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Current Initiatives


"Our mission at Esalen to facilitate change within self and society has never been more vital than it is now." —Michael Murphy

Directed by Esalen Cofounder Michael Murphy and Professor Jeff Kripal, Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) sponsors research, theory, and action to promote positive social change and the realiziation of the human potential.


The Super Story Symposia Series

November 25-30, 2018

Facilitator: Jeff Kripal

This symposium will focus on the convergence (and divergence) of modern evolutionary thinking and the concept of deification, both human and cosmic, in the history of philosophy and religion. We will attend especially to the esoteric evolutionary threads that have emerged over the last century and a half (Esalen being one of them). We will put these threads into conversation with a nuanced history of incarnation and deification in philosophy and religion, ancient and modern. We will consider such questions as the place of teleology in evolutionary thinking; what sorts of latent or manifest doctrines of deification are at work in the philosophical and religious histories that inform our present, and how do these interact with scientific discourses of evolution; what options there are for bridging the discourses of evolution and deification (e.g. evolutionary panentheism, panpsychism, the study of consciousness); what are the obstacles, real or imagined, to building such bridges; and how does or should popular culture contribute to these efforts.

TRACK TWO Conference
December 2-7, 2018
Facilitator: Dulce Murphy, Virginia Thomson

Our last conference of 2018 will address our IAN initiative in 2019 and will take our North Pacific Rim Project to its next level. Both these efforts are currently under development and agendas and participant selection will be established later in the year. The 2019 IAN conference will bring together a group of 25 to 30 influential peace-builders and practitioners of various human potential practices to help leaders develop their work in the Middle East.

We will also firm up plans for a 2019 NPRP conference and discuss participation, topics, and how we create a more permanent discussion using the Internet and mobile technologies to do so.

Completed Conferences

Understanding Extraordinary Experiences and Events
February 18-23, 2018
Facilitators: Jeff Kripal and Tanya Luhrmann

This event brings together professional anthropologists and scholars of religion committed to tracking, describing, and interpreting extreme or robust religious experiences and contemporary experiencers themselves in a context of mutual trust, open conversation, and exploration. Two intellectual projects lie behind this special event: Tanya Luhrmann’s project on a comparative phenomenology of mind and spirit; and the publication of Jeff Kripal’s memoir/manifesto, Secret Body, in which Jeff calls for a “new comparativism” based on an ethnography and phenomenology of extraordinary experiences in the contemporary world.

CTR/TRACK TWO Conference
April 22-27, 2018
Facilitator: Dulce Murphy, Virginia Thomson

This conference represents all three Track Two/CTR projects in order to expand the Track Two/CTR networks by cross-fertilizing the expertise within each group to deepen our impact. We will discuss a five-year vision for Track Two/CTR and how we intend to leverage social media and other networking tools to reach new audiences with the extraordinary activities developing across the Track Two/CTR networks.

Food Systems Transition Leadership Conference
October 7-10, 2018
Facilitator: Patrick Holden

Led by Patrick Holden CBE, head of the Sustainable Food Trust and co-led by author and journalist Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, Command and Control) this conference will gather the most influential and highly conscious leaders in the field of food systems transition in a moon-shot move to make a real difference in the transition to organic food systems around the world.


Underwriting is needed for project research, facilitators, translators, coordination, summary writers, occasional expert fees, travel and accommodation, and special outreach projects. 

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.

To make a donation, please call 415-459-5438 or email Jane Hartford at

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


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