An Australian poet named Michael announced that he'd been lying in a hammock for several hours, and there, under his blankets, he'd understood the world and everything in it as aspects of "the cosmic joke." He preferred the shorter poetic forms, he said, on the order of Japanese haiku. and usually he began with a heavy sheaf of manuscript before he refined the thing down to its essence. His most recent poem he'd been writing for three months, and he thought he'd just about got it right. I asked him to recite it, and with a shy smile, looking off at the monkeys chasing one another through the trees, he did so. "The Buddha sat." he said." and would not say." The Beatles arrived toward evening, and Harrison, who was sitting nearest to me at the table, remarked that if he could turn everybody on to transcendental meditation and Indian music. then he could go. Somebody asked him what he meant exactly, and he said. " You know . . . out . . . like on a road tour when you leave for the next town." Somebody else asked him about his own meditations, and he said his mantra was an English word. This caused considerable surprise because it was assumed that into most people's ears the Maharishi or one of his deputies had whispered unintelligible Sanskrit syllables. Nobody, of course, ever told anyone else his mantra, because to do so would damage them, but that was the common understanding. Harrison further astounded everybody by saying he assumed the Beatles all had the same mantra. He didn't know for sure, but his appeared in Lennon's song. / Am the Walrus. `This is the world,' the Maharishi told Harrison. 'It needs to be corrected.' The night the balloons appeared in the lecture hall, Geoffrey mistook them for decorations in honor of the god Shiva's marriage to the goddess Parvati. The musicians seated on the stage, among them a Sikh wearing slippers that curled at the toes, seemed to support his assumption. "How nice," he said. "Shiva day." We talked of Shiva's many tricks and disguises, which so pleased Geoffrey that he didn't mind when it turned out he was wrong about the balloons. Like the musicians, they had to do with George Harrison's birthday. The Maharishi brought the Beatles onto the stage with him, and they sat on cushions to one side of his platform while a pundit from Rishikesh, himself a wise man of wide reputation, began a lyrical Hindu chant. Other monks made their way about the stage on their knees, dabbing yellowish smudges of ochre mixed with saffron on the foreheads of the Beatles and their wives. "To cool the nervous system," Geoffrey said. The chant lasted for what seemed like a long time. Every now and then the Maharishi affectionately stroked Harrison's head, and Edna, in her leopard pajamas. moved discreetly through the audience, handing each of us a garland of wet, fresh marigolds. "To give to George," she said. When the chanting ceased, we all walked up to the stage and placed our garlands around Harrison's neck, until in the end, embarrassed and smiling sheepishly, he looked like a man in a life jacket. The Maharishi then spoke to us in a long and dreaming soliloquy. his head tilted to the side like a bird's, and his voice more musical than I'd ever heard it, as if he were conjuring benign spirits from the incense-heavy air. There was a good time coming, he said, and a great new hope abroad in the world. Ever since he'd seen George Harrison and his blessed friends, the Beatles. he knew his movement must succeed and that men would no longer suffer. At the end we all sang Happy Birthday to George, to whom the Maharishi presented a cake with two candles and a plastic globe that he offered upside down, saying. "This is the world. It needs to be corrected.' The laughter and applause subsided, and then the Maharishi led everyone into a meditation. the long silence at last being softly broken by a single note plucked on a stringed instrument. That note I remember as indescribably lovely, holding within it a glimpse of (continued on page 88) The Maharishi in his office. He said he admired the American mind and compared it to the flower of the tree. 1e the other peoples of the earth were the bark and the branches.
1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh
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