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

Friend III

Cayetano Creek, Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 15, 2016

This essay, Friend III, is a component of the supergroup Friend: It is also the prequel to Conversations With A Friend VII.

It's inevitable. When I speak about these Conversations For Transformation (which is to say when I speak these  Conversations For Transformation - the "about" is redundant), I speak you. And when I speak you, I notice some people, for the most part, don't get my distinguishing you as "friend". "So he's a master?" they ask. "Actually 'friend' works better" I say, "much, much better.". "'Guru'  maybe?" they counter-offer, looking for congruence. "No it's not that, really it isn't". I'm emphatic: "You don't convey what's possible when you express it in either of those terms. There's an ordinary mutuality  that's available in the term 'friend' that's not there in either 'master' or in 'guru', even though both of them have a certain dignity and validity to them. It's in its ordinary mutuality that 'friend's extraordinary power lies.".

The penciled schedule in my Letts of London  diary tells me it's time to prepare ie to generate the space for our upcoming meeting. It's a recurring task I relish. Blank white sheets of paper cover my desk. Soon they'll be filled with my notes. This approach is unique for me with you. It doesn't happen this way with other people, not even with other friends. There's not merely something unique in this approach for me with you. It's I also notice each of my prior meetings with you, have a similar sequence to them which I haven't noticed until now, and which I didn't plan. Yet there's a familiar three-phase unfolding to what almost always seems to happen.

First I offer an inventory of my personal life (as distinct from my public life) and of my children's lives. This is, after all, where the rubber meets the road for all of us. If it could be said there's one quintessential impact point of transformation, then it's family. Sharing the impact of transformation in our lives as family, is so intrinsic to your work that it's probably true to say it wouldn't exist at all without sharing. When I share my life with you (which is to say when I share my life, period - and particularly  with you), things open up which were once shut down; I get things are alright which I once doubted were alright. Clearly there's magic in the sharing.

Sharing my life and my children's lives with you, is never a perfunctory formality. When you ask how we are, it cuts to the heart of the matter. And I'm committed that whatever I share in response to you, is also no mere formality. I'm committed that I bring forward whatever's going on in our lives, as my gift to you. There's nothing flippant or trivial about sharing where life's working - which also, by the way, allows it to work where it may not currently be working.

The second phase is when I get to ask the questions I want to ask, the ones on my pages and pages of notes, yet for which I don't always have private access to you to ask. These are the kinds of questions most everyone wants to ask, I suppose, and yet don't get the opportunity to ask. What I notice about this is as I grow in this work, there are fewer and fewer questions for me to ask - but that's not because I'm any less inquisitive: I actually have more  unanswered questions now in my life than I've ever had. Rather it's because as and when questions come up, I'm more empowered ie I'm more willing to look and see if I can answer them for myself, rather than looking to someone else to answer them for me. The truth is all input is useful. Yet asking for your input when I haven't inquired into the issues for myself, is one order of business. It's another order of business entirely when I get your input into areas I've already inquired into. With the former, it's clear to me I haven't fully stepped up to the plate. The thing is around you, there's simply no point in playing at all unless I step up fully to the plate, and bat - as if my life depends on it.

Then there's the third phase. Although it comes last, it's actually the one I always want to begin with. I just can't wait to get to it. Yet the way our meetings naturally unfold, we always go through the first two phases to get to the third. The third phase is what's revealed once the first phase and its introductions is complete, and once the second phase and its questions is complete. The third phase is what's left (which is to say, what's available)  when everything else has been handled and is out of the way. There's now nothing else more pressing to do than just being together in fellowship and relationship. It's the most profound, the most astonishing, the most marvelous, and by the far the most anticipated phase of each of the times I've had the privilege of being around you. This is when the distinction "friend" can fully show up - in both the cosmic  as well as in the human sense ... but especially  in the human sense. The former is awesome. It's the latter which is miraculous.

To be sure, I harbor a consideration that our time together, isn't necessarily the best use of your time. Really I do. So I'll end the meeting when we're done, even if our allocated time hasn't expired, even if I don't want it to end. Your time is best spent writing and developing the material your life has always been committed to / given for ie doing what you're best at. It's when I realize how getting out of your way and allowing you to do what you do best, is the greatest gift I can give you (even to the point of relinquishing and giving up my precious moments with you) that I discover I'm capable of a selfless generosity I didn't realize I was capable of. It's clear what's possible for me (which is to say us)  to get from being around you. Even more astonishing is what it's possible to get from not  being around you.


That's very Zen. It's very beautiful. And it used to drive me crazy when I tried to figure it out - so I don't anymore.


In the end where all this preparation leaves me, is: my children are fine and I'm fine too, and I can answer my own questions (or at least launch my own powerful inquiry into the issues), and I'm also clear the way you've committed your life, calls on me to give up my attachments. All that said, there's nothing more worthwhile than just being around you and conversing. Nothing. This is the way "friend" renders transformation into the world of people. I'm looking forward to it again. Really.

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