In my leaving darshan I told Osho I wanted to open a meditation center in Kansas City and he gave the name Devalayam. Devalayam means ‘divine abode.’ I bought a couple of series of discourses on cassette tape and several books and the center was on its way.
It was difficult at first returning to Kansas City. I was seeing friends I had passed through so much with and yet I felt myself to be in a very different place than when I had left three years earlier. Of course, there was a bit of the missionary in me who wanted to share as much as possible. I didn’t find much interest in hearing about Osho, even from my good friend that had first heard about Meher Baba with me many years ago on the Country Club Plaza.
I remember very clearly saying to myself, “Okay Bhagwan, I give up, you take over.” Very soon after giving up, I was sitting at some kind of spiritual gathering outdoors on grass in my orange clothes and mala when this guy sat down beside me. He was interested in whatever it was I was into. He was in a therapy group and had heard of Osho.
I found a house, or I should say a house found me, for a center. The house had some orange in it. I don’t remember if it was in the wallpaper, paint, or carpet, but it spoke loud and clear this was the house for Devalayam. Soon afterwards this fellow I had met moved in. We were holding meditations both at a local church gym and at the house. A small group was forming. In the daytime I drove school buses with a Yogi Bhajan Sikh.
One night around midnight the doorbell rang. Mark had forgotten his key. I opened the door stark naked. He had brought an older woman home who was interested in listening to some discourses of Osho. They came in and I set her up with a few discourses and she stayed through the night until sunrise, listening. Her name was Joyce Schlossman. She was the ex-wife of a very successful car dealer in Kansas City, Schlossman Ford. Joyce was in the same group as Mark and wanted to be a therapist herself.
Soon after I got the house, I was on my way to visit another old friend and passed by the Nelson Adkins Museum of Art. I saw a Chinese girl teaching Tai Chi on the grass. When I passed by again on my return trip she was still there, so I stopped and asked if she was taking students and she gave me the details of a new class that would be starting soon. Before long, Mark, myself, and another member of the Sikh community, who by the way had their center just two blocks up the street from Devalayam, were learning Tai Chi from Pearl. Pearl was nineteen at the time and a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. I had been smitten the first moment I saw her flow in Tai Chi.
Another therapist called to find out about the meditations. He had read Only One Sky (Tantra: The Supreme Understanding) and was very impressed. He had a practice down on the Plaza and was into the Baha’i movement. Soon there was a growing group which I tended to. I would go down to the Plaza once a week and have a raw vegetable lunch with Cliff the therapist and counsel him. Rather ironic really – me, this high school dropout twenty-six-year-old dressed in orange clothes counseling this white haired, highly respected psychologist during his lunch hour.
Mark took sannyas pretty early on and was making plans to go to Poona. Joyce soon became Ma Prem Kaveesha and I gave her a mala at Devalayam. Kaveesha had other friends that would come to the center and buy books and tapes and sometimes I would make house calls and deliver the goods. Kaveesha’s best friend was Joyce Price. Coincidentally, Joyce was the mother of Donna Price who had visited me in Madagascar. Joyce did not, however, like Osho and in fact resented the fact he had somehow taken her best friend away.
Soon another young fellow started attending the meditations regularly, and before too long moved into the house when Mark (now Prakash) left for Poona. He also took sannyas and became Sanmarg. Sanmarg left for Poona just a short while before I left in the spring. I never saw him again, but years later I saw news of his father. He had been estranged from his father when he was living at the house. His father, John Testrake, was a TWA pilot and in 1985 was the pilot of Flight 847. There is a famous photo of him being held hostage by terrorists with a gun to his head on the tarmac at the Beirut airport.
I continued my Tai Chi lessons with Pearl for months and gave her a copy of one of Osho’s books No Water, No Moon. She had it for months and never said a word about it, so finally I asked her if she was enjoying it, and she was. I had not talked to her about Osho in all that time. Finally, after months of my surrendering to her Tai Chi tutelage, I asked her out. Our first date was to a performance by Marcel Marceau, which was interesting because she said she felt comfortable with me speaking very little. We enjoyed the time mostly in silence.
Kaveesha had gone off to Poona, and while there Osho had told her she would be his Tantra leader. When Kaveesha returned, she shared her energy and her presence with many others, and a few more of her people took sannyas.
Spring happened and Pearl and I were living together. Pearl took sannyas and was given the name Ma Prem Sagara* (ocean of love). We made plans to go to India together. It would be an overland trip through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India.
Cliff, the psychologist, had decided to go to Poona to take sannyas. We hoped to meet up there but I had no idea when Sagara and I would actually arrive. Prakash had come back from Poona and would take over the center as well as my car.
So in a little less than nine months, and after letting go of my own ideas, a center was flourishing in the heartland.
*Many years later Sagara would receive a new name, Sumati (wisdom).
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.