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

Read To Us

Chicago, Illinois, USA

May 13, 2015

 "The Vedic pundits of India of five thousand years ago noted when the naming word for any object was uttered in the Sanskrit language by a saint, that object would manifest and materialize out of nothing."
... Laurence Platt paraphrasing an ancient Hindu legend circa 3000 BC shared by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
This essay, Read To Us, is the first in the eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  2. What Goes On Internally
  3. Riding The Horse Revisited
in that order.
 The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to
  1. Three Stairs At A Time
  2. Something Fierce, Something Wonderful
  3. Serving High
  4. Simple But Not Easy
 in that order.

 It is also the prequel to Creating For Creation's Sake.

 This essay, Read To Us, is also the seventeenth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
  23. Located Inside Language
  24. Be A Good Day
  25. Words Are Like Numbers
  26. Law In The Universe II: An Inquiry Into Inquiring
in that order.


Your new Leadership Course: Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model deploys a multitude of methods in its delivery, whether it's presented in its week long format, semester long format, or six month long format.

This essay, Read To Us, focuses on one of these methods, a method which in our usual expectations of what the higher education process traditionally looks like, doesn't always fit: you read to us.

It's great being around you again. No, it's more than great. To call it merely great  is to low-ball it. "Great" misses the mark. It's a privilege  being around you again. You've set up a different kind of interaction for this occasion - I can tell from the equipment around you, and from the new directive you give at the start of our time together: you're going to read to us. What? You're going to read to us?  At a poetry reading, yes I could get that. But here? Like this? It's going to be interesting ...

In the past, our inquiries (which is to say the inquiries you instigate) have required a great deal of concentration, focus, and presence just to be with the material. They've been what I would call directed  interactions ie exquisitely choreographed, carefully orchestrated conversations. And the way I got value from them was by simply showing up and being with you (that's all that's required really), and perhaps secondarily also by participating, by owning the material, by conversing with you, by looking into whatever you point to - the Socratic  method, if you will.

I'm clear you're going to do something new this time. I can tell it's going to be a whole new ballgame. This time you're not asking us to verbally engage in the conversation with you - that's your modus operandi  I'm most familiar with which this time is of lesser importance. This time you're asking us to allow you to read to us - and perhaps also (the very most you're asking of us) to read along quietly with you (this part of it is optional).

I already know about the enormous impact your new presentations are having at the highest levels of academia worldwide. I've been reading the papers. I've been following the reviews. It's a stunning breakthrough, a mesmerizing success, one which no longer requires debate, proof, or validation - it's fait accompli  by now. It's a bold move too in my estimation. It's often said "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.". Yet you've let go of a proven recipe  for success, and taken on something that even your closest allies with outrageously talented intellects have cautioned you against doing. So I'd already guessed there's been a certain amount of skepticism expressed about the efficiency of your new presentation. In particular, I wonder how the accomplished, heralded, and respected academics (the boffins  and the eggheads  and the geeks  if you will) will take to being read to?  It's sure to fly in the face of their usual expectations of what the higher education process traditionally looks like.

Such were my considerations - not that I'm attached to them. Rather, I was intrigued as to how this was going to play out. That said, the impact of being read to, as far as I can tell, is not new. For me it goes all the way back to something elemental I experienced when I was a very young child. Before I went to sleep at night, one or other of my parents would either read to me a bedtime story from the big, brightly colored children's Golden Books  as the series was known, or from the One Thousand And One Arabian Nights  anthology with its fabulous accounts of Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves  and Sinbad The Sailor  and Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp  etc, or just make up  a story out of nothing - my Dad in particular was brilliant at inventing tales consisting of entire worlds  of undersea creatures and their never-ending adventures beneath the waves (I swear The Beatles must have plagiarized Octopus's Garden  from my Dad ...).

I loved being read to. It made the world a great, safe place to be in.

Plumbing The Depths Of Natural Self-Expression

Academics may teach courses on, say, ethics. But here's the question: are their graduating students being ethical  as a result of having undergone the experience? Do they now merely know  about ethics ... or are they now being ethical as a result of their education? What about graduates of courses on integrity? Do they now merely know about integrity ... or are they now being in integrity  as a result of their education? Now you're offering this course on leadership ... and you are  promising your graduating students will emerge being leaders  and not merely knowing  about leadership. It's more than that actually. It's you're promising they'll be being leaders "as their natural Self-expression". And one of your key methods is to read  to them? Reading to them is going to accomplish this lofty goal? Really?

My questions didn't come from skepticism. I knew you'd do it. I've been around you long enough to know when you say you'll do something, you'll do it. I just didn't yet get how you were going to make it work.

Now that I've experienced your "reading to" delivery method, now that I've experienced what it does and I have some theories about it, I'm not about to say I understand  it fully or in detail - understanding, as you've famously pointed out, is the booby prize. I'm clear, however, that it works - stunningly so, as I imagine your closest allies, those with outrageously talented intellects who cautioned you against deploying reading to your audiences, will now (maybe begrudgingly) agree. Indeed, I can tell that people participating with you in this new leadership venture, will indeed emerge being leaders as their natural Self-expression - as stunning as this claim may at first sound. It's the equivalent of graduates of courses on ethics being extraordinarily ethical as a result of their education, rather than merely knowing about ethics, and graduates of courses on integrity being in integrity as a result of their education, rather than merely knowing a lot about integrity.

So what does  actually happen? And (of lesser interest, but apropos  nonetheless) how  does it work? How does you reading to us play such an effective role in transforming us into being leaders as our natural Self-expression? My takes on these questions aren't intended to be "the truth"  about what happens ie about how and why you reading to us works so well. They're simply my own conjectures about, my own shots at, my own interpretations of how you reading to us works, my own musings in fact. Furthermore, you read to us ... and it doesn't require an accurate explanation for it to work: it ... just ... works. It plumbs the very depths of natural Self-expression and makes it available - or as I prefer to say, it enlivens  our natural Self-expression in us.

In hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision), the fact that it works isn't surprising. The only surprising aspect of this is it's simplicity. I mean, who would have believed ie who woulda thunk  that you reading to us has the power to enliven our natural Self-expression - and in particular, that you reading to us has the power to enliven us being leaders  as our natural Self-expression?

Magnum Opus Revisited

I propose where this starts is with you being a leader. Being a leader is your natural Self-expression. That's gotta be causal ie axiomatic  (and it is) - otherwise my proposition will surely fall short ie it will surely fail. But it won't. The record stands. It's a given you're being a leader as your natural Self-expression. So it's OK to assume your thoughts are those of a leader - that is to say your notions and ideas of leadership itself are those of a leader, your cognitive processes  themselves are those of a leader, indeed all your cerebral pathways  if you will (many if not all of them Self-developed) are those of a leader. All these components manifest in your natural Self-expression being that of a leader.

So (and I'll propose this as a what if  even though it's probably true ... but it works better as a what if)  "what if" you're writing your course material coming from  the space, the wellspring, the source of being a leader (which isn't at all far-fetched given you already are)? And what if what you write coming from the space, the wellspring, the source of being a leader is so carefully crafted, so thoroughly fine-tuned, so meticulously thought through, so accurately languaged, so conversationally correct  (if you will) that for all intents and purposes, it is  the entire, whole, full, complete, multi-dimensional holographic  process of and access to leadership as your natural Self-expression?

If this is true, then the path to directly experiencing leadership (or anything else which you intend to convey like this - ethics and integrity for example, to use two of my earlier examples) could be conveyed simply by you reading your experience to us  ie by transmitting (if you will) your holographic experience of leadership to us, and in so doing, enlivening ours in us.

I don't inflexibly assert this is what happens. If I did, I'd ruin it. I'm not saying my proposal is "the truth". On the other hand, you reading to us clearly works - as the rapidly expanding international body of your Leadership Course graduates easily attest to. The thousands of Leadership Course graduates worldwide are being leaders as their natural Self-expression. That's more than merely knowing about  leadership. All your closest allies with outrageously talented intellects who cautioned you against deploying reading to us as a method, have begrudgingly backed away from their erstwhile rigid position by now.

When people leave your leadership course being leaders as their natural Self-expression, it's a whole order of things removed from your typical graduate of a course on integrity who leaves the course knowing a lot about integrity but not necessarily actually in integrity. So it's natural to call into question the method(s) by which this extraordinary feat is accomplished. If we had tried to anticipate which methods you would deploy in your new Leadership Course, reading to us may not have been the first one that came to mind. Now proven, it opens the way for graduates of courses in ethics and integrity (to re-mine my previous examples) leaving their courses actually being ethical and being in integrity, rather than merely knowing about ethics and integrity. It's implications are vast. They bode the extraordinary possibility of transforming higher education - indeed, they are already  transforming higher education.

After nearly forty years of being in this conversation for transformation with you, I'm proposing it may indeed work this way. And in order to maintain the quality of the relationship with you that I have, I had to get past being skeptical about this - a process in which I wasn't always an agreeable participant. To be in a conversation for transformation with you is  to be transformed. Until these, my latest musings, I've had no idea  why it works this way, and I've noticed my attempts until now to articulate definitively why it works this way, only seemed to damage it. What's certain however, is being in a conversation for transformation with you, enlivens transformation as my natural Self-expression. That said, what about you enlivening us being leaders as our natural Self-expression by reading your material to us?

It's really not far-fetched at all ... after all.

Total Recognition, Full Acknowledgement

I know who you are. Man! I really  know who you are. Speak with me: I'll listen. Read to me: I'll listen. Read to us: we'll listen. If you demonstrate it, we'll watch. We don't mind how you share it or what form your presentation takes: we'll get it. It doesn't matter which particular medium or method you use to deploy it - speaking or reading to us: it all works. In this particular case, reading to us may even work better, to which this resounding breakthrough in leadership is an eloquent testimony.

Please don't ever stop.

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