You have read about Werner’s butler, and how he got to see what, by putting the cap back on the toothpaste, he was building. You have seen that the joy returned to the butler’s work, and his life will never be the same.
So, let’s see when I do this exercise with you. Standing in for you are my four “core” students.
This is exactly how the exercise goes: there are two people, the speaker and the questioner.
The questioner’s (B) job is to ask the question:
OK great. What are you building with that?
No changing, no embellishing, just that. Word by word. Do not get creative with that. I have warned you.
The speaker’s (A) job is to pick one of their small projects, like taking me to the post office. Or washing the dishes. Or canceling a subscription. A to-do type of project, nothing big. Not: I have a project that I’ll be a published author, if you have never had anything published. That is not a project, that is pie in the sky, daydreaming, never going to happen type of dream that you justify not doing anything with your life.
Once A stated his project, they stop speaking. No embellishing, no justification. Just what they would be doing by when.
Something like this: I will mail those remedies by tomorrow afternoon, that is my project. OK?
Then B asks: OK, great. What are you building with that?
A answers with what he sees becomes possible as a result of accomplishing the project.
B asks: OK, great. What are you building with that?
And this goes until A is moved by what he sees, or digs so deep that there is nowhere to go.
When it all goes well, the result is much like the butler’s life: inspiration galore.
When you are A, it probably will go the way it went in class with all four of my students.
What can go wrong?
We saw two kinds of things today:
1. You talk about increased capacities, capabilities, or skills as a result. Nothing else happens: you become a more capable worm. The context of life remains the same, you are still a person who will never commit to an action.
You’ll see that the whole process, your whole life is about you: there is no room for inspiration or happiness there: you will be a skilled worm: skilled but wretched. It didn’t even occur for you to look outside of yourself to see what you are building. So you are building nothing.
2. You talk about an action, like writing a book. With some coaching you even see that you won’t start with a book, maybe you’ll start with an article, and then get published. Then a few more published, and then a book…
When I ask what you are building with that book, you say: another book.
It never occurs to you that you are staying in a circle that is all you, and you never considered that the only reason to write a book is to make a difference for the readers.
A book written for your own gratification, so you can say “I am a published author” will never be written, or will keep you the same.
Type one will never do anything, because they will never take a risk of actually doing anything, type two won’t do anything because they are not inspired enough.
So, even though this is one of the most inspiring exercises known to man, the majority of you will not get inspired, because anything about yourself is not inspiring.
Inspiration comes from going outside of yourself.
Werner Erhard said that every single human being is like an onion: when you peel off the layers, what remains there is the desire to make a difference. The desire to make a contribution. The desire to matter, to others.
When that desire is blocked, people have two possible paths:
1. forever teenager: let’s have fun
2. become a criminal.
My group is definitely not criminals, so their path is the first: forever teenager.
But, let’s ask the crucial question: are these people happy? Fulfilled? Exuberant and happy?
No, they are miserable, every one of them.
Let’s also see what blocked their desire to contribute? Was it their parents, their teachers, their peers? Not really. A strong desire cannot be blocked.
What blocked the desire is a decision they made about themselves: I can’t, I am too ugly, too stupid, too slow. And then they honored that decision, and suppressed their desire to contribute to the degree that even in an exercise like this it could not surface.
The interesting thing that if you ask them what they want for the world, they have politically correct things to say: world peace, happiness, world transformation.
But when you ask them in the context of their life, their projects, the truth comes out: there is no world peace to be found then.
So, what is there to do?
I mean, I can give you liters of the remedy, you can come to every meditation class, and listen to each replay till your ears fall off: if it remains about you, for you, you are going to remain a wretch, and that is the truth, no question about it.
What is going to change your self-image, what is going to increase your courage? Can a remedy, an activator, a meditation do it for you?
No. None of those can.
Can you change your mind? Not really.
So what can you do?
Underneath every decision about yourself there is a set of actions that perpetuate the decision: these are the payoffs.
No one does something without a direct “benefit” for themselves. These payoffs are what keep the decision in place.
What are the payoffs that people have?
We have found that justifying yourself, making someone wrong, being right about how you are, trying to win, avoiding domination, and avoiding responsibility (victim) are the main moves.
Find your main move to keep yourself the same in the above sentence and start catching it as often as you can. This is what the color exercise trains you for, by the way.
When you catch yourself in the action, stop yourself in the middle. If you catch yourself after the fact, don’t make yourself wrong, just recommit to catching yourself.
Once you alter your behavior enough times to weaken the payoff, you will start to have some elbow-room to be different, and to consider making a contribution with your life.
And then you will start removing yourself from worm view and start climbing the Tree of Life. Not before.