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


Peace Of Mind, Peace Of River

St Helena, California, USA

November 6, 2020

I am indebted to John Taylor who inspired this conversation.

Throughout my late teens and my early adult life, my compass pointed to transformation. Now to be sure, in those early years I didn't have that particular word for it. The word "transformation" itself came later. And it wasn't until the last weekend of August in 1978 that I had any reality on what transformation like an experience  really is. Yet ever since I was born, I've always known something else is possible for being alive, something tangible - indeed, I had it that the something was missing.

I compared my life (indeed, I compared Life itself) and my satisfaction with it, to a yardstick which was supposed to measure thirty six inches - except with mine, the final quarter inch was unaccounted for. My yardstick was incomplete at thirty five and three quarter inches. I always inferred  that missing quarter inch was somewhere to be found. I just knew  it would eventually show up (I could almost taste it). But I didn't know what or where it was, or where to look for it, or how to get it back.

Knowing something was missing, segued into the first of a four-stage hejira  of Self-discovery for me. I distinctly observed the "something" in the faces of people who exemplified it for me (whatever it was). I saw it in art galleries. I saw it in sunsets and sunrises. The second stage was inferring what that something might be. I began to think about it in colloquial terms like "higher consciousness", "enlightenment", "actualization", "realization" etc even if the terms were all grandiosely cerebral to me.

The third stage saw me setting out to discover it for myself (ie whatever I conceived it to be). I embarked on and immersed myself in various journeys, paths, inquiries (i'll call them "intersections" if you will) in an attempt to nail it down and own it (I hadn't yet begun to think in terms of being  it). In the fourth stage, transformation (finally!) did not  look like what I was expecting at all. I was thoroughly, totally  surprised by it, and yet also delighted with it. Although it didn't fit any of my pictures of what it would look like, when it was handed to me on a silver platter, I recognized it immediately. I was enamored with it, intrigued by it, profoundly  grateful for it.

In hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision), observing it in the faces of people who exemplified it for me, was arguably smart. That's how inspiration works. But then things were quickly and unnecessarily complicated by my naïve assumption that they  had it (whatever it was) and I didn't (at least, not yet). Setting out to discover it for myself (something which seems to be a natural draw for most of us human beings) was, in hindsight, even more distracting: it actually hid it from me - no, it buried  it - at least for a while. I was adamant there was something to get. That's how I was about it. But I had not yet gotten what there is to get, is nothing.

Going down any path in search of something which a) is really nothing, and which b) you've already got, is perplexing (to say the least). It's an error which we, in our innocence thwarted by our own misguided convictions, keep making. And transformation is the total and thrilling realization that there's nothing to get, and you've already got it, and this (exactly  this) is what it looks like. It's maddeningly slippery. Transforming your life, it turns out, is simple  (it really is) but it's not always easy.

In our carefully accumulated arsenal of beliefs (and we human beings are brilliantly adept at accumulating beliefs that are supposed to make life work better for us, yet get in our way, even with our best of intentions), there's one particular belief we hold dear, which is that we'll have peace of mind someday. And because we're smart, we know  there's something we need to do to control our minds better if we want peace. We don't get that this way (ie exactly like this) is how the mind should look and work. In my humble opinion, aspiring to peace of mind is like aspiring to peace of river. Transformation is allowing the mind be the mind, without messing with it.

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