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Archive for May, 2011

Beatles And Maharishi

The Beatles and their wives at the Rishikesh in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, March 1968. The group includes Ringo Starr, Maureen Starkey, Jane Asher, Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943 – 2001), Patti Boyd, Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon (1940 – 1980), Beatles roadie Mal Evans and Beach Boy Mike Love. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One day in the late 70’s or early 80’s while sitting around with a friend drinking wine, smoking some dope and discussing the doings of mystics, rinpoches, gurus and yogis we had known — which is what we aging hippies often did in the late seventies or eighties — my friend, who I shall call Peter, told me the following tale:

During the Sixties, Peter worked for an American NGO in India. At that time, many of the young American groupies who frequented the sub-continent searching earnestly for the guru of the month¬†traveled throughout the country like locusts. They were usually stoned, broke, homeless, diseased and smelly. Now and then, some of them would end up camping out in one of the rooms in Peter’s home for a while, where they would bathe, eat some food get a little healthier and move on.

After his stay in India, Peter settled down in San Francisco, which was at that time also often the disembarkation point for those returning from their Indian adventures. One day, as could be expected, one of Peter’s previous boarders showed up at his house in not much better shape than when Peter had last seen him and again after a few days he moved on. They discussed some of the other sojourners that had camped out in Peter’s home and wondered what became of many of them.

Now it came to pass, as they say, that about a decade later Peter had the occasion to visit Boston for a few days. His friends, with whom he was staying while in Boston, invited him to a party in the prestigious Beacon Hill neighborhood being thrown in honor of a spiritual teacher and mystic that was all the rage in the city at the time.

It goes without saying, that when he arrived at the party Peter discovered the guest of honor, dressed now all in white linen, with long clean hair in a ponytail and a well-trimmed beard was at one time his guest at the squat in Orissa and later at his home in San Francisco. The Guru, recognizing Peter, grasped him in a warm embrace. Peter could only ask the obvious “What happened?”

The maharishi as he was now known took Peter aside and told him the following:

After leaving SF and crossing the country by begging on the street corners of many of the nation’s best cities, he found himself broke, hungry, homeless, desperate and in Boston with winter coming on.

So, he came up with a plan to better his circumstances. First, he went to the supermarket and with the little money, he cadged that day, bought some rice. Next, he scoured some of the empty lots of Boston for a rock of just the right size and shape. When he found it, he took it and the rice to a local park and found a suitably imposing tree. Between the roots of the tree, he dug a hole. In the hole he first placed the rice and then on top of the rice he stood up the columnar shaped rock, narrower pointed end up and covered it all with dirt that he carefully patted down so the ground looked natural and undisturbed.

Later that day he went around to as many people that he could, both those that he knew and those that he did not and announced that as a result of his stay in India and years of meditation, he had gained the ability to make the sacred lingam rise from the earth and that at a certain time the next day at the park he would demonstrate his power.

That next day he went into the park. At the appointed time, he fell to his knees and began chanting and repeatedly bowing until his head touched the ground. He chanted and chanted, and bowed and bowed each time he bowed he sprinkled a little water. After a while, some of the onlookers became impatient while passers-by stopped to see what was going on.

Suddenly cracks appeared in the ground between the roots of the tree. He continued to chant, bow and sprinkle. Soon the pointed tip of the lingam appeared pushing through the earth. It continued to rise majestically until it stood fully tumescent in the sunlight.

“And that,” concluded the swami,¬†“was how it all began.”

Peter could not help himself but to ask, “And what do you make of all that?”

The master thought for a moment and replied, “If you do not use the proper rice your lingam won’t rise.”

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