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 Telephone Book Or The Dictionary

Coombsville Road, Napa, California, USA

May 27, 2020

"If you don't take it out into the world, you didn't get it in the first place."  ... 

What it all comes down to, when all is said and done, where the rubber meets the road, is this: being transformed means being free to be and free to act. The siege mounted by the mind, its hold-backs, its considerations and pre-considerations, its overtly unnecessary cautions and pre-cautions about, in, and on our lives as human beings, is ended. It's ended not by "taming" the mind nor by "destroying" the ego, but instead by taking responsibility for them rather than by being at their effect, by owning them rather than by resisting them, by distinguishing them rather than by identifying with them (the latter may just be the most counter-intuitive of them all).

Keep Sharing

Anyone who's ever touched on and / or been touched by transformation, knows that the urge to share it is profound, so grandly predictably  profound that if, when experiencing transformation there's no delighful urge to share it, the chances are that whatever you got, wasn't transformation in the first place. Then there's also the business of the way  transformation is conveyed - not like an intellectual (even like an interesting) discussion to be understood, but rather like a transferable, sharable experience (when I'm thirsty, please don't discuss water with me - just give me some of it cold to drink). Yes it's useful to discuss an experience. That's how we get to grow and include new horizons. But with a discussion being what it is, there's a world of difference between discussing transformation, and conveying the experience.

Libraries and stack-rooms are filled with books carefully documenting ideas which purport to provide access to the source of transformation. Religions and isms  have been at it for centuries. Programs and courses offer ways to "transform" our lives - which most of the time simply come down to ways to change  our lives (and "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"  - the more things change, the more they stay the same, yes?). And when all is said and done, transformation still isn't present. So where's transformation to be found? Where's it to be seen?  Where is it to be emulated? And (most importantly): how will I recognize it and trust  it when I see it?

There are powerful programs which convey the experience of being transformed in ways that reliably create the opportunity for people to experience being transformed for themselves, and to experience the way being transformed is an empowering platform on which to stand and live life, and to realize it's what (for the most part) is missing in life. In the same-old-same-old  way in which we ordinarily live, we've been powerless to break out of old patterns which keep authentic transformation at bay, if not bury it completely. Watch the morning news, or click a news app online. It's clear the world is crying out for transformation. Everyone knows (instinctively) it's what's wanted and needed. As persuasion of and debate about its value is now moot, the only remaining unanswered question to ask, is: how is it best conveyed?

I assert all those bibles, all course materials, all podcasts, all audio-books pale into insignificance next to who the conveyor of transformation is being. You can talk up a storm, have all the clever facts and information memorized by rote, and yet still not impart authentic transformation. That's because facts and information doeth not the domain of transformation compriseth. Facts and information (the sacred and the profane) comprise only a very thin veneer of the conversation for transformation. Who we're being  is the ontological domain of transformation. It's where the magic happens. So a person transformed could read the telephone book or the dictionary  out loud to you, and you'd get transformation not from all the data they're reading but from who they're being as they're reading it. And isms, materials, courses, and podcasts are only additional commentary. Given what transformation is, it's getable directly from who people be (which is inexplicable maybe, yet true nonetheless).

Proof Of Life

I was with Werner when he was leading a program for a group of four hundred people. It was both rigorous and arduous to be in it with him. All the conversations were in English. If you didn't speak English, there was a less than zero chance you would understand anything. So it was with interest that I kept my eye on one of the participants, a black-robed Japanese Zen Buddhist monk who (it became clear during the course) didn't speak English, and there was no provision (yet) to translate the material into Japanese. There was literally no way he could understand the conversation or the processes or the sharing. Nonetheless he had committed himself to being in this intensive. And in the midst of all of it, I wondered how he or anyone else who didn't speak English could ever get anything out of the proceedings at all.

Finally, after the course reached its stunning, inexorable conclusion, I saw him walk over to Werner who was surrounded by other newly-elated graduates. When the opportunity presented itself and Werner recognized him, he put his palms together, bowed to Werner, and said with a very thick guttural Japanese accent "I ... gaht  ... it!". Werner's recognition of him and his of Werner left no doubt. Werner could have stood in front of that group for all the hours and nights and days of the course, and just read the telephone book or the dictionary to them, and they would have gotten it anyway from his brilliant, total, complete end-run around understanding.

What they got by osmosis ie by direct experience, is who we really are. In generating, sharing, and receiving transformation, understanding (our go-to  faculty) is really archaic if not outright naïve. Once transformation is encountered, even without prior knowledge or experience, it's universally recognizable. Coming from transformation ("coming from transformation"  is a proviso), you could read the telephone book or the dictionary out loud, and in so doing, be a powerful conduit for transformation.

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