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The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality

Geoff Gilpin

Publisher: Tarcher
Date Published:
2006
ISBN 10:
1585425079

Like hundreds of thousands of young people, Geoff Gilpin entered the Transcendental Meditation movement in the early seventies, when its guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was fresh in the public mind as the spiritual guide to the Beatles and the man who made "meditation" a household word. His move back to Fairfield, two decades later, proved both revealing and unsettling.

The Maharishi Effect: In Brief

Like hundreds of thousands of young people, Geoff Gilpin entered the Transcendental Meditation movement in the early seventies, when its guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was fresh in the public mind as the spiritual guide to the Beatles and the man who made "meditation" a household word. The movement's Iowa campus was a center of spiritual idealism and healthy living.

Gilpin left after five years, settling into a successful career in the software business. Two decades later, wistful over the past and concerned by the increasingly harsh tone of the Maharishi's public pronouncements, Gilpin decided to return and find out what had become of the spiritual community of his youth.

His move back to Fairfield, Iowa, proved both revealing and unsettling. He rediscovered what had drawn his generation to Eastern spirituality - and what he and his cohorts had lost in following the usual path to careerism. But he also experienced disturbing changes in a spiritual organization that - while attracting money, celebrity, and clout - had seemingly drifted from its early ideals. Its inner culture, Gilpin observed, had divided into haves and have-nots, in ways both subtle and obvious. The Maharishi - believed to be in his late eighties or early nineties and now living in Holland - was promoting projects that involved global government, third-world rulers, claims of levitation, and grandiose fund-raising campaigns.

The Maharishi Effect is one man's bittersweet chronicle of innocence found and lost in the movement that, more than any other, defined spirituality for a generation.

BACKCOVER: One of the most important influences on the spiritual revolution of the Sixties was Transcendental Meditation. TM is a simple meditation technique popularized by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The cultural explosion that followed-the "human potential movement" and the New Age-began with Maharishi as much as anybody.

I was among those who learned TM back in the day. I wasn't content to sit with my eyes closed, however; I wanted to find out if Maharishi had anything else to offer. My curiosity led me into the Movement, the worldwide organization that Maharishi established to teach TM and bring enlightenment to the planet. I spent five years in the Movement, from 1973 to 1978, as a hanger-on, volunteer, and student at Maharishi International University.

When I left, it was for the usual reasons. I got a job, a wife, a house in the suburbs - the whole nine yards. I continued to meditate, but I was out of the Movement loop for two decades.

Then I went back. In part, I wanted to reconnect with the spiritual life I'd neglected since young adulthood. I'd also heard of some unsettling developments in the Movement and I was curious to find out what was going on firsthand. There might have been a small midlife crisis in there somewhere as well. For a few months in 2001, I took a local apartment and lived in the town that's at the center of America's spiritual revolution.
- from The Maharishi Effect

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The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality


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