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


Owning Up:

The Freedom Of Taking Responsibility

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

December 15, 2015



"When you actually get that the reality that shows up for you is not what is actually out there, you will likely experience it as an 'A-Ha!'  realization (an einzig), and one that comes as something of a shock for you. And, when you begin to live that every shred of what shows up for you as reality is being wholly generated by your brain, your relationship with the world, others, and yourself will shift dramatically. This is the entrée into mastering leader and leadership as a context that leaves you being a leader and effectively exercising leadership as your natural self-expression."
 ... 
This essay, Owning Up: The Freedom Of Taking Responsibility, is the companion piece to Projector.

I am indebted to Barbara Coetzee and to Jacques Coetzee and to David Tambers who inspired this conversation.




Who are you? I mean, who are you really:  the see-er, the screen, or the projector? Or (if you prefer) which  are you: the see-er, the screen, or the projector?

It's a question I suppose almost everyone who's embarked on even the most rudimentary inquiry into our true nature, would have pondered in one form or another at one point or another: are you the see-er  who sees all of life unfolding, or are you the screen  on which all of life (or at least on which your experience  of life) is projected, or are you the projector  which projects all of life (or at least your experience of life)?

<aside>

To be clear, there's also a fourth  component to this question: "Which are you: the see-er, the screen, the projector, or the context in which all of the above shows up?" 

For the purposes of this inquiry, we'll discard the fourth component. Yet it's a given  that, over and above and beyond all else, what we are is the context in which all of the above (ie in which all of it)  shows up.

We'll also discard the first component - as you'll soon see.

<un-aside>

Now as for the first component in this graduate  conversation, I assert cursorily it's simply too naïve to regard us, after all inquiries are completed, to be nothing more than the see-er who sees all of life unfolding ie watching it yet separate from it. Although it's a good, earnest start to this inquiry, it very soon loses plausibility because of its implicit schism  ie because of its implicit dichotomy between the see-er and all of life, and clearly  who we are whatever  we are, isn't separate from life.

So what this inquiry comes down to then, is this: "Which are you: the screen, or the projector? ... screen? ... or projector?".



Screen? ... Or Projector?



My intention, having now unleashed this question, is this conversation will reveal something you'll consider like a place to stand, like a possibility. However if I start to sound like (ie if you hear  me sounding like) what I'm proposing is the answer  ie that it's "The Truth", that would be the exact moment my intention is thwarted.

Having stepped away from the possibility that what we are is the see-er, it's arguably a step closer to enlightenment to consider that what we are, is a kind of a screen on which all of life and our experience of life, is projected. Sometimes in this way of looking at things, the screen is given a name: we call it "consciousness"  - pure consciousness, pure awareness. This way of looking at things in which what we are is pure consciousness / pure awareness / the screen on which all of life and our experience of life is projected, concerns me in two ways.

What concerns me about it firstly, is what we are as pure consciousness / pure awareness / the screen on which all of life and our experience of life is projected, is really one short step away from what we are as the see-er who sees all of life unfolding ie watching it yet separate from it. While it may be a (slightly) more sophisticated way of looking at things, at its heart it's still fraught with the same issues of schism and dichotomy: there's what we are as pure consciousness / pure awareness / the screen on which all of life and our experience of life is projected, and then there's all of life and our experience of life. And clearly what we are, whatever we are, isn't separate from all of life.

What concerns me about it secondly, is if what I am is pure consciousness / pure awareness / the screen on which all of life and my experience of life is projected, then where's my responsibility for what shows up on the screen?  For me, if there's no accounting for me being responsible for what shows up on the screen in this model, then it's simply not a suitable model for accounting for what I really am.

<aside>

Be careful: the idea that it can't be a suitable model for accounting for what I really am, if it doesn't account for me being responsible for what shows up on the screen ie if it doesn't account for being responsible for my own life ie if it doesn't account for being responsible for my experience of life, doesn't derive from some empirically provable fact.

Rather, that part of it comes from whether or not I take the stand  that any model accounting for what I really am, must of necessity  also account for me being responsible for what shows up on the screen ie must also account for me being responsible for my own life ie must also account for being responsible for my experience of life.

<un-aside>

So we're not the see-er (in the naïve sense), and we're not the screen. We're the projector. I assert we're the projector which projects all of life (or at least our experience of life). And as I said, this assertion isn't intended as "The Truth" but rather as a place to stand  ie as a place to stand and look  - like a possibility ... kind of like "What if  what I really am is the projector which projects all of life (or at least my experience of life)? What would this account for? What would this reveal? What would this empower? What value  would this make available? What would this make possible? What would this explain  which was heretofore inexplicable?".



It's mine, all mine!



There's a certain freedom, a certain relief (a certain joy  even) in owning up  to being responsible for all of it ie in taking responsibility for it all - not like being guilty  of it all, not like being at fault  for it all, not even like being to blame  for it all ... rather simply in taking responsibility for your brain being the projector of it all - yes, all  of it. For example, there's a whole new space from which to forgive  once you stand in the possibility of being the projector of it all. It's a lot harder to forgive, being the screen on which it all happens (ie being the screen to  which it all happens). And that's just for starters.

The direction in which almost all of modern neuro-science research is heading, shows that every shred of what shows up for us as reality is being wholly generated by our brains - something which in fact does provide proof of these assertions. But like I said, all this is only palatable (which is to say, this only works)  when you get it for yourself by inventing it like a possibility.

That's why I haven't attempted to convince  you it's "The Truth" that you're the projector and not the screen in the matter of your own life and your experience of life (all modern neuro-science research aside). Rather, I hope this has completely started  an inquiry into this possibility ie into the possibility of you being the projector and not the screen, in the matter of your own life and your experience of life, and of Life itself. It's a possibility which is senior to both seeing and the concept of enlightenment. Werner's work fleshes out the real possibility that you project it all, the possibility that you generate it all - it's the possibility of being transformed.

Being the screen then, you could say, is the possibility of being enlightened. Being the projector, on the other hand, is the possibility of being transformed. When you own up to being the projector ie when you take responsibility for all of it and for your experience of all of it, you're free. When you're free, miracles happen.



Where The Rubber Meets The Road



I was with Werner when he worked with a woman who was confronting what we'll refer to in the context of this conversation, as being the projector of an experience which was almost completely un-confrontable: she had survived a Nazi extermination camp. Most of her family in there with her weren't so lucky. Tortured pain was quite understandably etched deep into her face. It was clear it had been etched there for many, many years.

Werner took the conversation with her for being responsible (and for being responsible for projecting her experience) all the way to being responsible for being in a Nazi extermination camp. The air was electric! Taking responsibility for being in a Nazi extermination camp, is not  your typical after-dinner chit-chat  topic of conversation. When she got she was responsible for it (and she did  get it! - she owned up) her whole face changed. The tortured look just vanished - it just fell off  her face. Actually that says it way  too mildly. Forty years  of tortured look just fell off her face. You could see she finally had closure. She was radiant.

I had just witnessed a quiet miracle. Something had just taken place in a conversation that simply could not ie should  not have taken place at all. Something had happened that simply wasn't possible.

I've not forgotten Werner's terse comment to the group after she, finally free, thanked him. It rocked my world:


        SHE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING THERE. IT'S THAT GOD-DAMNED  SIMPLE!




The Bottom Line



So: screen?  ... or projector?  Projector. Yes indeed: it is  that god-damned simple.



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