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

Machinery Embedded In Hamburger

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

October 1, 2015

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." ... Saint Paul of Tarsus

This essay, Machinery Embedded In Hamburger, is the companion piece to in that order.

It is also the sequel to Out-Here IV: Clearing For Life.

I am indebted to David Rindl who inspired this conversation.

To call this an elemental inquiry, is putting it mildly. It's more than that. It's waaay  more than that. It's a (no, it's arguably "the") pivotal inquiry, the essential  inquiry. It's the essential inquiry if you're going to lay claim to being able to (quote unquote) "think for yourself". If you're going to lay claim to being able to think for yourself, you have to be able to differentiate between "thinking for yourself", and just plain "thinking" (it's business as usual  when the two are undifferentiated ie it's quite unremarkable when they appear to be identical - which is to say it's quite ordinary, milquetoast  for the line between the two to be un-rigorously blurred).

If you're going to differentiate between thinking, and thinking for yourself, which is to say if you're going to differentiate between what thinking for yourself is, and what thinking for yourself isn't, then this inquiry is the entry point to this distinction ie this inquiry is the ground zero  for this distinction. In other words, first getting clear about the difference between thinking, and thinking for yourself, is the currency required to enter the domain of thinking for yourself. You could say we only begin growing up  ie you could say we only begin maturing, once we begin confronting the myth  that thinking, and thinking for ourselves, are identical. You could say until we've confronted the myth, we're still thinking as children (as Saint Paul of Tarsus may have said) - regardless of how old we are and / or what we think about.

So now let's confront it. Let's differentiate between thinking, and thinking for ourselves. Merely having thoughts  ("having thoughts" is the correct designation of what we loosely and un-rigorously call "thinking" - as in the phrase "I'm thinking ...") is not  an indication that we're thinking for ourselves. Rather, having thoughts is merely an indication, evidence, and proof of the fact that we're alive. Having thoughts is an ongoing, never-ending automatic  process. And it's the automatic  aspect of the process of having thoughts which flies in the face of our erroneous claims that if we're thinking, then we're thinking for ourselves ie that the two are the same.

If you say "Wait a minute! My  thoughts aren't automatic? I  think for myself!", you won't be the first to erroneously claim so. Here's a simple way to test this (do it with me, if you will): if thinking isn't automatic, then stop thinking. That's right: stop thinking. It's a simple enough test, isn't it? Again: if thinking isn't automatic, then stop having thoughts. You can't, can you? In contradistinction, swimming isn't automatic. You can start swimming. And you can stop swimming. But thinking, unlike swimming, is automatic. So if you say thinking isn't automatic, then stop thinking ie stop having thoughts. Tell the truth: you can't. Having thoughts is automatic. It's machinery. When we say we're thinking, we aren't: we're "having thoughts" - we're simply hearing the cacophony of machinery: unstoppable, automatic machinery.

Tell the truth about this too: we don't distinguish our machinery as machinery. Contrarily, we identify  with our machinery so closely that we assume it's who we are. Most of us, in response to the directive "Point  to where you are" (not "Point to who  you are" but "Point to where  you are") will point to our bodies - to our heads  in particular. Guess what? You're not there - which is to say, you're not in  there. If a surgeon carefully cut your head open looking for you in there, she wouldn't find you  in there. All she'd find in there is hamburger. There's really nothing of who you are to be found in there. All that's in there is machinery embedded in hamburger.

Where you are, isn't in your head (you can stop pointing now). Where you are like a possibility  is out-here  where Life itself actually happens, and who  you are is the context in which Life itself actually happens out-here. "Thinking for yourself" starts with being out-here where Life itself actually happens, and making distinctions (arguably a first of which to distinguish is "out-here"). "Thinking" itself on the other hand, is nothing more and nothing less than machinery embedded in hamburger.

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