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


Conversation Is The Cure

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

December 22, 2020

"Talk isn't cheap: you cheapen talk." ... 
"It doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep talking." ... Stephen Hawking
I am indebted to Bruce Munton who inspired this conversation.

Consider this: in the ordinary world (read: in our unexamined, untransformed world), all that there is, has been distinguished by evolution or by a Supreme Being or by some other originating force - whichever is your persuasion. But in the world of transformation, all of this is distinguished by (and as) our speaking. Your life is distinguished by speaking. My life is distinguished by speaking. Life itself  is distinguished by speaking. Indeed, transformation itself is distinguished by speaking. Look: transformation is a linguistic act. We distinguish "speaking transformation" as different than "speaking about  transformation" (there may or may not be an overlap).

If transformation itself is distinguished by speaking, then the access to transformation, is through speaking. And if the access to transformation is through speaking, then the implement for transforming anything that's untransformed (and I do mean anything)  is speaking. In other words, the milieu  in which we transform anything that's untransformed, is conversation  - rather than the already-always drama of that which is untransformed (yes there is a very  subtle difference between the two).

To fully get this (ie to fully grok  it - as Robert Heinlein may have said), I have to differentiate between transforming something ... and changing it. Prior to the onset of transformation, a thing is what it is. And post-transformation, the thing is still what it is. It stays the same thing as it always was. It hasn't changed from the way it was. Transformation doesn't change anything. What it shifts instead big time, is the context  in which we hold the thing ie in which the thing shows up (if you prefer).

Intuitively, we already know the world and its conditions don't have to always be like this. Intuitively, we already know of the possibility of transformation. But the way we know it, is pretty much the same way as "caterpillar" already knows the possibility of "butterfly": even though it's already built in, it's not fully mastered. And in the absence of mastery of transforming the way things are, we go for the next best thing: we try to change  the way things are. We've blurred the line between change and transformation - but they occur in different realms. Added to that, the world doesn't fully let in the possibility of authentic transformation at all (fully allowing for the possibility of real, authentic, thrilling  transformation, calls for a certain courage, a certain bigness, and for navigating a daunting course away from playing small).

Actually it's worse than that: it's "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"  - the more things change, the more they stay the same. That means changes we effect on the world and its conditions, are likely to have the exact opposite results, and keep in place the very conditions we want to change, prolonging their lives, ensuring they'll persist. Transformation, on the other hand, heralds the possibility of something completely new  coming forth, something which mere change has no access to.

"But it" (ie whatever it  is: politics, racism, wealth inequality, you name it) "has  to change" you tell me, "it must, it's wrong.". So here's the thing: standing flat-footed in our own experience, and observing without prejudice, reveals we can't transform anything we make wrong!  Who knows why it works that way? ... but that's the way it works: that which we make wrong, we can't transform. We may change it, yes. But the more we change it, the more it stays the same. We're trapped ... or so it would seem. And the trap is wired in place by our seeming reluctance to differentiate between transformation and change, and to be willing to speak transformation.

This is the malaise of our world and of us, its denizens: we don't know who we are (I mean we don't know who we are really)  and therefore we have no facility with our own miraculous power to shift the quality of our lives, of living in the world, and of Life itself, through speaking. That's the malaise. Conversation is the cure.

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© Laurence Platt - 2020 Permission