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

Your Inquiry, Your Power

Nickel & Nickel, Oakville, California, USA

May 20, 2018

"There is no 'the answers'." ... 
"Be directed by the unanswered question. Let the unanswered question direct you." ... 
"Everyone is looking for the answers." ... The Moody Blues, Lost In A Lost World

"I'm not looking for the answers: I'm enamored of truly great questions." ... Laurence Platt 

We're thrown  to question. As human beings we're thrown to ask lots  of questions: about ourselves, about who we really are, about each other, about the world in which we live, about why things happen the way they happen, about Life itself and about its and our source. It's what we do to make sense of it all. It's what we do to survive. There's nothing wrong with that. Asking questions is very human - and when I say it that way, it actually downplays exactly how human it really is. No, it's not merely "very" human (that's me being waaay  too mild): it's quintessentially  human. Cattle, moss, rocks, bread, water, and brown paper bags don't ask questions.

Questioning comes easily to us. The trouble isn't with questioning. The trouble is with where we anticipate the power of our questioning will show up. Observe people rapidly motor-mouthing  questions. They're invoking all the "How ...?"s and all the "Why ...?"s and all the "What if ...?"s etc staccato. They've got it all completely "on automatic"  in a struggling attempt to make sense of it all. And there's somehow always disappointingly less power than we anticipate, in actually getting the answers.

"How so, Laurence?". Because we're thrown to anticipate (in an unexamined kind of way, if you will) that we'll derive power by getting the answers. "And what's wrong with that, Laurence?". No, there's nothing wrong with that either. But here's what's noteworthy about that disappointment: in revealing to us this unexamined kind of way in which we operate, it calls for us to examine it ie it calls for an inquiry into  it, and thereby to discover something useful about where our true power really lives.

Great question - one answer

Collage by Laurence Platt
Great question
Truly great question - lots and lots and lots of answers

Collage by Laurence Platt
Truly  great question
We're thrown to anticipate we'll derive power from getting the answers. But in fact our access to true power, lives in our questioning. We've got it bass-ackwards. We have it that getting the  answer will give us great power. One  answer? Man! That's very stingy. A truly  great question is one which gets lots and lots and lots  of answers, all of them possibilities, all of them making something new available. "When did I give up on my dreams?" is a great question. "How can I live my life so I make a difference for my family, for my community, and for all life on our planet?" is a truly  great question. And when I ask it, it calls for me to think powerfully.

What does that look like in the world?  Asking questions of others in order to get answers for ourselves, is what's often de rigueur  - but let's face it: it's not powerful. Sharing  with others the answers we've come up with to our own questions, is more powerful. It's sharing all of our own questions  with others, that's very  powerful.

So you say you're a seeker  and you're committed to finding the answer?  I'm sorry, but there is no  powerful "the answer". There isn't even a powerful "the answers", plural. There's only powerful questioning. Powerful answers are the product of powerful questioning. And if there's none of the latter, there won't be any of the former.

Consider this: seeking the  answer undermines all possibility. Why?  Because it limits possibilities to just one: the  answer. If there were only one lock-step answer, by definition there would be no other possibility. So contrary to our thrown-ness, the smart idea isn't  to come up with the  answer (if that's what you're up to, you're not alone: that injunction to seek the  answer, has infiltrated and has been rooted in our culture for a long, long  time). No, the smart idea is to come up with truly great questions  which get you lots and lots and lots of answers. To come up with truly great questions is to access your true power. Now that's  smart. That's very  smart.

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