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


Questions For A Friend

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

September 3, 2015



This essay, Questions For A Friend, is the first in the ninth trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. Questions For A Friend
  2. Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing
  3. Free To Be And Free To Act
in that order.
The first trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Prelude
  2. Ask Me Anything
  3. Coming Around Again
in that order.
The second trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Familiar Unfamiliar Territory
  2. Interview
  3. Straight Talk
in that order.
The third trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Dancing With My Mouth
  2. Cave Paintings
  3. Velvet Tsunami
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Creating Creating
  2. Tell Me Something About Nothing
  3. Lucid Disclosures
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Closer And Closer
  2. Tête À Tête
  3. Dancing With Life
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Would I Ask You If I Could Ask You Anything?
  2. Wonderings About Nothing In Particular
  3. Tipping Point
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Once In A Lifetime
  2. Fireside Chat
  3. Whole And Complete
in that order.
The tenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Attracted To Dance
  2. I Told A Friend I Love You
  3. Terse Transformed Communication
in that order.
The eleventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. A Context Worth Playing In
  2. Tie The Brush To My Hand
  3. Questions For A Friend XI III (working title)
in that order.



Of all the things I've ever done, participated in, discovered, and / or brainstormed  with Werner, I could make a compelling argument that this Questions For A Friend series of exchanges gets to the heart of the matter of what it is for me to be around Werner - indeed it gets to the heart of the matter of making Werner available.

There's a respect here. There's an eagerness  here. There's an opportunity here. And if I don't make it clear that the respect, eagerness, and opportunity for these exchanges is de rigueur, then I won't have portrayed them accurately for what they are, and neither will I have portrayed him accurately as who he is. Furthermore, the fact that it's moi  Laurence presenting this series, is actually quite insignificant and irrelevant. There's nothing particularly unique about the way Werner is with me as a human being. The way Werner is with Laurence is how he is with everyone, and how he would be with each and every one of us: he relates to me not as my "stuff"  but rather as who I really am. And he always  relates to me not as my "stuff" but rather as who I really am. Always. Every time. No exceptions. Ever. Sometimes it's withering  to be held to such a degree of accountability. But it's always completely compassionate. And it's always totally kind. And it's always unimaginably valuable.

Here's my invitation to you as you read through my transcripts of this and all the other Questions For A Friend trilogies: it's more than you have my permission to slot yourself directly into whatever space you see me creating with Werner: it's that this series will work better for you  if you do.

Having said that, there are two contexts  which this Questions For A Friend series is not  - both of which I'd like to clarify. The first one is the classic and romanticized (it's actually one I have somewhat of a nostalgic fondness for) "sitting at the feet of the Master". You sit there. The Master presides. And you get your life (or the path to it) by implementing the Master's words. Listen: I want you to be really, really  clear: this is not  that: in this, you get your life by implementing your  words. The second is epitomized by the expression "Ah, Grasshopper  ..." and at least a few of you will get the reference (which, for dramatic effect, I won't expand on).

It's neither of those two, both of them coming teasingly and perilously close to eliding / glossing over personal responsibility. If either of them are your context for being around Werner, my suspicion is you won't last very long. It wouldn't work. He is, in my experience, waaay  too slippery  for that. It would be impossible for you to get any traction and / or build any momentum around him if you brought either or both of those into play. And if you did, the pragmatic thing to do would be to notice that's what you're bringing into play, to let them go, and to entertain the possibility of inventing an entirely new listening  for the opportunity at hand.

So what then is my working context (which I invite you to take on and make your own) for this ongoing Questions For A Friend series?

These aren't questions to test the panel. They're not designed as challenges. This isn't an oral exam. Forget about "gotcha"  questions. Forget about stumping the experts. Forget about being a smart aleck. None of these are the passport or the visa or the currency  required for the privilege of these exchanges. Rather, the key to setting up this context correctly so that it works is to consider this to be an opportunity to share the gift of Self (note: that's "Self" with a capital ess). These questions for Werner seek responses, to be sure (this would be a pointless exercise if they didn't, yes?). Yet they bring presence with  them. They come with alrightness. They carry fullness. They're embedded with OK-ness. It's important to get that presence, alrightness, fullness, and OK-ness are already here  and aren't contingent on any particular response to these questions. To develop this series successfully, I had to get that first. And only when I got it, was I ready to ask.

The occasion to pose these questions is an opportunity for us to be together as friends. And yet, it's not casual. There's something at stake. It's my opportunity to formulate something new (which is to say it's my opportunity to call forth  something new) in the form of whatever I reach for  in coming up with these questions. But it's more than that. It's waaay  more than that. It also anticipates his responses to these questions - which leave me with something new for my life, as well as giving him the possibility of formulating something new which he can use.

These questions and their answers are respectful adult conversations. They're conversations between partners. My questioning is an opportunity for me to be present in my questions for Werner. That much is a given ie it's obvious. What's not so obvious is my listening Werner's responses, is an opportunity for me to create a companion space in which Werner can show up in my life.

And that's  the opportunity of this Questions For A Friend series of exchanges: the opportunity to create a companion space in which Werner can show up in life. It's a space which has distinct overtones of (for want of a better word) Zen. When I create a companion Zen space in which Werner can show up in life, it exercises the muscle I have (the muscle each of us has, actually) which allows Life itself to, unhindered and unfiltered, show up for us incontrovertibly, close up, face to face, and completely naturally.

That's what I mean when I say this Questions For A Friend series of exchanges gets to the heart of the matter of what it is to be around Werner - indeed it's what I mean when I say it gets to the heart of the matter of making Werner available.



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