Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, a documentary by Robyn Symon.
Werner Erhard and The est Training
The est Training was presented throughout the world between1971 and 1984. In this clip Werner Erhard and The est Training are featured in various media segments narrated by Joel Daly, with Dinah Shore, Cloris Leachman, Amanda Arnold, Ellie Dylan, from the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The subject of this is transformation – a deep, profound and committed choice about the way we live our lives. Transformation is the possibility for a breakthrough in our living, a clearing for aliveness to show up in our everyday activities, self-expression and commitments.
Talking about transformation is no more than a representation, an image of the real thing. It’s like eating the menu instead of the steak – neither nurturing nor profound. It is in being transformed – in being authentically true to oneself – that one lives passionately free, unencumbered, fearless, committed. It is in living life in a transformed way that the steak and its sizzle show up.
We invite you to be here this evening for the actual benefits of transformation, for the meal – not the menu. Thank you for being here. Thank you for participating.
THREE KINDS OF TALKING
Our language, the way we speak, shows up in three different ways.
By Werner Erhard, March 21, 1983
Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.
There are two factors worth examining in our impairing velocity, in our disempowering ourselves.
The first is the domain of reasonableness. When we deal with our intentions or act to realize our intentions from reasonableness, we are in the realm of slow, impede and complicate. When we are oriented around the story or the narrative, the explanations, the justifications, we are oriented around that in which there is no velocity, no power.
Results are black and white. In life, one either has results (one’s intentions realized) or one has the reason, story, explanations, and justifications. The person of power does not deal in explanations. This way of being might be termed management by results (not management for results but management by results). The person of power manages him or herself by results and creates a space or mood of results in which to interact with others.
The other factor to be addressed is time. Now never seems to be the right time to act. The right time is always in the future. Usually this appears in the guise of “after I (or we) do so and so, then it will be the right time to act”; or “after so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act”; or “when so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act.” The guise includes “gathering all the facts,” “getting the plan down,” “figuring out ‘X’,” “getting ready,” etc.
Since now is the only time you have in reality and now will never seem to be the right time to act, one may as well act now. Even though “it isn’t the right time,” given that the “right time” will never come, acting now is, at the least, powerful (even if you don’t get to be right). Most people wait for the decisive moment, whereas people of power are decisive in the moment.
by Werner Erhard, Victor Gioscia, and Ken Anbender
Chapter 5 of the book, BEYOND HEALTH AND NORMALITY: Explorations of Exceptional Psychological Well-Being, edited by Roger Walsh, M.B., Ph.D. and Deane H. Shapiro, Jr. Ph.D., published 1983
Our intention in the following essay is to offer the reader an opportunity to reflect on an issue which is central in our time—the search for a new paradigm—a profound new definition of human well being.
Since we regard the reader’s reflection as a sufficient resource to arrive at a satisfying conclusion, we shall not ourselves attempt to define—or redefine—human illness or wellness; nor shall we present a new paradigm from which an intelligent definition of well being might reasonably be deduced.
We will elucidate paradigms in general and paradigms of well being in particular. Also, since the issue of paradigms old and new, as well as the transitions between them, is currently receiving much careful attention, we shall focus on the issue of paradigm shifts and some of the problems that arise during times of paradigm shifts.
The reader is asked to suspend defining well being until after we have more completely examined the nature of paradigms, paradigm shifts, and their relation to the issue of human freedom.
The atmosphere of Werner Erhard’s office in the elegantly restored Victorian on Franklin Street is one of quiet, old-world charm; the decor is massive and comfortable. Like the man, it is powerful and has an air of efficiency.
Erhard is a highly intelligent, communicative man who is intensely charismatic. There is about him a sense of ease, grace and elegance. Basically a shy man who would like to spend his days sailing, he has instead become the center of est, an organization dealing with individual and social transformation. He is to this day highly controversial. Mention his name in public and you will generate responses ranging from pure love and adoration to hate. He has often been accused of being an opportunist. Those who know him say if he is, it stems from a genuine concern about the current state of humanity. They also say he has softened over the years, grown more compassionate and developed a kind of dignity that is inspiring to others.
From The Journal of Individual Psychology
Volume 31, Number 1, May, 1975
WERNER ERHARD, Erhard Seminars Training, San Francisco
GILBERT GUERIN AND ROBERT SHAW, University of California, Berkeley
The purpose of this report is to discuss some observations and conclusions relative to the mind’s dedication to survival, a central theoretical concept in the EST training. Terminology will be common to that used in Western philosophy and Eastern thought, free from any special jargon and therefore in keeping with the style of an Adlerian journal.
It is useful, at least for the purpose of description, to separate what are commonly described as mental activities into two groups of activities (one mental and one only apparently mental) which are dominant features in man’s existence. There are first, automatic, stimulus-response activities which come from the “mind” of the individual. The second group of activities are more purposeful and creative, and issue from the “being” or the source of an individual. An individual’s sense of satisfaction, aliveness and sufficiency results chiefly from his recognition that he is the source of himself. In other words, his well-being is linked to his awareness of himself as a “being” rather than as a “mind.”
THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
Wednesday, October 11, 1989
Jobs, a healthy economy and an improving quality of life are high priorities for Americans in the 90’s. Our ability to achieve these goals will depend in no small measure on an effective response by American businesses to tough new challenges – a shrinking work force, rapid technological advances, rising global competition and a cultural diversity in our work force unlike any we’ve seen in the past.
These challenges have already placed unfamiliar and critical demands on employers and employees alike. Already, we face a growing need to develop entry-level skills among workers from an ever greater range of educational backgrounds, ethnic traditions and abilities. As technologies change, we also need to retrain and re-educate even skilled and experienced workers to enable them to keep pace with new methods and new demands. Businesses that flourish and excel in the years ahead will be those that recognize employees as one of the key variables in building a competitive edge. Most businesses have policies and programs to promote the training of employees; and most employees view such training as a pathway to advancement and success. Yet, the notion that advancement depends on training has, in many cases, helped foster a climate of grudging acceptance among the very employees who have most at stake.
“What is is and what isn’t isn’t,” An Interview by John Johns, 1976
Sixteen years ago there was no Werner Erhard. Five years ago there was no est. Today Werner Erhard and est (Erhard Seminars Training) are truly an American phenomenon, a thriving success in the fertile garden of modern pop psychology.
Werner Hans Erhard was born Jack Rosenberg 40 years ago in Philadelphia. He married his high school sweetheart and, in true story-book fashion, proceeded to raise a family of four children. But in 1960 the story took an abrupt turn—Jack Rosenberg ran away with Ellen, who is now his second wife. With characteristic candor, Werner admits that he took off “to avoid the responsibilities I had.” (He has since become very close to his first family, while also raising three children in his second marriage.)
It was in St. Louis that Jack Rosenberg became Werner Erhard, borrowing from Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Prize winning physicist, and former West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard. From St. Louis, Erhard made his way to California, where he worked for a correspondence school. Not long afterward he went to Spokane and a job managing a sales office for Britannica’s Great Books series.
In 1963 Werner took a job with the Parents Cultural Institute, a subsidiary of Parents Magazine, which published and sold encyclopedias. Within three years he had become vice-president. having excelled as a sales manager. He remained there for six years.
Werner’s next position was with the Grolier Society, Inc. Their business was also encyclopedias, and again Werner demonstrated remarkable organizational and motivational skills in sales.
While he was sharpening his management skills, however, Erhard also embarked on a spiritual quest that took him through Zen, yoga, Scientology, Mind Dynamics, Gestalt and numerous psychic layovers along the way. Then, driving the freeway one day, Werner Erhard “got it”—the experience that transformed his life and led him to the formation of est (also Latin for “it is”). His message: “What is, is. And what ain’t. ain’t.”
In the 4 1/2 years that the San Francisco-based est has flourished, it has doubled in size each year. A paid staff of 230 and a rotating volunteer corps of 6000 to 7000 est graduates currently power est offices in 12 cities. There are now more than 70,000 mostly middle-class graduates (this is no fringe hippie movement) who pay $250 to “get it” from the demanding 60-hour, two-weekend course. Last year revenues were more than $9 million, and 12,000 people are on the waiting list, anxious to swell the ranks of enthusiastic est graduates.
From The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1977, Vol.9, No. J, February 1, 1977, San Francisco, California
This is an edited transcript of a discussion in an informal meeting of a few members of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, several Journal editors, and friends.
Werner Erhard was the founder and primary spokesman for Erhard Seminars Training (est), James Fadiman is a lecturer, author, a past president of the Association, and an associate editor with the Journal. After opening remarks by Frances Vaughan Clark, president of the Association, the following discussion took place with occasional audience participation (Audience Member).
James Fadiman: One thing I’m not sure of is whether you and I agree on the role of the self, or the personality. That may be because I’m so interested in “devaluing” personality. I am more and more using the term “personal drama” rather than personality so that even “getting off one’s position” to use an est term, isn’t getting off enough since one is still attached to getting off one’s position. This seems to be more a transpersonal value than perhaps you would accept.
Werner Erhard: No, I’d be wholly aligned with what you just said. I’ll tell you where I think the difference might lie though, and that is perhaps in the path. What one does with personality is not avoid it, or ignore it, or suppress it, or shove it out of the way, but take responsibility for it, complete one’s relationship with one’s personality, transcend it, and therefore include it as a content in the context which one is when one transcends one’s personality. So, rather than to do away with the personality (and I’m not sure that transpersonal psychology would do away with personality) I want to make it clear that est would not do away with the personality. One would be responsible for it, cause it, instead of be the effect of it. Essentially one would complete one’s personality as a way of being unattached to it.