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


Zen Garden

B Wise Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, California, USA

August 8, 2021


Davies Vineyards, St Helena, California, USA

October 23, 2021

"Of all the disciplines that I studied, practiced, learned, Zen was the essential  one. It was not so much an influence on me; rather, it created space. It allowed those things that were there to be there. It gave some form to my experience. And it built up in me the critical mass from which was kindled the experience that produced est. Although the est  training is not Zen, nor even anything like it, some features of est  resonate with Zen teaching and practice. It is entirely appropriate for persons interested in est  to be interested also in Zen."
sharing his experience of Zen with Professor William Warren "Bill" Bartley III, Werner's official biographer, in intersection 4 "Zen", in chapter seven called "Quest" in part II, "Education", of "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"
"The hissing of summer lawns ..."
... Joni Mitchell
"The easy, rhythmic creaking of a garden swinging-couch ..."
... Laurence Platt
"Being is enough. That things are  is exquisite for me."
... Laurence Platt recreating  
This essay, Zen Garden, is the companion piece to Zen Gardener.

It is also the twenty first in an open group on Zen:

It's inviting - period - this Zen garden. That's my accurate second articulation of how it occurs. In my first take on it, there was a "me" in there: it was "It's inviting me.". Soon I get no, that's not it: it's not personal. It's just ... inviting. What its invitation is saying, is simply "Come sit here ... come be  here" with no "me" in it. Then I get no, that's not it either: there's also no "here" in it. What this Zen garden is offering is "Come sit ... come be.". That's  its simple, spartan, austere beckoning.

Photography by Laurence Platt

B Wise Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, California, USA

1:35:01pm PDT Sunday August 8, 2021 Zen Garden
Accepting its invitation (how could I not?) I walk over to a swinging-couch, positioned exactly for optimum viewing. When I sit my body down on it, it creaks as if in a welcome. The thought occurs to me "A person speaks a welcome; a swinging couch in a Zen garden creaks it; speaking / creaking, is in the listening.". There's nothing to do but swing slowly to and fro, to and fro. As I do, I'm looking - just looking. That's all that's going on. Then (as if by magic) the looking stops, replaced by a letting be  ie a space in which all Zen gardens, all worlds, and Life itself show up.

There's a breeze. At first I don't feel it. Then I do: it's a slight movement of warm, bone-dry air on my skin. It's not a distraction. Rather, it occurs to me as a punctuation  in this Zen garden's paragraph (if you will). It's a breeze that occurs to me as still  (that's a paradox: breezes have movement, yet this one occurs as still). Uh oh! I find myself trying to explain it. Then, noticing I'm explaining, and the distraction it is from being, I stop. I get the anomaly, reverently loving it.

A butterfly flies past. As it does, I have the thought "A butterfly flutters by  ...". Nice, very nice - whimsy  even. Briefly I'm absorbed in wondering what it's doing here, where it's going. Catching myself, I smile at the automaticity  of it: butterflies have no agenda, Laurence! I laugh: I'd just added "There's gotta  be an agenda" the same way as I pour ketchup on my eggs. No, it's just being a butterfly in a Zen Garden fluttering by. And by. And by. And by. I thank it profusely for coaching me (it doesn't register). Soon it disappears behind a lavender bush by a bronze Buddha.

Then there are birds calling, adding more punctuation. There are whistles. There are warbles. There's even hooting. Intrigued, I try my best imitations in response, as if in conversation with them. Whatever they "say" I echo back, wondering whether they'll continue to engage. They do! So I try sounds they didn't make. Will they mimic me back? They do  ... as if we're in a communion. At first I'm not sure it's really happening: if I'm simply imitating / mimicking them, who would know? But when I make subtle changes in my responses and they echo those, I know. It's extraordinary. This Zen garden's a context for speech: when one syllable alters, they all  alter.

And then there's the quiet  ... the quiet ... behind and around all the sounds. But this isn't your usual quiet. We designate the usual quiet as a "dead" quiet. This  quiet isn't that - it's anything but that. Yes it's quiet. But it's an "alive" quiet. Here in this Zen garden, its an alive quiet, punctuated by the easy, rhythmic creaking of this old swinging-couch on which I'm sitting, that indicates unerringly / demonstrates inexorably who I am / who we are as the context for it all. Zen's like that: it's relentless.

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