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Defining The Self - Who Are You?

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
From time to time most of us, especially The Who fans, have been faced with this Question: Who Are you? It seems straight forward enough, but when one tries to nail it down, it seems to become more elusive. Simple answers are, well, just too simple. We're not simply the name they put on our birth certificate. We're much more than that. So people add their career to it. "Hi I'm so and so and I'm with XYZ Corp."

If they don't have a job, they might say they're a student or are between jobs. People can add all the letters they want after their names, and tack them to whatever job they're doing, but in the end there are those who aren't satisfied with being defined by résumés or other labels. If your one of those people then that's what this thread is for. It's for discussing the question of how you would answer the question: Who Are You?

Because I started this thread I'll offer my most recent perspective first. Perhaps you may find it something useful in your own quest for and answer. I'll start out by saying that what prompted me to start this thread is that I was invited to attend something called the Landmark Forum, which promotes itself as a training and development company focusing on enhancing the quality of one's life. In other words, they're another motivational type package aimed at getting you into their system of doing things, which also just happens to cost a pretty penny if you decide to take the plunge.

I haven't attended yet. But I'm supposed to go tonight, so I'll report back on the experience after I've had a chance to check it out in-person. Needless to say I did some checking on the web first to see what it is I'm getting into, and there are some very mixed and generally polarized views. The following short video clip is one of the first I ran across. It's done in a comedy setting, but very critical. I doubt the Landmark people would find it funny:


Landmark Forum - Cult?


That video sets the stage. Next I went to their website and downloaded the session Syllabus and checked out a few more videos in order to prepare for whatever it is they're going to be doing, which as I suspected will include trying to sell me on joining their ... "cough cough cult", which brings me back to the topic of the thread. Who Are You? It goes in this direction because the info suggests that the Landmark Forum is designed to exploit the weakness people have in answering this question.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. One point of focus in their communication segment involves language and context, and how not to impart our own preconceptions onto what other people are saying. Great right? Just remember that truth can be used to illuminate and manipulate at the same time. By first getting everyone to question their own sense of identity and then filling in the gaps with their programming, by the end of the session the plan is to have attendees buy-in to more of it, literally.

Given the above, I felt my best defense against any possible exploitation would be to go in with a strong sense of self-identity and confidence and retain an open minded skepticism based on critical thinking, none of which I'm short on, and then I ran into that thin edge of the wedge. What do I say if they ask me to introduce myself? How do I avoid being framed into the "Who Are You" question?

At the present time, after some careful deliberation, I've decided to take an approach gleaned from the many pages I've been participating in over on the Consciousness & Paranormal thread, where we've been discussing consciousness in some finer detail. After all, who we are seems to be intimately tied to this question: What is Consciousness?

In a number of respects, they're pretty much the same question, so I'm taking the approach that the Philosophers Chalmers & Nagel take, which basically, is that consciousness is the experience of what it's like to be you. Therefore it can also be said that who you are, is someone who is experiencing what it's like to be you. So if asked, I intend on responding by saying, "I'm someone who is experiencing what it's like to be here as a guest this evening."

To some, my answer may seem rather obvious. Yet it is deceptively complex. It might be accepted at face value, but if one of the Landmark gurus decides to try to break that one down, let's just say that they'll be in for more than they bargained for ;).


David Chalmers - Intro To Consciousness

 
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Wade

FeralNormal master
Interesting topic thread and it sort of dovetails into a subject i've been dwelling on...but didn't think about starting a thread on...On how we self define ourselves, or more pointedly why we feel the need to do so.

It started with me this past summer with the Rachel Dolezal foofah. Over the years i have heard various statements "as a proud black man" or as a "proud gay man" or "a proud feminist" etc. and i wonder if they self identify with every black man, gay man or feminist.

I have never felt the need to define myself as a proud white man. there are a LOT of white men out there i'd rathered not be bunched with, at the same time there are a lot of white, black, gay men or even feminists with certain values i would identify myself with.

i suppose there is a certain segment of the population that feels oppressed and rightfully so and being a middle aged white man from a social aspect i would be looked at as being at the top of the pecking order, but i look around my surrondings and i can assure anyone reading this i am NOT at the top of anything and many of these people i have heard themselves described themselves as this or that have been or are better off than i be it by luck, providince or sheer grit and determination.

For the record i am not proud to be white, middle aged, straight (or not gay if that's more pc) American, Californian, Angeleno or any other tag you could come up with. I am proud that i can get up in the morning and look at myself in a mirror and know i don't KNOWINGLY do or did anything that could deprive anyone of their rights or dignity.

i also have issues about the concept of microaggression and "safe zones" at schools but that's another issue, i just say suck it up people.

I know this probably isn't the intent of your thread but it gives me a reason to get something off my chest. In a way i guess it is topical because at the risk of coming off as arrogant however i feel the need to describe myself it comes more from a source of personal conduct which comes from my heart not from the color of my skin, my sex or sexuality. My pride...or maybe it's better to say identification...comes aspects of my singular insular individuality...which isn't unique...more from a collective outwardly aspect.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... I am proud that i can get up in the morning and look at myself in a mirror and know i don't KNOWINGLY do or did anything that could deprive anyone of their rights or dignity ...
That IMO is huge. It's the mark of someone who values integrity. I suppose that might be another more deeper way of defining who we are, by our values. "Hi my name is Khan and I'm someone who values honesty, integrity, charity, revenge .... no wait, did I say revenge ... oops. Strike that." LOL. It's certainly a better way of introducing one's self than the usual, "Hi, I'm Bob from Accounting."
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Reporting Back On My Landmark Forum Experience

There was a distinctive revenue generating aspect to the event. I suspect that given the cost, some people could get professional counselling that would be equally beneficial, not to mention that mental health costs are covered here, so there are probably free professional grade services as well. But still, all in all, for the right person, I'd say that the price of tuition is a chance worth taking compared to other types of expenses e.g. a weekend in Vegas.

Most people seemed to have genuinely benefitted from their experiences, and overall, I personally enjoyed it. Would I go again? I don't know. That all depends on variables that are beyond my ability to foresee, however if you're ever invited to one of these FREE events, go ahead and check it out. Be open minded. You may be asked to set your critical thinking aside at some point, which doesn't hurt for the sake of temporarily experiencing what it's like. Just make sure you reinitialize it again later BEFORE they herd you over to the sign-up table.


A Very Positive Review - Or Is It?

Notice ( in the video above ) how issues like "power" and "control" and "self" and other buzz-words are all woven into the review, including a mention of knowing "who you are" and how the experience frames one's entire set of relationships and other important issues within the Landmark landscape, so that the primary "possibility" for attendees becomes more of the Landmark experience.

This was reinforced throughout the presentation in direct and indirect ways. For example the tuition fees and sign-up info was posted on a chalk-board set on the stage where the presenter walked past it as a matter of course, causing it to become a constant background message even though the primary focus was on the presenter. There's no question that the entire experience was essentially one live infomercial infused with strategies to influence attendees to buy into the product.
That being said. I've also seen worse products out there on the market to buy into, and I'm not dismissing the possibility that something positive can be gotten from it.

While there, I talked to a number of volunteers, veterans, and newbies. I encountered people who were not going to sign-up, because they already had "Jesus". Others were as devoted to Landmark as any religious person I've seen. So is it fair to call it a cult? There were definitely some parallels. If a psychologically manipulative live audience infomercial infused with active participation can be called a cult, I guess so. But then that sort of makes everyone who watches TV, especially shows like Dr. Phil, part of a cult too, and IMO Dr. Phil is even worse ... :p
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Alberta Health Services staff Pressured to attend Controversial Landmark Forum Seminars - 2014 Article

"A controversial personal development company criticized for employing high-pressure recruitment tactics, intense psychological methods and conformist ideology operated within an Alberta Health Services department for more than a year, despite several serious employee complaints.​

Alberta Health Services paid nearly $650 each for as many as 50 of its IT executives and directors to attend Landmark seminars.​
Internal Alberta Health Services (AHS) documents obtained by CBC News through a freedom of information request detail several complaints to human resources from information technology employees who felt pressured, even harassed, to attend Landmark Education Corp. seminars, and to reveal personal details of their lives at the seminars and at staff meetings."​

 
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Hollywood Tomfortas

Paranormal Adept
Alberta Health Services staff Pressured to attend Controversial Landmark Forum Seminars - 2014 Article

"A controversial personal development company criticized for employing high-pressure recruitment tactics, intense psychological methods and conformist ideology operated within an Alberta Health Services department for more than a year, despite several serious employee complaints.​

Alberta Health Services paid nearly $650 each for as many as 50 of its IT executives and directors to attend Landmark seminars.​
Internal Alberta Health Services (AHS) documents obtained by CBC News through a freedom of information request detail several complaints to human resources from information technology employees who felt pressured, even harassed, to attend Landmark Education Corp. seminars, and to reveal personal details of their lives at the seminars and at staff meetings."​

Hi Randall, I got an email notification of this post and so I was initially puzzled why you would post an article that is 6 years old. But now I see that you attended a Landmark event in 2015. I haven't looked at any of the videos, so I wonder if you realize that the Landmark Forum is the 1991 "reincarnation" of Werner Erhard's est seminars born of the nascent New Age quest for the higher self and enlightenment, etc. during the 70's & 80's?

There's even a wiki about it:

Now you also might be very interested in the UFOlogy connection with the founder of est. Why? Because it involves some of the "usual gang of suspects" in and around TTSA, e.g., Jack Sarfatti, Hal Puthoff, SRI and Scientology.


Born Jack Rosenberg, Erhard is the founder of est (Erhard Seminar Training) and the Forum.
Erhard is a former Scientologist, and brought many of their tenants and methods with him to est. A shortcut to understanding est is to imagine Scientology, except replace "science fiction writer" with "encyclopedia salesman".

In the mid 1970s, Erhard financed Jack Sarfatti and the Physics/Consciousness Research Group, and was involved with Michael Murphy and the Esalen Institute. According to Sarfatti, Erhard gave funds to the SRI remote viewing project.
 

Farlig Gulstein

Skilled Investigator
Erhard is a former Scientologist, and brought many of their tenants and methods with him to est.
Interesting. I did not know anything about the Landmark Forum organization that Randall was writing about, but after reading the first half of the first post in this thread above I started wondering if there might be some connection to Scientology, and lo and behold . . . Small world, huh.
 


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