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


Telling The Truth About Masters

The Red Grape, Sonoma, California, USA

March 9, 2015



"I've had the opportunity and the privilege to count some great men and women among my friends. They all have the same problem: they cannot get their students to be masters as they are - even students with all the intellectual equipment you can imagine. I tell them that the reason why they can't turn their students into masters is that they are fibbing to themselves about the source of their own mastery. They attribute their own mastery to everything other than its actual source: creation. Creating and being, exist in the same domain. And there is a discipline to being, to creation. The domain of being has its own rigor. Being is approachable. It is masterable. It's not nebulous."
 ... 


What is a master? Perhaps a better question to ask would be: who  is a master? What does it imply to have mastery? What does it mean to show mastery?

Arguably the first context which comes to mind for a master is the spiritual realm (when I say that, I'm using the adjective "spiritual" loosely rather than rigorously). I mean a master in the spiritual realm like a Zen master and / or a Yoga master for example, yes? But that's not the extent of it. There are also fine art masters ie masters in the realms of painting and sculpture. There are also masters in the realms of writing and music. And of course there are also masters in the realm of science, like mathematics masters and physics masters - to mention but two.

My first take  (if you will) on what or who a master is, is this: a master is someone who creates (which is to say a master is someone who brings forth)  the experience of and the knowledge in the field ie in the discipline  in which they have mastery ... in a way which makes mastery in the field available to others  (notice how critical that add-on is).

My second take on what a master is, is more rigorous ie it's more pointed. It's this: a master is someone who is  the field ie it's someone who is  the discipline in which they have mastery ... in a way which makes mastery in the field available to others. In this sense, a master is someone who's being  the field ie a master is someone who's being the discipline in which they have mastery.

So how exactly do you be  the field ie how exactly do you be  the discipline in which you have mastery? You speak  it. You language  it.

<aside>

Wait a minute Laurence! You speak  it, you say? You language  it? I got it about masters of art speaking it ie I got it about masters of science languaging it. But what about a Zen master who maintains silence?  What about a Zen master who doesn't speak?  ie what about a Zen master who doesn't language?

OK.

Speaking and not  speaking are distinct yet inseparable  (as Werner Erhard may have said). Languaging and not languaging are distinct yet inseparable.

It's actually (and appropriately) perfect Zen:  a Zen master ie a speaker of Zen ie a language-er (if you will) of Zen ... who maintains silence.

It's very beautiful. Sit with it on your lap like a hot brick  (it will drive you crazy if you try to figure it out).

<un-aside>

If there's one thing worth getting in this conversation, it's this: the domains of creating, bringing forth, speaking, and languaging (as well as, for that matter, the Zen not-domains of not-creating, not-bringing forth, not-speaking, and not-languaging) all converge in the domain of being  so that (for the most part) creating, bringing forth, speaking, and languaging are all aspects of being. In other words, a master in any  field, regardless of the subject of the field itself, is first and foremost a master of being. Said another way, a master of any field, regardless of the subject of the field itself, has mastered what it is to be.

It follows then, that if masters are going to make mastery available to others, they have to make being  available to others. And if they're going to make being  available to others, they have to be grounded in the truth about the source of their own mastery. The source of their own mastery, indeed the source of any mastery, is being. Yes, conveying the subject is critical to the process. But what distinguishes a master from a teacher is a master conveys being and  the subject, whereas a teacher only conveys the subject. Conveying only the subject in the area in which a master has mastery, may create people who know ie may create people with knowledge ... but it doesn't turn people into masters. Conveying being and  the subject in the area in which a master has mastery, turns people into masters.

Knowing the subject, while critical, isn't the source of mastery. Neither is practice, while critical, the source of mastery. Neither is discipline, while critical, the source of mastery. Being is the source of mastery. Period. End of story. In the domain of mastering leadership for example, knowing what it takes to lead  (while sitting in the stands) is an entirely different domain than being a leader  (while being in action on the court). Teaching and learning practice, doesn't turn people into masters: it turns people into people who practice. Teaching and learning discipline, doesn't turn people into masters: it turns people into people with discipline. It's teaching and learning being, which turns people into masters. And yes, being can be taught and learned ie being can be mastered.

<aside>

When I say "... being can be taught and learned ie being can be mastered", there's a veritable cloud of ie there's a plethora of already always listening  for that which is taught (indeed, for how  it's taught) and also for that which is learned (indeed, for how it's learned), which distracts from the context in which I'm using these terms ie which distracts from the context of conveying mastery.

What may work better in this context would be to say "demonstrated"  rather than "taught", and to say "gotten"  or "grokked"  (as Robert Heinlein may have said) rather than "learned" - to wit: "... being can be demonstrated and gotten or grokked ie being can be mastered".

<un-aside>

Masters not telling the truth about being as the source of their own mastery (which is to say masters not telling the truth about being  being the source of their own mastery), or masters not being in touch with ie or masters not being aware of being as the source of their own mastery, are rendered unlikely to be really outlandishly successful in making their mastery available to others - which is to say they may be great teachers who turn people without knowledge into people with knowledge, but it's unlikely they're ever going to be really outlandishly successful turning people into masters.



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