• Discourse

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    May 11, 2012

    The Nine encourages the Esalen community to read and participate in discussions surrounding two recent major contributions to Esaleaks:

  • May 8, 2012

    An anonymous workshop leader asks:

    I’ve been coming to Esalen since 197_, mostly as a workshop leader. Though I’ve traveled around the globe, Esalen is my favorite place on earth and my spiritual home, and I have plans to be cremated there (though not for some time). I love Esalen and am always happy there.

    Now, I feel sad and torn reading about the sorrow and conflict on the land. I am not going to be there until October to give my thoughts and energy to helping the situation. In the meantime, from here, what can I and other friends of Esalen do for you, the community members who are there? What do you want? How can we support you?

    Sending love.

  • May 8, 2012

    An anonymous writer contributes:

    I have been giving deep thought to the current crisis at Esalen, and here is the product of my ruminations.

    We might consider the current crisis a fiery manifestation of an all-too-cliché dialectical relationship. On one end of a spectrum of positions we can conceive of an ideal philosophy endorsed by the Community Mind (CM). On the opposite end of the spectrum we might place the ideal philosophy endorsed by the Management Mind (MM). From what I have gathered, roughly, CM is concerned with creative experimentation, the expression of human emotion, a “harkening back to the old days,” and bottom-up leadership with an emphasis on those who are closest to the earth, soul, and history of the place. MM, on the other hand is pragmatic, and it focuses on preparing Esalen for the future in ways that emphasize fiscal responsibility, comfort for revenue generators (seminarians and personal retreaters generate the most profit), efficiency and consolidation, and top-down leadership by those who have expertise in corporate survival. CM fights for tradition at the expense of dollars and cents, while MM fights for dollars and cents at the expense of tradition.

    Of course, as is often the case in political discourse, both positions are tenable. CM has prevailed at times, leading to periods of creative expansion, innovation, and healthy experimentation. At other times, MM has prevailed, guiding the ‘tute through periods of financial disaster, close calls with closure, and periods of CM-run-amok unhealthy experimentation. Both MM and CM have contributed in countless ways to the vitality of Esalen. We should be grateful to and wary of both of these personalities.

    Though this recent rumbling does seem to be quite radically polarized, individual philosophies regarding the ideal culture and circumstance at Esalen likely fall somewhere in between the above poles. These opposites form a dialectic that gives shape to the continued growth and constant maintenance of Esalen as a force that pulls tradition into the future.

    Keeping this in mind, it seems to me that the fundamental problem here is that the legitimacy of a position is quite distinct from the execution of that position. As we have all witnessed, both CM and MM have added to the ruckus by acting out in ways that are counterproductive to a healthy culture of dialogue. MM has chosen to consistently ignore the call for more transparency, community involvement, and openness. It has dealt blows to the pride and integrity of individual members of the community by surprising them with sad and disappointing organizational decisions, effectively ignoring the point of view of the CM. At the same time, the reaction of the CM has been less than pleasant. Vicious pointed verbal attacks on individual members of the MM, exaggerated statements, grimy condemnations, and childish tantrums have taken place.

    The sum of these actions has resulted in an isolation of CM from MM, like a brilliant and stubborn child loudly stomping up the stairs and slamming the door in the face of an inexcusably abusive yet understandably frustrated and burdened parent. Read the rest of this entry »

  • May 7, 2012

    An anonymous contributor reminds us of this

    How do we consciously create our service culture together, in a cohesive and collaborative way, taking pride in what we offer to the thousands of lives we touch & change every year? … Now Chip and Vanda will join the whole community as we learn more about Peak leadership, Abraham Maslow, and creating a “healthy pond” which symbolizes the vibrant culture we are co-creating.

    …and offers the following:

    Remember last year: The healthy pond

    What is Chip Conley’s view of the recent “restructuring” which involves the savage loss of 3 of Esalen’s most talented and dedicated workers. It’s been a long road since we strived to “consciously create our service culture together in a cohesive and collaborative way” in April last year. Many departments believed that they had already consciously been doing just that for many years. Most departments had already reached a high level of service with staff dedicated to working with and collaborating with other departments to serve their community and seminarians and beyond. Perhaps this was preaching to the choir. Read the rest of this entry »

  • May 7, 2012

    The freshly arrived Esalen Catalog lists Kathleen Kleinsmith, Eric Erickson, and Daniel Cryns as managers. Catalog readers familiar with these individuals — great contributors to the Esalen they know — will be disappointed to learn that none of the three will be setting the tone of the Institute during their visit, having just been dismissed in a flash to the anger and dismay of the worldwide Esalen community.

    The catalog also lists as a trustee Mr. David Lustig, formerly one of the Esalen’s major donors, a man who consistently recognized the Institute’s unique qualities, and who resigned in protest at Chairman Sam Yau’s latest unilateral instruction to fuck everything up.

  • May 7, 2012

    An anonymous contributor writes:

    I was the other half of this conversation, which was held in the shadow of the ruins at South Coast.

    Esalen is billing itself as a community, when it is running itself as a corporation. The response to the fire at South revealed how poorly suited the leaders were/are to crisis situations, and how all the talk of community and caring didn’t translate into caring action. I was, and am, appalled by the treatment of the displaced. In addition, there were a few other casualties in the brief time I was there, and the ham handed treatment of letting people go — in the presence of serious medical conditions! — bespoke the corporate “fuck you” attitude the management seems to have towards employees.

    I entered the compound feeling hopeful and optimistic, and left three months later with the scales fallen from my eyes. But it’s the management that’s the problem — not the place, which is still magical and needs to be stewarded responsibly.

  • May 7, 2012

    An anonymous Esalen elder writes:

    The attitude of the Management Caste at Esalen, currently, is the authoritarian bigotry of low expectations:

    “They are just gardeners, cooks, jews, blacks, primitives… Look what a mess they make of things. We have to control them and teach them to be humans.”

  • May 3, 2012

    Chris Price, perhaps the most highly esteemed teacher of Gestalt at its birthplace of Esalen, and widow of Esalen co-founder Dick Price, has informed the Board of Directors that she will no longer conduct workshops at Esalen.

    How much longer will Michael Murphy persist in giving outsider Sam Yau the power to standardize Esalen on profane corporate goals at the expense of all else, including the legacy of his late friend and co-founder? How much longer will the new Institute be able to call itself “Esalen” with any authority?

  • May 2, 2012

    With great appreciation (and perhaps apologies) to Doings at the ‘tute, we reprint the following updates from that source, on Esalen’s ongoing trainwreck of corporate coup:

    Doings at the ‘tute is saddened to report that its most illustrious elder, Seymour Carter, has resigned from the ‘tute as a protest against the recent, abrupt firing of the three managers, Kathleen Kleinsmith, Eric Erickson and Daniel Crynz who collectively represented over 50 years of experience at the ‘tute. Seymour recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his association with the ‘tute.

    David Lustig resigned from the Esalen Board of Trustees… in a strong vote of protest against the current ‘direction’ being taken by the ‘tute. David was one of the ‘tute’s major donors and a great friend of the Esalen community. He was the only member of the Board of Trustees who was ever a Work Scholar at the ‘tute, and his love for and dedication to the ‘tute unmatched. His wisdom and strong support will be sorely missed. Doings at the ‘tute celebrates David’s integrity and courage in speaking his truth to power in delivering his vote of no confidence. Blessing to you, David, and to all who still support the values upon which the ‘tute was founded.

  • May 2, 2012

    An anonymous contributor writes:

    I’ve been going to Esalen for over 25 years. I recently spent 2 months as a Work Scholar. In addressing the apparent current management temperament, a fellow Work Scholar friend from that time observed that Esalen was moving from a “community” style to a “corporate” style. I concurred. A simple but insightful observation which carries many, many nuances of differentiation.

    What I see primarily in the current trend is a loss of being able to assess true “value” in human terms. I find this both alarming and disturbing, as such a loss of humanistic coherence only implies a creeping dominance of narcissism. Unfortunately this is both a rampant and broad social malaise, as well as a symptom of “modern times.” Not good for a place like Esalen.