• February 10, 2013

    While we drift through the hallowed land above the Institute, counting the days since Esaleaks’ own suicide note, written in reflection of an apparently broad resignation to the slow death of Esalen, a human being writes another perceptive call to action:

    I find La ventana somewhat vague so I will try to interpret its meaning and add my own thoughts as a long-term staff member:

    The “outsiders” mentioned may refer to Gordon Wheeler, Sam Yau, Chip Conley, Scott Stillinger, Tricia McEntee, Jan Sinclair, Eric Moya and Cheryl Fraenzl, and other members of the board of trustees and directors group not in this order.

    The master of gestalt who was banished was the late Seymour Carter. His ability to teach workshops and lead open seats was taken away because of his outspoken criticism of the monopolization of authority by Gordon Wheeler and Nancy Lunney-Wheeler primarily. The other masters who are leaving either completely or in part (Dorothy Charles in part, Christine Price totally) in all likelihood are disheartened with the direction Esalen is headed; by Michael Murphy, most members of the board and the directors group who seem to be a self-replicating, ever growing, all-powerful unanimous force.

    It is a stretch to assume these leaders have not faced their shadows but no stretch at all to understand that their radical vision for the future of Esalen is motivated more by fear of failure of their presumed mission then by love for what Esalen has traditionally stood for. So what is this radical vision? The answer is fairly mundane: The Mission of personal transformation supported by the current leadership team would dissolve without money to pay for these leaders. Attracting more high-priced private retreats and higher paying seminarians supports the executive suite and validates the roles of the top tier. By investing money and energy into Michael Murphy’s CTR think tank and staying in his good graces compels the present leadership to hope that their roles, justified by their conviction to personal transformation, will carry them to a comfortable retirement and popularity with the media.

    Gordon Wheeler’s books are in the shelves of seminarian rooms, somewhat like L. Ron Hubbard or the Gideons bibles. This is one reason why the potential failure of Esalen is so complicated. Wheeler’s argument in favor of an unyielding leadership force is similar to that of Theodore Roosevelt in a speech he gave in 1910: “It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” Accordingly, Wheeler has been principal in diluting community and staff week meetings into watered-down versions of the discourse that once was so vital and inspirational.

    Like most organizational leaders, Esalen’s leaders mean well. They love Esalen and believe in its mission so have logically re-visioned Esalen to serve as a revolving door for personal transformation. Many long-time staff and community members see this as a shift more in the direction of an expensive fast food drive-in then as a sanctuary where individuals are nurtured and valued with love and caring, one soul at a time despite the damage or disgrace they arrive with.

    Who could fault the present leadership for their desire to retain power and security at the expense of the late Dick Price’s vision? Dick is dead after all along with other troublesome individuals like Seymour Carter. Who could fault the directors for neglecting future expensive calamities by failing to invest in vital, sustainable improvements to failing infrastructure or issues of energy conservation and sustainability? After all these leaders must prioritize problems like the need for staff housing in the wake of the fire at South Coast Center.

    Self-preservation is a driving force behind the world’s present crisis, increasingly evidenced by our solipsistic romance with smart phones, virtual “communities” and increasingly complex technology- seducing our compulsion to disconnect from each other. Herein lies the miss.

    In order for Esalen to reclaim its role as a guiding light and cutting edge learning center, self-preservation, clinging to the utopia of a leadership role at Esalen and fear of dissenting voices must take a back seat to the most successful time-tested Esalen traditions of community spirit, care for the most vulnerable — i.e., Gazebo children and elders who have given their energy and lives to Esalen — love, unity and sustainable visions which evolve from healthy dialogue and outreach to those considered the walking wounded. Today duality, anxiety and separation are the ground to Esalen’s leadership gestalt. The figure is pats on the back, nepotistic hiring and retention practices and rewards for those who are players in “the arena” who will do anything and everything to retain power.

    In order to thrive the primary incentive for Future Esalen must be to continuously and with growing levels of integrity and ingenuity answer the cries of our suffering, damaged, disconnected society and planet.

    This can be accomplished with a trusted leadership team who act out of love and equanimity, regardless of pay or status, prepared and grateful to surrender their roles when it is time for fresh new eyes and ears.

    The time is now.

  • January 15, 2013

    Esaleaks first proposed to place Esalen Institute back into the hands of genuine seekers by 2013. Has this taken place? Every day, seekers come to the Esselen land and find a piece of themselves, yes. But the Institute itself has lost its way under the rule of outsiders who have yet to discover themselves deeply, yet to face their own shadows, yet to open their own hearts, and yet to show an exemplary commitment to that work. They have yet to live the Esalen life, yet to touch the Big Sur life, yet to earn the right to control the gate at 55000 Highway One.

    The masters of Gestalt have been banished. The extended Esalen community has failed to save the cradle of its own culture. Esalen Institute has failed. Only the Esselen land remains.

  • August 20, 2012

    As a reminder:

    [T]he Nine, channeled by Jenny O’Connor, were listed as members of [Esalen] staff… [S]uch was the influence of the Nine that they ordered the sacking of its chief financial officer and reorganized the entire management structure. (The Stargate Conspiracy, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, p.234)

    Jenny O’Connor writes to us:

    You may call yourself the eight and a half.

    Thank you, Jenny.

    The Eight and a Half

  • June 5, 2012

    The Nine are slightly queasy to present a clear photograph of Esalen CEO Tricia McEntee’s “Vision Board.” The CEO says that her Vision Board serves as a “litmus test for pretty much every decision I make and the way I go about my job.” Her sparse collage, made over a weekend after a salsa dancing extravaganza, is new-agey feel-good.

    But is this the house that Murphy, Price, Maslow, and Rolf built? Where is the grand confrontation with the self? Where is the yearning to explore the depths of human experience? This saccharine vision is, in the end, an icon of Esalen’s spectacularly failed leadership.

    (click to enlarge)

    We would remind our readers to review January’s article “Vision Board” which completes the picture with a video and transcript.

  • June 1, 2012

    The web site esalenleadership.org has published more complete results of Esalen’s Leadership Culture Survey, which we leaked and commented on earlier in the week. The most striking addition is the official graphic showing the results of the survey, reproduced here:


    Current leadership is producing an environment that is almost precisely the opposite of what is desired. Its scores are in the “high” range for “caution over creating results, self-protection over productive engagement, and aggression over building alignment,” and firmly in the “low” range of all 5 positive leadership competencies. No wonder the results were kept under wraps for so long.

  • May 29, 2012

    In an internal Esalen email dated January 21, 2010, Esalen CEO Tricia McEntee wrote:

    In the interest of building a relationship of honesty, integrity, and trust, among organization employees, [any corporate survey] results should be communicated effectively by a unbiased professional and acted upon by the organization.

    In the Spring of 2011, Esalen conducted a Leadership Culture Survey, but failed to convey the results or act upon them. The results have been available for viewing, but not copying, and only for those willing to ask terminatrix Jan Sinclair to briefly unveil the secret papers in a private meeting.

    After a full year of the survey being suppressed in this way, The Nine are proud to present the results for public viewing and discussion. As unbiased professionals, we trust that Ms. McEntee will approve.

    The lowest score on the chart is for the “interpersonal intelligence” of its leadership — an area where the Institute is chartered to be a center of excellence and teaching.

    Meanwhile the data shows an almost perfect score in the area of “customer focus” in the business as a whole — an area where Esalen leadership has steadfastly insisted there is a deadly deficit, choosing to turn the Institute’s culture upside down in the name of solving this clearly imaginary problem.

    These results, and the reasons for their suppression by current leadership, speak for themselves. The respect and deference granted to these “leaders” by the community at the recent Community-Board Meeting remains a perplexing disappointment.

    UPDATE: Our original leak appears below. More complete survey results are now here.

    Leadership Culture Survey Results
    Summary of All Dimensions

    Leadership Culture Survey Results
    Top 10 Sub-Categories

    Leadership Culture Survey Results
    Lowest 5 Sub-Categories

  • May 16, 2012

    A human writes:

    I am crying tears of both gratitude and pain. Gratitude for having been a daily community member in the not distant past, and real pain for those that are there now. Yes, drastic measures that will make the mark where it is felt most to the few who are holding back the many.

    No kale or quinoa either — for as long as it takes.

    For peace.


    Another human writes:

    I support this idea. I would love to think that intelligent communication could hold the answer, but as I have learned over the years, communication takes two parties. At the next orientation session, why don’t we all as a community sit in Huxley to offer a broader orientation about what’s going on here.

    The Nine support departmental walk-outs and orientation teach-ins. When community action is united, corporate retaliation is impossible — until there is no community left.

  • May 12, 2012

    A current Esalen board member and Esaleaks informant closes:

    This leak ain’t the only bucket in town. Smart people everywhere.

    Talking about you, readers, writers, lovers, dreamers, workers, community.

    The Nine

  • 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 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.