Group hoping to build peace palace in county

Structure one of 3,000 planned worldwide
Ventura County Star, Apr. 18, 2003
http://www.insidevc.com/
By Erinn Hutkin

It is not enough to demonstrate for peace. Nor will it come from legislation.

Peace won’t happen by wishing or hoping, Billie Jean Billman says.

The solution for peace, she feels, will come in the form of a palace.

Billman, a transcendental meditation instructor, is among a group of locals trying to find money and land in Ventura County for a peace palace. If constructed, the palace would be one of 3,000 expected to be built worldwide.

At the palace, a group of about 100 would meet each morning and evening for transcendental meditation, a simple, precise practice that relaxes the body while keeping the mind alert.

Followers of transcendental meditation movement founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi believe the large number of meditators will generate peace. They feel that sense will spill into the community and reduce crime, violence, terrorism and warfare.

Billman likens the concept to the ripple effect of a stone dropped in water.

The local group is looking at one-acre palace sites in Ventura, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village. An estimated $1.2 million to $1.5 million is needed for the project.

There are peace palaces in Bethesda, Md., and Lexington Ky. Ultimately, 400 are expected to be built in the United States, falling under the nonprofit Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corp.

Joe Boxerman, a publicist at Iowa’s Maharishi University of Management, said palaces should be close to major cities because they are centers of crime and stress. He said Ventura County is ideal for a palace because of its growing population, natural beauty and proximity to Los Angeles.

Ron Whitehurst, a part-time meditation instructor in Ventura, said the palace also offer will classes and medical consultations. He estimates the county boasts 500 meditators and enough money to establish a palace.

“There’s a very strong desire among a lot of people to see this project come together,” he said. “I can safely say we will have a good clientele.”

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