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

I'm Not Going To Let It Go

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 6, 2019

"Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles:they are by somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a human being;somebody who said to those near him,when his fingers would not hold a brush 'tie it to my hand'--"
... e e cummings, A Poet's Life, read out loud by  
"Once something is discovered, you find yourself actually being knocked back by what you have discovered, saying 'Oh wow!' or wondering how you could not have perceived what you now perceive. You are being knocked back, as if you opened your refrigerator door and found yourself peering into the Grand Canyon. This is sometimes referred to as Einsicht, or an 'aha experience'."
"Dance with me! I want to be your partner. Can't you see the music is just starting? Night is falling, and I am calling: dance with me!"
... Orleans, Dance With Me 
This essay, I'm Not Going To Let It Go, is the second in the fourteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. This Context Of Privilege
  2. I'm Not Going To Let It Go
  3. Questions For A Friend XIV III: Not Yet Titled (working title)
in that order.
The first trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Prelude
  2. Ask Me Anything
  3. Coming Around Again
in that order.
The second trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Familiar Unfamiliar Territory
  2. Interview
  3. Straight Talk
in that order.
The third trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Dancing With My Mouth
  2. Cave Paintings
  3. Velvet Tsunami
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Creating Creating
  2. Tell Me Something About Nothing
  3. Lucid Disclosures
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Closer And Closer
  2. Tête À Tête
  3. Dancing With Life
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Would I Ask You If I Could Ask You Anything?
  2. Wonderings About Nothing In Particular
  3. Tipping Point
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Once In A Lifetime
  2. Fireside Chat
  3. Whole And Complete
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Questions For A Friend
  2. Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing
  3. Free To Be And Free To Act
in that order.
The tenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Attracted To Dance
  2. I Told A Friend I Love You
  3. Terse Transformed Communication
in that order.
The eleventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. A Context Worth Playing In
  2. Tie The Brush To My Hand
  3. Unimaginably Terse
in that order.
The twelfth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Will I Do When You Die?
  2. Access
  3. The Newest Piece Of Work
in that order.
The thirteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Worthy Of The Company
  2. Creating Them For Myself
  3. Standing With Masters
in that order.
I am indebted to the Mastery Foundation who contributed material for this conversation.

I shared my first draft of these ten Questions For A Friend, the fourteenth of the series in an ongoing group, now beginning its second decade, with an associate.

She looked at me, intently. "Why do you keep doing this?" she asked, penetratingly. "Because this is what I do" I replied, nonchalantly. She looked nonplussed, momentarily. Perhaps she wasn't ready for a Zen answer. In the context of "It's empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless", you do what you do because it's what you do. That's very Zen. Yes the reasons and justifications we give for doing what we do, make it all seem more interesting, more logical, more rational, more meaningful, more explainable. There's just one thing off about all those descriptors: none of them are required, that's all.

I told her "I can't let it go", confidingly, to which she responded with something of great value. She said "When you say 'I can't let it go', you have no power in the matter, and nor are you taking any responsibility for it. Rather say something like 'I'm not going  to let it go'. Then you have power in the matter, plus  you're responsible for it. Look: you'll notice the outcome is the same, except now you're asking your questions inside of a mature, adult, transformed  context.".

Not bad for someone who wasn't ready for a Zen answer, I would say.

Here is the fourteenth series of ten Questions For A Friend I shared with her, presented here in their final draft form:

It Takes Two To Tango:
Ten Dances Cleverly Disguised As Questions

 1)  Your definitions aren't merely definitions. They're catalysts for an experience. Getting your definition of an idea, is to get the experience of it, rather than to merely understand it. Your definitions provide linguistic rails to my train. And it's not so much where the train is headed  that's important. It's where the train is coming from  which is where the power is constituted. Your definitions give me an experience to come from. Mastery for example, is an experience to come from.

First question:

"I love the way you relentlessly fine-tune our language. For example, in the beginning you said transformation is 'the space in which the event transformation occurs', then recently you told me transformation is 'getting to see as a possibility who you might be really'. So ... what is your definition of 'mastery' - today?"

 2)  Like mastery, leadership is an experience to come from.

Second question:

"What is your definition of 'leadership' - today?"

 3)  Like mastery and leadership, possibility is an experience to come from.

Third question:

"What is your definition of 'possibility' - today?"

 4)  At least in a neuro-scientific  sense, transforming my life requires I distinguish brain patterns that I've developed throughout my life which don't work, then give them up, thereby freeing myself from my own tyrannical patterned behavior. The digital revolution today seems to be driving me in the opposite direction: back into automaticity, back into the machinery, away from spontaneously creating brain patterns which promote authentic, full Self-expression and being human.

Fourth question:

"It occurs to me that the circuits of our brains which facilitate face-to-face conversations and adult interpersonal speaking and listening (the milieu of being human) are at risk of atrophying, given the onslaught of impersonal digital communication. Will tech impede humanity's rate of transformation?"

 5)  I've got an opinion that anyone who bundles your work in the colloquial catch-all 'self-help'  may indeed be an observer / armchair critic of your work, but not a graduate. Graduates know better. It's been said your work can't be 'self-help' because the Self  (capital ess)  doesn't need help (sorry, I don't mean to be trite).

Fifth question:

"I often hear your work mis-characterized as 'self-help'. That's another league entirely. What distinguishes your work from 'self-help'?"

 6)  As graduates of your Leadership Course well know, it left them being a leader and exercising leadership as their natural Self-expression in any situation and no matter what the circumstances. That's what's available from it for everyone for the asking. Of particular gravitas  for me (I'm a graduate) is your assertion that "Without being a man or woman of integrity you can forget about being a leader.". This is in stark contrast to people who occupy forceful quasi-leadership roles in the world today who clearly have no integrity.

Sixth question:

"Except for a few noteworthy exceptions which disprove the rule (the Ireland Initiative for one, your 'Putting Integrity into Finance - A Purely Positive Approach' paper for another), your work rarely overlaps political positions, an arena we all know could use it, especially today. Is this low profile by design?"

 7)  The onset of transformation heralds many things, the most poignant of which for me was the shock (followed by the sadness) of realizing that all the time, effort, expense, struggle, you know all that sturm und drang  (German for "storm and stress") and snot en trane  (Afrikaans for "snot and tears") I'd put into building a life for myself, had produced a result that actually had nothing whatsoever  to do with who I really am.

Seventh question:

"When you finished sharing your experience of transformation on the Golden Gate Bridge with Bill Bartley, you said (quote unquote) 'I had reached the end. It was all over for Werner Erhard.'. What did you mean by 'It was all over for Werner Erhard.'?"


Professor William Warren "Bill" Bartley III is the author of the only authorized biography ever written about Werner, titled Werner Erhard, The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est.


 8)  When you first introduced me to transformation, my take on my experience of it, was I'd stood for something that happened to me. Then later I got my access to transformation, is language. Yet if it didn't happen to me, I wouldn't have gotten my access to it, is language. The two approaches seem irreconcilable.

Eighth question:

"Transformation the experience, happens. Transformation the act, is spoken. How do I reconcile the two, given I have no control over the former, and total control over the latter?"

 9)  Please share with us a bit about what we can look forward to from you next (this, of course, is a request which is always open and ongoing in the background).

Ninth question:

"What are you creating now? Beyond the Mastery Course and the integrity book, what new work are you bringing forth with your current projects?"

 10)  You operate from a place where there are no impediments to your velocity (by which I mean to your ability to translate your ideas into actuality). This is arguably your most distinguishing feature - if not one  of your most distinguishing features. It's totally unique, even more so given people around you inherit this ability from you for themselves directly, as if by osmosis. There are many well-known people who work with velocity. Yet few of them demonstrate the ability to impart it in kind, to their associates the way you do. In other words, you've succeeded in re-creating yourself where others have been unable to.

Tenth question:

"I've known you for forty one years. Nobody gets as much done as you with as much velocity as you in as little time as you. Nobody. How do you keep going without let up, without pause, without a break for decades?"

Closing Time

Thank you for this occasion. Thank you for this moment. Thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for this dance. Thank you for this privilege.

It's alright if you answer some, none or every one of these questions. Really it is.

Listen: it's actually a service to us all if you don't  answer every one of them. That way we'll be provoked and challenged to come up with lots of possible answers for ourselves.

The way I see it, that's a great  service.

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