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

Stand Up, Sit Down, Stand Up, Sit Down

Trefethen Family Vineyards, Oak Knoll Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

September 25, 2012

The first time I experienced it (it's not brief - it goes on for quite a while) I knew immediately it was was an awesome exercise, a process  which, with laser‑like accuracy and simplicity, goes straight to the heart of our resistance to following simple instructions. I mean "following simple instructions" quite literally. But it can also be a euphemism for surrendering to what works.

It's been said "When all else fails, follow the instructions" - and we're loathe to follow the instructions. Computer geeks will relate to "If it doesn't work as advertised, read the f****** manual!"  - giving rise to the infamous acronym RTFM. Is it that we're so sure  things are difficult, is it that we're so certain things are complicated  that when the simplest, most elegant choices present themselves, we're routinely skeptical of (and so we resist)  their workability?

The trainer says "OK, stand up.". Everybody stands up. If this is the first time you've participated in this particular process, you think "Great! It's a stretch  break.". But just as you raise your arms or turn your hips or do whatever you do when you're stretching, the trainer says "OK, sit down.". You sit down, thinking "That  was a short break!" just as the trainer says  "OK, stand up" again. Everybody stands up again. Then, after not much time standing, "OK, sit down.". "OK, stand up.". "OK, sit down.". "OK, stand up.".

It doesn't stop when you start wondering what it's all about. "Sit down.". It doesn't stop when you start thinking "This guy must  be kidding.". "Stand up.". It doesn't stop when people begin laughing nervously. "Sit down.". It doesn't even stop when some people have simply harumphed  and remain seated, ignoring the trainer's instructions. "Stand up.". "Sit down.". "Stand up.". "Sit down.".

When it finally ends (maybe twenty minutes later), there's sharing. "What did you get from the process?" the trainer asks the group. Most of the expected, business as usual  outbursts come first. "What was that  all about?". "What a total waste of time!". "What are you trying to do - make us angry?".

You know this work. You suspect none of the business as usual outbursts have anything to do with the purpose the process serves. Slowly, very slowly at first, people start getting what it's really  about. It's really about the way we're thrown  to be when following simple instructions. It's really about what comes up in the face of being told what to do  - which is to say it's really also about what comes up when we assume  we're being told what to do, be it by another person or by Life itself. It's really about coming eyeball to eyeball with our resistance to following simple instructions. It's a brilliantly choreographed experience of really looking at the ego  mechanism which says "No one  can tell me  what to do - no  one!", and eventually asking whether being ego‑centric this way serves any useful purpose.

For some, the process is infuriating. Even more so, for them it's infuriating that it's infuriating. It's not infuriating for everyone, mind you: there are others for whom the process is enlightening, an eye opener. I'm one of the latter. It could be those for whom it's infuriating, are unwilling to confront their own infuri-ation  (if I may coin a new word) in the matter of being asked to follow simple instructions. It could be whatever issues and reactivations they experience resulting from being asked to follow simple instructions (which result in their justifications for resisting following simple instructions), are the issues and reactivations which get in the way of Life working.

The "stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down" process provides a perfect opportunity to observe them, whatever they are, to confront them, and to choose to let them go.

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