John Gray answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
Well, I think it was a teacher that I had when I was 18 years old. Everybody was getting high, including me... back in the 60s, rock ‘n’ roll, Woodstock, and the whole thing. I was completely high for three days, but afterwards I was really low. I thought, I had this glimpse of enlightenment, the amazing experience of altered consciousness, higher consciousness, and then I crashed into this depression where I just felt lost, and I felt there must be another way to get high.
Then I heard that the Beatles were saying they'd just gone to India to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He's the founder of Transcendental Meditation, and he was my mentor. And the Beatles said that you could get high without any crash. So I said, "That's for me." I'm really grateful to my earlier experiences of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, but I didn't want to live that life. I wanted to have the higher consciousness.
So I went off to become a student of Maharishi, and he gave me an amazing gift. He allowed me to be successful in getting to know him... the way he thought, the way he experienced life, and so forth. I became his personal assistant. I became a yogi, a monk. I was celibate for nine years and he was like a father to me.
He did his first course in America for one month, a long course in America. I went to that and I was sitting in the very back of the room. There were maybe a thousand people there. It was a one-month course. I decided I did not want to sit in the back of the room. I'd be really early the next time. So I got there really early, and wanted to sit in the front and they wouldn't let me sit in the front. So what happened is, the next day I figured out I would become the person who tells people not to sit in the front. So here I'm this young guy, 18 years old, looking even younger, and Maharishi, he sees me sending people back from the VIP section and then I'm right in the front of the VIP section and he never bothered.
Then the next month, he did a one-month course. That was sold out. There was one on the West coast. They said I couldn't come to that. I went to that anyway but I couldn't get in, because they had no room and so forth. So I would wait at the back door where he would come in. He had a whole entourage of wealthy people and so forth, and I was just a kid. So I would just sneak right behind him, and he knew what I was doing. And so I would just get right in with his entourage. Nobody knew who I was. And I got to take his next course. I went to every course he ever taught.
Then he had a teacher training program, his only one he did in America, at Estes Park, Colorado. It was a three-month training to become a teacher, and I was too young to be there; they had an age limit. I went anyway, and then he gave me permission. He said, "Okay, you can be here, but you can't be a teacher, you're too young." I took the whole course, and then I told him, "I really should be a teacher. I'm smarter and better than any of these other people." I think he saw me in him, and so he said, "Okay, you can become a teacher."
So at every step of the way it was like I was breaking the boundaries, going beyond. Then they would limit the courses to a certain number of people. I would just go. If you'd already been, you couldn't come. I became a TM teacher, and then I became his assistant.
Again, the way I became his assistant is his people around him were all wealthy and self-sufficient. I didn't have much money at all. But he had an assistant who he fired, so there was room for another assistant, and all the wealthy people were looking to become the other assistant. Then that assistant had a family member who was sick, so they had to go to America, so he had no assistants. The way he operated, he had a hotel room. We always had these big hotels with all these people in it; he would have a suite and there'd be an assistant outside the door. He'd ring the buzzer and you'd come in and do his duties, do things for him, playing tricks, let people come in, and so forth.
So they're all waiting, these nine wealthy guys, waiting, older than me, to become the new assistant. They took turns being at the door. I went and sat there and they kicked me out. Well, the next day I got up early and I went up there and sat by the door, and they would show up and they said, "Well, who are you?" I said, "Well, I'm the new assistant, and now it's time for you to go and rest." That's what the assistant would always say when Maharishi didn't want to see people: "It's time for you to go and rest." I would just say, "So now you should go and rest."
I did this for several days and so, kept them out of the competition to become the new assistant. Then I became the new assistant, but he never appointed me the assistant. Then the other assistant came back and said, "Who are you?" and took the keys. And then that was the day the Maharishi said, "Have Johnny come here," and telling me I was the new assistant. It was really like in the book, The Velveteen Rabbit, where the little boy says, "No, my rabbit is real." At that moment I was real. I was now the assistant.
We had a very loving relationship, like father son, but I had to push at every level of it. Then he said, "Both of you will be my assistant. One of you will take the morning shift, one will take the evening shift." He said, "So you pick." The other guy is this rich, luxurious guy. He figures he wants to meditate late into the morning, he'll do the evening shift. I'm thinking that way too, because I love meditation. But I thought, No, I'll do the difficult thing to show my commitment. So I said, "I'll take the morning shift." He smiled.
I discovered the next day that when you're doing the morning shift with the Maharishi, you start the day with him, all the plans with him, what's going to happen and so forth. Around five or six o'clock at night, the shift would change. I gave all the instructions to the second, older assistant. So now I was running everything around Maharishi, and that was just fantastic. He really had a lot of belief in me.
At one point I wanted to go back to America. He called me up and he wanted to know how I was doing. He said, "Come back." I really felt that this man saw the greatness that was going to come out of me and he nurtured it for nine years, kind of like protecting me in an environment for me to grow and explore higher states of consciousness. Then one day I would go out and do my own thing. I would leave the movement. But he graciously let go.
Everybody was very upset that I left the movement. He said, "Look." He called me up and he said, "John, if you come back to the movement just for a course or something, it upsets people. So if you want to come back, you can come back, or go and do your work." So it was really gracious that he supported me in going off and finding my own way. I'm very grateful to the love and support he gave me. It was a launching pattern. He taught me how he thought, how he behaved, how he reacted to things. I'd say the thing I learned most from him is... one of his messages was that the purpose of life was the expansion of happiness, to be happy. Even to this day I have a motto which is, I always choose happiness over perfection, and it's certainly done me very, very well.
John Gray is the author of the most well-known and trusted relationship book of all time, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. USA Today listed his book as one of the top 10 most influential books of the last quarter-century. In hardcover, it was the #1 bestselling book of the 1990s. John’s books are translated into approximately 45 languages in more than 100 countries.
John has written over 20 books. His most recent book is Beyond Mars and Venus: New Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World. His Mars/Venus book series has forever changed the way men and women view their relationships.
John helps men and women better understand and respect their differences in both personal and professional relationships. His approach combines specific communication techniques with healthy, nutritional choices that create the brain and body chemistry for lasting health, happiness, and romance.
His many books, blogs, and free online workshops at MarsVenus.com provide practical insights to improve relationships at all stages of life and love. An advocate of health and optimal brain function, he also provides natural solutions for overcoming depression, anxiety, and stress to support increased energy, libido, hormonal balance, and better sleep.
He has appeared repeatedly on Oprah, as well as on The Dr. Oz Show, TODAY, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, and others. He has been profiled in Time, Forbes, USA Today, and People. He was also the subject of a 3-hour special hosted by Barbara Walters.
John lives in Northern California, where for 34 years he happily shared his life with his beautiful wife, Bonnie, until her passing in 2018. They have three grown daughters and four grandchildren. He is an avid follower of his own health and relationship advice.