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The Ripple Effect of Our CTR Conferences

Most of us know Esalen mainly through public workshops advertised in the catalog. But there is another, quieter Esalen that’s by invitation only: the long series of hundreds of private meetings sponsored by Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR). Though not well publicized, this other Esalen has actually had a major impact on America and the world at large. From its programs in citizen diplomacy to its pioneering role in holistic health; from physics and philosophy to psychology and religion, Esalen has exercised a significant influence on our culture and our society.

CTR sponsors work in areas that think tanks and universities ignore, either because they are too controversial, too new, or because they fall between disciplinary silos. 

When invitations come from that magical place on the Big Sur coastline, the famous and the brilliant come running:

From astronauts Rusty Schweickart and Edgar Mitchell, to philosophers Sam Keen and Robert Solomon; from politicians like Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, and Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator, to psychologists like Erik Erikson, James Hillman, Rollo May, and Stanislav Grof; giants in somatics from Charlotte Selver and Ida Rolf to Don Hanlon Johnson; scientists like Gregory Bateson, Stuart Kauffman, Frans deWaal, Lee Smolin, and Karl Pribram; best-selling authors Fritjof Capra, Steven Johnson, Robert Wright, Amory Lovins, Janine Benyus, Susan Griffin, and Theodore Roszak; economists Hazel Henderson and Brian Arthur; and cultural icons from Fritz Perls and Terrence McKenna to Will Schutz and Stewart Brand. In these pages you will find poet Robert Bly, theologian Harvey Cox, and White House-honored sociologist Robert Bellah. And in surprisingly many and varied settings you will find the name of spiritual leader Brother David Steindl-Rast.

Skim through our current and past initiatives and notice the twenty or so books that have emanated directly from these meetings. If you consider yourself part of Esalen as so many of us do, you will come to understand that you are part of something much larger than you ever knew.


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