“In the mountains of California, above the Mojave lies a plateau overlooking the desert, sloping to the East, facing the morning sun, into the West where San Gorgonio’s snow-capped peak reflects the glow of the setting sun. Here, The Institute of Mentalphysics is planning and building its city. Moved by a sense of the tranquil nobility and eternal beauty of the desert, I have planned, not a city of asphalt, paving and steel, or of tight mechanical grid and congested living barracks [but] a city of the Desert, spacious, free-sweeping; its broad floor carpeted by myriads of desert blossoms; its residents dwelling at peace, and sharing with the soil, sky, and trees, their joy of living, its centuries old Joshua trees standing like sentinels above its homes.”
—Lloyd Wright, Architect
Lloyd Wright is referring to the building of the “New City of Mentalphysics,” the “City of Joy,” a 420-acre creative vision and partnership he had with Dr. Edwin Dingle and home to architectural secrets of Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd.
The Institute of Mentalphysics (now the Joshua Tree Retreat Center) was dedicated in 1941 and is located just a few miles from the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Monument and about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs in the Hi-Desert.
Dr. Dingle worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on the initial design based upon the principles of Mentalphysics as well as sacred geometry. Frank’s son, Lloyd Wright later came on board and according to the designers this innovative desert architecture is aligned with the principles of the Mystic Seven in all spiritual undertakings.
Wright’s original plans were to include seven centers: The Caravansary of Joy; Haven of Gratitude; Temple of Reverence; Abode of Breath; Castle of Sound; Mansion of Light; and Manor of Silence. The retreat center was designed to be completely off the grid, with alternative housing and as a place for spiritual leaders, artists and artisans to teach and live.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Dr. Dingle’s home, however, Lloyd Wright came on to the project and completed the Ridge Cottages, Water Terrance Dining Hall, and the Caravansary of Joy, a 700-foot-long structure with motel-style rooms and a meeting hall. The Caravaransary was designed after the Tibetan monastery Dr. Dingle visited during his early 1900 China travels.
Frank’s son, Lloyd Wright, completed the buildings as well as design work on the remaining buildings. Archives of the construction and Dingle’s correspondence with the architect father and son are just now coming to light after years of being preserved in the attic and the basements of the facility. Original architectural drawings are archived at UCLA School of Architecture. Further research is ongoing regarding the history of the entire facility which is oriented on ley lines determined by use of sacred geometry.
“We hope to have Eric Wright design something so we would have the work of three generations on the site,” said Victoria Jennings, the Executive Director of the Retreat Center. Eric is the grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright with an architectural practice in Malibu, California.
The Lotus Meditation Room was built on top of an old Native American scying pool. The distinctive spire atop the octagonal sanctuary spire is 2 degrees off so it points true north. Whispers are easily heard in the sanctuary featuring an acoustically enhanced design eliminating the need for amplification. Doors face east according to the science of Vastu, an earlier version of Feng Shui.
“Everything has a reason here so that as the sun comes up the light shines down a certain road inducing a very peaceful feeling of harmonious alignment,” Jennings said, “It just makes people who visit here feel good – because of the energy perfected orientation.”
The drawings of buildings not built are simply amazing. The office building, looking like a low-lying hotel was never built. The design is a combination of the two, Frank and Lloyd, and we intend to build it next to the highway said Jennings.
When Dr. Dingle arrived in the Mojave Desert and discovered this pristine piece of desert land, he said he witnessed a great light from above and was told that this was indeed the place to build the institute and the City of Joy, and that a highway would be made to carry people to this place of respite. The highway at that time was little more than a dirt road.
The facility occupies 420-acres with its own rock quarry and wells – plus a recently found hot springs. Over the last five years Jennings built three pools. The institute features perhaps the most comprehensive bookstore of its kind containing a fine collection of science, spirituality, health and wellness books as well as sacred objects representing all religions, including Christianity – from all over the world.
As the sun moves so also do the shapes of the Wright buildings offering an opportunity to study the play of light. Cutouts in the buildings interact with extreme textures generating fascinating shadow designs.
Cal Poly Pomona helped created a landscape master plan and landscaping is ongoing with many new trees added along with new fountains and gardens of native plants. A chalice well, a replica of that in England, was recently built. A swimming pool, part of the original Wright plans, is set to open in a matter of weeks.
The past thirty years were relatively quiet for the retreat Center. When Jennings arrived five and a half years ago to perform a turnaround, the facility only had three annual events. There are now over 80 retreats/events held annually as well as daily classes in yoga, breathing, spirituality and life extension.
The retreat center serves large groups such as Bhakti-Fest with up to 4,000 participants, many medium size groups of 40 to several hundred participants, and very affordable personal retreats of overnight accommodations in the Wright designed rooms, studios, cottages, and apartments for those seeking a quiet, peaceful place for spiritual contemplation and training.
The science of Mentalphysics was created by Dr. Dingle in 1927 and later attracted a congregation in Los Angeles. The retreat center came later. Today over 250,000 students study the Science of Mentalphysics worldwide. Dr. Dingle was known to his students as Ding le Mei (Ding means “Great Man,” a sign of highest respect, given to him by his Master Teacher Padmasambhava).
Ding Le Mei risked his life on a mapping expedition and spiritual quest across China in the early 1900s as he entered Tibet. In his quest for spiritual knowledge he became one of the first Westerners to enter a Tibetan monastery where he was recognized as a highly evolved soul. There he discovered the mysteries of Asia and India, secret wisdom passed along from master to pupil, from generation to generation, for countless ages, beginning perhaps six or seven thousand years ago.
Dr. Dingle was a celebrated cartographer and became a millionaire with book sales. His maps of China were the first of their kind, placing him in Chinese history books.
On November 7, 1927, Mentalphysics was born, and the prophecy of Edwin J. Dingle’s Master—that he would one day become a great teacher—was fulfilled. Ding Le Mei combined the spiritual wisdom of the East with religious knowledge of the West to form a Super Yoga.
The teachings of Mentalphysics combine ancient universal truths, breathing gland exercises, diet control, recognizing and working with one’s individual chemistry, exercises, affirmations, and meditation. New students are introduced to the universal laws which, if followed, are believed to lead to self mastery of oneself and all of Life. In the original teachings, and in a step-by-step manner, Ding Le Mei shared 21 years of knowledge given to him in the Temples of Asia.
“It is not just information; we are building a new consciousness,” he said. It is a way of life, of deeper awareness, and methods for purifying the mind (in thought) and body (in radiant health), which have been used for thousands of years. The 8 Key Breaths, unique lessons, meditations, and affirmations have been the means of revolutionizing the lives of hundreds of thousands worldwide.
As these teachings are sacred and rare, they were closely guarded for those who are seekers of Truth. These precious teachings and wisdom of the ancients are preserved in Ding Le Mei’s “Science of Mentalphysics” or “Brahma Vidya” (the Ancient Secret), as it is called in India.
Ding Le Mei passed from this life in 1972, but his dreams of the New City are very much alive today in the hearts and minds of the hundreds of thousands of students of Mentalphysics. The center is used today not only by students of Mentalphysics, but also by many individuals and retreat groups.
Kevin Collins and Jody Curtis are Teachers of the Science of Mentalphysics and the 8 Key Breaths. Classes are available online or by mail order for home study. The Institute of Mentalphysics also offers the Breath of Life class, covering the 8 Key Breaths. For more photo and information, please visit www.mentalphysics.net or www.jtrcc.org.
Story also co-written by Kevin Collins and Jody Curtis.