The Best Of Est?

Werner Erhard's legacy lives on in a kinder, gentler and lucrative version of his self-help seminars

When Werner Erhard (born John Paul Rosenberg) founded Erhard Seminars Training, Inc. in 1971, the former used-car salesman from Philadelphia had a hook. Born of the theater-of-the-absurd atmosphere of the late 1960s, est (Latin for "it is") promised to help people get "it," whatever "it" was. Erhard's 60-hour seminars were strenuous ordeals, complete with "body catchers" and barf bags for the weak of mind and stomach. Trainers applauded bladder control and cursed those who didn't get it. Still, Erhard and his message proved popular, even winning celebrity advocates. Then, after two decades and two divorces, the self-help messiah vanished amid reports...

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