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 Significant If I Say So

Kabuki Hotel, Post Street, San Francisco, California, USA

April 29, 2012



This essay, It's Only Significant If I Say So, is the companion piece to It Doesn't Mean Anything!.


Werner Erhard's "Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless", apropos the mythical, legendary (which is to say it exists or it doesn't), long sought meaning of Life, is arguably the  entry level distinction for the world of transformation. Given that significance  is a function of assigning meaning, another way of expressing this (in so doing, by the way, I'm exercising a certain poetic license)  is "Life is insignificant, and it's insignificant that it's insignificant.".

You could argue (challenging, rather than inquiring) if Life itself is really meaningless and insignificant, then what creates all the meaning and all the significance which obviously  permeates every aspect of our daily lives? Here's the answer - and it's not for the faint hearted: Life itself doesn't come with any, have any, or create any inherent meaning and significance in anything. I do.

Finally realizing Life itself doesn't come with, have any, or create any inherent meaning and significance in anything, can be enormously disconcerting. When I first realized there's no inherent meaning, when I fully grasped there's no inherent significance, no inherent point and no inherent purpose (in other words when I completely let in none of it means anything), I experienced a deep sadness, a profound  sadness - and this is possibly the only time I've ever used the words "profound" and "sadness" in the same phrase. It wasn't a sadness for the absence of meaning. It wasn't a sadness for the absence of significance. It wasn't a sadness for the absence of point and purpose. It was a sadness rather for all the time wasted  (my time wasted, our time wasted) trying to make it all mean something. It was a sadness for all the time wasted trying to make it all significant. It was a sadness for all the time wasted trying to make it.

When I got through the sadness, the same realization which initially made me sad, became enormously freeing: if there's no meaning, no significance, no point and no purpose, then I get to make up my own!  I find it compellingly interesting how that which has the power to induce great sadness, can equally bode great freedom ...

Our conversations are full of meaning and significance. Our error (and it's an error of orientation  rather than an error of understanding), is we assume meaning and significance come from Life itself. They don't. They come from us. We make them up. Then after we make them up, we forget we made them up, preferring instead to pass the buck and hold Life accountable for having an absolute meaning and significance. That's what's called the blame game  ... and Man!  it's humbling and more than a little embarrassing looking back and seeing my own role in it. Ouch!

I spent many wasted years looking for the meaning and the significance of Life, instead of looking for the meaning and the significance I would use my life for, having temporarily forgotten if there's going to be meaning and significance in Life, I'm the one to author it. Oh, and have you ever noticed the same root "auth"  shows up in both "author" and "authentic"?

So: what is  significant to me now in my life, in which I'm the author of what's significant? Simply the things I say  are significant. Family. Relationships. Health. Making a contribution to humanity. Making a difference. Service. Declaring significance this way, gets all the heaviness  out of it. I can't be heavy about something which, when I tell the truth about it, I'm the author of. I can't be heavy about something which, when I tell the truth about it, I've created. There's no one and nothing left to blame.

When I tell the truth long enough, I see it's even more than that. I see I'm the author of all of it. Any meaning and significance which is there, is simply the meaning and significance I say is there. That's what an author does, yes? An author make up stories about how it is.

<aside>

By the way, in the way I say "author"  here, I'm not just talking about Laurence the author of these Conversations For Transformation. I'm talking about each of us as the author of our own lives.

<un-aside>

Now, when I as an author, remember I made it all up, in effect I let Life off the hook. I stop blaming Life for my life. When I stop blaming Life for my life, both  of us lighten up: I lighten up, and Life lightens up. I let Life be, and Life lets me be. It's playful. It's peaceful. It's powerful.

I was born into a world which insists  there's meaning, significance, point and purpose to Life. After all, with all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere  (as James Kirkwood may have said). So it was natural for me (call it peer pressure, if you will) to start living as if there is. But that wasn't my real  life. That was an inherited  life (I inherited it from the world) which came with a demand I take it on. There are few avenues in the world, down which the possibility of living my real life is made available. The whole thrust of the world impels me to live its inherited life. It's pernicious. But it's not fixed. Given I'm the author of all the meaning and all the significance in Life, I can relax and savor all the meaning and all the significance I make ... or  ... I can make up an entirely new meaning  and make it all mean something else ... or  ... I can just observe my own inherited, thrown, meaning making significance making machinery at work and not interfere with it at all.

It took me a while to get used to this approach. When Werner Erhard first introduced it to me, it seemed so ... well ... self serving  (that's self  with a small "ess"). It's not. It's actually generous to the extreme. Distinguishing my inherited, thrown life allows me to reclaim my real life, which in turn allows me to make myself fully available to others. And that, I assert, is all any human being ever really wants to do, if we tell the truth about it - that is, if we stop making Life mean something long enough, if we stop making Life significant long enough, to tell the truth about it.



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