Michael Murphy (Part 1) – The Human Potential Movement Then & Now: 60 Years at the Leading Edge of Transformative Practice, Research & Action

Michael Murphy The Human Potential Movement

Michael Murphy, author, co-founder of the world-famous Esalen Institute, and pioneer of the Human Potential Movement starting in the 60s, relates a wealth of intimate experience, knowledge, and wisdom covering his decades of living at the leading edge of transformative practice and the realization of human potential. Mike talks about Esalen’s latest research, our current crisis of belief, and the anchoring question that has guided Esalen (and Mike) all along: how best to serve? Mike has watched the developmental process of transformative practices themselves, such as somatics and psychedelics, now circling around after a period of purgation, and talks about current efforts to add research on the mystical and the ecstatic to meditation and mindfulness research in order to better understand what’s going on. 

This podcast is a wonderful mix of tales from the past—including Mike and his wife Dulce’s achievements and adventures with Soviet-American citizen diplomacy towards the end of the Cold War—the present, and what’s coming up at the Esalen research center now, e.g., asking what is happening on “the other side,” and discovering the truth about subtle body phenomena. On a personal note, Mike shares about practicing agnosticism, his respect and admiration for the quality of wonder, and about the magic of reading subtle cues and being increasingly in tune with “the algorithms of his heart.” Friendly, relaxed, and humorous, Mike is one of the world’s leading lights on self-transformation. Recorded on February 16, 2022.

“With Esalen, life has given me this marvelous laboratory.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 1

  • Introducing Michael Murphy, Human Potential Movement pioneer, author, co-founder and director of Esalen Institute, co-creator of Integral Transformative Practice (01:20)
  • Esalen’s “scouring of the Shire” (05:51)
  • Forging a deeper marriage of the two parts of Esalen: public programming & the Center for Theory & Research (07:19)
  • The realization that atman = Brahman and how Michael came to be a yogi (08:29)
  • The anchoring vision and worldview of Esalen: evolutionary panentheism, embracing the whole in an evolving world (11:33) 
  • Our current crisis of belief: living between the death of the old gods and the birth of new gods has prompted more conflict, more divergences than ever before (16:37)
  • How best to serve? Should Esalen continue? Most transformative practices (like somatics and psychedelics) have had to go through a period of purgation and are now coming back into play (21:34)
  • The explosion of psychedelics in the 1960s through the psychedelic renaissance today and owning the immensity of its shadow side (27:47)
  • Tanya Luhrmann, critical of the unwarranted hegemony of modern Buddhist influence on meditation research, researches contemplative, transformative, yogic, shamanic practices, including the evangelical Vineyard Movement (33:14)
  • Tanya is now studying the uniqueness of people who have attended Esalen (37:28)
  • On absorption capacity, its differentiating effects on our evolutionary capacities, and the concept of porosity, an attribute involving both the sensory and the extrasensory domain (38:29)  

Resources & References – Part 1

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Michael Murphy Human Potential Movement

Michael Murphy is a graduate of Stanford University, co-founder of Esalen Institute, founder of Esalen’s Center for Theory and Research, and author of numerous books. His novels include The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Golf in the Kingdom, Jacob Atabet, and An End to Ordinary History. His latest nonfiction work is God and the Evolving Universe, co-authored with James Redfield and Sylvia Timbers. Other nonfiction work includes: In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experiences, co-authored with Rhea White; The Life We Are Given, a book about transformative practice, co-authored with George Leonard; The Future of the Body, and The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation, co-authored with Steve Donovan.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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