The est Training

"The real purpose of est was to create space for people to participate in life - to experience true space and freedom in life."
Werner Erhard


"The way est happened was very simple.  I had this transformational experience.  I had a transformation.  Whoever I had been up until that point, I no longer was.  And it was on my way to work, and I happened to be – not anything significant about being on the Golden Gate Bridge – but I happened to be there, and that’s when I had the realization that what my life was about was really meaningless.  It was empty.  And this realization that the things that I thought were so significant, like looking good and winning – just the normal things that I guess most people think are important – that they really had no importance, that it was all empty and meaningless.  When I broke through the sadness, broke through the sense of despair at having wasted my life, I all of a sudden realized, “My God, I’m free.”  What – free – what does that mean to be free?   Free to choose, free to create a life that was worth living.  So I took a day with my staff – shared with them the best I could something that would allow them to create for themselves the kind of transformational experience that I had had.  And we all decided, okay, we’ll do this.  Instead of selling books, we’ll do this." -Werner Erhard, 2005, from Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard



"Fundamentally, the est training is an occasion in which participants have an experience, uniquely their own, in a situation which enables and encourages them to do that fully and responsibly. I am suggesting that the best way to learn about est is to look into yourself, because whatever est is about is in your self. There are some who think that I have discovered something that other people ought to know. That is not so. What I have discovered is that people know things that they do not know that they know, the knowing of which can nurture them and satisfy them and allow them to experience an expanded sense of aliveness in their lives. The training is an occasion for them to have that experience - to get in touch with what they actually already know but are not really aware of.

"The est training is about the experience of love, the ability to love and the ability to experience being loved, not the concept or story of it - and it is about the experience of happiness, and the ability to be happy and share happiness, not the concept, story or symbols of it. In short, the training is about who we are, not what we do, or what we have, or what we do not do or do not have. It is about the self as the self, not merely the story or symbols of self." - From The est Standard Training, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, 1977



"The truth is not found in a different set of circumstances. The truth is always and only found in the circumstances you’ve got." - Werner Erhard

New Sun Magazine, by Eliezer Sobel, December 1978



"We can discover another possibility: living in a way, now, moment to moment, that makes a difference to life. We discover that as human beings we can live in a possibility instead of in what we have inherited, that instead of just being a human being because we were born that way, we can declare the possibility of being for human beings. This is the work of transformation: bringing forth a breakthrough in the possibility of being human.

We could say that what happens is a shift in what orients your life.  Ordinarily, what orients our lives is the attempt to reach satisfaction. It might be at a very low level an attempt to get food or water.  At a little bit higher level it might be an attempt to be safe.  But, at any rate, we could say that what orients our lives is the attempt to get satisfied, to be satisfied.  What happens in the est training is that that gets turned 180 degrees around and your life is no longer about attempting to gain satisfaction.  It’s no longer about attempting to prove that you’re all right.  It’s no longer an attempt to prove that you’re satisfied.  What happens in the training is that there’s a 180-degree shift to the experience of being satisfied, and now life, instead of being an expression of the struggle to get satisfied, is an expression of satisfaction experienced.  You now begin to have what you do orienting around the expression of satisfaction instead of the attempt to get satisfied.  And we could say that’s what transformation was." -Werner Erhard, Erhard Seminars Training, 1982 


A Way To Transformation, by Werner Erhard, 1984

The subject of this article is transformation – a deep, profound and committed choice about the way we live our lives.  Transformation is the possibility for a breakthrough in our living, a clearing for aliveness to show up in our everyday activities, self-expression and commitments.

Talking about transformation is no more than a representation, an image of the real thing.  It’s like eating the menu instead of the steak – neither nurturing nor profound.  It is in being transformed – in being authentically true to oneself – that one lives passionately free, unencumbered, fearless, committed.  It is in living life in a transformed way that the steak and its sizzle show up.

We invite you to be here for the actual benefits of transformation, for the meal – not the menu... Read More


The est Standard Training

Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, Biosciences Communication 3:104-122, 1977

The format of the est standard training (sometimes referred to as Erhard Seminars Training) is described. Relationships which participants develop in the training are: to the trainer, to the group, and to self. Three aspects of self are presented: self as concept, self as experience and self as self. Relation of these three aspects of self to the epistemology of est are discussed, as are the experiences of aliveness and responsibility...Read More


The Mind's Dedication to Survival, by Werner Erhard, Gilbert Guerin and Robert Shaw, from The Journal of Individual Psychology, Volume 31, Number 1, May, 1975

The est process is designed to assist the participant to discover through experience, rather than analysis, aspects of his mental functioning and behavior. The participant "looks at" (without explanation or rationalization) his behavior, feelings, thoughts, history, justifications and the concomitant payoffs. The realization that previously unrecognized payoffs of apparently negative behavior cause the negative behavior to persist occurs here. For example, the person may come to experience the self-justification and righteousness that can occur when he is blocked, "put down" or dominated. As he gets a glimpse of what the mind has accepted as the payoff of these feelings, he gradually becomes aware of the patterns he uses to assert power and control in this situation. He now has the opportunity to see how this behavior allows him to feel "right" while it allows him to make others "wrong." He discovers how these old patterns and acts of domination reduce his aliveness and result in perpetuation of unhappiness and discontent.


Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard

This documentary was created by the independent filmmaker and two-time Emmy Award Winning Producer for PBS, Robyn Symon.  It chronicles the history of Werner Erhard, his life, the world of the est Training and his work and ideas, all put into perspective through the dozens of stories told by numerous professional and academic experts. Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard is available on DVD by clicking here. 



Heat & Light: After 40 years est continues to have an enduring impact. Celebrated author, Jennifer Haigh in her novel “Heat & Light” captured the transformation of one person's experince with est in only a couple of pages that are both playful and profound. The passage in the book sums it up by saying “There is nothing else to call it— he realizes this later— but love. Werner Erhard has already changed his life."

The Americans:The Americans,” a critically acclaimed TV show, prominently features the est Training in a truthful depiction of the fictional lead character and Russian spy attending est programs which allowed him to examine his past and question his purpose. The way that the show brilliantly highlights the benefits of the est Training to forward and deepen the storylines definitely shows that the writers and/or people on the production team must be est Graduates!



The est Standard Training, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia

Outcome Study of The est Training

Some Aspects of the est Training and Transpersonal Psychology: A Conversation

est: Communication in a Context of Compassion, by Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, Ph.D.

Research and Studies of the Programs Designed by Werner Erhard and Programs Based on Werner Erhard's Original Methodology

est - The New Life Changing Philosophy That Makes You The Boss

1976 Interview with Werner Erhard

What is est? An est publication

The est Training in Prisons

Earl Babbie - est in Prisons

History of The est Training

est: Making Life Work

The Mind's Dedication To Survival


est: A Philosophical Appraisal, Michael Zimmerman

Report on The est Training, Humberto Maturana

Assessment of the Philosophical Significance of The est Training, Hubert Dreyfus

Images of the est Training and Werner Erhard

This Is It: est, Twenty Years Later, Eliezer Sobel

THIS IS STILL IT: est, Thirty Years Later, Eliezer Sobel

Werner Erhard and est

Erhard Seminars Training - Reunion

Peter Gabriel speaks about Werner Erhard and the est Training

I Got It! Did You?

est Training graduate, Jack Canfield quotes Werner Erhard in The Success Principles

Aphorism from est at work today: "Health is a function of participation"

Werner Erhard's Ideas Used in Dealing With Upsets

Mark Jacobson, Artist, credits est Training’s influence

Werner Erhard and Gonneke Spits in India, 2010

Lance Reddick talks about working his way up to 'White House Down': While the est training is no longer offered, it continues to have an impact on the lives of those who took the training, as is shown in this article about the actor Lance Reddick, "Reddick thinks his period with est (Erhard Seminars Training) - especially a workshop on communication - lent him the ability to ace those early auditions. "I led seminars for about two years when I was in college. My participation had a profound effect on my acting later, and my ability as a seminar leader allowed me to fill in the gaps in my training that I didn't have in auditioning," he explains.

"Because I was used to figuring out how to read a room and being myself in front of people - even though I hadn't really studied auditioning - I was able to audition well and that made a big difference ... When I did est and that was over - I didn't want to think it - but I was thinking, 'What the heck was that? I want my money back.' All these people were, like, 'Wow.' I didn't get it. But there was something there that I was curious about, so I kept participating," he says, sipping a glass of water.

"I was different when I came out of the workshop. I'm shy, an introvert. I was so withdrawn, so self-conscious, but when I came out I was 'Whoa!' Suddenly all this stuff I'd been suppressing since I was 7, I let go of." from The Washington Post

Werner Erhard and The est Training

The est Training on YouTube

The est Training on Facebook

Transformation Film DVD contains rare footage of est seminars

The Est Training

Gonneke Spits on the est Training


est and Gonneke Spits

Erhard Seminars Training (New York Times)

Erhard Seminars Training (Financial Times)

est training World Heritage Encyclopedia


Connect with others who have done the est training on facebook.



The best place to find Werner Erhard's ideas at work for personal and professional training and development is at Landmark.



Werner Erhard discusses the est Training with Professor James Doty at Stanford University in November 2017


Over 40 years later est continues to have an impact.  “The Americans,” a critically acclaimed TV show, prominently features the est Training in a truthful depiction of the fictional lead character and Russian spy attending est programs which allowed him to examine his past and question his purpose. The way that the show brilliantly highlights the benefits of the est Training to forward and deepen the storylines definitely shows that the writers and/or people on the production team must be est Graduates!





“Participants might have been surprised how both physically and emotionally challenging and how philosophical the training was…In many ways the est training was the most important cultural event after the human potential movement itself seemed exhausted…” -Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., David and Lyn Silfen University Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and of History and Sociology of Science, Professor of Philosophy (by courtesy), University of Pennsylvania, in his book Impromptu Man.



Professor Moreno and Werner Erhard discuss The est Training. Watch their conversation at the BioEthics Film Festival at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016.



Video Courtesy of Symon Productions

Jerome Rabow Ph.D.

ULCA Dept.of Sociology

on his study of est graduates:

"...the graduates of est were much more concerned with the welfare of other human beings..."



Professor Hubert Dreyfus writes, "...est embodies a powerful and coherent truth which transforms the quality of the lives of those who experience it. Moreover, this truth contains radically new insights into the nature of human beings."




In this film clip Werner Erhard and The est Training are featured in media segments with Joel Daly, Dinah Shore, Cloris Leachman, Amanda Arnold, Ellie Dylan, from the 1970's and 1980's.



Werner Erhard on the work of transformation



the est training

The est Experience




Werner Erhard - 1974




Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard Foundation




werner erhard

Werner H. Erhard




Visit the website about Werner Erhard and The est Training and participate in a reunion of the ideas, distinctions, and experiences of the est Training. est graduates

Erhard Seminars Training





Werner Erhard and Gonneke Spits

Original 1971 Erhard Seminars Training Staff members Werner Erhard and Gonneke Spits pictured in 2008