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


Through A Veil Brightly

Monticello Road, Napa Valley, California, USA

March 6, 2012



"To live outside the law, you must be honest." ... Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan



Transformation is holographic. Each piece is the whole. The whole is each piece. While pieces of the whole may have some isolated use or hold interest in and of themselves, the full power and magic of transformation is most potent when all of it  is in play all at once.

Certain ways of viewing the world become critical accesses to transformation, just as certain conversations  become critical accesses to transformation. One of these critical accesses to transformation, for example, is viewing the world as empty  and meaningless. This particular view isn't, as is sometimes erroneously supposed, a justification for ennui, apathy, and lawlessness. Instead it's an opportunity for enormous freedom and creativity.

A friend of mine (who's not a graduate of Werner's work - which is neither a bad thing nor a good thing: it simply sets the stage for this conversation) heard a piece  of the distinction empty and meaningless without hearing the other  piece about freedom and creativity, leaving him only with ennui, apathy, and lawlessness. He used this to make the possibility of transformation (and with it, Werner's work) wrong.

The time we had in conversation wasn't long enough for me to deliver, in depth and completely, the entire distinction empty and meaningless for him. Actually the intellectual  component of this distinction can be delivered quite quickly - it's the experiential  component which takes time. So I looked for a way to make clear for him what was missing, without which he'd only get ennui, apathy, and lawlessness from empty and meaningless - which would not only be next to useless for him but would really be counterproductive and even damaging to his future listening for Werner's work.

Fortunately (for both of us) I came up with something apropos  to say before my time with him ran out. I asked him to consider the way empty and meaningless sounds when considered purely as a concept  - in other words, when who he really is  isn't in the picture. Then I asked him to consider the way empty and meaningless sounds as an experience  - in other words, when who he really is is fully in the picture.

Now, we all already know who we really are can never not  be fully in the picture. But it sure feels like it sometimes, doesn't it? If it never felt like it sometimes, we'd never have a feeling of alienation, we'd never have a feeling of ennui, we'd never have a feeling of apathy, yes? I asked him to consider without who he really is fully in the picture, without presence of Self  brought to bear on empty and meaningless, that yes, ennui, apathy, and lawlessness would be a corollary of empty and meaningless. Indeed, if presence of Self isn't brought to bear on empty and meaningless, then ennui, apathy, and lawlessness would actually be high  states. But with who he really is fully in the picture, with presence of Self brought to bear on empty and meaningless, empty and meaningless becomes an awesome  opportunity, awesome enough to keep him up late at night and drive him out of bed early in the morning.

We were at a point in the conversation when we were inquiring into whether laws are rendered "optional" if they're quote unquote  "meaningless". We were inquiring into whether natural  laws (such as gravity) carry the same weight as man made  laws (such as driving within the speed limit). I asked him what the difference might be. He said he can't walk away from natural laws like gravity but he can walk away from man made laws and not be noticed - ie in the case of exceeding the speed limit, he can drive  away and not be noticed.

So ... he thinks he can walk away from man made laws and not be noticed?! This, I thought with a wry grin, isn't a guy who's ever been divorced ...

Even the possibility for argument's sake (remember, he wasn't a graduate) there's no meaning in Life other than the meaning we ascribe to Life, doesn't allow for lawlessness. The fact that it's empty and meaningless, the fact that it doesn't mean anything that it's empty and meaningless, and the fact that it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't mean anything  that it's empty and meaningless (if you make it mean something, that's just more arrogance), isn't a license to break the law(s) with impunity. Transformation doesn't provide a way of avoiding any laws, natural or man made. Nor does transformation provide a way out of the consequences  of breaking any laws, a way of getting off the hook  of the consequences of breaking any laws, natural or man made. If anything, transformation provides just the opposite: a way of taking on all  laws, natural and man made, with integrity.

Now, are  all laws empty and meaningless? Yes of course  they are. But be careful! Be very  careful where you go next with this line of thought. Laws mean whatever we make them mean  ... which doesn't  mean they can be ignored or diminished or disrespected. By agreement  we follow and obey laws. And yes you did  make an agreement to follow and obey both natural and man made laws. You made this agreement by being born  into this species in this civilization on this planet. Gee! I hope you get that ...

As I look through the veil  of laws I abide by as a human being, I see I can hold them as restrictive, constraining, and limiting. But they only appear restrictive, constraining, and limiting if who I really am isn't present in my relationship with them. Once who I really am is present in my replationship with laws, once I regard my interaction with all laws, natural or man made, with a bright presence of Self, then I can honor all laws, allow  for all laws, be subject  to all laws, and yet not be limited by any of them.

With that, something clicked  for my friend. No further explanation was necessary. He didn't ask or say anything. But he didn't have  to ask or say anything. I knew he got something, something which came with a new measure of freedom for his life as a human being in the world.



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