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 Shortest Distance Between Two People

Tamalpais Valley, Marin County, California, USA

October 26, 2010



"A straight line is the shortest distance between two points." ... Euclid of Alexandria, circa 300 BC

"Transformation is the shortest distance between two people." ... Laurence Platt, circa NOW

"Somewhere between Corte Madera and the Golden Gate Bridge, the man in the car on the freeway was transformed."
... Professor William Warren Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in the account titled "Once Upon A Freeway" in chapter nine called "True Identity" in part III, "Transformation",
   of "
Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est', circa 1978
This essay, The Shortest Distance Between Two People, is the five hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the companion piece to
  1. Direct Experience
  2. No Distance
in that order.




"Somewhere between Corte Madera and the Golden Gate Bridge, the man in the car on the freeway was transformed." - Professor William Warren Bartley III
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA
Werner Erhard's moment of transformation, says Professor William Warren Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, occurred "somewhere between Corte Madera and the Golden Gate Bridge". Werner himself specifically says it was on  the Golden Gate Bridge, adding it's not significant  it was on the Golden Gate Bridge. On the Golden Gate Bridge is just where he happened to be at the time.

So if you're on the Golden Gate Bridge, you may or may not experience transformation. As Werner says, there's nothing significant about being on the Golden Gate Bridge. As magnificent as it is, as magical  as it is, there's nothing special  about the Golden Gate Bridge, the crossing of which will render an untransformed human being transformed.

No, Werner's transformation isn't a function of his location. Rather it's the result of his inquiry  lasting years and years and years  into the nature of what it is to be a human being. Said as a question, his inquiry is "What's the possibility of being  for human beings?". His inquiry finally played itself out exactly where he happened to be at the time: on the Golden Gate Bridge. Yet he could just as easily have been in the Grand Canyon or on the Florida Keys or at the Bronx Zoo. That is to say, he could have been anywhere  at the time his inquiry finally played itself out. And when it finally did play itself out, he was (no surprise here) wherever  he happened to be.

Having said that, having underlined the complete absence of significance, I've always thought it's the perfect analogy: that the first really accessible, the first really share-able, the first really get-able occurrence of transformation on the planet showed up  on a bridge - on a bridge which links two erstwhile unconnected  sides, on a bridge which brings together people and traffic each heading where the others are coming from, on a bridge which spans a beautiful space, the crossing of which makes available and accessible its awe, its wonder, and its magnificence  as an immediate first hand  direct experience rather than simply as a photograph or as a movie or as a concept  or even just as a good idea.

But it's more than that, actually. It's even more subtle. It's even more profound. The experience of transformation bridges the gap between people. When I'm transformed, I know myself as who I really am - which is to say I know myself as the  Self. When you're transformed, you know yourself as who you really are - which is to say you know yourself as the  Self. Transformation, it could be said, is the Self knowing its  Self as the  Self.

There's no shorter distance between two human beings than this. Transformation is quite literally the possibility of the shortest distance between two people. And since transformation is the possibility of the shortest distance between two people, transformation is therefore the possibility of the shortest distance between people. Period.

Gee! I hope you get this ...

We live in an exciting time. But when I say we live in "an exciting time" I'm not referring to the stürm und drang, I'm not referring to the snot and tears, I'm not referring to the tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing  (as William Shakespeare may have said) which constantly bombards us vying for our attention day after day after day as the soap opera  of how the world is turning. No, the exciting time I'm referring to is the possibility available right here  and right now of transformation presencing its Self as the  Self.

This possibility is the opportunity we share. To avail ourselves of it doesn't require going anywhere. It's You. It's I. And it's found by traversing the shortest distance between us, the shortest distance across this beautiful space, the crossing of which makes available and accessible its awe, its wonder, and its magnificence  as an immediate first hand  direct experience.

As I said, anyone can cross the Golden Gate Bridge. But that won't necessarily ensure an untransformed human being becomes transformed on it unless the inquiry into "What's the possibility of being  for human beings?" just so happens to play itself out right there, in which case (you can count on it) transformation will show up right there as the possibility of the shortest distance between two people.



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