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Dustin LindenSmith

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LGATs and other techniques for the "Westernization of Eastern Religions"

From this post by gurugeorge (which incidentally contains a link to this great audio clip by Charlie Hayes), I came across this intriguing page about Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGATs) such as EST, The Landmark Forum and Lifespring. One of my closest childhood friends went through the Forum a couple years ago in the UK, and I can attest to the fact that it actually changed his life. He was an enthusiastic participant though, and was even asked to become a facilitator at the end of the workshop.

Related to this, I received a link from Jerry this morning to this page on his site about Werner Erhard, the founder of EST. None of this material is controversial -- it's just really interesting background and descriptions of peoples' experiences with these sessions. And after reading some of it, it clarified for me why the crux of what my UK friend learned resonated so strongly with my passion for Eastern spiritual traditions. The description of Erhard's awakening on Jerry's page above is a classic enlightenment experience, and it's interesting to me that Erhard developed a whole technique for transmitting this understanding that has nothing explicit to do with the Eastern traditions which are most well-known for investigating these things.

Some of you may also know that there's a fair bit of controversy about these programs generally -- or at least, there was in their early stages. See more on Google or Wikipedia, if you're interested.

And if anyone here has ever investigated or taken these courses, I'd love to hear about it. I find them very interesting, even though I'm uninterested in trying them myself. Since, you know, I'm already perfect as I am and don't need anything like this to wake me up more. :)

(x-posted to nonduality)

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vyus October 6th, 2006
i dated a gal that did the basic landmark class and another one. she thought it was incredibly eye opening and highly recommended it.

she was not aware of the allegations against them at the time (2000/2001 time frame) and was a bit surprised when i didn't jump on the bandwagon. i'm immediately skeptical of the hard sell, and these guys sounded like they ran their classes like a cult.

i think for some people, these things really click. but then again, dianetics clicks for some folks. there just is no one-stop shop for anyone.

iamom October 6th, 2006
Heh - Dianetics - exactly.

I'm also quickly turned off by the cult-seeming practices of these kinds of programs. It requires a certain amount of detachment from that distaste in order to recognize that for some people, my UK friend included, the program really helps them to see themselves more clearly. Nothing wrong with that, but I agree with you -- it's not for me, either.

vyus October 6th, 2006
such progams makes me wonder if any given spiritual practice or advancement has a potential dark side that can be exploited for baser intent.

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