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Interview With Werner Erhard 1976

Interview With Werner Erhard 1976

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Published by Tim20C
An Interview with Werner Erhard done in 1976
An Interview with Werner Erhard done in 1976

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Published by: Tim20C on Sep 15, 2010
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08/10/2013

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Interview:
Werner
llhard
"What
is, is.
And what ain't, ain't."
Sixteen years ago there was no
Werner
Erhard.Five years ago there was no
est.
Today Werner
Erhard and
est
(ErhardSeminars Training) are truly
an
Americanphenomenon, a thriving succefs in thefertile garden
of
modern pop psychology. Werner Hans Erhard was born JackRosenberg
40
years ago in Philadelphia.He married his high school sweetheart
and
,in true story-book fashion,proceeded to raise a family
of
four children.But in
1960
the story took an
abrupt
turn-JackRosenberg ran awaywith Ellen,who
is
now his second wife.With characteristiccandor,Werner admits that he took off"to avoid the responsibilities I·had." (He has since become very close to hisfirst family, while also raising three children in hissecond marriage.)
It
was in St. Louis that Jack Rosenbergbecame
Werner Erhard
,borrowing fromWerner Heisenberg,Nobel Prize winningphysicist,and former West
German
Chancellor Ludwig
Erhard
.
From
St. Louis,Erhard
made
his way to California,wherehe worked foracorrespondence school.Not long afterward he went to Spokaneand a
job
managing a salesoffice forBritannica's
Great
Books series.In
1963
Werner
took a
job
with theParents Cultural Institute,a subsidiary
of
ParentsMagazine,
which published andsold
encyclopedias
.
Withinthree years
he
had become vice-president
,
having
excelled as a sales manager. He remainedthere for six years.Werner's next position was·with theGrolier Society,Inc. Their business wasalso encyclopedias,and again
Werner
demonstrated remarkable organizationaland motivational skills in sales.
While
he was
sharpening
his
management
skills,however,Erhard also em barked on a spiritual quest that took himthrough Zen,yoga,Scientology,Mind Dy-
by John Johns
namics, Gestalt and numerous psychic layovers along the way.Then, driving thefreeway one day,Werner Erhard"got it
"-
the experience that transformed his lifeand led him to the formation
of
est
(alsoLatin for "it
is
").His message:
"What
is
,
is
.And what ain't,ain't." In the
4
~
years that the San Franciscobased
est
has flourished,it has doubled insize each year. A paid staff
of
230
and
arotating volunteer corps
of
6000 to 7000
est
graduates currently power
est
offices in
12
citie
s.
There are now more than
70
,000mostly middle-class graduates (this
is
nofringe hippie movement) who pay $250 to"get it" from the
demanding
60-hour,twoweekend course.Last year revenues weremore than
$9
million,
and
12
,000 peopleare on the waiting list,anxious to swell theranks
of
enthusiastic
est
graduates.Werner himself disclaims any ambitionsto become a millionaire.His salary
is
reported to be $48,000 a year and he lives
in
a $100,000 bouse in Marin,pilots arented Cessna and drives a Mercedes thatsportslicense plates reading SO
WUT
.Looking to the future,Werner Erhardnourishes the hope that 40 million Amer-icans will someday have taken the
est
training.
Q:
Werner,what brings people to
est?
Considering the relative affluence
of
est
graduates,could it be a dissatisfaction withmaterial success?
A:
I don't think it's a dissatisfaction withpersonal success
or
material success thatbrings people to
est.
In many respects,having achieved that allows you to take alook at what your life
is
really about.Material success isn't all that bad a thing;however, it's only what people thoughtthey wanted. When they have it,they oftenrealize it's not what they thought it wouldbe,and doesn't
in
itself bring them satisfaction.I think it's the recognition thatthere's something beyond personal andmaterial success that brings people to
est.
Q:
Do you feel that part
of
the attraction
is
the American preoccupation with instantgratification? In this case,overnight enlightenment?
A:
There are some elements
of
that. However,there
is
a piece
of
information
~hich
strongly belies that notion, and
that
is
,thatamong
est
graduates there
is
a large body
of
what are ordinarily called "seekers
"-
people who have spent their whole livesseeking for
"it
," usually doing that thehard way.But there's no such thing as long-term enlightenment. You can't take along time to get enlightened.
What
takes along time
is
trying to get enlightened,andas anybody who's studied enlightenmentknows,one
of
the things that will keep youfrom getting enlightened
is
trying to getenlightened.
The
only thing there
is
is
instant enlightenment.
It
happens
out
of
time,
so
it
is
really instantaneous.
Q:
You say
that
people are dissatisfiedbecause they think they have what theywant
but
find that they're not really experiencing it.
What
are the barriers to theirexperiencing it? •
13
 
Interview:
A:
The
simplified
answer
is
that
peopleseem to existin three parts.
We
have the
outer
part, which
is
the thingwe
put
togethertosurvive
in
life
-o
ur persona
,
our
ego.This best-foot-forwardface.
Underneath
that we're tryingtohide,particu larlyfrom ourselves,
the
person we'reafraid wemight be:
small-thinking
,frightened,concerned
about our
own survival,pretending.arrogant. So weputon the face,
and
underneath
that
is
the thingwe'reafraid we
might
be.
Some
of
us
put
onthe faceso successfully
that
we
don
'tevenknow this person
we're
afraidweare.
Underneath
that
is
theself.So the barrierto theexperience
of
who we actually are
is
the unwillingness to
confront who
we areafraidweare,
or
dramatizing
who we areafraid we are. You see,
some
peopleareacting
out
their fear
of
who
they m
jg
ht
be.
That
is
thesimple answer./
0:
Sopeople
come
to
est
hiding behind
their
persona
,
wearingtheir"face
."Yet so
many
est
graduates come
away
excited
about
a
change
or
transformation
.Howcould you
characterize
this?
A:
Let
me
trytoback
around
toit.
The
transformation
is
theshift
of
the principlewhich orientsthe person's life.which
is
ordinarilythe principle
of
gainingsatisfaction. Essentially
what
organizeslife formost
of
us
is
an
attempt
togratify
our
needs:
our
psychological needs,
our
mate
rial needs,
our
personal needs. Some people bring that to a very high leveLforinstance.charitable
and
good citizens.Butit'sabehavior to
fill
ahigh-level need.
If
youlookatMaslow's hierarchy,the ulti mate need
is
the need forsymmetry
and
beauty,
and
people who are behaving tofulfill aneed forsymmetry
and
beauty
don't
lookverydriven. because they'rereallynot very driven.
They're
atthe peak
of
this hierarchy
of
needs. That. however,
is
notatransformed individual. Individualstransform when there'sa shift in the principlewhich orientstheir lifefrom
one
of
gaining satisfactionto
one
of
expressingthesatisfactionthey'vealready got.
What
distinguishesa
human
being
is
becoming.
What
distinguishesanenlightened
human
being
is
being.
The
difference betweenan enlightened
or
"transformedbeingand anunenlightened
or
not-yet-aware-of-themselves being
is
thatone
is
becomingsomething
and
expressing himself
in
thestrivingto becomethat
and
the
other
one
is
something,
and
is
expressingthatinmoving through the world.
0:
In
other
words,peoplecomeo
ut
of
est
not"trying"?
A:
Yes. Now,
just
let
me
mitigate
that
alittle bit,because I
spoke
to
you
in absolutes to
make
a
sharp
contrast.I
should
have used words like"ordinarily
you and
Iareexpressing becoming."
What happens
in the training
is
that
the
predominant
wayyou are
is
"being"
rather
than
"becom
ing."All
of
us haveexperiences
of
being.
I'm
sure
that
youcan recall experiences
of
being,
and
youknow
that
the quality
of
life hassomehow shifted.
Whether
they'refrequent
or
infrequent,everyone's
had
those experiences
of
being.
and
theycanget intouchwith
thatand
know what we're
talkingabout.
0:
Let's lookatthe training,then.
Can
youilluminate
somewhat
how this transformation
is
accomplished?
A:
Sure.
The
first day,
or
atleast thefirst
half
of
the first day
of
the training,
is
spent
explaining thetrainingin detail,sopeople know exactly
what
'sgoing to
happen.
They find
out
what they're likely to
bump
upagainst.This
is
sothey can take responsibilityfor being in the training.
The
train-
Unavailable
at
BrassBoot shoe
stores everywhere.
14
A Brass Boot shoe
that
gets to you in
our
advertising, might
get
away fromyou before you reach ourstore.
You
see,we
never
stockmore than fifteen pairs
of
anyone
style in
anyone
of
our stores.And,
in
most cases, wewon't re-order. Even
if
wehave a complete sell-out onour hands.In short, we don't massproduce our Brass Bootshoes.
That
too would bea sell-out.
NUNN
BUSH
CSr~ss~oof
AtlantaChicagoDallasHoustonKansasCityLosAngeles
Miami
MilwaukeeNew OrleansNew YorkPhiladelphia
St
.LouisSan Francisco
Wash..D.C.

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