06 February 2008
"Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear."
Maharish Mahesh Yogi has died.
On CNN, the news item was listed under Entertainment: "Beatles' mystical guru dies." Newsday's obituary headline referred to him as "M. M. Yogi," which sent me into Maharishi-like giggles because I substituted "Mickey Mantle" (ever the Yankee fan...). Other news organizations may or may not have been so dismissive; I didn't check.
I can tell you that my sadness at his passing was blistered by annoyance. Maharishi may have become famous by association with the Beatles and other sixties stars, but his teachings anteceded the sixties by millennia, and have earned scientific respect. I can guarantee that the death of Billy Graham will not be reported as an entertainment item, despite Graham's relationships to the rich and famous.
You may know me as an agnostic, Jewish woman who worships the moon. What you may not know is that I was "initiated" into TM in the early seventies, when the New York City headquarters was in a renovated carriage house on a twisty street in Greenwich Village. I brought the requisite fruit and flowers, and I received my mantra. Then, as now, I sought to ease the turbulence in my mind with tools besides those offered by medicine.
Unfortunately, TM was not good for me. I reacted as paradoxically to the method as I do to Demerol: I became manic, and so prickly that loud noises or bright lights caused physical pain. It was like a constant migraine aura. It was awful. Maybe I got the wrong mantra... or maybe I'm just not suited to that type of meditation... It doesn't matter.
Later, when TM began to make more extravagant claims (flying??), I was bemused, but no more (or less) so than when I read some of the claims of other belief systems, whether religious or secular. Meditation became a legitimate area of scientific and medical study thanks to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and its cardio-vascular benefits have changed the lives of many who never would have set foot in an ashram. I just wish the media had given his passing some respect.