The Face of Malibu by Johanna Spinks

Carol Moss

Carol Moss, 85, bought her house in Malibu Colony in 1964. She believes the ocean is a public trust and so she allows anyone to access the beach in front of her house. She hosts weekly meditation gatherings open to all in the living room of her house. She credits the Tibetan culture for inspiring her in many ways throughout her life.

Moss graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in law. She passed the bar, but instead of practicing law, she decided to dedicate her life to social work. She is a founding board member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Her main concern right now is the homeless population in Malibu and finding a way to assist them.

The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the woman who fell into meditation during her portrait painting.

How did you start the meditation group? What was the inspiration behind it?

My inspiration was to support my own meditation practice and meet like-minded people. I was also just coming out of a horrible time of nearly dying of conventional meds. I was sent to a place where people were in horrible conditions. I started a Tibetan practice and someone told me I should be teaching. As I got out of the nightmare, I started the meditation group thinking it would last two to three weeks because I had never done anything like it. It’s lasted 15 years. I never know who will be walking into the door, which is part of the charm. It’s open to everyone. We meet every Thursday night without fail. We meet in my living room; I’m on the water so people can hear the sound of the waves. 

Were you a Buddhist all your life or was there a point when you converted? Why?

I’m a Jew with a Buddhist practice. I first heard about it when I met Jerry Brown in the ’70s, but I didn’t start until 1987. I studied it and it’s been a lifesaver. One wants to pass on what’s been so helpful. 

You seem to be a keen environment advocate. What prompted that and what is one thing you wish to accomplish?

I wish to accomplish preserving as much open space in Malibu as possible. I am a founding board member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. I helped get Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider for the state, which were slated for commercial development at the time. 

How did you go about founding a task force for homelessness in Malibu?

I’m a social worker. Around the first of the year, I emailed the heads of the Malibu Methodist Church because they are very social work-oriented. A task force was formed and we meet every couple of weeks. We hope to help the homeless community in Malibu because it’s very large. There is a lot of suffering. There are people who are on the verge and are living in their cars. 

If you were to recommend one good book for everyone to read which one would it be and why?

“The Shaman’s Apprentice” by Mark Plotkin. He’s a brilliant, compassionate Indiana Jones and visits Malibu regularly. 

What have you learned being a board member of the Malibu Democratic Club and what’s one message you would like to tell Malibu residents?

I do it to support a good friend. I’ve learned that people in politics are very unruly. I guess that’s part of it and comes with the territory. It’s very important for us to find common ground and to combat the unproductive polarization we have in politics. 

Do you have any regrets in life?

We always regret that we’ve made dumb decisions and done some stupid things, but we have to say that was the best we could do at the time. We need a lot of compassion and forgiveness for human life. 

What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu, what would it be and why?

It’s paradise here. I would scale back the development and not allow more. I would keep it as an oasis of refreshment. I would promote nature, not stores. 

How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks? You fell into meditation?

It was lovely and she did an excellent job. It was an opportunity to meditate, so I did.