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

Needs Have You:

An Exposition

Luna Vineyards, Napa Valley, California, USA

March 16, 2015

"I'm inviting you to stand in the possibility, like a space, like an opening, like a clearing, that you don't have needs. Needs have you."  ... 
This essay, Needs Have You: An Exposition, was written at the same time as
Werner's brilliant quotes have me looking at the world with a completely new perspective. Looking at the world with a completely new perspective, isn't something I try  to do or engineer doing. It's just something that seems to happen  when I'm listening Werner. As I look at the world from a completely new perspective, two things become available. The first is I get new insights into whatever it is I'm looking at, which weren't available to me before - that is I get to see the thing newly. As valuable as this is, it's the least valuable of what becomes available listening Werner. What's truly valuable is the second: looking at the world from a completely new perspective, is to discover an entirely new way of seeing. What I end up with is both seeing the thing newly as well as  discovering an entirely new way of seeing.

The source quote for this essay is Werner speaking about needs. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs  categorizes human needs in five tiers. They are (from lowest to highest): Werner's speaking however, isn't highlighting specific needs or even categories of needs. He just refers globally to ... needs. Here he is. Listen:




If you listen this quote, it has a certain riddling  quality to it, yes? It has a certain Zen koan  quality (if you will) to it. It's provocative. You may think "What does Werner mean by 'Needs  have me'?"  (or something like that) as you engage with it. It's enlightening like a Zen koan if you listen it like a riddle. But if you listen it as the possibility of recontextualizing  (I love  that word) your relationship with your needs, then it's transformational. Here's what I mean by this:

In order for me to get this quote in all its brilliant entirety, I have to be willing to re-evaluate who I really am in relationship to my own needs. At first, my relationship with my own needs can be found in the way I typically talk about them. Typically when expressing my own needs, I'll say something like "I need ... " (love, for example) - or said more explicitly, "I have  a need for love.".

Well ... what if that's not true? What if I've merely come to accept  it as true and have never really examined this acceptance thoroughly? No, I'm not suggesting it's not true that things go well with love. Not that. Rather, I'm asking what if it's the other way around? What if my declaration "I have a need for love" really works the other way around? What if it's the need for love that has me  (grips me, runs me) rather than me who has the need for love? If it's true needs have me, rather than me having needs, what does this imply?

The brilliance of Werner's quote is it teases out  (which is to say listening it, brings into play) the automaticity  of needs, and the way we're run by them. Being run by needs is neither a bad thing nor a good thing. They're just needs, and needs always have us on full automatic. But distinguishing  we're run by needs, on the other hand, is transformational. Noticing that needs have us rather than we have needs, is the first step towards recontextualizing needs - which is to say it's the first step towards transforming them.

What's interesting to me is the genesis  of this whole idea. Let's track it. It starts with "I have needs" - like "I have a need for love.". However the idea that "I have needs" like a declaration, is revealed after even the most cursory examination, to be patently false. The truth is closer to "Needs have me.". I'm run by my needs. Here's the extraordinary aspect of this: once I totally get "Needs have me" rather than "I have needs", then (perhaps for the first time ever) I can truly have needs ...

Wait just a minute! Aren't we back to where we started? Aren't we now back to "I have needs"? Yes we are. We've gone from a business as usual  "I have needs" through the transformational "Needs have me", and now we've come back to "I have needs" again - only this time around it's a recontextualized "I have needs" we've come back to. Something has shifted - big  time (you can tell). So what's shifted? From what to what? Can you say what it is?

The business as usual "I have needs" (I'm run by my needs) (predicament) has shifted to "I have needs" (I have the space for letting the needs which have me, be) (freedom). It's the same declaration, but now it's replete with a completely new context - or (spoken with rigor) it's the same declaration recontextualized. And to get it, I went through (if you will) and experienced Werner's riddling "Needs have you" in all of its brilliant Zen koan terseness.

Thank You Werner.

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