(20.3.1939 – 11.5.2018)
Ma Prem Karuna (Wendy Kress, Ed.D., aka Wendy Cutler Wyatt) studied Sociology at Skidmore College. Already then she was interested in the depth of human potential and the process of learning and, as her senior sociology paper, she penned The Educational Value of Extracurricular Activities. In the 1960s, she started a nonprofit consulting organization and personal growth institute while working on her doctorate in adult education at Boston University, where she earned an M.Ed. and Ed.D. She later became a faculty member at Antioch College, Keene, NH; Oblate College, MA; Cambridge College, Cambridge and Springfield, MA.
She founded and ran an organization in Concord, MA, called Associates for Human Resources. She participated in an Arica training in Boston and, when on a trek in Nepal with a friend she felt she was going in the wrong direction, turned around and headed for Pune where she had friends from Arica. She took sannyas, in the mid ’70’s, and brought Osho (his meditations and discourses) to Boston.
She and a friend, Cynthia Finn, owned a workshop / retreat center in North Berwick, ME, named Birdsong Farm. She introduced Osho there too. In 1977, she received from Osho a name for a center, and together with Pashya, Vinaya and Sonia, opened Dhyanataru on Huron Avenue in Cambridge, MA.
During her stay in Pune, friends remember her also as a counseling trainer together with Siddha.
During the Rajneeshpuram period in Oregon she was at the centre of attention not only of the commune members but also in the media when she became the Mayor of Antelope (The City of Rajneesh).
Her work kept her in the two places. Involved with the Foundation and the Legal Department on the Ranch her responsibilities included working with the K-12 school. A curious school district, the elementary school was in Antelope and the middle and secondary school was on the Ranch. The Antelope School had a lead teacher and Karuna had many roles in the school, including administrative and one was partnering with teachers in teaching and learning.
One of the challenges teachers faced was creating a positive environment for the schools. She worked with the teachers and the community to transform the beliefs of families and community about schools and schooling at a time when the best the school could do was coordinate work-study opportunities for the students.
The changes took work and involved the Multiversity as well as changes in how the children lived and how the families thought of schools, their schools, and teachers. That work turned the lives of the children around and made their lives more productive and richer.
In one project in the middle and secondary school students were to conduct an inquiry into the culture of a place and, to model the work, they gave Karuna and the teacher a place to investigate. When Karuna and the teacher shared with students what they had discovered, the sense of learning, of sharing, of working together settled into the school and tension, uncertainty, and contention dissolved.
Karuna had a sense of humor, a laugh that suggested an expansive perspective. Everything seemed manageable, changeable, possible. In a sense, in that corner of the world, the school and its relationship with the community (that included the work-study program) incorporated a can-do sense, like a perfume, that everyone settled into with play, learning, theater, technology, work for the duration of the life of the Ranch.
When Osho returned to Pune she became the Vice Chancellor of the Osho Multiversity and the founder of the Osho Center for Consciousness in Organizations. She organized an Educator’s Conference in Pune, attended by more than 100 teachers from all over the world, and together with Roshani, held a Teacher Training through the Multiversity. They also put on several Osho Summer Institutes at a retreat in Massachusetts.
In 2004 Karuna and three colleagues founded the New England Institute for Transforming Consciousness (NEITC), a master’s and doctoral degree program in consciousness and personal transformation, and co-created the Transforming Tension program.
She was an educator extraordinaire! She was fearless in her search, faithful to her intuition, and without pretense.
When Karuna moved to Vermont she was, for some years, the Educational and Organizational advisor for Soul Support Systems. Some four-five years ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimers’ and moved to a care home in Brattleboro, where she died surrounded by loving caregivers, her nephew, and a close friend.
Bio based on the entry in SannyasWiki and emails from Sandip, Jennifer, Pashya, Roshani, Flo – photos and alert thanks to Upchara and Divyo
Karuna was an amazing woman and teacher. I worked with her at the Educator’s Conference and a follow on Teacher Training in Pune. She was so organized and creative in delivering transformative experiences. That continued as we ran several Osho Summer Institutes in Massachusetts and later as she created and took on students through the New England Institute for Transforming Consciousness. We even taught a summer course for teachers at Western Oregon University. It was a joy to assist Karuna in her creations. She was so intelligent, kind, insightful, compassionate. I feel blessed to have worked with such a wonderful being.
It always shakes me when one of our fantastic beloveds gets Alzheimers’. Karuna was an amazing no-bullshit and loving woman. She was one of a handful of “Moms” who didn’t get caught up in power trips. Her work and Osho’s work were inseparable. Love,
She was so loving and in the US in 1988 – not many places for Americans to connect. She was someone who connected with me and told me her story of Osho – she was available in that time and I am grateful! Love,
I met Karuna through Pashya in 1977.
Karuna was a loving and generous being, intelligent and very insightful.
I can just picture her wonderful, clear “cats eyes” in my mind’s eye.
Fly high, Beloved Karuna, I won’t forget you.
Thank you, dear Karuna, for being so loving and supportive when I first got to the groups department. Always caring and honest with me, I will always be grateful. Wishing you a blessed journey, dear friend.
I have known Karuna way back in the old days before she was even a sannyasin, when she started AHR and had Birdsong Farm with Cynthia. Karuna is who inspired me to go to Pune. I remember Karuna as always trying her best in such a sincere whole-hearted way. Lots of love to you, Karuna.
Ma Veet Asho