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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Surrender To Self Not To A Diagnosis:

Surrender III

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

February 10, 2023

"Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles:they are by somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a human being;somebody who said to those near him,when his fingers would not hold a brush 'tie it to my hand'--"
... e e cummings, A Poet's Life, read out loud by  
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
... William Shakespeare embodying Julius Cæsar, Act II, Scene II, Cæsar's House, circa 1599
This essay, Surrender To Self Not To A Diagnosis: Surrender III, is the companion piece to It is also the eighth in an octology on Self: It is also the sequel to Laurence Platt 71st Birthday: Surrender II.

I am indebted to Joan "Joani" Culver who inspired this conversation.

A very good friend of mine (who also happened to be a very good person) died recently. He was in his mid-70s, having lived a full and productive life, a varied life, an adventurous life, a life on the edge, a life of questioning, a life of inquiry. In essence, his was a life of discovery and contribution. Then, after 75-some years, it was time to surrender to Self, which he did - characteristically, masterfully, in a way that even took care of the people taking care of him.

I shared the news with a mutual colleague. She took it in in silence, then said "That's so sad. What did he die of?". Given the circumstances, a question like that is to be expected. It's almost traditional. And there's nothing wrong with it. It's very human. Yet its habituation has a built-in avoidance. Let me explain.

I savored it, wary enough so as not to get drawn into its trap, its already-always  misdirection. Then I turned to her and said "He died of the end of his life.".

There was love in my answer, undistractable love. I wanted its context to be our friend's life, not a condition he was diagnosed with. I wanted our focus to be on his surrender to Self not to a diagnosis. I saw that celebrating his surrender to Self would be hijacked by / mitigated by attributing it to the diagnosis of a condition. We live in conditions. We're always  living life in some condition or other. There's a condition for every moment of our lives, and there's one for (up to and including) the very end. That much is obvious. And yet we labor under an illusion as if we'd actually live for nine hundred years or more (like that guy Methuselah in the Bible) if only  for the condition(s) we're diagnosed with at the end, which we blame for cutting us down too soon / prematurely.

She looked back at me, slowly opening her mouth as if to say something, then thought better of it and shut it again. Then she said "That's r-i-g-h-t", slowly nodding her head, "he died of the end of his life ...". Say what you will, but that is  what happened, yes? The rest is commentary and conjecture. That some condition was diagnosed around the time his life ended, is almost co-incidental. It's what was happening then. It's just what the condition was at the time.

But it's more than that. It's much  more. My idea isn't to merely surrender to Self at the end  but to always  surrender to Self not to a diagnosis, throughout my life as a way of being responsible for my health and for my well-being. For example: when my hand shakes, do I surrender to the diagnosis of "essential tremor" and take the proffered medication, submitting to it meekly without questioning? Or do I surrender to Self instead as a way of being responsible for being healthy, and begin being brutally honest about where in my life I'm repressing emotional stress which is a known precursor of essential tremor, then handle it that way, not simply surrendering to a one-dimensional diagnosis that inexorably only goeswith  medication (as Alan Watts may have said) in toto?

Surrender to Self not to a diagnosis. That's the difference between having a diagnosed condition, and the condition having me. In any matter of health and well-being, that's a powerful place to be, a place where who I really am can be present regardless of the circumstances, a place where who I really am is present regardless of any condition. It's a place that's always available. In any matter of health and well-being, that's a good distinction to get familiar with.

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