Meditator Stephen Cardinal believes this blip of a city in southeast Iowa could soon alleviate world strife.
Since the city’s founding in 2001, hundreds of Transcendental Meditation practitioners have meditated in unison, sending what they say is a wave of positivity across the globe. In the coming weeks, nearly 2,000 meditators from around the world will gather here to bolster the wave in a mass meditation.
“The solutions of our forefathers haven’t worked,” said Cardinal, 25, who attends a TM university in nearby Fairfield.
The practitioners will meditate in this city as well as in Fairfield. Workers are busy building homes for 500 meditators on fields where sunflowers once stood. A short walk leads to a colony where meditators stay in white houses with gold-colored roofs, topped with onion-shaped domes.
“I do believe that this influence is true and that it is a technology that is valuable,” said Ed Malloy, the Fairfield mayor and a TM practitioner.
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TM practitioners follow the precepts of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the TM founder and a one-time spiritual teacher to the Beatles.
The Maharishi, reported to be about 89, contends that simultaneous mass meditation creates a wave effect that calms the world, influences stock markets, decreases crime rates and prompts other positive behavior.
Supporters claim the positive energy from this city about 95 miles (about 150 kilometers) southeast of Iowa’s state capital of Des Moines is already paying off.
John Hagelin, the assembly’s organizer, said that since the number of daily meditators in Maharishi Vedic City and Fairfield reached about 1,200 on July 23, the Dow Jones Industrial Index has hit record levels, the S&P reached a 5 1/2-year high, and the Nasdaq climbed to a five year high.
Once the 2,000 meditators are in place for the assembly called Invincible America, Hagelin predicts the Dow will surge toward 15,000, oil prices will fall below $45 a barrel, the U.S. crime rate will drop 20 percent and tensions in North Korea and Iran will be resolved peacefully.
Violence in Iraq will also dramatically decline, said Hagelin, a former Natural Law Party presidential candidate.
“We’re clearly on the threshold of a global transformation,” said Hagelin, a quantum physics researcher educated at Harvard and Dartmouth.
The TM experts, called pandits, are men aged 20 to 30 who have studied with the Maharishi for years, learning chants and other practices of Vedic tradition from ancient India. The movement claims 6 million practitioners since it was introduced about 50 years ago.
The Maharishi claims the men are adept at the art of “yogic flying,” a deep level of consciousness that causes the practitioner to hop into the air involuntarily. He says the meditators tap into a unified field of consciousness that affects society.
The pandits travel to Iowa with their own chefs who prepare specialized organic vegetarian meals. Their 700-square-foot (65-square-meter), two-bedroom manufactured homes, which are now being delivered, will meet Vedic specifications. They will face east in alignment with the sun.
A TM supporter’s private foundation has kicked in $12 million for the assembly. The money provides as much as $600 a month to cover expenses for each participant willing to relocate to southeastern Iowa.
The pandits will rarely leave the largely closed community and will return to India after two years, then be replaced by a new group, said Maharishi Vedic City Mayor Bob Wynne.