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 Illusion Of I

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

February 19, 2013

"Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you."  ... 
This essay, The Illusion Of I, is the third in a trilogy on I - The I Essays: I am indebted to Elizabeth Russell who inspired this conversation.




Foreword To The I Essays:

Language provides the tools for generating and sharing experience. Tools in my toolbox may be inadequate. A tool may not be as sharp  as it needs to be. I can render inadequate tools adequate in the context of Conversations For Transformation by tightening the definitions of words and including them in The Laurence Platt Dictionary. I can sharpen a tool ie I can sharpen my language  in the context of Conversations For Transformation by adding rigor.

Here's me adding rigor to what I'm indicating by "I" in the titles of The I Essays:

In the title of the essay I, the first in the trilogy comprising The I Essays, "I" indicates who I really am, context, space, possibility.

In the title of the essay And Then Along Came I: The Genesis Of Identity, the second in the trilogy comprising The I Essays, "I" indicates my identity  and how it came to be.

In the title of this essay The Illusion Of I, the third in the trilogy comprising The I Essays, "I" indicates me  which doesn't exist out here.



If I unknowingly fill a diesel powered  Mercedes-Benz with gasoline (which is to say if I unknowingly try to run a diesel powered Mercedes-Benz as if it's gas  powered), it won't work. There's no mystery here. A diesel powered Mercedes-Benz doesn't work with gasoline. It's not designed that way. And if I try to run it with gasoline and it doesn't work, there's no use me claiming I didn't know  it doesn't work with gasoline. The admission "I didn't know" doesn't fix it. It doesn't make it work any better. For me to make a diesel powered Mercedes-Benz work when I unknowingly fill it with gasoline, a shift is required in what I don't know  about making it work.

I assert for the most part we don't run the world the way it's designed to work. We run it unknowingly as a "you or  me" world when it's designed to work as a "you and  me" world. There's no mystery here. The premise of a "you or me" world is individual territoriality  instead of individual co-operation  - which leads to political parties' territoriality (Hello, Congress!) instead of political parties' co-operation, which leads to nations' territoriality instead of nations' co‑operation.

Nations' territoriality is, of course, the precursor to war. What more proof do we need that the world doesn't work when run as a "you or me" world, than war?

Try this on for size: the world doesn't work when run as a "you or me" world. It's not designed to be run that way. And if we unknowingly try to run it as a "you or me" world when it clearly doesn't work as a "you or me" world, there's no use claiming we didn't know it doesn't work as a "you or me" world. That doesn't fix it. That doesn't make it work any better. For the world to work, a shift is required in what we don't know  about making it work.

At the heart of what we don't know about making the world work, is an error akin to unknowingly trying to run a diesel powered Mercedes-Benz with gasoline. Running the "you and  me" world unknowingly as if it's a "you or me" world, is this error. This error is based on an illusion. Yes an illusion. It's the illusion of I. I is an illusion. And it's the illusion of I which leads to individual territoriality instead of individual co-operation - which leads to political parties' territoriality instead of political parties' co-operation, which leads to nations' territoriality instead of nations' co-operation.

The mystics  have known about this anomaly, the illusion of I, forever. But until the onset of transformation, our way of dealing  with I has been iffy  at best, and at worst (if we tell the truth about it) totally unproductive - proof of which is eloquently demonstrated by the world not working, by the world at war. The way we've dealt with I in what we've called an enlightened  way is we've attempted variously to suppress it, to destroy it, to deny it, to quiet it, or to meditate it away. And part of the problem (if not the whole  problem) is that we've dealt with it at all  instead of simply taking responsibility for it, giving it space, and letting it be.

There's no denying I occurs. There's no denying I shows up  for each of us. But what shows up is an illusion. It's not real. If you experience / locate yourself out here  where Life is, where Life happens, you'll see there's no I that's real in the world. Our fervent belief (which is to say our unquestioned concept)  is it's I which, standing apart from the world and objective to the world, watches the world. Consider that's  the illusion. Consider, instead, the world shows up  for each of us ... and what we each call I is simply another component  of the world which shows up for each of us. Said another way, along with all the components of the world which show up for you, I is just another component among the myriads of components of the world which show up for you. I is not who you really are.

<aside>

You can't get "I is an illusion - I is not who you really are"  intellectually or analytically. You can't get it by deduction or by reason. You can't get it by argument or by debate.

The way to get it is experientially. The way to get it is by looking at your experience then telling the flat footed truth  about what's there.

<un-aside>

This is searingly poignant. All the unworkability of the world ie all our unknowingly unworkably  running the world as a "you or me" world rather than as a "you and me" world is based on the territoriality of I. And I is an illusion. It's not even who we really are.



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