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

On Having No Past

San Francisco, California, USA

January 15, 2006

This essay, On Having No Past, is the companion piece to It is also, with Beginner's Mind: On Having No Memory and There's Nothing To Get, Revisited, the prequel to A Belief System Blind To Itself.

"Suppose you had no past. That would be an interesting place to be in." ... Werner Erhard
Werner Erhard
Werner says "Suppose you had no past. That would be an interesting place to be in.".

Here we're not talking about having a past but not remembering it or not being able to recall it. Neither are we talking about having a past but putting it aside or ignoring it. We all have a past. I have a past. You have a past. When you live in your past (or, spoken with rigor, when you live from  your past) you perpetuate the life you've already always lived. Nothing new shows up. If you tell the truth about it, that's not deeply satisfying and you're not nurtured by it. You're stuck and powerless, a cog in a cog, a hamster in a wheel, a rat in a race.

But suppose as Werner proposes, just suppose  you ... had ... no ... past ...

For the sake of argument, create the experience of having no past. Stand in the experience of having no past. What's it like? Having no past, what choices do you have? Having no past, where are your reference points? Who are you ... having no past?

Taking A Stand For An Anything Is Possible Future

You learned about relationship. You got your first impressions of people in relationship, for worse or for better, from your my parents. What you learned about men you carried forward into all your relationships with men. What you learned about women you carried forward into all your relationships with women. You carried forward everything you learned about relationship: the pleasure, the hurt, the betrayal, the wonder and joy. Particularly the hurt and the betrayal. If you had no past in relationship you wouldn't hold all people in your future to account for what someone similar to them once did to you in your past. You'd relate to people not because you thought there'd be no hurt and because there'd be no betrayal. You'd relate to people not because there'd be pleasure or because there'd be wonder and joy. You'd relate to people because you're related to people.

You tried. You failed. You put forth. You were rebuffed. So you learned. Man! You learned  you could fail in life. And when you figured that out, you chiseled it into stone tablets to rule your life by. You stopped questioning. You decided it's prudent to let what you can't  do run your life. You started believing you're smart because you figured out what's not  possible in life rather than what's possible. If you had no past in failure you could invent a future you love worth living into, not being stopped by knowing it wasn't possible.

The first time you experienced the visceral sense of fear, you lent credence to it. Smart. You instinctively knew to file away a memory of the cause of your fear, and to look out for it coming back  in the future. You didn't regard fear as simply an autonomic response. You thought it meant something. So you make choices not freely and not without prior consideration but rather based on whether you're afraid of what might  happen, or not. You assume the way to play life is if you've any sense of being afraid of what might  happen, it's a warning to cease and desist. That's how slowly, inexorably, you lock yourself into only familiar, already always known activities because you're comfortable with them and because you aren't afraid of them. You never question your fear of anything new or unknown. Then, when nothing new opens up for you, you wonder why, and you rail against life. If you had no past in fear you'd be in the moment as an innocent not as a skeptic, you'd have an open vision of your future, not limiting its vistas with overprotective rules and frantic conclusions about new things not yet known.

Where To Go From Here?

Suppose you had no past. You'd take company as it comes, and equally enjoy yourself by yourself. You'd express yourself fully without holding back or avoiding being embarrassed. You'd let love nurture you rather than require it prove itself to you.

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