Thursday, December 10, 2009

TM's "Global Country" selling one third of its Fairfield land holdings

The mayor of Maharishi Vedic City, Bob Wynne, announced yesterday that the Global Country of World Peace, the organization that teaches Transcendental Meditation that we around here often call the TMO for short, will be auctioning off fully one-third of its land holdings in the Fairfield, Iowa area starting in five days.

This last-minute announcement is a bit odd since obviously this auction has been in the works for a while, and the open house at the building to be auctioned happened over two weeks ago. Here's a part of "Raja" Wynne's e-mail:

Dear Supporters of Invincible America,

It is a great joy to announce that on Tuesday, December 15th beginning at 10:00 a.m. CST, Global Country of World Peace will make available for sale at auction one of the most beautiful buildings in our Invincible America community and a number of parcels of organic farmland totaling 600 acres. This auction will continue Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. Please see the announcement for details of when each parcel will be sold.

Since Global Country of World Peace owns quite a lot of land in the community we want to make about 1/3 of it available for those who wish to take advantage of prime organic real estate along Route 1 and inside Maharishi Vedic City for development, organic agriculture or residential or commercial uses. We feel this will help stimulate faster growth in the community and make property available contiguous to Maharishi University of Management, between MUM and Maharishi Vedic City, and within Maharishi Vedic City.

In addition, proceeds of the sale of these properties will be used to support Global Country of World Peace Movement activities in the community and around the country.

Here's what the brochure announcing the auction, from the local auction service handling it, looks like. Click the image to see the whole thing. It's a real study in the clash of cultures often seen in the Fairfield area - an auction announcement, just like that you'd see for an auction of farm equipment, but with a photo captioned "Sthapatva [sic] Veda designed brick building."

I'm sure there will be plenty of speculation as to what this relatively huge auctioning of the TM organization's assets in the Fairfield area means for the future of the TM movement. It seems to me that this e-mail announcement, sent way too late to attract serious bidders, serves only to insure that most in the meditating community would learn of the sale from the TMO, and not by other means. For the mayor to say "It's a great joy" to announce such an auction is more than a bit peculiar, since this sale clearly indicates that the TMO's plans for Fairfield probably don't involve expansion, but more likely, serious contraction.

This announcement coincidentally comes on the heels of an earlier e-mail that, after a bit of study, might also indicate that the TMO is setting the stage for a worldwide contraction except for its operations in one country: India. I'd written recently about how the "Maharishi's Global Plan" e-mail sent one month ago, explained in detail here by John Knapp, is a clear indicator that the organization that teaches Transcendental Meditation does, in fact, see as one of its goals the creation of a social and political order in every country indistinguishable from that of a Vedic theocracy.

In a sense none of this is new; the TM organization's willingness to get involved in politics along with promoting TM as the solution for everything at every level of society, and the source of its cosmology, pretty much dictates a Vedic theocratic outcome, the recent difference being the leadership, in such e-mails, has been being a bit more explicit about it lately. But there's something else in that e-mail, the significant part I'll repeat here:

The spiritual counterpart for your country lies in India. Each country is connected to one of the twelve jyotir lingas in India, the seat of Shiva, the eternal silence at the basis of creation. Reviving the age-old knowledge about the spiritual connection of every country with the Jyotirlingas in India and the creation of 48 Brahmananda Saraswati Nagars is Maharishi's greatest gift for humanity.

If you look at that global plan, both at the linked website and elsewhere - in particular, at the "Vedic Pandits" website - what you'll see described is a 680 million dollar construction project to build what are called "Brahmanand Saraswati Nagars," or in English more understandable to the casual meditator, "Guru Dev Towns." Their plan proposes 48 of these towns across India, associated in groups of four with the 12 Jyotir Lingas, historically significant places of worship of Shiva. As described, they're talking about a construction cost of over $12 million for each of these towns, and in the mythology the TMO is spinning about these projects, each of those towns is somehow "associated" with four countries.

So now that these associations are being set up through these statements - which, like a lot of what Mahesh came up with during his lifetime, are contemporary fantasies specific to this particular evangelical Vedic sect, and as far as I know do not reflect the beliefs of any other strain of the religious traditions of India - what do they really mean by all this? Clearly all the action is back in India where the seats of Shiva are, and where all the mass facility construction is planned.

If all the other countries of the world are magically "connected" with sites the TMO is building in India, then why does the TMO need any facility in any other country, save as a means of generating revenue to send back to India to help finance these construction projects and ongoing operations there? While the intent to "transform every country into a Vedic country" implies that they'd need a presence in every country to accomplish that - what if the leaders, and their make-it-up-on-the-fly-as-needed theology, indicate that a physical presence anywhere else on Earth isn't necessary? Is the significance of the rest of the world, from the ultimate Vedic supremacist viewpoint of the TMO, merely that other countries serve as exploitable sources of resources to fuel its own myth-based version of a Vedic revival in its homeland?

There are certainly obvious indications that exactly this process is well underway. How many, or shall I say, how few substantial local facilities teaching the TM program exist in the United States today? Meanwhile in India, the chain of Vedic based schools incorporating the TM program in India run by Mahesh's nephew, Girish Varma, says it's in 118 cities and is the "largest chain of privately operated public schools in India." Clearly these schools were at least in part financed with funds sourced in the West, as can be explicitly seen in the tax returns filed by the U.S. based Maharishi Global Development Fund showing a transfer of $44 million in 1999 earmarked "for the construction of schools in India."

My point is that unexpected and eventually drastic changes may be on the horizon for the TMO. All of the activity we see in the West today, with slightly off-kilter Westerners like David Lynch still trying to popularize a expatriate Vedic spiritual movement long past its prime, may simply be irrelevant. The real power and influence lies back in India, and as global economic conditions change, the usefulness to the TMO of any significant physical presence elsewhere in the world may eventually decline. In that context, this land sale and a subtle yet clear message that all of its operations are somehow "connected" to a bunch of "Guru Dev Towns" in India may be more significant than what appears at first glance.

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