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

The Big Three Oh

Howell Mountain Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

August 31, 2008

This essay, The Big Three Oh, is the prequel to The Big Four Oh.

I am indebted to Werner Erhard who inspired this conversation.

Werner Erhard
Some time around now (it may have been closer to the evening of the Sunday on the last weekend of August 1978, ... but nonetheless, some time around NOW) I experienced transformation for the first time.

And then, thirty years blew by ... just ... like  ... that!

What can I say now about thirty years of transformation? Today is a kind of birthday  I suppose. This is the big Three Oh. What's there to say about what I've learned about transformation after thirty years?

There's really only one answer to this question, and the answer is: what I've learned about transformation after thirty years is nothing. After thirty years I know nothing  about transformation. That's not some clever bon mot. It's not a flip Zen answer to a sincere question smugly designed to make me superior and to drive people crazy. And yet knowing nothing  about transformation doesn't diminish or negate the gift it is to have it or the privilege it is to speak it or the thrill it is to discover it and to rediscover it or the magic it is to live it. In fact, knowing nothing  about transformation seems to be a smart way to be with transformation. No kidding! To say I've learned "nothing" about transformation after thirty years really is the truth. Here's why:

Transformation doesn't show up in the domain of learning. Transformation doesn't show up in the domain of knowing. It doesn't show up in the domain of understanding, and it isn't something to believe in. While I can experience  transformation, I notice any attempt to describe it or, worse, any attempt to understand  it only seems to damage it. That seems to be its nature. I can be with  it close up, larger than life, and twice as natural. Yet it's slippery and elusive when I attempt to pin it down and describe its specific attributes.

How, then, is it even possible to speak about transformation? As long as I tell the truth about it, as long as I say before  I speak about transformation, that my understanding it isn't it, that my describing it isn't it, that my knowing it isn't it  and in fact I quite literally know nothing  about it, then I'm left with some authenticity from which I can speak my experience of it.
Werner Erhard, about this anomaly, says "You can't describe a hole in the ground by describing the stick which pokes the hole in the ground. Sticks and holes in the ground are worlds apart.". If transformation is a hole in the ground, all that's available to me in describing transformation is to describe the stick which pokes the hole in the ground. And transformation as a hole in the ground is distinct from the stick I describe which pokes the hole in the ground.

Having made that clear, having set this context, here are thirty of my observations about transformation coming from my experience of transformation after thirty years. None of these observations are spoken as "the truth". Furthermore, if you listen them as tenets to believe, these observations are immediately rendered worthless. Rather, they play best if you listen them as inspired by, as inferred by, as observed from  living with transformation over thirty years. Then, arguably, they'll impart enlightenment and power.

1 ) The very first thing to get about transformation is if you want it, you have to give it away. You have to share it to keep it for yourself. That's completely counterintuitive  to everything we know about ownership. Transformation simply doesn't work when it's "mine". And it isn't mine - any more than the moon is mine or the Pacific Ocean is mine or sunlight is mine. Transformation is shared ie co-owned  by every one of the six billion and counting of us human beings who've ever walked the face of this Earth. That's its nature. If you get transformation and you don't share it, you will  lose it. Guaranteed.

2 ) For most people, myself included, the introduction to transformation is hearing people speak about it. The word of mouth  approach is entirely appropriate given the nature of transformation. No books, audiotapes, or videos completely and successfully impart lasting transformation. Even though at first we eschew ie shy from  speaking in large groups, large group conversations turn out to be the best Petri dishes  in which to culture real thrilling transformation. Transformation doesn't start better or show up better in any other medium.

3 ) Transformation is a distinction. It's not a state of mind nor is it a state of consciousness. When you're not being transformation, it disappears and never was. When you're being transformation, it is, was, and always will be. So real transformation is being  transformation.

4 ) If there's an art to sharing transformation, it's to be it without touting you got something others don't. Once you've distinguished your meaning making machinery, it's a trap making being transformation  mean something.

5 ) When transformation occurs, a bankable  dramatic shift happens for people who resist being acknowledged: they accept acknowledgement. Transformation brings the onset of graciousness. When I'm acknowledged for creating these Conversations For Transformation I take responsibility for flapping my fingers at the keyboard rendering wiggly marks on your computer screen. That's what I do. But it's the generous listening YOU bring to the party where the value of what I do lives. Any value in transformation I speak shows up  wholly, completely, and totally in your  listening.

6 ) Like fresh air and clean drinking water, transformation shows up missing  ie as a requirement  when access to it is cut off, making it imminently clear life without transformation is unacceptable. We live in survival  when access to fresh air and clean drinking water is cut off. We also live in survival when, whether known or not known, access to transformation is cut off. In such moments I'm pressed to inquire into what's not working. Without transformation, life is a perpetual struggle for survival.

7 ) Interimly, a transformation, can occur as a result of any of legions of processes. Ultimately, transformation, is being whole, complete, and satisfied. It's a platform on which to stand and, playing from win, inquire "What's next?".

8 ) Coming from transformation  when communicating, completely alters what's possible for communication. Without transformation as a context for communication, the best that's available for communication is reaction. For the most part, communication as reaction  without any other possibility accounts for the shape the world is in today.

9 ) If we're incomplete, it's a primal response ie it's the "herd mentality"  to fill our lives with people to distract us and to comfort us. Once we're distracted enough and comforted enough, the basis on which we formed those relationships disappears, so they fail. That's business as usual. Transformation is being complete. In a transformed life, relationships start on a platform of being complete. In transformed relationships, the start of, the completion of, and indeed the very distinction  of "relationship" itself are no longer business as usual.

10 ) What shows up for me in the space of transformation is simply Laurence being Laurence. At first, that's so blindingly simple, so completely obvious  it's profundity is overlooked. Laurence being Laurence  is the space of Self. That's profound. All the mystics and all the saints, the Torah, the Koran, the Bible and all the books have simply added commentary.

11 ) Transformation doesn't mean changing your ways and being a better person. Indeed, you may  change your ways and be a better person, but that's not what transformation is. It's actually not even a big commitment  to say you'll change your ways and be a better person, as all your failed new year's resolutions  eloquently testify. Rather, transformation is you being authentically who you really are. Now that's a big commitment.

12 ) My life is a farce and I'm an impostor. I once had a reputation  but I mislaid it somewhere along the way. So I put the farce of my life in which I star as an impostor to use by bringing forth Conversations For Transformation. Transformation doesn't save  my life from being a farce. It recontextualizes  it. Transformation doesn't negate  that I'm an impostor. It offers an opportunity for the impostor to go to work making a difference. Transformation allows me to live richly and fully without a reputation. In a transformed life, a reputation isn't required for validation. Life validates itself.

13 ) Much of what I've gotten about transformation I got from my own experience, and from my own inquiries into the nature of who I am (I mean, from my own inquires into the nature of who I really  am ...) and from my own inquiries into what's possible for my life and for Life itself. However I'd be a complete and total liar and a fraud if I didn't say that most  of what I've gotten about transformation I got observing Werner.

14 ) The story of your transformation isn't the story of The Little Red Hen. In the story of The Little Red Hen, she asks for support baking bread. No one offers support. After she's baked her bread alone, everyone, especially those who didn't support her baking it, want a taste of it. But The Little Red Hen righteously eats her bread all by herself. In the story of your transformation, you'll ask for support which will be abundantly forthcoming. After you're transformed, everyone, especially  those who supported you, will celebrate with you. By definition, you're never transformed alone.

15 ) Simply put (when all is said and done), transforming your life  means having your Self expression be senior  to your circumstances, and living from a future of your own invention. Yes I do mean "living from  a future" not "living into  a future".

16 ) Like learning balance riding a bicycle, transformation isn't undo-able. It's indelible  and irreversible. You can get off the bike once in a while, but when you get back on again, there's no renewed learning curve. You never need to re-learn balance.

17 ) Transformation doesn't add anything to your lifestyle. It won't take anything away from or change your lifestyle either. So how ie on what basis  do you evaluate  transformation like you ordinarily assess  the benefits you might get from something you're considering taking on? Transformation doesn't fit  into a paradigm of comparison shopping. Perhaps the best way to appraise transformation is the best way to "try before you buy"  is to inquire into what, not now possible, would be possible for you in life if the totality of who you really are  were freely available to you. That's  the possibility of transformation.

18 ) Love. If I say "I love You" not coming from transformation, it's probably true in the moment but it may not be true forever. If I say "I love You" coming from transformation, it'll always be true because it's who I am.
19 ) Werner Erhard isn't just a guy in a diner  talking about transformation.

20 ) It takes two transformed human beings to change a light bulb: one to change the light bulb, and one not to. Transformation stands on the shoulders of and owes a great debt of gratitude to Zen.

21 ) In a transformed life, what "the truth"  is is no longer a debate. It's no longer your  truth as opposed to my  truth. It's no longer what's "true for you"  as opposed to what's "true for me". The truth that's powerful, the truth with leverage  is the only truth you're uniquely qualified to speak, and that's you speaking the truth about your own experience of yourSelf. If you speak the truth about your own experience of yourSelf, the space for people to get to the truth for themselves becomes available. If you speak the truth about your own experience of what's possible  for yourSelf, the space for people to get to the truth of what's possible for themselves becomes available.

22 ) All expectations and opinions to the contrary, I've never written transformation and you've never read  transformation. Writing and reading are one degree removed from speaking and listening. "Speaking and listening", not "writing and reading", is the domain  of transformation. The way you get transformation is by speaking and listening transformation face to face  in real live Conversations For Transformation. That's  Werner's work. Why is it this way? Why does it have  to be "speaking and listening" and not "writing and reading" or watching videos? I don't know, and I can't answer "Why?". I really can't. It's just the way it is.

23 ) Completing your relationships with your parents by telling them the whole truth and nothing but  the truth is the  completion without which transformation is about as easy as running the mile wearing a ball and chain on one ankle. The best investment you'll ever make with the least capital outlay yet with stratospheric returns is to drop a dime to call your parents to let them know you're OK, to thank them for the great job they did raising you, to let them know your life turned out OK, and to tell them you love them. If your parents aren't around, find someone else to acknowledge in their stead.

24 ) Transformation shows no sexual favoritism. Human beings, irregardless of their sex, are imbued with equal possibility for transformation. When I, a man, confront this, I'm humbled and embarrassed by my macho-ism in my past. If I were a woman, I'd be equally humbled and embarrassed by whatever the female equivalent of macho-ism is. True Self, Buddha nature, while manifesting sexuality, is asexual.

25 ) Transformation isn't religion. It's not philosophy. It's not ethics. It's not a belief system. It isn't faith. It's not a method nor a discipline nor a way of life. Yet transformation anchors all of the above arenas because all these arenas are those in which human beings speak  and listen. But we human beings also speak and listen mathematics, physics, fine arts, language arts, tech, music, sports, agriculture, finance, international diplomacy, relationships ... Indeed, somewhere between birth and death, all human beings are active in multifarious arenas in which we speak and listen. That's why we call transformation transformation:  because speaking and listening has the possibility of transforming all  of life.

26 ) The degree of taking responsibility for your own experience goeswith  your degree of transformation (as Alan Watts may have said). Total transformation is a function of taking total responsibility for your own experience, including taking total responsibility for your own experience of what others have "done to"  you. Taking total responsibility for your own experience of what others have done to you doesn't refer to or require taking the blame  for what others have done to you.

27 ) After thirty years, it's neverendingly awesome to me, not to mention an absolute privilege, observing you being profoundly touched, being moved to tears in fact, being inspired by transformation. You're not simply experiencing relief. It's way beyond mere peace of mind  for you. It's the joyous experience of ecstasy, the magnanimity  which comes with the quantum  cellular atomic level recognition that the totality of all the goodness  of Life expressing itself is really YOU.

28 ) In the form of a question: even though transformation is timeless and impersonal ie it doesn't belong to you or to me or to anyone in particular, would there be transformation  without Werner Erhard? I mean, really!  Would there?

29 ) Transformation ends - or so it may seem - not once but many times. As soon as I'm willing to accept ie to hold every god-damned  thing in my life as OK the way it is  and the way it isn't, as soon as I'm willing to let it all be perfect requiring no fixing or changing whatsoever, transformation is back nstantaneously like it never ended. Accepting the way it is and the way it isn't is the fastest, surest track back to transformation I know. I've proved it over  and over  and over  and over  again.

30 ) The bad news about transformation is it's a bit like being stood up  by your date for your high school prom, the date you're waiting for, the date you're looking forward to, the one you know  will make your life better, the one you're certain will make it all worthwhile. Well, guess what? She ain't coming!  ... That's the bad news. The good news is: THIS IS IT! This is all there is. And it's all yours  now.

That's it. That's a thick slice of what's here to celebrate with you today, the big Three Oh. Thank You for coming into my world and for being in my life. Thank You for the generous space you listening these Conversations For Transformation grants me. I want you to know I'm using it well.

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