Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

First Meeting Maharishi (by Deepak Chopra)

posted by dchopra

It was in 1985, two years after a trip to Rishikesh, that I got an opportunity to meet Maharishi. When my chance came I grew unexpectedly shy. A young psychologist at Harvard, who was doing a study on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation for older people, told me about Maharishi’s visit to America for a conference after several years. Would I like to go to Washington, D. C. and be introduced? Whatever else we doctors are, we are not good followers, and I had long since decided not to have a guru. I wouldn’t have started TM if it hadn’t allowed me to meditate on my own. My friend persisted in calling me and wondered at my reluctance. After discussing the invitation with my wife, Rita and I decided that our curiosity was stronger than our timidity. We went.

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The Three Maharishis (by Deepak Chopra)

posted by dchopra

Even though I last sat with Maharishi more than ten years ago, he left an indelible impression, as he did on everyone. His extraordinary qualities are known to the world. Without him, it’s fair to say, the West would not have learned to meditate.
During the Cold War era a reporter once challenged him by saying, “If anything is possible, as you claim, can you go to the Soviet Union tomorrow with your message?” Without hesitation, Maharishi calmly replied, “I could if I wanted to.” Eventually he did want to, and meditation arrived in Moscow several years before the Berlin Wall fell. In his belief that world peace depended entirely on rising consciousness, Maharishi was unshakable.
The Bhagavad-Gita declares that there are no outward signs of enlightenment. The point is underscored in many Indian fables and scriptures, which often take the form of a high-caste worthy snubbing an untouchable, only to find that the untouchable was actually a god in disguise. For his part, Maharishi had three guises, and perhaps in the end they were also disguises.
He was an Indian, a guru, and a personality. The personality was highly quixotic. Over the fifty yea r s of his public life, Maharishi never lost his charm and lovability. He had these qualities to such an extent that Westerners took him to be a perfect example of how enlightenment looks — kind, sociable, all-accepting, and light-hearted — when that is far from the case. His presence was more mysterious than good humor can account for: you could feel it before entering a room. You could be walking down the hallway to his private apartments with the weight of the world on your shoulders and feel your worries drop away with every step, until by the time your hand touched the doorknob, by some magic you felt completely carefree.
But if you were around him long enough, the older Maharishi in particular could be nettlesome and self-centered; he could get angry and dismissive. He was quick to assert his authority and yet could turn disarmingly child-like in the blink of an eye.
The Maharishi who was an Indian felt most comfortable around other Indians, with whom he chatted about familiar things in Hindi. He adhered to the vows of poverty and celibacy that belonged to his order of monks, despite the fact that he lived in luxury and amassed considerable wealth for the TM movement. What gets overlooked is that he viewed wealth as a means to raise the prestige of India in the materialistic West, which was both canny and realistic of him. In the end the movement’s money went to preserve the spiritual heritage of India by opening pundit schools and building temples.
Maharishi was deeply concerned that he might be the last embodiment of a sacred tradition that was quickly being overwhelmed by modernization.
In one way or another, for good or ill, these two Maharishis are the only ones that the outside world knew. If you came under the power of his consciousness, however, Maharishi the guru completely overshadowed every other aspect. It’s shameful to say, but gurus are a dime a dozen in India and are often treated like retainers by the rich and powerful. Nothing could be farther from the truth in Maharishi’s case. He was venerated by the venerable and considered holy by the holy. His capacity to explain Vedanta was unrivaled, and if he accomplished nothing else in his long life, his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita insures his lasting name, because with acute analysis he cuts through to the heart of every verse. Imagine that someone arose in the West who definitively settled all the disputes over the New Testament and went on to exemplify the nature of Jesus. Then you might get some idea of Maharishi’s impact as a guru.
Around 1990 I was commissioned to write a book about him; it turned out to be the only assignment I could never complete. Even after spending hundreds of days in his presence, one could not capture him, either on paper or in one’s mind. The Gita is right to say that there are no visible signs of enlightenment, but I would go further. The enlightened person ceases to be a person and attains a connection to pure consciousness that erases all boundaries. My deepest gratitude goes to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for showing me that this state of unity exists outside folk tales, temples, organized religion, and scripture itself. To live and breathe in unity consciousness is unfathomable, but in at least one case, I am sure it is real.

Meeting Maharishi (by Gotham Chopra)

posted by Gotham Chopra

One of the more interesting parts of “growing up Chopra,” was the range of people my sister and I were exposed to–from celebrities to heads of state to Nobel laureates and all the rest. As a teenager growing up in Boston, the emotional response to these experiences ranged from titillation (Madonna) to indifference (Elizabeth Taylor), to total fascination (Michael Jackson). But the most memorable was the little Indian Guru who over the years became a symbol of something very primordial to my whole family.
I remember the first time my parents dragged my sister and I to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is some rural outpost in India outside of New Delhi. I was about 11 years old and I hated them for it. “Drag” is the literal case here because it was 1986 and the Boston Celtics (my boyhood favorite team) were on the run to the NBA Championship. Alas my parents decided that we needed to travel to the old country to see our grandparents and visit the ashram of some old Beatles Guru that they had become enamored with. This caused considerable family friction: if Larry Bird was my Luke Skywalker, the dude known as Maharishi had literally just become my Darth Vadar.
In those days, India was not the bustling land of plenty and opportunity it is today. Getting to India in the first place was a hell of an ordeal. Getting to Noida where Maharishi’s ashram was involved taking a convoy out to what appeared to be the sticks. The upshot was that almost since my father’s first encounter with Maharishi, he had been mysteriously seemingly anointed “the chosen one” by the “movement” that surrounded the Guru and hence we were treated with an overt sense of deference and importance. In India this meant getting an escort of Maruti cars from Delhi to Noida almost upon landing at the airport in the middle of the night.
That was just the beginning of the mysterious journey. Once we we arrived in the ashram, a quiet compound awash with candlelight and the fragrance of fresh flowers, we were sequestered to a room where we waited, and waited, and waited. It was truly an exercise in patience and endurance, to wait for hour on end in pursuit of an encounter that meant nothing to me.
Finally, about nine hours in, I was handed an ice cream cone by one of the movement handlers and we were escorted into a massive auditorium where a few thousand people seemed to be seated. At the head, atop an flower covered pedestal sat the diminutive Maharishi. As the VIPS that we were, we were ushered to the front row and seated in full view of “his holiness.” He seemed to be midstream on a long dissertation about the meaning of life which to my 11-year-old brain, really didn’t register as highly important. He didn’t as much as blink upon our entrance, take an extra breath or make an aside glance to acknowledge our presence. He just droned on.
But then, a moment later, he stopped. And he stared down at the four of us, my parents, sister, and I. It was as if he had stopped mid-sentence, mid-thought even. And he just stared at me. And pointed at me. Despite my 11-year-old hubris, I was shrewd enough to know that this was a big deal and all of a sudden the glare of the spotlight burned right through me. Maharishi paused and spoke into his microphone, “come here, you can?”
I stared at my father unsure what to do. “Go, go…” He urged.
I gestured to my older sister Mallika to come with me and she just shook her head. “Go dummy,” she whispered.
So with the hushed glared of a thousand eyes on my back I staggered forward awkwardly.
After a seeming eternity, I stood in front of the great Maharishi. I knew from the Indian comic books that I collected that you were supposed to bow down and touch the feet in a show of respect to these old sadhus. Not sure what else to do, I started to get down to my knees, balancing my ice cream cone in my hands.
Maharishi laughed and reached out and stopped me. “No…no…no…” he giggled. “Americans do not bow down at the feet of anyone,” he said.
I stared at him awkwardly not sure how to respond, holding my ice cream cone tenuously. “Um, I’m not really American…” I divulged the great discomfort of my upbringing as the son of a an immigrant raised in America, the only brown Celtics fan I really knew.
“Indian?” Maharishi giggled back at me.
“Not really…” the flip side of my identity conflict was now out in the open for everyone to see.
Maharishi nodded slowly. I looked in his eyes. There was a gentleness to them, something very comfortable that put you at ease.
“Then what are you?” He inquired.
“Um…” I stammered. “Um, I don’t know. I guess I am…I’m just uh. I guess I just am…?”
And he started to laugh again, this sweet innocent infectious laugh.
“All these years,” he started to speak. “I have meditated and studied,” he giggled even louder, “to come upon this revelation that you already know!”
“We just are!” He put his hand on my head. “You are a very wise boy just like your name Gautama.”
He then grinned, the same way I see my little baby son grin in the morning now when we wake up together over 20 years later from that moment. “Now, will you share your ice cream with me?!”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will be remembered as one of the great modern teachers and yogis of this era, a true Guru in every sense of the word for the millions of lives that he touched. His wisdom will be missed but surely leave a legacy for generations to come. That’s all nice and good, but to me, he’ll always be the sweet old man, with the sweet old giggle, that gave me a special moment when I least expected it and with whom I shared my ice cream. And btw, he loved chocolate ice cream just like me.

Growing Up with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (by Mallika Chopra)

posted by Mallika Chopra

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.

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