Hiking the Appalachian Trail has left me with a set of narrow skills that surprises me, no matter where I might be. Last night found me really hungry, but with no time to find even a fast food restaurant, due to my back-to-back schedule of paid workshops here at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention here in New Orleans. Walking across the street , I spotted a seedy combination liquor store/ mini mart down a bit on Canal St. here by the Mississippi River. I headed down and quickly found an isle next to the beer and wine section that set me chuckling to myself. Big bags of beef jerky and bags of assorted nuts. Bingo. Instant meal time. I was all set.
Several events are clustering together here to set me thinking. First, Mardi Gras, where the centuries old masking and costuming rituals are tapping into a deep human need to interact with the world in a way that we are not able to do in normal life. Then thinking about the culture of AT trail names that enables us to shed our old routines and habits, and allowing us the possibility for a fresh view of ourselves in the world. And now reading in the New York Times about the passing of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who rose to fame by offering yet another transformation of perception, a transformation of consciousness for anyone who would close their eyes and let go of thinking through the Transcendental Meditation technique. Maharishi’s death is impacting me more than any other death of a world leader , or media hero.
I have practiced the technique daily for some 38 years now, after learning it for $35 from my initiator, Bill Deknatel in Amherst, MA, one auspicious day back in the fall of my 20th year. One time was all it took for me to be hooked, with the quietest prompt and nudge from Bill in a quiet, sandalwood incense fragrant room. It is a treasure of my life.
The Beatles have a part in bringing TM to me, for sure. Read this article in today’s New York Times about the Beatles’ own need for transformation, for their desperation release from the cage of fame that prompted them to take their own turn at masking and renaming where they transformed themselves into Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and they gave the world what has been considered the greatest popular music album of all time. It was around then that they traveled to Rishikesh, India to start TM and progress on their own path’s to Maharishi’s map to “ unbounded infinite Being”.
I was fortunate to personally encounter Maharishi twice. Marcia and I spent a month at Queen’s University in London Ontario for a teacher training, in 1972 I think. One afternoon I was standing outside the lecture hall and was able to hand Mararishi a red rose, and that he gentle lifted and gazed at it for a bit and said, “Yesterday’s memories, tomorrow’s promises”.
Another time I was in La Antilla , Spain and preparing to be a full teacher of TM. For two months , we lived in a small apartment on the ocean’s edge and met in a huge tent set up on the beach where we were taught by a Canadian , whose name might have been Guy Hatcher. In the end, we received the final teaching instructions from Maharishi himself. He was the real deal.