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 Universe Doesn't Give A Damn

Darioush, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 29, 2016



"You need to get clear the universe doesn't give a damn about what you want."  ... 


I like her. A lot. She was speaking about a close friend of hers whose life had crawled to a complete standstill. I've had a few of those moments myself (who hasn't?). In hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision) those moments always pass as the inexorability of Life moves us on to whatever's next for us - even if at the time it looks like  we're going to be stuck forever. But that's not what got her. What got her was (she said) that her friend was a (quote unquote) "good"  person. She was bemoaning that it "shouldn't happen to such a good  person" - which is a related version of the familiar ancient enigma "Why do bad things happen to good people?".

I knew that to which she was alluding. I also consider myself to be a good person. When my life came to a standstill (as it's done - more than once), I also bemoaned that it "shouldn't happen to me". But clearly it did. And when it did, it became really apparent to me I required a new context in which to be with what was happening.
Werner shared the perfect  context with me. I tried it on ... and it works. So I recreated it for her. What he shared with me was essentially this: that my (ie our) only  access to impacting life, is action, and that the universe doesn't give a damn about what I intend, how committed I am, how I feel, or what I think, and certainly it has no interest in what I want or in what I don't want. He suggested instead I take a look at life as it's lived, and discover for myself the universe only moves for me when I act. Beyond that, the universe doesn't give a damn. And when I got that, Laurence (ie the little  Laurence, the little guy who always bleats "Moi?")  was transformed.

She listened intently, quiet. Then after a moment she asked "Why do you have to say it 'doesn't give a damn'?", frowning. "That makes it sound so hard, so callous. If you're going to say it ie if you're going to use it at all, why can't you say something kinder, something gentler - something like it's 'divinely indifferent'  for example?".

She was suggesting a way of re-phrasing it so it would land easier for her in her listening. I got it. "I agree" I said. "There is something really nice, almost poetic about saying it's 'divinely indifferent', rather than it 'doesn't give a damn'. The thing is we do that a lot: we make things sound nice ie we dress them up, rather than allowing them to make an impact. I intend to give you a black and white choice, a no nonsense  realization which empowers you, rather than the good feelings we get when we hear bon mots  spoken poetically. The truth is as a lover of language, I really want you to get both. But I intend that the heft of the former far  outweighs the latter.".
Werner isn't about making the truth palatable. He's about making the truth accessible. She's a mother. I knew she would relate to her natural knowing of the way she raised her daughter. I asked her "When your child first tripped and fell, did you wag your finger at the ground and berate it, saying 'Naughty, naughty  gravity!'?". The exact language you deploy which gives form to your child's experience, is critical. She'll learn about gravity from what you say about it, as well as from her own natural knowing. The last thing you want to do as a parent is encourage your child to mitigate or even avoid her own direct experience of life. You don't want to dress it up.".

So: the universe doesn't give a damn about what we want. Now, do we want  to hear that? We probably don't. It's worse than that really. It's in most cases, we can't  hear it. But the truth is like that. It just is. It doesn't cater to what we want, nor to what we don't want, or even to whether we can hear it or not. His distinction brings forth all that ... and more. His distinction also brings forth our only access to impacting life, which is taking action (to which the universe always  responds - big  time). On the verge of explaining it to her, I hesitated. I've been around long enough to know you can't have this explained. Explaining blurs it. You can however just get  it.



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