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




The Circumstances I've Got

Napa, California, USA

April 24, 2020

"The truth is not found in a different set of circumstances. The truth is always and only found in the circumstances you've got."  ... 
"If I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without any pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me." ... Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī aka Rūmī
This essay, The Circumstances I've Got, is the companion piece to Under All Circumstances.

It is also the prequel to Walking In My Neighborhood.

I am indebted to JeanneLauree Olsen who contributed material for this conversation.



Werner's coaching, that the truth is always and only found in the circumstances I've got, not in a different set of circumstances, is one of the gamechangers in a life leading to the onset of being transformed. Yet even as I listen him ie even as I listen what he's distinguishing, I notice it seems so ... well ... obvious. I mean, doesn't it? Of course  the truth is always and only found in the circumstances I've got, and not in a different set of circumstances. And in any case, "I already knew that!".

But wait! Whoa! Let's back up a bit. Upon closer scrutiny, it's anything but  obvious. That retort "I already knew that"? It's the voice of the already always listening  arrogantly chiming in - to which an appropriate response would be something like "No, seriously? Did you? Did you really already know that? I mean, did you really?".

And the truth is no, I didn't. Not really. As I look back on my life, it certainly doesn't play like I already knew that. Rather, it plays as if I believed that somewhere else  it would be better (ie it would be better in a different place) or soon  it would be better (ie it would be better at a different time, "someday"). And if I'm unflinchingly  honest about it, "I already knew that" is just a ploy. It's a mechanism for avoiding the truth (listen: the machinery protects itself by avoiding the truth  - at any  cost).

It's worth it, just for a moment, to look closely at the already always listening of "I already knew that". It speaks to a remarkable divide between hearing the truth, and living the truth. The trouble never lies with the truth. The truth is just the truth, yes? Rather, it lies in the way I relate to the truth. If "I already knew that" is true, that is to say if I already knew the truth is always and only found in the circumstances I've got, then I've been living inconsistantly with it ie out of integrity with it. The proof of that, is the actual  screenplay of my life reads like if I were somewhere else, the circumstances will be better, or it reads like soon  the circumstances will be better. And it's not even relevant whether they will be or they won't. They may. They may not. The point is that's living inconsistant with the circumstances I've got.

So what does  life look like lived, when I live it like the truth is always and only found in the circumstances I've got? For starters, when lived like this, being complete in any place, is always as accessible as in any other place. Being complete at any time is always as accessible as at any other time. That's profound. Yet immediately  I notice I'm tenuously slipping into and getting caught up with "... well in that case, if it's all the same, why bother?". Oh boy! That machinery? It's so hair-triggered, so spring-loaded as to protect this possibility from being entertained, even for a moment. And what exactly does this possibility allow for? To get that, first consider this:

Even though I've heard this distinction Werner is speaking, in different forms many times, each time I hear it I listen it newly. This is a requirement with distinctions. I listen them newly each time because they have no enduring presence. Making distinctions isn't like learning to balance on a bicycle. Balance on a bicycle, once learned, has enduring presence. Distinctions, on the other hand, have a short half-life, and need to be re-created from time to time (that's vintage Erhard, it's not my original).

So I listen newly, again and again, until an interesting play starts unfolding, one which began by being entirely about the circumstances I've got, then gradually turns and points me in the direction of a truth which isn't at all circumstantial: it's the truth of who I'm being in relation to the circumstances I've got, any circumstances, all circumstances. When I'm listening Werner, I begin by anticipating I'll learn something new which will simplify dealing with the circumstances I've got. I do, but more profoundly, I learn something new about transformation, about who we really are. And as I engage with it, those circumstances clear up and take care of themselves.



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