A funny thing happened
on the way from EST to ACIM.
By Gary R. Renard
If you happened to meet me when I was in my twenties you probably wouldn’t have wanted to know me. I was extremely depressed and barely able to function for
about seven years. I didn’t know why I was miserable or
what brought it about.
Then, the last friend I had left in the world practically
dragged me to something called EST (Erhard Seminar
Training), a 1970s group personal-development seminar,
famous for its often-controversial intensity. EST doesn’t
exist anymore, but at the time it was exactly what I needed.
It got me in touch with the power of thought and the
importance of being responsible for my own experience.
It took me to a place of being at cause instead of effect; to a
position of power instead of being a victim.
I had assumed I was having all my depressing thoughts
because of my life’s circumstances. However, that wasn’t
true. I wasn’t having all these terrible thoughts because I
was depressed—I had become depressed because I had been
having all these terrible thoughts. The thoughts, which may
take place throughout a long period of time, always come
first. The experience follows.
This was the beginning of my spiritual path, which
has now spanned 40 years. After about nine years in EST
(starting in 1978), I got into meditation, comparative
religion, and various New Age teachings. I learned a lot, but
I still felt something was missing. That’s because something
At the end of 1992, while living in rural Maine, I was
meditating in my living room one day when I opened my
eyes to see two beings sitting on the couch. They looked
like normal people, a very good-looking man and woman
with an incredibly peaceful demeanor. The beings told me
their names were Arten and Pursah, but after a while they
gradually explained what they really were.