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


More Magnificent Than This

Rocky Point, California, USA

November 1, 2007



This essay, More Magnificent Than This, is the companion piece to Nepenthe.

I am indebted to Belva Shadwell who inspired this conversation.




In our day to day listening, it's possible the difference between beauty  and magnificence  is so arbitrary it's futile to belabor it. Yet bringing this distinction forth is crucial in the context of this conversation. Doing so gives me a platform, a launching pad, a springboard from which I can say what I've noticed about magnificence.

For me the distinction is this: magnificence is beauty which calls forth  respect and admiration. It's the difference between "Oh how pretty" and "MAN!  That's so god-damned  A*W*E*S*O*M*E!!!".

Beauty was whatever I considered beautiful. That's what beauty was for me when I first noticed it. It didn't occur to me until decades later I'd always confused the fact something has beauty  with my interpretation  "something has beauty". Then again, it didn't occur to me until decades later my interpretation of anything  isn't fact, isn't the truth.

Even before I turned ten years old I noticed what I considered beautiful: sunsets, starry nights, sunrises, seascapes, landscapes etc. Whatever I considered nature  to be, I considered it beautiful. I noticed beauty in art, in acts of kindness, in generosity, in self expression. And I noticed beauty in girls. I remember gasping, wide-eyed, my coy heart seeming to skip a beat whenever I noticed a girl my age who was beautiful to me.

It was only in my late teenage years I first noticed magnificence. On Sunday evenings where I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa I would go to the City Hall to listen to the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. I already knew most of the pieces they played, having heard them on long playing vinyl  albums, the precursor technology for compact disks. Those pieces, those études  were beautiful on LPs, but they were magnificent when I heard them played live by the orchestra. The orchestra playing together live brought forth magnificence. The thing about that magnificence was I loved what I felt like  being the experiencer  of it. It was the good  place for a good being, the Self presenced  listener for magnificence, to be.

I suppose you could therefore also say magnificence is beauty so enthralling  that Self  is enlivened by the experience of it, which implies in the company of similar listeners or observers, magnificence can actualize Self en masse. In that hall at those Sunday evening concerts the awe was deep, rich, present, and totally authentic, implicit in the chocolate thick silence of respect and admiration. In the midst of a world seemingly hell bent on destroying itself, it was the oasis,  the calm, the sanity, the compassion. As Werner Erhard might say, it was what's possible ...

... which brings us to today, now, here, surrounded by this breathtaking splendor, this awesome, magnificent vista. This isn't the Cape Town City Hall. And this creation isn't courtesy of the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. This particular environment wasn't created by men nor by women. Instead of a stage backdrop there's the cliffs so high, so rugged my palms run perspiration as I look up to their lofty crags. Instead of an auditorium floor there's the slowly undulating ocean far, far below, replete with floating kelp beds glistening in the sun, lazily playing in the light like basking lizards. Instead of banks of lights overhead there's the gold orange tinged cumulus studded azure sky cloaking the entire universe in it's wide open armed generosity.

What could possibly be more magnificent than this?

Only who you really are could possibly be more magnificent than this. Only who you really are, in all your divine loveliness and brilliance, source of this experience of this magnificence, without whom there'd be no distinction magnificence, could possibly be more magnificent than this. Only who you really are, the power, the magic, the enormity, the tender, the infinite, the conscious, the everythingnothing, the gorgeous, could possibly be more magnificent than this.

Only you.



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