Palaces of Peace

If enough donors come through, followers of an Indian guru say they can bring peace and harmony to the world — one palace at a time.

Friday in Manhattan, followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, former spiritual adviser to the Beatles, said their next goal is calming Long Island’s frenzied streets.

They unveiled plans to build a “peace palace,” on an unidentified busy corridor in Smithtown. If approved, it would house 12,000 square feet, teach meditation classes to anyone who can pay the $2,500 lifetime cost, and offer spa and health services. After that, a palace in Manhattan could follow.

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Followers hope to raise $1 billion in the near future and eventually construct a palace in 3,000 cities worldwide.

If it opens, possibly late next year, the $2.5-million center in Smithtown would cater to “yogic flyers.” These are experts on transcendental meditation, in which spiritual well-being is achieved through silent meditation or the chanting of mantras.

Yogic flying, which looks more like hopping, releases “calming vibrations” into stressed communities to lower crime relates, reduce stress-related disorders and prevent car accidents. As more centers open, these vibes will connect and end conflict, enthusiasts say.

“I would not say that Long Island is not a peaceful place,” said Lesley Goldman, a Yogi follower who teaches transcendental meditation in her Freeport home. “Of course we have our problems.”

Robert LoPinto, a Long Island native who lives in Bethesda, Md., and discovered transcendental meditation three decades ago, has 21/2 commercially-zoned acres under contract for the Smithtown palace. He said he is donating up to a million dollars, and plans to start construction early next year. A second building could come later.

“I feel compelled to make what I know available, to provide a permanent home for it to really bless the people of New York,” LoPinto said. “This is my legacy.”

Smithtown could be the site of the fifth peace palace nationwide. Similar buildings are in Bethesda, Md., Lexington, Ky., and Fairfield, Iowa. One is under construction in Houston.

After announcing the project, Yogi’s group, the newly formed U.S. Peace Government, appealed for donations, estimating that $1 billion is needed.

That’s a small price for “nothing short of total transformation of civilization,” said John Hagelin, the group’s president. About 5 percent has been raised, he said.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog), USA
Oct. 25, 2003
Dawn Wotapka

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