no pun intended) over what she was saying. "Now I get why people are addicted to money, addicted to fame, addicted to love etc" I said, to which she replied "No, we're not addicted to just this and to just that: it's all  addiction ...".

A few quiet moments went by. Then I added "... for an identity", reveling in what had begun opening up.

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