Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The est Training

The est Training began in San Francisco in 1971 the invention of Werner Erhardt. It's most stunning, easy-to- point-to achievement, was the creation of The Hunger Project, a way to measure starvation by linking it to the number of infant deaths, a measure which was adopted by the United Nations. The hunger Project Source Document made the leap from the 19th century pessimistic assumption that there wasn't enough food, to pinpointing that there was a lack of intention to end hunger. For example, there is absolutely zero reason for there to be any starvation in the United States, yet it is eleventh, way down the list, of countries which have successfully handled starvation. Back when I did the Training the most number of infant deaths was in Afghanistan. Maybe still true. The Lowest number of infant deaths was in Australasia.

I've mentioned The est Training quite a few times on AOL message boards over the years, beginning in 1996, and not once, not one single time has anyone spoken up to say they too have done it. Yet, the stats on how many have done it worldwide are staggering, and even include people in Soviet Russia, India, Australia, England, Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere, included every major city in USA.

The Training no longer exists. Werner Erhard & Assocs was sold to The trainer body who renamed their version The Forum. I know less about The Forum, run by Landmark Education, although I did 'assist' twice, once at the long weekend session, when my wife did the program, something I was allowed to do because I had completed the Guest Seminar Leader Program after completing the est Training, and The Six Day, plus several seminars available after having done the Training.

There exists a book about the est Training. It is called The Transformation of a Man, written by William Warren Bartley III, a classmate of mine at Harvard. Another classmate listed Bill as WWB3 (meaning cubed, ha!). (The near coincidence of names means nothing.) The book is sympathetic. Bill, now dead, taught Philosophy at UC Davis.

The quickest, and most accurate way to describe it is that it re-examines language, which is the primary reason I continue to be fascinated by it. There is no dogma, nothing to believe. I can never forget my hang dog reluctance to even consider doing the program. To me, then, it seemed quite senseless. So, it's about language, and it is experiential. I believe one can come out of it astonished that every single human being is a very big deal. For what it's worth the United States Post Office has its employees do the Communication Workshop, an est seminar. Have you noticed how the Postoffice is thriving? how pleasant it is to go to the window at the postoffice? Well, that's been my experience. At nearly every other 'window' one visits I'm treated, it seems to me, as though I'm an obstacle that has to be endured, rather than as an opportunity for a breakthrough. 

My wife and I will probably do the Forum, together, again, or a relationship seminar spread over several weeks, just as a way to have a holiday from day to day stuff. We definitely attribute our success as a couple, married in 1992, to being able to communicate fully, with nothing in the way.

Bonne chance.






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