Last year, my neighbor hosted Prince Charles when he stopped in at George Washington's historic home in Mount Vernon during his trip to Washington D.C. To prepare for his visit, she read his book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World. She was extremely impressed with the book and told me I would love it. When she went north for the summer, she gave me her copy.
Most of my knowledge of Prince Charles stems from reading Royalty magazine, flipping through image after image of royal dignitaries ''at work'', including Prince Charles' repeatedly shaking hands with heads of state or at different social and charity events. Those articles were from the 1980s and 90s when I was living abroad. I had read that Prince Charles was into organic farming and would bring his organic vegetables with him when traveling. In recent years, I have seen news of some of his outreach, especially his views on global warming. Before reading Harmony, however, I was unaware of the full extent of his involvement in so many innovative projects that promise to make a beneficial impact on our world.
Prince Charles has been on a crusade, or what he calls a ''Sustainability Revolution.''
What amazes me about Harmony is that everything Prince Charles supports is on the same page as the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Most people know Maharishi as the guru who brought Transcendental Meditation to the world. Very few people know the full depth and breadth of Maharishi's vision and detailed designs to create a vastly better world.
There are many striking parallels between the principles Prince Charles sets forth in his book and Maharishi's teachings. To try to do them justice, I will segment this blog into three different parts.
Prince Charles — A Visionary Leader
The Age of Disconnection and Ideal Housing
Photo by Arnaud Bouissou
Right from the first pages of Harmony, Prince Charles lays out the book's central theme: humankind needs a transformative change of perception. He explains how science boasts a great track record in discovering how things work, but is unable to explain the . Philosophy, religion, and spirituality attempt to explain the whys—the meanings of how things work.
Throughout his book, Prince Charles shows us how we have lost connection with those whys and, more importantly, how we have lost connection with ourselves—to the ''voice of the soul'' (pg. 12).
Prince Charles describes how, in seventeenth-century Europe, western thinking took on a rather fragmented view of the world. As scholars and scientists probed into nature's functioning with an item-by-item approach to investigation, they began to lose the spiritual, holistic view of humanity's relationship with nature—a unified worldview that was prevalent in all ancient cultures. The lack of this holistic perception through which nature and people are viewed as integral to a grand whole is the basis of many of the problems we face today. Prince Charles calls this loss of wholeness the ''Age of Disconnection'' (pg. 19).
Maharishi shared this viewpoint, locating the cause of the piecemeal view of nature in the loss of the knowledge and direct experience of our own Self. This is Self with a capital ''S'', the ''big'' Self, the universal field of intelligence that underlies and pervades all life. The field of unity—the unified source of all expressions of diversity—has been identified by quantum physics as the unified field of natural law. Maharishi equated the unified field of all the laws of nature with the transcendental, deepest level of our own Self.
When the mind starts identifying only with isolated laws of nature and loses connection with this unified ''home'' of all the laws of nature that lies within each of us, problems and disease can arise. In the Vedic language, this fragmentation is called pragya-aparad—the ''mistake of the intellect''.
The technique of Transcendental Meditation, which Maharishi brought to the western world, is a direct, natural, and effortless way to reestablish our connection with the inner unity that lies within the silent depths of our Self.
Order in the Universe
In Harmony, Prince Charles explores the ''sacred geometry'' displayed in the architecture and art of the major ancient cultures. He explains: ''The patterning that forms sacred geometry is derived from a very close observation of nature'' (pg. 89). Ancient cultures understood that the outer order observable in the world is based on inner harmony, which is the very structure of nature itself. To access this higher ordered realm, we must activate the soul and draw upon its inner harmonious qualities.
Maharishi was fond of the following quote from the Yajur Veda: Yatha pinde tatha brahmande—''As is the atom, so is the universe; as is the human body, so is the cosmic body.'' The entirety of our universe, including our human physiology, exhibits the same orderly patterns that are found at every level of nature's functioning.
Maharishi's unique contribution to the Vedic knowledge was in realizing the importance of the sequential, mathematical development of sound and silence present at the basis of creation. He especially highlighted of the value of the ''gap'', the unexpressed foundational structure of nature. This unmanifest structure reveals itself at different stages of manifestation in our DNA, cells, human body, and the universe. When we understand and experience this structure, the ''sacred geometry'' of all life, it is possible to create outer structures that mirror, resonate with, and enhance our experience of the fundamental unity that connects us all.
Watch a 16-minute video of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: As is the cosmic life, so is the individual life
The Architecture of Nature
Maharishi revived the knowledge of Sthapatya Veda, the ancient science of architecture according to natural law, and called it Maharishi Vedic™ architecture or Maharishi Vastu®. Sthapatya Veda prescribes specific mathematical principles for construction of buildings that reflect the orderliness of nature. The architecture of many of the world's oldest civilizations reflect proportions similar to those found in the texts of Sthapatya Veda.
''Because the individual life is cosmic, everything about individual life should be in full harmony with Cosmic Life. Maharishi Vedic architecture gives dimensions, formulas, and orientations to the buildings that will provide cosmic harmony and support to the individual for his peace, prosperity, and good health—daily life in accord with Natural Law, daily life in the evolutionary direction.''
— Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Prince Charles is involved in Sustainable Urbanism—ideal city planning that uses natural building materials and intelligently designs the layout of communities. He has worked on many low-income housing developments that enable residents to walk to their grocery stores and workplaces. Cars are kept on the outskirts to reduce pollution. Trees and parks are planted throughout the towns to decrease pollution and enhance the overall well-being of the population.
Maharishi spent hundreds of hours planning ideal housing developments—what he called Vedic Garden Cities—based on Sthapatya Veda. These developments use the same basic principles as Sustainable Urbanism, i.e., buildings can be designed in any style of architecture, but they should be symmetric to create a sense of balance, and the use of non-toxic and natural building materials is pervasive. The communities are also designed so that everyone can walk to work, shopping, and daily activities.
One important element in Maharishi Vedic architecture that has not been considered in Sustainable Urbanism, however, is the emphasis on the orientation of the homes and office buildings, which should face due east or north.
Elements of Order
The three main principles of Maharishi Vedic architecture are orientation, placement, and proportion. The ancient texts go into detail about the placement of every room in the home, including what areas of the home are best for sleeping, eating, studying, socializing and meditating.
Buying a home, a person does not usually think about how the path of the sun's light will hit the building throughout the day or ask whether a house is properly placed on the grid—facing directly east, according to true, not magnetic, north. Having proper sunlight in the home goes a long away towards uplifting our spirits. I am sure everyone has experienced how depressing it is to be in a dreary home with very little sunlight. Maharishi Vastu homes are oriented to the east to take maximum advantage of the sun's changing light throughout the day.
In addition to planning for the proper orientation of homes and towns, Maharishi envisioned (and I am sure Prince Charles would also advocate this) that every community would have its own local organic farms.
As more people desire to live a sustainable, non-toxic lifestyle, and promote the future sustainability of our planet, green housing is a rapidly growing trend. Incorporating the precise directional and proportional elements of Sthapatya Veda will add a powerful engine to the art and science of creating healthy housing!
Living in a home that is aligned with the cosmos helps us to live our own lives in greater harmony with natural law. As a result, our daily activity will spontaneously be more aligned with natural law, and our health will be better.
Continued in Part II: The relationship between the Age of Disconnection and the field of education.