Your review of Harry Palmer is inaccurate, based on my experience.
I've taken more than 100 transformational trainings and consciousness workshops over a 35 year period, and have studied various forms of spirituality (Buddhism, shamanism, comparative religions, paganism, Advaita) and psychological self-development from the time I was 16 years old. My
Bachelor's degree (1975) is in "Physiology and Human Consciousness," so I consider myself a well-informed seeker, even a connoisseur.
I took the "est" training in the old days (B.L. - before Landmark) and got a lot of value out of it, and I'm a fan of transformational work that has deep and powerful results. I took the Avatar Course in 1999, expecting
"just another training." I was so impressed by the integrated approach, the exercises, and the results in my life that I decided to become a teacher so I could share it with others. I have taken most of their advanced courses that Star's Edge offers (all of which were fantastic), and have taken many people through the course. It is costly - $2,300 for the 9-day course, but that comes out to about $20 per hour. I have seen hundreds of people walk out of the course truly transformed. Not enlightened -- that's not what the course offers. However, everyone does get a good taste of Pure Awareness during the final exercise, and learns how to get back to that experience on their own.
Graduates of the course decide whether (and how) to continue applying the Avatar tools in their lives. (There are 45 different powerful techniques presented during the basic course.) Those who do continue to use the tools continue to develop and explore themselves and their world, and learn how to create the lives they prefer. Some people don't use the tools after the course, often because they have gotten just what they needed to get unstuck, or now see their lives from a new perspective. Avatar
doesn't present "one more belief system" to lay on top of what people already believe. It explores belief systems themselves, and allows people to examine their own belief system to the level and depth they wish. A money-back guarantee is offered. Very few people take advantage of it, because the course delivers true value.
What's interesting about Avatar is that some people enter the training with no previous experience in the psychological or spiritual realms, and they come out of the course with a powerful, transformative shift in their consciousness and their lives. Others, like me, enter the course with years or many decades of psychological and spiritual training. They, too, are transformed because the work deepens one's own practice,
regardless of what it is, and integrates concepts and ideas we've been studying and hearing about for years -- both as concepts and understandings in the mental realm, and also experientially. You described his program as mental. I would say that it is solidly built on an intellectual ground of understanding how consciousness works, but the course itself is experiential. Students don't move ahead to the next exercise until they have a direct and profound experience of the exercise
Some of the exercises do come from Scientology (many ex-Scientologists have taken the Avatar Course and raved about it, because it accomplishes much of what Scientology tried to produce, but without all the nonsense), but other exercises are Harry's own, coming from his own experience. Some have come from his study of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as psychology. He doesn't deny his background in Scientology, he just doesn't talk much about it for obvious reasons. He does not act like or talk like a guru, and he doesn't promote himself publicly. He has rarely given public interviews. He lets the program speak for itself. The course is about self-empowerment, not guru worship. Teachers are more like guides for
others' exploration. Teachers can't bastardize the program and become gurus to their students. It's very intelligently set up to ensure that every individual discovers himself or herself as Source of their life experience.
The course is well organized, easy to understand, and takes people through a step-by-step program that leads them to understand and experience their own spiritual nature and creative power. Students learn how their beliefs create their reality, and how to change their beliefs in order to change their reality (personal reality as opposed to social or physical reality
-- each realm requires a different set of tools). Through the course work, relationships are often healed, some medical issues disappear, and people are empowered to make their lives better. After the course, most people look younger, feel lighter and brighter and happier, and more confident in their ability to handle life. In addition, it deepens them spiritually. They see that their spiritual nature is not connected to any particular belief system, but is independent of beliefs. This knowledge allows them to understand others' beliefs, and the result is more compassion, more peace, and more alignment with their own highest nature. This is a good thing.
No one is forced to do anything, and the course is gentle and self-paced. Some people do find ways of successfully resisting their own development, however. It's clearly not for everyone, although almost anyone would benefit from it.
I've seen 70-year old men brought to tears, opening their hearts for the first time.
I've seen rebellious children become loving and self-authoritative young adults.
I've watched people who seemed to be completely twisted up inside themselves slowly open and reveal their light to the world.
The Avatar Course seems to be best suited for mental types of medium to high intelligence, who find it revelatory. In my observation, pure body/feeling types and those of low intelligence do get gains, but they don't respond as enthusiastically.
Some people are upset with Harry Palmer for making money commercially (he gets royalties from every person trained), I have no problem with it
- he is providing a valuable service to people. Trainers - like me - keep around three-quarters of the course fees paid, so
there's an opportunity for people to deliver a high-quality transformation program to others and make a living. Few teachers make a lot of money. Those who teach Avatar (we are really more like guides to the student's own process) continue to work on themselves, and there's a strong quality improvement thrust in the organization. It is a commercial approach, but Harry says (paraphrased) "Whoever decided that spiritual development and financial success should never mix robbed the world of some of the brightest people, who went elsewhere to make a living."
The organization has brought many teachings out into the world at no cost or low cost. Anyone can get the quarterly Avatar Journal for free. One of Harry's books and 5 "mini-courses" are available on the website to download at no cost. Check them out - they're quite good:
I consider Harry to be a man of integrity and ethics. I've met him in person, and he "feels" clean - very spacious. But he's also very human, very funny, and self-effacing.
I'm sure his background has some unpleasantness in it - as does mine, as do most people I know. I've read the rabid anti-Scientologist material, and compared it to the Harry of today. He's providing beneficial, clean training in a good way, and has transformed more than 100,000 lives around the world.
That's not a bad thing. The organization is sincere in their mission of
"contributing to the creation of an enlightened planetary
Is Harry enlightened? I would say that he is "enlightening." That's what I aspire to, as well.
~ Lion Goodman