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 Possibility Of Being Humble

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

November 6, 2022

"I used to be different; now I am the same." ... 
"I've never been to India. But I know what it's like in India. It's like what it's like in Cowboy Cottage ... except in India." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, Unspecial: The Possibility Of Being Humble, is the twenty third in an open group on Possibility:

In our culture, we strive (and are driven) to be special, to be different, to stand out, to be (thought of as) a "winner" in a conversation in which to be thought of as a "loser" is the kiss of death. And in "our" culture, I'm including the whole world, not just these United States. It's a worldwide phenomenon.

This essay isn't about to decry, criticize, or denigrate any of the above. They're all noble pursuits. They encompass some of the most enthusiastic ways we play the game of life. They comprise some of the many paths we traverse in order to succeed  in the game of life. What this essay is  about to do, is take a look at their roots, roots which run so deep that like air to the bird and water to the fish, they're seldom if ever noticed and even less frequently questioned.

We take it for granted that striving to be special, different, to stand out, and (to be thought of as) a winner, is what there is to do in life, what it's all about - indeed, we take it for granted (ie without questioning) that that's what we must  do in life, that that's our purpose, that that's our raison d'etre. But then, because we never question it, we seldom if ever get to see what hides behind it. Wait? Hides  behind it? What does that mean  "hides behind it" Laurence?

Consider (take a look at) this: what hides behind our striving to be special, different, to stand out, and (to be thought of as) a winner, is nothing more (and nothing less) than our response to the fear of being un-special, the fear of being the same, the fear of being ordinary, the fear of being (thought of as) a "loser". And we seldom if ever question that the fear of being unspecial, the same, of being ordinary, is first and foremost the endemic fear in being human.

For each of us human beings, there's an endemic fear in being human ie a fear that goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) being human. It's triggered by our instinct to survive. It's our lizard brain circuitry, pre-programmed to keep us alive and to win no matter what it costs, in the face of which we seldom if ever question the value  inherently available in being unspecial, the same, of being ordinary (the fear in being human, of being unspecial effectively, totally hides it). "Wait! Value? In being unspecial?  You're kidding me!"  the incredulous, lifelong career winner says regarding the sublime value in being unspecial.

It's this: the value inherently available in being unspecial is the possibility of being humble. In reality, neither you nor I are special. In reality, we really are un-special, ordinary, no different than any of the other eight billion unspecial, ordinary human beings now in survival on the planet - and stop lying about it.

Here's the thing (this is what I request you try out and take on): it's in our very unspecialness, it's in our very bland ordinariness, that we have access to our most magnificent, potentially our most transformed, our most air-to-the-bird water-to-the-fish  true nature which (for the most part) we never fully embody, given that we're so frenziedly (and unquestioningly) chasing the illusion of being special and different. The hidden, terrible costs of that are all too apparent. Take even the most cursory look around you. Turn on the morning news. We're brilliantly run by but not served well by lizard brain. To be transformed (we may say) is to invent the possibility of being humble, to be willing to love being unspecial, to relish being just another ordinary, no different, human being.

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