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


A Space In Which The Wind Blows

South Napa Market Place, Napa, California, USA

May 28, 2021

"People are willing to give up anything to get enlightened. You and I both know people who've given up wealth, given up jobs, families, their health, give up talking, give up sex, give up you name it, they will give it up. There's only one thing people will not give up to get enlightened. They will do everything they know to hold on to this thing that they will not give up no matter what. The one thing people will not give up to get enlightened is the idea that they're not enlightened."
"Werner is a yogi who hides his knowledge."
... Krishna Rai aka Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa sharing his experience of Werner with Professor William Warren "Bill" Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in the epilogue to "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"
"I've been searching for years for the ideal place. And I've come to the realization that the only way to find it is to be it."
... Alan W ("Wilson") Watts, early mentor for Werner
"Enlightenment is giving up the notion that you are unenlightened."
This essay, A Space In Which The Wind Blows, is the fourth in a quadrilogy on Enlightenment:
  1. On Misconstruing Enlightenment
  2. Enlightenment In The Danger Zone
  3. Enlightenment Is Giving Up The Notion That You Are Unenlightened
  4. A Space In Which The Wind Blows
in that order.

I am indebted to JeanneLauree Olsen who contributed material for this conversation.

Werner Erhard is best known worldwide by millions and millions and millions of people for the more than fifty years of his breakthrough work teasing out the abstracts of transformation. And while the work of transformation may be related to the disciplines of Self-discovery (that's Self with a capital "S"), indeed while there's certainly some Venn diagram  overlap between them, the focus of the work of transformation is only interimly on Self-discovery. Ultimately its focus is on possibility.

The classic paths to Self-discovery are predicated on two notions. The first is: go within, and you'll find out who you really are. The second is: go within often enough and deep enough, and you'll get enlightened. I've contemplated a few of the foundational notions of Self-discovery. They piqued my interest enough to make me want to immerse myself in their classic paths.

I became a devotee, a brahmachari. Then later, as a retrospectively not-so-surprising direct result of being in some epic, eyebrow-raising conversations with Werner, I began seeing all those same classic paths in an entirely new light, a light I didn't know that I didn't know  about, so much so that I began re-assessing all of their underlying notions and assumptions, and therefore my entire regard of and relationship and involvement and participation with them.

Their first notion is predicated (without much questioning, without much rigorous scrutiny) on the idea that who we are, is to be found within ourselves. Practically speaking, this implies that who we are, is to be found within our bodies (once that's distinguished, only then can saying that "who we are, is to be found within ourselves" be good enough for jazz). Yet the now unavoidable truth, at this stage of my inquiry, is that's looking less and less likely to be the case. What I'm seeing rather, is this: all that's there for us to ever find within our bodies, is machinery embedded in hamburger. And hiding in plain sight out-here, is who we really  are.

We're not to be found within ourselves. The injunction to go within, to which proponents of the classic paths adhere (amongst whose numbers I have included myself) in order to discover who we really are, is revealed (in one of those double-take, epiphanous "A-Ha!"  moments of sudden, great insight) to be literally 180° misdirected.

Their second notion is predicated (without much questioning, without much rigorous scrutiny) on the conviction that with devoted practice over time, enlightenment will come. It's one of our most tightly held, most cherished convictions. I cherished it. And I stand back from it now, with respect. The holding out for enlightenment coming someday (or even soon) obfuscates a fundamental if not inconvenient truth: that we're already enlightened. There's nothing else to get. This is it!

It's not giving up worldly ways and taking up the path of the ascetic monk (brahmacharya) that brings enlightenment. It's giving up something else, something more intimate, something much more immediate, something way more difficult to give up. What brings enlightenment is giving up the conviction that we're not enlightened.

When we give up the conviction that we're not enlightened, we see who we really are, is out-here. It's not within ourselves. Who we really are, is not all the internal machinery embedded in hamburger. Who we really are, is not our "I / me" ("I / me" is just something that shows up for us). Who we really are, is a context ie a space in which our lives (including our "I / me") show up. Who we really are, is a space in which the wind blows. This is enlightenment. It's what we are / always have been.

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