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

This Isn't That II

Trefethen Family Vineyards, Oak Knoll Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

December 10, 2016

"Creation is a matter of distinction.". ... 
"The logic system of the mind is 'Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always.'." ... 
This essay, This Isn't That II, is the companion piece to
  1. This Isn't That
  2. On Misconstruing Enlightenment
in that order.

It's an extraordinary ability we human beings have. It's unheralded. It's more than that: it's all but totally taken for granted - not just by you and me, and not just today, but by the vast majority of human beings who've ever trod the face of this Earth since time immemorial. When I raise this in conversations with people, their response is often a slow, somewhat nonplussed "So? ... and ... your point  ... is  ... ???". They're not quite sure whether they missed something entirely, or whether it's me who's being stoopid. It's so much a part of who we are that unexamined (indeed, unnoticed), it's easy to overlook the miracle it is.

Here's what it is: it's we can distinguish. That's it. We can distinguish. In one sense, to distinguish is to differentiate between two things, distinguishing the one from the other. We can distinguish this  ... from that. We can differentiate between (which is to say we can tell the difference between) this and that. That's remarkable (ie it's remarkable when you stop for a moment to consider how remarkable it really is). We can tell this isn't  that. In another even more remarkable sense, to distinguish something is to create it ie to invent it. You and I are creators ie you and I are inventors  inasmuch as we can distinguish ie inasmuch as we're distinguish-ers.

So what (you may ask) is so remarkable about this Laurence? What's so remarkable about it is not only that we have the ability to distinguish, but that we have the ability to distinguish distinguishing  ie we have the ability to distinguish distinction. Let me expand on this.

Left to our own devices, we may at best be slow and at worst be unlikely to differentiate at critical times. Again, what does that mean Laurence? It means we're likely to glom  things together. When we operate without distinction (which is to say when we operate without differentiating) as we often do, we live in the business as usual  pre-transformed state. In the pre-transformed state (that is to say whatever state is available for us to live in when we don't make authentic distinctions), the logic system of the mind which rules, is "Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always"  (as Werner Erhard distinguishes). In this pre-transformed state, because there's an absence of authentic distinctions ie because there's an absence of authentic distinguishing, there's a near total absence of the distinguish-er  as well. And the distinguish-er is who we really are. This characterizes living in the pre-transformed state: it's a state in which who we really are, is mostly absent.

So: who are  you? I mean really. Well ... for starters, you're not who you think you are (really, you're not). To a lesser degree, you're not even the distinctions you say you are (although that's maybe who you are for others). You're who (or what  - if you prefer) makes distinctions  (that's actually a lot closer to the truth than it sounds). However, spoken ever more rigorously, you, the maker of distinctions, is just something that occurs for you. Who you really  are, is the space in which you, the maker of distinctions, and distinctions themselves, show up. And as human beings, we're constituted in ie we're imbued with all of the above.

If, in the pre-transformed state, there's not just an absence of authentic distinguishing, but a near total absence of the distinguish-er as well, does that imply transformation is the same as enlightenment?  Be careful: that's a slippery slope. Making transformation equate to enlightenment, is more of "Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always.". The logic system of the mind gloms everything together. But the distinction between transformation and enlightenment is at least twofold, each facet of which originates in its associated context, if you will. What's an "associated context"? Let me give examples.

One associated context for enlightenment is eastern mysticism. Now there's nothing wrong with an associated context of eastern mysticism for enlightenment. Some of the grandest traditions of humanity evolved from a context of eastern mysticism. Transformation however, simply doesn't require that context. Another associated context for enlightenment is the attainment  (if you will) of some kind of super-state of consciousness (again, if you will), whereas an associated context for transformation is simply being who you are authentically, with integrity, indeed somewhat ordinarily  (ideally there are no associated contexts for transformation, yet it's almost unavoidable some will eventually glom on to it). It's a way of being which is available to everyone, and not limited to the eastern mystics nor to the practitioners of one form of eastern mysticism or another.

So (the bottom line): is transformation enlightenment? No it's not. This isn't that (all opinions to the contrary).


In this regard, it could be said "Enlightenment is giving up the notion that you are unenlightened.". I like that. A lot. It's very Werner.

Here's another subtly different version: "Enlightenment is giving up the notion that you are enlightened"  (as James "Jim" Tsutsui may have said).

I particularly like the way James takes the arrogance, the hoity toity, the significance, the meaningfulness  out of enlightenment.


One last point coming from transformation: our opinions don't necessarily make things so ie our opinions aren't necessarily the truth. Without differentiating between the two (ie especially in the domain of "Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always"), we're stuck with our opinions as  the truth. But this isn't that. Our opinions aren't the truth. Our opinions are our opinions, and the truth is the truth. Creation is a matter of distinction - not to mention it's our access to being free.

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