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


Possibility Minus Possibility Equals Possibility

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

May 3, 2016



This essay, Possibility Minus Possibility Equals Possibility, is the thirteenth in an open group on Possibility: I am indebted to Laurel Scheaf who inspired this conversation.



When I own something (that is to say when I have  something) and I give some of it to you, I have less or even none of what I had before I gave some of it to you.

Yes that does  seem like rather an obvious milquetoast  statement to make. And it is - at least most of the time when most typical things are involved. For example, if I have a wallet full of cash and I give some of it to you, I have less or even none of what I had before I gave some of it to you. If I have a pantry full of food and I give some of it to you, I have less or even none of what I had before I gave some of it to you. If I have a wardrobe full of clothes and I give some of them to you, I have less or even none of what I had before I gave some of them to you.

There are countless examples like these. It seems as if this is the way it always works: I give something away, and I'm left with less of it. Or none of it. Obviously.

On closer inspection you'll notice the examples I've given all involve concrete things: cash, food, clothes, etc. What's interesting to notice is this model will still hold its validity ie will still work even when its examples are rendered more abstract. For example, I have principles. If I don't adhere to my own principles (which is to say if I'm not true to my own principles), I'm not only less principled than I was before, but I also have less of something else: I have less or no power. I have ideals, and if I don't uphold my own ideals (which is to say if I'm not true to my own ideals), I'm not only less idealistic than I was before, but I also have less or no power.

So the question is: but isn't this the way it always  works? both in the concrete and  in the abstract? ie if you take something away from something, don't you always  have less or none of it left? Or is there a situation in which you can take everything  away from something, and still have something left? ie is there a situation in which you can take all  of something away from something, and still have something left? Indeed (I really want you to get this) can you take everything  away from something, and still have everything  left? The answer is: no of course not ie no of course you can't - ... not ... unless ... that ... something ... is ... possibility.

If I invent a possibility and that possibility is fulfilled, what I have left is ... possibility. But notice if I invent a possibility and that possibility is not  fulfilled, what I have left is ... possibility. Indeed if I invent a possibility and that possibility isn't fulfilled, then what I have left is the same amount of if not more  possibility than I had before. That's extraordinary, yes? Possibility isn't constrained by the same old tired ordinary paradigms which constrain our same old tired ordinary ways of thinking.

Cash minus cash equals less cash, or even no cash, whereas possibility minus possibility equals possibility. Food minus food equals less food, or even no food, whereas possibility minus possibility equals possibility. Clothes minus clothes equals less clothes, or even no clothes, whereas possibility minus possibility equals possibility. Principles minus principles equals less principles, or even no principles, whereas possibility minus possibility equals possibility. Ideals minus ideals equals less ideals, or even no ideals, whereas possibility minus possibility equals possibility. Possibility is never depleted. Possibility is never used up. Listen: if possibility were depleted or used up, it wouldn't have been possibility in the first place, yes?

Gee! I hope you get this. Don't just take my word for it. Look at it from your experience. Try it on for size. See if it fits. You can't understand this. But you can  get it.



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