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We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world what our lives are really about. Each of us has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us all as human beings. If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?
- Werner Erhard in The Graduate Review. 1980.
Werner Erhard in discussion with Professor Jonathan D. Moreno, April 2016 at the University of Pennsylvania.
“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.”
“The Hunger Project came about through something that Werner Erhard thought about for many years. He studied the subject and discovered that it lived inside of a condition of inevitability, that we human beings held hungar as inevitable. It would always be there. It always has. Isn’t it tragic, isn’t it too bad, and let’s make gestures toward it. A little bit the way that make gestures toward victims of an earthquake or a tidal wave, which helps in the short-term but allows the condition to persist. So Where Erhard wrote something called The Hunger Project source document, which had all the underpinnings of the philosophy of The Hunger Project: That number one the individual makes a difference. That only an individual can take a stand. Only an individual can lead a committed life. An organization or an entity or an institution can reflect an individual’s commitment, but it itself doesn’t take a stand. So the individual truly is the key to causing global change.”
–Catherine Parrish, Former CEO of the Hunger Project US and executive director of PRASAD (Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development)
“If you seriously examine any action, you find there are always two sides of it: the side from which you can explain it and the side from which you can produce it. After a recent two-day rise in the stock market, for example, I read an article that masterfully described that rise, analyzed it, and explained it. However, even though I now fully understand what happened, I am not going to bet my life savings on my ability to predict the next one.
In individual and organizational performance, most of us attempt to produce action by working in the after-the-fact realm of description, analysis, explanation, and prescription. Rarely do we consider that producing an action requires a whole different way of looking at it. If you want to have a dramatic impact on performance, you need access to the source of action.”
A spectator can describe what I’m doing on the tennis court. He is living in the realm of evaluation and explanation – but I’m playing in the world of action. While there is a relationship between his description and what is occurring on the court, the two are clearly not the same.
We seldom think about this sort of distinction, but “failing to make this simple distinction can lead to being satisfied with an explanation about action and may hide from our view the source of action,”
-Quoted in Industry Week, June 15 1987, By Perry Pascarella
“In the course of the training it became progressively clear to me that the experience underlying the training and the conceptualization of this experience have deep affinities with the phenomena presented and analyzed in Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.”
“…It is directly manifest in the training that est embodies a powerful and coherent truth which transforms the quality of the lives of those who experience it. Moreover, this truth contains radically new insights into the nature of human beings.” From “Assessment of the Philosophical Significance of The est Training” by Hubert Dreyfus
“The only thing you are going to do today is: what you do today. Therefore, the only thing there is to do today is: what you do today. That’s all there was to do when you started no matter what you thought or think.
Most people go around thinking that what there is to do today is all that stuff that there is to do, that is to say, everything that isn’t done. This is a lie. This lie leads to stupidity. This stupidity leads to ineffectiveness. The ineffectiveness leads to fewer results being produced, leaving, apparently, more to be done. And there you have the downward spiral which is unworkability.
The only thing there is to do today is: what you actually do today! There is nothing else to do today! You get it? There isn’t anything to do today except what you actually do. That’s all there is to do today. Do you get it? If you do actually get it, you should feel the muscles in your body begin to relax. A sense of freedom and power begins to well up within you.
Now, you want to go to work, get to it, get at it, get it done. And here you have the upward spiral which is workability.”
“Each of us has experienced moments in our lives when we are fully alive – when we know – without thinking – that life is exactly as it is in this moment. In such moments, we have no wish for it to be different, or better, or more. We have no disappointment, no comparison with ideals, no sense that it is not what we worked for. We feel no protective or defensive urge – and have no desire to hold on – to store up – or to save. Such moments are perfect in themselves. We experience them as being complete.”
“While no one wants to be the first to say it, who
each of us is and the fundamental choices each of us
makes in life seem to matter very little.
“Even acts of great courage and intelligence, while
admirable and even inspiring, exist in sharp contrast to
the apparent unworkability of the world at large. Our
greatest technical achievement, walking on the moon,
while galvanizing the world for a moment, did not
fundamentally alter people’s experience of their ability
to make a difference in their lives and in the world.
“Sometime around now-it may have happened
five years ago or 50 years ago-but sometime
around now, the rules for living successfully on earth
shifted, and an opportunity, unseen before, began to
“This opportunity is a context – a particular space
or paradigm, a way of being-which unexpectedly
creates the possibility for a person’s life to truly make a
“In this context, the way each of us answers the
question, ‘What is my life really going to be about?’ can
literally alter the course of humanity.
“The possibility to create the context in which
people’s lives really matter is undoubtedly the most
profound opportunity available to anyone, ever.”
– Werner Erhard – 1980
The support of the Werner Erhard Foundation made possible groundbreaking conversations between leaders, scholars and officials from virtually all parts of the world in the fields of human achievement and transformation. As a result of this support exchange programs were launched that provided new ground for international cooperation.
One such program was the US/USSR Project, launched by Werner Erhard and the Werner Erhard Foundation in 1979 and designed as an educational exchange to explore the principles of communication, management, and creative thinking with the people of what was then the Soviet Union.