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


Here We Are Again

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

July 2, 2013



"Lots of people have talked about taking that step into the unknown. Taking that step into the unknown is actually a lot less courageous than taking a step from  the unknown."
 ... 
"Wherever you go, there you are." ... Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, circa 1441



Werner Erhard's "Lots of people have talked about taking that step into the unknown; taking that step into the unknown is actually a lot less courageous than taking a step from  the unknown" is the source quote for this conversation. If you really get it, if you really recreate  it for yourself, it's completely and totally and utterly inspiring. Tell the truth about it. It is.

The thesis of Alan Watts' seminal and brilliant work The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are  alludes to how we are (and there's no explanation for it, other than we're thrown  to be this way) likely to favor and promote and pass down  (as in bequeath)  a world which will educate us (sometimes unknowingly) in almost anything and everything except  the experience of who we really are. It's more than that actually. It's (Alan unerringly asserts) there's what's tantamount to a taboo against  knowing who we really are, set securely in place in society. And Alan's book gloriously and mischievously does such violence to this taboo that anyone who reads it can never be the same again afterwards.

When you think about it (and if you haven't done so already, then pause to think about it now for a moment), isn't it amazing, isn't it baffling  that we can do anything at all  without knowing who we are? How can we do  anything successfully if we don't know the being we are? Well ... obviously we can ... and clearly we do ... but that's no defense, that's no argument for continuing to do what we do without knowing the being we are. Rather, the evidence  of the consequences of doing what we do without knowing the being we are, is the shape the world's in today  and the shape our lives are in today. We stand on the edge of a chasm, we stand at the side of an abyss  between the way the world is, and what's possible  for the world ... and if we tell the truth about it, we're not even close to living what's possible for us human beings on our planet. Not  ... even  ... close!  And we all know this at some level, yes?

Wherever we go, there we are  (as Thomas à Kempis may have said). Yet wherever we go and wherever we are and whatever we do, we don't know who we are. That same ignorance of who we really are, that same ignorance Alan proclaims is held in place by a societal taboo, underpins all our actions - and will underpin all our future  actions ... all our future actions, that is until the taboo is vanquished.

We can go and have gone to the moon, we can go and have gone to the depths of the deepest oceans, we can climb and have climbed to the peaks of the highest mountains. And I for one, am among the first to be blown away, touched, moved, and inspired by these massive accomplishments. It's more than that for me, actually. It's in celebrating these, man's greatest accomplishments, that I get direct access to ie I'm inspired by the possibility of my own life's true greatness. But here's the thing: when we get to the moon, when we reach the depths of the deepest oceans, when we've climbed to the peaks of the highest mountains, what's less than stellar is the likelihood that what we've taken  there is the ignorance of, is the always not knowing  who we really are. So what's true is this: wherever you go, there you are ... or not  ... as the case may be.

Listen: there's nothing wrong with any of that. There's nothing wrong with our thrown-ness  to explore, to expand, and to achieve. It's what's stellarly great about us. I assert, however, all our great steps into  the unknown, as courageous as they are, are actually a lot less courageous than taking those steps from  the unknown, in other words than taking those steps coming from  who we really are. And to take steps coming from who we really are requires we first discover who we really are. Now this  is real courage. This is bravery. And it's not  necessarily the direction in which the world is going. It requires taking a step from the unknown rather than taking a step into the unknown.

Stepping into the unknown (into any  unknown, actually) without first knowing who we really are, is just more business as usual. It may produce (for a fleeting moment, at least) a sense of temporary achievement. But in point of fact it doesn't produce the long lasting makings of a sustainable world that works for everyone.

What makes a difference is the pure possibility discovered by inquiries into who we really are. Some of these inquiries into who we really are which I've written down as these Conversations For Transformation are the ones which inspire me the most. They're the ones which drive me out of bed early in the morning and keep me up late at night.

But wait! Here we are again. These inquiries into who we really are are who we really are.



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