The Shot Heard 'Round the World: A Brief History of the Human Potential Movement George Leonard and Ken Wilber
September 16, 2010 15:05

The Shot Heard 'Round the World: A Brief History of the Human Potential Movement
George Leonard and Ken Wilber

George Leonard, a true Integral pioneer upon whose shoulders we all currently stand, talks with Ken Wilber about the origin of the Human Potential Movement.

"If you really want to be integral, you've got to include political and social movements." -George Leonard

If the Human Potential Movement has founding parents, George Leonard and Mike Murphy are its grandfathers. In fact George, while an award-winning editor at Look magazine, named the movement and was instrumental in making it internationally known, as you will hear in this fascinating account of the history of the Human Potential Movement from its founding in the early sixties to its culmination in an Integral Transformative Practice.

George Leonard, who was pushing eighty when this talk was recorded, had the energy of a twenty-year old and remains a wonderful example of a healthy body, mind, and spirit. In the following account, George traces the history of the human potential movement back to its beginnings in the civil rights movement, and points out that the original human potential movement—certainly as conceived by him and Mike—was an integral movement, drawing on both interior development to higher and wider waves of consciousness, as well as exterior development to more inclusive political and social movements.

But somewhere along the rocky road, the movement splintered into several partial fragments—just a political movement, or just exercises for inducing shamanic peak experiences, or just a social justice branch, or just personal transformation, or just an environmental movement. George, who named the movement, says that at this point, he and Mike felt that they "had to un-name the movement," so fragmented had it become.

Then, in the early nineties, the pieces began to come together again, and the result was an Integral Transformative Practice (which, in this conversation, Ken summarizes as "the exercise of body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature"—all levels, all quadrants). The first formal version of an ITP was introduced by George and Mike in their ground-breaking book, The Life We Are Given.

From the first firing of that "shot heard round the world"—on February 2, 1965 in George's house on California Street, San Francisco—to the culmination of an Integral Transformative Practice in the mid-nineties, the life of George Leonard is the life of the human potential movement.

The final result of an ITP is not a life more complex, but more simple. The last sentence on this clip, which is a little hard to hear because George whispers it, really says it all: "The whole key here is to simplify, to do less, not more, to that final point of artistry where all that needs to be done is done, and yet nothing more."




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