• July 28, 2012

    A human writes:

    Esalen Institute is now a venue for the peculiar ambitions of a detached minority. And it is also a way to observe the trajectory of humanity. The human species is so conflicted, so full of desire, and driven both by an urge for goodness as well as the satisfaction of misguided drives. As a result, we can look through our institutions as a way to begin to see ourselves.

    By a process of “restructuring,” which may be reversible, Esalen has been transformed into a brand name for the exploitation of spiritual practice by means of commercial marketing. In order to accomplish this end, the institute has adopted inhumane organizational structures. But how is that different from normal human life? There is a natural movement from aspiration to corruption. Esalen has merely turned the mirror toward a darker patch of the human heart to show us the humanness of inhumanity.

    Esalen is now managed by a codependent group of board members and executives who support each other with a set of mutual delusions about their shared ambitions. This has been a way of justifying harmful behavior. But they are not unusual people. They are just like you and me. And I believe that with timely eliminations and additions, they may be able to function in a healthy manner once again, much the way Hewlett Packard was able to right itself after a similar dislocation.

    Initially, as a show of personal credit, I want to recognize the community representative, Michael Klein. I feel a certain allegiance to Michael because he is the perfect scapegoat. He is not subject to immediate injury, like Eric, Kathleen or Geno. He is not a voting member of the board, so he isn’t responsible for the injury that has been done. He is held in suspension, between power and powerlessness, where he is tortured by conflicting demands. These conflicts were most apparent at the community meeting that happened on May 24th at Esalen.

    This is my personal report about that meeting. It was scheduled at 4pm. The initial rumor was that it would be held in Maslow, but at the last minute it was moved to Porter’s Yurt, because of the anticipated size. It was billed as an open meeting. Staff meetings have been reduced in number. They have taken on a military quality. They are restricted. Attendance is taken. Dissent is repressed. But this meeting was going to be different. The whole community could come and talk. So the meeting room was full. Upwards of a hundred people attended. Porter’s Yurt was overflowing. There were a half dozen or more people standing outside both doors.

    I am not going to write a complete or neutral report of the meeting. This is not an instance for neutrality. Management has done something wrong – something that hurt Esalen and the community. It might be possible to rationalize the wrongdoing. But that wouldn’t make it right. At the meeting, a great deal was said, so I will try to cover the main points – the important developments. Let me add that I have had a fair amount of exposure to the issues surrounding Esalen restructuring, so I know what I’m talking about. Read the rest of this entry »