On Thursday, August 24, 1967, the Beatles, minus Ringo Starr whose second child had just been born, met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918 - 2008) for the very first time, their meeting occurring at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, London, England. Following that meeting, who the Maharishi was along with the acceptance and widening-spread of his method of meditation known as Transcendental Meditation, of which he perfected and advocated, skyrocketed through the stratosphere and around the globe, especially so in the fertile ground and the then expanding counter culture and anti-war movement, eventually to find it's way down to the much wider market of the masses.
In April of 1959, eight years prior to that Beatles-Maharishi meeting and me not yet hearing or knowing of either, on the occasion of my 21st birthday, I bought my first brand new car, a low-slung British sports car with two rows of louvers along the hood, and like a man wearing both a belt and suspenders, the hood secularly held down by a leather belt. My first real trip to celebrate my new car and my 21st birthday was to Las Vegas, Nevada. While there I bumped into a friend of my Stepmother, a heavyweight west coast mobster named Johnny Roselli. However, prior to any such mishaps I made several short excursions in and around the southern California area to test out the car, heading toward the mountains, the desert, and the beach to see what it was like to have the top up or down, how well she handled in clear and inclement weather, how fast she would go, that sort of thing.
I was headed south on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach when I went by Cafe Frankenstein, a European coffee house I had grown sort of fond of since it's inception a year or so before. Not a regular, but having been there several times and knowing by name and vice versa several of the habitual denizens I turned around and went back. Soon several of us were talking old times and such when it came up that I was traveling alone because typically when I showed up, I was accompanied by a friend. I told them I had just been out cruisin' with no real intention of going by Cafe' Frankenstein let alone stopping. Some in the group's interest circulated more closely around my friend. Laguna Beach has always been a strong LGBTQ community and knowing my friend was gay and I was straight was he available, all stuff I told them they would have to determine on their own.
As for me, since it was really the first time I showed up at the coffee house alone and joined in with a larger circle of people, they brought up a second thing, me. Most knew or knew of my Uncle who had been an artist within the larger artist community in Laguna Beach in the late 1940's after the WPA but before he returned to the Santa Fe and Taos area. So too, several knew I had crossed paths with a number of the Beat Movement folk including Allen Ginsburg, even having heard him read "HOWL." When I brought up the fact I had been study practicing under a man who had studied under a venerated Indian holy man known as a Maharshi, a man I call my Mentor, one of the men in the group jumped in saying he was a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and he heard some Maharshi guy that had just arrived from Hawaii on a world tour was giving a series of lectures at the Masquers Club, a club for actors, starting the next weekend and we should all go,
The next weekend came and much to my chagrin and total surprise several in the group actually put it together and pulled it off, meeting at a designated spot with all six or seven of us cramming into my immaculately restored 1940's wooden Ford station wagon after installing the very back third row seat then on to the Grand Prix restaurant in West Hollywood for brunch before heading over to the Masquers Club.
THE WANDERLING'S '41 FORD SUPER DELUXE WOOD STATION WAGON
(please click image)
BOB DRAKE AT THE WHEEL OF OLD YELLER II, SANTA BARBARA, 1960
(please click image)
Mary Davis, the owner of the Grand Prix along with her race car husband Bob Drake, then later on her own the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, and who I knew, after she found out what our gaggle of young-to-old, bearded and unbearded, long haired and short haired, gay and straight, people of color and under a rock pale-white incorrigibles were up to, comped all of our brunches and even joined us on our way out to the parking lot to see us on our merry way. Coming back after the lecture I talked everybody into stopping by the Insomniac on Pier Avenue or Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse across the street in Hermosa Beach or both. Everybody agreed and needless to say nobody got home until way late in the night of sometime the next day.
The weekend I went to see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Masquers Club in Hollywood I was still in my early twenties and relatively naive about such things. My mentor had taken me to see Swami Ramdas for a brief interlude not long after having received my drivers license and still in high school, but I was yet to meet the two others he would eventually introduce me to before I left for the military. I had agreed with my friends at Cafe Frankenstein to see the Maharishi on a lark figuring it would never come off, so I never said anything to my mentor until afterwards, and of which he wasn't very happy. The Maharishi and I never talked nor did we make eye contact. One of the confidents of the Maharishi at the actor's club told him someone in the audience (me) had sat before the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his ashram, however following his lecture, in what seemed to me as a somewhat hasty retreat, he left the raised stage area quickly without interacting with anyone not closely associated with him, and those that were closely circling around him.
It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words. Below are three pictures which should, when added together equal 3000 words. Comprehensively co-joined together in a narrative while recalling backwards in time as to what I pictured in my mind when I came in contact with him at the Masquers Club with my friends and our discussions on our way back and at the Insomniac afterwards, should pretty much sum up or shed some light on my first and lasting till this day impression of the Maharishi.
THE TEACHINGS OF MAHARISHI MANESH YOGI
THE QUESTION OF LEVITATION
COMPLETE PDF BOOK, FREE. NO SIGN UP
(please click image)
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
NEEM KAROLI BABA
(please click image)
CODE OF ETHICS FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDES
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
FALSE GURU TEST
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
THE QUESTION OF LEVITATION
Over and over people email me about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and levitation and/or the ability to fly.
When it comes to levitation, or flying as the case may be, when it circulates around Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his minions, there are two answers, both from experiences of those so involved. So said, with either source for an answer, it doesn't make the feat necessarily or unnecessarily so. Typically, how it was laid down initially on the Maharishi side of things, for a participant so interested, the program encompassed four to eight one-week "preparatory courses" costing $250 a week, followed by an "advanced course" at $375 a week. Sometimes the participant had to purchase a special "paste" for $150 bucks along with a continuing stream of other stuff to make one's efforts come to pass. However, if such a plan is still in place or in limbo or if the costs remain the same hasn't been confirmed with any amount of certainty. Since it is practically impossible to get a fully qualified response from those who so promulgate it, for a more definitive answer I direct you to the following three sources, two of which are of/about the same person, and of which afterwards, in The Zen-man Flies, you will find the answer, although it's up to you to make your own decision or investigate the phenomenon more thoroughly as you so choose:
A CHILDHOOD OF TRANSCNDENTAL MEDITATION
SPENT IN THE SHADOW OF A GURU
GROWING UP IN MEDITATIONLAND
THE ZEN-MAN FLIES
LET ME TRAVEL THROUGH THE AIR LIKE A WINGED BIRD
BELOW, AS FOUND ON THE WANDERLING PAGE:
"Real Masters never charge for their services, nor do they accept payment in any form
nor in any sort of material benefits for their instructions. This is a universal law among
Masters, and yet amazingly, it is a fact that thousands of eager seekers in America and
elsewhere, go on paying large amounts of money for 'spiritual instruction.' Masters are
always self-sustaining and are never supported by their students or by public charity."
---Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters (1939)
A year or so before I started high school and unknown to most of my peers and me, a semi-bohemian literary movement began taking root in various parts of the U.S. that eventually grew to such a point that by my second year in high school I had become more than peripherally aware of it. The movement, given the name The Beat Generation, was mainly centered in and around San Francisco's North Beach, Venice West in Los Angeles, and Greenwich Village in New York City. Two of the top movers, both of whom would become renowned poets in their own right, were Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso.
In the South Bay just around that same time and into after graduation for me --- although never reaching anywhere near the level as the other aforementioned Beat places and me not really knowing a whole lot about the Beat movement in those days --- I started hanging out at the Iconoclast Coffee House and the Insomniac hoping to be or at least think I was "cool" and possibly even absorb or learn some of the movement trends.
The Iconoclast was just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach while the Insomniac was a few miles north of Redondo Beach on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. Betty Jean at the Iconoclast was cool, but of the two places, the best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Insomniac regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene, who was highly polyamorous, loved speed even more, and sadly dead from Bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s. By the time I was out of the Army everything had changed. When I went in it was Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. When I got out only a few short years later it was the Beatle's, Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, and Bob Dylan.
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
CAFE FRANKENSTEIN, LAGUNA BEACH
EUROPEAN COFFE HOUSE, CIRCA 1959
In high school at the time I was one of the few who gravitated toward the early stages of the Beat Movement, at least at the extent or level I did. After graduation it was a little different because the "movement," before it withered and died, or morphed into something unrecognizable, expanded on it's own in an underground sort of way taking in and absorbing it's own truly cool types. Once it mainstreamed the Beat Generation was done and it's true adherents scattered to the four winds.
One Saturday morning a couple of the extra curricular on-campus type science clubs got together and sponsored an all day field trlp to the Griffith Park Observatory, AKA the Los Angeles Planetarium, of which, having fond memories of as a young boy, I decided to attend.
Everybody either traveled in groups or in pairs and sat on the bus accordingly. Me, not being one of the science types I arrived alone and sat in a seat alone. Just as the bus began pulling out one last student got on. As he walked down the aisle all the single open empty seats began to mysteriously fill up with backpacks, people suddenly laying over sleeping, etc., so with the only real open seat available being next to me, making himself stiffly comfortable he sat in it, with neither of us making eye contact or talking.
The year before I had semi-established myself with the science major types from a project me and my connected at the hip female artist companion and I made and submitted to the science fair. It was a good size black and white 3-D working model replica of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory with all the whys and wherefores his experiments would or wouldn't work. The project, although built as a fluke, won awards clear up to almost going to state level, and brought accolades to the school, science department, teachers and students. Just as the bus was pulling out of the parking lot one of the science students, noticing I wasn't traveling with my artist friend, came up to my seat and clearly in jest asked where the Bride of Frankenstein was, meaning of course my female companion.
The Bride of Frankenstein comment must have jogged something in the guy next to me because after the bus started going and several minutes of silence out of nowhere he told me how much he liked my science project saying it broke all kinds of molds and such. From there he moved on to how much he, and thus then by inference me, liked Frankenstein movies, quickly expanding it to the Wolfman, Dracula, and the Mummy. Soon the conversation turned to all the drive-in horror movies we had seen. Spending the rest of the day together two things happened. One, without really knowing each other we made arrangements to see two of the movies in question together at our local drive in theater the following weekend, and two, some of the other students, when they had a chance pulled me aside and told me or asked me if I knew he was gay, albeit using much more derogatory euphemisms of the day.
We never really ran around together or saw each other socially, he having his own circle of friends and me, as sparse as they were, mine. As it was he was one year ahead of me in high school and started community college when I started my senior year, with him moving on to Cal State Long Beach. We continued with the horror and monster movies, meeting once a month or so, making big bags of butter and salted popcorn and taking our own drinks as we always had. One day he showed me a photograph he took in Laguna Beach of a coffee house called Cafe Frankenstein and insisted the two of us go there in that I hung out at the Iconoclast and Insomniac on a regular basis. So we did, going down to Cafe Frankenstein, although he wouldn't join going with me to either of the south bay coffee houses.
It was because of my loose association with Cafe Frankenstein, thanks to my above mentioned friend, that in my early twenties I was inadvertently put into a position to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian holy man that eventually became the Beatles spiritual guru