“Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles in India” – in happier times…
Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”
This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. Harry Golden did up that old-time personal newspaper. And for that he was considered a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”
That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”
For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.
In the meantime:
Remember Transcendental Meditation? In case you missed it, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started teaching this method of personal development in 1958.
Ironically, “TM” was said to have launched in Madras, India. (Now called Chennai.)
In less than a decade after 1958, Madras shirts, shorts and jackets – like those at left – became all the rage. (“All the rage” for middle school, high school and even college “boys” in the 1960s.) Getting back to TM: It also got “more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities.”
Celebrities like the The Beatles, shown in the top-of-the-page picture
The kicker? You had to pay through the nose. (At one point the price for “working folk” was pretty much a full week’s salary.) For that you got instructed in the technique itself, plus you got your own “personal Sanskrit mantra.” (Note that a mantra is a word or phrase – said to be of “spiritual power – that you repeat over and over again, for up to 20 minutes.)
One of the goals – of “regular” meditation anyway – is to “bind the mind staff in place.”
That – in a way – brings up that the Maharishi – hereinafter “Mahesh” – did quite well as a result of his teaching. (The photo at right shows one of his “headquarters;” the one in Seelisberg, Switzerland.)
On the other hand: It turns out you could get pretty much the same thing from Lawrence LeShan‘s 1974 book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery. But of course, that would mean you had to do some actual work, to learn the self-discipline on your own.
(An observation that seems to be “redundant redundant…”)
But we digress! The point is: LeShan’s How to Meditate was “one of the first practical guides to meditation.” And it was a whole lot cheaper than TM. (My first copy cost $1.95.)
And incidentally, LeShan noted that “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra designed just for you … is pulling your leg.” On the other hand, I remember reading somewhere that Mahesh charged Americans so much – for example – because they don’t value “free stuff.” They – we – arguably figure that if we don’t pay a high price for something, it must not be worth much.
Which does make a certain amount of sense. (And a telling comment on the American psyche.)
Be that as it may…
We mentioned the Beatles being “converted” to Transcendental Meditation. As Mikal Gilmore noted, George Harrison’s wife Pattie introduced him to Mahesh in 1967. Harrison was impressed enough to persuade the other Beatles to “attend a sabbatical in Bangor, Wales.”
Later – in 1968 – the group went to Rishikesh, India, for a longer course. However:
[T]heir relationship with the teacher soured when they heard rumors that he had attempted unwelcome sexual advances on a female devotee. Lennon and Harrison confronted the yogi, pronounced their disdain and then left him, despite his pleadings that they reconsider…
On a related note, pretty much the same thing seems to have happened to Rajneesh – born Chandra Mohan Jain – also known as “Osho.”
“OSHO” (1931-1990) was yet another “Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.” In the fullness of time he got nicknamed “the sex guru.” (But others said he just had “straightforward attitudes about sex.”)
All of which may prove no more than that men are scum.
(At least from a female view.)
But again we digress. Getting back to Mahesh and the Beatles, see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | The Beatles Bible. As to the group confronting Mahesh about the allegation, Lennon said he had to do the “dirty work … as usual.” When he said they were leaving, Mahesh ostensibly said, “‘Why?’ Hee-hee, all that shit. And I said, ‘Well if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.'”
The article noted as well that despite “the harshness of Lennon’s words about Maharishi, McCartney and Harrison, in particular, remained believers in the power of meditation.”
Which could be another way of saying that the underlying discipline itself was good and valid. (Even if one greedy individual did use it for his own personal gain.)
And the article noted a positive result: The song “Sexy Sadie,” which Lennon originally wanted to title “Maharishi.” But again, none of that means the underlying discipline is worthless. It simply means that – at worst – one or more unscrupulous, misguided or overzealous individuals used a valid spiritual discipline for person gain.
Which is “nothing new under the sun.” Take martial arts… Please!
Many people these days come to the martial arts as if to a sport or, worse, as if seeking an effective instrument of aggression and domination. And, unhappily, there are studios that cater to this clientele. Violent and exploitative martial arts movies contribute to the corruption… (E.A.)
And incidentally, that Henny Youngman one-liner – “Take my wife, please!” – is based on a fundamental principle of both martial arts and magic. (The principle of dislocation.)
But for a third time, we digress…
Plain old meditation – the kind you don’t pay an arm and a leg for – is a “practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness.” It’s done for any number of reasons, including to “promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.”
Among the benefits of meditation: better focus, less anxiety, more creativity, more compassion, better memory, less stress and “more gray matter.” Or as LeShan said, the real goal is “to help you grow and develop as a total human being.”
The kicker? You actually have to put in a lot of work. Or as LeShan said, in its ideal form the “long hard practice” of true meditation “disciplines and strengthens the personality.” See also Discipline – Wikipedia, with an image captioned: “To think good thoughts requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about.”
All of which may be another way of saying that – when it comes to personal development (a heavy-duty industry in this country) – some people prefer that kind of thing pre-digested:
The upper image is courtesy of www.vintag.es/2013/06/maharishi-mahesh-yogi-with-beatles.
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Re: The Carolina Israelite. Harry Golden‘s personal newspaper, which he wrote and published back in the 1940s through the 60s. Harry was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (Which is another way of saying he told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” (For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.) But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. He got older but didn’t turn sour, as so many seem to do today. He still got a kick out of life.
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Note that personal development has “developed” into an industry, with “several business relationship formats of operating.”
The “Madras” image is courtesy of Madras Guide – How the Shirt, Pants & Jackets Became Popular.
References to LeShan‘s book, How to Meditate, are from the 1975 Bantam Books edition. The “bind the mind staff” quote is from page 55. (Along with a note that “we” should “bind ourselves gently and with humor and compassion at our own lack of discipline.”)
On that note too, see page 14, featuring a quote from Teresa of Ávila, describing the mind of man – in the attempt to meditate for example – as an “unbroken horse that would go anywhere except where you wanted it to.”
The quote about “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra” is from page 67.
The “Switzerland headquarters “photo is courtesy of Transcendental Meditation – Wikipedia.
Re: The high price of TM. For another view, see Why does the Transcendental Meditation course cost so much? One theory has it that Mahesh wanted TM to be “primarily taught to the wealthy leaders of society in order to enact maximum change in society,” and further that he “made a public address to that effect in the mid 1990’s and immediately T.M centers worldwide raised their prices.”
Re: Mikal Gilmore. Gilmore – a writer for Rolling Stone magazine – described Mahesh and the Beatles in his 2009 book, Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents, at pages 124, 156, and 164-65 in the 2009 Free Press paperback edition.
As to the Beatles and Mahesh, Gilmore noted that later in their lives, “Harrison and McCartney reconciled with Maharishi, though Lennon never did.” (124)
The Henny Youngman image is courtesy of Wikipedia. His classic one-liner – “Take my wife… please” – relied on dislocation. That principle is used in comedy, and also in magic and the martial arts in general. See, Shinogi – Budotheory.ca, which mentioned three types of dislocation: positional, temporal, and functional. See also Magic (illusion) – Wikipedia. Finally, see The Internet Classics Archive | The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which noted the Chinese philosopher who said, “The fundamental principle of the Art of War is deception.” (In other words, dislocating an opponent.)
So anyway, in the classic one-liner – literally “a century ago” – the audience was led to expect Youngman to say “for example” when he began. (As in, “Take my wife… for example.”) But instead of saying that, Youngman dislocated his audience with, “Take my wife… Please!”
The quote on martial arts as used for “aggression and domination” is from Taisen Deshimaru’s The Zen Way to Martial Arts, translated by Nancy Amphoux, Arkana Books (1991), at page 3.
Re: “Benefits of meditation:” The actual article-title is What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You. As to “more gray matter,” the article said that meditation has been shown “to diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce the decline of our cognitive functioning.“
Other benefits of meditation came from LeShan‘s How to Meditate, in the 1975 Bantam Books edition. (The quote “develop as a total human being” is from page 38.) LeShan pointed out that true meditation is much like physical exercise. Both require “repeated hard work,” most of it “basically pretty silly” in appearance. “What could be more foolish than to repeatedly lift twenty pounds of lead up and down?” But both forms of exercise aim for “the effect on the person doing it.” (Page 3.)
LeShan cited two main effects. The first is greater personal efficiency in everyday life. The second is “the comprehension of a different view of reality than the one we ordinarily use.” (Pages 6-7.) Other effects? The capacity to transcend the painful, negative aspects of life, and develop a serene “inner peace.” (Id.) He said it’s characteristic of a practiced meditator to live with joy and love; “a zest, a fervor and gusto in life.” And one final effect – for the practiced meditator – “a very deep sense of the union of himself and the All.” (Page 7)
The quote about “long hard practice” is from page 38.
The lower image is courtesy of mydailyminefield.com/2012/03/20/spring-has-sprung. Another good image is at animalstime.com/what-feed-baby-bird-what-feed-baby-birds, along with good advice on “What To Feed A Baby Bird [Who] Fell Out Of A Nest.”
I originally planned to use the image below, an illustrated quote from “that great Philosopher, Charlie Chan.” But then I had a brainstorm, figuring an image like that of baby birds – eager mouths wide open – would get the point across better.
“So anyway,” the image below is courtesy of izquotes.com/quote/217824. See also Charlie Chan (Wikipedia). The quote is said to have come from Charlie Chan at the Circus, and in the form given. See Charlie Chan – Wikiquote and Reel Life Wisdom – The Top 10 Wisest Quotes from Charlie Chan. But I could have sworn that the actual quote was, “Mind like parachute; work best when open.”
A final note: This post is a substantially altered update of a post originally published as On the Bible as “transcendent” meditation, at DOR Scribe – Expand your horizons.