BRAINWASHED: IS LANDMARK A CULT?

When I did the Landmark Forum, I was following in the footsteps of the most badass people I know – and I learned some invaluable life lessons. So why did I find myself asking; ‘is Landmark a cult?’ By Ruby Warrington. Images: Alex Prager for Garage Magazine.

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Half way into day three at the Landmark Forum, I was ready to run for the hills. Along with 150 or so other people, from every walk of life, I had been cooped-up in a windowless basement in midtown Manhattan for almost 13 hours a day straight, whilst being told that everything I knew about myself, about my beliefs, and about the world, was an illusion. An illusion created by my “always listening” mind (Landmark speak for the ego) to avoid taking full responsibility for my life.

The course leader was busy psyching the crowd up for the “big reveal” – the key teaching of the Forum that would come later that day, embracing which, we’d been promised, would lead to a life of “infinite possibilities”. So long as we “enrolled” everybody else we knew into the Landmark conversation too (at $600 a pop), and then committed to an on going ($900+) study of their “curriculum for life”.

All around me, people had already been having life-changing epiphanies as they’d worked the course – coming out from behind their “rackets” (“fixed ways of being that result in persistent complaints”) and calling friends and family members they had been “pretending” things were cool with to “cough up the fur-ball” of their most shaming truths (‘Mom, I never come visit because actually it felt like you never really loved me’).

Encouraged to publically share their breakthroughs, there had been tears, and there had been cheers. And here I was, feeling an almost physical repulsion to the teachings. Earlier, we’d been asked to identify our “strong suits” – coping mechanisms we’d adopted at key points of trauma in our lives, which had become “ways of acting and being you rely on to produce results and make it in life.” Which, obviously, had to go, along with all the other “stories” you told yourself about…yourself.

I’d identified one of my strong suits as what I always considered a healthy degree of scepticism, or discernment. It’s what made me a good editor. But now it felt like a straight jacket. I’d paid my money and I wanted a breakthrough too! But all I could think, as I took in the scenes around me, was; “OMG this is actual brainwashing in action. Why did nobody warn me Landmark is…a cult?!”

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The “c-word” hit the headlines last week, in the aftermath of the HBO documentary Going Clear – an inside expose on the Church of Scientology. And watching the opening scenes, in which they described the Church’s central process of “auditing” members in order to process their limiting beliefs, I was taken right back to that basement room in the Landmark HQ.

Was Landmark Scientology lite?

The dictionary definition of “brainwashing” is; “to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure”. True, nobody forced me to do the Landmark Forum – I actually decided to sign up because I knew so many amazing, go-getting, and seemingly highly-evolved individuals who’d done it, and I basically wanted a piece.

But the constant pressure throughout the course to “enrol” our friends, co-workers, and family members definitely crossed over into coercion territory in my book – echoing the way Scientologists are asked to “disconnect” from any people in their life who don’t adopt the teachings of the church. It’s also the kind of behaviour that gets organisations labelled “cult”, opposed to simply “community” or “club”.

The fact that during Landmark I was also confined to that one windowless room for three consecutive 13-hour days, with minimal breaks for food, and asked not to take notes or go to the toilet (this used to be enforced rigidly, but nobody actually stopped me when I did sneak out for a restroom break), also felt a lot like “systematic” pressure to adopt their teachings.

Then there was the bizarre lingo and double-talk they used to scramble my synapses and “re-program” my thinking. Overall, by the time I left, my scepticism very much intact, it felt simultaneously like a narrow escape…and like there must be something really, really wrong with me.

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Watching Going Clear (named for the ultimate goal in Scientology – a mind that’s completely “clear”, or washed, of negative beliefs), the phrase that kept returning to me was; “the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

You know the story right? About the sneaky tailor who convinces the Emperor his “invisible” new suit is actually made of the finest cloth. In fear of questioning their leader’s beliefs, the Emperor’s subjects go along with it – complementing him on his beautiful new clothes, despite the fact they can see for themselves he’s naked.

And this desire to conform is something I felt they played on at Landmark, too. Deeply rooted in our most basic psychology, human beings are pack animals after all. Positioning yourself as the outsider is also something akin to suicide on a primal level. In ancient times, distancing yourself from the tribe was a sure-fire way to get killed by predators, or die from lack of food and warmth. Going along with what’s being indoctrinated therefore is not only preferable, it’s the only truly “safe” option.

Did that explain why everybody around me was whooping and cheering when the “big reveal” finally occurred…while it seemed to me like the biggest “racket” on the planet?

Coming out of Landmark, I immediately wanted to speak to the switched-on women I knew who’d done it too. I was desperate to know if they’d felt the same as me – or if I was, in fact, a hopelessly repressed freak-a-zoid, too scared of facing my own demons to even acknowledge their existence. The overarching response I got was that yes, it was a huge shame that there was so much cult-like emphasis on “enrolment”, and the accompanying financial hard sell. Because the teachings in and of themselves were awesome…right?

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And here comes the really interesting part. Seven months on, I can see that they were absolutely right – and that the Landmark Forum was one of the most pivotal experiences on my inner journey to date.

We are all slaves to our monkey minds; we do self-sabotage with the stories we choose to believe about ourselves; and we do have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to “look bad”, and to see beyond the illusion of reality, in order to evolve into the highest expression of ourselves. It is in this place of ultimately authentic self-expression that a life of infinite possibility lies.

Behind all the crazy linguistics and mental manipulation, these are the central teachings of Landmark (and of Scientology, from what I’ve read, not to mention Buddhist philosophy!). With hindsight, I can see how having them strong-armed into my psyche over that one mind-bending weekend last September forced me, on some deep level, to accept and work with limiting parts of myself I used to believe were unassailable.

I’ve since had the kind of searingly honest conversations with my mother that have taken our relationship to a whole other level. I no longer blindly accept what my belief system tells me, and look instead to the cold, hard facts of life.

And if I railed against actually calling any people in my life to “get complete” during my Landmark weekend (I had a lengthy email exchange with my mom, and called a friend to confess a very innocuous white lie), I have since embraced the concept of not sugar-coating stuff for fear of upsetting people, or getting a bad reaction – and seen massive benefits. All common sense stuff, actually, “but delivered in an environment of startling intensity,” as another journalist wrote about Landmark.

As for the “big reveal”? You’ll have to do the Forum and find out what it is for yourself. And if that means I’m now “enrolling” you – well, there must be some chinks in my sceptical strong suit after all.

Have you done the Landmark Forum? What did you get out of it? Connect and share your stories on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

To find out more about the Landmark Forum and their courses visit Landmarkworldwide.com

109 Comments

  • shame says:

    It is a shame that edgy clever writing trumps actual non hysteric critical writing. Unless a blogger speaks in dramatic terms and applies some clever edges to their story, who is going to read it? Here is an example. What you wrote about bathrooms and the rooms and the hours was written to promote the ominous view you wan to promote here. The actual truth is just not that interesting so how can you just write the plain old straightforward truth right?

    “cooped-up in a windowless basement ”

    In Manhattan I assume real estate is expensive. Landmark chooses locations where they can afford and that are easy for people to get to. Some course rooms wind up in lower levels others wind up in huge rooms with floor to ceilings windows and doors on every wall.The criteria seems to be to rent a room that can seat 150-200 people comfortably and that a class can be conducted free from outside noise.

    “I had been cooped-up in a windowless basement in midtown Manhattan for almost 13 hours a day straight,”

    This is nonsense. Chickens that we eat are “cooped up” against their will and then killed and eaten. You were not “cooped” up. You were informed before hand that those were the hours of the Landmark Forum and being an adults you chose to attend. You were also informed before hand when the bathroom breaks and meal breaks were and in the Landmark Forum is was presented that it was important not to miss parts of the course so they ask people to go to the bathroom on scheduled bathroom breaks. This is not unusual or rational, the person you are paying $625 is telling you hot to get the most out of the thing you are paying for, the instruction manual if you will. And you did not have to be there nor do anything the way it was designed. perhaps you thought they should be presenting The Ruby Warrington Forum instead of the Landmark Forum, one designed by you? And what would that course be like. Transformative? Perfect in every way? Enlivening? Held outdoors and run for 60 minutes? And free?

    I am obviously irked by bloggers who just write for show and lie in the process.

    • Linda says:

      You must all be too young to remember the ESTholes we had to put up with in the 1970s. They paid the money, drank the koolaide and had to spend the better part of a decade trying to repair the damage they brought down on their lives and relationships. $700 and a few days locked up in a room will not reveal the meaning of life.

      • Scott says:

        I attended this ‘training’ several years back in NYC. Total hogwash. As for the big reveal. Life is life. That’s what they tell you after all that time (and money). Life is life. And then they try to get you to enroll you’re family & friends as they’re laughing all the way to the bank. As an alternative. And in my opinion a very good one. I’d say read the stoics.

        • GPT says:

          Yes, you can read the Stoics for a few dollars in a well lit comfortable room, or outside under a tree, and go to the khazi whenever you like.

          Wisdom that costs alot is fools gold.

      • Tom Braun says:

        Holy shit! These people are wierd! It’s a class for narccicists to be narcicistic about themselves. I might go.

      • Sally says:

        Landmark is actually est v. 2.0.

    • Tomislav says:

      Landmark “education” is a cleaver way to extract a fortune out of unsuspecting masses that are i search of “themselves.”

    • Farto Dinga says:

      Lol, ok dude who is brainwashed.

    • Ron Ziebell says:

      Jesus is the one who’s helped me get thru all the mistakes and trauma in my life and more importantly set me up for eternity. We live a short life here on earth and what really matters is how you love others and where are you going to spend the rest of eternity? With God in paradise unlike anything we can comprehend or separated from your creator who loves you more than you could ever imagine? You don’t want to be separated from Him because that means that you will be with the enemy that hates you with passion for eternity. It’s your choice, God won’t force you to love Him but once you die it’s too late to change your mind. Some unbelievers will want to call the belief in Jesus a cult as well but nobody’s ever forced me to give them money or tried to separate me from my family, only instilled absolute love for all of God’s children that I never thought I could ever have. It’s amazing to see what God can do if only you’d let Him 🙌🏼

  • shame says:

    It is a shame that edgy clever writing trumps actual non hysteric critical writing and thinking. Unless a blogger speaks in dramatic terms and applies some clever edges to their story, who is going to read it?
    .
    .
    Here is an example. What you wrote about “bathrooms” and the rooms and the hours was written to promote the ominous view you seem to want to promote as a backdrop to your brilliant writing. The actual truth is just not that interesting, so how can you or anyone just write the plain old straightforward truth right?
    .
    .
    “cooped-up in a windowless basement ”
    .
    .
    In Manhattan, I assume real estate is expensive.
    .
    .
    Landmark chooses locations where they can afford and that are easy for people to get to. Some Landmark course rooms wind up in lower levels while others wind up in huge rooms with floor to ceilings windows and doors on every wall.The criteria seems to be to rent a room that can seat 150-200 people comfortably and that a class can be conducted free from outside noise.
    .
    .
    “I had been cooped-up in a windowless basement in midtown Manhattan for almost 13 hours a day straight,”
    .
    .
    This is nonsense. Chickens that we eat are “cooped up” against their will and then killed and eaten. You were not “cooped” up. You were informed before hand that those were the hours of the Landmark Forum and being an adult you chose to attend. You were also informed before hand when the bathroom breaks and meal breaks were and in the Landmark Forum it was presented that it was important not to miss parts of the course so they ask people to go to the bathroom on scheduled bathroom breaks. This is not unusual or rational, the company you are paying $625 is informing you how to get the most out of the thing you are paying for, the instruction manual if you will.
    .
    .
    And you did not have to be there nor do anything the way it was designed. Perhaps you thought they should be presenting The Ruby Warrington Forum instead of the Landmark Forum, one designed by you? And what would that course be like. Transformative? Perfect in every way? Enlivening? Held outdoors and run for 60 minutes? And free?
    .
    .
    Clearly I am irked and annoyed by bloggers who write for show and basically lie in the process to make themselves sound hip and edgy and superior to the thing they know so much better than.

    • James says:

      THIS hysterical reply is why Landmark has SUCH a bad name ;)

      • Catherine says:

        What is hysterical about her reply. She states logical opinions point by point.

        This is not rhetorical or sarcastic. Really. What do you find hysterical? I am curious.

        • Tom says:

          Anyone can read the reply as they choose. The tone you give it is in your own head. The reply seems to resonate with you while others (I assume James and potentially myself) may view it as somewhat over reactive and defensive.

          Why would the forum be in a windowless room? Could be by chance, availability, cost etc. I would venture to say that the location should be designed to have minimal distractions to keep the focus where it is intended. Is that for optimal brainwashing? who knows. You are signing up to absorb a message so why not do it in a black box.

          Cooped up is another funny line. (Strawman) You don’t have to be a chicken to be, or feel cooped up, do you? 13 hours of being pressured/advised/suggested to stay in one place could very well be considered to be cooped up by someone. I consider myself cooped up for 60 hours a week.

          I had to look up Ruby Warrington, and laughed out loud when I realized where I was. Ruby, if you start a forum hook James and I up with a BOGO. Props to you for the conversation starting article.

    • Bobo says:

      So who died and made you god this other persons experience? You are a mentally ill Retard and abusive as well.. This is the obvious social skills you get at landmark… What anon human non compassionate and disgusting lack of humanity you have..

      • Ithacaguy says:

        You use phrases like “mentally ill retard” and call someone else abusive? Really? Look in the mirror!

    • Gary says:

      I too was a bit appalled by the lack of accuracy of Ruby’s writing. Maybe she was in the bathroom when they went over the concept “story”.

  • Ruby, I totally agree with your POV , that these forums are an effort towards cult building.
    Though , I have not wasted my money and time in trying out such ventures, since my psyche and intuitive vectors do not allow me to do so .
    These forums take in account , that 98% of the society is disturbed and mainly due to two major factors:-
    Firstly , money ! No matter how much you make it, you still need more .
    Secondly , either you can’t keep your family happy or you don’t have a family to go to .

    So , its the sensitive nerve which is easy to pinch .
    And wow ! Let’s make money out of it .

    If the participant is allowed a days break in between and allowed time to question, he would not come back (lol)
    Also , if you are wise enough to understand all this, you will not need to be with those 200 of the lot .
    Pivotal point of self happiness lies in drawing a line of satisfaction for yourself .
    Be aware, well realize , your weak as well as strong traits .
    Live for yourself and not to display to others around you , whether friends or foes!

    We are offered a simple and a happy life at birth .
    But we turn is murky and complexed !

  • Loosethejudgements says:

    Just finished Landmark this weekend. Anyone that believes LMF is a cult didn’t really understand the forum! It makes perfect sense, it’s not religion, nor brainwashing, isn’t manipulation, changing, forcing, pulling, or pushing. It could be considered an empting out but not really. You can’t understand it till you show up and do the work. If you get it you want everyone else to “enroll” because you are finally free of the constraints you didn’t even know you existed. BC we are all wired the same this world is full of hatred, cynicism, judgement and unhappiness. But those who claim they have the key to happiness surround themselves with unhappiness, and remain complicit. I highly suggest you step outside of your zone and into a LMF you won’t miss your happy machine self I promise!

    • Truth Seeker says:

      I also completed the forum, the advanced, self expression, several other courses within Landmark. I experienced good and bad. It is not a cult but there is an agenda. Interesting perspective you have or did u learn this at Landmark, regarding your comment,……”BC we are all wired the same this world is full of hatred, cynicism, judgement and unhappiness”,….I myself do not believe since we are wired the same, the world is full of hatred, etc……I am a psychologist – I love this work but we are not wired the same. There are aspects I liked about Landmark and some aspects I don’t agree with.

    • Gary says:

      The Landmark Forum has been investigated by cult awareness groups and it was deemed NOT to be a cult. Cults drive a wedge between you and family, whereas Landmark drives you towards family.

      I find it amazing when people who have not done work with Landmark Worldwide ‘know’ what it is and what it’s about. It’s about your having a great life. And I do!!

      • Cheryl says:

        “…Landmark drives you toward your family”. Yes; to recruit them – relentlessly. Landmark pressures family and friends in their ruthless pursuit to ‘enroll” then into the program.
        They are told to disengage with anyone who will not be “enrolled”

  • ND says:

    I just finished the punishing 39 hours of the Landmark Forum and considered leaving several times because of the drawn out ways of explaining very simple (in hindsight) concepts in addition to sitting in uncomfortable chairs for hours and hours and hours and hours (in a windowless room). The one session about Life being empty and meaningless took over an hour for the leaders to attempt to explain to a confused group and only 30 seconds for one of the attendees to break down into a very meaningful visual and suddenly it made perfect sense. Life (in and of itself – which are the words they left out to make the point clear) is empty and meaningless and can be filled with whatever I choose – not what other people’s words and actions or inactions suggest I fill it with. I’m glad I did it and have signed up for the Advanced Course against my initial better judgment. I didn’t have a big bang epiphany. It’s kind of growing on me like a flower blooming. The whole thing can feel extremely humanistic but can also be seen as another way of stating what Jesus has been trying to get us all to do over the last 2000+ years: give it all up to Him and go live your life (while focusing on Him). Truly transformative.

    • lenny b says:

      I went to the first one in baltimore, MD horrible

      the advanced in park city, ut at the insistence of my girlfriend

      terry berry was the last one

      what a cult and ripe off

      don’t wast your time or money on this shit

      bad news

    • Truth Seeker says:

      I never posted on here before – this post is addressed to ND, post of Feb 29, 2016. Yes the Life is empty and meaningless lecture drove me crazy – I thought if life is empty and meaningless, why are we in this Landmark course, what is the point? Your post makes total sense, LOVE it thank you:…… “Life (in and of itself – which are the words they left out to make the point clear) is empty and meaningless and can be filled with whatever I choose – not what other people’s words and actions or inactions suggest I fill it with”.

  • Dina GW says:

    Ruby, like you I did the Forum (and the advanced course) 20 years ago because the most badass people I knew had done it. Not only that, I was in a relationship that wasn’t working and had a two-month-old baby. My partner and I both did the work to try to have breakthroughs in our relationship. We did– it didn’t save our relationship in the sense that we stayed together, but it did give us new language to communicate with each other and we managed to coparent effectively until his death a few years later.

    Landmark Education was life changing for me, as it is for the vast majority of people who do it. It gave me the confidence to create a new life for myself. I went on to have an accomplished career as an artist, went back to school in my late 40s and got a bachelors and Masters degree– all as a single mother. I’ve become a recognized writer in my field and my first book comes out this year. These were all things I might have done anyway without the Landmark work; I have no way of knowing. However, it did provide a psychological framework and level of confidence I don’t think I had.

    20 years later and I’m still so glad I did the work. I’m like you also in that the only thing that’s so distasteful to me is the hard sell. it might be the thing that prevents me from getting back into it. I can see why people think it’s cultish based on the level of exuberance people come away with and that imperative to enroll people, but “cult” is the wrong word,I think. Not sure what would be a better word. It doesn’t really matter. People will think what they want to think, and say what they want to say about it. But the fact is far more people’s lives are transformed than are those who resist the transformation. I think it’s true that we get out of something what we put into it.

    • Thanks for this response Dina, and I’m happy you got so much good stuff from Landmark – I also realize as time goes by how much I got from the course (as part of the ongoing jigsaw puzzle of my personal development), and can credit the teachings with helping me “get over myself” in a number of key areas in my life! But overall the way it was taught felt highly manipulative to ME. This being key – as I completely appreciate that everybody will respond to the course in their own way, with the benefit of their own perspective. (Wait – is our “perspective” the same as a “story” we tell ourselves? Perspective comes from our interpretation of past experiences, right? My brain still aches trying to work it all out sometimes!) I used the word “cult” to address my experience and questions about Landmark in this article as it’s a word that comes up very often in conversations about the organization. As for the hard sell…they continue to call me to this day, and I’m sure I’ll keep hearing from them for many years to come :-)

      • JANE says:

        I’m interested in your take on the word ‘perspective’ and whether it is the same as the Landmark ‘story’. I have a family member who has been going to Landmark forum courses for decades now, and it has made her much more brittle and distant towards the rest of the family, who are now consistently lectured on our ‘stories’ if we should differ with her on any subject. I went to one session in order to find out what it was all about and my overall impression was that it was a manipulative and rather cynical way to get vulnerable people to part with – & to keep parting with – large amounts of money for what seemed to me to be blindingly obvious truths. Maybe I’m not unconnected enough from my real self to need all this inner journeying, but I don’t think that perception need be only another ‘story’. We all want to lead lives that are useful & productive, but the idea that they are somehow ‘wrong’ is what keeps people coming back for more psychology-lite (Scientology counts on it) when many of the self-revelations to which they claim to have the only key can be achieved through good friends, good exercise, a little mindfulness and much less financial outlay. They are not experts in mental health & unless a person is already fairly robust emotionally, their kind of head-messing can lead to a financially compromising dependency at best & debilitating mental anguish at worst.

        • Kali says:

          Well expressed, Jane. I really don’t need the toxicity in my life from the very people who claim to have the breakthrough answers for me if they can just break me down enough to get me to surrender; if that’s the case, I can find answers without their toxins of what I believe to be aggression. Landmark’s biggest “racket” to me is that they are just that–a racket. Do they really come from a place of wanting to serve society? No. They wouldn’t charge so much if their motivations were absent of greed.

        • Brooke says:

          Perfectly said.

  • Doug says:

    Anytime someone wants to charge me to tell me what to think I am history.

  • Krystal says:

    I have been blessed in having the opportunity to attain a core level understanding of myself and how my warped belief systems have kept me in bondage since I was a child.

    The peace that I have come to enjoy in living my life not my story, which I enthusiastically share with my friends and family, has only been possible by my commitment to work with others who desire change in their own lives.

    All of these gifts have been bestowed upon me without spending a single dime (aside from the suggested $1 donation I put into the basket when I attend my 2 weekly meetings, which only pays for rent, coffee, and the administrative costs which make helping others possible).

    In the 20 plus years that I have been of service in these various (awesome and life-saving) programs, I have discovered a way of living that would never have been available to me had I not “entered the rooms”.

  • Krystal says:

    P.S. A very dear friend of mine is currently in the SELP portion of Landmark. I have seen a miraculous change in her and know that she too has found her own path to freedom.

    I have been to the 3 hr intro and clearly see this in others as well. She understands that I am being fulfilled as I travel my own journey, and honors my belief in an “attraction not promotion” philosophy.

    I am happy for her as she is me, and I am grateful that we respect each other in the differing choices we make.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Krystal, I’m interested in knowing what specifically worked for you? Was it personal development or spiritual growth / both maybe?

      I’m being asked to go to landmark regularly but it just doesn’t feel right for me, however i recognise my stories and beliefs that hold me back and really want to work on breaking through. I’d love to hear your thoughts x

  • Dominic says:

    I was just asked to participate so I wanted to understand what I was being asked to do.

    There seems to be many principles, explicit and implicit, in the program that not only make sense, but seem to be modifications or deviations from greater truths or things we think are truths and have demonstrated to be helpful.

    But I look to my uneasiness since I have just started learning to trust my instincts more. The hard sell has me doubt intentions and I see the parallels to cults or Scientology.

    For me, it comes down to this: the best liars are those that integrate truths within their story. And that is what I see happening here.

    • GPT says:

      tis strange.
      And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
      The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
      Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s
      In deepest consequence.

      From Macbeth

      • Anna says:

        Thank you for this, GPT. The truths inserted into the dark messages, like a narcotic, catching us off guard, rendering us into questioning ourselves, instead of questioning the harming source.

        I am at wit’s end because my small humble spiritual community has been recently infiltrated by Landmark “graduates”, including the community’s leader has signed on.

        Landmark is NOT about love as guidance to life’s challenges, and until now I thought my community was practicing love in all its forms, manifestations, opportunities of practice. But now I just see a disconnect between what’s preached and what’s walked. Grieving the loss.

      • Cheryl says:

        Excellent! Even then they were saying that there’s nothing new under the sun

  • Nameless says:

    I have a member in my family who is involved in Landmark. The experience sounded really sketchy to me..

    I had been invited to attended an introductory course for $600, already a few times by this relative. Some calls I received were to comfort me and then a Landmark invitation ends our conversation. Obviously I say no thank you to the invitation.

    It’s awkward having a Landmark missionary in the family..

  • Mark Brewington says:

    Here is what I want to share with you today. A warning if you will..
    Please stay away from this self help ‘group’ (laugh out loud) called “Landmark Forum”. Evidently they are really huge in San Diego.

    What a ‘story’.

    It is a scam to take money from weak people. I have been hounded for three years to join this ‘sect’. I always politely declined because I smelled the shadiness of this ‘denomination’ from the beginning. I have dealt with at least 10 of these people. Each time, with no exception, the relationship with this group of ‘fanatics’, has ended poorly and each of them have had personal issues that requires professional help. They start with a free seminar. After a night of feel good, they will tell you to start paying money to continue. Limited breaks, limited exposure to the outside repetitive slogans, Marine Corps style brainwashing – tearing you down insulting you then building you back up. When you don’t pay, you are removed from the ‘family’. This ‘faction’ will even tell that you will make your money back, because your new ‘family’ will invest in you.
    I stop short of calling “Landmark” a ‘cult’, which is defined as:

    “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.”

    Actually, I do not stop short.

    I am not worried for you, Ruby. You are incredibly intelligent and obviously eloquent and successful in your work. I am afraid for people who are not. This group will only support you when you are paying. This is for profit business that earned over $35 million -last year. Are you sure you could not have gotten your “breakthroughs” without giving them your ¡$900!

    • AlwaysSeeking says:

      Interesting perspective, Mark. I want to let you know about how much one can do with Landmark that doesn’t actually cost a thing! I first took the Forum in 2011 and went to figure out how to make the people in my life into more the ways I thought they should be. I slowly discovered (I’m the slow one) that you can’t change other people. You CAN learn to be a good listener and a person who can love people the way they are and they way they aren’t. That takes a transformation in the way you see other people, something that is easily gained in Landmark if one is open to that. I participated in a number of courses over 2-1/2 years and then simply tried out what I’d learned without further participating. So many positive attitudes, viewpoints and so on became part of my life and still, I was stuck in the area of marriage and other intimate relationships (like with adult children). I didn’t know what I didn’t know and really wanted to scrape away those blind spots and bring them into the light so I could tackle them somehow. So leaving another marriage that I emotionally couldn’t handle, I asked what Landmark had that would get me into a better position to share what I got out of Landmark’s work and at the same time to continue my own personal growth and development. I signed up for the seven month training program called Introduction Leaders Program. We’re assigned our own coach and there is a whole team of coaches around the country and the world to guide, coach, and support us as we continue our growth toward becoming Leaders in any area of life we wish to be leaders. No obligation! No fee at all. Making it through the program and being candidated as a small group leader (mostly of small group home introductions), “requires” that you develop and prepare to Share your own experiences of “break throughs” that you share and include in your own “Introduction.” Here’s the amazing part: You must be “passed” on your own personal share before you can use it or be approved to lead. Passed by whom? Someone else who is already an Introduction Leader, just a regular person who is also participating and sharing because they see how much the work has meant to them and want others to get that, too. It is during this Share writing and review of it with another leader that you discover where you may have a continuing blind spot, and it shows up when you have an inauthenticity in that area. What’s that? It’s when you think you’ve worked something out, figured something out, and you are going to be nicer, or calmer, or something else that isn’t actually a new way of being but a new way of acting while hoping for better results. Others, even people who haven’t done Landmark, can generally see right through you and see what you don’t yet see. It’s these kinds of interactions and opportunities that keep allowing participants to finally “see” themselves, discover their blind spots, and fill the new space in their future with whatever they want. This year I volunteered to coach people in that program and I have started to see myself even more clearly and also see how there are many people in my life I’d inadvertently hurt over the years. I am one by one “cleaning that up” and “getting complete” with people. And it’s amazing for them and for me. There’s a ripple effect in others around them and around me. Also, once you become part of the leader body, any courses or seminars you want to take are half price. If you want to review the Forum or the Advanced Course, there’s no cost at all (just the boring room where it takes place). The only leaders who are actually paid are the Forum Leaders and staff (of whom there are not many). No matter what your faith, religion, background, status, gender, race, ethnicity, it works and being human is the thing that we share and that binds us together. Is it hard work? Is it confronting and sometimes just about anyone of us will resist looking at themselves. It’s not easy. Speaking for myself, I can say that my life has opened up immeasurably with new possibilities, new power, new freedom and energy toward my future and toward other human beings. Finally, Landmark has heard the complaints about pressure and has focused on how to provide extraordinary customer service and that clearly means, quit pressuring! Hope you didn’t feel pressured by my sharing with you;-)

      • PLAINJANE says:

        I’m interested to know how much the courses cost you over all the years? And now that you have attained the level of ‘Leader’, I wonder what they are paying you? Or, let me guess, you are giving your time for free as a volunteer because it’s just so awesome to be passing on all your new-found wisdom? All this is fine if that’s what you want to do, but just remember that the Landmark Forum makes millions of ££s & $$s out of using people like you to do the work for them.
        So, what other institutions take money from you over time, teach you that they have the key to a better life and then send you out to win converts? You got it – religion. People who have ‘seen the light’ thinking that everyone needs to see the same light in order to reach enlightenment. Except that Landmark is not a religion – or is it?
        My point is that if Landmark is doing exactly what religions do, but if it’s not a religion – what is it? I happen to think that all religion is cult, so I’m afraid that I would have to apply that word here too. Vulnerable people being fleeced in the name of ‘transformation’. Go for it if you must, but let’s not pretend it is the One True Way. Some of us got there on our own.

        • Kali says:

          Thank you for pointing out the exploitive dynamic through their money-saving ploy by utilizing so much volunteerism; Landmark is master at this exploitive behavior. By contrast, it’s common for non-profit organizations to utilize a volunteer base, with a volunteer coordinator who organizes them and their tasks of contribution. But Landmark is NOT a non-profit; it is a profit-making company. I understand that even the Dept. of Labor investigated Landmark’s use of volunteers to examine if they were in violation of federal labor law. I think that lawsuit is listed in the Landmark Litigation Archive, google will get you there.

  • tom says:

    My wife is currently in the advanced course (second year). I am concern as what others have stated. They take advantage of the weak. She was molested at a young age so she thinks the LM will help her.

    So far I have not said too much but just sit and and see.

    • Marijka says:

      A good friend of mine chose to participate in the Forum. After the first two courses he went from warm and fun to robotic and lacking empathy. He even seemed paranoid at times. The friendship became too strained and ended. Of course I tried to talk to him about what was happening to our friendship but it was in vain. He would adopt an air of superiority as if he was privy to some sacred knowledge and at times, would start snickering as if my concerns were a joke. If this is what the Forum does to some people then count me out.

      • Truth Seeker says:

        To Marijka: I see that too – I started transformation work 20 years ago (initially with a company far better than Landmark), I joined Landmark during the past 6 years because I moved to another state and this is the only game in town. I too see “graduates” who are loosely friends with me who live in “Jargon” – a special language. I am not sure I want to be friends with some – they seem odd, robotic as you stated and yes lack empathy. I will give an example: If I state something – I live in the feeling realm because I am a psychologist – a grad will state that is only a “thought” – I correct that person or people and say no it is a feeling, they will argue with me, ect. There are certain thoughts which seem forbidden, although happiness and the thought about “marketing” Landmark to friends and family is a promoted thought !!

  • PDavis says:

    I wish I could just vomit and feel better after attending half of Advanced Course for Landmark.

    I met nice people in the room. Accomplished, educated, interesting. My kind of people.

    The Forum Leader had the audacity to tell me that people only liked ME because of my accomplishments and did not love me. I told him he was wrong and he argued with me and told me I was ‘not coachable’ so I left. F*** him. F*** Landmark.

    • Truth Seeker says:

      P Davis: I am so sorry that happened to you !!! I witnessed similar shit like that as a student – where the trainer Barry Terry yelled at all of us (students) and stated “you are not coach-able”, he later pushed and pushed about bringing guests /family to the Tuesday night, Sales Pitch – he asked for a show of hands of guests to bring – he didn’t see a number he liked and he called us “selfish”. As far as transformational work – this is not motivational, this is not inspirational and seems downright abusive and ego driven.

  • Malone says:

    So many people looking for magic beans that will change their lives into a ballroom of happiness, love, fun and wealth. Why can’t people be grateful and happy with a simple life? There is so much joy around us, yet we clamor like bees at a honeycomb looking for the latest key to happiness that does not exist. Yet, so many are more than willing to fork over their hard-earned money to this cult, and yes, it is a cult. It is shocking to hear that so many people are miserable with their own lives. I’m a 56-year-old woman, single, no kids, a good job, benefits, a roof over my head, food in the fridge and I couldn’t be happier. I have a million interests and thank God and the universe every day for my life. Oh, did I mention I have my faith? Faith in God, Faith in Jesus Christ. Life can throw some nasty stuff at us. Deal with it, get over yourselves. We have turned into a massive society of whiny, entitled, over-emotional, melodramatic saps. Try a little prayer for a change. It’s free and always rewards.

    • Marijka says:

      I don’t share you’re religious views but such a fantastic point you’ve made and one that is rarely posted. How refreshing. You speak a truth that unfortunately, nowadays, has become the proverbial elephant in the room.

      • racooncity says:

        I just completed the second day of the Landmark Forum course. And i am not attending the third day, for exactly i share the same as Ruby mentioned. I am not tired or have any complaints about the venue, hours or anything else. I have one major issue – hardsell.

        While the content is really good, powerful and relevant (as most other similar forums, i will explain about it later in my post), the issue is the obsessive hardsell. Consider the facts here about the effort towards hardsell – Day 1 (around 2 hours out of 12 working hours), Day 2 (around 3 hours out of 12 working hours), 3 out of 4 banners promoting advanced course (which is almost 3-4 months away from the first course) . The “Coach” made it verbally clear to force enroll all the participants at the end of Day 2 only and not wait until the last day of the forum and the reasoning given was not convincing enough to me. The Coach said that it is not advisable to wait a long time to review / assess the impact from the first workshop and that we would all be back to square one if the advanced course is not taken “immediately”.

        The point Ruby mentioned on ‘cult’, i should mention that i grew up in a Hindu missionary / non-profit religious organization running a school in a remote area in North Eastern India (where my father was a teacher) and a very similar tactic was employed via a range of powerful tools ranging from – religious workshops offering free food / medical help / assistance (with the intention to convert native tribes from nearby villages), mental therapy sessions (or brainwashing?), great and most importantly relevant tailored content delivered powerfully via a coach equivalent (‘leader’), and the eventual expected obsessive hardsell. I felt the same during the Day 2 of the workshop.

        Now, there may be a powerful counter argument to what i currently feel – number one, oh, you are being too scared or doubting of the workshop OR even hypothetically if it is a ‘cult’, you stand to benefit a great deal from attending the workshop and possibly benefit others also by recommending.

        Sure no doubt that there is benefit and a framework to gain from the forum, however, for me, the forum is not the ONLY or the FORCEFUL way. The forum concepts are similar to some the teachings of philosophers (like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle etc, which was acknowledged verbally by the Coach) and made palatable for the masses to understand. Other sources where you can learn the same stuff – people, introspection, psychiatric books, philosophy books, mentorship, experiences etc. and if you have the necessary will power to push yourself to execute those ideas. In fact a lot of concepts were already known to me (without knowing anything about Landmark) via my own experiences with my family, travel, circle of friends and i had myself executed a lot of them to achieve a more than average enriched life. (for e.g. acknowledge in-authenticity, baggage from past, always/already listening etc.)

        Would recommend going with an open mind to get the positives out of the forum, but not to get tied down to whatever all they say. If you have your own ‘interpretation’ you feel valid, you can always contest it for it is you and you only, my friend.

  • Woodywoodwork says:

    I was a grumpy, disaffected middle-aged man with a good marriage, good kids, a good house and a good job. I had nothing to complain about but just didn’t feel like life was working for me. I was sleep-walking towards retirement and there was a fair chance that when the kids left home to go to University, my wife and I would have lost any sense of togetherness.

    Then I joined Landmark. My marriage of 20 years is stronger than it has ever been. My relationship with my teenage kids is better than its been since they were toddlers. I have resolved the pathetic grudges I have harboured against my brother since childhood. I have a renewed purpose in life. I have enroled in a College course one day a week and am considering a career change. I am making my job work for me and challenging my employers to make better use of my skills and energies. My kids have done Landmark and have their own tale. My wife’s employer has been so impressed by how she has blossomed since Landmark, they are paying for her next course.

    As a family we are revitalised. I still have the same wife, kids, home and job. Nothing tangible is different. What is different is my understanding of how human’s tick, my attitude to life and my sense of self-worth.

    I have not joined a sect, I have not signed up to a creed or a code of practice, I have not passed over the contents of my bank account, I have not lost my free will and I am in no-one’s control. Some cult!

    And the cost? £2000 for all 4 of us to do the Forum. This has given us more lasting harmony, understanding of each other, joy and mutual respect than the once-in-a-lifetime holiday last summer which cost more than double that and is now a hazy but happy memory.

    If a cult is “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing”, then Nike, Manchester United, Apple, Kim Kardashian and a host of other worthless elements of modern life are cults. They all make fortunes out of their followings with no complaint from people. And what benefit to they contribute to society?

    Rock on Landmark!!

    • Megan Kusiak says:

      That’s so awesome!!!! I’m glad your kids were able to take part in it as well. I definitely think the program lead me to becoming a stronger and more positive mother for my my children and role model for my nieces and nephews.

    • GPT says:

      Good points there. But I still think Landmark is basically profiteering on people’s hopes and intentions.

    • JANE says:

      WoodyWoodwork, you are clearly an intelligent and fairly grounded person with the money to spend on this, but that isn’t the case for everyone and Landmark don’t take any care to dissuade those who might need more specific or proper medical treatment. For them one size fits all. But humans are not all the same & these courses are not for everyone. I have a friend who committed suicide after doing several Landmark courses – he discovered damages that needed far more care than Landmark was capable of supplying – they deconstructed his personality & he was unable to find his way back. It was appalling. And I know other people for whom the same thing has happened to their friends or family. It is irresponsible & dangerous to mess with people’s minds when you don’t know what you’re doing, & no one in Landmark ‘education’ has any qualifications in mental health, ‘Leader Program’ or not. As for putting children, whose minds are still just developing, under this strain – it beggars belief that anyone would do that.

  • Eloisa Ramos says:

    I was involved in Landmark Education for 11 years and I was a staff member before I left the organization. The most effective and confusing element of LEC is that within it’s philosophy is a lot of truth. Most of this truth is based in buddhist teaching. Landmark combines these insights with consumerism and lots and lots of shame. If you are unhappy, you’re in your “racket”. If you are hurt, you’re in your story. I once told someone that I was sad and he said, “Is that your racket or your winning formula?” Landmark discourages self trust and encourages you to judge yourself if you are anything less that joyous and “at cause.” I did the hard sell on others for the last 4 years in the organization. I manipulated people into doing the Advanced Course and I would spin any doubts about Landmark into self-doubt about their willingness to change. Landmark does good for a lot of people, but I believe the effects are short-terms solutions. Landmark offers a sophisticated way to repress unpleasant emotions and amplify good ones- but it’s core and subliminal message is that you are not enough- not at cause enough, no generous enough, not authentic enough and not in possibility enough. Think about this: “breakthrough” is a violent word. Perhaps transformation, permanent transformation is gentle and kind.

    • jane says:

      well said, eloise. i too was very involved and a staff member but i am not involved now. what you said about LM discouraging self belief is true in my experience. i got a lot from it in many ways but my biggest breakthrough was trusting my own feelings and leaving it behind.

    • Anna says:

      Thank you for your honesty, and courage, and coming from you, you who worked for them, your message is powerful. I agree, “breakthrough” can be a jarring action, and yes, real transformation, is gentle, kind, and it’s ok that it takes a lifetime or more.

    • Anna says:

      This is one of the most balanced things re Landmark I’ve read thus far. You don’t bash them. You simply offer honest insights into Landmark’s basic premises that underlie their “messages”, and making sense of how they rely on one’s lack of self-trust to get you to “believe”.

  • Megan Kusiak says:

    I did two programs through Landmark. It’s been 17 years since I went through them, pretty much back to back. It was intense to say the least. I had a 1 1/2 year old and was pregnant with my second child. And I would do them all over again if given the chance!! I may not remember a lot of the lingo but there are some things that have stuck with me over the last 17 years. I found closure in one of my stories that I had been beating myself up over since I was 6 years old. To face that fear and discuss it with my sister was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I was so guilt ridden that I could barely speak through my sobbing. We had almost drown when we were little and I had “owned” a lot of it for many many years. She had NO idea that I had this story in my head. She accepted my apology and I was eventually able to put it behind me. If it wasn’t for Landmark I can’t say we would have ever had that moment. There are MANY things that I had adopted as a new way of life and I still live through them to this day. I can completely see how some would say it’s cult like but if you don’t allow yourself to get sucked into that part of it then you’re ok. I get it though, if you’ve had an amazing experience wouldn’t you want your loved ones to experience it too? None of my family could afford it. I was lucky enough that my company paid for it, I will always be grateful for the experience. I’ve done other programs since Landmark and none of them hold a candle to LM. If given the opportunity to do it, go for it. It’s time intensive but like they say, what’s 3 days compared to the rest of your life???
    Live life without regret.

  • Chuck A says:

    I am a completely changed person as a result of my Landmark work. I completed the Forum and numerous programs for Forum graduates many years ago, and I don’t regret a single minute of my participation.

    This work isn’t about what you believe or don’t believe. It simply frees you from what has held you back in the past and what continues to hold you back in the present. In particular, it has you notice the things you don’t even realize are holding you back and gives you freedom from those things.

    I was a terribly shy guy and am no longer. I have taken on jobs and projects that I would never have attempted. I am happier than ever. Have there been setbacks in my career and my personal life? Sure. Did they keep me from moving forward? Nope.

    You can’t know what the Forum and the other programs are like from hearing or reading about them. To know, you must be and active participant in them and in life. They are about the results in participants’ lives. Listen to what your friends say about how this changed their lives, not about the hours or the location or the format.

    Cult? No way. Cults separate you from your friends and family. Landmark work gets you closer to those around you.

    I thank Landmark and its staff for making all this available to me.

  • Wendy says:

    Fascinating comments on what I thought was (ultimately) a positive article on the writer’s experience of the Landmark Forum.

    I too had the experience of feeling as though I already knew what they were teaching, or as though the leader was harsh and coercive. Had it not been for the fact that I had seen amazing transformation in three people close to me who had done the forum, I might not have completed the forum. Had it not been for the fact that one of them told me that he had not had a breakthrough until 3 sessions into the 10-week free seminar following the Forum, but that the Forum has been the most important thing he has ever done in his life, I might not have stayed through the whole gruelling thing. I was very close to not going back on Sunday morning. I felt completely stupid — unable to “get it”, unable to do the homework, unable to do the exercises during the Forum — utterly stupid.

    And yet, on Sunday morning, I had a significant epiphany that has dramatically improved my life. Then again, later on Sunday (much later!), I had a MASSIVE breakthrough, despite still feeling as though I have no clue what the Forum leader was talking about.

    I told a friend of mine about the Forum, and I was unable to related what was said in the Forum, and I did a lot of complaining to my friend about the hard sell and this and that… and yet my friend ending up signing up to do the forum himself because he can see the life-changing effect it has had on me despite my complaints about it and my lack of ability to say exactly how I had the breakthroughs and epiphanies I have had!

    The very odd thing, to me, is that as time has gone on since the forum, I have started to ‘get it’, even though, at the time, and immediately afterwards, I really didn’t feel as though I had much clue about it (apart from the curious fact that I had indeed had some astounding breakthroughs that were and continue to be amazingly life-changing.

    Also surprisingly, I no longer seem to have problems in getting along with people. Not that I thought I did before(!), but somehow, the forum has had an incredibly positive effect on my ability to connect with everyone and anyone. Quite odd!

    The whole thing is very odd. And yet, it clearly does work. Even if you think your life is fine and you are not in the slightest in need of ‘help’ (like I felt myself before I did it). And even if you feel as though you really don’t get it and have no idea what’s going on during the forum (as I felt during it myself most of the time!).

  • d. hinman says:

    why, if the “big reveal” is so wonderful, so transcendent does the author not include it in her article? we read her article, hopefully we are all rational, intelligent adults who can handle what ever it is. her refusal to let us in on the big secret reminds of the secret of “xenu”..

    • Gabrielle says:

      Actually, as someone who has taken the Forum and a number of follow up seminars and classes, I can tell you that she did give you “the big reveal” in this paragraph.

      “We are all slaves to our monkey minds; we do self-sabotage with the stories we choose to believe about ourselves; and we do have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to “look bad”, and to see beyond the illusion of reality, in order to evolve into the highest expression of ourselves. It is in this place of ultimately authentic self-expression that a life of infinite possibility lies.”

      However, the exercises you are guided through, and the personal sharing, both in front of the group and with partners, creates an understanding of this statement at a visceral level, for many, though not all, participants taking the Forum. That understanding, if it occurs for you, then creates a new way of looking at your life which opens up endless possibilities for you to freely choose from, for yourself. You are presented with a clean slate and encouraged to fill it with your own dreams. That experience, which is not adequately conveyed in words alone, is “the big reveal”.
      In my experience the vast majority of Landmark participants have a positive experience, which is why I encourage people to attend Landmark. If they don’t have a positive experience I encourage them to give feedback to the organization and not attend any further. It is not for everyone, but in my experience, it has a lot of good to offer for most of the people who take it.

      • JANE says:

        It’s always good to hear about people’s positive experiences in any endeavour, but having had loved ones suffer some serious repercussions from being involved in an unregulated & unqualified practice I would advise caution when it comes to the Landmark Forum. Having been co-opted by my sister (once was enough) I came away feeling that they really hadn’t revealed a thing that I was not aware of. Not that I’m so big to clever, but this was pretty self-evident stuff to anyone who’s thought about it a little. One can always try to be more compassionate, kind, empathetic, authentic, open to new ideas & to behave with integrity. These are not new ideas & are available to anyone who might choose to look into the great philosophers – for the price of a couple of books. Or better yet, a library. Oh, and the company & love of good friends (and NOT lecturing them!) is the best life tonic of all.

    • GPT says:

      Genuine truth costs nothing but a little thought

  • Indigo says:

    Sweet Jesus and Mary RUN from anyone who tries to lure you into this group!!! Don’t walk, RUN!! I literally just left an “Orientation” at a members house today, and I feel like I just escaped Jonestown.

    I was belittled for not coming up with a $200 deposit for the $650 forum. When I explained I had just lost my job and was struggling to survive, the member blamed me for my own misfortunes and continued to degrade me with a litany of personal insults. I’m like, “So, you want me to pay $650 to you NOW?!”

    As a practicing Buddhist, I think the core teachings of the Landmark are pretty spot on….but, also as a Buddhist; I don’t need to spend upwards of $1,500 plus to get to the core of what I’m coping with in life.

    This practice seems to prey on vulnerable people. I was relentlessly recruited by a member after losing my job. And to be honest with you, I’m not too impressed with the resumes of the Landmark alumni I’ve encountered. They all seem to boast self-enlightenment but all have crummy jobs, unfulfilled dreams and aggressive demeanors such as the one I encountered today. Proceed with Caution; Enlightenment is not worth spending a fortune.

  • Jill says:

    So I took the advanced class in Chicago last week. I drove 3 hours to get there. I liked the Forum, but this class made me angry. Barry Terry, who has been mentioned before was the trainer. At all our breaks we had to call at least 2 people and get them to support us in our transformation and then have them come to Tuesday night. Only people that had never taken advanced class could be invited. So if we are asking people to support us then why couldn’t we invite ANYONE? Maybe because they were pressured to sign up for the course them selves? We got out of class at 11:30 at night and then had to call 2 people Fri night or early Saturday morning. He said that there would be no excuses or else we didn’t have integrity. If my phone rang at midnight I would think someone was in trouble. If we came back a minute late from break we had to go to the mic and admit to not having integrity because our word is our word. I wasn’t going to drive 3 hours back to Chicago for Tuesday night, however I was told this is how I behave in life and I would fail the course. I drove back on Tuesday leaving work early and the evening was fine but a lot geared towards guests signing up for the course. My guest was my sister and halfway through she told me she would meet me in the lobby when done. By the time I left in traffic I got home at 2 am and had to go to work today. It wasn’t worth it! Also throughout the seminar Barry Terry would tell us we had no integrity if we didn’t sign up for the next class. He said we didn’t care about anyone but ourselves and if we really cared we would figure out how to stop the killings in Chicago! What? That made no sense. So that’she how advanced training went.

  • Bonnie says:

    Yikes. Wonder where the people who wrote most recently live! I attended the introduction this week at the behest of a friend and in San Jose they charge $750 for the three day forum! The room and the presenter were so off-putting to me that I couldn’t wait to escape. The only reason I stayed as long as I did was to avoid embarrassing my friend. It certainly seemed to me that this was a needy group who were out of options to resolve whatever issue drove them to sign up.

  • Dee says:

    I loved it , loved it, and loved it again. We take many different classes In the life. Some of them it is brain wash, like my history class in Soviet Union for a years was a complete brain wash I learned year later.Lots of commercials are brain wash on TV every day. Landmark made me a better person, more successful , better understanding the world around me. I can’t say nothing bad about landmark , nothing. Was skeptical at first, didn’t know what to expect, took only beginners and advanced class 2008.Nobody forced me to take more classes. I went in 2014 and shared my success story in the front of people that were confused and skeptical like me when first time I entered the landmark introduction class. I was able to enroll my son in the same classes two years later.it was worth my money!Sometimes we buy things that we dont need and waste money, and we don’t even think about it. For the Landmark classes I payed it was the best investment in my life. It really opened my eyes, and made me a stronger person to make life decisions that before the landmark I would be doubting myself, doubting my decisions. In any situation ,if you are stuck in your life and don’t know what to do, the Landmark education is worth trying! You just have to attend all 3 days of the class,period.

  • Tisha / CarameLatte05 says:

    Lol @ Farto Dinga ~
    I went. I was forced. Thought it was a cult thent too. More than 15yrs later, I still do. Windowless rooms, 🙄yup. High ceilings, 🙄yup. Repetitive b.s, 🙄yup. Save your $ 💵 $ for an early birthday 🎁.
    Live your life, be true to yourself, don’t let ppl rent space in you’re brain, enjoy the little things & remember to breathe💨 .
    See? That was free advice. Now go forth!!! Lol 😆

  • Gabrielle says:

    I find it interesting that many who post here seem to think that their viewpoint is the only truth. In my opinion, it is possible for some people to love Landmark Forum and some people to hate it or fear it. Honestly, though, if you’ve never even made it through the 3-day Forum, do you really think you are qualified to pass judgement? I don’t think so.
    I did the Forum in 2003. I didn’t do the Advanced course. I took more than ten of the seminars. The seminars are three hours once a week, and they cost about $100 for ten weeks. That’s ten dollars a night or about $3.50 an hour. Concepts are presented. Some people come up to the mic and share, and then you share with a partner. It’s like cheap co-counseling. It doesn’t work for everybody but it works for the majority, in my experience. I’ve seen lots of people get insights about themselves that make a difference in their lives.
    I don’t like the jargon. I don’t like the sale pitches. I often get up and take an unscheduled break if I find the conversation tedious. No one stops me, or shames me. When I decided to take a break for year or two from seminars, no one shunned me or disconnected from me or tried to force me back into the fold. My personal freedom was and is completely respected. As others have pointed out, Landmark has been evaluated by experts and determined NOT to be a cult for these very reasons. Family is supported and encouraged. The organization does not, in my experience, use undue pressure, but they do need to advertise to stay in business. That’s just a fact of the capitalistic world. If you don’t promote your business, you don’t stay in business. Landmark is a business. They are very clear about this. They offer products at what I consider reasonable prices. There are thousands of seminars of all kinds offered in this country and three day seminars run right around the $750 ball park, or more.
    The seminar costs support the home offices fixed expenses, employee paychecks as well as the rental costs, materials costs, and their research and development costs. How do I know all this? Because I’ve asked myself the same question for years. Is this a cult? And I’ve looked into how this business is run. So in my intensively researched opinion based on years of experience in this group, no it is not a cult. You don’t need to run from it. If you encounter some less developed people and have an unpleasant experience you can politely request a refund and not attend another event. If you ask not to be contacted again you will never receive another mailing. I have a number of friends who got on Scientology’s lists and nothing they do gets them off those lists. They get hounded endlessly, even when they have moved, changed addresses and changed phone numbers. Watch Leah Remini’s excellent program called Aftermath on A&E and you’ll see what a real cult is.
    Sure, some people are rude. That’s true in every group/church/club I’ve ever been part of. That’s just people. And some people are great, and have great experiences. It takes time and experience and critical thinking to evaluate an organization as large and as multi-faceted as Landmark. So I encourage you, dear reader, to have your own experience. And own it as your own experience, rather than write in sweeping judgements. But then, that’s just what some people do. I hope your overall experience of Landmark is positive, as mine was and is.

  • Jill says:

    Gabrielle,
    Thank you for clearing up a few things. The biggest problem though is when you take a class, seminar, training etc. and for 3 days listen to someone be so condescending, rude, etc to participants, as was my experience then it’s hard to want to put more money out for the next course. It’s a very bad taste in your mouth. Plus if one trainer is constantly complained about because of how he treats participants then shouldn’t Landmark take that into consideration?

    • JANE says:

      Gill – I think the whole modus operandi of Landmark is to break a person down so that they can be built up again in the way that the Forum sees fit. Or, OK, to build themselves up in their own way, if they are robust enough to deal with it. So there will necessarily be some abuse. The whole enterprise is based on EST, a self-help group in the 70s in which people were shouted at and abused for the first half, and then babied through the second half. Of course they felt great afterwards. Who wouldn’t after being told they’re shit for several hours & then filled up with how fab they are. It’s a clever game, and a business model that exploits vulnerable people’s vanity. After all, it’s all about YOU. What could be more seductive than that?

      • Margaret Mary says:

        Wow. Bravery. Thank you.

      • Sally says:

        “There will necessarily be abuse“ as part of any self help program? That is bogus
        – that is emotional abuse. There’s no excuse for that.

        Emotional growth happens through love, not hate and abuse.

  • roxithefox says:

    Ok, so I just did the Landmark forum this weekend. Yesterday was the 3rd day and today is a holiday so I finally have a break from the hard week at work and the intensive 3 days.
    Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly: The good news is that I related to a lot of what he said and I understood his point. Since I have been in and out of therapy for so long everything he said made sense. I realized I had to be accountable for my irresponsibility and neglect and get clean about it. I realized I had lived all my life procrastinating and it dawned on me when he said “this is it”, “this is all we have” and that we have to live life in the moment. I got it. I also appreciate when he says unpleasant things won’t disappear unless we acknowledge their existence and live it, and experience it rather than resisting it. Once that happens, it disappears. That made a lot of sense. I also learned a whole lot from everyone else who participated actively in the forum. I went in with an open mind and took everything with a grain of salt as well.
    With regards to my constraints, I don’t know what to make of them yet, but a lot of my bias towards others is not the same. I now know that I don’t know. My life has been limited by what my past experiences have been so I learned I need to see everyone with an open mind and definitely not judge or criticize. I got that clear.
    Now here is the bad and/or the ugly:
    They definitely push people away but insisting on enrolling and doing the advanced forum. But since I did the Landmark forum twice (12 years apart) and I have been in and out of cognitive therapy, I know when to make my decisions and choose when to go. I will go to the 10 sessions and will take the advanced course during vacation since this weekend was intense and exhausting.
    What did I learn? I want to live my life with integrity. I want to stop being late everywhere I go. This is it. This is what I am making out of my life and I don’t want to continue living like this. I also said to myself I want to stop procrastinating and leaving things for tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. This is it and this is all we got: the present moment.
    Now let’s go to the ugly: I tried to make an analogy with something that CS Lewis wrote about people thinking there is always time, putting off stuff, saying they will always do things later but that “later” never happens. Since it was very much compared to a bible verse, the forum leader got very upset and said that I had planned to come up with that and I said no. I just wanted to make a point that there is no “later” and no “tomorrow”, that there is only the present moment. He shut me down and that really hurt my feelings. I spoke with several people who attended. Some totally agreed with me. Others said they didn’t see it that way. I felt offended but they told me not to take it personally. Since I am working on not taking offense, I have become more open-minded.
    Another good thing I saw was the stories we make up in our head. Most of the time it is just what we make of it. I learned I need to forgive in order to move on and not hold onto anything. I learned I will practice being kind, compassionate and generous since this is all we got and this is it. The present moment is all we have.
    As to when I will do the advanced course? I will do it when I feel the time is right, it is vacation time and I don’t have the stress of dealing with grading and other school work (I am a teacher). But I definitely will do it. The idea of him telling me I have to do it two weeks after I just did the forum is unlikely. I am drained and I don’t want someone to push me to do things right away. I know I will do it. I already did the forum twice.
    As far as enrolling people, I will definitely take my 8 year old daughter. This will help her with self-expression.
    We need to leave our cynicism aside and take things with an open mind. The forum does have key elements to live a better life but you don’t have to agree with everything. In the book “Rethinking history” from Keith Jenkins, he tells us not to believe everything we hear. Rather we should investigate and read and find out for ourselves instead of letting someone else think for us.

    • GPT says:

      Landmark wants you to take things with open mind and an open purse

      Genuine truth costs nothing but a little thought

    • JANE says:

      Roxi – please don’t take your daughter. As she grows up you can teach her to be kind, compassionate, to be true to herself, not to hold grudges and to examine her motives. Her developing 8 year old mind does not need to be filled with adult fears and self-loathing. She hasn’t had time to process who she is yet and she needs to find herself first. My sister took her kids when they were this age and they are lost as adults, casting around to find out who they are. The Landmark Forum didn’t invent integrity and authenticity in life and these are perfectly achievable without paying huge amounts of money to an unregulated self-help group.

  • Joseph says:

    I did the Landmark Forum for young people when I was 8, the teen forum when I was 13, and the adult Forum when I was 22. I have taken the Advanced Course, the SELP, and seminars. I have gone through many different stages of transformation, possibility, and enrollment. I read through the comments and I see some people getting so protective, and defensive with people’s negative comments. I remember when I was like that with certain family members, and friends. I grew up hearing defensive conversation when others would criticize Landmark. I grew up thinking that the transformation that Landmark provided was the answer to peace on earth, and having the world work. I never thought of Landmark as a cult, and still do not, but I do see certain practices that would make people believe it is. Lots of repeating what the leader is saying, memorizing documents, no room for going against the distinctions. The posts about people feeling like their friends know something that they don’t is all too familiar. People that complete the Forum start to see others as the distinctions the Forum gives you. They see people as “running rackets”, having an “already always listening”, not being a “possibility”. It acts as a repellent to people who don’t get it. Sometimes people get stuck in a loop, and actually seem loopy. They are stuck in “you don’t know what you don’t know”, or life is “empty and meaningless, and it doesn’t mean anything that it doesn’t mean anything. It can be physiologically damaging to some, and it can be empowering to others. As far as the money, if I was a leader of a course like that I wouldn’t be cheap. I personally prefer someone who has a doctorate or a PhD to treat people’s problems. The question is what is the goal for an individual person, or Landmark, and are they qualified in providing what they claim. We know the goal for Landmark is Transformation, defined as the genius of a new real of possibility. Is this possible in reality, and what does that look like? As far as an individual, what are your goals, values, and what do you want your future to look like? It hard, and uncomfortable for me to share about the Landmark Forum, and are unable to relay what it is. Should a person trust a program that can’t be explained? I went through a stage of my life of considering each distinction as my life, and seeing everything as that distinction. One can get lost in the distinctions, and fall into nothing. You also feel charged by new possibility, and want that for the whole world. Then be confuse others with interpretation, and their identity is running their mind. In my efforts to discover what Landmark Education can bring to the world I have found that the world has what Landmark has gotten already. I have found their works in psychology, sociology, physics, and philosophy. There particular study is ontology. The only problem I have with this is how they stand by being the source of these works. They don’t give credit, and give people a language that is not understandable to everyone. If you got your life out of it, and you continue to love it, then I think that is great. I personally can’t recommend doing, and would say don’t do it.

  • Cara Nail says:

    My friend completed this course in Euston, London as well as the advanced course and look me along last night. I have to say this wasn’t for me, a girl was crying explaining to a room full of people about her relationship with her father, another explained how shy he was about getting up & talking publicly to a crowded room and how this had changed over 3 days. I have to say this was not for me. I would rather go see someone professional like a trained therapist and save myself the £530. I felt pressure with joining up to do the course but was strong enough & adamant I didn’t want to take to as I only went along to support my friend. He will tell me over time weather this course has worked for him.

  • TERESSA TERRY says:

    I have to wonder how many people would be brave enough to say, “I really fell hard for that scam!” after investing so much in it. “In for a penny, in for a pound” seems to fit. Having been raised as a Southern Baptist, I’m all too familiar with the “lowly sinner”routine. Joining a cult in my 20’s that discouraged all negativity now seems merely a reaction to Christianity negativity. But it was during those cult years that I was invited to a Forum introductory night. Naturally, I already knew all the answers and was confident that my path was the only path. I was taken to a room with a Forum recruiter who tried his damnedest to sign me up. “No thank you, I already have something that is so much better than this.” For a couple of hours we fought pointlessly to convert each other. I wish I had a recording of that session for all the times when I start to think I am absolutely right about something. Oh, look! The Forum DID teach me something. Actually, there was a grain of truth in all the paths I examined, which is likely the only reason they enjoy any success. One grain I gleaned on my journey has stood the test of time: Embrace all of life–all of its dichotomies and the places where they join, our successes and failures, our demons and…you get the damn picture. To quote the great philosopher, Tom Robbins, “I believe in nothing, everything is sacred. I believe in everything, nothing is sacred.”

  • Max Rudolph says:

    It seems these robots that do this indoctrination suffer from the same disorder, which I call HUYA Syndrome. Of course what do I know?

  • Methatswho says:

    I did the forum, a seminar, the advanced course and SELP.
    Going as far as I have, it occurs to me as a cult, and that is why I’m stepping away.
    Something just clicked one day and I snapped out of it.
    I’ve gotten great insights and transformations out of it, but I’ve had enough distinctions and marketing to the people in my life. Enough.

  • Blitch says:

    I can totally see why Landmark gets on some people’s nerves. It isn’t a cult. Not even close. But people can get very excited and very weird about it – and that can be annoying. And some people can be irresponsible regarding what they register for, and their own finances. If you expect Landmark to baby you and make your decisions for you – you’re in the wrong place. The company is not perfect, and some of the staff and volunteer assistants can be a pain in the ass. Just like everywhere else in life. I got outstanding value from almost every course I paid for. The work overall made a lasting impact on my life and the work I do today. I haven’t taken a course with them in many years, but I would go again.

  • Fed up mom says:

    I’m a mother of a thirty year old son. It has come to my attention that since he’s been involved in the landmark forum for some time he has become very distant and lost still searching for a higher power even though he’s been baptized catholic. This forum has confirmed him and caused great concern over his well being and driven him into debt. The multi marketing companies that are built on hype led him into this scam convince him that he needs it to become successful in the business. I’ve been through enough to know that he’s become distant, hates ppl, lost all belief in himself even he’s become leader which by the way doesn’t pay a dime, and now he’s lost and more confused than ever! He paid money he couldn’t affford because he has integrity ( and they take advantage of that) for my niece to join a weekend seminar and when she attended in Manhattan became seriously ill with an appendix attack but the leaders didn’t give a damn about her and try to force her back into the room. This organization doesn’t give a damn about human life! They refused to give a refund until my sister threatened a lawsuit. I seriously wish this company would fall off the face of this earth! It’s a scam and I’m sick of wondering when or if I’ll ever hear from my son again!

  • Katie says:

    The Good:
    I went to the introductory session with a friend yesterday and came away feeling that the teachings seemed sound and clearly have helped a lot of people.

    Fortunately, I have already done much of the work the Forum puts you through so I’m not sure I’ll get much out of it. I have had years of therapy with an exceptional therapist with whom I took time to explore and process traumatic events, take responsibility for my own actions, and recognize when I translate life experiences through a lens blurred by past experiences.

    Most people don’t have the advantage of getting therapy with a kick ass therapist, so if there’s a way they can receive helpful, Buddhist-inspired information in a way that’s meaningful — then I support it.

    The Not-So-Good
    I was a little shocked to learn that people get on stage and share intimate traumas in front of virtual strangers, while the Forum leader speaks forcefully to them to let it go. I remember how gut-wrenching it was for me to face my own life traumas (in therapy), and how I had to slowly unwrapped each layer to protect myself from becoming emotionally overwhelmed. It would have completely sent me into shock had I done so in the manner Landmark puts its participants through.

    The Bad
    Lord, one of their staff members pestered me continuously about signing up for the $700 (!!) weekend session, and when I told him I couldn’t afford it, he had the audacity to tell me I could borrow it from the bank or from someone in my life. When I continued to resist, he urged me to consider that something deeper, something unrelated to money was keeping me from signing up–and perhaps this was what was keeping me from achieving goals in life.

    First, how offensive to presume I haven’t been achieving goals in life, and second, yes it really is all about money. I have no urge to get into debt. How manipulative though, eh? Telling me that some unknowable force within me was causing me to resist signing up, and that force might be keeping me from happiness.

    Luckily, I’m self-aware enough to know when I’m being swindled. The hard sell completely turned me off of the program and I only stayed to the end to be polite to the friend who invited me there.

  • Cm says:

    About a year or more ago I lost a great friend to Landmark She can’t afford to eat out but yet she can afford to pay them hundreds and hundreds of dollars to go to seminars to travel with others just like her to be enlightened and to tell me on a regular basis her truths which are nothing more than explanations of how she feels It’s a shame that she had to pay so much money just to realize that yes we make our own realities and they are our realities and they don’t always agree with everyone and their way of life and it’s not always OK to feel this way or that and she needs to purge herself and take accountability for everything. Well duh really. Sad that we can’t spend time together as we are in our fifties and life is short. I’m sure with a bit more time and money she’ll figure it out before she dies

  • Ina says:

    I have already learned the same things for free by going through the twelve steps of AA. If you want to, you can always put a dollar in the basket, and as with everything in AA, it is but a suggestion, not a requirement.

  • the guy with two skyscrapers says:

    So very many comments of “if you haven’t been there you have no right to judge”

    A couple of observations:

    1: “just trying out” is very costly. the product being sold is the experience to be judged getting people to try it is the same as selling the product.
    2: many many things are able to be judged without experiencing. I have never shot myself in the face, yet I know I would not enjoy the experience. I have not pulled my fingernails out yet I know I would not enjoy such an endeavor.
    3: anything can be labeled with a price and claimed “well you just have to try it!” I am going to say that tightrope walking between two skyscrapers is a life changing transformative experience, everyone should do it. oh by the way I also happen to have two skyscrapers and a tightrope set up. I only charge $1000 dollars to walk across it. (the price is so high for insurance purposes of course) everyone line up and get their walk on!

  • Dennis Zukowski says:

    I have a friend who’s started the Landmark process, and two a few things she reported were hazard signs in my eyes: “I was wrong, i was so wrong…” Having been raised Catholic, i’m suspicious of any thought process that emphasises self-debasement.
    She also has encouraged me to attend two ‘graduation ceremonies,’ and if I only started participating in Landmark, we’d have a ‘shared vocabulary.’

    You can learn Buddhism for a lot less money, and you get bathroom breaks.

  • Amy says:

    OMG can I guess what the big reveal is? The power was inside you all along!!!!

    Just watch the Wizard of Oz and save yourself $500.

  • Erick says:

    What the heck’s wrong with Landmark Forum….
    To whom it may concern
    My girlfriend of almost two months who I think is a beautiful, smart and wonderful woman put me in a strange position! From first glance things are going good however since we first me has been urging me to join Landmark Education as it’s very important too her! She is 100% into In, she eats it, drinks it, recruits, volunteers and speaks of it religiously daily. I do support her involvement in transformational learning and have encouraged her . I however came from a different Christian background with a strong healthy family support system. Her past obviously has been a roller coaster ride of ups, downs, family issues, losses of love, cruelty, negativism, giving up custody of her son and educational system persecutions. God bless her she is a persevering strong woman and a fighter….however recently she has been starting minor issues with me to create friction, misunderstandings, separation-distance and now deciphering my responses and reversing the blame….. this is real life and not an episode of Young and the restless with people spinning and constantly scheming…..
    Now she demands I join Landmark Forum to reveal my bigger picture or loose her? Question is, what is Landmark Education doing to its paying participants? You see I’m very clear thinking person, so someone trying to hold my relationship hostage will not work on me. I’m stronger that and know when someone in trying to fool me into drinking the koolaid…It’s about paying attention to the detail which I am and have always been good at. is it a ploy to put the relationship future on one persons participation on non participating….Doesn’t that really mean Landmark Education is not working? Does that seem a bit cult like? Give me som scoops or dirt…..

    • Robert V says:

      10 Signs your in an unhealthy Relationship…..lots of stuff below… Run for the hills Fast……

      INTENSITY
      Having really extreme feelings or over-the-top behavior that feels like too much. Examples are rushing the pace of a relationship, always wanting to see you and talk to you, and feeling like someone is obsessed with you.

      MANIPULATION
      When a partner tries to influence your decisions, actions or emotions. Manipulation is not always easy to spot, but some examples are convincing you to do or join things you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with, ignoring you or alienating you until they get their way! Be aware of those who put their needs above all things while saying one thing and thinking another..For example, I told you don’t you remember, but you said you would and misstating times, places or recollections by reversing or deflecting responsibility..

      VOLATILITY
      Unpredictable overreactions that make you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around them or do things to keep them from lashing out. Examples can be mood swings, losing control of themselves saying or implying little things to spark a reaction the deflecting blame. Saying maybe it’s your fault. Violent or yelling outbursts directed at defenseless partner. Also sneaky anger by intentionally over thinking common things and redirecting them as if they were personally offended or attached. There can also be lots of drama or ups and downs in a relationship.

      DEFLECTING RESPONSIBILITY
      Making excuses for their behavior. Examples can be blaming you, other people or past experiences for their actions, using alcohol or drugs as an excuse, using mental health issues or past experiences (like a cheating ex or divorced parents) as a reason for unhealthy behavior. Its also been termed “it’s you not me Syndrome “. They then can be guiltless.

      BETRAYAL
      When your partner acts differently with you versus how they act when you’re not around. Examples can be lying to you, purposely leaving you out or not telling you things, being two-faced, acting differently around friends, or cheating while in a relationship with you.

      INTENSITY
      Having really extreme feelings or over-the-top behavior that feels like too much. Examples are rushing the pace of a relationship, always wanting to see you and talk to you and control you. Constant overt demands or needs.

      JEALOUSY
      An emotion that everyone experiences, jealousy becomes unhealthy when someone lashes out or tries to control you because of it. Examples can be getting upset when you text or hang out with people your partner feels threatened by, accusing you of flirting or cheating, being possessive over you or even going so far as to stalk you.

      SABOTAGE
      Purposely ruining your reputation, achievements or success. Examples can be making you miss work, school or practice, keeping you from getting school work done, keeping you up at night, short leashing you, talking negative about you behind your back. Constantly looking for you to disappoint them gives them vindication for their actions. Also watch out for when there tactics don’t work a new tactic is coming soon…..

      BELITTLING
      Making you feel bad about yourself. Examples can be calling you names, making rude remarks about who you hang out with, your family or what you look like, and making fun of you – even if it’s played off as just a joke.

      JEALOUSY
      An emotion that everyone experiences, jealousy becomes unhealthy when someone lashes out or tries to control you because of it. Examples can be getting upset when you text or hang out with people your partner feels threatened by, accusing you of flirting or cheating, being possessive over you or even going so far as to stalk you.

      ISOLATION
      Keeping you away from friends, family, or other people. Examples can be when your partner makes you choose between them and your friends, insisting you spend all your time with them, making you question your own judgement of friends and family, and making you feel dependent on them for money, love or acceptance. They may also be constantly scheduling, over scheduling their and your schedule to control and isolate you to need only them. Be aware of the sneak attach behind a smile and seemingly innocent busybody

  • Cheryl says:

    You described a so-called “friendship” that I just left in the dust.

    BYE FELICIA.

  • G-Reg says:

    After reading half of the comments here, I am already bored. I can’t imagine being hornswoggoled in to paying money to hear this horse pucky for 39 hours. Going to any sort of retreat, class, program, or whatever can be transformative if you make it so. If Landmark did it for you, great. If you are still searching, consider something cheaper like the huge host of YouTube videos where you can find similar or even better ideas.

  • Don Quixote says:

    I love chasing windmills and singing to prostitutes…
    when it’s my conscious choice…
    and I own the consequences…
    with the freedom to evaluate them myself.

    I also love exploring “impossible dreams” on occasion…
    without someone else judging or pressuring my choice.

    Having read all these comments, attended four Landmark intros over 30 years (to honor friends’ requests), read other research and consulted with my higher (soul) self…
    I do definitely see some benefits for some people (especially short term)…
    but question the emotional risk and financial cost to others (especially the vulnerable)…
    and to society (through ripple effect)…
    when one group of trainers and leaders (plus group pressure) holds and exerts so much power over another’s path (without really knowing that soul’s higher purpose and needs).

  • Ken Clark says:

    The simple truth is: “The Landmark Forum is all about money”

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