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 Quietest Mind

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

May 4, 2020

"Life is already together, and what you have to experience is experiencing it being together. The striving to put it together is the denial of the truth that it is actually already together and further striving keeps you from getting it together."
This essay, The Quietest Mind, is the companion piece to Magnum Opus.

It is also the fourteenth in the open second group of Experiences Of A Friend (click here for the complete first group of thirty five Experiences Of A Friend):
  1. Friend, Partner, And Ally
  2. Go To The Beach
  3. Proof Of Life
  4. Going Out Like A Supernova
  5. Relationships: They Start, They End
  6. Evidence Of Source
  7. On Knowing When To Be Ordinary
  8. Letting Be
  9. Transforming The Untransformable
  10. There's Always The Next Piece
  11. Plastic Chandelier II
  12. Yes You Really Are That Big
  13. A Way With Words
  14. The Quietest Mind
  15. Approaching Integrity
  16. Dancing With Life II
  17. Staying In Integrity
  18. Ordinary People Star, Extraordinary People Recreate Themselves
  19. Committed Existence
  20. When You're Being Like Werner, You're Not Being Like Werner
  21. "There's Life Happening Where You Are"
  22. At The Level Of Self-Expression
  23. Intergalactic Dude
  24. Wonderful With People
in that order.

It is also the sequel to Transformed Conversations.

I am indebted to Gopal Rao who inspired this conversation.

Photography by Laurence Platt

2:35pm Friday May 30, 2008
Werner Erhard
I eschew mind-reading. Look: I  don't read minds. But that's not to say it's not possible that others  can read minds. Maybe they can. Maybe they can't. I really don't know. It's just not a skill that's presented itself to me to develop. That said, there's a potent skill I do  have: I can listen. And it's a skill that has  presented itself to me develop. When I listen another, I experience them for myself. And when I key off the experience I have of them for myself, I gain a reliable insight into what they are experiencing. To call that ability mind-reading (as some may) isn't rigorous enough for my liking. It only qualifies as good enough for jazz  because it blurs the line between mind and experience. And when we blur the line between mind and experience, we risk blurring the possibility of authentic, thrilling, transformed friendship.

So when the invitation is extended to me to be with him while he works (more than an invitation, it's a gift, a privilege  really) I don't actually know what to expect. I don't even know what form it will take. I'm shown into his suite. I leave my tote and jacket near the door where it'll be easy to find them when I leave, then I turn and, opening my arms, run  to greet him. There's nowhere  in the universe I'd rather be right now than alone with this man in this suite right here.

We speak through bright smiles and a few warm tears, catching up on whatever critical sharing dares to break through and grab a front seat to all the unbridled joy. When the perfunctory opening round of greetings ends as naturally as it began, he walks over to his dual-monitor laptop computer and starts working as I wordlessly stand (and sometimes sit), being with him while he works - just as the invitation laid out. Nothing else is going on. He's working / I'm being with. That's not a typo. It's not "I'm being with him.". It's now terser: "I'm being with"  - period. Nothing else. It's totally and utterly mesmerizing. As I said, I'm not a mind-reader. And yet the thing I get listening him, is: he has the quietest mind.

He's gazing at the dual-monitors, hands in pockets, not speaking, not moving. I sense he's reviewing the language on the screens, mulling it over, allowing it to work, looking where it doesn't. After standing stock-still for what seems like eternity, he leans over the keyboard, typing additions, deletions, edits - I can't tell which. Then he's upright again, looking, looking with no sign  of any internal activity on his face - just total calm, being with the language out-here, not in a hurry, looking like he'll be standing still like this all day, motionless, serene, wholly engaged and absorbed. And as I watch and listen, I get it all by osmosis, this ocean of calm, serene, quiet.

Then something happens ie I see something that alters ie catalyzes  everything, the way I've been listening, the way I've been being with. I've been listening the calm, serene quiet as if it's a quality he brings to  the work. Yet although there are traces of this too, it's naïve to limit it to that only. His being - calm, serene, quiet - is  the work. There's no dichotomy in this space. He's not involved in the mindfulness of it. He's not involved in the mind itself. That's all just there. It's in the calm, serene quiet of being present  to what's right in front of him, that he demonstrates what's available ie what's possible, and what's on the screens is just a reflection of what's possible ie it's an encoded representation  if you will. Being here ie being with, I get it by direct experience  - just as the invitation laid out. Truly it's a gift, a privilege.

I don't want to go. Yet my time is up. So I must. We embrace. I retrieve my jacket and tote near the door which I close behind me, then I'm out into the world again.

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