The Indian guru who brought transcendental meditation to America says he has the antidote to global terrorism.
In his first public remarks in seven years, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said he is summoning 40,000 yogis in India, who are trained in meditation as well as the practice of "yogic flying," to create a spiritual force field that will produce world peace and harmony.
All he needs to pull it off, he says, are a few "peace-loving billionaires in America" willing to donate $1 billion to build housing for the group and pay their expenses.
"Today I'm challenging America," said the guru, who taught meditation to the Beatles and Mick Jagger 30 years ago. "If I had the support of money, I have all that is needed to ... completely stop all this violence."
The fund-raising campaign, which began more than a year before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, had raised $40 million by late last week, said Mario Orsatti, a spokesman for the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfax, Iowa.
In simplified terms, the idea is this: If enough people gather to meditate and "fly" - hopping in a seated, lotus position - they will create a force field that can repel hatred and spread happiness in the world's collective consciousness. Such concepts originated in the ancient Vedic religion, which was practiced in India about 1500 BC before giving way to Hinduism.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Maj. Tim Blair, called the Maharishi's campaign "a noble effort" and said he would not discount it. "I think everyone should take every measure available, whether through prayer or meditation, to try to end the violence that's caused by terrorism," he said.