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 Only Powerful When You Take It On

Hennessey House, Napa, California, USA

March 13, 2015



I am indebted to David Cunningham and to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.



Coming directly from survival  ie coming directly from self-preservation and protection (which, for the most part, is what we've figured out we're s'posed  to do if we're going to do well in the world), we make the cardinal error of assuming there's a way the world is. It's an error born of being undiscerning, of being unquestioning, of being undiscriminating - and it's rampant. "The world is  this way" we tell ourselves. "Things are  that way" we tell ourselves.

But the world, as it turns out, isn't any particular way  - which is to say the world isn't any particular fixed  way. Coming at this in a more relaxed  manner ie coming at this in a more laid back  (if you will) manner, it's easier to see there's no particular fixed way the world is: there's only the way the world occurs  for each individual one of us ie there's only the way the world shows up  for each individual one of us. And (if you tell the truth about it) the way the world occurs for you may not be the same way as the world occurs for me  ... and probably isn't.

So everything we do and how we act, indeed how we are, isn't directed at the way things are (because there's no fixed way things are  even though we harbor a cherished belief that there is) but rather it's directed at how things occur uniquely for each individual one of us.

<aside>

There are vast  ramifications of this, none of which are pretty.

We live in a world in which we're thrown  to make rules, judgements, and assessments based on the way things are, and we expect ourselves and others to abide by these rules.

The trouble is this very premise is flimsy. It's flawed. The very rules we play by are fundamentally flawed. There is no "the way things are". There's only the way things occur uniquely for each individual one of us.

<un-aside>

That there is no "the way things are", and that there's only the way things occur uniquely for each individual one of us, is patently getable  even after the most cursory inquiry. What's not always so getable is the determinant  of (ie that which determines) the way things uniquely occur for each individual one of us, such that the way things occur for you, may not be the same way as things occur for me. Personally I'm not a big fan of "Why?" questions. But if I made an exception, I would ask "Why do things occur for you in a way which may not be the same way as things occur for me?".

I invite you to stand in the possibility that things occur the way they occur for you different than they way they occur for me because of what we say about them. Things occur the way they occur for us because of our conversations about them.

Be careful! I'm not saying things occur differently for you and for me, and so we say different things about them. I'm saying things occur differently for you and for me because  we say different things about them. The former is descriptive, narrative. The latter is causative, generative.

The idea of things occurring a particular way for us because of what we say about them and not because they're any particular fixed way, often comes across (in spite of all the best intentions) as a hard sell. It's not easy listening. So I prefer to offer it as a possibility  (notice the trap, the irony  in offering "There aren't any particular fixed ways about the world except for what we say about it" as a fixed proposition  ...). Ordinarily we don't see (which is to say we don't get  or we don't grok  - as Robert Heinlein may have said) that things occur the way they occur for us simply because of our conversations about them.

With even the most basic reflection on this possibility (that, plus the willingness to tell the truth about it unflinchingly)  we can distinguish our background conversations about the way things are, not to mention how and when our background conversations got there. And as for who put them there  (again, if we're willing to tell the truth about it unflinchingly), we need look no further than the mirror. We mostly don't see the way things are as a product of our conversations, until those conversations are revealed as arbitrary, gratuitous assessments we ourselves put there.

There's something else to notice while we're in this inquiry and noticing our background conversations and who put them there: almost always, a background conversation is limiting, is outdated, is inappropriate to the current situation, yet has become so bound up in our survival that's it's never questioned, never examined, never brought out into the light where it can be scrutinized, and then rechosen (if required) or completely discarded. It's when it's discarded, that an entirely new way  of viewing the world becomes possible. It's more than that actually. It's that the entire way the world and events occur for us, shifts - given that our conversations about the world and events (which is to say given those very conversations which cause the world and events to occur the way they occur for us), have shifted.

It's an awesome discovery. It transforms Life itself in a single moment out of time. Whether or not you experience it as a dramatic transformation or as a dogshit reality ordinary  transformation, depends on the degree you're invested in your own point of view, and how willing you are to give up fixed conversations about it ie how willing you are to give up being right about its fixed-ness  (if you will).

That's my entire thesis  of transformation right there ie it's my entire relationship with Werner right there.

There's one last thing to say to complete this conversation. It's this:

As just another belief system  ie as just another better way, this set of assertions is next to useless. Describing it in a finger wagging, judgemental, holier than thou  way as something people should take on (or worse, as something people need  to take on) undermines the brilliance on which it's grounded. If deployed in that way, it has no power. It's only powerful when you take it on. It's only powerful when you take it on for yourself by your Self  as your own, intimate, personal inquiry.



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