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

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There's No Discipline Like Not Complaining

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

June 11, 2015



"Who lived here? He must have been a gardener who cared a lot, who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop. And we are so amazed." ... Bernie Taupin, Empty Garden

This essay, There's No Discipline Like Not Complaining, is the companion piece to It's OK The Way It Is.




Simple actions are often our most profound, our most powerful. Our seemingly simplest acts have enormous power to completely transform our experience of living. Mostly we consider an act to be something we do. Yet some of the most powerful actions we'll ever perform are things we don't  do (that's very Zen ...).

Take for example, not complaining. Consider the possibility of locating your complaint switch  (if you will) then turning it off if it's on - or better yet, disabling it permanently. Complaining diminishes who we really are. Disabling the complaint switch is a hands-on, directly accessible method that's at our easy disposal for ensuring who we really are isn't diminished. Stop complaining (temporary form) or don't complain, period (permanent form) ... but I don't only mean stop complaining and don't complain to others:  I also mean stop complaining and don't complain to yourself ie I particularly  mean stop complaining and don't complain to yourself. And no, this isn't a matter of ignoring complaints or suppressing  complaining (neither are elements of this equation). Rather what I have in mind is something more pointed, something more like a practice, something you take on like a discipline.

For leveraging transformation, there's no discipline like not complaining. In terms of distinguishing and concentrating and focusing the experience of transformation, the leverage which goeswith  not complaining (as Alan Watts may have said) is incisive.

Tell the truth about it: all of us complain, yes? ... we complain a lot. Complaining is unchecked in our day to day interactions. We complain out loud to whomever will listen. But we also complain silently to ourselves, even as we go about our business creating our lives. Yet complaining, almost by definition, isn't a creative act. Rather we're thrown  to complain. That's why this discipline of not complaining, requires a certain boldness. It's why it calls for a willingness and a verve  to interfere with the way we're thrown. It's this interference, this willingness and verve, this bringing a certain presence  to the way we're thrown to complain, which facilitates transformation. Indeed you could say the discipline of not complaining is nothing more (and nothing less) than having it all be OK the way it is and having it all be OK the way it isn't ... which, as we know, is a seminal element of transformation.

I've got no particular personal vendetta against complaining. Neither do I have any complaint about complaining  per se. And neither (for that matter) do I have any disrespect for people who complain (complaining, it could be said, is one of our most endearing human occupations). Having said all that, what I'm not willing to tolerate is the diminution of my personal experience of life and of who I am, brought on by my own complaining. So when something's not working, what alternatives do I have other than complaining about it? Here are three viable choices:

 1)  in lieu of complaining I can make a difference with that which isn't working ... or failing that,
2)  in lieu of complaining I can take my complaint to someone else who can make a difference with it ... or failing that,
3)  in lieu of complaining (in the words of one epic breakfast with the Master) I can simply shut up and do what I'm doing.

Be careful. I'll bet you good money you won't find much evidence for "It's all OK the way it is and it's all OK the way it isn't" on the morning news. That's not its milieu. Neither is its milieu positive thinking. Rather its milieu (ie where it shows up)  is a stand you generate. To be specific, it's an experiential  stand rather than a judgement  or an opinion  that you generate. The thing is it's the linguistic act  of complaining which diminishes the experiential stand "It's all OK the way it is and it's all OK the way it isn't.".

We now know it's possible to do something which forwards the action instead of complaining. What it is (to deploy an analogy from a Monopoly  game) is:

 •  go to making a difference
•  go directly to making a difference
•  do not pass complaining
•  do not collect diminution

It's this  element of the equation, this un-diminution of my experience of life and of who I am, which makes the practice of not complaining into a discipline worth practicing. It's right up there with any of the plethora of other Self-realization disciplines. More than that, as a discipline it arguably has more impact and is more on purpose  and is more authentic in bringing forth who we really are than all the others combined. As a discipline, it's in a class of its own.



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