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




Safeguarding The Power And Progress Of Conversations For Transformation

Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar, California, USA

October 15, 2019



This essay, Safeguarding The Power And Progress Of Conversations For Transformation, is the twenty third in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: It was written at the same time as Even Champions Sleep.



We owe it (which is to say it's our responsibility) to those with whom we speak transformation (which is to say with whom we have and / or are in conversations for transformation) to monitor our conversations' language so it doesn't devolve into chit-chat, banter, gossip, and / or intrepid opinion trading. And it's our  responsibility. To assume that those new to conversations for transformation will monitor that for us and keep the integrity in, is to flout what we already know from conversations for transformation: they work best when a certain intentionally generated context is present, and are rendered next to useless (if not outright untenable) when it isn't.

Here are eight blunt instruments which may be deployed, inadvertently or advertently, from time to time during conversations for transformation which dilute their power and progress. Being aware of them (which is to say getting a head start  on them) brings them into the light, allowing us to prepare and be ready for them, to safeguard  against them, and to dial in appropriate mid-course corrections whenever necessary if they appear.

Be careful: this isn't about watching out for the other  guy bringing these blunt instruments to bear. Be open to the possibility that you could be on the receiving end of these eight, from others during your conversations for transformation with them, just as surely as they could be on the receiving end of them from you during their conversations for transformation with you. In conversations for transformation, we're each just as human as the other guy.


1)  A COMMENT, OPINION, COUNTER-ARGUMENT, OR CRITICISM, DISGUISED AS A QUESTION

It's the "disguised as a question" component of this ploy, which makes it so pernicious, so insidious, so absent of integrity. And it's its absence of integrity which it injects into conversations for transformation, which dilutes their power and progress.

Comments expressed as comments, opinions expressed as opinions, counter-arguments expressed as counter-arguments, criticism expressed as criticism, and questions expressed as questions, have more integrity than this covert action designed to "stump the panel" in order to be right. An untransformed person (it could be you or me) would rather be right than almost anything else. He / she would rather have intelligent excuses for life not working, than actually have it work.



2)  SOMETHING THAT COMES UP FOR A PARTICIPANT (A "YEAH BUT", "HOW 'BOUT", "WHAT IF", OR AN OPINION) THAT SEEMS TO BE INCONSISTENT WITH WHAT IS BEING PRESENTED, WHICH THE PARTICIPANT PRESENTS AS AN INVALIDATION OF WHAT IS BEING PRESENTED IN THE EVENT RATHER THAN LOOKING FOR A RESOLUTION

"Yeah but ... ?" or "How 'bout ...?" or "What if ...?" or (an opinion like) "It would be boring if life always worked" all reinforce already always preset, untransformed mindsets, which dilute the power and progress of new conversations for transformation. One way of resolving them is to simply set them aside (ie to bracket  them) until the conversation for transformation is complete, then re-examine if they're still relevant, given what's now spoken newly - and if they're not, then let them go.



3)  A "THAT'S LIKE ..." SHARE TRIGGERED BY WHAT IS PRESENTED THAT MUDDLES THE RIGOR OF WHAT IS PRESENTED

A "That's like ..." is the calling-card (ie the dramatic announcement)  of the mind entering the conversation. "That's like ..." springs from "Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always"  which is the mind's logic system. Conversations for transformation come from being, not mind. They're rarely comparatives. They're generatives. Neither do they occur in the same domain as any other conversation. They speak  transformation rather than speak about  transformation.

Any comparatives (ie any "that's like ..."s), are only marginally legitimate, and will invariably distract from the business at hand. The pre-transformed state in which mind is not yet distinguished from being, is ripe, naïve turf for this ploy. Look: there's nothing wrong with the pre-transformed state. It's a formative aspect of being human - of you being human, of me being human. It's when it's undistinguished, that it dilutes the power and progress of conversations for transformation.



4)  ATTEMPTING DURING EVENT SESSIONS TO LEAD A DIFFERENT EVENT FOR THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS, RATHER THAN TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE EVENT AS BEING LED

With speaking transformation, comes a presence, arguably an attractive  presence, the being of which can easily be mistaken for the business at hand. But the business at hand is speaking transformation, not being attractive while doing so. There are no goodies  in speaking transformation except speaking transformation.

Being confused about (or just plain not dialed into) the business at hand, can lead to a misplaced notion that the work of transformation is about having a lot to say about something, rather than being about exploring a new conversational modality, inventing new possibilities (which may obliquely attract renewed attention).

Speaking transformation is the business at hand in conversations for transformation. Attempting to lead a different event during such conversations, is to dilute their power and progress. Moreover (and here's the bottom line) it's only a fool who pays good money to be in and to discover new possibilities in new conversations for transformation, then spends his time having conversations he's already familiar with (which arguably, if the truth be told, were always unsatisfying to begin with).



5)  ATTEMPTING TO SUBSTITUTE TERMINOLOGY AND / OR THEORY FROM ANOTHER DISCIPLINE OR EVEN ANOTHER LANDMARK PROGRAM (NO MATTER HOW VALID), RATHER THAN STRUGGLING TO SEE HOW THE DISCIPLINE OF THIS EVENT APPLIES AND WHAT IT MAKES AVAILABLE AS CONTRASTED WITH THE TERMINOLOGY AND / OR THEORY FROM THAT OTHER DISCIPLINE OR EVEN ANOTHER LANDMARK PROGRAM

If the disciplines of note got their job done in the first place, the impact of conversations for transformation would be neglible, certainly no longer state of the art.

Conversations for transformation are conversations to be  in. That's where their value is realized. There's no value to be found in comparing them with other disciplines. The prudent participant  recognizes the skew  towards comparing conversations for transformation with other disciplines, and lets it be, without acting on it. Being able to intelligently compare conversations for transformation with other disciplines, may indicate a certain respectable, learned wisdom and knowledge, yet doesn't necessarily catalyze the onset of any new, breakthrough experience. Knowing about different paths to enlightenment, is not enough to enlighten.

Notice it's primarily our undistinguished  propensity to compare (period) which dilutes conversations for transformation. It's only secondarily actually talking about that with which we make comparisons, that dilutes them.



6)  ATTEMPTING TO VALIDATE WHAT ONE HAS TO SAY BASED ON IT LIKELY BEING THE VIEW OF OTHERS IN THE ROOM, OR ATTEMPTING TO ENLIST OTHERS IN THAT VIEW

In conversations for transformation, "Everyone knows  ..." is a last-ditch "Hail Mary"  pass of the survival-threatened. What I'm pointing to is every last single one of us (you and I) are survival-threatened now and then. While the purpose of conversations for transformation isn't to threaten survival, when ingrained belief systems are threatened (and in the face of impending transformation, almost all of ours are), it's instinctive to summon the "everyone knows" cavalry in defense of the old.

"Everyone knows ..." seeks to outnumber the presenter, the messenger, the trainer, the leader, the Werner-in-the-room  (if you will), to out-vote, to out-flank the presenter, to dilute the power of his / her word, with the word of the sympathetic throng. Although this ploy is inauthentic to the core, it's automatic, and so it's a lot easier to deploy than to authentically admit "My mind is threatened by this new way of looking at things, yet I'm willing to stay open to where it may lead.".



7)  A RANT (SOMETHING THAT COMES OUT IN AN EMOTIONALLY-CHARGED STRING THAT IS TRIGGERED BY SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE ROOM)

A rant contributes nothing - or spoken more rigorously, it actually contributes negatively  by diluting (detracting from) the power and progress of conversations for transformation.

On the other hand, catching myself ranting and authentically acknowledging I ranted ("I just noticed I ranted; I apologize to the group for diluting the power and the progress (and the dignity and the integrity) of this conversation; I promise to deal with the source of my rant, indeed I'll look
unflinchingly  at what happened in the room just now that triggered it, and then I'll get back to you and share what I discovered about myself") makes an enormous  contribution. Really.



8)  RAMBLING ON WITHOUT MAKING ANY POINT

Simply being listened, can be powerfully seductive - that is, if being listened is ordinarily in short supply (which it isn't in conversations for transformation). And rambling on is often indicative of simply relishing ie basking in (being seduced by) the extraordinary, profound listening present in these conversations.

While conversations for transformation do indeed engender an extraordinary, profound listening, that's not their raison d'etre. So there's a great opportunity to be both considerate and responsible: either sit down and and be quiet when you catch yourself rambling, or get to the point quickly. Remember: conversations for transformation aren't the milieu for speaking about  transformation: they're the milieu for speaking  transformation. You've made an agreement implicit in integrity by being here, so deliver just that. Rambling on violates that agreement. It's the antithesis  of speaking transformation (says Werner: it doesn't forward the action).


Yet with all of that said, it's only of interim interest that these ideas, when applied to conversations for transformation, safeguard their power and progress. Ultimately, when applied to all  conversations in life, they tighten up our language, our speaking and listening, and our world, to a hitherto un-dreamed-of degree of integrity.


Postscript:

The presentation, delivery, and style of Safeguarding The Power And Progress Of Conversations For Transformation are all my own work.

The ideas recreated in Safeguarding The Power And Progress Of Conversations For Transformation were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by Werner Erhard for The Mastery Course: Being a Master of Life: What It Takes and other Landmark programs.





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