Read The Book of Est by Luke Rhinehart Free Online
Book Title: The Book of Est|
The author of the book: Luke Rhinehart
Edition: Henry Holt & Company
Date of issue: September 1st 1976
ISBN 13: 9780030183263
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 12.88 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.6
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The Prosperity Gospel for Graduates
The original edition of this book was published in 1976. My copy is from 2010. That’s quite a run in print. It claims, perhaps accurately, to be the greatest self-help book of all time. Of course it also admits that everything in it is a lie. Could it be both? If a Cretan says all Cretans are liars, is he credible? If this sounds to you like it might be a parody of what it’s promoting, you’re perceptive, but wrong. It just isn’t possible to parody either Donald Trump or est.
Werner Erhard, the creator of Erhard Seminar Training, was a genius who gave practical and popular voice to the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger with some Zen and Jungian spice thrown in. Or he was the most successful California cult leader and spiritual huckster to make it out alive. Each description is only words after all. Choose your poison.
‘Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ This is the essential message of est. Words mean what we want them to mean. And if we let them mean things which drive us crazy, we will be crazy. Or maybe not; maybe words are everything. So we must be very careful in the words we use, especially all the neo-logisms we learn in est-training: “ground of being,” “clearing space,” “truth-processes,” to “experience out,” “rackets” etc.
Words get in the way of our “authentic being.” They’ve been used by our parents, and teachers, and bosses, our culture to browbeat us into submission. Words and their oppressive connections are our enemies. We can only overcome this status of slavery to words and the devastation they wreak on our lives through... well, through more words, specifically those approved by Erhard.
Ideas and beliefs, that is to say words, destroy experience. They hide the real world and what’s going on in it. On the other hand that might sound remarkably like a belief. So it must be wrong... no right... no wrong.
Reason is the realm of non-experience, and therefore of deception. To think is to engage in deception. So stop thinking. Now there’s a thought to ponder.
“Fully experienced experience” involves forgetting everything you’ve ever learned about life from other people. Including this lesson about fully experienced experience? Didn’t we say at the beginning it’s all a lie!
Knowing how to do something is not the key to doing anything. Words are inadequate to describe how to do anything. Doing something is the key to knowing how to do anything. Like, say, reading is the key to how to read? Well bad example. But that’s only because it has to do with those horrid words again.
Individual experience is the only reality. Since we can alter our own experience, we are solely responsible for that experience. We can create our own reality. It’s vitally important to remember that next time you get mugged. The mugging - every misfortune actually - is down to you, pal. If only my toothache would cooperate.
Just in case you’re confused: reading does not constitute any sort of experience. At best reading is a substitute for experience that you probably should learn to do without since it just inhibits the real thing. Funny how there are no blurb-quotes suggesting I give this book a miss.
Oh, and remember that bit about being responsible for your own experience? Well don’t take that too seriously because what you are really is an input/output machine that just... well, experiences whatever it experiences. You are not the Doer but the Done To. And also, by the way, you’re God. But your only power is to recognise you’re a machine. So now “get off it.”
And since you’re a machine, the only reason you have for doing anything is because you did it. Look no further for motivation, you’ll only rationalize the situation and drive yourself mad. Understanding any of this, or nothing, is just fine. “You get what you get.”
Est training goes on and on like this until you ‘get it’ or you leave. Whether profound or vacuous, during its heyday est was spread like a computer virus or chain letter. Part of the training was to entice new trainees as well as to enroll in more advanced trainings. This would of course not only expand one’s est-ed friends but also validate one’s previous brutal and expensive training experience - a stroke of sales and organizational genius comparable to any religious movement. Not something one might expect from a used car salesman and graduate of Dale Carnegie seminars, Erhard’s previous achievements; but talent does eventually show itself. And the man certainly has talent of a unique sort.
I have never engaged in est training. But at several points in my life I have been more or less surrounded by folk who have, several of whom were very senior in Erhard’s organization and who spent a good portion of their lives volunteering with almost no compensation to the mission of the programme. They attest to the techniques and effects that Rhinehart describes so vividly. Mostly these folk were educated idealists who did find something they felt they desperately needed through their est experience. Whatever they got, it wasn’t money. Erhard got that and with it buggered off to Central America to avoid prosecution on charges (subsequently dropped) of sexual abuse of his daughters. The programme then transformed into something called the Landmark Forum which in a somewhat less brutal tone continues to provide help and succor to seekers-in-need.
Ultimately, however, all the est-believers I knew seem to have departed from the precepts of their training as if from a worn out religious faith of their youth. It worked for them, until it didn’t. The abrupt departure of the prophet-in-chief may have played a part. But perhaps the magic stops working at the point when the contradictions expressed through est are either fully assimilated or become unbearable. Est is a sort of radical Romanticism, Kabbalah with jackboots, Derridan deconstruction without the intellectual foreplay, a Wittgensteinian language game in which there are no winners, or Marine boot camp with fewer push-ups. Or perhaps it’s just an innocuous middle-class hobby. No matter how it’s considered, I think we’re all better off with some good fiction. It’s more satisfying and much cheaper.
Postscript: Here is a clip from the film Semi-Tough which appears to be taken directly from the text of Rhinehart’s book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5XYN...
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Read information about the authorLuke Rhinehart is the pen name of the author George Cockcroft.
George Cockcroft was born in the United States, son of an engineer and a civil servant. He received a BA from Cornell University and an MA from Columbia University. Subsequently he received a PhD in psychology, also from Columbia. He married his wife, Ann, on June 30, 1956. He has three children.
After obtaining his PhD, he went into teaching. During his years as a university teacher he taught, among other things, courses in Zen and Western literature. He first floated the idea of living according to the casting of dice in a lecture. The reaction was reportedly of equal parts intrigue and disgust, and it was at this point he realized it could become a novel. Cockcroft began experimenting with dice a long time before writing The Dice Man, but this made progress on the novel rather slow.
In 1971, a London based publisher, Talmy Franklin, published The Dice Man, Cockcroft's first novel as Luke Rhinehart. Soon afterwards, he was engaged in the creation of a dice center in New York City.
In 1975, he was involved in a round-the-world voyage in a large trimaran ketch. Later, he spent some time in a sailboat in the Mediterranean, where he taught English and from there moved to a former Sufi retreat on the edge of a lake in Canaan, New York.
On 1 August 2012, at the age of 80, Cockcroft arranged for his own death to be announced. It was later revealed as a joke.
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