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

Low Road

Napa Union High School Auditorium, Napa, California, USA

February 2, 2007

This essay, Low Road, is the companion piece to

Recently I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having conversations with a minister from the United Church of Christ, a student of the Bible and an adherent of the word of Jesus Christ, and then with a devout Muslim, a student of the Koran and an adherent of the word of Mohammed; later with an orthodox Jew, a student of the Torah and an adherent of the word of Moses, then with a practicing Hatha Yogi, a student of the Vedas and an adherent of the work of Mr BKS Iyengar. All four, it turned out, were also graduates of Werner's work.

In these conversations, what came out first and foremost was how these four devotees regarded Werner's work as empowering to their respective arenas of worship, how Werner's work (among other gifts) allowed them to strip away the deadening positions and beliefs they had inadvertently mired their faiths in, allowing them instead to experience the material directly  for the first time.

All four told me in similar words Werner's conversation for transformation is really holy  and sacred  - in the truest sense of both those descriptors.

"Beautiful!" I thought, "Even arguably true.".

Having said that, I myself do have a concern with deploying those descriptors: they're overly charged with meaning, interpretation, and significance. In spite of our best intentions, they evoke an already always listening  in people which makes it harder for them to actually hear  the conversation for transformation. While I appreciate what they refer to in designating the conversation for transformation as holy and sacred, I personally stay clear of those descriptors in my own Conversations For Transformation with people.

Now ... the other side of this coin is: it's all  holy and sacred. There's nothing in this world that isn't  holy and sacred. Holy and sacred, as seen on the high road  to enlightenment, is really just ordinary. Look: on the high road to enlightenment, a state of being without ego is touted as an ultimate state ie a holy and sacred state. No, having an ego is ordinary. Having an ego and being responsible for having an ego, is extra-ordinary. I assert aspiring to be without ego is ultimate ego.

I love Werner's irreverent notion of "dogshit" reality. You don't have to ask me to explain what "dogshit" reality is. Think of a self‑proclaimed wise man  thinking he's made it spiritually, when not watching, he steps in dogshit. You have to be something of a rogue to appreciate it. In order to avoid the trappings of the already always listening when it comes to the holiness and the sacredness of the conversation for transformation, you're pragmatic to choose the low road  to enlightenment rather than the high road. The irreverence of the low road to enlightenment pokes fun at even our most precious beliefs and practices. It has to. It has to consider even our most precious beliefs and practices may just be unconscious machinery - unexamined deadening positions and beliefs albeit cherished  unexamined deadening positions and beliefs.

On the high road to enlightenment, I'm enlightened as long as I believe in enlightenment, and as long as I follow the practices touted to lead to enlightenment. On the low road to enlightenment, I'm enlightened as long as I speak enlightenment.

There's nothing wrong with the high road to enlightenment. I love its piety, its sanctimoniousness, its reverence, its respect, its joy, and its beauty ... AND  ... I question how effective it really is, given peoples' already always listening, and given our propensity to add significance where there's none.

When the holy and sacred conversation for transformation ceases to be effective because over the years people, with their best intentions foremost, have starched it with meaning, interpretation, and significance and thereby reduced it to jargon, then it's time to reinvigorate its vocabulary and to bring forth who we really are  in its delivery. Thank you, and I'll take the low road.

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