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

Vintage Erhard

Napa Valley, California, USA

October 6, 2005

Transformation By Definition

My first definitive, beyond any shadow of doubt, proof in the pudding, "This is it!"  experience of transformation in the fourth weekend of August 1978 called me to share the experience. It was using me as my life was given by it, so I looked for an effective definition of it. The one I favored at first was this one by Werner Erhard:


Transformation is the space  in which the event  "transformation" occurs.


Vintage Erhard. It's brilliant. I like it. I love it, in fact. It's what's known as a tautology  ie when something is defined in terms of itself. To speak tautologicallly  (if you will) is almost always a no no. And yet when it comes to transformation, there's no other implement of language quite as fitting, quite as a match for the job as a tautology.

When sharing transformation with my family and friends at first, I hadn't yet mastered languaging the tautological definition. So I was not effective in sharing transformation by definition  other than to convey a hint of transformation, and a vague hint at best. To be sure, where I was coming from  when I shared transformation by definition was the power, freedom, and magic of transformation. So they knew something was up with Laurence!  That much was unavoidable. They knew something had shifted big time. So did I! They sat, enraptured, listening to my admittedly too cerebral, too intellectual definition of the experience which had transformed my life. Although they got it viscerally anyway, you can't, after all, describe something in terms of itself to people who haven't yet had the experience of that something itself in the first place - not unless you've mastered languaging it as a tautology.

And so I happened on another definition of transformation, also by Werner, which I personally liked better and found more appropriate to my personal style of sharing. That's the way it is with definitions. They're like screwdrivers. You don't need to explain why  a particular screwdriver is best for a particular job. If it works you use it. And if it breaks you get another one.

This definition is:


Transformation is being in a conversation for transformation. When you are no longer in a conversation for transformation, you are no longer transformed.


Vintage Erhard. Just as brilliant, if not more so. In bringing forth transformation as a conversation for transformation, many of the distinctions which by now are bastions of conversations for transformation and which are now included by osmosis in common language (and in our world, language is the coin of the realm) are epitomized by the phrase "Vintage Erhard".

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


of high quality and lasting value, or showing the best and most typical characteristics of a particular type of thing, especially from the past

To create anything, to create creating, you first have to distinguish you, the creator, as distinct from the automatic machinery that runs almost every aspect - if not all  aspects - of your life. Without a creator there is no creating. It's all automatic.

In the space of it's all automatic, all you can be at best is at the effect of things. You can change things, fix things, add things, take things away, resist things, dominate things, or avoid being dominated by things. But there's no creating. There's no bringing forth anything new. It's all the same old same old, and (much to our chagrin and sometimes even to our horror) we know that.

Perhaps you know that, and you think no one else does. Perhaps you think everyone else knows the secret, the answer, and you don't. Perhaps - in the space of it's all automatic - you can't believe this is all there is. But whatever it is and however it shows up for you, without a you the creator, that's pretty much it: automatic and continuing on and on at this petty pace (as William Shakespeare may have said), taking you along with it whether you're a willing passenger on the ride, or not. Vintage Erhard.

Enter You - Front And Center Stage

Who is (if you will) the you  in the matter of your own life? Living effectively, living prosperously, living richly, even living successfully aren't indicators you  are present or even known. The automatic has been turning all this out for eons - without you  being required. At best it's a crap shoot. At worst it's just survival. You become effective to avoid the domination of the automatic. You become prosperous to not have to confront the automatic. You get rich to not have to face the automatic. You even become successful to not have to deal with the automatic. You become effective ... because you are afraid of it. You become prosperous ... because you are afraid of it. You get rich ... because you are afraid of it. You even become successful ... because you are afraid of it.

Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong  with any of that. I'm saying if there's no distinction you  in the matter of your own life, then it's all  automatic. An automatic life isn't a transformed life. An untransformed life is not worth living. Vintage Erhard.

So who then exactly is the you  in the matter of your own life? Who is the you  who speaks "I"? According to Buddhists and others, you'll come back ie reincarnate many lifetimes, perhaps thousands of lifetimes ... or so they say  ... until you get who you  are.

Try this on for size: who you  are, essentially, is the languager  of the distinction the automatic. That's the created tautology ie defining you  in terms of yourself. That's bringing forth ie creating you. And creating is simply a matter of distinguishing.

You won't get anything from this distinction. You can't use it. You can't sell it. You can't trade it to survive. It won't make anything better, and (worse) it won't change anything. Not one god‑damned  thing. But if you're listening, you may get nothing  from this distinction. That's real wealth. Then you own it all. All  of it. And with everything, anything is possible.

Vintage Erhard.

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