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


Goleta, California, USA

September 20, 2008

This essay, NeXT, is the eleventh in an open group Encounters With A Friend:
  1. Showing Up
  2. Poet Laureate
  3. A Man In The Crowd
  4. Real Men Cry
  5. A Different Set Of Rules
  6. Nametag: A True Story
  7. Half-Life
  8. Waiting On You
  9. Erotica On Schedule
  10. A House On Franklin Street
  11. NeXT
  12. Reflection On A Window
  13. Here And There
  14. How To Enroll The World
  15. Demonstration
  16. Two Of Me II: Confirmation Not Correction
  17. Holiday Spectacular
  18. Hello! How Are Things Going For You?
  19. Regular Guy
  20. A Scholar And A Gentleman
  21. Images Of You
  22. With Nothing Going On
  23. Where No One Has Gone Before
  24. Attachment: Causeway Between Islands
  25. If You're Not Then Don't
  26. Images Of You II
  27. Living Where Life Is
  28. Create Me The Way I Am
  29. How Do You Spell The Sound A Ratchet Makes?
  30. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
  31. The Stink Of Zen
  32. Sitting Quietly In A Room Alone
  33. Footsteps On Metal Stairs
so far, in that order.

The magic of you, the unique miracle you are shows up secondarily as what becomes possible in conversation with you. And even though what becomes possible in conversation with you is secondary, it's awesome.

It's ideas, coming forth in conversation, which make new things possible. Arguably nothing else can - only ideas can do that. A new idea, a new possibility  becomes a force in the universe to be reckoned with. At any particular moment in time, my universe is an exact reflection  of who I'm being like a possibility  - no mistakes, no coincidences, no ifs, ands, or buts, no exceptions!  With the advent of a new idea, with the advent of a new possibility, the universe shifts again, always staying in alignment with who I'm being like a possibility. Thus do new possibilities alter the already always predictable future. There's nothing as powerful as a possibility whose time has come  (as Victor Hugo may have said).

Yet looking, for a moment, at pure  ideas, ideas outside of the face to face  conversations in which they originate, I notice to get  them by themselves, to read them after the fact, or as hearsay  not directly from their source is oftentimes dry. Interesting, perhaps, but dry nonetheless.

There's something else  available when ideas come to me directly from their source. There's something else available when I'm present listening  as their source is speaking. There's a quality which enlivens the erstwhile dryness, a freshness, an aliveness which inspires  simply by virtue of it's being there  along with the ideas themselves.

It's obvious what this quality is. It's obvious perhaps with hindsight, but it's obvious nonetheless. It's the presence, the human being-ness  of the ideas' source. It's the presence of the inventor of the possibility. Arguably, this may be the only way to gauge  the authenticity of new ideas: to get them directly, in a context of speaking and listening, from their source. In this context, when there's an experience of authenticity of source, and when the authenticity of source is congruent  with the authenticity of the idea, only then is the idea experienced as authentic.

But presence, human being-ness, is oftentimes a harsh glare  for an original idea (perhaps that's why plagiarism is so rife?). Listening an original idea spoken by its source, listening a new possibility spoken by its inventor can add credibility to, can lend credence to  an idea. If the inventor of a possibility, if the source of an idea is experienced as authentic, the idea itself rings with authenticity. But if the inventor's presence doesn't ring with authenticity, then no matter how grand the idea may be, both the idea and their source risk getting fried like ants caught by a child unceremoniously in the sun's intensity focused through a magnifying glass.

The magic of you, the unique miracle you are shows up primarily  as who you're being, who you are as the source of new ideas, as the inventor of possibility. Every idea you've ever sourced jibes  with who you are. Who you are jibes  with every possibility you've ever invented. To be  that, to make it real, calls forth a certain way of being which is often characterized simply as "being yourself". It's actually not that. It's not "being yourself". It's actually "being your Self". The difference is very, very subtle. But "being yourself" is good enough for jazz.

I suppose you could say (in a manner of speaking) that who you're being, who you really are, the Self, is infinite. This implies if every idea you source jibes with who you are, and who you are jibes with every possibility you invent, then you're to be acknowledged for inventing an infinite  number of ideas. But that's loose talk. It's not rigorous enough for my liking, even though it certainly begins to touch on what's probably so. To reinstate rigor, I'd like to acknowledge you for one  idea you've sourced, just one, and let this acknowledgement suffice for all  the ideas you've sourced.

I'd like to acknowledge you for sourcing the idea that my past belongs in my past, but I've "mis-filed" it (so to speak) in the future. If there's one idea of yours which, literally, turns my life around, it's this one: "my past belongs in my past, but I've mis-filed it in the future".

In your brilliantly minimalistic way of looking at this phenomenon, there's a filing cabinet  with three drawers labeled "Past", "Present", and "Future". Each drawer is intended as a repository for experiences. Clearly, the drawer labeled "Past"  is intended to be the repository for past experiences, the drawer labeled "Present"  is intended to be the repository for present experiences, the drawer labeled "Future"  is intended to be the repository for future experiences. That would be the order of things. That would be the way things work. When experiences are mis-filed in the wrong drawer, things obviously aren't conducive to working well.

In another way of looking at this phenomenon, I might be interested in uncovering my past, even in understanding  my past and, with the best of intentions, fixing  my past. Whenever I've done that, there's been (to be sure) some uncovering and some understanding. I've even taught myself some new actions to compensate  for my past. But the gorilla in the room, the gorilla no one seems to notice (or pretends not to notice) is all that accomplishes is bringing my past into the present. Then, worse, once I've understood my past, I concede  I'm formed a certain way because of it. I begin to believe I'm shaped by my past. And if I'm shaped by my past, then logically the future must be a product of my past. That's when it happens. That's when, believing the belief, I "file" my past in the future. Mis-file. Mis-take. Big  mistake.

Photography by Lyn Malone
Werner Erhard
It's not merely that the Zen  of it is all wrong (the past should be in the past and the future should be in the future - the past shouldn't be both in the past and  in the future). It's more than that, actually. When the past is mis-filed in the future, the future's no longer empty. It can no longer be new. It's no longer open  to truly create  from.

When I file my past in the past instead of in the future, what's in the future then?

Nothing  ... When I file my past in the past instead of in the future, what's in the future is nothing. When there's nothing  in the future, I'm free, I'm unconstrained, I've got room to create  my life rather than simply live out the already always laid out  constraints of my past.

It's an awesome idea, an awesome gift with enormous power. It puts you in the heart  of whatever's NeXT* for me.

*   Q: Why is the "e"  in italics? A: Because the "e"  is for "erhard"  in the heart of whatever's NeXT for me.

That's one way of looking at it. Here's another way of looking at it:

Q: Why is the "e"  in italics? A: Because the "e"  is in italics.

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