Werner Erhard: Butterflies Can Explain How Caterpillars Came to Fly

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Werner when he wrote this book and when I knew him

By Steve Beckow, Golden Age of Gaia

In the course of a conversation with a reader, I became aware of the fact that Werner Erhard (1) had posted online one of the most stimulating books for humanitarian philanthropists I’ve ever read.

Werner was … is … an enlightened humanitarian philosopher. He might call himself an ontologist, a student of being. I’d add awareness. And responsibility. And, well, everything you see me still writing about today, such was his impact on me.

What you’re reading here from my pen, you’d never be reading if it weren’t for the work of Werner and his colleagues. My debt to them for opening up my everyday life and making the awareness path I followed rich and rewarding is incalculable.

We have a lot of folks around who teach a future of evolutionary spirituality, but not a lot who focus attention on enlightening ourselves through our everyday ways of living. Some, but not as many.

Our schools don’t have it in their curriculum. Many of our parents didn’t know what Werner was teaching; neither did we, their children. Much of it was completely new to all of us. That’s what made it so surprising and interesting. And every statement could be checked out in everyday life.

Werner, to use his own turn of phrase, was a butterfly who could explain how caterpillars came to fly. (2) And the est Training was for me like concentrated medicine in lifelong release tablets. It keeps on relieving.butterfly 66

If you and I build a world that works for everyone, we’ll have lived out a vision that Werner created for the world in the late Seventies. One among several.

With that, I bring to the attention of all humanitarian philanthropists the illuminating Hunger Project source document, The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come, an excerpt of which is posted below.

Read it. Mull it over. Check it out with other ideas from Werner and the est Network here: est Dictionary. They’re worth wrestling with and assimilating, given what we’ll soon be tackling.

The Hunger Project Source Document:

The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come

by Werner Erhard, 1977

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.

When you look at making the world work, you are confronted by, and cannot pass over, the fact that each year 15 million of us die as a consequence of starvation. This unparalleled failure for humanity enables us to see that the world’s unworkability is located in the very condition in which we live our lives. Thus, it is not people “out there” who are starving; people are starving “here” – in the space in which you and I live. You and I are working to make our lives work in the same condition that results in hunger and starvation.

Starvation both maintains and dramatizes a world that does not work. Persisting throughout history, it has accounted for more deaths and suffering than all epidemics, wars, and natural disasters combined. During the past five years alone, more people have died as a consequence of starvation than from all the wars, revolutions, and murders of the past 150 years. As you read this, 28 people are dying in our world each minute as a consequence of hunger, three-quarters of them children.

The bare statistics are so shocking that we rarely examine the further impact of starvation on our own lives. Hunger, by its persistence, seems to invalidate that our lives could matter. It seems to prove that we are capable only of gestures. It suppresses the space in which each of us lives.

Yet, precisely because the impact of starvation on our lives is so great, its existence is actually an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get beyond merely defending what we have, beyond the futility of self-interest, beyond the hopelessness of clinging to opinions and making gestures.

In fact, in experiencing the truth underlying hunger, one comes to realize that the ordinarily unnoticed laws that determine the persistence of hunger on this planet are precisely the laws that keep the world from working. And the principles of the end of hunger and starvation in the world are the very principles necessary to make the world work.

So this paper is not an explanation, a solution, an opinion, or a point of view about the problem of hunger. It is an examination of what is so about the persistence of hunger, aimed at answering two questions:

1. What are the laws governing and determining the persistence of hunger on our planet? Not the reasons, however cogent; not the justifications, however comforting; not the systems of explanation, however consistent or clever. If we were merely looking for reasons to explain the persistence of hunger and starvation, we could logically deduce them from the facts.

Fundamental laws and principles, however, cannot be deduced. One knows them by creating them from nothing, out of one’s Self. (2) One does not arrive at fundamental laws and principles as a function of what is already known. Such laws and principles do not merely explain; they illuminate. They do not merely add to what we know; they create a new space in which knowing can occur. (3) The test of whether we are dealing with fundamental laws and principles, or with mere reasons and explanations, is whether there is a shift from controversy, frustration, and gesturing, to mastery, motion, and completion. (4)

2. What are the principles of the end of hunger and starvation on the planet? Not new programs of solution, no matter how saleable or clever; not different or better opinions, no matter how arguable; not points of view, no matter how agreeable. This discussion is not about another good idea. It is about revealing the fundamental principles of the end of hunger and starvation on our planet. (5)

(To continue, go here.)

“Heroes are ordinary men and women who dare to see and meet the call of a possibility bigger than themselves.

Breakthroughs are created by such heroes, by men and women who will stand for the result while it is only a possibility—people who will act to make possibility real.” – Werner Erhard


(1) Werner’s site:  http://www.wernererhard.net/

Werner’s current academic papers are available atSSRN LogoAuthor Page

(2) Endnote to The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come at http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html

“Nothing” = “The One.”

(3) I call this realized knowledge. Some ideas have the power to create space and open us to sudden insights or realizations. Certainly “a world that works for everyone” was such an idea for me.

(4) Exactly. Or as he’s said elsewhere, whether release is brought about. If we experience increasing release in our conversation, then we’re getting somewhere because the truth will set us free.

(5) Are we ready?

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