I learned transcendental meditation when I was 9. I think I met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the first time when I was 13, and for the next decade he was a major influence in my life. I remember sitting for endless hours with Maharishi – sometimes crowds of thousands of people, others times just with my parents and brother. Because of my father’s (Deepak Chopra) relationship with him, Maharishi was someone we knew, rather than someone we idolized.
When you were with Maharishi, it truly was like time did not exist. There was a sense of connection to something deeper. Maharishi was a visionary. He always spoke in grand, universal, mythic terms. Numbers were always infinite, possibilities endless, nothing too difficult to accomplish. He would talk about changing the world in sweeping terms, and then suddenly, focus on some minute detail. Since people from so many walks of life came to Maharishi, those endless hours were full of individuals who did different things, who came from every corner of the earth. Maharishi spoke a universal language that resonated with all of them. His language touched people’s souls. You could tune in and out of what he said, and still feel like you were experiencing something truly monumental.
As a young girl, I did not understand most of what was talked about, but I wanted to be there. I felt inspired, energetic, motivated and at peace. When we left him, I would run and shyly give him a rose, and he would give me a smile that always made me laugh.
Maharishi would talk with his sweet voice and then giggle – a giggle that then erupted into a wave of laughter that tickled those in his presence at their very souls. I will always remember the laughter around Maharishi. Around him, I felt happy and free and timeless. Even though I was shy, I could laugh with abandon – a laughter that was so uplifting.
I remember very clearly the evening my mother called me to tell me that she and my father had left Maharishi – for good. I was a senior at Brown University, and to me it was quite devastating because his presence had, in many ways, formed my identity. But, upon reflection, it was the natural step in a mythical relationship between a guru (Maharishi) and his disciple (my father). The comic books that my brother and I had read growing up had the same theme over and over again. At some time, the guru says good-bye, and the disciple moves on.
That evening, I went and got a red rose and headed to the local TM Center in Providence. The people there had always welcomed me as a daughter, and it had proved to be a quiet haven for me throughout college. I sat in the meditation room, the rose in my hand, and meditated for over an hour. When I came out of my meditation, I felt a tremendous sense of strength and peace.
I realized in that moment the wonderful gift that Maharishi had given me – the ability to connect to myself, to love myself, to laugh and feel connected to something universal.
Yesterday, when my father called to say that Maharishi had left, I felt that peace again. It has been more than 10 years since I last saw him, but his gift is still with me. When my father taught my elder daughter to meditate last summer, Maharishi’s gift was passed on to her.
Today, I plan to spread rose petals around my house with my two little girls. To honor Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, we will meditate and cuddle and play. And, most importantly, we will smile and laugh and celebrate.