Landmark forum – cult, scam, or path to enlightenment?

by Jack on February 2011

Just over a year ago, I heard about a three-day weekend program called Landmark Forum, an educational experience presented by a “Forum Leader” to large groups of people (50-200) who sought to improve their life situations by going through this experience. Delivered by a company known as Landmark Education, the Forum is their flagship course and is presented to over 100 000 people worldwide every year.

Over the past year, I encountered many different opinions, both online and in person. These opinions ranged from extremely positive (“The most important three days of my life, bar none.”) to extremely negative (“They are a cult – all they want is your money, and they’ll never stop calling you once you’re on their list.”).

I figured that anything that elicited such polarized reactions from people had to have something interesting and potentially exciting at its core. I decided to keep learning more, and perhaps even to consider experiencing the Forum for myself.

I finally decided to try out the Forum for myself after two different conversations with a couple of intelligent and well-balanced friends. I respected – and respect – these men. They are both strong individuals who have experienced both triumph and tragedy in their lives. They described their own Forum experiences in simple language, and explained to me what the process was all about. And so, with some trepidation, I signed up. This is the review of my Landmark Forum experience.

The Experience

Landmark is extremely well-organized. A few weeks before the Forum, I got a postcard asking me to confirm my registration by phone. I called and a friendly man at the other end of the line indicated that my registration was confirmed. Having paid the full amount by credit card, I wasn’t sure why this step was necessary. (Apparently, I later learned, some people put down a deposit or pay in full, and then chicken out and decide not to show up.)

When you arrive, smiling volunteers give you a name tag and direct you to the conference room where the Forum takes place. The conference room is clean and organized with military precision. Chairs are ordered in neat, equally spaced rows and spaces between chairs are measured via the width of a Kleenex box. Everything is intentional, and nothing distracts participants from the business at hand. The focal point of the room is a low stage riser with chalkboards, a table, and a tall chair for the Forum leader. Microphones flank the stage, where the participants go to share their stories and receive live coaching from the Forum leader.

The rules are equally precise: the Forum starts at exactly 9:00 AM; no food or drinks are allowed in the Forum room, aside from water; time out consists of two 30 minute pauses for toilet, snacks and phone calls, and one 90 minute dinner period; note taking is discouraged during Forum time, not because of confidentiality of the course material, but because participants are encouraged to give full attention to the Forum leader and the participant “sharing” his or her story at the front of the room.

Online rumors that I had read about “not being allowed to go to the bathroom” were totally unfounded. The Forum leader explained that he couldn’t guarantee any results (“getting it”, in Forum lingo) to a participant if he wasn’t there for the full experience. That being said, anyone was permitted, though not encouraged, to walk out of the room at any time for whatever reason (e.g. cigarette, phone, bathroom, emotional overwhelm).

The process is described as experiential learning, as distinguished from informational learning. Informational learning is primarily based on moving things from the category “we know that we don’t know” into the category “we know that we know”. Examples include acquiring a new language or learning calculus – we can figure out in an instant whether we don’t know Hindi or calculus, and determine how to get from A to B.

On the other hand, the Forum is described as a means for getting access to the category “we don’t know that we don’t know” – those blind spots in interpersonal relations, habits, or behaviors that keep tripping us up because we don’t even know that they are there.

The Forum cycles between a few main activities. The leader presents concepts in a high-energy, theatrical fashion, sometimes acting out scenes of interpersonal conflict, parental mistreatment, and other human drama, and sometimes scribbling and sketching on the chalkboards to illustrate a concept or principle being taught. After a topic is presented, the leader often asks the participants to share in conversation with the person next to them what they’ve learned, and how it might apply in their own life.

The most intense parts of the Forum occur when people go to the front of the room to “share” with the whole group, and receive coaching from the leader. The intention of this is to help the participant observe blind spots and contradictions in their own thoughts and actions – primarily in their interpersonal relationships, thought other areas can also be examined. In turn, this is intended to help them to achieve a “breakthrough” that will interrupt their habitual reactions, help them imagine other options, and empower them with greater flexibility to choose their behavior in the future.

The “sharing / coaching” segments of the Forum often wind up with participant in tears, and / or the leader shouting at the participant. Well, not at the participant, exactly, but at the mental cage of bullshit and lies in which they are trapped. (“I’m not shouting at you, I’m shouting at your stuff. I’m on your side. Do you want to let this go or do you want to let the past run your life?”)

It becomes clear at these points why we signed a waiver stating that we are emotionally healthy – these confrontations can be intense and are likely to unpack difficult memories for both the person standing at the microphone, and those sitting in the audience. My own life coaches never got in my face this way, or this aggressively, that’s for sure.

By observing the process of a person confronting a difficult situation in his life, in real time, and then beginning (and sometimes even completing) the process of forgiving others and forgiving himself, the members of the audience find themselves able to imagine themselves going through that same process. And it’s a good thing, too, because now it’s time for the phone calls!

In the Forum, all of us participants are encouraged to do our own work of “completing the past”, by calling those people with whom we have conflicts and apologizing for our own contribution to that conflict. To my mind, this has a two-fold purpose. First, it allows the participant to get a lot more value from his participation in the forum, by taking tangible action instead of just thinking about it. Second, it is a brilliant viral marketing strategy that gets participants to communicate to loved ones (or former loved ones), in their own language, how the Forum is helping them interrupt some of their destructive behavior patterns of the past.

I know that if I received a tearful and apologetic phone call from a person with whom I had a conflict, I’d be curious about how they arrived at the decision to take that action. (“Well, I appreciate your apology. You say you’re at some sort of ‘forum’ this weekend, huh? What’s that all about?”) In the Tuesday follow-up session after the weekend, graduates are encouraged to bring friends and family and persuade them to sign up for the course. Since Landmark doesn’t advertise, word of mouth is the main way that people hear of them.

After a 13 hour day of emotional roller-coaster rides, it’s time for some homework. We’re encouraged to draft letters to other people in our lives, taking responsibility for areas in which we have been inauthentic or untruthful. We’re urged to examine our “rackets” – the situations where we execute habitual, disempowering behavior patterns by complaining that something or someone should be different from how it actually is. And in place of all this bad stuff, we’re asked to draft new ways of behaving and being through the phrase “the possibility I am creating for myself and my life is the possibility of being…”.

The Basics

The specific knowledge I acquired was relatively simple and straightforward. It didn’t seem to be the main point of the experience. Landmark itself makes the syllabus available on their web site so there’s no big mystery about the specific learnings that one will acquire at the Forum.

Some of the key messages that I received are:

  • We are all concerned with looking good to others and fitting in with others. The reality is that most people are too afraid of other people – i.e. of being judged and criticized – to do any judging themselves. And if they do judge us, so what? Everyone winds up in the same place eventually – dead.
  • We are all inauthentic assholes who lie and cheat our way through life, take the easy way out, and blame other people for our own problems.
  • There’s no meaning intrinsic to events that happened in our lives. Humans act like “meaning making machines” and construct the meaning of everything in our lives. (Yes, everything.)
  • There’s “what happened” and there’s “my story about what happened”. Assuming these two things to be the same is the source of much pain and conflict.
  • If we don’t “complete” the past, we bring the injuries and complaints of the past – i.e. the meanings that we have created – into the present and the future. In that case, we are literally “living into a future” that is polluted with the complaints and baggage of the past.
  • Completing the past consists of: forgiving ourselves for what happened (even if it wasn’t our fault), and forgiving others whom we have been blaming and “making wrong” for their roles in past events; and consciously choosing to let go of stories and meanings that we have previously attributed to those events.
  • Our use of language constructs our experience of reality. When we use change-based language, we take what’s pre-existing (and, presumably, “wrong”) and attempt to change it. When we use possibility-based / transformation-based language, and complete the past, we create a new future into which we can live with excitement, optimism, and passion.

The Forum in popular culture

My experience was also filtered through my past experience of movies and books that were known to have been influenced or inspired by the Forum.

It’s well known, for example, that Chuck Palahniuk attended a Forum before writing Fight Club, the novel that was turned into the greatest and most inspirational movie ever. This inspiration is clear in a lot of the language that I encountered in the Forum – “thank you for sharing yourself with us”, “let’s acknowledge so-and-so”, and so on. Many of these phrases – word for word – turned up repeatedly in the support groups attended by the main character of that movie.

Within the movie, the structure of the fight club itself also owes a debt to the Forum. The rules-based, tough-love framework, guided and led by a theatrical and charismatic leader, is reminiscent of the Forum experience. Of course, in contrast to Rules 1 and 2 – “do not talk about Fight Club” – we were strongly encouraged to talk about the Forum to anyone and everyone who would listen (as well as those who wouldn’t).

In contrast to the maudlin, sappy support groups, the aggressive and confrontational nature of the underground fight club helps the men who participate in it connect to something exciting, inspiring, primal, and truly empowering. In a very similar way, the bracing (metaphorical) slap in the face of the Forum converts “poor me” stories of self-pity and victimhood, into strength of will and determination to live into an unknown future of bold power and possibility.

The uncomfortable and “unreasonable” homework assignments are another common theme between the Forum and the movie. They take what would otherwise be an inspiring but artificial exercise (whether it be a conversation in a conference room, or a bare-knuckle boxing match in a dive bar’s basement), and redirect that newly liberated energy into transforming participants lives and the environments around them.

The movie Revolver is another one that kept coming to mind during my Forum experience. Less well known than Fight Club, Revolver is about a gangster recently released from prison who finds himself in the middle of an intricate con game run by two mysterious strangers.

At one point, during a high-tension moment in a sharing session in my Forum, the leader shouted at the participant:

You don’t see that I’m on your side. I’m not shouting at you because I want to kill you. I’m trying to kill it.

(“it” being the disempowering story that the participant was telling that kept her trapped, more or less).

Upon hearing these words, I recalled a line from Revolver:

The greatest con that he ever pulled, was making you believe that he is you.

At this, I felt something in my mind strain and then give way, with a little click. Tears followed. In the movie, “he” is the ego, the story that you make up and then tell in order to make things make sense, make yourself right and others wrong, and make yourself look good.

Another line from Revolver is relevant:

One thing I’ve learned in the last seven years: in every game and con there’s always an opponent, and there’s always a victim. The trick is to know when you’re the latter, so you can become the former.

In our lives, we’re all the victim of a con (in Forum-speak, a “racket”), that is set up and run by our ego. Until we realize this, we’re at his mercy, but once we do, we can turn the tables on the opponent and liberate ourselves. We recognize that we only have an ego – our egos are not us.

Most people, however, don’t realize this, since they are knee deep in the games of creating conflict, impressing others, and being right. And of course, in the words of Caesar (echoed by the movie):

The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.

You can probably guess where that is.

Reflections and conclusions

The experience itself was epic and fun, even as it was emotionally draining. Jerry Baden, the leader of the Forum I attended, was an exuberant and entertaining guy. He had a faint physical resemblance to the actor Gilbert Gottfried, but with a much nicer voice (something for which I was very grateful, given that he was speaking to us the whole time). His performance was rich with humor and personal anecdotes. As he put it:

You’ll go back to your families on Sunday night and they’ll ask you what happened, and you’ll say “I spent the whole weekend getting yelled at by some Jew with no eyes and all teeth”.

Jerry’s energy level was immense – being the hub of the forum experience for well over 100 people, he was always either listening, speaking, writing on the chalkboards, or running around the stage (and once in a while, around the entire conference room). For 13 hours a day. At age 60.

It wasn’t just entertaining, of course. This kind of stuff has a Very Important Purpose, dammit. And I did acquire and practice a number of useful thought patterns such as:

  • Asking myself if I was blaming other people or situations (“making them wrong”) rather than taking responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings.
  • Being more playful and irreverent about things (as though I needed help with that!), and taking all situations in life far less seriously.
  • Knowing that any hesitation and anxiety in social or interpersonal situations is pointless – life is short, after all – and reminding myself that others are at least as scared of me as I am of them. Probably even more so, since I’m so powerful and intimidating. 😉
  • Feeling more courageous about setting audacious and exciting life goals, and bringing others on board to help me achieve them.

Because of the experiential learning model, instead of writing these things down in a notebook, I managed to install and experience them as the seeds of new habits. With ongoing practice, they are likely to strengthen and take hold over time, but I definitely feel as though being able to experience these states directly during the learning process was worthwhile. A lot of this stuff, I already agreed with or “knew”, but the Forum experience helped me solidify it in a more visceral way.

So what does this all mean? Should you do the Forum yourself? Well, of course, I can’t answer that question for anyone else.

Think about it this way, though. As with so many experiences, a person’s expectations will guide what results he receives. (Put another way, in the words of Robert A. Wilson, “what the thinker thinks, the prover proves”.) If a person expects to encounter a bunch of scam artists and salesmen looking for his money, that’s what he will see. If a person expects to encounter some unusual and interesting experiences that can help with goals, communication, and interpersonal relationships, that’s what he will get.

Speaking for myself, I went in cautiously optimistic, and I found it valuable, entertaining, and worth my $485. And I expect to put the experiences and learnings into practice in my life in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

And you? If you choose to go to the Forum, you’ll receive whatever meaning you create out of it.

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivan Milovanovic November 8, 2016 at 01:20

“I have been a part of Landmark Forum for 4 years and have been enjoying the courses and the seminars a lot. The Landmark Forum talks about various inspiring topics such as “”rackets”” “”blindspots”” “”strong suits”” “”looking good”” “”life is empty and meaningless”” etc.

All of these carry importance in our life as these are the reasons why we get stuck in various stages of life. We cause all the sufferings in our life. A few alteration in our behaviour can enhance our lifestyle making it very interesting and happy. Many of us make the same kind of mistakes and go through similar problems. Landmark Forum brings people together and spreads happiness. I recommend the course to all of you and wish you good luck and success in life.”

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gina November 16, 2016 at 13:30

Does anyone have any coursework or material from the Landmark Forum that you can share? I cannot seem to find anything online, other than the syllabus to peruse prior to signing up.
Thanks,
G

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Kelly November 16, 2016 at 13:47

Gina… I would go to Landmark’a website and do an online introduction. You should be able to interact with someone to get a sense about the course itself. You can also contact me at uninstiller@aol.com and I can help you until you are satisfied. Good luck with whichever you choose. Kelly

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Barbara March 16, 2017 at 13:28

Did you ever make the choice to do the Landmark Forum? If not, I’m more than happy to address any questions or concerns. Landmark has/had a profound impact on my life – and I did it originally over 25 years ago! Don’t miss out on what it would make available for you in your life!

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Andrew September 13, 2017 at 08:25

Hi, I did the forum and other landmark stuff over twenty years ago. It is still alive and kicking in me today and I say ‘just do it’ and then do every volunteering opportunity you can fit in (meaning move the earth to do volunteering).
I am now 66 and every few years I look at how landmark are doing. Hence I read your message.
My life has been transformed by landmark. One of their courses was about creating your future. I created mine back then and am doing it today. ‘Where will you be in twenty years time’ was the question. That was about 45 years ago.
My life started being mapped out that day.
I have been teaching in china. All those years ago I did not know the reality of twenty years later but I created it.
Sharing happiness and light, not just with students but with people generally. I discovered I loved people, especially children.
When I wrote ‘happiness and light’ just now I could not stop myself bursting into tears – of happiness for what I got from landmark. It literally transformed my life from negativity to positivity.
I will never forget it. Just do it, OK!
Andrew

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Gerard Diaz November 22, 2016 at 00:30

“My mum’s best friend suggested me to do the Landmark forum when I was going through a rough time. I failed my final year and felt like a loser. I cut myself off from social media and never got out of my house. I felt very weak and fragile because I lost all my self-confidence! My parents were very upset and decided to send me to a counselor. That’s when I talked to my mum’s best friend and she introduced the Landmark forum to me. Since that very day, my life has changed completely. My family is very satisfied and happy with this course. I can a hundred percent assure you success and joy after you do the course. It’s a miracle how just within 3 days I saw myself eating food, gelling up with people and unembarrassed.
I felt warm and expressive after doing the Forum. It’s completely worth it.”

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visit the site November 23, 2016 at 09:24

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Veronica Krestow November 29, 2016 at 03:25

Great knowledge!!!!!
Thanks for your hard efforts. Its really helpful.

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Lisa Berson December 5, 2016 at 00:14

Landmark is an excellent course for people with life troubles. I went there with two of my friends, who are my business partners & we faced a few issues in working together. After the forum, our work life was extremely sorted. I felt so much more expressive as well as confident about the business. I saw things go smooth and we made high profits as well. We have goals to achieve and our friendship is way stronger now. I think this course changes our perspective towards various people. It made me realize how I easily misunderstood people and misused my authority over them. I recommended this course to two of my cousins and they enjoyed it to the fullest.

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Pierce Smith August 31, 2017 at 22:21

Since Landmark is experiencial, each person brings what they have to the topic. So, what worked for me may be a whole different experience for you. Landmark is not a lecture series where you try to learn new facts. You simply learn and unlearn what works for you.
Graduated in 1972
“The most profiund experience if my life”. Ever!

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Rick Kenworthy October 13, 2017 at 19:38

It didn’t seem to help your spelling. . .

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Steve Roam December 16, 2016 at 18:19

WAKE UP PEOPLE! This is a cult! They keep calling you MACHINES, saying THERE IS NO WAY OUT! They take away the dignity of anyone who disagrees with the leader, they get a ton of free labor by volunteers and the leaders are making BOATLOADS OF MONEY! They have no credentials outside of Landmark. THIS IS INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS

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Kelly December 16, 2016 at 18:29

It isn’t what you are saying. You are spouting off more harmful propaganda in one comment than Landmark uses in any of their courses or manuals. I don’t know what happened to you or someone you know with Landmark but it isn’t what you think. Feel free not to participate or being a customer of Landmark’s but spewing lies to have people not participate is unnecessary and inaccurate. I’ve seen their programs make a deep and true differnce in people’s lives including a number of family and friends and anyone I have ever seen getting something negative out of it to anger them to your degree, was not even trying to get something positive from the courses. Period.

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Rick Kenworthy October 13, 2017 at 19:43

How quickly the Landmark barricades arise into the conversation, swiftly eliminating a disagreeable opinion.

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Rob October 18, 2017 at 16:51

How is this “swiftly eliminating a disagreeable opinion”? The disagreeable opinion is still there for all to see, not eliminated at all.

I haven’t done Landmark and am researching it on the web because I’m considering it. If you have specific and substantive criticisms it would help me to hear them.

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Paul Knight December 25, 2016 at 19:13

Don’t bother. These tools will do anything to defend landmark because if they admit that landmark is a scam and a cult, then they must also admit that so are the bs titles and bszall@gmail.com accomplishments that landmark awards them with. These people are SO LOW on the esteem chart that they LOOK UP TO the maggots who control landmark and hence control these losers. It’s the ONLY sense of accomplishment landmark’so victims ever experience. Then they have to go around and infect the lives of everyone around them with landmark’so insidious philosophies and practices and they are actually stupid enough and hollow enough to believe that landmark is good for everyone. This is a classic textbook method of cult recruiting. BUT no longer call themselves cults. It isn’t PC.
The brilliance of landmark is that if you are stupid enough to even go to a single meeting, you will never be intelligent enough to see through the bullshit that it truly is.

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Kelly December 25, 2016 at 21:06

Paul… you are throwing around generalities akin to blatant racism or sexism. No proof to validate your actions but you just believe it to be true. If you went thru the Forum and either left early or completed and felt you didn’t anything, I want details of what happened. Did you have a spouse or partner go thru and it blew up in your or their face(s)? There is not justifiable reason to make the sweeping generalities you are unless something happened to you personally. Whatever happened, you obviously believe it cannot be resolved in any way (which is sad). People who take the program and understand it’s application to their lives, will never be affected by your words… and anyone they talk to about the programs will understand what they are speaking about because it will be a tangible difference that it had made in their lives. Your protest literally has no impact on whether people understand and appreciate exactly what is available. The courses have been taken by so many people of influence that have impacted so much of your day to day life that you would probably have to stop using your computers, smart phones, stop driving your car and never listen to certain music ever again. The positive impact Landmark has had by far outweighs any negative people believe the courses create. The courses are very everyone and would positively impact everyone on the planet. It is conversation about being human and how we are unconscious (and become gradually more and more unconscious starting from childhood) to being at peace in our own skin. Every person is not the same level of unconsciousness but we are auto-driven to stick to almost any thought we think at any moment and believe that this thought (that we judge as more powerful or important than other thoughts) is literally who we are. Tough, weak, depressed, strong, meek, ineffective, successful, whatever. Good or bad, positive or negative is of no consequence when we attach our personalities to a thought or concept. I suspect something happened to you personally but I do not believe you have even tried to look at yourself in the matter and it becomes way convenient to blame something outside of you… like Landmark. I cannot wait to see how you interpret my response and misrepresent what I am saying to continue strengthening your POV. Either way, peace to you and Merry Xmas/Happy Holidays.

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Paul Knight December 25, 2016 at 21:24

You’re obviously incapable of absorbing everything that I wrote. That is why you think you need landmark. That is why you so desperately defend landmark. You also throw around the word “racist.” If you can be considered racist for knowledge that a certain people believe the dumbest shit, then I’ll be a racist. Your screed was all over the place and one of the most desperate attempts to defend Landmark I have ever seen. So sad. I can imagine that people as sad as you need Landmark for that false sense of accomplishment. Your friends hate you.

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Kelly December 25, 2016 at 22:28

I’m shocked that you responded to my post with zero substance. This dialogue between you and I is meaningless to each of us as individuals but when other people read the exchange and see that you are a failed anger management product while I am being a cordial, level headed person attempting to have an adult conversation, it will sway them in the right direction. Keep being a tantruming teenager and I’ll wait to see if you actually come around to normal. I’m not even talking about you liking Landmark. I actually do not recommend that you take it. You are too mentally unstable for the courses right now. I’ll just wait to see if you can discourse like an adult with substance.

Paul Knight December 25, 2016 at 23:19

You just sound exceeding desperate. You ate exactly the kind of low self esteem sucker who NEEDS landmark.

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Dave H January 29, 2017 at 05:47

Paul, it sounds like you need some counselling buddy!

Carolyn DiMaggio August 24, 2017 at 13:39

I did attend thier Tuesday night meeting, after my daughter insisted it was very important…well, half way through I realized it was a CULT and I left, and they ruined our relationship, I don’t know exactly ‘what’ this CULT brain washed my kids to believe, but whatever it was, has made them angry with me because I wouldn’t fall for it…$700 a person, for brainwashing???? Terrible, I just wish my daughter had not fallen into this trap and I pray to God she finds her way out of it.

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Karen August 29, 2017 at 13:55

I hope that God would help your daughter finding her way out and the rest of the people as well. If they truly wanted to help others, there should not be a charge to it.

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Jen January 24, 2017 at 21:49

Steve Roam, you are telling people what to do based on something you clearly have not experienced or do not undersatand. First of all, no one can tell you what to do, or think, or feel. Obviously human beings are not machines. It’s a metaphor. No way out? No way out of where? It’s a course meant to help people. Take out of it what you want. I loved every second and learned so much about myself. I’m happy that I experienced this course. It’s about Love and you are spreading hate. Nothing dangerous about Landmark.

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Kay P October 20, 2017 at 03:11

“you are telling people what to do based on something you clearly have not experienced or do not undersatand. ”

I don’t have to smoke crack to know it’s bad.

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Carolyn DiMaggio August 24, 2017 at 13:15

Very dangerous…it has ruined my relationship with my daughter and granddaughters. Landmark brain washed them some how and I am so upset about it.

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Rick Kenworthy October 13, 2017 at 19:40

At last ….. someone not drinking the kool-aide.

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Kimberly January 20, 2017 at 07:56

I am a mother if two kids and I had a few problems with my mother-in-law. She tried to put me down and make me feel worthless! I struggled with her for almost 5 years after which I left my husband. During this time I took the Forum and realized I had multiple blind spots. I received a breakthrough and finally got back to my husband. I learnt forgiveness and understanding, two most important things from the Forum. I recommend this course to people I come across and have always received good reviews.

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Elianne Petit February 3, 2017 at 08:49

I am a mother if two kids and I had a few problems with my mother-in-law. She tried to put me down and make me feel worthless! I struggled with her for almost 5 years after which I left my husband. During this time I took the Forum and realized I had multiple blind spots. I received a breakthrough and finally got back to my husband. I learnt forgiveness and understanding, two most important things from the Forum. I recommend this course to people I come across and have always received good reviews.

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Camille Toe April 5, 2017 at 12:53

Hey, “Elianne Petit,” why is your post word-for-word identical to “Kimberly”‘s which was posted a month before yours? Are BOTH of you Landmark sock-puppets?

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Heather Polito October 27, 2017 at 12:40

Now that is funny. WOW!

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Mr B November 16, 2017 at 22:23

Lol

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Denis Gabz February 6, 2017 at 10:33

Life has been a set of mishaps for me. I lost my job the same day my mom expired. Within a week my girlfriend refused to marry me and said she loves my cousin. I all seemed to be a very sad dream but I wasn’t waking up. I needed a breakthrough very badly. The Forum wasn’t enough to cover the damage. But the advance course did wonders! I finally stopped crying and found a little ray of hope. I was neither lost nor scared. I found a porpoise to my life. I am soon going to do my SELP course and hope for the best.

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Jules February 13, 2017 at 23:29

There is nothing wrong with self improvement, we all have issues that we need to work through, however, this is a cult, look at the redflags people! Having to pay hundreds of dollars, someone shouting the B.S. out of you, demeaning you in an isolated forum? You are discouraged to do leave the room even just to use the bathroom and your not allowed to take notes? Another thing is my son said the forum leaders mentioned to him that “he healed himself without religion” just at the mention of that tells me its a cult! People with weak minds and have futile thinking follow cults!

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Jefferson Woodruff August 24, 2017 at 08:22

Just a remark on the cost. The price of a 3 day Landmark Forum is about the same as a 3 day class on Microsoft Excel. After some years of participating in Landmark Seminars I have been talking masters classes in Métal working and advanced jewelry techniques. These 3-5 day courses cost much more than Landmark courses.

I never would have achieved the mastery in Art Metals with out the Landmark Courses because I never would have ‘afforded’ the metals training and tools.

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Kasia October 1, 2017 at 22:54

I’m a massage therapist and weekend courses on dry needling cost between $400-600+ The most recent one I’ve done was one day at $325.. I don’t think people realise how expensive courses are now, doesn’t matter what you study.

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elise swansborough February 17, 2017 at 10:38

wow guys! i did “est” and loads other/more and so on,,inthe 80 s. and having been around..a lot. I’m pretty sure it s not a cult! ‘ cos have been around some of them too! yes some people get a bit fanatical about it..because it really can make a big and often helpful difference…but it is good stuff. if you have emotional /mental health issues than it is not perhaps for you..I used to work on the teams that “screened” people for such..
if you sense there might be “more to life’. and are interested in what does it take to transform the world..or,humans..then you may well find it useful..
truly I have “been,there, done that” in many and varied forms..plus am an old original hippie…and a bit,of a science geek…and there are deginitely much nastier and more suspect things around than the Forum… it can really be an excellent tool…and lets face it..the world/humanity needs to wake up a bit..doesn’t it. you could do a lot worse than do the Forum! xx

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Kobe Bryant March 15, 2017 at 13:23

I must admit, I was a guest to Landmark and I went in there looking with an open mind about this program. My sister recently graduated from one of their advance courses and asked me to be a guest because I had noted to her that she had such a high ego that was messing with her life.

Any how, I went in their and analyzed the situation and I felt that this course would really help people that have skeletons in their closets after seeing all of the volunteers let us know about their past and how they learned to forgive people. It seemed like it helped these people a lot and I was happy for them. I didn’t really see anyway I could get help since I don’t believe that I am holding anything or anyone in my past that is holding me back from my future. I must admit, when I was in there I kind of felt like the movie Yes Man. Also, I have been to AA and I thought it felt similar since it’s a support group for issues that you want to move forward from. I think it can help many people. What I didn’t like was the fact that I was being pressured by this lady to commit, the whole night she wouldn’t let me just be at peace and kept telling me the same story on how it helped her and her husband. At a point she asked if I was married I told her no, she kept trying to find a reason why I should enroll. Also, after I told her that I like to sleep on things and see what I want to work on for myself she kept saying that it’s bad for me to sleep on things and I should just take off my hat and throw it to the other side so I can go over and experience it. Didn’t make any sense to me. Anyways good luck it you take this it can probably help you. As for myself I think I will stick to my self help books.

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Rick Kenworthy October 13, 2017 at 19:56

This intelligent words from a man who is master of his life.
The REAL answer? . . . . Read, kiddies, READ.

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G April 8, 2017 at 17:20

‘If you choose to go to the Forum, you’ll receive whatever meaning you create out of it.’
Which is what you would do anyway in your everyday life. -$485

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Annie yousefian April 21, 2017 at 14:52

What a sad institute
They have the power to Make their members homeless , drug addict , robot
My Tobert Yousefian is lost man. Homeless abandoned his beautiful daughters his law firm and became a looser druggy
Besides robbery and taking all his $$$ and promising jesses lol
Nobody deserves this

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Victor Gagnon April 28, 2017 at 19:14

Brilliant site

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Reg Couldridge May 3, 2017 at 20:08

Landmark so screwed up the mind of my 55 year old son that it turned a brilliant self made man into one who could no longer think straight. He ended up hanging himself on 20 April 2017. I am a retired psychologist and believe I can give a professional opinion that the unqualified people that run the Landmark courses are very dangerous.
Edit this, delete it or respond to it as you wish Landmark. You are part of an evil cult and I curse the day my son got involved with you.

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Darien May 9, 2017 at 20:23

I’m sorry for your loss

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Junie Mae May 14, 2017 at 23:57

Reg,
I went looking for a “program which tells people to ask everyone for forgiveness”. My best friend pushed me away a number of years ago and then, about 4 years ago she came to visit me and she said she had been to this “Landmark” (I couldn’t remember the name) thing. She told me how part of the program was getting forgiveness from people she had mistreated. I forgave her and asked her to be more present in my life and my son’s (her Godson). Nothing much changed. She committed suicide on April 24, 2017. I would love to talk to you some more. If they don’t edit this out, try to find me at my blog hopefulhodgepodge dot com

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PRAJAPATI K May 11, 2017 at 02:11

Hi,
I have very poor experience in land mark during advance course, I got what he taught against do same and violate all rules which exist his enterprises. Many time Coach and his subordinate have big ego, whose under estimate have super brain and did not gives space for listen to ordinance.
Here I shared one worst experience which happen along me which shake my spirit..and after some minor incident Coach denied to entry to attend the forum and told refund your money…with in 3 week……..but more than 5 week passes I did not got my refund money. Where starting day told keep full fill your commitment…..Really fake or cheated fill by self.

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Ralph Mustafa May 16, 2017 at 20:27

Total scam job. Worse than Scientology. Worse than any religious cult. These assholes find people with personal trauma and work their emotions for money.

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Tammy July 1, 2017 at 00:07

Wrong. Have you even done it? It has been 19 years since I did it but it is basically self improvement. Not a scam or a cult. The way they pressure people though to join is not cool agree with that. But you truly experience great insights in it. Most people that scream scam or cult have not done it and they do not get it. It is like taking a motivational weekend course to improve your life, feel better and see things with a new perspective. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. People go to therapy. It is the same thing. It has nothing to do with religion. And it is definitely not anything like Scientology.

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Slapnuts June 1, 2017 at 14:55

Bottom line is: If some people take this course and it helps them, what’s wrong with that? People do a great many things that other people disagree with, or would not do themselves. DUH. We’re pretty similar, but not identical. This process ain’t for me, I’ve been invited to a presentation. I am pretty comfortable with my pros and cons as well as my interaction with other earthlings. Those people that are trolling are manifesting some of humanity’s biggest problems: intolerance and envy. The incredible irony is that they don’t realise it. I think that’s what is called a blind spot. LOL.

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Sceptical Steve June 17, 2017 at 21:09

I was coerced into signing up for one of these forums by someone I barely knew. They used multiple sales tactics to get you to sign up.
It really is the ultimate sales technique. Firstly they ask you to name what you would like the most in your life (the product).

That’s right, you tell them what you want most in life and then all they have to do is say you can have that for the cost of attending the forum. It really is quite an ingenious pitch.

I cancelled before attending, as, in hindsight, it appeared they were targeting people at or in crisis, and marketing a fix to all their problems.

Maybe it would have been everything it is said to be, but I wasn’t going to find out after feeling manipulated into signing up.

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Tammy June 30, 2017 at 23:59

You really would have got something great out of it. It was pretty amazing. You just see life differently (in a good way) once you experience it. I wish they were not so pushy about it though. 🙁

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Carrol Svenson June 18, 2017 at 07:08

Thanks a lot for this amazing guide

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Rhonda June 19, 2017 at 11:22

Great Summary. I went many years ago and was looking to send my son and forgot exactly what it was about. Thank you.

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Prince June 20, 2017 at 04:59

Definitely not a cult.
My two cents here >> http://guidea2z.com/is-landmark-forum-a-cult-or-mlm-scam/

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Peter June 25, 2017 at 10:22

Recently, I happened to meet one of their “leaders” with other 10 friends, and he was trying to convince us to join Landmark Form for an initial fee of $900 including $150 deposit. In the introductory seminar, all he always expected a positive feedback from me. He was also sharing his personal life experience or milestones after joining Landmark. But all he told was bullshit.

“Oh, before Landmark my experience with my Mom was bad. Now it is great.” — to some extent this seems to be ok, next one is hilarious.

“Oh, before Landmark I couldn’t play with my pets (cats & kitten), after attending forum I have no problem with pets, they are now sleeping with me in my bed.” — what the hell?

Definitely it is a cult or going to be very soon.

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Tammy June 30, 2017 at 23:55

I did the Forum back in 1998. I also did the advanced course and Self Leadership course. There was A LOT of good in it. I had a lot of insights. Amazing stuff. It was a positive experience and I would do it again. The only negative was they push you to invite people which I hated. I get it in a sense that it would be amazing if everyone you knew took this course and got to experience the freedom you truly get going through it.
But people think it is a cult (which it is not) it is just annoying how they get YOU push people to join. I was able to quit without too much of an issue. This is not scientology lol. The rest of it was amazing though. And if I did it again i would not try to push anyone to join. I would just do it for me. I am a self help junkie and but one else in my life is.

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Howard Schumann August 6, 2017 at 01:46

Sometimes people need a little push in life but the person who wants to enroll you is coming from love and support. They are volunteers who don’t receive any gifts or any kind of renumeration for their efforts. What they get is the satisfaction of having contributed to someone’s life. I know I had a lot of resistance and fear before I enrolled in the EST Training back in the 70s.

The woman who talked me on the phone asked me to keep looking and seeing what value I could get from the training. You can call it pressure if you like, but for me her help in overcoming my resistance to change was a turning point in my life. I’d like to know who she is so that I can thank her for my life.

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MM July 24, 2017 at 04:33

A) I love Jerry Baden.

B) When you do Landmark, you need to have good personal boundaries.

C) Having said that, there is alot that can be gained, especially if you do it with specific goals in mind.

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Annabel Grace August 16, 2017 at 08:04

Landmark is another rubbish scam. They are like slimy salesmen in their approach. They all just want to make money off you and then you would be forced to be like them, spouting off about how good Landmark is.
If it is that good, you don’t need to be roping in your family members to scam off them.

A typical cult, however way you dress it.

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Annabel Grace August 16, 2017 at 08:05

Landmark is another rubbish scam. They are like slimy salesmen in their approach. They all just want to make money off you and then you would be forced to be like them, spouting off about how good Landmark is.
If it is that good, you don’t need to be roping in your family members to scam off them.

A typical cult, however way you dress it.

You really want to improve your life, repent and ask Jesus into your heart and life. HE is waiting and HE loves you.
This is FREE

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Carolyn DiMaggio August 24, 2017 at 13:13

I completely agree with you on this.

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Will Patrick September 25, 2017 at 01:38

“A typical cult, however way you dress it.

You really want to improve your life, repent and ask Jesus into your heart and life. HE is waiting and HE loves you.”

Haa Haa Haa Haa. Priceless!

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Carolyn DiMaggio August 24, 2017 at 13:11

This Landmark Forum ruined my relationship with my daughter and my granddaughters, who, for some unGodly reason, felt they needed to attend this ‘Mind Redevelopment”, in their words….well, I was blindsided into attending your Tuesday night meeting, and half way through it, I had to leave, I too, like others, feel this is a cult, and I am so upset about it ruining my relationship with my family, a lot of good you people did them…filled their heads with nonsense, I just hope and Pray, that God will show them the light, and they will escape the grasp you brain washed them into.

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chris baker August 24, 2017 at 18:55

Every single person I know (including myself) who has done The Forum, no exceptions, has experienced radical improvement to the quality of their lives. Even the 2 people I know who claim they hated The Forum, are now living far more enjoyable and more peaceful lives. (I think they hate The Forum because previously they had enjoyed, and now miss, the rackets that they had been running about their ex-husbands.)

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Sandra Webster August 26, 2017 at 14:09

It seems counter intuitive to me to trust a stranger with my deepest feelings, hurts, and concerns who is going to get in my face and yell at me.

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Bruce A Le Doux August 28, 2017 at 17:29

EST Grad’….early 80’s…. Allow me share my experience… Anything remotely related to EST, and yes, regardless what anyone would like to say…. THIS IS…..to me? Total waste of time and a racket to boot. Why??? I already ‘got it’ before that ‘intense’ EST experience way back….. I was already prepared to release resentments, do the ‘work’…. 12 step style…. and am happily open to all that happens both from/to me in life. Find yourself, free yourself…. but IMHO? This is dangerous water ‘to walk on’.

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David September 6, 2017 at 20:34

There are many things that need to be revealed about Landmark Education, the leaders, and practices. Look up Warner Erhard on Wikileaks. You are able to download a long lost video about Warner Erhard and Est. After this 60 Minute interview Warner Erhard left the country. Many of the leaders, including Warner have changed their names. When you participate in the ILP program the leaders tell you to leave if you do not think Landmark Education is the source of transformation. You cannot be openly gay, and you have to exaggerate your accomplishments while leading. There is definitely mind control going on. Almost all of the material is taken from other sources, or stolen from people who participate, without credit. It is physiologically damaging. You get put into loops, that your mind will not be able to escape from. You get trapped by them telling you everything is your interpretation, and the meaning you give it. You are told to generate you own breakthroughs. You continue to reach for a ever illusive key to how Landmark Education, and transformation works. Transformation defined as the genius of a new real of possibility. In the end you get “nothing” and that is supposed to be a good thing. At the end of the Landmark Forum you are left with nothing, and the answer to that is the Advanced Course. If you have a good life, continue to have a good life. If you need help, seek professional help.

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Roger September 29, 2017 at 15:29

???!!! seriously? 4 people who lead the Landmark Forum are openly gay.

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Tamara October 11, 2017 at 19:40

I attended a one night seminar with my sister. I agreed with most of what the presenter was saying. After 2hours of hearing people’s “stories” of enlightenment, I decided that this was not for me. I’m a Christian and this seemed to me like idolatry worship, which is a sin. No one gave God glory for their accomplishments. They claimed they succeeded because of “the forum”. It was so sad to see a roomful of people, who claimed they found success in an area of their life, and Our Creator was made no mention, who ultimately opened these doors and healed these people in the first place. When we took a break so people could have the opportunity to pay $655 for the next forum, which was 2 weeks away, I was asked by 5 members if I was going to attend the forum. I politely said no and was given blank stares, or they stared at each other and had no idea what to say. I was looked down upon. I felt that this was high pressure sales. If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I at least need to sleep on it. When the final woman asked me if I was going to join them at seminar (insert pictures of zombies here), I had to defend my Lord and Savior. I said “listen, there is nothing on this forum that I cannot obtain from the power of Jesus Christ, my Savior”. All the gulit, shame, resentment, vulnerability, etc.
Jesus can heal that! She went on to tell me that she was a church going lady. My thought was “yeah, but do you have a personal relationship with Jesus; if you did you would not be here”. I went home that night and read my Bible and asked God for guidance. He led me to Habbakuk 2, which speaks of idolatry worship and 2 Corinthians 10-12, in which God says it’s okay to be weak, for in my weakness, He is strong. God is all you need people, and he is FREE!

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Elizabeth October 24, 2017 at 15:33

I don’t know much about Landmark and stumbled on here trying to learn more. Based on the experience you described, though, I don’t think I’d recommend the course to abuse victims and I’d be very cautious about what this class teaches as believing some of these things will make people more likely to stay in abusive relationships. I could be wrong, but based on what you described, it sounds like the course would encourage abuse victims to take responsibility for “their part” in the abuse (abuse is never the victim’s fault) and call up the abuser to try to make amends (never a good idea; no contact to the extent possible is best and this just opens the door to further abuse). Abuse victims already tend to blame themselves for the abuse and try to do everything they can to make the relationship work only to find that this just gives the abuser more power and control, thus fueling the abuse. I’d be wary that any program that fosters this mentality is potentially a cult.

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Barbara October 31, 2017 at 01:09

I have a friend who has been involved in Landmark for a very long time. Sadly, he has turned into a different person. I have known him for 40 years and was of high integrity and had superb values. Now he is a liar, a fraud and can’t stand on his own two feet. I feel very bad for him that this is the course he has chosen, but I am very grateful I never followed his advice and joined. What a tragedy to watch him wither into the lies and am certain this must be a cult to have transposed him to the worse of the worse. And think of the money he has paid to them to become this…so sad, He has spent thousands and thousand and thousand on this cult.

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Annonymous November 2, 2017 at 11:43

Just went to a meeting of Landmark graduates last night, without realizing what I was going to. The entire setup creeped me out. A very enthusiastic group of folks, who seemed to have a pre-packaged system for pulling me in. I am an empath and am very intuitive with my feelings. I could not stay in that room for more than 10 minutes. On the way out I was actively pursued to find out why I was leaving and, presumably, to convince me to stay (which was clearly n0t going to be possible.)
Maybe this kind of thing can be helpful for some, but it is clearly not my way. The aggressive atmosphere made that obvious.
I am already very clear about the locus of responsibility that surrounds me, and the Divine value of all human beings. My relationships are fine as is, thank you very much.

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Mr B November 16, 2017 at 22:23

Very funny

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