Michael Murphy: Mysticism in Sports

Michael Murphy

March 10, 2019

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The esteemed Michael Murphy is the co-founder of the Esalen Institute, and a very smart guy; this is accepted as established fact. What’s somewhat less known about Michael is that he is a sports nut - and an expert on mysticism within the realm of sports. In 1972, Murphy published his first book, Golf in the Kingdom, which went on to sell more than one million copies, becoming a cult classic among athletes, with many celebrity fans, among them Phil Jackson, Bill Murray, and Tom Smothers. He is also the author of In the Zone: Transcendent Experiences in Sports, (with Rhea White), which, in the words of historian Jeffrey Kripal, “makes the case that there is a kind of spiritual underground in the sports world, and that the psychodynamics of athletics - extreme discipline, physical suffering, risk-taking, scripted trauma - bear some rather striking resemblances to the earlier cultural patterns of shamanism and mysticism.” In the Zone, in fact, is a book of case studies that make the compelling argument that sports may constitute an arena made for shifting consciousness and spontaneously inducing mystical states. So let’s dive deep - with the golfing yogi, the shaman of San Francisco ... 49ers - Mr. Michael Murphy.

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