Who is Peter Ralston?

Peter Ralston works with people to authentically expand and deepen their “consciousness,” and to become more real, honest, and effective human beings. He facilitates people in understanding their own selves and minds, and in becoming increasingly conscious of their own true nature as well as the nature of perception, experience, and existence.

He also teaches people about their bodies and how to be most effective in its use, and is the creator of the Art of Effortless Power—a large scope internal martial art using an effortless power to “play” with others, deepening an understanding of effective interaction using such principles as joining, complementing, and leading to create masterful interactive skills.

The governing principle behind his pursuit of consciousness, as well as his martial and body-being work, was to move beyond traditions and beliefs to get to the bottom of the reality of both fighting and consciousness. After decades of research, using this spirit and principle, he built an exceptional depth of understanding. Although very uncommon, this unique approach produced the most powerful results. 

Ralston’s Consciousness Background

Peter Ralston is one of the founders of the consciousness movement that began in the San Francisco Bay Area—the birthplace for much of the personal growth work generated in the late Sixties and early Seventies. It was here that organizations such as Actualizations, EST, Gestalt, NLP, and many, many others sprang up—a vast range of studies from spiritual and New Age approaches to human transformation, to psychic development, new paradigms in psychology, bodywork, health, and more. Although the pursuits were diverse, the overall spirit was one of breaking free from old ways of thinking and creating more powerful ways to live.

Peter Ralston was fortunate to study with the top facilitators of this groundbreaking era in human potential. He worked for Stewart Emery in Actualizations and helped Werner Erhard create a fundamental shift in his work from EST to developing the Forum. Peter spent thousands of hours in Zen contemplation and has participated in dozens of intensives with Charles Berner, the founder of the Enlightenment Intensive.

After several powerful enlightenment experiences in the early 70’s, and maturing in his work and teaching, in 1977 Ralston opened his own center in Berkeley, California. Coming directly from the source of the emerging personal growth movement, Ralston’s work at The Cheng Hsin School for Ontological Research contributed a powerful new direction, pressing for a deeper level of honesty and a more authentic approach. In both mind work and martial arts, his approach has always been to lead students away from what is merely believed, and toward a powerful personal experience of discovering for themselves what is true.

Ralston has been doing his Consciousness work for decades, facilitating the staff of Lifesprings and of Tony Robbins NLP trainings, as well as workshops for Esalen, Self Actualizations, Empowerment, and many others across the US. Although many know him for his creation of the Art of Effortless Power, and as the author of The Principles of Effortless Power, and Zen Body-Being, he is also the creator of the Empowerment Institute, and the author of Ancient Wisdom, New Spirit, Reflections of Being, and his newest and most powerful works, The Book of Not Knowing and Pursuing Consciousness.

Ralston is an inspired teacher, electrifying his students as he leads them to experience new insights and breakthroughs, transforming their views of themselves and their experience of life.

Peter Ralston Martial History

Peter Ralston was born in San Francisco but raised primarily in Asia. He began studying martial arts at the age of 9 in Singapore. By the age of 20 he had black belts in Judo, Jujitsu, and Karate, had been Sumo champion at his high school in Japan, Judo and fencing champion at UC Berkeley, and had demonstrated proficiency in Kempo, Ch’uan Fa, and Northern Sil Lum Kung Fu. A growing interest in the “internal” martial arts lead him to study T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Hsing I Ch’uan, and Pa Kua Chang.

Ralston has pursued this endeavor with a passionate determination for more than 40 years. He sought out and studied with the world’s most demonstrably skilled teachers, broadening his study with such arts as Aikido, Japanese and Chinese fencing, western boxing, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and new levels of his own investigations into all of these arts. His exceptional commitment (often practicing for more than eight to ten hours a day) and depth of study, along with his intense meditation and open inquiry have led Ralston to profound levels of skill and understanding.

Consistent with Zen studies, his investigation into martial arts also came to include a questioning of reality. Long periods of intense contemplation resulted in many enlightenment experiences regarding the nature of self and reality which greatly influenced his study.

To communicate his understanding, in 1975 Ralston founded the Cheng Hsin School. In 1977 he opened a center called The Cheng Hsin School of Internal Martial Arts and Center for Ontological Research in Oakland, California.

Intent on revealing the depth and power of this work, in 1978 he became the first non-Asian ever to win the World Championship full-contact martial arts tournament held in the Republic of China.

Ralston’s main focus in his teaching has been to uncover and communicate the principles behind any subject matter; frequently it is about being effortlessly effective. His main focus in his facilitation work is to uncover the truth of things, to break through assumptions and beliefs, and to assist others in having a direct, authentic, and experiential increase in Consciousness. He is a highly trained and insightful facilitator, freely and openly teaching what he has learned from years of insight and direct experience.