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




Meanings We Give To A Meaningless Life

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

May 8, 2019



"We live in the world created / caused by meanings we give to a meaningless life." ... Gopal Rao

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ... Professor Albert Einstein

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.". ... also Professor Albert Einstein
This essay, Meanings We Give To A Meaningless Life, is the companion piece to Runaway Train.

It is also the sequel to Thank You For Voting.

I am indebted to Gopal Rao who inspired this conversation and contributed material. Gopal is a Landmark Forum Leader and the Operations Manager for Landmark in India. Gopal is making the transformation of a billion  people his personal business - a big  player.




There's no shortage of proposed solutions to the predicaments we're in - both interpersonal as well as intrapersonal ones. Turn on any TV or radio news channel or open any newspaper or magazine, and notice the veritable plethora of talking heads and pundits (and in this regard, consider anyone who's overly invested in their own opinion of what will solve the problem, to be a pundit) of varying political, sectarian, religious, and ideological persuasions. In the self-help  section of any good brick-and-mortar bookstore or online, there's a blizzard  of advice for fixing, changing, improving, managing, or simply getting by  with the lives we have.

Like enthusiastically adopted then forgotten new year's resolutions, most of those solutions will invariably fail to work. But look: that's not new. We already know that. We've actually proved it - over and over again - and yet we remain convinced that if we try the same old same old  solutions again ie if we try them just one more time, only this  time if we try them more or if we try them better or if we try them different, they'll work.

Imagine you're a pretty decent Bridge player and you accept an invitation to play with a new social group in your neighborhood, and less than ten minutes into the game, you realize it's become a bit weird ie it's not unfolding like your usual Bridge game ... and you're not sure why. Finally you figure it out: the other players are playing the game by the rules of Gin Rummy, believing them to be the rules of Bridge. No wonder the game isn't working.

Now imagine you're a pretty decent Monopoly player and you accept an invitation to play with a new social group in your neighborhood, and less than ten minutes into the game, you realize it's become a bit weird ie it's not unfolding like your usual Monopoly game ... and you're not sure why. Finally you figure it out: the other players are playing the game by the rules of Snakes and Ladders, believing them to be the rules of Monopoly. No wonder the game isn't working.

Look: while it may seem so, that's not a far-fetched analogy for how we live life. Moreover, what it points to isn't local or limited: it's universal and unlimited. Neither is this analogy only applicable to how we live life today: it's a match for how we've lived throughout recorded history. The way we play the game of life in the world, is we play by a set of rules that don't apply to the game we're in. Is it any wonder things look the way they look? Is it any wonder the game has become a bit weird?

I assert that without mastering the distinctions of transformation, we'll never identify the essential  problem - which is (simply and tersely stated) that we live in the world created / caused by meanings we give to a meaningless life. Say whut?!  Give meanings?  To a meaningless life?  Do you get it? Until we recognize this and take responsibility for it and address it full-on and head-on, I'm sorry but not much is going to change except the flavor-of-the-month  latest predicament on TV and the radio and the front pages of the newspapers and magazines, no matter how hard we try the same old same old solutions again, more, better, and different.

You can't play Bridge by the rules of Gin Rummy. You can't play Monopoly by the rules of Snakes and Ladders. Like that, you can't make the world work (or your life work) and / or succeed, by playing by the meanings we give to a meaningless life. And yet, oh my God! how hard we try to do exactly that! And how we fail - over and over again - for which, if we tell the truth about it, there's ample proof. Yet we keep on doing exactly the same thing - over and over again - expecting different results each time - which, for Professor Albert Einstein, epitomizes insanity (just look around you: there's compelling evidence he's bang on the money - no kidding!).



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© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission