California​, USA Esalen Institute which ” “Jives shit for rich white folk” class and race issues are a Lost Opportunit​y to Improve the “System” from Inside — Written 06/18/12

For people searching for a “middle way” out of world crisis, unfortunately, one of the centers which brought a heavy “counter-culture” in the 1960’s is MIA (Missing In Action).


California, USA, Esalen Institute which  “Jives shit for rich white folk”, class and race issues,  are a  Lost Opportunity to Improve the “System” from Inside.’s_hierarchy_of_needs



For Your Entertainment (FYE)


“The Esalen Institute, commonly just called Esalen, is a residential community and retreat center in Big Sur, California, which focuses upon humanistic alternative education. Esalen is a nonprofit organization devoted to activities such as meditation, massage, Gestalt, yoga, psychology, ecology, and spirituality. The institute offers more than 500 public workshops a year, in addition to conferences, research initiatives, residential work-study programs, and internships.

Esalen was founded by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962. Their goal was to explore work in the humanities and sciences, in order to fully realize what Aldous Huxley had called the “human potentialities.” Esalen soon became known for its blend of Eastern and Western philosophies, examined in experiential and didactic workshops. Over the years Esalen hosted a notable influx of philosophers, physicists, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers.

Esalen is situated on 120 acres of Big Sur coast, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise sharply above the Pacific Ocean. The grounds were once home to a Native American tribe known as the Esselen, from which the institute got its name. This location also is a Monarch butterfly wintering site. A key feature of the site is its cliff-side natural hot spring baths. The property is divided by Hot Springs Canyon. Hot Springs Creek serves as a freshwater source, along with underground springs.

Esalen is located about 45 miles (72 km) south of Monterey and Carmel along scenic Highway 1, and nine miles (14 km) north of Lucia. It is about a three-hour drive south of San Francisco, or a five-hour drive north of Los Angeles.”


“Over the years, Esalen Institute has been the subject of criticism. Generally, the Human Potential Movement has been criticized for espousing an ethic that the inner-self should be freely expressed in order to reach one’s true potential. Some people have seen this ethic as an aspect of Esalen’s culture. The historian Christopher Lasch claimed that humanistic techniques encourage narcissistic or self-obsessive thoughts and behaviors. These criticisms were examined in a 2002 BBC television series, called The Century of the Self, which included video segments recorded at Esalen.

In 1990 a graffiti artist spray painted “Jive shit for rich white folk” on the entrance to Esalen, highlighting class and race issues.”


“In the early days, many of the seminars challenged the status quo – such as “The Value of Psychotic Experience”. There were even programs that questioned the movement of which Esalen was a part – for instance, “Spiritual and Therapeutic Tyranny: The Willingness To Submit”. And there was a series of encounter groups focused -on racial prejudice.


Early leaders included:





Richard Alpert

Ansel Adams

Price Cobbs

Gia-Fu Feng

Buckminster Fuller


Michael Harner

Timothy Leary

Robert Nadeau

Linus Pauling

J.B. Rhine


Carl Rogers

Virginia Satir

B.F Skinner

Paul Tillich

Arnold Toynbee




Rather than merely lecturing, many leaders began to experiment with what Huxley called the non-verbal humanities: the education of the body, the senses, and the emotions. The intention of this work was to suggest a new ethic – to develop awareness of one’s present flow of experience, to express this fully and accurately, and to listen to feedback. These “experiential” workshops were particularly well attended and did much to shape Esalen’s future course.


Past Teachers







Ansel Adams

Joan Baez

James Baraz

Ellen Bass

Robert Bly

Gregory Bateson

Ray Bradbury

Joseph Campbell

Fritjof Capra

Carlos Castaneda

Deepak Chopra

Phil Cousineau

Harvey Cox

David Darling

Erik Davis

Warren Farrell

Moshe Feldenkrais

Richard Feynman


Matthew Fox

Fred Frith

Buckminster Fuller

Spalding Gray

Stanislav Grof

Michael Harner

Andrew Harvey

John Heider

Paul Horn

Chungliang Al Huang

James Hillman

Albert Hofmann

Aldous Huxley

Sam Keen

Ken Kesey

Paul Krassner

R. D. Laing

George Leonard


Dennis Lewis

John C. Lilly

C. Allen Lockwood

Amory Lovins

Abraham Maslow

Peter Matthiessen

Rollo May

Terence McKenna

Robert Nadeau

Claudio Naranjo

Sara Nelson

Babatunde Olatunji

Dean Ornish

Humphry Osmond

Linus Pauling

Fritz Perls

J. B. Rhine

Carl Rogers


Ida Rolf

Gabrielle Roth

Jerry Rubin

Douglas Rushkoff

Virginia Satir

Will Schutz

Charlotte Selver

B.F. Skinner

Huston Smith

Gary Snyder

Susan Sontag

David Steindl-Rast

Paul Tillich

Arnold J. Toynbee

Alan Watts

Robert Anton Wilson

Andrew Weil

Marion Woodman




Scholars in Residence


Esalen has sponsored long-term resident scholars, including:






Gregory Bateson

Joseph Campbell

Stanislav Grof

Sam Keen


George Leonard

John C. Lilly

Babatunde Olatunji

Fritz Perls


Ida Rolf

Virginia Satir

William Schutz

David Steindl-Rast



Alan Watts



Arts Events


In 1964, Joan Baez led a workshop entitled “The New Folk Music” which included a free performance. This was the first of seven “Big Sur Folk Festivals” featuring many of the era’s music legends. The 1969 concert included musicians who had just come from the Woodstock Festival. This event was featured in a documentary movie, Celebration at Big Sur, which was released in 1971.


Performers at Esalen have included:






Joan Baez

Ysaye Maria Barnwell

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Jackson Browne

The Chambers Brothers

Judy Collins

James Cotton

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Bob Dylan

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


David Darling

John Densmore


Fred Frith

Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Roy Hargrove

George Harrison

Paul Horn

Charlie Hunter

Henry Kaiser


Ali Akbar Khan

Bruce Langhorne

Kenny Loggins

Taj Mahal

The Mermen

Jim Messina

Joni Mitchell

Airto Moreira


Michel Petrucciani


Flora Purim

Bonnie Raitt

John Sebastian

Ravi Shankar

Simon and Garfunkel

Bruce Springsteen

Ringo Starr

Three Fish

John Trudell

Paul Winter



John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg performed together at Esalen. Robert Bly, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Kenneth Rexroth (who led one of the first workshops), Gary Snyder and others held poetry readings and workshops.”


“The Human Potential Movement (HPM) arose out of the milieu of the 1960s and formed around the concept of cultivating extraordinary potential that its advocates believed to lie largely untapped in all people. The movement took as its premise the belief that through the development of “human potential”, humans can experience an exceptional quality of life filled with happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. As a corollary, those who begin to unleash this assumed potential often find themselves directing their actions within society towards assisting others to release their potential. Adherents believe that the net effect of individuals cultivating their potential will bring about positive social change at large.”


“The movement has its conceptual roots in existentialism and humanism. Its emergence is linked to humanistic psychology, also known as the “3rd force” in psychology (after psychoanalysis and behaviorism, and before the “4th force” of transpersonal psychology—which emphasizes esoteric, psychic, mystical, and spiritual development). Some commentators consider the HPM synonymous with humanistic psychology. The movement is strongly influenced by Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization as the supreme expression of a human’s life.

Some sources credit the name “Human Potential Movement” to George Leonard.”


“Michael Murphy and Dick Price founded the Esalen Institute in 1962, primarily as a center for the study and development of human potential, and some people continue to regard Esalen as the geographical center of the movement today. Aldous Huxley gave lectures on the “Human Potential” at Esalen in the early 1960s, and some people consider his ideas as also fundamental to the movement. Christopher Lasch notes the impact of the human potential movement via the therapeutic sector: “The new therapies spawned by the human potential movement, according to Peter Marin, teach that “the individual will is all powerful and totally determines one’s fate”; thus they intensify the “isolation of the self.”

George Leonard, a magazine writer and editor who conducted research for an article on human potential, became an important early influence on Esalen. Leonard claims that he coined the phrase “Human Potential Movement” during a brainstorming session with Murphy, and popularized it in his 1972 book “The Transformation: A Guide to the Inevitable Changes in Mankind”. Leonard worked closely with the Esalen Institute afterwards, and in 2005 served as its president.”


“Maslow added transpersonal psychology to the first three forces in Western psychology-behaviorism psychoanalysis, and humanistic psychology. For Maslow, behaviorism and psychoanalysis were too limited in scope to form the basis of a complete psychology of human nature. Psychoanalysis is derived largely from studies of psychopathology. Behaviorism has attempted to reduce the complexities of human nature to simpler principles but has failed to address fully such issues as values, consciousness, and love.”


“In the early 1960s humanistic psychology emerged from the work of Maslow, Rogers, and other theorists concerned with psychological health and effective functioning. Many humanistic psychologists have used Maslow’s theories, especially his work on self-actualization, as the framework for their writing and research.

In 1968 Maslow called attention to the limitations of the humanistic model. In exploring the farthest reaches of human nature, he found that there were possibilites beyond self-actualization When peak experiences are especially powerful, the sense of self dissolves into all awareness of a greater unity. The term self-actualization did not seem to fit these experiences.”


“Transpersonal psychology contributes to the more traditional concerns of the discipline an acknowledgement of the spiritual aspect of human experience. This level of experience has been described primarily in religious literature, in unscientific and often theologically biased language. A major task of transpersonal psychology is to provide a scientific language and a scientific framework for this material.”


“Esalen recently has focused upon issues of ecological sustainability.

Esalen continues to offer workshops to its visitors throughout the year, most of them focused upon the integration of humanistic psychology, physical wellness, and community-building. Workshops cover a wide range of subjects including: arts, health, Gestalt, integral thought, martial arts, massage, dance, mythology, philosophical inquiry, somatics, spiritual and religious studies, ecopsychology, wilderness experience, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness practice, meditation, permaculture and sustainability, all with the prospect that the mission of the institute will last well into the future.”


“Currently, Esalen Institute is managed by CEO Tricia McEntee, with Gordon Wheeler now serving as President, supervised by a Board of Trustees.

In 2011 a “Leadership Culture Survey” was commissioned by Esalen to measure its current and desired leadership culture. The survey’s measure of how well the leadership culture “builds quality relationships, fosters teamwork, collaborates, develops people, involves people in decision making and planning, and demonstrates a high level of interpersonal skill” returned a score of 18%, compared to a desired 88%. The survey also produced strongly dissonant scores in measures of community welfare, relating with interpersonal intelligence, clearly communicating vision, and building a sense of personal worth within its community. It ranked management as overly compliant and lacking authenticity. The survey found that Esalen closely matched its overall goal for customer focus.”


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