After Viramo reported last September about OshoFest in Mexico, we asked him to write about that retreat center, the “ranch,” and the one in nearby Ensenada called Osho Gyan, both initiated by Kamala.
As we already heard from Kamala’s life story, Miracles happen, when she took sannyas in June of 1979, Osho told her that miracles and great surprises awaited her if she surrendered to Existence. He also suggested that she start a meditation center in Mexico. Filled with sannyasin energy and the vibrancy and love of Osho’s presence, she did just that: start a new Osho meditation center in Monterrey, third largest city in Mexico, population more than one million.
But that didn’t last long. Osho’s ashram in Pune was calling her back. She told her friend Praveeta that she needed to get back to India ASAP because “I might miss something!” Thus began an odyssey that carried her from India to Mexico and back again, and finally to Austin, Texas, USA. Austin was the springboard to Rajneeshpuram, where she spent four years and totally immersed herself in Osho’s grand experiment. When she left the Ranch in 1985, it would take nearly ten more years before she could fulfill her Master’s wish.
Deva Kamala’s years at Rajneeshpuram were not only an awakening; the experience gave her the cojones (rough Mexican slang; translation: courage, boldness) to face the world head-on. Heeding Osho’s admonition at her sannyas initiation, Kamala followed a Mojud-like path after the Ranch, surrendering to whatever was happening. Saying “yes” to everything. Traveling, experiencing, looking in, and deciding, after leaving Rancho Rajneesh, “All this was created for us to see ourselves.”
She wound up in Los Angeles in a sannyasin communal home called Hollywood House, where she met English Vimal, Osho’s chief joke writer. He convinced her to take his job in a parking lot at the Sheraton Hotel so he could go to Pune. Of course Kamala said yes; soon she met “one of the owners, an older gentleman, who got very interested in me. He was a very wealthy businessman who taught me everything I know about business.”
Her mystery benefactor did more than teach; he bought two properties for her. The first was an ordinary two-story building located near a busy intersection in Ensenada, about seventy miles from the San Diego International Airport. The second was a dusty, abandoned five-acre piece of land about twenty-five miles away. This property would eventually become Gran Kuxtal (sometimes also spelled Gran Kustal). One day Kamala looked at the Ensenada building and had an epiphany. “I said, ‘Wow! This is the place!’ The meditation center Osho wanted me to start in Mexico!” Its name would be Gyan, which translates as “Nest of Wisdom.”
Kamala immediately set to work renovating and adding two more stories to the building. It took a lot of money and materials for the project, and her generous benefactor was along for the ride. He even bought her a hardware store to supply the needed materials. Soon she was joined by sannyasin friends, all women, including Australian Maneesha (“Okay” Maneesha), to help with the construction. It was a novelty for the locals. “This was very new in Mexico – women doing construction; women doing business,” says Kamala. “People would stop in the street to see me working. I was like a show for them.”
Osho Gyan in Ensenada is born
Centro Osho Gyan opened its doors – and its heart – to the world in 1994. The meditation center’s almost instant acceptance surprised its founder. “Suddenly there were all these people,” she says. “They wanted more and more. But this area was like a desert, there was nothing (spiritual) here. It was very hard to talk about meditation. But we were very surprised that the people were coming. They started to come from abroad, foreigners. Some were even staying at the center.”
During her first visit to Pune in 1979 Kamala had met Shakura, who would go on to become a well-known leader of Primal groups as well as a close friend of Kamala’s. She invited Shakura to Ensenada to do a group, and before long other group leaders followed – Pradeepa, Chandrakala, Subhan, and more. Today, more than twenty years after it opened, Osho Gyan is a thriving and active center. It offers regular meditations, celebrations, and therapy groups. The facilities are located at the southern edge of Ensenada, about three-quarters of a mile from the Pacific Ocean. The center has comfortable accommodation for up to fifty people, shared rooms each with a bathroom; a large meditation hall with pyramid ceiling, a smaller meditation hall, a fully-equipped kitchen and dining hall, a well-stocked library of Osho’s books, and a rooftop terrace for discos and Tai Chi.
The center also has permanent quarters for live-ins and seekers who wish to stay for extended periods. Anand Navaneet, a friend from Rajneeshpuram days, says that in 2019 Osho Gyan will be starting a “Work as Meditation” program built around the working models of the Live-In program in Pune and a few meditation centers. This is a way to offer friends a way to be at the center for longer periods in addition to attending groups or meditation events. All of these activities and living spaces happen on the second, third and fourth levels of the building. On the street level, however, it’s a different story.
Osho Gyan is located at a busy intersection near a bus stop. There are several shops and businesses on the ground floor: a small restaurant, a dentist (a sannyasin), a Christian bookstore, a cabinet maker, a shop that sells only fresh eggs, and Zen Fit, a personal training studio run by a sannyasin, Mojud Zorba, who also lives at the center. All of these enterprises pay rent to the center, which helps to pay the bills. The front of the building looks like it belongs on MG Road in Pune or in many Third World countries. Trash. Litter. Noise. Says Navaneet, “I’d like to see if there is any way to modify that littering behavior. Not sure why I even want to try, except I don’t like that the center sits in an ongoing litter run.”
But a surprise awaits. Turn the corner, walk through a plain metal door, down a hallway, up a short flight of stairs, and … presto! Take a deep breath … you are in another world: Osholand! Beautiful furnishings, lovely carpets, elegance and taste everywhere – the kind of style and taste that befits our Master. It’s a kind of metaphor. Outside: the world, chaos, noise, madness; go inside and there is silence, beauty, a meditative environment. In the world but not of it.
Osho Gran Kuxtal Retreat Center: the property up the road
The center is thriving, but what about the abandoned ranch property up the road? “I started using it to dump my construction materials,” says Kamala. “I have a hardware store, I have a pipe factory … the ranch was a garbage area.” She didn’t do anything with the property until “I started making wine. Because this is a wine area. I was in the wine school in Ensenada. Two years later I got gold medals for my wine. The ranch was the perfect place to create more wine.” Says Navaneet: “Just for fun she made a batch of wine, entered a wine competition, and won the grand prize over more established wineries!”
But something else was stirring in Osho’s sannyasin, this now-successful entrepreneur, property owner, and meditation center leader. She once said to me, “For me to find my Master was the best thing in my life. Because after you find a master, it’s like he’s guiding you, he never leaves you alone.” Osho must have been sitting on Kamala’s shoulder on a certain day when “So strong came this feeling of needing to do something at the ranch property. I didn’t understand why. The mind said, ‘Gyan is here, it has nice meditation rooms, many rooms … It’s a big place, why do you need to do anything more?’”
The answer came soon enough: This is the next step. Then, clarity. “For me it was two things: Gran Kuxtal will be the place where people can have the same experience as when we were at the Ranch in Oregon. I feel it very strongly: people come here, do therapy, do meditation; but they don’t have the other tools. How to be in the world. How to make money. Because I see many people who come, they are always suffering from lack of money. They don’t know how to make it. They think that if they meditate, it means to be poor. Or to have problems. So I felt that whatever we were doing in Gyan was not enough.”
Actually, what would become Osho Gran Kuxtal Retreat Center had been under construction for several years. It started as a place where Kamala’s extended family could come for special events and holidays. As the youngest in a Mexican family of eleven children, raised in poverty by virtually a single mother she would naturally have countless cousins, nieces and nephews, husbands, wives, great uncles, et al. To accommodate visitors, she built La Casa – a large rustic lodge with a huge living room, a wood-burning fireplace, dining room, kitchen, and sleeping rooms on the second floor. This alone was a major accomplishment, with Kamala guiding the design and construction.
A desert landscape waiting to be filled in
In early September of 2018, Gran Kuxtal had its official grand opening. The event was OshoFest Mexico, co-sponsored by Kamala and Amritanand, center leader of Osho Niranjana in California. Dancing Maneesha and I visited Gran Kuxtal for OshoFest – she to lead a high-energy dance group, and the both of us to celebrate and dance in Osho’s energy. It was a beautiful event, full of joy and laughter, music, meditation, groups, inner work. It was the first time I had laid eyes on the property, and, to put it mildly, I was blown away.
The first morning of the fest, before breakfast, I looked around at the landscape. There were three buildings: The first containing the sleeping/living quarters on the first and second floor, and a kitchen plus dining hall on the first floor; there is La Casa, a rustic lodge with sleeping quarters, full kitchen, and huge living room; and then the magnificent Buddha Hall.
The buildings are done in Mexican colonial architectural style. Arches and angular corners. Interior and exterior courtyards. There is a fountain. On the property, desert gardens, cactus, stone pathways. Very tasty. A feeling of newness, of something about to happen. A work in progress. Space. A desert landscape waiting to be filled in.
But in the landscape of my imagination, I could close my eyes and see the future of this property: Thriving vegetable gardens, vineyards with bursting grapes, a swimming pool, ponds feeding into tumbling streams, flower gardens, fruit trees, trails leading to private meditation sites; a landscape to invite the inner journey. It so happens that this vision is in sync – some of it, anyway – with the vision of the sannyasins behind this project.
In an email, Navaneet, the American who lives at the Osho Gyan Meditation Center and serves as the gardener at Gran Kuxtal, reports: “Development in the works at Gran Kuxtal includes a spa, yoga studio, swimming pool, and a small lake. Plans include a sustainable network of reclaimed and recycled water to support the landscaping, and a large chef’s garden to supply an on-site restaurant, snack shop, and pop-up coffee shop.”
Navaneet reminds me that Gran Kuxtal in ancient Mayan language translates as Great Life. He adds: “The path unfolds step by step as our meditation. It appears that great things are in store for the great life of Osho Gran Kuxtal.” He says the best way to describe Kamala’s vision, her understanding, is that the ranch (Gran Kuxtal) serves as the Zorba, and Gyan, the meditation center, is the Buddha.
Since OshoFest in 2018, more sleeping rooms have been added, including a large dormitory. Osho Gran Kuxtal is definitely ready for prime time, according to Amritanand, who says that group leaders have already contacted him regarding events at the retreat site in 2019.
Mexico: a threat?
And then there is the Mexico question. Or rather fears around coming into that country and being safe in that country. Sadly, only a handful of Americans – no Europeans! – made the trek across the California border into Mexico for OshoFest 2018. That is sure to change in 2019, when OshoFest will be held at Gran Kuxtal September 13-16.
Says Amritanand, “If you are coming to Mexico for a festival or an Osho event, there is no problem. If you are coming to, say, the high-risk border town of Tijuana for entertainment or something illegal, that is a different matter.” Seekers and meditators and even large groups of people have been coming to Osho Gyan for years without any problems. Even if America’s lunatic president decides to close the border at Tijuana, or finally gets his wish to build a wall to keep migrants out, there is no problem. There are several border crossings – six in Arizona and more in California. Gran Kuxtal provides van service to pick up visitors, primarily at the San Diego airport (a two and one-half hour ride) but at other locations as needed.
A school for the New Man
Kamala’s vision for Gran Kuxtal comes from Osho: “My dream is to create a School for the New Man. The therapists, the group leaders, the older sannyasins… We have all been touched by the Master, received the light, the transmission… We need to pass it on to the next generation. I feel that this is just the beginning. Something is coming. I don’t know how we are going to do it, or whatever it is we need to do, but I know it is going to happen.
“We have so many plans for the ranch,” she continues. What’s important to me is, I see two different kinds of people here. One is people looking for a real place for meditation. There’s another kind of people that want to learn more about meditation. They are like me, like I was. I was drinking, I was having fun, but there was something missing in me. And I couldn’t find it – until I found Osho. So I want this place to open the doors for these people. The drunkards!”
She reveals that she and her colleagues are waiting to acquire another two and one-half acres to expand the ranch property. The land is right next door and belongs to the government. In the new area, one section will be for animals; she would like to have horses. Another part will be for growing vegetables, and for growing grapes. Of course grapes! Says Navaneet, “We know that we are embraced by grace and that love abides. Osho brought Kamala and me together, each of us running a meditation center, and now after all these years together again. We both now accept the work with joy and enthusiasm… all on Mexican time!”
Osho Gran Kuxtal Retreat Center is still a work in progress, but it is open for business and sends out an invitation to sannyasins and seekers everywhere. “We have so much to give, the very flowering,” says Kamala. “Come and enjoy this beautiful place where meditation is happening!”
For both centers contact
Centro Osho Gyan, Ensenada, Mexico
Phone 52-(646) 173-6847
oshoensenada (at) gmail.com
facebook.com/OshoGranKustalEnsenada – facebook.com/centroosho.ensenada – oshoensenada.blogspot.com
Osho Gyan has announced its lineup of groups and group leaders for 2019. Highlights:
Meditation Intensive, with Center Staff
The Great Life – Dancing to the End of Life, with Navaneet (who is also the gardener at Gran Kuxtal as well as an assistant to Kamala and a group leader)
Satori, with Chandrakala
Workshop with Subhan (no title as yet)
Being Yourself – Dance, The Joy of Rebellion (tentative title), with Maneesha
Body Awareness, with Mojud (who runs Zen Fit, a personal training studio in Ensenada, and is Osho Gyan’s photographer)
Osho Pulsation, with Aneesha
Meditation for Mystics, with Pradeepa
Primal, with Shakura
Viramo has lived the writing life as a newspaper reporter and columnist, book and magazine editor, photojournalist, ghostwriter, publicist, and novelist. He took sannyas in 1979, and has lived in Osho’s communes in Pune and at Rajneeshpuram. Viramo lives in Sedona, USA. He has authored two published science-fiction novels, and served as editor and ghostwriter for the new book about Osho’s greatest publicity stunt, ’93 Rolls-Royces’. marvlincoln.com – viramoblog.wordpress.com – all articles by Viramo on Osho News.