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


Transformed Friendship

Occidental, California, USA

December 4, 2004



This essay, Transformed Friendship, is a component of the supergroup Friend: I am indebted to Katryn Jehane Price who inspired this conversation.



I am the possibility of truth for you. You are the possibility of truth for me. We are the possibility of truth for each other. We are  the possibility of truth.

To be the possibility of truth for me, you speak and share the ordinary events of your life truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. To be the possibility of truth for you, I listen you sharing the ordinary events of your life truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. For the most part, we get what it is to speak truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. But what is the access to truthful, authentic, and fearless listening? Arguably, since we love to be heard, speaking truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly is passe. The steeper part of the equation is to listen  truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly.

In both speaking and listening there's an element of automaticity as well as an element of intention. In an untransformed relationship speaking as sharing is almost all automaticity. In an untransformed relationship listening is almost never intentional. The world grinds into us from a very early age that the truth shouldn't be spoken, and by speaking the truth here I am referring to sharing the ordinary events of our lives truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly.

There's nothing wrong  with speaking the truth per se. Rather, there's a conspiracy not to speak it lest we embarrass ourselves and each other. At least that's the tacit superstition keeping the conspiracy in place. But embarrassment and the conspiracy not to speak the truth isn't a function of speaking, nor is it a function of what we speak about. Embarrassment is a function of how we listen each other. In the space of generous listening, embarrassment is at best a temporary pause in self expression, the breaking through of which literally transforms life.

In an untransformed relationship no space is ever safe enough to share how we are with the ordinary events of life. There's never a space safe enough and there's never a time opportune enough to say what's really going on, what feelings are really running rampant, or what concerns are really driving our everyday actions. Actually it's worse than that: we are that if we don't say anything about our concerns at all, maybe they'll just go away and leave us alone, leaving us freed from the onus of having to be responsible.

So what then is  the access to truthful, authentic, and fearless listening? First I notice I never  listen truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. When I notice that, I can be willing to listen the unvarnished and unembellished truth. Then, in responding dispassionately, I forgo manipulating the outcome. I forgo listening with no other ulterior motive other than to listen. I forgo my concern about looking bad (as well as my concern, by the way, about looking good).

What speaking and listening like that provides is the space for something to show up that would ordinarily not be possible without that kind of courage. What shows up is true affinity - not merely familiarity with another but rich, thrilling, nurturing affinity which is the recognition of and reveling in another's humanity, not because they're special, different, or have an interesting story to tell, but rather because as human beings, the issues and concerns of our lives on a personal level are pretty much the same for everyone. And until transformation is rehabilitated in that domain, we develop being special, we develop being different, and we embellish our stories in order to hide our ordinariness. In fact, it could be said the only really special ones among us are those who are willing to share their ordinariness.

Paradoxically, from a foundation of being ordinary comes the miracle of inventing who we are, not like an identity nor like a set of concerns or even like a finely tuned scripted story but rather like a possibility, a stand for the future, an intention to be.

Transformed Friendship is the possibility of you and I being together out of the possibilities we've invented ourselves to be rather than out of our tired old complaints, stories, and rackets.

Transformed Friendship is the possibility of honoring our tired old complaints, stories, and rackets so that they transform and disappear rather than become exchanged for who we really are.

Transformed Friendship is the possibility of who we really are being all that's required to be in relationship. We qualify to be in relationship simply because we're alive. There's no other agenda, no other requirement, no other admission ticket.



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