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

Source Of Zen Bland:

Hand Grasps Itself?

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

January 24, 2010

This essay, Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?, is the sequel to Zen Bland.

It is the sixth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
  23. Located Inside Language
  24. Be A Good Day
  25. Words Are Like Numbers
  26. Law In The Universe II: An Inquiry Into Inquiring
in that order.

It is also the second in an open group on Source: I am indebted to Mark Ty-Wharton who inspired this conversation.

It's often speculated language may be insufficient to the task of defining  who we are. It's a subtle distinction: defining  who we are. Not expressing  who we are. Not generating  who we are. Not even being  who we are. Defining  who we are.

If language does indeed prove insufficient to the task of defining  who we are, does this lay waste to the possibility of language being  who we are?

I am who I say I am. In other words, I speak  who I am. It's more than that, actually. It's in the act of speaking, and in particular it's in the very act of speaking who I am when I'm most authentically being  who I am.

In this sense, language is who we are like a possibility. It's possible to deploy language like that.

Now consider this (it's not necessarily "the truth"  - it's just something to consider for this conversation):

Your hand is your hand. It grasps, but it can't grasp itself. Your eye is your eye. It sees, but it can't see itself. Similarly, your language is who you are. It's the context  for who you are, but it can't define  who you are. Language, being who you are, may be insufficient to the task of defining who you are. But even if language does prove to be insufficient to the task of defining  who you are, that doesn't detract from, besmirch, or diminish language being  who you are. Being  and defining  aren't in the same domain.

My assertion is language as  who I am isn't diminished if it doesn't define  who I am, any more than my hand isn't diminished if it doesn't grasp itself, any more than my eye isn't diminished if it doesn't see itself.

If Conversations For Transformation create a space in which you get  who you are, then they succeed. This is my intention. It's an entirely different option to write Conversations For Transformation which define  who you are. The latter is a much harder row to hoe. In fact, it may only be possible to define  who you are as language tautologically  ie self-referentially ... which is to say, when the definition of who you are is used to construct the definition of who you are. That's like looking up the definition of who you are in the dictionary, and discovering the dictionary entry for who you are says "Refer to the entry for 'who you are'". That's a tautology. It's a definition in terms of itself.

And yet, be that as it may, if I can get you to get  who you are, I won't need to define  who you are anyway. You'll know  - directly, intimately, experientially.

The Conversations For Transformation essay Zen Bland sprang from an exchange in which something monumental was shared in a way which emphasized and embellished its monumentalness, if you will. At the time, that seemed like the appropriate way to share it. Yet in hindsight (and hindsight is always 20/20  vision), I saw it ironically interfered with people actually getting  how monumental it was.

When I got that, I made a point of repeating the same conversation using totally bland language. I simply let people have the facts without adding any embellishment at all whatsoever. In that bland delivery, they totally got the monumentalness of it by themselves. This approach worked much, much better in conveying the monumentalness of it than any expression of the monumentalness of it could ever convey.

This is the source of Zen Bland for me. Zen Bland documents language being  monumental without needing to define  monumentalness itself or without even needing to define why  something is monumental - although it may accomplish one or the other or both also. Language may be  who I am without being diminished if it turns out it's true language is insufficient to the task of defining  who I am.

In any case, as for whether it's really true language is insufficient to the task of defining who I am or not, I'd like to wait and see. The jury's still out on that one.

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