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


Mountains And Waters

Luna Vineyards, Napa Valley, California, USA

January 23, 2012



"This is it. There are no hidden meanings. All that mystical stuff is just what's so. A master is someone who found out."  ... 
"Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance, I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters."
 ... Zen master Ch'ing-yüan Wei-hsin 
This essay, Mountains And Waters, is the companion piece to
  1. On Knowing The Place For The First Time
  2. Full Circle, Full Spiral
in that order.




It's very Zen. It touches a nerve deep in the meaning making machinery.

If you want to get to the heart of what human beings lives' are really  all about, if you want to get people to sit bolt upright and engage (and it could prove to be a very animated  engagement) with what all our carefully formulated acts, strategies, and modus operandi  are based on, bound up in, and run by, the next time the conversation turns to the meaning of Life, ante up with "There's no meaning.". Or the next time the discussion focuses on what the point of it all  is, say off‑handedly "There's no point.".

Be careful how you hear what I'm alluding to here. These are neither snide nor cynical observations. No, in fact they're waaay  worse than that - worse, that is, if what you're hoping for is they're not really true. They're statements which are almost impossible to listen, given how we're thrown to be, given what we've learned  about living, given what we've selectively interpreted  about Life, given how we're run by survival without realizing  we're run by survival, without confronting  we're run by survival.

The meaning we assign to "There's no meaning", the point we assign to "There's no point" at first  is they're statements coming from apathy, that they're indicative of people with a gloomy  outlook on Life - a Charlie Brown, an Eeyore  perhaps. If either or both of these two statements have even the teensiest ring of truth, we can't bear to be with them. We can't bear the thought of Life without meaning. We can't tolerate the notion there may be no point  to it all. We'll do anything  and everything to avoid them being true. We'll do anything and everything to avoid the domination  of their truth.

It's one of the underpinnings of lives lived without transformation that we have no natural ability  to listen "There's no meaning" and "There's no point" as statements heralding enormous freedom, unbridled joy, and a highly productive way of living.

Say whut?  Did you just say "There's no meaning" (of Life) and "There's no point" (to it all) are statements heralding "enormous freedom", "unbridled joy", and "a highly productive way of living"? Everyone knows  that's not possible, Laurence. What on Earth  are you talking about?

There's no meaning of Life. Intrinsically. None. Did we make up  there's a meaning of Life? Yes. We still do. Incessantly. Did we forget we made up there's a meaning of Life or pretend we didn't  make up there's a meaning of Life? Yes. And if we didn't make up there's a meaning of Life, we made up there's a meaning of everything else. When we forgot we made up or pretended we didn't make up there's a meaning of everything else, we assumed  everything else has meaning, therefore Life must also have meaning.

There's no point to it all. Intrinsically. None. Did we make up there's a point to it all? Yes. We still do. Incessantly. Did we forget we made up there's a point to it all or pretend we didn't make up there's a point to it all? Yes. And if we didn't make up there's a point to it all, we made up there's a point to everything else. When we forgot we made up or pretended we didn't make up there's a point to everything else, we assumed everything else has a point, therefore it all  must also have a point.

The irony of it is we search for the meaning of Life and the point to it all as if  there's a meaning of Life and a point to it all, when there's neither a meaning of Life nor a point to it all other than  that which we made up, then forgot we made up or pretended we didn't make up.

Mountains are just mountains, waters are just waters, there are no hidden meanings, a master is someone who found out (as the two Zen masters may have said). And yes this does herald enormous freedom, unbridled joy, and a highly productive way of living. Here's how:

This is it. Things are just the way they are (and aren't the way they aren't). Realizing there's no intrinsic meaning of Life leaves me free to create any meaning I want (and leaves me free to not  create any meaning at all), leaves me free to invent possibilities of my own for my future and for the outcome of my life, leaves me free to invent ways of being which make a difference. Realizing there's no intrinsic point to it all leaves me free to create any point to my life I want. And if I create a point to my life that's authentic, it makes a difference (one of the many ways authentic lives impact is they make a difference).

More profoundly, when I distinguish the machinery of being human which is thrown  to make meaning, only then  do I discover who I really am as distinct  from the meaning making machinery of being human. Confronted by no intrinsic meaning  in the face of no intrinsic point to it all, I awaken to who I really am as the space, as the context  in which all made up meaning shows up. For I am the author of all meaning. I am the language which speaks  meaning into existence. And, should I so choose, I'm also the language which speaks no  meaning.

In the end, mountains are just mountains and waters are just waters. That's all.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2012 through 2016 Permission