Michael Yen was born in Hong Kong when it was still a British Crown Colony. At the age of three, his parents immigrated to the United States, but he remained in Hong Kong at the insistence of his paternal grandfather who wished that he learn some Chinese culture before immigrating. He went on to teach Michael to recite Tang poetry, play Chinese chess and the basics of Taoism.
After joining his family in Los Angeles at the age of ten, Michael became a Sci-Fi nerd and started a UFO club at his junior high. At the age of 18, he surprised everyone and joined the U.S. Army Reserves without telling anyone in advance. A more mature man returned and began studying at SF State University.
During the last year of his graduate studies in International Relations, Michael passed the Foreign Service exam and was offered a position by the United States Department of State in 1990. After serving at Washington, DC and overseas in Taiwan, Japan and the People’s Republic of China, Michael was posted to the U.S. Consulate-General in Hong Kong where he declared as a member of the Baha’i Faith. While in Hong Kong, Michael was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Southern District and later to the National Spiritual Assembly of Hong Kong.
After meeting his future mentor, Professor Heyong Shen at a diplomatic function to celebrate the professor’s achievement of becoming the first internationally certified Jungian analyst in China and the visit of a U.S. delegation of leading psychologists, Michael became interested in psychology. Invited to join the doctoral program at Professor Shen’s university in 2002, Michael leapt at the chance. Following a minor international incident, Michael was permitted to become the first active duty foreign diplomat to concurrently hold international scholar status and enjoy unrestricted access to a university campus in the history of the PRC.
In 2005, Michael resigned from the Foreign Service to take care of his disabled mother and to focus on his doctoral dissertation. In 2006, Michael completed the oral defense of his dissertation in China and was awarded the degree Philosophiae Doctor. Michael worked as a therapist in Guangzhou and served as consulting psychologist for the Zhuhai International School, but also spent time with his mother.
When his mother’s health deteriorated in 2009, Michael relocated permanently to San Francisco. In 2010, Michael married Cathy, a woman he met on a plane nine years earlier. After “One Giant Leap,” Michael is working on a second book, “Places Beyond Belief,” that details their exploration together of the multitude dimensions of human consciousness.