… Sandhano writes about her recent adventures.
As some of my beloved Osho friends know, I have been looking for a home for a few years now, since I left Quito, Ecuador and my beloved Akash in search of a “better life”.
I wanted nature. I wanted trees. I wanted art and friends and ocean.
Ramana’s Garden Rishikesh
I tried many places. In India, Dwabha and Ramana’s Garden was the closest thing I have found to home since I left. It had the trees and the holy Ganga for swimming, meditation opportunities at every turn. But the kids needed so much more than I could give, so I moved on to find my “own” place. Existence seems to be laughing at my mad desire for ownership. Read on.
I continued to New Zealand to visit my favourite cousins and had a wonderful reunion and healing with them, getting to know their nearly grown girls. There, thanks to Dhanyam and Avinasho from Osho Viha, I met some fabulous sannyasins, Muhabbat and Ramapada, who wanted to move, coincidentally, to Ecuador. So I helped them get oriented towards Ecuador, where I had been living since 2000, and gave them Spanish lessons. In exchange, they took me into their home and hearts, fed me delicious home-grown veggies and poultry, and taught me as much about Human Design as I could digest, and generally soothed my homeless soul. HD is a way of understanding ourselves and others using the I Ching and Astrology. They had the good fortune to live next door to HD’s founder Ra Ur Hu, in Sedona, for years. (Human Design, not Harideva!)
Muhabbat, from Germany, and Ramapada, from California, invited me to try living communally with them in the South of Ecuador, in Vilcabamba, a town that is attracting mega amounts of ex-pats due to its nickname, the Valley of Longevity. The weather is perfect there for growing food and living long; just the right amount of sun and rain, warmth and crispness, rivers and good soil to have the healthiest lifestyle possible. Plus it is fairly inexpensive and off the map as far as dangerous politics goes.
Our beloved Marcos, the Mexican musician, brother to Teerth, was the first sannyasin to find it and settled many years ago, till he succumbed to cancer a few years back. His dear friend Amalaa (Australian) cared for him day and night in his last months, and then found herself living there. Through serendipity she bought herself an adorable adobe casita. Next came Anubuddha and Anasha, bringing their massage workshops, settling in a gated community just outside of town. A few more sannyasins are there and I believe Prem Daya has been coming and going for many years, and I heard Vinaya and his beloved have opened a meditation centre. Now my Muhabbat and Ramapada have finished their house and are starting on the gardens. Those guys move fast!
But through Human Design, I kept getting an inner “unh unh” to Ecuador and Vilcabamba, try as I might to argue with myself.
I went to Corfu and tried out Arillas and Buddha Hall. That was amazing, a great Buddhafield is happening there. The water was a bit too cold to swim; otherwise it was perfect, at least in the summer. I went around with realtors, but still Existence did not show me a place that just sounded an inner “Mmm Hmmmm”. My little piece of earth still eluded me. Or was I eluding it?
From Hawaii to Boulder, Colorado
Next I tried to get to Hawaii, which is my favourite place on earth. But the inner “Mmm Hmm” was again absent, along with an easy place to land. So I tried Boulder, visiting my old friend Samagra from Poona One and her daughter, Raga, who had once been my step daughter when I was with her father, Nigama, oh so long ago. I managed three months there, and from Samagra and her famous and talented friend Caroline Douglas, learned a lot about clay.
Samagra gave me the opportunity to work in a clay studio and see what that entails, and I fell madly in love with working with clay. The feeling, the healing, the detail and quiet. The godlike feeling of creating creatures and perfecting them. The play of wetness vs. dryness, the alchemy that happens in the kiln with the fire, learning patience, timing, and opening up to creativity in its most tactile form. Perfect for a bodyworker and Watsu practitioner. Then the cold weather hit, and I was climbing the walls.
Now my list had a sixth criteria. Nature, trees, friends, art, ocean (or swimming) and a clay studio.
Harbin Hot Springs, California
A friend from when I lived in Garberville in the 1990’s invited me for Christmas in California. I jumped at the chance.
As I was trying to sublet my place for the winter in Boulder, the landlady stepped in and made it impossible, so I packed everything up one day and headed for California – lock, stock and barrel.
I arrived at Spirit Song, a small community of three full time residents and two part time residents, near Harbin Hot Springs, California, on December 24th 2013. I had been invited by my dear old friend Trish from my Garberville days to join her and her Irish sweetheart Rory to have dinner from their own chickens and a nice Christmas Day walk around their 37 acres with their dog, Roger. It sounded like the most peaceful Christmas ever.
Spirit Song is a commune of non-sannyasins, dedicated to protecting and living in harmony with the land. Most of the houses are of milled wood from right there on the property. There are organic gardens and chickens, baby cows growing old enough to mate and milk, and four springs providing fabulous drinking water to all of the five buildings on the property.
They have a main house for cooking, hanging out and hot showers. The water is heated either by solar panels or the wood stove, depending on the season. Photo voltaic panels light up the place, with a back-up generator. There was not very much electricity during the winter due to the fewer hours of sunlight, but we watched a few movies together with the help of the generator. Needless to say, no TV.
It also has an octagon, a tree house, a ‘view house’, a tiny cabin, and a yurt, all equipped with shitters (aka privy), wood stoves, sinks and faucets. All are surrounded by trees and no one can hear or see one another even though less than a five minute walk away.
They let me use the yurt, a 24′ (ca. 7.30 metres) diameter round space with a little cold water kitchen on one side of the deck and a shitter on the other. It also had a cold water shower which I hardly ever used, a wood stove, plenty of carpets, cushions, blankets, a double bed, a fold-out futon, and several arm chairs and tables.
Even with all this furniture, it felt roomy. Partly because of the lack of electricity it seemed that there was endless time and space. With no modem or cell signal, I had tons of time to really see where I was, what was around me, enjoy the sacred silence of the woods, and hang out with the other people on the land.
Night times were filled with live music down at the main house, or my own favourites on my iPad up at the yurt. (I was able to charge the devices, during the day, off the solar panels.) Perfect for dancing, praying, giving thanks, doing yoga. I just loved all the space, inside and outside.
Waking up to the trees all around the yurt was magic for me. I woke up singing most days. I would make up little songs to them and thank the Spirit of Spirit Song for having me. Somehow it seemed to like that and invisibly smile back at me. I would walk past the sweat lodge down to the main house for breakfast and endless cups of tea and merry-making, or processing, or planning the day. When the house meeting happened, I asked if I could stay till May and they all welcomed me warmly.
I loved it up at the yurt so much that I wanted the kitchen to be functional instead of being used for storing sweat lodge blankets and tools and miscellaneous.
Two ex-boyfriends from the Ranch came up from Marin to visit. Deva Samo loaned me a little propane lantern so I could paint or sculpt at night, as the yurt was too far from the power source to have more than an hour or two of light at night. He turned me on to websites with solar powered lights, and did a day of art with me up there in the peaceful woods. He is becoming an artist late in life and shows his art on a website. Just had his first show! Go Samo!
One night we made a fire under the water trough that serves as Spirit Song’s communal bathtub under the stars. We made it so hot that he almost cooked himself that night, after a few too many beers! He had a hilarious monologue ready for us when we came back down to the main house about how we were trying to make Samo soup. But we got the hang of it. It is so magical to learn how to use the elements, how big of a fire, how much wood, how to use just embers to start the next fire – the fire outside mirrors the one inside. I love learning how to manage with very little, and how fire and energy really work, how to handle my own energy inside myself. Nature is the best teacher. And it is so hard to get in touch with it anymore because of our technological lifestyle.
Deva Bhava came up a couple of times and got me a battery pack that could power the electric lamps scattered around the yurt, also charging during the day off the sun, and helped me fix up the kitchen and chopped tons of wood. Remember they used to call him Lumberjack Bhava on the Ranch, though he would rather be known as Tree-planter Bhava.
We had so much fun working together as a team. The ranch energy was back, 25 years later – anticipating each others movements, dividing the tasks, helping each other with everything. We had way more energy together than we did alone; we fuelled and inspired each other. Bhava was brave and got me to take cold showers instead of going down to the shared shower. We just wanted to be up there all the time, making it nicer and nicer, resting in the firelight at night to music, just enjoying nature. It really brought back the best memories of our youth in the commune.
Unfortunately, my friend felt a little jealous, I think, of all the fun and all the work that was happening up there. She made a few comments about not wanting a sannyasin enclave up there, separate from the main house and community. So slowly, slowly I got the idea it wasn’t going to work, since exactly what she wanted less of, I wanted more of. And finally when they refused Bhava to come up and live for a month’s trial period, I left soon after, feeling that wherever I make my home, my friends and lovers must be welcome.
This land is very close to the land Nidhi, Sangeet and a few others are trying to purchase. But that land has developed hot springs and structures already on it, as well as permits for every kind of activity under the sun. I hope they pull it off and will certainly contribute if they do. If anybody wants to chip in, they could surely use any type of help you want to give.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
So me, I am back to square one. Looking for a permanent home, or at least a home base. Just now I am in San Miguel, enjoying Anado, his husband Richard, and Sudheer, and doing lots of clay sculpture. Part of me would like to settle here, the other part says it will die without natural water to swim in.
Born in Hong Kong, Sandhano grew up in Southern California and also travelled around the world when young. After meeting Amrit Prem and Kavisho at Esalen in 1977, she started meditating and saved money to leave for India right after high school. She took sannyas in 1979 and lived and worked in Pune ashram and Rajneeshpuram. She is presently in Mexico, and her next stop will be Brazil. She loves working with clay, when she is not travelling.
If anyone out there has a situation that sounds like Sandhano would fit with, please let her know. Kerina Moorsteen on Facebook, kerina1100 (at) gmail.com