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

Simple But Not Easy

Jessup Cellars, Yountville, California, USA

April 9, 2015

"Transformation is simple but it's not easy. If transformation were easy, the whole world would be transformed by now." ... 
This essay, Simple But Not Easy, is the companion piece to Leaving Everybody With More Power.

It is also the eleventh in an open group Visits With A Friend Prequels:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Eye Of The Needle
  3. Secret Service
  4. Everyone Loves You
  5. Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural
  6. View From A Fallow Wheatfield
  7. Flying
  8. Three Stairs At A Time
  9. Something Fierce, Something Wonderful
  10. Serving High
  11. Simple But Not Easy
  12. A Request Asked Harder
in that order.

It is also, with Three Stairs At A Time and Something Fierce, Something Wonderful and Serving High, the prequel to the eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.

I am indebted to Donovan Copley who inspired this conversation.

What does Werner mean when he says "Transformation is simple  but it's not easy."?  In fact is it even valid  to say something is simple ... but not easy?  Don't "simple" and "easy" mean exactly the same thing?

Not really. For the purposes of this conversation, I suggest "simple" refers to the elegance  of the idea of transformation. "Isn't easy" on the other hand, refers to expressing transformation in action. It's valid then, to refer to transformation (ie to the elegant idea of transformation) as simple ... but it's not easy (ie expressing transformation in action) - at least, it isn't always  easy.

The simplest quality a thing has (be it animal, vegetable, or mineral ... anything really - even thought) is its is-ness, its being-ness ie it exists. It is what it is, and it isn't what it isn't. If you look at anything  that exists ie if you look at anything that's real, you'll notice it is what it is, and it isn't what it isn't, yes? Yet given how we're thrown to complicate things (which is to say given how we're thrown to assume  things are complicated, or given how we're thrown to assume life can't possibly be simple), this essential simplest quality of things, their is-ness, their being-ness, is hard to grasp. And because it's hard to grasp, we remain unfamiliar with it. Clearly, being unfamiliar with the essential simplest quality of things, is the breeding ground ie is the Petri dish  for rampant false assumptions about life (and of the way it works) being complicated.

You could say when we allow this simplest of all qualities, this erstwhile unfamiliar simplest of qualities which all things have, to show up, it's the onset of transformation. You could say allowing life to be simple (ie you could say allowing things to be what they are and allowing them to not be what they aren't) is when transformation begins. It's more than that actually. It's allowing things to be what they are and allowing them to not be what they aren't, starts a shift which inexorably recontextualizes (I love  that word) everything ... and so we have transformation, a contextual shift.

That's my first take on this. It's the obvious take. But there's actually a deeper insight that's inherent in this process, a deeper insight that if you're awake to it as you're going through this inquiry, it becomes available. It's that it's always  been simple ie the way it all works has always been simple, so there's really nothing we're required to do  to make it be simple. Rather what's required of us is letting go of our determination that it's gotta be complicated. To do that, calls for something big. It's not easy taking on being responsible for imposing our interpretations that's it's gotta be complicated, on the otherwise simple process of life. The thing is: taking on being responsible for imposing our interpretations that's it's gotta be complicated, on the otherwise simple process of life, makes it easier to let complications go.

This startling point of view which shifts everything  (while changing nothing, by the way), is a gift I got from Werner nearly four decades ago, and which I get again and again and again over and over and over whenever I have the good fortune to be around him. And in between the amazing times I get to be around him ie when he's not available to me directly, it's still tangible: I discover it in the process of Life itself (by maintaining the stance that the physical universe is my guru), and it's all I can do (both a great joy and a great challenge) to share it with as many people as possible as widely as possible before I die.

"Simple" is a context  for living. It's also a way of looking  (if you will), a way of being with the material that allows for its simplicity rather than superimposing expectations of complications. Given the way we superimpose expectations of complications on life without realizing we're doing it, the new possibilities simplicity allows for, come on as magical, as miraculous. Listen: simplicity and what it makes possible, really is  magical and miraculous. And I'm using both the adjectives "magical" and "miraculous" with no more emphasis than their basic dictionary definitions. There's nothing emphatic or emotional or even overly-enthusiastic about the way I'm using them. All I intend for them to invoke in this particular context is the plainest most ordinary "who we are" living breathing experience - the magic, the miracle of just being alive ie the magic, the miracle of being transformed.

Living this possibility is simple but not easy  - at least, it's not always easy. And perhaps (just perhaps) as I've suggested, the difficulty started with our inherited conditioning ie with our firmly held beliefs that a) it's not easy, and b) that it's both ridiculous and naïve to even consider  it might possibly be easy. Yet with all that said, it might just be that stepping out of the realm of beliefs (inside here) and into the realm of what's real (out-here), is the genesis  of transformation.

That's a simple idea of Werner's with considerable elegance. And it's a big person who makes it (look) easy by taking it on and expressing it in action.

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