(Continued from Part 2.)
Werner would often say that the world as it was in that day was hostile towards transformation.
“The world as it is … is selling or trading aliveness for survival. Virtually every existing institution is like this.
“Government and education, for instance, fail to do their jobs; but they are very good at justifying and perpetuating themselves, and dominating others. Like the individuals who created and who sustain them, they come from the Mind state, from survival. Instead of being an activity to generate a healthy community life, politics becomes an end in itself. Nationalism, which increases positionality, is an epistemological disaster.” (1)
Even if someone breaks away from this way of being, they find themselves unable to discuss it in the world without encountering skepticism or opposition.
“People who have the experience of transformation consequently have little room in which to express it. They are validated almost not at all. The world is not friendly to the experience that your life works, that you are capable of having relationships which are meaningful and nurturing. There is, on the other hand, plenty of room to be slick and clever and successful. The world is truly friend to that.
“Such a world is an unhealthy space for transformation. Transformation must appear ultimately threatening to the Mind state. Thus to express transformation into an untransformed relationship or institution is automatically to generate survival behavior from the affected relationship or institution.
“Yet the transformed state, the state of the Self, is a naturally expressive and expansive state. A transformed individual demands transformed relationships because only in such a context can he or she naturally express a transformed individuality. Similarly, transformed relationships or families demand transformed institutions and organizations in which to manifest and express that transformation.” (2)
The ideas he put forward were not revolutionary in the commonly-accepted meaning of that term. He explained:
“This is not a revolution in the ordinary sense of the word. Ordinary revolution is concerned with social change. It involves resistance. One revolts against something. Whereas a true revolution transcends what one was previously either resisting or submitting to. In this sense I am a revolutionary.
“Social transformation doesn’t argue against social change. Radicalism and resistance produce obvious values. But after a while, social change chases its own tail. Social change just produces social change. After most ordinary revolutions, after most social change, the world still doesn’t work. For the world to work you must have social transformation – which creates the space for effective social change.
“Thus I have no political or social ideology. I have no idea about where you ought to be going, what your goal should be. The information that can transform where you are going is to know where you are coming from – from survival and positionality. You transform where your life goes by experiencing where it is coming from, rather than by having an attachment to how it’s going to turn out.” (3)
Werner made a distinction between seeking agreement and achieving alignment.
“Alignment is the spontaneous cooperation of wholes coming from a context or common purpose. Agreement, on the other hand, is a banding together of parts in support of a position or a point of view. You don’t need anyone’s agreement to create a context. You don’t need anything from anybody.” (4)
Werner Erhard on Creation and Distinction – Part 2.
The world had seen many movements in which people were in agreement, but few in which they were aligned.
“No one can predict what hundreds of thousands of aligned people can do who are aligned out of themselves, out of their individual sense of responsibility, out of being willing to create new contexts within themselves – within themselves as individuals, within themselves as relationship, within themselves as a group, within themselves as organization or institution, within themselves as society, within themselves as humankind. We have no idea what a group of hundreds of thousands of aligned people can do. And I say that any attempt to predict it limits it.” (5)
What people will do in a transformed state cannot be predicted. It cannot be known ahead of time. Werner used the illustration of the caterpillar to shed light on this point. He was discussing the end of hunger and starvation on the planet.
“If you and I were caterpillars talking about flight, can you imagine what the talk would sound like? ‘We don’t have the power to fly. Caterpillars don’t fly. They wiggle. We’re too bulky and fat and we don’t have wings. We can’t do it.’
“To which someone might reply: ‘But if a caterpillar could fly, by what method do you suppose it would happen?’ Don’t you see that you can’t answer that with a caterpillar mentality? Whatever answer you figure out comes from the limited condition; it is deduced from what already exists, that is, the form of the caterpillar. The creation of a context dissolves the limitations; it transforms the condition of unworkability and creates an opportunity for solutions to occur.” (6)
Those who look back on events will find the thread among rational, reasonable factors, not in the miracle that the creation of the context represents.
“Twenty years from now, when we’re looking back at how hunger and starvation ended, it will not look as if miracles had happened. Everyone will know how it happened. They will point to events that were pivotal, that made a difference. There will appear to be an obvious relationship between what was done and the logical consequences of what was done.
“The weather got better; there were bigger crops; this government changed; the president said that; the government did this; and it all resulted in the end of starvation on the planet. In retrospect, that’s how miracles always appear to happen.” (7)
But the real miracle will remain unseen. That miracle will be the transformation that creation of a context represents. It changed the caterpillar into a butterfly and only “butterflies can explain how caterpillars came to fly.” (8)
The creation of context transformed something from being just a good idea with a hopeful outlook to an idea whose time has come, Werner held. He asked:
“What causes an idea’s time to come? An idea’s time comes when the state of its existence is transformed from content into context.
“As content, an idea expresses itself as, or takes the form of, a position. A position is dependent for its very existence on other positions; positions exist only in relation to other positions. The relationship is one of agreement or disagreement with other positions.
“This agreement or disagreement manifests itself in various familiar forms. For example, your position is similar to, cooperates with, or supports other positions; it is independent from or ignores, other positions; it protests, conflicts with, or opposes other positions. Positions exist by virtue of contrast, such as being different from, or more than, or unrelated to, or better than other positions. A position cannot stand by itself; it is not self-sufficient.” (9)
This dependency is not the case with a context.
“Context is not dependent on something outside itself for existence; it is whole and complete in itself and, as a function of being whole, it allows for, it generates parts – that is to say, it generates content. Content is a piece, a part of the whole; its very nature is partial. Context is the whole; its nature is complete.
“When an idea exists as a position – when it is a content – then it is an idea whose time has not come. When an idea’s time has not come, whatever you do to materialize or realize that idea does not work. When an idea’s time has not come, you have a condition of unworkability in which what you do doesn’t work, and you don’t do what works. …
“When an idea is transformed from existence as a position to existence as a space, then it is an idea whose time has come.” (10)
Sometime in the future I’d like to look at some of the applications of contextuality that Werner and his colleagues were responsible for in some of the projects that Werner and his colleagues started. They demonstrated the power and relevance of context. They were bold attempts to bring workability to a world that only went further into darkness after the 1970s.
For now, when you look at what form of language and action stands the best chance of bringing lightworkers together and building Nova Earth on a firm foundation, perhaps think “context.”
(1) William Bartley III and Werner Erhard in the Graduate Review, May 1978, 2.
(2) Loc. cit.
(3) Ibid., 4-5.
(4) Werner Erhard in The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time has Come. San Francisco: The Hunger Project, n.d., 27.
(5) Ibid., 29.
(6) Ibid., 28.
(7) Ibid., 29-30.
(8) Ibid., 30.
(9) Ibid., 17.
(10) Ibid., 17-8.