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


You Are Still A Machine

Main Street Boat Dock, Napa, California, USA

November 16, 2020

This essay, You Are Still A Machine, is the fifth in the septology You Are A Machine:
  1. You Are A Machine
  2. Confronting The Machinery
  3. You Are A Machine II
  4. Machinery Embedded In Hamburger
  5. You Are Still A Machine
  6. A Million Ways A Machine, One Free?
  7. On Full Automatic
in that order.

I'm reluctant to cite tenets  of transformation. That's simply because the waters of being transformed (if you will) get muddied when I try to explain transformation in terms of principles, beliefs, and doctrines ie the fixed precepts which comprise the milieu  of tenets. With that distinguished as a precautionary note, it's useful for us to consider that the powerful, ongoing possibility of rich, thrilling, enduring transformation, is drastically diminished, without first confronting ie without first discovering for ourselves and 'fessing up to the total automaticity  of it all, the total automaticity of Life itself, and particularly the total automaticity of our own lives - like a tenet.

That's never an easy sell. We recoil at the mere hint that we're not in control. In this regard, given the way we're thrown  to be about being in control of our lives (and about not  being in control) ie about being in charge  of our lives or not, any notion of life, of Life itself, and particularly of our own lives being on full automatic, is mostly untenable, at best slippery to grasp, and at worst abhorrent. It's a scenario which we, under the most ordinary of circumstances, are equally loathe to confront, or are simply hell-bent on avoiding - to put it mildly, we're terrified of it. When Werner first confronted us with "You ... are ... a ... machine!", it was met by people who were expecting enlightenment, with stunned, panicked "Say-it-ain't-so"  shocked silence in which you could hear a pin drop fifty feet away on the far side of the room.

I want to be totally clear about this. It's not that we human beings show elements  of automatic behavior. It's not merely that some aspects  of our lives are on full automatic. To couch it in those terms would be little more than an attempt to water down an uncomfortable / unconfrontable truth in order to make it palatable. No, it's that prior to the onset of transformation, our entire lives  are on full automatic ... and  ... what's also  on full-automatic is our resistance to confronting exactly how completely automatic our lives really are. The inmates have in effect gained control of and are running the asylum. Be clear that transformation doesn't change any of that. It won't give you more control. Neither can it offer a way out of being on full automatic (I'm sorry, but there is  no way out). It simply presences a new context.

Look: in the ordinary scheme of things, we're thrown to not confront our own automaticity. Avoidings "" us!  History shows most people have avoided confronting it, and may never do so. We've successfully settled for being who we think we are, having been unsuccessful at being who we really are. What's unavoidable is: doing so, comes at a horrible price. Not confronting our own automaticity while living within a fully automatic universe, produces one kind of experience of being alive - which is arguably one that's inauthentic and fundamentally dissatisfying (not surprisingly so). Confronting our own automaticity while living within a fully automatic universe, on the other hand, produces a totally new order of experience of being alive - which is arguably one that's authentic and profoundly satisfying (also not surprisingly so).

It's the latter that may be deemed to be a possible tenet of transformation, when it's spoken like this: "For you to discover who you really  are, transformation requires confronting your own automaticity while living within a fully automatic universe.". May  be? The inquiry is uniquely personal, yet that's as good a place as any to start.

This possible tenet of transformation, essentially presents an opportunity to relate to the automaticity newly, to own it, to swim  in it, to be senior  to it, in other words to recontextualize  it (I love  that word ...). Without it, any expression we put out of being free to be and free to act  and / or of asserting our own free will  for that matter (which is a subject for another conversation on another occasion) is just more automaticity  / more inauthenticity - much like the incessant yapping of that dog who keeps trying not to be a dog (and a dog trying not to be a dog, is still a dog, yes?). You are a machine. A machine trying not to be a machine, is still a machine.

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