Archive for December, 2009

Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Uni-verse

December 31, 2009

(into seven haiku forms)
Creating a Universe

Poetry began
the process of creation
deep within itself

the first sound came from
a vowel in the bowel
of the universe

but it soon collapsed
choking on a consonant
with nowhere to go

looking to itself
it remembered what it was
and started dancing

tapping syllables
the sound fractured into forms
causing attraction

elements combined
into a cosmic language
sounding out all things

same thing with these words
as they break and make themselves
into poetry

© Ken Chawkin

For more details on this transformation, see this blog post with thoughts on language, translation, and creation.

Maharishi in Canada, January 1978

December 28, 2009

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Jai Guru Dev

Maharishi International Academy

Kingsway, Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 6500, Huntsville, Ontario, P1H 2J8 Canada
Telephone: 1-705-635-9041
Fax: 1-705-6359686

An email from Canadian friends.


December 28, 2009


Silence vibrating is Creation.

Silence flowing is Love.

Silence shared is Friendship.

Silence seen is Infinity.

Silence heard is Adoration.

Silence expressed is Beauty.

Silence maintained is Strength.

Silence omitted is Suffering.

Silence allowed is Rest.

Silence recorded is Scripture.

Silence preserved is Our Tradition.

Silence given is Initiating.

Silence received is Joy.

Silence perceived is Knowledge.

Silence stabilized is Fulfillment.

Silence alone is.

—author unknown

The poem about Silence was written by a course participant on the Teacher Training Course (TTC) held in Mallorca, 1971. At the end of the evening meetings, Maharishi often asked if anyone had a poem they would like to read out. One of the course participants (CP’s) read out his poem, “Silence”, which has been incorrectly attributed to Maharishi. This clarification came from someone on that course.

Also see Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin.

Mellow Fellow Donovan

December 28, 2009

MELLOW FELLOW; Crowned a musical icon, Donovan has other priorities…: such as introducing Scotland to transcendental meditation


He is the singer-songwriter who helped out The Beatles.

And his music is still enjoyed four decades after he found fame thanks to a brilliant back catalogue that includes hits such as Mellow Yellow and Hurdy Gurdy Man.

Donovan, 63, has recently been recognised as a legend with a BMI Awards Icon Award but talking to the singer there are none of the airs and graces you might expect from someone who can regard himself as being right up there with the legends of pop and rock royalty.

Instead, Donovan is down to earth. And right now he is more concerned with saving Ayrshire’s River Doon from environmental catastrophe than bragging about his own career highs.

To help the river, Donovan has put a new melody to the famous Burns poem The Banks O’ Doon in the year of Homecoming Live.

His rendition of the Burns poem aims to highlight the plight of the Doon, which is under threat from new power company plans to divert the famous river, which inspired many of Burns’ famous poems.

Donovan revealed: “Everything that can be done to save it is so important. I’ve even recorded a song to raise awareness called Save The Doon, which is available on iTunes.”

Instead of trying to plug his music, Donovan wants Scots to get behind a petition to save the river, insisting I mention

Clearly a man with a conscience, Donovan is finally being recognised for his influence on pop and rock despite starting out as a folk musician.

His BMI award recognises the UK and European songwriters and publishers of the past year’s most played BMI songs on US radio and television. The Icon designation is given to BMI songwriters who have bestowed “a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”

He has joined an elite list of past honorees that includes Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, Ray Davies, Van Morrison, the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Dolly Parton, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Hall & Oates, Paul Simon, Steve Winwood and many more.

It’s a fitting tribute to the singer who transformed popular music in the 1960s and went on to build a legendary career. In the 1960s, he enjoyed 11 consecutive Top 40 hits, including Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, There Is a Mountain, Lalena, Epistle to Dippy, Atlantis, Hurdy Gurdy Man, and Jennifer Juniper, all of which he wrote.

His songs have contributed to the soundtracks of films and TV series including Goodfellas, Election, Dumb and Dumber, Rushmore, The Simpsons, Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty and Clueless.

A huge influence on The Beatles, Donovan became one of an elite handful of artists who collaborated on songs with the band.

He recalled: “I was a friend of The Beatles and I remember being at my place in London one Sunday morning and there was a knock on the door. It was Paul McCartney standing there with his guitar.

“He said, ‘I’ve got this song but I’m having trouble with the lyrics.’ So I told him to come in and he sang a bit of Yellow Submarine. I went into the other room and worked on it for a bit then came back out and sang him a line for the song.

“He said, ‘That’ll do.’ It was funny because The Beatles were really famous and almost to prove the point a policeman came to the door and said, ‘Mr. McCartney, is that your car parked there?’ In those days on a Sunday morning, the streets would be deserted. There was Paul’s sports car badly parked. Instead of giving him a ticket, the policeman asked if he could have the car keys to move it for him. That was the way it was in those days. Even then The Beatles were like royalty.”

Donovan was just 18 years old when he made his first records in 1964, immediately drawing comparisons with Bob Dylan.

He said: “Every British band from the Stones to the Beatles were copying all the American pop and blues artists – this is the way young artists learn. There’s no shame in mimicking a hero or two – it flexes the creative muscles and tones the quality of our composition and technique. I sounded like him for five minutes – others made a career of his sound.”

While Beatlemania was gripping the UK and the US, in 1965, Donovan’s song Catch the Wind earned an Ivor Novello Award for best contemporary folk song. It was the first time the honor was bestowed on an artist’s debut single. Hard at work on a new album entitled Ritual Groove, Donovan is planning to tour throughout 2010, giving him a chance to return to his roots.

Born and brought up in Maryhill, Glasgow, he is hoping to establish Scotland’s first university in Transcendental Meditation.

Donovan said: “During the past two years myself and my wife Linda and David Lynch have traveled the world, presenting the meditation technique of Maharishi Mahesh, Yogi and attracting mass media attention. The technique is now transforming education and students wellbeing wherever it has been introduced.”

It was in 1968 that Donovan, The Beatles, Paul Horn and other seekers of enlightenment went to India to study with their teacher Maharishi. On his return Donovan was at the forefront in promoting meditation to the West.

He said: “The Beatles and I had searched for a teacher of meditation, as we knew from our studies of the books that this was the way truly to make humankind aware of what we were doing to each other and to bring peace to the world .We found Maharishi and he found us.”

In April of this year, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, of which Donovan is the musical wing, put together an incredible line-up of Donovan, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, for a concert at Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

Lynch, best known for films such as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, has acknowledged the important role that Donovan’s example gave in bringing him to meditation 39 years ago.

Donovan said: “We had earmarked some land just outside Edinburgh and planned to name it the Donovan University of Transcendental Meditation or the Transcendental Meditation University but there are some hoops that we’d have to go through.

“David Lynch and I have introduced it to schools all over America and it has done wonders for the children’s self-esteem. If they could introduce it here it might give a lot of kids self respect they need to go on and make something of their lives.”

(c) 2009 Sunday Mail; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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David Lynch on his next film, in Uttarkashi, India, at Maharishi’s house

December 13, 2009

December 10, 2009


David Lynch is in India right now, starting work on his film on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—the founder of Transcendental Meditation. David’s first report comes to DLF.TV from high in the Himalayas, in the small town of Uttarkashi, known as the “Valley of the Saints,” where for thousands of years, seekers of truth have gathered to meditate and rise to enlightenment. Maharishi spent two years in silence in Uttarkashi, from 1953 to 1955, following the passing of his teacher, Guru Dev. More reports from David to follow.

You can also follow Bob Roth, DLF VP, who’s traveling with David, on Twitter. Click back to Dec 4th and read up. Found this interesting comment in one of Bobby’s tweets: Fernando Sulichin and Rob Wilson who work with Oliver Stone and Spike Lee are producers—along with Tabrez who produced Slumdog Millionaire.

Fascinating stuff! This looks like it promises to be the definitive documentary on Maharishi. We all look forward to that, whenever it comes out, hopefully some time next year.

PEACEFUL POETS: Filmmaker Haydn Reiss on Rumi and Stafford and the Power of Words

December 9, 2009

Haydn Reiss on Rumi & Stafford

Two Documentaries on Poets of Peace


Filmmaker Haydn Reiss

The moral dilemma most often thrust in the face of those who oppose war goes something like this: What would you do if the lives of your loved ones were being threatened right in front of you? Would you not grab any weapon available in order to protect them? So why not fight to defend your country?

National Book Award-winning poet and World War II conscientious objector William Stafford (1914-1993) wrote in his journal: “The question, ‘Wouldn’t you fight for your country?’ begs the real question which is, ‘What is the best way to behave here and now to serve your country?’ So the real answer would be, ‘If it was the right thing to do, I would fight for my country. Now let’s talk about, what is the right thing to do?’ ”

This was one of the quandaries I discussed recently on the phone with Haydn Reiss, producer and director of Every War Has Two Losers: A Poet’s Meditation on Peace, a thoughtful and beautifully crafted documentary based on the writings of Stafford, and Rumi: Poet of the Heart, a previous work about the life of the Sufi mystic poet. Both films feature comments from a number of well-known poets, writers, and thinkers, including Robert Bly, Coleman Barks, Michael Meade, Alice Walker, Huston Smith and Deepak Chopra.

Reiss, a self-confessed “producer for hire,” has been involved in a range of visual media from Hollywood features (JFK and Jacob’s Ladder) to TV shows, but it is obvious his real passion lies in his work about these two poetic masters, separated in time by more than 700 years, and the potential of their words to move the hearts and minds of men away from conflict.

Reiss believes Stafford, like many of his fellow conscientious objectors, was no starry-eyed idealist. He accepted that conflict is always a possibility in the course of human affairs, says Reiss. But Stafford didn’t believe war was inevitable or even advisable. In Stafford’s view the consequences of war are rarely, if ever, beneficial to humanity. He encouraged everyone to consider the motives of those who urge us to war before getting caught up in the fever of victory. “How do we know war is the answer?” asks Stafford in his journal. “How can there be a nation we don’t like? That’s a fiction put onto a million different people. It has been created by interests you might well do to analyze.”

“It would be very satisfying to think,” says Reiss in an interview on the film’s website, “that after viewing the film you would ask yourself, at a deep level, what you really believe about war. And the follow-up question of ‘How did I come to believe that?’ ”

“I think we have been very successfully indoctrinated into accepting that war is a given, it’s what human beings do,” Reiss continues. “The distinction is, and I think this is what Stafford is saying, is ‘Yes, we do and can make war. But what else can we do?’ The undiscovered possibilities in human behavior are what we should pursue. The die is not cast; imagination and creativity are not in short supply. That this is the real, pragmatic work of the world.”

We live in such a culture of violence that sometimes it is hard to imagine how the actions or words of one person can be heard above all the clatter. Stafford believed peace is achieved gradually, created one person, one small step at a time. “Artists and peacemakers are in it for the long haul,” Stafford writes in his journal. “Redemption comes with care. Here’s how to count the people who are ready to do right: 1 . . . 1. . . 1.”

His chosen medium was poetry. In a poem entitled “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” composed in Iowa City on June 23, 1953, he wrote:

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

In Every War Has Two Losers, Stafford’s friend Michael Meade comments, “Something very deep in the human heart wants beauty, love, and relatedness more than it wants destruction, war and violence.” This theme is further explored in Rumi: Poet of the Heart, a tender and insightful portrayal of the life and work of Sufism’s most cherished poet. Reiss is a big believer in the power of poetry to take us to deeper understanding. “It’s alchemical,” he tells me, and quotes from William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem”: “I give you the end of a golden string, only wind it in a ball, it will lead in at Heaven’s gate built in Jerusalem’s wall,” a theme I discovered Stafford often used in his lectures. “Poetry can take us to a place where nations and newspapers are not so important as what is happening out in the fields and the birds and the wind,” says poet Coleman Barks in the film. His soulful translations of Rumi’s poems have made them famous worldwide. Deepak Chopra suggests that if more poetry was read to children we could substantially change the world for the better.

Stafford wrote a poem a day after rising before dawn and spending time in contemplation and reflection. “I have an appetite for finding the perfect language to describe the experience of life you’re having right now,” he once said. “Every now and then I break off a piece of that and call it a poem.” Rumi poured out thousands of lines of exquisite verse as he struggled to deal with the devastating loss of his friend and mentor, Shams of Tabriz.

“Rumi’s poetry emerged from grief, which we do our utmost to avoid,” comments Robert Bly when interviewed. It is as if his heart, in being broken open, became a container for an immense divine love. “I am so small I can barely be seen,” wrote Rumi. “How can this great love be inside of me?”

Rumi’s message of love described by Rumi: Poet of the Heart is so profound and essential it has the power to touch the soul within each of us. “Everyone loves Rumi. He has no enemies,” someone comments in Reiss’s film. “I fly with Rumi. I forget I am on the earth,” says another. It is a wonderful and revealing irony that in this time of widespread “Islamophobia,” Rumi, an Islamic mystic, should be the best-selling poet in America. He touches a universal nerve. The lesson to learn is this: if we can reach into our hearts and see the world through the eyes of a poet like Rumi, we can form bonds that unite us, whatever our culture or religion. Peace is the natural by-product of this experience. War, on the other hand, thrives on fear and division. “If loving everyone is too much to ask,” says Reiss, paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut, “at least we should respect each other and maybe occasionally it will turn into love.”

“Love is the religion. The universe is the book,” says Coleman Barks, quoting a Sufi master. Stafford wrote on behalf of “the unknown good in our enemies,” comments one of his friends in the film.

Can the actions of one individual or a few well-chosen words really make a difference in this large chaotic world? Reiss believes so. On the website for Every War has Two Losers, he includes this quote from Stafford: “Every thought re-orders the universe.” And at the end of our conversation, he passes on this gem of wisdom from folksinger Pete Seeger. Seeger would say that life is like a seesaw and each of us is a grain of sand. It’s important which side of the seesaw you put your grain of sand. You never know which grain will be the one that tips it in the right direction.

Haydn Reiss will be visiting Iowa in spring 2010. Watch for upcoming announcements of his talk and film screenings.

For more information on both films and to watch trailers, visit for Rumi, and for Stafford.

To read more of William Stafford’s writings visit

Tony Ellis is a Fairfield-based writer and poet. He blogs regularly at To read more of his work, visit This article appears as the cover story of the December 2009 issue.

Also see Every War Has Two Losers, a Haydn Reiss film on poet and conscientious objector William Stafford and A Fascinating Approach to Peace.

PATH LIGHTS debuts on DLF.TV for one week

December 6, 2009
On location, left to right: Xander Berkeley, Sarah Utterback, director Zachary Sluser, lead actor John Hawkes.

Director Zachary Sluser has turned Tom Drury’s New Yorker short story into a short film now debuting on David Lynch Foundation Television. It is up for one week only, from December 2-9, 2009. After this showing, it will be presented at film festivals in 2010.

I highly recommend watching the short film, and the 3-part Behind The Scenes series on the making of this film. Some of the staff at DLF.TV were invited to film and interview the people involved in the making of this short feature—actors and crew. Very inspiring. Gives you a deeper insight and appreciation for these fine young filmmakers from MSAE, MUM, Fairfield, and their LA friends working on set. The value of TM is also mentioned. The bliss generated by everyone dedicating themselves to the project, for free, is special, and DLF.TV was able to capture it—a great example of what this young and vibrant new online TV channel is all about—celebrating consciousness, creativity and bliss. Catch the wave:

Path Lights, introduced at the Woodstock Film Festival, has now been selected for the international competition at the 32nd Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, Jan. 29-Feb.6, 2010 in south-central France. It’s the premiere short film festival (they screen short films exclusively) in the world and the second largest film festival in France after, Cannes.  Over 5100 short films were submitted and there are usually around 75 international (non-French) short films in competition. Very exciting.

Following that acceptance was news that Path Lights has been invited to participate in the 39th International Rotterdam Film Festival, which will take place January 27–February 7, 2010. Rotterdam is probably the 4th major film festival after Cannes, Berlin, and Venice.    …. more to come ….

Some recent articles on Path Lights debuting on DLF.TV

Q&A: Tom Drury The Independent Eye: Turn on your Path Lights.
By Alison Willmore on 12/02/2009

David Lynch Foundation spotlights a noteworthy short film

By Emily Riemer
David Lynch Television Presents Short Film Path Lights

The Millions: Curiosities
Oh, Tom Drury, how I love thee.

UPDATE: Path Lights is now available on Vimeo:

President Obama, Peace in the Middle East: Scientific solution to your political problem?

December 2, 2009

President Obama, Peace in the Middle East: Scientific solution to your political problem?

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 17:52

Peace in the Middle East is easily within our grasp, as indicated by a new scientific paper recently published in the “Journal of Scientific Exploration.”

The study addresses the possibility that a relatively small group of people practising the Transcendental Meditation™ and TM-Sidhi programme®, as founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, twice daily together in a group can create peace in the Middle East.

The hypothesis is not new. Fifty studies have found that when 1% of the population practises Transcendental Meditation, or sufficiently large groups practise the TM-Sidhi programme together twice daily, it can have a positive influence on society as a whole. The studies show, for example, decreased violence, crime, car accidents, and suicides, and improved quality of life in a society. Critics had questioned the credibility of the evidence in light of the unconventional nature of the proposition.

Reduced conflict and improved quality of life in the Middle East:

August-September 1983

A composite sociological index closely tracks the size of a group practising the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programme. (See details in text below.)

The new analysis addresses this question more thoroughly than previously. It presents new statistical evidence that all credible conventional explanations – such as military and political events, public holidays, and the weather – could not explain the observed statistically significant changes in sociological variables shown in an earlier study on the influence of groups practising the TM-Sidhi programme (Orme-Johnson DW, Alexander CN, Davies JL, Chandler HM, & Larimore WE. International peace project in the Middle East: The effect of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field. Journal of Conflict Resolution 1988 32:776-812, findings illustrated above). The observed changes in the Middle East included reductions in war deaths of 75%, war intensity of 45%, in crime of 12%, in fires of 30%, plus there were improvements in national mood of 27% and the stock market of 7% during the experimental period.

Although conventional factors did have a measureable influence on the level of violence and other sociological variables, the effect of the Transcendental Meditation group was, according to the researchers, both independent of these other factors and approximately two to five times stronger.

Brain research has found that Transcendental Meditation increases coherence in brain functioning. Lead author of the new study David Orme-Johnson, former Chairman of the Psychology Department at Maharishi University of Management, suggests that: “Given the assumption of Maharishi’s theory that individuals are the units of collective consciousness, increased coherence at the individual level could be expected to have a positive effect on the population level”.

According to a number of earlier studies, this effect is magnified when, in addition to Transcendental Meditation, the more advanced TM-Sidhi programme, which includes Yogic Flying, is practised in a group. In this case, the square root of 1% of a population practising Yogic Flying in a group is the threshold at which changes in social trends begin to be observed. Interestingly, this effect appears to be irrespective of national borders and different cultures. According to the theory, a group of 10,000 generating such an influence of coherence would be sufficient to noticeably influence the collective consciousness of the whole world.

If the science is so watertight, and the potential benefits so great, the obvious question, then, is: Why has no one yet established such a group anywhere in the world? One reason why policy makers have been reluctant to do so is that they take the view that conventional military and political factors must have more influence than Transcendental Meditation and Yogic Flying. However, the new research has shown that this assumption is quite incorrect.

A coherence-creating group of 10,000 people could be established for less than 0.2% of the world’s military expenditure, and yet, according to the research, could ensure a stable state of world peace.

The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, founded by the award-winning filmmaker, joined with Paul McCartney in April to raise funds to teach Transcendental Meditation to one million at-risk children. The benefit concert in New York is said to have raised £2m on ticket sales and fund raising continues. The philanthropic Foundation is already involved in teaching Transcendental Meditation in schools in the Middle East with the explicit aim of creating permanent peace in the region.

Dr. Orme-Johnson is available for interview: Tel 850-231-2866 See his website:
Dr. David Leffler is available for interview and to set up interviews with other military-related people. See this website:  Tel 845-489-8653

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