In 2005 I attended the Landmark Forum. Can it really be that long ago? Have I changed since then? If so, how? Even though the Forum is not scientific, does it offer useful distinctions?
In this series of posts I dust off my memories and document what still resonates with me. I did not take notes during the sessions. But I did write about the experience afterward in my journal.
NOTE: These are only my personal reflections. Also, my memory is not perfect. And I have no formal connection to Landmark Worldwide.
To distill the essence of any teaching, start with diagnosis. How does it describe our fundamental problems?
The Buddha started with dukkha — often translated as suffering or dissatisfaction. Christians often start with original sin and separation from God.
Taking cues from Gurdjieff and Existentialism, the Forum starts with the fundamental absurdity of our lives:
- Our whole existence is based on pretense. We fear looking bad in front of other people — and then pretend that we aren’t afraid. We routinely suppress our emotions and hide what we truly think and feel. We get to struggle with our inauthenticity for our whole life, and then we die.
- We live without integrity — failing to keep our agreements and settling for reasons, rationalizations, and excuses rather than results.
- We make up irrational stories about events, make decisions on the basis of those stories, and then use them to justify our broken agreements.
- We try to dominate other people through making them wrong and ourselves right. This comes at the the cost of being in real relationship with them. We’d rather be “right” than be in relationship.
- We run rackets by complaining constantly about our circumstances — even as we receive payoffs from those circumstances.
- We are machines. Few of our behaviors are consciously chosen. Our actions are driven by unconscious reactions and stimulus-response conditioning.
Cheery stuff, right? Fortunately, the Forum offers solutions that I highlight in other posts:
- Further Reflections on the Landmark Forum
- I’m a Jerk, You’re a Jerk — Reflections on the Landmark Forum
- I’m Nothing, You’re Nothing — Further Reflections on the Landmark Forum
- The Seven Distinctions of Being an Unreasonable and Extraordinary Being