Posts Tagged ‘Yoga Sutras’

Who was Dear Prudence the Beatles sang to in India? What happened to her? Here is her story.

December 21, 2014

See the full article with more photos and quotes featured in the 21st issue of Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation® Magazine: The “Dear Prudence” Story by Rolf Erickson. Reprinted here with permission including the video: Dear Prudence: A Portrait Of Prudence Farrow Bruns.

The “Dear Prudence” Story

BY ROLF ERICKSON

photo_prudence01Prudence Farrow Bruns, PhD, is the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan and award-winning writer/director, John Farrow. She has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for 48 years, and has been a teacher of the TM program for 46 years.

It all started so simply. It was 1966, and 18-year-old Prudence Farrow was sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at her brother’s home in Los Angeles. She was reading a book on meditation when she heard a voice say, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.”

The voice was that of Peter Wallace, a friend of her brother. Peter had spent six months traveling through India, where he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and began the Transcendental Meditation technique. He told her how simple and effortless the technique was, and yet how profound the experience and benefits could be.

“It was the simplicity of the practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I’d been trying different methods of meditation for some time, but they had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”

So Prudence learned the TM technique at UCLA. After experiencing the positive effects of TM for herself, Prudence wanted more. She wanted to meet Maharishi and to study with him. “At that time Maharishi had courses in India,” says Prudence. “He brought people there, and they studied for three or four months with him. You meditated for long periods under his guidance.”

On January 23, 1968, three days after her 20th birthday, Prudence traveled with Maharishi from New York to Rishikesh, India to attend her TM teacher training course. And that’s when the “Dear Prudence” story really began.

The Beatles Make the Scene

One month after Prudence arrived in Rishikesh, The Beatles showed up to study with Maharishi. While they all spent some time there, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed the longest.

“The Beatles were all very nice, humble, modest, kind, and down-to-earth people,” Prudence remembers. “I was closest to John and George, since they were my ‘course buddies’ during our studies with Maharishi. We were supposed to look out for each other during the course.”

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Prudence (left) sat next to Ringo in course photo.

Prudence soon became known for her tendency to keep to herself in her room, focused on her meditation practice. “I was deeply immersed in my studies and meditation, locked away in my quarters. John, as my course buddy, was concerned and wanted to bring me out of my room to enjoy the experience more.”

John and George would come over to her room and play their guitars, encouraging her to come out and sing with them. It was this experience that became the inspiration for their song “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”

Before he left Rishikesh, George mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but she had no idea what it was. She didn’t hear the song until it came out on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”

Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice did pay off. After four months, she graduated from the course and became one of the first and youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time.

But that was just the beginning of the “Dear Prudence” story.

Prudence Comes out to Play

Once she completed her teacher training course in India, Prudence definitely did come out to play. Over the past 46 years, she’s instructed thousands of people in the TM technique throughout the United States and Canada. She married TM teacher Al Bruns in 1969, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

She’s produced Hollywood feature films and a play in Manhattan. She was an assistant to the curator of the “Theatre Collection” of the Museum of the City of New York. She has been a magazine writer. She’s written two books.

Prudence earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in 2007, with a major in South Asian Studies and Sanskrit. She has made presentations to conferences at numerous universities, including Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawaii. She’s taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University.

TM and Yoga

Prudence continues to teach the TM program in Florida. In fact, she’s the most successful teacher in the U.S. at setting up Affiliate Programs in yoga studios. Maybe that’s not so surprising, considering that she’s a lifelong yoga practitioner, and she opened a yoga institute in Boston back in 1967.

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Prudence attended India’s Kumbh Mela last year.

Maharishi Foundation created the Affiliate Program to bring TM to yoga studios and fitness centers. When a studio becomes an Affiliate, their members can learn TM at a reduced course fee, and the studio receives a share of the income. Everyone benefits—the new TM student, the yoga studio, and the local TM teachers.

Today most people think of yoga as a series of physical postures. But Maharishi has explained that in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali identifies eight limbs of yoga, and the eighth limb is Samadhi or transcendental consciousness. Maharishi said that with the practice of TM, Samadhi is actually the easiest limb of yoga to achieve, since no effort is required. We simply tap into the natural tendency of the mind to go within, to transcend, and that transcendence nourishes and supports all the other limbs.

“I do think that Transcendental Meditation is—of the meditations that are available to us—the most direct, and the simplest,” says Prudence. “When you meditate, when you transcend, it allows your heart and mind to balance. And when they’re balanced, that’s when you are really healthy. You are happy. You’re happy mentally, happy emotionally, and happy spiritually. Those three are all components of what make a human being, so that connection to transcendence is absolutely necessary for health.”

Creating a Better World

Fortunately for us all, Prudence did come out to play.

“The years of meditating have enriched my life so much,” Prudence says. “And that’s why at this point in my life, I’m giving back. We need a better world. We need people to be more conscious, to be more evolved. And expanding the mind, like TM does, is absolutely vital to bring about stronger people. If you can strengthen people inside, you’ve changed the world.”

So even today, 48 years later, the “Dear Prudence” story continues.

[In July 2018, this article was updated and published in Enjoy TM News.]

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Last year, Prudence Farrow Bruns participated in a series of Consciousness Talks at Maharishi University of Management, called Our Conscious Future. Here is a clip from her talk where she discusses a conversation she had with George Harrison about his spiritual awakening. Prudence, George and John Lennon said they felt it was happening to many in their generation, and that it would continue long after they were gone. Listen to Prudence describe The “Dear Prudence” Story. For other fascinating presentations, visit ConsciousnessTalks.org.

Years later, The Beatles released many versions of their songs on the 50th Anniversary of The White Album, now out on Spotify, which include The Esher Tapes. There are 3 versions of Dear Prudence there: the Esher version of John Lennon singing on guitar; one of just vocal, guitar, and drums; and the 2018 mix.

Another beautiful song that John Lennon wrote about his experience with Transcendental Meditation was, Across the Universe. Spotify included John Lennon on guitar singing Across The Universe–Take 6.

This article was also published in GGN: World Peace News. Here are some related videos and interviews with Prudence Farrow Bruns: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”: A Portrait of Prudence Farrow Bruns, Maharishi and TM and Ted Henry interviews “Dear Prudence” Farrow Bruns about her life with TM and Maharishi and Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Prudence’s memoir is now out: Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song. Listen to an interview with Prudence about the book online at Spirit Matters with Dennis Raimondi and Philip Goldberg. Read an interview about the book in Rolling Stone: The Real ‘Dear Prudence’ on Meeting Beatles in India. Read this excellent article in the Pensacola News Journal: Woman behind Beatles ‘Dear Prudence’ reads at Open Books. Here is another interview: In Conversation With: Prudence F. Bruns, Transcendental Meditation Teacher and Inspiration Behind “Dear Prudence”. Prudence Farrow Bruns | Conversations with Jeff Weeks | WSRE Pensacola PBS.

Watch the A&E biographical film, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007) and the earlier CBC documentary of Maharishi at Lake Louise. TMhome also posted the International History Channel documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: How it was made: The story behind the film.

Watch this November 8, 2018 Lyndsey Parker interview for Yahoo Music: Mike Love remembers ‘beautiful, spiritual’ beginnings of the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ in India.

Read The Story Behind ‘Dear Prudence’ by Jennie McKeon, Dec 23, 2018, for wuwf 88.1, NPR for Florida’s Great Northwest.

August 9, 2019: ‘Dear Prudence’ Bruns in Parade discusses world peace, the ’60s, and why kids love the Beatles.

God? ~ Dr. Evan Finkelstein

December 7, 2011

God? ~ Dr. Evan Finkelstein

Some say there is one God; some say there are many Gods, some that there is no God at all.

What does this have to do with the price of beans in China? Not much. Unless you were God, then, according to some, You would be the beans, You would be the price, and You would be China. And, even when people referred to You as “You” they would have to capitalize the Y. That’s pretty special treatment.

Some people destroy in the name of “their” God and are convinced that they are doing the right thing. Others think those people are crazy and that God (“their” God, not the God of the crazy people) will certainly punish the destroyers for their wicked deeds.

Obviously, the God of those people can’t be as great as “our” God; if He/She were, then those people wouldn’t be doing those insane things. Why can’t they just come over to our God? And see the “true” Light? Then, everything would be so much better (at least, from that point of view).

For thousands of years, there have been arguments, wars, inquisitions, trials, immolations, excommunications and on and on, related to the existence and nature of God: what is the right way to envision God?

Does He, or maybe She, sit on a large fancy throne high up in the clouds somewhere in heaven surrounded by angels and other assorted celestial beings? And, how did they get that heavy throne to stay up in the sky? Well, it’s God, man, He/She can do anything!

Well, if He/She can do anything why can’t my team get into the Superbowl? Is He/She deaf? Can’t God hear my prayers? Is Green Bay, Wisconsin closer to heaven than Chicago, Illinois? Or, do they just yell louder? Does this mean that God has preferences? Does He/She just like some of us better than others of us? Is it the way we dress? Our cologne? Our mouthwash? Was it something we said?

And if God is omnipresent why can’t we see Him/Her?

I mean God should be a lot easier to find than our glasses or car keys. Some saints claimed to experience God; others said those saints were nuts and that God is a just a hallucination of their imagination. Some contend God doesn’t exist at all. Life just came into being of its own; we don’t know exactly how it first started; it just did that’s all, just be quiet and pass the chips.

And some say that God is supposed to be omniscient about the past, present, and future. He/She knows everything you’re going to do before you do it. So, do we have free will or not? If God already knows, then isn’t everything already predestined? So is free will fake? An illusion? Are we just a bunch of wind-up toys that can’t find the key nor meet our winder? Some of us fall off the table and some of us don’t, but there’s no rhyme or reason why? Or is there rhyme and reason, but few, if any, can figure it out? Not poets, nor logicians. Maybe, those that think they figured it out start religions or, at least, health spas.

And, what is this whole thing about suffering? Some say that God is all merciful and all loving and omnipotent. If He/She is that way, why is so much of the world in turmoil? Why are there so many tears and fears? Can’t God control His/Her own show?

If not, then where’s the omnipotence? If God can, then where’re all the love and the mercy? Or, do we bring the suffering on ourselves by doing things we shouldn’t and perhaps God’s just shaking His/Her cosmic head thinking: “I really wish they’d stop doing that! Well, in time they’ll learn; if I do it all for them, they’ll never develop.”

And what about Justice? Some say God is like a completely fair and impartial judge. He/She rewards the just and punishes the wicked. Well bad things certainly do happen to good people. At least, many would say they are good people and the things that happened to them were bad. Would God not agree? Does He/She perhaps see things we don’t? Or, is reincarnation true and these good folks are just currently reaping what they have sown in some past not so good life? This could explain a lot of seeming inequities, if it were true.

Maybe there is order and justice in the world; maybe it is being run by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving and intelligent existence, but who really knows?

Maybe it’s all just an empty nothing that came from nowhere and is going to nowhere, but it sure, sometimes, dresses fancy and makes a lot of noise trying to figure things out and find its way! Maybe that’s what God is, the actual process of living.

During my life-search, in 1969 I learned the practice of Transcendental Meditation and something opened up to me inside; it was an experience of simplicity, peace and a sweet feeling of “knowingness,” it felt very good and it occurred many times during my years of practice. These days, when my mind rumbles on, as it sometimes will, about all these theological and philosophical questions, I just have to laugh because it’s just so funny that one can know without knowing. Yes, as strange as it may seem, one can know without knowing.

Lao Tzu put it this way in part of Verse 1 of the Tao Te Ching:

A mind free of thought,
merged within itself,
beholds the essence of Tao
A mind filled with thought,
identified with its own perceptions,
beholds the mere forms of this world.

Buddha put it this way:

Then Subhuti asked: “What does enlightenment mean?”

The Buddha replied: “Enlightenment is a way of saying that all things are seen in their intrinsic empty nature, their Suchness, their ungraspable wonder. Names or words are merely incidental, but that state which sees no division, no duality, is enlightenment.” Prajnaparamita

Subhuti asked: “Is it possible to find perfect wisdom through reflection or listening to statements or through signs or attributes, so that one can say ‘This is it’ or Here it is?’”

The Buddha answered: “No, Subhuti. Perfect wisdom can’t be learned or distinguished or thought about or found through the senses. This is because nothing in this world can be finally explained, it can only be experienced, and thus all things are just as they are. Perfect wisdom can never be experienced apart from all things. To see the Suchness of things, which is their empty calm being, is to see them just as they are.” Ashtasahasrika

Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras put it this way:

“Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.”

David put it this way in the biblical Psalms:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

The Sufi Farid Al-Din ‘Attar expressed it like this:

The heart is the dwelling place of that which is the Essence of the universe within the very heart and soul is the very Essence of God. Like the saints, make a journey into your self; like the lovers of God cast one glance within. As a lover now, in contemplation {sustained experience} of the Beloved be unveiled within and behold the Essence. Form is a veil to you and your heart is a veil. When the veil vanishes, you will become all light.

The Sufi Mahmud Shabistari put it this way:

“In that presence “I” and “we” and “you” do not exist. “I” and “you” and “we” and “He” become one: since in the unity there is no distinction, the Quest and the Way and the Seeker become one.”

The Christian mystic John Ruusbroec said it like this:

“There the soul is simple, spotless, and pure, empty of everything. In this pure emptiness the Father reveals his divine resplendence, which neither reason nor senses, neither rational observation nor distinctions can attain.”

The Cabbalist Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla expressed it this way:

The depth of primordial Being is called Boundless. Because of its concealment from all creatures above and below, it is also called Nothingness…. Its existence cannot be grasped by anyone other than it. Therefore, its name is “I am becoming.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi put it this way:

“Once the mind gets to the transcendence, it knows Itself. It’s not the mind that knows Being; Being knows Itself. As long as there is some activity, we say “mind”; when activity subsides, it’s pure awareness. It is not knowing; it is Knowingness.”

“Being is known on the level of Knowingness, not the level of thinking.”

Anyway, some thoughts about God and going beyond them—happy journey!

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Dr. Finkelstein is professor of Comparative Religion and Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management. He has written articles that identify the common ground inherent in many of the ancient wisdom traditions. He has taught numerous courses on the universal principles that can be located in Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

God? was first published in on Nov 30, 2011.

Also see: Buddha and Meditation by Dr. Evan Finkelstein. And this related article: You Are God: Who? … Me? By William T. Hathaway.


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