My Maharishi – A Second Father to Me
[00:45] A Great Seer
Jai Guru Deva. I’d like to spend a little while, because there’s always curiosity about what was it like to embark from a very early age, in fact in my late teens, on this body of knowledge, and to be exposed for a considerable period of time, a quarter of a century and a little more, to active contact with his Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, my master, and Guru, who really taught me everything I know.
And the things that he didn’t directly teach me, he gave me the tools for cognizing. And that’s a very important element. The main thing that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi did for me was he trained me to be Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He trained me to be a cognizer.
A Maharishi means a great seer. And I know it sounds as though I’m abandoning something of the etiquette of humility to refer to myself by that title, but that was a title to which Maharishi Mahesh Yogi expected all of his students to aspire.
When, in the 1970s, Maharishi created a university structure. He intentionally named it Maharishi International University so that the abbreviation, MIU, would match his aspiration for that university. I and U [you] to become M. M was short for Maharishi.
And for I and U to become M, for I and you to become Maharishis, always was his goal. Stated right from the very beginnings in late 1950s, when setting up the mission of the worldwide Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which is what he, his initial name for his worldwide, program to bring spiritual awakening to the whole of humankind, as was extant on the earth at the time, about half the population size as we have today.
His goal, as stated by him, was “to multiply myself.” And when I, as a young man, the teen, heard that, that Maharishi was out to create Maharishis, I became heaven bent on the goal of wanting his mission to be realized in me. And I removed every obstacle I needed to remove in order for that eventuality to be realized fully.
[04:24] A Second Father
And it took some time, starting from the very, very tail end of the 1960s, moving through the whole of the seventies, the whole of the eighties, and then culminating in the 1990s… I had about a quarter of a century of exposure to that personality who was, and I say this even with permission of my own father, like a second father to me.
My father, who was a highly decorated combat fighter pilot and who became a general in the United States Air Force, who bears exactly the same name as me. My father was a great admirer of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And in fact, each time I would return home from having spent some time away with Maharishi, or in my travels around the world…
I lived a remarkably global life as a very young man and into my twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. I’m less global now because I’ve seen most of it and I can have my effect without having to travel as much.
[06:04] Give Me a Quote
But when I would return and cross paths with my dear father, with whom I had a very close relationship, one of his opening questions would be, “Give me a quote from Maharishi.” And, he would always have, my father would always have a pencil and paper there because he loved to write down the things that Maharishi taught me and trained me as evinced in the quotes that I would give him.
So very interesting. Second Father, my teacher, Maharishi, who’s teaching also went to my father’s father, my grandfather, who was a senator here in Arizona. In the Senate for about 18 years, and in the House of Representatives for 10 or 15 years before that.
And, who also was an avid fan of Maharishi, Mahesh Yogi. And someone who the Senator Tommy Knoles, practiced Vedic Meditation read up until his last moment on this. In fact, when he, when my grandfather finally passed, I wasn’t present at the time, but the nurses from the hospital said that he passed in a remarkable way.
They found him sitting upright on his hospital bed. He’d passed in the wee hours of the morning sitting upright on his hospital bed. And they wondered because it was an unusual way for someone who was afflicted, as he was in his eighties, to pass. I knew exactly what he was doing. He was meditating when he dropped his body.
So my grandfather, my father, and my second father, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who picked up my training and took me forward into my years of maturity. When I look at it, there are two ways I can look at it.
[08:31] A Good Night’s Sleep
You know, when you look at a telescope, you can look at it from the side. There’s one end of it, there’s the other end of it, looking at the telescope from the side. Or you can peer into the telescope and by peering into it, everything merges together into one enlarged image.
I think the main thing that I can say about Maharishi, when people ask me what was his greatest achievement, and I say, “Well, you know, he was known for writing books. He was known for tens of thousands of hours of lectures that he gave…”
He was the most loquacious teacher imaginable. He would spend on any given day, a minimum of eight hours in speech and a maximum of 24 hours because he hardly slept. Even on the quietest of days, a couple of hours in a horizontal position, while even being pestered by people like me.
He always insisted upon having a room of people when he was doing the thing, which we all call sleep, but he simply called it resting, lying on his side, and wanting people to ask him questions while he was resting, and giving answers from that rested repose with his eyes closed.
Sometimes falling asleep, and very noticeably, a little bit of snoring going on in between the words, but then picking up the sentence from right where he left off and continuing to answer. This was his way of having a good night’s sleep. Having people ask him questions while he dozed in and out during a reclined state.
One of my first experiences of Maharishi was seeing him walk into a room and walk into a setting of perhaps 500 meditators. I didn’t know what to expect.
I knew that he was a great master because I’d heard on the grapevine about that. I had myself learned a sort of meditation in the tradition of Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who had written a book entitled Autobiography of a Yogi, and who had himself trained an American, woman, a regular, you know, non-Indian woman, but who nonetheless wore a sari. Sari is the traditional dress of ladies from India.
She had initiated me in the Yogananda tradition. She had been trained by Yogananda himself. And I practiced the kinds of techniques which I promised to keep, to myself and not reveal, so I won’t do that, even though that was more than half a century ago.
And as far as I knew, I knew how to meditate, and I used that sound Om, to meditate with that. In our tradition today, as I now understand it, Om is strictly reserved for people of the reclusive traditions. Not recommended for those who wish to lead an active life of acquisition, of relationship, of family and children, of materials, of a roof over the head of any kind of dwelling,
Om is reserved instead for those who want to be sadhus. Sadhu means someone who lives by Nature’s grace, solely a forest dweller.
[12:59] All Rise
Not knowing any of that when I first met Maharishi, as he walked into the room, I was one of hundreds. Everyone stood, by which I was deeply impressed. I’d never seen that. I’d only seen on television what happens when a judge enters a courtroom and you hear somebody say, “All rise,” and everybody stands out of respect for the role that the judge plays in a courtroom.
But to have a saint arrive in the room and for everyone to stand out of respect for what he represented was an unusual experience for me.
And in he came, and the first thing that struck me was his stature. Maharishi was not a tall man. I’m about five foot eight, and I quite recall from having walked directly behind him on many occasions, the top of his head came just under my chin.
So he was not a particularly tall man. He was a man of petite stature. And yet his presence was so powerful, that he loomed large.
In order for him simply to be seen by an audience, because of his smaller stature, he had to be always placed on a dias. If you don’t know what a dias is, it means a small stage, not terribly high up, but high enough up that it would elevate him high enough so that you could actually see him over the heads of other people who were seated in front of you.
[14:44] A Force Five Hurricane of Happiness
He entered the room with this benign smile on his face. It was a look of absolute peace, absolute happiness. It occurred to me when later I heard from one of my colleague Initiators, Prudence Farrow, who referred to him as a Force Five hurricane of happiness. That that was really, what one felt.
There was a thrill that went through the air when he arrived.
He stood on his dias and looked out across the audience for a few moments. On his way in from the doorway to the dias, a small corridor of devotees had assembled, and each of them, handed him a flower. So by the time he was on the dias, he had an arm full of flowers.
And he had, I would say hooded eyelids. He was heavily lidded, meaning that the top half of his eye was covered by a very relaxed, top eyelid giving him a very relaxed look. But he was not in any way sleepy looking. He was very fresh and had the most beautiful teeth. When he smiled, his beautiful teeth were on full display and he looked from side to side, taking in the entire room and everyone in it.
[16:27] Jai Guru Deva
And, then gave the blessing, which I was to hear hundreds of thousands of times after that. Jai Guru Deva. Jai Guru Deva, J-A-I, new word Guru, G-U-R-U. Dev is Deva, but that final A is dropped. D-E-V-A, Deva. Jai Guru Deva.
And Jai Guru Deva is a salutation, a blessing, an exclamation. Jai could mean praise or glory to, or victory. Jai.
Guru Deva. Guru Deva. Guru, the remover of darkness, the shedder of light.
Deva. Deva means a shining one. Godlike. Divine.
And Guru Deva is the name that is given by any extant master. A great master of today in India will refer to his master as his Guru Deva. So Guru Deva is a title though.
It’s also become a name, a little bit like grandfather or grandpa. You say grandpa to somebody, you’re referring to them by their title. They have some other name, you know, whatever it may be. Ichabod might be their name, but you call them grandpa.
[18:03] An Exclamation of Joy
Like that, Guru Deva, would have been a way of addressing Maharishi’s master, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a much longer name in Sanskrit than just that.
Swami is someone who is an inducted member of a particular order of reclusive people, Swami.
Brahmananda, the bliss of Totality.
Saraswati. Saraswati is the name of the goddess, who is the matron goddess of our tradition, the goddess of wisdom, learning, knowledge, music, art, and many other things. Saraswati.
And so Swami Brahmananda Saraswati was known as Guru Deva. When Maharishi would say, Jai Guru Deva, like that, it was his way of saying, “Let’s remind ourselves where all this came from. It came from Guru Deva.”
Guru Deva, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, also would say Jai Guru Deva. But he wasn’t saying Jai Guru me. He was saying Jai Guru Deva about his master, whose name was Swami Krishananda Saraswati, and he would say it about his master. And so on, going back thousands and thousands of years.
And so we have a tradition of knowledge, and part of that tradition is to properly attend to, and in spoken words, Jai Guru Deva, an exclamation of joy. By the way, the English word joy is derivative from the Sanskrit word, Jaya, which became Jai. So joy is also part of that concept of Jai Guru Deva.
[20:13] Angavastra Dhoti
And there he was, arms full of flowers, looking out across the audience, wearing this beautiful sheer hand woven silk around his waist and dangling down to his feet, covering his legs.
He was barefooted and I only ever saw him barefooted, even if he was walking through snow. He always walked with wooden sandals whenever outside, wooden sandals with exposed toes. In the coldest of weathers, it didn’t matter what the weather was, never did I see even as much as a pair of socks on those divine feet.
And everything about him was graceful. Everything about him was very divine.
Also on the top half wearing what we call angavastra, the dhoti, D-H-O-T-I, is the name of the piece of silk or cloth that wraps around the waist and hangs to the feet. And then the top half, which is an equal size piece of silk cloth, just wrapped around oneself as one might do with a blanket, is called angavastra, anga means limbs, vastra means cloth.
The angavastra dhoti was his only style of dress that ever anybody saw, day or night, at work or at play, whether lecturing, whether speaking to the Pope, which I witnessed once, or meeting with the United Nations, which I witnessed once or addressing prime ministers.
Always the angavastra, the same angavastra dhoti, when stretched out and lying down on his deerskin by day.
He would always have, someone would arrive a minute before him, which alerted the crowd that he was going to come, and they would place down his asana. Asana in Sanskrit means a seat. It’s also a word that’s used to refer to yoga poses, but it means a seat.
And Maharishi always sat upon a deerskin, which was placed down on whatever his intended seat was to be, by his aide. His aide would come in first with a deerskin, everybody would be alert that he was coming, and so everyone would stand and then down went the deerskin onto the sofa or chair on which he was going to be sitting.
And then next you could hear him coming in, all the rustling sound of people witnessing the master arriving, people stretching from every direction to hand him a flower, him accepting the flowers, arriving onto the dias, looking out at the whole crowd saying, Jai Guru Deva, and then going and sitting down on his deerskin and pulling his legs up into lotus position.
And then generally a small coffee table would be slid up abutting right against the couch on which he was sitting, so that by leaning forward, he could take notes or whatever, and then he would place his flowers down on that table, a small mountain of flowers, invariably. And then from there, the microphone would be swung into place and he would commence speaking.
It was my first vision of him and a vision which I had repeatedly, thousands of times in the next many, many, many years.
[24:22] Guru Purnima
It was Guru Purnima night. I had no idea what this meant. Guru Purnima. Guru Purnima, I now know, is the one most auspicious night for devotees of any Guru system, any tradition of teachers, Guru Purnima is the full moon of July. It is a tradition on the night of this full moon to perform that ceremony of gratitude, which people who’ve learned Vedic, Meditation all have witnessed, a recitation of all the names of the masters coming down through time immemorial, who were the custodians of the wisdom.
Some of them householders. About half of them householders, meaning non-reclusive people, people who had relationships, children, lived in dwellings and were members of civilization, and about half of them living reclusive lives, of the masters who were the founding members of our tradition.
That ceremony of gratitude performed on Guru Purnima night with the full moon shining, whether it’s shining through clouds or shining through the clear sky. And after the ceremony of gratitude, taking a walk in the full moon light, even in the coldest of weather Maharishi tended to do that. And a night of stories, a night where any question could be asked and it would be answered in great detail. A night that frequently went on until the wee hours of the morning. I knew nothing of this, but it was Guru Purnima, evidently.
And after, speaking about his tradition for a little while, Maharishi said, “And now we’ll perform the ceremony of gratitude,” and he stood and went to a table on which lay a beautiful photograph of his own teacher, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom we call Guru Deva.
There was a candle lit and some incense burning, some beautiful pure sandalwood, not the cheap kind that you can buy that has been dipped in perfumes, but one that burns actual sandalwood powder in its natural state. And the fragrance of that wafting through a room of hundreds of people was palpable.
The candle. The lights were turned down so that the candle illuminated the entire table and Maharishi commenced singing what we call Puja, P-U-J-A. Puja, the ceremony of gratitude, Guru Puja, ceremony of gratitude to the tradition of masters. It takes three, four minutes like that, and during which many people chimed in and sang along with him, and after which a large proportion of the audience knelt down as Maharishi himself did.
[27:46] An Advanced Technique
Then he went and sat back in his chair on his deerskin, and a young woman stood up. She looked terribly official. She had a kind of a, an equivalent of a business suit on, and a clipboard. And she announced in the microphone that tonight was the night where anyone who cared to could learn an Advanced Technique.
I didn’t know what an Advanced Technique was. I can tell you now what it is. If you’ve been practicing Vedic Meditation for at least a year, or you’ve been practicing an Advanced Technique at Vedic Meditation for at least a year, then you’re eligible to learn the next iteration of your own spiritual practice, your own meditation technique.
This is called learning an Advanced Technique. And typically on Guru Purnima, it’s a tradition that Advanced Techniques may be provided by the teacher of the day, shortly after the puja ceremonies have been witnessed by everyone.
And she announced that you could line up and then, you know, you would be, one by one sent up to Maharishi to learn your Advanced Technique.
[29:10] An Alternative to the Advanced Technique
Well, I was, you know, I thought that I was a meditator and I thought I’d love to have an Advanced Technique.
So I went up there, stood in line for probably 30 minutes and the modus operandi were that you approached him and knelt down before him, and then he would look at you and say, “What is the Mantra you’ve been using?” And you would say to him what your mantra was, and he would make a decision then about what technique he was now going to teach you to practice for the next year.
And as he asked me the question, I said to him, “Om.” And he looked at me and he said, “No, not Om. Where did you learn that?” And I said, “I learned it from the Yogananda people. “Oh,” he said, “Oh, better you use this.” And then he initiated me into the use of my first initiation mantra.
That was my first experience of practicing the technique as he brought it down from his master Guru Deva. So instead of learning an Advanced Technique, I learned my first initiation technique.
Very unusual way. I don’t, I’m not going to say it was unique, but maybe other people experienced a similar thing. I never met any of them. As far as I know, it was at least unique in my hearing of a methodology by which one was initiated into the practice of meditation taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
[31:09] Minimize the Effort, Maximize the Success
And then he said to me, “Go sit. In a few moments I’ll be refreshing everyone on how to use the mantra effortlessly, and it’ll be good to be in contact with the activities of the center.”
I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I went and I sat, and sure enough, after another 45 minutes of him giving mantras to people, most of them Advanced Techniques, I imagine, he then took us step by step through how to practice the meditation technique that he taught to the world.
And that meditation technique involved being effortless, not holding on to the mantra, but letting go and taking it as it comes. All things that were foreign to me, because as with most people practicing some kind of meditation technique, I was convinced that success is proportional to the effort that you expend. More effort, more success.
And what I was learning from him for the very first time, which was to be, a pivotal concept in all of the training I took with him, success is inversely proportional to the effort that you expend. Meaning maximize the effort, minimize the success, minimize the effort, maximize the success.
This was an unusual and revolutionary, I would even say radical concept for me. But it worked. And I had, along with the hundreds of people there, an experience of deep unboundedness. That kind of vastness came over me while I was meditating, and I was duly impressed.
Those were my initial experiences of being under his instruction.
[33:17] A Peculiar Phenomenon
And now I’m going to fast forward to my ultimate experiences, ultimate meaning final, experiences of being in his physical presence. But I want to give some kind of backstory even to this.
My first experience, my final experiences of being in his physical presence, meaning molecule to molecule, presence.
I had begun to notice 20 years or so after my initiation that in the many, many times that I sat with him, when he was asked a question, I would rehearse in my mind, seconds before he spoke, what I thought he was going to say as an answer. And I began to notice that I knew almost word for word exactly what he was going to say as his answer.
I had become so familiar with his teaching style over a couple of decades of watching him teach, and being taught by him and watching him teach, that I was intimately familiar with his thinking on almost everything.
And so skipping forward from my initiation about 20 years or so, I’d started to notice this peculiar phenomenon that it was difficult for me to tell the difference between him and me.
[35:05] Not Different to Me
When he entered the room, it was very familiar. Everybody would stand. I would stand, of course, and gazing at him with the love and devotion that always I had from the very first day. Watching him carefully, I knew the meaning of every tiny little arching of an eyebrow.
I knew the meaning that laid behind the way his eyes would glance forward or from left to right or up or down. It had meaning for me as to what he was experiencing and communicating to the room. I knew the meaning of the tiniest change in the movement of his mouth or lips, or in the way that he tugged on his dhoti to straighten it out.
He had certain habits that ended up, for me at least, being tools of communication. I could tell if he was feeling a little bit more disciplinary and a bit more serious, even though always he radiated this light of life, this glow of bliss.
Nonetheless, sometimes the very best thing that a master can bring to the students is some correction, and I knew when he was in a corrective mood, or he was in a mood simply to give knowledge, or in a more playful mood, a mood to give knowledge, but in a kind of playful way to answer anything asked of him with no particular agenda on his part.
I had come to know him so well and yet in these 20 years he felt, at the end of these 20 years and more, he felt not different to me. I felt as though it was me standing there in front of the group.
As he was thinking, so was I thinking. As he was moving, so was I moving. I felt even when I sat and he sat, and as he went to cross his legs, I could feel, though my feet were on the floor, I could feel my legs crossing.
I was sensing the beginnings of unity consciousness with my own master. I was experiencing him as an extension of me and me as an extension of him.
[37:46] The Field
And this went on for a number of years in my travels back and forth between what we referred to as capital T, capital F, The Field. The Field was the place, any place you went other than around Maharishi person, where you taught what it was you learned from him.
That was referred to, in the jargon of an Initiator. An Initiator is someone who has been trained to initiate others into Vedic, Meditation
Initiators either were in The Field, capital T, capital F, or they were with Maharishi in person, wherever he might be in the world. And that place of residence varied quite a bit during the more than two decades of my time with him. I, for most of that time, was domicile in Sydney, Australia. One of the advantages of that was that it was closer to India, where from 1980 Maharishi took up residence for almost 10 years.
[39:02] Seelisberg, Switzerland
He had, for about 10 years of my time with him, been domiciled in Seelisberg Switzerland, a place from where he oversaw the worldwide activities of the thousands of teachers whom he trained, as they brought his meditation technique to millions around the world.
And his worldwide organization of meditation had grown from being a relatively small thing that you’d have to know somebody, you know, in order to ever find out about it, to something which was being reported upon by major news journals, major newspapers and magazines, and Maharishi himself had made many major appearances on internationally-watched television programs, interview programs and whatnot.
That all happened from his home base in Switzerland, and then he went back to India for about almost 10 years.
And living in Australia, and teaching in Australia, raising a family, all of my family, my civilization creating activity, raising a family. Many times, taking my family with me to see Maharishi and be with him.
Other times, going solo, and spending time with him on my own. Every year with each passing year, there was never more than, I want to say, maybe six, seven months that went by, with me being ex exclusively in The Field before I would return and spend anywhere from a month to a year with Maharishi.
So I had got to know him very well, and now after two-plus decades, I was beginning to experience unity with him.
[41:05] The Resurgence of Ayurveda
I began to feel that depth of intimacy and closeness, and then finally, come March, 1988, I had been in India for quite some time, about five months if memory serves, training with Maharishi and with some noted Ayurveda practitioners. The three major gurus of Ayurveda. Ayur means longevity and Veda means knowledge. It’s the knowledge of self healthcare and how to expand your longevity within the range of relevance to the maximum.
Maximizing longevity and optimizing longevity as well. Making sure that you’re enjoying yourself while growing older. Ayurveda, the science of self healthcare had been brought out in 1980 and there were three, extent gurus of Ayurveda.
The body of knowledge had almost been lost due to the depredations of the British Raj, The British Rule, when the teachings of Ayurveda had been made illegal to teach or to practice, in favor of the introduction of an enforcement of Western conventional medicine that was brought to India by the English.
Any case, Dr. Triguna, Brihaspati Dev Triguna, Dr. V.M. Dwivedi, and Dr. Balaraj Maharishi, and they had a very bright student by the name of Rajuji.
Rajuji and I became very close friends and he was already a master in his own right, but was getting something akin to his second or third PhD in Ayurveda, and he could converse fluently in their own tongues with each of these three masters of whom I previously named, and translate what they were saying to those of us who were studying to be Ayurveda educators.
[43:34] The Call to Return Home
At the end of that period of time, I felt the call to return home to what was then my home in Sydney, Australia, spend more time with my family. And I hadn’t seen my children for several months.
And my friend who was training there with me, who’s since that time become quite famous, Dr. Deepak Chopra, said to me, “What are your plans, Thom?” And I said, “I’m planning to talk to Maharishi and find out what my plans are, but my draw is to home right now, and it looks like we’re coming to the end of a chapter in our training. It seems an appropriate time.”
Little did I know that I was in the process of my final graduation of my final training with Maharishi, but you’ll see that as the story unfolds.
I joined the line of people who wanted to see Maharishi, and I was very familiar with that line. It was more like a hall filled with people, all with their shoes off, with a doorway leading from that hall straight into Maharishi’s private rooms, where you could meet with him.
I had been on many occasions in charge of that door, with the list of who was in the waiting room, who could see Maharishi and who was, you know, and I’d have to report into him and tell him who was out there.
[45:14] Rich People Problems
And just a quick aside, there was one occasion when a fabulously wealthy couple, who wanted to see Maharishi and who, very kindly, had made large donations to Maharishi’s meditation organization, wanting to help him with building endeavors.
And also in the hall were some farmers who wanted to talk to Maharishi about the best way to increase the cream content of the milk that was created by their dairy cows.
And I remember going into the room and saying to Maharishi, “We have these people out there and, you know, the donors who have been waiting to see you for about three days, every day for about four or five hours waiting.
He said, “Who else is there?” I said, “Oh, the dairy farmers are there.” He said, “And what do the people want, who are the donors?”
And I said, “She has her family home from her family in Aspen, Colorado. He has his family home, inherited from his family in a parallel Alpine city in Colorado, known as Vail. And Christmas is coming and they’re having a kind of heated discussion about whether or not the Christmas family celebration should happen at her family place in Aspen or at his family place in Vail.”
And he said, “Oh, rich people problems.” To which I said, “Yes.” And then he said, “Send in the farmers.” And he spent three hours talking to the dairy farmers about their cows and how to play Vedic sounds to them.
[47:21] The Waiting State of Consciousness
So I had been familiar with this role of being in the waiting state of consciousness, where one waits and waits and waits to see Maharishi, and I was happy to wait.
I think I waited about three days each day going into the night, you know, probably around one or two in the morning, whoever was on the door at the time, an Indian person, would come out and say, “Maharishi wants you to all go and rest.” Words that I had spoken to people in the waiting room myself many times.
Go and rest, meaning it’s over for the night, come back tomorrow and do some more waiting.
After about three days waiting like that, I finally made my way in and Maharishi was there sitting in his seat.
Though he’d been there talking to people for at least 12 hours by the time I got to him, always as he did, looked completely fresh, eyes wide open, relaxed, attentive, and as ever, experiencing whoever you were from his place in that universal consciousness.
You always got the impression when looking at Maharshi’s face and eyes, that there was a lot more going on behind those eyes than what ordinarily would happen with human-to-human contact.
[48:52] “Then What?”
Any case, I went up and sat on the floor in front of him with my legs crossed. He was on his little sofa, probably a foot or so elevated from me.
And there were a few people sitting around who he always had people witnessing conversations that he would have because he didn’t want there to be any controversy about what he instructed somebody to do.
If he really wanted a private session, absolutely private, he’d send everyone away. But on this particular occasion, he let a few people stay nearby and he said, “Yes, what it is?” This is how he spoke, what it is.
I said, “Maharishi, I’m feeling a draw to return home to Australia.” “Very good.” He said. “Very good. You’ll go to Australia and you’ll take all my blessings to your family, to your children, and you’ll take my blessings to all the teachers, the Initiators there in Australia.” “Yes,” and then what?
This is the way he spoke. “Then what?”
[50:07] A Reliable Connection
I said, “There’s one more thing I want to be sure,” and just a side note, this was in the late eighties and it was that period of time where cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. There were only landlines.
“Maharishi. I’d like to be sure that I have the correct telephone number for you.” It was a telephone number whereby I knew I could get a message to him through someone who was in, believe it or not, Maharishi had a family. Not a married family. He was a reclusive person, but his brother had children and one of his nephews had what was famously a good telephone for India.
India was a place where landline communication was notoriously terrible. You could lift up a phone from there and you’d have to shout as loud as you could into the phone receiver, and then you could be heard faintly at the other end, wherever that was else in the world.
The same amount of shouting had to be done, even if you were calling up the house from next door. It didn’t matter if you were speaking from India to Australia, or India to America, or India to the next door house, the same amount of shouting had to be done . Well, this particular phone was at least a reliable connection with somebody in Maharishi’s family who could get a message to him from me.
So I said, “I have this number for your nephew.” He said, “Yes, very good. That’s the number. And what would you be asking me in these telephone calls if they were to occur? What would you want to know?”
[51:56] “You Got It?”
And I said, “Well, I just might want to check something.” You know, I was one of the organizational heads of his worldwide organization. And I said, “You know, in case I want to check some procedural thing or some policy matter. You know, the usual things, Maharishi.”
He said, “In all such situations,” and then using his right forefinger to point at where his heart would be in his chest, he tapped his chest with his four fingers and said, “Then you’ll check here, and then don’t check.”
He said, “You got it?” I said, “Yes, I, I get it. All right, I’ll do that.” And then a natural curiosity bubbled up inside me, since I’d just been told I didn’t need to check things anymore. I just needed to check them in my own heart, and then I would have the answer. And I said to him, the fateful words, “Maharishi, when would you like me to come back?”
And he said, “Come back means what?” And I said, “Come back means, I’ll come back here to see you, to spend time with you again.” “Oh, how long you have been coming?”
I said, “It’s almost, it’s more than 25 years I’ve been coming.” “Oh, 25 years. It’s a long time. It’s a long time. Did you get it?” I said, “Yes, yes I got it. I got it.”
“Good then. If you got it, then you know,” and this time grasping his necklace of beads and thumping his chest, “you know, it’s not about this,” indicating his body.
And he said, “You got it?” And I said, “Yes, I get it.” “Good then,” he said, plucking a rose out of a vase. A beautiful rose too, by the way, with all the thorns removed.
[54:10] Accepting the Graduation
He handed me this rose, looking straight into my eyes and said, “Jai Guru Deva.” And I said, “Jai Guru Deva.” And I took the rose and then he turned his face away from me and struck up a conversation with someone to his left, completely ignoring me.
That was my cue. That was my moment. Was I to accept the graduation, which evidently I’d just been presented, or was I to continue sitting there ignoring the graduation that I’d just been given, and get all hurty poos and hope that he would give me an answer different to the one he’d just given me, which was effectively, don’t come back.
And, that was in fact the implicit answer to my question. And so with every effort in my possession, I made my muscles move and stood up. He was still deeply engaged with the person on his left, laughing and talking and not looking in my direction whatsoever.
And I turned and made myself walk to the door. And when I got out the door, I thought, “Don’t look back. Don’t look back, don’t look back.” And I kept walking. It was about a quarter of a mile walk in the middle of the night.
[55:48] The Last Time in Person
This was in India, the place where you could get the nearest thing akin to a taxi, a little motorcycle, tricycle, rickshaw thing that could take you on the hour and a half trip to the airport at New Delhi. And I had a flight booked that was going to depart in about four or five hours, sometime after sunrise. And I hopped into one of those and went off into the night.
In March in that part of India, which is the month that it was, it can still be quite cool in the night, fresh as the British say. The air was fresh. It was a chilly night. I was wearing my dhoti, as one was in the habit of doing when in India, around Maharishi, one dressed in the Indian style. And I had the great good fortune of a nice warm pashmina blanket wrapped around me.
And I had time while riding in that rickshaw to think about the years, and indeed decades, leading up to that moment, which I knew, accurately as it turned out, to be the last time I was ever to lay eyes on him in person.
[57:15] I and U Became M
And all of the years that had gone by, the way at which I had been shaped, like a piece of wood that’s given to a cabinet maker or a carpenter. It has, you know, some rough edges on it, and the carpenter files those down and shapes them and so on. I was basically riding in that scooter, on my way to the airport, a sculpture that had been sculpted by him.
Indeed, there was no question in my mind that I and U became M. That Maharishi was embedded in every cell of my body, in every cell of my brain, and every breath that I took.
And I can say with absolute honesty, there’s not a moment that’s gone by from those earliest days when first I was initiated, throughout all of my teaching and teaching tens of thousands of people how to meditate, in the way that Maharishi brought that meditation, his meditation, to the world.
There’s not been a day or a minute of a day where his thinking and my thinking have been different. He forged my style of thinking to such an extent, that even if I’m making a piece of toast in my kitchen for my morning breakfast, I have the reverberations of that Maharishi consciousness reverberating in my awareness.
I can’t think of it as something separate to me. You know, not like, “How would Maharishi think about making a piece of buttered toast?” because thinking how he would think, I can’t find any way of making that different to the way that I find myself thinking. My thoughts, my actions, my behavior, basically are all his.
And so I don’t have the sense that he has ever left me. And when, many years later, 20 years after my ultimate graduation from a Rishi sitting on a snowy mountain top, here in my hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona, sitting in the snow at about 12,000 feet elevation, looking out across a snowscape, my phone began to ring, and it was my daughter Mazi.
And Mazi said to me, “Dad, I’m in India. Maharishi dropped his body a few days ago in Europe where he was living in Holland, and his body’s being transported back to India. And my mom and I,” her mother, “are here. Were going to witness the cremation of his body and the internment of his ashes into the Ganges River. Do you wanna come?”
[01:00:35] A Drop Disappearing from the Ocean
And sitting there up in the snow, in a thick coat, looking out across the snow scape? I said, “No, I won’t be coming, darling. You enjoy it.” And she was crying a little because she was very close throughout her childhood to Maharishi. And, she said, “Oh, we’re all going to miss him.”
And I said, “I know, I know.” And I was saying, I know because I did know, but I’m not capable of missing him. I find him embedded in every cell of my brain and body in my entire breath and breathing. And so, from my perspective, although a body somewhere dropped, like a drop disappearing from an ocean, what happens to the ocean if a drop evaporates? Nothing happens to the ocean.
That oceanic awareness that I had been trained to share with him continued to be my reality. And for me, the idea of going somewhere and making a very big deal about the evaporation of a drop from the ocean didn’t appear to me to be acknowledgement of what he and I were together, what he and I had become.
MIU. I and U become M.
[01:02:02] A Loudspeaker of the Tradition
And that’s my story. That’s the short version. The long version spins out in all of my talks and all of my teachings and all of my podcasts. What you’re hearing is the knowledge, as it’s processed through me, of his consciousness state, which I’ve adopted as my own. And I’m happy to say that whenever I do need to check, I just check in here and then don’t check.
This is my great joy to be a loud speaker of the knowledge of my tradition, which has come down from all these thousands of years. It’s a wonderful storyline, and one in which I invite all of you, my listeners, to participate in your own way, in your own time.
Jai Guru Deva.