Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development

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The Fleck/Paterson House, Canadian HQ of Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Corp. in the 1990s

Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Corp. (MHOED) is a for-profit real estate developer associated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation movement. First founded in Malibu California in 1988, it has sought to build utopian projects in the U.S., Canada, and Africa with a long-term goal to "reconstruct the entire world", at an estimated cost of $100 trillion.[1][2][3]

The US arm planned to work with developers to build 50 "Maharishi Cities of Immortals" in the US and Canada.[4] The Canadian arm bought and renovated the Fleck/Paterson House in Ottawa in 2002, earning the "adaptive use award of excellence" from the City.[5][6] A subsidiary purchased land to build Maharishi Veda Land theme parks in Orlando, Florida and Niagara Falls, New York.[7][8] The Dutch arm negotiated with the presidents of Zambia and Mozambique to acquire a quarter of the land in those countries in exchange for solving their problems.[9][10]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Corp. was founded in Malibu, California in 1988 by its first president, money manager Monty Guild.[11] It was initially financed by Guild, who donated his shares to Maharishi University of Management.[12]

City of Immortals developments[edit]

MHOED announced in 1988 that it planned to build 50 low-density "Maharishi Cities of Immortals" across the U.S. and Canada. Each City of Immortals development would include a pond or lake, a Maharishi elementary school, a for-profit Maharishi Ayurvedic health clinic, a festival hall, and an organic vegetable garden.[13][14] The walled and gated developments would include from 100 to 200 homes.[3] The lots would be 1-acre (4,000 m2) or larger and an equal amount of space would be devoted to common areas, like parks, lakes, and gardens.[2] Internal combustion vehicles would be parked at the perimeter and only electric carts or bicycles would be used inside the development.[2] The individual homes would be built using Maharishi Sthapatya Veda (MSV) specifications with non-toxic materials and natural ventilation.[15]

MSV design principles say that, with proper placement and orientation, one naturally feels hungry in a dining room and sleepy in a bedroom.[16] According to developer, Curtis McDonald,"What we are striving for is a complete restructuring of the world and we want to begin with the large cities in the U.S. With the Maharishi's Cities of Immortals, our plan is to establish a new way of life, to eliminate all the unhealthful aspects of the way our communities are currently being built."[17] Guild planned a 29-city tour to recruit developers.[12] The proposal was that the company would not own or build the development, but would advise the developers on MSV design and planning principles, and provide sales support, including celebrity endorsements, for 2.5% of the construction costs,[18] plus 1% of the retail costs, plus a sales commission.[2] Half of the profits would go to financing Ideal Villages in the Third World.[2] The homes were expected to cost at least 10% more than comparable properties in normal developments.[14] In the San Francisco area, the representatives said that homes prices were expected to be between $300,000 and $1 million, depending on land costs.[15] At a later presentation in Canada, prices were predicted to be from $130,000 to $150,000.[19] A developer attending a presentation said a home with the listed amenities would cost several times that amount.[20] One announcement said that the developments would also include subsidized homes.[21]

The areas where developments might be built included Malibu,[2] Houston,[13] Austin,[13] Toronto,[13] Hartford, Connecticut,[13] and Denver.[22] In 1989, it announced that it had signed contracts with developers for projects in eight of those cities, and was on the verge of signing contracts in seven more.[23] A parcel near Austin, Texas was described as a 30-home prototype.[22] It was adjacent to a development built in 1981 called "Radiance" which was mostly populated with TM practitioners. However after two and a half years the project remained stalled for a lack of financing.[24] Construction was begun at a site owned by MHOED on Mount Shefford near Bromont, Quebec in June 1991, and 30 of the 100 lots were reported to have sold.[25] Prospective home owners supplied details about their occupation and precise birth location, date and time so that the MSV designers could properly customize the building for its intended resident.[25]

Creating these cities globally was projected to cost $100 trillion.[3] It was hoped that at least a hundred would be built around the world.[16]

An architect, who was invited to one of the promotional lunches, questioned the need for low density suburban developments.[3] Some TM practitioners were concerned about what they saw as "elitist and secretive elements" to the plans, including the elaborate security.[20]

Maharishi Veda Land[edit]

Maharishi Veda Land International (MVLI) was a wholly owned subsidiary created to finance the construction of Maharishi Veda Land themes parks being promoted by magician Doug Henning.[26] Henning was a director of MVLI and the president and chairman of Maharishi Veda Land Canada.[26] The MHOED loaned $4 million in seed money, at 11% interest. The MVLI was seeking to arrange $230 million in equity, $438 million in debt, and $60 million in sponsorships from corporations.[26] Various locations for the parks were proposed, and properties were acquired in Orlando and Niagara Falls.[7][8] The parks were seen as complementing the Cities of Immortals,[7] and they might have been co-located.[27]

Other activities[edit]

In the 1990s MHOED began buying old hotels in U.S. city centers, purchasing over a dozen by 1994.[28]

The Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Corp. Canada purchased the historic Fleck/Paterson House in 1992 in Ottawa for its Canadian headquarters and a subsidiary, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Institute.[29] It spent a reported $3 million to purchase and restore the 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) house, which had fallen into ruin. The restoration was praised in the press[30] and received the "adaptive use award of excellence" from the City of Ottawa.[31] Four suites were available to the public as a bed and breakfast.[32] It sold the house in 2002 to the Algerian Embassy for $2.9 million, a record price for a heritage home in Ottawa.[33] Helen Foster, then the group's director, said they were planning to spend $6 million to build a 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) Maharishi Peace Palace to house the movement's operations.[5]

Zambia and Mozambique[edit]

"Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Company" (Mahedco), a company based in the Netherlands headed by Jacques Uijen, approached Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda in 1990 with a proposal to solve the country's dire problems and to rid it of "evil and diseases".[34] In the plan, 1000 Zambians would receive training from the TM movement and oversee the creation of utopian farming communities that would be turned over to Mahedco. The agreement covered 18 million hectares (44 million acres), 23% of the country's land surface and half of its arable land.[9][35] Kingsley Chinkuli, the Home Affairs minister, granted Mahedco "the right to select those Zambian families which will live on the land".[36] News of the agreement came out a year later, just prior to an election, and became a significant campaign issue.[37] Kaunda admitted that the agreement existed, but denied that he went in for Transcendental Meditation himself and described the agreement as an "experiment"[37] and a "necessary catalyst" for change.[9] After objections from his cabinet ministers, Kaunda agreed to alter the agreement to start with a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) pilot project, though if successful it would grow still to the same size incrementally.[37] The net worth of Mahedco was reported at the time to be $26,000.[35] A Zambian newspaperman was quoted as saying, "The whole thing is madness."[35] The Maharishi said that he would abandon the effort if Kaunda lost the election.[38]

After Kaunda lost his reelection bid, Mahedco sought a similar arrangement in neighboring Mozambique, where President Joaquim Chissano, his family and his cabinet were TM practitioners.[39] It wanted the right to develop 20 million hectares of "unused land"[40] by planting crops and to rebuild the country's infrastructure and health system. Chissano signed a 50-year contract which would give 40% of the profits to the Mozambique government.[41] The government denied it when the negotiations became public in 1994.[10]

A 2006 prospectus for the Raam currency/bearer bonds, issued by Stichting Maharishi Global Financing Research of MERU, Holland, lists Paul Gelderloos as the chief executive of Mahedco starting in 1990.[42] The prospectus says that Mahedco "was responsible for the implementation of poverty removal programs in third-world countries and also launched several enterprises in Holland [sic]."[42] Girish Govindji Momaya is described as the head from 1989 to 1991 of Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development in New Delhi.[42] The prospectus says that the Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Foundation (MAHEDFO) had long term liabilities of 1.6 million Euros in 2004.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zorn, Eric (January 15, 1989). "Maharishi May Show Way To Heavenly Home". Chicago Tribune. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kay, Marsha (December 25, 1988). "Utopia? – Guru, backers have high hopes for heavenly housing concept". The San Diego Union. p. F.1. 
  3. ^ a b c d WATERS, SHAUN (April 11, 1988). "Canadians urged to help build guru's heavenly housing". The Globe and Mail. p. A.13. 
  4. ^ FLAGG, MICHAEL (April 18, 1989). "New Age Comes Home as Maharishi Plans `Cities of Immortals'". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.F. 
  5. ^ a b Prentice, Michael (October 10, 2002). "63,000-square-foot 'peace palace' planned". The Ottawa Citizen. p. C.10. 
  6. ^ "Restoration work on bridge earns prize". The Ottawa Citizen. March 12, 1994. p. 12. 
  7. ^ a b c Lebowitz, Lawrence J. (April 1, 1991). "Vedaland's Still Just An Illusion Magic Theme Park Needs Time, Financing To Materialize". Orlando Sentinel. 
  8. ^ a b Snyder, Jack (April 3, 1992). "Theme Park Isn't An Illusion For Orlando, Planner Says". Orlando Sentinel. 
  9. ^ a b c BRIDGLAND, FRED (October 18, 1991). "A place that's come to bits With Zambia plunging deeper into debt, Kenneth Kaunda could well be at his last Commonwealth Conference". The Daily Telegraph (London (UK)). p. 21. 
  10. ^ a b VAN NIEKERK, PHILLIP (November 27, 1994). "Mozambique and yogic cult start project to create Utopia Phillip van Niekerk reports from Maputo on moves by the guru of the Beatles to run a quarter of the country". The Guardian (Manchester (UK)). 
  11. ^ Associated Press (October 28, 1990). "Guru Disciples Plan 'City of Immortals'". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ a b Becklund, Laurie (March 27, 1988). "Firm Sells Bits of Heaven on Earth at $500,000 a Bit". Los Angeles Times. p. 3. 
  13. ^ a b c d e BIVINS, RALPH (October 26, 1988). "Guru inspires home plans here". Houston Chronicle. p. 1. 
  14. ^ a b DAVIS, PAUL (May 20, 1989). "Maharishi envisions heaven on Earth in western R.I. Transcending the urban hassle". Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.). p. A-01. 
  15. ^ a b "30-Year Anniversary For the Maharishi". San Francisco Chronicle. August 17, 1989. p. A.12. 
  16. ^ a b "Guru's Firm Scouting for 'Heavenly' Homes". Los Angeles Times. February 3, 1991. p. 4. 
  17. ^ Crowell, T. Michael (December 16, 1988). "Maharishi planning Heaven on Earth for San Diego". The Tribune (San Diego, Calif.). p. F.1. 
  18. ^ PERRY, ANTHONY (December 12, 1988). "Guru of Managed Growth Promises Heaven on Earth". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. 
  19. ^ SEMENAK, SUSAN (May 6, 1989). "Guru envisions building 'city of immortals' near Montreal". The Gazette (Montreal, Que.). p. A.3. 
  20. ^ a b Barron, Sherri (February 8, 1990). "TM; Guru's followers plan 'paradise' village here". The Ottawa Citizen. p. C.1. 
  21. ^ Scrivener, Leslie (April 10, 1988). "Maharishi's firm plans to develop heaven on earth". Toronto Star. p. A.3. 
  22. ^ a b MALMGREN, JEANNE (October 24, 1989). "Guru's company plans development in area". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.). p. 6.B. 
  23. ^ Browning, Graeme (April 15, 1989). "Housing Heaven: The Maharishi as Developer Indian Guru and His Followers Plan a `City of Immortals' in Washington". The Washington Post. p. E.03. 
  24. ^ Lott, Tim (November 6, 1990). "HEAVEN WAITS IN HAYS COUNTY: Maharishi's development plans stalled". Austin American Statesman. p. A.1. 
  25. ^ a b RIGA, ANDY (July 23, 1991). "No stress on way to Immortality; Community's building code includes peace of mind". The Gazette (Montreal, Que.). p. A.5. 
  26. ^ a b c KAPICA, JACK (November 27, 1993). "VEDA LAND The New Incarnation of the Maharishi REJECTION BY THE VOTERS ONLY SERVES TO MAKE THE NATURAL LAW PARTY'S APPEALS MORE URGENT, ITS PLANS MORE GRANDIOSE, ITS CLAIMS MORE STRIDENT". The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ont.). p. D.3. 
  27. ^ "Indian Guru Plans to Build Theme Parks". San Francisco Chronicle. January 17, 1991. p. A.24. 
  28. ^ "The business plan". Colorado Springs Gazette - Telegraph. September 17, 1994. p. E.1. 
  29. ^ Richardson, Mark (October 12, 1993). "A leap of faith". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A.1. 
  30. ^ Phillips, Rhys (January 29, 1994). "Boastful mansions; by architect John W.H. Watts". The Ottawa Citizen. p. F.1. 
  31. ^ "Restoration work on bridge earns prize". The Ottawa Citizen. March 12, 1994. p. I.2. 
  32. ^ FARNSWORTH, CLYDE H. (January 14, 1996). "WHAT'S DOING IN; Ottawa". New York Times. p. 5.10. 
  33. ^ Corbett, Ron (October 24, 2002). "Taking peace to a higher ground: Followers of the Maharishi plan to build a massive 'peace palace' in Ottawa so devotees can meditate, pray, even practise a little yogic flying". The Ottawa Citizen. p. B.3. 
  34. ^ MANTHORPE, JONATHAN (September 25, 1991). "Zambia heads toward economic collapse Impending famine could spell defeat for Kaunda in October vote". The Gazette (Montreal, Que.). p. C.10. 
  35. ^ a b c Schiller, Bill (October 30, 1991). "Zambian opposition seems unstoppable". Toronto Star. p. A.15. 
  36. ^ Warden, Mike (February 15, 1993). "Transcendental Meditation in Zambia". Spirituality in East and West (Dialogcentret) (2). 
  37. ^ a b c Lyman, Rick (October 16, 1991). "HEAVEN'S STRANGE BEDFELLOWS; MEDITATION GURU AND ZAMBIAN STRONGMAN". Philadelphia Inquirer. p. A.1. 
  38. ^ Bridgland, Fred (November 1, 1991). "International: Zambian voters set to send Kaunda packing". The Sunday Telegraph (London (UK)). p. 13. 
  39. ^ Astill, James (September 22, 2001). "Meditation is path to peace, Mozambique leader says: Former Marxist guerrilla turned president spreads the word of the Beatles' guru to his ministers and the military". The Guardian (Manchester (UK)). p. 19. 
  40. ^ BERESFORD, DAVID (October 28, 1994). "Guru to create heaven on earth". The Guardian (Manchester (UK)). 
  41. ^ Abgrall, Jean-Marie (2000). Soul snatchers: the mechanics of cults. Algora Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-892941-04-6. 
  42. ^ a b c d "Prospectus: Global Development Currency: RAAM" (Press release). Stichting Maharishi Global Financing Research. November 14, 2006.