Friday, June 09, 2006

As Natural as 'Yogic Flying'

John Hagelin, the founder of the U.S. Natural Law Party and its only presidential candidate, was born on this day in 1954 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A Harvard-trained quantum physicist and devotee of the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, John Hagelin founded the U.S. Natural Law Party in 1992 (an affiliate of Natural Law Parties established by followers of the Maharishi in a number of countries) under the slogan "Bringing the light of science into politics" and based on a public policy model that espouses the improvement of human consciousness through Transcendental Meditation techniques (including "yogic flying," or meditation that results in levitation), and the subsequent harnessing of the "laws of nature" to solve acute social problems.

Telegenic and reassuringly even-tempered, he quickly increased the Party's visibility while running for president as the Party's nominee in 1992 (39,179 votes; 8th place) and 1996 (113,670 votes; 7th place). In 2000, Hagelin took a stab at hijacking what remained of Ross Perot's Reform Party, but lost his bid for control to the right-wing followers of Pat Buchanan, and subsequently returned to the ballot as the Natural Law nominee for president again (83,712; 7th place).

In 2003, Hagelin and the Party endorsed Dennis Kucinich for president, but the Party was abruptly dissolved in April 2004 before Kucinich could be provided with the Natural Law Party's extensive ballot access. Since then, Hagelin appears to have abandoned electoral politics in favor of an initiative called the U.S. Peace Government, a purported shadow-government which, among other things advocates the deployment of a "Vedic Defense Shield" -- essentially a program of targeted meditation to diffuse regional tensions that result in war.

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