The magician Channing Pollock and his artist wife, Corri, had this beautiful, round table designed for their unusual Moss Beach house. The table was in their bedroom, with views of the Pacific Ocean, a place where they most often entertained their many friends. The table was set into a “pit” at floor level. The seating around the table was covered with the wall-to-wall rug.
According to Miramar Beach kayak enthusiast and photographer, Michael Powers, most of the Coastsiders “were curious and interested” about Babaji’s visit to the farm at San Gregorio.
What he captured on film were “a lot of kids and ‘flower children’ running all over the place. Fresh fruit and blossoms were placed at the master’s feet,” said Powers. “It was theatrical and wonderfully staged. There was a genuine feeling of generosity, of spirituality.”
One Coastside source–who recounted her experience on the condition that I not use her name–said she wore a leaf green tunic with rust-orange stripes and white muslin pants. “I wanted to wear something loose and comfortable,” she told me. “I had seen many photos of the Beatles and the Maharaja and I based my outfit on that image.”
Then a resident of San Gregorio, this source also recalled meeting Babaji as he ascended the hill.
“I was introduced to him,” she recalled. “The white robes told me he was someone to be revered. I wondered if it was good luck to shake his hand. It put me in a good mood.”
When Babi Hari Dass arrived, he was accompanied by some 50 of his followers from Santa Cruz, all of them wearing white and ecru gauzy fabrics. Some of them held strands of sandalwood beads. Michael Powers noted that the followers tended to be “fanatic and committed.”
With a peaceful smile on his face, Babaji sat cross-legged on the Indian rug beneath an orange parachute. All eyes turned to watch the tanned and barefooted young woman in the green and white sarong drop a fresh bouquet of wildflowers at the master’s feet.
…To be continued…
Note: I have misplaced a lovely color photo of Babaji taken at the San Gregorio Farms event.I’ll post it when I find it–the photo really helps define the story.
The Astanga Yoga that he practiced also embraced meditation, posture discipline as well as a vegetarian diet. Santa Cruz resident Peggy Bazarnick, an ardent follower for 15 years, told me in 1993 that Babji “stresses the right way of living. That means not harming anyone, caring for the body, while not being attached to the body.”
Peggy added that during private interviews “he never tells anyone what to do. He knows everything; he looks right through you and knows all. He will offer you options but he will never tell you what you should do.”
In 1971 the Hunuman Foundation, a California group, made the arrangements which brought Babi Hari Dass from India to Santa Cruz where he settled.
Not everyone in the tiny village of San Gregorio was pleased about the coming of the spiritual teacher.
“Dick the Gardener”, the tall, reclusive, awkward young man who lived on the worm farm, grumbled bitterly when the lower field was plowed for the festivities. A Cornell University graduate, he dropped out of the academic scene to pursue an alternative lifestyle.
“Dick the Gardener” leased a patch of land became locally renown for the quality of the organic tomatoes, squash and garlic that prospered under his care.
He was cynical about the event; he felt certain that the outsiders would trample and destory his precious new tomato crop.
…To be Continued…
In June of 1975, Babi Hari Dass, a spiritual teacher from India visited the Coastside. His appearance was later called “a visual spectacle, comparable to a scene from the movie, ‘Ghandi'”.
The “happening” took place in the lower field of what the locals called “the worm farm” at San Gregorio.
The “worm farmers” (who had traded the glitz of Los Angeles/Beverly Hills for the Coastside’s rustic serenity) were raising earthworms commercially in long, narrow, custom-built redwood planters in a small corner of the several hundred-acre ranch.
Not far from where the earthworms were burrowing in their special soil mixture in a scooped-out section of earth beside a creek, someone had unfurled a bright orange parachute. The colorful covering was protection for the 100 expected guests–a contrast of locals and devoted followers of Babi Hari Dass. They would sit on bales of hay or on pretty Oriental carpets that had been placed on the ground.
A statute of the goddess Kwan Yin, with one palm extended and open, the joined forefinger and thumb forming a circle on the other hand, conveyed a peaceful spirit among the pots of pink and white Sweet Williams.
Special care was taken by all to avoid treading on the large Indian rug, centrally located and reserved for the 51-year-old spiritual guest of honor.
Along with other Coastsiders, I was invited to meet and ask questions of “Babaji” (a term of respect). He was a short, kind-faced, bearded man wearing a long white robe. What was most unusual was that as a practitioner of Astanga Yoga, he had not spoken a word to anyone for 25 years.
“Babaji” communicated by writing on the little chalkboard strung around his neck–or when more words were necessary, he used the larger, portable chalkboard strung around his neck–or when even more words were necessary, he used the large, portable chalkboard that he carried with him.
…to be continued…
Some posts back I wrote about the famous magician, Channing Pollock, who lived with his beautiful , artistic wife, Cori, in a spectacular home overlooking the Pacific in Moss Beach. Christmas, 1996 Cori and Channing sent me (and all their friends and loved ones) a very special “Holiday Greetings” from Moss Beach. Cori has since passed, and Channing has moved away, but I will never forget these creative and spiritual people who touched my life.
The Moss Beach home in the photo above was originally built by Skipper Kent (see earlier post where I go to Hawaii and visit Skipper Kent), who operated a restaurant in San Francisco, and later moved to Hawaii. I believe after Skipper Kent, a California Senator resided there.