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

I've Never Wanted To Be Better Than Anyone

Napa, California, USA

June 14, 2015

"Lots of people have talked about taking that step into the unknown. Taking that step into the unknown is actually a lot less courageous than taking a step from  the unknown."
"In terms of Star Trek, the Gene Roddenberry sci-fi TV series, the ordinary mission is 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'. For me, there's at least some boldness in that. But the extraordinary  use of 'boldly' which really turns me on is 'to boldly come from  where no man has come from before'".
... Laurence Platt
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
... Sir Isaac Newton
This essay, I've Never Wanted To Be Better Than Anyone, is the companion piece to A Dog Trying Not To Be A Dog.

I've never wanted to be better than anyone. For that matter, I've never wanted to be  anyone else either ... except me. In my younger years, what I did want was to be better than myself (by "younger years" I mean until halfway through my twenty eighth year). Wanting to be better than myself was what I considered to be what you did in life. It was a way to be "more me" ie a way to be what I now distinguish as "being authentic". What I didn't get at the time was that wanting to be better than myself, is an impediment to being truly great. Getting that, would come later - much later.

The notion I had that being more me, would be better than the way I was being, should be spoken with rigor: being more me, it could be restated, was not being better than "the way" I was being but rather it was being better then "who"  I was being. That particular languaging would also only come much later. Included in my notion was that all people wanted  to be better than the way they were being. I just assumed it. I never actually asked anyone if they did. So I didn't really know if it was true or not. I assumed becoming better than I was, was the smart thing to do for me, and so I assumed everyone else also wanted that for themselves.

Then I made a pivotal discovery at twenty eight and a half years old. In a burst of pure Zen* which punctured and fractured my belief system in a way it hadn't been punctured or fractured before, I discovered the entire notion of "becoming better" is fundamentally flawed. How so? This is how: we're each already perfect and whole and complete, exactly the way we are and exactly the way we aren't. So the notion of that which is already perfect becoming better, is fundamentally flawed - QED.

That's something to be experienced, by the way. It doesn't occur with any validity in the realm of wishful thinking. Neither is it putting a so-called positive spin  on things. It's that there's no "getting better"  - how can anyone get better than the perfect they already are? "Oh, but I'm not  perfect", you say? Well ... I invite you to start standing in the possibility that you really are. And so that we have a common frame of reference, this is what it is to be perfect: being perfect is being exactly the way you are and exactly the way you aren't. And clearly you are  exactly the way you are and exactly the way you aren't, yes? So you're perfect. Stop lying about it.

Paradoxically we're at our best, the very best we can possibly be, when we give up the notion of becoming better, and simply be the way we are. The way we are is the best it gets. Really it is. Honest! It may take a while to get that. But it only takes a while to get it because we dither with it for so long without committing to it. Yet getting it, actually happens in an instant, once you stop dithering with it and commit to it. And when you do get it ... Wow! Things suddenly go very quiet fast.

What gets in the way for people in getting that the way we are is the best it gets, is it may sound  like there's a certain fixedness, a certain stuckness, a certain stasis  if you will, in "the way we are". But the thing is "the way we are" doesn't equate to fixedness or stuckness or stasis. "The way we are", to the contrary upon close examination, is pure opening, pure creativity, pure possibility. In this sense, "the way we are" is enough, it's whole, it's complete, and it's the best it gets.

This sense of being enough is the sense which I, in my younger years, once wanted to get better with. I wanted to be better than me. But I've never wanted to be better than anyone else. Although there's a lot of being competitive in our world (so much so that's it's almost impossible to consider what we would look like without it), there's nothing competitive required to be human for me. I am me and you are you. So we've already won. It's what we do next from win that'll define our legacy.

* The est  Training, last weekend of August 1978.

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