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


Carefully Chosen Words

Far Niente, Oakville, California, USA

April 16, 2021

"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive." ... Joseph Campbell

This essay, Carefully Chosen Words, is the prequel to the ninth trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. A Fountainhead Of Clarity And Power
  2. Conversation With A Laser II
  3. Being A Being Coach II
in that order.

I am indebted to Aaron Bartlett who conriibuted material for this conversation.

A good friend of mine, a very powerful individual (he's actually one of the most powerful people I know) had a meeting with a great master, a guru  to many hundreds of thousands of devotees around the world. The meeting was a respectful, generous two-way conversational street. My friend wore a downplayed Wilkes Bashford  appropriate-to-the-moment sport coat and slacks, no tie. The guru was dressed in traditional robes ie a dhoti  crafted from hand-woven silk. The mere being together of these two great men was the miracle of the moment, a miracle that was palpably tangible for a few assistants and sannyasins  who were also present in the room.

As the meeting's allotted time drew to a close and goodbyes were imminent, the guru turned to my friend and said "Before you go, as my gift to you, I will answer any question you want to ask me, any  question you like, about anything  - living, God, the universe, the meaning of Life  - ask me anything, and I will answer", and he smiled - respectfully and generously.

There was barely a pause, and my friend, equally respectful and equally generous, said "I have no questions for you.". And briefly, very  briefly, the guru stopped smiling (I could have deployed the colloquial metaphor "the guru blinked"  rather than he "stopped smiling", but saying he "stopped smiling" is good enough for jazz).

Now I'm no mind-reader. I have no special access to what people think, although my ears do give me access to what people say. With that distinguished, I'll bet good money that something new, something not-known-before opened up for that great master, that guru to many hundreds of thousands of devotees around the world, something he didn't know that he didn't know, something he didn't see coming yet which opened up something new, like a sudden, unexpected "A-Ha!"  experience.

As my friend was leaving, the guru gave him a copy of a book he'd written, which my friend graciously accepted. Then, having exited the meeting room, he handed the book to one of the sannyasins in attendance, whose eyes and mouth opened wide in shock and delight upon being gifted such a sudden, unexpected treasure.

I don't want to ask questions in order to be told the answers (oh, good old "the answers", right?). What I want to do in the company of great people, is ask questions coming from being already whole and complete, the purpose of which would be to open up the space for new possibilities. The value for me in being around great people isn't so much in their answering. It's in their listening. It's in the space of their listening that new openings for action call me, without giving me the answers.

In meetings like these, there's certainly the joy, the love, and the privilege of being in great company. And in honor of that opportunity ie in honor of that joy, that love, and that privilege, I prepare ahead of time very  carefully. I note down possible topics of conversation, shares, ideas etc worthy of both the opportunity and the occasion. They're all carefully chosen words. My commitment is to end the meeting when our time is up or when my list is complete - whichever comes soonest.

Now there's nothing wrong with questions. Look: if I happen to include questions to ask among my carefully chosen words and ideas to share, they're questions with possibility in mind not questions with "the answers" in mind, of which "What's the meaning of Life?" is the antithesis of the former, and a good example of the latter.

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