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 Already Complete:

Stop Finishing It!

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

September 29, 2012



This essay, It's Already Complete: Stop Finishing It!, is the companion piece to
  1. Being Upset: This Side Of A Breakthrough
  2. There's Nothing To Get And There's Nothing To Fix
in that order.

It is also the third in an octology on Completion:

From 101 Zen Stories: A Cup Of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese Zen master during the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), received a university professor who came to him to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured it into his visitor's cup until it was full, and then he kept on pouring.

The professor watched it overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's full. No more will go in!" he cried out.

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?".
I love Life. I love being alive. I love dancing  with Life. I love that Life can be. I love that Life is. I love that Life shows up. I love being the space, the context  in which Life can show up. I love serving Life this way.

Being in love with Life, I see things I want to change or fix, which are in fact OK the way they are and OK the way they aren't. It's easy to forget this in the heat of the moment especially when something's (or someone's)  upsetting or just irritating  - not to mention global situations which are (and people who are) outright inhumane or genocidal.

When something is the way it is and the way it isn't, it's complete. This is what it is to be complete. Look around you. Isn't everything  the way it is and the way it isn't? Isn't everything  complete?

<aside>

Listen: it's extremely difficult  to get the perspective "It's OK the way it is and it's OK the way it isn't" when it refers to inhumanity. In fact without setting the proper context for a conversation about inhumanity being the way it is and the way it isn't, it's likely to be totally un-listen-able  for most people.

However, this particular perspective doesn't come from what's wrong or from what's right. Nor does it come from what's bad or from what's good.

Where it comes from is what's so. This is a perspective on experience. As a perspective on experience, it's profound and powerful. It's not  a perspective of judgement or morality. If it's deployed as a perspective of judgement or morality, it's worthless (erroneous actually) because it's misapplied.

Gee! I hope you get this ...

<un-aside>

The first criticism of this perspective is always something like "Oh you don't understand  ... this  (whatever the condition is) is clearly not  OK" ... and ... "This  (whatever another condition is) is clearly not  complete.". Not only that, but a kind of existential ennui  is assumed to be the basis of saying "Things are complete the way they are and the way they aren't" (said with an Eeyore  accent), a kind of apathy, if you will ... a kind of disinterest, a not caring.

No, it's none of that. Really it's not.

As a call to action with whatever the conditions are, it's simply not possible  to make any lasting  difference (if, indeed, that's the intention) until you can have things be the way they are and the way they aren't - in other words until you can first  have them be complete. When you can first have things be complete, then you can look for what's next ie then you can look for what's possible. But until then, until you can have things be complete, all that's available is changing and fixing. And as anyone who's ever tried to "change the world" (however well intentioned) knows, we always end up with the same old mud pie ... except now there's icing on it.

You're watching an artist at work. Actually you've watched her working many times before. She does the same curious thing every time. She gets to the end of her painting and it's amazing, and it's beautiful. It could hang in le Musée du Louvre. It's museum ready. That's how good she is. Then, inexplicably, she makes one small change, as if to finish it. And it's no longer museum ready. She gets to the end of her next painting and it's also amazing, beautiful. It could also hang in le Musée du Louvre. It's museum ready. Then, equally inexplicably, she makes another small change, as if to finish it. And it's no longer museum ready.

You realize she doesn't get that her work is already  complete! She keeps finishing it. She doesn't know when to stop. She gets to the end of her third painting and it's amazing and beautiful. It, too, could hang in le Musée du Louvre. But this time, before she can add or change one more thing, you shout out "It's perfect! It's already complete: stop finishing it!".

This is Life. In particular, this is your  life. It's perfect. It's already complete: stop finishing it!



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