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Background to my Story

To give you my background: I am, a forty year old male with an M.D., Ph.D. (biochemistry) with boards in Anesthesia & Internal Medicine. I am presently a Professor at a major medical center in the northeast. I have been married for 18 years and have two children (12 & 9).

That should give you some basis from which to listen to my story....

It is important that those of you who may read this and have not done the Forum understand that my experience is considered atypical by Landmark and my Forum leader.

I first heard of the Forum from one of the nurses I work with. I had known for awhile that her life was in great chaos and crisis. One day, I noticed that the chaos and crisis was simply gone. After some probing she told me of
the Forum. From seeing the obvious changes in her I knew I wanted to go...

I did my Forum, April 94. It was without doubt the most powerful and dangerous experience in my life. That is a strong statement and I do not make it lightly. After my Forum, I was extremely disoriented and could not
work for three days. Those three days after my Forum were a living hell, unlike anything I had experienced in 21 years of formal training and six years of medical residency in New York City. I hated the Forum and everything about it...

It may surprise you to know that if I had to do the whole thing over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Maybe even more remarkable, after witnessing the pain and suffering I went through, my wife decided to go in Aug.
94 and my older son this Nov. In each case, they requested to go. It was not something I could recommend. It was just too powerful...

So, what changes in me did the Forum cause? Why anyone in their right mind would want to follow me into the Forum? Final, why in God's name, would I let my wife and son risk such a reaction? Those excellent questions
will have to wait for future messages...

Understanding is the booby prize - Werner Erhard

My Forum Story

When I entered my Forum on the first day I approached it the way I have approached all my training throughout my life. I attacked it with the full force of my mind. (note of humor to those who have done the Forum I intended to get an "A" in Forum, no matter what it took....).

It was six hours into my first day, when it suddenly occurred to me where the logic and thinking, I was being presented, would lead. I absolutely panicked. My hand shoot up and I explained to the Forum Leader the ultimate conclusion that one must come to following this kind of reasoning. I remember he had a funny kind of smile and quietly reassured me that it would be all right...

You see I recognized this thinking. I had experienced it when I was seventeen. I had on my own come the same conclusion as the Forum. That insight then had throw me into a deep depression but now looking back it was the beginning of my success. Shortly after my painful insights my average grades became straight A . I tore through my work like a man on fire. Next thing I knew I was completing my M.D.,Ph.D. at age 25. (note of humor after I left the University changed its regulations to prevent anyone from duplicating my feat - I think it was just too much for them...)

INSIGHT: A Forum-like experience is not limited to the Forum. Under deep stress or with profound mediation the same effect can be achieved. The genius of Werner Erhard is in developing a training program to cause these results in a predictable manner.

One creates from nothing. If you try to create from something you're just changing something. So in order to create
something, you first have to be able to create nothing. -Werner Erhard

To continue....

The Forum progressed for the next two and a half days... (note to those who have not taken the Forum: The Forum can not be described in any rational way. It must be experienced. To try and describe it in any detail
would be like try to describe a roller coaster ride or making love. The words would be correct but without the
sensations, one would simply be missing the point...)

I engaged the Forum Leader in conversation at every opportunity. I shared about every aspect of my life. I tackled each process with great passion...

There comes a moment on Sunday night where you either let go or not....

At the time I described it as if a nuclear bomb had been set off in my mind. Talk about making space, twenty years of automatic behavior and thinking crumbed in front of my very eyes! Another way I have described it, was as if I had been flying on autopilot at 30,000 feet and the Forum Leader just reached over flipped the autopilot off and
handed me the controls. You get the idea...

Most people seemed to be very pleased with this new found freedom. I, on the other hand, was furious. I felt betrayed and a growing anger. The night ended, on the way out, I thanked the Forum Leader for helping me
work out my problems and declared the Forum a Cult...

I got in my car and drove away that night with no intent of returning. During that ride home a strange thing began to happen. It was as if someone had feed in the beginnings of an equation into my mental computer. No matter
how I tried to stop it the logic of equation continued to flow A to B to C to D ... I found this logic taking me far from the topics talked at the Forum.

I seemed to be actively reprogramming my core beliefs and what I considered to be the very essence of my personality. Part of me was truly terrified.

I knew I had to stop this process anyway I could...

INSIGHT: The Forum and Forum-like experiences are not a benign process. There is a real and measurable risk to
the individuals involved in this work. So far, I have found eight case reports in the medical literature describing
complete mental breakdowns requiring hospitalizations after est training. Mind you, this is not to make the Forum
bad or wrong. Medical schools and Law schools have a remarkably high suicide / drug addiction rates. Any training
of any worth carries a risk...

If you experience it, it's the truth. The same thing believed is a lie. -
Werner Erhard

First, a disclaimer, as you read my continuing story, understand that this is My Story...

It's intent is not to support or attack the Forum. It is no more the Truth then any story you may see on television or on the stage. To confuse this story with what actually happened is to miss it's point entirely...

To continue....

It was an impossible drive home. It was dark and my confusion was worsening. After a couple of missed exits on the highway, I made it home to my wife...

My wife... you will need to understand how my wife appears to me if you are going to follow along with this story. She is intense, focused, brilliant, fearless and totally devoted to me and what I am about.

By the time I woke her up, I was in a very strange condition. There seemed to be two completely different personalities in my head. There was a "new" Kirk from the Forum and the "old" Kirk who was Pre-Forum. I could
switch between the two of them with some mental effort. My wife later told me that every time I switched between these two ways of being, my voice, language, the way I held my body and the look in my eyes would change. She told me later that it was the most terrifying experience in her life...

After talking with her awhile, I asked her an important question "Which Kirk do you want to stay?" She answered that she was kind of use to the "old" Kirk and thought she would miss him. She then made it clear that if I thought otherwise she would immediately do the Forum herself as long as she could stay with me, no matter what happened.
Hearing this I cried and completely rejected the Forum and everything it was about. I went to sleep that night thinking it was all over....

It's much easier to ride the horse in the direction he's going. -
Werner Erhard

To continue....

I woke up the next morning reasonably refreshed. I decided that after a good nights sleep I was able to shake off the est nonsense. Maybe after all it was just sleep deprivation combined with a cult-ish experience.

The next day a number of people asked me about the weekend. I strongly advised them to stay away from the Forum & Landmark. The more I thought about the more cult-like the Forum appeared. I had a bigger problem though...

My concentration seemed to be way off. While I did my normal routines in the OR I felt as if I were an actor in my own life. The normal chatter in my head seemed to be gone. I was going from moment to moment. There was no past, no future, just now. It was strange in that this didn't seem to hamper my performance, but I was concerned. I
quickly got relieved for the day's assignments. I must of called my wife a dozen times that day and returned home early.

Whatever the problem it seemed to be worsening. "What in the hell have these people done to me?" I worried. My thought processes seemed to taking on a more and more kaleidoscopic quality. My perspective on the world kept shifting. It was as if I was losing my ability to ask "Why?".

Thinking back to the Forum I decided I had to fight "fire with fire". I had to use the logic against itself. I made my first real declaration: I CHOOSE WHY. (only if you have done the Forum could that statement begin to make any sense...). It helped, alot... I wrote it down and referred to it a number of times that day.

By the time I returned home I was convinced of the evil nature of the Forum.

I also decided that the only way I could undo the damage was to undo the Forum. I had to examine everything I had been taught and exposed to and neutralize it. I was now convinced I had been brainwashed.

I returned home and found my concerned wife waiting. I discovered that while the rest of the world had taken on a more kaleidoscopic appearance my wife was more real and solid than anything I had seen before. In an instant I realized all the small secrets that had been growing between us over fifteen years of marriage. If I was to survive this I knew the relationship between us had to be complete.

So began what we now fondly refer to as "the marriage encounter from hell".

We quickly went back all the way to our very beginnings as a couple and started to re-live them. All the same feelings and thoughts returned. I felt as if I had entered a time machine. We spoke the same words again and
touched each other as we had for the first time. Hours went by and we then moved forward and saw the mistakes, mis-spoken words, mis-understandings and growing coldness. We repaired the damage and rebuilt our relationship.

With our relationship reestablished I felt almost ready to take on the Forum and reek a revenge unlike anything Landmark had experienced before....

All that remained was to rid myself of the last of their programming. I stayed home from work the next day (the first time in many years). I started to write down everything that occurred during my Forum. Importantly, I taught everything I had learned, to my wife. I felt I needed her to undo the programming, spot the errors in logic...

Step by step, we worked through the training. Hour after hour, I drew out diagrams. I acted out the sharing. We did
homework together. Each distinction was reviewed and analyzed for hidden meaning. This took a day and a night... By the end, my wife became quite versed in the language. We slept little Monday night know that the Tuesday
night's graduation was coming...

RESULT: Even at this stage I realized that my relationship with my wife had been healed of countless thoughtless word and acts. There was a freshness and newness unlike like anything I had felt for years. She seemed so
sexy and alive to me. I finally after many years understood when she said "talk to me".

INSIGHT: Our relationships and conversations are one and the same. When we lose our conversation with another,
we lose that person from our life. When we talk only to "internal tapes" of what we think the other person will say, we are only talking to our fantasies and paranoia.

Life works when you choose what you got. -
Werner Erhard

Tuesday, I remained home teaching my wife the final details of the language and ideas of the Forum. I could sense a growing anxiety in myself as the day got later and later. Part of me felt a tremendous draw to complete my
Forum and go to the graduation but I was absolutely terrified at the idea of talking to my Forum Leader again. Would I have the strength to resist the Conversation? I was not sure...

I worried tremendously about the people I had done the Forum with. Many had spoken to me during the Forum on how powerful the conversations between the Forum Leader and myself had been for them. How my being a physician and being engaged in this work reassured them that it was a good thing. God, I felt so responsible for what had occurred in that room...

I talked to my wife about going and denouncing the Forum as a cult and using every bit of prestige and influence I had to convince as many people as possible to walk out. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I was an amateur in this, and I would be into walking a room full of professionals. I was not sure I could extract
myself, let alone anyone else. I was also getting increasingly frightened about the Forum and Landmark. I had remembered the Forum Leader talking about how powerful the Forum was and how far around the world it had spread. Real paranoia began to slip into my thinking. If I did not go Tuesday night, I knew they would be calling.

My wife and I started to develop defenses against techniques of persuasive communication. We even wrote out a script for my wife to follow, no matter what was said on the phone. We knew that under no circumstances
could I talk to them. We were terrified of hidden subconscious cues that might be used against me.

Evening came and I stayed home. We waited... at eight o'clock, on the button, the phone rang....

- Don't change beliefs. Transform the believer -
Werner Erhard

The phone was, of course, the Forum. It turns out to be a Forum Leader Trainee who had been there during my Forum. I hear my wife following the script we developed. It is clear a duel of wills quickly develops. This goes
on for twenty minutes. I hear my wife slip only once from the script to say "We are unusual people..."

My wife later told me that the woman had tried everything begging, threatening, being reasonable, long silences to get to talk to me. By the end of it, my wife was exhausted, but satisfied. The phone rang two more times that night each time it was her. Finally, she pleaded with my wife to give me one message. It was "The Forum noticed your
absence." Actually I was relieved maybe by not showing up I had sent the strongest message possible.

The next day, Wednesday, my wife went with me to work. Luckily, it was a day to be spent in my lab and the office. I felt so disoriented, so much like an actor in my own life. I remember calling my wife into the bathroom to ask her which way I should comb my hair. Every time I looked in the mirror I could only see endless possibilities, they all
seemed correct.

My worry and paranoia about the Forum kept growing by leaps and bounds.

It just seemed to be taking on a more and more sinister air. The more I thought about how they had damaged me, the more I felt damaged. The simplest tasks were getting more and more difficult. To xerox a few pages took
me almost a half hour. I kept becoming confused as to why I was there and why I was xeroxing these pages.

My rage at the Forum was also growing. I started to talk to my wife as to how I could take revenge on them... She wisely advised me to wait till I was stronger...

If you keep saying it the way it really is, eventually your word is law in the universe -
Werner Erhard

To continue....

I went home feeling angry and depressed. Landmark had tried to contact me at work but my wife had again intercepted the call. My secretary had been instructed that under no circumstances could I talk or see anyone from
Landmark Education. My overall functionality continued to take a nose dive.

I felt like a animal trapped in a ever shrinking yard with an invisible electric fence shocking me no matter which way I turned.

I decided to call the nurse who had first shared the Forum with me. I do not remember the conversation well, but I know I ranted and raved at her. I remember she was kind and not defensive. As I attacked the Forum, I kept expecting her to deny the charges but her reaction was one of acceptance. She gently reminded me that I was the one who had persisted in finding out the cause of her change and had requested to do the Forum.

As I hung up the phone my wife said the strangest thing " Maybe they didn't mean you any harm". I was shocked and hurt, didn't she see all the pain I felt, all the anger. Also after years of fierce agreement with me she was
questioning me. I stopped complaining to her for a moment and thought "maybe they didn't mean any harm to me". I felt better, more unusual than that was the fact the more I talked about this the more true it became. I was suddenly seeing the Forum and LandMark from a different light.

I thought to myself, "So what is the true story about all this?". I when downstairs, and found some literature from LandMark on the Forum. I asked my wife "maybe this is some kind of new religion". As we talked about that
for a couple of hours that possibility it seemed also true. Even more of impact, I was noticing my own shifting perspective on all this. One moment, I am calling the Forum a cult and it's true, the next moment it"s a psychological workshop and it was true, next I call it a religion and that was true, next I called it a money making scam and that was true. I slowly realized that the Forum was not changing, the facts I had in front of me were not changing, I WAS CHANGING.

I remember asking my wife "Did you just see that?" like one would ask about a UFO or a ghost. She said, "yes " in a spooked voice, "keep talking...". No matter what theory I could develop I could find the evidence but even
more importantly it was true to the both of us. Whatever I said in conversation either to my wife or to myself became reality. If I thought or spoke a frightening thought I became terrified, my heart would pound and I would break out in a sweat. If I told myself that I was strong and powerful and a surge of energy unlike anything I had ever felt before flowed through me. It was as if the very flow between my conscience and subconscience minds had reversed! I suddenly understood I controlled the invisible electric fence.

All I needed to do was to take a STAND and the kaleidoscope would stop.

The end to this nightmare was always there! I could with an internal conversation become the old Kirk again. I remember feeling like I was running my hand along a row of toggle switches, I was closing this show down!
My wife suddenly spoke up and said "whatever you are doing stop it! I can see it in your face you are closing down, stop it! I like the way you are now, don't go all the way back..."

I stopped and thought "What a gift. To be able to, with a simple conversation, shift one's perspective, one's reality." I later discovered that if I quieted my own thoughts and listened to another carefully, I saw and felt what
they felt...but what next? Where do I go from here? How do I use this new ability?

Is there a truth about the Forum?

INSIGHT: I am my story, my conversation!
RESULT: I now control the story, not the other way around...

INSIGHT: I am reprogrammable!
RESULT: I am now a hacker of my core routines...


An eagle is born, dependent upon its mother for food. The mother eventually entices the eagle out of the nest by flying next to it with some food in her mouth. She feeds it, moving the food farther away until the eaglet leaps,
unknowing, from the nest. It starts falling fast, like a rock, thirty-two feet per second, per second, and there is no turning back, ever. In the fall the eagle discovers for itself what it can or cannot do.

Until we stand on groundless ground, until we step out of our survival mechanistic way of being, the possibility of
being who we are remains just that. Werner Erhard

To continue....

After our combined insight into the power of conversation my wife and I spoke endlessly. For years she had said "talk to me". I had no idea till after the Forum what she meant. I realized that I assumed I knew everything she
had to say. I prided myself on our silent conversations. "Why talk ?" I would think, " I already know everything we will say".

Our conversations now went way back to the foundations of our beliefs and understanding of the world. We would "draw in the sand" different models of being and then look out on the landscape of our lives to see these models in action. In these conversations, we discovered the most amazing thing. From time to time as one of us was talking
about a possibility, we would notice that one of us would get restless and anxious. It was easy to detect because otherwise we were so calm and relaxed as we talked.

We realized that while our minds seemed complete and open to possibility that each of us had areas/topics that we could not freely talk about. If one of us started to talk about one of these forbidden topic, there was very real discomfort. It was almost as if our minds had be conditioned to stay away from these bad areas. With time and persistence, we discovered that this bad areas could be entered. It was painful finding the cause of these areas, but eventually some event in the past could be found. Some of events had been long forgotten by us. When a bad area was finally entered and fully accepted the invisible walls around the event would fall. The feeling of freedom that would come from this process was so complete. I had never felt anything like it. I witnessed whole pieces of my mind coming alive again.

We ran around like children who had discovered a metal detector. We worked weeks clearing out these old areas from our past. I became a completion machine. It was around this time, I began to understand one of the questions my Forum Leader had left us with. "How do you live in a future without a past?"...

You don't get to vote on the way it is. You already did. -
Werner Erhard

For the last year and a half I have searched for the truth about the Forum.

In the process I developed seventeen independent theories that included the fields of Philosophy, Theology and Psychology. In seven of the theories the Forum was evil and in ten it was good. The journey took me to amazing
places and gave me many new insights. Like any traveler who has gone away to strange new lands I wanted to bring back something from my travels to share with others. This story is that gift...

To conclude...

The Four Rabbinim

One night four Rabbinim were visited by an angel who awaken them and carried them to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven. There they beheld the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel.

Somewhere in the descent from Pardes, Paradise, to Earth, one Rabbi, having seen such splendor, lost his mind and wandered frothing and foaming until the end of his days.

The second Rabbi was extremely cynical: "Oh I just dreamed Ezekiel's Wheel, that was all. Nothing really happened."

The third Rabbi carried on and on about what he had seen, for he was totally obsessed. He lectured and would not stop with how it was constructed and what it all meant... and in this way he went astray and betrayed his faith.

The fourth Rabbi, who was a poet, took a paper in hand and a reed and sat near the writing song after song praising the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, and all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before

The End.

The end is the end, or it isn't. -
Werner Erhard