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

Puppet Show

Dutch Henry Canyon, Calistoga, California, USA

October 19, 2006

"You are a machine."  ... 
This essay, Puppet Show, is the companion piece to

I heard it argued recently there's no such thing as transformation.

That's right. No argument's necessary. It's accurate. In the truest Zen sense there's no such thing  as transformation.

Although in the truest Zen sense there's no such thing as transformation, there's always transformation like a possibility. It's a paradox, as is with many things Zen. But thereby hangs another conversation for another time ...

Having set that aside, we could say the launch pad for transformation and the first magical step through the eye of the needle  to its rich freedom is being willing to consider that just about everything we do is on automatic, that there's nothing spontaneous in anything  we do - it's all  mechanical.

That means considering the possibility we never ever even really act. All we ever do is re-act. It means considering the possibility we aren't even free enough to choose. Choosing is an act of creation. We don't choose. We decide. We weigh up options. Then, based on a set of already known preferences, we turn toward one and away from the others. In other words, what we commonly mistake for choice is simply (as Ivan Pavlov may have said) a preprogrammed response to the most attractive bell.

What we call choice is really a response to a stimulus, and an automatic one at that. That's nasty medicine if in addition you believe in free will. When our most cherished freedom, the freedom to choose, is revealed to be little more than a reflex, we need to rethink the whole paradigm within which we constitute ourselves as free.

We're puppets.

Punch and Judy and Baby
by Geoff Felix
We're puppets with feelings and emotions. We're puppets with opinions, assessments, and interpretations. We're puppets giving birth to more puppets. We're puppets having no idea we're puppets. We're puppets blind to our own puppetness. Even if, by some miracle, we were granted a special kind of vision with which we could see our own puppetness, we're puppets who at any cost resist confronting and admitting to our own puppetness. Life is the puppetmaster pulling our strings. We can do nothing but react. That's it. The world and our lives in it is a never ending Punch and Judy  spectacle. That's all there is. There isn't anything else.

Given the total domination and bleakness of our lot as puppets, it would take nothing short of a miracle to shift what's possible for us. If a miracle could occur, we as puppets are unable to conceive of what not now possible it could cause to become possible. Hindsight, however, is always 20/20 vision. Gepetto's wooden Pinocchio is transformed by a miracle into a real live boy. Interestingly what creates the possibility of a miracle happening for Pinocchio is he starts telling the truth.

What becomes available with the miracle of transformation is a place to stand  where we're at the source of our lives, at cause  rather than at effect. And while it's said you and I can choose at any moment under all circumstances to stand there, standing there is the only place from where authentic choice can be made.

Again the paradoxes of Zen ...

Until there's transformation and authentic choice in the matter of our lives, this is all we are from the time we're born until we die: no choice marionettes modeled from pure and total automaticity.

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