In the western hills of Nipomo lies a beautiful property named Woodhaven. Surrounded by eucalyptus trees, it features a meditation room, a lovely Spanish-style home and a labyrinth. Ms. Ligia Dantes resides there.
Volunteers Phil Gill, Ann Dobroth and Art Giumini partner with Ms. Dantes and maintain the property. They invite people to come for individual dialogues and retreat with her, occasionally holding meditations and dialogues for small groups. The primary purpose is education.
No particular philosophy or religion is represented. However, there is a large lending library, with books and CDs that Ms. Dantes has written, as well as books on psychology, science, Buddhism, Krishnamurti, the Bible, yoga and more.
Ms. Dantes (as she is known) was born in Uruguay and came to the United States with her family at age 18. She studied psychotherapy at UCLA and psychoanalysis in Los Angeles.
Then one day she had a transformative experience. While walking around Santa Monica and looking into peoples faces, she began to feel the enormous suffering of humanity.
She felt that we are all suffering psychologically equally, and that psychoanalysis is not what was needed. She felt that we have lost this sense of the other.
My whole life changed, she said. She was in limbo for a while, but then began a life of self-inquiry and service. She met Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Indian-born spiritual and philosophical teacher and taught Spanish in his school in Ojai. According to Ms. Dantes, Krishnamurti said, Dont be a follower, do your own research. ... I learned not to follow ... realizing I have to do my own work.
She traveled to India and visited many hospitals, monasteries and temples, speaking with doctors and Buddhist spiritual leaders.
Ms. Dantes practiced with a Zen Japanese Roshi in Los Altos for one year. She began doing seminars in cities in Southern California and peoples homes in the '80s and set up a nonprofit organization.
I went through a very radical change, she said. I am not interested in being a guru. She doesnt charge for her work. The foundations work for peace in the world is maintained by donations. The volunteers are my partners in the foundations work.
Gill says, Ms. Dantes presents a stark contrast to the high-profile teacher who addresses large groups of people. Working with individuals and small groups, she preserves the intensity and depth of her message.
By working smaller it allows people to go deeper, emphasizing inquiry. Says Ms. Dantes: We need to be aware of the need for transformation in the consciousness of humanity and in ourselves.
How do you do this? By inquiring into our own behavior, our own emotions and feelings and the way we function as human organizations. She thinks of humans as being a tiny piece of the whole, of a holograph.
Ms. Dantes recently conducted a meditation and dialogue on "Human Violence." Her next one is on "Finding the Truth Within" and will occur on Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m.
Ms. Dantes has recently published a book, The Tao of Modern Living. For more information, to purchase the book, or to donate, call 343-2582 or go to www.ligiadantesfoundation.org.
Gayle Cuddy's column is special to The Tribune. She and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or email@example.com.