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Magazine Web Edition > September 1989 > An Ashram on Wheels

An Ashram on Wheels



1925 to 1935: automobile collectors call it "the decade of classic cars." It was that fleeting moment of history that saw the rise of the luxurious, fast motorcar to a peak it seems unlikely to ever reach again. There was the Hispano-Suiza of Spain, the Bugatti and Darracq of France and from the USA: the Cadillac, the Packard and the Pierce-Arrow. It was a day when the elite were willing pay $40,000 for a car (a lot of money in that time) not only for classic design and performance but also for no-holds barred coach interior decoration featuring rarities like rosewood dashboards and matching ostrich hide upholstery with ivory buttons. The great "depression" during the 1930's shut down this opulent era, but its originality can be seen stamped into a handful of well-tended carriages. Today, some of these classic cars are in museums, but a few are owned privately - like Jerry Fowler's 1931 Pierce Arrow. Jerry's car is more than an antique heirloom. He thinks of it as "an ashram on wheels." Others do too. That makes his vintage roadster truly "one of a kind."

Jerry is a mystical person living Seattle, Washington. He began his spiritual life in 1958 when he was initiated into Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation (TM). Today, 30 years later, TM and the spiritual quest remain at the center of his life - and so does his Pierce Arrow. He uses it to promote meditation and perform seva (service). Even non-meditators riding in this unique car comment on its "peacefulness." He tells them it is because of the energy of the gurus he chauffeurs.

Jerry chauffeurs gurus? That's right. That's his seva. Jerry has used his four-wheeled magic carpet to propel several spiritual teachers here and there on their varied errands of divinity. Swami Satchidananda was the first. Then came Siva Balayogi, Sant Keshvadas and others. Naturally, Jerry has a few entertaining talks to tell. For instance, Swami Satchidananda, skilled in mechanics as well as spirituality, test-drove the priceless vehicle, much to Jerry's surprise - and amusement (in retrospect).

"He had me worried there for a minute," said Jerry. "First, he drove it real slow. Then, he drove it real fast. Then he said, 'Now that was just a demonstration. Don't you try that.'"

When chauffeuring Santguru Keshvadas, he overheard the singer/teacher describe an inner experience he was having to one of his students.

"He (Jerry Fowler) looks the same today as he did last time," said Keshvadas, apparently perceiving Jerry in one of his past lives. "I see him. He's dressed in white. He's in Rishikesh. He's a friend of Brahmananda Saraswati (the Guru of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation). His name is Yagnadiksha."

Jerry contends that these spiritual teachers have "spiritualized" his car so that amazing things happen. He says people who are "completely against meditation" get into the car and "do a complete turn-around." One man told him: "I just want you to know that your car is enlightened. Every time that I come close to your car, I feel enlightened."

Jerry contends that the car has also opened up his own intuitive faculties in a number of ways. Not only does he have deep, transcendent experiences in the car, but he also, for instance, intuitively finds rare car parts. "I just know where to go to get parts," he says. "It just pops into my head - many limes from very unlikely places."

How Jerry came to own his Pierce Arrow is a story in itself. At the age of eight he was given a magazine about antique automobiles. Even at that time he told his parents that someday he would own a Pierce Arrow. Some time later, he spotted an antique car stored under a tarp behind a variety store. He tried and tried unsuccessfully to meet the owner. Years later at a different time and place, when he finally purchased his long-awaited Pierce Arrow, it turned out to be the very car stored behind that variety store.

Jerry Fowler can be engaged as a local chauffeur for spiritual teachers by writing to him at PO Box 17407, Seattle, WA 98107.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.


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