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

Resetting The Default

The Table, First Presbyterian Church, Napa, California, USA

November 15, 2018

"We spend the first year of a child's life teaching it to walk and talk, and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down." ... Neil deGrasse Tyson

This essay, Resetting The Default, is the companion piece to I am indebted to Paris Brown who contributed material for this conversation.

Admit it: you've often looked at what's wrong with your life. And it's not just you. Every last one of us has. When we look at what's wrong with our lives, it appears as if we're looking through a lens of discrimination ie it appears as if we're deploying an intelligent  process, as if we're first evaluating our entire situation, then bringing our best, calm judgement to bear on it, and only then do we determine if something's wrong or not. And the truth is we find a lot  wrong with our lives, yes?

I'd like to propose another way of looking at this. I don't mean another way of looking at what's wrong with our lives. I don't mean a renewed assessment of what doesn't work in our lives (like a second opinion  if you will). I mean another way of looking at the way we look at  what's wrong with our lives (that's a very subtle difference - it's not merely tautological).

I propose that the assessment "Something's wrong"  has no discrimination. It's not intelligent. There's no judgement in it. It's simply a mechanism. It's on automatic. There's a switch  (if you will) in our brains that's designed to flip facilely between "Something's wrong" and "It's OK the way it is (and the way it isn't)", and it's stuck  in the "Something's wrong" position. And like I said: that's not just you, and it's not just me: I assert it's us  ie it's all of us human beings, every last one of us.

When "Something's wrong" was first laid down, we were very young - that is to say when you and I first laid "Something's wrong" down, we were very young. That's when that switch got stuck in the "Something's wrong" position. That's when "Something's wrong" became our default state. Now as adults, we assume "Something's wrong" is the conclusion of an intelligent (ie a smart)  assessment we made. I'm sorry: it's anything but the conclusion of a smart assessment. It's a rote, mechanized, thrown way we be  (Gee! I hope you get that.).

The fog of "Something's wrong" has grown so that now it overshadows everything. We're always looking for ways to fix what's wrong with our lives, like there's nothing that making more money won't fix, like there's nothing that changing jobs won't fix, like there's nothing that getting out of this relationship (and getting into a new one) won't fix ... heck, like there's nothing that the Lord  won't fix soon.

When you really get down to it (ie when you dig deep into it), what we want is the sense of security  we envision comes with money. Money in and of itself is always disappointing: it never goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) an intrinsic sense of security. "Something's wrong" always vanquishes any sense of security, regardless of the size of the lottery payout. The trouble with changing jobs as a strategy to make things right, is "wherever you go, there you are". Being in a new relationship may not require a move in physical space like changing jobs, yet it's still hamstrung by that same old "wherever you go, there you are". And as for the Lord fixing things for us soon, don't hold your breath: she's not coming!

There's a way to transform this situation which maybe (just maybe) doesn't require changing or fixing that which occurs as wrong with our lives. Changing or fixing that which occurs as wrong with our lives, if we tell the truth about it, never worked anyway. All it ever produced is an endless sequence of frustrations and disappointments. Maybe (just maybe) the situation is transformed by simply resetting the default state  from "Something's wrong" to "It's OK the way it is (and the way it isn't).". Maybe that's what it takes. Maybe that's all  it takes.

Feasible? One thousand  percent. So when I hear "No Laurence, things are never quite that simple, Dude!" in reply, my response is a compassionate "Oh they aren't? And who says so?". Watch: we inadvertently laid down "Something's wrong" as an assessment, and it became the default state. By the same token, if we lay down "It's OK the way it is (and the way it isn't)" (or any other observation for that matter) it will become the default state. Didn't we already prove when we laid down "Something's wrong", that this is the way it works?

This is simple stuff. Listen: transformation is  simple. It may not always be easy. But it is simple.


Be careful: you don't want to merely be swapping one tired, old belief for another.

You laid down "Something's wrong" as a belief, and how well did that work for you?

The trouble starts with living from a belief ie from any  belief (in this regard, "Something's wrong" was merely the flavor of the month).

"It's OK the way it is (and the way it isn't)" isn't just another belief. Rather it's a context to try on, a context in which to stand and look: stand in it, and it's miraculous; believe  it, and you'll ruin it tout de suite.


This is not the realm of positive thinking nor that of affirmations. It's not a matter of ignoring or turning away from what's wanted and needed in the world. And it's certainly not the realm of changing things or fixing anything. It's a flat-footed, Werner Erhard experiential breakthrough ... that, and resetting the default state from "Something's wrong" to "It's OK the way it is (and the way it isn't)" is also good Zen. It doesn't mean there's no more work to do. What it means is that the platform on which we stand when we do whatever work it is we do (in other words who we're being  when we do whatever work it is we do) dramatically shifts from being stuck, to being transformed, from justifying struggling and in dire predicaments, to saddling up and riding the thoroughbred of possibility.


If the idea of resetting the default works for you, then take it: it's yours.

Here's another possibility: "Something's wrong" ie both the behest of it and the noise  of it, is simply machinery.

If that's so, then just allowing it to be there in the background (like a radio on in another room) without paying it any attention, may be an even more pragmatic way of dealing with it than resetting it.

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