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

Paint On Listening

Twomey Cellars, Calistoga, California, USA

November 10, 2006

This essay, Paint On Listening, is the second in a group of eleven on Listening: I am indebted to Russ Rosa who inspired this conversation.


Enlightenment is slippery. It's arguably the only thing we seek which, once we've got it, we discover we have to give it away if we want to keep it. There's more paradoxes. For one, there is after all no such thing as enlightenment. If there's no such thing as enlightenment, how then do we give it away?

Perhaps the first thing to do to get clear about enlightenment is to not call it enlightenment. Perhaps, as Werner suggests, the problem with calling it enlightenment  is the word "enlightenment" itself which conveys a kind of mysticism, an eastern context which is not required and is also distracting. Perhaps the first thing is to refer to it as transformation  which brings in almost no concepts, no already knowing, and no intellectual or religious structures.

Perhaps the next thing is to recognize that enlightenment / transformation isn't a state of mind or a way of living. And while the experience of transformation may result  in an expanded state of mind and a new way of living in the world, it's neither of those per se. It's a conversation. That's not to say transformation is spoken about. Rather, it's the possibility transformation exists only as a conversation  as long as we're in conversations for transformation. When we're no longer in conversations for transformation, we're no longer transformed.

You could say at the heart of the matter we're all one and the same Self. In other words, at the level of transformation, we're all one and the same being - human being. What distinguishes each of us as individuals distinct one from the other is in conversations for transformation we each have our own mouth to speak and our own ears to listen. You could say all the rest of the human automaton and all its machinery serves only one purpose: to create a viable sustainable condition which allows our mouth and our ears ears to work.

So when I share transformation because I must if I'm to be transformed) I'm really sharing the one and the same Self I am that we all are. And if I'm going to share it with my mouth, with my speaking (because that's how it's shared), for you to get it you'd have to bring your ears, your listening (because that's how it's gotten), to my mouth. That's true intimacy.

Arguably the gifts of listening and intimacy are inseparable. You can't give one without the other. To me it's the most intimate gift when you listen me.

Yes that's right. I did say "listen  me" not "listen to" me. Try on the distinction. When you listen to  me, you're one degree separate from me. When you listen  me, there's no separation. You've taken me in. You're trusting me to intrude with integrity. You're allowing me to speak in you.

I'm in you. I'm as close in you as one human being can possibly be in another human being. This is true intimacy. This is the gift your listening makes possible.

Conversation As Fine Art

I want you to know I'm clear what I do doesn't stand a chance of working were it not for the listening you bring to it.

Some artists paint on canvas. They also bring the canvas.

I paint on listening. But I can't bring it. You do.

When you do I experience it as a personal gift for which I'm deeply grateful.

Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2006 through 2020 Permission