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
William Hill Estate Winery,
September 25, 2012
When I first met him I couldn't believe anyone could talk
so fast. And so non-stop. The term motor mouth wasn't
for this guy. Rocket mouth was more like it.
The more I listened to him, the faster he spoke. All his sentences
veered off into confusing side lines of non sequiturs as
he became separated from the points he started making. He never
finished any point he started making. No matter how many
questions he posed (actual asked questions, as well as implied
questions) I soon realized he didn't know how to pause and allow any
time for answers or responses. It was as if he needed to
talk, and my listening simply incubated and fueled his need. That's
what made listening to him as if he wanted to really
converse, exasperating at first.
Whatever he said tumbled out of his mouth so fast that it totally
overrode his few accidental pauses in which an answer or a response
could be squeaked in. The break neck speed at which he talked was
punctuated, strangely, by his teeth clicking on each other, his lips
smacking together, and his tongue popping on his palate
staccato as his mouth tried hopelessly to
keep up with the geyser of his stream of consciousness
thinking. "Fortunately he's not prone to spitting ..." I mused to
When he finally slowed down long enough for me to get a
in edgewise, I didn't attempt to respond to him directly. Rather, I
said "Whoa there now! Take a break Big Guy!". Much to my
surprise he did. Then his breaths came in gasps as if he'd been
Obviously he had a lot to say. Arguably he had
to say. In and of itself, that isn't a bad thing - except it was
enormously frustrating to him since he was clearly incapable of
managing what he said so that any conversation he was in, brought him
completion. I sensed he had a lot to contribute. But simplifying how it
all came out coherently was going to require some homework - to say the
least. If I were to guess that somewhere between the thoughts and his
mouth, something was awry, that wouldn't be it. It was earlier than
that. It was something prior to that, something much more
fundamental than that.
I knew it didn't matter where I started - as long as I got to it
directly. So I said "You talk fast, faster than anyone I've ever known.
I can keep up with what you're saying, but I can tell you can't get the
fast enough. The thoughts come faster than your tongue can move. This
frustrates you, yes?".
My guess is I was somewhere in the ballpark. But I didn't
know how accurate my guess really was until he looked at me, blushed,
then lowered his head. After a minute or so, I could see he was crying.
"I can never get it all out" he stammered after a while. "There are so
many thoughts I want to share, and so many more I have which I can't
I'm actually not very good at expressing my thoughts in
I'm hopeless at expressing myself clearly.".
"Oh no" I said. "You're very good at expressing the
thoughts you're having, in
But whatever you're expressing isn't yourself.".
He looked straight at me, suddenly collected. "What do you mean
'Whatever I'm expressing isn't myself'?" he asked, taken
aback yet genuinely
"Good" I thought. "Contact! Now we can talk.".
"So tell me exactly what is it you're trying to do" I asked him. "I'm
trying to communicate what I'm thinking. I'm trying to put my thoughts
But I can't talk fast enough to communicate all of them, so I fail to
express myself fully.". "And that's a problem for you, right?" I asked.
"Not being able to communicate everything you think, is a problem for
you.". "Yes" he said, "that's the problem.". "No, that's
not the problem" I said. "Listen: they're not your
thoughts, and you're not the one thinking them". "What do you
mean?" he asked again. "Of course they're my
thoughts. Of course I'm the one thinking them!". "No
they're not you're thoughts ... and ... you're not the one
thinking them" I said, repeating myself.
He stopped for a moment. Rather, he was stopped for a
moment (to his credit, he was still listening - he was still in the
conversation). He was about to say something ... then paused like a
goldfish, opening and shutting his mouth with no sound coming out.
"About all these thoughts you say you're thinking: you say you're
thinking so many thoughts, and you say you're thinking them so fast you
can't get them all out, so you fail to express yourself fully. Well, if
they're your thoughts" I said, "and if you're the one thinking them,
then ... stop ... thinking ... them ..." I said
You can't ever really know what's going on for a person - not unless
they tell you. It's even harder to know what's going on for a person
when they've just started to confront, for the first time, that the
thoughts they've been thinking aren't their thoughts, and that
they're not the one thinking their own thoughts. It's a siege.
way of looking at
who we really are
has been ambushed, routed, irreparably altered - once and
for all. His very clothes reeked of stuckness and spinning wheels
having lost all their traction, and congested
attempts to find a way out. He
fought it off. He
argued bravely against it. He
tried to debate it with logic. I admit that's what I expected him to do
- that's what most people would have done. But to his
credit, he surrendered to it. He got so relaxed so quickly with it, he
almost went totally limp.
what a difference this is. It's so ... well ... quiet. Wow!" he
said. He looked like ten years had fallen off his face. "How did you
find out about this?" he asked, speaking carefully, calmly, at a normal
speed - for a change. "I got it from
I answered. "Who's
he asked. "A
of mine" I replied. "We can talk a lot more about him later. But for
now I want to know from you: if it isn't you, then who's thinking your
"I've never seen it this way before" he said. "You've never looked
at it this way before" I interrupted. He nodded, then
continued: "It sure looks like the thoughts are just coming.
Whether I think I think them or not, they're just coming.
I've always known I can't stop them. But if I can't stop them, then
it's not me who's thinking them, right? It looks as if they're
thinking themselves. Actually no, it looks as if they're
thinking me ...". "And if they're thinking you" I
said, "that's more confirmation you're not your thoughts.
Experientially there's a big difference between the
thoughts you're having, and
who you really are.
Now do you get what I mean when I say you're very good at expressing
the thoughts you're having in
but whatever you're expressing, isn't yourself?".
"I get it" he said, smiling.
had crawled off his back. I told him it'd be great to talk with him
more, soon. I meant it.