The words "Center for Theory and Research" in yellow over a collage of photographs showing parts of the Esalen campus.

The goals of the Esalen Center for Theory & Research (CTR) span a wide range of commitments, projects, and passions. Under the banner of “Toward a New Worldview,” CTR seeks to nourish and support an emerging 'school' in which theory, research, and practice will co-evolve to embody our latent supernature.

CTR brings together leading edge thinkers to accelerate our collective evolution toward a new worldview. Current initiatives include: extraordinary human capacities research, practices and theory; citizen diplomacy projects with Russia and China; food reformation; and working to create peace amongst three Abrahamic religions — Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

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.

a photo of the milky way
The Evolution of Human Nature

The mission of the Esalen Center for Theory & Research is to help create an emerging “school” in which theory, research, and practice can co-evolve to embody and actualize our latent supernature.The possibilities of the human future lie beyond the power of our imagination. We suspect that our creative capacity, like that of the universe itself, is ultimately limitless.The prospect of further human development stands before us as an ethical demand, providing useful guidance for our scientific research, education, and legislation as well as for our individual and personal choices.

The world needs those who believe in our common humanity, who understand and promote the development of all individuals and communities — body, mind, heart, and soul. The Center for Theory & Research (CTR) was founded in the fall of 1998 as a means of revitalizing, quickening, and formalizing both our original Esalen vision and a particular format that had been in place from the Institute’s very beginning: the private symposium that brings together world-class intellectuals and practitioners to discuss a single focused theme or idea. The founding vision of Esalen is to envision and promote personal and social transformation worldwide. To this end it explores, nurtures, and works to actualize those extraordinary capacities or “human potentials” that have been otherwise denied or repressed by modern cultures but appear to be emerging today with increasing force and excitement, now in concert with new science. Traditionally framed in terms of mystical experiences, psychical phenomena, or extraordinary physical and cultural accomplishments, these “evolutionary buds,” whether personal, institutional, or social, have been extensively explored at Esalen through various channels, including philosophy, comparative religious studies, psychology, anthropology, somatic practices, quantum physics, evolutionary biology, citizen diplomacy, and other forms of social action.

CTR Giving Opportunities

Directed by Esalen Cofounder Michael Murphy and Professor Jeff Kripal, Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research (CTR) sponsors research, theory and action to promote positive social change and the realization of the human potential. Underwriting is needed for project research, facilitators, translators, coordinators, summary writers, occasional expert fees, travel and accommodations, and special outreach projects.

Supporters at the $10,000 + level are invited to attend a CTR Conference of their choice, as long as donor seats are still available for the chosen conference. Housing arrangements must be made and paid for separately.
Esalen Institute is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.  Donations to Esalen Institute are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Federal tax ID #94-6114235.

Please contact Jane Hartford at to make a donation, or to ask any questions you may have.

A collage made of two photographs: one photo of light brown plants with the blue ocean in the background, and the other a black and white photo of a group of people sitting together on a lawn.
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