I Got It! Did You?

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.

Life works
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?

Glad you were in my Odd neighborhood. Feel free to hang around with us any time. Odd Loves Company and odd loves you and you and you!! I would love to hear from you in the comment section of this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter


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Thank you.

46 thoughts on “I Got It! Did You?

  1. I got it back in the 70’s and I agree est really did make a difference in my life. I have gone on to do other things but nothing that has stuck with me like est has….thank you for sharing. 😀

  2. I took EST as I was having a brain MRI done yesterday was repeating “Be here Now”! Got IT, still HAVE IT and I would do it all over again in a New York minute for all I experienced, “learned”, participated in and all the WONDERFUL friends that are still in my life as a result. . . like YOU! And have done the pain visualzation numerous times of these last week: Locate the TRUE source of the pain, visualize the shape and the color then concentrate on breathing it away Swear to God it WORKS!

    • Odd Cheryl, I came back to share this post again with a friend..and I saw your comment…as you lay in Barnes Hospital struggling…EST was a trip and yes my friend, it does WORK!

  3. I had friends that did the training and your right they were relentless. I never did “get it” tho. I was pretty stubborn–years later I took the forum and have to admit it really did help me change my life. Best money I ever spent.

  4. Pingback: » “I Got It” in 1980, in a Hilton ballroom in Houston, Texas

  5. I took the Lifespring version of EST and yes, I still have it. I feel that it becomes cellular. Someday, in the not too distant future, they will probably discover a Lifespring/EST/Forum gene mutation. This gene will manifest as indivuals saying what they mean and meaning what they say. If you did not attend one of these trainings, it’s not too late…..The Forum is still going strong. Lifespring is the single most life-altering training I have taken. It shows up in my life multiple times daily.

    • I did not do Lifespring but had many friends who did and said the same thing…What I think, you get on a cellular level is you have a choice…and even when you forget…you don’t. Both a blessing and curse-at times.
      Your right its not to late and I would recommend the Forum in a heartbeat.

  6. Pingback: Cheryl Knew Everyone

  7. I got how great Werner was, and how great my est trainers were. I got in my training alot of self doubt, and uncertainty about what I was getting, and I made it mean something. Now I know it doesn’t mean anything , it just what is. So simple yet so elusive ,as far as my experience in doing est.

    “It really is a function of epistomology” as Werner said to Michael Toms of New Dimensions radio. Knowing by adding Nothing to IT.

    TY for this blog Katybeth, and you got a cool name.

    • Hi Bill,

      It was confusing at times but we came out the other side with less than we went in with 😀 and that seemed to be a good thing.

      Thank you for dropping by Odd Bill! Hope to see you a again.

  8. Hmmm,
    Just re-read the Hunger Project Source document. I’m inspired again–I don’t know where my sense of makeing a difference went but it seemed to vanish for a couple of decades plus. Now, somehow, I am renewed. A world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out?
    Is that a notion only for people who had an experience with strawberries over a two weekend seminar?

  9. I did the Forum in 2001 and I have a life today I would not have!! I feel whole and loved and most important – grateful to Werner Erhard for sharing his ‘genesis of identity’ and having us get, that it is all made up!! and I made it up!! 🙂 Pretty funny!

  10. I’m jealous. I didn’t get it. I spent another 2 weekends helping out and still didn’t get it. My ex-wife did. I told everyone I did. But I didn’t. Oh, well. My AA sponsor told me to practice 3 things: if it’s not true, don’t say it; if it’s not yours, don’t take it; if it’s not right, don’t do it. This has served me better than anything from the training.

  11. I love how, when I meet another est grad, there is the mutual assumption of responsibility for the qualities of truth, love and acceptance between us. Glad I stumbled in. TY for making this space for everyone to renew the est experience–whatever that means to each of us.

  12. 15 years since I did the Landmark Forum from New Delhi, India. Earlier this month, someone who’d done it 2 days back was very enthusiastically trying to “recruit” a guest in my presence, and struggling to explain it. I simply shared what I’d gotten out of it, and the entire experience came alive for me – its by far the most powerful and life-changing course I’ve ever done.

    • Wasn’t that always the best way to “enroll people.” and more importantly renew the experience for yourself. Once the enthusiasm wore off–I was much better at sharing the experience.

      Thanks for dropping by Odd!!

  13. Pingback: Musing: Butterscotch Pudding, How often do you say YES?

  14. Did est in 1974 and participated off and on since then. Did the transition to The Forum. Continued to participate off and on. Bits of est are creeping back in but handled quite differently–more conducive to learning. The organization has done a great job of staying true to what worked and updating it as new studies solidified the basis for the work. It has served me well.

    • That is so good too know. My est experience is still one of the most powerful lasting things I have ever done. Thanks for stopping by Odd and sharing that the est experience lives on and is still flourishing!

  15. Thank you for posting this! I “got it” in 1980, in Los Angeles. I also got a little brown pocket book of EST sayings that I loved, but somehow I lost that little book years ago. I’ve been looking for a collection of EST quotes and sayings, and those you provided above are great! Still, the best thing I “got” there was my wife, whom I met for the first time that first session, outside the meeting room door. We still celebrate that anniversary, some 30 years on!

    • David,
      It seems I missed your comment. I’m so sorry. Would you like me to send you the “little brown book.” I scanned and copied it and would be happy to e-mail it to you.
      Congratulations on your long and happy marriage!

      (I think I did e-mail you this book!)

  16. Did the EST training in San Francisco in 1980 and followed up with a number of workshops. Did the Forum in 1988 and did workshops. As you probably know, EST became Landmark Education some time ago. If Werner Erhardt were still leading EST, I would probably be involved with one of his foundations or something. I am grateful for the difference that experience made on the quality of my life.

    • Me too. It has been the most lasting life changing event I’ve ever done. And I’m so grateful that I had a chance to attend when I was so young. Glad you had the same experience.

  17. I love est. I “got it” in 1979. I was doing yoga, meditation, studying books, searching for answers, and had a regular job. I was sick in bed for days and read “The Book of Est” by Luke Rhinehart. Thereafter, I’d had enough and gave up trying to find the answers. About 3 days later, it hit. I “got it.” It was the greatest experience of my life. It lasted for two weeks with three extraordinary days in the middle. I laughed my head off. Everything seemed a joke. And, I remember saying to myself, “I feel so good I could jump over a house.” About “games people play,” I could see and hear the games each person was playing. It was written all over their face and in their voice. I could read people. It was obvious, right there for me to observe. The lies they tell themselves. The way they hold themselves back with excuses, etc. The cages people put themselves in.
    About 2 years ago, I went back through all my writings and redid everything that I was doing at that enlightenment time. For months, I tried to recreate the experience, doing Yoga and meditation, re-reading The Book of Est”, reading and listening to Werner & est, watching the Transformation movie and Werner Youtube videos, and also including just giving up. Zip…nothing! And, as Tony Robbins teaches, and Eckhart Tolle teaches, and Werner Erhard teaches, and others . . . it’s right here, “now!” I also emailed author Eliezer Sobel, who also tried to re-experience “getting it.”
    Never, never, ever again have I even approached the experience of “getting it”, although I carry a little of it around with me all the time until get lost and forget to choose. LOL. And enlightenment, in a way, is something not to be sought after, and certainly not to be stuck in.
    Any suggestions as to how to re-experience “I ‘got it!’”?

    • What a thoughtful post and question. Let me think about it. Sorry this response comes so late. I had no idea I was missing these comments.

  18. This kind of post frustrates me. I did the Forum, Advanced Course, and a seminar series, I’ve even read Reinhart’s book and others about Werner, but I’ve never had anything remotely like the ecstatic, orgasmic burst many describe. It helped a little, I guess. I met some great people, but that’s about it. Nothing changed my experience of living significantly, and it pisses me off. Racket? Probably, but seeing that doesn’t change it.

    I wanted to find myself speaking in tongues like all the cool kids, but all I got was “that’s nice.” When I’ve told others (who are convinced they got it) that nothing happened for me, I get the eye-roll-worthy “Semi-Tough” response that that somehow means I got it. No, I don’t think so. I’m beginning to think getting it is a mass hallucination, like seeing the Virgin at Chartres or something. I dunno. I want to see the Emperor’s new clothes, but he just looks naked to me.

    • First I want to say I know you are not alone. My Mother feels the same way you do. And I think David addressed your thoughts beautifully. The “high” fades speedy quick for lots of people but one of the most important things “I got” at an early age that I’ve continued to live out is keeping my word and showing up in life. Remarkable wisdom? No. But EST drove those two points home for me and they have made a difference in my life and I hope the lives of the people I’ve been in contact with over the years
      I think you have to continue to speak your truth about your experience. It is valuable in of itself!

      • Thank you, Katybeth, for your very kind and non-judgmental response. You guys move me by being a space for me to vent that bile. My apologies to you and everyone for my grouchy griping (and whinin’) in that impulse text. I know I really need to get off it with LM/EST, but I just really wanted that “high,” man! 🙂 I’m blaming the organization for my own perceived lack of “transformation,” but I suppose living that way is really my own choice moment to moment. I’ll keep wrestling with it. Thanks again.

        • I suspect that the reason you didn’t get it is you already had it….taking responsibility for your own feelings and life. We all play the blame game and whine from time to time. No harm in it as long as we don’t stay stuck in the process and “wrestle” with it when we need too.
          Drop by any time.

  19. Hi Racketeer, sorry for your frustration! I was notified of your posting by an email; I am the David who posted above about meeting my wife at “est” in 1980. Like you, I also did not get the “ecstatic, orgasmic burst” that others might have described. I also did not find myself speaking in tongues “like all the cool kids.” But I did get “it”. I think. I also met the woman who would become my wife, the one who gave me many wonderful years together until she passed away in May 2013 from a prolonged illness. I miss her dearly. One other thing I got, better than trying to be one of the “cool kids”, was the perspective from one of my favorite pages from Katybeth’s posting of the “est” booklet, which I commend to you now, as perhaps being helpful to combat the frustration you feel:

    If you could really accept
    that you weren’t ok
    you could stop proving you were ok.
    If you could stop proving
    that you were ok
    you could get that it was ok not to be ok.
    If you could get that it was ok not to be ok
    you could get that you were ok the way you are.
    You’re ok, get it?

    And that’s all there is, to get “it”!
    Oh, and nothing about “est” changed my experience of living significantly, either. But I think that was because I had decided it was okay not to be okay. 😉

    • Hi David,
      Beautifully said. And now I remember your struggles and your sorrow. It sucks and I am so sorry. Sorry I was a little slow on the uptake. As I mentioned I was not notified of the comments on this post. I fixed it!

  20. David, thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful, kind, and understanding response to my impulsive griping. I am sorry about your loss. What you write here is inspiring and actually helps!

    Thanks again and best to you.

  21. Hi everyone! Just give me a chance to catch up and join the conversation. Although, it seems like your carrying on just fine!

  22. Oct. 1981 Omni Center Atlanta Ga.
    GSLP 1982
    Communication workshop (6 times)
    satellite workshop to watch the birth of the Forum

    I too could have been called an est-hole the way I badgered friends until i didn’t have any

    I got so fed up with the OHIO Valley people I walked away by 1985 and never looked back (after I moved and Unlisted my phone “necessary” to get my life back)
    I discovered I was not broken and I did not need to be fixed

    • Hi Sandy,
      So many different stories. One thing I learned is people “get it” there own way. And I find that so interesting. I haven’t been associated with anything remotely est related for years upon years. However, I do still have a few friends from the training and I feel like it made a difference in my life. There wasn’t anything wrong with my life when I took the training, a friend asked me if I wanted to “get it”, I said why not and that was that. No doubt the after pressure was intense. I had no aspirations to go on or chase after friends who did not want the experience.I did participate and lead an off shoot called the Holiday Project and a time management group for a few years. It was fun.
      I applaud you for taking your life back when you needed to and taking the necessary steps to go forward with your life in a manner that suited and worked for you!
      Thank you for your comment. Drop by anytime.

  23. Thank You Katybeth for your “I Got It/Did You” post.
    i took the est training in 1974 in Los Angeles–did not “Get It” — then took the training AGAIN and DID Get It–i was so blown away … then took the training a Third time in order to “Get It’ AGAIN but this time hopefully Even More Powerfully(!!!)…which i did NOT
    ‘Get’ and was very mournful leaving that training.
    What i Did Get was that I Am the creator of my own dream experience=this life. A dream is by definition an
    illusion…this life – experience
    is an illusion…a dream. i try to keep it as a Lucid Dream.

    Also i remember Werner saying that if the “stories” the propaganda media= radio, newspapers, TV (there was no internet yet) were reporting, e.g. chaos in the world … was not happening in my own living room …it was NOT happening anywhere at all. Keeps worry at bay.
    Have wondered over the years where Werner was—what doing. Last night i was scrolling through Netflix documentaries — and to my JOY — saw Werner’s great ‘Transformation’ doc:)))) which this morning landed me happily Here when i googled ‘the principles of est’ (my computer changes est to set!)

    LOVE, LOVE everyone’s comments…next to Transcendental Meditation —est—uplifted and transformed my life every way imaginable…Thank You Werner and Maharishi Eternally!

    Looking forward to reading the books mentioned here Katybeth and remembering to enjoy the Lucid Dream and experiencing the Moment with JOY.

  24. ps…today’s date is: September 14, 2014!

    Werner’s unique world changing~transformative~awakening seminars were definitely the Foundation for all following human growth and potential workshops
    until this very day, imo.

    I just heard of a Frenchman in our small town who claims to be an et and wants to give lectures at the public library regarding the importance of changing our language, e.g. to not use the word “Try” when we say we are going to “Do” something–he says that has such a negating effect on progress…
    We all remember Werner (or staff) saying in the early 1970’s to delete the word ‘Try’ from our vocabulary with various descriptive exercises to show it’s disempowering effect on action.

    You deserve such joyous global praise and thanksgiving, Werner.

    Not the cabal’s (illuminati’s) dark threatening campaign of oppression in order to keep humans ‘dumbed down’ for their control (!!!)

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