The est Experience

From KHJ TV, May 24, 1976, with Werner Erhard and Anthony Zerbe:

There’s a Sufi story about a man who’s in the street on his hands and knees looking for something.  It’s at night.  Another man comes along, and he said “What happened?” and he said, “Well, I dropped my keys, and I’m down here looking for them.”  And the other guy says, “Well, I’ll help you.”  And he gets down on his hands and knees and they’re both looking, and finally the man that came along – the stranger – said, “Well, exactly where were you standing when you dropped your keys?”  The man says, “Well, I was down the block about a half a block, but there was no light down there, so I looked up here.”  And I think a lot of what people talk about regarding the training is about what can be talked about, rather than what there really is there.  Because what there really is, you can only get by experiencing…You can’t be told about it.  You can’t be given the facts of it. We should then talk about what we can talk about.

What happens in the four days of the training?…The first half of the first day is spent explaining to people in really great detail—in fact, minute detail—exactly what’s going to happen, exactly what they can expect and exactly what notions est has put together.  And the second half of that first day is spent presenting material which allows people to take a look at the difference between what is actually so and what they thought was so.

During the second day, you’ll be confronted by something which doesn’t fit your belief system.  In other words, you will see something happen, or actually, you’ll experience something within yourself that you know can’t happen, and yet there it is – it did happen.  In the truth process you discover that you haven’t really been experiencing life fully. In this process you come into that part of yourself that actually experiences things directly.  You work on something that has been in your life, and has been a problem, and allow it to disappear.
The second half of the second day is the danger process.  In the danger process, you find out that you have to have an act to survive. After the danger process, you still have an act, but you don’t have to have it any more.  The act is still there…. Life is kind of like a Monopoly Game, and you can’t play a Monopoly Game unless you have a piece  — a Scotty dog, or a Top Hat, or whatever it is – and in life, I need one of these, and a personality, and a mind, and all of those things.  The difference is that after the danger process is over, you don’t have the kind of intensity invested in your act.  It kind of relaxes a little bit, and you can just be this person you are pretending to be, without being stuck in the person you’re pretending to be.  You can distinguish between your act, as we like to call it, and yourself.  That is a really incredible experience.  And when that happens, you’re let in on this wonderful, wild joke that you’ve been playing on yourself through your whole life.  Most people spend the last half-hour of the second day laughing.  Then they go home for a week, and begin to experience life without this intensity of having to have an act.

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