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

An Awesome View

Napa Valley, California, USA

August 8, 2014

"Your life and my life have turned out, and once you get that, life goes on from a position of having turned out. That's called playing the game from win."  ... 
"Muhammed called the hill to come to him. And when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said 'If the hill will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad will go to the hill.'." ... Sir Francis Bacon, Essays
I am indebted to Laurel Scheaf who inspired this conversation.

Photography by Sir Edmund Hillary

Mount Everest, Mahālangūr Himālayas, Nepal

11:30am Friday May 29, 1953
Tenzing Norgay on Mount Everest's 29,035 foot summit
A good friend of mine, a Christian, is a priest. He leads a congregation (they call him Father)  in a picturesque church near where I live. Another friend, a Jew, attends regular Shabbas  services in a synagogue, also in the area. The third friend I'd like to include in this conversation is a Muslim, a beautiful, devout woman, someone I enjoy being around a lot. She demonstrates a presence so instantly and intensely engaging, it brings out the best in me and in everyone else, whenever we're near her. The fourth is a Zen Buddhist. From time to time he goes away to a retreat where he sits in silence and contemplates koans. The fifth is a yogi  who practices Iyengar  yoga and meditation daily - and sometimes twice a day.

There's one thing they each have in common (aside from their wholehearted devotion to their diverse faiths and their unwavering dedication to their individual callings) which is this: each of them are enthusiastic graduates of Werner's work.

There's a question people often ask me whenever I share about these five diverse graduate friends. It mostly takes a form similar to "Why would a Zen Buddhist (or a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a yogi) be interested in Werner's work?".

It's a question always asked with incredulity - as if a faith or a calling, whatever they may be, and Werner's work are somehow mutually exclusive. My measured response is to pose what I consider to be a far more incisive question: "Why wouldn't  Zen Buddhists (and Christians and Jews and Muslims and yogis et al)  be interested in Werner's work?". Really.

Listen: when you get it's all already turned out, when you get "This is IT!", then you can play from win. Instead of doing what Christians do or what Jews do or what Muslims do or what Zen Buddhists do or what yogis do in order to have it turn out, graduates of Werner's work, be they Christians or Jews or Muslims or Zen Buddhists or yogis and others, have discovered the possibility of playing from win ie they've discovered the possibility of playing from it's already  turned out.

When we bring who we really are - full, whole, complete, and satisfied - to being a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Zen Buddhist or a yogi or whatever our own particular persuasion is, that's when we can start completely embodying and truly honoring our faiths and our callings. When you tell the truth about it, I assert you can only wholeheartedly celebrate your faith or your calling when you bring who you are unreservedly to  them, yes? Attempting to bring them  to you, all the while fervently hoping they'll save you, or expecting them to make you better, or (worse) wishing they'll fix your life, only serves to diminish and dishonor them. Honest!

In one instance, the person I was speaking with, seemed disinterested in this opportunity - perhaps because I wasn't doing a great job of clearly communicating the distinction "it's all already turned out" so it was coming across like a concept  and not like an experience. She said "Yeah but ... that's just Werner Erhard's  view of it.". "You're right" I said, "it is just his view of it. He has a view of it - just like you have a view of it, just like I have a view of it, just like we all have a view of it. There are many, many  different views of it. And his view of it isn't a better view than yours, and it's not a better view than mine. What his is ie all  it is, is an awesome  view.".

That's all I said. Then I looked away, letting the pregnant silence  which ensued, hang in the air. After a few moments I could tell she was taken aback - most likely because she was expecting me to argue with her ... and I didn't (actually I agreed with her). I let it sit there in her lap - like a hot brick. Suddenly her face lit up in a smile. She raised her hand, and hesitantly, wagging a finger at me, said "You ... you ... that's very  good ... A-Ha!  ... yes ...", nodding slowly to no one in particular.

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