Mia’s marriage to super-star crooner and actor Frank Sinatra had ended some months before she came to India.
Mia had married Sinatra when she was 19. It was her first marriage, and at the age of 42, it was his third. If the reports were accurate, Mia was a somewhat innocent and naive girl-woman, and Sinatra a tough, controlling man-of-the-world. The marriage had lasted a short two years, and Mia had come out of it feeling crushed and devastated. Soon thereafter, Mia’s sister, Prudence, invited her to Boston where Mia first heard the Maharishi speak. She met the Maharishi, learned meditation and traveled to India with Prudence.
Opportunities to intercede with others in a positive way, like giving the yellow mum to Mia in New Delhi, I still question, though less so now than at 24 (see The Beatles in Rishikesh, pgs. 40-41). Should one leave well enough alone? Will the other be embarrassed or worse, ashamed at the attention? Almost inevitably, my experience is that if our actions come from an authentic place of heartfulness, they’re received and appreciated.
One evening at the ashram I met up with Mia and Donovan as we were all out for a walk. I took some photos of them and as we chatted I realized that Mia and I had something in common, and that was the reason we’d both come to Rishikesh. We had each gone to hear the Maharishi lecture, she in Boston, just a month before I had, in New Delhi, hoping to find a salve for the heartbreak of our previous relationships. That agonizing, sometimes devastating, knife-stab to the heart most of us feel when love is unexpectedly truncated by the other ‘partner’. It’s most difficult when one or both partners in the relationship are emotionally adolescent, no matter how old in years they might be. Certainly, I was the more adolescent in my relationship, back then, and perhaps Mia was in hers. Which doesn’t mean that powerful love isn’t present, simply that adolescent loving is based on a deficiency of self-love, of self-respect, of self-valuation that leads us to define our worth in terms of the love received from outside–from the other person in the relationship. Easy to see, therefore, the devastation that comes with the abrupt rejection by our ‘partner’.
My sense was that Mia and I were both putting our hearts back together, attaining new self-respect and self-love through meditation, through going within, irrespective of the love of others. For me, it took years until that process was complete enough for me to be one-half of a truly healthy, loving adult relationship with another person–be it platonic, romantic, filial or even parental. Mia and I barely knew each other back then yet, today, I hope she has found the love she so deserves.
As I headed back to sleep in my tent that night, I again thought about fame and fortune guaranteeing nothing in life.
The next day, Mal and I were walking up the dirt road towards the kitchen. At one point, Mia’s name came up and Mal said that she still felt very awkward with all the attention the Maharishi was paying to her, far in excess of any other individual there. Mia would later recount in her autobiographical book ‘What Falls Away’ that one day the Maharishi invited her to meditate with him, alone in his meditation room, in the basement of his bungalow. When they finished, and were standing up in the darkness, he wrapped his “hairy arms” around her in an embrace. Was it sexual or not? At the time, Mia felt it was. She bolted from the room, hurriedly packed her bags, quickly said goodbye to Prudence, and was out the ashram gate and gone. Later, she would say that she felt it hadn’t been sexual. Sexual or not, the whole issue of the Maharishi’s sexuality would later result in John and George leaving the ashram, and the Beatles leaving the Maharishi behind.