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

Shut Up And Do What You're Doing II

Black Bear Diner, Napa, California, USA

November 16, 2016

"Don't just stand there: do something!" ... Milly in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

"Don't just do something: stand there!" ... Clint Eastwood quoting his drama coach

"Do, or do not: there is no try!" ... Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order
This essay, Shut Up And Do What You're Doing II, is the companion piece to Whack!.

It is also the sequel to Shut Up And Do What You're Doing.

Given the title of this essay, it should be noted that when you admonish anyone to (quote unquote) "Shut up!", there's obviously the potential (maybe the intention?)  for disrespect. When you admonish someone to "Shut up!", it may be because you're uninterested in what they have to say (and that's when you'd say something like it). But in fact it may be a lot worse than that: it may be that you simply don't have the space for them to say anything at all  (at least not at this  moment in time).

What I'd like to consider (and then introduce in this essay) is the possibility of telling someone to "Shut up!" in a way that's not only kind and compassionate, but also extremely valuable - in other words, what I'd like to consider, isn't your business as usual  "Shut up!". What makes it not your business as usual "Shut up!" is twofold: firstly it's (as I said) given by: this  "Shut up!" carries (perhaps unusually) kindness and compassion; secondly it's given by that to which this "Shut up!" is directed.

Wait! What does that mean Laurence: "... that to which this 'Shut up!' is directed"? Don't you mean "to whom"  it's directed? No, I do mean "to which". Let me clarify.

The method of kindness to which I'm referring, is empathetic  kindness. The method of compassion to which I'm referring, is often described as ruthless  compassion. For "Shut up!" to have any value at all, you have to be empathetically kind when delivering it - it will have even more  value if you deliver it with ruthless compassion. Without these two adjuncts in place, "Shut up!" could at best land as simply rude, and at worst as imposing and suppressive. However when delivered with empathetic kindness and ruthless compassion, "Shut up!" (in the way I'm proposing it) can point toward (if not convey a real taste of) the elusive experience of transformation.

Now "Shut up!" as I've deployed it so far in this conversation, is really an abbreviation of "Shut up and do what you're doing.". There are two parts to this injunction. First there's the "Shut up" part which is directed at our internal dialog. And it's not so much directed at our internal dialog itself (which is arguably on full automatic, and unstoppable anyway), but rather at all the significance  we heap onto our internal dialog. Then there's the "... and do what you're doing"  part which is directed at wherever you're being in action  ie it's directed at whatever you're doing. Life (as Werner Erhard asserts) happens out-here  where the action is. Setting many centuries of contrary beliefs aside, what's "in here"  is just machinery embedded in hamburger. Being transformed, it may be said, is living out-here where Life actually happens.

Listen: it calls for a big  commitment (no kidding!) to give up our tenacious investment in our misconstrued internal dialog (our tenacity blinds us to its automaticity and to its unstoppability, as well as to all the misplaced significance we lavish on it) in favor of investing instead in simply being in action - that is to say in favor of doing what you're doing. In this regard, it's been averred that (to deploy a descriptor which has a certain poetic nicety) the sublime state of Zen is merely doing what you're doing when you're doing it  (enlightenment, in other words, is "doing what you're doing when you're doing it"). Could it be that  simple? (who woulda thunk?).

A close friend of mine schedules his life ie he plans  it (or he creates  it, if you prefer). No doubt you do too - and no doubt you also know many people who do too. What sets my friend apart is he schedules his entire life in fifteen minute increments, and he schedules each fifteen minute increment at least five years or more ahead  - sometimes ten. People have commented "How un-spontaneous is that!". But I say "How brilliant  is that!". He's doing what he's doing when he's doing it. And if he wants to know what he should be doing now, he looks at his schedule. That's how he knows (how brilliant is that!). I'm a fan of "Shut up and do what you're doing.".

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