Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Secular Humanism - Landmark?

My husband just completed the Advanced Course at Landmark Education this weekend.  Really empowering stuff!   Landmark has a reputation for being "cultish".  It is not a cult, but it certainly has some features that make it look like one from the outside.  Participants are urged to bring all their friends and families to "guest events" which occur as part of every course, and to invite everyone they know to take the "Landmark Forum" -- the foundation class of their curriculum.  The courses are also filled with a unique jargon, which adds to the feeling that graduates of the curriculum are "weird".

But in fact, what makes it more like a religion than any of these outward trappings is the fact that what actually happens in the courses is that participants are pushed to become their best selves, and to go past their comfort zones to accomplish incredible things in their relationships with others and in their communities.  I remember before I took the first course that I marveled how both my committed atheist friend and my religious Catholic friend felt that the concepts presented in Landmark complemented their respective worldviews perfectly.  This is because while no particular religion is referenced, the concepts map very well onto those in religious texts.

Quite simply, the ideas are:

1. Personal integrity is the basis of everything -- keeping your word in all things great and small.
2. Things happen through relationships -- if it's just inside your head, it has no reality -- you have to share it with others
3. With (1) and (2) in place, there is very little that you can't accomplish.  Reach for the sky!  Make a real impact on the world!
4. The point of all this is to Live a Life you Love.

These ideas invariably push participants to look outwards from their own lives to accomplish greatness in their relationships and their communities.  If they happen to be religious, they quickly find these ideas echoed in their liturgy and scriptures.  But if they are not, these ideas still work!

Can this notion be used in this context, as well?  That pushing past your comfort zone for the sake of a child's life has the potential of such huge reward that it is worth it?  Even without any religious background?

1 comment:

  1. I can only second what my lovely wife has said. She's summarized the Landmark credo very well, I think -- and I would simply add that Landmark courses tend to use lots of exercises to emphasize these points and practice them.

    For example, they place a strong emphasis -- an unreasonable emphasis, in the minds of many newcomers -- on being on time, and they give many opportunities to practice that. You realize later that being on time per se isn't that important; the course would still work if it started ten minutes later. But being on time is excellent practice in keeping your word. (It's also useful in taking others' needs into account; as Landmark explains, being late when you meet someone is a strong message -- that the other person's time isn't as valuable as yours, that you'd rather keep them waiting for you than have to deal with waiting for them. So you start out your meeting by telling people you don't care about them. How's that for an auspicious beginning?)

    So in Landmark, being on time is simply practice in giving your word, and then keeping it, no matter what. Later on you begin to realize what an extremely powerful concept that is... and how much you can accomplish by being true to your word. It's heady stuff!


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