Orme-Johnson, D.W. & Dillbeck, M.C. (1987).
Maharishi’s Program to Create World Peace: Theory and Research,
Modern Science and Vedic Science, 1, 2, 206–259.
The Basis of War and Terrorism: Stress in Collective Consciousness.
Maharishi identifies the source of all conflict in society as stress in
the collective consciousness of the nation and the world. Stress in
collective consciousness, Maharishi asserts, is the result of the
mistakes and suffering of the citizens, and has its ultimate basis in
the violation of the laws of nature by the individuals in the society
(Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 98). “Violations of the laws of nature”
are actions that are not in accord with the laws of nature that govern
progress, development, and happiness in human life.
Collective Consciousness. The fundamental force
governing the quality of social life, according to Maharishi, is the
collective consciousness of society. The collective consciousness of a
social group is the wholeness of consciousness of the entire group. Each
level of society is described as having its own characteristic
collective consciousness, such as family consciousness, community
consciousness, city consciousness, state or provincial consciousness,
national consciousness, and world consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,
1977, pp. 123–124).
Just as the consciousness of an individual determines the quality of his
thought and behavior, so also there exists another type of
consciousness for a society as a whole; a collective consciousness for
each family, city, state, or nation, having its own reality and the
possibility of development. The quality of the collective consciousness
of a society is a direct and sensitive reflection of the level of
consciousness of its individual members (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1977, p.
An illustration of collective consciousness is the common
experience that each family has a characteristic feeling associated with
it; similarly, the modes of behavior and cultural values of different
geographic locations or even nations as a whole are distinctive. The
quality of collective consciousness at each subordinate level
contributes to the quality of collective consciousness at a higher
level. For example, the quality of national consciousness is influenced
by the quality of collective consciousness in each state; an
agricultural state brings its own unique influence to the national
consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1977, p. 122).
Reciprocal Influence. The influence of each
individual is important in creating a peaceful and harmonious society.
According to Maharishi (1977, p. 124), there is a reciprocal
relationship between individual consciousness and collective
consciousness. That is, each individual influences the collective
consciousness of the society, and at the same time each individual is
influenced by the collective consciousness. The consciousness of the
individual is the basic unit of the collective consciousness, and
therefore the collective consciousness of a nation or the world can only
be improved through improving individual consciousness. As noted
before, both individual and collective consciousness are enriched
through the development of higher states of consciousness.
Fields. Each level of collective consciousness
may be thought of as a field that permeates the entire society. At the
basis of all levels of collective consciousness is the unified field of
all the laws of nature, the field of pure consciousness (Maharishi
Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 74–75). According to Maharishi, it is through the
direct experience of the field of pure consciousness by the individuals
in the society that an influence of peace is created in the nation and
Coherence in Collective Consciousness.
The primary determinant of the quality of life in the society, according
to Maharishi, is the degree of coherence or integration in collective
consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 80–89). Maharishi states
that the result of a coherent collective consciousness is an integration
between individual desires and the needs of the society as a whole. The
ability to spontaneously fulfill one’s own interests while contributing
to fulfill the social interest is based on the degree to which the person’s
awareness is identified with the unified field of all the laws of nature.
This is because the unified field is that level of nature that has the
capacity to govern all aspects of nature simultaneously, including all
aspects of society (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 75). The degree to
which society as a whole can display this harmonious quality of behavior
is dependent on the degree to which the individual members of society
generate an integrative influence in collective consciousness from the
unified field. Thus, the level of coherence in collective consciousness
is dependent upon the proportion of members of society regularly experiencing
the unified field, as discussed below (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp.
Peace and Collective Consciousness. Maharishi’s
understanding of peace is that it is not a state of inertia, stagnation,
rigidity, or passivity, but a lively, creative, and dynamic interaction
among the different elements and groups of a social system in which all
behaviors are mutually supportive and harmonious. The unified field is
itself the permanent basis of peace because it is the state in which the
infinite dynamism of the universe is unified in one orderly and
balanced structure of natural law (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp.
74–76). This combination of unification, balance, and dynamical
creativity is precisely what is needed in world consciousness to
establish peace. Because the unified field is the most basic level of
individual and collective consciousness, this dynamical state of peace
is inherent in the foundation of society. It only needs to be enlivened
in the conscious awareness of the individuals so that this quality of
infinite dynamism and harmony can be infused into social life to
structure a state of permanent peace.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (1977). Creating an Ideal Society. Rheinweiler, West Germany: MERU Press.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (1986). Life supported by natural law. Washington, DC: Age of Enlightenment Press.