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

On Having New Eyes

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, and San Francisco International Airport
California, USA

September 9 and 18, 2019

"Lots of people have talked about taking that step into the unknown. Taking that step into the unknown is actually a lot less courageous than taking a step from  the unknown."
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
... Marcel Proust
This essay, On Having New Eyes, is the companion piece to
  1. On Knowing The Place For The First Time
  2. The Showing
in that order.

I am indebted to my sister Anthea "Anth" Sarah Platt Haupt who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

In our day-to-day living, there's much we take for granted. Some of what we take for granted serves us. For example, when I park my car in the city, I take it for granted that barring any exceptional and unfortunate circumstances, it will be there in the same place as I parked it, when I return to it to drive home again later.

There are other things we take for granted which aren't like that, the taking for granted of which more than merely doesn't serve us: it gets in our way of living a full life - or spoken more rigorously, it gets in our way of discovering and living who we really are. For example, we take seeing  for granted (that's right: common or garden variety, vanilla seeing), and it doesn't serve us to take seeing for granted. The phenomenon of seeing (notice I didn't call it the act  of seeing) is largely unexamined, unscrutinized, unquestioned. The fact that there's something there  which we see, isn't in question. But the way in which we see what we see ie the way in which what's there registers for us, is.

I have the ability to see in both an ordinary way as well as in an extraordinary way. The ordinary way is I look at  whatever's there (that's how we say it: "I look at  ..."). The languaging of "I look at" implies a doing  on my part, yes? The table is in front of me. I look at it. And because I do looking  at the table, I see it (that's the cause and the effect). Now: if the table was in front of me and I didn't do looking at it, would I see it? More interestingly, if the table was in front of me and I didn't do looking at it, would it be there?  (the latter is a subject for another conversation on another occasion).

On closer examination (and please try this on for size - don't accept it just because I said so: that'll ruin it) I notice if the table is in front of me, I see it's there  - whether I purposefully do looking at it, or not. So I like to say instead (as Werner says) the table "shows up"  for me. The deception implicit in the concept "I look at the table" is if I didn't do looking at it, then I wouldn't see the table. My rationality agrees with that; the truth of my experience  doesn't. The truth of my experience is the table shows up for me whether I do looking at it, or not. And that it shows up for me, whether I do looking at it or not, is what extraordinary  seeing is.

As I allow this distinction to use me, as I allow it to inform the way I be with the world (and as I allow it to diminish and disappear the tired old concepts which have governed the way I've been being with the world in the past), I notice how differentiating between "looking at" (like a doing) and "showing up" (like a phenomenon) is actually an access to transformation. Differentiating between two ways of seeing, is an access to transformation?  How so Laurence? (isn't that just a tad grandiose?).

The idea of doing looking at something with my eyes in order for me to see it, begs the questions "What  sees what I see?" and "Where  does what I see, register?". The ordinary answers will most likely be "My eyes" and "In (or on) my retinae" or "In my brain.". But the extraordinary answers to the same questions when what I see shows up, are "My being"  (not "My eyes") and "Out-here" (not "In or on my retinae" nor "In my brain").

When what I experience (as a phenomenon) shows up for my being as out-here, rather than when what I look at (as a doing) registers for my eyes as on my retinae, that's when I'm being transformed. And that's what it is to have new eyes - or that's one possibility of what it is to have new eyes. "Having new eyes" is experiencing (as a phenomenon) the showing  with my being. That's way different than looking (as a doing) at what's there, with my eyes. The latter is old eyes; the former, new.

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© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission