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Michael Murphy (Part 3) - The Human Potential Movement Then & Now: 60 Years at the Leading Edge of Transformative Practice, Research & Action
Episode 6012th January 2023 • Deep Transformation • Deep Transformation Podcast
00:00:00 00:46:21

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Ep. 60 (Part 3 of 3) | Michael Murphy, author, co-founder of the world-famous Esalen Institute, and pioneer of the Human Potential Movement starting in the 60s, relates a wealth of intimate experience, knowledge, and wisdom covering his decades of living at the leading edge of transformative practice and the realization of human potential. Mike talks about Esalen’s latest research, our current crisis of belief, and the anchoring question that has guided Esalen (and Mike) all along: how best to serve? Mike has watched the developmental process of transformative practices themselves, such as somatics and psychedelics, now circling around after a period of purgation, and talks about current efforts to add research on the mystical and the ecstatic to meditation and mindfulness research in order to better understand what's going on. 

This podcast is a wonderful mix of tales from the past—including Mike and his wife Dulce’s achievements and adventures with Soviet-American citizen diplomacy towards the end of the Cold War—the present, and what’s coming up at the Esalen research center now, e.g., asking what is happening on "the other side," and discovering the truth about subtle body phenomena. On a personal note, Mike shares about practicing agnosticism, his respect and admiration for the quality of wonder, and about the magic of reading subtle cues and being increasingly in tune with “the algorithms of his heart.” Friendly, relaxed, and humorous, Mike is one of the world’s leading lights on self-transformation. Recorded on February 16, 2022.

“With Esalen, life has given me this marvelous laboratory.”

(For Apple Podcast users, click here to view the complete show notes on the episode page.)

Topics & Time Stamps – Part 3

  • The magic of reading subtle cues and developing increasing discernment to the subtleties of one’s own internal psychic mechanism (02:26)
  • Paul Ekman’s nonverbal cue study and how aging correlates with greater capacity to discern subtle social cues (06:03)
  • The capacity for childlike wonder is one of the things Mike admires most (08:15)
  • The human potential movement and the complexity of human beings (16:09)
  • Spies, innocence, and transparency (19:08)
  • Mike’s suspicions about developmental maps and schemes, especially in the spiritual world (23:37)
  • There is no such thing as a single virtue: for example, you can’t have courage without prudence (28:38)
  • Integral Transformative Practice: does it really work? Does it help us grow in virtue and character? (30:18)
  • Mike’s calling to continue the inquiry: What’s going on on the other side? What is the truth about the subtle body phenomena? (32:33)
  • Mike’s general advice: enough good habits, meditation, and tailoring your practice to who you are (33:59)
  • The problem of suffering in this world is only going to be answered with an adventurous, experimentative embrace exploring what’s going on here (40:00)

Resources & References – Part 3

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Michael Murphy is a graduate of Stanford University, co-founder of Esalen Institute, founder of Esalen’s Center for Theory and Research, and author of numerous books. His novels include The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Golf in the Kingdom, Jacob Atabet, and An End to Ordinary History. His latest nonfiction work is God and the Evolving Universe, co-authored with James Redfield and Sylvia Timbers. Other nonfiction work includes: In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experiences, co-authored with Rhea White; The Life We Are Given, a book about transformative practice, co-authored with George Leonard; The Future of the Body, and The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation, co-authored with Steve Donovan.


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell