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

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When We Get Nothing, We Get Everything

In-Shape Health Club Swimming Pool, Napa, California, USA

December 10, 2020

This essay, When We Get Nothing, We Get Everything, is the twentieth in a group of twenty on Nothing:

Photograph courtesy Shape Magazine
Who are we? I mean who / what are we really?  Consider the colloquial view of who we really are, as analogous to what's at the core of an onion. And whatever's at the core of the onion, is to be found below layers upon layers upon layers, each layer analogous to one of the manifestations  of who / what we are in the world, and of the components which constitute our lives.

We've become convinced (read: we've been persuaded) that if we peel back the layers of our lives (as if they were onions) ie if we peel back one layer and then we peel back another layer, and then we keep on peeling back layer after layer after layer until we've peeled back all the layers all the way down to the last layer, we will have reached our core, and we've accepted that this core is who we really are. We're certain that it's in fact the very substance  of our lives. We have it that this core is us ie it's the thing we call "I" / "me". Go ahead. Try it. Experiment for yourself by peeling back the layers of your life like an onion until you get to the last layer, and then see if you can look below the last layer at your core, then tell me what it is you're seeing.

If you look closely and tell the truth unflinchingly  about what it is you're seeing, that is if you can set aside your concepts  and beliefs  about what it is you think you should  be seeing, for just long enough to see what's really  there, you'll see there isn't a core. When we peel back the last layer of the onion, what we see is there's nothing  there, nothing at all. It's empty!  There's nothing but space. And that's who we really are: empty space - in a word, who we really are is nothing but context.

Seeing who we really are below the last layer of the onion, as nothing, as empty space, as context, we realize something else, something so obvious that it's easy to miss its profundity altogether: we realize we, as nothing, have the capacity to experience  ie we realize the nothing  we are, is experiencing! When we look closer at the nothing / context we really are, we see it's an experiential  context - which is to say we see it's the context in which everything we experience shows up. We see it's the context in which all of this  shows up (and yes, I do mean all  of it) - in another word, we see it's the context in which EVERYTHING  shows up. And that's who / what we really are: nothing  ... in which everything  shows up.

Be real careful: you'll discover that for yourself only by experiencing it directly (it'll drive you crazy if you try to figure it out or rationalize it or analyze it or explain it).

So when we get nothing (ie when we really  get nothing), what follows is we get everything like a possibility. And look: the everything we get like a possibility, is the same everything we've always considered everything to be, only this time we get it in a whole new way - which is to say this time we get everything in a whole new context. This time we get everything, not as that to be traded and used, nor as that to be grasped and understood, but as that which comprises the whole showing.

The presentation, delivery, and style of When We Get Nothing, We Get Everything are all my own work.
The ideas recreated in When We Get Nothing, We Get Everything were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by  .

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