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
Reposted August 14, 2020

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 in 1978, called me to share the experience. It began using me. My life became given by it. So I looked for an effective definition of it. The one I first liked was this one by Werner Erhard:




, for which the punctuation (including the italics) suggests the correct spoken emphasis. It's vintage Erhard. It's brilliant. I like it (I love it, in fact). It's what's known as a tautology. A tautology is when something is defined in terms of itself. To speak tautologicallly  (if you will) is almost always a no-no. Yet when it comes to transformation, there's no implement of language quite as fitting, quite as much a match for the task at hand, as a tautology ie something defined in terms of itself.

When sharing transformation with my family and friends for the first time, I hadn't yet mastered languaging Werner's tautological definition. So I wasn't effective in sharing transformation by definition  other than to convey a hint of its definition (and a vague hint at best) intellectually. 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  (actually, so did I - as they sat, enraptured, listening to my admittedly too cerebral, too intellectual definition of the experience which had transformed my life). And 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 (or not unless they've already got it, and you've mastered languaging it as a tautology).

And so I happened on a newer definition of transformation, also by Werner, which I personally liked better, and found more appropriate to my personal style of sharing: it spoke to me  clearly, so I could speak it  clearly. That's the way it is with definitions (any definition). Definitions are 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.

The newer definition is:




It's also vintage Erhard - just as brilliant, if not more so than the first one. In bringing forth transformation itself 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 really mostly unacknowledged vintage Erhard ideas.

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 our lives. Without the possibility of you the creator, there's no authentic creating. Then it's all automatic. To be sure, the automatic can change  things, but it can't bring forth something new from nothing, which is what's required to truly create.

In the space of it's all automatic, all we can be at best, is at the effect of things. We can change things, fix things, add things, take things away, resist things, dominate things, or avoid being dominated by things. But there's no authentic creating - which is to say there's no bringing forth anything new from nothing. It's all the same old same old, only re-arranged, and (much to our chagrin and sometimes even to our horror) we know that and (what's worse) we're stuck with it.

Without a you the creator, it's pretty much all automatic, continuing on and on at this petty pace (as William Shakespeare may have said), taking us along with it whether we're a willing passenger on the ride, or not (which, by the way, is derived from another vintage Erhard idea: that you can sit in the front seat enjoying the ride, or be dragged along behind the rollercoaster).

Enter You - Front And Center Stage

Who (or what, if you will) is the "you" in the matter of a person's life? And: is it present?  Living effectively, living prosperously, living richly, even living successfully aren't indicators the authentic you is present or even known. The automatic has been turning all this out for eons - without anyone's intervention being required. At best, life is a crap shoot. At worst, it's just survival. So we become effective in order to survive the tyranny of the automatic. We become prosperous in order to not have to confront the automatic. We aspire to become rich in order to not be dominated by the automatic. We become successful to not have to deal with the automatic. We fear the automatic. We become effective ... because we fear it. We become prosperous ... because we fear it. We aspire to be rich ... because we fear it. We aspire to be successful ... because we fear it. The notion that we, untransformed, at the heart of it all fear the automatic, is vintage Erhard.

Look: there's nothing wrong with any of that. It's just a fact that if there's no authentic you in the matter of your own life, then it's all  automatic. And an automatic life isn't a transformed life, and an untransformed life isn't worth living - another vintage Erhard idea harkening to Socrates' "The unexamined  life is not worth living.".

So who (or what)  exactly then is the you in the matter of your own life? Who is the you who speaks "I / me"? According to Buddhists and others, we'll come back ie reincarnate many lifetimes, perhaps thousands of lifetimes ... or so they say  ... until we get who we really are. That's a daunting option ... especially so, given the mere days (not lifetimes) Werner's work requires to deliver the same distinction.

Try this on for size: who you are essentially, is the languager  of the distinction "the automatic". That's one way of many of distinguishing who you are. It's a created tautology ie defining you in terms of yourself. It brings forth ie it creates you (creating, it would seem, is simply a matter of distinguishing).

There's no power to manipulate in this distinction. You can't sell it. You can't trade it to survive. It won't make anything better. Worse, it won't fix the anything - not one god‑damned  thing. But if you're listening, if you're trying it on, you may get being empty  from it. And that's real wealth. Then you own the context for it all, with which anything becomes possible. Oh, and who you are, being "being empty"? It's another construct fundamental to ie axiomatic  to many vintage Erhard ideas.

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