Growing up in California, I lived with my parents on their farm in the central valley.  My public school was quite small, but with a quite diverse population.  It was nice to get to know so many other kids from around the world – Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, African American, Armenian, Syrian, and many others.  There were some Displaced Persons, WWII refugees from Germany, as well. The most unusual ethnic group at that time was a family from Samoa.  They were the only family from Samoa, and we were quite awestruck by their sheer size!.  Frank, my classmate, weighed close to 200 pounds and seemed to be about 7 feet tall.  It’s hard to believe he was a mere teenager.

Perhaps it was the diversity in such a small town that made me consider social work as a career.  After college, I took a job in Social Services.  But alas, the bureaucratic environment was too stifling for me and I only lasted two years.  At about that time meditation began to be in the news and when some of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s disciples came to the town of Santa Cruz where I was living, I attended their free lecture and short training in Transcendental Meditation. I began to practice, and shortly after that I happened to see an old friend from college and asked him what he was doing now.  He told me he was taking care of some property in the Sierras for a man who was creating a meditation retreat there.  I was immediately intrigued and asked how I could visit.