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



 Life Rose Up

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 22, 2013



"The tree leaves, the ocean waves, the universe peoples." ... Alan Watts, deploying plural nouns "leaves", "waves", and "peoples" as active verbs

"Life rose up and here we are."  ... Laurence Platt

This essay, Life Rose Up, was written at the same time as


There isn't anything wrong with inquiring into how we got here, into how we originated, into where we came from ie into who or what put us here. This particular inquiry is the subject of both spirited debates as well unexamined fervor in religious circles all the way through the domain of science-fiction. In some conversations the results of these debates and fervor are asserted as "the Truth", in others as merely honest conjecture. But "the Truth"  is probably closer to this: outside of our cherished beliefs and favorite explanations, the answer to the question "How did we get here?" is "We simply don't know.".

The gift of transformation doesn't bring new knowledge. "Understanding is the booby prize" - to quote Werner Erhard. Transformation doesn't require knowing anything new. It does, however, reconcontextualize  (I love  that word) everything we already  know. So while transformation doesn't require knowing anything new, what it allows for is knowing everything new-ly  (the shift in emphasis is both subtle and profound).

In the conversation for transformation, the inquiry "How did we get here?", while it may be all of thought provoking, challenging, and interesting, is borderline irrelevant. A more pertinent inquiry in this context is "We're here. Now  what?". Notice there's a direction  to this pointed "Now what?" question: it's future  directed. And it's the conversation for transformation which makes for a future worth living into (or a future worth living from, if you prefer).

So if for the sake of this conversation I pose the question "How did we get here?", it's really without any significance. It's really devoid of any fervor - both religious as well as science‑fictional. Listen: if there is  any worthwhile answer as a result of this inquiry, it would simply be an "A-Ha!"  which is complete in and of itself, and which doesn't detract from (which is to say which doesn't get in the way of)  the future direction of transformation.

All that said, the answer I propose to the question "How did we get here?" is this: Life rose up and here we are. Just like that. That simple. And even before we can open ourselves to the possibility of if that's what really  happened, notice the trap of ie notice the pull toward  getting side-tracked by the classic false cause  proposition of "Well ... what caused  Life to rise up in the first place?".

The tree is the totality  of the tree. It's not just its roots. It's not just its trunk. It's not just its branches, and it's not just its leaves. It's all  of it. You could say (in a sense) the result  of the tree being a tree is the leaves it produces. You could say "The tree leaves"  - using the plural noun "leaves" in a pointedly unusual yet accurate way as an active verb. The ocean is the totality of the ocean. It's not just its water. It's not just its currents. It's not just its tides, and it's not just its waves. It's all of it. You could say (in a sense) the result of the ocean being an ocean, is the waves it produces. You could say "The ocean waves"  - using the plural noun "waves" in a pointedly unusual yet accurate way as an active verb.

So this is IT!  ... and here we are. Life rose up  and here we are. The universe IS  ... and here we are. And as the tree leaves, and just as the ocean waves, so the universe peoples  (as Alan Watts, Werner's friend and the world's foremost exponent of Zen, may have said).

Be careful! You can't apply  this knowledge - and even if you could apply it, there's no value to be gained from doing so. Knowing it doesn't change anything ... although it may give you a new context in which to hold it all. In and of itself, it isn't even a useful  thing to know (which is to say knowing it may be interesting  but it's not pragmatic). Rather it's the work of transformation which is useful - and it's especially useful when its distinctions are applied to life as it's lived. Understanding how we got here, as interesting as it may be, still and only ever wins the booby prize.



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