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


Reactivation:

Tempest In A Teacup

Tam Valley, California, USA

March 4, 2009



This essay, Reactivation: Tempest In A Teacup, was written at the same time as Sleep After Transformation IV.



Take, in certain conversations, the age old endeavor to better  oneself, or as we like to say it "to become a better  person". In such endeavors it's considered there's an ultimate goal, a holy grail.

In perhaps the most widely held misconception, in arguably the most rampant mistaken notion regarding the automaticity of a human being's stimulus / response  machinery, an ultimate goal in bettering onself  is considered to be reaching a point in life ie attaining a "higher"  state of being (sometimes referred to as a "higher state of consciousness")  when anger is controlled, when we no longer get upset, when we're no longer susceptible to being hurt. An ultimate goal in bettering oneself is considered to be attaining a state in which, in a word, we're no longer reactivated.

I'd like to take exception with this endeavor - on two counts.

On the first count, becoming a better person  seems to me to be an impossibly and hopelessly mired task, if not a colossal waste of time. If who you're being isn't already  completely and totally OK with you, then it's futile  to try to get "better", to try to become a better person, a process which some respected belief systems caution require hundreds if not thousands  of reincarnated lifetimes to accomplish. And that's to say nothing of the enormous expenditure of time and effort (ie the lifetimes  of time and effort) involved in trying to change one's ways and trying to do things differently (another endeavor which has no guarantee of success).

If who you're being isn't already  completely and totally  OK with you, then it's impossible  to change yourself enough, impossible  to get better  enough, impossible  to be reincarnated often enough to ever get "better" at all.

That's the first count.

On the second count, the myth of attaining a "higher state of consciousness", a kind of exalted  state in which there's never anger, no upset, and no hurt epitomizes denying or pretending a human being isn't a stimulus / response  machine. Denying or pretending a human being isn't a stimulus / response  machine is like a dog trying not to be a dog. A dog can never not be a dog. A human being can never not be a stimulus / response  machine. It's a futile endeavor for a human being to try to not be a stimulus / response  machine, to try to never be angry, to try to never be upset, to try to never be hurt. It's not merely futile. It's a colossal  waste of time.

For us human beings it's a given  there'll be reactivation from time to time. No amount of practice, no amount of consciousness raising, no amount of meditation, no amount of prayer, no amount of new years' resolutions, no amount of therapy, no amount of counseling, no amount of positive thinking, no amount of chanting OM  will change that one iota. You're a stimulus / response  machine, and what stimulus / response  machines do is they react ie they automatically respond to stimuli.

<aside>

I'm not conveying the full impact here when I say human beings' stimulus / response  machinery automatically responds to stimuli. What's true is human beings' stimulus / response  machinery automatically responds to stimuli 100%  of the time ie continuously, always, all the time, 24 / 7 / 365.

<un-aside>

Human beings stimulus / response  machinery automatically responds to stimuli 100%  of the time ie continuously, always, all the time, 24 / 7 / 365. Is there any hope for a human being who tries to control anger, who tries to never get upset, who tries to never get hurt? Is there any hope for a dog trying not to be a dog? None. No hope whatsoever. None at all. It's completely hope-less.

It's hopeless because we approach this anomaly coming from  a place of no power. It's next to useless coming from trying to better oneself  in an attempt to master the vagaries of being a stimulus / response  machine which include getting angry, getting upset, and getting hurt.

There is, in contradistinction, an emboldened distinction which gives mastery over the vagaries of being a stimulus / response  machine without trying not to be (or denying being) a stimulus / response  machine. This distinction is inauthenticity. Distinguishing inauthenticity is a powerful implement. It's a crowbar with enormous leverage. This implement, this crowbar isn't an original invention of mine. It's Werner Erhard's. What I share here isn't my authorship of it. It's my experience of it.

Here's the implement being put to good use. Here's the crowbar exerting great power. Watch:

When you say you're angry with someone, while it may be true at some level, it's actually inauthentic. When you say you're upset by something, while it may be true at some level, it's actually inauthentic. When you say you're hurt by someone, while it may be true at some level, it's actually inauthentic.

So, you might ask, if these are the inauthentic  forms of expressions of being angry, of being upset, of being hurt, what then are the authentic  forms of these expressions?

When you can say it's your  reactivation around someone you're angry with ie when you can own  your reactivation, that's authentic. When you can say it's your  reactivation around something you're upset by ie when you can own  your reactivation, that's authentic. When you can say it's your  reactivation around someone you're hurt by ie when you can own  your reactivation, that's authentic.

Trying to better oneself  by controlling anger, by resisting getting upset, by avoiding being susceptible to getting hurt ie by trying to not be reactivated, is simply more inauthenticity.

And that's the second count.

To generate this conversation, to do the research, I unflinchingly observed my own reactivation machinery. Doing this, I assert, is also a pragmatic way to create space  for the reactivation machinery - simply observe it. If you react to it, you can't observe it. That's because if you react to it, you are  it.

It's even more than that actually. Observing the reactivation machinery and only  observing the reactivation machinery may also be the most effective implement we have to make sure reactivation entraps  us for the shortest duration possible. Mess with it, try to fix it, resist it, explain it, justify it - this only seems to enable it, to empower it. Let it be, don't touch it, observe it, don't explain it, don't try to fix it, keep your fingers out of the machinery  ... and pretty soon it's no longer gripping. Even though it's always there, pretty soon it's just harmless muzak  on a background channel with the volume turned way down low.



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