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


Bold Faced Truth

Muir Beach, California, USA

February 28, 2013



This essay, Bold Faced Truth, is the second in the seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
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 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.



I was with him as his guest when he spoke with a group of businessmen who run companies which run the world. This was no lightweight group. Chief executives from American Telephone and Telegraph were there; chief information officers from major energy corporations were there, inter alia. He was speaking about how, in training his own staff, he gets them to look at their withheld communications, then at the withheld communications behind those withheld communications, and then at the withheld communications behind those  withheld communications etc. Such a process can last eighteen hours or even longer, is very, very intrusive and is very, very down. The purpose of it is to get people to confront the baseline communication which defines their lives. And at some point, even the most willing participants in this process (ie even those who started off  being willing participants in this process) may decide that this is "no fun anymore" and cry uncle.

But the point of his intrusion is not to cause distress. The point of it, he was saying, is to get his staff to the place where they see that when you've said everything you've withheld, and when you've said everything you want to say but haven't said, and when you've said it all to all the people you've not spoken completely with, and when you've 'fessed up  with all the people you've not been totally honest with, who you are at the foundation of it all is "I Love You". That's a hard fought and an even harder won space.

Then he said to that group "Laurence swims  in that space.".

* * *

I never did anything with that remark of his except, as you can tell, write it down. While he did indeed say it to that heavyweight group about a startled me, like everything he says it has real leverage when applied to more than Laurence  per se. Given who he is, he would say it (or something like it) about each and every single one of us.

The following ten questions comprise the seventh Questions For A Friend collection in this Conversations For Transformation internet series of essays.

Not coincidentally I composed them while swimming.



Ten Questions Asked Of You In Bold Faced Truth



 1)  Do you already envision what the next iteration of your work will be after you complete what you're working on now? Or do you run the course of whatever you're currently working on all the way through to its end before creating or discovering what's next for you?

First question:

"Everyone wants to know what you'll be doing next. Have you chosen a future in which academia and business will continue to frame all subsequent iterations of your work? Or have you already set your sights on new, heretofore undiscovered trails to blaze through unmapped territory and uncharted waters? What's next for you?"



 2)  It's often said we can't be free and open and spontaneous with that to which we're attached. It's often said that to which we're attached, runs us rather than the other way around. When I inquire into my relationship with you, I see love - to be sure. I love you. And if the truth be told, I also see something which looks like attachment. It's the "I want to be around you" component of "I love you". I'm looking for a way to recontextualize this attachment - whatever it is. I'm looking for a new way to hold it.

Second question:

"In examining my friendship with you, I notice there's a fine line between affinity and attachment. I can't separate the two. I share an affinity with you / I love you - therefore the truth is, to a great extent, I'm attached to you. My love and attachment occur together. Is this simply the 'good' attachment which occurs naturally with affinity / love, and which should simply be let be? Or does it get in the way?"



 3)  If I had to say one thing and one thing only about what your work makes available (yes, that is  a difficult selection - there's so much ...), I would say it's a certain quality, that je ne sais quoi  which allows relationships to work in a way which, prior to it being available, could only have been described as fantasy. What is it about this quality, whatever it is, which so empowers relationships? Or, more accurately, what is this about you  which so empowers relationships?

Third question:

"With every other relationship in my life - with my children, with my family, with my friends, with humanity at large - I can distinguish the 'I love you', and I can distinguish reasons for the 'I love you'. With you there are no reasons. With you there's just 'I love you'. With you this 'I love you' without reasons, empowers every other 'I love you' in my life. What is this about you? Why does loving you empower all the other relationships in my life?"



 4)  Once I got  balance on a bicycle, it never left me. What's similar between getting transformation and getting balance on a bicycle is both are gotten experientially. Yet unlike balance on a bicycle, when I tell the truth about it, the conversation which is transformation has left me on more than one occasion ... or so it's seemed. Yet it's always come back all by itself every time, richer and fuller then ever before, without any attempt on my part to get it back.

Fourth question:

"Over the thirty five years I've known you, there've been times when I was 100% certain my relationship with you (including my participation in your work) had ended. In those instances I thought 'I got it all now' and 'There is no more I can get from you.'. I never thought it would restart. Yet it's always restarted - by itself, spontaneously, from nothing. And whenever it's restarted, it's restarted richer and fuller than before. What happened?"



 5)  When all is said and done (and remember, I started off as a skeptic and a know it all), I've gotten value from what you've said and from what you've not said. I've gotten value from what you've done and from what you've not done. I've gotten value from when I've agreed with you. And even when I've disagreed with you, the facts have eventually belied my disagreement and I've ended up agreeing with you.

Fifth question:

"You've coached me from a distance, from the other side of the world. You've coached me from close up, face to face. You've coached me when the world's listening for you has been terrible. You've coached me when the world's listening for you has been enthusiastic. Nothing you've ever said has left me with any doubt - none - that you're the perfect coach for me. How do you do that? How do you be the perfect coach?"



 6)  Being in a relationship with you is being in a relationship like no other. I used to regard my relationship with you as special, as somehow unique - until I noticed you have special, unique relationships with everyone, all of which validate my relationship with you and with everyone else, and none of which diminish my relationship with you or with anyone else. This is definitely not the typical, business as usual  paradigm for relationship.

Sixth question (like my previous question, this is another "How do you do that?"  type question):

"When I give up that my friendship with you is somehow special, when I stop making the intimacy of our relationship significant, I notice you have similar special, intimate relationships with everyone. How do you do that? How do you have a special, intimate relationship with everyone?"



 7)  My next question goes to the heart of what I say when I share my experience of who you are with people. There's no point in saying anything about you which, even if true, is completely ungetable, given their already always listening. But neither do I want to short change  them (or you, for that matter) by not saying completely whom I experience you to be.

Seventh question:

"In sharing your work with people, one of the points I like to make is you invented transformation. I qualify this by saying you invented transformation in the same way as Sir Isaac Newton invented gravity by distinguishing it then speaking it, in the same way as Professor Albert Einstein invented relativity by distinguishing it then speaking it, in the same way as President John Fitzgerald Kennedy invented landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade (then, by 1970) by distinguishing it like a possibility then speaking it. Is this a fair and accurate recreation of who you are?"



 8)  Given the vision of transformation, I look at the state the world's in today, and what's most glaringly apparent to me is how far we, humanity, are falling short of what's possible. At the same time I experience the joy of living a life I love, a worthwhile life, a full life, a creative life, a satisfied life. The two - the state the world's in today, and the state of my life - at times seem curiously incongruent.

Eighth question:

"Taking the stand that I'm cause in the matter of my own life, brings me great freedom and joy. It's more than joy, actually. It's peace, wonder, awe, and a profound sense of being privy to the great mystery. How can I reconcile these, with the state of the world with all its poverty, war, species extinction, and impending climatic disaster?"



 9)  Some of my friends who've invested years and years (decades in fact) on thus far unrealized spiritual quests, have a hard time giving them up. They're convinced  there's something to get. "With all this manure, there must be a pony  in here somewhere" (as James Kirkwood said). I know what it feels like. I was like them once. It was Alan Watts whom I first heard say "This is IT!". At the time, I misheard his "This is IT!" as a clever (if not brilliant) point of view. Somehow when I heard it from you though, I totally got it not as a point of view but rather as a place to stand. And when I heard it from you as a place to stand, I also got its gorgeous corollary "There's nothing to get!".

This is it. There's nothing to get.

Wow!  Just ... wow!

Ninth question:

"Your assertion 'My monastery is the whole world' is pure genius. It pivots on the sublime realization that 'This is IT!'. It's amazing how hard it is for us to get this. We're thrown to deny it with everything we got. Does this prove God's testing us and / or that she has a sense of humor?"



 10)  If I agreed to all the requests people make of me to carry gifts to you, bring you their greetings, or send you their love, you and I would be busy for hours and hours without getting any work done. I know what it means for people to have you know how much they love you. I wish I could communicate everything they ask me to communicate to you - individually, in detail. But practically it isn't feasible. So now I'm going to deliver every single one of their communications to you all at once, combined, in one breath:

"Everyone loves you.".

Tenth question:

"More people than I can possibly name in the time we have available, have asked me to send you their greetings, to acknowledge you for what you've made available, to wish you well, and to thank you. What should I say to them?"



Even Unanswered Questions Evoke You



Thank you for this rare opportunity to engage with you in this way. Thank you in advance for all the new ideas, for all the fresh conversations, and for all the decisive, vivid distinctions your answers to these questions will evoke and bring forth.

And even if, given your available time, you choose to answer not all of them, I want you to know that just being in this process of composing these questions to ask of you in bold faced truth, has enlivened an element of rigor, a sharpness of thinking, and an enormity of possibility for me which ordinarily I often don't allow myself enough of.

For this I'm deeply appreciative.



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