1968_05_04--024_SP - Page 1

1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh

The Maharishi has many student followers inCalifornia, where Transcendental Meditation is " very big and very bea the desk as he assured them of limousines, the love of the public and their names in larger type. "You see what I mean," he said. I said I appreciated the miserable realities, and so got up to leave. He motioned me back to a chair and brought forth. from among the press releases in his drawer, the worn photograph of an Indian holy man. Sitting cross-legged in the traditional lotus position. the holy man smiled out upon the world from what appeared to be a calm height. "My guru," Leon said. I left him on the phone to London. outlining a scheme to hold up the studio for another $100.000, and I thought no more of the Maharishi until his sudden and much publicized appearance in New York last winter. He vanished as quickly as he had come, taking Mia Farrow with him to India. Four days later, knowing nothing beyond what Leon had told me and what I'd read in the papers, I embarked on the pilgrimage that eventually led me to the Maharishi's ashram in the remote Himalayas. Before leaving, however. I sought to learn the rudiments of his philosophy. In Which the Message Is Announced I first heard it in a concert hall on West 57th Street, from a hairdresser named Harold Fineberg. About 175 other people had gathered in the same room, some of whom had seen the Maharishi on television, and others. like myself, who had heard only distant rumors. For the most part they seemed to be people in their 30's. orderly and reasonably dressed, without the expected flowers or bells. I could imagine lawyers, psychiatrists, executive secretaries and accountants. Fineberg was introduced as one of only 12 people in the United States qualified to initiate others into the practice of Transcendental Meditation, and he appeared onstage to a modest scattering of applause. A man in his early 30's, he had a narrow, sensitive face, and he wore his dark hair cut in bangs. Obviously convinced of what he was saying, he spoke with small. precise gestures, his language an amalgam of hip slang and philosophical abstraction, and his voice so gentle as to be almost inaudible in the back rows. He spoke for about 20 minutes. limiting himself to a general statement of the Maharishi's teaching. "The Maharishi," he began, "tells us that man is not born to suffer." Men live and die "in the realm of relative multiplicity." he explained, and therefore bind themselves to illusion, darkness and pain. Beyond thought and beyond matter, however, there exists the absolute unity in which all creation originates and which, at its purest level, constitutes only truth, light and joy. The absolute can be found within every man's consciousness, and by reaching it, for at least half an hour in the morning and afternoon, a man can gain many benefits. Among these, by way of example, Fineberg mentioned relief of tension, peace, happiness. increased energy and creativity, success in business and improved relations with one's wife or husband. The way of reaching it, he said, was through Transcendental Meditation. Once known to ancient sages (among others, to Buddha). the tech- nique had been lost for many hundreds of years but now had been found again by the Maharishi. "It is very easy." he said. "very scientific. ... It is brought by one who knows." The meditation he described as a process whereby the mind follows a simple word or sound (a mantra) through gradually finer levels of consciousness to the level of the absolute unity. The latter level he also defined as the "kingdom of heaven within" and a "state of unknowable bliss." Throughout his statement the audience listenei in respectful silence, as if they were children listening to fairy stories. Nobody smoked; nobody shifted noisily in his chair. At the end Fineberg set forth a few guarantees and conditions. The technique. he said, had never been known to fail. Anybody. no matter how skeptical or stupid. could become an adept in the space of four days. during periods of no longer than an hour each day. The price of the initiation would be $35 for college students and a week's salary for adults. At his initiation ceremony each candidate would be required to present six fresh flowers (of any kind), a new white handkerchief and two pieces of fruit (also of any kind). Nobody would be accepted if he still used mind-warping drugs (marijuana, LSD, etc.); neither would anybody in the midst of extensive psychoanalysis. So saying, Fineberg invited questions from the audience, which was a mistake. The questions at first continued the mood of quiet reverence into which Fineberg had brought his message. A homely girl in the front wanted to know if everybody got his own "secret word." 24


1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh
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