Man on the ‘Mune: Earning My Sidhis in Rural Missouri, 1979-80

My course badge (‘CIC’ stood for ‘Citizen’s Invincibility Course’), and the garage where I lived with several others on the Missouri commune. The closest door in the picture was one wall of my ‘room’. I took this photo in 1993 as I was driving cross-country, moving to California.
The residence building for the Capital Project, a solar array and one of the strawberry fields to the right. Unfortunately the building faced south, a Sthapatya Veda no-no, and was torn down a few years after my visit in 1993. (1993 photo)
Front entrance to the Kansas City ‘Capital’ (1993 photo)

…I applied for the job and was hired. I was 25 years old. The deal was to work and live on-site for a year, building a facility for in-residence courses, and farming strawberries to bring in additional income. The official name was ‘The Kansas City Capitals Project’, or KCCP.

In exchange, after six months of work I would receive the TM-Sidhis course. Also, instead of doing TM (Transcendental Meditation) just twice a day, we would always do two meditations in the morning, a quick ten minute group meditation at lunch, and another two rounds in the evening.

The sidhis are a number of sutras or specific formulas, appreciated in silence, used to refine and extend the senses, and cultivate other abilities. For example, being able to look into the body, or know anything. Preparation for the Cosmic body.

The sutra that gets all the attention is the ‘flying’ sutra. Although no one has yet floated around the room, extended hops several feet high, clearly beyond the pure athletic ability of the body, are reported quite often. I have also personally experienced this phenomenon.

To reach the facility I took the train from Washington DC, to Jefferson City, Missouri, a couple of hours drive from Waverly and the commune. Two guys picked me up late at night in a light green 1972 Ford Galaxy station-wagon, with fake wood siding, and off we went. Waverly was the closest town to the project site, a small farm town of 400 or so people, kept alive by a small medical clinic.

There was also a laundromat there where we all washed our clothes, and a very old and dusty grocery store that went out of business during my year there. On that street, the original ‘business district’, the sidewalks were about two feet higher than the street, from the days when it was simply dirt. It was easy to imagine the horses hitched to posts not long ago. There was also a small diner, and a convenience store, at the other end of town.

We had pretty spartan living conditions at the work site for the Capital. The group was a total of 40 or so people, either TM Teachers, or what were called Citizen Meditators (like me). Initially we all worked on building the Capital residence building, built in a neo-classical style much like the Capitol building in Washington, DC (see posted pictures). Later, a smaller group of us began planting and tending 14 acres of organic strawberries, and later, five acres of apples.

Some of us lived in a drafty converted garage, heated with a 50 gallon steel drum in which we would burn chunks of coal. Each ‘room’ was partitioned with particle board, and some of them had their own single light-bulb. Our beds were foam mattresses on top of a plywood sheet, supported by six cinder-blocks, one at each corner and a couple in the middle.

During winter we would sleep fully clothed with our boots on, including a down jacket, inside a down sleeping bag. The temperatures would sometimes reach minus 40 F. at night. The shower water from an open pipe in one corner of the garage was just above freezing that time of year and ice would form in the pan, though better than carrying the day’s dust on you, especially when we would be mulching the strawberries with straw in late Fall. That stuff got everywhere.

Later on, two trailers were purchased for the garage residents, and I was able to move into one with a few others. Not much privacy, but much better insulation, and a more comfortable bed. I put my rudimentary electrician skills to use, and wired another trailer used by the teachers. There was also an old farmhouse, where most of the staff and teachers lived. I remember they had hot water. Such luxury. We were paid 25 dollars per month, and expected to provide everything for ourselves, except food and shelter.

The farmhouse had a basic kitchen, along with the occasional rat. The food was all vegetarian and OK, though we grew a lot of zucchini, and I am still not a fan. We also grew some huge, tasty watermelons. Easiest crop in the world to grow with enough rain – make a mound, throw seeds in the center, cover lightly, and harvest watermelons months later.

Near Higginsville, about ten miles away, we would visit a family dairy regularly, making the run to the facility in the station wagon, picking up 25 gallons or so of raw milk per trip. Higginsville also had a Walmart, and it was quite a shopper’s dream for us after the gas and go store in Waverly.

The ride to Higginsville was over both gravel and paved roads, along fields of mostly corn. The unnerving companions to the corn fields were quite a few ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) sites. One underground silo was located roughly 300 yards from our property entrance.

What was visible of the silo consisted of a square of gravel about a foot high, with parallel metal rails along the ground near the center of the square, and a large launch door aligned horizontally on the rails, over the missile tube. The enclosure was square, thirty feet on a side, surrounded by cyclone fencing, and topped with barbed wire. There was a camera trained on each site, with signs warning “Use of deadly force is authorized” for trespassing.

Nothing we messed with. The missiles were spread throughout the area, every three miles or so. I have no idea what the total was. Sometimes we would see a site being serviced by the US Air Force, driving deep blue pick-up trucks.

I first worked on the building site for the ‘Capital’. To get started, the building’s basement was dug out with a back hoe, then the walls were poured. My job was to shovel about three feet of dirt between the concrete basement wall and the dirt wall outside it. I would then start up an earth compactor, which was a machine about four and a half feet tall, with a large piston driven foot extending out of a three horsepower gas engine. There was a u-shaped steel handle to control the motion of the compactor, and I would drive it forward to pack down the shoveled dirt. Shovel and repeat.

All of the concrete work was done by outside contractors. After the slab was set, we would frame the walls and raise them. We used a specialized gun to fire bolts into the concrete to secure the vertical walls. The work areas were draped with plastic in the winter and ‘warmed’ with propane jet heaters, as it was sometimes 20 or 30 degrees (F.) below zero.

After working construction for half the year, I and a group of ten others became eligible for taking the Sidhis course in the beginning of 1980. Most of the course is taken in a classroom setting, with the final two weeks in-residence, practicing the full range of sutras, including ‘the flying technique’. The sidhis really broaden one’s awareness in terms of what our consciousness is capable of.

The ten of us, having lived in very challenging conditions, now had a chance to really relax. A wealthy meditator in Kansas City allowed us all to stay at his four story mansion, complete with sauna, and pool table. There were enough bedrooms in the upper two floors to accommodate us all. We sometimes had a free day, and one time visited the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City. A very well done and beautiful collection. I remember the Asian Art sections.

After receiving the sidhis, I worked the remainder of my time in the strawberry fields. It was pretty straightforward, as we were not using any chemicals on the plants, we would hand weed them. The key was to get a hoe with a quality steel blade that would hold an edge. Then we would start down a row. Each was about a quarter mile long, and it would take all day to do a couple of them, plucking out all the weeds.

There were 14 acres to complete, and it took a while, and then we would start over. We hand mulched them in the autumn, by loading a hay bale, one of the large four foot diameter bales, onto forks on the back of one of the tractors, and driving slowly down a row, with two workers tearing off hay and covering the strawberry plants, protecting them from frost and snow. The strawberries were just coming in when I left, and were delicious.

After my year was up, I had made some friends on staff, and one of them was living in Santa Barbara, California, 100 miles north of Los Angeles. I also knew friends in Eugene, Oregon from my college days, so I decided to go there first…

Published by Jim Flanegin

it shows up in the pictures...I am a US citizen (born in California), though spent my childhood through high school living primarily in SE Asia, giving me a deep view of both East and West. I began TM at 21 and the TM-Sidhis at 26. I was visited by Guru Dev at 39. The rest is history. :-)

4 thoughts on “Man on the ‘Mune: Earning My Sidhis in Rural Missouri, 1979-80

  1. Thanks. Reminds me of some of my experiences. I worked in the kitchen for the prep courses that used to be required for the Citizen siddhis. Ended up sleeping in a storeroom back of the kitchen. I was pretty isolated as I wasn’t supposed to talk to course participants (some knew I was a teacher). But I did have heat & hot water…  Did that for a year, then they didn’t want to let me leave and wouldn’t approve me for a course (long story). D

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  2. Hi David, Yes I considered becoming a TM teacher, but didn’t think it would be challenging enough. Given the economic reality of doing so, I am glad I stayed in the private sector. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Jim

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  3. Hi Jim. It appears a lot of people have found you via David’s blog, as I did. David and I have corresponded a handful of times because we learned we were both in France for TM Teacher Training, but in two different groups. We finished a day apart, in April 1976. I fell away from the TM program a couple years later, but I returned to meditating around 2010 or so. To say the least, things have changed! I sometimes imagine that I’m hearing Maharishi laugh with delight. (Maybe it’s not just imagining…)

    I’m in Southern California now, but my hometown is St. Louis, and I returned there from France. This story of your time in Missouri is particularly amusing. I had completely forgotten that I and other TM teachers from St. Louis made a couple of trips into rural areas to scout for potential locations for a St. Louis-area Capital of the Age of Enlightenment. What I now remember most is making sure to wear orange so we would avoid being mistaken for deer by hunters. And of course the ever-present mosquitoes and chiggers!

    Jai Guru Dev

    John

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  4. Hi John, Thank you for writing. I just found your message in my Spam folder – I apologize if any other messages have gone unanswered – will check my settings. There was another ‘Capital’ built in eastern Missouri at the time, but I’ve forgotten the details. Yes, if it is easy to imagine it is probably so – it is remarkable how subtle the senses become after awhile – I have a pretty quick mind and had to be careful about chasing such experiences for a bit, but they fade anyway. If it is real it comes back, without thinking about it we develop a remarkable physiological sensitivity to any Divine connections – like the charm of the mantra, to borrow a phrase. 🙂

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