My name is Elsa Leece. My grandfather was one of the three brothers of Joy Benson. I am raising funding to help support my studies at Maharishi University of Management where I plan to complete a Bachelors (2 years to go), to take a Masters in Maharishi’s Vedic Science, and become a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. Upon completion I plan to return to the UK and teach TM full-time.
A couple of years ago I was completely unaware of Transcendental Meditation or even that I had relatives – in Joy and Stephen Benson – who had been so involved with Maharishi and the organisation. I had been studying English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University but had deferred a year because I found myself so deeply unhappy there. I was in search of something more! One fortunate day I came across Maharishi’s Science of Being and Art of Living in my grandfather’s library. From there it took very little time to find out that my mother had been given her mantra when she was in her teens and that I had a relative who was a teacher. She gave me Stephen’s email address, he told me he’d be happy to teach me and when can I come; before I knew it, my flight to Mallorca where he lives was booked.
Meditation, even in those initial days, was so much deeper and more profound than anything I’d ever experienced before, and I sensed already then that there was a bigger picture and that I wanted to be a part of it. It was wonderful spending time with Stephen. He was a world of knowledge, and full of beautiful and entertaining stories; I learnt so much from him. This is also where I learnt about MUM. To know that there are people so dedicated to supporting young people with the initiative of creating world peace invoked such joy and happiness in me! I dreamed about going there but was somewhat discouraged by the belief that to study in the USA would be far out of my financial depth.
Experiencing the Self
One evening, I happened to mention to Stephen that I had been very attracted by the idea of becoming a Buddhist nun. As a direct result of this conversation, he was somehow able to organize an internship with Mother Divine in the Netherlands for me. I could have happily stayed with Mother Divine forever but there still remained one particular desire unfulfilled and that was to meet like-minded meditators of my own age.
Back to University life
Fortunately, a friend I had made at University was already considering learning TM, so as summer drew to a close, and MUM still seemed an impractical dream, I began to look forward to starting the new term at Falmouth and sharing this beautiful knowledge with my fellow students.
Not enough people knew about TM to start a society so I organised a viewing of the David Lynch documentary: Meditation, Creativity, Peace. When there was a full list of contacts, a local TM teacher from Bristol, Patrice Gladwin, kindly agreed to come to the University to give an Introductory Talk. Over time a few students learnt to meditate and some local residents but it was slow progress considering I had expected there to be hundreds of people signing up and wanting to learn! Where were they all?!
Losing the Self
Although I was experiencing many benefits from my regular practice of TM, Falmouth still left me feeling unfulfilled and, in that environment, I could already see some of the effects of staying with Stephen and Mother Divine wearing off. Witnessing the suffering and self-destructiveness of my fellow students through drink and substance abuse when I knew about TM left me feeling so sad that I couldn't help them more. I soon realised that Falmouth just wasn't the evolutionary, healthy and supportive environment that I needed and wanted, and that I had experienced staying with Stephen, and Mother Divine . . . and what I imagined MUM to be like.
I also soon came to realise that Falmouth wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of education. Having a taste of Maharishi’s knowledge, learning about the Science of Creative Intelligence and the beautiful knowledge of the Vedas has made me realise that this is what has been missing from education all my life. Without this regular contact with transcendental bliss consciousness it is so easy to lose touch with one’s true Self and veer away from one's natural path.
It makes me so happy to say that I have been accepted as a transfer student to start the new term this August. I feel especially blessed that MUM has offered me a Trustees Scholarship, something they usually give to the children of families who have contributed in some way to Maharishi’s great work. This, together with my own savings and a small contribution from my family, has meant that going to MUM has almost become a reality, so that I have already got my US student visa and even arranged my flight!
Unfortunately, I still need to raise $3,387 / £2,000 payable to the University by this August 1st, then there will be the additional cost of $9,633 / £5,688 for each of the three following semesters The Master’s I believe I can do over a longer period on a Work Study basis and hence funding will not be needed for this.
Self-realisation and giving back
After completion of my education at MUM, my plan is to return to the UK to teach and work for the Movement full-time. Having experienced such a tremendous transformation within myself, I now know that this is what I have to do, become a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique so I can pass this beautiful knowledge on to others too. My only desire is to give back the good that I have received and to help other people, so by donating you will be helping me learn a technique that will enable me to do this.
I would greatly appreciate any contribution you're happy to make. Normally I never would have considered putting myself in a position to ask for help in this way but I feel that somehow it is not really going to me but to the University and to Maharishi, whilst allowing me to help spread his beautiful knowledge into the world as best I can.
With warm wishes,
Jai Guru Dev