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




Take A Hold Of That

Valley Of The Moon, California, USA

September 1, 2018



Early on: "Now if you'll just take a hold of that, it will make you free."
... 
quoted by his brother Nathan Rosenberg to Professor William Warren Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in the account titled "The Prodigal Son Returns" in the chapter called "One Big Family" in part IV, "Completion", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"
Later on: "Experienced experience disappears."
... 
This essay, Take A Hold Of That, was conceived at the same time as I am indebted to Bruce Miller who inspired this conversation.




"It's a quality of life  issue" she insisted, describing a critical choice she had to make (her description of it sounded like a lament). When she said it was a critical choice she (quote unquote) had  to make, she qualified that by adding it was a choice she was forced  to make. The truth is: nothing was forcing her to choose anything. Equally true was: it occurred  for her that she was being forced to choose. Power isn't altering what happens. Power is altering the way what happens, occurs for you.

I could see the dilemma she was in. When you make a choice, it's free  ie choosing is supposed to be a free act (indeed, the very act of choosing itself, is supposed to free ... you ... up, yes?). What she was stuck in, was this: she had  to choose. It was worse than that. It was she was stuck in: if she didn't choose, the consequences would be worse than both the available bad choices she didn't like. And as for both her available bad choices, there wasn't even a clear-cut better  bad choice. Choose, or not choose, it was all the same issue. It was all what she was calling a quality of life issue. And there was no clear-cut path to the quality of life for her.

"Try this on for size:" I ante'd, "it seems as if you're looking to make a choice ie to get the right answer  which, when gotten, will give you quality of life. You have it that this choice will (or should) give you quality of life. You have it that this choice is a quality of life issue. But listen: it's all  a quality of life issue. In terms of quality of life, any choice (especially this  one) is so far down the list of what really makes a difference, as to be almost totally insignificant in the overall scheme of things.".

A blank stare, an awkward silence ... then she said "I don't like  this at all" plaintively, tacitly squirming. "Well" I pushed further, "what is it about the quality of life issues you like more ie what is it about the one you're angling for right now, you know, the one you would  like to have? What is it about it?". There wasn't even the briefest of pauses. "I can be  with the experiences I prefer. I can be with the experiences I like. This one? I can't be  with it" she blurted out instantly, authentically.

Jackpot!  Now listen carefully: at any moment in time, the perfect frame of mind for you to be in, is the one you're in right now. More than that, at any moment in time, the perfect experience for you to be having, is the one you're having right now. It's not in stopping, changing, fixing, or altering your frame of mind or your experience, which brings (back) quality of life. It's in being with whatever's going on  (it's critical to get the emphasis on being  with whatever's going on) which brings (back) quality of life. Allow that. Experience that. Take a hold of that  (thank you, Werner!). Embrace that. That's what will make you free. Quality of life goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) what you can be  with, not necessarily with what you'd like  or want to be being with. I stood in front of her, extending my arms straight out towards her, putting my right hand on her left shoulder, and my left hand on her right shoulder, bathing her in my smile: "Gee! I hope you get that. Do  you?".

She looked back at me, unblinking, in silence. Then ... "Totally!" she said, after a moment or two's pause. It was that moment or two's pause, which told me she got it. Had she responded sooner, I would've had reason to doubt that she was telling the truth. She had to first take the time to look and see for herself. This stuff isn't tiddlywinks. It may be simple, but it isn't always easy. Why it's simple but not always easy, is it runs against so much of how we're thrown to be, about being with our experience. We're thrown that if we like it, then be with it. And if we don't like it, then avoid it. That's how we're thrown, yes? You have to be big to be  with what you don't like, as equally as you be with what you do like. This is good Zen: take a hold of (be with) that which you can't be with. Don't avoid it. That will make you free.



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