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

Original Sin Revisited

Sonoma, California, USA

March 12, 2012

"For this essay, the original sin  is the first time you said 'Something's wrong!'." ... Laurence Platt text messaging

This essay, Original Sin, is the companion piece to
  1. Something's Wrong
  2. The Land Of  "Nothing's Wrong"
in that order.

This essay, Original Sin Revisited, like all the essays in this Conversations For Transformation internet series, isn't "the truth". Don't believe it (don't dis‑believe it either, for that matter). If you're willing to set aside your belief system  (which you can always retrieve again at the end when you're done reading it), if you're willing to set aside your already always listening  for what original sin is, then you'll grant this essay the space to suggest to you a fresh way of looking at original sin. It will suggest how what's become known as original sin first arose, then what original sin really  is, and how what it really is got lost and remained out of touch and out of reach in the depths of our belief-bound, unexamined lives.

Starting with the premise "We create our own lives" (which is at very least to say we create the outcome  of our own lives like a possibility), I pose the question "What is original sin?". Is it, as is often touted, something we're born  with, something we're born into, something we inherit, something hardcoded  into a particular genetic strand in our DNA? Or, like the outcome of our own lives like a possibility, do we create it?

My former viewpoint is classic religious fundamentalism. My latter viewpoint isn't better  than my former. Instead it's me examining original sin coming from being the author of my life rather than being the victim of Life. The facts (such as they are) stay the same. The point of view shifts.

This particular inquiry arose spontaneously recently in the company of a good friend over a nice meal. I'm recreating it here for you not as "the truth" but rather as something to simply consider, as an issue with which to engage. In this way, anything and everything I say here is spoken inside an inquiry, inside an open conversation  (the first casualty of closed  conversations, by the way, is always  "the truth" given, as Werner Erhard points out, "The truth believed  is a lie.").

Our thought patterns, our epistemology, those unexamined  ways about which we're sure  Life is, have been with us for a long time. And we (if the truth be told) are loathe to let them go. We keep them around to justify our rationality, to justify our actions based on  our rationality, and to justify our view of the world and of how Life works. Yes they've been around for a really long time ... but they haven't been around forever - they've been around for a lot less  than forever, actually.

At some point, at some juncture  in my young life after  I was born, something happened, something major  (in my judgement) after which I made up my mind about how Life is. Based on a real  incident (maybe involving my interactions as a child with my parent(s), maybe involving my interactions as a soft tissue organism  with the hard physical world), I made up my mind about how people are, about how the world is, and about what I can and can't do (or, rather, what I should  and shouldn't  do).

I assert something similar and unique happened for you too. It was unique for me. It was unique for you. It's unique for everyone. But something did happen uniquely for you, a major shock or sense of threat or loss based on an experience of parent(s) / people or an encounter with the hardness of the physical world to our soft tissue bodies.

Immediately following this incident, I came to three conclusions in sequence, each of the latter depending on the former, each justifying  the former:

 1)  "Something's wrong!"


"I don't belong here."
 3)  "I'm on my own."

Werner Erhard created these three distinctions generating the "Beyond Your Winning Formula" event of the mid to late 1980s. They aren't my inventions.

Over and over again, Werner's distinctions have an uncanny laser-like accuracy for me. There's no theory  here. There's no interpretation  here. He simply looks into the space and speaks what's there. Of course, he's not to be accepted without scrutiny, without challenge, or without examination. But for me, agreeing with or disagreeing with I concluded "Something's wrong!" after the incident, is in the same order of things as me agreeing with or me disagreeing with (after scrutiny, challenge, and examination) his distinguishing my left hand is at the end of my left arm.


After the incident, I concluded "Something's wrong!", which led to "I don't belong here", which was followed by "I'm on my own". All of these are Life altering  conclusions, which may or may not be  valid and accurate. From then on, my life took a decidedly different turn, a dramatically different turn, a seriously different turn fraught with all the inconsistencies of a dubiously valid conclusion, and a dubiously accurate point of view. When I view my life (or worse, when I live  my life) based on dubiously valid conclusions and / or on dubiously accurate points of view, things stop working  - sometimes painfully so, yes? When I live my life this way, anything  I do (or try  to do) just makes things worse. There's no way out. Stuck in this particular paradigm, I can't save myself.

Here's the thing: if I don't examine the basis of my conclusions, of my points of view, and of my actions, I'm oblivious to why my life doesn't work. If I haven't realized the basis of my actions is simply the dubious conclusion "I'm on my own", if I haven't examined the basis of "I'm on my own" is the dubious conclusion "I don't belong here", if I haven't examined the basis of "I don't belong here" is the dubious conclusion "Something's wrong!", then I'm literally doomed  to a life of unworkability.

Now, I assert a "life of unworkability" translates to (borrowing from widely subscribed belief systems) a "life of sin"  - if you'd please allow me the poetic license of segue-ing from unworkability to sin. For this essay, the original  sin was the first time I said "Something's wrong!". Honest. No kidding. And until I examine my conclusions, my points of view, and my actions, this original sin will taint my entire life.

There's one more piece to this way of looking at original sin, and it's this: to make sure a person doesn't find out who he is, convince him that he can't really make original sin disappear (as Werner Erhard may have said). It's more than that actually. It's convincing people that they can't really make anything  disappear, is an attempt to keep all of us enslaved in belief.

Transformation recontextualizes  (I love  that word ...) original sin.

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