Coming to adulthood in the '70s "Me Decade", Peter Gabriel was on board as various '60s cults and psychological self-therapies went mainstream, notably EST (Erhard Seminars Training), of which he still remains an enthusiast.
"Anyone with an open mind wanting to explore the world was drawn to that movement. There were fairly scary adventures that could change lives. Last year I met Werner Erhard [born John Paul Rosenberg, the former salesman who created the EST course]; many people feel negatively about him, but I enjoyed him enormously. The whole system he set up felt like a hard-sell American organization but if you didn't have a year to spend in an ashram yet still wanted to shake up your life a bit, you could go for a couple of weekends and get severely challenged.
"It taught me all sorts of things, of which one was to be responsible for your life and who you are---don't blame others, don't be a victim. I'd been doing that. The analogy is of a boat in dangerous water: would you rather be in the hold bitching about the captain or standing at the helm with the power to change direction? you can only get to that position if you're prepared to take responsibility. It's very logical but very hard sometimes---I can't always stay in that place but I know life works better when you're there.
"The other thing is to be authentic about who you are, how you feel, and what's going on...It's about being real. We spend so much of our lives not actually being who we are but who we imagine we ought to be."
Several years ago, I overcame my media-induced reservations and completed the "Curriculum For Living" at Landmark Education, the current version of what used to be called EST, and I found it to be very useful and life-enhancing, and well worth the psychic and financial challenge for anyone who has the nerve to try it. Gabriel's description is spot on as far as I'm concerned. Quite a pleasant surprise to see such a glowing endorsement from a somewhat hip source.
My experience with the Landmark Forum is that folks who took it would not shut up about the Landmark Forum. Not to discount your experience - the nature of it and what I've read of the structure is clear enough - but a bunch of people at my workplace got very weird after that.
I think of it as a form of applied existentialism. And my personal preference is to apply it to real life rather than making it all about itself. That's just too circular for my liking.
They do encourage this sort of behavior somewhat, because they are a business trying to function in a capitalist system and therefore need to keep their income stream flowing, but that has nothing to do with where the value in it lies for me personally.
I think those who are attracted to belief systems can end up treating it as a belief system. For me it's a bag of tools I like to keep available.
The reason we don't continue with the programs is because of the sales aspect of the work and how it only stays current and real if you are in it, so you have to enroll all of your friends and family to make it happen. We are not up for that part.
The work itself is condensed wisdom in a fast package and well worth going through as a transformational process to learn, if nothing else, how to be responsible for yourself and keep your integrity intact with yourself and with others. You also learn how to distinguish what that means so you can work on it.
I did the est training twice, and the forum several times as both a participant and a logistics supervisor, or some such task. First time in 1974 when the world had more possibilities and civility was not yet an issue of any kind.
We all honored our civility.
Now, we seem to dole it out politically.
My experience with the Landmark Forum is that folks who took it would not shut up about the Landmark Forum.
Sounds like the opposite of Fight Club.
Interestingly enough, Fight Club was written by a Landmark grad.
I just want to chime in here. The Landmark Forum, and Landmark Education organization for sure has faults but I don't think the "sales" aspect is "bad" at all.
I'm constantly inspired by the volunteers, and the word of mouth part of the organization. Do you have ANY idea how much the Forum would cost if it had to be advertised? Right now, it's affordable and accessible for almost all people. I think that's admirable, not icky.
Peter was mentioned as a graduate of this education today in my advanced course. I laughed aloud and the course leader looked at me. I said "I'm not surprised in the least."
...What I got this weekend is that I'm exactly as incredible as he is.
That to me... is HUGE.
I would NEVER have done Landmark. However, a friend whom i respect deeply recommended it so i gave it a go. i was surprised to discover: It was great! Don't believe the antiHype like i did. It delivers, it is philosophically clean/sound and it is, like they say, transformational. One of the biggest surprises of my life so far. Did not see it coming.
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