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 Question

Napa Valley, California, USA

December 6, 2019



"Choose a problem that's worth your time. World hunger is worth your time. Making a million dollars isn't." ... Sandra "Sandy" Bernasek, Landmark Forum Leader (deceased), quoted by the Pittsburgh City Paper

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." ... James Thurber

"Life flows on within you and without you." ... The Beatles, Within You Without You

"It all turns out the way it turns out, with me or without me (mostly without me). So the question is: what is my life going to be about?" ... Laurence Platt




Some questions have one answer. "How many hydrogen atoms are there in a molecule of water?" is an example. Others have lots of answers. "What is the best music ever composed?" is an example. And still others have no answers. "What was your face before you were born?" is an example (Zen koans / questions like these tease out satoric insights rather than answers). This essay enables a context that empowers questions. Take "What is my life going to be about?". Whether the question has one answer, lots of answers, or no answers, I notice I'm seduced by the allure of its answers  when the real power comes from enabling a context for the question.

What gets in my way of powerfully asking "What is my life going to be about?"? That's to say, what gets in the question's way of calling me to ask it powerfully?  Two things, both of which I'll call "backgrounds". The first is the background of "Life is empty and meaningless.". The second is the background of "It all turns out the way it turns out, with me or without me.". Uh oh! So no matter what my life is going to be about, it's empty and meaningless? And no matter what my life is going to be about, it all turns out the way it turns out anyway, with me or without me? Against these backgrounds, the question "What is my life going to be about?" is daunting.

To resolve this anomaly, this conundrum, I had to surrender my already always listening  for existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre eg "Life is empty and meaningless" which has no opening for full Self-expression) and instead consider listening for transformation (Werner Erhard eg "Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless"  with its gaping opening for full Self-expression). In the process, what I discovered for myself is one way to enable a context for the question "What is my life going to be about?" so it's powerful rather than daunting, is to simply distinguish the meaning and significance I add to it.

You can discover for yourself that life is empty and meaningless. But look: don't stop there. Consider Werner's coaching: it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless. That gives us an opening for full Self-expression in which we're free to choose what our lives are going to be about. On the other hand, when I make "Life is empty and meaningless" mean something / signify something, I obfuscate (fog over) any opening there is, with my own arrogance ("I meaning-maker").

Having distinguished that, I can ask the question powerfully against a background of both "Life is empty and meaningless" as well as "It all turns out the way it turns out, with me or without me", now that both are simply what's so. Now I've completely recontextualized  (I love  that word) those backgrounds against which to inquire into what my life is going to be about, and in the process I've also discovered a bedrock platform on which to stand and engage in this inquiry. These recontextualized backgrounds and this bedrock platform enable a context for the question so that it's no longer daunting to grapple with it: now it's both freeing and powerful instead.

So, having reset the stage and enabled a context for the question, what is  my life going to be about? Read along with me as I ask the question of myself. As I do so, ask it of yourself too. Simply reading it along with me? Of marginal interest. Asking it of yourself? Discovering what there is to discover for yourself? Transformational.

What my life is going to be about is making a difference (for the world), making a contribution (for others), generating a quality of life that's worth living (for myself), discovering who I might really  be as a human being like a possibility, living that possibility as fully as I can live it, and sharing it as widely as possible for as long as possible - not like something I've discovered that's already "me"  and "mine"  but rather like something I'm ongoingly discovering that's newly "WE"  and "ours".



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