Group's 'governor' says meditation could put an end to wars

Faces of Note

Daytona Beach News Journal/October 31, 2001
By Anne Geggis

The life work of Laurence Topliffe has taken on a particular urgency since Sept. 11.

Topliffe, 62, active enough in Transcendental Meditation to earn the movement's "executive governor" title, is giving lectures this month around the county, hoping to convince people that more meditating -- not bombing -- is the only way to world peace.

Continuing to pound Afghanistan will only aggravate the conditions that led to the terrorist attack in the first place, says the DeLand resident, whose home doubles as "The Transcendental Meditation Center."

"We could eliminate the war if this was done," Topliffe says. "If this was done fast enough, it (the war) could be over by the end of the year . . . without firing a shot."

Transcendental Meditation, which is a trademarked name, leapt into the national consciousness most memorably in 1967 when the Beatles flew to India to spend time with the movement's promulgator, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Chiefly, the Maharishi and his followers hold that human physiology and consciousness is a replica of the universe that should work perfectly. Problems -- conflicts and wars -- arise, however, because of the stress and trauma individuals have suffered, according to followers of Transcendental Meditation. And the way to undo that damage -- and help each individual reach his or her ultimate potential -- is through Transcendental Meditation, also known as "TM."

The TM movement, however, has suffered a number of setbacks in its ultimate goals, which include having TM taught in the public schools. A 1977 court ruling decreed that TM was a religion, which will keep it from ever be a part of any public school curriculum, according to the Dialog Center, a Christian organization that monitors new religious movements.

The movement fell out of popular favor, also, not long after the Beatles renounced their association with the Maharishi.

For Topliffe, though, TM is no passing fad. He says his life hasn't been the same since he first discovered TM at a talk given at his college just outside Rochester, N.Y. Two weeks after that talk, he called up his psychiatrist and told him that he wouldn't be coming for appointments anymore.

"I felt better than I had ever felt in my life," says Topliffe, explaining that TM has enabled him to experience all seven states of human consciousness, beyond the three -- waking, sleeping, dreaming -- that most human beings exist in.

Adhering to a regime that includes rising at 5:30 a.m. to meditate before work, Topliffe says he has experienced relief from repeated strep throat and flu that once plagued him three times a year, he says.

For skeptics, Topliffe will cite 600 studies that verify the benefits of TM -- even instances where the amount of crime has dropped and crop growth increased in areas where at least 1 percent of the population is meditating regularly.

"If it didn't work . . . and it's results were not true, we wouldn't have a fully-accredited university including the Ph.D. level," Topliffe says. "The Veteran's Administration wouldn't reimburse any veteran whose VA doctor recommends it."

Topliffe, who works as a heavy equipment operator, says he believes TM is a way of creating heaven on earth.

"It's built into the nervous system; all people need to do is turn it on," Topliffe says. "When they practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, they will experience a restfulness and peace that they have never experienced."

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