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
Often Disconcerting, Yet Eminently Worth Listening To
Sears Point, California, USA
December 9, 2011
"The occurring world includes the way in which objects,
others, and you yourself occur for you in this or that situation. The
occurring world is the world you live in, the one you respond to or
react to. It is this world with which your mind, body, feelings, and
actions are correlated."
Often Disconcerting, Yet Eminently Worth Listening To,
is the fifth in a nonet on
Immersing myself in
is simple. But it ain't easy. It's also often disconcerting. It's not
which is disconcerting. It's immersing myself in
which is disconcerting
in and of itself, is simply
It's disconcerting because it's counterintuitive. It's simple
yet not easy, often disconcerting, and counterintuitive because it
intrudes into my thinking and into my ways of looking at the world
where I've already made up my mind, so to speak, about how the
world is. Immersing myself in
doesn't conflict with where I've made up my mind about how
the world is. Rather, it calls into question the very
epistemologyon which I've made up my mind about how the world is.
When I've made up my mind about something, I've become pretty certain
it's "the truth". I've invested heavily in it being the truth.
To immerse myself in
whose new paradigms call into question, with
that about which I've made up my mind, challenging that in which I've
invested heavily, is often disconcerting.
But that's Werner: often disconcerting, yet eminently
worth listening to. For example:
In the ordinary course of events, I don't put much thought into
differentiating between "the world" and "the world I live in".
The very notion of differentiating between "the world" and "the world I
live in" is so unusual, so counterintuitive that even articulating this
difference carries with it an awkwardness, a certain discomfort. If
indeed there's a "the world" which is different than "the world I live
in", then I don't differentiate between the two - at least, I don't
differentiate between the two in the ordinary course of events.
In the ordinary course of events, there's no difference
between "the world" and "the world I live in". It's six of one, and
half a dozen of the other - as the idiom goes.
Listening to Werner, I get not only are they entirely
different (ie I get "the world" and "the world I live in" are
absolutely not the same): I get there's only "the world I
live in". That's disconcerting. I also get there's
no "the world" except for "the world I live
in". That's really disconcerting. The difference is "the
world I live in" is the way "the world" occurs for me.
Call "the world I live in" the "occurring world". There isno "the world" except for the "occurring world".
Actually with hindsight, that's patently obvious - obvious enough to
dislodge my steadfast beliefs in "the truth". But hindsight is
always 20/20 vision.
Even though immersing myself in
until my steadfast beliefs in "the truth" are dislodged is
disconcerting, I allow my steadfast beliefs in "the truth" to be
dislodged not because Werner is convincing nor because I'm blindly
accepting nor because I listen uncritically, but rather because once I
hear him speaking his
point of view,
I realize I like his
point of view
- simply because it's pragmatic, simply because it
simply because it's elegant, simply because it's simple. It
being here, to notice I live in the only world there is: the "occurring
world". And as disconcerting and as counterintuitive as it may be, it
to relinquish my undistinguished notions of living in "the world", in
favor of living where I really live: in the "occurring
because my actions are never correlated with "the world" anyway: my
actions are only and always correlated with the "occurring world".
When I get that, it immediately corrects a legion of errors in my
notions of how the "occurring world" is - and isn't. In a word, it
By the way, don't just believe that on face value - because on face
value it has no value. Rather, try it on for size. Try on
"Is there a 'the world' other than the world which occurs
for me? Is there a 'the world' other than the 'occurring world'? Are my
actions correlated with 'the world'? Or are my actions only and always
correlated with the 'occurring world'?". If you try it on for size, try
it on while distinguishing the "occurring world" the way Werner
distinguishes it as quoted above.
It was Socrates who said
"The unexamined life is not
Werner follows Socrates in good company when he says
untransformed life is not worth living."
Confronting living a life not worth living (both an unexamined life and
an untransformed life) is disconcerting. It's a huge
confront and very disconcerting to discover how much of
the life I live isn't the life I want. It takes a certain bigness to
tell the truth about it. It's disconcerting listening to the
in Werner's speaking as he lays bare counterintuitive ideas as an
being the cornerstone for living the life I want.
What brings this home for me (being disconcerting, notwithstanding) is
the realization that behaviors I consider to be intuitive
are really nothing more than behaviors I'm familiar with
ie behaviors which I've accumulated ... and ... haven't
examined. And when I accumulated them unexamined, I gave no thought to
for forwarding a life I want - or not. Because I'm familiar with these
behaviors, I say they're intuitive. But if they don't
and I can see they don't
for forwarding a life I want, then letting them go is just plain
is often disconcerting and counterintuitive at first
because it flies in the face of that which I consider to be intuitive.
Yet his speaking lays bare the possibility of
no greater gift.
That, for me, is what makes him eminently worth listening to.