Seminar: Big Sur; Michael Murphy and George Leonard, part two
It is a slow assimilation and integration perhaps will be rapid but putting together the best we know from these old cultures and then with all the American ingenuity beginning to devise new and new methods springing from these old ones. I know it s when we've invited people with background and eastern philosophy a child or a who is an interpreter of the great modern Indian teacher Sri R. Bindo whose lecture down there about the adaption of these techniques. I wonder what we can see this coming right now. One of the first glimmerings of this let's say this is for integration that's. It's beginning to work and we see it now to begin with we can see it in a few contexts an industry the national training or laboratories at Bethel Maine Western Behavioral
Sciences Institute in La Jolla are doing research on the T groups encounter groups. Which are. Really a prime instrument in this in the in the non-verbal match freeing the human spirit. All right. Jim Clark the one of the people at the UCLA Institute of industrial relations has written a paper recently called. Sensitivity training which they say is the way they describe this work they do and with management groups sensitivity training as a religious experience. And he describes experiences that many of these. Business executives supervisors managers have which really sound like they might come out of William James right he's everybody's experience. Exactly I think this is one of the most amazing and unreported aspects of American life today and that is the many experiments in American business and industry towards a
completely new really towards a revolution in human relations. I guess it's done because it's needed and building a missile system. You have to have complete openness between people there can be nothing held back the old ideas of deviousness manipulation and hierarchy just don't work with this new form of communication that we're developing and it really seems to develop fastest in American business. And so in effect for their own profits really this is not necessarily altruistic all works together. You find these very hard nosed American executives forming a revolution in human relations that are going to have such reverberations throughout the world. I don't think they know what they're releasing because when businessmen come again meeting with one another in this new way of trying to enter the here and now
trying to find ways of disclosing the deepest emotions honesty openness and the things that happen to them really are quite explosive in their personal lives. But of course the companies that are doing this are succeeding. So we have reason to believe that nothing is going to turn this movement around. Isn't this a marvelous and ironic story of how these businesses which started out with this management training and personnel training methods unleashed really a Pandora's Box of experience that it's taking them way beyond their original intent which was better but it includes the original intent which is increased efficiency and increased productivity. And they all claim that these are. These are achieved but something a lot more than that is a whole lot more important and has been achieved along with it. All right then in business we have this happening and we have these encounter groups now
being used by various churches too and we can we can say really that this is a kind of national movement. It's got a lot less publicity than that Ice-T. But I can say from personal experience and many people would say that the experience in these groups is of the same order of intensity. Of course there are great differences but there are certainly moments produced in these groups which are in the same order of intensity as is produced with some of the drugs. Some people think that the results are longer lasting to that a little more available only the gains made in these groups is far more available. Well you mean that it's really people have a transcendental experience in these groups. Yes this is what Clarke reports in his paper eye for eye witness there's various occasions. Exclamations being
made by people that they have. Had a revelation. I remember one schoolteacher man looking across at a woman principal and exclaiming You are the Buddha. And. With tears in his eyes. One has to experience these things I think to really appreciate them. Groups are beginning to find out is that there are all sorts of alternatives to the president rigid present a rigid mold of behavior. There is a richness and diversity in human life that has never been even suspected. In recent years. It's an amazing thing of the way people report my god I didn't know all this was in me. I get it. It's unbelievable the abundance and. I think that this this gives us an awful good understanding of. How the how the true religious impulse was born probably And
people need this equation to that within it at the time of the birth of Christianity there were these small groups meeting everywhere something like this encounter group movement now around the United States and the abundance found in these groups is like like that religious impulse you gave birth to Christianity. Maybe there's always this tremendous sense of freedom and exultation when you find something that you had no idea was in your repertory is there. Yes and this is part of this whole belief that all of these men in your seminar series have any human potentiality Perhaps that really is a key to the whole thing. Yes. Yeah all of them I think all of them would say that we really don't know what's lying in wait for us the good things that are lying in wait for us. That's what I know I tried to get percentage figures as a kind of a silly thing to do. How much of man's potential is he using realizing that a percentage figure is false. Many of these men wouldn't even give a figure that would say well maybe using 5
percent. If we have to use my birth. 1 percent. And this is certainly true of you. You see the things that are happening when you start just unleashing the human spirit. When you decide that it is there that you're not really going to take a person who is intrinsically sick and make him quote well. Because what is really well is just being adjusted to the society as it is. It's basically very conservative and reactionary when instead of doing that you say we're going to help people change in the way they want to change. Well it's explosive. This optimism is can do it can grow it with finds a lot of support from a developed in the field of psychology. The American Association of humanistic psychology is an a an organization which promotes this point of view its represented by men like Mazlan Rogers again but they ground themselves in a in a biological approach
which sees evolution as still in process. Now they would look to men like Henry Burke's own and they are de Shar Dan and Julian Huxley J.B. as holidaying people who say that evolution is becoming conscious of itself in man and this enormous drama that has been unfolded for to been unfolding now for two billion years is at a critical juncture. I think that your statement said this so well that that this is Kyra us that you know if in our time in evolution becoming conscious of itself that that fact is so enormous we should spend semesters in universities just just meditating on that. But at any rate it this this fact and this realization lends a lot of support to to this optimism. Now Mazloum has made direct relationships to
two to various biological analogies too that the human organism can be seen to unfold like a flower that there is evidence that there is a natural kind of unfoldment a kind of hierarchy of needs and drives that he has described. But the various kinds of social conditions of various kinds of pathologies interrupt this drive interfere with it. Now there is some evidence that that this is true. Still it's partly an article of faith partly proven but we could we can look at this this this new viewpoint this third force or humanistic psychology viewpoint as part of this new optimism about human potentialities first most loads it's very simple obvious and incredibly daring thing of simply studying people.
He was an artist one who thought of such an idea. And you know the name of that entirely different picture of what the human being is and can be. Interesting enough a big debate has developed among the humanistic psychologists or at least some of them and another very optimistic man B.F. Skinner. Now we don't think there is such a debate. I mean are we I mean we recognize it today but we don't feel that it's profound or fundamental. I think one of the most charming things about pigs or Hot Springs is that it can house both B.F. Skinner and Carl Rogers on successive weekends. I'm not having a debate you know they've had three famous debates before the American Psychological Association which have been marked if you listen to the tapes. But I know a lot of far about very small things and procedure and technicalities. Whether or not there's such a thing as awareness. But when we don't ask either of those
Mad Men What should we do about people. What can people do in absence of just about the same. And a marvelous weekend with Professor Skinner who really loved because there are hot springs as much as almost everyone loves it. But he was among them. At one point he said you know this I can see there's a good place for Aslan in some corner of Walden too. Welcome to hearing his much debated utopia that many people consider a dystopia. I you know and that was it was quite touching to me when that Dr Skinner got me excited to have to reassure me that how how interested I was in meditation and eastern ways of growth that. In a way this was kind of a revelation to me his his is intense concern that everything that's valuable and has been felt to be valuable by people can in fact be programmed and and conditioned. Right. Even meditation even
meditation. So no evidence of that is true. And well now I think we should we should say something about the work of veges of KMI at Langley Porter Institute in San Francisco who his teaching naïve subjects to control the alpha rhythm in their brain through simple operant techniques usually not taking more than five hours to train to train a person to do this. If this is true I that for for it before that if he could get control of more of the bread various brain wave patterns. There's a good chance that he might teach people with these methods to get into various altered states of consciousness. Now if this is true what would this do this would shock the yogis and shock the Zen masters out of the road is that going to quote America really had something to do with instrumentation but if this could be done and also
his colleagues understand or finding ways to control blood pressure by operant conditioning this is a basic skill Nerium method the same way you train the pigeons to play pinball. But it's the thing that everyone is so horrified about. And yet when it can be done to enhance people with peoples on promotion and their wishes to be changed and then this becomes a key too in this whole revolution. All human right and I think we've got to get past all the cartoons we've seen of people hooked up with these fantastic 1084 machines plugged into their brains. And it got over our squeamishness about this and see that these things are tools just as simple as the chi sock. The this staff at the Zen Master carries around to to hit the novices with or the various other instrument instruments of the contemplative life. Why can't we see a polygraph and an EEG machine. A
register of all the various body rhythms simply is as it is a new more elegant more sophisticated instruments to do to help us. Improve our consciousness. Certainly the problem one of the problems here is that there are a lot of so-called humanist who really don't believe human beings should be changed. And I think that the times just make the argument really quite inappropriate. Because if you look around just the number of marriages that are in trouble the number of children who are having trouble and screw you see that a light that you find in a kindergarten child's eyes you see it slowly being damned through the years I call this a crime. I think that the people who say that we can help people to attain their natural joy to learn with pleasure to be able to relate with another human being to love will find all sorts of ways to help them. And maybe these are groups in
which we reveal things to one another. This seems crude and clumsy to some critics of the movement. We may find simple conditioning techniques that people will. This all has to be voluntary and good. We now drive automobiles on the freeway there too to help people change in such a way as to achieve this enormous potential that all of these great men who are lecturing at the institute find in everyone. Well isn't this true and you know Dr. Skinner well and know that he's good at this sort of thing. Can't we using a behaviorist here Skinnerian learning theory see that this kind of positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement is working at every minute in our lives. Now that it's that we are being reinforced for certain things at every moment that and this I think leads us to the last statement that you made in your introduction to Dr masters talk that all our
social institutions are enormous condition errors and that if we're going to change we're not going to change the person. And by himself as an island. But we're going to change we must have an attack on off fronts and we must change the institutions and the individual at the same time. The constant in the play between individual and institution I think here we would probably find ourselves in opposition to the student leaders the type of the youth revolt people who feel that you know you can't do anything with the machinery just leave it alone. I think this is very defeatist because I feel it is strong evidence we've discussed it earlier can concerning the businesses who are developing this new model of human relations. There is strong evidence that the institutions of America are ready to change. And one reason they are not changing they're not changing creatively is that literature science and sociology up to this point has been primarily critical. Now let's give the people. Let's do it through the
series for example. Let people see some of the things that can be done to affirmative basis and then let them take take than leave. This is not saying that you should do this but let's offer alternatives. People are amazed when they find out as we said before what a fantastic repertory of behavior they have I think that institutions are also amazed when they see themselves soaring making more profit having a better time at it. And when they find that they can do these things without being threatened we don't have to keep in this narrow old world way of relating. We can make these steps forward. And I believe institutions will change. Wasn't there a Greek word or are they the origin of the word idiot. That was a man who refused to participate in that great time in Greece's golden age. Perhaps we'll begin to call the the Beatnik on the one hand or are they sophisticated defeatist critiquing the other an
idiot in this or a Greek Sansa person who can be quite bright individually but who refuses to participate in public affairs. Public affairs of all kinds Ella and. We may be approaching a phenomenal moment in American history and world history. I think that you probably perceive this is as clearly as anybody I know that in the in your travels back and forth across the United States you get glimpses of this hopeful spirit emerging all over and you have written about this. Would you say that you could you could you say anything about a time scale of this change do you think it's going to come upon us in the next hundred years or the next 10 years you think. Can you talk in terms of how long it's going to take for it for you. Well I would like to yes. Specifically in schools
because schools it turns out are really the slowest changing institutions in our society. You know the time when banks are having dancing girls in the changing the whole idea of interchange of money currency and their treatment of their customers when they're undergoing a complete revolution when insurance companies are changing rapidly. Schools really in spite of a lot of talk about the new math of the new curriculum which is in a sense a way backwards step backwards towards more rigid Froebel college oriented control over the early school curriculum. But for the most part schools have been very slow in changing. Now if you look forward to the year 2000 that's 35 years from now look back 35 years 35 years ago. Most schools were characterized by little rectangular rooms in which one teacher would talk to 20 or 30 kids. Today most schools are the same way. Is that going to be true in
the year 2000. I do not think so. I just don't think it's possible. I think that when you talked about a really large change whether we can look back and say wow these last 10 years have moved we are living differently we perceive ourselves differently. Our relationships with our friends with our wives children are different. Our way of going to work is different. I think it will be much closer 10 years than 100 years because the whole idea that technology can change without commensurate change in human beings is a false idea. People do respond that human beings are incredibly responsive creature and he will respond to his environment when the environment does become hooked on to the individual as it is. With this incredible communication transportation the ability to communicate with the whole world simultaneously. I think that the human organism is going to change very fast you can already see it in the differences between the two generations. This
is a very striking case right now. What are what are the some of the big changes we can see in our major institutions. You mention education. A sign I think is last year one thousand sixty five every United States ambassador was one isn't one of these basic encounter groups. Perhaps we can we can see the change in industry from the so-called X management to y management from the more authoritarian kind of thing and this is being generated primarily in the leading business schools at Harvard MIT Case Institute and UCLA. We can see this in education then and in business. I wonder if we can see changes in government already and both. What are levels or is that. Well I think government probably will be one of the last institutions to change especially the federal government in a sense this is good because I would not want a central
government experimenting with our lives. The central government's main role is really to reflect the needs of the electorate and to merely mediate inequities between people. This has been very necessary in certain cases of racial prejudice. The federal government has had to step in. It's sad that this was true. It's too bad that industry northern based industry in the South didn't do something they could have ended segregation years ago. I think increasingly you're going to see the private sectors of the independent sectors moving harder and faster to make changes and so I do feel that you won't see the really revolutionary changes in the governmental entities nearly so fast. We can look to at the at the therapy professions. Now if you can judge from the sentiments being expressed by the American Association of humanistic psychology and by various writers.
And especially by so-called law what is has been called a grassroots movement for psychotherapy movement. Margaret re OCS program to train housewives to be therapists. Gerry good men's work to teach college kids to do therapy on sixth graders. It might turn out that we are training and training practically everybody to to learn how to be therapeutic in their relationship. Here's another institution that's. Due for a groundswell of change. Well I think the sooner you can get control the absolute control of any large great institution out of the hands of the priesthood and the specialists the quicker you can have change I think in times of rapid change the priesthood is generally the great loser. And the ones who struggle the most vehemently to oppose change. And I just hope that
we won't see too much of a struggle in the entrenched therapeutic group of the changes that I think are inevitable. I think this brings it to a point we might like close on. Frank baron in a book called creativity and psychological health entitled his last chapter. I believe violence and vitality. And made the point that we are coming to a fork in the road a kind of a why we're releasing enormous energies. We see this in technology and the splitting of the atom. But we see it also in the younger generation the college generation which is in a sense splitting the university. Right here right here is a group of people who are who are turned on who. They're bigger and more vital and probably brighter than the people who run the
institutions. Last year these people and some of their elders took a million doses of LSD. Power is being released energy is being released now. I think we we must realize the enormous dangers that are latent in that us that that energy released by itself is not necessarily good energy or good life. And perhaps in some real sense perhaps this is over drawing a little bit but perhaps not that we are facing a decision moment or a crisis moment in American history that we're releasing enormous forces meddling say we're splitting the ego like we splitting the atom certain we see this in these kind of groups that we've got to be. Lies about the way this energy this this energy and power is given shape. Try but it seems to me that the one wrong thing we could do for sure is to try to bottle it up entirely.
I just wouldn't work. It seems to me that it's up to everybody to try to find constructive creative alternatives. Roads that it can take that will not be destructive rather than to try to block it off directly because that would truly be to the explosion. And again to do this LSD is a case in point. First of all we have. We have to fully comprehend the the put potency of this energy that's being released and then we have to be willing to to give it some to some shape and give it some channel not deny it not repress it not merely hold it down. We've been through prohibition once and we can't we can't we can't go home again so it's going to force the problem. On our institutions. A real rethinking of policies or policies of control by and by the medical
profession for example it's going to going to affect governmental policies too to accommodate this energy and had given significant shape in significant form. I feel very strongly however that you know history is just one symptom of many. Right. Right Cause I think the same kind of energy is being released will be released without any kind of truck. I think we feel. We're well into it. Well. Thank you very much George for. For talking together with me about the buy the series it's coming up. I think that. To repeat again from your statement this is a time of Cairo us and we're privileged to to have men such as the leaders of this series.
- Seminar: Big Sur
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the second of two parts, features Michael Murphy and George Leonard, West Coast Senior Editor of Look Magazine, on human potentiality.
- Other Description
- Discussion and lecture series from Esalen Institute at Big Sur, Calif., headed by Michael H. Murphy devoted to exploring the psychological nature of man.
- Media type
Producer: Esalen Institute
Speaker: Murphy, Michael, 1930 September 3-
Speaker: Leonard, George, 1923-2010
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-30-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Seminar: Big Sur; Michael Murphy and George Leonard, part two,” 1967-06-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 18, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-zs2kbx8b.
- MLA: “Seminar: Big Sur; Michael Murphy and George Leonard, part two.” 1967-06-06. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 18, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-zs2kbx8b>.
- APA: Seminar: Big Sur; Michael Murphy and George Leonard, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-zs2kbx8b