An Interview with Werner Erhard in 1976

The following is excerpted from a 1976 Interview with Werner Erhard in PSA Magazine by John Johns.

Johns: You say that people are dissatisfied because they think they have what they want but find that they’re not really experiencing it. What are the barriers to their experiencing it?

Werner Erhard: The simplified answer is that people seem to exist in three parts. We have the outer part, which is the thing we put together to survive in life – our persona, our ego. This best-foot-forward face.  Underneath that we’re trying to hide, particularly from ourselves, the persona we’re afraid we might be; small-thinking, frightened, concerned about our own survival, pretending, arrogant. So we put on the face, and underneath that is the thing we’re afraid we might be.   Some of us put on the face so successfully that we don’t even know this persona we’re afraid we are.  Underneath that is the self.  So the barrier to the experience of who we actually are is the unwillingness to confront who we are afraid we are, or dramatizing who we are afraid we are.

Johns:  So people come to est hiding behind their persona, wearing their “face.” Yet so many est graduates come away excited about a change or transformation.  How could you characterize this?

Werner Erhard: Let me try to back around to it.  The transformation is the shift of the principle which orients the person’s life, which is ordinarily the principle of gaining satisfaction. Essentially what organizes life for most of  us is an attempt to gratify our needs; our psychological needs, our material needs, our personal needs … Individuals transform when there’s a shift in the principle which orients their life from one of gaining satisfaction to one of expressing the satisfaction they’ve already got … The difference between a transformed being and a not-yet-aware-of-themselves being is that one is becoming something and expressing himself in the striving to become that and the other one is something, and is expressing that in moving through the world … What happens in the est training is that the predominant way you are is “being” rather than “becoming.”   –  from An Interview with Werner Erhard.

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