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


Do, Or Do Not

Archer Hotel, Napa, California, USA

June 21, 2021

"The only thing you are going to do today is: what you do today. Therefore, the only thing there is to do today is: what you do today. That's all there was to do when you started no matter what you thought or think."
"Do, or do not: there is no try!"
... Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order
This essay, Do, Or Do Not, is the companion piece to One Size Fits All.

It is also the twentieth in an open group on Zen: I am indebted to David Fiske who contributed material for this conversation.


This conversation reflects on / is in concordance with the breakthrough ideas about what we do (ie about what we really  do) in an essay written by Werner Erhard on January 1, 1981 as part of his "PAGES" series for the est  staff.

The essay is titled


It's located at

As I've shared elsewhere in this collection of essays on more than one occasion, the way the inexorable conclusion of Werner's work landed for me the first time I was exposed to it (which is to say, the first time I participated in it) was so blindingly forehead-slapping-ly  obvious as to leave me astonished at how I could have possibly missed it until then. After all, what it was had always been available to me (indeed to all of us) courtesy of Life itself. Its signs and signals were and are everywhere, all around us, all the time, and I'd investigated and explored it countless times before ... and yet  ... I'd never been rocked by it the way Werner's work rocked me with it.

When I got it, I simultaneously made an error, a miscalculation that persisted undistinguished for many years until I ferreted it out and corrected myself. My error was to assume that everyone not only got what I got, but that they also got it in exactly the same way as I got it. It's at least possible that everyone got what I got, and also in the same way as I got it. But in actuality, we each get it individually. When it lands, it custom-tailors itself personally to who we're being at any particular time.

And so it is with Werner's idea that "The only thing there is to do today is what you do today.". When I entertained it as a possibility for the first time, it imparted a certain provocation, a kind of a Zen perplexity  if you will. To be sure, Werner is Zen. He's very  Zen (it's more than that actually: he's very high class  Zen). Yet if Zen only imparts provocation and perplexity and not pragmatic workability, then it's not really delivering on its promise, is it? And so I began looking closer into his idea, digging deeper into it and what it makes possible. I had no doubt that it makes something possible (I could taste it) even though I couldn't yet articulate what it was.

When I got it (and you may get it the same way as I got it, or not), what I got was the profundity of "The only thing there is to do today is what you do today" is it allows who I really am  to stay present, no matter what I do, no matter what the load, no matter what the intensity. Sometimes my life looks like a series of episodes of experiencing who I really am, followed by an episode of being overwhelmed / distracted from being who I really am by pressing, urgent work, followed by another episode of being who I really am, followed by another episode of being overwhelmed / distracted etc etc by everything there is for me to do on my overloaded plate.

Although Werner's idea doesn't point to it directly, "The only thing there is to do today is what you do today" experientally  creates a context for doing whatever I do without it overshadowing the experience of who I really am / who we really are. That's transformation (it's more than that actually: it's transformation in action).

And what's so brilliant about his idea for me, is it not only accounts for what I do today in a context of transformation, but it also accounts for what I don't  do today (ie that which I fail to get done today) in any  context - transformed, or otherwise. As he puts it in his essay, the only thing there is for me to do today is what I do today - and that which I fail to get done or don't do today, I "have"  ie I own, honor, am responsible for, allow to be  as that which there is to do, which I didn't do.

So I do what I do (and that's all I do), and I don't do what I don't do (and I have  what there is to do which I don't do). And there's no mind-nattering or judgement or fret or guilt about any of it. His idea doesn't change what I do or what I don't do. Rather it enlivens a joyful transformed context  for everything I do and don't do.

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