Washington, D.C. - World peace could be achieved through establishing a group of 40,000 experts in India practicing transcendental meditation techniques, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said in a press conference here Friday relayed via satellite from Holland.
"This is the solution," said the maharishi, who has not made a public appearance for seven years but claimed that he was compelled to speak out after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "This is the time in the long, long history of man that total knowledge is available to us."
He said he wants to "stop, completely stop, all the wild gestures of this most important country" to retaliate against the attacks, as President Bush mobilizes the nation's military to strike back at Osama bin Laden, the Saudi billionaire living in Afghanistan and suspected to be the mastermind behind the attacks.
The maharishi said it is "insane" to believe that such an approach can work. "This man, this president of America, is not an educated man - he doesn't know science," he said. "Who is this man who can say, 'I can stop crime"?"
If the proposal for 40,000 meditators succeeds, there will be "a happy, affluent world without negativity, without problems," the maharishi said.
The maharishi introduced transcendental meditation more than 40 years ago, and founded Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Ia., which enrolls about 650 full-time students.
His latest proposal is for a billionaire or group of wealthy people to establish an endowment of $1 billion, the interest from which would be used to support the 40,000 meditation practitioners in India. The young men are from families in India that traditionally have practiced the technique and would each need about $200 a month to sustain them.
John Hagelin of Fairfield, the Natural Law Party presidential candidate in 2000, said Bush deserves everyone's support in the fight against terrorism, but at the same time it is "vitally important we do something that can disarm terrorism."
The group of 40,000 meditators would be large enough to create an "upsurge in positivity," initiate global harmony and unity, and deter terrorism, Hagelin said.
He said construction of a facility in India that would accommodate 16,000 meditators is already under way.