Speakers urge joint peace efforts

Violence and war result from ‘societal stress,’ says a speaker at the event at Maharishi University

Fairfield, Ia. – Sitting on mattresses under a golden dome, hundreds of people listened Sunday as advocates such as filmmaker David Lynch and former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Robert Muller explained their ideas for creating world peace – in their socks.

“If we can work together, we can have peace this year. Real peace, heaven on earth, this year,” Lynch said.

The talks were part of a “Creating Peace” event at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, a southeast Iowa town of about 9,600 people. The university espouses the teachings of Indian meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was a spiritual adviser to the Beatles in the 1960s, and Transcendental Meditation.

The event was organized by Students for Peace, and took place in the Golden Dome, where TM is practiced. Shoes are left outside the meditation room, which is filled wall-to-wall with mattresses.

Transcendental Meditation

“Transcendental Meditation was ruled a religion by the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, Docket No. 76-341 (H.C.M.) Civil Action, in the case of Alan B. Malnak. et al., Plaintiffs, v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, et al., Defendants, in a summary judgment issued October 19, 1977, followed by an order and judgment, filed December 12, 1977.”
- Is TM a religion?

Lynch, whose film credits include “Twin Peaks,” “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive,” is a trustee of the university and has been a TM practitioner since 1973. He believes widespread practice of meditation could help create world peace. “It’s so simple,” he said.

John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and director of the Institute of World Peace at the university, agrees.

“Societal stress and tensions are responsible for societal diseases” such as violence, drug abuse, terrorism and war, he said.

“If you could diffuse that tension, you have the possibility of preventing war before it arises,” Hagelin said.

Muller, who spent 40 years at the United Nations, has seen war firsthand; he was a prisoner of the Nazis during World War II.

But he offered an optimistic view of the current war in Iraq.

“Because the United States, after having gotten rid of other powers, considers itself the only big force on Earth,” he said. “With the Iraq war, there is a second big force on Earth – it is the people, the millions of people who say we do not want this war.”

Muller, 82, said recent history shows progress being made toward peace. As examples, he noted the end of the Cold War, China joining the United Nations and the creation of the European Union.

“We live in a society where peace is gaining ground,” he said.

Erin Skipper, a recent graduate of the university and president of Students for Peace, spent the past year organizing Sunday’s event.

“We felt really inspired to get like-minded people together in one place and have a peace conference that would offer solutions instead of focusing on the problems and dire conditions,” she said.

Muller’s solutions include creating a minister of peace in each government and following the model of the EU in other regions of the world, including the Americas.

Other speakers at the event included Sue McGregor, a professor at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Maureen McCue, adjunct clinical professor at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Muller, who traveled from his home in Costa Rica for the event, had advice for the audience: “Have ideals, have beliefs, do something, be happy, and be absolutely confident that you can change the world. Even the policies of the United States.”

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