May 17, 2021 – Issue 572

Michael Sternfeld On a Ramayan Quest

Michael Sternfeld, a professional dancer with the Chicago Movement Company, moved to Fairfield in 1983 and completed the master’s program in the Science of Creative Intelligence® in 1989 at MIU.

Michael had two interests, dance and great heroic stories, so he decided to write two thesis papers: one about consciousness as the source of movement and another about the structure of myth in consciousness. Inspired by Maharishi’s insights, he also developed a deep desire to create a theatrical production of the Ramayan.

His first production of the great Indian epic took place in 1993 at Maharishi School, where he co-directed a cast of 400 students in a stage play. In 1995 and ’96 he created an adventure theme park based on the Ramayan in Vedic City.

Michael directing Maharishi School students in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome at the 1993 production, The Coming of Ram Raj

A few years later he embarked on his opus, the first complete audio recording of the unabridged version of the Ramayan of Valmiki. The project took seven years to complete, resulted in the world’s longest audiobook with a run time of 75 hours, and received the 2004 Outstanding Project of the Year award by Humanities Iowa/National Endowment for the Humanities.

At the same time, Michael also pursued his interest in dance and became a certified somatic movement therapist. Michael feels very fortunate to have made a career out of the subjects he studied during his master’s program at MIU.

Michael joins the Ramayana performers from Thailand at the World Ramayana Conference in Jabalpur, India, 2017

“I was always surprised how my deep dive into Vedic wisdom during my MA in SCI sparked such a wellspring of creativity,” said Michael. “But what amazed me even more is that these impulses translated into practical career paths that have continued to grow over the last 30 years.”

Michael has also taught several continuing education courses at MIU, spoken at international conferences, developed executive leadership programs, and published articles in academic journals—all about the Ramayan.

With students at an MIU ChangeMakers event in 2018

When asked about what he, a Westerner, brings to the study of the Ramayan, he replied, “We have a unique specialty here at MIU. We learn to go to that source level where all the impulses originate. This brings out a fresh, Consciousness-Based approach to knowledge.”

During the past 40 years Michael has produced over 400 events, courses, and pieces of content. In addition to his work with the Ramayan, he has put on events for MIU and the David Lynch Foundation, including large fundraising concerts with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Donovan.

Watch Michael’s talk on the Ramayan and leadership here.