My Maharishi – Following Charm to Brazil and Germany

“The lesson that you learned around Maharishi was when a thought appeared, it wasn’t an individual inception that caused the thought to appear. The thought to go somewhere or not go somewhere was something that came from the cosmic Self.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Travelling with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi meant there was never a time for a dull moment.

In this episode, Thom shares some adventures of a particular trip to Brazil, with an unexpected detour to Germany. 

With Maharishi, Thom soon learned that the unexpected was always to be expected. Maharishi wasn’t just a passionate teacher of following ‘charm,’ but he was also a 24/7 exponent of it, even at 3 am…

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Episode Highlights


An Invitation From Rio for Maharishi



Drawing Restfulness Into the Working State



His Asana



Maharishi’s Visit to the Roman Catholic Cathedral



“I’m Always Enjoying Myself”



“We’re Going to Germany”



Neem Stick: Maharishi’s Toothbrush



A Financier of Maharishi’s Needs



“She Will Run All of That”



His Magnetic Charisma



Maharishi’s Unplanned Lecture At The Airport



One of the Best-Documented Lives Imaginable



Maharishi Isn’t a Person, He’s a Phenomenon



Maharishi’s Great Skill


Jai Guru Deva


My Maharishi – Following Charm to Brazil and Germany

[00:00:05] An Invitation From Rio for Maharishi

[00:00:05] Today I’d like to share with you another of my memories of being with my Maharishi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, my teacher of more than 25 years experience with him.

[00:00:19] Once upon a time, when I was very young and I had just started with Maharishi, he went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and this was to receive, from the mayor of Rio, the key to the city. Some people who had been addicted to heroin had been in the care of the government and had learned Maharishi’s meditation technique and had recovered from their addiction very beautifully.

[00:00:48] And consequently, the mayor saw great promise for the application of Maharishi’s meditation technique to the people of Brazil. And this was a thing that people used to do, I think it’s something that’s fallen out of fashion, offering to someone the key to the city.

[00:01:07] That means there’s a symbolic gesture where a large manufactured key is handed over with great publicity and photos and whatnot. And, so Maharishi went to Rio, and it was one of my earliest experiences of being with him, and in his entourage, there were two other people traveling with him beside me.

[00:01:30] As we landed, it was a common thing with Maharishi that people liked to, businesses and hotels particularly, would often, if they knew about him coming, they would offer to him a beautiful suite, and in some cases, even the presidential suite, at no cost because they knew that wherever he went hundreds, if not thousands of people would gather to see him and celebrate his presence. He was such a well-known character. And Rio was no exception.

[00:02:03] Drawing Restfulness Into the Working State

[00:02:03] Maharishi landed and was received by government officials at the airport and whisked off to a hotel in downtown Rio. Maharishi had never, in my experience, slept in a bed. So he didn’t have much use for sleeping. He stayed awake. About 20 to 22 hours a day was reserved for lecturing, working, and teaching, and about two to four hours maximum per day were reserved for resting.

[00:02:32] And his explanation for it was that in his state of consciousness, his waking state was more restful than the sleeping state of most people when they were sleeping, so that he was able to draw upon that deep inner state of Being, which had stabilized in his awareness, that place where permanent deep restfulness is occurring at all times.

[00:02:56] He referred to it, something akin to putting a pipeline into the state of Being and drawing upon it. A little bit, as he put it, like pushing a drinking straw into a deep underground well of water and being able to draw from that. He could draw the restfulness into the waking state while his eyes were open and even while he was working.

[00:03:16] So, the bedrooms, two of them were given to the staff, the people who worked with him, and Maharishi, as frequently was the case, stretched out on the sofa in the capacious living room.

[00:03:31] His Asana

[00:03:31] He always brought with him some silks. These were his clothing, really. But they were multi-purpose. The silk sheets that he wore, one around his waist and one around his upper half, doubled as clothing but also as covers for couches and things.

[00:03:49] And also, everywhere he went, he brought with him a deerskin, a traditional seat, which is referred to as an ‘asana,’ a seat. That’s the word asana in Sanskrit.

[00:04:00] So the silk would be stretched out over the couch, and the asana put down, and he would either sit on the asana, or if you wanted to rest, he would stretch out. And so he made his quarters there on the sofa.

[00:04:16] Maharishi’s Visit to the Roman Catholic Cathedral

[00:04:16] Shortly after his arrival, the mayor got in touch with us and said, “Has Maharishi ever seen a cathedral?” and I held my hand over the phone and asked him, and he said, “No.” “Would he like to go and see the cathedral?” He nodded his head, “Yes.” And he said, “I’ll send a guide right away.” And so, within half an hour, we were off going to an enormous Roman Catholic cathedral there in Rio.

[00:04:47] And as you entered this enormous space, it was typical of many Roman Catholic structures that, as you walked in, there were rows of pews, there were lots of areas where there were lit candles, where people came to offer their prayers and leave a candle.

[00:05:04] And there were stained glass windows all around, going from left to right, 12 of them showing the classic 12 stations of the cross, which is a classic depiction of the last days or the last hours of the life of Jesus as reported in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

[00:05:27] And, one of them shows him being accused by Pontius Pilate. Another shows him being taken off by the Roman guards and having a crown of thorns pressed into his head with blood coming down.

[00:05:38] And another one shows him being forced to drag a cross round the streets and so on and so forth. And finally ending with the crucifixion, and him having a spear piercing his side, blood issuing forth in full color in the leadlight of the stained glass depictions. And then, a scene of him being taken, his body being taken to a tomb. And then finally the stone being rolled away by an angel and the emergence and Easter celebration.

[00:06:10] “I’m Always Enjoying Myself”

[00:06:10] Maharishi was taken step-by-step through all these pictures by the guide. And there was a lot of, well-depicted blood. There was also an enormous crucifix at the front of the church, the place where the priests would do their communions and their mass.

[00:06:29] And Maharishi looked at me, and he said very quietly under his breath, “Do they let children come in here?” And I said, “Maharishi, they encourage children to come in here.”

[00:06:41] There were also some tombs inside the cathedral where bodies of certain people, illustrious members, if not saints declared yet, but nonetheless, illustrious members of the church were interred inside the cathedral.

[00:06:57] And, I said, “Yes, they let children, they encourage children to come.” And he said, “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of work.”

[00:07:05] So then, when we left there and got back to the hotel, the Mayor called and said, “Did he see the cathedral?” Yes. “What did he think?” And I held my hand over the speaker of the phone and asked Maharishi, and his response was, “I enjoyed myself. Tell him I enjoyed myself.”

[00:07:30] And he said, “I’m always enjoying myself. I’m enjoying myself. Tell him.” I said, “Oh Mayor, he enjoyed himself.” And the mayor was very, very happy.

[00:07:42] “We’re Going to Germany”

[00:07:42] There was supposed to be an enormous, introductory lecture that evening, or perhaps it was the next evening, but as the day progressed, Maharishi had a little buzzer.

[00:07:54] It was like a, in those days it was a company, I think has only recently closed in fact, called Radio Shack, and they had these little intercoms that you ran a wire from one speaker across the floor and into another room, and there was another speaker in the other room, and you could press a button, and it would make a little ‘buzz’ noise like that, and I had heard the bzzzz going and, “Jai Guru Deva?” he says over the speaker, “Yes, come?”

[00:08:24] I went there. He said, “We’re going to Germany.” And I said, “Oh, Germany.” He said, “Yes.” He had his belongings packed. His belongings could fit into a small stainless steel lunchbox size affair, he could pack the silk right down, and his very soft shahtoosh, a shahtoosh is like a pashmina shawl, in case it got a little cold.

[00:08:52] He didn’t wear any socks. He always went barefoot everywhere. And his feet were only ever inside of wooden sandals, sandals made of wood that had a little rubber strap over the top of his foot, so you could see his bare feet at all times, even if he was in a snowy country that’s all he wore.

[00:09:10] The silk on his top, the silk around his waist and hanging down to his feet. And, at the coldest, he would get his shawl out, his pashmina, and it was quite a thick thing, and then he would wrap himself up in that, if it was very cold, and he liked it cold.

[00:09:29] Neem Stick: Maharishi’s Toothbrush

[00:09:29] He always liked to have windows open and cross ventilation, even if it was snowing outside. Particularly, if there were plenty of people in the room, the room had to be airy, and it had to be on the cool side, if not downright cold.

[00:09:45] Something that people who knew him well always came prepared for, and very often you’d see, Americans particularly, wearing their feather-down jackets in lecture halls, because they always knew his habit of having lots of fresh air flow through. So he’d packed all that stuff and his passport and the little stick.

[00:10:05] The little stick was a stick of neem wood. Neem is a kind of herbalized wood that is prized for its properties for keeping your teeth healthy. And that was his toothbrush. He would chew the end of the stick. And the fibers would spread out, and then he would use the fibrous end to rub on his teeth, and the rest he just did with his finger.

[00:10:31] He had beautiful teeth. As anyone who knew him knew very well, whenever he smiled, he had an absolutely wonderful set of teeth that were fabulous to see, and he had a great, a really great smile, all kept healthy by this little stick and his habit of rubbing with his finger and the stick whenever he needed it.

[00:10:53] A Financier of Maharishi’s Needs

[00:10:53] So his stick was in the box, his passport, a couple of silks, his shahtoosh rammed down deep in there, and he was ready to go. “Make arrangements. I’m going to the airport.” It was about three in the morning, “Maharishi, where are you wanting to go?”

[00:11:17] Now I have trouble remembering because I’m an age-old man now. It was either Stuttgart or Dusseldorf, one of those two. And there was a credit card that had been freely used by us. In those days, there were only two credit cards that existed, American Express and Diner’s Club.

[00:11:39] And there was an American Express card that had the name on it of Herr Ritterstaedt. Air Reichstett was obviously a German industrialist who was relatively well off, who was one of Maharishi’s very old-timers, from Maharishi’s very beginning days of teaching in the world, starting from the late 1950s, and Air Reichstett at that stage was also someone who is happy to be a financier of Maharishi’s needs.

[00:12:11] “She Will Run All of That”

[00:12:11] And I need to remind some of the younger listeners, that’ll be most of you, that in those times to get an airline ticket, you had to actually have a physical paper ticket, and somebody had to print this up, or sometimes they would write it up by hand.

[00:12:29] You’d have a ticket with handwriting on it, showing that you had paid the airline, where you were going, and the ticket had, if there were several stops, it had several carbon layers inside of it. The main layer could be torn out for each destination to which you were traveling, all of your standbys and stopovers and, to get a ticket, at three in the morning required meeting some awake human being.

[00:12:55] There were no computers. There was no internet. There was no ordering anything online because there was no such thing. There were telephones, telegrams, and telex machines, and all of them required a live human watching the thing and interacting with you, live time, in order for any kind of transaction to occur.

[00:13:17] And we zipped out of the hotel, Maharishi loved going to airports, and he didn’t seem to mind that there would be hours of waiting time before we could actually make arrangements to go. And I said, “What about the lecture?” And he said, “Oh, she will, she will run all of that.” She was, his way, when he couldn’t remember someone’s name, he would just use a pronoun.

[00:13:40] She was an Initiator whom he had trained, who he confidently knew would take over all the responsibilities of holding the introductory talk and making arrangements for the initiations into meditation, and the four-day course of follow-up, and he had other things that had sprung into his mind, and this was something that one had to get used to if one traveled with Maharishi.

[00:14:07] His Magnetic Charisma

[00:14:07] There could be a last-minute change of plans, with minutes of warning time. At the airport, Maharishi found a comfortable spot to place his deerskin down. And it was just like this with him, not only was he a well-known face from all the media exposure that he had had, but he was also an absolutely attractive and fascinating man to look at.

[00:14:32] When he was in your presence, he had this phenomenal, charismatic magnetism. It required almost no words to be spoken. If you looked at his eyes, you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

[00:14:45] And plus, he did look very unusual by Western standards. He had shoulder-length hair and a beard that had this long white patch down the middle. It was dark on the sides, but the chin was all white, and it hung down to about the middle of his waist.

[00:15:03] He wore a silk robe on top, and a silk robe on the bottom, and wore wooden sandals with bare feet. And whenever he sat in a chair, his feet would immediately come up, and he would have his legs crossed in the half lotus position. And he was ready to teach wherever he was. So passers-by at the airport would see this magnetic person and gather round and ask each other, whoever else was around, “Who is this?”

[00:15:30] Maharishi’s Unplanned Lecture At The Airport

[00:15:30] And it turned out that somebody knew who he was. And within probably half an hour, during the many hours waiting time before we could get tickets arranged at the ticket counters, there was a small crowd around him, small means about 50 or 60, that was small for Maharishi.

[00:15:48] And he was simply holding forth, how it was not necessary to suffer in life, that suffering should be foreign to the human condition, and that through his technique of meditation, one could transcend and experience that deep inner silence, harness the full creative potential of the mind, bring it forth, live a life of bliss.

[00:16:10] And then, he was also answering questions about God and how one can have a direct experience of such a thing.

[00:16:18] And I was standing about, waiting for the ticket counters to open, out on the periphery of this crowd, and a security police person came up to me and said, “Who’s the organizer here.”

[00:16:31] I said, “There’s no organizer, this just happens anywhere he goes.” And he said, “We can’t have this in the airport. We have a VIP lounge he can go to.” And he said, “This has to end. We can’t have this, people gathering around like this, around somebody in the airport, it’s just not a thing that happens here.”

[00:16:51] So I whispered to Maharishi, “They would like you to move to the VIP lounge.” He goes, “Oh, very good,” and then, got up and off we went to the VIP lounge.

[00:17:02] One of the Best-Documented Lives Imaginable

[00:17:02] I wasn’t at that stage as well-trained as later I would become in not sleeping, and so by the time we got on the plane, and took off from Brazil to Europe, I was sound asleep for absolutely the rest of the trip, but on the few occasions, when I did awaken, I noticed Maharishi sitting in his seat with people around him holding forth, talking, laughing.

[00:17:31] He certainly wasn’t resting or sleeping. He just stayed awake almost all the time, except for a couple of hours each evening when he would be lying on his side answering questions. And very often, if he had nothing to say, people would stop asking questions and you might hear a little bit of a, like a snoring sound come through him.

[00:17:54] I remember on many occasions. He would say, “Ask, ask, ask,” with his eyes closed while lying down, meaning, “Ask me questions. We need to get this knowledge out.”

[00:18:04] And then when he was in one of his more,, not in a traveling environment, in his more settled environments, as he put it, “I have a home everywhere.” When people would ask him, “Where’s your home?” he’d say, “My home is everywhere. I have a home everywhere I go. I’m at home everywhere I go.”

[00:18:19] But when he was in a more settled place for a few weeks, that generally there’d be lots of people around him all night with little, Americans call them flashlights, in the Commonwealth we call them torches and, taking, writing notes on what he talked about and what he said.

[00:18:39] His life was one of the best-documented lives imaginable. He stated that he wanted it that way. He wanted to have a life of people around him recording. Later on, recordings were the main way in which things were documented.

[00:19:00] But even in addition to the recording, taking written notes, because as he said, “We’re in a hurry, we’re in a hurry to get all of this knowledge out. All of this knowledge has to come out. These bodies, they don’t last very long. And this knowledge is knowledge that the suffering world is deeply thirsty for. We have a limited time to get as many people this message as possible, practicing the meditation technique, but also for future generations, making sure that all this knowledge is documented and recorded.”

[00:19:39] Maharishi Isn’t a Person, He’s a Phenomenon

[00:19:39] And this is just what went on for 20 hours or so a day, and anyone who spent time with Maharishi, other than me, times when I wasn’t around him, they all said the same thing. He was someone whose energy level required a shift system, of shifts of people, some who worked all day with him while others rested. And then others who worked all night with him while the daytime people rested. He was an absolute phenomenon.

[00:20:11] Someone said to me once, in fact it was a high court judge who had met him, said, “I don’t think he’s a person. I think he’s a phenomenon. I don’t even think of him as a person. He’s, he’s just a phenomenon, like, a force five hurricane of bliss.”

[00:20:26] On the flight he met somebody who knew Air Reichstett and then when he got to wherever it was either Dusseldorf or Stuttgart, I can’t remember which one, by the time we got there to the German destination, Maharishi had already convinced this man who had been, very resistant to learning meditation, or even thinking of anything like this, to learn to meditate.

[00:20:50] And Air Reichstett was deeply impressed because he’d been himself trying to get this man, who was an acquaintance of his, involved in meditation. And Maharishi had already done it when the man arrived and met Air Reichstett, and he said something to Air Reichstett along the lines of “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me?”

[00:21:14] And Reichstett said, “I’ve been trying to tell you for years about this.” Air Reichstett was a sweet old man. He had very little English, and he could speak faltering English. Maharishi had no German, and yet Reichstett always insisted on not having a translator and trying to make himself understood in his faltering English.

[00:21:35] Maharishi’s Great Skill

[00:21:35] But it was always a great joy, and he was, a lovely old man whose contribution to Maharishi’s early days of bringing this knowledge to the world will always be highly acknowledged by anyone who was around in those early days.

[00:21:51] And that really is the lesson of what you learned around Maharishi was when a thought appeared, it wasn’t an individual inception that caused the thought to appear. The thought to go somewhere or not go somewhere was something that came from the cosmic Self.

[00:22:13] And that if something was a charming thought, you simply acted on it unhesitatingly, or if something wasn’t charming, even if it was planned, then no charm, no action. And that could change if charm came back or if something was charming now, but wasn’t later, it might become charming again later, but right now, no charm, no action.

[00:22:36] And I really learned that by watching Maharishi act, somebody who watched from the outside would think maybe of him, that he was impulsive or capricious, but his impulses always, when acted upon, brought amazing intersections with people, with ideal timing, leaving someplace that you needed to leave because there was something coming that you couldn’t have intellectually predicted. So not being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

[00:23:13] And then another thing you could never have predicted, which was being in the right place at the right time, all driven by this principle of moving based on how Nature makes a particular thought, a charming thought, a charming proposition to action, appear in the mind.

[00:23:30] And his great skill was simply acting right away, or bringing another plan to an end right away, if the charm had dropped out of it. It’s very, very fascinating.

[00:23:43] His entire life was an expression of this, letting cosmic intelligence guide him in that way. So that was one reflection and memory of my Maharishi.

[00:23:54] Jai Guru Deva.

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