For some people they never knew him as more than “the Beatles’ guru,” but for us he became our beloved mentor, teacher and tremendous source of wisdom. His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi passed away on February 5, 2008 after 91 years of working to bring peace and coherence to the world.
They Wanted to Sleep Better
He came to the West in 1958 teaching a meditation technique he called “Transcendental Meditation®.” In an early article in the San Francisco Chronicle, he was quoted as being surprised that Americans flocked to the TM technique as a “non-medicinal tranquilizer” to help them sleep better.
At first he said he was shocked and almost decided to go home, “Here I am bringing them the technique for enlightenment, and they just want to sleep better.” But in the immensely practical style he showed throughout his life, he decided, it didn’t make any difference why they decided to start meditating, as long as they started. What he knew, and was later borne out in hundreds of scientific studies, was that their lives would improve, whatever their motivation.
It was Maharishi who first encouraged scientists to investigate the physiological, psychological and sociological effects of meditation. Today there have been over 600 hundred scientific studies completed on the Transcendental Meditation technique, including a number of “meta studies” which compare the effects of TM to other forms of meditation and relaxation. Maharishi’s simple, effortless technique has proven to produce profound effects on both individual and social life.
What Made Him Special
Millions of people have learned the TM technique as a result of Maharishi’s tireless work, but that’s not what made him special.
For more than fifty years, as Maharishi worked to improve the lives of individuals, he was also 100% committed to changing the quality of life in the world. Putting an end to war, poverty, disease, injustice and all behavior that brings unhappiness to the family of man was his highest priority.
He exhorted scientists to measure the effects that groups of meditators could have on statistics that measure the trends in society, like crime rate, war deaths, accident rates and even the positive or negative statements of political leaders. Study after study was completed. The most sophisticated analytical tools were applied to rule out any possible alternative explanations and the most remarkable results were found: where a sufficiently large group of advanced TM meditators practiced their meditation program together, crime dropped, war deaths dropped, accident rates dropped, sickness rates dropped, and even negative statements from political leaders dropped.
When those in the scientific community scoffed at these results the studies were submitted to refereed journals like Yale University’s Journal of Conflict Resolution. The peer reviewers couldn’t believe the results, but they also couldn’t find fault with the scientific methodology. The studies were published, and yet the world, still couldn’t believe that the invisible could tangibly change the visible effects in our world.
These scientific breakthroughs were astounding, but even his ability to inspire such investigation is not what made Maharishi special.
Over the past 35 years, both of us have had the good fortune to spend many hours with Maharishi, listening to his expositions on the structure of consciousness, the nature of life and the means for transforming the world to bring what he called “heaven on earth.”
Time and again we were blown away by the depth of his knowledge. He would describe in elaborate detail the inner workings of human consciousness and show, step by step, how consciousness gives rise to all the forms and phenomena in our world. He had a profoundly powerful intellect which was able to peel back the layers which obscure truth and let that truth shine in its full glory.
But even this is not what made Maharishi special.
While his vision, his knowledge, his discrimination, his commitment to the greater good all made Maharishi a great man, it was the beautiful quality of his heart that made him a beloved and central part of our lives.
In his book, Love and God, first published in 1965, Maharishi said, “Every wave of life, full with the ocean of love. Such a life is a life worth living. And who lives such a life of all love, of bliss, of power and of peace?”
We can honestly say, Maharishi lived such a life. His presence would fill an entire hall. And in private meetings, his warmth, his caring, his love was so palpable, one came away with heart soaring and a deep peace inside.
Yet even this is not what made Maharishi special.
What made Maharishi special was the quality of his very Being, which no words can ever describe. His was a life that moved in tune with Nature. He showed us what is possible for a human life.
What He Leaves Behind
Over the course of fifty years, many people came and went from Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Movement. Those who remain are some of the most devoted, committed people we have ever met. They reflect that deep quality of love and pure Being which was Maharishi’s greatest gift.
With schools throughout India teaching Maharishi’s revival of ancient Vedic knowledge, along with teaching centers and universities throughout the world, with whole libraries of books and videotaped lectures, Maharishi will continue to bless our world for a very long time to come.
But what he leaves behind in us is a deep, profound gratitude for lives that have been forever transformed. Thank you, Maharishi, for showing us who we really are.
For information about TM, Maharishi, his books and teachings: