Yogic flyers raise hopes of business lift-off

Traders near a former US air base in Suffolk expect a windfall from Mah arishi's college, writes Glenda Cooper

When yogic flyers bounce into the former US air base at Bentwaters in Suffolk in the early summer, jubilant local traders will be waiting to catch them.

Bentwaters' burghers are also looking forward to taking advantage of the University of Natural Law's facilities, including adult education courses in transcendental meditation (TM) and yogic flying.

Russell Geen, mayor of Woodbridge, could not wait for the Maharishi Foundation to open the university. "It's going to be such an asset and it'll get the place used at last. We miss a lot of trade with the Americans gone," he said.

"I can't see any harm in it. At least they're not New Age travellers, which is a big relief."

The chair of the Woodbridge Chamber of Commerce, Sam Campbell-Barr, agreed: "It'll initially help estate agents and builders setting up accommodation and then Woodbridge'll benefit from students and their parents shopping here."

He felt that locals might be helped by the courses. "People who take it up may feel that their lives are made better. "If you have a place where there's single parent families, there's an unruly element, so all this TM might not be a bad idea."

Paul Hudson, chairman of the Rendlesham Residents' Association, agreed: "We feel it will bring confidence back into the area. And what we've heard of the Natural Law Party makes us think they are good neighbours. They don't go imposing their souls on people."

Even the Church of England was welcoming. Canon David Pitcher, of St Mary's Church, said: "We live in a multicultural age. Gone are the days of the crusades. Practices like meditation are found across all traditions of spirituality and the Christian tradition has nothing to fear or criticise ."

But, he thought it unlikely 4,000 people would change the community by getting up early to meditate in the morning: "Knowing the way young people work, they're not going to knuckle down to that."

A dissenting note came from pub owners, unlikely to profit much from meeting the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's followers who include the former Beatle, George Harrison.

Paul Holyoak, landlord of the Seckford Arms, in Woodbridge, groaned: "They're the ones that bounce around on carpets aren't they? Great. We need them like a bloody hole in the head.

"I think it's ridiculous. They should have sold it to Richard Branson. He'd have expanded the base properly."

Steve Pennington, landlord of the rival King's Head was cautious: "Well, I think it's extremely unlikely it'll turn into another Waco. My main problem is they're bound to be teetotal."

Students at the University of Natural Law will have to attend two sessions of TM a day, the first around 9am.

"From experience, we found that it sharpened the minds of students, prepared them for the day, made them more creative and harmonised the classroom," Dr Geoffrey Clements, the vice-chancellor of the university, said.

"What we're hoping to do is to develop the container of knowledge," he added.

"People choose to go to Bristol or Oxford because of some unique element. We want the same thing to happen here."

Traditional three-year degree programmes will be offered at the university, beginning with science-based subjects like information technology. Fees will be the same as a normal university and Dr Clements hopes that prospective flyers will be able to apply for local education authority grants.

Dr Clements says that the power of so many people meditating and flying together will have a positive effect on health and crime.

"Two thousand people here will produce such coherence that there will be a reduction in crime all over Britain; 7,000 would be enough to produce influence worldwide," he said.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said that they were not planning to reduce police in the area at the moment, although they would review the situation.

Graphic omitted

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
News
science
Life and Style
Emoji are rapidly becoming the language of the internet
techWhy internet acronyms are being driven out by emoji
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before