"Voices of Esalen" features provocative, in-depth interviews with the dynamic leaders, teachers, and thinkers who are part of the Esalen Institute.
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Maija West: The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
Maija West is the CEO and a Founding Board Member of the Healing and Reconciliation Institute, which weaves together opportunities to take responsibility for historical and ongoing traumas to invoke a shared humanity. On the occasion of Thanksgiving, Esalen’s Christine Chen spoke to West, an trusted educator and facilitator who often speaks on behalf of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, to offer perspectives on the story of Thanksgiving, as well as sharing guidance about learning and allyship with coastal tribal communities in and around Esalen Institute.
Esalen Institute is in a long-term, ongoing educational process in partnership with the Esselen Tribe of Monterey county and its representatives. This interview was conceived and explored with the permission, support, and guidance of Tribal Chairman, Tom “Little Bear” Nason.
Fred Dust: Making Conversation
Fred Dust is a former Global Managing Partner at the acclaimed international design firm IDEO, where he worked with leaders and change agents to unlock the creative potential of business, government, education, and philanthropic organizations. Fred has worked with the US Agency for International Development, the US Office of Personnel Management, and the US Social Security Administration to create citizen-centered strategies and the structures to implement them. He’s also collaborated closely with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to improve the impact and reach of their programs. Fred is on the Board of Trustees for the Sundance Institute, on the Board of Directors for NPR, and is Chair of the board of Parsons School of Design. His new book is Making Conversation, a primer for creating effective strategies that yield creative and pleasurable conversations.
Terence McKenna's 1992 Talk at Esalen, Part Two: Politics and Ethos
Today, another archive edition. We’re presenting part two of a lecture series given at Esalen in 1992 by the one and only Terence McKenna, ethnobotanist, mystic, psychedelic adventurer. The talk is entitled "Politics and Ethos," but as you’ll hear, McKenna forsakes those topics quickly in favor of a more robust discussion that includes shamanism, synesthesia, paranormal phenomena, climatology, astronomy, renaissance humanism, and telepathy-- all of this subsumed within the discourse of the psychedelic experience.
It’s good fun to listen to McKenna’s playful explorations with language - for example, some of his ecstatic phrasings include references to “the heaving notions of the spaghetti of ambiguity” as well as (ahem) “the indwelling entelechy that creates the cohesion of the nexus of actual occasions that is the coordinated prehension of an organic system.” McKenna often stated that language failed when called upon to convey truly complex meaning, but in truth, he was one of the masters of the form.
Terence McKenna's 1992 Talk at Esalen: Politics and Ethos
This Archive Edition of Voices of Esalen features a talk by the inimitable Terence McKenna, delivered at Esalen in August 1992. For those not familiar with his work, McKenna was the ultimate psychedelic intellectual: an acclaimed ethnobotanist, mystic, and hyper-articulate lecturer, he spoke and wrote fluently about a variety of subjects, including entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, semiotics, technology, futurism, environmentalism, and human consciousness, to name only a few. His rambling brand of wisdom is admittedly sometimes challenging to decrypt, yet his admirers find that a McKenna lecture is always worth the time, and that the wisdom of the words, even those which defy rational understanding, can be absorbed almost osmotically.
Some of McKenna's notable books include The Invisible Landscape, True Hallucinations, and the Archaic Revival; his brother Dennis McKenna penned a notable memoir of their life together, entitled The Brotherhood of The Screaming Abyss. McKenna enjoyed a long and extraordinarily close association with Esalen and with Big Sur; before his death on April 3rd, 2000, he had been scholar in residence many times and delivered scores of talks which are housed in the Esalen archives. “Politics and Ethos” covers a lot of ground (typical for McKenna), including psychedelic ontologies, modernity, language, reason, religion, freedom, nostalgia and more. Tune into the nasal-voiced genius. Take the ride.
Abraham Maslow's 1966 Lecture at Esalen: Motivations of Self-Actualized People
This archival talk was delivered at the Esalen institute in September of 1966 by famed American psychologist Abraham Maslow, best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated around the idea that the most basic or pressing needs, like food, safety and security, must first be satisfied in order to address needs such as love and belonging, esteem, and finally, self-actualization. Maslow and his school of humanistic psychology was extraordinarily important for Esalen’s development in its early years. Maslow's curiosity about the psychological development of basically normal and healthy individuals in part formed the foundational approach of Michael Murphy and Dick Price’s programming for Esalen. In this speech, Maslow expounds upon what he calls B values, short for Being-values, among them goodness, beauty, uniqueness, Justice, simplicity, and richness. He also explores motivations, metapathologies, and truth.
James Fadiman: a Psychedelic History Lesson
James Fadiman is known as the author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide and as one of America's most well-known proponents of microdosing. While a Harvard undergrad, he was the "teacher's pet" of Ram Dass, then known as Richard Alpert; as a graduate student at Stanford University, he became a research assistant at Myron Stolaroff's famed International Foundation for Advanced Study, an early non-profit situated in Menlo Park that guided the uninitatited into the psychedelic experience and studied the outcomes. Fadiman was also one of the first teachers at the Esalen Institute, beginning in the fall of 1962 with the workshop "The Expanding Vision," co-taught with Willis Harman. He has continued a lifelong association with Esalen and with psychedelics, and has appeared in countless films as an authority on such matters, including 2013’s "Science and Sacraments" and 2009’s "Inside LSD." Other books authored by Fadiman include Be Love Now, Essential Sufism, and The Other Side of Haight. Together we explored microdosing, the mystical experience, the Human Potential Movement, his friendship with the Merry Pranksters, and more.
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