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


It All Comes Down To This

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

December 21, 2016



This essay, It All Comes Down To This, is the companion piece to Presence Of Self.



There was a scientist, a preacher, a businessman, and an intellectual. No, they didn't walk into a bar (this isn't a joke: it's actually a love story - and it's a true story at that). Rather, what each of them did was rivet my attention and win my love and deep admiration. Each of them had everything. Each of them lived the whole nine yards (so to speak). Well ... almost  the whole nine yards. Actually they each lived about eight yards, two feet, eleven and three-quarter inches. And I was left wondering who they'd be being (if you will) and what influence they'd be having (in addition to the vast influence they currently had, being exactly the way they were being) if they'd got it down to that final quarter inch.

So what do I mean by that "final quarter inch"? You could ask Werner Erhard. Or you could read on.

The scientist was jaw-droppingly brilliant. He had the whole thing laid out: from single-celled protozoa  aeons ago, to the future landing on Mars, and beyond. It can all be understood and proved, he asserted, if not now then soon, and he scoffed at anyone who denied that. His arguments were astonishingly sharp. None of his premises required God. His research and preparation were impeccable. Not one person in his audience could get around his logic. Many with religious persuasions were left helpless by his approach. To those who tried to save him (that's in the classic biblical sense) and wouldn't back down, he unceremoniously if not playfully served up the "F"-word epithet, then smiled warmly and empathetically at their shock. He gave no quarter. His way was "my way or the highway", of which he was 1,000%  certain. In spite of all that (or perhaps because of it), they loved him and they hated him at the same time. But I'll bet good money they didn't know what made theirs a love / hate relationship with him. I assert it wasn't because of his scientific mastery. That was merely the icing. So what was it then? I'll get to that in a moment.

The preacher, on the other hand, had it all down to faith and belief. He was a humble, gentle man. His arguments were nonetheless powerful and well-thought through. Listening him was an adventure in itself. His was a delivery which clearly had been challenged on many occasions. He was used to having his piety denied. The way some audience members called him out for his doctrine (and for his dogma, if the truth be told) bordered on insult, which only seemed to bring out the best in him - as if he took pity on those denying him, and loved them even more for it. Like the scientist, nothing swayed him. His exposition too, was brilliant, a complete system in and of itself. God did it. Period. That was his rock. But he actually had something very, very similar to the scientist - although you would never had thought so if you were only listening to what each of them were talking about (in which the one's argument denied the other's).

The businessman wasn't simply the mom and pop  corner grocery store type. His base  pay was forty mill (that's in US greenbacks) a year - and that's before  vested shares and stock options. The business he oversaw, while 100% legal and in compliance with all national and international laws, ran questionably afoul of what's good for the planet. And yet he talked about it with a missionary zeal (that was his job), alarming many of his listeners while thrilling his shareholders. No matter what criticism was leveled at him, he responded in business terms, justifying what he did by only referring to his company's bottom line, and his fiscal duty to do so. If anyone appealed to his obligation to keep Planet Earth green, trying to side-swipe him, he was unflappable. His armor had not one chink in it. Like him or not, approve of what he did not, he was a colossus at the dais - not merely in his  world but in the  world. While you may have serious concerns about what he and his business were doing, you admired - no, you revered  - the way he did it (and by that I mean you revered the way he spoke  it). Just like the scientist and the preacher before him, he could not be dismissed or dislodged. Not in the slightest.

The intellectual was stunning. Some people are good at what they do. Others are very  good at what they do. This guy was in a class of his own. Actually "stunning" only under-expresses his skill - by many degrees and by even many more orders of magnitude. His delivery was brilliantly coherent, scary  powerful, relaxed, and yet always easily exceeding one hundred miles an hour on the conversational tachometer. He missed nothing. To pose a question which showed disagreement with his thesis (whatever it was he was expounding at the time) was simply asking  to get steamrolled. People were both afraid of him and yet at the same admired him immensely. No, they were in awe  of him. And if it seemed to him he was taking too long to get his point across because they resisted it, he wasn't beyond deflecting any resistance from anyone, with a smiling rebuke ending in "... you can kiss my (rear end)!"  even when in the company of the most erudite groups. He didn't care. His opinion was everything to him. And the power of it was astonishing. He didn't waver. And, unwavering, his unlined face shone. His audience simply had no chance of out-arguing him - at any level on any subject. Then they fell in love with him because of it. Just like the scientist, the preacher, and the businessman, he embodied the same quality - which was apparent if you were on the lookout for it (but just like with the others, you wouldn't find it in what he talked about).

What the four of them all had in common was that which I assert was really  the source of their power. And although it was germane to everything each of them said, did, and expounded, and to the enormous impact each of them had, all four of them spoke around  it. None of them addressed it directly - in fact, I assert they each took it for granted. You see, their power had nothing to do (nothing whatsoever)  with their scientific acumen, their being deeply versed in the scriptures, their vast business savvy, or their gigantic intelligence (and their total fearlessness to push its pedal to the metal). That was merely its manifest expression. That's merely what it looked like when they opened their mouths and spoke (and blew people away in the process while winning their love and admiration at the same time).

Well? What was  it that they each had in common, then? I'll tell you. It all comes down to this:

As human beings, each of them were fully present. The scientist, in talking science, was fully present. The preacher, in talking religion, was fully present. The businessman, in talking business, was fully present. The intellectual, in talking what-ever  he talks, was fully present. People love  people who are fully present. We love scientists who are fully present. We love preachers who are fully present. We love businessman who are fully present. We love intellectuals who are fully present. But mostly, we just plain love people  who are fully present just because they're fully present. Listen: it actually matters very little what you talk about or how good you are at talking about it. If you're fully present we recognize it, and (for the most part) we love you  for it. It goeswith  the territory of being human (as Alan Watts may have said).

But all four of them, if the truth be told, were covert about it. The scientist talked science, and was fully present, yet took his own presence for granted and didn't address it directly. The preacher talked religion, and was fully present, yet took his own presence for granted and didn't address it directly. The businessman talked business, and was fully present, yet took his own presence for granted and didn't address it directly. The intellectual talked whatever he talked and was fully present, yet took his own presence for granted and didn't address it directly.

We (ie people) do that a lot:  we take our own presence ie we take who we really are for granted, and we don't address it directly. If who the scientist really is  isn't present, there's no science. If who the preacher really is  isn't present, there's no religion. If who the businessman really is  isn't present, there's no business. If who the intellectual really is  isn't present, there are no marvelous cerebral gladiatorial contests and battles.

That's what I meant at the beginning of this conversation when I said each of them had everything, and each of them lived not the whole nine yards (so to speak) but rather about eight yards, two feet, eleven and three-quarter inches. When you're being who you really are (which may be a mere click away from who you're actually being at any particular moment) ... and  ... you address  who you really are ie you bring it forth intentionally, that's living the final quarter inch of a nine yards life.

So. What do you give the men / women who have everything? You give them that final quarter inch.

And that's not a joke either. But it does make a great riddle.



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