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's The Steak Not The Menu

Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar, Browns Valley, California, USA

June 13, 2018

"Talking about  transformation is no more than a representation, an image of the real thing. It's like eating the menu instead of the steak - neither nurturing nor profound. It is in being transformed - in being authentically true to oneself - that one lives passionately free, unencumbered, fearless, committed. It is in living life in a transformed way that the steak and its sizzle show up."

It's a subtle distinction. And it's safe to say we, with every good intention, keep missing it - not just for days or for weeks or even for months, but for centuries. It's "speaking transformation"  as opposed to "speaking about  transformation." "Speaking about transformation" is the menu. "Speaking transformation" is the steak. And we all know it's stoopid  to make a case for eating the menu in lieu of the steak - so likewise, for "speaking about" transformation in lieu of "speaking" transformation. But Laurence, didn't Werner say transformation is a rich body of distinctions?  Don't we have to learn and remember them and speak about them to be transformed?

Menu courtesy Oban Steakhouse, Oban, Scotland "Warning: this is the menu. Don't eat it!  It's not the steak." ... Laurence Platt
Good question. Does living a transformed life require you to become a master of delivering its rich body of distinctions? In other words if you're unable to present an intelligent, witty discourse recounting all the distinctions accurately for the audience in a packed lecture theatre on an Ivy League  college campus, can you claim to live a transformed life? Pursuing these inquiries reveals one of the most profoundly marvelous ways Werner's work works (and of the way it doesn't).

Here's my take on that: I understand water (don't we all?). I understand it's the second phase of matter (of solid, liquid, and gas, it's liquid). I understand my body is 60% water, and a molecule of water comprises two atoms of Hydrogen combined with one atom of Oxygen (hence "H2O") etc etc ...  And yet  I don't need to understand any  of that to experience being wet when I dive in.
Werner's promise for the Leadership Course (for example) is "You will leave this course being a leader and exercising leadership as your natural Self-expression in any situation and no matter what the circumstances.". There's no mention of understanding  leaders (it's not on the agenda: it's not required). Even distinguishing distinctions of true leadership is secondary. Its method is akin to discovering what being wet is, by diving into the river. The work is experiential  in nature ("contextual"  if you prefer). You could leave your understanding in the lobby at the onset where it will remain for you to retrieve again afterwards - just don't be surprised if you decide not to.

On this score I'm willing to bet big  (to support this assertion I'm willing to ante up the entire farm):  what inhibits, precludes ie what gets in the way (indeed, what's gotten in the way for centuries)  of not just you and I but the entire human race living what's really possible for us, is we stay stuck in the same tired, old paradigms which mistake the steak for the menu - in other words, which obfuscate real  life and living, with the mere symbols, pictures, and interpretations of real life and living.

To get to the heart of this and the hows and the wherefores of why we stay stuck there, is to get to the heart of Werner's work. But if you do pursue this inquiry and instead of ending up transforming your life, you end up with a deep understanding  of transformation? that's the same trap: way too much menu, not enough steak.

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© Laurence Platt - 2018 Permission