INTERVIEW: Asher Fergusson, web analyst
April 4, 2014
Please meet Asher Fergusson, a globetrotting Australian web developer who loves surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, camping, star gazing, rock climbing, photography, art, yoga, and, last – but definitely not least! – Transcendental Meditation.
Asher, where are you based at the moment?
ASHER FERGUSSON: I’m presently in Ojai, California – a small, very beautiful and also very spiritual town. I’m originally from Australia, but got engaged recently and we decided to move here with my fiancee, an actress by profession. Ojai is close enough to Los Angeles to go there if we need to, yet far enough so that we don’t have to be in the stress of a big city like L.A.
You’ve been to all four corners of the world, from Australia to Europe, from New York to Allahabad. Where and when did you learn the Transcendental Meditation technique?
ASHER FERGUSSON: My mother is a Transcendental Meditation teacher and she taught me when I was 10 years old. I was fortunate to have access to this knowledge at a young age, but like any teenager, I was kind of skeptical. I remember that when I did my 10 minutes of meditation, I would often open my eyes and just pull out a book from a shelf next to my chair – and start reading it instead of meditating…
Then one day – I was 13 or 14 – our family went on this amazing trip to the Outback, the Australian desert. We rented a 4-wheel drive. And the silence and the power of the land out there was simply so incredible, that when I sat down there to meditate, I went very deep. It felt like I was finally getting in tune with the universe. This experience was so overwhelming that I was inspired to be regular in my meditation, and to it wholeheartedly. So that’s when I really started to want to do it.
The final year at high school in Australia is so stressful as you have to prepare for final exams which determine your entrance to universities. I benefited enormously from my TM practice: my grades were good, and I was able to release stress and keep clarity of mind. I remember how it helped me during my exams – these last for three intense hours! – in staying calm and coming up with good answers.
In fact, you did so well in these extremely competitive exams that you could basically enter any degree and university in Australia. Yet it was precisely at this point that you chose to leave the land down under. Why?
ASHER FERGUSSON: I realized that the Australian education system as such was very poor. It was also challenging because I didn’t have friends with whom to talk about my spiritual experiences. That led me to find Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, US. I decided to go there, saving up for one year to pay for my studies. I took a flight from Sydney in August 2004 and landed in the cornfields of Iowa, in the middle of nowhere!
MUM is an incredible oasis. I studied Vedic Science and met a lot of like-minded people. I really enjoyed that deep exploration of myself.
What did you do after graduating?
ASHER FERGUSSON: I joined the Maharishi Purusha Program, where the focal point is on long meditations. Doing that for 2 years was an amazing experience.
Then, after all that deep silence, I had this urge to be active. So in 2008, I volunteered to help the TM organization, and that took me to Vlodrop, Holland. I lived in Vlodrop for 2 years, creating a YouTube channel for Transcendental Meditation videos and uploading a lot of Maharishi’s video lectures.
In this process, I learned that I could help so many people with these kind of projects. That’s when I launched my Internet marketing company.
ASHER FERGUSSON: Exactly, Galaxy Ninja.
That’s what we called our group chat on Skype, and when we were thinking of a name for our company, it quickly dawned that that was actually the best name! It reflects a lot of the work we do, because about half of our clients are operating, in some way or other, on the field of spirituality – and there’s a lot of resistance to
or simply misunderstanding about spirituality in the collective consciousness. So you have to be like a ninja to overcome those obstacles. The best is to solve the problems from a galactic level – this way they seem so small, existing only on this small speck of dust called the Earth! (laughs)
What kind of services do you and your team of ninjas provide, then?
ASHER FERGUSSON: We’ve worked with all kinds of businesses from all over the world. A lot of TM-related businesses, but a lot of ’normal’ companies as well.
The main service we offer is search engine optimization, SEO. That is the art of getting websites
higher up in search engines like Google. And this is an extremely important thing – because if you’re on the second page of Google, you do not exist at all… You could, of course, pay your way to the top with Google Ads, but that’s a lot of money. For example, one our clients is operating in such a competitive keyword – conference calls – that he’d have to pay about 50 dollars just to get one visitor landing on his site! Yet when we manage to push his website up in the natural ranking, he’ll have the visitors without paying anything at all.
Another service we offer is blogging and social media strategy – we’re both consulting and giving advice on how to do it properly, but also sometimes implementing the strategies and training the people in-house to overtake it gradually.
But this is by no means all. We design and build websites. And promote videos on YouTube – for instance, last year we worked on a beautiful 30-minute animation on how the economy works, created and produced by MUM students. This video has racked up nearly a million views within its first 5 months, and we didn’t pay a penny on advertising campaigns!
It’s seems that your Ninja is off to a flying start!
ASHER FERGUSSON: Yes, we sure cannot complain about lack of work. I can now relate to all these busy businesspeople…
Nevertheless, you manage to find time for so many hobbies and activities, besides running your company.
ASHER FERGUSSON: You know, as Maharishi said, we want to have ’200 per cent of life’. That is an accurate description of what people should look for: Get the maximum possible benefit of living on Earth and enjoying your life to the fullest!
With meditation, you get deeper understanding and better health. But you also benefit on the surface level – in terms of your work, your relationships, your hobbies. I’m a spiritual person, but I also sincerely enjoy doing sports, eating good food, spending time with people…
So you’d definitely argue against the conception that a meditator is, by definition, someone who pulls down the blinds and sits in his ’cave’ for days on end?
ASHER FERGUSSON: Of course, that’s not true at all! Meditation is like pulling the arrow back.
Often in our lives, we get more and more tasks to do. The thought of stopping to meditate for 20 minutes may seem kind of crazy. But then when you see that by the late afternoon you’re rather burned out and cannot accomplish things as fast as in the morning, then you realize that it makes sense to take a little break and pull the arrow back. When you then come back to activity, you hit the target quickly and without much effort.
That’s why I’d recommend Transcendental Meditation especially to people who are very active.
We obviously don’t have enough space here to talk about all of your various hobbies and activities, so let’s just focus on one – photography. You have excellent eye for composition, for framing a moment in time.
ASHER FERGUSSON: Well, I love it. To capture a good photo, you need luck – but you also need very sharp awareness. It’s all in the moment, catching a perfect shot. I transcend while taking pictures!
I first started taking photos out in a desert, similarly to when I got interested in meditation. I had this small plastic camera, and I simply walked the sand dunes and photographed all these things around me… Then, suddenly, I realized that I had been gone for hours and was kilometers away from our camp site! I had really transcended, with no conscious trace of what had happened during those hours of photographing.
That’s extremely interesting! Both of those deep, transcending episodes you’ve told about – losing yourself in meditation and photography – took place in a desert. A mere coincidence?
ASHER FERGUSSON: No. Desert is such an incredible place. It’s so far from any man-made influences. One place we were was 7 days drive from any civilization. There’s no interruption from society. There’s no mobile phone radiation, no radio waves. You’re just left with raw nature, and this awakens things in you.
And then you have to come back again. Bring the silence back to the noise of the market place.
ASHER FERGUSSON: That is the process of life, of spiritual progress. It’s like how Maharishi uses the dying a cloth analogy: If you just kept it in the dye, then the color would fade quickly in the sun. A properly dyed cloth has to go back and forth many times – you dip it into the dye, then dry it in the sun, then dip it in again… It’s only then that the dye gets fully established in the cloth, and will not fade even after washing.
So it’s important that you integrate the silence, the deep insights. It’s important that you stay active – don’t get too spacy.
Thank you, Asher, for this inspiring conversation!