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Listing some of the Maharishi's more colourful acolytes

Thee hallmark of a successful leader, be it spiritual or in any other sphere, is the roster of celebrities he keeps. By this yardstick, Mahesh Yogi is the quintessential maharishi. From Shirley Maclaine to the Beatles to the Beach Boys, from pres- idential advisers to press barons, they were all drawn to the man at some time or the other.

Brian Josephson

Perhaps the only Nobel Prize-winner to be taken in by Mahesh Yogi's performance on the karma cola circuit, Brian Josephson's association with the Maharishi began some time in the early '70s, perhaps after the journal Science published a paper on it. The physicist's involvement was largely responsible for many American universities opening their doors to the Yogi's 'science'.

Justice V R Krishna Iyer

The rationalist judge on the Maharishi's bandwagon? Strange no doubt. but true. The retired Supreme Court judge has gone on record saying that India could produce 700 million Nobel laureates and industrialists by unfolding the infinite potential in man through the technology of TM.

Ram Nath Goenka

The press baron could well be Mahesh Yogi's biggest catch in India yet. To jog one's memory, Goenka's Express building in New Delhi was the venue of the Maharshi's world conference on Vedic science held in 1980. Then the patriarch had remarked: 'I see these 3000 people flying in the air every morning and evening right here in this building. I don't require any proof, nor do I have any doubt that I too will be able to fly in a month or so.'

N T Rama Rao

The ascetic ruler an acolyte of a godman? Circumstantial evidence, at least, points to this possibility. In late 1984, a controversy over land leased to the Maharishi-sponsored Vedavigyan Vishwa Veda Peetham burst into the open. The AP government claimed that the entire cabinet had taken the decision. while a member of the cabinet who later broke away from NTR, T Jeevan Reddy, alleged that only the chief minister and not the entire cabinet. took the controversial decision.

Mia Farrow

Nearly a year after she married the famous singer Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow took to TM. Her sister Prudence had earlier discovered the Maharishi at Harvard University, and Mia quickly followed in her footsteps. She even visited the Rishikesh ashram hoping, as she then put it, 'to emerge a better person'. She was disappointed later.

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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.