Let me explain the course structure first. It’s basically a three day plus one evening course primarily focused on personal transformation. Each day starts about 9 AM in the morning (sharp) and goes on till 11 PM in the night, with grueling sessions. Each day has only very few break in between, that too at odd timings (11 AM, 3 PM and 7 PM). A well trained ‘forum leader’ will be leading the course for about 400 participants. He has a pre-defined courseware and speaks non-stop for all the three days. These leaders are extremely smart people and ruthless in expressing their viewpoints. The landmark education forum has internal methods of identifying, coaching and grooming these leaders.
Coming to the course contents, it’s completely a westernized therapy session. They give a different perspective of life, more from the psychological point of view. The forum leader will encourage participants to come and share problems they face in relationships, career and life. He will listen to those problems and provides different perspective about solving those problems. In between these conversations the leader keeps on giving certain gyan about: parenting, purpose of life, holistic living, relationships, human behaviors etc. I found these sessions totally boring and couldn’t get anything at all from them. I felt more annoyed when people cry in public about their personal problems and their inability to solve them. This is what happens on the first two days.
On the third day of the forum, I found pretty interesting things. The leader started discussion certain topics (question like ‘Who am I?’), which slowly dwells into a philosophy. When I questioned the leader about its interference with philosophy (especially Indian way of thinking), he totally diverted the discussion and forced me to sit down. He went on expressing some of the points in a very forceful manner in loud voice. Finally he ended up with some of the concepts from Zen Buddhism.
When such philosophical thoughts are conveyed in forceful manner (this is what I call western therapy), people feel all they have discovered something great. They feel they are free and get whatever they want. This is what defined as ‘transformation’ by the Landmark education people. Apart from that they give a whole new terminologies like ‘racket’, ‘break-through’, ‘possibility’, ‘break-down’, ‘interpretation’ etc. Thus the third day of the course comes to an end.
The evening session resumes after two days, where each participants are asked to bring at least three guests. These guests can be friends, family members or relatives. When the evening session stats, the nasty sales pitch of the Landmark forum takes the centre stage. The forum leader literally forces all the participants to take up the ‘advanced’ course. There are many so called ‘volunteers’ who do excellent job in brainwashing the guests to sign up for the ‘basic’ course. I took my wife and some close friends on the evening session but felt totally humiliated when they started the sales pitch. I didn’t expect this at all!
After the course (sales pitch session) gets over, the participants are asked to take up ‘Landmark forum in action’ lecture series. I was so pissed off with their evening session that I just stopped going in that direction. Also it’s quite interesting to see the way the course is marketed. People who are weak minded, immature or lived a miserable life in the past become ‘volunteers’ of this forum after achieving ‘transformation’. These volunteers become mobile marketing/sales people for the organization and they go ahead and force all of their friends and family members to take up the course. I do see some value of courses like this but can’t even think of becoming a sales person for them.
Let me write more about Landmark Forum in the next blog post!