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




When New Ideas Get Old

Umpqua Bank, Napa, California, USA

April 23, 2018

"The truth believed is a lie." ... 
"Distinctions have a short half-life, and need to be recreated from time to time." ... 
"Who you mean when you say 'I' is not you. It's just something that shows up for you." ... 
This essay, When New Ideas Get Old, is the companion piece to It is also the sequel to the sixth trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Breakfast With The Master VI: Doo-Wop, Coffee, And Intention
  2. Breakfast With The Master VI II: Cherish These Days
  3. Breakfast With The Master VI III: Forwarding The Fulfillment
in that order.

It is also the prequel to I am indebted to Eliezer Sobel who inspired this conversation.




Like old clothes which were once tailored and now no longer fit, when new ideas get old it's time to let them go.

The impact of transformation in peoples' lives is apparent especially if you listen people share the way Werner's work lands for them. Werner's work ie transformation, is arguably one of the most powerful experiences (if not the  most powerful experience) to be had in life. When anything has had (and ongoingly has) an impact on us and makes a difference in our lives, we want to hold on to it. That's very human. We say "It's a keeper", yes? We put it in a silver box  (euphemistically speaking).

There's a certain discrete wisdom which goeswith  putting experiences in silver boxes (as Alan Watts may have said). It's the wisdom of distinguishing that which is valuable to us, then keeping it. But there's also a pitfall in doing so, and especially in doing so with the ideas of transformation. Transformation (which is to say the experience which brings forth the onset of transformation) pivots wholly and in part on our willingness to entertain new ideas. Entertaining new ideas in the rich body of ideas which is Werner's work, is central to the experience of transformation. And because the experience is so powerful and so valuable, we'll hold on to its ideas - which on the face of things, doesn't seem like a bad idea.

But beware the trap inherent in that very natural tendency. By holding on to the powerful ideas of transformation, we risk having even them become rote, passé, and stale. The power they once had, is diminished. They devolve into jargon. I'd like to explore with you, the wisdom in letting them go ("What?!")  especially when you're no longer questioning them. Listen: questioning the ideas of transformation, you could say, is  transformation. More than that, there's a very, very real likelihood that at some point, even those ideas which were once essential  to bringing about transformation, will be superseded by other newer ideas. These newer ideas which have come about courtesy the preceding ideas, effectively render the earlier ideas less urgent, possibly even no longer as effective. And listen: "less urgent and no longer as effective" will inevitably also be the fate of the newer, more powerful ideas if they aren't also ongoingly questioned and recreated.

Here are two examples which illustrate where I find myself from time to time, when I'm forced to confront the erstwhile unthinkable: letting go of ideas which once were the bastions ie the foundations  of my thinking.

The first is when, in the light of new scientific discoveries (in our scenario, in the light of new neuro-scientific discoveries), existing factual accuracy  is challenged, and even rewritten. Being certain  that the Earth is flat, could be one such example. Faced with the preponderance of scientific evidence to the contrary, I would be willing to let go of what once was a new idea (that the Earth is flat) in favor of a newer one (that the Earth is spherical). Here's a newer idea for you to consider: recently neuro-science offed  a very  sacred cow - to wit, free will. I'm sorry: it's your brain, it's not you (that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion).

The second is when, in Conversations For Transformation in which the coin of the realm is possibility rather than fact, "It is  this way" is superseded by "Maybe  it's this way.". In this scenario, fact  as an idea, even if essential, is relegated (which means it still features, although it's no longer in first  place) in favor of the even more powerful possibility  as an idea. And there's still another cause for letting go of what once were new ideas, a cause even outside of being wary of favoring fact, and instead implying possibility. It's this:

Leveraging new ideas reveals new experiences, and even new ways  of experiencing. These new experiences and new ways of experiencing, in turn reveal newer ideas, rendering the old "new" ideas, out of sync with what's now possible, and even hampering current newer ways of experiencing. That's when it's time to let old ideas which got us to this point, go. Consider my analogy of the space shuttle's external tank:  when the space shuttle reaches its orbiting altitude driven by the fuel in its external tank, the external fuel tank (having served its purpose and being no longer useful) is jettisoned. Forwarding Conversations For Transformation ie forwarding the fulfillment  requires jettisoning old ideas and being open to new ideas, possibly even more than it requires being fluent and facile with the old ones.
Werner Erhard is ruthless  even with his own ideas in this regard. Listen: I say that takes brass. Think about it for a moment: after you've developed not one but many hugely  successful worldwide multi-international businesses which are both wholly and in part based on ideas, you then systematically get rid of (ie no longer use ie unceremoniously drop)  ideas which were once fundamental ie pivotal  in making your businesses great ("Say whut!?"). If you weren't aware that Werner is constantly looking, looking, looking, and sourcing new ideas 24 / 7 / 365, and relentlessly replacing old ideas with newer ones that work better, you would say that's a crazy  way to run businesses (everyone knows  you don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs).

Ideas give traction. Ideas provide leverage. Leveraging Werner's ideas facilitates being open, authentic, real, powerful, effective, loving, kind, fearless, transformed, not to mention it forwards the fulfillment. Being around Werner, you notice he challenges his own ideas relentlessly to ensure they're staying effective. And if they aren't staying effective, or if they can be upgraded and / or replaced with ideas which are even more  effective, he'll not hesitate to drop them from his lexicography. When a familiar idea is dropped from use, it's not consistent with the interests of full disclosure to aver "We don't say  that anymore.". What's closer to the truth is "Knowing what we now know, we see there's a more powerful way to say it.". And "a more powerful way to say it" results in a more direct access to transformation. Where we once went from A to B to get to C, if you will ("C" being transformation), we've now discovered a direct-er route from A to C, so we can drop B entirely.

For example: mind. That's the  mind (noun) not "mind the  ..." (verb). And not my  mind or your  mind either: no, it's the  mind ("There is only one!", as the Highlander may have bellowed). When the conversation for transformation included the rigorous dissection titled "Anatomy of the Mind", this was the astonishing laser-scalpel deployed verbatim by Werner to distinguish it: the mind is "a linear arrangement of multi-sensory total records of successive moments of now". It's brilliant. But even that's no reason to keep it around. We've gone from A directly to C. B is no longer necessary. So we've dropped it.

Another example is the ubiquitous "I" and "me". "Wait! Surely  Laurence we must  keep 'I' and 'me' if we're going to converse about who we are? Surely we can't drop 'I' and 'me'???". Perhaps. The trouble with keeping them however, is this: we now know that who you mean when you say "I" or "me", isn't who you are at all. Rather, it's something that just shows up  for you. So if we are  going to converse about who we are, we need to come up with terms that fit better (by the way, "I" / "me" not being who I am, and rather being something that just shows up for me, is one of Werner's later, graduate  distinctions).

Then there's the fabulous earlier "Who I am is the space in which the events of my life show up"  ("Wow!" - just "Wow!"). "Wait: that's out too???". Yes. Here's why:

When I look for that space? You know, that  space in which the events of my life show up? I don't see it anywhere!  Instead what I do  see, is all that which shows up. Werner is tersely distinguishing "all  that which shows up" collectively as "the showing". And maybe that's  who I am: the showing. Maybe I'm all  of it. Maybe.

A word of caution here to the wise: don't get intimidated by being "all of it" as if it's a so-called mystical  concept. In Werner's work, it's just what's so.



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