It was the late 1960s and the East had intruded into our Western life. My home situation was unpleasant much of the time and I knew there had to be something more than the sense of hopelessness and desperation that marked modern living. Much of my life was to that point was lived as an athlete, guitar player in a popular local band, high school goof off, and now, the times were a changing.
The Beatles were traveling with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who had introduced Transcendental Meditation to the world and like many millions of other disenchanted teens of the day I fell under the sway of this hoped for solution to both my personal ills and the ills of the world. Donovan, another popular singer of the day, the Beach Boys, and even the Rolling Stones had started TM.
Initially I did not feel it was important that I learned TM but that at least I learned to meditate in some form or fashion. I picked up a copy of Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation by Jess Stern and started doing hatha yoga.
One fortuitous evening, a friend from high school dropped by with another friend of his from college. They had both learned Transcendental Meditation and we had a very open conversation about our aspirations and the spiritual way of life. Fast forward a year and a half and there I am in Los Angeles, at the Santa Monica SRM (Spiritual Regeneration Movement) listening to Charlie Lutes tell us about Transcendental Meditation. After the two introductory lectures, I made my appointment to get initiated that upcoming Saturday. And thus began a full-time journey that lasted, for better or worse, for twenty years
Not only did I learn TM, a simple meditation technique that one did for twenty minutes twice per day, but I grabbed onto an entire lifestyle that was fairly non-demanding at the beginning and then took over more and more of my life. Eventually every thought word and action I took was related to TM. I taught TM, I spent many yours with Maharishi, I lived with other TMers, I moved to a TM based community, I traveled to other states to coordinate TM activities, I traveled to other countries-to some of the world’s scenic wonder spots where I sat with my eyes closed for up to six months at a time.
This journey, that started out in innocence and a desire for Truth, was quite circuitous. Although a life of poverty ran in direct contradiction to the promises made by Maharishi, it was the life I ended up with for over 20 years. Finally, one day, while sitting in the home of two dear friends in the TM community, it was as if a neon sign came floating by that said, “It’s time to get out” and get out I did.
Within two days I was in my car, driving to Los Angeles, where my mother, four younger brothers, my various sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews lived and began the next part of this life’s journey!
Ken Hassman is the owner of the back-of-book indexing service, Hassman Indexing Services, dedicated to providing high quality academic/scholarly indexing, medical indexing, trade book indexing, textbook indexing, encyclopedia indexing, journal indexing, and embedded indexing