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


What Are You Present To Now?

Wine Valley Lodge, Napa, California, USA

April 11, 2016



"What are you present to now?"  ... 
This essay, What Are You Present To Now?, with I've Got Nothing Left To Do But Do, is the sequel to Conversations With A Friend VII.



"What are you present to now?" he asked intently. "I'm present to you"  I replied joyfully. "It's what we're present to which defines our humanity" he said powerfully.

Wise men have asserted that we only really know something when we can recreate it in our own language. If someone tells me something, and then asks "Do you get that?" and I do, then the way I see it, I have three options. One, I can say "Yes I do get it" and provide no further commentary. In this case, aside from my saying so, there's no clear proof I do get it. Two, I can say "Yes I do get it" and then echo back ie parrot  back exactly  what I heard them say. And I do mean "exactly what I heard  them say": there's a world of difference between hearing  and listening  (which is a subject for another conversation on another occasion). In this case, there's proof I do get it (or at least there's proof I do get something)  but it's not clear  proof. Three, I can recreate what they said in my own language. It's the latter which is clear proof I do get it. It also shows I'm listening, I'm present to the conversation, and I'm being fully out-here  with the material ie it shows my humanity in play.

So what would I say if I were to recreate his assertion "It's what we're present to which defines our humanity" in my own language to prove I do get it? What I would say is "It's what (and especially who)  we're out-here with which defines our humanity.". Being out-here with you ie being out-here with people, is to be fully present ie as fully present as it's possible to be. You might say it's being present for presence's own sake. It's the yardstick ie the scale with which being present is measured.

Whatever you may share in answer to his question "What are you present to now?" will give an accurate indication of your humanity. Being present to something (ie being fully out-here with it) calls for all the being it's possible to muster. This is our essential humanity. When we're not present to something ie when we're not fully out-here with it, or when we're present to something other than (ie to something less than) people, we're bringing forth something other than our essential humanity.

It's in this context that our preoccupation with all things tech  is costing us our humanity (which is also a subject for another conversation on another occasion). When we're preoccupied with tech, we're not fully out-here with people. Instead, we're present to something other than (ie to something less than) people. Now, is this bold assertion the truth?  ... or is it plainly not  true? ... or is it somewhere in between? Personally I know no better way for you to find out for yourself than to just be with it (as controversial as it is), sit with it for a while in your lap like a hot brick, and then to try it on for size. Consider its validity like a possibility, and take what you get.

I concur it's what (and especially who) we're present to which defines our humanity. When we're not present, we create less and less face to face listening  with other human beings. That costs us our humanity. If that's the result of our preoccupation with tech, it's too costly a price for human beings and humanity at large to pay.

However with all that said, and setting aside my own opinions as well as my own views of the subject, I really don't see any point in recreating his original assertion in my own language other than  to demonstrate I get it. Aside from doing that, should it be (indeed, can  it be) improved on? Personally I don't think so. Taking his "It's what we're present to which defines our humanity" (which is to say trying it on for size) as a given ie as an axiom, what provides a count-on-able direct access to your own humanity, is his question "What are you present to now?". And my note to accompany you asking this question for yourself, is notice it won't only have one right answer. It's a great  question - so like all truly great questions, it'll generate lots and lots  of answers, the plethora of which prove your humanity knows no bounds.



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