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

This Is Not In The Constitution

Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar, California, USA

January 23, 2020

"Here's my view: there's nothing  I want people to learn from me. It's what you discover for yourself that makes it powerful."
...   discussing compassion with Dr James Doty at Stanford University between presentations of the Leadership Course in Cancun, Mexico and the Mastery Course in New York 
This essay, This is Not In The Constitution, is the companion piece to Here Is The Secret.

It could be said transformation treads that razor's edge between intellectual understanding, and direct experience. Intellectual understanding is the domain of change. Direct experience is the domain of transformation. The domain of change is also the domain of doing. It's the domain of transformation that's the domain of being.

There are any number of well-written, intelligent, exhaustive books out there which espouse explanations, solutions, and interpretations of how we human beings got to be the way we are, and how to change (read "fix") the way we are. You'll find many of them in the "Self help"  section of your local bookstore (online you'll find them in CD and podcast versions). Oh, and "Self help" by the way, is a total misnomer if ever there was one: the Self doesn't require any help. No kidding! Really.

I don't just mean how we got to be the way we are as a species  (this isn't about evolution). I don't just mean how we got to be the way we are culturally. I don't mean "we" plural. I mean you. I mean I. Singular. The tomes espouse how you and I got to be the way we are now. And in this genre, the purpose of espousing how you and I got to be the way we are now, is to provide an understanding of what happened on our way to becoming the way we are now, with a view to change / fix ourselves. And look: even if that's stated as "with a view to transform  ourselves" (as it more and more often loosely is), it's almost certain to be the colloquial use of "transform" (ie little more than "change lite"  or "change lo-cal")  than the rigorous  use of "transform" (ie "getting to see as a possibility who you might be really").

There's nothing wrong with the former implications. There's nothing wrong with any  of them. We're naturally curious. We want to know. We want to know why. Yet where our natural curiosity falls short of what it really takes to transform our lives, is that no matter what understanding we have about the way we are, no matter how many explanations we come up with, none put our fingers and hands and feet on the dials and levers and pedals  of transformation. Said another way, understanding the explanation of what it takes to drive a car doth not a driver make. Understanding doth not transform  (it may reveal a car clearer but the driver remains the same).

Considering what may be the authentic access to transformation, requires critical distinctions which unless we discover them for ourselves, will have very little enduring power, and will carry even less enduring value. And their power is especially diminished when they provide understandings and explanations, creating only a kind of a seduction, a mistaken sense ie a warm, fuzzy feeling  that finding out why we ended up being the way we are, is a handle on  (ie is an access to) transformation. This is wherein the trouble lies ie wherein the pitfall  lies: there's no power to transform in an explanation. Explanations satisfy in the domain of intellectual understanding. They don't transform in the domain of direct experience ie in the domain of being. And the way we discover transformation is by discovering being for ourselves.

That's what's required in order to unleash / access the power to transform: you have to discover it for yourself. Oh, more than that: you have to discover what it is to "discover it for yourself". It oftens seems colloquially (ie without rigor) that transformation occurs in the same arena as a right  - like this: "All human beings have a right to transformation" (my fictitious quote is as an example of a right / entitlement that's assigned  to us). I'm sorry, but no one has the right  to transformation. We get it when we discover it and distinguish it for ourselves. That's why this is not in the constitution  like an entitlement, nor is it in the declaration of human rights like a right. Inscribing transformation in the constitution and / or in the declaration of human rights wouldn't make it any more accessible or experience-able than it is now - more intellectually palatable maybe, but not more directly experience-able. Discovering it for yourself makes transformation directly experience-able. That's powerful.

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© Laurence Platt - 2020 Permission