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


Nepenthe, Big Sur, California, USA

July 30, 2004

This essay, Nepenthe, is the companion piece to
  1. Vast
  2. The Land Baroness And The Cowhand
  3. More Magnificent Than This
  4. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining
in that order.

It is also the first in a group of four written in Big Sur:

Photography by Margaret Goeden
Spring At Nepenthe

Transformation doesn't require a place. You are its source. Wherever you are, that's where the possibility of transformation is.

The circumstances in some places appear to violate that simple premise. There's Iraq. Afghanistan. Zimbabwe. Many people would agree you can't source transformation there, or you'd experience extreme uphill if you attempted to.

And then there are some places where, in contradistinction, you can't avoid transformation even if you tried. They are the power points of the planet, Earth's chakras, if you will.

Such a place is Nepenthe. Carved out of the cliffs gut wrenchingly high above the Pacific Ocean on the California coast, Nepenthe creates a sense of you gazing through a porthole out onto the source of Life itself. And then that porthole starts to blur and fade until there's no distinction between who you really are and the source of Life itself.

Situated near Esalen (the manger of the human potential movement), the Henry Miller museum (a monument to one of America's greatest beat generation writers, indeed of any genre of writers), and the village of Big Sur (which unfathomably manages to merge sheer awe, splendor, and magnificence with a simple one gas station one store whistle stop), Nepenthe is a place to experience for yourself directly since such places can never really be effectively described in words. Any words I put on it don't express it totally and even diminish it. I get whatever is present here is so vast I'm either unable to get in touch with it totally or I'm poorly equipped to comment on it or both.

Nepenthe's symbol is the phoenix. According to legend, this bird with its golden bejeweled wings comes back to Heliopolis from Arabia once every half millennium, cremates itself, then rises again from its own ashes, more awesome and more magnificent than ever before. The life of the phoenix is a parable for you and I breaking up who we think we are in favor of who we really are, and for immortality.

Homer refers to Nepenthe in The Odyssey as a remedy for grief. Edgar Allan Poe writes in The Raven "Quaff oh quaff this kind Nepenthe and forget the lost Lenore" (Poe is referring to his lonely man's lost love Lenore).

The colors of Nepenthe are the greens of the forest, the blues of the ocean, the brown ochre clays of the mountain, the whites and grays of the clouds and the mists. I want my wardrobe to be cast entirely in these magnificent rich deep lush hues! The details of Nepenthe are the corduroy ripples far below off the beaches as waves wash the kelp beds on the waters edge, every leaf on every tree and every bush as they rustle waving at me tickled by the gentle summerbreeze, the majestic glide paths of eagles and hawks as they soar a mile high scanning with telescopic vision for prey far, far below. The scents of Nepenthe are the salt of the ocean mist, pungent redwood and oak, indeed the freshness of my own lungs freed from fetid air.

But all that aside, the  thing about Nepenthe is the scope, the height, the hugeness, the distance, the sheer expanse, the vast, the space, indeed the gravity ...  Taking all that in (if you dare) gives direct indisputable and undeniable access towho you really are. who you really are. When you get that, at that point you no longer believe. You know.

A long, long time ago when I first had the good fortune to visit and be a guest here, staying in a room in a home in these forests viewing through a huge plate glass window onto this immense spirit, I was given a local magazine which described the impact of Werner Erhard's work in these parts. I read late into the night, the printed words jumping and flickering on the page lit by the naked flame of an oil lantern. It was there and then, very slowly at first and so intimately even I didn't realize at the time it was happening, I first began to get an insight into who Werner really is.

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