Jun 12, 2014

Nazi slogan sticking to yogi school

November, 20, 2007

Plans by Hollywood film director David Lynch to build a Transcendental Meditation university in Berlin have provoked a storm of criticism in Germany after the project's chief guru used a phrase of Hitler's propaganda minister in promoting the scheme.

Lynch's attempt to promote the project, before Berlin students last week, backfired. Lynch, who does not speak German, watched as his white-robed German guru Emanuel Schiffgens told the students about the university's aim to raise human awareness and understanding. But he shocked them with language that could have been lifted straight from a speech by Joseph Goebbels. Schiffgens, who also wore a golden crown and claimed to be the "raja" or prince of Germany, declared: "Invincible Germany! Invincible Germany! I want to hear you all say 'Invincible Germany!'"

In a country that has spent much of the past half-century attempting to atone for the evils of the Nazi era, his exhortations did not go down well. The raja was booed and shouted down.

One audience member yelled: "That's exactly what Hitler wanted." Schiffgens further enraged the audience when he replied: "Yes, but unfortunately he didn't succeed." The row brought the uncomprehending Lynch to say: "I don't know what he said but I think I understand that he used a word from the Third Reich. Let's just look at it this way, it's a new world now."

Plans for Lynch's universities are under way in Estonia, Finland, Bulgaria and Scotland, where the university is cosponsored by 1960s folk singer Donovan.

They will combine traditional academic subjects with meditation techniques developed in the 1950s by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose followers included the Beatles.