The Men Who Stare at Landmines

Transcendental meditation will pull us through

If enough positive people of positive mien thought positive thoughts for long enough, could you skip through an Afghan minefield with nary a thought for being blown out of your combat boots?

You could if the square root of 1 percent of the population, preferably soldiers, were standing somewhere nearby, chanting “Om” over and over, according to three former military men.
Indian Army retired Maj. Gen Kulwant Singh, German Air Force retired Lt. Col. Gunter Chasse, and Dr David R Leffler, US Air Force veteran, say that transcendental meditation, the seven-step technique taught to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Deepak Chopra and a few million hippies in the 1960s by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, will do the trick. Kulwant Singh spent 30 years in counter-terror operations in India. Lt Col Chasse retired from the German Air Force in command and staff positions, and Leffler, among other things, is a former Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

The three are connected to the Center for Advanced Military Science at the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, itself a wing of the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, in the US. The board of directors of the Center includes an eye-popping cadre of retired military men.  Among them are Maj. Gen. Franklin M. Davis, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), former director of the Army War College and winner of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star with V for Valor; Col. Brian M. Rees, who in 2005 was the Brigade Surgeon for Task Force Guardian in Afghanistan and later head of outpatient medicine for detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq; Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Neate,  retired from the US Air Force after flying 200 missions as an F-4 pilot in Vietnam, earning four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 12 Air Medals and the Distinguished Service Medal; Coast Guard Captain Raymond E. Seebald, a military aide to Presidents Ronald W. Reagan and George H W Bush while assigned to White House duty from 1986-1990; and a flock of other international military men as well.  

“The large number of ex-military types may simply reflect the paucity of military pensions, the generosity of the Maharishi’s stipend and perhaps the barely understood long-term effect of flying fast jets, spending too long under water or working in government labs has on the human intellect,” says a skeptic involved in international risk assessment. “The most obvious way to test the veracity of the theory is for its proponents to accompany a military patrol in Helmand province or up against the Pakistan border and see what happens.”  

Undeterred,  Leffler, Kulwant Singh and Chasse three have written a heavily-footnoted 5,500-word article offered for publication to Asia Sentinel, which argues that as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) continue more and more to be the weapon of choice by weaker foes in asymmetrical warfare, “military strategists are now advocating concentrating on devising IED prevention strategies and technologies that operate farther and farther to the ‘left of the boom’” – intervening long before the explosions happen.

So could Invincible Defense Technology – the Maharishi Effect  – get us to the left of the boom? And does the military really believe it would? 

According to their website, Lt. Col. Chasse is scheduled to give a presentation to NATO and EU leaders at a conference in Berlin on October 21 and  22.  Leffler said in an email conversation that he had briefed military and law enforcement personnel about using Invincible Defense Technology to prevent IEDS in Washington, DC last November and has had extensive communication with military officials across Europe, particularly in the Soviet Union.

Asked if the US or any other military were funding the Invincible Defense Technology theory, Leffler, in his email, said: “in this business there are certain things that one is not at liberty to discuss. I will contact my superiors about your questions.” He didn’t respond again. 

The theory is reminiscent of the Stargate Project, which the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense got underway in the 1970s after reports that the Soviets were studying the use of psychic phenomena as a potential Cold War weapon.  Stargate attempted to discover ways to make clairvoyance and out of-body experience more scientific.  At its peak, according to various reports, Stargate was operating as many as 14 laboratories researching so-called “remote viewing” in which military subjects sought to change the outcome of certain events by staring at them. 

The program gave rise to a hilarious 2004 book by British author Jon Ronson titled “The Men Who Stare at Goats” (available at Amazon Books, used, from US$4.99).  The book, which is now being made into a movie, took its title from an experiment in which soldiers stared intently at goats in an effort to kill them.  The CIA shut down the final vestiges of the program in 1995.  Ronson described attempts by Maj. Gen. Albert Stubblebine III, the army’s chief of intelligence, who believed that if he concentrated hard enough to align the molecules of his body with those of his wall, he could walk through it.  He repeatedly walked into the wall without success.


“Devices can be deflected by the more powerful influences of a collective consciousness,” the three argue. “This happens naturally much like a superconducting magnetic field can repel the influence of an intrusive external magnetic field. This latter phenomenon is called the Meissner Effect. The effect of collective consciousness is called the Maharishi Effect. It is named in honor of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the foremost exponent and scientist of consciousness known to our modern age.

meissner

The article goes into great detail, for instance, on unified field theory described by superstring theory.  But suffice it to say the principle is that enough people – in effect the square root of 1 percent of the population –stand around thinking positive thoughts, bad things won’t happen.  Part of it could be that if you got, say, a million people to stand around thinking positive thoughts, that’s a million people right there who aren’t making bombs or carjacking in Chicago.

Nonetheless, the three write, “during the past 40 years, more than 600 scientific studies conducted at 250 independent universities and medical schools in 33 countries have validated the wide-ranging stress-reducing benefits of the TM program. By applying this human resource-based technology, the military and related security agencies could reduce tensions and control terrorism, including IED attacks. Counter-intuitively, combat casualties diminish through non-lethal and non-destructive methods.”  And thus, “If the military were to harness the power of the unified field through IDT, the nation would rise quickly toward invincibility.”  

For instance, the authors say, “Afghanistan has a population of approximately 34 million: 33,610,000 x 0.01 = 336,100, and the square root of 336,100 is approximately 580, so a group of 580 IDT experts would theoretically be the minimum size to produce significant reductions in terrorism and conflict in the Afghanistan. The group size needed to affect the world is currently about 8,126.”
More than 50 studies, they write, have shown that IDT works. "The causal mechanism has been postulated to be a field effect of consciousness—an effect from the level of the unified field created by the peace-creating group that spills over into the larger population."  Seratonin levels, they say, rise in people who just happen to be in the Maharishi’s force field.

Mozambique, they argue, used the technique to end its civil war in the 1990s. It has driven profound changes in the politics of the Netherlands, they say.  Groups in Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Peru “have also taken responsibility for building sufficiently large groups within their boundaries. And in the US, the number of IDT experts in Fairfield is growing towards critical mass. Once they apply the requisite unified field, the US should chill out, which would be welcome news to President Barack Obama and the US congressmen who are conducting heated “town hall” meetings to legions of apparently outraged citizens screaming at them over the president’s attempts to pass a national health plan.

The authors suggest that amateur or volunteer force fielders aren’t reliable.  What is needed, they say, is a professional force. “IDT achieves best operating characteristics when all participants comprise one group within close association of each other (proximity averaging 1.5 meters between participants). However, positive effects will still be attained when participants operate in several smaller groups.They suggest, for instance,  that carrier battle groups supporting IDT experts could be deployed to the Persian Gulf to reduce tensions in the entire Middle East (approximate population = 800 million; 1 percent of population = 8 million; square root of 8 million = 2,829 IDT experts needed to achieve the Maharishi Effect). This same type of configuration could be utilized in other hot spots, such as North Korea and South Korea."

However, getting government leaders to examine IDT research has proven difficult, the authors say.  Getting left of the boom, especially after the Stargate Project, seems to be a problem.  

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