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Voices of Esalen: Spring 2020

Voices of Esalen Archive Edition
Ram Dass's 1987 Lecture at Esalen: "The Compassionate Heart"

Ram Dass speaks at the Esalen Institute on October 18th, 1987. Ram Dass was born Richard Alpert in 1931. ⁠Initially famous for being part of the Timothy Leary-led LSD revolution at Harvard in the early 1960’s, he was also well known for his book Be Here Now, a kind of illustrated counter-cultural Bible written in 1971 which drew upon many of the transformative experiences he'd undergone during his spiritual travels in India.

Ram Dass was also known for his kindness, his leadership, and the inventive foundations he started: notably, the SEVA foundation, which he speaks about in depth in this lecture - it was created in 1978 with the intention of helping to alleviate blindness in India, Nepal, and other developing countries. He also created the Dying project in 1986, aligned around the concept of a conscious shifting into another realm.

He was an important speaker and teacher at Esalen, famous for his ability to speak extemporaneously with great wisdom, humor and compassion.

In 2013, Ram Dass released a memoir, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart. In an interview about the book, he said, "Now, I’m in my 80s ... Now, I am aging. I am approaching death. I’m getting closer to the end. Now, I really am ready to face the music all around me." ⁠Ram Dass died December 22nd, 2019, leaving a kind, wild, compassionate, and fruitful legacy.

Listen or download the mp3. Released March 2nd, 2020. Length: 58:00.

Katie Hafner: Truth in Memoir

Katie Hafner is the author of the memoir Mother, Daughter, Me, the unsettling true story of how she and her daughter took in her estranged mother for a year. She is also an accomplished journalist, having written for the New York Times since 1991, as well as for Newsweek, Esquire, Wired, and the New Republic. We talked about how her background in journalism aided her in writing a difficult memoir, and what it’s like to grapple with the truth in these disparate genres. We also went back and forth about our favorite memoirs and the writers behind them - you may want to take some notes, you’re sure to pick a few gems.

Listen or download the mp3. Released February 19th, 2020. Length: 28:04.

Look for upcoming workshops with Katie Hafner.

Zak Dychtwald on Young China: The Restless Generation

Zak Dychtwald is the author of "Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World." Zak, a second-generation Esalen thought leader, came to Big Sur as part of Esalen's Conversations on the Edge Series, where we bring together leading experts and visiting teachers to explore a pressing issue of our time. Zak is a leading expert on youth culture in China. Together we discussed many aspects of Chinese millennials, including common misconceptions on either side, how the project of childhood functions in China, how the Chinese real estate market is propped up in many ways by the marriage market, what it’s like to be young and gay in China, Chinese hip-hop, censorship, internet, the culture of dissent, how Chinese millennials have redefined the marketplace internationally, who their sports heroes are, why Steph Curry is a more relatable NBA hero than Lebron, what Chinese millennials might think of their United States counterparts, and what the next hundred years may bring for us all.

Listen or download the mp3. Released February 10th, 2020. Length: 57:49.

Chungliang "Al" Huang: Tai Chi Master and Esalen Legacy Holder

Chungliang Al Huang is a tai chi master, writer, philosopher, dancer, and one of the most important and enduring teachers in Esalen’s history. Born in Shanghai, China, Huang moved to the United States to study architecture and cultural anthropology. In Los Angeles, he fell into a career as a professional dancer through a chance meeting with Sammy Davis Jr. In the mid 1960’s, Huang became a close collaborator with the philosopher Alan Watts, who would introduce him to the Esalen Institute. He soon became a beloved teacher at Esalen, known for his tai chi teachings on the deck of the Esalen pool, as well as his collaborations with Watts, mythologist Joseph Campbell, Huston Smith, Gregory Bateson, Laura Huxley, Carl Rogers, and more. Huang is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, Director of the Hong Kong Dance Company, and author of 18 books. At age 82, he continues to teach Tai Chi every year at Esalen on the pool deck which bears his name.

Listen or download the mp3. Released February 3rd, 2020. Length: 44:19.

Look for upcoming workshops with Chungliang Al Huang.

Cassandra Vieten: The Art and Science of Transformation

Cassandra Vieten is a senior fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, as well as the Executive Director of the John W. Brick Foundation, and Scholar-in-Residence at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego. She is a psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher, author of numerous articles in scientific journals, and an internationally recognized keynote speaker. Cassandra came to Esalen to teach about the art and science of transformation. She is dedicated to helping others consider how peak experiences, extraordinary moments, and awe stimulate growth. Dr. Vieten lectures widely about the transformative potential of pain: how sometimes hitting bottom can help us shake free from periods of inertia. In this wide-ranging discussion, we also touched upon the importance of a holistic approach to psychotherapy, how to engage in productive argumentation in order to persuade others to change their consciousness, and how to create a realistic yet aspirational vision for the future.

Listen or download the mp3. Released January 24th, 2020. Length: 56:09.

Look for upcoming workshops with Cassandra Vieten.

Lisa Littlebird: Rise Up Singing

Lisa Littlebird is a singer, composer, writer, voice coach, and visionary, as well as the former executive director of the Denver Women’s Chorus and the founder of the Wholehearted Chorus, a heart-led, joy-based community chorus, open to all voices on the central coast of California. During our conversation at Esalen Institute, we talked about how she is able to invite singers of ALL abilities to explore the full potential of their voice. She views group singing as a transformational personal practice and a healing art, and this comes through in the sincerity of her work, and in the pureness of her voice. This episode is laced with beautiful bits of live singing from Lisa's workshops and from her chorus's performances.

Listen or download the mp3. Released January 9th, 2020. Length: 45:32.

Look for upcoming workshops with Lisa Littlebird.

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