Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality

Santa Cruz Spirituality: Eastern
by Paul Tutwiler


  1. Hindu
  2. Jain
  3. Sikh
  4. Buddhist
  5. Taoist/Confucian
  6. Shinto

The Encyclopedia of American Religions includes under "Eastern Family" the spiritualities of India, China, and Japan, although other sources, perhaps more appropriately, distinguish "South Asian" and "East Asian" spiritualities. The complete picture of Asian spirituality would include "North Asian," mainly that which lies behind Shamanism, but it is the impact of South and East Asian spiritualities that has served to broaden in the United States the idea of spirituality itself.

Nowhere is this broadening more clear - in fact, totally obvious - than in California. As Cybelle Shattuck expresses it in Dharma in the Golden State, pp. 130-131,

The large college populations of the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles area brought a wide range of Asian religious teachers and practitioners to the West Coast. Young people went to Asia looking for enlightenment in the 1960s and 1970s and brought back teaching and teachers. Hindu swamis and Buddhist monks made tours of the United States and set up centers where students could meet to study and practice their instructions. During the first decade, their following was mostly limited to the counterculture, but by the late 1970s and the 1980s, the appeal of Asian religions had spread beyond the college crowd, and today people from every age group and social class may be found taking part in Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist traditions.


Details on the origin and development of Hinduism in general and in the United States are in the essay "South and East Asian Spiritualities" in Chapter 5 Particulars.

» Kitchen Brothers Temple. Santa Cruz, 1935-1953.

Yoga temple of Kenneth and Raymond Kitchen
"Yoga temple" of Kenneth and Raymond Kitchen
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

Bizarre buildings, towers, and arches, this "Yoga temple" was built in the 1930s by Kenneth and Raymond Kitchen as an expression of Hindu philosophy and religion. By 1953 the brothers had vacated the complex at 519 Fair Avenue. (article by Ross Eric Gibson in the San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 7, 1993; now posted on the Santa Cruz Public Library website, 2010) In 2010 one still sees the remains of the structures, but for another use of them see St. Elias Orthodox Chapel & Shrine under Eastern Liturgical Family.

» Harmony Hill. Community, Ben Lomond, 1969-1975.

Founded in 1966 in Southern California, this community moved to a six-acre tract in the Santa Cruz mountains, six miles from a "small town" and on a small creek three years later. By 1975 four acres had been added. The approximately 20 adult members (generally couples, some with children) carried on lives of private meditation, although they were not totally without contact with outsiders. (J. Michael King, "Patterns of Enculturation in Communal Society," in C. Calhoun and F. Ianni, eds., The Anthropological Study of Education. The Hague: Mouton, 1975, pp. 83-88)

Impetus and spiritual direction, King explains, came from Wailua University, a Hindu facility in India. According to Melton, Encyclopedia *1220, Wailua University is an institution (now in Hawaii) of the Saiva Siddhanta Church, which was "founded" by a Californian, Master Subramuniya and "initiated" in Sri Lanka in 1949 by Siva Yogaswami. In 1957 Siva Yogaswami opened a Christian Yoga Church in San Francisco, but later the Christian element was dropped.

A Ben Lomond resident told me that Harmony Hill was on Hubbard Gulch Road, and it is a fact that a short road which branches off Hubbard Gulch Road is called Harmony Hill Road on present day maps.

» Integral Yoga Institute. Santa Cruz? 1970.

Although having its principal office in San Francisco, the Integral Yoga Institute filed its incorporation in Santa Cruz in 1970. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3524) The Institute was founded in the 1960s in New York by Swami Satchidananda, who emphasized Hatha Yoga. (Melton, Encyclopedia, *1197) I have no evidence that the Institute was active in Santa Cruz. Not to be counted in totals.

» Auroville International USA. Service org, Santa Cruz, 1974-2004.

Founded in 1974, this organization is affiliated with Auroville of India, which promotes the spirituality of Sri Aurobindo. (Communities Directory, p. 204, supplemented with information from 2008, 2008, and Melton, Encyclopedia *1182) The purpose of the AVI Centers, according to the websites, is to work together with the residents of Auroville to build what has been called "the city the earth needs."

The spirituality of Sri Aurobindo is in the Yoga tradition, but with characteristics which have led him to be compared with Teilhard de Chardin. His understanding of Yoga and Hindu mysticism has attracted the attention of western intellectuals. (Arthur Basham, The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism, Boston: Beacon Press, 1989, p. 114)

In 2004 the American Auroville website gave a Santa Cruz address for the organization, but in 2008 it gave instead a Lodi, California address.

» International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Boulder Creek, 1975.

This is the "Hare Krishna Movement," also referred to as ISKON. In 1975 there was an ISKCON center in Boulder Creek. (Daner, The American Children of Krsna, p. 110) I do not find this in the White Pages in this or close-by years.

ISKCON was founded by the Indian, Swami Prabhupada, in the spiritual lineage of Chaitanya Mahabprahu. (See the Vaishnava Seva Society below in this section.) Coming as a missionary to New York in 1965 and San Francisco (Haight Ashbury) in 1967, Swami Prabhupada found that the disenchanted, disengaged youth of the 60s were ready to follow him, and once recruited, would recruit others. By 1975 there were 31 centers in the U. S., 5 of which were in California, including, as mentioned above, the one in Boulder Creek. The original method of announcing themselves and of recruiting was by the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra in public places, notably street corners and airports. Gradually the selling of devotional books and items as well as the founding of vegetarian restaurants were added as recruiting methods. The recruitment efforts in the U. S. peaked around 1975, and adverse court decisions, especially that of the U. S. Supreme Court in 1981 which outlawed their specific forms of efforts in public places, contributed to a downturn in numbers. At its peak the society numbered probably 250,000 adherents in the U. S., (Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 718) but by 2001 the number was down to 2,000. (Mann, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs, p. 76)


  • Melton, Encyclopedia *1200
  • Francine Jeanne Daner. The American Children of Krsna. A Study of the Hare Krsna Movement. New York, etc: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976.
  • E. Burke Rochford, Jr. Hare Krishna in America. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1985.
  • 2010. This website, the organ of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, contains useful information on the role of this group vis a vis other Hindu groups in the U.S.

» Mount Madonna Center. Conf center, Santa Cruz County, 1978-2010.

Founded in 1978, this Hindu center, also referred to as the Mount Madonna Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, is the primary facility of the Hanuman Fellowship. It is the location of a locally celebrated guru, Baba Hari Dass, who was born near Almora, India in 1923, began at the age of eight to study "in a school for young renunciates in the jungles of the lower Himalayas," and came to the U. S. in 1971. Under his inspiration the Hanuman Fellowship was founded in either 1971 or 1974. There are "sister fellowships" according to the website in Vancouver and Toronto. Baba Hari Dass is a proponent of Ashtanga Yoga as derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Center includes instruction in Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine, as well as a Wellness Center. ( 2010)

The address of the Mount Madonna Center is 445 Summit Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 408-847-0406. (2010 White Pages) This is 1.7 miles north of the beginning of Summit Road on the Santa Cruz side of the road, as I observed in 2005.

» Gateways Books and Gifts. Service org, Santa Cruz, 1978-2010.

This store was established in 1978 and it moved to its current address in 2005. (SC Sentinel, Sep. 8, 2005) It was an activity of the Hanuman Fellowship and listed as such on the Mount Madonna website in 2004, but it has not been there since 2006. Its address is 1126 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 429-9600. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Rajneesh Center. Santa Cruz, c1981-1985.

Established in 1981 or 1982, the Santa Cruz group of the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh disbanded in 1985. At that time it had a meditation center on Pacific Avenue and Zorba the Buddha Restaurant on Seabright Ave. It counted about two hundred local members, who were called the "red people" because they clothed themselves in red.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh taught as a guru in India for some years before coming in 1981 to the United States. His doctrine was an extreme form of Tantrism. Although he founded numerous centers in a short time, he was best known for Rajneeshpuram, a town he founded on land he purchased near Antelope, Oregon. Accused of trying to win the local elections in Antelope by spreading Salmonella bacteria where they would poison the opposition, he was deported from the U. S. in 1985. He continued to be active in India until his death in 1990. (SC Sentinel, Sep. 21, 1983 has an account of his group in Santa Cruz, and Melton, Encyclopedia *1239 and 2010 have general information on the movement.)

» Transcendental Meditation. School, Santa Cruz, 1983-2008.

A Yogic meditation technique taught in India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s, Transcendental Meditation came to the United States in 1959. The Maharishi founded the Maharishi International University (now Maharishi University of Management) in Fairfield, Iowa and launched a World Plan to promote meditation and Ayurvedic medicine. (Partridge, New Religions, pp. 182-184)

The 1983 Yellow Pages listed "Transcendental Meditation Program" at 3501 Mission Drive.

The next evidence I have of an organized following of the Maharishi in Santa Cruz was in 2004, when a group representing the World Plan Executive Council proposed the establishment of a meditation and Ayurvedic medicine center in Bonny Doon. (my notes from the May 12, 2004 general meeting of the Rural Bonny Doon Association) For two years after that the association held introductory lectures in Santa Cruz and hinted that it would open a Maharishi Spa, (SC Sentinel Aug. 16, 2005, for example) but on May 31, 2006 its ad stated that it had opened a Spa in San Francisco, and no longer stated that it would do so in Santa Cruz.

An ad in the October 25, 2006 Santa Cruz Sentinel, however, invited people to attend "Free Introductory Talks" on Transcendental Meditation Thursdays at 1717 N. Seabright Ave. On September 15, 2007 an ad in the same newspaper invited people to visit the health store, Maharishi Invincibility Center of Santa Cruz, at 1717 Seabright Ave., where they would find "Maharishi Ayurveda herbal supplements." As to the property in Bonny Doon, the three year option which the World Plan Executive Council had on it ran out in 2007, and the property was put on the market. (SC Sentinel, Dec. 29, 2007) In 2008 the only local listing I could find was the telephone number under "Transcendental Meditation Program" in the White Pages, and in 2010, this too, was gone.

» Society of Abidance in Truth. Santa Cruz, c1983-2010.

Society of Abidance in Truth temple
Society of Abidance in Truth temple
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

Hindu temple and retreat center dedicated to the strict monistic Advaita Vedanta teaching of Sankara, whose dates are uncertain, but probably in the eighth century A.D.

The society derives its inspiration from Sri Ramana Maharshi, who taught in Tamil near Madras until his death in 1950. Zimmer, on p. 614, writes, "Sri Ramana Maharsi ('the Great Rsi') of Tiruvannamalai (an ancient holy city in the south of India) taught no formal doctrine, but with the piercing question 'Who are you?' drove his disciples to the Self."

"What is the nature of the Self?" Sri Ramana Maharshi answered this question, "What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul, and God are appearances in it, like silver in mother-of-pearl; these three appear at the same time, and disappear at the same time.... The Self is that where there is absolutely no 'I' - thought. That is called 'Silence'. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is 'I'; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self." (Who Am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1998, p. 11)

The Santa Cruz group was not organized by a missionary guru sent from India, but by devotees who met informally in San Francisco from 1974 to 1978, when they organized and moved to San Bruno and, in the early 1980s, to Boulder Creek. They bought the property on Ocean Street in 1984 and completed construction of the temple there in 1989. Master Nome, SAT's spiritual leader from its beginning, has translated many works on the Advaita Vedanta. SAT is also a publishing house for these and other works. I gathered the information in this paragraph from visits to SAT; additional information about the association, including its location, 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 425-7287, is on the website, 2010. The 2010 White and Yellow Pages - the latter under Churches— Interdenominational - give a post office box, not a street address.

» Kali Ray TriYoga. Service org, Santa Cruz, 1986-2010.

Founded in 1986 by Yogini Kali Ray (Kaliji), it has been at its present address since 1997. This was the first TriYoga Center, although TriYoga headquarters are now in the TriYoga Center (Sri Mata Jayalaskshmi Ashrama) in Malibu. Kali Ray is a Westerner who appears to have been initially self-taught in Yoga, but who, after 12 years of the life of renunciation, was initiated as a Svami by the South Indian Shri Ganapati Satchidananda Swamiji in his spiritual lineage. In 1966 Shri Swamiji founded the Mysore Ashram in South Central India, and he has founded Datta Temples, spiritual centers, many in India and two in the United States (in Pennsylvania and Louisiana). The website 2008 has much information, and more can be gathered from several websites relating to Shri Swamiji himself, to Avadhoota Datta Peetham, and to Datta Retreat Center.

The address of Kali Ray TriYoga is 708 Washington St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 464-8100. (Website above; the 2010 Yellow Pages have only the telephone number, refering the reader, however, to the website.)

» Institute for Dehypnotherapy. Service org, Soquel, 1986-1988.

From 1986 to 1988 the Rajneesh adherent Santosh (Richard Shoulders) operated this facility for putting into practice the mind-freeing principles of Rajneesh in a way he, Santosh, had developed. Since Rajneesh himself had already been deported to India, the institute was not named after him. It was not a success, probably because the connection with Rajneesh could not be hidden, and it closed after only two years of operation. (Murray J. Wright, At the End of Prescott Road, Soquel, California: Land of Medicine Buddha, 2000, pp. 74-75) For the complete listing of spiritual associations which have located on this property on Prescott Road, see Land of Medicine Buddha, under Buddhist.

» Pacific Cultural Center. Conf center, Santa Cruz, 1989-2010.

According to its website, 2010, this is an activity of the Hanuman Fellowship and it is also a site (in addition to Mount Madonna) of the Ashtanga Yoga Institute. Its calendar includes devotional services and readings from Hindu Scriptures as well as Yoga instruction, and it is host to the meetings and programs of many, varied spiritual groups. The Center has been located at 1307 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 426-8893 since 1989. (1989-2010 Yellow Pages) At this address in past years was the Seabright Church. (See Christian Church/Church of Christ.)

» Vaishnava Seva Society. Community, Soquel, 1993-2010.

In November, 1993 members of this society bought a property on Rodeo Gulch which became the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Ashram, a community in the Krishna tradition (Vaishnava Hinduism) of the 15-16th century Bengali saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (SC Sentinel, July, 1994)

In 2010, according to its general website,, the society had a total of over 50 centers, temples, and ashrams worldwide, and its headquarters were in Kolerganj, P.O. Nabadwip, District of Nadia, West Bengal.

The address of Vaishnava Seva Society, according to its website, 2010, is 2900 N. Rodeo Gulch Road, Soquel, 95073, tel. 462-4712.

» Gopala Restaurant. Service org, Soquel, 1997-1998.

In 1997 ISKCON (see International Society for Krishna Consciousness above) opened the Gopala vegetarian restaurant in an existing restaurant locale at 3045 Porter Street, Soquel. The owners stated that they hoped the business would raise money for the society and, in particular, "for building a temple, in the Soquel area if possible." There was a problem with the owners' obtaining a Santa Cruz County use permit, and as of August, 1997 they had four months to rectify this. (SC Sentinel, July 16, July 18, and Aug. 13, 1997) The only year in which there was a telephone directory entry for Gopala was 1998.

» Center for World Networking. Santa Cruz, 1997-2010.

In the tradition of Sri Yukteswar, Babaji, and Meher Baba, this organization holds weekly meetings at its center, presently at 225 Rooney St., and it promotes the activities of many non-traditional spiritual groups through listings in its website, 2010 and its Journal of the Center for World Networking (2010). Its telephone number, 477-1739, began to be listed in the White Pages in 1997.

» Ananda Sangha of the Redwoods. Boulder Creek, 2000-2010.

Incorporated as a non-profit religious corporation in 2000, ( 2010) this is an affiliate of Ananda, which was founded in 1967-68 by the American, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters). (Melton, Encyclopedia *1178) The predecessor of Ananda was the Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Swami Yogananda in 1935, with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. Swami Yogananda was spreading the teaching of Mahavater Babaji, who in the late 19th century taught Kriya Yoga, a yoga system that emphasizes a focus of energy in the spinal column. (Melton, Encyclopedia *1214)

Until 2007 Ananda Sangha was located only in the Ananda Books & Music store, 13150 Highway 9, Boulder Creek 95006, tel. 338-9642. (2007 White Pages) In 2008, however, after the organization opened a second location, in Scotts Valley, the name of the Boulder Creek site was changed to Ananda Community Joyful Arts Center. ( 2010)

In 2010 the Yellow Pages continue to list Ananga Sangha of the Redwoods as an organization for yoga intruction, but on its own website it is called Ananda Yoga Boulder Creek.

» Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Live Oak?, 2004-2008.

Established in India in 1945 by Shri Ram Chandra (known as Babuji) of Shahjahanpur in the State of Uttar Pradesh, its beginnings date back to his guru, Shri Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh (known as Lalaji), in whose honor the organization was named. Today under the guidance of the living master, Shri P. Rajagopalachari (affectionately known as Chariji), Sahaj Marg has a presence in almost every country in the world, with a total of more than 1500 training centers

Sahaj Marg (the Natural Path) is the system of practical training in spirituality used by Shri Ram Chandra Mission. It is in essence the well-known old raja yoga (yoga of the mind) remodeled and simplified to suit and help the man of present-day world to achieve inner perfection, which is a synonym for God Realization. According to the teaching of this system, God is simple and therefore, the way to reach Him must be simple. Mind is the key instrument in a human being and by proper regulation of mind through meditation under practical guidance and support of a spiritual Master, one can evolve to the Highest. There are no rituals and ceremonials. Do's and don'ts are also few and there are no rigid methods of austerity and penance.

From 2008, which lists weekly services conducted in Santa Cruz, but only gives an email address for locating them. In 2006 the website stated that the service took place in Live Oak.

» Jumping Monkey Natural Indian Cafè . Service org, Santa Cruz, 2005-2010.

A "project of the Seva Society [i.e., Vaishnava Seva Soquel Ashram]," at 418 Front St., ( 2010) the cafè closed in April, 2010 (my observation).

» Ananda Sangha of the Redwoods. Scotts Valley, 2007-2010.

See Ananda Sangha of the Redwoods, Boulder Creek, above for the background of Ananda Sangha of the Redwoods, Scotts Valley. Opened in 2007, and named Ananda Yoga Center, the Scotts Valley facility is located at 75 Mt. Herman Road, Scotts Valley, 95066, tel. 338-9642. ( 2010)


Jainism appeared in India in the sixth century BC (about the same time as Buddhism), founded by Vardhamana Mahavira, although it embodies older traditions. Jainism emphasizes the struggle between good and evil, reverence for living creatures, and asceticism. Although a Jain representative came to the U.S. in 1893 for the World Parliament of Religions, there was almost no Jain presence in the country until the immigration wave which began in 1965.

I am not aware of an organized Jain group in Santa Cruz. The closest seems to be the Jain Center of Northern California at 722 South Main St., Milpitas, 95035, tel. 408-262-6242. ( 2010)


Nanak (1469-1539) was the founder of Sikhism, which embodies elements of both Hinduism and Islam. As in the latter, it has a strong emphasis on the uniqueness and supremacy of God, and, like Hinduism, it teaches karma, reincarnation, and the ultimate unreality of the world. Generally localized in India in the Punjab, contemporary Sikhism has tended to accompany the nationalistic tendencies of northwest India. Most of the 7,000 Indians who migrated to the United States between 1900 and 1920 were Sikhs, and these were primarily farm workers in California's interior valleys. The first Sikh temple in this country, established in 1912, was in Stockton. Many of these early immigrants returned to India after 1920, and it is only since the opening of the U.S. to Asian immigration in 1965 that Sikh-Americans have come to have numbers and spiritual influence. (Cybelle T. Shattuck, Dharma in the Golden State, Chapter 2, "Sikhs: The Khalsa in California," pp. 24-48)

There seems to be no Sikh temple or worship group in Santa Cruz, but there are several across the Santa Cruz Mountains, such as the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib San Jose, 2785 Quimby Road, San Jose 95148, tel. 408-274-9373. ( 2010) In 2010 I did not find this group on the website, but I did locate it by reverse lookup.

Several groups follow the spiritual leadership of Singh Sahab (Soamiji Maharaj), who died in 1878, and who proclaimed a universal spirituality detached from that of mainstream Sikhism. One of the recent teachers in the tradition of Soamiji Maharaj is Sant Mat ("Holy Community") Master Kirpal Singh. (Melton, Encyclopedia *1242 through *1248) His disciple Sant Thakar Singh, is the guru of a Sant Mat with headquarters in Manav Kendra Nawan Nagar, in Nanak Pura, District of Panchkula, Haryana, India. Sant Mat is represented in Santa Cruz as found below.

» Eckankar Satsang Society of Santa Cruz. Scotts Valley, 1977-2010.

Eckankar, in the Sant Mat lineage of Master Kirpal Singh, was developed and promoted in San Francisco in the 1960s by Paul Twitchell. Its international headquarters were in Menlo Park, (Melton, Encyclopedia *1242) but but are now at its temple in Chanhassen, Minnesota. ( 2010)

In the 1977-1984 White Pages Eckankar was at 212 River St., Santa Cruz. The 1981 Yellow Pages also listed it under "Churches — Spiritualist." In the 1985 White Pages, however, although it was still at the same address, it was called the Eckankar Satsang Society of Santa Cruz. It has kept that name, but, as shown in the White Pages, it has since moved twice, settling in its present location in 1996. This is 230 Mt. Herman Road, Scotts Valley 95066, tel. 438-3311. (2010 White Pages)

» Universal Residential Pure Communes Resource Manav Kendra Sant Mat Kindly International Network Divine. Community, Ben Lomond?, 1984-2008.

The Communities Directory of 2000, p. 361, states that this group was founded in 1984. Although listed as a community it seems, according to communications from it to me in 2004, to consist of one person, who was living in Ben Lomond, who acknowledged Sant Thakar Singh as his teacher, but who was not associated with the Sant Mat Know-Thyself Foundation. The website gave his telephone number and email address through 2008, but it is not operative in 2010.

» Sant Mat Know-Thyself Foundation. Santa Cruz, 2005-2010.

This represents a worldwide organization of the disciples of Thakar Singh, who were sponsoring three meditation groups in Santa Cruz County in 2005. At least one of these, which I attended, was in Santa Cruz City. The website 2010 has information about the foundation and email contacts of a Santa Cruz group and an Aptos group.


Details on the origin and development of Buddhism in general and in the United States are in the essay "South and East Asian Spiritualities" in Chapter 5 Particulars.

Miscellaneous Buddhist groups

» The Buddhist Ray. Service org, Santa Cruz County, 1888-1894.

This eight page monthly publication, "Devoted to Buddhism in general and to the Buddhism in Swedenborg in particular," ran from January, 1888 through December, 1894. Its declared editor was Philangi Dasa, who lived "in the Santa Cruz mountains," and who in 1887 had published in Los Angeles his book, Swedenborg the Buddhist, or the Higher Swedenborgianism, its Secrets, and Thibetan Origin. In the beginning the Ray drew heavily on Dasa's book, but gradually it mentioned Swedenborg less and less and Buddhism itself more and more. It gave much space to Theosophy, which was still new at that time, and was concerned to point out the great influence of Buddhism on Theosophy, although as the years went by it said less about Theosophy, too. Dasa claims that his review is the first on Buddhism in any Western language.

Santa Cruz Surf, on Jan. 8, 1889, says,

'A prophet is not without honor save in his own country' -- The Salinas Index pays this tribute to a Santa Cruz journal of which we have never heard:
'The Buddhist Ray, published at Santa Cruz and devoted to Buddhism in Swedenborg in particular, has completed the first year of its existence. It is an 8-page octavo, beautifully printed on thick tinted book paper, and ably edited. We wish the Ray another successful year.'

Philangi Dasa was a pen name of Herman C. Vetterling, a Swedish-born physician and former Swedenborgian minister, who later moved to Santa Clara County. He was a notable figure in the development of American Buddhism. (Thomas A. Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844-1912. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992, pp. 58-60 and passim)

The Research Forum of the website 2008 has, under the "Churches and Spiritual Organizations" Topic, two articles of mine with additional information about Herman Vetterling, "Santa Cruz's Philangi Dasa-San Jose's Herman Vetterling," and "Herman Vetterling: Autobiographical items in The Illuminate."

Emanuel Swedenborg, it can be noted briefly here, was a Swedish scientist who died in England in 1774. He claimed to have had immediate extra body experience of contact with Mongolian monks who had preserved the ancient wisdom that was to be found in Buddhism. He wrote extensively on the doctrines he learned from the monks. He himself remained a Christian, teaching that the ancient wisdom explained many of the mysteries of the Christian religion, and although he did not found a church, some of his followers did so, calling it the "New Jerusalem Church," or just the "New Church."

» Buddhist Church in Farmers' Union Hall. Santa Cruz, c1900.

A man who called himself Swami Mazzanandi conducted a Buddhist Church in the Farmers' Union Hall. He was a cockney Englishman and would read the Gospel of Buddha from one side of the altar and the Epistle of Buddha from the other. He gained many followers. (Ernest Otto in SC Sentinel Sep. 25, 1955)

Otto does not state when this occurred, but his column, "Old Santa Cruz," where this appeared, was mainly about events that took place before 1900.

» Udana Karana Temple of Harmonial Philosophy. Santa Cruz, 1909.

This group met in various halls in Santa Cruz. (SC Surf, Jan. 2, 1909, June 26, 1909, and Dec. 11, 1909) I locate it here among Buddhist associations because in the December 11 announcements of services it is named Udana Karana Buddhist Temple. Furthermore, the June 26 anouncement includes a sermon by the Buddhist Rev. Svami Mazziniananda.

Although "Swami Mazzanandi" conducted the Buddhist Church in Farmer's Union Hall about 1900, I hesitate to identify the Udana Karana Temple of Harmonial Philosophy with that church because the term "Harmonial Philosophy," had been appropriated decades before 1909 as the name of the teaching of Andrew Jackson Davis, who was a spiritualist, and there still is an Harmonial Philosophy Association stemming from him. ( 2010)

» Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Conf center, Santa Cruz, 1994-2008.

The Fellowship met twice a month in 1994 at 610 Hanover St. to discuss the social side of Buddhism, (Buddha Cruz) and it met once a month in 2006 at Vipassana Santa Cruz, 1010 Fair Ave. ( 2006) According to the same website it had a contact number in 2008, but in 2010 the website is no longer operative and the former telephone number is of an individual.

» Free Water Sangha. Santa Cruz, 1999-2010.

Founded by Mokshananda, (Joe Souza) in 1999, this group considers itself to be of Zen Buddhism, but it incorporates a Hindu non-dualist Vedantic approach. Its address is 147 S. River St., tel. 831-588-7161. ( 2010)

Japanese Buddhist groups

» Watsonville Buddhist Temple. 1905-2010.

Watsonville Buddhist Temple
Watsonville Buddhist Temple
From Santa Cruz Public Libraries' Photograph Collection.

Organized in 1905, it was the first Buddhist temple in the Monterey Bay area. (Sixtieth Anniversary 1906-1966 "Build A Greater Sangha" Watsonville Buddhist Church. Watsonville, 1966) Its first services were held in the Shinsekai newspaper office, but the next year it inaugurated a temple in the Watsonville Opera House. In 1907 it had its first resident minister and the congregation bought a lot at Bridge and Union Streets, where, apparently, a temple was constructed that same year. The congregation was in its new, and present, temple building in 1956. (Seventy-fifth Anniversary 1906-1981: Watsonville Buddhist Temple. Watsonville, 1981?) The location is 423 Bridge St., Watsonville 95076, tel. 724-7860. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Japanese Cultural Center. Live Oak, 1934-1942.

During the 1920s a large number of Japanese families moved into the Live Oak district where they bought or rented land on which to cultivate strawberries. They formed a Japanese Cultural Association and in 1934 built this hall on 17th Avenue and Rodriguez. They held language and Japanese culture classes as well as Buddhist services. In 1942, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the relocation of area Japanese, the building and property were auctioned off and the building was moved here [300 7th Avenue].

("Live Oak Walking Tour - Historic Twin Lakes," undated pamphlet of the Live Oak History Project distributed in 2005)

» Santa Cruz Zen Center. 1970-2010.

Established in 1970, this is "...a nonresidential lay practice community" which offers daily meditation, and, as its head states, "We are cousins with San Francisco Zen Center." (Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 128) Founder of the Santa Cruz Center was the Japanese Buddhist priest, Kobun Chino Otogawa, who came from Japan in 1967 at the request of Shunryu Suzuki, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center. (SC Sentinel, Aug. 1, 2002)

Shunryu Suzuki had been head of the Soto Mission in San Francisco, which traces its lineage to the Hawaii Soto Mission, founded in 1915, the oldest Zen center in the U.S. In founding the Zen Center, however, Shunryu Suzuki departed from the demographics of the Soto Missions, which consisted mainly of Japanese and Japanese Americans, and passed on the lineage to Americans of other ethnic backgrounds. (Melton, Encyclopedia *1281)

The Zen Center is at 113 School St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 457-0206. (2010 White Pages under Zen Center—Santa Cruz)

» Satori Conference Center. Boulder Creek, 1970-1974.

Incorporated in 1970, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3412) this facility was listed in the 1971 in the Yellow Pages. On 160 acres at the end of King's Creek Road, Boulder Creek, it ceased to exist in 1974 according to the SC Sentinel, Feb. 25, 1977.

"Satori" is a key concept in Zen Buddhism. "Literally, the word Satori is Japanese for 'Ah Ha!' It originally represented a state of enlightenment sought in Zen Buddhism. It's an exploration of the mind and the unknown. It's the insight you achieve only after expending a good deal of your energy and imagination. Satori is the sense of joy that comes from learning." ( 2010)

For some subsequent history of the property see Christ Circle community under #14.6.

» Everyday Dharma Zen Center. Santa Cruz, 2001-2010.

Descended from the Soto tradition and headed by the priest Carolyn Atkinson, this center offers daily meditation and weekly services. It offers extensive information about itself, including address and telephone number, 113 New Street, Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 469-4248, on its website, 2010.

It has been listed in the White Pagessince 2001. The 2010 White Pages call it simply Everyday Dharma.

» Ocean Gate Zen Center. Capitola, 2007-2010.

"Teachers Daijaku Kinst and Shinshu Roberts are Zen priests and teachers in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Both Shinshu and Daijaku trained at the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center." ( 2010) See Santa Cruz Zen Center above for background.

The address is 920 41st Ave., Suite B, Capitola 95010. (website as above, and SC Sentinel, Oct. 13, 2007 and April 5, 2008)

» Stillpoint Zen Center. Bonny Doon, 2009-2010.

This meditation and retreat center was founded for Zen Master Umi, who had had a following since 1999 in San Francisco. The website 2010 has details, including the address, 7919 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz 95060 and telephone, 466-9566, although it does not state the time of founding. I have seen the sign at its gate since 1999.

Tibetan Buddhist groups

The most extensive wave of Buddhism to come to Santa Cruz after the early Japanese one has been Tibetan, which does not fit neatly into the Hinayana/Mahayana division of Buddhism, and which has assumed a worldwide appeal that is personified by the exiled Dalai Lama. The Santa Cruz Tibetan Buddhist groups, which are more numerous than any other, are:

» Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Service org, Soquel, 1989-2000.

Founded in 1975, this association of about 150 Buddhist centers throughout the world has at present its international headquarters in Portland, Oregon. ( 2010) From 1989 to 2000, however, these headquarters were in Soquel, where the Land of Medicine Buddha (see below) now is. (Murray J. Wright, At the End of Prescott Road, Soquel, California: Land of Medicine Buddha, 2000, pp. 77 and 95)

The following five local associations are or were affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition:

» Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture. Boulder Creek, 1975-2010.

Established in 1975, and at its present location since 1977, this serves as a meditation and retreat center. (Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 252) Other information about it can be found in Melton, Encyclopedia *1324. The website 2010 contains a detailed history of the institute, including two visits by the Dalai Lama.

The address is 19950 King's Creek Road, Boulder Creek 95006, local tel. 338-6654. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Universal Education Association. Conf center, Soquel, 1983-1985.

In 1983 Tibetan lamas of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition bought the property which later became that of the Land of Medicine Buddha. They founded there an educational conference center based on Buddhist principles, but lack of finances forced them to close it in two years. (Murray J. Wright, At the End of Prescott Road, Soquel, California: Land of Medicine Buddha, 2000, pp. 63-71)

» Karuna Group. Service org, Capitola? 1990-2010.

Consultants in organizational and management development since 1990, associated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, the group combines Buddhist philosophy and psychology with Western management science. According to its website, 2010, its telephone number is 457-7750. I had heard in early 2006 that its office was in Capitola.

» Land of Medicine Buddha. Soquel, 1991-2010.

Opened in 1991, this facility serves as a conference and retreat center, and it offers classes in meditation. It is especially concerned with healing according to the principles of that aspect of the Buddha called the Medicine Buddha. (Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 243) It includes "Tara Home," a hospice established in about 2002. (SC Sentinel, Dec. 19, 2005) The website 2010 has much information about the Medicine Buddha.

The Land of Medicine Buddha's property on Prescott Road has a long history of spiritual associations. At the confluence of the two branches of Bates Creek, originally the site of the Grover Brothers' first sawmill, this property was across the creek's main branch from the hillside where Drs. Taylor and Brown had their Glen Haven Sanitarium in the 1880s. (See Classical American Spiritualism.) Then, after being successively Stafford's Inn, Prescott's Inn, Denton's Mountain Inn, and Greenwood Lodge, it became, again successively, the Universal Education Association (of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition), the Institute for Dehypnotherapy (Rajneesh Hindu), the International Office of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, and, lastly, the Land of Medicine Buddha. (Murray J. Wright, At the End of Prescott Road, Soquel, California: Land of Medicine Buddha, 2000, passim)

The address is 5800 Prescott Road, Soquel 95073, tel. 462-8383. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Tara Redwood School. Soquel, 1996-2010.

Founded in 1996, the school includes elementary grades; ( 2010) it can be found at 5800 Prescott Road, Soquel 95073, tel. 462-9632. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Santa Cruz Karma Thegsum Choling. Soquel, 1976-2010.

In the Tibetan Kagyu tradition, founded in 1976, this center of practice, i.e., prayer, is located outside Soquel, but its mailing address is 122 Central Ave., Capitola, 95010, and its telephone number is 479-4140. ( 2010) "Another important outreach is Dzambhala Imports in Soquel, a retailer/wholesaler of Dharma goods, books, and Himalayan crafts," ( 2010) which is located at 881 Laurel Glen Road [in the general Soquel area], and has the same telephone number as the shrine room. (2010 White Pages)

In addition to the website there is information in Morreale, Complete Guide, pp. 249-250.

» Ngagyur Nyingma. Santa Cruz, 1981-1982.

Founded in 1981 by Lama Gonpo, this existed at 2222 Ocean St. Extension through at least February, 1982, (SC Express, Feb. 25, 1982) but it was no longer listed among Buddhist locations in the 1994 Buddha Cruz.

» Maitreya Buddhist Center. Santa Cruz, 1982.

The resident teacher in this center, which was at 307 Laguna St., was Geshe Jampel Thandu. It is listed in the SC Express, Feb. 25, 1982, but not in the Buddha Cruz, 1994.

» RIGPA Tibetan Buddhist meditation center. Santa Cruz? 1987-2006.

An international, broad form of Tibetan Buddhism, Rigpa offers particular training in the assistance of the dying. It was founded in 1984, (Morreale p. 248) and it had a presence in Santa Cruz beginning no later than 1987. (Melton, Encyclopedia *1319) In 1994 it had an address, 147 South River St., Suite 234, Santa Cruz, (Buddha Cruz), and in 2006 it had a local contact telephone number. ( 2006) The RIGPA website in 2010,, mentions Santa Cruz among a few other California cities, but channels inquiries about it to its San Francisco center.

» Vajrayana Foundation. Santa Cruz County, 1987-2010.

Established in 1987, this location, the Pema Osel Ling ("Lotus Land of Clear Light") is a meditation and retreat center as well as the seat of the foundation, which "... has satellite centers in several other states." (Morreale, Complete Guide, pp. 253-254) It is at 2013 Eureka Canyon Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 761-6266. (2010 Yellow Pages)

There was a Clear Light Meditation Center at 941 Capitola Road, Santa Cruz in Polk 1977 through 1980. Although there is a time gap between the two groups, I hesitate to count the earlier one as a separate association.

» Healing Buddha Center. Bonny Doon, 1994-2003.

This Buddhist facility was first listed in 1994, when Buddha Cruz called it the Healing Buddha Foundation and located it at 2227 Empire Grade. In the White Pages of 2003 it was at 2369 Empire Grade Road. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, however, it was listed neither in the White Pages nor on the Foundation's website, A search for this website in 2010 was shunted to the link, which refers to the Juniper Foundation in Redwood City.

According to the website 2008, "The Healing Buddha Foundation is also dedicated to the preservation of the Segyu Lineage. The Segyu lineage of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism represents an unbroken line of Tantric teachings (Vajrayana) descending directly from Lama Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419)..."

» Dzogchen group. Santa Cruz?, 1994.

This group of students of Namkhai Norbu met in a private home according to Buddha Cruz, 1994.

» Santa Cruz Shambhala Study Group. Santa Cruz?, 1998.

This was affiliated in 1998 with Shambhala International, Halifax Nova Scotia. (Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 250) It was not found in in 2004, although Shambhala International has over 100 centers throughout the world.

Burmese Buddhist groups

» Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery. School, Boulder Creek, 1981-2010.

Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery funerary pagoda
Funerary pagoda at Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

Founded in 1981, the first Burmese Buddhist monastery in California, it is a monastic training facility for both monks and nuns, and it offers meditation and retreats for lay persons. (SC Sentinel, Mar. 14, 1993) Additional information can be found in Melton, Encyclopedia *1257; Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 41; and SC Sentinel Nov. 6, 1983. Its address is 18335 Big Basin Highway, tel. 338-4050. (2010 White Pages) Its two pagodas, as I have seen, are a distinctive sight in the Big Basin area.

Vietnamese Buddhist groups

» Kim Son Meditation Center Tu Vien. Santa Cruz County, c1983-2010.

The Buddhist Master Thich Tinh Tu founded this center in about 1983. (Gilroy Dispatch, May 13, 2006) Not having any address or telephone number for this center, I found it by driving to it in October, 2005. It is 2.6 miles North of the beginning of Summit Road on the Santa Cruz County side of the road. A large statue of the sitting Buddha can be seen through the gate. Its address, 574 Summit Road, and its tel., 831-848-1541, are found in 2010 on the website,

» Vipassana Santa Cruz. 1989-2010.

This group has been in Santa Cruz since 1989, and its lineage is "Theravada via Spirit Rock [California] and Insight Meditation Society." (Morreale, Complete Guide, p. 42) The Spirit Rock establishment traces its origin back to 1974. ( 2008)

In 2006, after twenty years of meeting in various locations, Vipassana moved into a center of its own. (SC Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2007) The address is 1010 Fair Ave, tel. 425-3431 ( 2010.

The following three sanghas, two of which exist in 2010, practice or practiced mindfulness "in the tradition of the eminent Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh," being associated with the Community of Mindful Living, Berkeley, which was established in 1983.

» Santa Cruz Sangha. Bonny Doon, c1998.

In a residential location, this center was listed in Morreale, Complete Guide, 1998. It was not listed on the Community of Mindful Living website,, in 2004.

It is quite probable - but not necessarily so - that this sangha was the predecessor of the Family and Heart Sangha, which follow.

» Family Sangha. Bonny Doon, 2004-2010.

Also in a residential location, this center was listed on the Community of Mindful Living website,, in 2004 and 2010, where the address given for it is 530 Sunlit Lane, tel. 426-6599.

» Heart Sangha. Santa Cruz, 2004-2010.

Meeting in the Santa Cruz Zen Center, 115 School St., this center has been active at least since 2007 but not in 2008. ( 2007 and 2010)


Details on the origin and development of Taoism and Confucianism in general and in the United States are in the essay "South and East Asian Spiritualities" in Chapter 5 Particulars.

» Evergreen Cemetery. Service org, Santa Cruz, 1850-2010.

Traditional Chinese burial customs are more a manifestation of Confucianism than of Taoism. Many of the bodies of the Chinese who died in Santa Cruz were exhumed after a few years and sent back to China to rest with their ancestors. This practice was not understood in Santa Cruz in the past, but now these and other customs of the Chinese community are receiving some attention and respect. (Lydon, Chinese Gold, pp. 130-135)

One of the two Santa Cruz County cemeteries which, in spite of Chinese wishes to have their bodies returned to China, contained a Chinese section was Evergreen. Founded in 1850, the cemetery has four sections, one of which is Taoist-Confucian Chinese. The last burial in the Chinese part took place in 1921. (Koch, Parade of the Past, pp. 191-193) The burial procession went from Chinatown to the cemetery, with traditional ceremonies. (Lydon, Chinese Gold, pp. 261-264 has details.) In June, 2005 I observed that the burner, or ceremonial oven in which paper money and other offerings were burned, is still standing, along with a few disintegrating markers.

Chinese funerary burner
Chinese funerary burner in Evergreen Cemetery
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

» Pioneer Cemetery. Service org, Watsonville, 1850s?-2010.

Like Evergreen, Pioneer has a large place for Chinese burials, larger, in fact than Evergreen's. Many markers, as well as a burner restored in 1983, were still there in June, 2010, when I last visited it.

» Chinese graves. Service org, Scotts Valley 1870s?

On April 22, 1951 it was reported in the SC Sentinel-News that,

It is in the vicinity of his [Father McCullis's — I correct this to Father Joseph McAuliffe's] property [on Bean Creek Road in Scotts Valley] that some old Chinese graves are located. They probably are part of a burial ground used by the Chinese who lived or camped in the area during the timber cutting days.

» Chee Kong Tong Temple. Santa Cruz, 1880s-1950.

The structure of the Chee Kong Tong, the Chinese benevolent society, housed the Chinese temple in Santa Cruz beginning, it seems, in the 1880s. In 1895 the building was destroyed by fire, but it was rebuilt on a new location a year later. In 1905 it was moved to its final site in Santa Cruz's Chinatown, between Front Street and the San Lorenzo River. After the subsequent long, gradual decline of Chinatown, the building was razed in 1950. (SC Surf, Aug. 19, 1895 and Lydon, Chinese Gold, pp. 202, 203, 232, 248, 255-271, 280-281, 436-438, 441-442, 446)

» Chee Kong Tong Temple. Monterey County [Watsonville], 1880s-1924.

The principal Chinatown for the Watsonville area was laid out in the 1880s in an area which became known as Brooklyn and which was located at the Monterey County end of the Pajaro River bridge at Watsonville. The Chee Kong Tong building and temple concepts used in Santa Cruz were also embodied in the structure erected near the south end of Brooklyn in 1895. Most of Brooklyn, including the temple, burned down in 1924, and although some of the community was rebuilt the temple was not. (Lydon, Chinese Gold, pp. 193, 201-203, 214, 215, 413, 421-425, 427)

» H'sien Taoist Monastery. Santa Cruz County?, 1978.

The only information I have about this organization is that it was incorporated in 1978. (Santa Cruz County Articles of incorporation no. 4517) Not to be counted in totals.

» Center for Taoist Thought and Fellowship. Santa Cruz, 1982-2010.

Founded in 1982 by Carl Abbott, this small center had regular meditation and prayer meetings at 406 Lincoln St. in 2008 ( 2008), and according to the website in 2010 it still exists through a blog and a forum, although I do not see it in evidence of a physical location.

» Santa Cruz Living Tao. Service org, Santa Cruz, c1984-2008.

Beginning about 1984 Instructor April Burns has held classes in Tai Chi movement accompanied by a group discussion of a Taoist text. Instruction is in the spirit of the founder of the Living Tao Foundation, Chungliang Al Huang, said Ms. Burns when I visited her class in 2004. Chungliang, according to the website, is "a highly regarded and internationally respected Tai Ji master and authority of East-West cultural synthesis." Although Santa Cruz Living Tao was not listed in the telephone directory for 2008, leaflets at the door of the place where the class is held, 738 Chestnut St., proclaim that it still met there in 2008. In 2010 I found no evidence that it exists.


The 'Way of the Gods,' Shinto was originally a nature-worship faith which added a pantheon over the years by a process of deifying heroes. Festivals were centered on seasons and the agricultural cycles. (Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 166)

Some very general observations about Shinto:

The ancient Shinto was an individual, not communal, form of worship, and it appears to have taken on its first organized form in reaction to Buddhism, when that was introduced into Japan in the sixth century. The two forms of spirituality coexisted from then on, although Buddhism was the principal religion of Japan.

In 1868 the Meiji rulers took over Japan, imposed a centralization hitherto unknown, and propelled the country into the modern world. They suppressed many Buddhist sanctuaries, laicized Buddhist monks and nuns, and promoted the old folk religion, which they brought under central control. The practice of Shinto then became a key element of the extremely nationalistic spirit the Meiji inculcated. With the end of World War II in 1945 the emphasis on nationalistic Shintoism was terminated, and there was a resurgence of Buddhism in Japan.

The Japanese who emigrated to the United States during the Meiji period tended to be Buddhist rather than Shinto, and even since 1945 few devotees of Shinto have come here from Japan.

According to the website 2010, there were perhaps only a thousand Shinto followers in the United States in 2000. Furthermore, "Essentially all followers of Shinto are Japanese. It is difficult for a foreigner to embrace Shintoism. Unlike most other religions, there is no book to help a person learn about the religion. It is transmitted from generation to generation by experiencing the rituals together as a group."

I am not aware of any Shinto organization in Santa Cruz or even close to it.

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