Est-I Got It
While Fall de-cluttering, I happened upon my old est notebooks. I’m not a saver and could not believe the notebook had made the “move cut” over the years. I also wondered why I didn’t remember this box of old est musings. Odd.
“I Got It” in 1980, in a Hilton ballroom in Houston, Texas, where I took the Erhard Seminars Training, or as some of you may know it, EST – Latin for “it is.”
For those of you who have never heard of est, maybe you have seen the movie “Semi-Tough,” a 70s Burt Reynolds film that contained a parody of Werner Erhard and the est training, (the original, two-weekend crash course of the Human Potential Movement). “Freidrich Bismarck,” the film’s Erhard look-alike, tosses off remarks like, “There are no answers, because there are no questions,” and graduates of the “BEAT” training are quick to assure their friends that they are “perfect just the way they are.” When Burt “gets it,” he reassures Jill Clayburgh, who isn’t at all sure if she got it, that is certain evidence that she did. Get it, that is.
As I wandered through my est notebooks, I reflected on what I had gotten from the est training and if I still had it…
Perhaps the most essential catch-phrase of the est training was, “What is, is; and what isn’t, isn’t.” In this moment of now, all is exactly as it is, and as it isn’t, and it can be no other way. This is one definition of “perfect.”
An example is feeling sad over Joe’s death.
“Rocks are hard, water is wet, and you’re feeling sad.” You don’t try to “get rid of” the sadness any more than you would attempt to change the nature of rocks. It is simply part of the “what is-ness” of the current moment of your experience. My reaction to it, trying to push it away, would root it more firmly in place.
“When you allow something to be,” Erhard used to say, “it will allow you to be.” And the flip side: “What you resist, persists.”
The purpose of the est training was to “transform your ability to experience living so that the problems or situations in life that you are trying to solve or are putting up with clear up just in the process of life itself.” What shifted was how I experienced things, not the things themselves. The est training presented the possibility that it is possible to experience life by engaging with it exactly as it is, unfiltered by our likes and dislikes, our preferences and aversions, our strongly held beliefs and opinions about how life should be.
As I closed up my “est box,” I realized I still “got” what I got years ago: that I have the power to transform the quality of what I’m experiencing, that life is neither fair nor unfair; life simply is. Showing up on time and keeping my word goes a long way towards improving the quality of my life and the lives around me. Woody Allen is right, “90% of life is showing up.”
Since est is all about sharing, (one unfortunate side effect of becoming an est graduate was sharing the est training with your friends until they were either ready to drive a stake through your heart or take the training) I will end my est reflections by sharing from a small book called, If God Had Meant Man to Fly, He would Have Given Him Wings. Or: Up to Your Ass in Aphorisms. All of the saying are attributed to Werner Erhard.
The truth does not mean anything. It just is.
You don’t get to vote on the way it is.
You already did.
It’s much easier to ride the horse in the direction he’s going.
Life is a rip-off
when you expect to get what you want.
when you choose what you got.
Actually what you got is what you chose.
To move on, choose it.
If you’re not alright the way you are,
it takes a lot of effort to get better.
Realize you’re alright the way you are,
and you’ll get better naturally.
The essence of communication is intention.
What human potential movements have you participated in over the years? Did they make a difference in your life? Did you Get It? Do you still have it? What books have given you, “Aha experiences?” Here is a link to view all the quotes from the “Little Brown Book.” Do you have a favorite quote to share?
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