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.”
Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2
- What are the practices that are the most important to Mike? (01:07)
- Exploring what happens after we die and the richness of the subliminal mind (02:57)
- The nature of thoughts, their texture, their capacity to take over (06:28)
- Mike’s crap detector, his favorite skeptics, and his skepticism about reincarnation (09:29)
- Reincarnation studies at Esalen (15:39)
- Tacit knowing: Mike reads the “algorithms of his heart” (18:16)
- Agnosticism is a practice in the face of empiricism (20:38)
- The nature of the subtle body and building fellowships around this at Esalen (24:40)
- Central to what goes on on the other side is “degree of agency” (29:59)
- Merging the gnostic and agnostic at the same time (32:31)
- We need more language describing particular aspects of mystical to understand what’s going on (33:00)
- Back to reincarnation: yes—but it can be scary (34:03)
- The most surprising things that have happened to Mike over the years: people’s need to play the Game of Thrones (40:50)
- The Russian front, American hypocrisy, and Yeltsin’s conversion in 1989 (45:04)
Resources & References – Part 2
- Esalen Institute, a leading center for exploring and realizing human potential through experience, education, and research, Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research
- M. de Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer and philosopher
- Frederic Myers’s Service to Psychology by William James
- R2-D2, character in the epic space saga Star Wars
- Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud*
- Timothy Leary & Dick Alpert (Ram Dass), Dying to Know trailer (documentary about Ram Dass & Tim Leary)
- Willis Harman & Howard Rheingold, Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights*
- James Fadiman, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide*
- Edward Kelly & Emily Kelly, Irreducible Mind*
- Bruce Greyson, Journal of Near-Death Studies, After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond*
- Sri Aurobindo, deeply realized contemplative & mystic, led the most radical wing of the Indian independence movement
- William James, Radical empiricism
- Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge*
- Taittiriya Upanishad
- Simon Cox, The Subtle Body: A Genealogy*
- Jeffrey Kripal, Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, Kali’s Child*
- Charlie Stang, Harvard School of Divinity and Esalen Board Member, author of Our Divine Double*
- The “undiscovered country” from Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet*
- Words of the Mother: Death and Rebirth (Sri Aurobindo Ashram)
- Rudolf Otto, German philosopher, theologian, and comparative religionist
- Fritz Perls, a well renowned German psychotherapist and psychiatrist known for his notable works on Gestalt therapy
- Peter Berger & Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality*
- Michael Murphy, Golf in the Kingdom*
- John le Carré, author of best selling international espionage novels
- Track II: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy, host organization for the Russian-American Program
- James Redfield, Michael Murphy & Sylvia Timbers, God and the Evolving Universe: The Next Step in Personal Evolution*
- Michael Murphy, The Future of the Body: Explorations into the Further Evolution of Human Nature*
- Michael Murphy & George Leonard, The Life We Are Given*
- Michael Murphy & Steve Donovan, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation*
- Michael Murphy & Rhea White, In the Zone: Transcendent Experience in Sports*
* As an Amazon Associate, Deep Transformation earns from qualifying purchases.
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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