My Maharishi – A Paragon of Abundance and Self-Sufficiency

“As you continue your practice of Vedic Meditation, don’t be surprised if you find yourself increasingly fearless. Fearlessness is not only the pinnacle of human achievement, but it’s also a symptom, a spontaneous and natural symptom of living one’s life in perfect attunement, perfect alignment with the laws of Nature that govern evolution.”

Thom Knoles

When most people think of abundance or self-sufficiency, they think of cash and assets, having the wealth to do what they want when they want it. In fact, for many people, it’s a driving goal to become “financially independent” so as to have more choices in their lives.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi took an alternative approach, demonstrating that true freedom and true abundance actually require us to surrender our sense of choice and to simply follow the call of Nature.

Through this approach, he was able to accomplish more in half a lifetime, than most of us would accomplish many lifetimes over, all while remaining ”penniless” himself.

Thom shares some real-life examples from his experiences with Maharishi in this episode, giving us a taste of the true meaning of wealth.

Subscribe to Vedic Worldview

Apple Podcast logo
Stitcher Podcast logo
Spotify Podcast logo
Google Podcast logo

Episode Highlights


Five Blind Men and an Elephant



Different Perceptions of Maharishi



Maharishi’s Simple Possessions



Wooden Sandals and Shahtoosh



Traveling the World Without a Penny



Maharishi’s Persuasive Consciousness State



Why Maharishi Didn’t Have to Think Before Acting



Follow Charm and See What Happens



Helicopter Came



Simple, Natural and Innocent



Charm, Action, and Results



The Inexorable Forces of Nature



Be a Maharishi Yourself


Jai Guru Deva


My Maharishi – A Paragon of Abundance and Self-Sufficiency

[00:45] Five Blind Men and an Elephant 

Jai Guru Deva. 

I’d like to talk for a moment about my Maharishi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , who I refer to as my Maharishi. And why do I say my Maharishi? Because every one of us, many thousands who got to know him, and those of us who had the great good fortune of spending large periods of time with him, in a variety of settings, each one of us had their hand on a different aspect of Maharishi. 

There’s a parable that comes out of the East of five men, and we make them men because men are famous for arguing with each other. Five blind men, all of whom are standing under an elephant, each one of them with his hand on the elephant, arguing with the other about what the elephant’s qualities are like.

One of them is holding the bushy tuft on the end of the tail that every elephant has on the end of their tail, that tuft of hair with very coarse wiry like hair. “I have the elephant,” says the blind man. “It’s wiry. It’s tufty. It’s hairy.” 

Up the front of the elephant, there’s another who has the trunk of the elephant. “No, no,” he said, “You don’t have the elephant.” The elephant is long, mobile, flexible, strong, and breathes in and out.” And Mr. Tuft, at the end of the elephant, just scoffs and says, “You’re just making things up. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Yet another man has his arms around the front leg of the elephant. “No, no, you’re both wrong. You don’t have the elephant. I have the elephant.” The elephant’s like the trunk of a tree, except that occasionally, it moves just to demonstrate that it’s not restricted by roots in the ground. It can lift up. And it can go down. 

In fact, you have to watch out when it comes back down that you don’t get your own foot trapped underneath it because the weight that it’s bearing is absolutely enormous.”

Another has the tusk. Another has the ear, flat, wavy, filled with blood vessels. And so on. Who has the elephant? Now, in our story, by some miracle in the parable, the blind men are able to see, and then they have that realization, “Aha! We all have the elephant, and that’s all we’ve ever had.”

[03:11] Different Perceptions of Maharishi

I use the analogy with my Maharishi. My time with him was unique to me. The hours that I spent with him, many times in the middle of the night, sometimes in aircraft, sometimes sitting in his lectures, sometimes sitting in his room just conversing with him, sometimes carrying out his will, carrying out actions in strange and far-flung parts of the world, talking to him by telephone and getting my next instruction. 

Sometimes dealing with farmers and peasants. Other times dealing with kings and heads of state, all at his behest. And my Maharishi was the unique Thom Knoles Maharishi, the Maharishi that was experienced through my eyes and my ears, and it’s only that I can share with you that which I have ingested and metabolized and turned into me. 

There are many books by different people who spent time with Maharishi. Some of them talking about how terrible it all was. Some of them talking about how glorious it all was. I’ve read all these books, and I know all the people who wrote the books, and I find it very amusing because each one of them is describing someone with quite a great degree of consistency, but they all have their own personal Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

[04:31] Maharishi’s Simple Possessions

And so I’m offering to you a further vignette of my Maharishi. And one of the things I’d like to highlight in this particular vignette is his amazing self-sufficiency. This is someone who only ever wore two pieces of cloth. Now, mind you, they were very fine pieces of cloth, hand-woven silk. 

Hand-woven, very fine silk, about what Americans would call a twin bed; everyone else in the Commonwealth calls it a single bed, size sheet. Imagine a sheet that would fit, a flat sheet that would fit over a single bed, and you had two of those: one to wrap up your top; this is called the angavastra. Anga means limbs, vastra means cloth. 

And then the other cloth of exactly the same size, wrapped rather towel-like around one’s waist but tied securely, more securely than you could tie a towel, a bath towel, and then pleated in the front and tucked in.

These two pieces of silk, angavastra and the lower half is called dhoti, D-H-O-T-I. He had those two pieces of silk. And two others, this is during his very early days, that were his backups while the other two were being washed. And you can take silk, and you can fold it into a remarkably small packet. Very remarkably small. It compresses terribly impressively. 

Two pieces of silk inside of a steel, it looked like a lunch box. Stainless steel lunch box, perhaps slightly larger than a child’s lunch box that has cartoon characters on it in an American school setting. Stainless steel lunch box -size thing, which was like a little suitcase.

He carried sometimes over his arm and sometimes in that box, usually over his arm if he was alone, a deerskin, the pelt of a deer. He wore on his feet wooden sandals that had a rubber hoop over each toe, each part of the toes, one rubber hoop on each of the sandals through which one inserted one’s front part of the foot, and the toes would stick out.

And these sandals were made of wood. They had on the bottom of them, for a little bit of grip, two rubber strips that were glued onto the wood. 

So, a wooden sandal that was shaped with a little buzz saw, I’m sure, to be the shape of your foot. You stood on that with a rubber hoop holding it on, so you had to kind of curl your toes in order to keep the thing clinging to your foot.

Underneath his outer garments, a silk loincloth called a lungi. Silk loin cloth, the bottom half, the dhoti, the top half, the angavastra, one string of beads adorned him for many, many years. Occasionally, he would add an additional string. And inside that little steel box, a passport. And he was ready, packed, and ready. 

Oh, one more thing I can add, which I saw with my own eyes on several occasions, a toothbrush made from neem, N-E-E-M, you can look it up, it’s a type of wood that is very favored in Ayurveda to be a very good vajradanti. It means a killer of germs on your teeth. And you take this stick of wood, and you very lightly bite one end of it, causing it to become fibrous and spread out something akin to a brush, and then you can scrub your teeth with that thing, and it leaves in the mouth a very fresh taste.

Other than that, nothing. The stick, the passport, the two silks he wore, the two silks inside the suitcase thing, the passport, the deerskin, the two wooden sandals. 

[08:34] Wooden Sandals and Shahtoosh

Ah, one more thing, a shahtoosh. Shah means a king. Toosh means a beard. The king’s beard. It’s a particular kind of hair that can be combed from the back of an antelope that lives in the Himalaya. Some people call it a goat, but it’s actually an antelope. 

And this is the finest hair on earth. It’s many grades more fine than the finest cashmere. And the shahtoosh could also fold down to a remarkably small size, but it was so warm that he could wrap himself up in it even in snowy weather. 

Okay, that was his whole kit. The shahtoosh, the pieces of silk, the passport, the little stick toothbrush, the two wooden sandals, the deerskin over the arm. He could carry it all himself.

And he set out from the high Himalayan town of Uttarkashi in 1956 and made his way from there to South India, where he moved from place to place teaching, and he would only teach if there was worthy inquiry. If someone saw him and said, “I’m asking you, with worthy inquiry, I’m asking you, there are ways in India of saying these words, I’m asking you with folded hands, please let me have whatever knowledge you can give me.”

Then he would give that knowledge, and the people came first in their dozens, and then in their hundreds, and then in their thousands, and then in their tens of thousands because it was known that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a favored disciple of the great Swami Brahmananda Saraswati whom we know as Guru Deva.

[10:19] Traveling the World Without a Penny

When Maharishi would get an impulse in his awareness to get up and move and travel, then he simply would stand up and start walking. If it required an air flight to travel, if nobody was able to drive him to the airport, he would just immediately start walking in the direction of the airport.

Whenever he landed somewhere in the early days, when he traveled, funded by only the funds given, the students of his who learned meditation from him, would pass a hat around and get the funds to buy him an air ticket. 

And he traveled in the first instance from India to Burma, and then from Burma on to Indonesia, Malaysia, from Indonesia, Malaysia to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong to Hawaii, from Hawaii to Los Angeles.

Landing in Los Angeles in 1958, crew cuts, Bobby Sox, Elvis Presley, that Los Angeles, 1958, and landing in places where no one wanted to know anything about meditation. Just stepping off the plane, making his way through customs with nothing to declare except his genius, and not bothering with transportation, just walking, would be picked up by people.

Somebody would see this man with long flowing locks down to his shoulders, onto his shoulders, and a long flowing beard, wearing the traditional garb of an Indian Yogi, walking down the street of Los Angeles, for example, penniless, as Maharishi once said, born penniless, lived penniless, will undoubtedly die penniless.

[12:08] Maharishi’s Persuasive Consciousness State 

Anything that he wanted was actually The Cosmos wanting it because of his enlightenment. Having gained that assurance from inside that one’s own thoughts that are propelling one into action are, in fact, the thoughts of The Universe propelling one into action, one could move fearlessly. 

Whenever asked, as he would envision some great project, the building of a meditation center, for example, or the acquisition of some land for building such a place, somebody might say, “Maharishi, where’s the money going to come from?”

And he would say, “It’s going to come from wherever it is now. It’s going to come from where it is. We don’t think about that. We just go ahead.” 

He lived a life of moving from one thought to the next, letting his body follow. And he just found that his consciousness state was so persuasive, his presence was so noble and regal, his thought and thinking was so simple and yet elegant that it was compelling to find whatever way you could find, if you were one of the listeners or one of his followers, to find whatever way you could find to lend your support, to make your contribution to a group effort of keeping his vision alive until it was realized.

And so, this was the man that I met about ten years after he arrived in Los Angeles and trained under, and his training rubbed off on me. And I’m trying to make it rub off on you and talking to you about it. 

[13:55] Why Maharishi Didn’t Have to Think Before Acting

If you think to yourself, I’ll accumulate all of these resources first, and then I’ll do something, then you’ve wasted a tremendous amount of time. It’s better just to move in the direction of the doing. Get it done, whatever it may be, and start moving in that direction, relying on the idea that as a meditator…

Someone practicing Vedic Meditation, whose consciousness is daily, twice a day, settling down into and unifying with the inner, unbounded Unified Field of Consciousness, that when you come out of meditation it’s a natural phenomenon, natural, that your thinking is now attuned with, aligned with, those impulses coming up out of Nature’s unmanifest source.

Nature itself is influencing your thinking, causing you to find charming any proposition to action which, those actions committed, bring about the fulfillment of the need of the time. 

You, as an individual meditator, are the agent of progressive change which Nature adopts and supports you. But the primary means of support is to give you the thoughts which, if acted upon, the thoughts that are charming which, if acted upon, will bring about a result that furthers the process of evolution. 

And so, why is it that someone like Maharishi didn’t have to think before acting? Actions would come straight out of the field of Being. 

It was because he had decided, as I wish all of you listeners would, that he was himself the expressed end, the manifest version of the intentionality of that Totality field, the Unified Field which was operating through him. 

[15:54] Follow Charm and See What Happens

As you continue your practice of Vedic Meditation, don’t be surprised if you find yourself increasingly fearless. Fearlessness is not only the pinnacle of human achievement, but it’s also a symptom, a spontaneous and natural symptom of living one’s life in perfect attunement, perfect alignment with the laws of Nature that govern evolution. 

You don’t have to sit and read a book. What are the laws of Nature that govern evolution? No. What comes up from inside your own inner awareness turns out to be spontaneous right action. 

And so then you find a thing charming, you move in the direction of that charm and see what happens. If things are going that way, Nature appears to be continuing to support it, you’re going to find the funding. I never met a more capable, well-funded man than Maharishi. Whatever he wanted would happen.

[16:53] Helicopter Came

If he said, “I think I should have a helicopter to fly me around the Swiss Alps to the various destinations that people have arrived at for their teacher training. So if I drive on the ground, it takes hours to get from one place to the next because of the giant mountain ranges. But if I was in a little helicopter, then I could just fly over the mountains and be moved from one teacher training program to the next in a matter of minutes.” 

That helicopter was there the next day. I said to Maharishi, “Where did the helicopter come from?” He goes, “I don’t know. Somebody heard that I wanted a helicopter, and helicopter came.”

And I said, “Helicopters are expensive to maintain and fuel and look after and all of that. What should we do to be sure that it’s in the finest possible shape?” He just looked at me and, smiled, and said, “Ask the pilot. He’ll tell you all of these details.”

[17:46] Simple, Natural and Innocent

Whatever Maharishi wanted, that thing came into being. He would look at a piece of land and say, “We should have that land.” And there would be somebody, or perhaps a consortium of somebodies, who would hear that and make the arrangements, and the land would be available. 

He was born without a penny. He lived without a penny. He had no pockets, no credit card, no bank account, nothing in his own name. But what he did have was Cosmic Intelligence operating his intentionality and his desire. What he did have was the bank of goodwill of all of the humans around him. 

Even people who thought they were going to be against him who rolled their eyes at the thought of this bearded man bringing his programs to the world, bringing meditation to the world, and changing the world with hundreds of thousands of people meditating, which was his vision.

Even people who rolled their eyes at such a thought, who scoffed and then would meet him, would be immediately joining his consortium of those who would do anything they could to make a contribution to the group effort. Such was his astonishing power of just his personal presence. 

And all of that, just as we say, as teachers of Vedic Meditation, very simple, natural, and innocent. Simple, natural, and innocent. Just like our practice. That was him. 

[19:12] Charm, Action, and Results

So how can we imbibe these qualities, ingest this, and metabolize it and live it? We have to start doing the research. As Vedic meditators, we can rely on the fact that if we have a thought that is compelling, particularly if it’s compellingly charming, we must move in the direction of that.

How are we going to get the thing done? Just get started on whatever aspect of it you can, and Nature will begin to support you. You’ll find support of Nature coming from all kinds of surprising areas. And then be nimble. Not every project needs to be completed all the way to the end of the project just because it was charming one day. 

Some projects, we’ll get them halfway done, and then we might be drawn off to another thing, and we get that done and come back to the existing project and continue with that and move it along another quarter of the way, and then we might be drawn off by charm to yet another thing and then come back and push this a little further along like that.

[20:17] The Inexorable Forces of Nature

We don’t want to be too rigid in the way that we approach things. We want to be the way Nature is. Water comes down from my mountains here after the snow melts every year. Last year, there were 40 feet of accumulated snow on my local mountain. The Hopi people call it Nuva’tukya’ovi. I like that name. 

We invaders refer to it as the San Francisco Peaks, named after St. Francis of Assisi. Also a very nice way of looking at a geologic structure. 40 feet of snow accumulated there. When that water comes down off the mountain, which it must, gravity ordains this. The water must move from the mountain in its solid form of snow into its liquid form of water. It finds its way around boulders. It finds its way up and over rocky lips and turns into waterfalls. 

It finds its way through watercourses of every kind. And if there are no watercourses by the time it gets to our small town, it will use the streets as watercourses. If there’s anything in the way, like a parked car, it will take the car away.

Such is the inexorable, one of my favorite words, inexorable, meaning uncompromising, forces of Nature. The inexorable force of the water moving from high elevation to the lower elevations to join ultimately the Colorado River that cut the Grand Canyon. That’s how Grand Canyon got there. It got there because rivers flowing off of snowy mountaintops cut that canyon into the earth. A beautiful, beautiful structure. 

[22:01] Be a Maharishi Yourself

If you had to plan out the creation of Grand Canyon as an engineer, good luck to you. One mile deep, 20 to 40 miles from rim to rim, and 240 miles from left to right. You want to make a hole in the ground that big with a river flowing at the bottom of it using human machinery. It’s not even conceivable that you could get one trillionth of that done in a human lifetime. But Nature organized it. There’s Grand Canyon. 

We can all go look at it and enjoy it and play in it and walk to the bottom and dive into the river. And how did it organize it? Elevation with snow falling on it, that’s all it needed. Everything else just happened naturally. 

So we think about, something that needs to be done we don’t worry about having the resources. We like to think of ourselves as unified with the force of Nature. We are merely carrying out Nature’s intent in the creation of something absolutely spectacular, and all we have to do is be obedient to the charm. Before that, we have to meditate. 

Meditating every morning, every evening using Vedic Meditation, the supreme knowledge technique. The technique of supreme knowledge where through doing nothing you gain everything. You close your eyes, using the technique of Vedic Meditation, you use less effort, less effort, least effort, no effort at all. The mind goes beyond thought and unifies with the Totality Field, the Unified Field of all knowledge, all the laws of Nature.

Coming out from there, engage in activity, and watch how Nature’s intelligence guides your thoughts and actions, and you’ll find that you can be as self-sufficient as my Maharishi, as confident as my Maharishi, and you’ll be Maharishis yourself. 

Jai Guru Deva. 

If you’d like to explore the subject of abundance more, we invite you to register for Thom’s Awakening Abundance course, which is available for general enrolment. You can find out more at

Read more