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


Magic At Heart

San Francisco, California, USA

April 10, 2015



"Purity of heart is to will one thing." ... Søren Kierkegaard
This essay, Magic At Heart, is the third in the third trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Raw Power
  2. It Works Better As A Possibility
  3. Magic At Heart
in that order.
The first trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Conversation With A Laser
  2. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  3. Secret Agent
in that order.
The second trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  3. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care
  2. Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It
  3. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Whatever Works
  2. Yesterday's Transformation
  3. Billions And Billions Of Stars
in that order.


We're sitting opposite each other, eating breakfast, talking. I remark how great it is to be just talking  with him. Ordinarily the conversations I have with him are tighter, more rigorous training  conversations if you will. It's a privilege to be in any training conversation with him. But this time we're just talking. It's awesome. And it doesn't last long, this just talking. Suddenly he asks me a question which by comparison comes out of left field. He asks me how my transformation stacks up against the shape the world is in - and the implication I hear in his question is how my personal  transformation stacks up against the deteriorating  shape the world is in. He's asking about the background of transformation  in my life. His question stops me in my tracks. I realize I can't smart  my way through this one. My mouth opens, then closes again - no sounds come out. My throat goes dry.

I do have a response. But it's buried deep, so deep it's pre-thought. I notice I don't have the words for it for now, and looking for them is about as clear as looking through pea soup. Oddly enough, although the background of transformation (whatever it may be) he's asking about, is something with which I live every day of my life (which is to say I live every day of my life with what it allows for, with what it makes possible, with what it results in), I haven't really examined it - at least not until now.

<aside>

Wait a moment: is this even valid?  Is it valid to claim to live something every day without ever having examined it?

Of course it is. Consider riding a bicycle. We've all done it many, many times. Consider the balancing required riding a bicycle. Balancing is the practical  experience required for riding a bicycle (if you doubt balancing is a "practical" experience, consider what riding a bicycle would look like without it ...). Yet how often do we examine balancing when riding a bicycle? Hardly ever (if at all), yes?

And  ... notice balancing works whether it's examined or not.

<un-aside>

Until now, I haven't looked at the background of transformation with intention, with focus. Well ... now's as good a time as any to look. So I put down my fork ... and look.

A few quiet moments tick by. I'm still looking. I haven't spoken yet. I'm still considering exactly what the background of transformation is in my life. And what I notice, occurs newly as a distinction for me. Yet it's been a living everyday experience for the last almost forty years. It's this: transformation (which is to say our personal  transformation) shows up against a background of the world's chaos  ... which is why it's accurate to say personal transformation occurs as a miracle (I say "miracle" here in the same sense as Werner's "A miracle is something that validates who you are rather than diminishes who you are.").

The onset of transformation is a (if not the)  defining moment when a human being becomes source of their own life ie when a human being assumes responsibility for their own experience ie when a human being creates themselves anew. Transformation, it could also be said, is simply being with what's there. As stupid as it sounds, it's true there's a sense of joy with simply being with what's there. There's a sense of ecstasy which goeswith  transformation (as Alan Watts may have said). There's also a sense of victory  which goeswith transformation, a palpable sense of victory. It's the victory over the past.

Having looked, I can now see that transformation (as the miracle of the possibility of being a new human being) occurs against a background of the world's chaos. I also notice as a result of the miracle of transformation, the world's chaos doesn't change one iota  - at best, transformation recontextualizes  (I love  that word) the world's chaos. Transformation doesn't change the world (with all due respect to the noble idea of changing the world, as well as to the heroes who've taken on changing the world). Rather what transformation does is allow the world to be exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't. And the world is, was, and always will be exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't, yes? (don't lie about it). If that's so, then the question is: "Is there anything wrong with the world?".

The question jolts me - not because of the new direction in which it powerfully steers our conversation but rather because of the sudden deluge  of my own opinions about it which swamp me even before I can see clearly enough to say something original about it.

Consider this (tell the truth): with a business as usual  point of view, it always looks like there's something wrong with the world, yes? Now consider scratches, pops, and hisses on a vinyl record. Scratches, pops, and hisses, in and of themselves, have neither intrinsic value nor wrongness nor meaning - any more than the babbling of a brook has meaning. Babbling's merely the sound a brook makes. Look: cows go "Moo! Moo!", pigs go "Oink! Oink!", chickens go "Cheep! Cheep!", and human beings go "Blah Blah Blah!". That's us: we're "Blah Blah Blah!" machines. But don't take that as somehow diminishing the totality of who we really are. Try it on rather as one particular point of view ie as one particular way of looking at how we're thrown (ie at how we go)  to deem things wrong.

"Something's wrong ..." only starts when we assign meaning and significance (which, of course, is our grand tradition from a very early age) and then forget (or lie about) having assigned meaning and significance. Scratches, pops, and hisses actually add authenticity to the listened recording. There's even some value in distinguishing them and their authenticity. But there's no value in "Something's wrong ..." especially when it's undistinguished. "Something's wrong ..." undistinguished, is pure machinery.

OK, so if there's nothing's wrong with the world (at this point in the conversation, my already always listening  and all my opinions to the contrary are screaming ...), then what exactly does it mean to make a difference? If the context for making a difference is necessity because there's something wrong, that's not making a difference. What it is, is changing the world ... which is what we've been trying to do for centuries, and it hasn't made much difference. No, the context for making a difference is choice  and bringing a context of alright-ness (if you will) to bear (rather than bringing "Something's wrong ..." to bear). What makes a difference is looking for what's wanted and needed  and providing it. This is how the experience of personal transformation is authentically lived in a world with which there's nothing's wrong  ... and  ... in which any individual human being can (and does) make a difference.

So the background of transformation in my life is the world's chaos. Then, startlingly enough, in the ensuing chapter of our conversation, something else comes to light which shows me the world's chaos is only interimly  the background of transformation in my life.

Consider the likelihood of the world's background of chaos ever increasing  ie getting steadily worse and worse and worse  - think global warming, climate change, drought, war etc etc to name but a few of the usual gang of suspects. Ultimately, a new human being doesn't (indeed can't)  make a lasting difference against the world's background of ever increasing chaos. Is there some other background against which a lasting difference can be made? At first, I'm stuck on coming up with one. Things suddenly look very bleak indeed. Then he offers one. Ultimately the background against which a lasting difference can be made, is life's emptiness and meaninglessness. Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless (that's a required credit, so to speak, if you're going to pass Transformation 101).

Be careful: this emptiness and meaninglessness harkens to but isn't existentialism. This emptiness and meaninglessness doesn't bode the existential angst  which goeswith living (or trying to live) a vexing bemoaned "empty life which has no meaning". This is transformation. It goes beyond existentialism, and there's an enormous  freedom in it. If life is empty and meaningless (and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless), then I can choose to live a life which makes a difference. Wow! Whatever happens with the world, indeed whatever happens with the universe, personal transformation is the possibility of living a joy filled victorious life which makes a difference no matter what.

There it is, the ultimate background of transformation in my life: life's emptiness and meaninglessness.

It's moving. It's profound. It's exhilarating. It's miraculous. It's touching. What touches me most about this possibility is it's pure magic at heart. And the beauty of it is it's all available not only during extraordinary far away unreachable interactions, but rather right here  and right now  at ordinary interactions like this ordinary breakfast when there's still some ordinary green tea left in my ordinary cup.

What occurs to me as I take my last sip of tea then return my cup to its saucer, is the pure magic at heart which became available during this ordinary breakfast interaction, is also available during all interactions anywhere with everyone. I nod my head to no one in particular as it inexorably sinks in.



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