Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Sacramento, California, USA

December 6, 2017

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." ... Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43

This essay, Access, is the second in the twelfth trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. What Will I Do When You Die?
  2. Access
  3. The Newest Piece Of Work
in that order.
The first trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Prelude
  2. Ask Me Anything
  3. Coming Around Again
in that order.
The second trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Familiar Unfamiliar Territory
  2. Interview
  3. Straight Talk
in that order.
The third trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Dancing With My Mouth
  2. Cave Paintings
  3. Velvet Tsunami
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Creating Creating
  2. Tell Me Something About Nothing
  3. Lucid Disclosures
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Closer And Closer
  2. Tête À Tête
  3. Dancing With Life
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Would I Ask You If I Could Ask You Anything?
  2. Wonderings About Nothing In Particular
  3. Tipping Point
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Once In A Lifetime
  2. Fireside Chat
  3. Whole And Complete
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Questions For A Friend
  2. Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing
  3. Free To Be And Free To Act
in that order.
The tenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Attracted To Dance
  2. I Told A Friend I Love You
  3. Terse Transformed Communication
in that order.
The eleventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. A Context Worth Playing In
  2. Tie The Brush To My Hand
  3. Unimaginably Terse
in that order.
The thirteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Worthy Of The Company
  2. Creating Them For Myself
  3. Standing With Masters
in that order.
The fourteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. This Context Of Privilege
  2. I'm Not Going To Let It Go
  3. Questions For A Friend XIV III: Not Yet Titled (working title)
in that order.

I am indebted to Julia Dederer who contributed material for this conversation.

I'd like to share something about the access I have, through which inter alia  I get to ask you ten questions from time to time, then give you the space to answer as many of them as you like.

It's no secret: I've committed my life so that whatever I get from these exchanges of ours, I make it my personal business to share it whole-heartedly with the world.

That's my qualification, my credentials. That's it. That's what this takes. Nothing less. Nothing more. It's what works.

How Do I Love Thee?

What I get out of these exchanges and the way I share it with the world, may look  academic. To be sure, there's a lot of writing involved. Each of these so far one thousand three hundred and seventeen essays is, in a way, a paper. But I'm not committed to expressing my own opinions and interpretations or even my own hard points of view, all of which are hallmarks of academic dissertations - in fact I'll be careful that as little of them as possible seep into the access they are to you.

Well ... if it's not about my opinions or my interpretations or my points of view, then what exactly is this for me? What this is for me, is a shared personal account. These Conversations For Transformation are at their most powerful when they connect me to you. Consequently they're extraordinarily  powerful when they connect anyone who reads them, to you.

Each of the ten questions in each of these Questions For A Friend trilogies, is an opening to a conversation among (all of) us as close friends. Yes the form they take is written, quasi-academic pieces posted to the internet. But that's purely incidental. They're actually better thought of as the listened  overheard conversations which effortlessly and easily go on during an evening around a great dinner with a nice bottle of wine which real friends share when they have the good fortune to be together, with nothing else pressing distracting from the sheer pleasure of reveling in each other's company.

Let Me Count The Ways

 1)  My intention is to continue doing this for as long as you and I are able to continue doing it. It's what makes life extraordinarily livable. I don't know who'll go first: me or you. If I go first, I'll go with an enormous vault of questions unasked, and with years of conversations unspoken. But if you go first, I don't know what I'll do. I can't bear the thought.

First question:

"What will I do when you die?"

 2)  The way you occur for me (the way all people occur for each other, actually) could be said to be in one of three ways: first, the guy  / the "dude" you are (my generic guy / "dude" includes gal / "dudess"); second, the space  you are; third, the space I create for you  (the latter is arguably who people really  are for each other). But when I say "I love you", I'm simply speaking to the guy, the dude. And that's when I'm most likely to be met with a cautionary  response from very well-intentioned people who seem to be trying to tell me there's something I don't understand.

Second question:

"People say 'You don't love him: you love the space he is' when I say I love you. I do love you. Are they amiss?"

 3)  You're a perpetual motion machine. Even when you're relaxed, it seems to me it's intentional, purposeful. When I observe you, I notice your perpetual motion is surprisingly (and extraordinarily) effortless. The adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't apply to you. With you, it's "all  gain, no pain" - and you've been living this way 24 / 7 / 365  for nearly forty seven years straight uninterrupted?!  It's truly amazing. There's no one else I know  who comes even close to being so effortless, so restful, so relaxed, and yet so ongoingly powerful all at the same time. Look: at eighty two years old, you run people a quarter  of your age ragged!

Third question:

"Everyone who knows you, knows you're always in action. How do you do that? Where does that start for you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What drives you?"

 4)  You can speak transformation  like an explanation, just as you can speak leadership like an explanation. And we may or may not get it when you explain it to us ie when you talk about it (and as we've seen, there's ample evidence we won't). But if you deliver a context in which we can experience  it directly for ourselves, we're likely to get it (and as we've seen, there's ample evidence we will).

Fourth question:

"As the breakthrough of the est Training was unleashed in confronting 'You are a machine!', what creates the space for the breakthrough of the Leadership Course?"

 5)  I'm tempted to talk about the Mastery Course as the "sequel" to the Leadership Course. While this may be true linearly  (inasmuch as it's true that it's the next course you're offering after the Leadership Course), I do wonder whether or not you actually intend it to also be the abstract  sequel ie the experiential  sequel, the contextual  sequel if you will - or if the two courses are merely discontiguous offerings in the plethora  of courses you've created.

Fifth question:

"Am I accurate in describing the upcoming Mastery Course ("Being a Master of Life: What It Takes" - New York, April 2018) as the next iteration of your work after (ie as the sequel to) the Leadership Course? If not, how should I introduce it?"

 6)  You created and produced the wonderfully grand theatre  that was the est  Training in which its participants (ie in which the actors  in the play) got transformation. You also created and produce the extraordinarily brilliant, detailed process  (if I may call it that?) which is the Leadership Course, in which participants get being a leader and exercising leadership effectively, as their natural Self-expression. So I'm now contemplating what your method may be for imparting mastery  in the upcoming Mastery Course.

Sixth question:

"As the breakthrough of the est Training was unleashed in confronting 'You are a machine!', what creates the space for the breakthrough of the Mastery Course?"

 7)  Standing in transformation, each of us has the ability to create a future worth living into. Failing that, there are a variety  of futures we live into regardless: the probable almost certain  future is one, the future we fear is another etc etc. It seems to me that we human beings are thrown to create a future we deem to be worth living into, because we've already determined  the probable almost certain future won't be satisfying. And the thing is in the absence of transformation, nothing  will ever  be satisfying - and with  transformation, it's all  satisfying.

Seventh question:

"An acorn, not doing much, is likely to become a mighty oak tree. Is it good Zen for us to bet on that model apropos us becoming great? Or is that naïve?"

 8)  As I age (God! I'm pushing sixty eight ...) I notice gradual changes in the efficiencies of my faculties - some of them mental, many of them physical. Yet at this time, nothing that I experience or know, suggests there is or ever will be any age-related changes to the essential being  I really am ie nothing that I experience or know, suggests that there'll ever be any age-related changes to who we really are  ie to what Lord Siddhārtha Gautama Shakyamuni of India ie to what the Buddha  calls our true nature, which you on various occasions, have distinguished as the space you and I really are ie as the context  you and I really are.

Eighth question:

"You say your memory isn't what it once was, yet how do you account for your voice being more powerful than it's ever been?"

 9)  One of the many things I respect about you is the way you look to your ... Self  ... as the foundation for all your ideas. Generously, you credit anyone and everyone from whom you've gotten value ie anyone who has inspired you. Yet although you could underline many of the ideas you speak by relying on the way others have justified them, you never do that. Nothing in your work passes the sniff  test unless you yourself can stand for it personally, coming from who you really are. For me, that's the epitome of what it is to be a Zen master.

Ninth question:

"You once said 'It's entirely appropriate for persons interested in est to be interested also in Zen', and you acknowledge Zen master Yamada Mumon Roshi as your friend. What is Zen? Are you a Zen master? Is the common interest still applicable in your work today?"

 10)  What are you working on now? In which direction are you going next? What does your hat  look like that you're currently throwing over the wall? Indeed, more to the point: what does your wall  look like that you're currently throwing your hat over? What are you seeing in the space made available in front of the enormous power unleashed by the Leadership Course? (I suspect the direction in which you're going next will also be the direction in which we'll all be going next and is also be the direction in which the planet will eventually be going next).

Tenth question:

"What's on your 'Doing Now' list? What are you currently generating that no one knows about that we can look forward to?"

There's Always Something Else Until There Isn't

It's often observed these Questions For A Friend trilogies are disciplined, well laid out, immaculately prepared. That's not trivial. It's actually strategic. If they were laid out any other way, they wouldn't work. With that said, this entire process is actually also quite spontaneous. To be sure, there's intentionality required to present this in a cohesive way which highlights your answers to the questions (it's their global motif) while at the same time also highlighting the access to you they reveal (that's this  conversation's local motif) (it's in following the questions, then anticipating your soon to be answers, that the access to you is revealed, becoming tangible).

That's their framework, their context. That's their boilerplate. And it's impeccable (as I said, it has to be - strategically). It's this boilerplate impeccability which showcases playfulness, spontaneity, fun, even pleasure in the being with it. Notice both boilerplate and  playfulness are required. And look: I can't say why  this is so, with any degree of certainty. I just don't know (and I don't know if anyone does). What I can  say with 1,000% certainty is that's just the way this seems to work.

There'll be more. I promise. There'll always be more until there's no more. I know no other way to read this amazing game into which we're born to play, than that.

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