ITP Co-Founder Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy was a student at Stanford University in 1950 when he took a class taught by Frederic Spiegelberg, a professor of Comparative Religious Studies, that would alter his career path forever. Influenced by Spiegelberg’s lectures, Michael gave up his pre-med courses and dedicated himself to the study of philosophy and the practice of meditation.

After graduating from Stanford, Michael spent over a year at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India in 1956. For 18 months he deepened his long-term meditation practice, furthering his commitment toward the pursuit of personal and social transformation.

Returning back to California and inspired to explore the human potentialities, Michael and former Stanford classmate, Richard Price, co-founded the Esalen Institute on family-owned land along California’s Big Sur coastline. Opening in 1962 under the banner of “Human Potentialities,” Esalen hosted seminars on topics spanning from Eastern thought and religious practice to humanistic psychology and ecology.

It was in those first years that Michael and fellow ITP co-founder George Leonard were introduced at a dinner party. After hours of conversation that first evening in February of 1965, they committed to a partnership in human transformation. In the brainstorming sessions and discussions that followed that synchronistic dinner party, they launched the human potential movement.

In 1976, Michael and four assistants began collecting material concerning extraordinary human functioning for a project that would occupy 15 years, result in more than 11,000 documents and inspire his book: The Future of the Body: Explorations into the Further Evolution of Human Nature. Michael’s magnum opus was published early in 1992, shortly after the publication of Leonard’s latest book, Mastery: The Keys to Long-Term Success and Fulfillment.

It was at this point Michael and George formed an experimental class in what they would call Integral Transformative Practice®.

Since the co-founding of ITP, Michael has continued his work for personal and social transformation. Michael is co-founder of Integral Transformative Practice, co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Esalen Institute and author of four novels: Golf in the Kingdom, The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Jacob Atabet and An End to Ordinary History. His nonfiction works include: The Life We Are Given, In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experience, co-authored with Rhea White, and The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature.


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