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

On The Edge Of Serenity

ButterCream Bakery & Diner, Napa, California, USA

January 9, 2017

"Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is." ... Thomas Szasz

"I never worry. God is in his heaven and everything is right with the world - even though it doesn't always look like it." ... Dorothy, 99, improving on Robert Browning
This essay, On The Edge Of Serenity, is the companion piece to
  1. Being Who You Are As Enough
  2. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining
in that order.

You could say there's an axiom  of transformation (there are actually many, but for the sake of this conversation, let's distinguish this  one). When life transforms (which is to say when your life transforms), there's a shift of a new order. It's not a circumstantial  shift. It's not a change. Transformation doesn't change anything. If you aver "Transformation changed my life!", you're essentially unclear on the concept. And if you say "Wait, that's just semantics Laurence!", then listen: this is all  semantics. The circumstances in which we live ie the circumstances with which we deal, remain the same before, during, and after transformation. That's the axiom.

So rather, consider transformation to be a contextual  shift. While the circumstances in which we live and with which we deal, remain the same, there's a dramatic shift in the context  in which we hold all circumstances. To a lesser degree, transformation is also a qualitative  shift: with transformation, the quality of our circumstances  shifts - that is to say, transformation is a shift in the way the quality of our circumstances occurs  for us (nothing changes, so neither does the quality of things change: what shifts is the occurring  quality - that is to say what shifts is the way quality shows up  for us).

Imagine you cross a line going from being untransformed to being transformed (it's the same line you cross going from being transformed to being untransformed - and yes, we can and do go in either direction: both at will, as well as automatically). Imagine further, on the transformed side of this line, is serenity - which is to say on the transformed side of this line, is the possibility of being serene. As you cross this line, there's a sign portraying the domain you're about to enter. What does this sign say? It says what the access  to being serene is ie it says what the key to serenity, is.

The sign says accepting is the key to serenity. It says accepting is the access to being serene. Accepting is the absence of resistance ie it's the antithesis of resistance. It's the disregarding of trying to change. It's the cessation of adding on. It's OK the way it is - and sometimes things don't look OK the way they are. What distracts from accepting is what we're taught, especially in our western culture, about the virtue of seeking to change the way it is. To wit, we tout aspiring to change the world as laudable, yes? There's nothing wrong with that which changes the world: the printing press, the radio, the computer, the smartphone, and the United Nations are but five examples. The trouble begins when, undistinguished, we take aim at changing our raw experience of being alive. Changing our raw experience of being alive ensures  we inhibit transformation. Being transformed calls for, even demands  the willingness to experience it the way it is. At first it's counter-intuitive that accepting our raw experience of being alive, without resisting, without trying to change, and without adding to, is transformational. Yet it's the key to serenity ie it's the access to serenity. In our culture, "It's OK the way it is" is counter-intuitive. "Accepting it all the way it is" tends to elicit notes associated more with apathy than with wisdom.

What does it mean "accepting it all the way it is"? Accepting it all the way it is, means allowing it all to turn out the way it turns out. And doing that, in our culture, is also counter-intuitive. We're prone to get our fingers caught in the machinery (so to speak). It's actually worse than that. It's we're not taught to keep our fingers out of the machinery. That lesson is simply not included in our cultural lore ie in our rites de passages. If there really is a cosmic joke told on us, its punch line would be that we just don't see how it keeps on turning out the way it always turns out anyway, which is exactly what it's been doing, regardless of our efforts to the contrary, for millennia. Even the latest advances in neuro-science have determined our brains direct our courses of action* long before we make decisions to act. Accepting this automaticity ie accepting our automaticity, and respecting ie honoring it in others, and in life's circumstances, is the key ie the access to serenity and to being serene.

* Citation 1:
Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C and Echeverria, Jeri and Carr, Sandra
Workshop Materials For: Creating Course Leaders Workshop 1: Mastering the Effective Delivery of the Slides For: Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model (11/30/2016).
Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 11-002; Barbados Group Working Paper No. 10-11; Simon Business School Working Paper No. FR-10-31.
Available at SSRN: or

Citation 2:
From "Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human Brain" by Siong Soon, Brass, Heinze, and Haynes (2008) - published in the journal Nature Neuroscience:
"There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it [the decision to act] enters awareness."  (p.543)
Siong Soon, Chun, Marcel Brass, Hans-Jochen Heinze, and John-Dylan Haynes. 2008. "Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain". Nature Neuroscience 11, 5: 543-545.

Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2017 through 2023 Permission