A human writes:
After reading this post, I feel encouraged to write a response as I was a member of the community during the same time period. To be honest, I feel the entire community (on all levels) needs to adhere to a protocol of personal responsibility for their actions, inactions and the impact both of these have on the entire body of people who come to Esalen.
I found that what Esalen promotes in its catalog is a far cry from what it lives on a day to day basis. On any give day, I heard over and over, “I need to get my needs met.” It didn’t matter if this entailed stepping on or over another person’s boundaries, taking advantage of someone’s kindness, or lying to cover their own behinds. “Get your needs met” was like mantra and it was only during the fires of 2008 that I felt Esalen let go of the “me, me, me” mentality in order to come together as a unified whole where everyone looked out for each other and everyone’s needs were met with generosity.
I’ve seen Esalen from all levels… as a starry-eyed seminarian, work scholar and extended student. I find it fascinating that I was willing to pay thousands of dollars to work there and now, so many years later, realize that my experiences, while often heart-opening when connecting with kindred spirits, cost me more than I ever imagined and took me to rock bottom. It’s been an emotional struggle to come back from those years, and while I don’t regret my choices at the time, seeing what has happened to the community since I left does not surprise me. It will be long while before I will spend any more of my precious time or energy in a place of so much in turmoil.
Strange. I lived at Esalen for years and can’t remember once hearing anyone say “I need to get my needs met.” It struck me that for many it seemed the communal ‘family’ aspects were the largest attraction to Esalen. Perhaps just different eras but that sounds radically different than my experience.