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


Love And Kindness

Chicago, Illinois, USA

April 15, 2007



This essay, Love And Kindness, is the third in the third trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Visits With A Friend VIII (working title) : Coming
  2. Visits With A Friend VIII II (working title) : Coming
  3. Visits With A Friend VIII III (working title) : Coming
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Secret Service.

This essay, Love And Kindness, is the companion piece to


As abstracts, love and kindness are the bastions of mastery.

When you think of Mother Teresa, that's what's there: love and kindness. When you think of Pope John Paul II, that's what's there: love and kindness. When you think of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that's what's there: love and kindness.

But like many essentially universal good  human qualities (as opposed to bad  human qualities), love and kindness are diminished to the point of being rendered powerless once we, in our fervor to find recipes  for success, in our addiction to come up with formulae for making it, confuse the menu with the steak. They're not worth much as rote  behavior. They're not potent if we conjure them up as the right  way to be or the good  way to be. They're almost impossible to sustain authentically over the long term without a bedrock base of transformation, without which they're simply icing on a mudpie.
Werner's notions of love and kindness as abstracts are consistent with everyone else's. In other words, when he speaks about them we're almost assured of being in agreement with what he says about love and with what he says about kindness.

However, where he may call into question others' notions of love and kindness is twofold:

 1)  Love and kindness are applied as instruments of inquiry  rather than merely showing up as adjuncts to good behavior.
 2)  Love and kindness are legitimately and with dramatic effect applied during the inquiry into "I" (the notorious misunderstanding of which I say gave rise to nicknaming the '70s "The Me Decade").

Although I listened intently, it took me quite a while to hear him say that, to let it in, to get it. I did a kind of aural double take  when he spoke about the possibility of me having love and kindness for my "I". For starters, I'd collapsed my "I" with "myself" ... but that's a topic for an entirely different conversation on another occasion.

When I entertain the possibility of loving myself as an act of deliberation  and not simply as self respect, I've got a plethora of stuff going on. I've got a whole raft of assessments about it which get in the way.

Setting the collapsing of my "I" with "myself" temporarily aside, I've got loving myself  bound up with egotism, with narcissism, with selfishness, and with being inconsiderate of others. So even if it was wired into my machinery for me to love myself, even if God herself demanded I do it, I'd have considerations.

Given I'm a good guy, I would say, and given good guys aren't supposed to be narcissistic (straight out of my collection of assessments), I would defer loving myself until late in the night, and then hopefully fall asleep before I did something good guys aren't supposed to do.

When I'd set aside my assessments long enough to hear what he was saying and then to experiment with it, the results were dramatic, even startling. The "I", the false self, starts to disappear, starts to get out of the way, starts to transform in the face of the simple act of me bringing love and kindness to it.

Could it really be this simple? Could it really be so easy? I waited a day then tested it again. Same dramatic results. Same sense of being who I really  am rather than being who I identify myself to be. Another day later the good feeling  still permeated my body, lines fell from my face, and even though I'd slept only twenty three hours total in the last hundred and twenty, I felt rested, refreshed and ... happy, relaxed, not identifying falsely with "I", free to be, empowered to be with others, genuinely interested.

He says life is simple. It occurs to me not listening to him comes at a terrible cost.



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