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

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Selfishness In A You And Me World

Chateau Montelena, Calistoga, California, USA

February 13, 2011



This essay, Selfishness In A You And Me World, was conceived at the same time as Background Soundtrack.



The way you keep someone small, dissatisfied, and incomplete is by preventing them from and / or by distracting them from and / or by discouraging them from experiencing and / or getting to know the Self.

Listen: Perhaps that's not the way you think I should say that. Perhaps the way you think I should say that is like this: "The way you keep someone small, dissatisfied, and incomplete is by preventing them from and / or by distracting them from and / or by discouraging them from experiencing and / or getting to know them-self.".

But they're not the same. They're not even close. In fact if I said it the latter way, I wouldn't be saying the same thing. I would actually be saying something entirely different.

For the most part we regard the world in which we live as a "you or me"  world. In a you or  me world, for me to win, you have to lose - or vice versa. In a you or me world, for me to look good, you have to look bad - or vice versa. In a you or me world, my success  doesn't include your success - or vice versa. So for the most part, the world in which we live today is  a you or me world because we regard it as a you or me world. The typical fare served up in the news on television and in the press speaks eloquently to the unviable, unworkable state of affairs of a you or me world.

Part of the illusion, if you will, which keeps the you or me world in place is our apparent separation as human beings. What this separation looks like is each of us appears as a separate bag of skin enclosing an entity which, for the purposes of this conversation, I'll call a "self" - a "self" as in my-self, your-self, our-selves, them-selves etc. But in a you or me world, when I experience or get to know the  Self as distinct from my-self, then because there's no context for what the Self (as distinct from my-self) really is in a you or me world, it's viewed as being separatist, as being elitist, as being a threat to the other skin bag selves in the group at large, which is to say a threat to the other skin bag selves' identities. In religious  fundamentalists' ways of looking at Life, there's often no recognizing the Self at all. And the irony of experiencing or getting to know the Self in a you or me world being seen as separatist or being seen as elitist or being seen as simply unholy  is it's the you or me world which sees us as separate bags of skin enclosing a self to begin with - a perfect model of separatism  and elitism.

The illusion which holds this view in place is so simple, so basic  that it's seldom looked at and even more rarely is it inquired into. The illusion is that somehow what I experience, what I get to know as the Self is different than ie is separate from what you experience, what you get to know as the Self. In a you or me world, experiencing or getting to know the Self is often construed as "self-ish"  - which is a truism if ever there was one, but a truism which disparages  the Self rather than celebrates and embraces it.

Looking at this closer, I come to the inexorable conclusion that it's the you or me world itself which is the illusion. The truth about our world, whether fully appreciated or not, is that it is, was, and always will be a "you and me"  world. If your  end of the canoe tips over, we both  end up in the water. This view of things may be poignant but it's not oversimplified. We live in a you and  me world which we're erroneously running according to the rules of a you or  me world. Is it any wonder things aren't working as well as they were designed to work? You can't play "Plenty And Enough For Everyone"  according to the rules of "Winner Take All  Five Card Stud".

In a you and me world, the quaint idea that there's a separate self somehow inside each of our skin bags is not only plainly fallacious - it's also obsolete. In a you and me world, workability is actually predicated on experiencing and getting to know who we each really  are as the  Self - and each of us as that same Self. Remember: if your  end of the canoe tips over, we all  end up in the water. I assert you already knew that. But because you're human, you forgot it. And because you're human, you can recall it and recreate it again any time you want to.

In this sense, the erstwhile distinctions "selfish" and "selfishness" have no place in a you and me world, that is if they're not also entirely inapplicable in the context of a you and me world. Selfishness is as inapplicable to a you and me world as a bicycle is to a fish (as Patricia Irene "Irina" Dunn may have said). Selfishness only shows up in a you or  me world. In a you and  me world there's no such thing  as selfishness.



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