George Leonard was President Emeritus of Esalen Institute and one of the giants of the Human Potential Movement through the second half of the 20th Century. Often called the "third founder" of Esalen for his decades of leading contributions to the Institute and its work, Leonard was one of the leading voices of the past two generations in shaping American culture and our world today.
Leonard co-founded Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) with Michael Murphy. He was the author of numerous books on human possibilities and social change, including Education and Ecstasy, The Transformation, The Ultimate Athlete, The Silent Pulse, The End of Sex, Mastery, and The Way of Aikido. The 1995 book, The Life We Are Given, co-authored with Murphy, reports on a two-year experimental class in ITP created by the authors for realizing the potential of body, mind, heart, and soul. ITP Groups are now practicing not only throughout the U.S., but in other countries as well.
Leonard has been called "the granddaddy of the consciousness movement," by Newsweek, "the poet-philosopher of American health in its broadest sense" by American Health, and "the legendary editor and writer" by Psychology Today. While serving as senior editor for Look magazine (1953-1970), he won an unprecedented eleven national awards for education writing. His coverage of the Civil Rights Movements (praised in the February 10, 2003 New Yorker) contributed to Look receiving the first National Magazine Award in 1968. His harrowing 7,000-mile journey around the Soviet border with photographer Paul Fusco just after the Berlin Wall went up provided the first reportage showing that the Iron Curtain was an actual barrier of barbed wire, mine fields, and watch towers rather than a mere figure of speech.
In a sense, Leonard discovered the Sixties. While other media were still decrying the silent or cautious generous, he produced a special Look issue called "Youth of the Sixties: The Explosive Generation" (Jan. 3, 1961) which foretold the idealism and turmoil to come. His special issue on California (Sept. 25, 1962) was the first to put forth the thesis (later adopted by all media and become conventional wisdom) that what happened in that state would happen later throughout the nation.
Leonard coined the term "human potential movement" and first used the term "The Transformation" in a book of that title to describe a shift in the way industrial culture deals with matter and energy, organizes social forms, and shapes consciousness.
Leonard died peacefully at his home in Mill Valley California, surrounded by friends and family, on January 6, 2010.
George Leonard on Awakening Your Body's Energies: