Winner of the Ben Franklin Book Award for Autobiography & Memoir and the National Indie Excellence Sponsorship Prize from News & Experts!
Susan Shumsky is a successful author in the human potential field. But in the 1970s, in India, the Swiss Alps, and elsewhere, she served on the personal staff of the most famous guru of the 20th century—Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Maharishi died in 2008 at age ninety, but his influence endures through the spiritual movement he founded: TM (Transcendental Meditation). Other books have been written about him, but this spellbinding page-turner offers a rare insider's view of life with the guru, including the time the Beatles studied at his feet in Rishikesh, India, and wrote dozens of songs under his influence.
Both inspirational and disturbing, Maharishi and Me illuminates Susan's two decades living in Maharishi's ashrams, where she grew from a painfully shy teenage seeker into a spiritually aware teacher and author. It features behind-the-scenes, myth-busting stories, and over 100 photos of Maharishi and his celebrity disciples (the Beatles, Deepak Chopra, Mia Farrow, Beach Boys, and many more).
Susan's candid, honest portrayal draws back the curtain on her shattering, extreme emotional seesaws of heaven and hell at her guru's hands. This compelling, haunting memoir will continue to challenge readers long after they turn its last page. It dismantles all previous beliefs about the spiritual path and how spiritual masters are supposed to behave.
Susan shares: “Merely by being in his presence, we disciples entered an utterly timeless place and rapturous feeling, and, at the same time, realized the utter futility and insanity of the mundane world.”
Susan's heartfelt masterwork blends her experiences, exacting research, artistically descriptive and humorous writing, emotional intelligence, and intensely personal inner exploration into a feast for thought and contemplation. Neither starry-eyed nor antagonistic, it captures, from a balanced viewpoint, the essence of life in an ashram.
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About the Author
Susan Shumsky is a spiritual self-help author with more than a dozen books in print, including Divine Revelation, Exploring Meditation, and Color Your Chakras. For twenty-two years, she was in the tutelage of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Table of Contents
Prologue: My Real Birth Day ix
Part I Hippieness to Happiness
1 Losing the self to Find the Self 3
2 Into the Land of Oz 6
3 A Natural High 13
4 Feelin' Guru-vy 22
Part II Blissed-Out
5 Home to India 41
6 Melting in Maharishiville 53
7 Bees to Honey 62
8 Maharishi Merry-Go-Round 68
Part III Open-Ego Surgery
9 From Bliss to Blitzkrieg 81
10 A Sacrificial Lamb 92
11 Wham Bam, Ego Slam 102
12 Heights of Heavenly Hell 109
Part IV Maharishi's Spell
13 Eye of the Hurricane 123
14 Under the Influence 129
15 The First Shall Be Last 138
Part V The Beatles' Guru
16 The Beatles Invade India 153
17 And They Write a Lot of Music 167
18 Dropping the Beatles Bomb 174
Part VI Inevitable and Inescapable
19 Shattered, Shaken, and Stirred 187
20 Frog-Hopping to Enlightenment 198
21 Riding the Indian Express 209
22 Guru Tricks and Celebrity Treats 217
Part VII Ridiculous to Sublime
23 From Tear-Filled to Fear-Field 239
24 Into the Heart of God 250
25 Letting Go of the Dream 258
26 Now Miracles Could Begin 266
27 How to Spot an Enlightened Master 273
Epilogue and Epitaph 285
Appendix: Who's Who in TM 287
About the Author 309
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Powerful and eye-opening I wasn't familiar with Maharishi except that he was a popular and iconic guru. The author shares her experiences and even her enlightenment by her time spent with him. It was a grand, heartfelt book that I enjoyed, finding it also inspirational. It was a fascinating story of her experiences and perspective. I knew very little about Transcendental Meditation (TM) before reading this, and I've learned a lot. I am very glad to have read this book.
Reviewed by Java Davis for Readers' Favorite When beginning a review of an autobiography, there is a fuzzy area that must be managed. Are you reviewing the book itself, or are you judging the life of the author? Susan Shumsky’s autobiography, Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles' Guru, makes me ask myself this question in every chapter. This is the author’s story of her lifetime devotion to Transcendental Meditation and her guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In the 1960s and '70s, young people were feeling rebellious toward ordinary lives and a lack of spiritual guidance. They were asking themselves profound questions, and they wanted answers. The stars aligned for an Indian guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who claimed to have the answers. Over time, he amassed a great following throughout the U.S. and Europe. Among them was 17-year-old Susan Shumsky, who went so far as to move to India to be near him. On the days when he smiled at her or gave her a kind word, there was triumph. On days when he frowned or said something mean, it was devastating. But Susan’s bliss was to live in Maharishi’s inner circle, being as near to him as a woman could hope to be, as opposed to the men who had easier access to the guru. The book is well written, well organized, and has plenty of photographs. In that regard, I give high marks to Maharishi and Me. But I confess that I didn’t like the young, insecure Susan the Artist, as she was known, with her obsessive groveling and eagerness to please. I loathed the self-absorbed, narcissistic, and sometimes cruel Maharishi. But I can’t dismiss him, because some people found his simple platitudes to be mystical and profound, and stuck with him and with Transcendental Meditation throughout their lives. He had an enormous following of Westerners, his silent spirituality touching them deeply. He built a financial empire of classes, teacher training, and Transcendental Meditation centers, which he could not have accomplished without both volunteer labor and financial backing. Eventually, Susan the Artist grew to be Dr. Susan Shumsky, a confident sojourner and a truly spiritual teacher of a different kind of meditation. Divine Revelation shows people how to create a direct pipeline to Spirit. Reading the description of Divine Revelation has made me examine my own lackluster connection. I may have to start reading more of Dr. Shumsky’s books.
Maharishi & Me made me laugh, cry, get angry, and get frustrated. But mostly, it lifted my spirit. Reading Shumsky's stories about Maharishi's abilities to lift people's consciousness and to transform them deeply through his guru process was an awesome experience. The way she wrote it made me feel I was right there with her. What a journey she took with this extraordinary guru! This highly unique book draws back the veil on what it's really like to live with a guru from India. It's certainly not what anyone would expect! This is an under-reported subject about a highly celebrated guru whom nearly everyone has forgotten. And strangely, though the David Lynch Foundation has made Transcendental Meditation popular again by teaching hundreds of superstars, Maharishi's name isn't even mentioned in any of their promotional material. It's like they are trying to disassociate from him. I personally think it's weird. But Shumsky's book certainly gives credit where credit is due. He was the most famous guru of the 20th Century, and he made "meditation," "mantra," and "yoga" into household words when those words didn't even exist in our vocabulary in the 1950s. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is curious about the master/disciple relationship. I also recommend it for fans of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Donovan, The Doors, Deepak Chopra, John Gray, Andy Kaufman, and Doug Henning. Shumsky goes behind the scenes to reveal their relationships with Maharishi and tells the untold story of why, in some cases, those relationships ended.