My Maharishi – January in Silence
[00:00:46] Seven Days of Silence
[00:00:46] I’d just like to share with all of you, as we are coming up to January. January was always a very interesting time to be around Maharishi.
[00:00:56] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, being from India, didn’t have a relationship really with our traditional Christmas time of year. Generally speaking, that was for Westerners to enjoy in their own way, but as we would approach the New Year, there was always a huge amount of activity, and that huge amount of activity was due to Maharishi wanting to pack away and put to bed all matters of the year prior to December 31st when, at midnight on the 31st, instead of us letting off fireworks or doing the usual things of noisily bringing in the New Year, the absolute opposite would happen.
[00:01:43] On the 31st of December every year, Maharishi would disappear into his room and take seven days of silence, seven days and seven nights. And only he was in there so nobody really knows what quite happened in that room.
[00:02:02] But wherever we were in the world, he had a room and that room was the room into which he vanished for seven days and nights. And during that time he fasted. No food was brought to the room. Presumably he was in complete silence and he referred to it as his silence.
[00:02:21] Leftover Tasks
[00:02:21] It was his resting time, once a year, where he took an extraordinarily profound level of rest in the silence of his bedroom.
[00:02:33] And so then, during that time, many of us still had some leftover tasks remaining from the previous year, because even though we tried our best to complete everything that needed to be done, all of the unfinished business of the previous year, there were still some leftover things that needed to be completed.
[00:02:53] Nonetheless, it was always considered that we were allowed, if we wished, and if we were present around him at that time, also to enjoy the seven days of silence in our own way. And so many of us would attempt to take as many of those seven days in silence as we possibly could.
[00:03:15] Maharishi had an enormous international organization around him by the early seventies, and he was one of the best known public figures in the world. One of the most recognizable people in the world, whose reach and influence included prime ministers, heads of state, celebrities, and of the common people, millions, millions of people considered Maharishi and his thinking to be a very salient feature of their lives.
[00:03:50] No Interruptions
[00:03:50] So he would go into his silence on the stroke of midnight. I mean, literally right up to one minute before midnight, we would still be in a flurry of activity, and then you’d see him sit up on his little sofa, he always sat on a sofa, and push the little coffee table away, meaning he was about to unfold his legs, which could sit in half lotus position for hours and hours and hours and hours on end.
[00:04:21] And we would all stand in preparation for him to stand up and he would stand up, and his legs were often a little bit creaky after being so many hours there, and we could see him wiggling his toes and getting the feeling back into his legs again.
[00:04:36] And then he would say, “Good then.” That was his thing. He would say, “Good then. Jai Guru Deva,” and then off he’d go into his room, door closed. That was it.
[00:04:49] And the rule was absolute, 100% absolute, no interruptions of Maharishi during his time of silence.
[00:04:59] Who’s There in the Waiting Room?
[00:04:59] Maharishi used to love using, some of you older members of my audience will remember, there was an electronics company called Radio Shack, and Radio Shack produced a little intercom. It was about three inches square and about an inch and a half thick.
[00:05:21] Nothing fancy about the technology of it. It had a button on it, which if you pressed the button, it would ring a buzzer at the other end, and it was connected to the other end, which was identical to it, by a long electrical cord and battery driven.
[00:05:36] And when Maharishi was in his room and if he wanted to get the attention of one of his assistants or attendants, then you would hear this little [Buzzing Sound], like that, and you’d hear him say, “Jai Guru Deva?” and then that meant he wanted your attention. And then you could say, “Jai Guru Deva,” to him and he would say, “Who’s there in the waiting room?”
[00:05:59] This is not during the silence. This is during times prior to the silence or after the silence because there was always, if he wasn’t lecturing, there was always a group of people waiting to have an audience with him. One could have seen, in any given snapshot of time over the 25 years in his presence, one could have seen a prime minister or a head of state or a king. One could have seen a farmer sitting amongst the heads of state.
[00:06:33] Where Shall We Spend Christmas?
[00:06:33] I remember on one occasion there had, a very high profile couple who had wanted to have an audience with Maharishi and he buzzes his little buzzer, “Jai Guru Deva?” and I went to stick my head in the door. He said, “Who’s there?” And I said, “Well, Maharishi, there’s a couple,” and I named them, “They are rather wealthy and famous people and they have something that they want to talk about with you.”
[00:07:04] And he said, “Summarize it.” And I said, “Well, the summary is that she has a home in Aspen and he has his own home, before their marriage in Vale,” these are two ski resorts in Colorado, very high profile ski resort areas, “and they’re having a kind of disagreement about whether they’ll have their Christmas at his place in Vale or at her place in Aspen for the families to come to. And they have rather a large family that want to be invited, and they need to get these details arranged and they want to know your thinking about it.”
[00:07:44] Music for the Cows
[00:07:44] He said, “Who else is there?” And I said, “Well, there’s some farmers.” We were in Switzerland at the time. “They want to get your counsel about the cows. They have milk cows and they heard that there is a method that comes from India of playing to the cows while they’re resting in the night.”
[00:08:03] Sama Veda. Sama Veda is a beautiful melodious chanting, always done by two pandits simultaneously, of the same sounds as Rig Veda, the ancient Vedic sounds that have come down through millennia. But Sama Veda is chanted in a different meter than is Rig Veda, and Sama Veda could be played to the cows in order to give the cows a deeper level of rest. They had heard that the cream production in the cow milk would be more and they wanted to talk to him about that, and they wanted to hear more, and they were meditators, these Swiss farmers.
[00:08:46] Rich People Problems
[00:08:46] So he said, “So we have what?” And I said, “Well, we have the couple, and then we have some farmers, and then there’s a few other people, some of the teachers who have reports from the field. They’d like to come in and see you.”
[00:09:00] He said, “So we have rich people problems, and then we have farmers.” He said, “Send in the farmers.” He loved making the rich people wait.
[00:09:14] And the farmers went in and they spoke with him, I would say at least 90 minutes they were in there with him. And I’m sure that the rich people from Colorado were feeling like, “Hmm, I guess this is where being a wealthy and famous person doesn’t really necessarily get you into the room any quicker.”
[00:09:36] So that little intercom, the Radio Shack intercom went with Maharishi everywhere he went in the world, and he had his end on the inside of the room and there was another end on the outside of the room, and there were many occasions when I was on the other end.
[00:09:52] Emerging from the Silence
[00:09:52] On the 8th of January, typically around lunchtime, or perhaps a little later than that, one would hear the, “Jai Guru Deva?” And I’m saying in a very soft voice, Jai Guru Deva, like that. Jai Guru Deva, that traditional salutation of Vedic meditators, glory to the teachers, glory to our tradition of masters.
[00:10:17] “Jai Guru Deva?” and that meant he’d come out of his silence. And so then you’d enter the room very gingerly, very quietly, and not to disturb the air, as he would put it. We didn’t want to disturb the air.
[00:10:35] And he would request something. Sometimes it was just water. Other times it would be milk with honey stirred into it. One of the reasons he loved being in Switzerland, many, many reasons, but one of the side effect benefits of living in Switzerland was the very creamy milk, and, he’d loved that creamy milk that came from the cows that grazed on the grasslands in the high altitudes, where he favored living for about a decade of his life.
[00:11:08] He lived in Switzerland, and that was much of the time, much, much of my time with him, I spent with him in Switzerland.
[00:11:17] So then, he would have his milk with honey stirred into it and you’d bring it into his room in a special cup that he had, that was a lovely cup that somebody had created for him, a beautiful silver cup and a little silk handkerchief over it. And this was the first thing that he would take after seven full days and nights in absolute silence in his room.
[00:11:41] Grand Plans for the Year Ahead
[00:11:41] His voice was always extremely muted when he came out of silence, so muted that it was almost a whisper, and by the late afternoon, early evening, it was time for him to come out and announce to those who were in his inner circle, and that could be anything up to 40, 50 people or more, he would announce in his very, very quiet voice, in his first lecture of the year, his cognitions about what the year was to bring.
[00:12:13] So for example, in 1972 he announced it was the year of The World Plan, and The World Plan was a plan that he had hatched to bring meditation to all parts of the world through 3,600 meditation centers, each of them serving a part of the populace.
[00:12:35] In those days, there were 3.6 billion people on earth, if you can imagine it. We’re twice that now. Population has doubled since those days, more than 7 billion now. But I quite remember 1972, 3.6 billion, and 3,600 teaching centers and teacher training centers. And then,1973, he had cognized would be The Year of Action. The plan would turn into action.
[00:13:03] 1974, The Year of Achievement, 1975, The Year of Fulfillment. When he came out of his silence in 1975, he had cognized that this would be the year of the dawning of what he called The Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment was not considered to be, and the dawning of it was considered to be a dawn. when you make preparations for a day prior to the day beginning, you’re making preparations in darkness.
[00:13:39] Maharishi’s Birthday Gift to the World
[00:13:39] And so then, the 8th of January was the day in which he would announce to us the theme, and then by the 12th of January, there’d be a gala, meaning a big celebration with a central lecture given by him that was broadcast, and one could call in and listen to it by telephone, this is of course long before the age of, of computers and, worldwide web or anything like that, And videos would be recording.
[00:14:11] Now. All of us knew that the 12th of January also was Maharishi’s birthday, but because he was a monk, it was not considered to be polite to say happy birthday to him, because, as he put it, for a monastic person to give one’s individuality too much importance is too ridiculous. That was the monastic point of view.
[00:14:35] And so the only acknowledgement that he would let us show him was that on the 12th of January, that is a few days after the 8th, when he came out of his silence every year, there would be a grand announcement of the great plan for the year.
[00:14:53] A Memorable Routine
[00:14:53] This would be the public announcement and all of the activity to realize the cognitions, the goals, the aspirations, the visions that he had had during his seven days of silence would come into being, and we’d all be busy for the next year until the next 31st of December, when he’d go into silence again.
[00:15:15] And so being around Maharishi in the New Year’s period was a period of amazing amounts of activity leading up to a crescendo, and then, at midnight on New Year’s Eve, dropping into absolute silence for seven days. That was the routine around him. All very memorable.
[00:15:40] Jai Guru Deva.