Our podcast showcases in-depth interviews with the dynamic teachers and thinkers who are part of Esalen Institute. Hosted by Sam Stern, a former Esalen student and current staff member, the podcasts have featured engaging conversations with authors Cheryl Strayed and Michael Pollan, innovators Stan Grof and Dr. Mark Hyman, teachers Byron Katie, Mark Coleman and Jean Houston, Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy, and many more.
These podcasts are made possible in part by the support of Esalen donors and are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.
Listen to the latest episodes here, and subscribe to Voices of Esalen on Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.
Jeff Kripal is an historian of religions — his work includes the study of comparative erotics and ethics in mystical literature, American countercultural translations of Asian religions, and the history of Western esotericism from gnosticism to New Age religions. He’s also the author of the book Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion — a must read for anyone interested in unpacking the conditions of history surrounding Esalen’s birth in the early sixties.
This interview was originally published in 2016.
Jazsalyn is the creative and curatorial Director of black beyond, a radical space for artists and activists to define alternate realities for Blackness. As an anti-disciplinary artist, she combines new media and community organizing practices to reimagine Black futures and to decolonize and re-indigenize social and creative practice. Her work has been featured in CULTURED Magazine, Vogue, The New Yorker, and Huffington Post.
Jazsalyn was interviewed for today’s episode by Michelle McCrary. Michelle is a daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, mother, wife, and friend who lives on occupied Duwamish land in the Pacific Northwest. She has roots in Coastal Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. When she's not leading the Communications team at Esalen, she's training to become a facilitator with the Healing and Reconciliation Institute, tending to her winter garden, reading her way through a massive pile of books on her nightstand, and working on the screenplay for her horror anthology.
Some links from this great conversation:
black beyond at www.nyfa.org/
newart.city/show/blackbeyond XR on New Art City
And here’s a dublab mix from black beyond — alternate realities
Featured artist KESSWA reps Detroit and explores afro surrealist soundscapes across genres on this continuum of alternate realities.
Sandor Katz has taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this transformational process. His book, The Art of Fermentation, received a James Beard award and was a finalist at the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 2009, he was named one of Chow magazine’s top “provacateurs, trendsetters, and rabble-rousers.” This self-described "fermentation fetishist" treats us to a discussion of his new book, Fermentation Journeys. We talk about food writing and favorite food writers, the benefits of fermentation, being an adventurer in the kitchen, and what's fermenting in his refrigerator.
Vivien Sansour is the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. Trained in the field of Anthropology, Vivien has worked with farmers worldwide on issues relating to agriculture and independence. She is a 2020-2021 Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative Fellow at Harvard University where she is working on an autobiographical book documenting her work saving seeds in Palestine and around the world. Together we discussed how food sovereignty aligns with the struggle of Palestinian resistance, how biodiversity reflects and intersects with cultural diversity, how the military occupation of Palestine affects the farming practices that go on there, and how love is the greatest form of resistance to colonial oppression. She's brilliant.
Sansour teaches Becoming Of The Land: Right Relationship Without Dominance - Understanding The Terrains We Inhabit, December 17–20.
This episode captures Jack Kornfield's lecture/ Dharma talk at Esalen on September 15th, 1983. Kornfield, one of the most articulate and compassionate voices in modern Western Buddhism, is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, first as a student of the Thai forest master Ajahn Chah, about whom he speaks at length in this lecture. Kornfield has taught meditation worldwide since 1974 and is considered one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practices to the West. He’s the author of a host of books, including 1977’s Living Dharma, 1993’s A Path with Heart, and 2001’s After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. This talk is at turns funny, wise, and insightful. It awakens a certain kind of spirit in the listener. We're grateful to Kornfield for his continuing association with the Esalen Institute, and continuing devotion to the path of the heart.
Justin Michael Williams is an author, speaker and musician who works at the intersection of social justice, mindfulness, and personal growth. Justin has become a pioneering voice of color for the new healing movement. His mission is to make sure that all people, of all backgrounds, have access to the information they need to change their lives. Together, we discussed the science of transformation, what it means to combat forces of oppression (in a healthy way), identity labels (and how they function for good and for bad within the activist framework), what it means to go beyond anti-racism, Justin's current take on the human potential movement, and more.
Ayana Young is a protector of wild nature and host of the podcast For the Wild - an interview-based show that examines and champions intersectional environmental and social justice, deep ecology, and land-based restoration. Topics include the Future History of Water, Queering Permaculture, Unruly Beauty, the Divine Time of Fungal Evolution, the Violence of Globalization, and much more. Together we talked about capitalisim, her involvement with the early stages of Occupy Wall Street, why she lives off the grid and how exactly that works with being an activist and media producer, the manner in which she curates her guests and creates episodic structure, and her thoughts on the future of humanity. Visit her work at forthewild.world/podcast.
Dr. Han Ren is a practitioner of decolonial mental health: she offers liberation-oriented, anti-oppressive, culturally informed therapy, and practices from a justice-oriented, systems-informed framework. Some of her specialties include Asian-American mental health, anxiety, perfectionism, high achievers, children of immigrants/third culture kids, anti-racism, and parenting. Dr. Ren is also a force to be reckoned with on TikTok, amassing a large following on a platform she uses in an attempt to make therapy accessible and applicable to our everyday lives. Together we talked about how white supremacy can be internalized, what it looks like when you center BIPOC mental health in treatment, how one decolonizes language, the conceptual shift from a dyadic trauma perspective to a more collective, societal notion of trauma, and her struggles as a recovering perfectionist.
Richie Reseda and Indigo Mateo are the co-owners and founders of Question Culture, an activist-artistic art label whose projects support grassroots organizing. Richie Reseda is an abolistionist-feminist, formerly incarcerated in the state of California and the subject of the CNN documentary" Feminist in Cell Block Y," a film that chronicles his journey educating and combatting toxic masculinity within the walls of the prison system. Indigo Mateo is a singer, healer, abolitionist, survivor, and artist. She’s releasing her sophomore album on the label this summer. Indigo met Richie while visiting him in prison; her partner, 88, also an artist on the Question Culture label, is currently incarcerated. Together we discussed how patriarchy functions in culture and in jail, what the school to prison pipeline is, and why it exists, how economies sprout up around the prison system and in neighboring towns, how meritocracy has led to a culture of vengeance, and why“the prison system is,” in Richie Reseda's words, “the deadbeat boyfriend of America.”
Suzanne Simard is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia as well as the author of the excellent new memoir, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. Suzanne is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Together, we discussed her scientific findings, the dangers of deforestation, how her literary and scientific proclivities intertwine, and what it’s like to have a character in a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel based on her (Richard Powers' The Overstory). She's a rather amazing person, passionate about the future of the planet and our shared existence with old-growth forests.
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