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




Outlandishly Powerful

Landmark Forum for Graduates "Free to Be and Free to Act", Online Evening Session, Landmark Worldwide

May 27, 2020

"The use of force is the negation of power. The person you refer to when you say 'I', that person's weapon is force. Whatever you are other than the thing called 'I', that's power." ... 
This essay, Outlandishly Powerful, is the twenty fifth in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: I am indebted to Mark Spirtos who inspired this conversation.


Werner's brilliant observation (above) which sources this conversation, essentially comes down to this: there's a clear difference between force and power. What is it?

Force goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) whatever you're being when you're being that thing called "I". Power on the other hand, goeswith whatever you're being when you're being other than  that thing called "I" - in other words, when you're being what I'll call "not-I". So the difference between force and power is largely predicated on whatever you're being  - or, if you prefer, it's largely predicated on where you're coming from. Realizing this, first requires looking ... and then rigorously differentiating between where you're coming from when you're being "I", and then where you're coming from when you're being "not-I" (and the difference between the constructs "I" and "not-I" has already been addressed elsewhere in this collection of essays). It's as different as chalk and cheese. This is a graduate  distinction.

As I sit with this essential distinction in my lap like a hot brick, what I get ie what shows up  is another associated difference between force and power, one which I realize I've experienced for myself before, in those moments when I've been forceful, and then again in those moments when I've been powerful. It's also one I've observed when I've been around forceful people, and then again when I've been around powerful people - in other words, in all those moments when I've observed people deploying force (ie being forceful), and then again when I've observed people deploying power (ie being powerful). It's a patently obvious difference. It's this:

Being forceful actually requires a lot  of work, a lot of effort, a lot of struggle, a lot of expenditure of energy. And watch: it's devoid of enrollment. How so? For one, nobody wants to work as hard as that, yes? Being powerful, on the other hand, is observably effortless, without struggle, requiring a minimal expenditure of energy.

Then there's also this: being forceful is the antithesis of Self-expression, while being powerful on the other hand, is a natural concomitant of Self-expression. Being powerful gets things done seemingly effortlessly, rather than with all the associated snot en trane  (Afrikaans for "snot and tears") of being forceful. Oh, and being powerful also naturally and easily enrolls people. Why? Two things: one, because not only does everybody  want the manifest qualities of being naturally powerful, but two, being powerful is a concomitant of natural Self-expression so it nurtures the natural Self-expression of others, whereas being forceful almost always dominates  the natural Self-expression of others. "Nurturing the natural Self-expression of others" is close to both the dictionary definition  and perfect concomitant of enrollment.

Given our propensity for staying stuck in untransformed patterns, I would bet good money that our use of force is actually little more than our frustrated attempts to deploy what we simply erroneously misconstrue to be power. And because it's a patterned deployment, we keep doing it even though it doesn't work. That's the bad news. The good news is there's a bridge  (if you will) from force to power. That bridge isn't to be found in doing more of the same thing, or doing it better, or doing it differently, or even in repeating it and doing it over and over and over again, or even harder or firmer, or even practicing it more. And neither does it require shaking up all the actions available like dice in a cup, then scattering them while willing them to fall differently than the way they would fall of their own volition randomly.

No, the bridge from force to power is differentiating being "I" and being "not-I", and then coming from  being "not-I". It's not a bridge that's found in a new style of action. Rather it's found in coming from "not-I" when enacting any  action - which by the way, isn't a Laurence original: it's vintage Erhard  and outlandishly powerful.



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