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

Without Fear For Your Selfhood

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

May 2, 2016

"Perhaps the most important aspect of being out of integrity is the loss of yourself. In a very real sense you are your word. When you honor your word to yourself and others: you are at peace with yourself, and therefore act from a place where you are at peace with others and the world, even those who disagree with or might threaten you; you live without fear for your Selfhood, that is who you are as a person; there is no fear of losing the admiration of others; you do not have to be right; you act with humility."
This essay, Without Fear For Your Selfhood, is the fifteenth in a group of twenty three on Integrity:

It's one of life's great conundrums. Yet as enigmatic as it is, it goes with the territory of being human. Almost all of us at one time or another have been caught up in it. It's the inquiry into ie it's the finding out of who we really are. This inquiry can be particularly vexing (at least at first)  when we discover very few concrete answers forthcoming, and the questions themselves aren't easy. It's a perplexity which feeds off itself: inquiry, few concrete answers, more inquiry, more few concrete answers. Then at some point it becomes quite obvious (double negatives aside): you can never not be anything other than  who you really are, ever. There's the breakthrough.

That's the irony of it. You're who you really are. Always were. Always are. Always will be. That's what's so before the inquiry starts. That's what's so after it reaches its conclusion. Listen: can a dog ever not  be a dog? Like that, can you ever not be who you really are? It may just be it's not the search for answers in the inquiry which vexes us. Rather what gets in our way of finding out who we really are is our distinctly human unwillingness to accept the obviousness of what is already here (we are convinced there simply must be something else, some ulterior purpose, some hidden meaning). No, nothing's required to find out who you really are. You're already it.

By the same token, it's not possible to lose  who we really are. And yes, there are those moments when it seems as if we could lose who we really are (which is to say when we fear we're in imminent danger of losing connection  with who we really are), indeed that we've already lost  connection with who we really are. But does that dog have to try really hard to continue being a dog ongoingly? Does the dog have to try hard to stop himself from becoming not  a dog ie from losing his dog-ness? 

It makes for a massive shift in the way life is lived when you find out you can never not be who you really are. And it makes for a quantum leap  in the way your life is lived when you find out you can never lose who you really are. So relax! You're always  who you are. You're always it. It's more than that: it's you can never lose it.

We talk about the path  to Selfhood ie the path to who we really are. To use the word "path" in this inquiry into who we really are, is so fraught with associations and meanings and overdubbed conceptualization as to render it almost completely ineffective. Yet it's at least the start of a point of reference. So with that cautionary note in place, when I speak about "the path to who we really are", it's good enough for jazz. And I propose that we set aside (for the duration of this conversation at least) all other known, respected, and cherished so-called paths to who we really are, and consider instead the reliable, accurate path to Selfhood is simply being in integrity.

In a very real sense, I am my word. And being in integrity is no more than (and no less than) honoring my word as who I really am. My Selfhood is thus a matter of living my experience of who I really am, and my access to living my experience of who I really am is honoring my word as who I really am ie as mySelf. Ergo  integrity is the path to Selfhood - or (spoken more rigorously) integrity and the ongoing, effortless, unflagging experience in Selfhood, are intimately and inseparably correlated. When you live in integrity, you live without fear for your Selfhood. When you live in integrity, Selfhood is present. No inquiry's needed to find it. Neither can it be lost.
Werner's commentary on this interesting state of affairs ie the state of affairs when we got it, always had it, always will have it, and yet we still  don't get that we got it, is his laser-like "You know, people will give up anything - their jobs, their money, their families, their health - to get it, anything except the one and only thing you have to give up in order to get it: the conviction that you haven't got it.". What I've got is my word. Integrity is honoring it. I've no fear for my Selfhood when I do.

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