Maharishi community seeks to expand Suffolk home
PUBLISHED: 07:32 17 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:21 17 May 2019
The Maharishi community has revealed it is hoping to double the size of its Rendlesham home, and is backing plans for a so-called 'Tower of Invincibility' to be built in the UK.
They hope that by extending their garden village, which has been built around the striking Maharishi Peace Palace, they will be able to boost the popularity of transcendental meditation (TM) in Suffolk.
Richard Johnson, national director of the Maharishi Foundation, said a pending application for 75 new homes adjoining the existing community could in turn allow them to expand their current facilities.
Constructed using a set of principles taught by the community's founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the UK's first Peace Palace sits at the centre of 63 similarly designed, east-facing homes in the Garden Village - one of the largest Vedic architecture settlements of its kind in the world.
If the proposal is approved by planners, Mr Johnson said it is hoped more people will be inspired to try out the Maharishi lifestyle.
"It is an expansion, if you like, of the existing facilities - simple because it has proved popular," he said.
The new development would be "spacious" and "low density", and draw its inspiration from the existing Garden Village - designed to foster a feeling of peace among the community.
"We want to have more of that, but in an improved area," Mr Johnson added.
"This would be something open to the public - we want people to enjoy these things."
The proposal to build 75 new homes north of Gardenia Close and Garden Square in Rendlesham were re-submitted earlier this year after similar plans were rejected last summer.
At the time Suffolk Coastal District Council, now East Suffolk Council, was concerned that the site would become overdeveloped if it let the plans go ahead - with planners preferring a smaller estate of around 50 homes.
Community eyes up a new 'Tower of Invincibility'
Mr Johnson also spoke of plans to build a 'Tower of Invincibility' somewhere in the UK, but made it clear Suffolk was not a top priority.
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The 12-storey tower would incorporate a dozen different Maharishi teachings, such as utilising the "natural healthcare system" and the "principles of building and designing according to natural law" - with one assigned to each floor.
While there is an established Maharishi community in Rendlesham, Mr Johnson said the new tower was "much more likely" to be in London.
"If you were to be thinking about Suffolk, you would think about an urban location, not a rural location," he said.
"We would need a school or college linked to it."
The international Maharishi community is currently running a fundraising campaign to raise £8million for towers across the world. To date, it has raised just over £550,000.
When asked if there were any current plans to build a tower in the UK, Mr Johnson said: "There is certainly a very strong desire to do so."
Who are the Maharishi community and what do they believe?
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was an Indian guru, most famous for developing the Transcental Meditation Technique (TM), practised by millions of people across the world.
TM amassed its first followers in the late 1950s, soaring in popularity as it resonated with the likes of smash-hit bands The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Doors, as well as actor Jim Carrey.
It is believed more than six million people have learned the technique.
Claims about its benefits range from promoting a state of relaxed awareness, to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cutting reconviction rates among prisoners.
The TM movement has many different branches, including the TM-Sidhi programme - also known as 'yogic flying'.
During meditation, the body is said to lift up into the air and move forward in "blissful hops".
Mr Johnson said the Maharishi's aim was to bring tranquillity to people across the globe.
"His main objective was to create world peace," he said.