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


What's Possible With Transformation?*

Soscol Avenue, Napa, California, USA

April 27, 2024

"The use of force is the negation of power. The person you refer to when you say 'I', that person's weapon is force. Whatever you are other than the thing called 'I', that's power."
"There's a theme running through the work of transformation: having power in the face of the circumstances life throws at you."
... Landmark Forum Leader
"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same)."
... Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
This essay, What's Possible With Transformation?, is the twenty fourth in an open group on Possibility: It was written at the same time as On Letting All The Studied Materials Go.

I am indebted to Larry Pearson who inspired this conversation.

We could say that looking  at what's possible in a set of circumstances, isn't powerful. We could say that looking at what's possible only taps into what's already known. Instead, asking the question / inquiring  "What's possible here?" brings forth the domain of what's not already known. So looking at what's possible, by its very nature, engenders statements about what's already known, whereas inquiring "What's possible here?" brings forth what's not already known ie the domain of that with which we're unfamiliar. The former, looking, sees the same old same old  domain couched in the vernacular of possibility, but with no access to real possibility. The latter, questioning / inquiring into what's possible / engaging  with it, not merely looking at it, is an access to real possibility. Bringing forth real possibility is a linguistic act. But it's gotta be an act that's a question not a statement. It just works that* way. I see that now.

And thereby hangs a tale, the short, blunt, terse version of which, is that any inquiry which brings forth that which isn't already known, has the potential to bring forth power - real power, not mere force. Power over the circumstances life throws at us, is unleashed by ie "goeswith"  (as Alan Watts says) inquiring into what's possible ie into what not now known, could become possible. To delve into the realm of what's not now known ie to inquire into our blind spots  is to essentially rewrite (or at least to commit to begin rewriting) the unseen choke-hold our epistemology has on our lives. When we attempt to apply force to the circumstances life throws at us, in an attempt to change (or to free ourselves from) the choke-hold they have on our lives, it simply adds shrapnel to the hand grenades. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"  says Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Consider this: force may only change some circumstances, whereas real power can transform how we are  with any of the circumstances life throws at us.

Here's the next critical piece of the puzzle in this view of things: the entry point into this conversation for possibility  (if you will) is arguably transformation. With the onset of transformation, possibility itself becomes possible. "Wait! 'Possibility itself  becomes possible'? What does that even mean, Laurence?".

It's with the advent of / the onset of transformation that I get to appreciate (arguably for the first time) that the way I've always considered myself to be, isn't "It's just the way I am"  - rather it's merely "That's just one of the ways  I be.". The way I really  am, isn't pre-set. It's malleable, creatable. It's up for grabs. One of the key insights which come with the work of transformation, is that the way we really are, isn't fixed. And any seemingly fixed way of being carried over from prior to the onset of transformation, turns out to be not really fixed after all. The way we are, not being fixed, can be created / invented in just about unlimited possible ways. Possibility itself has taken front and center stage. Possibility itself has become possible  - not like a new choice that's now possible in an old set of options, but rather like a totally fresh way of being in a domain in which there aren't limits to / constraints on what's possible.

It needs to be underlined that possibility becoming possible, makes available new ways of being. Inventing the possibility of having good health, is a new choice in an old set of options - whereas inventing the possibility of being healthy  is a totally fresh way of being in a domain in which there aren't limits to / constraints on what's possible. So it's always "The possibility of being  ..." not "The possibility of having  ...". That's what's possible with transformation.

* The title of this essay originally came to me as "What's Possible With Transformation". Then when I looked again, I noticed it had morphed  into "What's Possible With Transformation?". That lowly question mark at the end had been missing. One small correction. One giant difference.

And look: it's gotta  be a question not a statement. I see that now.

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