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I
nterview with George Leonard on Human Potential: From Esalen to Mainstreet
 

Human Potential: From Esalen to Mainstreet
Interview with © George Leonard
as Interviewed By© Russell E. DiCarlo

In public meeting places you find people practicing Sufi exercises that were once reserved for initiates. This stuff is really happening. Shamanic practices of Stone Age people are offered at workshops. It's really spreading, more now than ever before. There's a magazine called "Common Ground" published in the San Francisco area that has advertisements for literally hundreds of these activities. It is incredible. In the 60s this was simply not available. We have much, much more of this paradigm-busting lore now than we had back then. It's not even close-it's a thousand times more than what we had in the 60s.

Psychoneuroimmunology has had a powerful influence in the medical profession and is showing that emotions and feelings influence every aspect of bodily functioning. Ideas of the mind-body connection grace the covers of the news magazines now...The Bill Moyers Special, "Healing and the Mind" has had a very powerful influence on a relatively large audience. Not like Roseanne of course, but it doesn't take all the people to make changes. It takes some of the people who are controlling the instruments of power, like those in the media.

A lot of experiments are going on, even though mainstream science is very loathe to admit it, which demonstrate that the minds of individuals can influence living tissue at a distance. They can influence bacteria, plants and other human beings. And these have been demonstrated in good, rigorous experiments, where the protocols and the procedures are much more closely monitored than they would be in a normal scientific experiment, where people are not so suspicious.

The anthropologists and sociologists have made so much progress too, in showing how our facial expressions, the way we walk, the way we move, how these things are influenced by culture. And how we can break out of these cultural traps.

Such martial arts as aikido, which I think is transformative, is now spreading throughout the world. It is a very transformative martial art that is based upon love and harmony. And that's a very radical idea.

DiCarlo: Qi Gong also..

Leonard: Qi Gong and T'ai Chi continues to spread.

Very quietly the shift is occurring.

Also, the attitude of the media towards things such as Esalen has greatly shifted since the 1960s. In the very beginning before they knew what was happening, there were some wonderful articles about Esalen. Then by the 70s everybody who wrote about Esalen would talk about "touchy-feely" things while sticking their tongues in their cheeks. There was so much sticking of tongues in the cheeks that on Madison Avenue they had to develop a special operation to plug up the holes. But now, I have a whole press kit of articles that were written in 1987 about Esalen and every one of them is favorable. Part of the favorable response was simply a celebration of survival. Esalen endured and that's pretty good. Nobody expected that. And when it hit its 30th birthday in 1992, there were even more favorable articles. It's almost as if it's now in the mainstream, an edge of the establishment. Recently Vogue and the New York Times all had very nice articles about Esalen. Today, Esalen is packed-you can't even get in. So very, very quietly these "new/old" ideas are integrating into the very fabric of our society. It's about something that appears to be almost essential to humanity. Without vision, without the understanding that there is the realm of the spirit that can give us guidance, that can give us meaning to life, I don't think we can do anything. Life that is just consuming is totally an empty life. You can never get enough of what you really don't want.

DiCarlo: Speaking of this realm of the spirit-Do you think there are beings that exist on different levels of reality that somehow guide the unfoldment of human potential?

Leonard: Well, I don't think there is any question. What an impoverished universe it would be if what we see with our senses, and what we can pick up with our instruments of science represented all that there is in existence. Before the understanding of radio waves anybody who said you could hear a message from someone far away would have been labeled a kook. Are we arrogant enough to say that now our instruments have picked up all the emanations of life that exist? Of course there are more! Wherever you go, there is always more. And I don't know what they are. I am not one of those who follows the idea of aliens and angels, but I would by very surprised, in fact, it's unthinkable to me that our science and our senses have now picked up all the forms of life or energy that exist. There's no question about it.

In my own L.E.T. work, Leonard Energy Training, we do exercises that are absolutely reliable, where average, untrained folks can wander around the room with eyes covered with cloth so they cannot see. When I clap my hands, the great majority of these people can point to the location of their partner who might be anywhere in the room or even outside the room. It takes a little induction to get people ready for this. One half hour-that's all. But this is now routine. This is not special. This is not extraordinary. This is routine. We call this, "The Synchronization Process".. I describe it briefly in the back of my book, The Silent Pulse.

So obviously, there is some kind of energy there that is not in the electromagnetic spectrum. We don't want to be electro-magnetic chauvinists you know. There's got to be more to the world than the electro-magnetic spectrum.

But there's no question, there are other beings. There have got to be.

DiCarlo: Do you think scientists who are attempting to map and measure these other dimensions of "subtle" energies are heading in the right direction?

Leonard: Yes. Many years ago, myself and my ex-wife went to the University of California at Davis and were measured as we attempted to move our life energy from the right to the left hand. I still have the graphs. They were picking up electrical potentials off the back of each hand, and just by intention alone...we would say, "move energy right" and you would see the pulsations going up, up up, above the mid-line on the graph. Then we would say, "now bring the energy to the left" and you would see the line on the graph go down and over to the other side. Now, how is that done? I don't know.

So I think, yes, let's try to measure these things. You have to keep trying or else you're not a real scientist. You're not a scientist on the edge of discovery. I think it's a wonderful idea.

DiCarlo: Could you elaborate on the integral practice for the development of human potential you have developed with Michael Murphy?

Leonard: Mike and I have written a book called The Life We Are Given. In a sense it is the follow upto Michael's, The Future of The Body but it can stand totally alone. You might say that it is a book of instruction for the average person, which tells them what they can do to begin an integral transformative practice. Integral means, to integrate "mind, body, soul and heart." Transformative mean that it's based on positive change. Practice is a wonderful word, meaning something you do on a regular, disciplined basis. Not primarily for the goodies you get out of it, but primarily for the sake of doing it. A practice is the path you walk. You do it for its own sake. Paradoxically, the people who follow a practice for its own sake are the ones who get the most extraordinary results.

In part three of The Future of The Body Michael posits that the best way to achieve metanormal capacities, of perception, communication abilities, vitality, volition, etc. is through integral transformative practices. So for two years, throughout most of 1992 and 1993, we ran an experimental class. There were 33 people in the first group and 30 in the second group. We met for just two hours every Saturday but everybody had a number of commitments, things that they had to do every week. We kept very close statistics. We also had affirmations as to positive changes in their life and especially in their bodies. That's something a lot of human potential workshops and experiments don't do. They don't keep close statistics which helps make things more understandable. We are offering a way for the average person to embark on this practice, just through reading this book and getting together with other folks.

DiCarlo: So this is a step-by-step methodology for individual transformation?

Leonard: Well, we have developed a step-by-step methodology for integral transformative practice. By doing that-and you can't be sure-the odds are very good that you will get some positive transformation, because almost everybody, especially in the second cycle in 1993, got some very, very significant, positive changes. The amount of change is really quite spectacular. All sorts of wonderful changes in their body, some of which would have to be called metanormal and extraordinary.

DiCarlo: What would be some of the key elements of this practice?

Leonard: First of all, before we started these classes, I developed a less than 40 minute "kata". Kata is just a convenient term in the martial arts which simply mean "form". It's a specific form where you go through a certain series of moves, always in the same sequence.

We asked that everyone in the course perform this kata at least 5 days a week. Some people did this seven days a week. It takes only 40 minutes because from the very beginning we wanted to make this a "householders path". That is, a practice that can be engaged in by people who have jobs and a family. Not just people who live in a monastery or go on a retreat. So we wanted to do something that was feasible, and that was an important part of the experiment. These people all had jobs and families of sorts-they had a life other than this practice. But by doing the practice they got really remarkable results.

We asked all the participants to attend the class punctually and regularly. Also, we asked that everyone do at least three hours of aerobic exercise every week, in no increment less than 30 minutes. Everyone was also asked to be conscious of everything they ate, and a very low fat diet was recommended. We also recommended strength training but that was not absolutely required. We asked that everybody stay current in their emotional relations with all the people in the class, the teachers, and the people in their lives. We also did some emotional group work in the class, but we allowed people to do whatever they needed to do to handle that and report on it. Staying current in other words. Not letting things build up. Keeping the emotional information flowing to the appropriate people.

We also had affirmations. Everyone made four affirmations near the beginning of the class. These affirmations were written in the present tense, and went something like this, "I George Leonard, intend to see that the following circumstances have occurred by November 21, 1992." Then, the rest is written in present tense, and for affirmation number one, we asked people to do things that are normal-not metanormal by any means. In other words, something that if you just did what you were supposed to do, you would achieve it and nobody would be surprised. It would be quite understandable through all the canons and concepts of present day science and medicine. For example, a person might affirm in writing, "My waist measures 32 inches" whereas it might measure 34 inches in the beginning.

All participants fill out a record of their affirmations, which is kept in a file. At the end, on November the 21st using this example, they would make note of their progress. If they have really watched their diet, and if they have done the aerobic exercises and perhaps the strength exercises, no one should be surprised that they have achieved this intended outcome.

The second affirmation for the first year was what we call, "exceptional". Something that could still be explained by modern, mainstream science, but which would be an exception. Such as, "I measure 5 foot 6 inches" and your measurement right now is 5 foot 5 inches. Well, to grow an inch at age forty is kind of unusual isn't it? I think most people can grow about a third of an inch or a half of an inch just by improving their posture. But to actually grow measurably a whole inch would be kind of exceptional.

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