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

Not Just Passing Through

Howell Mountain Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

May 3, 2014

This essay, Not Just Passing Through, is the companion piece to
  1. Where You Go When You Die
  2. Sailing Ship
  3. Not With A Whimper But A Bang
  4. I'm A Creator
in that order.

It was written at the same time as I am indebted to Ronald "Ron" Peter Zeller and to Mary Louise Zeller who inspired this conversation.

There's the story of the monk in a monastery, a student of Zen who went to his master, a very wise man over a hundred years old, and asked him "Master, do we have choice in the matter of our own death?".

The Zen master, looked at him with total compassion, but sat saying nothing.

Then all of a sudden, startling the student, he yelled out very loudly "KAAAAA!"  ... and died.

Just like that.
this is it.

If this is it, then this is heaven. Notice it could also be hell. You and I have say in which it is ie you and I have say in how it occurs for us.

The trouble with having a conversation like this is the word "heaven" has become overburdened with meaning. It's now obfuscated by significance. We've conceptualized heaven over the centuries. And it doesn't make any difference knowing how or even why  heaven has become overburdened and obfuscated this way, suffice to say it has. Among other notions, we have it that heaven is someplace else, somewhere else but not here, anywhere  else ... but not here. We have it that if we go to heaven, we'll only go there when we die - depending on how we behave while we're here ie depending on whether or not we've been good.

If we could erase all our beliefs about heaven, that is to say if we could purge all the beliefs we've inherited about heaven and look freshly and anew, it becomes jaw-droppingly  obvious this is it. Not later but now. Not there but here.


How you purge a belief is by distinguishing it as a belief. It's that simple.

A belief un-distinguished as a belief has sway, power, and grip. A belief distinguished as a belief loses its sway, its power, its grip.

Try this on for size: a belief is a belief when it's not a belief; a belief is not a belief when it's a belief.


Whether we live this is it  or not, depends on how we call it. Saying how it occurs for us here and now unmediated, having distinguished what we believe about it as simply whatever we believe about it, gives the power to lay the track  for how it will occur for us in the future.

That's the first part of this conversation: this ... is  ... IT! The second part of this conversation is: we're not just passing through. We're not just passing through the world. The lives you and I have in the world aren't merely lived as if inside a staging station, as if waiting in a transit lounge  between whatever came before this and whatever comes next after this. The lives you and I have in the world are it.

Our lives aren't merely temporarily parked in the world like at a roadside rest area while we, having arrived from somewhere else, prepare ourselves for departing to the real deal  to come. Be watchful for the fixed notion this  couldn't possibly be the real deal. Be mindful of the fixed notion this is only a dress rehearsal  for the real deal which will come someday. No, this is it. And here's the thing: if anything came before this, it was also the real deal. And if anything comes next after this, it will also be the real deal. this is it. All  of it is it. It's all the same it.

Listen: the word "enlightenment", like the word "heaven", has also become overburdened with meaning and obfuscated by significance. We've also conceptualized it over the centuries. All that said, enlightenment starts with realizing if you don't like it here, and you're just passing through, waiting to get to whatever comes next so you can escape what you don't like here, it's an unworkable proposition. Its position is untenable because everything you don't like here will also be there waiting for you when you get to whatever comes next. Sorry about that.

What This Looks Like In Action

An old friend of mine, a pivotal influence in my life and a trusted coach over the years both for me as well as for a quarter of a million other people worldwide, is an ultra-marathon runner (we're talking about runs in excess of a hundred miles here), a national record setting ultra-weight lifter not to mention a best selling author, all of which he's accomplishing well into his eighties while being diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer for twenty years. Recently his doctors gave him two weeks to live.

This is how he responds to what his doctors tell him: he says "They don't determine when I'll die.". And he's not being disrespectful to his doctors when he says it. It's what his mother taught him. She taught him well. And he absolutely does live like he'll die when he says he'll die. Until then, he'll be fully living for as long as he's alive. I know he will. I know him well. That's exactly how he lives. He'll be fully alive (and then some - even more so) right until he dies.

It's more than that actually. It's he's more alive living his life with cancer until he dies (which is to say he's more alive living his life with cancer until he says  he'll die) than many of us (if we tell the truth about it) will ever be in our entire lives stuck waiting for heaven at the staging station, in the transit lounge, at the roadside rest area. He's not just waiting to die so he can go someplace else and live a better life there. He lives his life fully here.

All beliefs aside, this is it - not someplace else - and he's already here.

He's not just passing through.

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