Reflections by Dee Monroe
Her inspiration was the genesis for the
Teacher Training Course in Ethiopia
The inspiration for our very own teacher training course (TTC) and for it to be held in Africa was an article in Ebony magazine on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (MMY). The issue has Martin Luther King on the cover. I believe it was in the spring of 1968 soon after King’s death. I remember this article well as Maharishi said, up to that time, it was the best article done on him. Era Bell Thompson was the International Editor and simply wrote the conversation between her and MMY. Maharishi stated that we (Indians) have been black all of our lives. In response to a question about spreading TM in the black community, he said that he would hold a TTC for us anywhere and anytime. This stuck in my mind. So, after my TTC in Majorca, Spain and in Fiuggi, Italy, where we (George Quant and I) had networked with Kibra Dawit from Ethiopia, I saw we had an opportunity to realize our course.
Kibre’s father was the ambassador for Ethiopia to Canada, at the time of our TTC in Europe in 1971-72. So, with her connections, we achieved the logistics to hold our course at the Alemaya Agricultural College in East Central Ethiopia. It would be held during the summer break when the campus was vacant. But first, Stanley Lewis, James Scott (Vishwa) and I went to visit Maharishi, just outside of Santa Barbara, California, where he was a houseguest of Mike Love (Beach Boys). It was Vishwa’s friendship with Mike Love that made it possible for us to get to see Maharishi. The men went in to see Maharishi and presented our proposal to him, reminding him about the 1968 article in Ebony. Since Maharishi had set TMC up through Stanley Lewis and Bob Kealing (Kulesza), the request to hold our own teacher training course was not far-fetched since, at that time, we already had a large nationwide mailing list of TMC meditators. Permission was given and my role was to get the word out for participants.
I went to the Student International Meditation Society (SIMS) for their help and facilities to get the newsletter out announcing the course. So that the students could visualize that we would be in suitable quarters, the newsletter showed pictures of the campus in Ethiopia. This campus in Alemaya was American-built for Ethiopia so, the dorms and classrooms were excellent. Furthermore, our course was an official teacher training course under Maharishi International University (MIU) and therefore the structure and administration of the enrollment, accounting, and staffing of the course had to be held to MIU standards; and it was.
This course could not have come to fruition without the help of all the teachers and meditators at TMC. Especially, George Quant for charter travel arrangements, for one thing. Charles Nunley helped with financial
administration for the course. Stanley Lewis, Syreeta Wright and James (Vishwa) Scott produced the fundraising concert in Santa Monica with all the talent that performed at the concert from the talent pool at Motown. Betty Mawiyah (Quant) Claiborne and Donna Ajahleem Hill, arrived early in Ethiopia, shortly after we arrived, to help with the staffing. And of course, Alice Coltrane, who visited with us on the campus after her trip to Egypt, added to the unique experience the course.
Other interesting points I’ve not discussed:
There were 14 Ethiopian meditators that became teachers,
The Mexican/American meditator and Eva Wey, the Chinese-American meditator were made teachers, and Maharishi made them both national leaders of their respective countries.
The visit by Maharishi when he came to do the final instruction of the students.
Maharishi’s audience with Haile Selassie
The surprise visit of His Majesty Haile Selassie to the campus where there was a reception in the field held with pastries, etc., In the midst of tall grasses where military men fully armed, hidden among the grasses. This is where I held my daughter, one-year-old Sanaa, up to Haile Selassie and he held her. (I have yet to get a picture and many people took pictures.)
In a side note:
Mention must be made of the exceptional children that were on the course, i.e., Aisha Tyler, talk show host, actress, comedienne and daughter of Jugg Tyler and Robin Gregory. Sisters, Saraswati Ananda Lewis, TV personality, host and producer, and her sister, Lakshmi Lewis, M.D., both the daughters of Stanley Lewis and Yvonne Lewis. Lastly, George Quant and I had our daughter there, Sanaa Isha Quant-Ligons, D.O., a Family Practitioner.
© 2013 by Dee Monroe