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Day Destination – Joshua Tree Mentalphysics Spiritual Center


November 28, 2021

In our series of Day Destinations, we travel south, north, east and west to locations all within a day trip from Cerritos.

Only about 122 miles, a 2 to 2.5-hour drive from Cerritos, is Twenty-Nine Palms, the main Joshua Tree National Park entrance, an intriguing day destination trip with several unforgettable attractions.

The trails in Joshua Tree National Park are wonderful to enjoy when the wildflowers are in bloom, and best to be there in Spring, Fall and Winter when temperatures are most inviting.

Although the Joshua trees are the most well-known attraction, unique to desolate location is the Institute of Mentalphysics.

Edwin Dingle

The institute is a spiritual center founded by Edwin John Dingle, a visionary who returned to America to procure 420 acres in the Yucca Valley after years of spiritual study in China and Tibet.

Dingle believed the area was sacred land and commissioned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design Mentalphysics as a contemporary desert ‘Caravanersai,’ a concept recalling the Caravan resting places on the Ancient Silk Road that crossed the deserts of Arabia, from X’ian, the ancient silk capital of China to Istanbul.

The Silk Road was a flourishing trade route for thousands of years for silk and other treasures. A founder capable of re-imagining the ancient Silk Road in the California desert would also have to be somewhat of an eccentric and well-traveled personality.

Edwin Dingle, also known as Ding Le Mei, was born in England in 1881. In 1910 he seized an opportunity to become a journalist in China, where he became of the first Caucasians to cover East Asian Affairs, eventually establishing a publishing empire in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

His publication in 1914 of a bi-lingual “New Map of China” established his reputation as a geographer and member of the prestigious British Royal Geographic Society.

Risking his life on both a mapping expedition and spiritual quest across China, Dingle entered Tibet where he discovered the mysteries of Asia and India, the secret wisdom, passed along by masters over the ages.

China on Foot.

He was one of the first Westerners to enter a Tibetan monastery where he was recognized and honored as a highly evolved soul. In his publication ‘Across China on Foot,’  Dingle describes details of this trip and his studies at the Tibetan Monastery where he learned advanced spiritual forms of yogic breathing and meditation.

After a 20 year sojourn in China, India and Tibet, he returned to the West, and began sharing the ancient Tibetan teachings and practices of breathing and the power of prana or resonance, first in New York in 1927 and then in Los Angeles in 1928 where he founded the Institute of Mentalphysics.

In 1941, he moved the Institute of Mentalphysics to Yucca Valley, California, to the 420 acres of what he believed was sacred desert land. Dingle commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, landscape architect Lloyd Wright, to design a Caravanersai complex with a layout of the buildings harmonious with the ley lines of earth energy on the land.

The structures were placed on the land in a sacred geometry that would connect the buildings with the forces of earth and the universe.



Working with the Wright architects, Dingle envisioned the Mentalphysics property as an energy vortex, immersed in power. Wright’s organic architecture, built from natural materials, with flagstone rocks native to the area, became a desert architectural masterpiece reminiscent of Wright’s beloved Taliesin West in Arizona.


FLAGSTONE ROCK exterior – organic desert architecture – natural materials native to the land. Architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Lloyd Wright, Commissioned by Edwin Dingle.


Wright believed that the architectural structures should be integrated with and harmonious with the land. “If we build in the desert, let the house know the desert and the desert be proud of the house.” The complex of buildings on the Mentalphysics site constructed from 1941-1957 represents the largest complex of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in one location.

In the Mentalphysics Spiritual Center, Dingle combined the spiritual wisdom of the East with non-denominational religious knowledge of the West, integrating mystic Christianity with Tibetan teachings that combined ancient universal truths, breathing exercises, diet control, recognizing and working with one’s individual chemistry, yoga exercises and meditation.

The  modernist cafeteria with breathtaking views of the desert terrain.


The Mentalphysics complex includes private suites and dormitory rooms to house students and visitors, a modernist cafeteria with breathtaking views of the desert terrain and sacred meeting rooms for yoga and breathing exercise.

There is even a huge swimming pool and refreshing fountains throughout the property used to cool off during the summer.


Huge swimming pool and refreshing fountains throughout the property.


The Mentalphysics spiritual center has hosted artists and rock stars, along with self-realization and spiritual celebrities Jean Houston, Terry Cole-Whittiker, Ram Dass, Shirley MacLaine, Wayne Dwyer and Sun Bear, many of whom have offered seminars there.

Although Dingle passed at the age of 91 in 1972, the Mentalphysics spiritual center continues its tradition as a retreat for breath study, yoga, meditation and healing.

Dingle with the Wright family of architects created a desert masterpiece that has been the meeting place for the many New Age personalities and teachers that visited and offered seminars there over the years.

The property has recently hosted art events and rock concerts and has been a haven for those on a quest for UFOs.

For further information about seminars and overnight stays in the Mentalphysics retreat suites, please visit the Mentalphysics website, now called the Joshua Tree Retreat Center.

While in Joshua Tree, be sure to visit the nature museum at Joshua Tree National Park and enjoy viewing the stunningly beautiful Joshua trees on the park hiking trails.

Nearby is the quaint town of Twenty-Nine Palms that offers interesting dining opportunities and unique art galleries worth exploring before driving home.

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