Posts Tagged ‘Ken Chawkin’

The story behind the making of the International History documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

November 25, 2015

On November 28, 2007, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, was featured in a biographical documentary on the International History Channel. ITN Factual, a UK-based production company, was commissioned by A&E to produce it.

During an interview with the folks at TMhome I had mentioned it, but they wanted to save it for a second article by itself. That article was published this week along with the complete film, which aired 8 years ago this coming weekend. Some of you may have seen it, or heard about it but never got see it. Well, now you can.

Previously unseen historical footage of Maharishi had been located and edited segments were provided to the producer/director Fiona Procter. Some of the people I had arranged to be interviewed for the film were David Lynch, Donovan, Mike Love, Bob Roth, Theresa Olson, Alan Waite, Bevan Morris, and John Hagelin. Jerry Jarvis was included when the producer was in Los Angeles. Sally Peden was also interviewed for the film but did not make final cut. However, she provided additional valuable information for the producer to better understand and appreciate the scope of Maharishi’s contribution to the world.

Read the complete article and watch the film HERE.

Searching For The Meaning Of Your Life

November 12, 2015

In meditation last morning, a thought came that I was “in search of my own doing.” My life is the result of choices, of things I did and did not do that cannot be undone. Life goes on, and I am still wondering what I should be doing with the rest of my life.

Then I thought of my children and their attempts to make sense of their lives, to fulfill their destiny. So, I wrote this philosophical tanka about being and becoming.

Searching For The Meaning of Your Life

Your destiny is
A search for your own doing
What your life will mean

But doing starts with being
Only then can you become

Yogastah kurukarmani
Established in Being, perform action

I’m reminded of what Krishna said to Arjuna on the battlefield of life — to perform his duty and fight. But he also gave him the technique for skill in action — to first transcend, to Be (Ch 2, V 45); and then, established in Being, to perform action (Ch 2, V 48).

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his translation and commentary on The Bhagavad-Gita (Chapters 1-6), said this was the essence of the Vedic wisdom of life, and his effortless, natural technique of Transcendental Meditation was the way to accomplish it.

So “meditate and act” is the formula for success in life. Do what comes naturally and brings you bliss. And if life sometimes stretches you in ways you’re not comfortable with, keep meditating and acting, and you will have grown stronger in the process, becoming more of yourself.

Also see: Two kinds of knowledge about living and learning.

And this related poem: Seeing Is Being.

A profound poem from Karen Karns asks us — WHAT COULD BE MORE INTIMATE?

October 25, 2015

Last Friday night, as I was walking into Revelations for some dinner, I saw a sign in the window for a poetry reading by a friend I knew. It also said a birthday cake would be shared afterwards. I bought a big bowl of soup and headed downstairs. The place was packed and I had to stand at the back by a desk having my soup. The birthday poet was Karen Karns. Her husband, Don (aka, Ark-hal) Karns, offered me his seat, but the owner brought me a chair in time. Don, Karen and I used to work together as Maharishi Ayurveda technicians in the late ’80’s & early 90’s.

Karen KarnsKaren Karns has a Masters in Divinity from Earlham School of Religion, a Quaker seminary, and is a Life Counselor. She has twenty years of experience in Fairfield, Iowa offering individual, pre-marital & couples counseling, which she continues to do in the afternoons. As a Sidha, Karen has been on the Invincible America Assembly continuously since its inception in 2006!

I’ve always found Karen to be a very friendly, cheerful, compassionate and gentle person. You’d never know she had reached retirement age. Maybe all that meditation has kept her looking eternally young and beautiful, inside and out!

Now I discover she’s a poet! Karen was shy about reading her poems in front of an audience, but she did well. The last poem took our collective breath away as she shared an intimate experience of a poem coming to her during a deep meditation in the Ladies Golden Dome.

When a poem comes to you and you don’t write it down, you never forgive yourself. That’s what happened to Karen the first time. But, luckily for her, and us, it came back again during her next meditation in the dome and she quickly wrote it down. This happened during Guru Purnima this year, a special gift. I’ll let her words speak for themselves as the poem asks us, tells us, what could be more intimate.

than these shimmering sheets of light
enfolding the features of each face
as we meditate in silence together,
our spines, divining rods for the deepest
currents and reservoirs of peace.

What could be more intimate
than to be held captive by this
moment, its piracy complete
with all the spoils and riches
from past and future laid
immediately at our feet.

What could be more intimate
than this play of hide and seek,
peeking around corners, into doors—
only to find ourselves hidden
in the marrow of every beam
and rafter in our own huge house.

What could be more intimate
than the waking up of sleep
inside itself
spellbound by the sound
of its own sweet voice
humming an ancient lullaby.

What could be more intimate
than the filling and emptying,
the steady pump of liquid love
as it funnels its way into the portals
and pathways of our bodies, joyfully
mothering each tender cell.

What could be more intimate
than the downpour and drench of bliss.
What could be more intimate than this?

Karen Karns
Guru Purnima 2015

I was so blown away I had to post it on my blog. Luckily she agreed, so I could share it with all of you. I also took her photo to go with the poem.

When I asked Karen if she just wrote it down as a scribe or if she had to work at it, she replied, “I scribed and scrubbed both,” with a smiley face.

That’s been my experience too—creative expression is a collaborative process, especially when the muse whispers something to you! You start with a seed idea, words, even lines, if you’re lucky, and you work at it until it’s done, you polish it until it’s right. Karen sure got this one right!


BLUE: a translucent painting by Bill Teeple at ICON Gallery on Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk

August 7, 2015


It’s Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk and tonight I’m at ICON Gallery talking with owner/curator Bill Teeple about the creative process, painting, poetry, and consciousness. I’m moved by one of his new images on the wall in the smaller gallery/studio upstairs. It’s deeply blue and draws me in like a magnet.

Bill tells me it’s made of multiple layers of acrylic paint, like a glaze. It’s translucent; it glows in your awareness. Tiny white specks look like stars in the night sky. Bill says it’s the paper, meant to be part of the painting.

Click on the blue image to enlarge it and you’ll see them. Enlarge it again and stare into the BLUE, and like the Hubble telescope, you’ll discover a world that previously was not visible.

The simplicity and minimalism of the piece inspires me to write a haiku. I do, and share it with Bill who says, “That’s it!”

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Look at it looking at you
Aglow between two


I can’t help myself when it comes to rearranging words in lines and their meanings. Here is a second version of the haiku.

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Looking at it look at you
A glow between two

Here’s a related poem about the mystery of the creative process: Sometimes Poetry Happens.

The Fairfield Weekly Reader posted 3 articles on the screening of Greg Reitman’s Rooted in Peace

August 5, 2015

ROOTED-V.10js_r3The Fairfield Weekly Reader published 3 articles about Greg Reitman’s film ROOTED in PEACE: an article I wrote about the film’s upcoming Iowa premiere, a second short announcement about the screening, and a follow-up report on the reaction to the film shown at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, including 2 photos, and 4 quotes from prominent members of the Fairfield community.

Click on the numbers and dates to read PNGs of these front cover articles published on July 23, pages 1 and 2, July 30, and August 6, 2015.

Click here to see previously published news about the film, including radio and TV reports. I also wrote an article in the July issue of The Iowa Source: Getting Rooted in Peace, which you can read in an earlier post. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the trailer.

Ledger’s Andy Hallman reports on Greg Reitman’s documentary playing in Fairfield, Iowa on Sunday

August 1, 2015

Documentary filmed partially in Fairfield to play Sunday

By ANDY HALLMAN Ledger news editor | Jul 31, 2015

t1200-Donovan, Greg Reitman, and students at tree planting ceremony

During his visit to Fairfield, film producer Greg Reitman planted a tree with MUM students outside the university’s library. Reitman is the man in the center with the necklace. The man to the right is the singer Donovan, whom Reitman interviewed for his film “Rooted in Peace,” which will be shown at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by: Nicole Hester-Williams/Ledger

A documentary that was filmed partially in Fairfield will make its Iowa debut at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Steven Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.

The film, “Rooted in Peace,” is a product of Greg Reitman, founder of Blue Water Entertainment, Inc. In a press release, Reitman said the film challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings.

“Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world,” reads the press release. “Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence.”

Reitman interviewed numerous celebrities for the film such as author Deepak Chopra, film director David Lynch, musicians Donovan, Mike Love and Pete Seeger, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and more.

He also interviewed Fred Travis, professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management.

The press release states that Reitman learned kernels of wisdom from all those he interviewed.

“Reitman’s journey is an example of transformation — how one person can learn to make the necessary changes to enjoy a better life — and in so doing inspire others to want to improve their own lives, and society as a whole,” reads the press release.

Reitman said he became interested in documentaries while studying abroad in Florence, Italy, where he took a class on Italian cinema. He would go on to produce the 2008 SUNDANCE Audience Award-winning feature documentary “FUEL.”

After that, he started thinking about doing a film about all the violence in the world. An experience at JFK Airport in New York City opened his eyes to a whole new world.

“I almost got arrested for not giving up a bottle of water,” he said. “I was seeing racial profiling going on. It made me start thinking about our rights, and about what fear can do. It mirrored a world that I had lived in at age 19, when I was living in Israel during the first Gulf War.”

Reitman got in touch with Ken Chawkin, who was then the public relations officer at MUM. Chawkin encouraged him to visit Fairfield, and mentioned that the Beach Boys were going to be in town for a concert. Reitman’s wife is from Iowa, so the two decided to attend the concert.

Reitman came back a second time with Donovan for the David Lynch Film Weekend. During his second trip to Fairfield, he interviewed Donovan, David Lynch and Bob Roth.

After the film, Reitman will hold a question-and-answer session with the audience.

One of the common questions Reitman has received in his other Q and As is, “Why did the film take so long to make?” The film took five years in all, which Reitman said is not too far out of the ordinary for documentaries.

“The reason it took me so long was that I had to find peace first,” he said. “When I talked to Ken, he said, ‘Greg, you’re not going to understand peace until you come to Fairfield.’”

Reitman said he greatly enjoyed his time in Fairfield. It reminded him of another small town he filmed in, Carbondale, Colorado, with a population of just over 6,000.

Part of the film is autobiographical, where Reitman shares his person story of living in Israel and visiting Hiroshima, Japan. That said, he feels it’s more an inspirational film than a dry, descriptive documentary.

“It’s one man’s quest to seek inner peace and coming upon the roadblocks that lead him to enlightenment,” he said. “It’s about him having to unlock each of those pearls of wisdom, to understand the concept of a healthy heart and a healthy body. Then you can understand what a healthy world looks like.”

This three-column cover story with large photo carries over to a page 7 three-column section with two photos, one of Greg Reitman with Donovan playing guitar, the other of Mike Love singing on stage from the Beach Boys concert. This article is republished here with permission from The Fairfield Ledger. Click FF Ledger Documentary 7-31-2015 to see a PDF of the whole 2-page article with photos.

See other news about the film here.

ROOTED in PEACE to play Martha’s Vineyard and an Iowa premiere at Fairfield’s Sondheim Center

July 10, 2015

ROOTED-V.10js_r3More screenings are coming up this summer for Hollywood director Greg Reitman’s documentary feature film.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Society

This month, Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present ROOTED in PEACE on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, at 7:30pm. There will be a special post-screening Q&A with director Greg Reitman.

Read this interesting interview with Zip Creative’s Joanne Zippel on her blog: Fast Forward Friday with Greg Reitman, published today in advance of the MVFS showing.

Iowa Premiere in Sondheim Center

In early August the film will premiere in Fairfield, Iowa. Read how this Hollywood filmmaker came to Fairfield for a Beach Boys concert, returned for a David Lynch Weekend at MUM, learned TM and more, in the July issue of the Iowa Source in their All About FAIRFIELD section: Getting Rooted In PeaceGreen Producer Greg Reitman Brings New Documentary to Sondheim for Iowa Premiere. Here is a PDF of the print version.

Included in the film are interviews from those visits with filmmaker David Lynch; musicians Donovan and Mike Love; Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation; and Fred Travis, director of Maharishi University’s Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition; as well as historical footage of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and Maharishi University of Management.

Blue Water Entertainment and the David Lynch Foundation are presenting the Iowa premiere of this inspirational documentary feature film, Sunday, August 2nd at 7pm in the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. There will be a Q&A following the showing with Sundance award-winning Director Greg Reitman and Executive Producer Joanna Plafsky. Joanna is an established international film producer and distributor, and member of the DLF Board of Directors.

Visit the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center website to find out more about Greg and his film, including production stills and the movie trailer, and if you’ll be in town at that time, to purchase tickets. Here is a PDF of the ROOTED in PEACE poster for Fairfield with affordable ticket prices.

The Fairfield Weekly Reader will publish an article on the event July 23rd.

Previous posts about the film can be seen here.

Arrangements are being finalized for the first international premiere, to be announced in the next film post.

Publicist and Poet @KenChawkin featured @TMhome_com. Learning to let go to let magic happen #creativity #TMmeditation

June 30, 2015

I received an email this morning from a member of the TMhome Team, an international Transcendental Meditation news website. I’ve admired their wonderful work over the years representing TM internationally, especially their interesting interviews with famous, and not so famous people who have benefited from this unique meditation practice.

They wrote to say the article they had been putting together about me was now up. As a publicist who is always concerned with properly promoting other people and their work, this was a complete turnaround for me. I very much enjoyed sharing stories with Liisa of how I started TM, my work as a publicist, and the wonders of the creative process writing poetry. So when I read her article I was very moved; she did an excellent job representing me!

The article is currently featured on their home page and under the People section. I invite you to visit their website and enjoy reading it. They also did a lovely job laying it out with personal photos and two of my poems.

I am thrilled to share this milestone with you! Click on the title of the article to take you there.

PR to poetry – how things sometimes happen to Ken Chawkin

Ken Chawkin - TMhome

June 30, 2015

In 1967, Ken Chawkin walked into the local TM centre without any intention of learning Transcendental Meditation. He simply wanted to buy a copy of The Science of Being and Art of Living written by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Here are the two poems featured in the interview: Ode to the Artist and Sometimes Poetry Happens.

The job of a poet — someone’s gotta do it!

May 27, 2015

The job of a poet is translating what he or she is experiencing into words. If it resonates with other people’s experience, allows them to identify with what’s in the poem in a way they could not have expressed as well with words, and gives them pleasure, then it’s a good poem.

While in NYC recently, my son commented on my m.o. as a poet, how I notice things, name and say what I’m experiencing at the time. So I wrote this simple haiku for him, a sort of job description.

Noticing … Naming … Saying
Job of a Poet

Case in point, when I was returning from Iowa City last week, I dropped in to see Sali. She was still in her bed; they hadn’t gotten her up yet for dinner. I held her hand and spoke to her, telling her how much I loved her. A part of me was noticing how I was feeling, what was happening within and between us. From that experience, I wrote this haiku for her.

The thrill of the heart
Holding hands and loving you
The peace that follows

Some of Mary Oliver’s poems are exquisite: At the Lake, Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Here are two poems about “The Poet” one I wrote about Bill Graeser, and one Rolf Erickson wrote about me.

I also posted a brilliant poem that Bill Graeser wrote about an unusual poet: What You May Not Know About Frankenstein.

And here is a poem about the experience of listening to Poetry – The Art of the Voice.

Both haiku were written May 18, 2015, in Fairfield, Iowa © Ken Chawkin

Billy Collins discusses the value of getting to the end of a poem and what can happen afterwards

April 2, 2015

As we’ve seen in an recent post about the writing and teaching of poetry, Billy Collins wants the poem he’s writing to complete itself, to come to an end. When he writes a poem, he says meaning is the furthest thing on his mind. He’s just trying to get to the next line, to arrive at the ending. “It’s not a search for insight, particularly. It’s a search to be over with.”

In this interview with Ginger Murchison at the 9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Billy Collins reveals more about the ending of a poem, how what happens is even more important than the last line of the poem.

During the interview, Ginger Murchison mentions something Billy Collins had alluded to about the end of a poem, and asks him:

What happens at the end of the poem? I want to know about that white space after the last period, for the poet and the reader. You said your poem goes towards somewhere. How do you see that as being more important than even the last line of the poem, that space at the end?

He answers her by describing the significance of the white space:

Well, the white space at the end is just like the white space around the rest of the poem. It stands for silence. And maybe the white space after the end of the poem is a little more silent than the other silences. I think of a poem as an interruption of silence.

He also talks about how satisfying it can be to find the ending to a poem. The implication being, the silence that follows the ending as something new that is created within the writer and the reader.

Once you find it, it’s incredibly satisfying. You found something that didn’t exist before. That the poem brings, calls into existence, through a series of steps, it gains some kind of ground, and out of that ground, there occurs something that had never existed before. It comes as a sort of gain, surprise.

I certainly can relate to that, and described in the previous post how certain poems completed themselves in ways I hadn’t imagined. When that happens, and when a poem enlivens a silence, within and between both the poet and the reader, or listener, it creates a deep feeling of fulfillment.

After hearing a discussion with Bill Moyers and 3 well-known poets on the Diane Rhem show discussing the creation of a poem and the effect it had on an audience when recited, I was inspired to write a poem about this mysterious creative process as something elemental, transcendental.

Poetry—The Art of The Voice, describes the source, course, and goal of poetry springing from and returning to silence, through a poet’s inner voice or consciousness, to a listener’s heart and mind. It also relates to the notion of a writer finding and expressing his or her own voice as a poet.

Another poem I wrote shows how Silence ultimately speaks for itself. See Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin.

Creation comes about through sounds and silences, expressions and gaps, within which the dynamics of transformation occur. See Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Uni-verse.

For a more detailed explanation of these dynamics in language and creation, see Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation, and Yunus Emre says Wisdom comes from Knowing Oneself — a Singularity that contains the Whole.

George Plimpton interviewed Billy Collins for Paris Review

As referenced by Ginger Murchison, George Plimpton had interviewed Billy Collins for The Paris Review in 2001 after news of his appointment as the new poet laureate by the Library of Congress. He would go on to serve two terms, 2001-2003. Although published 14 years ago, this interview is definitely worth reading:  Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry No. 83.

The interview opens with Plimpton asking Collins how he starts to write a poem. He says he doesn’t write that regularly, much of his time is waiting and watching; he’s vigilant. But when he’s engaged he usually writes a poem quickly, in one sitting.

I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times—and this, I think, is a sense you develop—I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum—the poem finds a reason for continuing. The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines.

That makes perfect sense. He doesn’t know where he’s going and hopes the poem is one step ahead of him, holding his interest, leading him down the trail to that elusive mysterious ending. I love the different metaphors he uses to describe the pen as a tool to help him discover that something he’s not yet aware of.

Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.

He explains how he likes to invite the reader into a poem with something ordinary, then take him or her, and himself to a place he hasn’t been to yet.

I want to start in a very familiar place and end up in a strange place. The familiar place is often a comic place, and the strange place is indescribable except by reading the poem again.

There’s a lot more to the interview, but he concludes humbly by saying that he’s just trying to be a good writer.

No matter what I’m thinking about when I’m writing a poem, no matter what is captivating my attention, all I’m really trying to do is write good lines and good stanzas.

There’s a reason he’s called America’s most popular poet. He has made poetry accessible to millions of Americans. He continues to write, publish, sell books, teach, and is in constant demand to give poetry readings.

It is a delight to read his poetry. His subtle sense of humor puts a smile on my face. It’s also enjoyable to hear him recite his poems. Seemingly ordinary, they give you a unique perspective on things that were previously unimaginable, and that’s refreshing!

See the previous post: Billy Collins suggests more creative ways to respond to poetry than analyzing it to death. Enjoy the poetic genius and humor of Billy Collins reading his poem “January in Paris” and Billy Collins humorously disagrees with Heraclitus showing how to go into the same water twice.


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