A.k.a. Jack Paul Rosenberg (real name)
The Erhard Seminars Training or “est” was a pretty popular affair in the 1970s and 80s (it might still exist – offshoots such as the Landmark forum at least do). In the seminars participants payed quite a lot of money to be abused and subjected to woo, pseudo-existentialism, meditation, sleep deprivation, and brainwashing, all for the purpose of increasing Werner Erhard’s personal wealth but officially for the purpose of “getting it” (a comprehensive discussion is here). What you were supposed to “get” is still a little unclear, for it was framed in incoherent gibberish and psychobabble that est initiates claimed were “intensely” meaningful (because of sleep deprivation, presumably), but at least the participants were supposed to speak enthusiastically about it afterwards and recruit new participants (and obtain “awareness”). The est babble was based on a combination of Mind Dynamics, Scientology (though even scientologists denounced Erhard – ok, so they claimed infringement of copyright rather than calling bullshit), Zen, Gestalt psychology, Heidegger, Dale Carnegie, motivational books, Psycho-Cybernetics and various precursors of The Secret.
Mind Dynamics, by the way, was the focus of Erhard’s precursor to est, and involved a method by which Erhard claimed to be able to teach clairvoyance, ESP, mind reading, and similar bullshit.
A side project, The Hunger Project, was supposed to end world hunger by effectuating a global shift in consciousness and attitude by getting people to “rethink their position” on world hunger (without actually doing anything).
Erhard had profound influence over a lot of people, and is praised by the usual suspects such as John Denver, Buckminster Fuller, and Yoko Ono.
Diagnosis: I am rather uncertain whether Erhard is a loon or not. Certainly the teachings are looney gibberish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the guy who, you know, does this for a living is a loon. A comprehensive Encyclopedia of loons nevertheless requires an entry under “Werner Erhard”.