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


Breakfast With The Master II:

Future Open

San Francisco, California, USA

March 14, 2014



This essay, Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open, is the third in the second trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  3. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open
in that order.
The first trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Conversation With A Laser
  2. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  3. Secret Agent
in that order.
The third trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Raw Power
  2. It Works Better As A Possibility
  3. Magic At Heart
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care
  2. Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It
  3. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Whatever Works
  2. Yesterday's Transformation
  3. Billions And Billions Of Stars
in that order.


For a breakfast conversation we're covering an extraordinary amount of ground. I've gained a totally new insight into my future health as a welcomed responsibility  rather than as an onus or as a burden. I've created the possibility of certainty with regards to my future finances and am pleasantly surprised (no, I'm not really) by the peace of mind which goeswith  it (as Alan Watts may have said). It's clear to me this entire conversation for transformation really doesn't ... change ... anything. It doesn't make anything better either - not one god-damned  thing. What it does  do, however, is put me squarely face to face with what I already got. "Perhaps" I remark, now on to something, "this is why it's often difficult to hear the conversation for transformation for what it actually is: we're so hell bent on changing things, on making things better, on solving  the past in an attempt to be free of what happened in the past.".

It's also possible it's neither a matter of solving the past, nor was  it ever a matter of solving the past or of fixing what resulted from what happened back then. There's a whole world of widely subscribed-to highly regarded paradigms, rafts of disciplines, therapies, and practices based on the notion that what happened in the past can be solved, fixed, neutralized, cured, or saved from. Listen: if you think along those lines, you're in very respectable company.

"But what if" he asks "it's futile trying to solve, fix, neutralize, cure, or be saved from what happened in the past in an attempt to be free of what happened in the past? What if the past really has no power to entrap us, and it's we who empower the past  to entrap us by erroneously mis-filing the information from the past in the future?". That's what he's proposing: that we (quote unquote) "erroneously mis-file the information from the past in the future".

What?!  No kidding!  What he just said is vintage Erhard. I can tell this guy's been listening Werner. There's not one shred of doubt in my mind about it. That said, before too long I notice what he says triggers me listening from "... but I already know that ... but I already know that  ..." until I catch myself doing it, and drop it. I get this conversation is simply way too valuable to listen him like that. So I reboot my listening for the entire conversation as if it's the very first time I've heard anything he's saying. Pretty soon I'm listening him completely newly for the first time. Familiarly? Yes. But newly? Completely!
Collage by Laurence Platt
Werner's Filing Cabinet
Werner's original idea goes like this: consider the time of your life to be like a filing cabinet with three drawers. The first drawer is for filing all the information from the past. This drawer is full as there's lots  of information from the past. The second drawer is for filing all the information from the present. This drawer has very little in it as the exact moment of the present ie the now, is very brief. The third drawer is for filing all the information for the future. This drawer is empty and open as the future hasn't yet happened. You can file anything you like  in the future drawer. In other words, the future drawer's empty and open for you to create any future you like, into it.
Werner's filing cabinet is designed like that. It's minimalistically Zen, brilliantly simple. The past is filed in the past drawer which is full. The present is filed in the present drawer which has very little in it. And the future drawer stays completely empty and open to create into. But  ... here's the trouble with us human beings: we erroneously file what belongs in the past drawer in the future drawer. We're thrown  to do this (how we got thrown to do this is another conversation for another occasion). This fills the future drawer (which is designed to be empty and open to create into) with all the information from the past, making it almost impossible to create a future newly into it.

No, it's worse than that actually. It's much  worse. It's pretty soon the future, its drawer erroneously filled with all the information from the past we mis-file in it, starts becoming uncannily like a slo-mo action replay of the past.

Common wisdom ie common lore  would tell us that the quality of life we have in the present is given by the past ie that the quality of life we have in the present is determined (that is to say is pre-determined) by the past. But what if that proposition is inaccurate? What if the quality of life we have in the present is given by the future  not by the past ie that the quality of life we have in the present is determined (that is to say is post-determined) by the future we create ie by the the future we live into? If this is the case, then if we mis-file the past into the future drawer, it would certainly look like  the quality of life we have in the present is predetermined by the past. And if I stop mis-filing the past into the future drawer and instead file the past into the past drawer, then the future drawer stays empty and open, allowing me to create into it any  future, giving a present not predetermined by the past.

All it takes is for this idea to take hold, and my entire vista for my future shifts. What's vividly present for me now is the power of conversation, the power of words, the power of language  to shape our experience, indeed the power of language to shape Life itself. Wasn't it Werner Erhard who said "Words mean things, like they're numbers: if you add numbers together you get answers, if you add words together you get answers, if you add the wrong words together you get the wrong answers."? Yes it was he. If I didn't totally get it before, I get it now.

The hallmark of a great conversation is it leaves you with questions, not answers - and I have lots of new questions. I'll live within these questions and see what opens up. For example, what's the place for my family in my future drawer?  That's right: what's the place for my family in my future drawer? I don't mean family like a possibility. Family like a possibility, like a space, like a context, like a creation, is certainly filed in the future drawer. That's my entire family and extended family and me, and what and who  we could be in the future. No, the question I'm asking refers to my family and our roles of the past. What about my past  family? What's their  place in my future drawer? Is it even in the realm of what I file in my future drawer? Can it be? Should  it be?

I don't have the answers. I only have these questions. And I'm living within these questions.

Our time together is rapidly drawing to its inexorable close. Now it's time to leave him. I tell him I love him. I do. Both for the contribution he makes to me personally as well as to countless others, and also for the inspiration he is to me, relentlessly standing for transformation the way he does, showing how it's done. He tells me he loves me too. And then he says something which totally blows me away. He thanks me for the contribution I make to him personally as well as to countless others, and also for the inspiration I am to him, relentlessly standing for transformation the way I do, showing how it's done.

He's the master. And that was breakfast with the master. I make a mental note to set an alert to invite him for breakfast again one year from today. And now I'm driving back home north over the Golden Gate Bridge to the magical Cowboy Cottage in the Napa Valley aka  the wine country, with the iconic San Francisco Bay on my right and the magnificent Pacific Ocean on my left, looking at the most appropriate ways to express all of this in writing and share it.


Postscript:

The presentation, delivery, and style of Breakfast With The Master: Future Open are all my own work.

The ideas recreated in Breakfast With The Master: Future Open were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by Werner Erhard.




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