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

God Is In His Heaven And Everything Is Right With The World

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 16, 2010

"I never worry. God is in his heaven and everything is right with the world - even though it doesn't always look like it." ... Dorothy, 99, improving on Robert Browning

This essay, God Is In His Heaven And Everything Is Right With The World, is the companion piece to Even Though It Doesn't Always Look Like It.

It is also the fifth in a quintology inspired by Dorothy:
  1. The Heart Of Werner's Work
  2. Dorothy, I Have A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore
  3. Interesting Interested Lady
  4. Zen Gardener
  5. God Is In His Heaven And Everything Is Right With The World
in that order.

It is also the second in a trilogy on Heaven: I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

Photography by Anita Lynn Erhard - Petaluma, California, USA - 7:42pm Saturday March 13, 2004
with Dorothy

When I woke up this morning you were gone.

Just yesterday evening I had a breakthrough  in the way I constitute myself as future. A whole new vista, a whole new freedom to be  suddenly and spontaneously opened up and an entirely new surge of happiness came on me. This morning I called out to you to tell you what happened ... but there was no answer. Just the silence of my own being.

I'm as complete with you gone as I was complete with you here. You leaving doesn't diminish my experience of completion. Yet it's in those moments when, through sheer force of habit, I forget you're gone when something wonderful happens and I say "Wow! Awesome!"  and I call out to you to share it with you, and you don't answer  ... that's when I miss you.

My world isn't emptier now without you in it. On the contrary it's richer for you having been in it. I've got nothing going on about you no longer being here - honest I don't - other than you're no longer here. Like an open book laying spine down on my desk and the wind blowing through the opened window turning over a page, it's a new chapter beginning. That's what it is. That's all it is.

In the kind of friendship you made available based on completion rather than on need, there's nothing left to say. When there's nothing left to say because it's all been said, there's no shock, there's no anguish when someone leaves. My entire thesis about why people are shocked and anguished when someone leaves is this: either a raw need is left unfulfilled, or something crucial to say has been withheld or left unsaid, and the finality of the person leaving makes it clear there'll never be another chance to say what was withheld or left unsaid ever again. That's what's shocking and anguishing. People leaving isn't inherently shocking and anguishing - any more than people being born is. It's just another inevitable, inexorable rite of passage, and I'm simply unwilling to impose any of my own selfish restrictions on your choice to come and  go as you please. I celebrate you leaving with as much zest if not more as I celebrated you being here.

There's the story of the monk in a monastery, a student of Zen who went to his master, a very wise man over a hundred years old, and asked him "Master, do we have choice in the matter of our own death?". The Zen master looked at him with total compassion, but sat saying nothing. Then all of a sudden, startling the student, he yelled out very loudly "KAAAAA!"  ... and died.

Just like that.

I get for you it was a choice. I also get, interestingly enough, it was as much a choice for you as any of your other day to day activities were. At ninety nine years young you lived, in more ways than one, twice the life most people will ever live. Your almost centenarian aliveness and alacrity put many teenagers to shame. To live so well for so long and then to leave as graciously as you did is, plain and simple, what everyone wants to do.

You laughed in the face of the direness of it all ie in spite of the significance  of Life. Whenever I lit your cigarette, reaching over sheltering the Bic  in my cupped hands, I would say with feigned finger wagging seriousness "You know, you better stop smoking - if you don't stop smoking, it will shorten your life.".

Now, remember you were ninety nine years old  at the time. So whenever I said "... shorten your life ..."  we would abruptly look up from the Bic's flame, stare each other in the eye in mock horror ... then break out into fits of belly laughter. Like I said, they were significance busting moments. I only wish I could bottle them and sell them to the masses. They would heal the world.

But there was something you gave me which I'm never going to sell. You gave me your husband's raincoat. I remember the occasion well - like it was yesterday. It was a rainy winter's afternoon. We were drinking tea you had brewed, eating pastries you had served, and as we sat at your living room table watching the rain on the window and talking casually about things, you noticed I was dripping wet - I had brought neither a coat nor an umbrella with me, and the rain had caught me unawares. You said "Just a moment ..." and stood up and left the room. When you returned you carried a smart, dapper man's raincoat. "This belonged to my husband" you said. "Try it on. He would want you to have it.". Then you laid it across my shoulders, opening it up so I could put my arms into its sleeves easily.

I tried it on. It was a perfect fit - the smart, dapper raincoat which protected your husband from inclement weather.

What an honor! What an incredible, extraordinary honor ...

There's something you would say to me many times in our conversations over these last thirty years or so which I've never forgotten. You would say "God is in his heaven and everything is right with the world - even though it doesn't always look like it.". Whenever you said that, I was always immediately and gently transported back to "It's OK the way it is" no matter what  was going on with me at the time. Your "God is in his heaven and everything is right with the world - even though it doesn't always look like it"  was and is a truly transforming statement. It has the power to generate transformation right here  in your mouth for everyone with no one and nothing left out.

Later I found out


God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!

are the penultimate and last lines of Robert Browning's 1841 poem Pippa's Song. But I think the way you say it "God is in his heaven and everything is right with the the world - even though it doesn't always look like it" is actually an improvement  on Pippa's Song. Somehow I don't think Robert Browning would mind. Somehow I think Robert Browning, if he heard you say it your way, would jump up  driven out of his chair calling out "Eureka!" and / or "A‑Ha!"  and exclaiming joyfully "That's IT!" That's  what's missing: '... even though it doesn't always look like it  ...'! That's what's missing! I got it! Wow! Awesome!".

You see, Robert Browning the poet, given the inspiring quality of his works and the sense they impart was, I suspect, a transformed human being, and I wonder what he would have done to have had the opportunity of sitting with you and talking with you and being inspired by you, the Mother of Transformation. Actually everyone wants to have had the opportunity of sitting with you and talking with you and being inspired by you. I just had the good fortune of being one of the lucky few who actually got that opportunity. It was simply a privilege.

I can only begin to imagine who you must have been being to have given the world transformation. You've given the world so much. You've given me so much. You've given everyone  so much. On behalf of everyone, I hardly know where to start thanking you.

So for now I'll simply say: Thank You for Everything.

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