(Continued from Part 1.)
He and his associates created one organization and workshop after another with incredible speed (the Hunger Project, the Breakthrough Foundation, Hermenet, etc.) to address the challenges of the work. His stated purpose for the Community Workshop was particularly revealing:
“The problems of our times are so massive, so pressing, that they cannot be handled by individuals alone. The time for solitary heroes is over. We can no longer rely on old ways of thinking, old patterns of leadership and followership.
“If we are going to create a world that works for everyone, we must learn to function in communities; to be effective and produce results in participation with others. …
“The [Community] workshop is an opportunity to be responsible for a convergence of vision and circumstances which results in true community action.” (8)
He held that the world of his time was run on the basis of survival. In fact, the fundamental insight that brought on Werner’s own transformation was his realization that he too was skewed toward survival:
“I saw that the fundamental skew to all knowledge, and to the unenlightened mind, is survival, or, as I put it then, success. All my knowledge up to then had been skewed toward success, toward making it, toward self-realization, toward all the goals, from material to mystic.
“In the next instant – after I realized that I knew nothing – I realized that I knew everything.” (9)
A survival-oriented world gave rise to a you-or-me way of life (looking out for Number One, as one author described it). “In a you-or-me world, nothing makes a difference,” he said. (10) Trainer Angelo d’Amelio referred to the rules of such a world:
“I know how to win and to make others lose. I know the rules of the ‘you or me’ game. I’ve been trained by society in these rules.” (11)
We could engage in individual acts of kindness and charity that “proved” our benevolence, which Werner would have called “gestures” and “pretense.” But we were not to allow others into the winners’ circle or share our knowledge with them of how to win. Angelo said:
“You can share the fruits of winning but don’t share winning itself with them because you [may] have to start wrestling again and, when you do, it’s still ‘you or me.’” (12)
In a you-and-me world, “I win by virtue of your winning. It’s true but,” Angelo added, “you’re not allowed to think in this way. It’s not natural. It’s naive, stupid.” (13) We know that the strategy of the CIA at this time was to ridicule those who witnessed UFOs so as to keep us from knowing of the presence of the galactics. That strategy was not limited to one field; it was practised against anyone who tried to make a difference in the society of the times – if they were not assassinated (like John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, etc.).
Angelo asserted that “a completely-developed, whole human being will naturally select as a context for life that life will work for everyone.” (14) Others at the time were calling this context win/win. The work to make the world such a place was to be found precisely where we stood, he held.
“If you want to make a difference, if you want your life to matter, you must devote yourself to finding out what’s wanted and needed where you are.
“You need to go home and find out what’s wanted and needed to make the world work where you are, to create a you-and-me world context for life.” (15)
Today we’d say that a you-and-me world is run on the divine qualities, such as forgiveness, trust and love. We’d talk about how everyone in the world is connected and that our separative consciousness is what caused the problems on our planet.
Werner chose to leave America when Scientology threatened his life and his daughter accused him of sexual assault on the promise of a large bribe (which she never received).
My understanding was that he went to Russia and was largely responsible for glasnost and perestroika and to Northern Ireland where he assisted in achieving peace there. In these years he established the Mastery Foundation and trained peace negotiators and leaders.
I can’t think of another person who’s labored harder for world peace and for a world established on a firm foundation of workability. There may be people who have but I personally don’t know of them.
Now we’re on the brink of creating a world that works for everyone, based on the organizing principles of inclusion, universality, non-judgmentalness, etc. In my own view, in many ways, we’ll be reaping the crop that Werner sowed.
I certainly acknowledge my debt to the man whose associates turned me completely around the day I walked into that training room. He taught me principles that moulded my thinking like no one else has.
The research for this article comes from the “est Dictionary,” which can be found here: http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/the-path-of-awareness/est-dictionary/. Given that Werner’s views are so relevant to the work we’re doing today, I’ll be writing more about them as we go along.
(1) “Creating a World That Works for Everyone,” July 1, 2014, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2014/07/01/creating-a-world-that-works-for-everyone/.
(2) Werner Erhard, Graduate Review, May/June 1980.
(3) Werner Erhard at the Werner Event, c1980.
(4) Loc. cit.
(5) Werner Erhard in Morty Lefkoe, “Taking It Out into the World,” Graduate Review, Feb. 1977.
(6) Werner Erhard, Graduate Review, May/June 1980.
(7) Graduate Review, probably citing Werner, February 1979.
(8) Werner Erhard quoted in Joan Bordow, “Inventing the Community Workshop,” The Review, May/June 1982, 5.
(9) Werner Erhard in W.W. Bartley III. Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man; the Founding of est. New York: Potter, 1978., 166-8.
(10) Werner Erhard at the Werner Event, c1980.
(11) Angelo d’Amelio, Post-Training Event, Vancouver, Nov. 1979.
(12) Loc. cit.
(13) Loc. cit.
(14) Loc. cit.
(15) Loc. cit.