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


With The Past In The Past And Nothing In The Future

American Canyon, California, USA

June 4, 2012



"If it is true that the future into which you are living gives you being and action in the present, and if one puts the past into the future, it will appear as though who I am in the present is given by the past."
 ... 
This essay, With The Past In The Past And Nothing In The Future, is the companion piece to A Future Worth Living Into.

It is also the second in a trilogy of Essentials:
  1. Source Of Action
  2. With The Past In The Past And Nothing In The Future
  3. Out Here II: Out-Here
in that order.





Foreword To The Essentials Trilogy:

It could be said the bastions of transformation are anchored in the bedrock  of a rich body of distinctions. As Werner's work unleashes more and more expressions of transformation, more and more distinctions become available in this treasure trove.

Recently I found myself wondering "Of all these distinctions, which are essential  for living a transformed life?" - you know, the ones about which we could say "Don't leave home without these!"  - so I looked for the  three distinctions which are essential for anchoring ongoing, full, alive, thrilling transformation. Now, I'm certainly not saying we're limited to only  three such distinctions. But if, in a state of play, I were to vote for the essential three, which would they be?

I came up with these:

 1)  The source of my action is the way the world shows up for me - the subject of the essay Source Of Action.
 2)  The future I create has infinitely  more power to drive my life than my past - the subject of this essay, With The Past In The Past And Nothing In The Future.
 3)  I master Life when I live out-here  (not the same as "out there") - the subject of the essay Out Here II: Out-Here.

These three essential distinctions comprise the Conversations For Transformation trilogy titled Essentials.



It's an essentially human  occupation: to explain our lives in the present in terms of what happened in the past, in terms of what happened when we were young and growing up, and even more recently than that. By "explain" our lives in the present in terms of what happened in the past, I include both "justify" our lives in the present in terms of what happened in the past, as well as "blame"  our lives in the present on what happened in the past. This implies we limit  our lives in the present based on what happened in the past. And when I say it's "human" to explain / justify / blame our lives in the present on what happened in the past, I mean that quite literally: a dog  doesn't explain / justify / blame its life in the present on what happened in the past. It's a purely human anomaly.

We have it, for the most part, that the quality of life we experience today  is predicated on, dependent on, indeed is literally because of  incidents which occurred in the past. We have it that our experiences in the past have made us what we are today, and thereby directly impact the freedom  it's possible for us to experience today. We have it that the past  determines the quality of our lives and the quality of our freedom and our experiences today.

The assumption that what happened in the past determines the quality of our lives today, is so entrenched  in our thinking that it's almost impossible  to consider it may not even be true  now, that it may never  have been true. What if it's the future  which determines the quality of our lives today, and not the past?

I'm not suggesting we create a new belief system  that it's the future and not the past which determines the quality of our lives today. What I'm suggesting is much more immediate than that. What I'm suggesting is the future has always been the determinant of the quality of our lives today, and that we simply got it wrong  about the past being the determinant - that we got it wrong, never corrected our mistake, and then continued erroneously believing that the past determines the quality of our lives today? What if?

Well ... what  if?
Werner Erhard says "If" (and please notice: he does  say "if") ... "If  it is true that the future into which you are living gives you being and action in the present, and if one puts the past into the future, it will appear as though who I am in the present is given by the past.".

When I say we got it wrong, never corrected our mistake, and then continued erroneously believing that the past determines the quality of our lives today, I'm saying we've effectively put the past into the future  - as per Werner's quote.

What does this imply?

It implies if I put the past into the future, what will happen in the future will simply be a repeat of what happened in the past, so I'll need to protect myself against it happening again. If the pretty little red haired girl embarrassed me by rejecting my invitation to dance with me at the school dance when I was sixteen years old, then if I put the past into the future, I won't ask a girl to dance with me again because I'll be embarrassed again. If I was told when I was young that I think  too much, that I analyze  too much, then if I put the past into thee future, I'll withhold sharing my thoughts  in order to avoid being criticized again.

By putting the past into the future, by assuming  what happened in the past will happen again in the future, I've filled my future with all the predictability of the past. In this way, girl's don't stand a chance  with me ("I'll never ask a girl to dance because I'll be embarrassed."). Similarly, I'll never share my creativity ("Thinking and analyzing will get me criticized".). In this way, my future is already pre-set  with embarrassment and withholding ... because I've put my past into the future, and "the future into which I'm living gives me being and action in the present".

Now, does it have to be this way? ie do I have  to put my past into the future? No, of course not. But am I likely  to put my past into the future? Yes, absolutely, automatically. Here's what I want you to get: why we're absolutely, automatically  likely to put the past into the future is because we've been doing it for so long  erroneously, unquestioningly, and now it's become a hard habit to break.

But any hard habit can be broken, yes? When smoking and drinking no longer serve any useful purpose, when we realize they limit our lives in the present, then we can choose to give them up. And the first step towards giving them up ie the first step towards breaking a hard habit is simply to recognize it's a hard habit, then to make another choice.

What other choice can we make apropos putting the past into the future? The question becomes "Where  can we put the past other than  in the future?". If you stay with this inquiry long enough, it's stops being perplexing. The answer bursts forth  in a sudden shock of joy and freedom, a true "A-Ha!"  moment in which the answer, once fiendishly elusive, is suddenly obvious. It's like a Zen koan: "What's the sound of one hand clapping?".

Here's a clue: "What is is, what isn't isn't.". The sound of one hand clapping is the sound of one hand clapping. Stop pretending it isn't. Don't lie about it.

So one obvious Zen answer (and Zen is full  of obvious answers) to "Where can we put the past other than in the future?" is "... in ... the ... past ...". And when we put the past in the past  (where, by the way, it obviously, plainly, clearly belongs), what then is in the future? What then is in the future we once filled with the past ie the future which, once filled with the past, limited the present? The answer to that  one is: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Instead of putting the past into the future, we put the past into the past, and we put nothing  into the future. Nothing at all. Nothing. Beautiful, beautiful  nothing.

When I orientate my life with the past in the past and nothing the future, then I'm truly free. What does that mean: "free"? It means I can create a future worth living into, a future of my own choosing, a future which makes a difference  rather than simply reiterates the past. This future with nothing in it, is a wide open canvas  on which I can paint anything I choose, on which I can paint anything which inspires me. This inspiration from the future, if you will, has infinitely more power to drive my life than my past.

And if I don't  put the past in the past? If I don't put nothing in the future? Well, then it becomes surprisingly easy for me to 100% accurately  predict the future - like this:

"I predict with 100% accuracy, that if I don't put the past in the past, and if I don't put nothing in the future, then the future will be ... (drum roll ... wait for it) ... more of the past"  (tah dah! ... pretty good, eh?).

Gee! I hope you get that.



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