For the last 45 years, the Bodhi Tree bookstore has been an iconic place in our hearts and lives as a gathering place for transformation. Whether standing in the aisles for hours getting our minds blown, or listening to riveting discussions with Marianne Williamson, Ram Dass, don Miguel Ruiz, Shakti Gawain, and so many powerful teachers to name, we have been blessed with a special place to become more of our Selves. So it makes sense that the Bodhi Tree is growing and expanding too.
The original bookstore was a tiny house on Melrose that two aerospace engineers, Stan Madson and Phil Thompson, rented in 1970. Once the locals began to hang out there, they built a second floor, and bought two adjacent properties for a used bookstore and a meeting place. Then, in 1983, actress Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb about her metaphysical experiences began a publishing phenomenon. By the ’80s and ’90s, “New Age” books were no longer just a niche. Compelling books, DVDs, card decks, gongs… they all struck a chord within a growing population of spiritual seekers. And every book on the shelves seemed required curriculum! Remember The Celestine Prophecy?
After going through my UFO, dolphin, and brain hemisphere-syncing phase, I moved onto Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Joan Borysenko’s Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson, Marianne Williamson’s Only Love Is Real, then Helen Schucman’s challenging A Course in Miracles. And now? We are not over it. We have been living these heart-expanding tools. We are reaching a new New Age—a language and understanding of Love that is spreading throughout the world. So it is fitting that the original bookstore owners are now happily moving on and… our new stewards have stepped up. They are readying a new, larger Bodhi Tree event studio a few blocks away on La Brea at Melrose, and they are focused on community building in the world via the web.
Where are we going? Who are we all becoming? How will we get there? Grammy-winning producer, entrepreneur, former CEO of Agape Media International, and now Bodhi Tree CEO, Stephen Powers, is full of enthusiastic ideas. When he was approached to take the helm, he thought, “It’s the most extraordinary opportunity. My personal mission has always been to produce music and art for the purpose of uplifting the human spirit, so of course, it spoke to me. Bodhi Tree has so much to offer the world. We are honored and grateful to continue its growth and development.” Powers and new owner Jasmine Fayed are intent on expanding it from our local neighborhoods to reach out globally.
An entrepreneur, designer, and retailer, Fayed is a life-long student of the healing arts and a compulsive book collector, which led her to the Bodhi Tree years ago from her home in London. She serves as Chief Creative Officer and has established an elegant visual aesthetic for Bodhi Tree, as well as a credible and engaging tone for its voice. She says, “One of the guiding mottos when envisioning Bodhi’s new form was to find a way to create an appealing balance drawn from the Transcendentalist’s values of wisdom, beauty, and truth.”
The new website, BodhiTree.com, is a sumptuous feast of beauty and endless resources. After several years, I was happy to be transported back into the bookstore’s atmosphere via the extensive site. Its beautiful photos brought up memories of drinking tea in a tiny reading nook, and I could almost smell the sage. The site is well-organized by “7 Pillars” — Books, Mercantile, Journal, Legacy, Education, Oracles, and Community. In addition to cataloguing years of monthly Bodhi Tree Book Review magazines, hundreds of taped “Bodhi Talks” of visiting sages have been digitally mastered, transcribed, and made available online. “This archival material is an adventure in time travel,” Powers says, “and yet so many of the ideas are as timeless and relevant today as they ever were.” It all amounts to an impressive collection of timely wisdom and inspiration.
This article is a part of the 2016 Holiday - Radical Generosity issue of Whole Life Times.