Esalen Institute

Esalen, Big Sur, California
New Age
Private Property
1962 - Present

1 The Farm 2 Dance Dome 3 Art Barn 4 Farm House 5 Gazebo School 6 Big Yurt 7 Little Yurt 8 Little House 9  Big House 10 Sweat Lodge 11 Meditation Center 12 Laundry 13 Staff Room 14 Guest Rooms 15 Sign 16 Point House 17 Lodge 18 Baths 19 Porters Yurt 20 Fritz 21 Beach

Founded in 1962 by two Stanford graduates, the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, was a laboratory for new thought and radical beliefs. One of the first popular interfaces between Eastern religion and Western scientific inquiry, many new age beliefs and practices originated there: yoga, meditation, mind-body connection, massage, Macrobiotic diets, Gestalt Therapy, and the mainstreaming of Buddhism. Founded as a Human Potential institute, inspired by Aldous Huxley, Esalen had a selective, fee based admission and offered exclusive, invitation-only seminars led by artists, psychologists, religious leaders, and scientist. Disparaged by surrounding hippie communes at the time as the “country club,”  today Esalen is luxury retreat, with weekend stays costing thousands of dollars. Natural hot springs baths (18) overlook the Pacific Ocean, there are simple redwood buildings for staff (13) and guests (14), workshops, seminar rooms.

Esalen prefigured the connection between the Silicon Valley tech scene and the counterculture movement, science and spirituality.  Esalen also hints at the transition away from capital “R” Religion–even radical forms of Christianity–as a defining/cohering ideology and towards more uncategorized forms of spirituality and the science of environmentalism. Anyone in the US who identifies as “Spiritual but not Religious” owes something to Esalen.

Nam semper semper ex
In porttitor pellentesque sapien

Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.