Werner Erhard

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Satisfaction Is The Key

Published in The Boston Sunday Globe, December 28, 1975

by Werner Erhard

The mind's function is survival.

So, one's mental processes are toward survival. That is the purpose of mental processing. It can get very esoteric, but its fundamental purpose is towards survival.

And because it is a construction of the mind, the mind sees that the accumulation of stuff equals survival. Therefore, there's a concept of the mind that more is better. Our mental processes say more is better.

If I get you to love me a little bit, more is better. If I'm a little happy, I ought to be more happy. How about food? Well, I can only eat this much. But you can never tell about tomorrow, more is better!

So, we have an entire system of civilization based on the notion that more is better.

Our mental process is not towards sufficiency or enough but is always towards more, so that if you fill your needs your mind says, "Fill them some more." When you fill them some more the mind says "some more."

When you fill them some more the mind says "fill them even more."

Now I consider that this civilization has an incredible opportunity because we are at that point in the development of the civilization where it is getting to be fairly obvious to more than just a little small group of people that the more we fill our needs, the more successful we become, does not mean the better off we are. There are people who have begun to realize that success does not equal well-being, that progress and achievement does not equate with satisfaction.

There are a couple of alternatives when you realize that. But it's very unusual to realize that unless you've beaten the game, so to speak. Our level of material well-being, our level of technological prowess enables us to discover that that which we've been struggling for will not satisfy us, no matter how much of it we get.

One alternative is to go back the other way — put down success, put down progress, put down advancement, put down achievement. That's all nonsense! Put it all down. And an entire generation of people who are on drugs could see that this was all a joke ... That was their response. Give it all up, to hell with it, we won't have anything to do with it. That's our father and mother's junk, we aren't having anything to do with it.

Well that hasn't worked out too well either. So that's not too viable. Another alternative is suicide. It's never going to work out, to hell with it, I'll end it. But that isn't really viable either. Besides which it ends the game, you know; it's not so much fun.

There's another alternative, and that is to move from a system in which the only possible conclusion is that more is better into another system that says enough is best, that to be satisfied is enough. Now it's an interesting thing because everybody knows that the moment they're satisfied that's enough. Satisfaction is a very rare experience. For the most part people are filling their needs, they're not experiencing satisfaction.

But everybody in the world has been with a group of people at one time in their life and looked out and experienced that those people were beautiful. And when they had this experience that was sufficient, that was enough. They didn't need more of it.

Mostly we deny it right away. Everybody in the world has woken up at least one time in their life and really woken up. You know that incredible feeling of space that the day provides of opportunity. Now, it will happen very rarely to people. When it happens it's enough; you don't want more, you are fulfilled, you are complete.

So what I'm saying is that more is definitely not better. That's so obvious now it's ridiculous. Anyone who's familiar with the business of the Club of Rome and all those books about what the future looks like. These people have demonstrated by projecting us out into the future that "more is better" won't work. But they hold this out to a more-is-better system which can't hear that more-is-better won't work. So they create a kind of schizophrenia. One of these shots where you become immobile. So in order not to be immobile people ignore the Club of Rome.

But there is an alternative, and the alternative is a system in which the ultimate conclusion is not "more is better". That system I call the self, which is separate and distinct from the mind. The self is a system of satisfaction rather than a system of need fulfillment, rather than a system of gratification. No amount of gratification will ever be sufficient.

Satisfaction doesn't come in amounts. It comes in absolutes. It's like being pregnant. You are either satisfied or you aren't. So, no, more is not better. But you can't tell that to a system in which the only conclusion is more is better.

-Werner Erhard

From The Boston Sunday Globe, December 28, 1975


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