Erhard Seminars Training

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Erhard Seminars Training, Inc.
TypePrivately held company Corporation (defunct)
FoundedOctober 1971 (dissolved 1981)
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, USA
Key peopleWerner Erhard, Founder[1]
Jump to: navigation, search
Erhard Seminars Training, Inc.
TypePrivately held company Corporation (defunct)
FoundedOctober 1971 (dissolved 1981)
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, USA
Key peopleWerner Erhard, Founder[1]

Erhard Seminars Training (est), an organization founded by Werner H. Erhard, offered a two-weekend (60-hour) course known officially as "The est Standard Training". The purpose of est was "to transform one's ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with, clear up just in the process of life itself."[2][3] The est training was offered from late 1971 to late 1984.


The est Standard Training program consisted of two weekend-long workshops with evening sessions on the intervening weekdays, as well as each Wednesday night. Workshops generally involved about two hundred participants and were led by a trainer designated by Erhard and several assistants. Over the course of nine days, participants were cajoled, shouted at, and emotionally battered, until they agreed they had finally "got it" - a state akin to a religious conversion. Participants were instructed not to wear watches, not to talk unless permitted by the trainer, not to leave their seats, not to eat, and not to go to the bathroom except during breaks separated by many hours.[4]

The seminar aimed to enable participants to shift their contextual state of mind around which their life was organized from the attempt to get satisfaction or to survive, to an experience of actually being satisfied and experiencing oneself as whole and complete in the present moment. The est training offered people the opportunity to free themselves from the past, rather than living a life enmeshed by their past.[5] In her book, I, Rhoda, the Emmy-winning actress Valerie Harper reported, "Est was a wonderfully empowering experience for me. It took a lot of struggle and conflict out of my day-to-day decision-making and helped me imbue my life with more focus and intention. ... I was happier, more alive, and everything seemed lighter."[6]

The first est course was held at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco, California, in October 1971. Within a year, trainings were being held in New York City and other major cities in the United States followed soon after.

Beginning in July 1974 the est training was delivered at the U.S. Penitentiary at Lompoc, California, with the approval of Federal Bureau of Prisons.[7][8][9] Initial est training in Lompoc involved participation of 12-15 federal prisoners and outside community members within the walls of the maximum security prison and was personally conducted by Werner Erhard. Among the participants were the mayor of the city of Lompoc and imprisoned political activist Matthew Steen, a Weatherman convicted of federal conspiracy.[9]

By 1979 est had expanded to Europe and other parts of the world. In 1980 the first est training in Israel was offered in Tel Aviv.[10]

The last est training was held in December 1984 in San Francisco; in its place came a newly developed course called "The Forum", which began in January 1985. The est training presented several concepts, most notably the concept of transformation and taking responsibility for one's life. The actual teaching, called "the technology of transformation", emphasizes the value of integrity.[11] "est, Inc." evolved into "est, an Educational Corporation", and eventually into "Werner Erhard & Associates". In 1991 the business was sold to the employees who formed a new company called Landmark Education with Erhard's brother, Harry Rosenberg, becoming the CEO.[12] Landmark Education was structured as a for-profit, employee-owned company; it operates with a consulting division called Vanto Group.[13]

Early influences[edit]

In William Bartley's biography of Werner Erhard, Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man, the Founding of est (1978), Erhard describes his explorations of Zen Buddhism. Bartley quotes Erhard as acknowledging Zen as the essential contribution that "created the space [for est]".[1]

Bartley details Erhard's connections with Zen beginning with his extensive studies with Alan Watts in the mid 1960s.[14] Bartley quotes Erhard as acknowledging:

Of all the disciplines that I studied, practiced, learned, Zen was the essential one. It was not so much an influence on me, rather it created space. It allowed those things that were there to be there. It gave some form to my experience. And it built up in me the critical mass from which was kindled the experience that produced est.[15]


Notable participants[edit]

Books about est[edit]

Related organizations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bartley, William Warren, Werner Erhard: the Transformation of a Man: the Founding of est. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1978. ISBN 0-517-53502-5, p.164.
  2. ^ Getting it - the psychology of est, by Dr. Sheridan Fenwick, p.44
  3. ^ Life inc: how the world became a corporation and how to take it back, by Douglas Rushkoff
  4. ^ Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion, by Marc Galanter; New York: Oxford University Press, second edition, 1999, p.75
  5. ^ Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man, The Founding of est, by William Warren Bartley, III; New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1978. ISBN 0-517-53502-5, p. 199
  6. ^ a b Harper, Valerie (2013). I, Rhoda. Gallery Books. ISBN 1451699468. 
  7. ^ a b "The est Training in Prisons: A Basis for the Transformation of Corrections?" by Mark Woodard, Baltimore Law Journal, 1982
  8. ^ "est in Prison" by Earl Babbie, published in American Journal of Correction, Dec 1977
  9. ^ a b c "Getting it in Prison" by Neal Rogin, published in The Graduate Review, June 1978
  10. ^ Despair and deliverance: privat salvation in contemporary Israel by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi page 121
  11. ^ The Herald Sun, March 1, 2008 |,21985,23298425-664,00.html
  12. ^ McClure, Laura (July–August 2009). "The Landmark Forum: 42 Hours, $500, 65 Breakdowns". Mother Jones (Mother Jones). Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  13. ^ Bass, Alison (March 3, 1999). "Soul Training, A Retooled version of the controversial est movement, Seekers of many stripes set out on a path of self-examination". The Boston Globe (The Boston Globe). Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  14. ^ Bartley, William Warren, Werner Erhard: the transformation of a man: the founding of est. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1978. ISBN 0-517-53502-5, p. 118.
  15. ^ Bartley, William Warren, Werner Erhard: the transformation of a man: the founding of est. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1978. ISBN 0-517-53502-5, p. 121.
  16. ^ Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin (July 1, 1992). Despair and Deliverance: Private Salvation in Contemporary Israel. State University of New York Press. 
  17. ^ Werner Erhard
  18. ^ Erhard Seminars Training
  19. ^ "Warren Bennis on The est Training". Retrieved 2014-11-20. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Phil Blevins - IMDb". Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  23. ^ [1] "The Most Significant Thing He's Ever Done"], Eleanor Clift, Newsweek, November 12, 2010
  24. ^ a b c d e f Wallechinsky, David; Wallace, Irving (1978). The People's Almanac 2. Bantam Doubleday Dell. ISBN 978-0-553-01137-1 
  25. ^ Curtis, Adam (2002), The Century of the Self: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed 
  26. ^ Leonard, Andrew (May 7, 2005). "California Dreaming: a True Story of Computers, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ "Fox Heads Stalk This Land", MOJO, April 2010
  28. ^ Jackson, Steve (1996-04-18). "It Happens". Westword. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  29. ^ a b c "History of the est Training". Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  30. ^ Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber, by Walter Arnold Kaufmann
  31. ^ "In the course of the e s t training, you build a 'center' for yourself. Following the specifications of the trainer, you not only imagine it but go through the motions of fashioning it, standing up, stepping in one direction then another, modeling the various parts with your hands according to the image formed behind your closed eyes." -- 20 Lines A Day, p. 37
  32. ^ Cincinnati Magazine. Emmis Communications. p. 14. ISSN 0746-8210. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  33. ^ The Washington Post, "Lance Reddick, working his way up to 'White House Down'", June 18, 2013
  34. ^ a b Silvester, Christopher; Steven Bach (2002). The Grove Book of Hollywood. Grove Press. pp. 555–560. ISBN 0-8021-3878-0. 
  35. ^ Leigh, Wendy (October 20, 2009). Patrick Swayze: One Last Dance. Gallery. 

External links[edit]