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



Castello Di Amorosa, Calistoga, California, USA

July 18, 2021

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." ... Professor Albert Einstein

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ... Rita Mae Brown
I am indebted to Anna Taglieri who contributed material for this conversation.

"Will  ... we  ... survive?".

That poignant question takes many forms. Whether we recognize it or not, whether we admit it or not, it's on everyone's lips, leaning in from the background onto and into everything we do. It's directed at planetary issues (climate change, global warming, pandemics), political issues (democracy, telling the truth), personal issues (finances, health). When the question is asked in any of its many forms about any of our concerns, the outcome mostly doesn't look good: if climate change continues unabated, it won't go well for the planet; if political out-integrity  continues unabated, we won't have a world based on fact and truth anymore; if societal divides continue unchecked, poverty and hunger (and thirst) will emerge as de facto  conditions.

For centuries, we've been trying to change all of the above - and clearly we've not succeeded (indeed, to call a spade a spade, we've failed). For centuries, we've prayed about them and begged for divine intervention, and there's been no divine intervention (I'm sorry: the cavalry's not coming!). We know that "party  first" isn't as powerful as "people  first". Yet we've not demonstrated much will in implementing our vision (strangely, we've demonstrated the will to implement the opposite).

It doesn't look like things are going well. And the "Will we survive?" question is now beyond a planetary, political, and individual question. It's now apropos the future of our species. But look: don't we assume the answer to "Will we survive?" should  be "Yes!", or (at least) "We hope so ..."? And if the answer is "No", it's either unconfrontable or assumed to be overly negative and therefore avoided.

Here's the challenge: dare  ... we  ... confront  ... that it only turns out the way it turns out, and not the way we hope  it will turn out, and not the way it should  turn out, and not the way we'd like  it to turn out, and not even the way we try to make it  turn out? Dare we confront that this (ie this  - exactly the way it is, and exactly the way it isn't) is the way it turned out in spite of  all of our best intentions, hopes, and prayers? (it's obvious if you don't lie about it: this is  the way it turned out, yes?). It's been turning out the way it turns out, for eons. It'll continue turning out the way it turns out, for eons to come.

If all that's so (and all the blindingly obvious evidence does point to that it is), it leaves us confronting the looming reality: that who we've been being, is insufficient to the tasks at hand. As the contemplators of the question "Will we survive?", we've been insufficient. We've been its victim. We've addressed it inadequately with blame and finger-pointing. Yet even having done all that, we've still not considered that the frantic question itself, is asked just as automatically  as the inexorably turning-out planetary, political, and individual forces themselves which render life as we know it, as not the way we say it's s'posed to be  (and isn't that what we say?).

If it's indeed true that this is the way it's turned out and, in spite of all our best efforts and prayers to the contrary, we've not made a damn bit of difference  in having it turn out any other way (which pessimists say is getting worse, and optimists say is getting better), what's the possibility of being human in the face of such a looming realization?

The possibility of being human in the face of this looming realization, is the possibility of sharing transformation, the possibility of sharing being the context  in which everything turns out, and  in which the question "Will we survive?" occurs. There's something to realize which makes this a pivotal share, a breakthrough  actually, and not just some do-gooder bon mot:  it's the realization that it turns out the way it turns out whether I share transformation, or not. If I share transformation, it won't make any difference: it'll turn out the way it turns out anyway. If I don't  share transformation, it won't make any difference: it'll turn out the way it turns out anyway. "But Laurence ..." you say, "then sharing transformation doesn't make any difference, does it? (at least, it sounds like that's what you're saying ...).".

It's an enormous paradox, the cosmic joke  if you will: if I share transformation in the face of "It doesn't make any difference if I share transformation, or not", it actually makes a profound  difference. Look: that doesn't fit into our categories. You can't get it intellectually (you'll only make it wrong intellectually). You will however get it powerfully if you take a stand for who you really are, re-cast the frantic world out-here as what's so, and in the face of it, share who you really are. In other words, sharing transformation, which makes no difference (because things turn out the way they turn out anyway), makes a difference!

That, by the way, isn't an original idea of mine. It's vintage Erhard. It's as paradoxical as it's brilliant. It's breathtakingly marvelous. It's very Zen, and it'll drive you crazy (and may even make you frantic) if you try to figure it out.

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© Laurence Platt - 2021 Permission