When I was 22 I had a friend call me out of the blue one day and ask me to come to his "Graduation" from the "introductory" Landmark Forum class. I had already heard plenty about the Forum from a friend who had become a brainwashed Forum troll, and while reluctant, decided to go to show the friend I supported him even if he had done something remarkably stupid.
At the time I worked for a small company and everybody who worked there worked in the same office area. I had to get an afternoon off so I could drive down to Santa Monica where the graduation was being held. So I say to my boss, "I need to go to my friend's cult graduation, can I have the afternoon off?" he chuckles and says, "sure, what cult?" to which I respond, "The Landmark Forum." I kid you not, the entire office went silent and every head turned to stare at me in unison. It turns out every single person I worked with was a member of the afore mentioned cult. It was so a "pod people" moment!
The "Graduation" ceremony was wonderfully creepy fun. The charismatic cult leader stood up front and talked about their "technologies" and at one point draw a pie chart. A small sliver of the pie chart was labeled, "what we know" and the other 90% of that pie chart, all togethor now: "What we don't know we don't know!" All 300 or so sheep duped into attending a sales pitch by their "graduate" applauded brainlessly. (BTW: This may have been the moment I knew Bush would win the 2000 election.) About an hour into the sales pitch they marched the graduates up to the front where they had us appluad, but didn't bother even telling us their names.
At this point we were supposed to go to a room based on a "number" we were assigned when we first came in. I had to go to the restroom, so I went off and there on the wall was the most amusing thing. "Blow jobs 7pm" with the response scribbled blow it, "What a surprise, a fag in the forum." Being that I am gay, as was my friend, as was the friend who talked my friend into going, I was more than amused.
Off I went to the room I had been assigned, which was lead by a happy happy west hollywood-esque gay man. Since I was late I had to sit in the front row, merely two feet from this man telling everybody about all the excitement one can have in the forum. At this time in my life I was a LA county lifeguard, tan, incredible shape, at the peak of my game. I stared blankly at the wall, the leader passing through my gaze intermittently without me breaking my focus on the back wall.
During a five minute stretch break (and opportunity to sign up for the intro course) he approached me, obviously trying to connect with me, and said, "Do I know you?" I smiled in a friendly manner and responded, "I don't know, have I sent you my naked pictures on AOL?"
"I'm sorry, what?" he said.
I repeated, "I don't know, have I sent you my naked pictures on AOL?"
Surprised he mumbled something and then called the class back to their seats.
I knew I had him now, it was just a matter of breaking him. Intermittently I would go from long stares at the back wall, to rapt unparalled joyous attention to what he saying, all with a "I want you" look in my eye. And then he did it, in the gayest flirtious voice you could imagine coming out of some West Hollywood gay mans mouth, "I've got to talk to you after class!"
The spell was broken, he lost everybody in the room at that moment. Not a single person signed up for the course.
When he approached me after class while I spoke with a nice girl who's brother had "graduated" about how much a fraud the Forum was I just stared at him blankly along with the girl until he went away. She was very impressed.
Mister Jellyfish Mister wrote:After graduating the Landmark Forum self-help seminar, I took the Landmark Advanced Course. On the last day I pulled a "stunt" which involved unlimited self expression for myself and got me expelled from the seminar.
For a while I was crushed. After putting things in to perspective I wanted to experience unlimited self expression in a social environment of true acceptance and that's when I was ready for my first Burn. A full week of openness and expression, sometimes touching a source of profound joy.
I still recommend just the Forum to people that I feel would benefit from it because it started me on a great path to awareness.
Have you been to a Landmark (formerly EST) seminar that you would like to stack up next to The Man?