Sunday, March 22, 2009


The expression Namaste keeps popping up in my life. The first time was probably 1968 when I was indoctrinated into the "cult" of Transcendental Meditation. I still have never told anyone what my Mantra is. It is kind of comforting to have a real secret. Actually I think of the Mantra as a psychological blood pressure pill.

The second time the expression comes up is when I attempted to join the Peace Corps and go to Nepal. This seemed like a great alternative to the Tet offensive. I did end up in the Peace Corps but in Colombia. Outside of the occasional itinerant hippy, there was no Namaste there.

So I forgot about Namaste for many years, until, in an effort to relieve the pain and stiffness resulting from being an old fart playing tennis, I joined a Yoga class. I confess that the expression of Namaste by the instructor at the end of each class seemed somewhat like a cultural fish out of water. As a consequence of the popularity of Yoga as exercise and meditative pursuit the term Namaste has gained a much wider familiarity and use in American culture.

So here we are all the way to 2009 and I find myself engaged in a non-profit organization called Namaste Kathmandu. Go figure! I have never been to Nepal. I am not a Hindu. I am not even religious, but nevertheless the expression has come to have a great deal of meaning in my life.

Working with a recent graduate of Reed College by the name of Xeno Acharya (who hails of course from Nepal) I have been working to raise money for education and health services for a community of refugees living on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal. We chose the name Namaste Kathmandu for our organization inadvertantly appealing to the popularity and romance of the term as it is understood in English and Western culture today.

We began our efforts in the spring of 2008 with a fund raising dinner and other events. We raised enough money to send Xeno back to Nepal for the summer. Xeno exceeded my expectations with the establishment of Paurohki Gaun Village and the completion of construction of Mechi Mahakali Primary School. On Friday evening we had our second annual Namaste Kathmandu Dinner to raise money for continued funding of the school and construction of a second building to serve as a community center and health clinic.

Longer term, Xeno will be attending University of Washington in the fall to pursue a degree in Public Health Administration. The goal is to return to Nepal and build both Namaste Kathmandu and working on a greater scale for the economic and social development of Nepal. Until such time as Xeno is established full time in Kathmandu it is our intention to keep Namaste Kathmandu small in scale, highly focused, and practical in nature.

OK, fair readers, here's the pitch. We need your support, your ideas and if possible some of your money. For more information on Namaste Kathmandu please visit Your checks made payable to Namaste Kathmandu may be sent to:
Namaste Kathmandu
5815 SE 18th Ave.
Portland OR 97202

Namaste! Peace be with you...


  1. i enjoyed your post, and am happy to have found your blog. but why do you say Transcendental Meditation is a "cult," as opposed to just something one practices twice daily? i've been doing it for 30 years, along with my business, cycling, writing books, raising a family, and all the other things one does in a life, but in no way consider myself as belonging to a cult (a culturally loaded, derogatory term). you also use the word "indoctrinated," and i am wondering what you're talking about... TM is not a belief system, it's a technique, and all the principles that explain the process of growth of consciousness are not dogmatic beliefs to embrace, but principles to verify though direct experience, which makes it more akin to science than dogma. not to mention that there are now over 350 peer-reviewed scientific studies verifying it's positive effects. in 1968 when you learned, there were yet no scientific studies, only Maharishi's encouragement and hypothesis that if you practice TM, it will result in many benefits. perhaps you approached it as a matter of faith and gave it a try expecting specific results. but for me it was never a matter of faith, but always a practice for direct experience of transcending. that experience of pure, inner wakefulness--pure unbounded spiritual bliss--has been the basis of all my success and joys in life.

    sorry for the long post but it seemed that the words 'cult' and 'indoctrination' are so far from the common experience of TM that an explanatory comment was in order. thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

  2. I have been called to task by Laughing Crow regarding my use of the expressions "cult" and "indoctrination" regarding the practice of Transcendental Meditation. My apologies, I was just being glib. I too, have practised meditation (on and off) for many years and have found it quite rewarding, or at least relaxing. Thanks for redirecting my thoughts on this!

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