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
More Magnificent Than This
Rocky Point, California, USA
November 1, 2007
More Magnificent Than This,
is the companion piece to
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
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
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
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
"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,
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
vinyl albums, the precursor technology for compact disks.
Those pieces, those études were beautiful on
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
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.