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


Give It Away

Castello Di Amorosa, Calistoga, California, USA

September 25, 2007



"If you don't take it out into the world, you didn't get it in the first place."  ... 
This essay, Give It Away, is the two hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the companion piece to


It runs against the grain of our work ethic. It's contrary to our sense of entitlement. It doesn't play well with our desire to accumulate, to amass. Neither does it sit right with our survival instinct, and it's rough on the self-serving injunct to "take care of #1". It's the realization, the paradox&nbap; that in order to keep transformation once you get it you have to give it away - no ifs, ands, or buts.
Werner Erhard says "If you don't take it out into the world you didn't get it in the first place.". It's worth inquiring into what this implies, what's its impact is for generating and re-generating enduring, real, alive, thrilling transformation, possibility, and enrollment moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day for the rest of your life.

A trivial interpretation of Werner's assertion is Werner's a salesman, he wants his products to sell well. He is, he does (they do). Personally I take no umbrage with the business  of educating for transformation ie apropos what it takes to make transformation available. Making a no-nonsense, stone cold, flat-footed observation of what's required to bring anything of value to human beings given the way we've set up the world, it's sheer naïvete to imagine it can be done free of charge.

Fees are required, are paid to register into, to participate in, and to realize the value of Werner's programs. When the regents of the University of California school system offer their sky high priced educational programs for reduced rates or (better yet) free, then we'll have leveled the playing field. Is that likely to happen? Hardly. Is it realistic to pay for education? Yes. Wouldn't it be nice if education were free? Of course. Is Werner requiring people pay to participate in his programs an issue for me? It's not even the lowest blip on my radar. To those who expect them to be free, I say "Get real!". Try that approach at UCLA on the first day of admissions. It won't get you very far.

So the coaching to take transformation out into the world (as Werner says) or to give it away (as I say) exists in a different domain than the cost of production of Werner's programs which appropriately merit registration fees. It has nothing to do with selling even though  salespeople may indeed become more effective out of participating in Werner's programs, and many of them have. What, then, does it have to do with?

It's the nature of transformation itself  which supports Werner's assertion regarding taking transformation once gotten  out into the world, which supports giving it away - OR " ... you didn't get it in the first place  ...".

If you got it, you got it through speaking and listening. Who we are is constituted in language. If you're speaking it, it lives. Transformation lives in conversations for transformation. When you're not speaking it, when you're no longer in conversations for transformation, you're no longer transformed.

Now, the trouble with saying what I just said is it sounds like a recipe, like a rule. Once I've accumulated enough recipes, enough rules, I've acquired the beginnings of a belief system. Once I start living inside a belief system, I'm living in a conceptual approximation  of the direct experience  about which I made up those recipes and rules. Once the direct experience is relegated to the domain of beliefs  and concepts, it no longer lives, it's as good as dead.

So it is with transformation. When transformation is spoken  and listened, it lives. In other words when it's given away, when it's shared, it's alive. But transformation believed, conceptualized, understood, even transformation remembered  simply isn't transformation anymore. As a cliché, "Transformation remembered is a shadow of its former Self" is closer to actuality than it sounds.

While it's not "the truth", it's useful to consider transformation as Self by itSelf. When you're transformed, when you become Self, when I'm transformed, when I become Self, there's no "Self for you"  distinct from "Self for me". It's all  Self. Self by definition is beyond and inclusive of me for me  and you for you. Its essential nature, its true nature, its Buddha  nature is its shared-ness. Self is shared or it ain't Self!  Hence Werner's "If you don't take it out into the world you didn't get it in the first place." - no ifs, ands, or buts.

Give it away, and you get to keep it. Keep it without giving it away, and you don't get to have it.



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