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 What It Means To Be!

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

November 24, 2009



"The physical universe is my guru."  ...   answering the question "Many people have a guru. Who is your guru?" 
This essay, This Is What It Means To Be!, is the third in an open group Conversations With A Friend:
  1. Privilege At Daybreak In The Battle Between Good And Evil
  2. Future Perfect
  3. This Is What It Means To Be!
  4. Empty Cup
  5. Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes
  6. The Sound Of Your Voice
  7. Conversations With A Friend VII
so far, in that order.

It is also the companion piece to Projector.

It is also the sequel to Nothing Out There, Nothing In Here.

It was written at the same time as Nothing Out There, Nothing In Here.




Everyone has an idea of what it takes or of what it would be like  to be wonderful with people.

I assert every person who walks Planet Earth today, who's ever walked Planet Earth in the past, and who'll ever walk Planet Earth in the future has an idea of what it takes or of what it would be like to be wonderful with people.

Our weaknesses and our strengths, our challenges and our gifts, our vices and our virtues in their combinations and permutations, being almost infinite, render each person unique. So it's conceivable each person may have a unique outlook on just about anything. But if you asked each person (and when I say each  person, I'm speaking about the entire population of Planet Earth, past, present, and future) what human qualities it takes to be wonderful  with people, I suspect the consensus would fall within the same predictable very small set of parameters for everyone, the billions and billions and billions  of us human beings.

You're wonderful with people. Period. If you go to the dictionary and you look up "wonderful with people", your photograph should appear there - right beside the entry for "wonderful with people". Really.

There's no chit-chat  or gossip with you. Neither is there any (pardon my French) bullshit  with you. Most if not all the conversations I'm ever in lapse into chit-chat and gossip at some point - sometimes more than once, sometimes many  times. And what I notice about the point at which they lapse into chit-chat and gossip is it occurs exactly when I stop being authentic. While it's not true talk per se  is cheap, we human beings are certainly adept at cheapening talk. And we cheapen talk because in the ordinary course of events, we don't have it that talk counts.

But with you, it's not merely that talk counts. With you, every single word  counts. No, it's more than that actually: every single god-damned syllable  counts with you. The entire conversation with you is on purpose, and it's in the wake of (or, better, in the face  of) its on-purpose-ness  that I discover (I mean, really  discover) who I really am. I get to be authentic when I'm around you not even because I be authentic as a way of being around you, but rather because that's how I'm called to be  when I'm around you. I'm called to be  authentic when I'm around you because that's how you are with me, because that's how you are with people. You're wonderful  with people.

Is this what it means to be?  I wonder. You're forthcoming with your answer. You suggest some people identify with their mental state, with their emotions, with their thoughts. For them, feeling and thinking  is what it means to be. They view themselves, with respect to their body, as "in here".

That's very generous, I think. No, not your suggestion that some people view themselves, with respect to their body, as "in here" per se. By generous I'm referring to you saying only some  people identify with their mental state, with their emotions, with their thoughts. If it were me, I'd say you've pegged me perfectly accurately for starters, along with about another 99.99999% of the human race.

Yet for you, there's no being "in here". That's not what it means for you to be. For you, there's only being "in the world". For you, there's no separation between "being"  and "the world". "Being", and the world we respond to, the world we react to, are correlated, to the degree that there's not really any "me and  the world" - there's only "me in  the world". There's not really any being "in here". There's only being in the world "out there". You suggest when I'm being "out there"  in the world, I'm being the clearing in which all  the world shows up. And this  is what it means to be!

I pause to let what you're saying sink in. Then I ask you "If I'm the clearing in which all the world shows up, how do I make myself  available ie how do I make the clearing  available? In other words, how do I interact at the level of clearing.".

That's when you remind me of something I've known for a while now, yet because of the distinction's short half life, I suddenly discover I'm not still currently facile  with it, although I once was. What you remind me of is this: what occurs in the clearing, in fact what occurs as  the clearing, is accessible through language.

The silence is thick. I don't want it to end.

If I say "You're right", that suggests I'm saying it's your point of view you're being right about. But you're not being  right about your point of view. You're simply speaking what you're seeing. And I concur with the accuracy of what you speak you're seeing - at least, after a few moments of consideration, I concur.

I could also harumph  to myself "I could have spoken that.". Except I didn't speak it. You did. And I'm totally OK with acknowledging that. About you. The spirit wants only that there be speaking. As for who happens to actually speak, in that he has only a passing interest (as Rainer Maria Rilke may have said).

The conversation ranges through and touches on a broad array of topics in a context of being both very serious, yet also as if I'm flying alone with you in a Piper Cherokee 6  over gorgeous countryside with nothing pressing, nothing interfering, nothing getting in the way of us simply being together and enjoying the view.

Sometimes, transformation aside, I'm awkward and uncomfortable in social situations, and I request your coaching. I expect you'll have something to say about it, and you do. What I don't  expect is you'll have something to say about being awkward and uncomfortable in social situations from your own experience  of being awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. Your coaching isn't, shall we say, traditional. You suggest I consider the "I"  I think I am, the "I"  who says he's awkward and uncomfortable in social situations, isn't who I really am anyway. You suggest I consider being a clearing for the "I"  I think I am in social situations, to show up, rather than being the "I"  I think I am who says he's awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. Smiling, I say "Of course ..."  to myself, and pencil an x  in the left margin of the item on my list.

Being around you, as people have been around you in great numbers now for nearly forty years, many things you've said have been heard, whose value may not immediately be apparent, Then, when gotten perhaps years or even decades  later, a lightbulb comes on. I share two of them for me with you.

One is the notion of deadly distractions I got from you. Deadly distraction are, on many occasions, innocuous ways of being, like joking around or making flip  comments, or perhaps more devious ways of being, like trading transformation for success. They're deadly  because the cost, in the expediency of the moment, is presence of Self  is compromised. The other is your way of looking at God, your way of looking at God a question  rather than as an answer, your way of looking at God as a possibility  rather than as a thing. It's the kind of extraordinary point of view which inspires both lay people and the clergy. You say "Laurence, I said both of those a long  time ago.". It's true. You did. But this isn't testimony to my good memory. Rather, it's testimony to how long the validity of your conversation(s) endures.

But just as surely, when I ask you to clarify something you said a while back, if you didn't say it, you say you didn't say it. I ask you about a quote attributed to you on a popular website. You say you didn't say it. You say it seems like it was made up using things sounding like what you might  have said. I agree. Like a counterfeit banknote, it has some accurate attributes. But it's not the real deal. Close, but no cigar. And it'll only cause trouble if it's not taken out of circulation.

I share the future I'm living into given by the space of our relationship. I share commitments and responsibilities I've taken on in my private life for the next two years, after which the future is wide open, and I don't know what I'll be doing then, but whatever it is, I want the future to be with you, and I have literally no idea  what it will look like.

There's a pregnant pause in our conversation. Then you say "Let's see what it looks like when we get there.".

The silence is thick. I don't want it to end.



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