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

Years Fell From His Face

Frog's Leap, Rutherford, California, USA

June 16, 2014

"Years fell from his face."
... Professor William Warren "Bill" Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in chapter nine called "True Identity" in part III, "Transformation", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"

There are various ways you can relate to "woulda, coulda, shoulda"  - you know, that voice in your head, ever the critic, pontificating on how things ought to be? (not to mention making excuses for your own behavior).

One way is as a judgement, as an assessment, in particular as a complaint about the way things are. It's a complaint coming from a know it all, a smart aleck who's got better ideas for the way the world would be, could be, and should be yet who has no real commitment to implementing improvements (there's more cheese to be gained from complaining than from upgrading). For the most part, this is the attitude "woulda, coulda, shoulda" characterizes. Another way is standing on the platform from which "woulda, coulda, shoulda" speaks for possibility, for creativity with commitment, in particular for creating a future worth living into, for creating a life worth living. Which big person hasn't  looked at the world and imagined the way it could  be ...?

There's an essential difference between these two "woulda, coulda, shoulda"s. The difference is drawn by whether or not they allow for it being OK the way it is  (and OK the way it isn't). It's OK the way it is and it's OK the way it isn't (be careful: that's an experience of immediacy, not a moral opinion). This is Transformation 101. The first "woulda, coulda, shoulda" misses this entirely, and so can only be critical and dissatisfied. The second "woulda, coulda, shoulda" looks to inventing a new future even though  right now, it's OK the way it is and it's OK the way it isn't. Big  difference! Really.

People who are invested in the first "woulda, coulda, shoulda" have a look of being old before their time (listen: it's hard  living life when it isn't OK the way it is ...). Not being congruent with the reality of age in a hard life which is never entirely satisfying, they say things like "You're only as old as you feel.".

Here's the thing about relating to age with "You're only as old as you feel" (or about relating to age with "You're only as young  as you feel" for that matter): it isn't simply that both statements reveal our propensity to use what we feel  (that is to say to use our internal states)  as a tenuous baseline for reality. Rather it's only the statement "You're only as old as you feel" which has any old  in it, just as it's only the statement "You're only as young as you feel" which has any young  in it. Neither "old" nor "young" can be measured accurately by the internal states - in spite of our oftentimes futile insistence on using the internal states as a yardstick for age (or as a yardstick for anything else, for that matter).

In this context, both "old" and "young" are entirely subjective. Internal states simply aren't smart enough  to make accurate age assessments ie age assessments which objectively match perfectly with a clock or a calendar, the true yardsticks for age.

What may have more utility for relating to age ie what may have more pragmatic practicality  for relating to age than "You're only as old as you feel", is the statement "You're only as old as you are.". In other words, "Your age is your age" (in Zen there's ease and freedom, yes?). It's undoubtedly  true your age is your age. But it's more than that actually. It's when you let your age be your age, when you let your age be what it is, when you let your age be what's true, when you let your age be what's so  then leave it alone rather than futz  with it ie rather than kowtow  to the internal states' assessment of old or young, it's likely to make fewer lines on your face (and erase some which are already there).

It's not unusual for people who've recently completed participating in Werner's work for the first time, to be met with an incredulous "There's something about you that's different: you look ... well ... younger  - what happened?".

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