Speaker: Gunther Weil

Portals to Presence

“A ‘Portal to Presence’ is exactly what it says,” writes Gunther Weil, “a simple doorway that points to the realm of Consciousness or Presence. It would be stretching the meaning of the word 'technique' or 'method' to apply it to this idea. One just walks through the portal as one becomes aware of its existence…. The portal opens, and Presence arises spontaneously.”

Weil is a Harvard-trained psychologist, executive coach, and lifelong student of consciousness. His diverse and colorful life includes working as a music business executive and being instrumental in the production of Aerosmith’s first album; teaching at Brandeis University, recruited and mentored by psychologist Abraham Maslow; coaching international executives in leadership, wellness, organizational development, and conflict resolution in the private and public sectors; studying and teaching Tai Chi and becoming a recognized master teacher of Qigong; and perhaps most famously, pioneering the mass consciousness movement that began in the 1960s with Dr. Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (a.k.a., Ram Dass), Ralph Metzner and others that popularized the field of psychedelic therapies. 

As a young child, Weil and his parents fled the Holocaust “on one of the last boats leaving for America.” They settled in Nebraska, then Milwaukee, with psychology, philosophy, and classical music infusing their family culture. His father was an internationally regarded psychologist and pioneering researcher in Europe on synesthesia, the phenomenon of crossed senses, like smelling colors or seeing music. Education was of paramount importance; it was his father’s academic work that was their ticket to the US.

Weil went on to study psychology and philosophy at Kenyon College, receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study in Norway. While there, he often visited Paris in his free time, inspired by the expat beatniks, literati, and jazz musicians who preceded the hippie generation. Upon returning to the States, he earned his doctorate in psychology at Harvard University. His assigned faculty advisor was a prominent researcher in the field of personality — Dr. Timothy Leary. Among their research studies was the Concord Prison Experiment, a randomized, controlled study designed to evaluate whether psilocybin mushrooms, combined with psychotherapy, could have a healing effect on young adults convicted of felonies in a maximum-security prison. In addition to improved recidivism rates (the degree of which has been debated), personality tests before and after these interventions showed positive changes. 

In the 1970s, Weil worked in the music industry, as CEO at Intermedia Recording Corporation and senior vice president of Intermedia Systems Corporation, a publicly held multi-media production firm. Two of his numerous music projects were the 1973 debut album, “Aerosmith,” and the 1978 recording of the song “Jet Airliner,” by the Steve Miller Band, which hit both gold and platinum for sales exceeding two million.

The bulk of Weil’s life work sits at the intersection of his formative influences of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, bringing others to what he calls a Portal to Presence — a simple doorway that effortlessly opens to an expansive awareness. He has conducted personal growth seminars in leadership, creativity, emotional intelligence and wellness for executives and their organizations throughout the world. He is certified in the HeartMath Inner Quality Management Program, Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT), and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), and is a Master Values Mentor of the Minessence Group. In 2001, he was personally invited by Eckhart Tolle, bestselling author of The Power of Now, to teach and facilitate the Practice of Presence.

An important Portal to Presence for Weil has been the internal arts of Tai Chi and Qigong. Fifty years ago, Weil began his studies in New York City in the Yang Style Cheng Man-Ching lineage, followed by the Dong Family Yang style and Chen Beijing style lineages. He deepened his experience of Qigong by traveling the world co-teaching with Master Mantak Chia, a renowned teacher of Taoist Inner Alchemy who, Weil recounts, “would scribble down Qigong practices like the microcosmic orbit onto scraps of paper,” with Weil scrambling to pick them up and study them. In 1996, Weil became the founding chairman of the National Qigong Association and has studied or taught with direct lineage holders in the wisdom traditions of Taoism, Buddhism, Advaita, and The Gurdjieff Work. 

Please join David Bonbright and Cynthia Li in conversation with this quintessential student of life and consciousness. 

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