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

Back Into The Soup (And Out-Here Again)

Grgich Hills and Auberge du Soleil
Rutherford, California, USA

February 15, 2018

"An untransformed life is not worth living." ... 
"I seem to be a verb." ... Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller
This essay, Back Into The Soup (And Out-Here Again), is the sequel to Deadly Distractions.

I am indebted to George Swan who contributed material for this conversation.

Living life transformed, is a Self-created endeavor. It's an ongoingly generated way of being, rather than (as has become conceptualized by all those disciplines) a wishfully thought "state to attain". I'm living life transformed as long as I create I'm living life transformed. When I'm no longer creating it, I'm no longer transformed. When I resume creating it again, I'm transformed again. Looking, for a moment, at the veritable plethora of notions about what the enlightened* state is (and about what it isn't), the question is: is it ever possible to become transformed (ie to attain the state  - if you will) then stay transformed without generating it ongoingly?

Here's my unsolicited two cents worth on that one: no one stays transformed. No one. That's not because we don't know how  to stay transformed without generating it ongoingly, nor is it because everyone knows how to stay transformed but we don't implement it. It's because staying transformed isn't an option for human beings. To live life transformed ongoingly, you have to be willing to take on creating that ongoingly, over and over and over ie to be responsible for generating it ongoingly.

I've taken responsibility for living my life in transformation. Even so, from time to time I forget that the onus is on me to continue creating that ongoingly, and I'll stop creating it. When I do, my life rapidly (which is to say almost instantaneously)  resumes being untransformed. A good friend of mine describes this state of affairs as "falling back into the soup". Falling back into the soup is a very, very  human predicament ie it's fundamentally  human. The script reads like this: you create living life transformed; then you fall back into the soup; you stay in the soup until you create living life transformed again. That's it. You get off it; you get on it again; as soon as you notice you're on it, you get off it again ie as soon as you notice you've fallen back into the soup again, that's the time to create living life transformed again.

I'm sorry (all those concepts from all those disciplines aside, and all those conjectures that you can become transformed then stay transformed without generating it ongoingly, aside) but that's all there is  - over and over and over again and again and again forever and ever. The way to completely ruin  the miraculous, thrilling, living  possibility of transformation, is to keep pretending that it's a permanent state to get to, a place you can arrive at (like a destination)  where you can stay forever without ongoingly, intentionally  generating it. Look: there's nothing to reach!  There's no special state. There's no special place. This is it! Exactly this way. Exactly like this. You know, people will give up anything  - their jobs, their money, their families, their health - to get transformation, anything that is, except the one and only thing you have to give up in order to get transformation, and that's the conviction ie the certainty that you haven't already got it  (as Werner may have said).

I'm a writer. And I write on schedule. That means I write when I say I'll write  - not capriciously, not when I get the urge, not when the mood strikes. So sometimes I'll sit down to write ... and there's nothing there. I struggled from time to time with so-called "writer's block". But then I found a great way to deal with writer's block: I wrote about it (I don't have to explain that - everyone gets it!). Similarly, here's a great way to get out of the soup: tell the truth that you're back in the soup. Why do these ways work? Writing ... is incompatible with writer's block, yes? Similarly, telling the truth ... is incompatible with being in the soup. The moment you write about writer's block, you don't have writer's block anymore. Like that, the moment you tell the truth about being in the soup, you're not in the soup anymore. Living life transformed (it would seem) is essentially a linguistic act  (ie an act of speech)  which is incompatible with being in the soup (the soup is a state of reactivation).

You may say "OK Mr smart aleck  wise guy Laurence: what about those saints who never get stuck in anything, maintaining (it would seem) a constant state of living life transformed?". That, I say, misconstrues what's going on with those people, fueling the erroneous belief that you can achieve a state of transformation, and stay there. What's more plausible is people like them, recognize living life transformed is Self-generated. So when they discover they're no longer living life transformed (ie when they're back in the soup), they generate it again fast. They have no special gift or skill or ability for staying in a transformed space, that you and I don't have.

Maybe a difference between us and them is simply how long they're willing to wait before generating living life transformed again - and they're not willing to wait long at all!  They recognize not  generating living life transformed ongoingly, is deadly  to their quality of life. They recognize enlightenment not generated ongoingly, isn't enlightenment. They recognize buddhahood  not generated ongingly, isn't buddhahood. They recognize satori  not generated ongoingly, isn't satori. They recognize nirvana  not generated ongoingly, isn't nirvana. They recognize salvation  not generated ongoingly, isn't salvation. They recognize Self-realization  not generated ongoingly, isn't Self-realization. They recognize transformation not generated ongoingly, isn't transformation. And for them, an untransformed life is not worth living.

* In chapter nine called "True Identity" in part III, "Transformation", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est", Professor William Warren "Bill" Bartley III (Werner's official biographer) re-creates Werner's seminal experience on the Golden Gate Bridge, and asks Werner "Was this enlightenment?".

I've distilled Werner's response thus:

He sometimes calls it enlightenment, yet he has two reservations with describing it as such. Firstly, enlightenment connotes a kind of eastern mysticism, a context he doesn't require. Secondly, the transformation he underwent on the Golden Gate Bridge wasn't so much an enlightenment experience, as a shift of the context in which he held all content and all processes including experience and including enlightenment. Hence he describes what occurred as transformation, and prefers not to use the words enlightenment / buddhahood / satori / nirvana / salvation / Self-realization et al, at all.

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