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

Afraid Of Nothing

Muir Beach, California, USA

Memorial Day, May 26, 2008

"For all the beauty there may be, I'll never throw away my soul; only for something I don't know that one may come on randomly."  ... Saint John Of The Cross read out loud by  
This essay, Afraid Of Nothing, is the seventh in a group of twenty on Nothing: It is also the first in a group of three written on Memorial Day: I am indebted to Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Madiba Tata (uBawom)Khulu Mandela who inspired this conversation.

There's no mistaking your first experience of yourself, your first experience of your true nature ie of Self. You're everything. You're nothing. You're ... everythingnothing  ...

First you're aghast ... then you're exuberant.

The moment of experiencing your true nature ie the moment of transformation  for the first time is really one of Life's most unfathomable, most miraculous gifts to human being.

You could say transformation, in this sense, is a matter of grace. You could also say it's a matter of luck. But if you did say it's a matter of luck when you had the experience, it probably wasn't transformation. It's true that transformation may be something you come upon randomly, unexpectedly, while exploring other options. But luck? Not likely. Grace? That's more like it.

The thing about coming upon transformation as a matter of luck is unless you already were a clearing  for it, unless you'd invented a possibility  for it, you'd probably miss it, you'd probably not reach out to grab it immediately with both hands as fast as you could. It would pass you by like a stranger on a ship in the night. For me, the element of grace  rather than luck is pivotal. You reach for transformation, you're a stand  for the possibility  of transformation, and Life obligingly allows you to have it - but only for as long as you're a stand for the possibility of it. When you're no longer a stand for the possibility of transformation, it has no context  in which to show up ongoingly so it disappears.

Whichever comes first, transformation or a context for the possibility of transformation, the synchronicity  of both showing up together is best described as grace. When I say "grace", I assert grace is a quality which shows up when human  and divine  intersect. And although the descriptor "divine" may be overloaded with too many concepts, with too much already always listening  to be accurate, to be really useful, saying "grace shows up when human and divine intersect" is good enough for jazz.

Grace isn't luck. It's not even "good fortune". If you reduce grace to luck or to good fortune, you're not being responsible  for it. If there's one certain, surefire way to kill the culture in which transformation thrives, it's to not be responsible for it. Transformation simply doesn't work as a one time  change like an accomplishment  or like an attainment  followed by resting on one's laurels. In terms of living life transformed, not being continuously responsible for transformation is deadly.

So you're everything. Therefore you're called to be responsible for everything. That's scary. It's terrifying, in fact. But what's worse is you're nothing. That's truly horrible. In one sense of the word, in one particular perspective, "you're nothing"  is an extreme put down, the ultimate invalidation.

Grace gives a context for transformation. And you've owned it. You've taken responsibility for it. You're transformed now. You've transformed your life. You've seen you're everything. You've seen you're nothing. First, there's aghast. But after all, this is who you really are  - your experience confirms it. So then there's exuberance. If you have the presence of mind to allow grace, you can go on through to exuberance. But first you have to be willing to encounter, to deal with, to go through and to go past aghast.

You have the thought it's too much to take. It's not what you thought it would be. It doesn't even require your consent!  You're aghast when you discover, when you experience you're really EVERY-thing. It's too huge. It's too vast to take it all in. You're aghast when you discover, when you experience you're really nothing. You're too small, you're too insignificant in the face of Life. You're meaningless. Now you start to get the true perspective on what you've been saying you're afraid of. It's this:

You're not afraid of being out there. You say you're shy. You're not shy. There's no such thing  as "shy". You're not afraid of failure. At best, failure  is a concept not an experience. There is no "is"  failure. No, what you're afraid of is being who you really are:  you're afraid of nothing. It scares the living daylights  out of you.

You're not afraid of what's out there  to achieve. You're not afraid of falling. You're not afraid of anything, really, as much as you're afraid of being who you really are. This doesn't have anything to do with not playing to the status quo, with not being who you're expected  to be. This is about your own personal experience of what happens, of what it's like when you first get close to becoming who you really are, when you first get close to fully opening to, to letting in  that what you are as a human being is EVERY-thing, that what you are as a human being is nothing. To let that in, you have to give up what you've already always been being, and it's terrifying. It scares the bejeesus  out of you.

And it's not just you. It's each and every single one of us. Well? Which is it? Are we afraid of being EVERY-thing?  Or are we afraid of being nothing?  And, more perplexedly, if everythingnothing  really is our true nature, why are we afraid of it, or either, or anything at all?
Werner Erhard says "The gates to the temple of truth are guarded by two dragons: paradox  and confusion.".

It's a paradox. And it's confusing - at least at first  it's confusing. We're, quite literally, afraid of nothing. That's not the same as being unafraid of anything. The emphasis is in a different place. It's very subtle: we're afraid of nothing.

We're afraid of the EVERY-thing  we are. We're afraid of the magnificence we are. We're afraid of the nothing we are. We just won't open to it. We just won't let it in. We're so intent on holding on to a few paltry crumbs in our clenched fists that we won't open our hands to reach for the whole loaf. Desperately we hold on to the measly crusts we got. In so doing we miss entire bushels of loaves.

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