• June 5, 2012

    A human writes:

    To those of us who come to Esalen often on workshops and personal retreats felt the changes coming for a long time.

    The signs were many.

    Prices north of $700 per weekshop and $200 per night… German and Japanese luxury cars dominate the parking strips on property… Many of the workshops cater to the new audience — Yuppie Yoga is edging out the Gestalt work, serious religion and philosophy of human development replaced by shallow Indian guru talk…

    The laughter in the lodge, the boisterous hugs of those overzealous youngsters replaced by Reservations staff meetings run by a very serious business woman bent on maximizing revenue… Conceiving and executing those layoffs in the manner it was done… Denying, and sweet talking the changes as ‘necessary evil’ in the press…

    Refusing to stand behind a maintenance engineer who was dying with cancer — a lost opportunity to demonstrate compassion even more so, as he tragically choose to be below the 30 hours benefits limit. [See note*]

    It is not going to be easy to recover after these. Where do you start? This crisis runs deep, and it is a crisis of values and philosophy, not something you can work out easily by talking. Most of the assumptions about how things should be done are ‘in the background’ — unconscious. The management may be entirely unaware of the damage they are causing.

    My wife is a nurse at small a non-profit hospital, originally funded by idealistic large donors with aspirations of creating a healing facility for the local community. The hospital almost went under when a similar conflict erupted between the management and the community. The conflict even went violent — slashed tires and threats to family — when similar unskilled layoffs were executed. Fortunately, the early founder was still healthy enough to step in and threatened to pull his funding, forcing a board and leadership change.

    * Editor’s Note: The notion that this maintenance engineer “tragically chose” to work 29 hours a week, instead of 30, is a callous absurdity promulgated by Gordon Wheeler in the recent news article “Dissed Utopia” which appeared in the Monterey County Weekly. No isolated incident, Esalen’s 29-hour-week charade abused the letter of the law for years, to the detriment of many workers.