Big-talking flying yogics and their "Peace Palaces" seem to have flown the proverbial coop in Toronto.
With the formal announcement of a University of Peace promised for Toronto portlands last March, there are no visible signs of construction. Rather than hammers, drills and saws, the only sound to be heard in the portlands is the piercing cry of seagulls.
Ditto for sound coming from construction of the nine peace palaces planned for Canadian soil, and no word either on the fate of the 2,000 square metre peace palace to have begun construction in Ontario, in 2004.
If actual construction hasn't been completed on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, whose peace palace project boasts a local "organic" golf course, a community Meditation Hall "for all who practice Transcendental Meditation" was completed. The Salt Spring Island community is also advertising a World Peace Assembly, to be held March 24-31, 2005.
As described by their advocates, peace palaces are houses with large rooms where "yogic flyers" can "take off together". Each peace palace would be home to 100 to 200 "peace-creating" experts.
To the untrained eye or to the cynic, yogic flying may look very much like awkward cross-legged hopping, but at advanced stages it feels like flying, advocates insist.
At last count, His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who taught the Beatles and Mick Jagger how to meditate, was planning 3,000 peace palaces for cities around the world.
The Maharishi was not flying solo. Oscar-nominated director David Lynch and award-winning choreographer Robert La Fosse joined with business leaders to launch a $1-billion drive to build 100 of the Peace Palaces and a University of Peace in the United States.
During the 2002 Francophone summit, Lebanese-born meditator Tony Nader joined the peace palace brigade. "We only need $1 billion," Nader said. "That's nothing compared to what missiles cost."
Followers of the Maharishi include Mozambique President Joaquim Alberto Chissano who meditates twice a day. The national leader first instructed his Cabinet ministers to follow suit, then had his government officers and the military trained in TM.
"The result has been political peace and balance in nature in my country," Chissano, a former Marxist bush fighter, told Britain's Guardian newspaper in 2001.
Closer to home, it was no flight of fancy to former Toronto-Danforth Liberal MP Dennis Mills, who announced that the United Nations-sponsored University of Peace would be moving from tropical Costa Rica to downtown Toronto.
Mills' announcement coincided with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's address to a special joint parliamentary session in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mills said, had given him the go ahead for his plans to bring UPeace to T.O.
In fact, Mills stressed that bringing the UN to Toronto was his "last goal" as an elected Member of Parliament.
Mills was defeated in last June's federal election and returned to a private sector job at Magna International.
Instead of a peace university or peace palace, Toronto residents who could use a little yogic flying lessons to escape him, got New Democrat Party leader Jack Layton.