A human writes:
Seems wherever there is a hierarchy of power at the expense of egalitarian community there must inevitably be discontent and dissent — and the reinvented freedom of speech (the leaks phenomenon is a refreshing step towards transparency). We all want to be seen and heard.
As above so below, and the tangled political farce of the moment.
There is much pain here and perhaps bias too. To be fair, I imagine it can’t be easy trying to herd the progressive, free willed, free thinking nature of what historically makes up Esalen and what it stands for — but then again, it would be presumptuous and a misinterpretation of the nature of the beast to try — looking at the big picture, seems the topgun hired managers and CEO’s fall as fast as they arrive. Top dog vs old dog and never the twain shall meet.
And yes, I have been offended by dysfunctional “elements” that hold sway at Esalen but the expectation that it, or they, sustain a higher level of consciousness, solidarity and due diligence, as though separate from the rest of us or the human drama, whilst lovely, was never apparent. But she’s still a darling isn’t she — the idea of Esalen.
I remember my disappointment at being betrayed in a spectacular and remote Thai monastery years ago until I realized that we were all darkly fucked up people attracted to the light, or the promise of light, simply trying to figure out our shit whilst acting out our pain, as above, so below, seeker, servant, CEO.
I have been blessed deeply by my experiences at Esalen, given and received freely, disingenuously dismissed, and felt pain — that of a jilted lover where there is a bitter taste replacing what was once so sweet — yet it was never really faithful or even entirely conscious — certainly never pretending to be an “intentional community” so much as a gestalt of the field of individuals that are present at any given time. Ephemeral. Ever changing. Therein lies the magic of course, even though some of us might try to hold on to shifting ground, or control/contain it’s movement. Yes, probably, Esalen the boutique hotel retreat will survive, but the free spirit of community…?
And after so many years watching the most inane new age twaddle pass as meaningful discourse and education in human potential, along with a direction short of true and wise vision, but lip service and hollow talk — the burgeoning of a mainstream and corporate mindset within the once simply wild and lovely womb of Esalen, has largely swamped the truly alternative, the authentically inspired.
Yet this is constantly being reinvented and reseeded by those who have moved on, isn’t it? even if having been forced to seek new (perhaps more fertile) ground. Those who have been dismissed likely have something to offer the world that will not be diminished by leaving Esalen. There are a handful of names mentioned throughout these discussions who i hold in the highest esteem and who I know will continue to do their work wherever they are to be found — and there are so many worthy places now — Esalen is no longer the lone torch bearer of the movement.
A shame certainly, because Esalen is such a potent and magical place, full of promise and possibility, but gentrification is in the mill, and I suspect magic waits for no circus — it’ll just take wing to the next power point of positive focus.
So I give thanks to Esalen and all it has borne me personally — for numerous memorable years, among many wonderful people, in a place of such wild and nurturing beauty, even among the “bad” seeds that were part of that experience, I am richer.
And fare well to the new ex-cons — may the wind be at your back…