Back in the late 70s, I was going to college at the University of Wisconsin. It was a time when there were all kinds of self discovery seminars happening in America. I had a cousin named Carol who told me all about this really cool course that she took called Erhard Seminar Training, EST. She told me I should go. I told her I didn’t have much cash back then, and she said, just go and I’ll help you. And so I went. It was one of the best 2 weekend experiences of my life, and it really broke down some walls and barriers for me. I won’t explain how important it was to me at the time, but it freed me up to express myself and my love for other people.
Just about the same time that I had discovered EST, John Denver had come off of his hugely successful Back Home Again album. His next release was an album called Windsong. Being the fan that I was, I eagerly listened to it. It had some great songs on it, Fly Away, I’m Sorry, and Calypso. But much to my surprise, it had a couple of songs that I immediately recognized, even though I had never heard them before. There was a good reason for my knowing these songs. They were written from John Denver’s own experiences with EST. The songs that came out of his experience were, Love Is Everywhere and Looking for Space. WOW! I totally got the message because I just got it from EST. I thought that was so cool. I didn’t even know that JD had taken the course.
One of the euphemisms from EST was, “most people realize what’s so. But what most people don’t realize is so what.” For me, this embodied the premise of EST in that we can not let what is the current situation dictate what might be, and that things are only important because we choose them to be. And in this knowledge, we have the power to change our condition.
John was so excited about these ideas that he ended up training directly with Werner Erhard. John went on to work with Werner and a guy named Dr. Robert Fuller, the author of a couple of books about human dignity. On a side note, Dr. Fuller was our personal guest at an event that was held in Aspen several years ago. Very cool guy! Robert Fuller, Werner Erhard, and JD put together an organization called the Hunger Project. It was aimed at ending world hunger and providing a pathway to dignity for the world population with the idea that when people are afforded dignity and hunger is removed as an obstacle, we can achieve peace. The organization is still in existence today, thp.org. It’s nice to see that something that started 40 years ago by John and his friends is still doing good work today.
To this day, I often think of the enlightenment that I got from EST, and I use it on a regular basis. It’s kind of my personal book for life. It changed my approach to relationships and problem solving forever. We still do the two songs that I mentioned earlier in our Tribute show. EST is still around, but it is now called The Forum. I don’t know what the new seminar is like today, but if you are interested, here is the link. http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/why-landmark/news/news-archives/the-return-of-werner-erhard