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


Vindication

San Francisco, California, USA

October 14, 2004



There is machinery at work.

If you have ever been attacked, if you have ever been the target of viciousness, then if you were quick rather than simply having gone off on automatic, you may have observed the machinery which was reactivated.

For the sake of this conversation, either of whether you were really  attacked or whether you interpreted you were attacked will suffice because this is not a conversation about the distinction between a real attack and the interpretation "attack". This is a conversation about reactivation, choice in the matter, and freedom.

When I am attacked I want to attack back. I say that yet it is neither strictly true nor does it serve me. If I want  to attack back, there is freedom in it. Yet in attacking back when I am attacked, I notice there is no freedom in it. So the reaction is better stated as "when I am attacked I attack back". That's the truth. In fact, when I am attacked, the real risk is not from the attack itself. The real risk is the risk of becoming tangled up in the reaction to it. Actually there are two risks: one of becoming tangled up in the reaction to it; two of giving up my freedom to it.

* * *

There is the pertinent Zen tale about a woman who fell in love with a Zen master. The Zen master loved her being but did not reciprocate her base desires. Soon she became angry with him for spurning her advances. She thought of a way to get him. She became pregnant by another man. When the child was born she told the entire village that the Zen master was the father. The woman and the outraged villagers stormed to the Zen master, demanding he take care of the child, confronting him with the woman's story: that he was the father of her illegitimate child.

"Is that so?" he said.

Although he took the child on as his own, the Zen master was disgraced. He was forced to pay for the child's upbringing and education. He became a pariah in the community. Yet he became a good father to the child, so much so that after a few years the villagers complimented him. "You have a wonderful way with the child" they told him.

"Is that so?" he said.

When the child was grown he left the Zen master to make his own way in the world and became successful. The child's mother who had lied about the Zen master initially was softened by the good effect the Zen master had on her child. She had remorse for what she had done. She went to the Zen master and apologized to him confessing she had lied about him in order to get him for not loving her in the way she wanted to be loved.

"Is that so?" he said.

* * *

What does it take for me to win so that my win does not make others lose? Is it possible? What does it take for me to win so that others win?

What does it take for me to win so that my win does not make others wrong? Is it possible? What does it take for me to win so that others are made right?

What does it take for me to win so that my win does not dominate others? Is it possible? What does it take for me to win so that others are not dominated?

Part of this experiment is to look at our investment in the "you lose / I win" paradigm. The starting point for looking at it is the willingness to get that people may not initially warm to the generosity of a "you win / I win" offer. The thing is this: do I lose if my "you win / I win" offer is rejected?

That's when it gets interesting.



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