est, The Landmark Forum, Werner Erhard
* “When people learn, as – they do in est, that it is acceptable, perhaps, even necessary to coerce, abuse, demean, incarcerate and exhaust people ‘for their own good,’ we have a classic means/end dilemma and, …the precondition for fascism.”
* “Est is a process of indoctrination and hypnotic suggestion …during which one is reduced to a position of impotence and vulnerability without even realizing it.
* “If it were not for the fact that people voluntarily take this training, it would easily qualify for the worst predictions of George Orwell’s infamous 1984.”
* “If one were ever required to take such training against his will, est would be exposed for the brainwashing that it really is.”
+ Silva Mind Control, a meditational process resulting in self-induced trance states where one makes contact with a spiritual entity or “spirit guide.”
+ Nietzschean philosophy which is nihilistic
+ Scientology, an extremely virulent and agressive cult, based on the nonsensical teachings of science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard.
+ Hypnosis, an ancient shamanistic technique, now considered pseudo-scientific.
+ Mind Dynamics
+ Yoga, a Hindu technique meaning “union,” which is thousands of years old, and has as a goal, uniting with “a spiritual deity,” which is biblically, and in reality, a fallen angel, or demon.
+ Gestalt and encounter therapy
+ transpersonal psychology
“est”, which was discontinued after the most severe criticism, and the Landmark Forum, its more subtle replacement, are Personal Transformational/encounter seminars promising individual growth, increased business management skills, and stress reduction, etc., which have been taken by thousands of people. These seminars are the creation of Werner Erhard, and they teach through demonic deception, or eastern mystical “enlightenment” that the world has no objective meaning. They are designed to alter personal belief systems, teaching the seminar participant that he/she is god of their own universe, and to live moment to moment with no regard for the future.
By combining Eastern Mysticism and Western Occultism, these seminars qualify spiritually, as classically New Age. New Age is a world wide belief system encompassing thousands of autonomous, and sometimes contradictory beliefs, organizations, and events. The New Age borrows its theology from pantheistic Eastern religions and its practices from 19th century Western occultism. The term “New Age” is used as a blanket term to describe organizations exhibiting one or more of the following beliefs: (1) All is one, all reality is part of the whole; (2) Everything is God and God is everything; (3) Man is God or a part of God; (4) Man never dies, but continues to live through reincarnation; (5) Man can create his own reality and/or values through transformed consciousness or altered states of consciousness.
The formless “experience” which results in the complete transformation of an individuals’ worldview, of self, God, reality, and their very existence, is the goal of “est,” or the Landmark Forum, Erhard Seminar Training. It is based on the accepted presuppositions and philosophical strucure of Zen Buddhism which results in a void, or being conned out of your very existence; and 2) a combination of the consciousness-training techniques learned by Werner Erhard during his explorations of various western occultic and eastern religious mystical disciplines including the following:
People are willing to invest hundreds of dollars for such a mish mash of mind altering techniques in an attempt to have the irreconcilable situations in their lives removed by any means possible.
Resolution or escapism is how most people deal with their conscience in a bad situation. est, and now the Landmark Forum seem to provide a quick and effective way to cauterize the response of the conscience. est creates an experience in which it makes perfect (apparent) sense to say “this” and “not this” at the same time. In this “experience,” according to a reprint from Radix Magazine, by the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, the trainee comes to view the entirety of his life; identity, self-concept, appearance, as well as his conceptual thinking processes as superfluous to the pure and nameless essence of who he really is. He “catches up with himself” by discarding all his records of experience (even those he created just a millisecond ago) “in favor of a pure experience” which is unrelated to anything.
In so doing, he effectively puts himself in a position where he is unable to have an evaluative thought. Evaluating, a thing requires both the knowledge and belief in an objective standard against which the measurement is made, as well as a conceptual thought process which weighs the one against the other. In est, these are eliminated. The main tool of conscience is evaluation. Manipulating the mind into a state which is outside the realm of evaluation results in the inability to judge experience. Thus, an individual may feel that a bad situation was taken care of, without ever having had to directly deal with it.
]est utterly devalues people’s perception, by saying that experience is beyond the possibility of evaluation. When experience is removed from anything that might define it, experiece itself becomes absolute. What one experiences in the world today includes famine, wars, hatred, the things that are ravaging the planet and driving people into est in the first place. When the experience of this total reality becomes absolutized, one begins to view those things outside of the possibility of evaluating them and doing something about them.
Taking “responsibility,” according to est, involves allowing external circumstance to attach itself to the pure essence that a person is, but it doesn’t mean evaluating the circumstance in the light of a value system. This means that people’s minds are manipulated into a dissociative framework. As long as they are maintaining the est experience the world can go down the tubes. The suffering of humanity has nothing to do with the est person; he is put outside the possibility of concern and action, and into a state that Werner Erhard calls “being.”
For Christians, the present has a relationship to that which is eternal, to God, who transcends the past, present, and future. The present that the Christian lives in isn’t in the abstract. In est, to live in the present seems to be more of an escape from the demands of the past and the future. Consciousness through the est experience is to be experienced purely and abstractly, which means out of the context of anything that might condition or define it. Neither prior nor subsequent events can evaluate it. Again, you get back to the question of conscience as the mediator of value. Every “now” experienced by finite beings has to exist in relationship to an infinite value or perspective, which is available only in a relationship with God.
The infinity offered in both Zen and est is infinity in the abstract. Its “value” is that it has no value and so it creates an experience of ultimate meaningless, or absurdity In effect, this says that what we might count as having meaning realy doesn’t. The final postulate of Zen and est is that ultimately nothing is really happening at all. It is only our limited idea that something should be happening (according to our categories of “good” and “evil,” “worthful” or “worthless” that keeps us miserable. Thus the problem of evil or “sin” in the world and in ourselves is falsely manipulated into apparent non-existence, and therefore seemingly outside of our concern. est and Zen teach us how to experientially ignore the problem in such a total way as to be ignorant of the fact that there is something we are ignoring.
At the opposite end of the spectrum to this is the God of the Bible, who is the source and summation of Value and absolute truth. He expresses His value in relation to human experience in history. He has very definite opinions about the course of humanity, which is found by reading the Old and New Testaments of scripture. More importantly, He has revealed to us His opinion of human evil and sinfulness, and the remedy He has provided through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
If we are but honest with ourselves, we will realize that death was endured by Jesus because death is what we have all truly earned. When we are able to admit that, the next step is to accept the fact that Jesus Himself bore that penalty precisely on our behalf, substituting His life for ours. Because of this, we can be totally forgiven. That is a completely different proposition than systematically convincing ourselves, through a falsely manipulated view of reality, that there is nothing for which we need forgiveness.