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Posts Tagged ‘Werner Erhard’

Is Personal Perfection Possible?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress, driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions. Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.”
~ Saint Augustine
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations
comes nearest to perfection.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.”
~  Kahlil Gibran
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Is Personal Perfection Possible?

Q. Is personal perfection possible?

A. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 aptly observes:

“There are none on Earth so righteous that they never sin.”

Incarnation involves limitation – and fallibility.

We’re here to learn and to evolve,
and evolution toward ‘perfection’ implies imperfection.

So, a perfect person’s not possible.



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”

Dear Friends, 

The forgoing essay and quotations raise an important philosophical question for our consideration, “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”. 

The idea of “perfection” has different meanings for different people.  But, in our world of relativity and duality “perfection” implies “imperfection”.  You can’t have one without the other.  And realizing that all humans are limited or flawed can help us accept others as spiritual siblings – children of the Divine in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness.

Upon mistakenly believing ourselves to be “mortals” separate from each other and Nature, we become subject to the karmic law of cause and effect.  And we are motivated by inevitable karmic sufferings to evolve beyond our supposed duality; beyond our conceptions of separate perfection or imperfection.  Thus we are advancing toward realization that cosmically we are not separate “persons”, but  ONE Eternal Spirit or Infinite Awareness.  

But while we remain caught by karmic law of cause and effect, we can’t ever achieve individual “perfection”. 

Soon after my spiritual awakening I enrolled in a ‘new age’ seminar called “est”, founded by Werner Erhard, a charismatic and controversial former salesman who claimed to be sharing an esoteric epiphany he experienced while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.  As discussed in my  Getting “IT” at est  memoirs chapter, the est training planted significant seeds for my spiritual evolution by presenting some important and intriguing ideas from perennial wisdom teachings, which were then new to me, and which today remain important – like dis-identifying with the “voice in my head” and “accepting the present moment”.  To emphasize the importance of accepting the present moment, the NOW, Werner Erhard taught that everything (but not everyone) is “perfect”.
 
That: 

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not.  As you can see, this universe is perfect.”


Accepting “what is” NOW in the present moment remains for me a core principle for living a happy life, after over forty years of experience and reflection.  And since 1976 and est, I have repeatedly written about the idea of “perfection”, as in the foregoing brief Q and A essay and key quotations. 

In philosophically reflecting and writing on “perfection”, I have concluded that  “All is perfection, but nobody’s perfect”.  And I’ve found that empathetically seeing all humans as limited or flawed helps us experience ever growing happiness.

So this posting is offered to help us identify all humans as spiritual siblings in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness – children of the Divine with whom we are ‘fellow travelers’ on the spiritual path to “perfection”.  
 
And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

What is Perfection?

“All people are flawed;
none are perfect.
But the most flawed,
are those who think or claim they’re perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations

comes nearest to perfection.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress,
driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions.
Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,

to find out his own imperfections.”

~ Saint Augustine
“Advance, and never halt,
for advancing is perfection.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,

and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





What is Perfection?

Q. What is perfection?

A. “Perfection” is an idea;
a conception in duality reality.

Perfection implies imperfection.

So in relative reality we can not have perfection without imperfection.

And in Ultimate Reality beyond relative reality,
there is no perfection.

Ultimate Reality is beyond conception,
and so beyond “perfection”.


Ron’s Reflections on “What is Perfection?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever met a ‘perfect’ person?  Or perceived or projected “perfection” in this crazy world of ecological, political, and economic crises and constant conflicts?   Have you ever considered seeking inner “perfection” as a life goal? 

Before my mid-life change of life, I had never reflected on ideas of “perfection”.  

But soon thereafter I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar where I was first exposed to certain Eastern spirituality principles skillfully collected and experientially presented to help participants radically transform their lives. 

The key est teaching was acceptance of the present moment – emotionally accepting “what is” because it could not be otherwise.  [See Getting “IT” at est, ] Apt to this teaching was the foregoing “perfection” definition, by est’s founder Werner Erhard:  

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, 
and are not the way they are not.  
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

Intrigued by est, I began reflecting about “perfection” and sometimes wrote sutras and essays, later posted online.  Accordingly, many Silly Sutras postings deal with my evolving reflections on “perfection”. Because these reflections significantly have helped my spiritual opening process, I have shared them hoping they may help others, as they have helped me.

After est, I soon realized that in our phenomenal duality reality “perfection” is an idea, which implies it’s opposite – imperfection; that we can’t have one, without the other. So, a “perfect” person isn’t possible.

Ultimately, I became persuaded by non-duality teachings discouraging “vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative” – and impermanent.

But for a while I mistakenly believed that there were exceptions to my conclusion that an infallible “perfect” person isn’t possible.

This happened after I was blessed to meet my beloved venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. [ See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master ] and also met certain other “enlightened” spiritual teachers in the US and India. Whereupon, I became a “born-again Hindu”, and read and recited Eastern scriptures and liturgy glorifying divinity of “gurus” and awakened “buddhas”. 

Naively, I thereafter began projecting “perfection” onto Guruji and a few other “enlightened” teachers. But, ultimately, I realized from inner and outer experience that incarnation is limitation, and that however evolved an incarnate being may be s/he is fallible; that here on Earth, where we experience life in apparent physical bodies, human fallibility ‘goes with the territory’ – that “to err is human”.

With that realization, I ceased projecting “perfection” onto individuals and began relying on inner – not outer – authority. No longer a “born-again Hindu” I became, and remain, an “Uncertain Undue” , seeking relief from belief.

My devotional motto became, and remains:

“Adoration of the Infinite; not adulation of the incarnate”.

And I wrote The Law of Flaw, a poem beginning with these verses:

All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.


In reading the seemingly contradictory above quotes about perfection please remember that in this impermanent world of relativity and duality words often point paradoxically or metaphorically to Eternal truth, which is ineffable. 
 
Whether or not we may agree that “perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not”,  I hope this perfection definition helps you – as it helped me – find inner peace and happiness by emotionally accepting “what is” NOW, because it could not be otherwise. 

But let us remember that emotionally accepting the present moment need not deter us from questioning or nonviolently resisting – like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – pervasive suffering and injustice caused by human ignorance and greed, while envisioning our evolutionary transcendence thereof. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Perfect Paradox

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end,
by forces over which we have no control.

It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,

we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”
~ Werner Erhard, est
“A ‘perfect’ person isn’t possible.”
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection, 
but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Perfect Paradox

Despite Omni-present ignorance,

selfishness, misery and suffering,

and apparent chaotic uncertainty,

Perfection pervades our “Loco Loka” * –

the realm of space/time and causation;

the realm of manifest Mystery.


*”Loco Loka” = crazy world



Ron’s audio recitation of Perfect Paradox

Listen to



Getting “IT” at est ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”
~ Werner Erhard, est




Before the divorce, I had attempted to find answers to my new questions by reading articles and books about parapsychology and psychic phenomena, but not about religious mysticism or spirituality, of which I was still ignorant. But upon living alone as a single person with a new life style, I gradually expanded my quest to weekend seminars and lectures where for the first time I began being exposed to Eastern spiritual ideas. The first seminars, “est” and “Silva Mind Control”, incorporated perennial Eastern ideas into a Western self-help context, and were of significant help for me.

When I became single again, est was well known and flourishing in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was then aggressively being promoted as a self-help “training” offering participants exceptional opportunity to radically transform their lives. It had begun in San Francisco five years earlier with a seminar conducted by its charismatic and controversial founder Werner Erhard attended by several hundred people.

Werner had creatively crafted the est training by incorporating self-help ideas he eclectically gathered from various sources and by expressing them epigrammatically and dramatically in his own original est jargon. Est attracted participants by hyperbolically promising to disclose and to experientially teach them esoteric principles of living a happy life, thereby providing them “space” for “getting IT”, an allegedly transformative epiphany which Werner claimed to have experienced while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in March 1971.

So I was quite curious about est when I became single again. But still an uptight lawyer, I was reluctant to take the est training because of negative reports I’d heard about it and about Werner Erhard. Then Allen Chase, a childhood friend who – like me – was recently divorced, persuasively urged me to take the training by claiming to have been immensely helped by est. So I changed my mind and enrolled.

Thus, with lingering skepticism I attended a 1976 est training in Marin County, in a large hotel where I was joined by hundreds of others eager to “get IT” – the secret of a happy life. At the outset I had negative reactions and considerable resistance to what was happening.

The training was conducted in an hierarchical cult-like atmosphere by a man who talked like Werner, dressed like Werner, and appeared to be somewhat of a Werner clone. To present his ideas he often used a ‘Zen master stick approach’, which was sometimes harsh, profane, and authoritarian. All of this ‘turned me off’. Yet I remained interested and curious.

The trainer told us that the brain mostly functioned automatically as a self-perpetuating “tape” machine, pre-programmed to repeat over and over again the same mechanistic responses to similar situations facing people in their daily lives; that accordingly we’ve developed debilitating habits and beliefs, and have misidentified with the “voice in our head”. He promised us an opportunity to “be at cause, not effect” ; a chance to transcend these debilitating habits by “getting IT”, the alleged central truth of human existence.

Most of us had been lured to enroll by est promotions claiming that when you “got IT”, you got the secret of happiness. And on enrollment we had all signed confidentiality pledges against disclosing “IT”. So we all anxiously awaited our chance for a “getting IT” epiphany. Not until the final moments of the two weekend workshop did the trainer finally disclose “IT”.

AHAA! In est aphoristic jargon, “getting IT” meant realizing that: “What is, is, and what ain’t, ain’t.” ; that “the Truth is what’s so.”

Thus, getting “IT”, was the realization that one must accept “what is” in the present moment of your life; viz. to live happily accept yourself and everything and everyone in your life just as they are, without reflexively resisting or reacting to them, and “take responsibility” for all your responses, choices and actions.

Perhaps in gathering and formulating these ideas Werner was influenced by philosopher Alan Watts who (unknown to me) had taught them to small groups on his Sausalito houseboat prior to his death in 1974. For example, in a 1960 essay entitled “This is It”, Watt’s described the ‘enlightenment’ experience for which est later lured participants:

“To the individual thus enlightened it appears as a vivid and overwhelming certainty that the universe, precisely as it is at this moment, as a whole and in every one of its parts, is so completely right as to need no explanation or justification beyond what it simply is….the mind is so wonder-struck at the self-evident and self-sufficient fitness of things as they are, including what would ordinarily be thought the very worst, that it cannot find any word strong enough to express the perfection and beauty of the experience…The central core of the experience seems to be the conviction, or insight, that the immediate now, whatever its nature, is the goal and fulfillment of all living.”


Werner was less erudite in his presentations, but often more dramatically impactful, than was Dr. Watts. And his enigmatic illogical aphorisms motivated participants to reflect on important ideas about spiritual wisdom transcending “common wisdom”.

Retrospectively, I now see that Werner was astute in creating an extraordinary environment for the est trainings, because in that unusual environment participants were moved out of their habitual ways of thinking and experiencing the world – their left brain patterns – and thereby they were opened to seemingly illogical ‘right brain’ insights and experiences. That’s what happened to me.

After completing est, I remained annoyed and ‘turned off’ by est’s harsh, cult-like ambience and and hyperbolic promotions, but I felt that I had gotten considerable value for my large tuition payment. In fact, I was so glad that I had taken est that I soon urged my friends Dave Weiner and John Rubel to enroll.

The est training planted significant seeds for my spiritual evolution by presenting some important and intriguing ideas from perennial wisdom teachings – like disidentifying with the “voice in my head” and “acceptance of the present moment” – which were then new to me and which remain important after more than thirty years of experience, study and reflection.

Paradoxically, as I now “seek relief from belief” and gradually have winnowed and discarded as no longer useful many ideas and beliefs acquired and embraced since est, I realize that “IT” – acceptance of “what is” in the present moment – remains for me a core principle for living a happy life. And perhaps I was subconsciously influenced by Werner’s other wise teachings and aphorisms, which I didn’t then understand, or appreciate, like “Don’t change beliefs.  Transform the believer.”