Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maharishis and Marshmallows

There's something you should know about Fairfield, Iowa (population 9000-ish). It's a major gathering place for Maharishis. I quote from wikipedia: 

Fairfield has been described as the home of the Transcendental Meditation movement. It has been called a "national magnet" and "the world's largest training center" for practitioners of TM. Many of its current residents moved there to participate in the group practice of the TM-Sidhi program inside one of the Maharishi University of Management's two golden domes. Locally, TM practitioners are someties called "roos", slang for gurus, a term they have appropriated, although they also refer to themselves as "meditators".

Bet you didn't expect that, did you? 

Being the rabid tourist that I am, I jumped at the chance to go inside the golden dome and see that place for myself. There are actually two domes, one for the men and one for the women. We got to go in the men's dome, and I hate to say it, but it smelled like a locker room. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First up, The Tower of Invincibility:
Our very kind and knowledgable guide explained it's symbolism to me, but I couldn't explain it to you now if my life depended on it.  Here we are approaching the men's dome:
Each light below represents a meditator, sending off positive rays of light and peace throughout the world (or something like that). Elizabeth looks like she drank the Kool-aid:
And that, my friends, is the end of your photographic tour since we couldn't take pictures inside the dome itself. To me, it looked like a mosque (the shape and dimensions), but it was filled with sheet covered foam mattresses and little stadium style flip open chairs for people to sit comfortably while meditating. When we were there it was "laundry day" and they were changing the sheets--I can only presume that's where the sweat smell came from. We were told the highest level of meditation involves levitating, which sounds like it takes some physical exertion unless people genuinely float, which I have a hard time believing. (I've heard many skeptics describe it as "hopping"rather than "levitating.") It was all very kumbaya, but being in a religion that is largely misunderstood and misrepresented I don't want to judge too harshly. Heaven knows I could certainly benefit from learning to quiet my mind through meditation. (But don't mistake this movement for a religion. The guy that gave us the tour is a practicing Jew, and there are several members of my sister's Mormon congregation that are also meditators.)

The domes are just part of a larger campus, the Maharishi University of Management:

 On to more mundane places like the local library:
And making homemade salt clay back at Liz's:
That awesome picture window:
Once Jason got home, everybody headed outside to play ball, jump on the tramp, and get ready for smores:

The older kids had fun retrieving the ball from the big field in back of their yard:

Almost time to break out the marshmallows:

It was so stinkin hot and humid I can hardly believe we lit a fire (there was a BIG storm that started right after we went in for the night), but who can resist smores in their own backyard?

Maybe the more relevant question is, what boy can resist playing with fire?
And taking his shirt off when he gets hot?


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