“The truth is not found in a different set of circumstances. The truth is always and only found in the circumstances you’ve got. – Suffering is a function of the notion that ‘this is not it.’ ” – Werner Erhard

THIS IS IT- AN INTERVIEW WITH WERNER ERHARD, by Eliezer Sobel, New Sun Magazine,  December 1978

Werner’s life and work is the subject of William Bartley’s recently released book, Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man, the Founding of est, published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. The book is unusual in that it is not so much a story, but an experience. On the surface, it is the history of Werner Erhard; one step in, and it’s a biography of the Self, the story of each of our own inner unfoldment.

New Sun: I’d like to know what you feel is the single most important thing a human being can learn in life?

Werner Erhard: The problem with the answer to that question is that it depends on where the person is. I think that until you know that life does not work you’re unprepared to know anything else. And yet that’s not the most important thing to know. But it might be the first thing to know.

NS:  That it’s not all right the way it is?

Werner Erhard: No. I didn’t say that. I said that life doesn’t work. What I mean by that is whatever it is that you think is going to make life work, it isn’t going to make life work. People think that when they get educated that that’s going to solve all their problems and handle things; or when they get married, or when they get divorced, and so on. People think there is something that is going to make things work, and nothing makes things work. The fact of the matter is that there isn’t anything that’s going to make anybody happy.

NS: Okay … and with that realization begins the search? Or ends the search? What comes next after that realization?

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Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, a documentary by Robyn Symon.

Werner Erhard and The est Training

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 Mind’s Dedication To Survival

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.

EXPERIENCE

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.”

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In Training, Free Choice is the Key

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.

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Interview With Werner Erhard

“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.

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Werner Erhard and James Fadiman

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.

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From Industry Week,  June 15, 1987

By Perry Pascarella

Werner Erhard has developed an organization to help managers create breakthroughs in performance. Is he establishing just another fad? Or will he help create the magnitude of change that many organizations desperately need? Sample his line of thinking and see what you think.

The net looks only one foot high. The service court seems as large as an airfield – I can’t miss it. My racket swings over and “through” the ball to drive a serve that pulls my opponent wide to his forehand side and I strike again in no time to smash his return out the open back corner. A great feeling!

I try to remember the action—reconstruct, analyze, and explain it. But I know that won’t ensure I’ll repeat it. And then there are times when that opposite court looks tiny, the net looms ten feet high, and the ball is a pea traveling at Mach 1.

The court, the net, and the ball are all real. Yet the way they occur for me changes dramatically from a good day to a bad day. While reality doesn’t change, the way it occurs for me does. Could I control that shift in my experience so I could consistently play well? Could I really make that shift happen?

We try to improve our performance by analyzing and evaluating action, producing a prescription for what should be done, and then training ourselves to do a little better. But if we want a dramatic breakthrough in performance, it seems we need a totally different approach.

In his work to develop an approach to performance that will predictably produce breakthroughs, Werner Erhard says, “If you seriously examine any action, you find there are always two sides of it: the side from which you can explain it and the side from which you can produce it. After a recent two-day rise in the stock market, for example, I read an article that masterfully described that rise, analyzed it, and explained it. However, even though I now fully understand what happened, I am not going to bet my life savings on my ability to predict the next one.

“In individual and organizational performance, most of us attempt to produce action by working in the after-the-fact realm of description, analysis, explanation, and prescription. Rarely do we consider that producing an action requires a whole different way of looking at it. If you want to have a dramatic impact on performance, you need access to the source of action.”

A spectator can describe what I’m doing on the tennis court. He is living in the realm of evaluation and explanation – but I’m playing in the world of action. While there is a relationship between his description and what is occurring on the court, the two are clearly not the same.

We seldom think about this sort of distinction, but “failing to make this simple distinction can lead to being satisfied with an explanation about action and may hide from our view the source of action,” says Werner Erhard.

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est: Communication in a Context of Compassion

by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, Ph.D.

Format of the est Standard Training

The est Standard Training is approximately 60 hours long and is usually presented on two successive weekends: two Saturdays and two Sundays, beginning at 9 a.m and ending after midnight, when the trainer observes that the results for that day have been reached.  “Breaks” are usually taken every four hours and there is usually one meal break during the day.  People eat breakfast before and some have a snack after the training day.  Included in the #300 tuition are pre-, mid-, and post-training seminars.  These are each about 3 1/2 hours in duration, and take place on three weekday evenings, one before, one between, and one after the training weekends.

Approximately 250 people take the training together at one time, seated in a hotel ballroom.  Chairs are arranged theater style, facing a low platform on which a chair, a lectern, and two chalkboards are placed.  Everyone wears a nametag printed in letters large enough to be read from the platform.

In est there are four principle topics addressed in the training – belief, experience, reality, and self.  Trainees have the opportunity to examine their experience of each of these topics in three ways: (1) lectures by the trainer, (2) “processes” (guided experiences, usually with eyes closed, and (3) sharing – communications from individual trainees to the trainer and/or to the class.

Trainees realize early in the training that the trainer is not actually “lecturing” i.e, presenting conceptual information – but presenting the trainees with a chance to “look and see what is so for you in your own experience” about the topics discussed.  Similarly, trainees seen realize that ” processes” are opportunities to examine the records of previous experiences in the privacy and safety of their own experience (or “space”) and that, as they wish, they may or may not share what is so for them.

The following chart presents these schematically:

Topic
Process
Sharing
Day 1
Belief
Body
Yes
Day 2
Experience
Truth
Yes
Day 3
Reality
Center
Yes
Day 4
Self
Mind
Yes

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