Robin Carlsen is one of many spin-off gurus from Transcendental Meditation.
A new essay will appear every few days, for a total of 8 essays, on Robin Carlsen's teachings. This may be of interest to those interested in the study of comparative philosophy between Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his protoges.
Many thanks to the author of these essays for allowing us to publish this series onto TMFree. Introduction is provided by the anonymous author of the following 8 Essays on the teachings of Robin Woodsworth Carlsen, presented with permission by said anonymous contributor :
I had a large cache of Carlsen papers in storage from his first appearance on the scene in Fairfield. He was coming there and giving seminars, which as he was a theatre student at one time, were done in a theatrical, stage-type presentation. He would "confront" the demonic in a person in order to help them disengage from their 'resistance to God' or the Self. In the stage setting the person would go through a kind of catharsis, some of them quite dramatic. Of course eventually this lead to him punching and hitting his students on stage to disengage them from their demons. And that was the end of his growing following. He became a devotee of Roman Catholicism and Padre Pio, the famous stigmata saint and then just disappeared. While there was a rumor passed around by the TM Org that he had committed suicide, I recently received an email from an old friend of Carlsen's indicating he was still quite alive.
All the papers went into a box long ago and I recently came across them while going through old books. He put a lot of stuff into writing: his initial enlightenment in Seelisberg, Switzerland, his first years as an enlightened being, his correspondence, a children's book, his meeting with Khomeni, etc. As people bailed from his trip, I got a lot of other stuff his old students had, so they too went into storage. Since they detailed some interesting times in the TM movement, I decided to get them out and share some relevant excerpts. After all, this was the first person Mahesh had recognized as being enlightened. The first real "governor of the age of enlightenment".
The Writings of Robin Woodsworth Carlsen: Part 1
"From Ignorance to Enlightenment: An Autobiography"
In 1972, Robin Woodsworth Carlsen headed on his journey towards the goal of all serious TMers, the Cosmic Consciousness. Here begins the journey with his teacher training in what TMers believe is the fastest vehicle known for discovering the pure consciousness within and the unified field of all the laws of nature: Transcendental Meditation™. It was only after this special training that he would be a suitable vehicle to "bring others to transcendence" through direct training from "the most beautiful and highest human being on earth", His Holiness the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, lineal descendant of His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya and Jagadguru from Jyotir Math. This Transcendental Meditation™ was so scientific, systematic, and perfect that, if practiced correctly, it guaranteed success for its meditators, a veritable "science of consciousness" for the individual.
It was this course of action that was to be eventually "culminating in a final and all embracing deliverance" for Carlsen: enlightenment at long last.
(Many thanks to former students of Carlsen who've been very helpful in these reviews and who all wish to remain anonymous.)
[Excerpts from From Ignorance to Enlightenment: An Autobiography © Robin Woodsworth Carlsen, 1980, ISBN 0-920910-06-8]
In the meantime I was on my plane to New York where the charter was to leave for Geneva. The location of the course was about ninety-five kilometres east of Geneva, in the town of Villars. Before leaving for New York I had a stay over with my mother who was teaching psychology at an eastern university in St. Catherines, Ontario. This relationship was fully equal in its intensity and purity to my relationship with Sarah, and it was a time of grace for us both as I awaited the announcement of the charter, which had, for the purposes of excitement been delayed for several days. The wholeness, the warmth of the heart dominated our visit, and I knew I had gradually won her over to the value of meditation, something she began while I was in Switzerland.
But it was at the airport in New York that I first felt the awesome bliss of what I was headed for: there they were, over a thousand young souls embarked on the journey of their lives. They seemed filled with energy and silence, all while they entertained themselves, meditated, and sensed the exhilaration of what awaited them: Himalayan wisdom, transcendence, a divine ordination.
Nature made me perceive what was highest and most radiant in each would-be teacher, and I later realized this phenomenon: being used by Nature (that which controlled and directed the destiny of the universe) to place my attention on a certain aspect of a situation in order to sustain the inspiration of my heart. In this case it was dramatically necessary at this stage of my evolution to be moved by the purity and grace of my situation. Thus, the majority of the people gathered at the airport seemed holy and chosen. (It was not until later that this vision altered, and I realized how beneficially my perception had been manipulated.) But this is one of the gifts of being able to stay objectively vulnerable: in spite of one's "ignorance" one can be "played" by the divine in such a way as to attend to the specific and appropriate experience and meaning most conducive to evolution, most conducive to the individuation of one's soul. It may amount in some sense to a kind of "blindness", but that blindness is in the service of a greater seeing: for my heart, for the majesty of the goal (Enlightenment) it was important that my consciousness dwell only on the celestial, the innocent, the positive.
Throughout the flight I concentrated on resting and preparing myself for the pilgrimage to Godhead. Switzerland seemed an ideal place to purify oneself, to obtain the knowledge that would enable one to bring others to transcendence. It was at this time that I believed the ceremony and choosing of a mantra to be that which placed one in such a relationship to God that one was "given" the particular mantra right on the spot. As it turned out it was more mechanical than that, but not altogether inferior in the effects it produced, effects more transforming for the teacher than the student.
But here I was, finally guaranteed the precious wisdom and experience that for me was the greatest secret in the universe. And I would have personal contact with the most beautiful and highest human being on earth. (Certainly he was for me and the thousands of other teachers and meditators fortunate enough to experience him first hand; even now there is little question that Maharishi towers above all the leaders of the world, religious or otherwise; but the verification of this claim lies in the consciousness of the beholder; suffice to say that if the masses were as open to Maharishi as they were to the Pope, they would have encountered an experience of charisma, purity, wholeness of an entirely different order.) The mountains, the meadows, the lush pastureland, the cleanliness and order--all made Switzerland the next best thing to Maharishi's ashram in India. (Although from the point of view of luxury, convenience, climate, spectacular scenery, Villars--the site of the three month course--was probably much more suitable, if less spiritually romantic.)
The hotel was high in the mountains just above the town of Villars, and our bus trip from Geneva delivered to my senses the most Eden-like experience. Here was tradition preserved in the most beautiful forms: vineyards, chalet architecture, castles, ancient churches, and a sense of life as custom, as ceremony, as simplicity. The spirit of Switzerland was to welcome the wisdom of India and it was to be high in the Alps where all my purest illuminations would take place, culminating in a final and all embracing deliverance.
All my life had prepared me for this moment. The suffering; the "serving of time" as a school teacher, as a husband whose eyes were on heaven while his loved ones (excepting his child) saw only the earth, held in the darkness of what was only relative; the incommensurable facts that alienated Miranda from my heart and made me acquiesce in a lesser happiness--all this was but the karma, the purgatory, the ripening necessary to deserve and to appreciate fully the opportunity before me. The highest gifts must always come at the right time, and although I may have yearned to be here with Maharishi and possessed of the knowledge of liberation much earlier, it was only now that the strength, the integration was adequate to the immensity of responsibility this situation placed before me.
In the draw I received a spacious and beautiful room with a balcony, looking over the valley and across at another range of serene, chaste-looking peaks. No, there was absolutely nothing that I could have wished to alter; this was the most idyllic course that Maharishi had ever structured, the one hundred and forty participants selected for this hotel nearly all professional people or over twenty-five, and I settled down to a vacation undreamed of by any travel agency. And I experienced everything having been created for me, that all deprivation previous to this moment was simply the means to allow me to enjoy the affluence (spiritually and materially) of this situation.
Our course leaders, John and Sarah Konhaus were both bright, commanding, and dignified--especially John, who had an almost seraphic translucence to his face and presence. The first stage consisted of memorizing exactly the procedure known as "checking", the systematic method of verifying whether someone was meditating correctly. This was an enormous challenge; mastering the minute, meticulous details that enabled one to handle any complaint, any experience of a meditator, giving him the precise knowledge and procedure necessary to defeat his problem and provide the soothing renewal of innocent contact with Being, transcendence. It was an amazing accomplishment of Maharishi's: that here was a formula, that no matter who administered it, was perfect, successful, foolproof. In its logic, in its systematized steps, it took in every possible contingency and computation. The thing was to be able to automatically, effortlessly utter the exact wording called for in each specific situation. And in our training every possible variation and "problem" was presented to the "checker", determining whether his memorization was complete.
For myself it was less enjoyable than the anticipation of the actual knowledge, the wisdom we would receive later--the science of consciousness, the blueprint of Creation, the tradition of the Veda, and of course the ceremony and technique of imparting the knowledge and procedure of Transcendental Meditation. But at the same time, the discipline, the exactitude required to pass this stage of the training was not only necessary but purifying, since it made certain one's commitment to the proposition of teaching was complete, unqualified. Color videotapes of Maharishi speaking at earlier courses comprised--in addition to our "rounding": meditation, yoga breathing (pranayama), and hatha yoga (asanas)--the program for the day. In each tape there was the absoluteness of Maharishi's consciousness and heart as it surveyed each aspect of existence, each aspect of evolution.
Maharishi visited us two or three times each month, and his presence was enough to both elevate and humble my spirit, for while I was pure enough to behold his beauty and grandeur, I could also feel how finite and flawed my own individuality was. His purity was so penetrating and flame-like, that one's own impurity was exposed mercilessly. One part of me rejoiced in the objective vision I had of just what he was; another part of me wept that I was still defiled by my ignorance. But the course moved along and in single-minded devotion I absorbed everything that was essential, everything that I felt was there for me to take.
The other individuals on the course seemed more ordinary than when I had first seen them at the airport, but the artistic and intellectual elements within the group provided me with a challenge--my heart I knew to be unchallenged by anyone there, although I did find a pure companion in the form of a young poet who would later accompany me on my final journey to the Center. But no matter what surrounded me I knew my responsibility was a purely spiritual one, that although we were in a hotel, served sumptuous meals, could purchase Swiss chocolate in town, the situation was internally at least the same as the monk who wandered in search of his Master in the Himalayan caves--finding him one surrendered everything and became obsessed with one thing only: Enlightenment. For this, absolute devotion was required and a renunciation of the superfluous; in this case, everything not directly associated with one's evolution.
So for myself, despite the comfort of Western-style living, the various temptations--dalliances with the opposite sex, Time magazines, tourist expeditions, late night rendezvous--I found it easy to be ascetic and one-pointed, that indeed, the situation was ideal for my desires. I thus remained fairly solitary throughout the course, and then, just as we began to learn the ceremony of instruction, another drama was contrived by the forces of perfectibility: a young woman came to our course along with half a dozen other persons to administer testing--to refine our skills in this last procedure: the invocation to the tradition of Masters with whom this Teaching was secured. Maharishi was the most recent of a line of famous teachers, beginning with the great saint and Master of India, Shankara, who had purified the knowledge stemming from the Rig Veda, which originated some five thousand years ago. Shankara had brought the knowledge of transcendence (and meditation) out of the grip of ignorance and established the Shankaracharya Tradition from which Guru Dev, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Maharishi's Master, had come.
The girl and her associates were trained teachers of TM, and because of their financial status were able to remain in Europe with Maharishi, receiving the blessing of his presence, working to organize and develop the worldwide Movement from its center in Switzerland. Maharishi had sent them to our hotel in order to give us the individual attention necessary to master the demanding coordination required to gracefully, aesthetically perform the ceremony of initiation. "Elizabeth" we'll call her, was an attractive, intense girl, a wealthy scion from established New England stock. Again, although completely focused on the task at hand--there were less than two weeks before our formal baptism by Maharishi into his teacherhood, I was overcome by the power that drew us together, and before long, all kinds of subtle cues were coming that made it impossible to ignore the significance of this event.
For the final ten days of the course we moved to Vittel, France, and it was there I succeeded in mastering the final steps of initiation plus remaining vulnerable to the potent meaning and experience of being with Elizabeth. When I considered it rationally, the whole thing was absurd: what was I, a married man, devoted to the purist ideals of the Shankaracharya Tradition, involving myself in an affair with a beautiful woman, another teacher? But again, there was no denying the divine wholeness that contained and resolved this apparent paradox: it was through the alchemy of this relationship that I moved even closer to God, and even to Maharishi, a monk!
Now the interesting thing was that Elizabeth, although an experienced teacher, was extremely unstable--brilliant, intuitive, but troubled and confused. But the particular intelligence that played through us allowed an extraordinary amount of purification and expansion to take place, and revelations important to the understanding of the destiny of our souls. Ambivalent then as it was, the relationship worked evolutionary wonders; every emotion, every encounter, every development seemed to unfold innocently, and I felt how, in spite of her weaknesses, Elizabeth was a conduit for some vital experiences that had to attach themselves to my soul that I could become the particular actor in this great cosmic drama that my existence had implied.
On the final night--actually, about 2:00 a.m.--when Maharishi was to make us teachers, and we were to meet briefly with him on a personal basis, the heavens declared the sanctifying of the circumstances that had embroiled me in this dissonant situation. Meeting with Maharishi, receiving an advanced technique, meditating, and then visiting with Elizabeth just before climbing onto a bus back to Zurich where our charter was to depart for New York, I felt how everything had come together, and how Elizabeth had been used for my evolution. As complex and subtle as she was, her main purpose (this, as determined by Nature, not herself) had been to produce those kinds of emotional, intellectual experiences that would further prepare my soul for its final anointing, and for the specific destiny that awaited it in the wake of that anointing. My heart had been innocent enough to become the means to allow Nature to create an experience in apparent violation of the rules, and, in a persuasive sense, beyond the ability of its central element--Elizabeth--to fulfill. However, as before, the rest of Creation could be divinely distorted in order to harmonize the elements of my soul.
Returning home December 22nd, I stopped over briefly in New York where I learned first-hand about subways and Jewish tradition--my brother, a converted orthodox Jew, could not meet me at the airport on the Friday evening of my arrival because it was after dusk. Here I had my first meeting with my nephew, Benjamin, who I suspected had sensed some powerful spiritual atmosphere within the Carlsen clan, not the least of which was associated with a tradition perhaps more effective--in producing genuine religious experience--than his own father's. (All this as he made his decision to incarnate.)
On the ferry to Staten Island I saw the Statue of Liberty and wondered how so many millions of people could live with an idea of freedom without yearning to touch the purest freedom of all: the pure consciousness within them. In the subway I felt protected by a shield of grace; here I was in the tense pulsations of a metropolis, possessed of the knowledge that would bring about the serenity that was Godhead. No one knew who I was, yet my soul moved invisibly over all of them, confident that in time they too would awaken from the nightmare of their ignorance.
[ Click here to read Part 2 continues with more excerpts from "From Ignorance to Enlightenment: An Autobiography."]