This is a long post that looks at some of the details that have made Mahesh rich (he had the dosh to back his own currency, the raam). I don't really know if it is useful or not. I wrote it yesterday and it seemed meaningful to me, so I'll share it. - M[/color:e1da464758]
Toni and friends
Mahesh and his brilliant mind.
He could see things others simply didn’t. He could see relationships between ideas. And we, moths drawn to his flame, couldn’t tell whether or not what he could see was meaningful or not, the flame was so bright for us.
We will never know what Guru Dev (Swami Brahmananda Sariswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, sort of like the Hindu archbishop of the north) taught Mahesh. On my teacher training course at Estes Park, Mahesh mentioned how Guru Dev had been very hard on him. I had heard this before from other teachers. I suspect that Mahesh Chandra Shrivastava was very difficult to keep in line and probably always knew better than Guru Dev. I do not think anyone “in” tm will possibly agree with me, but it seems to me that Mahesh had something to prove to Guru Dev. Whether or not he had had anything to do with Guru Dev’s suspicious death, the tampered-with will or the disappearance of money (Mahesh told us about the box: “you could just put your hand in and there would be enough for what you needed”) we will never know unless my friend’s book, coming out this spring/summer, reveals something. Still, the rumours do not go away.
Guru Dev was sort of like the pope. Everyone who was anyone and everyone who could as well, came to see him. There is an old photo of Mahesh and Nehru taken after Nehru’s “audience” with Guru Dev. I suppose many saints and yogis (precisely what the distinction is there is anyone’s guess, India is India, after all) came as well. Mahesh was friends with Tatwallababa (whom I met when I was in Rishikesh in ’73).
My gut suspicion now is that Mahesh could do things, set up loud speakers, set up microphones, get a trip organized, run a mimeograph. Mahesh made a little book called Amrit Kan (no longer sure of the spelling). It means Pears or Drops (the kan part) of nectar (amrit). It was a collection of Guru Dev’s sayings. I have never been able to locate a copy. Guru Dev was a man of the ancient past. A real yogi from the old days and Mahesh met him on the cusp of the technological age. So Mahesh made himself useful. Guru Dev may not have actually liked Mahesh, but needed him. I have often suspected that their relationship was not unlike that of the male/female hourglass spider. The female needs the male and the male has to be extremely careful. I have seen Mahesh around actually important figures (a couple of Africa’s heads of state visited a couple of times as well as “Brahmarishi” someone or another, a very old man who could recite the whole of the Rig Veda. Mahesh could demonstrate for all to see how respectful he could be, the great dignity he could carry. [i:e1da464758]The actor can play god better than god[/i:e1da464758]. Mahesh said it was from the Rig Veda.
What did Mahesh actually beguile out of Guru Dev? Can I really accept Guru Dev was that shallow? I met people who knew Guru Dev. I look at his picture and say to myself, you just didn’t mess with this guy, you never tried it. But I’ll bet Mahesh did and it may account for some of his behaviour.
I doubt very much that Mahesh didn’t get the people who came to see Guru Dev to one side and try to find out everything he could about what they themselves taught, what Guru Dev had said to them, what secrets he [Mahesh] was obviously ready to receive! I think my category of Saints/Yogis also has to include Lamas fleeing the Chinese in Tibet. In 2001 Rangjung Yeshe, publisher of Tibetan translations, published “Clarifying the Natural State” a sort of abbreviated handbook of a much larger 16th century text called, in the curious way Tibetans have of naming things, “Moonbeams of Mahamudra”. This little handbook, also 16th century, clearly outlines and clarifies basic Buddhist meditation. The brief instructions, something part of standard lama training, certainly sound vaguely like what we know as tm. They come with “pointing out” instructions [[i:e1da464758]do this, what do you experience, yes, that’s it, now you understand[/i:e1da464758] … very much like checking notes].
In Joyce Collins-Smith’s book “Call No Man Master” she mentions an audio tape sent her from Scandinavia. Mahesh was reminiscing and didn’t know he was being recorded. He mentions the inspiration for tm coming at a Lakshmi (appropriately the “goddess” of wealth) temple in the south of India.
I suspect that that was when it all fell into place for him. Someone said to someone else: ‘it’s as easy as thinking’ and the penny dropped. It isn’t only the Hindus who uses mantras. The Tibetans and the Buddhists of South East Asia do as well. Mahesh saw a unique twist on this and the even more essential uniqueness of “as easy as any thought” made it work.
It is also significant, I think, that Mahesh went to the south of India after Guru Dev died. Apparently the whole of India knew Guru Dev or knew about him. What they didn’t know was who Mahesh was. Guru Dev dies. Mahesh is invisible until he appears in the south of India and proclaims HIS spiritual regeneration movement for which Guru Dev was the smokescreen PR. And suddenly Mahesh is out of India and on his way to the West. If he had nothing to do with Guru Dev’s demise, the falsification of Guru Dev’s will, the disappearance of money, why is this period the greatest of all the tm secrets?
A long-time friend at the circus who had been with Mahesh on many of the old time teacher training courses in India said that after Guru Dev’s death Mahesh had put up a sign that said ‘who wants instant enlightenment?’ – those who did received shaktipat, he touched their foreheads and they swooned. You can still see this on tv faith healing programmes … Benny Hinn, I think. Joyce Collins-Smith also talks about this under the heading of Subud. She doesn’t involve Mahesh in this, but it is obvious that it is hardly something exclusive. One of the first people I taught tm showed up on an ATR I was leading some years later in Switzerland. He told me had suddenly become able to zap people. I tried not to scoff, but, even though I was a truebeliever, I was a cynical one. Later he zapped me and I had no doubts. I still remember and still have no doubts.
So, maybe this story about Mahesh is real and maybe he was up to something like this before he had got it all sorted out in the south of India. Mahesh never zapped/shaktipatted me, but it happened with one of the “saints” who visited him in Switzerland and it happened to me in the marketplace in Haridwar when I was in India. Curious. That’s all it can be evaluated as is curious. An experience to be sure, but no more than that.
After the age of enlightenment techniques and the ‘sidhi’ crap, after my last experience with Mahesh, I felt so increasingly tired and totally unmotivated that I finally just gave up and called it quits with tm. Why did it take so much and so long? First of all it was free because I was for unknowable reasons just there at the right time and somehow courted the right favour. And because Mahesh was always nice to me and because truebelievers don’t give up easily. Those of us who have “escaped” cultishness know how impossible it is to “reason” with someone “inside”.
But I had had that experience in 1964 and “knew” that there was something that I couldn’t learn the conventional way – so I decided to try SRF, Self-Realization Fellowship, Yogananda’s stuff. [As I write this, my eyes are rolling up, too. I actually do know how this sounds.] One of our teachers (“Bob”) had done all of Yogananda’s teachings prior to tm. Mahesh had told him it was OK to continue, but to do it after tm. So I thought it was the next step, perhaps.
Shallow does not begin to describe what Yogananda had to share. But when I learned the Kriya technique I immediately remembered that Bob had told Mahesh everything about Kriya Yoga. He had told me so (and I already knew first hand that Mahesh could charm the birds out of the trees, never mind milking a mark for all she/he was worth).
My age of enlightenment technique had been a composite of Kriya and the Gayatri mantra!
Later, when the Internet became available to me I discovered www.trancenet.org and that my string (10 or so) of advanced techniques was not like the ones there and that there was an age of enlightenment technique listed there that was different from mine (mine not being there). The one at TranceNet was also a Yogananda technique but not a Kriya technique!
Then I was really determined to find out everything I could about tm and what Mahesh had done. I began with the Yoga Sutras (Yogadarshana). I used I. K. Taimni’s “The Science of Yoga” which gives a word-by-word translation, M. Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit Dictionary and Sanskrit Grammar as well as Apte’s Sanskrit Dictionary. I literally looked up every word in the yoga sutras and made a dictionary for each word. I checked each grammar ending (Sanskrit about which I learned quite a bit over an almost 10 year period, is considerably like Latin using word endings to indicate to, from, for, by, of, with, through and so on).
Therapy? You bettcha.
What I finally was NOT able to do was make the yoga sutras say what Mahesh said! Of course, the flying sutra gets all the attention … mainly because it lets you do something besides drift off into a fog of mussy-minded numbness.
Mahesh’s flying sutra: this sutra, in the Yogadarshana text, more clearly has to do with awakening (akasha gamana, literally, “undertaking the unbounded” – going [gamana] into the sky [akasha] would be kind of like taking the Lord’s Prayer fundamentally literally “our father who art in heaven”, some do, of course, but …). The author says that this awakening is actually quite easy (laghutula, light as dandelion fluff) because it comes from the Samyama that joins both kaya and akasha.
Kaya, literally, means collection or body in the sense of body of stuff. When I say the body politic I do not, however mean “body” as in actual, specific flesh and blood, guts and designer jeans. Here, my opinion, of course, body means that collection of experiences, ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, preferences and aversions we call “I” or “me”. That stuff I call me merges with the vastness, the boundless, the akasha. It’s easy as laghutula, light as dandelion fluff. But only because you’ve done all the stuff [followed the advice of all the sutras] before.
A couple of sutras [b:e1da464758]before[/b:e1da464758] Mahesh’s flying sutra (those who call it the lying sutra know of what they speak, although they probably don’t know how badly he lied because I doubt even he knows the point he missed … or maybe he does; selling “greed for” levitation, even if it never works, makes more money than selling enlightenment, he already knew that), is the sutra that comes actually close to being about “levitation”. Mahesh skips it altogether. This sutra, however, seems to me to focus more on how to pass through the trials and tribulations of life without getting caught up in them than it does on levitation, flying carpets or Indian rope tricks. The word used there (III.40 in most translations) is utkranti which means departure or passing over. This sutra also uses the word udana which can be construed to be a kind of breathing technique (probably why Mahesh had people bellowsbreathing and hopping like frogs). Udana means up-going but here more likely means ‘rising above’ (as in overcoming, rising above the influence of former cult behaviour).
One of my favourites is the invisibility sutra. I am told that people are known to have had real psychological problems with this. It isn’t one I learned, so I don’t know what they are/were doing. It vanished like Mahesh’s other failures (night technique [also a South Asia Buddhist technique of dubious origins], most of the advanced techniques, the age of enlightenment techniques, s.c.i. and a couple of others from TranceNet and Minet.org I don’t recall just now). The sutra is complicated and basically says that vanishing (antardhana, literally being absorbed into) is the result of removing the seeable from the ability of others to see it. Hide in plain sight, blend into the background, don’t be a target, don’t draw attention to yourself, keep your head down. If you are practising the maintenance of vigorous states of awareness and attentiveness, this is good advice. If you think you’re leaning a parlor trick, well, look forward to a life of self-medication and psychotropics, I guess.
Another of my favourites is the funny translation of III:33 “by concentration on the light in the head one gets visions of the great masters” (my paraphrase). Siddha darshana: darshana as in yogadarshana, the teachings/blessings/fruitionb of yoga; siddha, the accomplished ones (those who know things just as they are, the awakened ones, those with siddhi, the power to grasp the reality of things). So, it seems to me to read more like this: the teachings of the awakened ones (to paraphrase Toni, the honest ones) is in the murdhan jyotis (literally, the light in the head). As in French, the modifier comes after the word it modifies pomme rouge, apple red, for example. Murdhan is the supreme, the highest. Jyotis is light. Thus: The teachings of the honest ones is in the great light. Not helpful?
Curious. The yoga sutras were collected as we know them today at about the same time the Brahmanical religious leaders began to rebel against the Buddhists who had (around 700-800 CE) been in ruling power for some time. But everything in India is both religion and politics, sacred and profane, secular and spiritual with boundaries being nonexistent. So much that is Buddhist is actually incorporated into what we have now as the yoga sutras. In Buddhist-speak, supreme light, luminous bliss refers to your mind – not your greymatter brain, but the mind, that which is aware of thoughts, experiences.
The light in the head idea is very consistent in almost all yoga sutra translations, so I have no problem being kind of out of sync with standard yogasutra translations. Additionally, it might explain the night technique, although a couple of years ago I ran across a fringe Buddhist web site that was trying to revive a South India Buddhist sect that taught focusing on the middle of the forehead and seeing the internal light. Sattyanand told me, because I asked about the origins of the night technique and he told me (everyone thought that Mahesh thought I was special, apparently Sattyanand too) that originally it had been to put the attention between the eyes, then it was changed to the forehead, then in front of the nose, then out in front, over the knees. Then, of course, it was quietly dropped, not only because it didn’t work, but because the whole world was too negative. What a hoot. Actually, I had wonderful experiences with profound deep sleep until the next technique and then the night technique stopped working. This is also another good example of Mahesh’s “playing around” trying to get something to work. This is a GREAT example of Mahesh being just another bright guy trying to make a buck, NOT the “maha” Rishi he styled himself to be.
The last of the more or less interesting sutras is III:31 in Mahesh’s system of delusional thinking we repeated “trachea” … the sutra really says “stability is in the turtle tube” – I never bothered to learn anything about Hindu medicine, but it’s translated trachea in most texts by most Indians, so it’s obvious. (OK, duh?)
I was trained as a special techniques teacher – and no, I have no idea what Mahesh expected from me. Maybe I was on some future agenda and bailed before we got to that page. However, I was loyal, devoted, one-pointed and always there when he wanted me – so maybe that’s why.
Anyway, the turtle tube: This is one of the special techniques. I learned two, actually used for several purposes. If you gave one person the same technique for two different reasons you had to charge two fees and do two pujas.
Puja; worship; flowers, incense, candle, burn camphor, chant in Sanskrit … very scientific, tm won’t work without it … oh yes, it certainly will. I taught lots of people without the puja or ever mentioning anything more than Mahesh once or twice in passing.
For overeating, you asked the person to do ten minutes of tm and then put her/his attention in the pit of the throat, this at the table in front of a plate of food. Many said it worked for a while. It was also used to quite smoking, same results “for a while”. It was also used for drug addiction. This I never tried, nor would I. People with drug addictions are no less deserving of kindness and considerations than smokers, but drug addiction is more serious in different and maybe more immediate ways. Generally, no one dies of over smoking, overdosing is something else. I would never try to treat drug addiction with Mahesh’s snake oil. I was a cynical true believer maybe Mahesh’s worst nightmare, but not some fool. Alcohol came in the same category as drug addiction. So did my opinion of it.
The other special technique was for unstressing. Ten minutes of tm and then shift the attention to the palms of the hands. Same results “for a while”.
Before I left the Circus I asked Mahesh to make me an M group initiator (teach monks and nuns who take s.c.i.). He wrote out for me aying for monks and ayim for nuns. If you go to [minet.org
] you find that he gives these mantras to 18-20 and 20-22 year olds. I didn’t know this, of course, until the Internet came along. When I was doing Mahesh’s letters someone asked a question along these lines: what about the person who is on the cusp say 20, which mantra do you give. Mahesh told me to say “it doesn’t matter”.
The following year I was on ATR, tired, exhausted more like, depressed and fed up. I asked Mahesh for something to make me stronger. He quipped, “first get stronger then ask”.
I am very strong and just maybe a good if somewhat long winded teacher! I hope this has somehow been useful. I just don’t have something else to offer except to say, as I have before, that in similar yet different ways I have been there, I have experienced the joys that form really indelible bonds and I have experienced the bad things that still can tempt the guts to churn, like Neptune stirring the mighty seas.