Conversation with a laser

Essay Publicatiedatum: 05 november 2019

Dit Engelstalige essay is geschreven door Laurence Platt. Laurence schrijft wekelijks essays over transformatie, gebaseerd op het werk van Werner Erhard. In ‘Conversations with a laser’ beschrijft hij een gesprek dat hij voerde met Werner; met name de radicale focus die Werner toepaste tijdens de conversatie. Het is een demonstratie van wat er gebeurt als diegene die tegenover je zit volledig aanwezig is.

There are dinner conversations. And then there are dinner conversations. This is a dinner conversation. This is no “How are you and the children?’ dinner conversation – and I love ‘How are you and the children?’ dinner conversations with good friends. No, this is a dinner conversation with a laser.

Language is the implement of transformation. If transformation is to come forth, it requires a different order of conversation i.e. a new realm of conversation to cause a breakthrough in our self-imposed comfortable familiarity which renders us sociable while not allowing anything new by way of being to presence itself. It’s more than that actually. It’s typically our self-imposed comfortable familiarity is defensive in nature (arguably unknowingly), designed to guard against anything new by way of being, presencing itself.

I stay in shape. I either run five miles a day on an elliptical at my gym, or I swim three quarters of an hour a day in the gym pool. I have physical checkups annually. The eye checkups are the most interesting. The optometrist puts yellow drops in my eyes causing their pupils to dilate. Then he can look into my eyes. I mean that quite literally. I mean then he can look right into my eyes and see everything inside them as if they were hollow transparent spheres.

This is what my dinner conversation with a laser, is like. Sitting opposite me, relaxed and almost expressionless, he’s looking into my eyes – no yellow drops needed. He sees right into my eyes. No, it’s more than that. It’s waaay more than that. He’s looking at my face and right into my eyes and seeing right through them, not stopping until he sees the back of my brain and everything in between.

I’m rendered naked – fully clothed yet naked. There’s no point trying to cover my nakedness, no point trying to shield myself from the laser. Trying to do so would be futile – like trying to keep my insides hidden from an X-ray. There’s a gritty uncertainty to this. I get an ‘Uh  oh…’  feeling – as if I’ve ventured too far out onto the frozen lake (and could that be the sound of cracking ice I hear?).

But there’s no point resisting a laser. Being completely uncovered like this is slightly uncomfortable. The thing is I’m the source of the discomfort. It’s not he who’s making me uncomfortable. They’re very different experiences. It’s a critical distinction, critical enough to allow me to proceed with the conversation with him, critical enough for me to allow him to stay in the conversation with me, with permission and integrity.

Suddenly in a moment out of time, my discomfort gives way to privilege. It’s nothing I did which changes things. Rather, given I chose to be here, I surrender to the moment. And that’s when an amazing thing happens: I start to see, with increasing ease, that which the laser is focused on. I start to see, with clarity, that which is ordinarily out of my own view: my inauthenticity, my attachment, my fear driven by survival. It’s a supreme challenge to stay present and not act on everything my mind throws out telling me not to be here. But it always tells me not to be here in situations like this. In a moment of inspired resignation I wonder “If not here, then where?” … and “If not now, then when?” … and (most obviously) “If not with him, then with whom?”.

When I get that, I let go. I feel my shoulders go slack as I give over entirely to the conversation – actually a no credit, no brainer move since the laser sees it all anyway. For the first time I speak freely and in depth about where I’m attached, about how it gets in my way, about how it stops me being with whom I want to be with and doing what I want to do and having what I want to have. It’s a cold, objective, non-judgemental non-preferential observation. I see it’s how I’m being. At least I see it’s a way I’m being.

He can tell I see it, and as soon as I see it, he says “Good. Then there’s nothing else we need to talk about.” I look at his face and see it looking back at me in a whole new way. His eyes twinkle. His face radiates love. The laser bright light, for all intents and purposes, has melted and is now less intense, merging with the background restaurant lighting as our conversation turns to recent movies we’ve seen in the last few days: he Lincoln, me Skyfall.

The thing is after this dinner conversation with this laser, I’m not the same person I was when I saw Skyfall.