“Let’s take a look at the nature of now. What I’ve noticed with the people I’ve interacted with is that everyone who truly experiences right here, right now, actually sees that it’s all perfect exactly the way it is. When I am being myself, nothing more and nothing less – when I am doing exactly what I am doing – when I am allowing what is so around me to be exactly like it is – when I am being right here instead of where I am going – when I am observing it all just as it is without adding any judgments or evaluations or comparing it, then I observe that it is perfect. (For right now, – not that it should stay that way.) A thing is perfect when it is the way it is – when it is itself. To take away or add to that would produce a flaw. Therefore it is all perfect because, in terms of experiencing, that is to say, living, what is so right now is what is so right now. Truly, that is the whole realization. There is nothing startling about that. What is, is and what isn’t, isn’t. So what! – That’s precisely what people say when they find out. Enthusiastically – So What! There’s an enormous freedom in experiencing that. When you can really observe and experience that, it transforms your ability to experience living.”

~Werner Erhard: Life, Living and Winning the Game

Living is really pretty simple. Living happens right now; it doesn’t happen back then, and it doesn’t happen out there. Living is not the story of your life. Living is the process of experiencing right now.

Thinking about right now, figuring it out, perceiving it, arguing, reading about or believing anything about right now – none of these produce any certainty about living.

When you get beyond the symbols and beliefs about now, beyond thinking about it, beyond efforting or working at it, when you get even beyond merely feeling it, when you get all the way up to observing it, being with it, and finally up to totally experiencing it, the uncertainty about living goes away, because you know the truth in the only way in which a being ever knows the truth – by direct experience.

Actually, it is possible to open up the space for people to transcend life, to transcend these things that get in the way of being here now, so that they can experience being here now for themselves.

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“My notion about service is that service is actually that kind of relationship in which you have a commitment to the person.

Service is about knowing who the other person is, and being able to tolerate giving space to their garbage.

What most people do is to give space to people’s quality and deal with their garbage.

Actually, you should do it the other way around. Deal with who they are and give space to their garbage. Keep interacting with them as if they were perfect.

And every time you get garbage from them, give space to the garbage and go back and interact with them as if they were perfect.”

It is not even true that you are the cause of everything in your life. Rather, that you are the cause of everything in your life is a place to stand from which to view and deal with life – a place that exists solely as a matter of your choice

The stand that one is cause in the matter is a declaration, not an assertion of fact. It simply says, “you can count on me (and, I can count on me) to look at and deal with life from the perspective of my being cause in the matter.”

When you have taken the stand (declared) that you are cause in the matter of your life, it means that you give up the right to assign cause to the circumstances, or to others, or to the waxing and waning of your state of mind – all of which, while undoubtedly soothing, leave you helpless (at the effect of). At the same time, when you see how this works it will be clear that taking this stand does not prevent you from holding others responsible.

“Integrity is a mountain with no top. Therefore those who set off on this task must learn to enjoy climbing because there is no end to the process. And as the climb continues life continues to get better.”

~ Werner Erhard

Integrity is a Mountain with No Top - 6 day

“If you choose to be a person of integrity, you have no choice when it comes time to honor your word. To be in integrity you must apply cost/benefit analysis to giving your word and you must never apply cost/benefit analysis to honoring your word.”

~Werner Erhard


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“When I am not serious about my word to myself, it will show up consistently as various problems and difficulties in my life, the actual source of which I will obscure with various explanations and justifications. Moreover, I will show up for others variously as inconsistent, unfocused, scattered, unreliable, undependable, unpredictable, and generally unsatisfied as a person.” ~ Werner Erhard

Simply put, when I give my word to another, that act creates various conditions of “counting on” or “reliance on”, in the relationship between me and the other. Given that one’s word creates the relationship, it follows that when one’s word is whole and complete, the aspect of the relationship it creates is whole and complete. In a critical sense, who I am for another is my word, i.e., my expression of my self. For a relationship to have integrity (to be whole and complete), one’s word must be whole and complete. As Shakespeare said, “This above all: to thine own self be true, it must follow, as the night the day, Thou cans’t not be false to any man.” When one is true to one’s word (which is being true to one’s self), one cannot be but true to any man.

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The following is from the January 1977 Graduate Review:

GONNEKE SPITS: “A few months ago, Elaine Cronin, who manages the Chicago Center, was in town and Werner took Elaine, Laurel and me to dinner. We’d all been there when est started, and here we were together again. [The full staff in October, 1971, consisted of Phyllis Allen, Elaine Cronin, Sheila Pearson, Jack Rafferty, Laurel Scheaf, Gonneke Spits, and Barbara Wilson.] Werner said something at that dinner meeting that was really incredible for us. He said to us that where est really came from was not just from him as an individual, but out of the relationship that the four of us had. You know, we’d never looked at it that way. To tell you the truth, I always realized Werner was the source of est and thought we just came along with the furniture, you know.

“We got to look at what we all brought with us that was actually a part of the integrity of est. You see, without the part that Laurel represents, and without the part the Elaine represents, it’s not complete, and without the part that I represent, it’s not complete either. As est developed, some things were added that seemed to be necessary for putting it out into the world. Things like what Jack brought in, what Rich brought in, and what other people brought in, too. It isn’t that anyone was personally necessary, but whatever it was that we presented was and certainly is part of what est is.

Gonneke Spits

  • Decide on a project for which you are willing to take complete responsibility.
  • Complete the project successfully.
  • Relate this achievement to others as an inspiration for them.
  • Your willingness to express yourself may be just the trigger needed by someone else to do something for themselves.
  • From now on, don’t wait for something to happen to you. Actually take responsibility for making something happen. Keep at it until you make it a successful experience for everyone.
  • You can make the difference.

~Werner Erhard

“For Werner, it’s all about his work. That’s what he cares about and that’s what he is interested in. Till his last breath he will be out there creating things and making opportunities for people. He will be creating more types of work that people can benefit from. That’s really what turns him on, his work.” ~ Gonneke Spits

Original est staffer Gonneke Spits remains a close colleague of Werner Erhard to this day.

“Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality.”

~Werner Erhard

You and me world center earth

“Sometime around now – it may have happened five years ago or fifty years ago – but sometime around now the rules for living successfully on this planet shifted.

We can no longer hope to live meaningful, purposeful lives using the rules of a you or me world.  It’s becoming clearer and clearer to those who will look that in order to live successfully on this planet, we much discover and live by the rules of you and me.

-Werner Erhard

Sometimes you will give up your possessions, your children, your husband or wife, you will give up everything, except for the one thing that you need to give up in order to experience something that you want.  And what you need to give up in order to get that experience is the notion that you haven’t got that experience.

~ Werner Erhard

This is it. There are no hidden meanings.  Here is where it is.  Now is when it is.  You are what it is.

~Werner Erhard

What I have is a place to stand. Not the right place, for I do not pretend to know what is right even for myself, let alone others, but a place I am willing to try out to see if it leaves me as a clearing where the truth can more powerfully go to work.

~ Werner Erhard

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“My experience of est was that it helped the participants to get more in touch with feelings and emotions and helped them let go of those that were negatively affecting their lives.  It led participants to realize experientially our true freedom and responsibility.  Strengthening and vitalizing the humanity of the participant, EST opened the space for a greater penetration of grace and more vigorous faith life”

~ Father Basil Pennington O.C.S.O.,  Monk of Cistercian Order, Roman Catholic Church, world renowned spiritual teacher and author of several books