East Side site eyed for the first of 10 such ‘peace palaces’
The Global Country of World Peace, the organization at the heart of transcendental meditation practice worldwide, is about to buy an open lot on St. Paul’s East Side. The palace, targeted for three-quarters of an acre at the southwest corner of Ruth Street and Wilson Avenue, would house yoga and meditation sessions and classes, a lecture hall, a store for health products, and a clearinghouse for literature and other Global Country information. Groundbreaking could come in the spring.
Organization insiders have established long-range goals for 10 such palaces in the Twin Cities — one for every 200,000 to 300,000 people — as part of a plan to establish 2,400 around the United States and 600 more in Europe. Such palaces already exist in Lexington, Ky.; Bethesda, Md.; and Houston, as well as in Fairfield, Iowa, the group’s American base.
The central ideas, insiders say, are to promote a world order based on “natural law” and to blanket the planet with the physiological and mental balance to smother the seeds of conflict.
“If we can bring enlightenment to people here and enrich our whole country to stop doing what it’s doing in the world, then hopefully that will affect the behavior of the rest of the world,” says Michael Hauth, co-director of the effort to establish peace palaces in Minnesota.
St. Paul city officials haven’t heard from Global Country officials, nor have representatives of St. Paul’s District 1 Community Council. Any contact or presentation of plans to those entities, Hauth says, would be premature before Global Country closes any deal on a piece of property.
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On its Web site, Global Country has drawings and floor plans for four configurations for peace palaces: small, medium and large split-level, rectangular buildings and one tower — all with large columns, sweeping arches and domed tops, all facing east and all built with organic material. Development costs for each palace will range from $1 million to $2 million, Hauth says.
In the late 1950s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed transcendental meditation and used such techniques as massage and “yogic hopping” to clear and rejuvenate the consciousness. Maharishi began curbing the group’s religious elements during the 1970s to emphasize a more secular spirituality. Clint Eastwood, Howard Stern and Celine Dion are among celebrities said to practice the maharishi’s teachings, and Hauth estimates 5 million to 8 million people around the world have taken classes.
The organization’s goals, detailed throughout the group’s Web site, range from the idealistic to the bizarre.
Global Country wants to replace the American dollar and other countries’ currency with its own RAAM. A “global reconstruction program” would dismantle and rebuild New York City, Paris and other major cities to encourage “life in enlightenment, perfect health, affluence, invincibility and peace.” Its Constitution of the Universe “governs the infinite diversity of the ever-expanding universe with perfect order.”
Participants in an upcoming “Raja training conference” are asked, on the Global Country Web site, to pay $1 million — “half of this can be contributed now, and the remainder later.”
“The vast majority of people who’ve learned T.M. (transcendental meditation), we never hear from them again,” Hauth says in response to critics who liken Global Country to a cult.
“It’s about meeting the need of our time,” says Natalie Hansen, who co-directs, with Hauth, the peace palace efforts in Minnesota. “It’s about creating harmony and bringing a sense of peace to our environment. It allows that silent level of existence within us to be present all the time.”