"There is no greater engine for evolution in the world than groundbreaking ideas. CTR brings together the best leading edge thinkers to accelerate our collective evolution by literally dreaming a new world into being."—Stephen Dinan CEO, The Shift Network, author of Radical Spirit, and former CTR staff member
Directed by Esalen Cofounder Michael Murphy and Professor Jeff Kripal, Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) is charged with helping to transform and evolve world culture through initiating new areas of research, theory, practice, and action, all of which foster social change and the realization of the human potential. Underwriting is needed for project research, facilitators, translators, coordinators, summary writers, occasional expert fees, travel and accommodations, and special outreach projects. Please see the list of our current projects below and please note the following.
Supporters at the $10,000 + level are invited to attend a CTR Conference of their choice, as long as donor seats are still available for the chosen conference. Housing arrangements must be made and paid for separately.
Esalen Institute is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Donations to Esalen Institute are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Federal tax ID #94-6114235.
Please call 415-459-5438 or email Jane Hartford at Jane.Hartford@Esalen.org to make a donation, or to ask any questions you may have.
CTR seeks support for the following invitation-only conferences:
Agrarian Elders: Transmitting Wisdom to Young Organic Farmers
January 24 to 29, 2016
Facilitator: Michael Ableman
This second conference in an ongoing series will build upon the very successful and consequential first conference that was held at Esalen in January 2014. Convened by Michael Ableman and Eliot Coleman, the first event brought together a unique group of Agrarian Elders, each with thirty-plus years of experience in natural systems agriculture, whose ground breaking conversations were reported in The New York Times and Washington Post and filmed by documentarian Deborah Garcia. The second gathering will explore optimal solutions to the problems facing organic agriculture today: climate change, governmental regulation, co-opting of the organic market, false and deceptive labeling in grocery stores, contamination by genetically engineered crops, and most importantly, how can the Agrarian Elders gathered at Esalen transmit their accumulated wisdom to the younger generation of farmers. Prominent pioneers and award winning farmers will attend, among them Tom Willey and Don Bustos. Overall, this conference series is making a major impact by providing innovative and crucial leadership to the organic and new food movements and the overall food revolution of our era.
International Abrahamic Network (IAN)
April 17 to 22, 2016
Facilitator: Dulce Murphy
Led since 2007 by Dulce Murphy and Joseph Montville under the banner of the International Abrahamic Network, (IAN) - formerly the Abrahamic Family Reunion – with original support from the Fetzer Institute, Adelaide and Andrew Hixon and many others, we have united and built common cause among hundreds of Abrahamic leaders from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. This 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: http://abrahamicfamilyreunion.org and a newsletter that reaches over a thousand people and has become the hub of much Abrahamic activity. It features bimonthly up-to-date news on Abrahamic reconciliation. In April 2016, the core group will meet to strengthen established relationships and to introduce influential organizations and individuals into the network. The presentations will include recent citizen diplomacy efforts with film, broadcast, social media and people to people efforts by our Network groups. For more on this project visit our websites: www.trackii.com and www.esalen.org/ctr.
Second Annual U.S. Food Reformation Conference
May 22 to 25, 2016
Facilitators: Sam Yau and the Détente Group
This second conference will continue to gather some of the world’s preeminent nutritional scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, educators, and thought leaders in the global food supply industry, whose first meeting in 2015 was considered historic by many involved. During two consecutive mini-conferences (the first focused on national food issues and the second on the local food movement), the participants identified general aspects of the U.S. food industry that should be reformed in order to create a healthy and sustainable food supply for future generations. During the 2016 conference, several of the previous participants will join together with new participants to continue to find the optimal solutions to challenges in our food system. This conference will create a strategic plan for identifying and implementing these solutions. It will serve as a strategy session utilizing individuals that have expertise in various aspects of the food industry.
May 29 to June 3, 2016
Facilitator: Michael Murphy
Over the past century, psychological researchers William James, Frederic Myers, Abraham Maslow, and Herbert Thurston made comparative studies of supernormal human experience that established a “natural history” approach to such experience analogous to the natural history of living forms that comprises the field of biology. In the early 1990s Michael Murphy proposed a synoptic embrace of this approach in The Future of Body, arguing that most if not all human attributes, which have evolved from analogous attributes in our animal ancestors, can give rise to supernormal versions of themselves and thus serve as harbingers of our emerging supernature. Using this thesis as a starting point, this conference will gather scientists and scholars such as Ed Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Jeff Kripal, Jenny Wade, Diana Paulka, David Hufford, Dale Allison, and Henry Stapp to address the relationship between transformative practices and humanity’s continuing evolution as a species. As many thinkers have argued, when evolution is broadly conceived, it reveals a vast continuity of development from matter to life to mind and beyond. In this view we can see that all life is slumbering Spirit pressing to manifest its latent supernature.
Revisioning the Attention Economy
Sept 30 to Oct 2, 2016
Facilitators: Ben Tauber and Jay Ogilvy
This conference will address a novel, disturbing, and timely topic: how the decisions of a few leaders in the technology industry now have more influence on how billions people spend their time, live out their relationships, make choices, and experience reality. These tech leaders are like the captains of a new kind of “Attention Economy” by which tech companies compete to maximize how many people they can addict to their screen. It is akin to a dark “race to the bottom of the brain stem” that aims to seduce people’s instincts and get their attention, leaving a billion people constantly distracted. However, this conference will seek to imagine a different and more positive outcome for the new world generated by technology. What might the world instead look like if companies were not appealing to our basest instincts and motives? This pioneering conference will host several of tech industry’s most empowered leaders to envision solutions to this problem. It will address such issues as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence as well as the future of how people will work with computers, and how tech companies can forge more responsible and positive solutions to all of these issues.
October 20 - Nov 5, 2016
Facilitators: Dulce Murphy and Jay Ogilvy
Our Chinese-American Potential conferences at Esalen aim to improve relations between China and the USA through citizen diplomacy. In 2016, the eighth year of this TRACK TWO/Esalen/CTR collaboration, we will be traveling to China. The purpose of our trip is threefold: first, to experience and learn about the latest developments in China; second, to maintain relationships with those who have come to Esalen from China; third, to recruit new people for future meetings of TRACK TWO/Esalen/CTR. Not unlike the trip a small group of people from Esalen took to the USSR in 1980, this journey to China could eventually help improve the relations between our two countries. Our trip will include meetings in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Please see our websites at www.trackii.com and www.esalen.org/ctr.
Imagination III: Bodies of Light and Super Saints
November 6 to 11, 2016
Facilitator: Jeff Kripal
This conference will build upon two previous gatherings in this annual series, which have investigated the powerful influence of the human imagination on the construction of our experience and our sense of reality. In 2016 Jeff Kripal will continue to gather scholars and thought leaders, this time to address “The Further Reaches of the Imagination III: Bodies of Light and Super Saints.” This unique gathering will treat the notion of bodies of light or energy that are often seen or experienced in mystical events. It will survey the various siddhis or supernormal powers described by saints, shamans, and mystics from different spiritual and religious traditions. All of this will be pursued in a manner that develops the insights into the human imagination developed during the first two gatherings. Some notable scholars who will co-facilitate are: Charles Stang of Harvard Divinity School and Diana Walsh Pasulka of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
Russian-American Partnership Project (ERAPP)
Facilitator: Dulce Murphy
TRACK TWO had its beginnings as the Esalen Soviet-American Exchange Program in 1980, during a threatening turn of the Cold War. Our work is now framed as the Russian-American Partnership Project (ERAPP). During the last few years our project we sponsored an exchange of young artists from the Pacific coasts of Russia and the USA [www.esalen-pacifica-artprize.org] and a very prescient conference in Paris on the possibility of a new Cold War. In 2015 we convened the central core ERAPP group to plan how best to help the two countries move back toward a saner and more amicable relationship. Because TRACK TWO/Esalen were instrumental in bringing Boris Yeltsin to the United States for the first time, and, as a step in the right direction, we plan to honor the friendship between our two countries when Yeltsin was president. Meetings are planned in Russia in the fall of 2016 at the Yeltsin Center and the Yeltsin Museum, the first Russian presidential library in its history. These gatherings will bring the story of the Russia-USA relationship during that time to a new generation as a model of the friendship that is possible when our two nations cooperate. Accomplishments for this project as well as those of other TRACK TWO/CTR collaborations can be viewed on the TRACK TWO website at www.trackii.com, or at www.esalen.org/ctr.