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


Sleep After Transformation IV

Domain Chandon, Yountville, California, USA

February 13, 2009



"When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep." ... ancient Zen adage

This essay, Sleep After Transformation IV, is the fourth in the quadrilogy Sleep After Transformation:
  1. Sleep After Transformation
  2. Sleep After Transformation II
  3. Sleep After Transformation III
  4. Sleep After Transformation IV
in that order.

It is the companion piece to Awake To Life.

It was written at the same time as Reactivation: Tempest In A Teacup.




In Zen it's said "When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep.".

Photography by Tom Fitzsimmons - 2009
Werner Erhard
In weighing this adage for the opening statement of this conversation, this fourth look at sleep after transformation, I found myself wondering what differences there are between "when you're hungry, eat" and gluttony, and between "when you're tired, sleep" and laziness  or slothfulness.

After a while I realized there are none. There are no  differences between "when you're hungry, eat" and gluttony, and between "when you're tired, sleep" and laziness or slothfulness except  for those differences given by the
context  in which the adage is spoken.

Context is decisive. Spoken in a non-rigorous context, "when you're hungry, eat" can sound like it justifies gluttony. Spoken in a non-rigorous context, "when you're tired, sleep" can sound like it justifies laziness or slothfulness. However "when you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep" isn't spoken in just any  context. "When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep" is spoken in a Zen context. This Zen context gives rigor and distinction.

It's eating in a context of rigor and distinction which distinguishes "when you're hungry, eat" from mere gluttony. If you sleep in a context of rigor and distinction, that's what distinguishes "when you're tired, sleep" from mere laziness and slothfulness. But what exactly is  "sleep in a context of rigor and distinction"? Is it really possible to "sleep in a context of rigor and distinction"? Furthermore, how can "sleep" and "rigor and distinction" even be uttered in the same sentence?

Sleep is autonomic. Rigor and distinction are choices. Rigor and distinction are distinctions  you can choose to bring to any  activity in life including  sleep. It's the element of choice which goeswith  rigor and distinction (as Alan Watts may have said) when brought to bear on sleep even as it rules autonomically, which transforms sleep.
Werner Erhard takes this one step further. Werner asserts bringing love and kindness to sleep ie bringing love and kindness to bear on the being you are in sleep, transforms sleep. And it's possibly even more than that. Bringing love and kindness to sleep ie bringing love and kindness to bear on the being you are in sleep, transforms tiredness, the waking experience of the autonomicity of sleep, as well as sleep.

In the olden days  ie in the early 1970s when Werner started his magnum opus  of transformation, a new response to tiredness was perhaps slightly brusque  even if it was appropriate. For example, if you invited someone to do something and they declined, saying "I can't - I'm too tired", you might have responded by asking "What if you bring your tiredness with you and do it anyway?".

Today the conversation for transformation, nearly forty years of international exposure, speaking, listening, refining, and including by millions and millions more people later, brings love and kindness to bear on tiredness as another equally appropriate way to be with tiredness rather than simply being stopped, disabled, or incapacitated by it. Speaking for myself, both approaches ("bring your tiredness with you" and "bring love and kindness to bear on your tiredness") work. Where I stand in the matter of keeping on keeping on  even while I'm tired, is in either or both distinctions. They both work for me.

Sleep has the possibility of being transformed, not as a strategy for surviving better, not as a better recipe  for living, not as a rule, and certainly not as an indicator  of anything about you. People who sleep more, people who say they need a lot of sleep, aren't necessarily less transformed. People who sleep less, people about whom it's said they can get away with very little sleep, aren't necessarily more transformed. People who sleep more, sleep more ie whenever they sleep more. People who sleep less, sleep less ie whenever they sleep less.

That said, sleep has the possibility of being transformed simply by including it in an inquiry (in another word, by examining  it ie by examining whatever it is for you), by bringing forth a context of rigor and distinction for it, and by bringing love and kindness to bear on the being you are in sleep.



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