Writings Archives

A Way to Transformation

From The Heart of The Matter, By Werner Erhard, 1984

The subject of this article is transformation – a deep, profound and committed choice about the way we live our lives. Transformation is the possibility for a breakthrough in our living, a clearing for aliveness to show up in our everyday activities, self-expression and commitments.

Talking about transformation is no more than a representation, an image of the real thing. It’s like eating the menu instead of the steak – neither nurturing nor profound. It is in being transformed – in being authentically true to oneself – that one lives passionately free, unencumbered, fearless, committed. It is in living life in a transformed way that the steak and its sizzle show up.

We invite you to be here for the actual benefits of transformation, for the meal – not the menu.

THREE KINDS OF TALKING

Our language, the way we speak, shows up in three different ways.

The first is “talking about.” In “talking about,” our commitment is to describe, report, or explain situations or events. Such talk, however, seems to have no impact on the thing it represents. For instance, talking about tennis in the clubhouse after the game doesn’t seem to affect anyone’s performance on the court.

Another kind of talking is that which evokes. Its commitment is distinct from using words to represent. Poetry, for example, never simply talks about something. Rather, it brings something present. Poetry can bring sadness into our immediate experience, or joy, or wonder; in the presence of such experience, we are moved.

While speaking that evokes seems to have more impact than speaking that represents, the “you” that it addresses is the same “you” that was present before. Neither evocative speaking nor representative speaking has the power to reach down into being and alter the possibilities that you have, or more importantly, to alter the possibility that you are.

There is, however, a kind of speaking that does alter being. It profoundly expresses what it is to be human. It speaks possibility itself, neither merely representing it nor even evoking it. Rather, it brings forth the possibility that it speaks, in the very act of speaking it. Such speaking has a direct and lasting impact; in the very act of speaking, it alters the course of events.

SPEAKING THAT ALTERS THE COURSE OF EVENTS

Although most of us seldom think about it, the kind of talking that reaches down into being and alters what is possible, deeply affects our lives. For example, the truth that all men are created equal did not exist before the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. At that time, there was no evidence for the equality of men. It was a truth brought forth in the declaration alone. In the act of speaking – in the authors’ willingness to give themselves over to the possibility, to stand fully for their creation – an equality that had before been impossible, was born. Two hundred years later, in the space of that declaration, we are still exploring the possibility of equality and discovering its implications as they extend to all humankind. Once you have heard what the Declaration of Independence had to say – not as a representation, not even just to be in the presence of it, but as a clearing for the possibility that it is – then what you can think and feel and see is altered. Your actions are altered. Who you are has taken on a new meaning.

The work of transformation springs from a commitment to this particular kind of being, this kind of speaking, listening, feeling and thinking. This is a distinct way of being with life. Transformation does not merely change our actions, does not merely give us new options from which to choose. Rather it uncovers the structures of being and interpretation on which we are grounded, often unaware of our grounding in them. This is the work of transformation: this revealing of ourselves to ourselves, which occurs in a profound way that alters the very possibility of being that we are: Inescapably. Decisively. Forever.

TRANSFORMATION IS NOT A PRESCRIPTION

Transformation offers no formula for achieving success. It contains no prescription for living, no answers to dilemmas of existence, no magical code to unlock the mysteries of human life. Instead, what transformation makes available – as an inescapable presence – is the moment-by-moment choice from which the realities of our lives are shaped.

Transformation is not an alternative. It releases no hidden potential; it changes no facts; it adds nothing to that which we already know. Rather, in the moment of transformation, we shift our attention from acquiring or mastering rules for survival in our personal lives, to asking and engaging authentically with the questions, “What does it mean to be human? What is the possibility of living?” In the asking of those questions, we are empowered to express those possibilities in our lives and our relationships.

These questions produce no answers to, or definitions of, fundamental issues that are, for most of us, a part of being alive. Instead, in the asking of them, we deepen those same questions, unmask our common assumptions, and begin to think creatively – to think for ourselves. In so doing, we come face to face with our original choice in the matter – with the fundamental ways of being that we adopt, and that we create, for our lives.

THE FREEDOM TO CREATE

Rather than trying to find our true selves – struggling to figure out “who we are” – in transformation, we bring forth the possibility of creating ourselves, so that life is a creative expression of our stand.

Transformation does not increase or improve the options we have before us. Rather, in the moment of transformation, there is the presence of choice, as the phenomenon of creating possibilities – no more, no less. The actual choosing remains of our own making – no more likely, nor guaranteed. Yet, in the recognition and ownership of the choice appears true freedom of action – an action born solely of the courage to be.

From The Heart of the Matter © 1984, Werner H. Erhard, All Rights Reserved

Celebrating Your Relationships

In the ordinary course of events, in order to bring something about, you need to establish a process. In other words, in order for me to get from here to here, I can’t do it all at once. I have to do it one step at a time and by handling it one step at a time, I can, as a matter of fact, be from here to there. So all I need to do is to be willing to establish a process, to manufacture a process – to produce a process. And by a process I can, in fact, accomplish something. Now, that’s the ordinary space in which we live.

There is, however, an extraordinary space in which we also live. I didn’t say to you that there’s an extraordinary space which you can achieve. Let me be very clear that I did not say that there is an extraordinary space which you can achieve. I said that we live both in the ordinary space and we live in this extraordinary space. Well, it’s like having the keys to an automobile in your pocket. If you don’t ever go out and put it in the ignition, you don’t get to drive the automobile. It isn’t enough that the automobile is there. You actually have to know about it and use it. So I want to turn you on to a quality of the space in which you live which could be called the extraordinary quality. And that is, that at the base of it all, fundamentally what’s so, is so by your consideration alone.

A great deal of what exists in our life exists as a function of our considerations. If you consider it to be so, it’s so. If you consider that I love you, I love you. Now you may not be able to consider me down there on the floor standing next to you.  It may be that that’s the part of your life that works in the ordinary way, because that’s pretty ordinary, standing next to someone. To be loved is extraordinary, and it’s a function of the extraordinary space. And it happens as a function of your consideration alone. By merely considering that I love you, I love you.

So you’ve got this universe in which you can create by consideration alone. I call that the magic wand. And it is the instrument by which one creates this ecstatic quality in one’s relationships. You imbue the relationship with ecstasy. You create, in the relationship, ecstasy. Now I caution you that you cannot create in opposition to anything. So if there’s something in the relationship, which you would consider to be inconsistent with ecstasy, you can’t create ecstasy in opposition to that thing. You can’t say, “It’s horrible, but I’m going to make it ecstatic.” You can’t say, “I don’t trust them, but I’m going to pretend it’s ecstatic. I’m going to.” This is not act as if. This is not pretend.  This is not go through the motions. This is something far senior to that. So you can’t consider, you can’t create by consideration, you can’t create by magic wand in opposition to anything.  You can, however, include anything in that which you create. So to create ecstasy in your relationship doesn’t mean that any particular thing has to be in your relationship or not in your relationships. There can be any circumstance and any condition presently existing in your relationship and you can wave the magic wand of ecstasy, as long as you’re willing to include in the ecstasy, as long as you’re willing for that circumstance or that consideration to be a function of the ecstasy, to in fact manifest the ecstasy, to express the ecstasy. And your willingness to allow any condition or any circumstance of your relationship to express the ecstasy is a part of the creation of the ecstasy.

So one creates ecstasy by waving one’s magic wand. One does not create ecstasy by doing something. I am ecstatic because I am ecstatic. I love you because I love you. You are magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence. I am magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence and every one of my characteristics is an expression of that magnificence. So let’s get clear with respect to creating magnificence in your relationships, with respect to creating ecstasy in your relationships, with respect to being willing to have pleasure be an expression of your love, this is all a function of your magic wand. This is all a function of your willingness to create it so, to consider it so. It is so because you consider it to be so. The action follows. The feelings follow. Sometimes people say things like, “I’m terrible” and I ask them how they measure that. By what means do you measure that you’re terrible? Someone once answered me, “Well, I don’t feel good. I feel bad.” Well, I don’t know. Some poetry is about feeling bad and yet it was ecstatic. Your feelings, good or bad, are merely an expression of your ecstasy, merely an expression of your love. To master this space, to master the space of ecstasy, to master the space of love, one must be willing to create by consideration. You need to be willing to do that. You need to be willing to create a context around the existing circumstances. And as you’ve heard from the people who’ve expressed it, it often takes a lot of courage.

But what if it turns out that you were a fool? Well, fool is probably not down very far from where you are if you’re worried about it. I mean, what the hell, it’s probably worth taking the chance. Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life, just to be right in the eyes of the people around you? Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life in order to defend yourself, in order to handle the issues with people you love, that you’ve given up, you’ve sacrificed, you’ve been willing to give up the quality in your life in order to have the power, the force to handle the issues between you and the people in your life. I mean, what the hell are you going to lose? What could you lose? You’ve already given your life up. If you’re doing that, you’ve already given your life up. What the hell have you got to lose? Some crummy job? Some crummy marriage or relationship in which the issues are more important than the expression or experience of love? Not much to lose. If, in fact, it only exists in appearances, so what? And yet, to be loved is extraordinary, and it happens as a function of your consideration alone. – Werner Erhard

 

Excerpt from The Graduate Review, Sept. 1978, from a presentation by Werner Erhard

Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach

Abstract

The seemingly never-ending scandals in the world of finance, accompanied by their damaging effects on value and human welfare, make a strong case for an addition to the current paradigm of financial economics. We summarize here our new theory of integrity that reveals integrity as a purely positive phenomenon with no normative aspects whatsoever. Adding integrity as a positive phenomenon to the paradigm of financial economics provides actionable access (rather than mere explanation with no access) to the source of the behavior that has resulted in those damaging effects on value and human welfare, thereby significantly reducing that behavior. More generally we argue that this addition to the paradigm of financial economics will create significant increases in economic efficiency, productivity, and aggregate human welfare. Because integrity has generally been treated as a virtue (a normative phenomenon) the actual cause of the damaging effects of out-of-integrity behavior are hidden, resulting in assigning false causes to those effects. This keeps the actual source of these damaging effects invisible to us. As a result, in spite of all the attempts to police the false causes of these damaging effects, the out-of integrity actions that are the source of these effects continue to be repeated. This new model of integrity makes the actual source of the damage available for all to see, and therefore to act on. Integrity as we define it (or the lack thereof) on the part of individuals or organizations has enormous economic implications for value, productivity, and quality of life. Indeed, integrity is a factor of production as important as labor, capital, and technology. Without a clear, concise, and most importantly, an actionable definition of integrity, economics, finance and management are far less powerful than they can be.

Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C., Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach (2017). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 12 [2017], Iss. 1, Art. 1.  http://capitalism.columbia.edu/journal/12/1

Capitalism and Society, Volume 12, Issue 1

Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach” by Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen Ph.D. Published by Columbia University’s Center On Capitalism and Society in their Journal: Capitalism and Society, Volume 12, Issue 1.

ABSTRACT: The seemingly never-ending scandals in the world of finance, accompanied by their damaging effects on value and human welfare, make a strong case for an addition to the current paradigm of financial economics. We summarize here our new theory of integrity that reveals integrity as a purely positive phenomenon with no normative aspects whatsoever. Adding integrity as a positive phenomenon to the paradigm of financial economics provides actionable access (rather than mere explanation with no access) to the source of the behavior that has resulted in those damaging effects on value and human welfare, thereby significantly reducing that behavior. More generally we argue that this addition to the paradigm of financial economics will create significant increases in economic efficiency, productivity, and aggregate human welfare. Because integrity has generally been treated as a virtue (a normative phenomenon) the actual cause of the damaging effects of out-of-integrity behavior are hidden, resulting in assigning false causes to those effects. This keeps the actual source of these damaging effects invisible to us. As a result, in spite of all the attempts to police the false causes of these damaging effects, the out-of integrity actions that are the source of these effects continue to be repeated. This new model of integrity makes the actual source of the damage available for all to see, and therefore to act on. Integrity as we define it (or the lack thereof) on the part of individuals or organizations has enormous economic implications for value, productivity, and quality of life. Indeed, integrity is a factor of production as important as labor, capital, and technology. Without a clear, concise, and most importantly, an actionable definition of integrity, economics, finance and management are far less powerful than they can be.

 

Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C., Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach (2017). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 12 [2017], Iss. 1, Art. 1.

The Erhard Jensen Ontological / Phenomenological Initiative

The purpose of The Erhard Jensen Ontological / Phenomenological Initiative is to stimulate and support research into the development and application of the ontological / phenomenological laws of human nature and human behavior to the lives of individuals and human entities to reliably and significantly elevate human performance and quality of life. This includes all areas of living across the entire spectrum of human activity, for example:

  • Individuals, families and groups
  • Public and private organizations such as partnerships, corporations, non-profit and educational entities
  • Public agencies and governmental entities
  • Bring the ontological / phenomenological model and methodology utilized in this leadership course to education — including research, course development, and teaching.

Stimulate and support research into the study and teaching of the ontological /phenomenological laws of human nature and human behavior, and the impact of these laws on life, living, and self.

For more information see http://www.erhardjensen.org

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Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard is a critical thinker who has influenced the academic community worldwide with his revolutionary ideas first expressed in The est Training. He introduced the 20th Century notion of transformation and has had an enormous impact as a thought leader and humanitarian.

In 1973 Werner Erhard, committed to making a difference, founded the Werner Erhard Foundation. The Foundation’s original name was The Foundation for the Realization of Man, a name in keeping with the intention of the Foundation. Werner Erhard established this Foundation as an expression of his own personal commitment to transforming the quality of life for all human beings, and as a vehicle for graduates of The est Training to participate in making a difference in their local communities and throughout the world. Erhard, and the entire Board of Directors, served the Foundation pro-bono, with Erhard committing a significant amount of time generating funds for the Foundation.

Erhard founded over a dozen separate charities and has been recognized for his commitment to humanity with the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award in 1988 and the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2003.

Time Magazine said of Erhard on March 7, 2011:

“It was Werner Erhard who created the first modern transformation when he founded est seminars in 1971. It’s a tribute to the power of his central concept that more than 20 years after he sold his ideas to a group of employees Landmark is still the natural first stop in any transformation tour.

The Financial Times said of Erhard on April 28, 2012:

“Erhard’s influence extends far beyond the couple of million people who have done his courses.

Werner Erhard’s ideas used to be accessible only through participating in a program; they are now accessible to everyone via his academic papers published at SSRN.and publications available through organizations such as the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

The Hunger Project Source Document

“You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference – to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have had some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work….” http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html

Contributing Transformation in the World

In manifesting your aliveness, you will want to follow a principle which was beautifully stated by Albert Schweitzer when he said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Notice that Dr. Schweitzer says “sought and found how to serve.” He did not say “try to serve,” or “try something and drop it,” or “do the best you can.”

Happiness comes from having served successfully.

One continues to expand in one’s ability to serve by meeting the challenge of actually delivering the results.

Decide on a project for which you are willing to take complete responsibility. Complete the project successfully. Relate this achievement to others as an inspiration for them. Your willingness to express yourself may be just the trigger needed by someone else to do something for themselves. From now on, don’t wait for something to happen to you. Actually take responsibility for making something happen. Keep at it until you make it a successful experience for everyone. You can make the difference.

Werner Erhard, from the est Graduate Review, March 1980

Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard is an original thinker whose ideas have transformed the effectiveness of and quality of life for millions of people and thousands of organizations around the world.  For more than 40 years he has been the creator of innovative ideas and models of individual, organizational, and social transformation.

His work has been the source of new perspectives for thinkers and practitioners in fields as diverse as business, education, philosophy, medicine, psychotherapy, developing and emerging countries, conflict resolution and community building.  Erhard has created new ways of seeing things in areas where progress has stalled or where breakthroughs would make a significant difference.  A majority of the Fortune 100 companies, and many foundations and governmental entities, have used his ideas and models.  Fortune magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (5/15/95), in examining the major contributions to management thinking, recognized Werner Erhard’s ideas about methods for empowering people as one of the major innovations in management thinking of the last few decades.

Purpose and Aliveness

The only two things in our lives are aliveness and patterns that block our aliveness. As patterns are experienced out, our lives become clearer. Things begin to make more sense. What we do makes more sense.

It’s funny, but when the alive you emerges from behind the smokescreen of all those patterns and begins to participate in life directly, life really does have purpose. It all somehow makes sense, in a fantastic way.

When you get rid of the blocks, what you have is aliveness, and when the blocks are gone, purpose emerges. There is no use searching externally for purpose, or trying to “pull it in.” It is already there. Just focus on clearing out what is between you and aliveness, so every time we create greater aliveness, the purpose is being served.Aliveness and purpose are practically the same thing. The purpose is greater aliveness, so every time we create greater aliveness, the purpose is being served.

As more and more of us get to see that the purpose is greater aliveness, it happens that all of us start to do the same thing – we start serving the purpose. Life comes on to us in our own terms, and so does the opportunity to serve.

That everyone is serving the purpose in a different way does not mean that everyone is doing something different. That’s the illusion. We do the same thing in different ways. As each of us makes our part of the whole really work, the purpose is being served.

The purpose is life and that it be, completely.
The commitment is: aliveness

– By Werner Erhard

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