1968_05_18--088_SP - Page 1

1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh

"Shade tree for the grandchildren?" GURU FROM RISHIKESH continued from page 33 infinite possibility, as if it had arrived from someplace as far off as the calm height from which the Maharishi spoke to us. Slowly the melody took shape. faintly supported by the rhythm of a drum. Donovan arrived on the evening of the following day, walking up the sandy path to the gate with his guitar over his shoulder and a cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth. His friend, Gypsy Dave, carried their few belongings in a knapsack. From a distance I saw them confer with the Hindu guards, who at first didn't recognize them, and then a monk came and conducted them up the hill past the charcoal fires burning at the corners of the paths. Instead of a lecture that night we heard the pundit from Rishikesh in an- other chant (this time, to Geoffrey's delight, celebrating Shiva's marriage to Parvati), and afterward Donovan and George Harrison discussed the music. They sat across from each other at the table under the trees, the other meditators listening as if for momentous announcements. (As always, when present at conversations between highranking celebrities, the others assumed the characteristics of townspeople watching from doorways as the sheriff walked out to meet the man named Slade.) Donovan had light eyes and an almost childish face. and both he and Harrison, conscious of the attendant interest, delayed their opening remarks. The candles flickered on the table, and across the river we could see the lights of the antibiotics factory built with Soviet foreign aid. At last Donovan said, " It built." Harrison nodded approvingly. "It's rock," he said. "That's what it is." Everybody smiled, and there followed a general agreement that the chant had been a groove. Harrison briefly mentioned his idea about ear plugs replacing record players (so that people could hear the music better) and also his conception of the academy the Beatles hoped to build in London. The Maharishi had great hopes for the academy, and Harrison assumed the group could raise enough money to build it by giving a single concert. " Figuring the tax deductions for that sort of thing." he said. He envisioned a large and colorful place where the kids could dance. and I sadly remembered the proposals of some of the older meditators. who had spoken to me of remote sanitariums surrounded by neat lawns. The Beatles seldom stayed late at the table, preferring to retire to their bungalows and the comforts they had brought from London. They had tapes of their own and other people's music, also a large supply of canned goods. They even had their road manager with them, a man named Malcolm Evans who obligingly practiced the meditation, and if they ran out of anything. Evans sent for more. Before leaving for the night, Harrison and the others filled their hot water bottles from the pots in the primitive kitchen. The nights were still cold at that time of year, and Donovan, who stayed to drink another cup of tea, borrowed an extra blanket. Donovan seemed as sweet and vulnerable as the others, speaking in a gentle voice and talking about the terrible time last summer at the D.A.R. auditorium in Washington. He'd found the place unsympathetic, and there had been police in the back of the hall, waiting for the riot that never occurred. Meditation calmed him before his concerts, he said, and the kids in the United States he thought very beautiful, in search of spiritual peace instead of a cheap sensation in the pit of their stomachs. Gypsy Dave. a big, shambling man with long sideburns, smiled and poured the tea and didn't say much of anything. The next morning it rained, and Mia came back. Simcox confessed his amazement, and people who'd seen her going to the Maharishi's house reported that she looked much better than when she'd left. less harassed. they said, and with a clearer light in her eyes. She appeared at lunch. wearing white cotton pajamas and gold-rimmed glasses. In conversation with John Lennon she said she'd been to Goa, and there. with her brother. she'd bought a stove for a few rupees and lived on the beach for a week. " You've got to do it right, to be with the people and never mind the rotten conditions." she said. "Otherwise you miss the magic of this magical land." Her voice had a lost but intelligent quality to it, and with Lennon she could talk as if to somebody who understood. They'd traveled across the same high plateau of fame. where the air is different than in other places, and they had "all of it" at a young age. They mentioned the "boxed-in" generation, the people older than they who lived with silly, artificial rules and insisted on "putting everything in bags." Later that afternoon, watching the rain squalls on the river, she talked about her own pilgrimage to the ashram. A romp, she called it, like being a kid again. " I'm flying from flower to flower," she said, "looking for a place where people will let me be." She said nothing about the tiger hunt or about quitting the place a few weeks before; the Maharishi had been glad to see her and had restored her to her place in the front row, together with Donovan and the Beatles and Mike Love. There was "great wisdom lying around." she said, but most people missed it because they got hung up with television sets and cars and their names in the paper. "Oh. wow," she said. "They think bliss consciousness is when you get those things. But when you make it, when you have it all, what then?" On my last morning there the storm passed over, leaving behind it one of those freakish spring days that shift between sudden clouds and bright sun. At breakfast a porter brought a note from a man at the gate who, he said, wore a jewel in his turban. The note read: "We have shot a tiger. Anyone interested is welcome to come and see it." We'd heard rumors of tigers in the surrounding hills, likewise of elephants, but none of us had ever seen them. Ringo. who also was leaving that day. figured the note to be a photographer's trick. "A mile down the road." he said. "and twenty of 'em pop out of the trees." He and Maureen missed their children. he said, and the long meditations he thought he could practice just as successfully at home. Also the flies bothered him. With the approach of the hot weather, the flies had begun to settle on the food, and Maureen liked the flies even less than he did. They had consulted the Maharishi on the subject. but the Maharishi told them that to people lost in their meditations, the flies no longer mattered very much. "But," said Ringo, "that doesn't zap the flies, does it?" I left him arranging with his road manager about a car and went to say good-bye to the Maharishi. He received me in the small porch off his bedroom, and through the windows I could look out on the familiar view of the Ganges. We talked mostly of metaphysical things, about his movement and the revival of a religious spirit in the West. He wanted to make sure, however, that I understood about the drugs. Rumors had reached him that certain people on his ashram openly discussed marijuana and LSD. but he hoped I knew they no longer used such things. I said I did, and he smiled in a kindly and satisfied way. "Meditation brings the satisfaction in the mind which students seek in drugs," he said. We talked also about war, which he described as "a nuisance." and about the American mind, which he thought "so very precious" for the world. The flower of the tree, he said, comparing the other peoples of the earth to the bark and branches. Like the Indian reporters I asked him about the money invested in his organization, but he only laughed and said he had no idea about budgets. "Somebody must know," he said. "It's only unknown to me. I keep saying, 'Do this, do that.' How they do it is their headache." Neither would he answer questions about himself. From an assistant I'd learned that as a young man, before seeing the Guru Dec in a religious procession. he'd studied physics at the university in Allahabad. Beyond that he told me nothing, explaining that he didn't think much about himself and that the personality of a man was but a passing and not very important thing. At the end he presented me with a rose. "Mention my love for my master." he said. "I consider myself only a loudspeaker." Walking through the vegetable garden. I encountered Mia Farrow playing with a flower and smiling at her own secrets. She thought she'd heard the scream of a wild peacock in the woods, she said. and George Harrison had promised to teach her the guitar. Unhappily. she had to go to London next week to do a movie with Elizabeth Taylor, but she knew she would come back to India, and maybe she would buy a place near Bombay. Geoffrey and Anneliese I met on the sandy path leading down to the river. They gave me marigolds and oranges, and Geoffrey said something about the color of the sky. It reminded him of El Greco. and he wondered if I quite appreciated the subtle textures at the edge of the horizon. I still remembered them smiling at me as I turned away toward the ferry and the passage across the Ganges. From the opposite shore, I saw them all again. at a distance and for the last time. By a trick of the weather on that sudden, shifting day, it was raining on my side of the river, but they remained in the clear sunlight. I saw them as small bright figures, sitting in a circle on the stony beach against a background of immense trees. I thought I could see the light reflecting from the Maharishi's white robe. and I knew they had gathered to listen to Donovan sing. CI 8$


1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh
To see the actual publication please follow the link above