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




Hungry Eat Tired Sleep

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 19, 2020



"Of all the disciplines that I studied, practiced, learned, Zen was the essential  one. It was not so much an influence on me; rather, it created space. It allowed those things that were there to be there. It gave some form to my experience. And it built up in me the critical mass from which was kindled the experience that produced est. Although the est  training is not Zen, nor even anything like it, some features of est  resonate with Zen teaching and practice. It is entirely appropriate for persons interested in est  to be interested also in Zen."
... 
sharing his experience of Zen with Professor William Warren Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in the account titled "The Zen Art of Bookselling" in the chapter called "Quest" in part II, "Education", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"
"When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep."
... Zen master Baizhang Huaihai answering the question "What is Zen?"
"When they're hungry, they don't just eat: they think of all sorts of things; when they're tired, they don't just sleep, but dream all sorts of dreams."
... Alan Watts
This essay, Hungry Eat Tired Sleep, is the sixteenth in an open group on Zen:


Baizhang Huaihai's fabulous Zen adage "When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep" covers just about everything  you'll ever do in the world, yes? All of it. If you're a graduate ie if you've examined all this  profoundly ie if you've inquired deeply into what all this really is (and into who you really are in relationship to all this) and what there is to authentically do if only the frenzy of life and living can be transcended, and when you've finally figured out a way to hold life's demands in a clear perspective (and look: there are always demands, so "transcending the frenzy" is just a place to stand like a possibility), then there's the question: what's left for a fully woke  human being, that's mandated by Life itself  if all the distractions / the frenzy are to be miraculously transcended - that is recontextualized?  (I love that word).

It's really very simple (and notice how oddly hard this is to accept, given how we're thrown  that it couldn't possibly  be simple ...): the way of Zen is to do what there is to do - nothing more, nothing less. What could possibly be simpler than that? When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired sleep (I'll add one more: when you're thirsty, drink). Of course, there's more that demands our time and attention than hunger, tiredness, and thirst. Yet that's the entire framework for living right there, the context  for managing all of it in the most pragmatic way: whatever there is to do, do it. That's Zen, the beautiful, the simple, the elegant, the profound, ... the Zen.
Werner has made extraordinary contributions to Zen by providing two (at least) new, unique, powerful lenses  through which to look at it. The first nails down "When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep" like so: when you're hungry, eat - and just eat  while you're eating; when you're tired, sleep - and just sleep  while you're sleeping. Tersely: do what there is to do. Explicitly: do what you're doing while you're doing it. When you're doing what you're doing while you're doing it, you're essentially doing ... well, nothing  (it's this distinction / this way of doing nothing that's discussed at length in revealing detail elsewhere in this collection of essays).

To be sure, that's a startling lens indeed. But what's even more startling (more riveting, if you will) is the second lens Werner provides, which is this: Zen is not the work of transformation. Now if that's true, why even make that distinction at all? After all, if X  is not Y  (which it clearly isn't), then who cares?  But wait: aren't Zen and transformation related? Aren't they colleagues?  Yes the work of transformation may owe Zen a debt of gratitude for providing the space like a Petri dish  in which the experience of the source of transformation was kindled and took shape. Nonetheless it's necessary to draw the distinction sharply  between Zen as a practice of being with / doing what there is to do ... and being transformed being with / doing what there is to do. And they are  patently distinct: the latter is what comes next like a possibility, out of the space allowed by the former. But there's still one more point to be made to clearly distinguish the one from the other, and it's this one:

Look: "When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep" effectively provides the Zen to be with and complete all the logistics  demanded by the world, indeed which are demanded by everyday living. Yet that's not the end of it. When what there is to do, is done with elegance, impeccability, and immaculately (in other words, when what there is to do, is done with Zen) then there's a possibility for who we really  are to come forth, to come out and play, to express, to create, to be with, to dance - with life, and with each other. The former is the domain of Zen. The latter is the domain of transformation. And in the domain of transformation, Zen (like the external tank  of a space shuttle) can be released, having fulfilled its purpose. Indeed, releasing it is smart. Why? Not releasing Zen after the onset of transformation, risks its diminution by casting its role as necessary, an attachment, a belief system, a concept - all of which ruin Zen. Zen is best considered to be a practice. Transformation is best considered to be a way of being, whose source was allowed by the practice of Zen. Each are studied and learned separately. I suggest you be interested in both.



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