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


There's Always Something Going On Internally

Peju, Rutherford, California, USA

September 1, 2019

"Without being a man or woman of integrity you can forget about being a leader." ... 
This essay, There's Always Something Going On Internally, is the companion piece to the trilogy Internal States:
  1. Internal States
  2. Internal States II
  3. Internal States III: Way Of Being
in that order.

I am indebted to Eric Edberg who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

It's a quintessential distinction of Werner's work. The Leadership Course in particular and many of his other courses are predicated on it ie are all grounded  in it. It's so fundamental to the work of transformation that when I asked Werner how  the Leadership Course works, he cited this particular distinction's incisive power.

What makes it possible to be a leader? For starters, you have to be authentically who you really are with integrity  (without being a man or woman of integrity you can forget about being a leader). The Leadership Course which delivers to its participants who they really are as leaders, accomplishes this by delivering the access  to who we really are as leaders. What is this access? How is it delivered?

To enliven this access and to make it tangible, real, powerful, and pragmatic, Werner's method (if I may call it that) is to first examine what's going on with us internally, in a painstakingly detailed, thoroughly exhaustive inquiry which deploys various takes, progressively deeper and deeper cuts, and perspectives and abstracts until participants have a transformation in the way they relate to their identity  (if you will). In the breakthrough of the Leadership Course, people get that what's going on with them internally (their thoughts and memories, feelings and emotions, and bodily sensations) isn't who they really are  (it's shocking ... but true nonetheless).

When that's realized (for some, it's a satori-like moment) then who we really  are as "out-here" comes into play, arguably for the first time, perhaps gradually at first given it's unfamiliarity, but thereafter as easy as riding a bicycle: obvious ("Duh! Why didn't I think of this myself before?")  and from then on, never to be unlearned.

I'm a graduate of the Leadership Course. I'm steeped in this particular distinction (not to mention enamored with it). The kind of conversation it's now possible for me to have with friends (especially those who aren't graduates) has taken on an entirely new dimension given the completely new vantage this distinction makes available. Having these "split experience" conversations (if you will) ie ones in which I'm a graduate and they aren't, only works if I take responsibility for bringing this distinction to bear, and for creating a space worthy of it being gotten in. Many of these conversations start off being about fixing things, explaining things, understanding things, solving things, working on things (ie in the questionable "I'm working on myself"  order of business) or finding ways to avoid being dominated by, hurt by, blindsided  by things. By "things" I'm not only referring to worldly events, situations, and circumstances. I'm also referring to (for want of a better word) "internal dialogs".

Graphic courtesy

Game by Aaron Fechter

I was having coffee with a friend of mine who just ended a ten year relationship. She listed all her reasons for ending it. She had them all worked out and explained - except none of that did her any good. She was still stuck, blaming her ex, feeling angry and betrayed, "thinking about it all the time" she told me. I said to her "Don't go there. Look: that's just your automatic internal dialog. And there's always something going on internally. Always. And it's not who you are. Trying to end what's going on internally, is as futile as playing Whack-A-Mole:  BAM! Down and out of sight one goes ... only to pop up uncowering somewhere else later.".

Another friend of mine shared since his children had grown up and gone their own ways, he "felt pointless and depressed". I said "Don't go there. That's just your automatic internal dialog. There's always  something going on internally. Always.". It doesn't take much for people to confirm that (as stoopid  as it sounds) our internal dialog is on full-automatic and doesn't respond to our futile attempts to take charge of it permanently. It doesn't take much to experience, once the futility of trying to take charge of it is realized, that who we really  are is actually out-here (this critical insight is available to anyone who is willing to try on this distinction and discover it for themselves).

Another guy I speak with shared that it seemed like he was making progress "quieting the mind" (he's a yogi)  only to discover the next day the chatter had sprung back with a vengeance like an errant rubber band. I said "There's always something going on internally. Always.". He looked for a moment, remained quiet for another moment, then said "Oh Wow!", a beyond-beautiful smile breaking out all over his face. "It's pretty awesome out-here, isn't it?" I said. "Oh Wow!" he repeated, lit up.

There's one more question in this conversation with which I think it's worth engaging, and it's this: if what's going on with me internally isn't who I am, then where does my seeing "what's happening" occur?  And that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

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