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"Our mission at Esalen to facilitate change within self and society has never been more vital than it is now." —Michael Murphy

Directed by Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy and Professor Jeff Kripal, Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) sponsors research, theory, and action to promote positive social change and the realization of the human potential.

Global Threats and Bridge Building
Co-sponsored by Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy
April 25-30, 2021
Facilitators: Dulce Murphy and Virginia Thomson

In 2019 Track Two explored four global threats with youth and elders from Russia and the United States in St. Petersburg, Russia. In this 2021 conference experts tackling these threats will join the Track Two One Network to reveal and better understand the nuances of relative dialogs and to develop approaches to mitigation.

Democratizing the Supernormal
May 16-21, 2021
Facilitators: Michael Murphy, Loriliai Biernacki, and Greg Shaw

From its beginning, the Center for Theory and Research has focused on the discoveries of science, mystical experience, and the actualization of supernormal abilities. These explorations, initiated at Esalen by Michael Murphy, may be seen within the trajectory of an evolutionary panentheism. In both Western and Eastern traditions, the realization of supernormal abilities has been imagined as the Incarnation of the divine, or the expression of humanity as self-transcendent. Incarnation, thus, may be seen as a telos of human existence, exemplifying our deepest yearning for what it means to be fully human. From May 31st to June 5th, leading thinkers from diverse fields of research have been invited to a CTR conference to explore the significance of Incarnation, how it has been expressed in modalities of the body, traditions of the spirit, and what role it continues to play in the unfolding of our human story.

The Minded Plant: The Psychedelic Renaissance and Some Ontological Futures
June 20-25, 2021
Facilitators: Jeff Kripal and David Presti

This is the fifth symposium in the Super Story Series, conceived and led by Jeff Kripal and dedicated to the exploration and analysis of some of the new cosmologies, anthropologies, and ecologies taking shape in the contemporary world in and around the natural sciences, particularly quantum physics and mathematics, evolutionary biology and ethnobotany, and cosmology and technology. The Super Story Series is generously sponsored by both the Center for Theory and Research of the Esalen Institute and the Hummingbird Foundation.

Most broadly understood, the present symposium, co-hosted by David Presti and Jeff Kripal, is dedicated to the subject of evolutionary esotericism, that is, all of those modern forms of mystical experience that manifest around the scientific discovery of “evolution,” understood here in both a classical or conventional Darwinian sense and its present transformations (via the human genome and epigenetics, for example), but also in the esoteric sense of a metaphysical revelation of the really real that might point to or even manifest the future human (or superhuman). The fundamental question is this: Can a human being directly experience, know, or become the evolutionary impulse itself, say, in a psychedelic or mystical state? Or must the evolutionary worldview remain an abstract scientific model that can never be directly known or encountered as a living co-creative presence?

Sustainability Revolution
September 26 to October 1, 2021
Facilitators: Patrick Holden and Richard Dunne

This is the second conference in a series led by Patrick Holden CBE, head of the Sustainable Food Trust, and co-led by Richard Dunne, expert in Harmony Education. Initiated by Michael Murphy and Jane Hartford, and inspired by HRH Prince Charles’s book Harmony: A Sustainability Revolution, this conference will gather some of the most influential and highly conscious leaders in the field of sustainability education in a move to make a difference in the transition to organic food systems and sustainable practices around the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick Holden

Bringing Culture to Conflict
Co-sponsored by Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy
October 10-15, 2021
Facilitators: Dulce Murphy and Virginia Thomson

Track Two invites cultural leaders to explore cultural movements that have influenced peace- building in the North Pacific Rim, (China, Korea, Japan, Far East Russia, Canada, US), Russia and the Middle East. Design and creation will be drivers of a week of inquiry.

Black Superhumanism
December 5-10, 2021
Facilitators: Stephen Finley and Biko Gray

The history of black letters is, in part, a commentary on the supernatural. To read black letters is to read a commentary on blackness as the limit case of the natural, as that which breaks open the limits, laws, and conventional wisdom of the empirical hard sciences.

Black religious orientations also speak to the supernatural. African indigenous healers cured ailments by mixing plants; the Nation of Islam is revived through a mysterious UFO experience. There are other examples, too: black folk and conjure traditions manipulate the natural world to supernatural ends. And black esoteric traditions have demonstrated something beyond naturalistic conceptions of the human. The possibilities are endless; blackness is infinite. Black people are superhuman. Or so the story goes.

But this claim hasn’t entailed the kind of awe or reverence that one might think. Black people might be superhuman, but they are not always superheroes. There are other stories—stories that highlight the supernatural capacities of black people only to their detriment. Black people have often been conceived as superhuman in terms of the grotesque and monstrous.

We are looking for presentations that examine black superhumanism in the context of black cultural production such as science fiction, comics, movies, poetry, folklore, mythology as well as within the context of particular esoteric and mystical traditions. And we’re also interested in how black resistance movements might be understood as simultaneously invoking and resisting the violence of black superhuman discourses.

Beyond the Spinning: Shifting the Conversation around the UFO Phenomenon
December 12-17, 2021
Facilitators: Jeff Kripal and Leslie Kean

This will be the sixth installment in the Super Story series, which looks at the ways that the sciences are reshaping the story of the human and the religious imagination. More specifically, this symposium on the UFO phenomenon is designed as an intensive conversation around the future interpretation of the UFO phenomenon, with the explicit intention of shifting the conversation to alternate and more productive models than those that presently dominate the public discussion. We are not interested in debating the reality of the various phenomena in question (we are convinced that at a core of these are quite real in the simple sense that people experience them). We are, however, very much interested in exploring the various paranormal or anomalous dimensions of the phenomena, for example, the presence of the departed or dead around abduction or encounter events and the spontaneous generation of psychical capacities after contact. We are also very interested in exploring the Esalen inspirations of some ufological histories, including and especially the work of John Mack.


 

Underwriting is needed for project research, facilitators, translators, coordination, summary writers, occasional expert fees, travel and accommodation, and special outreach projects. 

To make a donation, please email Jane Hartford at Jane.Hartford@Esalen.org.

Esalen Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Donations to Esalen Institute are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Federal tax ID #94-6114235

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