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


Onramp To Power

Menage À Trois, Oakville, California, USA

February 20, 2016



"Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you."
 ... 
"'I' is not me. It's simply something that shows up for me. Be open to the possibility of being with this thing called 'I' so you're moved to tears by it. You can't master life until you master 'I'."
 ... 
"If you're going to be a leader, you're going to have to have a very loose relationship with this thing you call 'I' or 'me'. Maybe that whole thing in me around which the universe revolves isn't so central! Maybe life is not about the self but about self-transcendence."
 ... 
This essay, Onramp to Power, is the sequel to Who I Am.

I am indebted to Donovan Copley and to Steve Zaffron who inspired this conversation.




It all shows up in our experience (we're out-here). That's the basics. And it's all communicated with and shared in our language (we're our speaking out-here). That's the miracle. Who we are is the space in which the events and circumstances of our lives occur ie who we are is the context  in which the events and circumstances of our lives show up. Indeed, who we are is the context in which all of it  shows up. And all of it which shows up in the context we are, is its con-tent  - in other words, all the events and circumstances of our lives, are its content. It's along this razor thin line which demarcates context from content, that transformation comes alive.

There's a shift which goeswith  transformation (as Alan Watts may have said) which is both subtle and profound. The moment of transformation (ie what happens when life transforms) is sometimes referred to as a contextual shift  because it's when that which we once considered to be life's content, shifts and is discovered (arguably for the first time) to really be its context. Here's what I mean by this:

Prior to transformation I had it that who I am is just another piece in the game of life ie I had it that who I am is just more content in the game. With the onset of transformation, I experience who I really am newly as the context in which my life occurs - which is to say I experience who I really am as the context in which the entire game occurs. In this new context of who I really am, what shows up for me as "I"  and "me"  are just two more pieces along with the other pieces  in the game. It's extraordinary: this discontiguous moment out of time in which I realize that which I once considered myself to be as content in the game, is actually its context. In addition, with a clarity that's disconcerting for a newbie like me (frankly it's tough to be with), I see who I am is distinct from "I" and "me". It knocks me on my ass.

<aside>

Listen, this is too valuable to pass over quickly: "... who I am is distinct from 'I' and 'me'".

Sit with it in your lap like a hot brick ie like a koan.

It's very Zen. It's very beautiful. And it will drive you crazy if you try to figure it out.

<un-aside>

Image courtesy crossfitmagicvalley.com - Collage by Laurence Platt
In the moment I'm willing to accept this remarkable new state of affairs, a whole new possibility arises for relating to my life, and for playing the game of life, which wasn't available when I experienced myself earnestly (if not naïvely) as content in the game. It's when I'm willing to distinguish (and then totally own) that I'm the context in which the whole game and  all its content (including "I" and "me") shows up, that I've steered my life up the onramp to power.

<aside>

To be sure, I admit my idiom "onramp to power" deploys a certain non-rigorous poetic license. In the matter of being powerful (and rigorous) it would work better to infer I steer from  power rather than to  it.

That said, referring to taking on this contextual shift as steering up the onramp to  power, is good enough for jazz.

<un-aside>

I can gauge the level of responsibility I've taken for my life and for the way my life has turned out and ongoingly turns out (indeed, for the possibilities I am for my future) by whether or not I've owned that what happens (ie the content in my life) is determined by the context I generate for it. It's more than that actually. It's what I do and the way I act in any given situation, is a direct result of (ie is colored and shaped by) the way that situation occurs for me.

<aside>

That last pivotal assertion - that what I (ie we) do and the way I (ie we) act in any given situation, is a direct result of (ie is colored and shaped by) the way that situation occurs for me (ie for us) - re-creates Werner. It's vintage Erhard which has enormous ramifications, suggesting (counter-intuitively perhaps, and contrary to what's often presupposed) that the source of our action in any situation, is simply the way the situation occurs for us - and nothing else.

Wait! Doesn't this way of looking at things, cede blame for what we do and how we act in any given situation, to our circumstances?

It's the context I am for any situation, which determines the way that situation occurs for me. And what I do and the way I act in any given situation, is a direct result of (ie is colored and shaped by) the way that situation occurs for me. Ergo  it's the context I am for any situation, which determines what I do and the way I act in the situation.

This squarely vests the power and the responsibility with us for our actions in any situation, rather than ceding blame to our circumstances.

<un-aside>

This is the onramp to true power (poetic license notwithstanding), the power which comes from taking on being who I am like a context, a context which upon close scrutiny is seen to be distinct from "I" and "me", both of which simply show up for me as content in this context of who I really am. By taking on and owning being the context for my life including "I" and "me" and all the events and circumstances which occur in it, I directly impact how the situations in my life occur for me, thereby staking claim to my say in the way they play out ie thereby granting me leverage and power in the way they play out, and in the way my future takes shape.



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