Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Esalen Glow

Esalen Glow
Sunset at the Esalen Institute

This past week I was honored to lead a workshop on creativity with writer Phil Cousineau and writer/musician RB Morris.
The Esalen Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1962 by Stanford alums Michael Murphy and Richard Price as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the "human potential." This world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination has brought to Esalen a steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers.

phil & rb
Late afternoon at Esalen in Big Sur. Taken during a workshop on creativity by Phil Cousineau, RB Morris, and Gregg Chadwick.

Recently Phil Cousineau's new book "Stoking the Creative Fires" has hit the shelves. It is an impassioned volume on creativity that combines myth, story and personal pilgrimages in a primer on the creative life. My painting "Fire Dream" graces the cover.
We used this book as a stepping off point for the workshop. I am hoping in the future to have time for a more thorough journey through myth and art at Esalen. Stay tuned.

Stoking the Creative Fires

Workshop participant Allan Hunt Badiner explains the history of Esalen:
"Esalen takes its name from the Native American tribe, the Esselen, that once lived there. Sitting on a former ceremonial ground, the Esalen property was the site of frequent cross-tribal peace gatherings. Esselen cosmology described Big Sur as a “weaving” center for human culture and drew representatives from tribes, near and far. Today, Esalen draws 10,000 people a year from around the world to participate in a wildly diverse menu of workshops. It brought former Russian President Boris Yeltsin to the West, popularized Rolfing and Gestalt, and nurtured books like The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Esalen created a context for understanding psychedelics, established the healing power of massage, and championed wisdom of the body. Visitors often mention that the land itself and spectacular coastline setting feels almost sacred." Allan's words are not surprising, given the retreat’s lineage of powerful teachers such as Abraham Maslow, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Fritz Perls, Allen Ginsberg, Ida Rolf, Joan Baez, Boris Yeltsin, Philip Glass, Gregory Bateson, Buckminster Fuller and countless others who have visited and taught at Esalen in an effort to discuss, debate and develop revolutionary ideas, transformative practices, and innovative art forms.

Workshop participant Natasha.

More at:
Phil Cousineau
RB Morris
"Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion" by Jeffrey J. Kripal
Esalen at the Edge. From Zen and hot tubs to glasnost, the famed Big Sur retreat has changed our minds, bodies, and ways of looking at the world.
- by workshop participant Allan Hunt Badiner


1 comment:

Cannon said...

You are bullseye in observations of the "Mt. Olympus" nature of Esalen. There is the incessant need for man to climb out of the jungle, and when one steps on an old rung of the ladder which could still bear infinite weight, one appreciates the builders. But appreciation doesn't accomplish anything.

In Eupsychia, the assumption is that everyone can be trusted. So when you find a swinlers and sociopaths and nay-sayers, the job a la tikkun is to figure out how to either educate out or at least clearly and reliably recognize the sociopath. I can't believe with all our good knowledge in psychology why nobody REALLY deals with character development. And NOBODY understands the the effort absolutely MUST be secular and purely so. Point is to find out agreements rather than disagreements, etc., etc.

I have always hoped that us old hippies and dreamers, who now bear the scars of a life lived, will finally be able to communicate what it was that we wanted to accomplish.

My greatest fear is that yet again I will have to say, "Close, but no cigar."

Sam and