Michael Murphy is co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of the Esalen Institute, and directs the Institute’s think tank operations through its Center for Theory & Research (CTR).
He is also the author of four novels: Golf in the Kingdom, The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Jacob Atabet, and An End to Ordinary History.
His latest nonfiction work is God and the Evolving Universe, co-authored with James Redfield and Sylvia Timbers. Other nonfiction work includes In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experiences, co-authored with Rhea White, The Life We Are Given, a book about transformative practice, co-authored with George Leonard, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation, co-authored with Steve Donovan, and The Future of the Body, a study of human nature's capacities for transformation. Golf in the Kingdom is still a best seller, 30 years after it was published. It has spawned the formation of The Shivas Irons Society, a non-profit organization with members in the 50 states and 20 countries. The book was made into a movie that was released in 2011.
In the 1980s, Murphy helped organize Esalen's pioneering Soviet-American Exchange Program, which became a premier vehicle for citizen-to-citizen relations between Russians and Americans. In 1990, Murphy and Esalen initiated Boris Yeltsin's first visit to America — a trip that contributed to Yeltsin's change of heart regarding the United States and capitalism and that became part of ending the Cold War. This success led to other Esalen citizen diplomacy programs with China, and an initiative to unite the Abrahamic faiths (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) based on the commonalities they share.
Esalen Institute is the world's most famous growth center. Over 17,000 people from every part of the world participate in nearly 600 seminars each year at Esalen's Big Sur campus. The institute is a nonprofit organization.
Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) also serves as a groundbreaking research site. Preparatory work for Murphy’s The Future of the Body began in 1977 through the building of an archive, since donated to the Stanford University Medical School, that includes more than 10,000 studies of exceptional functioning. Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy; Gregory Bateson, the eminent anthropologist; Stan Grof, the pioneering research psychiatrist, and other scholars, therapists, and researchers have spent many years in residence at Esalen.
Murphy's and George Leonard's Integral Transformative Practices (ITP) program has been researched by Stanford Medical School. It has been concluded that the participants' in Stanford's ITP research made measurable gains in IQ.
Murphy graduated from Stanford University and lived for a year and a half at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. In 1962, with Richard Price, he started the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. During his forty-two-year involvement in the human potential movement, Murphy and his work have been profiled in the New Yorker and featured in many magazines and journals worldwide. He speaks at conferences and other events, and consults on organizational change.