Esalen, the Soul Rush, and Spiritual Privilege
This introductory chapter details the history and philosophy behind the Esalen Institute, its impact on society since its inception in the 1960s, as well as the background of research in exploring Esalen and its enduring influence. The Institute's founding generation had started lasting organizations and social networks that facilitated the development and spread of alternative spirituality and humanistic psychology in the twenty-first century. Esalen encouraged widespread enthusiasm for an enormous range of spiritual paths that offered possibilities for individuals to live joyfully and discover fresh truths about themselves and the cosmos. It democratized spiritual privilege by popularizing options that had once been available to relatively few Americans and made the religious marketplace more diverse and open. Esalen played a critical role in introducing and promoting esoteric spirituality so that it flowed into mainstream culture.
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