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

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Thrice-Born People II

Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, Napa, California, USA

November 16, 2021



"In his great work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, the American philosopher and psychologist William James identified two very different kinds of person: the 'once-born' and the 'twice-born' man.

The once-born man appears to fit effortlessly into a 'rectilinear or one-storied' conception of the universe of our experience. For him everything is as it seems, and the values of this life are calculated in pluses and minuses. Happiness and satisfaction consist in living on the 'plus side' of the account, rather than on the minus, or debit, side. Such a man will, in the course of growing up, experiment with, dabble at, religions and disciplines; he will decorate his life with them; but he will not become absorbed by them. Such things will not be central to him.

The twice-born man, the 'homo-religiosus' or 'homo-philosophicus', experiences reality differently. For him, as James writes, 'the world is a double-storied mystery. Peace cannot be reached by the simple addition of pluses and elimination of minuses from life. Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient, there lurks a falsity in its very being. ... It gives no final balance, and can never be the thing intended for our lasting worship. It keeps us from our real good ... and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in the direction of the truth'. To achieve satisfaction and happiness one must see the falsity of the one-storied world - one must 'die to it' - and be born again with new values that transcend those of the first world.

The Werner Erhard who is known today is obviously a twice-born - or perhaps even a 'thrice-born' man."
... Professor William Warren Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in the account titled "Twice Born" in the chapter called "Quest" in part II, "Education", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"
This essay, Thrice-Born People II, is the companion piece to It is also the sequel to Thrice-Born People.




So ... thrice-born people, eh? (that's what this is about). What exactly is it to be "thrice-born" Laurence? What does that even mean?

Clearly we've all been born - moreover, you've been born once*  for sure, yes? (you're reading this, so there can be no argument about that). All of us (every human being who's ever trod the face of this Earth, every human being living on it now, every human being yet to come) was / is / will be born ie are all "once-born". That may sound like a patronizingly obvious (if not naïve) point to make. To be sure, it's one that's hiding in plain sight. Yet it's a point that's useful to make in order to flesh out what it is that distinguishes being "thrice-born".

Now, some people have subsequently shared an experience of what they've characterized as a separate higher power  (separate from themselves, that is), and how they've developed a relationship with that higher power, indeed how they've acknowledged that higher power by saying it empowers them and their lives. Furthermore, they'll say that when that higher power began empowering them and their lives, they were born again  ie "twice-born". They say they were "born again" into that relationship. They say they were "born again" as newly empowered once-born people, now twice-born.

All of the above tersely distinguishes being "born" ie once-born, then being "born again" ie twice-born. What then could "thrice-born" refer to? In fleshing out the distinction, I'll ante up with "thrice-born" as the possibility of being "born again again", and at the same time I'll also ante up with being "thrice-born" as simply being transformed  (in the latter, they're interconnected like a possibility). I assert it's simply what we call being transformed that's conveyed in our languaging of being "born again again" ie of being "thrice-born". But: born again again into what?  And: born again again as  what? (and what does that  even mean?).

Key, principally, and pragmatically among both the born again again "into" and the born again again "as", is the granting of being to context  by the thrice-born. Consider that the once-born may not have gotten context. Consider that the twice-born may not have gotten context either - and if they have, it's more than likely a context in which both they and the (separate) higher power (notice a dichotomy) show up. Now watch: context for the thrice-born, is  who they really are. It's the space in which their empowerd selves, and the higher power, and everything in life, and Life itself all show up - everything, the entire gamut of all contents, indeed the entire showing  of it all, occurs in the context of who they really are (and this time, notice there's no dichotomy).

Born as who we (think we) are, born again into the possibility of a higher power empowering who we (think we) are, born again again into the possibility of context as who we really are (in which who we think we are, and a higher power, both show up), is the trifecta  genesis of this distinction. So it becomes axiomatic to say that the thrice-born ie the "born again again" have gotten context as who they really are. Getting context as who you really are in which everything (your life, living, Life itself, and a higher power) shows up, is what it is to be thrice-born / born again again - or, spoken in the language of these Conversations For Transformation, it's simply what it is to be transformed. We could say that being thrice-born fulfills / completes both being born and being born again - and not necessarily in that order.

That's just what's so. Be careful: it's not better  being thrice-born / born again again, than it is being twice-born / born again, or once-born / born. It's a distinction.


* The intention of this conversation is to flesh out the distinction "thrice-born people", so it deliberately doesn't touch on the similar sounding yet unrelated concept of reincarnation  which I don't require when making the distinction.


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