It is interesting to see the low level of thinking and personal responsibility/power involved in the accusations that EST was a cult, a brain washing experience, etc., as if people are all victims of what occurs in their lives.

However, it was the very opposite.  It was a highly responsible attempt at changing people's lives by changing their viewpoints, mostly about being responsible for their own lives, in the context of a society that has diluted and polluted the concept and reality that really determines the quality of our lives. 


Simplistic sayings come out of it, as is the case from any philosophy or training, such as:

"If it's to be, it's up to me."  (Actually this might have come from the concurrent great training called Lifespring.  My modification, in jest but with some truth, was "and if it's to do, it's up to you," meaning "not me!")

"What's so?", "So what?", "Now what?" (A very wise way of implementing personal responsibility.  A use of it on this site: link. )

"You are cause in the matter of your life." (Again, it is responsibility.)

"An approval suck." (A term for someone who is craving and manipulating in order to get approval, assuming that such dependency is an absolute.)

"You're just a mechanical asshole."  (For this, as you can imagine, there was some indignation and a tendency to strike back in denying it.  A bit brutal in language, it would appear it was designed for its effect, rather than for getting approval for diplomacy.  Asshole refers not to being a bad person but to the bottom end of a person through which mechanically flows all the crap from the mechanics of the body.  This refers to our believing ourselves to be "at the effect of" our body and feelings rather than the master of them.  We have the power to not respond thoughtlessly or automatically to our bodily sensations and our emotional feeling, i.e. we do not need to mechanically respond to our body-machine, as we can instead choose our response.

When I first heard this from Werner Erhard, it did have an impact, though it seemed stupid and a bit harsh at the time.  Later, it made sense - and the point was driven home.

We are, in fact, mechanical beings.  See Your Mechanical Brain/Body - Summary - See It For What It Is, Create It How You Want It To Be.) 


Of course, after two weekends of full-blown, massive hours of intense training, often until the wee hours of the morning, we hadn't yet mastered all of life.  So we were left to blunder our way forward, with the incredible core knowledge that we acquired causing great benefits. 

But one of the things that occurred was that people attempted to be totally honest with their parents about all the ways they were mistreated, which of course caused much alarm - but, interestingly, overall it produced a massive, massive amount of love and improved relationships!  People did make progress by "telling the truth" and confronting what needed to be dealt with, but they did some of it unartfully - yes, not smoothly, but the marvelous effect is still not to be denied or diminished. 

The problem is that they misapplied the ideas of fault and make wrong. 

Even in Landmark today, people misapply the exercise of communicating the "truth" to someone they have been alienated from, as they still use "make wrong" language.  I paired up with a gal in one training who kept on coming back and telling the participants that the "tell the truth" communication with her ex-husband, who was in the hospital, "didn't work".  I pointed out that her language included make-wrong and blame in it and that she should just speak of her own responsibility for her responses and beliefs.  Later, my guru told me that he had seen a gal the week before who had just finished Landmark and that she was so happy that she finally had communicated with and repaired her relationship with her ex-husband, who died in the hospital shortly thereafter...)


Later, as society evolved, the controversy over EST and perhaps its seemingly rough (but actually very compassionate) treatment of people, many of the methods were modified or dropped, but much of the true parts of the philosophy were borrowed and continued, in a sense, through a new organization that has become, after EST, one of the major life education organizations in the world, the largest of its sort, having had millions of participants in their trainings.

Landmark Education is kinder and gentler but, oh, so great at teaching life, responsibility, nonfearing, and making things work in life and relationships.  It is the only continuous form of life education, as it provides ongoing evening seminar series for those who want to fine-tune their knowledge and skills in life.  There, too, I have seen many people progress immensely. 


There were at least 5 good books on the EST training, plus there are some excerpts from some sessions (many on YouTube).  You'll want to put into YouTube's search: Werner Erhard.  Werner Erhard is now a behind the scenes master trainer for creating greater effectiveness and peace in the world (he originally started the massive The Hunger Project, which is still massively active, with a purpose eloquently stated at its time of origination in 1977:  The End Of Starvation: Creating An Idea Whose Time Has Come.)    Erhard's site contains links to scholarly papers (and videos) and to other philosophical pieces. 


I owe him a great debt of gratitude for my first truly impactful start at transformation of my viewpoints to what works better in life.

In fact, during the follow on seminars I formulated my mission in life. 

I appreciated so much the greatness of the contribution and materials, but I lamented that it was too bad it had to be commercial (to survive, of course) and that there was "no bridge" upon which to continue one's massive upward momentum.  So I resolved to create that bridge, non-profit-wise, that would "greatly, profoundly affect the lives of more than 1 million people such that they were much happier and more effective in life - and such that they were able to significantly affect the lives of those whom they loved and cared for."   And then, out of having so many people who think progressively and who have also become powerful, the world's mentality would change - and we'd have world peace...  Not quite there yet, but I'm workin' on it...

For the very curious

For those who want to go deeper and/or synthesize the materials, watch the related videos, go to the internet and/or see the rather unique creation of Lawrence Platt: Conversations Of Transformation.

Great trainings

Among the greatest trainings, you might consider Lifespring.

See also those identified in The Resources For Success.

I took 7 weeks of generally week long workshops with The Option Institute, which I found useful and clarifying.

Perhaps the best and most effective in the personal psychology arena, according to highly respected people who have taken, at not too great acost, is The Hoffman Institute.