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


Yesterday's Transformation

San Francisco, California, USA

May 17, 2017



This essay, Yesterday's Transformation, is the second in the fifth trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Whatever Works
  2. Yesterday's Transformation
  3. Billions And Billions Of Stars
in that order.
The first trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Conversation With A Laser
  2. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  3. Secret Agent
in that order.
The second trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  3. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open
in that order.
The third trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Raw Power
  2. It Works Better As A Possibility
  3. Magic At Heart
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care
  2. Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It
  3. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
in that order.


Mostly we associate a "coach" with a sport. A sport's coach coaches you in bringing your focus and your physical strength to your game. But the kind of coach this guy is (you could say) is a being  coach ie an ontological  coach (if you will). He coaches me in presencing my Self  to my life. He doesn't coach me with exercises in a gymnasium and / or out on the gridiron. Rather he coaches me with conversations in a monastery, and it's a sacred  monastery at that - which in our case, happens to be this breakfast diner. There's a certain kind of conversation you can have with a coach, which is to say there's a certain kind of conversation you can have when you're open  to being coached. Said another way, there's a certain kind of conversation you can have when you're being coach-able. I'll call that kind of conversation a coaching conversation  because that's what it is.

It's trivial to say if you're going to have a coaching conversation, you should choose a good coach. What's not so trivial is almost everyone  can be a good coach - which is to say almost everyone has something valuable to offer when you're being coachable  ie when you're open to being coached. In other words, a coaching conversation only secondarily requires a good coach. Primarily it requires your willingness to be coachable.

The man sitting across the table from me, momentarily in silence, slicing into eggs over easy  and an English muffin, has been my being coach for decades. If I broke the bank at Monte Carlo, I could never repay him adequately. For the most part, our coaching conversations have consumed my past incidents / issues. Now if you do that long enough, then given there's only a finite set of past incidents / issues in any one life, more sooner than later there'll be nothing left from the past to which coaching is usefully applied. All past incidents / issues will have been addressed. You're no longer dealing with them. When you're no longer dealing with past incidents / issues, you're free to shape whatever's next for you. That's why an essential component of living life transformed, is completing the past. Then when you're shaping whatever's next for you, you may still have coaching conversations. But now they shape the future, rather than merely complete past incidents / issues.

The waitress brings more coffee. As I pour half and half  into the almost full mug (rotely going through her routine, she's not left enough room), he reminds me that yesterday's transformation is today's ego trip. Mid-pour, I stop and put down the half and half, not wanting to miss something important. This is invaluable  coaching. I've heard it before. I could hear it again. It's one of those nuggets of wisdom of which I can never be reminded enough. He's alerting me to the perniciousness of the silver box syndrome. "Silver box" syndrome? It's a tendency we have to preserve great experiences in silver boxes  (so to speak). Transformation (and each occurrence of it) epitomizes the great experience  category. But beware the tendency to preserve great experiences ie especially  experiences of transformation, in silver boxes. There's nothing that has you ruin transformation sooner, than making it special. There's nothing that has you lose transformation faster, than keeping it preserved.

<aside>

And as paradoxical as it may sound, there's also nothing that has you keep transformation longer, than giving it away (that's vintage Erhard).

<un-aside>

I never did restart pouring the half and half (actually that particular cup went cold before I even noticed I hadn't touched it). Some great ideas are noteworthy because of their perfectly intricate complexity. Others are noteworthy because of their elegance. Still others are noteworthy because they jolt you present to the dogshit reality  we really  live in, arguably the only reality in which authentic, real, thrilling  transformation can show up. This was one such idea: "Yesterday's transformation is today's ego trip.". With nothing to add, I had nothing to do but sit there and look at him ... for what seemed like an eternity - which in reality (ie which in dogshit  reality) was only a few seconds, a few seconds in which entire new worlds come and go. This is the realm in which a transformed life is lived.

<aside>

Notice I said "This is the realm in which a transformed life is lived", not "This is the realm in which a better  life is lived.".

Listen: a transformed life isn't a better  life. It's not like I had my life, and then something happened  and I got transformation, and now I have a better  life. In fact anyone claiming they have a better  life as a result of getting transformation, is a classic example of being unclear on the concept.

No, getting transformation isn't getting a better  life: getting transformation is getting Life  (arguably, whatever you had before transformation, was your version  of life ... but not Life itself). And it's not static: it's always  ongoing, always urgent, always impelling. To put the transformation you got back then, into a silver box instead of always being open newly  to ongoing transformed possibilities, is what it is to turn yesterday's transformation into today's ego trip.

<un-aside>

Then, having completed his dramatic (actually brilliant)  exposition, he pauses for a moment before doing something remarkable, something most people don't ever consider doing: he acknowledges the person from whom he got the idea. He says nonchalantly "That's not my idea, by the way: it's Ray's" (Ray is a mutual friend). "That  is so great!" I think to myself. If he'd not said anything, I'd be none the wiser it wasn't his original idea. The power of an idea is in its sharing. His sharing of the idea was power enough. It could have ended there. But in addition, he shares the integrity he is by crediting the idea's originator. That's  power. And it's integrity.

Extraordinary. Just extraordinary. Yet, knowing him as I do for as long as I have, it's just ordinary for him - about as ordinary as eating eggs for breakfast in a diner.



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© Laurence Platt - 2017 Permission