Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category
Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, San Francisco, Calif.
Published in Biosciences Communication 3:104-122, 1977
Abstract. The format of the est standard training is described. Relationships which participants develop in the training are: to the trainer, to the group, and to self. Three aspects of self are presented: self as concept, self as experience and self as self. Relation of these three aspects of self to the epistemology of est are discussed, as are the experiences of aliveness and responsibility.
Since fundamentally, est is a context in which to hold one’s experience, I want to begin this essay by thanking a number of people for providing me with a context in which to write it. To begin, I want to thank those who attended the panel discussion at the APA meetings in May 1976, and, in addition, I want to thank the reader for this opportunity to discuss the est Standard Training.
In the paragraphs that follow, I will present some information which may be useful as a context in which to examine est as an example of an ‘awareness training’ in relation to contemporary psychiatry. I want to say at the outset that I am not qualified to write about large scale awareness trainings in general, and I will not presume to tell you anything about psychiatry. What I want to do is share with you some of the format, intended results, and ‘theory’ of est as an example of a large-scale awareness training.
My intention is to provide a context in which the reader can have something of an experience of est and to create an opportunity for the reader, not simply to have some new concepts but to have an experience of what est is, insofar as that is possible in an essay.
So, I want the reader to know that my ultimate purpose is not to tell you some facts you did not know. I do ask you to entertain the possibility that there is something you do know, which you have not been aware that you know. The est training is an opportunity to become aware that you know things you did not know you knew, so it is not a ‘training’ in the usual ‘rule-learning’ sense of the word, nor is it an ingraining, by repetition or any other means, of behaviors, attitudes or beliefs.
Fundamentally, then the est training is an occasion in which participants have an experience, uniquely their own, in a situation which enables and encourages them to do that fully and responsibly. I am suggesting that the best way to learn about est is to look into yourself, because whatever est is about is in your self. There are some who think that I have discovered something that other people ought to know. That is not so. What I have discovered is that people know things that they do not know that they know, the knowing of which can nurture them and satisfy them and allow them to experience an expanded sense of aliveness in their lives. The training is an occasion for them to have that experience – to get in touch with what they actually already know but are not really aware of.
Eleanor Links Hoover, HUMAN BEHAVIOR, October 1978
One reason why the public seldom sees much deep, penetrating reporting and/or commentary about any contemporary psychological movement is that it is distinctly unfashionable for journalists to write anything that may be interpreted as favorable about such phenomena. Never mind whether it’s true or not. The silent rule is, “If you can’t be critical, don’t write it.”
Well, this is to serve notice to any potential head-lopper that I choose not to be intimidated. Sorry. I just can’t join the cynical press bandwagon. est is – and remains – one of the most fascinating movements, events, phenomena (take your pick, it still defies analysis) I have ever observed and reported on. The fact that it isn’t what it seems to be (what is?) and that it is as elusive as quicksilver to describe only enhances the fascination as far as I’m concerned. For me, it is, among other things, an excursion into High Philosophy – a miniseries of sorts into issues raised by Plato, Sartre, Wittgenstein. Bill Bartley, philosophy professor at California State University at Hayward once told me, “What est is doing is making available for the first time on a wide, popular basis, the key ideas and problems of philosophy.” Full Article
Article from a 1978 Graduate Review, “Viewpoint: You Can’t ‘Apply’ The est Training.
…When I became a department chairman, shortly after taking the est training, I knew that what I had learned in the training could be applied to academic administration. Every time I tried to apply something however, it didn’t work. I would make a policy of open communication, for example. No good. At the same time, I noticed that whenever I simply did what seemed appropriate – just having open communication, say, without the policy – it worked beautifully. I was enjoying the job and being acknowledged as a good administrator.
Eventually it dawned on me that perhaps Werner had meant it when he said that the experience of the training wasn’t about “things.” It was about context and the experience of Self. I noticed that I had been trying to convert my experience of the training into things of substance: techniques, ideas, beliefs, philosophies, etc… read more at https://archive.org/details/ViewpointGRAug1978
‘Me generation’ – a thing of the past
San Francisco – 1980
There’s been a shift in the rules for successful living, according to Werner Erhard.
Speaking to a crowd of some 8,500 at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in January 1980, the founder of “est” told them to look at the world from a “you AND me” perspective, instead of a “you OR me” standpoint.
Departing from philosophies emphasized by self-centered “self-help” publications, Erhard said, “We need a whole new set of rules to live successfully in a ‘you and me’ world. We are still trying to make it with ‘you or me’ rules.”
He said, “In the past, the way I had a glass of water was to hold on to it. Now, the way to assure you have a glass of water is to assure everyone has one.”
The new type of thinking, which Erhard says people have no training for, could breed what might be called failure. Erhard wards that this is not truly failure. People can expect to “fail,” he said, but failure in the context that “the world works for everyone” is an opportunity for a breakthrough.
Erhard says, “Each person’s life is shaped by a basic principle” which “thereafter unconsciously determines the shape and scope of their lives.” People, he says, need to develop the basic principle, “The world can work for everyone.” He emphasizes that the individual does make a difference in the world.
When they adopt these attitudes, he says, they will see a shift in the way they experience life.
He said he believes what people want to do is make a difference in the world. The “be careful, get everything you can” kind of thinking tends to dictate not only how people live and act, but how they look at the world.
What a person now needs to do, he says, is to “look at life, see what is wanted and needed, and start producing it.”
Erhard says each person must choose, for himself, the way he will make a difference in the world.
– Richard Guarino – San Francisco
The Hunger Project, an international grassroots organization, dedicated itself to the end of hunger in the world. Praised for its effectiveness by world leaders and authorities on dealing with the persistence of hunger, the United Nations Economic and Social Council roster recognizes the continuing work of the Hunger Project to create the sustainable end of world hunger.
A 1978 edition of Mother Earth News looked at Werner Erhard’s campaign to raise national — and ultimately world — consciousness through his training sessions. The Hunger Project was initiated in the spring of 1977 and by 1978 there were over 70,000 individuals in 29 different countries (est graduates and non-graduates alike) participating.
“I’m not an expert on hunger and starvation,” Erhard began. “The little bit of knowledge I’ve acquired in four years of study is small compared to the knowledge of the true world hunger authorities I’ve worked with, like Buckminster Fuller or Roy Prosterman. But I can see that — precisely because the impact of starvation on all our lives is so great — its existence is actually an opportunity … to get beyond merely defending what we have, beyond the futility of self-interest, beyond the hopelessness of clinging to opinions and making gestures.”
Werner tells audiences that sometime soon “some opportunity to do something to end starvation on the planet will cross your path.” And he urges that everyone open his or her eyes to the variety of actions that can be taken … by contributing time, or supporting those who are directly involved in the cause, or fasting one day each month, or working with other anti-hunger organizations, or offering his or her own skills and knowledge to starving people.
“Soon there will be over 100,000 people enrolled in The Hunger Project … people committed to causing the end of hunger and starvation in two decades,” Werner declares. “We have no idea what a group of 100,000 aligned people can do, and I say that any attempt to predict it limits it. So I only predict miracles.
“Twenty years from now, when we’re looking back at how hunger and starvation ended, It won’t look as if miracles happened. Everyone will know how it happened. They’ll point to events that were pivotal, that made a difference. There will appear to be an obvious relationship between what was done and the logical consequences of what was done. The weather got better … there were bigger crops … this government changed … the president said that … the government did this … and it all resulted in the end of starvation on the planet. In retrospect, that’s how miracles always appear to happen.”
From an Interview with Werner Erhard in Scene Magazine, 1982:
We are developing a prototype that will be used in our centers throughout the world to support people in being able to be effective in their community, rather than simply having a list of complaints and gripes and feeling like there is nothing they can do. A lot of the work is allowing people to get in touch with the fact that they have the power to bring forth in themselves those qualities which will actually make a difference in their community, their family and their work.
How do you approach problem solving in a community?
One of the things that I have learned is that it’s very difficult to get to the actual causes of the problems in a community And let me say parenthetically, I’m making a distinction here between the explanation we give for things and the actual causes of them. At any rate, it is difficult to get to the actual causes when they are obscured by a simple lack of integrity by the people “in community ”
What do you mean, lack of integrity?
We discovered that when people don’t stand behind their word, things stop working. And you can’t even discover why they stop working because the source is obscured by a basic lack of integrity Here’s how I think it works: You go to the doctor and the doctor comes up with a tentative diagnosis that you have disease X. He tells you to take these pills three times a day Most of the time you remember twice a day sometimes only once a day and occasionally not at all. You go back to the doctor with the same complaints. The doctor now rules out disease X because he knows that he gave you the pills and he thinks you took them. He now has to conclude that you have disease Y and he gives you medication for that which, of course, doesn’t work. It just keeps getting more and more en-mired. The same thing holds true for community.
What does that mean to the individual?
The people in the community start to have the sense that they are really only going through the motions, that they can’t really make any difference; and then their choices become insignificant. There are all those little choices we all have to make every day like whether to be concerned about the interests of our neighborhood, whether to walk over the trash in the street or pick it up.
In the exceptional article titled, Breaking Out of the Box, Werner Erhard and writer Debra Feinstein discuss mastering paradigms in relation to performance management as a critically important skill in dealing effectively with the accelerating rate of change. “Rather than imposing goals on organizations and managing to narrow people’s actions toward the achievement of those goals, excellent business leaders establish organizations in which there is a lot more freedom for people to actually be proactive and entrepreneurial and self-generating … Rather than taking something already in existence and putting a conceptual “fence” around it or generating new products and organizational structures from old paradigms, excellent companies will create new paradigms, which will give rise to ‘whole new domains of possibilities.’ That will lead to a situation where something and its opposite are not the only possibilities.” Read the entire article: Breaking Out of The Box.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Werner Erhard done by Norman Bodek and published in ReVision: The Journal of Consciousness and Change, Vol 7, No. 2, Winter 1984/Spring 1985. The entire interview can be found in the archive section at the Werner Erhard website.
Norman Bodek: This domain you’re talking about is a function of Being?
Werner Erhard: This phenomenon I’m trying to get at is in the domain of Being. Creating distinctions—not naming or explaining distinctions but creating distinctions—is a phenomenon in the domain of Being.
Let me give you one more example. Let’s say you study all the books there are about balance. Then you go out and sit on a bicycle, but you fall off. You know everything there is to know about balance, but you fall off the bicycle because the ability to balance on a bike is not really predicated on what we think of as information or knowledge. That is to say ability, skill, and prowess are not epistemological phenomena—not phenomena of knowledge or information.
Now, we observe that if you take someone out on a bike, and he sits on it and falls off enough times, then at some point he’ll sit on it and balance. So, we then say to ourselves, “Ah, the answer is not knowledge, but experience!” I say that too is a misinterpretation. I say that if you use that interpretation in working with people, you’re going to be very frustrated. I think that what happens when someone learns balance is that he sits on a bike, falls off, sits on it, falls off, until at some point, out of all that experience, he brings forth the distinction of “balance.” And in that distinction, or in that “domain of possibility,” he can now discern balance from not-balance. He’ll still fall off some more, but he’s now over the hump. The possibility of balance is present because he’s had that breakthrough. He now has a domain of distinction called balance, in which the experience “balance” can show up.
There is a transcending of the ordinary rules here. The ordinary rules are: you learn a little bit, then you learn a little bit more, then more, and finally you know enough to do it. I’m saying that there is a whole body of problems or concerns for which that theory does not work. For that body of problems, the solution is an all-of-a-sudden phenomenon—an “ah-haa” experience. We don’t understand it very well because we try to get at it with disciplines which cannot contain it. Our work proposes a discipline directed at those phenomena, and we think we now know something about the content of that discipline. We now know that the “ah-haa” is a product of bringing forth a domain of distinction, literally creating it. It’s as if you know you don’t have to go through that process one step at a time—you’ve got it all at the moment of bringing forth the distinction. It now lives for you as a possibility. It’s true that you’ll have to go through the practice and add the steps in, but you’re adding the steps into the possibility, not trying to build towards the possibility.
This technology of breakthrough is distinction-creating, or paradigm-creating, or context-creating. The traditional disciplines can say something about it, but they have no power to bring it about. Bringing it about requires a whole different discipline. It is talked about in religion, psychology, and philosophy. But it’s talked about rather than brought forth. You can read books from now until doomsday on creativity and only associate with creative people, and you’re still not likely to be much more creative than when you started. It requires a whole new discipline to be creative. And that’s the discipline we’re talking about.
Living is really pretty simple. Living happens right now; it doesn’t happen back then, and it doesn’t happen out there. Living is not the story of your life. Living is the process of experiencing right now.
Thinking about right now, figuring it out, perceiving it, arguing, reading about or believing anything about right now – none of these produce any certainty about living.
When you get beyond the symbols and beliefs about now, beyond thinking about it, beyond efforting or working at it, when you get even beyond merely feeling it, when you get all the way up to observing it, being with it, and finally up to totally experiencing it, the uncertainty about living goes away, because you know the truth in the only way in which a being ever knows the truth – by direct experience. — Read the entire transcription of this talk given by Werner Erhard in 1973 at www.wernererhard.com/living.html
Eliezer Sobel, The author of 99th Monkey – One man’s spiritual quest—and his continuous and utter failure to find the answers writes in his recent blog post on Psychology Today:
As Werner Erhard once bluntly put it to me, staring right into my eyes, “There isn’t ANYTHING that is EVER going to come along that is going to make you happy. NOTHING. Getting that is the entree into the system in which the truth lies, for the truth is always and only found now, in the circumstances you’ve got.” That was quite sobering news for a truth-seeker.