1968_05_04--026_SP - Page 1

1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh

prospect of political and doctrinal quarrels. Lutes had been with the Maharishi since the beginning, since he first heard him speak at the Masquers Club in Hollywood in the spring of 1959. That was the year the Maharishi, then known as "The Beacon Light of the Himalayas," first left India on his prolonged embassy to the West. For 13 years prior to this appearance, he had followed a life of secluded meditation, deciding to go forth only upon the death of his master, the Guru Dev. "He needed nothing," Lutes said. "His coming to us must be considered an act of self-sacrifice." That first year the Maharishi stayed in Los Angeles five months, formally establishing his Spiritual Regeneration Movement on a summer afternoon in Sequoia National Park. Lutes remembered sunlight, a grove of redwood trees and deer playing in an upland meadow. To his 20 or A banner said WELCOME, but the way to the ashram was barred by a Hindu guard, a gate and a barbed-wire fence. 30 followers the Maharishi even then spoke of a time when there would be spiritual-regeneration centers in every major city in the world, of a time when millions of people would embrace the technique of meditation. Two of those who heard him, both engineers, worked out the predictions on their slide rules and quit the movement. "They said it was an impossible dream," Lutes said. "But now it's all coming true. He is a household name." During the next nine years the Maharishi made nine journeys around the world, always during the Indian monsoon season, his tickets paid for by his supporters in Los Angeles. Meditation centers gradually opened in other cities, and the movement. known as the S.R.M., slowly attracted other adherents. At present. Lutes said, the organization maintains centers in 50 countries and numbers its members at 150,000, about 25,000 of them in the United States. In 1965 the S.R.M. set up a subsidiary corporation, the Student International Meditation Society (S.I.M.S.), to deal with the awakening interest on college campuses. Lutes explained that whereas the S.R.M. was a foundation and therefore constrained from sending money out of the country, the S.I.M.S., being a corporation, could send money to a third subsidiary in Switzerland. From there it could be sent to India or elsewhere, as the needs became apparent. The details seemed to me complicated, and I asked him who managed the organization's financial affairs. "The Maharishi," he said, "has a head for just about anything he needs a head for." I also asked him about the initiation fees, to which some of the people in New York had ob- jected. and he explained that in the beginning the Maharishi had asked for no money. He then discovered that people in the West didn't value what they could get for nothing. "He brought them a diamond," Lutes said. "and they treated it as if it were a worthless rock. Besides, thirty-five dollars is not much to a student. They throw their money around anyway." For the rest of the flight we talked about the further meanings of the Maharishi's message. about reincarnation and the life beyond, and about the "gatekeeper on the other side." who inquires only about a man's spirituality and never about his money. Sitting bolt upright and taking no interest in his surroundings. Lutes spoke with the fervor of a Baptist witness declaring his belief. Only as the plane lowered into its final approach over the San Diego Freeway did he confide the circumstances of his own coming to the Maharishi. He had fallen mysteriously ill several years before, he said, and none of the doctors could discover what was wrong with him. He had the symptoms of a dying man; he lost weight, he could hardly walk, he began to lose his sight, and yet, despite the most sophisticated tests, the doctors confessed themselves defeated. He suffered that way for two years, and then suddenly, when he'd resigned himself to his fate, a voice came to him. The voice told him that if he wished to help humanity and commend his life to the service of others, then he would get well. Silently he agreed to the covenant, and that same evening, at 6:30, he got up and walked. The following month he began to attend the lectures of Manly P. Hall, and there one night a strange man, a mystic, approached him and said, "You will meet a master." He never saw the man again, but shortly thereafter a German scientist brought him a clipping from a newspaper announcing the Maharishi's presence at the Masquers Club. "The rest," Lutes said, "you know." The students at U.C.L.A. and at the University of California at Berkeley interpreted the Maharishi's message as a means of enlarging their perception and extending their personalities. Their centers resembled campaign headquarters rather than tabernacles, and none of them mentioned God or the life beyond. Unlike Lutes, they could make easy jokes about the meditation, referring to the Maharishi as the little Indian wise man or super-guru. All of them displayed an open friendliness and humor that made their testimony difficult to doubt. Their statements conformed to more or less standard variations on the same themes. Many of them reported better marks and improved communications with their parents; others spoke of "a feeling of sustained delight, like having a new car,' or of "plugging into a power source," or of "being able to go ahead and plan my life as a success." Almost everybody mentioned the name of Jerry Jarvis, the Maharishi's most persuasive advocate in the United States and the man who had first brought them the news of Transcendental Meditation. I must talk to him, they said, if only for a few minutes. I found him in Berkeley, on an evening when the fog drifting in from the bay blotted out the upper half of the Campanile. We walked together across the campus toward a classroom where a group of students newly initiated into the meditation waited to ask him questions. A round-faced man in a tweed coat, Jarvis had a sweet smile and carried himself with beguiling lightness. He was 35 years old, and he'd met the Maharishi seven years ago. Since then he'd given up his job as a landscape architect, and like Auerbach in New York. had dedicated his life to the announcement of the Maharishi's message. The week's initiations were still going forward, he said, and it was a very beautiful time. Seated in tiers that spread upward in the form of an amphitheater, maybe 350 students acknowledged his entrance by their sudden, hushed silence. Jarvis placed himself comfortably on a high stool in the well of the room, his hands folded in his lap. an expectant smile straying across his pleasant face. Behind him on the blackboard a series of complicated formulas and equations remained from the day's mathematics lessons. He first asked whether everybody had experienced satisfactory results, whether they had discovered increased clarity of mind and increased energy. Each question was answered by a large show of hands. Jarvis nodded and smiled encouragingly, and then invited questions from the meditators on their technique. A blonde girl sitting high up in back wanted to 26


1968_05_04--023_SP_Guru from Rishikesh
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