I wanted to submit my story about my experience with the Landmark Forum.
I am a 28 year old male. I grew up on a farm. My parents divorced when I was 16. I was in the Marine Corps reserves while getting my bachelors degree in electrical engineering. I've worked as a software and electrical engineer for avionics and space based companies. I was certified as an emergency medical technician. I have my pilots license. I've gone skydiving. I play electric guitar at open mic's. I'm working on my helicopter rating.
I took the Forum in April of 1997.
Since I took the Forum, I've told both my parents that I love them and they told me that they love me. Those words had never been spoken between us ever, although a Hallmark birthday card may have expressed those sentiments for us. Before the Forum, I thought that my family was just distant and would always be that way. During and after the Forum, I shifted my attitude where I took on responsibility for our relationship.
I went from "My family is distant, thats the way it is, and thats the way it will always be." to "I never told my parents I loved them. Somebody give me a phone".
So I called my parents and told them I loved them for the first time. And they told me they loved me for the first time. When I made the call, it didn't even matter what they said in reply. What was important to me was that I tell them how I felt. As it happened, it's turned out great.
I also got in touch with one of my brothers who I hadn't spoken with in two years. I feel an awesome sense of relatedness with my family that didn't exist before. I've gotten back in touch with a number of friends who've I've distanced myself from over the years.
What happened was that I gave up my idea I held as truth about my family and friends. Giving up "that's the way it is and always will be" was unsettling because I no longer had an excuse to explain my past behaviour. This same shift happened in several areas of my life as a result of the Forum.
Another result I got out of taking the Forum was seeing how much I lived my life trying to prove myself. Any time I accomplished something in life, I automatically felt that if I could do it, then it must not have been too difficult. So I would go out and look for something new to do that would prove I was good enough, tough enough, or smart enough. In the Forum, I realized that I was carrying around the attitude that I wasn't good enough and I kept trying to prove myself wrong. I could see how I had lived a lot of my life in this really vicious circle. And it all came from me holding on to a so called truth called "I'm not good enough". Escaping the cycle was as simple and as difficult as letting go of "I'm not good enough". The result was an amazing sense of freedom in living my life. It was also disturbing when I first realized what I had been doing because I felt like I had wasted a lot of my life doing things for really stupid reasons.
So, for me, the Forum is about questioning what you hold to be true. Not truths like "the Earth goes around the Sun", but truths about yourself, or truths about other people in your life. Something like "My family is distant" was really just a belief that I held as truth. And when you question something you thought was true and you suddenly decide that it isn't true, then it can be very disturbing and disorrienting at first. But in my case, I found I had these so called truths that were totally shaping and limiting my life and I didn't even know it.
Was the Forum worth $325 and three and a half days of my time? Absolutely, without a doubt in my mind. I didn't walk away with anything of measurable value, like a color TV or a stereo system. But I did get the relationship I always wanted with my family, and I got a lot of freedom in living my life. What I got from the Forum was worth way more than what I paid for it.
Is the Forum a cult? Well, there were no mass suicides and no violent stand-off's with authorities during my Forum. I never had to shave my head, wear a robe, or a pariticular brand of sneaker. (that's a joke folks. lighten up.) ;) I can say it was an emotional roller coaster for me. Exposing the falsehoods I had been living my life through was very, very emotional. I cried in the Forum when I realized how much I loved my parents and had never told them that. I cried when I saw how much I had been living my life trying to prove myself rather than doing something simply because I wanted to or because I enjoyed it.
If you are unwilling to consider that some of the things you hold as true are actually some fabrication you invented, or if you would be too confronted by uncovering such a fabrication and would do anything to hold that fabrication in place, then the Forum will be a waste of your time and money. It will also occur as a cult because being asked to give up one of your coveted truths will show up in your eyes as being told "the world is flat". But before the Forum, I would have sworn before a judge and jury that my family was distant and that was the way it was and the way it always would be. I gave that up as truth in my Forum and took on a new possibility of a totally related family.
I think cults generally want to isolate you from your friends and family. And what I got from the Forum was the complete opposite. I got an awesome relationship with my family, and I renewed a number of friendships that had faded.
I've read people describing Forum leaders as drill instructors, and having been through Marine boot camp, I thought the comparison was funny except for the disservice it does for the Forum. In boot camp, our drill instructor had us do PT one day until a recruit nearly died from heat stroke and was hospitalized. My drill instructors physically hit recruits. The whole point of boot camp is to prepare recruits for war and weed out those who can't cut it.
A Forum leader will talk with you only if you volunteer. If you want, you can go through the entire Forum not saying a word and having no one talk to you. My forum leader never yelled in anyone's face. He was firm with those who asked for coaching. And I know a lot of those people had breakthroughs in their lives. I know I did. The only time a Forum leader ever touched a particicipant was when the participant came up and shook his hand or gave him a hug. I have nothing but admiration, respect, and love for my Forum leader. What I see as the point of the Forum is to prepare people for life.
What will someone else get out of taking the Forum? I have no idea of the specifics. Everyone has different issues they deal with. Everyone has different "truths" that they realize were made up excuses. Living a life you love and living it powerfully is Landmark's commitment to those who complete the Forum and two courses that follow, and I can say that I love my life since taking the Forum, and before the Forum I was dissatisfied with a number of things in my life.
Do I recommend the Forum? Yes. I got my money's worth. I believe anyone would. You may be confronted by something you discover about the way you live your life, but that only means you found a fabrication that you had always thought was a truth.