Natural Mystic
New Zealand Listener|September 22-28 2018
Natural Mystic

When the Maharishi popped in for a flying visit, it was hard to predict the influence this Indian guru would wield.

Redmer Yska

Oprah says it makes her feel “1000% better”. Fellow A-listers Hugh Jackman and Russell Brand insist transcendental meditation helps them cope with their fabulous lives.

Closer to home, athletes such as Allison Roe and a few former All Blacks praise the calming technique famously endorsed by the Beatles. Half a century ago this year, the Fab Four flew to the Himalayan foothills – garlands around their necks – renouncing drugs in favour of the Maharishi’s flavour of spiritual meditation.

But it was a different story in 1962 when TM’s founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, flew in as part of a world tour.

The spectacle of a confident and articulate Indian religious teacher in far flung, monocultural mid-century New Zealand raised a few hackles. The guru’s long matted hair and beard, white robes and lotus position probably didn’t help.

Billboards in the main centres promoted him as the man teaching the world “the secret path to relaxation”. His lecture in the Wellington Town Hall drew a small crowd keen to hear more about “his deep method of meditation by which anyone may gain heightened efficiency of thought and actions and release from tension and anxiety”.

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September 22-28 2018