The Maharishi is tired of waiting for secular world leaders to bring about peace and has decided to take matters into his own hands, the 84-year-old father of Transcendental Meditation and guru to the Beatles announced Wednesday.
"I have decided to let the governments do manmade law, but I have knowledge of natural law, God-made law," Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said during his weekly news conference. "I'm going to create groups of people who will radiate that happening, that positivity, that infinite silence, which is the basis of all dynamism."
In an international news conference broadcast by telephone and over the Internet from the Netherlands, the Maharishi said he intends to bring about world peace by establishing huge Transcendental Meditation centers with thousands of full-time practitioners all over the world.
Ideally, the centers would have 10,000 or more members. One center in India houses as many as 64,000 TM practitioners, said the Hindu yogi whose many celebrity disciples include ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.
Transcendental Meditation is a simplified form of the ancient Vedic tradition of meditation from India. The Maharishi brought his style of meditation, which he says can be learned in one week and practiced by anyone--including children--to the United States 50 years ago.
TM gained wide popularity during the 1960s, with help from high-profile devotees such as the Beatles, singer Donovan and magician Doug Henning.
The Maharishi is widely credited with starting the popularization of yoga, which has taken off wildly in recent years.
According to his plan, the Maharishi's giant TM centers would be funded by a $1 billion endowment he hopes to build by tapping many of his estimated 4 million devotees worldwide who have achieved considerable professional success in the last 20 years, said Mario Orsatti, spokesman for the Maharishi's Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy in Fairfield, Iowa.
The endowment money would allow thousands of TM practitioners at the centers around the world to practice full-time. "This would be a profession," Orsatti said. (The Maharishi himself is a wealthy man, with hundreds of pieces of property, schools and universities around the globe. In Chicago, the yogi is the force behind the luxury rehabilitation of the Blackstone Hotel.)
So what will thousands of people meditating do to bring world peace?
The answer involves the theory of constructive interference in physics, Orsatti said.
Scientific research has proven that meditation has a positive effect on reducing stress in individual people. The Maharishi, who was trained as a physicist before becoming a Hindu monk, believes that kind of stress reduction would be societal if enough people were meditating in the same place, at the same time.
It's kind of like stereo speakers, Orsatti said. If there's one on each side of the room, the sound is in stereo, but if the two speakers are put together, the sound is exponentially amplified, he said.
"A lamp here, a lamp there, a lamp there, a lamp there throughout the world and there will be some harmony in the world consciousness," the Maharishi told reporters, chuckling. "That will be the end of all these stupid practices," such as "warmongering."
While not particularly familiar with the Maharishi or his theories on meditation, Rebecca Williams, director of Chicago's Peace Museum, said his plan sounded positive.
"The good thing about his program is that it is built on people's inner peace and it's really hard to practice peace if you don't have inner peace," Williams said. "Once we are peaceful ourselves, we can spread it to others."