Creativity and Bay Area Innovation, Part VII: The Spirit of Transformation


When you begin to adapt creativity as a lifestyle, you begin to see it flourishing everywhere.

If you take the time to explore the Bay Area, you will notice a lot of different types of rocks out there, most of which have been scraped up from the bottom of the ocean when the North American continent slammed into an island off the coast millions of years ago. When that happened, layers of rock formed from sea shells and sediments became the backbones of the Coastal Range. And when the San Andreas Fault metamorphosed from a place where one tectonic plate was diving under the other to one where they were rubbing against one another, a new type of rock began to work its way up from deep in the earth along the legendary fault line, a rock known for its greenish tint and its snakelike features, a rock that has since become the California state rock, a rock known as serpentine.

Stemming from the way they slither along the ground, and the way they kill their prey, either through poison or strangulation, snakes have always had a powerful presence in religion and mythology. In many indigenous and prehistoric cultures, snakes have been revered for their mysterious presence. The Cosmic Serpents originating from Mayan cultures, twin serpents which form a double helix have often been thought to be an intuitive representation of the life force itself, the spiraling complementary energies of creativity, the masculine and feminine winding about one another to form the basic coding system apparent in all life forms, DNA.

And of course there is the snake’s remarkable ability to shed their own skin, emerging with something entirely new. To have a landscape peppered with snake-like rocks, as occurs in the Bay Area,  is not insignificant for creativity and innovation. In every creative act, something is always transformed into something else. The blank canvas becomes a painting. The feeling in one’s head becomes a poem. The semi-conducting qualities of silicon become the key material of the Information Age.

Personal transformation technology has also been a creative product of the Bay Area, stemming primarily from one charismatic and controversial man named John Paul Rosenberg, who changed his name to Werner Erhard when he abandoned his wife and family of four in Pennsylvania and moved out west. Once in the Bay Area, he steeped in a variety of influences including Abraham Maslow, founder of the Human Potential Movement and Alan Watts and his lectures on Zen. Supposedly, while driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, he had a moment of insight which led to his transformative technology, what became known as EST, then years later, Landmark Education, their widely attended program, The Landmark Forum.

Whether you are a Landmark devotee or hate their message and marketing for one reason or another, Werner Erhard’s transformation technology has been widely influential on the Self Help movement and the proliferation of  motivational speakers such as Anthony Robbins. Even Tibet Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, was inspired by Erhard’s work to form a non-secular branch of Buddhism available to people of all faiths known as Shambhala. Other organizations such as The Authentic Man Program and the Authentic Woman Experience, One Taste, Arete, and other workshop-based means of human transformation, including the enduring success of Landmark Education,  have been promoting the creativity and innovation of people all over the globe.


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