Posts Tagged ‘brain-based approach to peace’

Chandrika Tandon Benefit Concert in Iowa Helps Launch Global Peace Initiative

November 9, 2011

Chandrika Tandon Benefit Concert in Iowa Helps Launch Global Peace Initiative to Support 10,000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits

November 9, 2011: (MAHARISHI VEDIC CITY, IOWA) Leaders of the Global Peace Initiative hosted a Vedic Visitors Weekend, November 4 to 6, at Maharishi Vedic City in southeast Iowa, attracting Indo-Americans from cities as far away as Los Angeles and New York.

All the participants assembled for one purpose: to experience a weekend devoted to peace and all things Vedic: Vedic education, Vedic health, Vedic agriculture, and Vedic architecture.

The weekend culminated with Grammy-nominated world music artist, Chandrika Tandon, performing a stunning sold-out benefit concert at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

“The combination of different instruments and Chandrika’s voice revealed to me what World Music should be all about,” said Vinod Nayagar, a university student who attended the concert.

“All the sounds emerged from the same source, they resonated and built on each other’s vibrations at the subtlest, most blissful level of creation. The sounds were indistinguishable at transcendental moments—they created a harmony and unity from sound, which is the true purpose of music,” Mr. Nayagar said.

Ramani Ayer, retired CEO of the Hartford Financial Group and current Director of Development for the Global Peace Initiative, who served as a host of the weekend, said, “We invited Indo-Americans from around country to experience how powerful, valuable and relevant the practical application of ancient Vedic wisdom, as developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is to our daily lives and to the improvement of society.”

Leading Scientists Present Research on Meditation and World Peace

Fred Travis, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in neighboring Fairfield, Iowa, is one of the world’s leading researchers on the brain, consciousness and meditation. His scientific presentation during the weekend on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on brain functioning was highlighted by slides and graphics illustrating the beneficial changes that occur as a result of regular TM practice.

From EEG signatures and connectivity maps, Dr. Travis showed how different meditation practices impact different parts of the brain. “Most meditations fall into two categories,” Dr. Travis said.

“First are ‘focused attention’ techniques, which require you to concentrate on an object, or a particular word or phrase. The second are ‘open monitoring’ techniques, which involve being mindful of your thoughts or breath without interfering with them. This approach attempts to still the mind and become an uninvolved witness to activity. But these attempts are on the surface level of the mind,” he said.

Dr. Travis then identified a third category—“automatic self-transcending”—a process that allows the mind to transcend its own activity. “This is the Transcendental Meditation technique, during which the mind transcends effortlessly, and arrives at the depth of consciousness, the source of the thinking mind, transcendental consciousness, or Samadhi,” Dr. Travis said.

Dr. Travis said that after several months of TM practice, the brain begins to demonstrate increased connectivity, even outside of meditation. “The brain functions more holistically, which accounts for the meditating student’s improved academic achievement. The student is able to absorb, integrate, and express knowledge more effectively,” Dr. Travis said.

Dr. G.V. Naidu, who traveled from St. Louis to attend the conference, said, “The scientific documentation of ‘The Neurophysiology of Enlightenment’ by Dr. Travis was impressive. And a subsequent presentation by physicist Dr. John Hagelin was a climax of the conference.”

World-Renowned Physicist Explains Global Peace Initiative

John Hagelin, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained, internationally renowned quantum physicist, provided the modern scientific understanding and corroborating scientific research documenting how groups of experts in the Transcendental Meditation and advanced TM-Sidhi program can neutralize violence and conflict and create world peace.

“Extensive research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals verifies that Transcendental Meditation dramatically reduces acute individual stress and its deleterious effects on brain and behavior far more effectively than other methods,” Dr. Hagelin said.

“But perhaps more interesting and important are the 23 published studies which show that relatively small numbers of people practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program together in a group can reduce crime, violence, and war throughout the entire population,” he said.

Citing studies conducted in the Middle East showing reductions in war death and violence by 70 percent, Dr. Hagelin said, “There is no approach to peace that has been so thoroughly tested and rigorously established. And now, since the arrival in America five years ago of the large group of Vedic Pandits, there has been a significant decrease in violent crime in America’s largest cities. We are mobilizing to add more numbers to the group, to create an even more positive effect in America.”

Thousands of Maharishi Vedic Pandits to Create Global Peace Effect through Yoga and Yagya

Ramani Ayer provided a vision of the goal of the Global Peace Initiative: To maintain permanent peace-keeping groups of 9000 Vedic Pandits in India and 1250 Vedic Pandits in the United States—the number established by research that is sufficient to create a concrete and demonstrative positive global effect.

“The Vedic Pandits’ daily practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program establishes their consciousness in Yoga, the pure field of intelligence, at the basis of all creation. And their Vedic recitation from that deep and pure level creates a powerful influence of peace for humanity. This perfect combination of Yoga and Yagya will help create a much higher quality of life for the whole world’s population,” Mr. Ayer said.

The Global Peace Initiative is building an endowment fund to create and maintain these large groups of Vedic Pandits in perpetuity.

Maha Rudrabhishek with 121 Maharishi Vedic Pandits

Another sublime highlight of the weekend was the performance by 121 Maharishi Vedic Pandits of Rudrabhsihek.

“It’s an amazing sight to drive over the rolling hills of Iowa and see spread before you a campus where nearly 1000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits from India reside,” said Meenakshi Ghai, from Chicago’s western suburbs, who made the four-hour drive from Chicago with her daughter-in law to attend the weekend. “It was a non-stop wonderful experience packed into 36 hours.”

Mohan Pillai from Long Island, New York, who attended the conference with his family, said, “I cannot describe in words what is was like to hear such a powerful chanting of the Rudrabhishekam. The inner feeling was so good—it was beyond words. I could understand how such large groups of well-trained Vedic Pandits can create peace.”

G.V. Naidu expressed enthusiasm for the global initiative: “We were pleasantly surprised to see that Maharishi Vedic Vishwa Vidyalaya is training thousands of Vedic Pandits here in America as well as in India. These Vedic Pandits are propagating and sustaining ancient Vedic culture. At the same time, they are conducting fundamental research on the positive effects of meditation—far more than any other organization. I wish more people will participate in future seminars conducted by Maharishi University of Management,” Mr. Naidu said.

Mr. Ayer concluded: “As Indians who cherish the Vedic tradition in our hearts, we should feel very proud that this great knowledge has given us a practical means to create peace in the world.”

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Also see Global Peace Initiative: 13 Questions and Answers with Ramani Ayer, Chandrika Tandon Concert to Benefit 1000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits Launches Global Peace Initiative, and Lavina Melwani interviews Chandrika Tandon on her Grammy Award nomination.

Global Peace Initiative: 13 Questions and Answers with Ramani Ayer

November 6, 2011

Global Peace Initiative: 13 Questions & Answers with Ramani Ayer

Ramani Ayer, former Chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group (USA), Chairman of the Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation Development Council

1. What is the Global Peace Initiative?

Ramani: It is a powerful, practical, scientific, and highly cost-effective initiative to reduce violence and conflict in the world. We call it a “brain-based approach to peace.”

2. What do you mean by a “brain-based approach to peace?” And how is it different than other approaches to reduce conflict and terrorism?

Ramani: I think the approach is different because conventional approaches to reducing social violence don’t address the underlying cause which is acute societal stress—whether its political, ethnic, or religious. All of our behavior is directly linked to brain functioning. We know now how stress impacts the brain. It shuts down the prefrontal cortex—the CEO of the brain. Everyone has heard of the “fight or flight” response. Stress can also over stimulate the amygdala, the brain’s “fear center,” causing fear-driven, and aggressive, violent, antisocial behavior. Acute stress on a societal scale impacts the brain and behavior of everyone in society, and that fuels crime and social violence. The brain-based approach to peace solves the problem on a deeper level.

3. How does it work?

Ramani: It is actually simple to understand. Extensive scientific research shows that an easy to learn, evidence-based meditation practice, revived by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from the Vedic Tradition of India called Transcendental Meditation (TM) dramatically reduces acute individual stress and its deleterious effects on brain and behavior in a far more effective way then other methods. Equally important, TM and its advanced procedures called the TM-Sidhi program activate the prefrontal cortex and different areas of the brain, while deactivating the amygdala—the fear center of the brain. Research has shown it to be highly effective in treating acutely stressed individuals –even difficult cases such as soldiers with PTSD and prisoners in jail.

4. I can understand how meditation works to reduce stress in a person, but how does it reduce societal violence?

Ramani: I do not think it is surprising that if you reduce stress on an individual level, it causes a corresponding reduction of stress on the societal level. But what is surprising, and what has been shown by extensive research, is that a small proportion of a population practicing TM and the TM Sidhi program in a group produces a significant reduction in social stress, and crime and violence. To understand how it actually works, one has to turn to a “field model of consciousness” in which consciousness, at its deepest level, is a field that underlies and connects individuals throughout society.

5. Isn’t a “field model of consciousness” beyond our current theories?

Ramani: It may seem to be, but such a theory is consistent with the latest findings of physics, physiology and neuroscience. In any such model the peace promoting influence of a group will grow as the square of the size of the group. This is what makes the  “brain-based approach to peace” practical. It only takes about 9000 individuals—the square root of 1% of the world’s population practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program in a group in one place to create an effect large enough to significantly reduce global violence and conflict.

6. Is there any proof?

Ramani: Yes. To date there have been over 50 demonstration projects and 23 scientific studies that confirm the effectiveness of the “brain-based approach to peace.” This research has been carefully scrutinized by independent scholars and published in top academic journals. The demonstration projects have been conducted in many parts of the world including those most prone to violence, such as the Middle East. What the demonstrations show is a dramatic reduction in violence, crime, and war and increased peace and positivity in society. As far as I am aware, there is no approach to create peace that has been so thoroughly tested and rigorously established.

7. Have any of these demonstrations been conducted in India?

Ramani: The first sustained global demonstration project of this approach was held in India from 1987-1990. It involved a group of 7,000 highly trained Maharishi Vedic Pandits from India. The group was located for several years in Noida, outside Delhi.  During the time of the demonstration there were historic, unprecedented, totally unexpected changes in the world: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid, end of the Cold War. It was an amazing time for our world family.

8. Why did the demonstration end?

Ramani: Quite simply, we ran out of funds to support the large group of Maharishi Vedic Pandits. Today, with a larger world population than the 1980’s, in order to create and maintain this peaceful effect on a global scale will require a permanent group of 9000 Vedic experts in one place. This is the square root of one percent of the world’s population, which is a formula derived from science. To endow such a group requires a fund of about $1.1 billion—which is negligible when compared to the 8 trillion cost of global violence in 2010.

9. Why was a large group of Vedic Pandits from India used to create the effect of peace? Could not any group practicing TM and the more advanced TM-Sidhi program create the effect?

Ramani: Yes, any sufficiently large group of properly trained advanced meditation experts can create this coherent and peaceful effect. But the Maharishi Vedic Pandits, who also practice Transcendental Meditation and its advanced techniques, have a crucial advantage. As beneficiaries of their great family traditions for centuries, these Vedic Pandits have learned how to recite in Sanskrit specific peace-promoting sounds from the level of the Unified Field, the Transcendent—sounds that Maharishi describes as “reverberations of Natural Law.” Through this precise art and science of Vedic recitation, the Vedic Pandits amplify the peace-creating effect. It is for this reason that Maharishi said, “When the Vedic Families of India are able to uphold their tradition of daily recitation of the Vedas from the transcendental level of consciousness then the whole world enjoys peace.”

10. Are there any efforts underway now to build and maintain a large group of Vedic experts?

Ramani: Yes. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of this Vedic Peace Technology and the Global Peace Initiative, created in the geographical center of India (near Jabalpur) a 1,700-acre campus for Vedic Pandits. Currently, there are 1,500 Vedic experts in residence there. And very fortunately, in America, at Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa, there is a second campus with about 1,000 Vedic Pandits.  Our goal is to raise the number to 9,000 Vedic experts in India and 1,250 Vedic experts in the USA. This will complete the first phase of the Global Peace Initiative. Subsequent phases will focus on creating additional groups of Vedic experts sufficient to focus specifically on individual countries.

11. What is the money used for that is being raised?

Ramani: Donations from around the world principally are received by The Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation (BSF), a tax-exempt (501c3) organization in the U.S and it’s sister organization in Europe that shares its goals and mandate. The foundation is independently audited. Maharishi established the trust in the name of his Guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, to create a permanent financial basis for peace for the world. The funds are used to create infrastructure on the campuses, train the Vedic experts (which takes years to do), and then pay the Vedic experts an appropriate salary.

12. What kind of training do the Vedic Pandits receive?

Ramani: It is a very thorough training that takes place in three phases. The first phase is in the local villages; the second phase is in regional centers; and the third phase is in the national centers established throughout India. It is important to note that those who complete the training receive academic degrees from Maharishi Vedic Vishwa Vidyalaya, a statutory University established by the government of Madhya Pradesh in India. In the past Maharishi’s organization has actually trained about 50,000 of these Vedic experts, but never been able to maintain them in a group.

13. You were CEO of one of the largest financial firms in the world. How did you get involved in this initiative?

Ramani: I personally had benefited in my own life by practicing Transcendental Meditation. It helped me in so many ways as an individual. And when I met Maharishi, and I saw his deep concern for the future of the world and how he had worked most of his life to create this opportunity for mankind, I really felt I should do whatever I could to see his work come to fruition. Most people don’t even think world peace is possible, that it’s a dream. But I am convinced we now have a scientific, practical, and reliable way to use mankind’s most ancient knowledge, the Veda, to usher in a new destiny for mankind. It’s a very big thing—historic—and it is a joy to be part of the global efforts. As Indians who cherish the Vedic tradition in our hearts, we should feel very proud that this great knowledge has given us a practical means to create peace in the world.

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See: Chandrika Tandon Concert to Benefit 1000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits Launches Global Peace Initiative and Chandrika Tandon Benefit Concert in Iowa Helps Launch Global Peace Initiative.

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