Esalen is a preeminent alternative education center charged with helping to transform and evolve world culture through its public workshops and its Center for Theory & Research (CTR) projects. For over 50 years, Esalen has initiated new areas of research, theory, practice, and action, all of which have fostered social change and the realization of the human potential. A brief overview of our current initiatives and of Esalen’s pioneering initiatives throughout its history follows.
International Abrahamic Network (IAN)In response to the rise of fundamentalism and terrorism around the world, in 2004 Esalen began work to foster healing among prominent faith leaders in Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities through multiple partnerships and projects. Dulce Murphy, Michael Murphy, and Joseph Montville, Chairman of the Board of TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy, are now leading this work under the banner of IAN (formerly called the Abrahamic Family Reunion) with activities linked with Abrahamic faith leaders in the Middle East. In practical terms, Esalen’s CTR connects leaders of the three religious traditions, and helps them create and share their IAN/interfaith projects, offering best practices and intellectual resources that enhance the possibility of healing and, ultimately, reconciliation among Jews, Christians, and Muslims in many parts of the world.
Since 2007, we have united and built common cause among hundreds of Abrahamic leaders from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. Our work has touched over 250 theology schools, seminaries, and graduate schools in the United States and Canada, and now extends into the Middle East. We have also created a website that has become the hub of much Abrahamic activity, chronicling IAN activity throughout the year, and featuring a “guidebook” for Abrahamic reconciliation.
In 2013, CTR and TRACK TWO will sponsor two 7th annual Abrahamic conferences while also continuing to sponsor the Abrahamic Family Reunion Website mentioned above.
Citizen Diplomacy with ChinaUC Berkeley Professor and MacArthur Fellow, Xiao Qiang, along with Chungliang Al Huang, Sam Yau, Jay Ogilvy, and TRACK TWO, convened a fourth year of cultural exchange with China in September 2011. This conference focused on how the interrelated areas of art and design can be strategic forces toward improving cultural, business, and social attitudes in today's rapidly changing Chinese society; and it contributed greatly to the conference’s larger goal of creating friendship and deeper understanding between China and the United States. Our network of influential Chinese cultural leaders, whose sphere of influence is continuing to expand, stay in dialogue with their American counterparts through internet technologies throughout the year. Esalen’s growing ties with China now include descendants of such major figures as Confucius, Sun Yat-sen, and Deng Xiaoping as well as some of the most powerful political and cultural figures in China today. Our American team now includes two former Presidents of the Asia Society, Robert Oxnam and Vishakha N. Desai. The fifth year of this conference series occurred in October 2012.
Complexity EconomicsIn October 2012, longtime CTR conference facilitator Jay Ogilvy, along with Esalen’s Chairman of the Board Sam Yau, W. Brian Arthur, and Eric Beinhocker will gather 25 leading economists, social scientists, physical scientists, and other researchers developing complexity economics, along with a small number of influential decision makers, practitioners, and foundation officers interested in where economics is heading. The following are four examples of problems complexity economics might address: economic and financial system policies; inequality; poverty and development; and innovation and growth.
Citizen Diplomacy with RussiaLed by Michael Murphy and Dulce Murphy, and in conjunction with TRACK TWO: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy and colleagues in Moscow, Esalen’s CTR is promoting Russian-American partnerships designed to improve the relationship between our two nations. To this end, we are sponsoring a series of invitational conferences, smaller meetings, and other projects to improve Russian-American relations.
Conscious Business Conclave
In February 2011, CTR hosted a momentous conference titled, “Conscious Business.” Initiated by Sam Yau, and co-designed with Jay Ogilvy and others, this event brought together progressive business leaders with systems thinkers and spiritual teachers to share their personal values and discuss the emergence of new business models that honor employees and the environment. As the first gathering of its kind, it featured current or former CEOs and senior executives from seven companies picked by Fortune Magazine as one of their Best 100 Companies to Work For.
Prominent names included John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, and Chade-Meng Tan, Head of Personal Growth at Google, with Starbucks, Bright Horizons, Nordstrom, The Container Store, and Trader Joe’s represented as well. For many years, Sam Yau has dreamed of a CTR conference that would enable the magic of Esalen to impact business leaders in a powerful way. As the week unfolded, it became clear that the heart-felt sharing and depth of intellectual exchange was making a unique contribution to the emergence of the conscious business movement. In March of 2012, CTR hosted its second, highly successful Conscious Business Conclave.