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


Lighten Up!

Mount Veeder, California, USA

January 22, 2005



I am indebted to Ralph Gilling and to James Tsutsui and to Stephen Frattini who inspired this conversation.



We abstract enlightenment. We explain it. We describe it or at least we attempt to. Yet whichever way we characterize enlightenment we mire it. To a degree, we have charged enlightenment with so much meaning, with so much vested interest, with so much significance, and with so much belief, opinion, and interpretation that by now it seems almost impossible to have a useful conversation about enlightenment at all, a conversation in which the experience of enlightenment is communicated rather than mere information and hearsay about enlightenment.

In my own earlier questions and explorations into the true nature and experience of enlightenment I eventually determined that when all is said and done, when all so-called paths to enlightenment reach their completion, enlightenment is really nothing more than giving up the notion that you are unenlightened. Even though I find that distinction no longer useful I still like it. It implies that our very ground of being is enlightenment. It implies that there is absolutely nothing to do to attain enlightenment, that there is no path to traverse to get to enlightenment. In fact it implies that the only thing there is to do to experience our already enlightenment is to stop pretending we are unenlightened. If we tell the truth about it we can admit that yes we do pretend we are unenlightened. "This isn't  it!" is one of our most cherished addictions.

Later as my own questions and explorations matured I came to prefer my friend James Tsutsui's observation that enlightenment is really nothing more than giving up the notion that you are enlightened. Actually I really  like James' observation. It stands in nothing as it pokes fun with a wonderful Zen irreverence at our pomposity and at our ego based notions with regard to our own enlightenment.

I assert that to get your hands and your feet on to the levers and the dials and the pedals of the true nature and experience of enlightenment, you have to first set aside the righteous debate about what enlightenment is and about what enlightenment is not. Once you have set the cleverness and the seduction of the conjecture about enlightenment aside, then you would use something very simple and measurable to determine if a person is enlightened or not.

Werner Erhard, with no vested interest in being right about what enlightenment is and with no vested interest in being right about what enlightenment isn't, asserts simply one of the signs of the enlightened state is you lighten up!

Be careful. The subtlety of that almost overly obvious remark may elude you at first. Werner uses lighten as an active verb, as something you do rather than as something that happens to you.

There's nothing to get. This is it!  You may as well smile.



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