In 1991, my former husband and I opened a Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Seattle WA which offered detoxification therapies called pancha karma. In the midst of that operation, there was an announcement that an Ayurvedic Training Course would be offered in Fairfield Iowa. The course was to be taught by some physicians trained in Ayurveda. Maharishi at that time was in Holland. After some discussion we agreed that Martin would attend the course and I would continue to run the operations of the clinic in Seattle.
Martin called me from Iowa and he said that only a handful of people were on the course, maybe 12 people and that when Maharishi heard that there was such a small course he said that he wanted to teach the course himself. He invited everyone on that tiny course to be with him in Holland. But he wanted to keep it small so he did not open the course to anyone else. I was sad that Martin was going to see Maharishi and I was left out of going to Holland. If people knew that Maharishi was going to teach the course live there would have been thousands of people applying for the course. In other words, the course was closed, no more students were admitted in. When Martin got to Holland, he asked someone if I could also be on the course since I was the one who started the Ayurvedic clinic and that maybe it would be a good idea for me to attend. The answer was yes, that I could come and the movement even paid for my airline ticket and waived the course fee!
I felt like I had won a lotto ticket or the boy named Charlie in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when he opened a chocolate bar only to unexpectedly find the Golden Ticket. Going to meet Maharishi in Holland was the last thing I ever expected. I had always wanted to meet with him personally to thank him and also on some level, validate who he was, a real seer. A sage in a culture where there were few sages. Something vitally missing from society.
The previous year, I had been in Holland on the Maastricht course which Maharishi taught. . There were thousands of people on that course, but I never had the opportunity to actually meet him personally something that was very much in my heart. On the Maastricht course, on the last day of the course, feeling kind of left out from meeting him, I thought and said out loud with much conviction: the next time I see Maharishi, it’s going to be a small intimate course. I had said it with a lot of power and desire on the last night of the course. I did not actually believe that it would be materialized without effort the following year. This is the power of doing the TM-sidhis program, which develops the ability to manifest things with more ease. Sidhis or not, there are times when something bigger takes over your life in a good or bad way without any way that you orchestrated it. It’s a like higher power takes over. This phenomena happened when I was wisked to multiple trips to Nepal and India back in 2008, 2009 and 2013 by friends who wanted me to travel with them.
When I got to Holland, I took a cab from the airport to Vlodrop were Maharishi resides. I remember the cab driving down a very long tree lined road, which must have been several miles or it seemed like it to Maharishi’s place, which happened to be a gigantic old monastery. The cab dropped me off and my heart started to beat more quickly, and I felt a little nervous. The door was one of these huge Cathedral wooden domed shaped doors with iron slabs and an iron doorknocker.
I tried to open the door. The door was locked. I used the doorknocker and knocked timidly a few times and then waited. I think I waited about 5 minutes which seemed to feel more like 15 minutes. No answer. I knocked again, this time a little harder, perhaps no one heard me the first time. It was about 11:00 a.m. at that time. I waited another five minutes, no one answered. These were the days before cell phones were around. Had it been currently, I would have called to let them know that myself and another student had arrived. All kinds of thoughts went through my head, would Maharishi open the door? Would a staff person open the door and then I would immediately escorted to the classroom with Maharishi there? What if I was in the wrong place?
I then knocked a 3rd time (the magic 3rd knock), with a little more force and waited for about 5 minutes. A man about 30 years old opened the door slightly and stuck his head out and looked at me and said something in German. He reminded me of the man in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her entourage are at the door to the Wizard's house and a man with a green hat sticks out his head and tries to shoe them away. I said "I am here for the Ayurveda Course". He said, " I’ll check", in broken English and he closed the door and left me on the doorstep. It seemed like we waited an hour in the hot June sun. I was starting to get angry and irritated. I thought, unwelcome to Vlodrop, what else do you expect? I don’t know how much time went by but its seemed like a long time. And that was the beginning of letting go of how things aught to go.
In Vlodrop, It’s not like you plan to go to a meeting at 2:00 pm and then the meeting starts at 2:00 or 2:30. It’s more you plan to go to a meeting at 2:00 and then you wait until 6:00 pm and then the meeting ends at midnight. It was totally unpredictable in a cosmically orderly fashion. It’s embracing the opposites. Maharishi said somewhere that enlightenment is the co existence of opposites. Disorganized organization. The unbounded and the point value. Infinity and the boundaries both together at the same time. Not one or the other. No black and white thinking but everything in between.
The man with the German accent came back and let me into the corridor and said a van was coming to pick me up because the women are staying in another place in Valkenberg, I was let down. It did not meet my expectations, at least in that moment.
Everything was non linear in my experience with being with Maharishi and one of the main things was waiting. Waiting to get into the meeting hall had become a spiritual practice. Anyone who has ever been with Maharishi understands the waiting period before you get to be in a meeting with him. I had to wait about a week before I got to see him the first time. But it was worth the wait, considering I had been wanting to meet him since I had become TM teacher back in 1987. A kind of purification happens when you wait. Waiting turns into being. Being aware, aware of being present to the moment, and then one stops anticipating the meeting with Maharishi. And one is forced to go beyond all logic and reasoning and become one with whatever you are going through internally and it’s different for everyone. But it’s like an advanced technique to wait in the hallways to see a sage. No amount of impatience would make the clock tick faster, Waiting was the process or working through your stuff, just in the same way, I wait for things now.
A week later, the first time I got to be in the meeting hall with Maharishi was with our Ayurveda course, about 15 of us. I had gotten over jet lag, adjusted to my routine with the other course members, and I was no longer feeling angry. Impatient, but not angry at least. And now that I was all rested and somewhat happy, the universe thought I was now ready to meet my teacher. At some point in the meeting, there was an opportunity to go up and give him a flower. I remember looking into his eyes, thinking, is he the real thing? There’s skeptic in me, even after all these years, I wanted to know and I would know if I could meet him. And, yes, I discovered, he’s the real thing. I had come eye to eye with a very wise man, a sage.
When I looked into his eyes, I could see compassion and infinity and I felt that he could really see into my soul, like he knew who I was to the core. Despite all the hype that surrounded him, I could see that he was an uncomplicated person and just as curious to meet me, as I was curious to meet him. His presence was very peaceful and I seemed to go into an altered state of consciousness being in his presence, and that was a level of deep peace, connection, and oneness. Like being in envelope of soft peacefulness.
Maharishi was in meetings all day and night consulting with people from all over the world about various projects to help people. Our Ayurveda group was just one project he was orchestrating out of perhaps hundreds. He was in meetings until 3;00 am. (he was not on an Ayurvedic routine). But ultimately the experience is yours, an internal one, nothing on the outside world could make sense but you would ultimately have to face your own self because there were no distractions. That’s why I say it’s an advanced technique. Maharishi never seemed tired, groggy, or even cranky. If I worked that many hours, I would be falling apart. Maharishi never carried a notebook yet he could remember people’s names from 30 years ago or he would talk about minute details depth of vedic knowledge and other business things. His level of productivity and clarity and sense of humor really amazed me. He may have been in his late 70’s at the time. Nobody could keep up with him.
The way Maharishi taught Ayurveda was that he had experts from India sitting beside including the late Dr Tri Guna Ji who was one of the world’s experts in pulse diagnosis. Also, his scientists including Raja Ram, and a bunch of others. He would then have a pundit, someone from India who is an expert in reading the Veda, and chanting the Vedas in Sanskrit. He would have them chant one sentence from the Charaka Samhita (ancient Ayurvedic textbook) and then Maharishi would pull apart every syllable and word and translate it into English so that we could understand. He would then perhaps spend several hours on the meaning each word and sentence. It was intense. It was very detailed. But it gave a deep understanding of the living Veda, Ayurveda. He had instructed us to learn Sanskrit as well on our own time during the course. And we had gotten as far as learning the alphabet. He emphases the importance of learning Sanskrit as a technique to improve brain function.
The most memorable experience I had with Maharishi is meditating in the room with him. The silence was very deep and the level of transcending was profound. As if the whole room was breathing in synchrony, it was the breath of Brahmin Consciousness and just that alone was life changing for me, on an internal level of fulfillment though I could not pin point to anything on the outer.
One other experience I wanted to share was that toward the end of the course, we had been there almost three months; maharishi had discussed a few Ayurveda projects to work on with him. In my mind, I thought, once I leave here, that’s it, no more contact. He’s a busy man with a lot of secretaries answering the phone for him and he’s impossible to get a hold of. So I raised my hand, and said, maharishi, how shall we get in touch with you about these projects? I think he must have been sensing my frustration, he hesitated for a moment and then said, “I’ll give you my number and then you can call me anytime you want and get through right away”. I think everyone in the room’s jaw dropped because we have all had the experience of never having any direct contact with him to clarity about projects etc. That evening Nader Ram, gave us the secret number and a way to get through by writing as well. IF you wanted to give him a message you could call him and tell the secretary your name and you would supposedly get through. If you wanted to write a letter you would put the letter in a manila envelope and in red pen writing put on it VERY URGENT.
When we got back home to Seattle, Martin and I did actually get through to him via the phone while we worked on a real estate project. It was extremely demanding and nerve wracking because he would ask you to the math with him on the phone, like how many courses could you teach to pay the mortgage? He heard us scramble to get the calculator. Then he would say figure it out and c all me right back. Then we would call back and the secretary would answer, we would say this is a very urgent call from the Bretts (that was the pass code). We then had to wait because he was in a meeting. They would say, call back in three hours, Maharishi was in a meeting. We would call back in three hours and the secretary sometimes would put us through or say call back after a meeting.
Maharishi often asked us to offer half the asking price on real estate. It was very challenging. I also was pregnant with Anna during the course of looking for properties. The owners of the real estate would become enraged by the ridiculous low offers. But at some point it worked and two building were purchased in Seattle to use as Ayurvedic Universities. Maharishi was not just a spiritual teacher but he seemed to be a very good business man who excelled in real estate. Amazingly enough, the building Maharishi purchased in Seattle had the same key make as our apartment building which I discovered when I failed to pick up the keys to the new building. I was so frustrated that I could not enter the building after crossing across town, I said as a last resort, I am going to try my house key and sure enough it opened it, talk about synchronicity!
The Ayurveda course was nothing like I anticipated. It was not just lifestyle, herbs, and diet, but the purpose of Ayurveda is to refine the nervous and brain physiology in order to cultivate expanded and refined states of awareness. The way you do this is to open the channels of the mind and body. Ayurveda helps you to open these channels. The physical channels are called srotas, these comprise the veins, arteries, colon, lungs and digestive canal, and any tube in the body. These tubes get clogged up with toxins created by undigested food. This toxin is called ama. And there are four main types of ama, environmental pollution, undigested food, emotional ama, ama that goes deep into the tissues and spreads. There are also more subtle tubes or channels called nadis. There are over 90,000 nadi’s in the body the width of a hair. These subtle tubes carry prana or chi and circulate prana in the body. These tubes get clogged up and blocked with emotional and physical toxin including EMF.
Ayurveda has proven methods to cleanse the channels and remove these blockages. The main area Ayurveda focuses is on digestive fire called agni and diet. IF you have the perfect diet but the Agni is not functioning then you make ama. So a lot of time needs to focus in repairing Agni, and there are 13 types of Agni that cook and metabolize your food. The opposite of ama is ojas. And ojas is the product of perfect digestion. Ojas gives good eyesight, subtle perception, radiant skin, immunity, and bliss and ability to overcome stress quickly. Ojas is a physical substance created in the body and that is connected to what is called Soma. Soma is the consciousness component of the physical ojas. Soma is what helps to refine the perception to be able to see deeper values of nature and reality. It is soma that is needed to keep refining the NS and nourish the brain allowing the individual to develop expanded states of consciousness. So ultimately the aim of Ayurveda is to culture a state of enlightenment by opening the channels, cleaning the channels, and digesting food in a way that it creates ojas and immunity and a long happy life.
Some of the techniques Ayurveda offers are knowledge of Agni and ways to improve Agni, the digestive fire. Some people have too much Agni and some people have too little. So there is not one general recommendation except for eating on time and eating healthy nutrient rich organic foods. Avoid eating late at night, avoid eating ice cold drinks, and avoid eating stale or junk foods. These all dampen Agni and there by make ama. Ama can create arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Lifestyle is also important in culturing the development of consciousness. How we digest our experiences in life. One suggestion for everyone, go to bed early about 10:00 pm and get up before he sun rises, about 90 minutes before he sun rises is called Brahma hurt, when all the laws of nature wake up. It’s good to go for a walk and then meditate at this time. But in order to do this one must go to bed very early and make sure the ama has been cleansed.
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Bonita Carol has been an Ayurveda Health Educator for over 25 years and offers Ayurvedic Health Consultations in the Bay area and Nevada City, California.