October 5, 2001

Network for Peace Connects Ithaca With National Effort

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Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who brought transcendental meditation to America, claims he has the solution to end world terrorism.

In his first public speech in seven years, Maharishi said he is summoning 40,000 yogis in India, who are trained in meditation and “yogic flying,” to form “a unified spiritual force field” that will yield lasting global peace and harmony.

“Our mission is to take the pressure off of terrorism by eradicating enmity at its bases,” Maharishi said.

New peace solutions are necessary, because negotiations and destructive weapons have failed to quell violence and reduce the threat of mass annihilation in today’s age of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, he added.

Maharishi, the legendary figure who taught meditation to the Beatles 30 years ago, addressed members of the press in Washington D.C. from Vlodrop, Holland in a video-conference. In his “Proposal for Permanent World Peace,” he outlined his new approach to end terrorism.

Simultaneously, Cornell students and activists across the country have begun to mobilize support for a measure of peace to counter the calls for military action issued by many world leaders. Some of those students were represented in the nation’s capitol, during demonstrations for peace.

“The wise retaliation against terrorism will be to take a step which will completely root out terrorism forever — and this will be by creating a very strong influence of positivity and harmony in world consciousness, so that any kind of negative trends do not arise,” the proposal said.

To this end, he is seeking “a few peace-loving billionaires in America” willing to donate $1 billion to pay for the yogis’ expenses.

The funding effort, which began a few years ago, has already raised $40 million, said Mario Orsatti, spokesperson for the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfax, Iowa.

But in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist tragedies in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, Maharishi is looking for immediate results.

More than 1,000 people have already gathered to meditate twice a day at Maharishi University in Fairfax, Iowa, said Carol Travis, from Ithaca.

Travis recently returned from Fairfax, where she spent the past week teaching meditation techniques.

She described the characteristic “yogic flying” technique which involves hopping up and down in a seated position to create a force field which spreads happiness and repels hatred in the world’s collective consciousness.

The technique has its roots in the ancient Vedic religion, which was practiced in India circa 1500 B.C. before giving way to Hinduism.

“We’re talking about an underlying field of human consciousness which, like an electromagnetic or gravitational field, can influence things at a distance,” Orsatti said.

Fred Travis ’76, chair of the psychology department at Maharishi University in Fairfax, Iowa, predicted that some Americans may have a hard time accepting a peace solution that seems to go against modern scientific understanding and military strategies.

“It’s just too far out for them,” he said. “It’s a paradigm breaker that you can influence anyone just by closing your eyes.”

Especially hard to believe is that the quota of experts trained in the ancient Vedic technologies needed to bring about global harmony — 40,000 yogis — is derived from the square root of one percent of the world’s population, he said.

But it’s all grounded in science, he added, admitting that he’s followed Maharishi for nearly 30 years.

A Pentagon spokesperson, Army Maj. Tim Blair, called Maharishi’s campaign “a noble effort” and said he would not discount it, according to a Newsday report.

“I think everyone should take every measure available, whether through prayer or meditation, to try to end the violence that’s caused by terrorism,” Blair said.

Archived article by Jennifer Roberts