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Yogic Flyers On A Mission In Switzerland

The Swiss federal government is developing the criteria for certification of practitioners of alternative medicine. To do so, they’ve mandated an association with a board member who is a yogic flyer.

Meditation in the Swiss Alps (Evan Lovely)
Meditation in the Swiss Alps (Evan Lovely)
Daniel Foppa

ZURICH -- "The flying isn't just spiritual; you really lift off," says Franz Rutz, 59, a "yogic flyer" and practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Followers of TM believe they can fly: "with a lot of practice and discipline, advanced practitioners can master yogic flying," Rutz told local paper Zürichsee Zeitung in January. However, anyone who has watched the flying arts of the yogis on YouTube might be more inclined to describe it as broad jumping in a lotus position.

Rutz is convinced that yogic flyers influence society. "Scientific research shows that crime is reduced in cities where 1% of the population practices Transcendental Meditation." These studies are published (in German) online on websites like unbesiegbareschweiz.ch. Translated, one excerpt reads: "From 1979 to 1988, economic trends in the United States improved every single time the coherence group at Maharishi International University (Iowa) went over the threshold mark. The Misery Index fell by 36.1%." Put another way: the more yogis in Iowa jumped, the better it was for the U.S. economy.

Rutz claims that 50 scientific studies have been published on the subject. These show that large groups practicing Transcendental Meditation, including yogic flying, had a positive influence on society.

The man who believes in a connection between yogi's jumping and economic growth is one of five board members of the "Organisation der Arbeitswelt Alternativmedizin Schweiz (OdA-AM)," an umbrella organization of associations of alternative practitioners in Switzerland. And the organization is presently facing an important task: it has been charged by the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (BBT) to develop recommendations to regulate the professional training of practitioners of alternative medicine who do not possess a medical degree. The objective is to create federally recognized alternative medicine degrees.

The BBT position is that "establishing federally recognized degrees is an important step to ensure quality in this growing market." They are pushing for training with uniform standards in an area presently lacking transparency, and providing funding to the OdA-AM -- 174,800 Swiss francs (217,000 dollars) so far -- to achieve that end. That means that taxpayer money is being paid to an organization with a yogic flyer on its board of trustees, and a member association (one of seven) called the Verband der Yogi-Flieger, or Union of Yogic Flyers.

The BBT does not appear to be concerned that yogic flyers are involved in making recommendations for federally recognized certification: "No comment," said spokeswoman Helen Stotzer. She did not think any measures needed to be taken. The BBT would only take a position if there turned out to be "political conflicts' while proposals for regulations were being worked out.

Hans Altherr, co-president of the OdA-AM, says it doesn't bother him in the least that a yogic flyer is a board member. However, when Tages Anzeiger asked a member of the federal parliament, the FDP liberal party politician from Appenzell, to comment on Rutz's claims about yogic flying, he replied: "That's taking it too far."

The OdA-AM is looking at traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, European naturopathy and Ayurvedic medicine. Yogis are particularly active in traditional Indian Ayurveda, and indeed the Swiss association for Maharishi Ayurveda is also an OdA-AM member. Rutz, however, says the Transcendental Meditation practiced by the yogic flyers is not a part of Ayurveda.

But in the current edition of the OdA-AM bulletin, there is an article on Ayurveda written by yogic flyers. Among the article's claims is that the ancient medical tradition of Ayurveda can have an impact on collective consciousness and on urban planning in harmony with nature -- suggesting that cities like Zurich need to be razed and built up anew.

It remains to be seen how much influence the yogis will have on the regulations for the federally recognized certification.

Read the original article in German

Photo -Evan Lovely

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Photo of workers at a factory in Sale, Morocco. In the foreground, boxes with the Moroccan flag on them.

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