Michael Murphy Helped Launch Human Potential Movement More Than 40 Years Ago
By Adam Phillips 23 April 2008
Michael Murphy is an author, intellectual and citizen-diplomat. He's also co-founder of California's Esalen Institute, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Human Potential Movement. VOA's Adam Phillips has a profile.
Michael Murphy had a passing acquaintance with Big Sur, California, the rugged area of Pacific coastline where, during his childhood, his family had owned some land with hot-spring mineral baths. But it was not until 1962, in his early 30s, that Murphy returned to Big Sur. He had completed nearly two years in India at the ashram of the Hindu philosopher, Sri Aurobindo. On fire with the idea of marrying Eastern and Western thought, Murphy drew up plans to open a holistic, mind-body center that he called Esalen.
"One of our basic ideas was the education of the whole person," Murphy says. "I had a particular interest in the body's role in personal development alongside spiritual development, emotional development, and intellectual development. The sky is the limit." ...
Today, with terrorism a global concern, the teachers at the Esalen Institute promote workshops in the psychology of enmity and reconciliation between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Esalen founder Michael Murphy says that world peace and understanding are front-and-center goals for him now – logical extensions, it seems, of his lifelong fascination with the greatness of human potential.