Landmark Education is still going strong, even in this day and age of technology and enlightenment.
I was persuaded to go to an introductory session in Massachusetts this spring by a girl I was dating who gushed positively about the "Forum" and its' breakthrough effect on her. She had volunteered through the weekend for the seminar and we attended the follow-up graduation session.
Even though I'm cynical and questioning by nature I have to admit it was a very persuasive presentation and they convinced me to sign up for the next seminar and put down a $100 deposit.
About 300 people filled the room, all very positive, smiling, and confident. A speaker began by reassuring us that our hesitation was normal then proceeded to respond to most of the thoughts in my head, like who attends these things?
The hook for me was the trust in my new girlfriend who brought me to the session.
At various times in the talk we were told to turn to the person who brought us and discuss why they brought us here and what they had gained.
I was completely disarmed and open to the idea of improving my life.
But the whole time bells were going off in my head.
Why did they want us to sign up so quickly?
Who was the organization that was behind this seminar?
Why did my girlfriend and 30 others volunteer their weekend at no pay to a for-profit business?
Why were all the pens lined up perfectly?
Why did the doors close exactly at 7:30 PM when the session started?
Where weren't there windows in the rooms? Why wasn't food provided?
Why were the sessions so long with so few breaks?
I dutifully signed up and noticed the dissatisfaction in the registrar's face when I couldn't think of anyone else to bring to the session. In fact by the end of the evening I decided my brother should come with me and was wondering how to convince him.
We split into groups and I sat next to a fellow whose main problem was financial, he was heavily indebted and couldn't pay his bills on time. I wondered why he was paying $425.00 to Landmark Education when his problems were financial.
I asked why the course was so expensive?
The response was, "How much would you pay to get your life back"?
Driving home I felt content and confident that I could now face some of my problems. I was inspired by the first guy, a CEO who had quit his job Monday after attending the weekend seminar. I was happy my girlfriend had reached out to me to offer this.
Then I went online to find out more and was shocked by what I read.
I found out about est, the precursor to the Landmark Education.
I read about Jack Rosenberg, a used car salesman who changed his name to Werner Erhard and started est, then sold the business to his brother who called it the Landmark Education.
I read about people making rash decisions after attending the seminars (like quitting their jobs on Monday following the seminar).
I read how Landmark Education has sued publishers that publish negative articles about it.
The next day I called Landmark Education and requested my deposit back. I told my girlfriend that I disagreed with the philosophy of the seminar and that I wasn't attacking her but I thought the seminar was a fraud.
She reacted by becoming very upset and said she couldn't trust me if I didn't agree with Landmarks' ideas.
The more she spoke the more I identified with what I had read about the group.
Our relationship is over, I'm trying to get my $100.00 deposit back, but I've still got my freedom to think freely and of my own free will.
I will also continue to work to improve my life and accept some of its' pain without the help of the Landmark Education.