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 Same Old Same Old

Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, California, USA

October 2, 2014



I ran into an old friend with whom I haven't talked in quite a while. It was good to see him again. A lot of water has flowed under both of our bridges (so to speak) since we last met. With a lot to catch up on, we arranged to get together for a cold beer at the end of a ferociously hot summer's day in my home town (my home village, actually). We sat opposite each other at a table at an outdoor café watching the endless passing parade of people, talking easily, enjoying our renewed connection (with true friends the connection may lapse and be renewed, but it never goes away entirely).

At some point I asked him if he's been in a seminar lately - the last time we spoke which was way back when, he was a regular participant. It turns out he hasn't been in a seminar for quite a while. I had no particular judgement of him for that. People are in seminars, or they aren't. Seminars are always there to come back to, and there's no coercion to participate or not to. But what he said next caught my interest, both for what it implied, as well as for something about it I wanted to address. He told me that being in seminars (which is to say participating in Werner's work) had (quote unquote} "stopped working for him". He told me he loved being in the seminars themselves, but having been away from the work for a while, it had stopped working for him.

I listened until he'd said everything he wanted to say about it, sipping my icy Pabst Blue Ribbon  and not interrupting him. When he'd finished speaking, I still hadn't said anything. So he said / asked slowly, defensively "... Sooo?  ..." - like he was expecting something, a challenge, a put down, a make wrong perhaps, a response, anything. "No, I've got nothing to add" I said, "I got it. It worked for you. And then it stopped working.".

He didn't actually say  my response was a relief for him. Yet I could tell it was. Perhaps he thought I was going to make him wrong for saying Werner's work stopped working for him. But I didn't. His experience that it stopped working for him, was totally valid. And I got his communication. Being gotten unconditionally without being made wrong, was a relief for him. No longer being defensive, he was open to looking at it newly. That's when I said "Tell me: what if it  didn't stop working for you? What if you  stopped working for it?", to which he responded (as anyone might have) "What do you mean?".

Participating in Werner's work gives transformation, and language is the medium of transformation. The seminars are an environment in which transformation can be spoken ie languaged  if you will - and by "spoken" I don't mean "talked about": I mean "generated", "sourced". The seminars are certainly not the only  environment in which transformation can be spoken: transformation can be spoken anywhere in the world at any time under any and all circumstances. The seminars are just one environment in which speaking transformation is practiced, supported, and coached.

"Here's the thing:" I said to him, "it worked for you in the seminars because you spoke transformation in the seminars. When you were no longer in a seminar, it stopped working for you because you stopped speaking transformation. You just happened to be in the world when you stopped speaking transformation. If you were in a seminar when you stopped speaking transformation, it would have stopped working for you then. Listen: the world without speaking transformation is just the same old same old  ie it's just business as usual. There's nothing transformed about it. That's what I meant by 'it  didn't stop working: you  stopped working'.".

The words were barely out of my mouth when he nodded quickly a few times and said "I got it. Thank You! You're right. I did stop speaking it. I didn't get that. I did get it stopped working when I hadn't been in a seminar for a while. But I didn't get the connection with me stopping speaking it. I didn't connect the dots. And you know, the world did  start to feel like the same old same old - as if transformation never happened. But actually it was me  being the same old same old.".

We sat there looking at each other, smiling and talking as the endless passing parade of people streamed by. My Pabst Blue Ribbon was empty. I didn't order another.



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