Werner Erhard

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Werner Erhard is a lecturer, author, consultant, and the creator of one of the most influential technologies of the last 40 years, the technology of transformation. His life is best understood through his ideas and their application to people's lives. Collected here are historical articles written by or about Werner Erhard and his work beginning in 1970.

The Hunger Project Source Document, by Werner Erhard

The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come: "You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference - to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have had some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work...." more

The Mind's Dedication To Survival, by Werner Erhard, Gilbert Guerin and Robert Shaw

"The process used in The est training is designed to assist the individual to experience life with less automated, patterned and repetitive behavior. The goal is to increase the individual's awareness of his present experience with satisfaction and aliveness. Three steps are involved in assisting the individual to move from the static position of an existence based on mind functions (identity) to an active participation based on the function of being...." more

The est Standard Training, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia

"...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 est 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...." more

In Training, Free Choice is the Key, by Werner Erhard

"The greatest successes are achieved when employees request training, and not just agree to attend, on the basis of their own confidence in the opportunity it provides. Effective training must recognize and build on the contribution that each worker already makes while providing the opportunity to move even further ahead...." more

est: Communication in a Context of Compassion, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia

"The purpose of the est training is the transformation of the ability to experience living, so that the situations one is trying to change or is putting up with clear up just in the process of life itself. Transformation is a shift in the experience of "I am" from seeing yourself as content of experience to seeing yourself as the context of your contextual experience.

"Graduates of the est training - whether they are therapists, patients, educators, physicians, attorneys, or people from other walks of life - regularly report that their ability to be, to be with themselves and with others, and to engage with others in a full participation in the opportunities of life have been transformed; i.e., shifted from a thing-determined to a self-determined context. This shift enables and empowers therapists and patients who have taken the est training to experience themselves as the source of their ability to experience each other with absolute compassion." more

Ethiopia: 1988 A Remarkable Achievement, by Werner Erhard

"In the ordinary course of events it is easy to assume that geopolitics and political ideology form a barrier to effective humanitarian assistance. Here, the United States, the U.S.S.R., Ethiopia and many others, working under the leadership of the United Nations, managed to pull together in spite of their very real differences, not merely to react to a widely publicized disaster as they have before, but to keep the disaster from happening in the first place. " more

Some Aspects of the est Training and Transpersonal Psychology, by Werner Erhard and James Fadiman

This is an edited transcript of a discussion in an informal meeting of a few members of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, several Journal editors, and friends. Werner Erhard was the founder and primary spokesman for Erhard Seminars Training (est), James Fadiman was a lecturer, author, a past president of the Association, and an associate editor with the Journal. more

You Don't Alter What You Know, You Alter The Way You Know It

From their base at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, members have been exploring ways to evaluate the confusing array of activities they define as spiritual, self development, or consciousness oriented. A continuing seminar at the Center has worked on criteria which lay people and professionals can use to discriminate between harmful and helpful conditions in groups pursuing such activities. Werner Erhard and 17 members of the seminar met in April 1981 to discuss some of the distinctions between authoritarianism and legitimate authority. The conversation covered other topics as well, and the seminar leader, Dick Anthony, later commented that it was "one of the important turning points in our meetings.” An edited transcript of the interview appeared in the book, Spiritual Standards for New Age Groups and Therapies, edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker and Ken Wilber, published Spring 1984.. While The est Training is not a therapy or a religion, the conversation between Werner Erhard and members of the seminar clearly applies to the issues raised by the book, and to everyday living. more

Listen to an Audio Recording of this conversation at Internet Archives.

Werner Erhard on Transformation and Productivity: An Interview, by Norman Bodek

From 1971: " Werner Erhard developed The est Training, an approach to individual and social transformation. He is the founder of Werner Erhard and Associates, which sponsors, in addition to the Training, workshops and seminars on communication, language, and productivity in the United States, Canada, South America, Western Europe, Australia, Israel, and India. He has formed a number of partnerships to apply his method of inquiry to business, education, government, and the health profession, including The Center for Contextual Study (psychotherapy), Transformational Technologies (management and leadership), and Hermenet Inc. (language and computers).

"Because much of Mr. Erhard's recent work has focused on transformation in corporations and because his influence has been so broad, the publishers of ReVision: The Journal of Consciousness and Change asked Norman Bodek to interview him in his San Francisco office. This article is a discussion not only of transformation in the workplace, but of the art and discipline of transformation itself." more

Being Well, by Werner Erhard and Ken Anbender

"Our intention in the following essay is to offer the reader an opportunity to reflect on an issue which is central in our time—the search for a new paradigm—a profound new definition of human well being."

"We shall present the thesis that each of us has access to a dimension of knowing that most of us have only accidentally used. It is present and unseen, powerful, seldom employed, ordinary, and rare."

"We intend to provide access to this dimension of knowing so that the reader can select confidently from among the available options those (s)he finds most satisfying." more

est: A Philosophical Appraisal, by Michael Zimmerman

"The purpose of this report is to provide a philosophical assessment of the est training. I first took the training in New Orleans in January, 1981, and reviewed it as an observer in Sacramento in February, 1982. My analysis of the training is guided by my understanding of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, existential psychotherapy, and eastern religions. The following appraisal arises not only from my theoretical training as a philosopher, however, but also from my own personal experience." more

Report on The est Training, by Humberto Maturana

"The training is a set of interpersonal interactions that lead to emotional and intellectual experiences that provide a circumstance and an instrument for self awareness, self observation and reflection on the circumstances of the subject trainee, both in his individual life and as a social being." more

Assessment of the Philosophical Significance of The est Training, by Hubert Dreyfus

"In the course of the training it became progressively clear to me that the experience underlying the training and the conceptualization of this experience have deep affinities with the phenomena presented and analyzed in Martin Heidegger's Being and Time."

"...It is directly manifest in the training that est embodies a powerful and coherent truth which transforms the quality of the lives of those who experience it. Moreover, this truth contains radically new insights into the nature of human beings." more

Est Outcome Study, by Ornstein, Swencionis, Deikman & Morris

In early 1974, an exhaustive survey “A Self-Report Survey: Preliminary study of Participants in Erhard Seminars Training” by R. Ornstein, C. Swencionis, A. Deikman, and R. Morris was completed by 10.5% of the est graduate population. The survey asked graduates to report their experience of health and well-being after the est training and their experience of health and well-being the year before the training.... Respondents reported strong positive health and well-being changes since taking the est Standard Training, especially in the areas of psychological health and well-being. more

The est Training in the Prisons, by Mark Woodard

The est Training was donated to inmates of federal and state prisons between 1974 and 1982. Originally printed in the University of Baltimore Law Journal in 1982, "The est Training in Prisons: A Basis for Transformation of Corrections?" by Mark Woodard examines studies of The est Training in the general population as well as in the prison population. more

Est in Prison, by Earl Babbie

Article in The American Journal of Correction about Werner Erhard's est Training delivered in federal prisons. Published in Volume 39, Number 6 November-December 1977. more

The Forum Can Set You Free, by Dave Curtin

Article from the Gazette Telegraph, Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 2, 1988: excerpt: "Preliminary results who a 48 percent decrease of repeat prison violations for the 204 participants, says Peggy LaMarre, a clinical social worker for the Michigan prison system. 'What we are after ultimately is to stop buiding prisons, to have prisoners become productive, contributing members of society...The Forum opens up the possibility for prisoners to lead their lives, to be responsible for society.'"

Create Breakthroughs in Performance, by Perry Pascarella

Published in the June 15, 1987 issue of Industry Week, this article by Perry Pascarella examines the thinking that Werner Erhard brought to the area of executive training and management. more

Breaking Out of the Box, by Debra Feinstein

Article from the Fall 1989 issue of Benchmark Magazine: excerpt: "What great executives will do in the 1990s, says Erhard, is to create different paradigms that are appropriate to the commitments in various parts of the organization. "They will be able to shape organization-wide paradigms that are appropriate to the moving sands, changing markets, changing competition and introduction of new technologies." Erhard says that instead of waiting for a new paradigm to become apparent, we can create and invent futures that "were not going to happen anyway...The most interesting part of management is the part that's comitted to what wasn't predictable..." more

Epistemological And Contextual Contributions of est to General Systems Theory, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia

The paper presents the view that experiences of self as content systems are characterized by a repetitiveness (redundancy) which mechanize the experience of life and obscure the experience of "aliveness," and that experiences of self as generating context make it possible for selves to experience health, happiness, love and complete self-expression. Self as context allows the self to be complete, whole, alive. With self as context, life is a process of the expression of the experience of completion rather than a seeking to become complete. Similarly, experiences of relationship premised on self as content are contrasted with experiences of relation based on self as context. The epistemological basis of these views are delineated. more

A Breakthrough in Individual and Social Transformation, Presentation By Werner Erhard At The Eranos Conference 2006 Ascona, Switzerland

While I was asked to speak about individual and social transformation, I will start by talking about knowing.

Think of the circle I have drawn here as containing all knowledge. The circle is divided into three sections. The first section of all knowledge is called, "What I know that I know." We all know what to do with what we know that we know – we put it to use. The next section of all knowledge is called, "What I know that I don’t know." Again, we all know what to do with what we know that we don’t know – we learn. Finally, there is this vast remaining section of all knowledge called, "What I don’t know that I don’t know." What to do about what we don’t know that we don’t know is something of a dilemma. And, what we don’t know that we don’t know about human beings is an important question when it comes to individual and social transformation. more

Satisfaction Is The Key

The mind's function is survival. So, one's mental processes are toward survival. That is the purpose of mental processing. It can get very esoteric, but its fundamental purpose is towards survival.

And because it is a construction of the mind, the mind sees that the accumulation of stuff equals survival. Therefore, there's a concept of the mind that more is better. Our mental processes say more is better.

If I get you to love me a little bit, more is better. If I'm a little happy, I ought to be more happy. How about food? Well, I can only eat this much. But you can never tell about tomorrow, more is better!

So, we have an entire system of civilization based on the notion that more is better.

Our mental process is not towards sufficiency or enough but is always towards more, so that if you fill your needs your mind says, "Fill them some more." When you fill them some more the mind says "some more."...

There's another alternative, and that is to move from a system in which the only possible conclusion is that more is better into another system that says enough is best, that to be satisfied is enough. more

A Fuller View

Buckminster Fuller's words speak powerfully to something basic in all of us - the desire to make a difference, to have our lives matter. Bucky refused to be limited by the conventional wisdom that there is nothing one little individual can do to make a big difference... Bucky believed that every person is capable of making a profound difference in their own life and in the lives of others. He saw and spoke that the individual, any individual, has the power to take a stand, and live from the stand that who they are and what they do can make a difference, and that by, doing so they become a trim tab literally capable of turning the ship of life. more

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