Esalen. The word itself summons up tantalizing visions of adventure, of unexplored frontiers, of human possibilities yet to be realized. There is the wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff. There is the delicate and subtle Big Sur air of a late afternoon in May, the midnight mist of July, and the drenching February rain. There are October nights so clear the Milky Way can light your walk along the darkened garden path. And always there is the sound of the sea.
And then there are the people — the people who live there and love the land, and the 750,000 more who have come from all over the world to participate in Esalen's 50-year-long Olympics of the mind, heart, body, spirit, and community, committing themselves not so much to “stronger, faster, higher” as to deeper, richer, more enduring in the fellowship of other seekers.
They come for the intellectual freedom to consider systems of thought and feeling that lie beyond the constraints of societal norms. They come to re-discover ancient wisdoms in the rhythms and tides of the body, and poetry in the pulsing of life itself. They come to rediscover the miracle of self-aware consciousness. Often they come away inspired by a fierce desire to learn and keep on learning through all of life, and beyond.
Esalen is a place with a global reach. In the words of Thomas Wolfe about America, It is a place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time.
Welcome to Esalen
Big Sur, California
For a longer and more complete version of the Esalen story, please read Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal.