A Wildly Transformative Scheme?

About a year and a half ago, I was sitting with some sister goddesses at a small restaurant in Miami. We had opted for sidewalk seating, and I felt an incredible satisfaction as I enjoyed a beet and ginger juice and we discussed our lives in the sunshine.

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So many aspects of the weekend in Miami were exhilarating; I had met supportive women who were confident and empowering, I was soaking in Mama Gena’s energy while we were in class, and outside of class we did exercises where women shared their deepest desires while sisters held space for each other.

During our lunch that afternoon in Miami, one sister goddess started talking about The Landmark Forum. I had never heard of it, but my interest was piqued when she and a few others said they liked it even better than Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. The School of Womanly Arts was my first experience with a community of people (in this case, exclusively women) bent on transformation and growth, and since I was loving it, I thought that the Landmark Forum must be great too. I’ve yet to participate in The Landmark Forum, but I did some research so I could share it “in the well.”

After five minutes of searching on the internet, I could tell that Landmark is controversial. It was born from the 1970’s philosophy known as est, which focused on self actualization. Est was founded by Werner Erhard, who eventually changed the name to The Forum. In the early 1990’s Erhard sold the company’s “technology” to his employees and The Landmark Forum was born.


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(Click the image to read an interview with Werner Erhard). 

There are many people who refer to The Landmark Forum as a scheme to steal gullible people’s money, or as a cult, or they claim brainwashing occurs during the long intense weekend. There are also many people who have had positive, transformative experiences while attending. Here are a couple responses I found around the web.

An article on Mother Jones by Laura McClure describes the facilitator on the last night of The Forum:

And then, without warning, he launches into the hard, hard sell. “I am committed to having every one of you register for the Advanced Course tonight,” he says. He’s no longer smiling. We can demonstrate our commitment to ourselves, to David, to Landmark—all for $650, a $200 discount—but only if we act now.”

Amelia Hill of The Guardian acknowledges the transformative possibilities of The Forum by writing:

‘The Landmark Forum is not magic. It is not scary or insidious. It is, in fact, simple common sense delivered in an environment of startling intensity.

It is this intensity that makes the difference. While any one of us might well have already been told the same home truths by friends and family, we were too distracted by life and too wrapped up in our own defense mechanisms to listen.”

Henry Alford of The New York Times writes:

Two months after the Forum, I’d rate my success at 84 percent. I’m more prone to telling loved ones and colleagues, in person and without glibness, that I love or admire them. But I still operate from a base position that people are a lot of effort. I know in my heart that hell is other people. But now I’m open to the possibility that heaven is, too.”

I’m open to participating in The Landmark Forum in the future. I think it’s important to use your own reasoning and question what you’re being told. If you don’t, you could run into trouble anywhere – not just in The Landmark Forum.

 The Landmark Forum offers a free introduction to anyone who is interested. You can also learn more by visiting their website here.

I am curious to hear if anyone has a personal experience with The Landmark Forum. Please share in the comments!

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