The Company of Heaven has given us many but we can also find them among the teachings of this world’s masters. And no one contributed more of them, I think, than Werner Erhard. Many of his distinctions were so powerful that, when realized, they caused the transformational moments that he called “getting it.”
I’d like to discuss one of the most valuable tools he gave me – the distinction he called “context” – for its power in sending us in directions that are ultimately empowering and supremely useful. I realize that it can be a mite difficult to wrap our understanding around some of what he says here, but, if we persevere, the distinction of context explains many things and opens many doors to action of a global reach and a temporal permanence.
According to Werner and his associates a context is “a particular space or paradigm, a way of being,” (1) “a climate, an environment,” (2) a space “where you [can] come from” (3) that leads to action that works, communication that succeeds, and results that are lasting. “When you experience your Self as a space,” Werner said, “you create contexts from which you can come into the world.” (4)
A context is umbrageous, inclusive, holistic. Health is a context and includes disease, for instance. Peace is a context and includes war. Love is a context. Love is all there is in the multiverse and so it must include anger, hate, etc.
War, disease and hatred, on the other hand, are not contexts but conditions that go on within contexts.
Werner held that the very same actions that create conflict when held as positions contribute to workability when held as a context. He used the civil-rights movement to illustrate his point:
“It is important to get that opposing positions actually contribute to establishing a context. In the case of the civil rights movement during the 1960s, for example, all those people who opposed civil rights for blacks actually contributed to creating a national dialogue that demonstrated to the country that the issue could no longer be ignored.
“Every government official in the South who stood in the doorway of a school and prevented black children from entering had been a cause, a part of the persistence, of the problem, of the oppression.
“After the creation of a context – ‘equal rights and dignity for blacks’ – the very same action that had been a part of the problem’s persistence became an action contributing to the end of legal discrimination against minority races.
“Then, every such action contributed to an increased awareness of the issue, to the passage of civil rights legislation and to the gradual change in attitude that ultimately evidenced itself in the recognition that civil rights was an idea whose time had come.” (5)
In my view, there’s a fundamental bias or leaning to life. And that bias is that it favors contextual phenomena such as truth, love and peace. There may be those who set their face against them in the short run, but in the long run, I’m convinced, nothing can stand against them.
If we look at peace for a moment, it’s the state of the universe. War requires constant action to maintain itself and, when that action ceases, the world again returns to peace. Peace is a natural and complete state; war is not.
I see context as a Fifth-Dimensional state of being and the use of context as a Fifth-Dimensional way of life. What is favored in the Third Dimension today, as one can see by turning on the TV, is concept, belief, and position.
Positions are separative; contexts are unitive. Positions generate opposition, disagreement, and unworkability. Contexts generate unity, alignment and workability.
An example of positions would be whites vs. blacks, Christians vs. Muslims, or young vs. old. Concepts that are partial and oppositional pit one group against the other and simply produce winners and losers, conflict and residue. Said one of Werner’s associates:
“A context has no opposition. All things exist within it. Everything exists within it.” (6)
“A content or position is threatened by any opposite position. Given two opposing positions, only one can survive. On the other hand, a context gives space to, it literally allows, it even encourages, positions that are apparently opposite. In fact, the most important position in a newly-created context is the position which appears to oppose the context.” (7)
All the divine qualities are contextual: they include everything, leaving nothing out. But a position excludes its opposite. Positions come from the mind. They’re concerned with survival. They follow the pattern of “you or me.” Contexts flow from the Self. They’re concerned with community, co-existence, sharing. They follow the pattern of “you and me.”
A world that works for everyone, with no one left out – the basis of the Nova Earth we’re building – is a context. A world in which one country seeks to be a “super-power” and rule the world by force and dominance, whichever nation that may be, is a position-driven, and not a context-driven, world.
(Continued in Part 2.)
(1) Poster for A Shot Heard Round the World: A World that Works for Everyone, Spring 1980.
(2) Werner Erhard in The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time has Come. San Francisco: The Hunger Project, n.d., 22. [Hereafter ES.]
(3) Angelo d’Amelio, Post-Training Event, Nov. 1979.
(4) Werner in ES, 18.
(5) Werner in ES, 19-20.
(6) Bix Bickson, Vancouver Center Manager, Making a Difference Seminar, March 1981.
(7) Werner in ES, 19.