Review of The Krishnamurti Retreat (Pepper Tree Retreat), Ojai, California

Review of The Krishnamurti Retreat (Pepper Tree Retreat), Ojai, California

By Reza Ganjavi

Terrible management whose style I believe has nothing to do with the spirit of Krishnamurti which was a great philosopher, author, educator. Checkin experience was torturous as the Jaap Sluijter tried to bully me into accepting even additional rules than what's already in their LONG list of rules or else he said he'll give me a refund which I definitely interpreted as a threat as effectively he was saying if you don't agree with even more rules than is already in the crazily long list of rules they have they'll refuse my reservation -- and that's weeks after they confirmed my reservation and I made travel plans. And that's when I have NEVER broken any of their rules after decades of visiting the place (that was before Jaap Sluijter's time but already things went rough because Mark Lee also had what I perceived to be a egotistic, dictatorial style of running the place).

Yes this is weeks after I made the reservation -- they were well aware of it as evidenced by the welcome email they sent -- and I made plans based on this. Very very unprofessional and cruel and insensitive and unintelligent and indecent and unreasonable -- FAR from Krishnamurti's values which attracted me to his teachings.

And mind you in all my years of visit there I have never -- NEVER -- broken a single rule of the place. But they don't like people who speak their mind in total civility and respect for others. I believe they have no respect for freedom of speech based on what I have heard and seen them do including their librarian who said nobody from outside the foundation can comment about the work of the foundation. This is just an example of how dogmatic and pathetic this place is. This led to other sagas -- assault & battery of totally peaceful visitor on their property I suppose to provoke in order to have something against the person so they can get rid of him because they don't like the fact that he: exercises his freedom of speech in a totally legal moral and ethical way. And other sagas which make this place so contrary to the spirit of their great founder whom I deeply respect.

These things tells me a lot about how the management of this place and the KFA (Krishnamurti Foundation America) where I can no longer smell the perfume of Krishnamurti's great work, the freedom, love, beauty, responsibility, transparency, depth, clarity, rationality, logic, communication, understanding, goodness, intelligence, integrity, decency, and those other great values which made K so fresh and appealing to people like me.

Instead I believe the place has turned disgusting based on what I have experienced with people who are in key positions like Mark Lee and Jaap Sluijter. Based on what I have witnessed, heard, and experienced with KFA, I believe the place has turned into a mundane, mediocre, dictatorial, stiff, brutal, dull, dogmatic, fanatic, contradictory, reckless, egotistic, hypocritical, boring organization.

Aside from this terrible experience during check-in, the other staff were friendly and nice. Except one who was asking me about the timing of my visit to the factory outlet (which luckily was before I arrive there and not during otherwise perhaps it totally felt like a gotcha question of her trying to find something against me because the place has demonstrated a disgusting talent for image making which Krishnamurti himself warned greatly about.

So if I have to choose a retreat I will always choose a different spot because I can't stand the spirit that Jaap Sluijter has promoted in the place. This includes, In my opinion, their reckless handling of Krishnamurti's work by sponsoring Vedic chants and bringing speakers like Ravi Ravindra, and so on. In my opinion, KFA doesn't seem to care about not diluting Krishnamurti which was expressly against his wish.

Also visitors beware: the long list of rules also apply to the public gatherings and if you happen to step over the line the dictator might get upset and take extremely unreasonable action WITHOUT WARNING -- you likely will not get a second chance -- and then, good luck trying to find out specifics about the charges they may fabricate against you to justify their extreme action! I've been a victim of one case of this and it ain't fun. There's no Krishnamurti in this place as far as I am concerned. His books are there and the land they own but their attitude as far as I have seen heard experienced and of others I have heard of directly who have had bitter experiences with this place, does not lead me to believe that spirit of Krishnamurti which I felt when I met him in person and when I read over 80 books of his, is sadly not present.