The Esalen Institute is where legends like Joseph Campbell, Abraham Maslow and Fritz Perls did some of their seminal work.
We ranked Esalen No. 2 in that series because of its unparalleled physical amenities — like these luxurious cliff-hanger mineral baths that jut off Big Sur over Pacific breakers.
But California’s wildfires are now within a mile of Esalen’s magical property, and the remaining skeleton staff of 50-odd people can see flames on the ridges of the coastal mountains (the image above was taken by one of them from the Esalen grounds).
Realize that people travel from all over the world to attend these sessions, drawn by some of the leading lights in the consciousness enterprise — viz, the weekend retreat with Byron Katie coming up in September.
In these circles, for Esalen to close is the equivalent of the Vatican to be evacuated for all of Holy Week over, say, a sarin gas scare.
Please send prayers to the staff who have stayed behind to do what they can to maintain and preserve the Esalen grounds, and donations to Friends of Esalen (charitable, tax-deductible, non-profit).
Pray that the fire does not cross Highway 1 and intrude on this beacon on a hill.
Big Sur fire stats:
- Acres burned: 64,305 (100 square miles)
- Acreage increase (last 12 hours): 8,485
- Fireline to build: 23 miles
- Date started: 6/21/08
- Percent contained: 3%
- Expected containment: 7/30/08
- Injuries: 2 (firefighters)
- Structures threatened: 1,277
- Structures destroyed: 17
- Suppression cost to date: $11 million
- Crews: 32
- Engines: 142
- Helicopters: 8
- Air Tankers: 2
- Dozers: 34
- Total Personnel Assigned: 1,601
- Unified Command: US Forest Service, CAL FIRE, Monterey County Sheriff, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, and Mid Coast Fire Brigade
For context, this is why you have heard California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in panic mode over fires raging across the state during June:
Drought, heat and lightning storms have contributed to more than 1,100 separate fires that have blackened 680 square miles of land statewide in the past two weeks.
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