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A new campus plans to open near Washington, D.C., with some lofty aims: “total knowledge” for its students and bringing peace and a deeper understanding of life to those who govern the country.
The Global Country of World Peace announced Wednesday that the second campus of Maharishi University -- founded by the spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi -- will open in Arlington, VA.
The original campus, the Maharishi University of Management, in Iowa, is an accredited institution with about 700 students. It offers some conventional degree programs, like literature and elementary education, but incorporates “transcendental meditation” into the curriculum. Transcendental meditation is a particular kind of meditation that involves the repetition of a simple sound. It is the core of the movement Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started with the intention of alleviating the world’s problems.
The new campus, the Maharishi University of World Peace, will open once the Global Country of World Peace raises $600 million, said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the university. He said the money will come through grants and donations. Officials said the curriculum for the 2,000 students eventually expected to enroll will feature meditation even more prominently than the Iowa campus does.
Wednesday’s announcement, preceded by a procession of gold-crown adorned “rajas” who entered the press conference to bagpipes, is the beginning of a new world, according to John Hagelin, president of the U.S. Peace Government and head of the new campus.
As anyone inside the Beltway -- or who has set wheels on the Beltway -- knows, Washington isn’t exactly known as a meditative place. Hagelin, a former physicist, acknowledged that Washington is “a very stressed city,” he said, with a “divisive government.”
He said that the 2,000 students, whom he called “professional peacemakers,” will be a much needed addition to Washington. The reason Maharishi University of World Peace is content to stay at 2,000, officials said, is that the critical mass of “yogic flyers” -- advanced meditators who practice a particular form of mediation that involves bouncing -- needed to spread “total knowledge” across the whole country, is the square root of one percent of the national population.
According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who joined the announcement via video, the Netherlands, with the recent accretion of 400 yogic flyers, is the only nation to have hit that critical mass. The 2,000 at Maharishi University will put the United States over the mark by about 300.
As for the Arlington location, it’s not the D.C. real estate market that’s keeping Maharishi University out. Hagelin said that one of the reasons the government might be so stressed out is that the river is on the wrong side. Having “water to the north or east,” Hagelin said, “is very auspicious,” while having it to the south or west, as the capitol does, “afflicts residents.”