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


Life Is What's Happening

Ovid Napa Valley, Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA

December 4, 2021

"Something's happening because everything is moving." ... 
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." ... John Winston Ono Lennon, Beautiful Boy

"Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor." ... H Jackson Brown Jr
This essay, Life Is What's Happening, is the companion piece to Being In The Face Of.

It is also the fourteenth in a group of fourteen written Out-Here:
  1. Out Here
  2. Out-Here II
  3. Out-Here III
  4. Transforming Life Itself: A Completely Started Inquiry
  5. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  6. Hiking In A Painting
  7. Out-Here IV: Clearing For Life
  8. Something Bigger Than Oneself II
  9. To A Fault
  10. Where The Action Is
  11. Step Outside Your Head: A Call To Action
  12. More Than Being With The World
  13. It's Never Over There
  14. Life Is What's Happening
in that order.

What's happening is happening. What's not happening isn't happening. Life is what's happening, not what isn't happening. That, My Friends, seems so obvious that it's disconcerting. But it only seems obvious (and therefore disconcerting) because we take that distinction entirely for granted. We hardly (if ever) examine it rigorously. "Indeed" (we ask) "is there anything we can gain  by distinguishing life as what's happening rather than as what isn't happening? Because if not, why bother with it?".

To be clear and quite specific, life (and our lives) is more than merely what's  happening. Life is what's always  happening. And furthermore, life is what's always happening out-here. In other conversations elsewhere in this internet series of essays, I've examined Werner's laser-like power in differentiating out-here  as distinct from "out there". And as for "in here"  (I say, pointing at my head) as where we say life is also happening, I'll ante with the provocative and admittedly controversial "Life does not  happen 'in here'", an assertion which will invariably evoke the outraged plethora of "Yeah, but  ...", "What if ...?", "How 'bout ...?" confronts and challenges - such as "How 'bout thoughts, Laurence? How 'bout feelings?  Aren't they  life? Aren't they  happening? Aren't they 'in here'?". OK, let's tackle this now.

Look: sooner or later (and let it be more sooner than later) the power and leverage which goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) distinguishing life as what's happening (rather than as what isn't happening) out-here (rather than "in here" or "out there") becomes unavoidably apparent. For now, let's start with the greatest misconception regarding what we routinely, blindly designate (without any rigorous examination) as "in here", the corollary of which is another great misconception regarding the dominion we think we have (yet really don't have at all) over what's "in here" (if you doubt it, try: stop thinking permanently; stay happy forevermore).

Life is what's happening ... out-here - not what isn't happening, neither what's happening "in here" nor what's happening "out there". We cherish the misconception that there's a place  (if you will) that we characterize as "in here". I assert that what we characterize as "in here" is in reality also out-here. How so Laurence? Like so: consider that there's an authentic, brilliant place to come from, a profound perspective, a platform on which to stand from which to see it's all  out-here: life, thoughts, feelings, what's happening, even "I / me", all of it. It's all  out-here. It's all a showing in the space of who we really are. "In here" and "out there" are myths, figments of our imagination, mere capricious and precious trip-switches ensuring our egos survive by holding on to / not surrendering our misconceived notions of the way it is.

It requires a certain willingness, a brashness, a certain verve to shift that thrown perspective, a process which is often as uncomfortable as it's unfamiliar. It's a matter of shifting our perspective on who we really  are (ie to what we're responsible for being in the matter) which gives a new, breakthrough idea: life is what's happening (not what isn't happening) and it's what's happening out-here (not "in here") and it's all  out-here (all of it). And furthermore, "out there"  is as much of a precious misconception as "in here" is. Really! Only a capricious, precious "in here" would conceive of a capricious, precious "out there", when in fact it's all  out-here. Really.

When I discovered / entertained these ideas of Werner's for the first time, I noticed how spring-loaded I was to turn them into another belief system. "'Out-Here' Triumphs Over Both 'In Here' And 'Out There'!"  the headlines would blare. Be careful. Don't do that. Don't turn them into another belief system. That will surely do them irreparable harm. Rather, try them on for size as your natural, empirically verifiable direct experience (the odds are slim-to-none that you'll ever grasp them by cogitation and intellectual analysis). If you discover there's new power and leverage in them for you, take them: they're yours. And if not, discard them and walk on.

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