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 Not Out There

San Anselmo, California, USA

July 13, 2009

"Your parents didn't do it to you. If your parents did it to you, you could get your parents treated, and then you'd  be cured." ... Dr Wayne Dyer

This essay, It's Not Out There, is the companion piece to Being Upset: This Side Of A Breakthrough.

If you ask a thousand people what transformation, is, you'll get more than a thousand answers. You'll notice there's lots of overlap  with their answers. The heart of transformation is the same for everyone, yet the specifics differ. Or (spoken with rigor)  the specifics are the same for everyone, but how each person articulates  their specifics plus the examples they use to illustrate their specifics will bring forth more than a thousand differing illustrations.

Transformation (it could be said) is the domain  of ie a home for a rich body of distinctions. Transformation is not only the domain of ie a home for distinction itself  - transformation is, like the universe, an ever expanding domain. Once distinction itself is brought forth like a tool, like an implement  of inquiry, ever newer and newer distinctions are discovered, fleshed out and articulated which eventually join and expand the lexicography  of the rich body of distinctions  which is transformation.

In this way authentic transformation, once started, never ends.

When I look through this lexicography and pick just one  opening* made possible by this rich body of distinctions as the one  which most pertinently gets to the heart of the power of transformation for me, the one I come up with is the one I call "owning the upset".

It seems to me in our society (and by "our society" I'm referring to all the people of Planet Earth) and inside of the norms within which we're raised and educated, not much stock is vested in "owning the upset". We barely even have the language  to manage "owning the upset". The default  assumption about an upset is it comes from out there. "Someone (or something) did this to me!". Naturally enough, this gives rise to the default strategy for managing being upset, which is blame  ("I'm upset because  so and so made me  upset ...", "I'm upset because of  such and such ..."). Even if we don't succumb to being done to  (the strategy for managing being upset is to not let it show, to suck it up  - of which the caricature is the stoic British stiff upper quivering lip), ignoring an upset is the  surefire way to keep it in place (you may require a certain Zen way of looking at things to get that).

The first time I took on owning my own upset ("Say whut?  I own  my own upset??? You're kidding me. Moi?  You just don't understand. Someone else did this to me  ..."), it was a sheer leap of faith. Like something to try out. Like trying something on.

By a process of elimination, I eventually took on owning my own upset because nothing else worked. I tried managing being upset through reason. I tried rationalizing  being upset (as a way to get out of being upset). I tried explaining  being upset in order to clearly see the cause of being upset. And behind that  was the assumption that if I could explain  being upset, I would understand why  I was upset, and understanding why  I was upset would make me no longer upset!  In retrospect, how embarrassingly naïve of me!

None of that works. I wish it did. Believe me: I've tried very hard to make those approaches work. They don't. None of them.

To be sure, eventually any upset goes away if you do nothing at all with it and simply wait it out long enough (we call this "staying in a funk")  in much the same way any given weather condition will invariably change, given time. Yet clearly waiting out an upset ie staying in a funk  is neither a powerful nor a masterful way to handle being upset.

Owning an upset can't start until the components of the upset, which Werner Erhard distinguishes as are located (it's a given  you can't locate anything which is undistinguished). But once they're located (and they're always there  in any upset - sometimes obviously, sometimes easily, and sometimes maddeningly slippery  and difficult to isolate ... but nonetheless they're always there  in any upset), by owning the upset I'm taking a stand  I'm the source of it - not the other guy. By owning the upset I'm taking a stand I generated it (knowingly or unknowingly) - not the other guy. I assumed (incorrectly, as it turns out) I'd get something out of being upset. No big deal, really: so this tunnel has no cheese  down it - so what?!"

I've noticed if I can get that, if I really get  I created the upset, if I take the stand that out of a certain set of circumstances I made the upset up, literally I did it to myself  ... as illogical  as that sounds, as counter-intuitive  as that sounds, if I'm willing to give up logic and intuition and be unreasonable  with myself, a most extraordinary miracle  happens.

This most extraordinary miracle is this: in the midst of the swelling clouds of being upset, drenched by the driving rain  of being upset, buffeted this way and that way by the hurricane winds  of being upset, I get back to choice in the matter. And the choice in the matter, since I'm the owner of the upset, is really very simple: I can stay upset, or I can get off it.

"Chocolate, or vanilla?  Choose!".

The interesting thing about choosing to stay upset or to get off it is neither choice is a better choice than the other. If I choose to stay upset, I now know  I'm upset as a choice. Being upset as a choice  is worlds away from being upset as blame. I can't take myself very seriously once I've gotten  I'm upset as a choice. Who can? And if I choose to get off it, that's the proof right there  I created the upset in the first place (noticing that is quite beautiful and pertinent, by the way). Furthermore, if I choose to get off it, I can then choose to invent a new possibility  for my life, given the new space  which abounds, quite literally teaming with new found life, once I get off it.

I assert if you can disappear an upset by owning the upset, if you can get you're the source of the upset (not the other guy), then you can get you're the one who creates yourself upset. And if you can get you're the one who creates yourself upset, not only can you choose to get off it ("Abracadabra!  Upset gone!"), but you can also get you're who creates at will any  experience you have.

And that, as they say in the classics, is the topic for another conversation on another occasion.

*   From The Laurence Platt Dictionary:

verb (GERUND)
the emerging of a powerful new possibility for a breakthrough, regarded as impossible until someone distinguishes something inauthentic

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