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 Only Way Out Is Through

Napa Valley, California, USA

Fourth of July, 2010

"The only way out is through."
... Henrik Ibsen embodying the Boyg speaking to Peer (Peer Gynt) recreating Dante Alighieri embodying the poet Virgil speaking to Dante (Divine Comedy part I, Dante's Inferno)
This essay, The Only Way Out Is Through, is the companion piece to To There Through Here: Heaven Via Dallas.

It is the fifth in a group of sixteen written on the Fourth Of July:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Independence Day
  3. I'd Rather Be With Me
  4. Do It For Nothing
  5. The Only Way Out Is Through
  6. Under All Circumstances
  7. Word Power
  8. When There's Nothing To Say
  9. The Possibility Of Being Independent And Free
  10. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  11. What Goes On Internally
  12. Imprints Of Love
  13. Bookends: A Reflection On Mortality
  14. Come Back To Being
  15. Nobody Is Responsible Except You
  16. Like A Monk In A Cave
in that order.

It is also the prequel to The Only Way Out Is Through, Revisited.

I am indebted to Mike McConnell who inspired this conversation.

When I first discovered it, when I first got the full implication of it in Werner's Be Here Now  seminar, it was so not  instinctive, it was so counterintuitive  to everything I knew and had learned that I really had no way to hold it - that is (said with rigor)  I had no context for it. Then once I'd tried it on for size, once I'd tested it over time in different situations and circumstances and experienced its awesome power, I noticed I have a tendency (it's a real danger  in fact) to make a rule  out of it, to apply it always in all  situations and in all circumstances.

Now I can tell it was never intended as a blanket panacea  for anything and everything which I don't like in my life. Rather it's a shrewd approach grounded in Zen which when deployed in an appropriate situation works so dramatically it leaves me with a chagrined "Why didn't I think of doing this before?" or with the more pointed "Laurence what took you so long?". At best it's an appropriate tool in my toolbox which fits well with certain jobs. I've learned it's best not to use a hammer to loosen bolts. I've learned it's best not to use a sander to tighten a screw. Similarly, this tool works when it's the appropriate tool for the job. And when it works, it works unlike any other tool I own.

I'm speaking about the possibility of experiencing  an experience I'd rather not  be having, instead of trying to change it, instead of avoiding it, instead of denying it, instead of resisting it, instead of pretending it isn't happening. All of the above are my typical knee jerk  responses to experiences I'd rather not be having, like
In the seminar when the conversation turned to what could be done with such an experience, I started trying on "Don't do anything  with it!". I started trying on "Don't try to change it.". I started trying on "Don't avoid it.". I started trying on "Don't deny it.". I started trying on "Don't resist it.". I started trying on "Go through  it!" - "it"  being whatever I'd rather not be experiencing. I started trying on surrendering  to it. Deliberately. Intentionally.

Coached by the seminar leader I get "Go through it!" isn't a rule. And Man!  Something about me wants to churn all great insights into rules thereby both ruining the insights and disempowering the rules in one fell swoop. Rather, it's something to try on like a possibility, something to try on as one of many  possible ways of responding to having an experience I'd rather not be having. It's so simple. With hindsight "Go through it!" is so stoopid  simple. But bear in mind, hindsight is always 20/20 vision, so with hindsight everything  is stoopid simple.

Rather than trying to change my experience I started trying on experiencing  it. The results are dramatic. Rather than trying to change, avoiding, denying, or resisting an experience you'd rather not be having (the natural tendency), try on experiencing it, try on going through it. If there's a way out  it isn't by trying to change, avoiding, denying, or resisting it. It's by going through it. The only way out, it turns out, is through. And if that sounds like too strong a rule, then try on "A  way out (as in one of many options) is through.". But either way, whether it's "A way out is through" or whether it's "The only way out is through", both are counterintuitive. I recommend you try each one on like a possibility, then evaluate its effectiveness as a tool. I promise dramatic results.

An experience I try to change, avoid, deny, or resist persists. An experience I experience  disappears (as Werner Erhard may have said). An experience I'd rather not be having disappears sooner  if I experience  it (that's hard, given I'd rather not be having it at all) than if I try to change it. Sometimes it goes against everything I know to not  try to change what I'd rather not be experiencing - I want to change it, to get it over with fast. But what's so is if I go through it, experiencing it, letting it be and not trying to change anything about it, it disappears sooner. Much much  sooner.

That's attractive. Very very  attractive.

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