Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower, and draws all good things toward you. Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others. Do not strain after the needs of life. It is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way life proceeds more naturally and effortlessly. Life is here to Enjoy!
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
When my brother and I heard the loud mechanical roar of the Champion juicer coming from the kitchen, we knew it was safe to emerge from our bedrooms following our afternoon meditation. Walking into the kitchen, past the 50 pound weekly bag of carrots that was nearly my size, my father yelled over the juicer’s roar, “Your juice is almost ready,” while forcing another large carrot into the juicers’ grinding blades.
My throat gagged at the sight of rising frothing carrot juice in the stainless steel bowl. Chunks of dry clumped carrot pulp filled the plastic bag, rubber banded to the juicer’s pulp ejector. I scrounged through kitchen cabinets for a fine strainer to further filter my required glass of carrot juice, so that I could tolerate swallowing. Carrot juice made my tongue and lips itchy and swollen, so I swallowed as quickly as possible.
Dad reminded us daily how important the carrot juice was. If my friend Elaine visited, she benefited from carrot lore and a glass. Friends gradually stopped coming over.
Dad often said:
This juice contains most of the nutrition you need for the day. The Beta Carotene and other vitamins are more pure and more nutritious than any other foods. By concentrating the nutrition of seven or eight carrots into one glass, without the needless pulp, your body will be more pure and more strong than it would be by eating regular foods.
Dad made a special concoction of one third carrot, one third celery, and one third apple juice, to counteract his slowly debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.
I downed my carrot juice, after running it through an extra fine kitchen strainer, purposely holding my throat open to guzzle without tasting. My father slowly drank his special mix, “You have to masticate the juice Gina. The juice is concentrated, but it needs the benefit of your saliva to be digested and used in your body.”
He spoke while swishing the juice around his mouth with chewing motions, his lips and cheeks alternating swelling in and out. “Doctors won’t tell you this, because it would keep you healthy and put them out of business. The medical profession wants people to be sick, so you have to keep returning to them for more and more drugs to weaken your nervous system and keep you dependent upon them.”
My father was convinced the medical profession was evil. He would beat the medical system through carrot juice and meditation.
We drank our juice exactly 20 minutes before dinner, to allow the nutritious juice to be absorbed, prior to taking in solid food which would slow our digestion and make us dull.
In the middle 1960’s, Our parents directed the family focus for eternal enlightenment. With the mystical key of our specially awarded mantra, twice daily without fail, we meditated in silence. After school, Dad returned home from his job as civil service mechanical engineer before five p.m. Our parents took the kitchen’s pink wall telephone off the hook, wrapping the receiver in a towel to muffle the inevitable dial tone and warning bleep which emanated from a phone off the hook.
Our parents meditated in the living room – Dad reclined in his green naugahyde lazy-boy lounger while my mother sat cross legged upon the zippered plastic covers of the brown danish modern sofa. Gunnar and I retreated to our respective bedrooms, allowed only to emerge when our parents finished meditating. We individually chanted our Word of Wisdom, or children’s meditation, silently while playing or otherwise engaging ourselves in our rooms.
While neighborhood children played outside after school, our family silently meditated. To further prevent interruptions, my mother hung a sign on the front door with the words, Do Not Disturb. Meditation in Progress. The sign humiliated me by the public proclamation of our differentness. Mom and Dad were happy with the sign, because no neighborhood children knocked on the door for us when the sign was up.
The loud whirr of the Champion juicer grinding carrots signaled that we could leave our rooms.
By the time we finally sat to dinner, other neighborhood children had finished eating and were outside playing. Gunnar and I could hear their shouts and street games; we wanted to join them.
“No,” Mom said each evening, “Dinner is family time; we have to sit together.” Sitting in our assigned dining places, my brother across the table and a parent on each side, we closed our eyes and bowed our heads while Mom whispered Maharishi’s dinner grace,
In thy fullness, oh Lord
Filled with thy grace
For the purpose of union with thee
To satisfy and glorify thy creation
With thanks to thee with all our heart
And all adoration for thy blessings
We accept this gift as it has come to us
This food is thy blessing
In thy service
We accept with all gratitude, my Lord
Mom slowly opened her eyes and lifted her head after grace, as if coming out of a deep trance. My brother and I knew to wait for Mom to appear fully awakened before we could begin eating.
Our family time consisted of a simple, almost raw food, dinner and listening to the latest spiritual lessons. Interaction with our parents was minimal. They downloaded scripted spiritual messages to us.
Dinner consisted of a salad without dressing, because dressing was deemed tomasic, or toxin laden. Vegetables were lightly steamed to avoid draining their nutrients. We were not allowed salt nor condiments. My brother and I wanted fish sticks, potatoes, hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, cookies, and ice cream.
Our parents relented, by allowing us to drink milk, even though they said “Milk is for cows. Humans are the only animal that think it’s acceptable to drink milk after infancy. Drinking milk will give you too much calcium and create bone problems later in life.”
My brother and I relished the forbidden smooth white liquid. Mom often reminded us, “You father’s arthritis is because he drank too much milk growing up on the farm in Norway. That calcium settled in his joints causing arthritis.” Gunnar and I guzzled milk anyway.
Dinner was family time, but my brother and I were not allowed to participate in conversation. We often played footsie beneath the table, sometimes resulting in one of us unable to restrain laughter and spraying a mouthful of milk across the dinner table. In such situations, Mom yelled, “Leave the table now! If you must behave like animals, then you don’t deserve to sit at the table! Go to your rooms!”
We ran giggling down the hall to our bedrooms, glad to escape to our records and comic books.
When Gunnar and I behaved, by eating in silence, mother expounded on spiritual lessons. Usually we behaved by eating quietly and listening to Mom’s teachings, so that dinner would end as quickly as possible and we could be excused.
About a year after our childhood initiation into TM, my mother held up a new book at the dinner table, A Hermit in the Houseby Helena Olson had just been published in 1967.
This book was written by Helena Olson. You two were initiated in the Olsons’ house; Dad and I visit them often. Did you know the Olsons were the first family to host Maharishi when he came to California? The Olsons had the vision to see that this tiny Indian man is a great sage. They offered their home for Maharishi to establish his Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the west. To this day Helena Olson is called Mother Olson, for being the mother to the Movement. Mother Olson wrote about the time Maharishi lived in their home. You two were initiated in this home; your father and I were initiated by Roland Olson.
I asked, “So? What does that have to do with us?”
My brother and I listened disinterestedly while chewing our broccoli, cashews and brown rice. Mom flipped through black and white photos of Maharishi lounging in the Olsons’ TV room, or with their daughters. She continued:
The Olsons were grateful to have meaning to their previously materialistic life in Beverly Hills. By supporting Maharishi, they have a new purpose to bring spirituality to mankind. Your father and I attend Los Angeles meditation meetings at the Olsons’ home. They tell wonderful stories about Maharishi! Many of her stories in this book, but not all.
When I helped Helena in the kitchen, I confided that while Roland initiated me, I had a vision that he was an Egyptian pharaoh performing a ritual. I asked Helena “Was Roland once a pharaoh in a previous lifetime?”
Helena looked at me, she then looked down and smiled as if she was embarrassed, “Not a very good one, I’m afraid.”
(My mother chuckled with such an intimate revelation.)
You see, children, even though Roland was not a good pharaoh, he learned management skills from that lifetime. We all carry our lessons from one life to the next. Those skills served him as a business man in this lifetime, and now he uses his experience from being a pharoah to spread Maharishi’s teachings. You won’t read stories like that in this book, because most people would not understand higher spiritual truths the way we do.
I loved ancient mythology, I was interested that we had been in a real pharaoh’s house! Immediately I asked, “Do you know which pharaoh he was?” I wanted to look him up in our encyclopedia, or school library. How exciting that we were associated with ancient royalty! I didn’t care about this new book, I wanted to know which pharaoh he was, and if we were in his court.
Mom responded, “No, I didn’t ask which pharaoh. It doesn’t matter, since he wasn’t a good one anyway.”
“Then how can I look him up?” I was disappointed, even bad kings were in history books. I wanted to know which ancient royalty were our friends!
My mother excused herself to use the bathroom. In Mom’s absence, Dad asked about our school day. Gunnar and I talked about playground games. Retching and splashing sounds came from down the hall, as if Mom was vomiting into the toilet.
“Is Mom sick?” I asked.
“No.” Dad said, “She’s always done that when she eats too much.”
“She does what?” asked Gunnar.
“She empties her stomach.” Dad calmly responded.
“Ugh! Why would someone want to barf?” I exclaimed, imagining the experience and taste from being sick.
We heard the toilet flush, the water from the sink, and the rubbing sound of a toothbrush, as Mom presumably cleaned up. Then she returned to the dinner table. She sat at her place, smiling, looking perfectly normal.
“Mom, are you sick or did you just make yourself barf?” I asked.
“Yuk!” Gunnar said.
“No, I’m not sick. Since I taste dinner while preparing it, then sometimes I overeat when joining the family for dinner. Vomiting afterwards is a natural way to relieve my over filled stomach. Since I already absorbed the carrot juice’s nutrients, there is no problem with getting rid of extra food. Ancient Roman royalty vomited after feasts. They ate, drank, celebrated, then emptied their stomachs so they could rejoin their party and continue.”
I thought that she made barfing after dinner sound like a royal tradition!
“Gross!” Gunnar said while placing a hand on his stomach and mimicking retching movements. “How do you make yourself do that?”
“Just put your finger into the back of your throat. It’s easy. Try it sometime.” Mom calmly explained while reaching for more rice.
“Ugh! How can you eat again right away? That’s weird!” I said,
“May I please be excused? I can’t eat anymore.” My mother gave me permission to leave the table. I carried my plate and utensils to the kitchen while wondering about the pharaoh who was my parents’ friend.