Obstacles to a Smooth Ascension: Withholds

A seat in first class

“Withholds” is a word that Werner Erhard used to describe statements that were withheld that tie up our power, love, compassion, etc. Withholds are Number Four on our Top Ten list of behaviors that may work against a smooth Ascension.

Let’s look at some statements that Werner and the growth movement used to make about withholds. One group leader said:

“Withholds are statements your survival seems dependent upon not delivering. Withholds are statements that you feel compelled to justify.

“Withholds are statements that recur and recur and recur, the statements that grab you when they do recur. They limit participation. ”

Another said:

“There are no perpetrations without withholds. You’ve just learned to lie better as you’ve gotten older. You’re more sophisticated.

“You hang onto your withholds rather than tell the truth. Your whole life becomes about not telling the truth about your withholds.”

They deaden aliveness; they help us avoid responsibility; they condemn us to incompleteness, missed experience. Werner once said:

“What was real [in my family] was not spoken about. People did not discuss what was really going on with them. Yet their dirty little secrets were dirty only because they were held as secrets – and indeed secrets which they held to be dirty. People demeaned their own experience.” (1)

I found their wisdom not only inspiring, but empowering. What they said actually had application and could be used to turn our lives around. I’ve retained my respect for Werner and his associates to this day.

The most common withhold, and indeed the withhold that underlies all others, I believe, is “I love you.” When we withhold our love, we basically condemn ourselves to live a life without love. Why is that so?

I’m convinced it’s because we don’t understand (and I include myself in this) the way love works. We think we get love from outside, but in reality I think we get love in the course of it passing through us.

We’re like a pipeline that love flows through. We get to experience love as it flows through us, along with everyone else, and, when we withhold love, we create a blockage to love flowing through.

Now that is only an interim truth because, apparently, we and everything else in this world are composed of love. But nonetheless a life lived from withholding love is generally seen to be among the most barren of lives there is.

And the same could be said about a life lived from withholding truth, compassion, forgiveness and all the other divine qualities. When we withhold the divinity in ourselves from others, I think we become small, pinched, crabbed, crimped and confined.

What Werner recommended is that we share the withholds we have. Since he was speaking about withheld truths, that would mean sharing the truth, mostly about ourselves. I would hasten to add Gandhi’s reminder that any truth we share should be shared harmlessly. It doesn’t make sense to tear someone’s face off in the supposed name of sharing the truth.

But it does make sense to begin moving away, rather rapidly in the time left perhaps, from the practice of withholding our love, truth, compassion, etc.

As a means of putting the brakes on any possible perpetrations, I’d suggest sharing withholds about yourself.

You remember Scrooge on Christmas Day? What he shared was: “Can you forgive an old man who has not had the eyes to see nor ears to hear all these years?” That was a withhold about himself. That kind of sharing of a withhold frees up love and releases one from the small and pinched-off life one may have been leading up till now.

As we approach Ascension, we’re told that we’ll be met with a tsunami of love, to which we must open and say “Yes!” If we’ve lived a life of saying “No!”, of withholding love and compassion, I would think that would be an obstacle to a smooth Ascension.

Some take a more religious approach and consider this repentance – turning and going another way. I’m OK with that as long as the heart is in the act.

Nothing can be lost from treating these last few days before Ascension, even if you don’t believe Ascension is going to happen, as an opportunity to create a wholesale turnaround in one’s life. What’s the harm in that?

Instead of withholding ourselves, this is an ideal time to begin giving of ourselves – giving of our love, our forgiveness, and our compassion. If you can’t find any other reason, think Christmas.  But in regards to Ascension, it may just win us a seat in first-class, with lots of leg room. Who knows? And it will definitely soften our character.


(1) Werner Erhard in W.W. Bartley, III. Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man; the Founding of est. New York: Potter, 1978, 31.

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