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Dave Zobeck

Sullivan Museum and History Center, Norwich University


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David Zobeck, NU Instructor, Oral History Interview

February 10, 2015

Interviewed by Sarah Yahm

SARAH YAHM: So, I'm here with Dave Zobeck at Norwich, in our little studio at the Sullivan Museum. It is February 10th, 2015, which I know because tomorrow is my birthday.

DAVE ZOBECK: Well, happy birthday tomorrow, in advance.

SY: Thank you. I wasn't fishing for that or anything.

DZ: No, not at all.

SY: (laughs) And we're about to do an oral history interview. And so, question one is where were you born?

DZ: I was born in Pueblo, Colorado, which happens to be a steel mill town. And it is the largest steel mill west of the Mississippi. And it's a town with wonderful mixed ethnicity. So, my neighborhood was from Yugoslavia, from Ljubljana in Yugoslavia, in Slovenia. And there's about a 12 or 13 block, square block area near the -- right on top of the steel mill. And then, on the other side of the bridge, there's a good-size Italian community. And now Latinos, mostly Mexicans, dominate the city's population. There's an African American population as well, Jewish and Greek. So, it's kind of like a little Pittsburgh. Little bit of everything. And I love it. It was a marvelous experience. I'm one of eight children, so we were good and Catholic.

SY: What's your birth order?

DZ: My -- I'm the sixth out of eight. So, I have a younger brother and a younger sister, yeah.

SY: Number six.

DZ: Yes.

SY: You're, like, in the messy middle, right?

DZ: Yes, kinda sorta, yeah. But, yeah, it was -- so, it's a marvelous experience growing up in that city. And really paid dividends, being exposed to all the different ethnicities. And, you know, we have pictures of -- when we were on our baseball team, it kind of looked like something out of the United Nations, you know? Little bit of everything. And we were cursed in several different languages when we won games, and it was marvelous. It was good experience.

SY: Were there turf wars or was it [pretty immigrant?] --

DZ: No, no, not at all. It was very integrated. And especially my neighborhood, it was truly the statement about it takes a community to raise a child. I mean, the families looked out for each other and -- very much so.

SY: Were your parents immigrants, too?

DZ: My father -- my grandparents were. My father was born in this country. And my dad -- the house that I grew up in is the house that my father grew up in. So, my grandmother bought the house after my grandfather died in a -- extraordinary accident at work where he was killed with -- by a train. And my father was standing there, watching. And so, they bought the house, and my grandmother was raising the rest of the children. They had five children, and then she was also -- it was a boarding -- she was -- like a boarding house for steel mill workers. So, she would cook for them and so on and so forth, and that would help pay the rent and so on, so forth, so --

SY: And was that happening when you were a kid?

DZ: No, no, that was when my father was six years old. So --

SY: Oh, so she raised him alone?

DZ: She raised them alone, yes. So, you know, it's a neighborhood and a community of extremely excellent work ethic. And if you're not work-- I mean, there was no welfare, just out of pride. Not that there wasn't a need for it. But no one would accept that.

SY: Union town?

DZ: Yes, and -- but they -- just was not going to happen. And everyone was -- you know, very -- oh, the yards were really well kept. The kids were clean, the -- you know, there was little to no crime other than orneriness. You know, lot of patriotism. Lot of guys went to war, and -- during World War II and then during Vietnam, my generation. So, it was a very beautiful experience because, you know, we were raised Catholic. The mass was in Slovenian for the older folks that didn't speak English. And then, you know, all the festivities and holidays -- and some of my friends who were Greek and Italian and Mexican and -- you know, when they had the festivals and -- everybody went and mixed, and it was great. It was a -- it's a marvelous place to grow up, but very -- definitely very blue collar. And all the children in my family worked their way through college. And that was the joy of my father, to see everyone with a college degree, of course, and all of our children and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have -- everyone that could have graduated from college -- like, 48 of us or something like that, total, with nieces and nephews have graduated from college. And we expect success. We're going to make that. So, it was a really beautiful -- yeah, I'm very fortunate.

SY: So, growing up, was the expectation that you would work in the steel mill or that you would get out?

DZ: Oh, my family didn't work at the steel mill. My father didn't want that. He wanted us to do something different and -- not that it was a negative thing, but --

SY: He had seen his father die in a work-related accident.

DZ: He did, and -- but he worked in a clothing store for a long time and was the manager of a clothing store. And then it burned down. And because he had assisted a customer who was extremely well off in -- fitting him with a suit, my father was excellent at doing that. And he was cleaning up the store one night after hours and he looked in the dressing room where this man was trying on his clothes, and he saw a paper bag and it was filled with money. And so, he knew who that belonged to. So, my father never drove a car. We didn't own a car. And my mother and father never drove a car their entire lives. Got on the bus and it took him, you know, an hour or so to get across town. And he knocked on the door, presented this bag of money to this gentleman. And, of course, he offered my father a reward, and that wasn't going to happen. And he got back on the bus, got home. Well, after the store burned down, my father was scrambling, looking for a job and "What are we going to do?" He has eight kids, and phone rings one day and it's this gentleman who left his money in the store. And he said, "I understand that the store burned down and you might be looking for work." He said, "If you call this number at the Pueblo ordnance depot," it's an Army depot, "they might be able to direct you some employment." So, my father called, and sure enough connected him to a job. So, he worked there for another, you know, 25 years as a federal government employee and was able to continue to support us and that sort of thing. So, you know, there -- it was a beautiful story, but I don't look back on it -- I don't feel -- we don't feel sorry for ourselves. It wasn't a poor us -- you know, we were poor, but it -- we were not at the same time. I mean, we were rich with my parents and my brothers and sisters. And it was always a fun place for friends to come to the house, because they knew my mother would love them, and we would have a good time. And we were all athletic, we liked to play. And, you know, thank God, with all -- as rowdy as we were, there were no broken bones in the family or any sort of major illnesses. And so, in that regard, it was a -- we were real fortunate. But I'm extremely fortunate, so -- I had a marvelous upbringing. Marvelous. Yeah, no complaints.

SY: So, well, I have two questions.

DZ: Sure.

SY: First of all, when you're a little kid and you're this kid running around on the streets, right, playing outside --

DZ: Sure.

SY: -- what'd you want to be when you grew up? What were your dreams and visions? And also, what did you play? Do you remember if you had imaginary games that you played?

DZ: Well, first of all, the games -- we played every sport imaginable. And one of the reasons is that, you know, we didn't go skiing because we didn't have the money or the transportation. But we did have a shotgun in the house, so my brother and I went hunting, you know? We would hunt ducks and geese and pheasants and, you know, quail and rabbit and -- not deer. We didn't have a rifle, but -- and we would eat everything that we shot. It was pretty good. So, that was one of the things that we did. The other thing -- I mean, we just dreamt of -- one of the things I wanted to be when I was younger was I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I always thought that I would be "in the show," you know? And I'm sure every young boy in that neighborhood who took up a glove and a ball and a bat had the same thing. I mean, we always had the same -- we thought we would all be on the same team. I mean, there was so much community spirit. And then, my younger brother was drafted several times and was very magical in his talents. And so, he was better than I was. He was younger. And that was my dream, that he -- then it, my dream, kind of shifted from myself doing that to him. So, I was helping him do everything he could to do that, because that was our dream. And in his senior year in college, unfortunately, he was injured and didn't get to make it. And that was a -- at that time, of course, it was a tragic event for both of us, you know? We saw this dream go by. But I think, at one point, I thought, early on -- I thought I might be a priest. And there was always this idea that the oldest -- I mean, one of the boys in every family would become a priest. And so, I thought it was me, and I enjoyed that thought. It was kind of cool. I just loved the parish priest. He was from Slovenia, and he was just -- he had such a heart of gold. He liked to help everyone, and I liked that feeling of helping everyone, and then the idea of saying mass and that was kind of cool. And these Catholic nuns, some of them were much better than others, of course. But there was one that was particularly interesting, and she was from our neighborhood. She grew up in our neighborhood, so she knew our culture and everything. So, she was -- she really took me under her wing, as she did all the children. But I just thought that was going to be something I would do, and even continue to think that when I was in the Air Force later on. I thought, as I was getting out of the Air Force, that I might become a Catholic priest.

SY: Really?

DZ: I thought so. I had the idea that I just wanted to do something extraordinary. And I thought maybe I would -- I talked to this priest when I was stationed in Torrejn Air Base in Spain, in Madrid, Spain. And I told him that I wanted to become a priest. I thought I wanted -- I just wanted to talk to him about it. I wasn't 100 percent sure. And so, you know, we had these different chats from time to time, and then finally concluded that I could do priestly work because isn't everyone a priest? Isn't everyone a rabbi? Isn't everyone a minister? Can't you do that without having to wear the cloth and do that? So, he said, "You know, I think you'd be a wonderful father, and you would have that opportunity to do many things as well as help people." And so, it was a real cool experience. It wasn't a letdown. It was just, I think, a good part of my vision of doing things greater -- that I knew I didn't have to be one particular thing to do everything that I wanted to do. So --

SY: You're certainly doing pastoral work now.

DZ: Well, you know, the interesting thing is, right after I got out of the Air Force, I had -- and I know you're probably going to -- I'm probably ahead of schedule here, but as far as --

SY: Chaos is my middle name. (laughter) Linearity? Whatever.

DZ: OK. (laughter) Yeah, "so what if I have these questions that you're answering before I ask them?"

SY: Oh, no, no, no. I write them down --

DZ: I'm teasing.

SY: I never look at them.

DZ: Yeah.

SY: I just have them.

DZ: Yeah, yeah, no that's good.

SY: [For?] just in case.

DZ: Good reference.

SY: Yeah.

DZ: But when I was finishing my last -- I was in the Air Force for four years. And when I finished my last -- the four years, last part of the four years, I was stationed in Torrejn Air Base in Spain, in Madrid, Spain. And I had already learned to meditate when I was in Tucson, Arizona, couple of years prior. And I got into some advanced courses, and I really enjoyed -- my friend and I started running, and then we started doing some camping, and we started watching what we were eating. And there was no -- there were very few guidelines at that time. We just started thinking about -- there has to be something to the quality of food that you put in your system, and how it helps your system perform. And, you know, kind of like the type of fuel or -- that you put in your vehicle. So, we thought we were just on the cutting edge, you know, with that thinking. And then, we would go camping and hiking, and we would just do the extreme stuff, like go -- we're going to go to the top of this mountain, we're going to camp out, and then we're going to come back. And this is what we do on the weekend when we're stationed in Tucson. And it was -- beautiful place to be. So, we would run together and [just?] that sort of thing. And one day, the -- there was an advertisement in the base activity center. And it said there's a yoga class. So, he said, "Let's go. Let's go check it out." So, this woman was talking about yoga and how it would benefit you. And we said, you know, why not? What do we have to lose? Nothing. So --

SY: Now, what year is this? What --

DZ: It was 1972.

SY: OK, so this is the beginning or it --

DZ: Yeah.

SY: Yeah, OK.

DZ: Nineteen seventy-two. Beginning of my four years.

SY: [And you're?] --

DZ: Actually '71, I got in. But in '72, I was stationed in Tucson.

SY: So, if you were in the Air Force, right --

DZ: Yes.

SY: -- and yoga at this point is, like, firmly the bastion of, like, hippie stuff.

DZ: Total hippie stuff, there's no question about it.

SY: So, I'm having trouble picturing this guy in the Air Force being, like, "Sure, I'll go to yoga!"

DZ: Well, it wasn't just "sure, I'll go to yoga." I said, "Let's check this out, you know, before we do that." And then she was talking about -- what caught our attention was she was talking about the benefits it had. And we were in that mode of how do we make our nervous systems function at a higher level? And so, we're running, and we got this runner's high. That's what the mode of, you know, the day was. You're going to get your runner's high, and we felt that. And then, we went hiking, and we would run up in the mountains in the higher levels and just say, you know, this is really cool. And all this healthy stuff. And we didn't drink and we didn't do pot. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life or even drank a cup of coffee. But I just thought there has to be some high and some way to get that inside of you. There has to be more inside than outside. What I see that grows out of the earth -- and people smoke pot and do all that sort -- that's good for them or whatever. They think that's good for them and that's their choice, no problem. But has to be the same or more inside. I have to be able to go inside and get to that place. Because when we would camp, we would look out and see the sky, and it would be -- and we'd see all these -- [well, you know?], in Flagstaff, Arizona, for example, we would look, and as far as -- I mean, it was just beautiful. And we would [say?] -- as far as we can see and then beyond what we can see still is space. So, it has to be the same thing inside. It has to be as far as we can go and beyond where we can go. It has to continually be space, so it has to be a reflection -- the outside has to be a reflection of the inside. And so, this woman started talking about yoga and "this position will create this flow in your circulation and will bring awareness and alertness to your mind," because she was talking to us in kind of a scientific way. And then we would start twisting around and doing things and -- you know, I didn't buy into all of it, for sure. It's a little too much. But we were doing that, and then -- we did that for about -- I don't know, about a month straight, and we would go to these classes three or four times a week. And we liked it. It was neat. And then, you know, lo and behold, here's this picture of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the community center on base. And it said there's a lecture on Transcendental Meditation. So, he said, "Hey, let's go to that one." I said, "Are you sure?" And he gos, "Yeah, let's go." I said, "All right, what do we have to lose? Let's go," right? So, we sat there. So, in comes this guy who was a Marine Corps veteran, and he had had two tours in Vietnam. And he sat down, and we -- there were about four of us, I think, that showed up. And, you know, introduced himself and was very casual, and start talking about meditation. And then he said, "My story is that I served two tours in Vietnam." So, that caught our attention. And he said, "When I got back, I knew there was something more. I was looking for something more." And he said, "So, I got back to Tucson, then I just went to California. And I cruised around in the mountains, and I stayed on my own and I just kind of let this stress go out of my system. And then I start doing some thinking in this silence." And he said, "What I wanted to do was become a meditation teacher." So, he said, "When I came back to Tucson, I gathered my things and found out that there was a course in India where I could go and study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi." He said, "So, I did it." So, he said, "When I went there" -- he said, "I had -- keep in mind, I hadn't listened to the radio, I hadn't watched TV, I haven't been in circulation in society for two or three years. So, I just went there to study. I was just going to be by myself and listen to this guy and then come back and teach people, because that's what I wanted to do." When he got there, he said there were people from -- international group. They were from all over the world. And so, he said Maharishi would come out and talk about meditation and different concepts of consciousness. And, in the evening, then he would retire. He would go into his room. And so, it was a young crowd, and they would hang out, kind of on the shore of the Ganges. And they would cook and, you know, associate with each other and sing and so on, so forth. So, he said there were these guys that were -- these four guys, and they had guitars. And they would sit around and they would make up poems and songs about people on the course. And one of the women on the course was named Prudence. And she was extremely shy. She was the sister of an actress, Mia Farrow. So -- and Mia was there. And so, he didn't know anybody. Keep that in mind. Just as innocent as you can imagine this so far. I know you're grinning and you know what's going on. So, anyway, Prudence, who I met a few years ago -- she's a marvelous human being and just a dear, dear person -- she would go to her room, because she was extremely shy. Extremely shy. And so, they kind of wanted the -- these guys kind of wanted to draw her out, so they made up a song. So, they went to her door and they knocked on her door, and they sing, "Dear Prudence, why don't you come out and play? Dear Prudence," yeah. And, you know, she didn't come out, and then eventually she did. And she would -- she was still very shy. And so, they were making up different songs about different situations. And so, they started to talk to my friend. And so, they called him G.I. Joe, because he had these fatigue pants on. And he didn't have his -- you know, he was -- you could wear your fatigue pants, just -- it didn't say Marine Corps, didn't say sergeant or anything like that. So, he had that. And he didn't really care how he looked, and he was just there for the knowledge. And so, they start making up a song about GI Joe. They called him GI Joe and that sort of thing and so, you know, hey, that was kind of cool, you know? So, anyway, he became a teacher. He came back from India. He was going to his first lecture and he turns on his radio in his little jalopy that he was driving, and what comes across the radio was, "Jojo was a man from Tucson, Arizona. He smoked some California grass. Get back, Jojo. Get back to where you once belonged." Get back to the USSR. And he said, "I've heard that song before." And someone said, "Yeah, those are the Beatles." He said, "Really?" And then he -- start telling stories about, you know, John Lennon. He said he had these multi-colored glasses on and he had, you know, long hair, and he used to wear these necklaces. And he was really bright, and how he would have conversations with Maharishi. And Paul McCartney, of course. And then Prudence later on was married, and she had a son and she named him Paul. And so, they're still really good friends. And he told stories about that. But it wasn't about them, the idea that he liked -- that he related to me that was intriguing is that this man had some knowledge. Maharishi had some knowledge to take you within yourself. And it wasn't about him, it was just about the knowledge that he had received from previous masters, and he passed it on. And now, this guy could teach this information. And that was really intriguing to him. So, we started, and it was everything that it was cranked up to be. I'd started with no expectation. I thought -- same thing I did with yoga. Like, if this is going to work, it's going to work. I'll do exactly how they say to do it, and I'll get the results. So, we did. And my friend Scott Nichols and I started on the same day, and since that time I've been meditating regular, and I haven't missed one time since I started. I think it is everything that it's cranked up to be. And what inspired me to become a teacher was just the idea that I felt really good already. I didn't -- I wasn't in any dire straits to learn a technique that would pull me out of some stressful situation in my life.

SY: So, you weren't -- you were seeking, but you weren't hungry. Doesn't --

DZ: Not [at?] -- well, you know, the thing is, I was hungry, but I wasn't desperate.

SY: [Yeah?].

DZ: And I think I've always been a seeker of how to get better things in life. My own natural intensity pushes me to say I want to be the best I can be, I want every day to be the best day. What is this? You know, I want to see that. I don't want to get in dire straits to wait until I need something. What happens if you take it when you're already functioning, you know, fairly well? Can you get better? Can you get to the next level? And that's kind of the attitude I took with it. And when we began to meditate, it was just marvelous. I had better running times, I slept better. I performed better on tests. I had a lot more stamina. I was more organized. And, you know, it just opened up a whole new vision in my life. And I thought it was already really good. So, when I did that for a couple years, I thought when I got out, here's an opportunity to become a teacher. So, when I was in Spain, the Spanish TM [Transcendental Meditation] teacher in Madrid was a director of the Spanish organization, TM organization, and they were just going to start a teacher training course. And he said, "You'd be a fool to go back to the States. There's thousands of teachers, and everyone's taught everyone else, you know?" He said, "If you stay here, you can teach lots of people, because there's only going to be eight new teachers in the whole country." So, I love Spain, it was where I wanted to go since I was in fourth grade and drew a map of my favorite country other than United States. It was Spain. And I remember my father and I worked on this thing. We had glitter in the river and we had -- for the forest, we'd stopped up these little twigs. And it was on this big yellow piece of -- I can remember it clearly, and I was so excited. And then, when I got a chance to go there, it was marvelous. And I started to study Spanish on the base through the University of Maryland. I took five courses in a row for credit. And then I would just go downtown and practice. So, it came to me like riding a bike. I mean, it just -- it made sense to me. And I was in the country, and I would go down after class, and I would go to Madrid. And on the weekends, I would go to the train station and take a train to some little tiny pueblo someplace, just by myself to force myself to speak Spanish. And I would practice with the Spanish Air Force guys who shared the base with us, and go visit their families on weekends and stuff. And I went to the TM Center and did advanced courses. And I became pretty proficient in Spanish, so I became a teacher with the Spanish natives and did it all in Spanish. Eight months in the first two phases of a teacher training course. And [in the?] third phase, we went to [Avoriaz?], France, and studied with Maharishi, in person. So, I was their translator. And that's who made me a teacher of TM. So, you kind of -- you follow exactly what he asks to do to make sure that the technique is done right. And it's effective, so it's not about you. It's about following what the masters did, and exactly in that same form. So, it was very, very challenging. But when I began to teach my first course, I went back to the base, Torrejn, and I taught 20 of my friends how to meditate, because they would -- they'd been wanting to meditate because they saw me meditate. And sometimes, they would just like to come in the room and sit quietly. And I didn't do anything. I don't sit in the lotus or go "om" or anything crazy. I just sit quietly in a chair, and that's really no big deal. So, that's how that began. So, I got a chance to travel around the country, and I taught about -- and then was lecturing in Spanish, of course. Probably taught about 900 people and -- for that whole year. And then, I came back to my hometown. And I was gone for about three years by that time. Hadn't seen my family in three years. And while I was sitting in the back of the -- on the back porch, my mother was ironing and -- you know, I was the only one -- the only sibling left in the house. Everyone else was married and out of the house. And my mother and father were there. So, this is my first time in my life I had a chance to be one on one with them. And it was marvelous, because I was certainly older then, and they didn't have all these other things going on. And, you know, my father was retired. And it was just one on one with my mother and father, like being an only child for a period of time. And it was glorious. I mean, my mother and father are just saintly. They're just magnificent human beings. I idolize them. The phone rings during a conversation. I pick up the phone, and there is a woman on the other end, and she asks me my name. "Are you Dave Zobeck?" "Yes." "Do you teach Transcendental Meditation?" "Yes." "Would you like to teach in the Colorado State Penitentiary, TM?" I said, "Yes." She said -- I said, "How did you get my name? I mean, I've only been home a week." She said, "I'll tell you later, so -- but tomorrow, I'm going to show up in front of your house. Give me your address. You're going to follow me to the penitentiary. We're going to talk to the warden at the maximum security penitentiary, and I'm going to try to convince him that we need this, because we have so much violence and we need something. And I'm sure this will work." "OK." So, we went down there, we talked to him. He put us on hold and he said, you know, "That sounds great." We hit it off right away. He was a Latino guy. He had a little Spanish accent, we begin to speak Spanish, he -- then, that kind of melted the barriers. And on the way back from the maximum -- oh, on the way out of the penitentiary or out of our meeting at the maximum security penitentiary, Tia, the guard, had to go to work. So, she was dressed in her uniform, of course. And she said -- she turned to me and she shook my hand. She said, "Good job, white boy." I said, "Great, there you go. That's good." And that was cool, I mean, you know? That was -- I had no problem with that.

SY: No, you were in.

DZ: I felt very comfortable with that, and I grew up in that kind of atmosphere. In the service, of course, same thing, and I loved it. And on the way home -- it was 50 miles away from my home in Pueblo. It was in Canyon City, and I stopped at the medium security penitentiary, just on a whim, and I thought I'm going to see if the program director's in. And so, I went down and I stopped at the guard shack, and I told them I had an appointment with the program director, which was a little on the untrue side. And he said, "Go right down and they'll help you out." So, I drove my vehicle down there and they patted me down and escorted me to the -- a bench outside of this office and said, "You'll have to wait here. He has someone in his office." And so, I was waiting in my little coat and tie, and there was an inmate and he was swabbing the deck. He was cleaning, mopping up. And, of course, he's there with his number on one side and his last name on the other side. And he looks at me, and he says, "Hey, what are you doing? Are you a lawyer?" I said, "No, are you?" And he goes, "No." He goes, "I like that answer." He goes, "What are you doing, man?" I said, "Well, I'm here to see if the medium security personnel are open to the idea of a meditation class." He said, "What kind of meditation? Transcendental Meditation?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Do you know George Ellis?" I said, "Yeah, I know George Ellis. George Ellis is a meditation teacher." He said, "How do you know George?" I said, "Two weeks ago, I met him in France." He said, "What'd you think?" I said, "I like George. He's a small guy, big ego." I said, "I like him." He goes, "Yep, that's George." He said, "Well, he taught me in Folsom Penitentiary. So, I do Transcendental Meditation." He said, "I'll tell you what. Here's what you do. You wait 'til you see Mr. Marshall, the programs director. When you come out, I'll have 20 of the toughest blomp-blomp-blomp-blomp-blomp guys here in the penitentiary, and we're going to start." I said, "Is that how it works?" He said, "That's how it works." I said, "OK." Sure enough, Mr. Marshall came to the door and he said, "I can see you now. Well, what are you here for?" So, I start talking to him. We had a marvelous talk. We talked about John Deere tractor, we talk about hunting deer. We talked about fishing, we talked about baseball. We talked about the stress he has in prison, his family. Yeah. And I said -- I was talking a little bit even about meditation. He said, "That sounds really interesting." He said, "I think I might like to try that." Well, he and I walked out. When we walk out, sure enough, 20 guys, inmates, are standing right in front of the door. And they already have their names signed up on a piece of paper. And they have Mr. Marshall's name as being the employee sponsor. So, they go, "Mr. Marshall? Here's what we're going to do." He said, "Now, boys, just a minute." Said, "We've got to check this out. This isn't how it works." And so, long story and fast forward, had it all checked out, and we did -- they didn't have any money, but they said, you know, "We're going to start." So, I said I would raise some money and we would get this done. So, I kind of went around the different TM centers around in Colorado and kind of [moved?] some money for sponsors. But I made the inmates pay $50. So, they were making 25 cents a day. But I said, "You're going to have to invest in it, because if you're [giving to it -- given it?], you may not do it." "Well, we don't have that kind of money." "Well, you'll find it." Now, what I did find out was, for marijuana in the penitentiary, if someone had three joints of marijuana in a matchbox -- that's what they call it, a matchbox -- it was $75. And someone would smuggle that in, and it would risk them getting a felony, and they would -- but it was worth it to them, so they did it. So, I said, in my first introductory lecture -- there were 75 inmates in this closed -- there were no windows in this closed room, and they could smoke at the time, of course. And I walk in and, you know, all the whistling began and all the catcalls and all the, you know, those kinds of things. And as they were talking, I finally -- it was too much noise, and I said, "Just a second. You know, I came here to talk about meditation. And those of you who are not interested, you have two options. You can go out this door or you can go out this door." Then it got very quiet. Course, there were a few other kinds of ways we said that in prison lingo. And they liked it, they clapped, it got very quiet. You could hear a pin drop. And afterwards, I toldthem what TM was, and whoever wanted to start, here's the rules. And they clapped, and then we started our class. So, I taught TM for four years in the Colorado State Penitentiary. And the community sponsored -- you know, they would sponsor an inmate. And so, I didn't make any money. It wasn't a money-making thing, but I traveled back and forth from my hometown, which was 50 miles away, when I was -- I was enrolled as a student to finish my bachelor's degree with the GI Bill. And then I moved 167 miles away to go to grad school, and I would commute on the weekends down to the penitentiary. And then, you know, like, Friday, I would go -- drive down to the penitentiary. I'd work till 9:00, I'd go and stay at my mother and father's house, 50 miles away. Then I'd come back that Saturday morning, spend the entire day there from 8:00 to 8:00. Go back Saturday night, come back to the penitentiary Sunday morning and work till noon and then drive back to grad school. And it was a joy, what I learned. All the things I learned while I was there, because I was not a guard. I was not part of the system. They took me under their wing. They told me how all the crimes happened. (laughs) They educated me. And I felt that that was a real intriguing place to be. They were teaching me. And I wasn't, like, taking them into my homes or, you know, they were going to come and stay with me when I got -- it wasn't that sort of thing. It was just, like, "Here's what I do. And then, if you do this, you maybe have a better chance with a clear mind to not return, because your thinking will be different." But I didn't tell them how to live their lives or to behave, because that doesn't work after they've done 20 years and stuff. So, it was definitely a group of the alpha dogs in the penitentiary that were the heavyweights. And the violence level started to be reduced by a lot, because at one point I had 50 out of 500 meditating. And when the guys would meditate during the day -- they had to be locked down three times a day so they could be counted to make sure that everyone's there. So, three times a day, they had to go back to the cell and lock down, and the guard would go by the cell and count every single one of them. Well, during the count, it was about 30 minutes. So, the guys decided to meditate during that 30 minutes. Well, traditionally, it's really loud, because the guys have a chance just to yell and scream, and there's nothing they could -- what are they going to do, put them in prison? (laughs) So -- and these guys would meditate, and they were the heavyweights. Pretty soon, they start telling everybody, "When we do count, you shut up." (laughs) So, it started getting real quiet in all the different cell blocks. So, the guards were going, "Wait a minute, something is really unusual. What's happening? Because there's a change in these guys." So, every day, I would come in and I'd be in my little sport coat, and I would -- they would call the -- Mr. Zobeck's meditation class in the psychology room. And the guys would come in and I'd say, "Hey, how you doing?" Blah-blah-blah. So, at one point, the captain -- one of the captains came to me and said, "Get in my office," in a real stern tone. You know, right in front of the inmates. And the inmates went, "Oooh!" You know, like, "Uh-oh!"

SY: "He's in trouble!"

DZ: Yeah, exactly, you know? So, I went in the office and I sat down. And there was another inmate by his side, and he was talking to me in a very stern voice and it was kind of puzzling in the beginning, of course. And he said, "Do you" -- he said, "Young man, do you know that it's a felony to bring cocaine in a state penitentiary?" I said, "Sounds good to me. That sounds about right. Yeah, I do. That sounds -- yeah." I, like -- and then he said, "Well, you could be doing time with the rest of these guys, just like the guys you're trying to help and -- if you don't watch your step." And I said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." Then it occurred to me, I said, "You're talking about me bringing in cocaine? Oh." I said, "Captain, let me just give you a quick bio. I've never had a cigarette in my life. I don't drink. I've never had a cup of coffee. If you want to get your sniff dog and take him in my vehicle right now, I'll sign release papers. You could do a strip search, I'll give you a urine sample, a blood sample, whatever you would like to do. And, you know, we could do that in front of the inmates. I'll do whatever -- just so the evidence is clear. And if you don't find anything, I'll teach you meditation, because you're really stressed out. But good things are happening. (laughter) You know, when violence level goes down, that's actually a good thing." So, after that, when the -- when we were there for about a year, the in--

SY: Wait, wait, but so how did that resolve? That whole cocaine thing, how did that rumor start?

DZ: He just -- it started because, you know, they -- the only reason that they would see that there were inmates being calm was when there were some drugs in the facility.

SY: Of course, cocaine would not be a drug that would calm them down. (laughs)

DZ: Well, but you know what? When they're maniacal -- if they're addicts, that would be a nice little fix. And there were several addicts in there. So, when they're coked up, they're a little bit different than when they're -- yeah.

SY: So, he thought you were bringing in drugs because --

DZ: Yes, because I --

SY: -- the change in behavior was so dramatic.

DZ: Yeah, and I was always happy. And that -- so, he knew that I had to be coked up, on coke, because I was always happy. And so, anyway -- but I saw a connection. The inmate that was sitting next to him was a convicted sex offender. I didn't know that at the time. And I didn't know the social aspects of the prison and sex offenders. What happened was, he came to learn TM. And I said, "Yeah, you could learn." But the inmates in the class told him, "Uh-uh. You're not coming with us, because if you sit with us, then that means we approve of who you are, and that ain't happening." So, I didn't realize that dynamic had transpired. And so, he was trying to upset the applecart and get this kicked out totally by putting this "I use cocaine" thing on me. And they would kick me out, and there goes the program and he'd get some revenge.

SY: Right.

DZ: So, I figured that out later on, and that aspect came to me. But, at any rate -- and then, after that, many guards saw what was happening, and they would come to me individually, like, privately and look around to see if there was anybody looking at us talking and say, "Here's my number. Call me at home." And I would call them at home, and said, "I want to start." So, I would drive to their homes, talk to them, their wives, and their kids and teach them. And then they said, "What we want is privacy, that you don't tell anyone, because if the guards -- other guards see us, then we're associating with an inmate program. If inmates see us, then, you know, we're -- it's a pretty negative situation." And so, at any rate -- and after -- of course, after four years -- and I was in grad school, then I was married, and I just couldn't continue. It was too long a deal. So, we had a very positive parting. But it was a wonderful experience, and it worked. The only thing I regret is I didn't keep real good -- great tabs on all the changes that occurred. I wasn't into the research end of it, and I regret that but --

SY: Yeah. Any -- do you have any anecdotes of, like, transformations that happened with individual -- did you keep in touch with any of the inmates or --

DZ: They all kept in touch with me. I still have -- at one point, one of the most positive things, I think, is that -- well, I had one of the guys that was in there -- and he finished 20 years. He was in there for murder. And that's not good, and I'm not condoning any crime that any of these guys -- they're all wrong and they all --

SY: Yeah, of course.

DZ: -- earned --

SY: Yeah.

DZ: -- and earned the --

SY: Yeah, yeah.

DZ: -- earned their time in prison. He got out and he spent one whole year in a monastery, on his parole. And the Jesuit brothers in Granby, Colorado, in a monastery, took him in, and he was in silence for a whole year. And he really enjoyed that, and it really made a huge difference. I keep in touch with him. Another one of the inmates who graduated, I -- got out and then finished the course. Became, like, an agent for a few professional athletes, some professional musicians. There's one right now who -- well, I'll tell you a personal connection, it was interesting. One of the guys got out, and he was from the city -- he grew up in the city in Colorado that I went to grad school in. It was Greeley, Colorado, at the University of Northern Colorado. And he said, "I understand" -- he said, "You said you're going to go to grad school in Greeley." I said, "Yeah." He said, "Could you look up my dad?" "Sure." So, he gave me the address, didn't tell me any story about his dad or anything. Didn't tell me anything about his father. I knock on the door, Mr. Smith comes to the door. I introduce myself, I said, "Hi, my name is Dave Zobeck, I teach meditation at the prison, and I met your son, Ted in the prison." And so, he starts cursing his son. "Ah," you know, he goes, "he's the cause of my divorce, because of his drugs and all that stuff. I hope he rots in hell," you know? And, OK, well, I said, "Well, I didn't know that part of it." I said, "So, like, you know, step away from the shotgun. I'm going to go back to my car," you know? Then he goes -- then he says, "Well," he said, "that's not your fault." Said, "Well, come on in." And fast forward, we became good friends. And he was an older guy, he just needed somebody to talk to. When I got back to the prison, I got in touch with Mr. Ted Smith and I said, "You got to tell me the whole story next time. You didn't tell me that." He said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, put your father on your visiting list, and I want him to come and talk to you. And I'm going to try to convince him to -- and he wants to talk to you. And you've got to drop that, you just have to talk to him." And so, anyway, they did. So, after I finished the four years -- and so, that went really well. But Mr. Smith would come and visit me a lot. I mean, sometimes uninvited. And I needed to study and he would just knock on the door and he would sit down, and he'd want to tell me his life story. And so -- and, you know, I accommodated most of the time, and sometimes I just couldn't do it. But I hadn't seen him for about two weeks. And in the meantime, I got a job at the Sheriff's Department in Greeley, Colorado. The Weld County Sheriff's Department. And I was a counselor in the jail, running this rehab program. I was sitting in my office, the phone rings. And this is when I was finished teaching TM in the prison. The phone rings, and it's Ted, the inmate who introduced me to his father. And we start talking. "How you doing?" "Good, I have a job, everything's going well." He said, "But my dad died." And I hadn't seen him in two weeks. He said, "It was just sudden. He died and we're having the funeral. Would you and your wife come to the funeral?" I said, "Of course we will," you know? And he said, "I just need some support [there?]. I don't have any family." "Of course." So, you know, my wife and I went to the funeral, and then we had him over for dinner, because he wasn't any threat to us. I mean, he wasn't, like, you know. So, anyway, we had him to dinner. So, during dinner, he said, "My father really liked you, and he really appreciated you did all that work for free." He said, "He wanted you to have the house." I said, "Now, wait a minute. Time out. Have the house? I'm not going to have the house." He goes, "Well, we'll make it good for you," because he said, "I shouldn't have the house," because his drug guys would move in and he would just -- and it's a mess for him, and he was about 100 miles away. And he said, "I'd just rather have the money and move on. I'm ready to move on." So, he gave us, like -- it was just incredibly inexpensive. So, he said, "For your hard work in the prison for four years, this is your reward." So, we -- I've got the G.I. Bill, bought this house, and it was our first little house. And, you know, we raised our first little girl in it for a few years, and then we moved to another one and we used that as a rental house. But that was probably the most powerful anecdote that -- but some of the guys were -- I've lost track. You know, several of them, I know, had died. And, you know, it's not unusual that someone who's been in prison awhile has the stress factor along with them. But I didn't see, you know -- and some (inaudible) [00:45:22] I'm sure reoffended. I didn't keep that close track. But it was a marvelous experience. And, yeah, it introduced me to the field that I stayed in, the criminal justice field. I got interested in that.

SY: OK, so --

DZ: I liked the adrenalin flow.

SY: -- what was your master's in?

DZ: My master's was in psychology, agency counseling. So, I did a lot of rehab work in the jails after that and ran a halfway house and that sort of thing, so -- and as a probation officer, when I was a probation officer, I did a lot of one-on-one kind of therapeutic kinds of things, and interventions in the community and that sort of thing. So, I really -- growing up in the neighborhood where I was, working in the penitentiary, and then getting that exposure and then applying that life experience to a career was a real blessing, you know? So, yeah, and I didn't teach TM when I was a probation officer, because that was a conflict of interest. I just recently started teaching since I've been here at Norwich.

SY: So, I have a couple questions.


SY: First of all, do you know about Vermont's whole restorative justice model?

DZ: Yes.

SY: Yeah.

DZ: Yes.

SY: I was on a reparative board for awhile. It's pretty amazing.

DZ: Yeah. I was certified as a trainer for restorative justice.

SY: Oh, you were?

DZ: Yes.

SY: Yeah.

DZ: And Vermont had a prison here, and years ago, they had a TM program in the prison. And a woman by the name of Susan Gore, of Gore-Tex, who's from Vermont, had this project going and -- about the same time I was doing my project in Colorado.

SY: Interesting.

DZ: Yeah.

SY: Doesn't exist anymore, does it?

DZ: It doesn't what?

SY: It doesn't exist anymore, does it?

DZ: No. No, no. No.

SY: So, that was one question I had to ask. And then, I'm just thinking about all these stories, and I'm thinking that you're in this unique position, right, where you can bridge these two worlds, right? So, I would imagine that you're different than most people teaching TM, certainly in the '70s, right?

DZ: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

SY: And, you know, you're this guy who was in the service, right? So, you can, like, walk, you can be, like, respected for having this particular type of authority, right? You can tell them to take it or leave it --

DZ: Right, right, right.

SY: -- in whatever crude terms you need to.

DZ: Right, right, right.

SY: Right? And have that sort of, like, gravitas, right? And then you're also able to teach TM. So, I -- is that something you've thought about? Like, how you sort of intersect these worlds?

DZ: No, I just -- you know, I taught TM because that was the most wonderful opportunity I had at the present, and I got really into it. And then, when I came back to the states, what I was going to do was get my degree and possibly go back to Europe. And then, this project came along. And then, of course, in grad school I met my wife. And, you know, life happened in that regard. So, the next page in the next chapter was, you know, I have an opportunity to actually work in this field. And I had this previous kind of experience prior to that, and it wasn't for pay. But it was really on the front line, and the prison experience was real. I mean, there was a guy who was -- there was a lot of things that happened in the penitentiary, you know? Like murders and that sort of thing, and just being exposed to that. And I liked the adrenaline rush. I liked that there was an excitement and you had to be on your toes all the time. You had to be alert, and how to handle that, knowing that in a penitentiary, you're outnumbered if you're a guard. So, your best weapon is your mouth, and you could either get in trouble with it or you can calm people down. Because the inmates -- you live at the mercy of the inmates when there's 500 inmates. There's -- they don't walk around -- the guards don't walk around the penitentiary with guns for good reason, because somebody's going to take it away. So, it was kind of an idea of learning how -- it was -- it reminded me of a -- and I've never done this, but it was kind of like maybe being in the jungle, learning how to pet the lions, and still have all your fingers. These guys could kill me anytime. I mean, they were all -- and there was 20 of them. And out of the 20, 12 of them had been convicted of murder. And, you know, they weren't rehabilitated. But I have to give this one little story. So, what I do is I'd -- the first day with everyone that is taught, they learn with a teacher, one-on-one. They get the instruction. So, they receive a mantra, they receive the technique how to use it properly, and then they meditate. They get it the first day, so you don't have to be a black belt in TM. You get -- you learn it right away. It's so simple, 10-year-olds learn. So, it's an effortless technique, which makes it really effective. You know, and it's certainly not a concentration technique or a contemplation technique and -- concentration takes a lot of effort and focus and mental activity, so it usually stays on a surface level. And contemplation is kind of -- you ask your mind to imagine a situation that -- you work yourself to get images or a value, like kindness or whatever it is, and imagine yourself in, for example, Costa Rica when you're actually in Vermont. But this is supposed to give you this relaxed feeling. Or imagine yourself, you know, the kindest person you can ever be. But it's thinking, and as long as you're thinking, you're on a surface level. So, TM is a little different than either one of those. It takes advantage of what's called the natural tendency of the mind. It sounds like a lot of woo-woo, but what it means is that if, you know, you and I are talking -- and I don't know what your favorite music is. What is your favorite music, type of music?

SY: It's usually folk music of some variety.

DZ: OK, so as you and I are talking, if one of your favorite tunes floats through the door, where would you imagine your attention might -- [yeah?].

SY: Sure, yeah.

DZ: To the music. So, it's more charming. It's something more charming. So, what happens is that, in TM, when we -- when I teach a person to meditate, the natural tendency of the mind is to go to quieter levels of the mind where there -- it is more charming. There's more quietness, more silence. Now, how do you get there? So, the first day, I teach you a mantra, which is a word that has no meaning. Some mantras do mean -- there's thousands of mantras all over the world. Probably millions, I don't know. But the mantras that are used by TM are sound that has no meaning whatsoever. And sounds have certain effects on your nervous system. So, it's a soothing sound and I choose that for each person. Some people could have the same mantra, doesn't matter. But the technique, how to use it properly, is the other half of that knowledge. So, I teach that the first day. And by this soothing sound, and when it's used correctly, that directs the tension to finer levels of thinking and quieter levels of the mind, to a point where, you know, there is nothing but silence. And silence is different than quietness. Silence is -- in silence, there's no thought. So, the idea of Transcendental Meditation -- meditation being some form of thinking or prayer, and transcending going beyond that. So, you go beyond the level of thought to where there's silence. And that part is in every nervous system of every human being. So, transcending is that experience of silence. And so, 600 studies later -- show that, you know, the prefrontal cortex and all areas of the brain are affected in a real positive way. So, it creates a situation where there's -- it's called restful alertness. So, the restfulness is that -- it's a mental technique, but there's deep physical relaxation. So, the heart rate is reduced, the breath rate, the pulse rate. Even cortisol, which is a chemical in the body that measures stress is reduced almost to nothing. So, the physical part is there. But on the mental part, there's some awareness. So, it's not sleep, it's not dreaming, it's not being awake, it's not -- it's neither of those states of consciousness, but it's this pure awareness. So, when someone experiences this several times during a 20 minute period of meditation, which is the length of time that people meditate twice daily -- that that prefrontal cortex and all areas of the brain are affected positively, and there is some coherence in the brain. So, there is awareness. There's alertness. And so, when you experience that and you finish, then you're refreshed. So, it reaches the level that's deeper than that of sleep. But it's not sleep, because sleep is measurable and your brain behaves a certain way during sleep. And the EEG that measures -- that does this research doesn't lie, doesn't make anything up. It says, hey, this is a different state of consciousness. So, we can tell when a person's sleeping by the function of the brainwaves. Then, when they begin to dream, there's some rapid eye movement, and you can tell there's a different function. I'm not being incredibly scientific, just -- right, just general. And when we're awake, like right now, there's a different -- so, scientists in another room looking at this screen could say that Sarah and Dave are sleeping, dreaming, and awake. And then, when we meditate, they're saying something different is happening. So, it's a fourth state of consciousness. So, being able to actually teach that to someone, knowing that it goes to what is a natural place in their own being, in their own mind and their own physiology, which is silent, and they get these deep results -- and when they come out and they're more alert and more relaxed, they're probably going to have better behavior. They're probably going to be more efficient in their activity. They're probably going to be more effective. So, when the violence level went down in the prison, it wasn't because Dave Zobeck said, "Be good." It was because we have 50 out of 500, and they're having more brain coherence, because every decision comes from the brain. It just made common sense to me that I didn't have to spew anything. I didn't have to tell them, "Eat -- be a vegetarian, think of Maharishi all day long. Quit your religion." Because that was convincing to me. I was Catholic, I didn't have to abandon my religion. I didn't have to become a vegetarian, because I'm not. I didn't have to walk around with a picture of Maharishi on me and think Maharishi thoughts, which -- and I met him. He's a marvelous human being. A marvelous human being. Incredible. I mean, he's a Hindu monk and I'm not. You know, I'm okay with that and it's not a big deal. So, to bring that knowledge into this field, knowing that in the field of corrections, with inmates and employees that work in that field, that -- high stress rates -- that police officers and people in law enforcement, corrections, they don't live to normal life expectancy because of stress. Not because of the bad guy. And then military, same thing. I mean, when -- sadly enough, when we have 13 -- minimum of 13 suicides per day, I find that -- I'm extremely patriotic, and these are our men and women, and these are people's -- course, now they're children -- that I have been with, and even if they're not -- that I don't know them, they're related and I understand that stress. I've never been in combat, so I don't understand that stress. But I tire of seeing our beautiful flag folded into a triangle and presented to a grieving family because the effects of their duty drove them to that place that they thought was better than living. And what am I going to do about it? I mean, you can only cry for so long. I want to do something about it. So, I think that this is a tool that may have an effect on that. And if someone can do that -- and I taught on this campus, I've taught a number of veterans that were -- have done a number of tours in different wars. And the results are phenomenal. And it is such a privilege for me to do that, it's such an honor for me to do that, to share that. So, to be here at Norwich is just -- this is --

SY: So, yeah, so how did you get --

DZ: -- ideal.

SY: -- pulled back into this work?

DZ: Well, I retired from my work early, and I put in 28 years in the field. But I decided that I wanted to teach TM again. In order to do that, I had to do a recertification course, and I went to this recertification course and I met this guy there. He said, "I work for the David Lynch Foundation and I'd like you to work for me." I had no idea what that was. I said, "Oh, okay, that sounds good." And, you know, no big deal. And so, he contacted me later on and said, "You have a chance to go to Norwich and teach TM." And I thought that was England. I was all excited. I thought, cool, we're going to England. Break out -- "Hello." Break out the passport. (laughter) So, I came here, and the first day that I came -- it was kind of, like, an incredibly snowy day like today. I went to a meeting in the Plumley Armory, and I walked into the Nicholson Room and there were nine vets sitting around this table. And I had my little coat and tie on, of course, which is kind of the uniform of the day for TM teachers. That's what -- Maharishi would like people to look professional, so I did. And I had Peg Meyer and Shelby [Gile?] and the veterans, and they started introducing themselves around the table. And this man said his name, and he said that he had done some tours and gone through some troubled times. And so, I looked him in the eye across the table and I said, "Welcome home, brother." And he started to cry. And I got up and I went around the table. And he stood up and I gave him a big hug, and he was just crying. And I just said, "Welcome home." And he sat down, and we continued. And the woman next to me whispered -- she said, "Did you know him?" I said, "I've never seen him before in my life." And so, then we had a chance -- after that meeting, we told them about TM, and they were -- they could start. They didn't have to pay anything. Going to make an exception, because we had an agreement between our agency and Norwich. And then, I went and talked to the student body. I mean, there were about 200 [core or Corps?] members, and we got a group and we started the first study. I wasn't the researcher, but the researchers did -- took some measures before and after. And then, the results were great. Doctor -- or President Schneider got up in front of the students that were there and he said, you know, "Ladies and gentlemen, you have the opportunity to learn this." He said, "It's everything that they say it is. There's no obligation, and you can volunteer if you like. If you don't, that's okay." He said, "But I've checked it out. I've looked at the research," and he said, "that's the only thing that convinced me." He said, "Then I started it, and since I've been doing it, it's wonderful." You know? Not exactly his word, but that he started --

SY: So, the TM with people returning with PTS makes a lot of sense to me. And the TM with platoons beforehand also makes sense, but can? -- I feel like there's this elemental contradiction, right, which is no matter how resilient people are, in war they're going to be forced to see and do things that damage the psyche, right?

DZ: Sure, sure.

SY: So, I guess, how do you think about that? And how can -- do you believe that TM can, to some degree, change the nature of conflicts?

DZ: Well, a couple of things. You know, it only works if you do it. And if a person's in a conflict -- I mean, I understand from a practical sense they're not going to call time out and go, "I got to meditate." But there are going to be some down times. There's going to be conflict that's going to cause that damage no matter what. If you do TM, you don't -- yeah, do TM. What do you do about it when you have it? And this is something that I like in this regard, because they could do it by themselves, and it's an extra tool. If they want to talk to a psychologist, that's great. If they want to take some medication, that's great. Whatever. They can do this by themselves. The veterans that I taught said, "I wish I would have had this when I was in combat, because there were times when I was just losing my mind and I didn't know what to do. And I had time on my hands. I wish I could've sat down and done this." So, in a practical sense, we're giving them tools to use when they can -- if they're in a conflict or if they're not actively doing anything, they have some downtime, to relieve that stress, to maybe -- we don't have any data yet that says TM prevents PTS. I would never say that. Maybe lessen the effects, or even when they get back they have a tool immediately to use. Because what we know is that alcohol, drugs, you know, the different behaviors that break out -- violence, you know, it's fight or flight kind of time when someone has post-traumatic stress. They -- you lash out or they'll walk away from things, and they're not the same person when they return, because what's happened is the brain is damaged. So, the hope is that we can give them this tool to maybe get them strong before they get into the conflict. And if they're kind of doing this workout for the brain, being more flexible to stress that's incoming, they won't react as badly or as poorly as they did if they didn't have the tool. So, what we're doing is -- it's kind of like that analogy of, you know, there's this crack team that rescues people jumping in the river, and they're going down the tubes. And they can pull out every single guy in the river, and every single woman in the river. They can -- they're really good at it. Then someone gets the wise idea and says, "Why don't we catch them where they're jumping in? You know, we can prevent something." So, this is a preventative program. So, we get the vets that have -- coming back, they're on campus. We also get those who are going to be commissioned and go into the service. And I have, you know, over -- probably about 100, and I get text messages from several of them that say, "I meditated before I flew today. I was clear as a bell." Or, "I finished Army Ranger training, and if not -- but for TM, I wouldn't have made it." And so, I see that there's some results. And, you know, I'm not a meditation cop. I don't make them do it. I give them the tool, and that's what the president said. We're going to give them a tool that is proven and see if that makes the difference.

SY: No, that's very interesting. So, OK, so Norwich is founded on this idea of the citizen soldier, right?

DZ: Mm-hmm.

SY: And I think that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, right? But part of it that I find compelling is the idea that you're creating soldiers who are thinkers, right? Who are -- they follow orders, but they also to some degree come to their own conclusions, right? So, I'm wondering if you feel like TM can create better, more ethical warriors, if it has a moral effect, perhaps, in some way?

DZ: Well, I mean, if -- the idea that -- that's a good question. The idea is that -- I think a person's morals don't necessarily come from meditation. But I think when a person has a clearer mind, they make less mistakes, and they're probably apt to err on the positive. So, you know, wouldn't it be nice if we were talking about, ideally, a situation where one of these young men or women become a general and they're big decision makers, and it comes down to doing that -- [make?] a decision to -- is this war -- is it -- are there other alternatives? That clear mind would make the very best decision that that person could possibly make to benefit the most people around them. Of course, that's the hope of every time, so -- but there's no -- I think when people begin to meditate, the hope is -- I had one of my -- so, one of the guys who's a soldier now, he said, "I want you to teach all of my platoon, because we're going to be more in touch with each other, and we're going to be more effective." And, you know, the hope is someday there will not be any wars. How -- you're talking about ethical with regard to during a war, ethical with regard to preventing war, or in what regard are you thinking about?

SY: All of the above.

DZ: I see.

SY: All of the above. I mean, so, yes, so ethical in terms of preventing a war, if it could be prevented. But also, I'm just thinking about -- you know, we've had some unfortunate situations in the past decade of -- you know, that are coming to light more and more, like soldiers -- you know, I mean, I think of Abu Ghraib. I think of other situations like that, and I wonder if a practice like this could help a soldier in a sort of context like that. Be, like, "Yeah, I'm not doing that."

DZ: Right.

SY: Or, "I'm going to blow the whistle on that." Or, "That doesn't" -- do you know what I'm saying?

DZ: Yeah, yeah, OK. That's a good direction. One of the things that I would submit that -- I don't have evidence in every single case, but I would submit that those types of decisions are made from a stressed mind. And same thing with crime. I mean, look at the example in prison. When these guys are doing that, none of them -- they rarely if ever got written up for any violations. And it's not because those rules were not there at all, they didn't understand the rules. It was because their reasoning was influenced by the amount of stress that they had. So, I would guess that when -- the people who did that in Abu Ghraib, and it wasn't every single one of them -- made that decision. That's not a relaxed place. That's an incredibly stressed place. And I would guess that those decisions come from stressed minds. So, I think that what could happen -- if I had the magic wand, I would teach every one of those guys. And, you know, there would be a difference in the -- a physiological change. And again, it sounds very ideal. But break out the EEG machine. And that doesn't measure left-wing granola conspiracies. That measures how the human brain functions in each individual. And when done correctly, there is a positive effect. And I would say that would be where the influence would go. And I see the same thing with, you know, stressed cops, stressed whatever. When I was on the street as a probation officer and we'd chasing the bad guys, I'd come home and there'd be all sorts of stress, of course. But I would meditate, and then I wouldn't bring that stress into my house, you know? And I think that that's the hope. So, I think it's a tool that is -- needs to be looked at, because scientifically it's proven. So, I do think it would have an influence in that regard. Do I think it would have been perfect and no violation? I'm not saying that. I'm saying does it make a difference if they would do it? I think it would increase the chances of positive behavior by a long shot. That's my opinion, absolutely. And so, if you look at that and you look at the idea of where wars come from -- I mean, people making decisions to go to war -- I don't think that's a relaxed nervous system.

SY: No, and people that --

DZ: On either side.

SY: Right. When people feel like caged animals, they act like caged animals, right?

DZ: They're going to lash out, I would guess. I mean, in some cases. And rare -- and bless the guy who doesn't or the woman who doesn't, but it's rare. But I think that -- you know, the same thing -- well, anyway, so that's my opinion on that one.

SY: So, one last question --

DZ: Sure.

SY: -- because I know I'm getting tired, mostly because these fluorescent lights are awful. Do you have this (inaudible) [01:09:52] (laughs)

DZ: They're terrible, aren't they?

SY: They're just the worst.

DZ: Bam.

SY: Ah, thank you!

DZ: See?

SY: Feel much better.

DZ: See, now we're relaxed.

SY: Look at that.

DZ: We're roaming out.

SY: Look at that.

DZ: Come on.

SY: Things changed.

DZ: I mean, come on, hello.

SY: Woo! It was, like, my eyes --

DZ: (laughs) Bzzz!

SY: -- were like dilating in and out. (laughter) And I was, like, am I here? What's going on?

DZ: Who am I? What am I?

SY: So yeah. So, actually, I was talking to Sarah Henrich before and I was like, "What do you want to ask Dave Zobeck? What do you want to know?" And she said, "What's your big picture vision?" You could -- if you were running the show, you were, you know, I don't know, leader of the world, right? What would you do in terms of TM?

DZ: Of the world or for Norwich? The world --

SY: Or of Norwich or --

DZ: Well, here's the deal. I think -- what I think I would do -- I mean, in the world sense at it boils down to Norwich as well. I think you need to get it in the education system. I think this needs to be a class that's offered for credit, that this is -- that you can do maybe some measurements before you get in the class, and at the end of the semester, after X amount of meditations, you can do that. And I think every class would begin with meditation and then follow with some knowledge about development of consciousness, changes in brains, that -- some real scientific kinds of things. And that should be a part of every person's curriculum. I think it belongs in the curriculum. I think this tool belongs with civilians, it belongs to Corps people, it belongs to administrators -- and I have taught a number of administrators here that swear by it. So, if it works, let's do it. So, we have to have this type of knowledge of other subject matters. And I've taught that. I've taught sociology and psychology and that sort of thing and it was -- it's marvelous. You have to have that. It's a good, good bit of information. But the knowledge of the self is so powerful and timeless. These books are outdated five years after I teach the subject matter. Development of consciousness and going within never is outdated as long as you're alive. And that is eternal knowledge. And that's the difference in my satisfaction of teaching TM and teaching these other subjects. I love teaching. When I teach someone how to go and experience and that -- to find this place in their own nervous system -- and then, when they're finished, they feel better and their affect is more positive on other people, because it's good to be around people that are very positive. And they're going to be the decision makers of the future. It's way too common-sensical to do. It makes sense, and there's no -- I don't understand a reason not to. And so, that's what I think the ideal situation -- there are school systems in California, entire school systems that use it. They call it quiet time. They start their day -- the entire school, with the teachers -- they have a bell that rings over the PA system. They start their day with 10 minutes of meditation, they go about their business. At the end, at three o'clock when they're finished, the entire school system sits down, including the teachers. They do 10 minutes of meditation. No violence in the hall, no afterschool violence. They've saved San Francisco millions of dollars --

SY: Of course it's San Francisco.

DZ: -- because of shootings and so on and so forth. And the kids are progressing for the first time through middle school, high school, and they're going on to college. The data is there. There's no -- there's nothing -- and they're still Protestants, they're still Jews, they're still Catholics, they're -- they haven't changed. They're still meat eaters. They're citizens that understand how they can contribute better as a citizen to their country, to their city, their community when they're using more of their full potential. This is the tool, and it's proven. And I think it -- you know, move the obstacles out of the way, get to what works. And the sooner we do that, I think we can see results all over the place. Even in cities where there are crime rates and there's X amount of people who are doing TM, there's a difference in the crime level. So, you know, I think it's a tool. So, I think, to answer, you know, that question is -- very directly is put it in the school system. Without a doubt, it should be taught like any other subject matter. The knowledge of self is as important as the knowledge of other topics. And so, I would recommend that. And I'm hoping, eventually down the road at Norwich, it does get in the curriculum somehow, some way, you know?

SY: Actually, when I was teaching middle school, we had something -- it wasn't TM, but it was sort of a mindfulness chunk of the week.

DZ: Yeah.

SY: It was -- it didn't quite work, I think because it was, like, a group activity, right? It wasn't something that, like -- I think with middle school girls in particular -- it was an all-girls school -- they need to close their eyes to, like, step out of the social context in order to be able to access themselves. But when there were -- it was more sort of, like, movement based and they could still see each other, they, like, weren't able to get rid of their self-consciousness.

DZ: And to go inside.

SY: And to go inside, yeah.

DZ: Well, you know, every technique has their own benefits, and I'm not going to knock that. But this is a -- again, if you're going to anyone -- any institution's going to invest money, go to something that's proven. I mean, 600 studies later, and no one's fighting that they're bad studies. There's not one.

SY: Do you think that if you hadn't -- if that Marine hadn't come and spoken at that -- at your Air Force base that you would have discovered TM? Or do you think your life would have taken another trajectory?

DZ: I think probably -- I think people are on a path to probably discover what they discover. He was just the -- he was the person who -- like, I would -- with some others that just was -- delivered the package that day that I had asked for in some way, shape, or form. I was always looking --

SY: And you were ready for it.

DZ: Yeah, I -- and in kind of, like, that Chinese thing when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

SY: Right, right, right, you're --

DZ: And I think I was -- we were doing other kinds of things and that came along, and that was just -- that was another thing. But it was the coup de grace. I mean, it made my exercise better, you know, my sleep better and my studies better. So, I saw the benefit immediately, and there's no reason to stop, so I haven't. And so far, there's some tremendous results here at Norwich, and the students like it. And, you know, there's some support. And it'll go as long as it's supposed to, you know? So --

SY: It also seems like, at Norwich, it's also to some degree changed the culture between the cadre and the rooks, right? And I know that people talked about less yelling and, like, a sort of, like, different relationship between -- a kinder relationship, potentially.

DZ: Well, the thing is, the first two years when we had the group study that was done at Alumni Hall, we had one platoon that was, you know, taught, and their cadre. And they would meditate together for the first two years. Different platoons, of course. And then we had the control group that didn't learn and then finally learned in the spring when they got recognized. So, we had that -- so, in that specific platoon, they didn't need to yell because these men and women, young men and women, were alert enough the first time around. And they, you know, were less stressed, and they could respond right away. So then, the cadre didn't have to yell, because they got it right the first time. And I know the cadre personally, and they yelled. I mean, it's part of the culture. But it was really good. Now the group is different, because it's opened up to the general population. So, some of the rooks are meditating and they're meditating in the room, but their cadre don't and their other roommate doesn't. Or it's a smattering of -- you know, I taught 116 people last semester, and not all of them were rooks. So, there's still the culture of yelling and screaming, of course. But I think, you know, we've opened it up to the public this time around. But in that regard, when you have everybody with a clearer mind and you have a group of people with a clear mind -- in fact, they sit down and get a clear mind before they start their day and go forward. TM is a preparation for activity. With a clear mind, your activity's going to be more efficient. It's real simple. So, that's how it -- work, and I think Norwich is on the cutting edge of all of this, because they're the first academy to move forward with all this.

SY: It's pretty exciting.

DZ: It is. I think it's great.

SY: It really is.

DZ: Yeah.

SY: So, OK, any last thoughts?

DZ: No, I think it's good.

SY: I still want to know why you joined the Air Force.

DZ: Oh, well, you know, I mean, my two brothers, older brothers, were in the Air Force. We grew up in Colorado. The Air Force Academy is there. We were always fans of the football team, and we had visited the academy. We were all Air Force guys. And they did it, and I just followed suit. And, you know, it was during the war and I just thought, you know, was a good time to serve. And I joined and -- certainly didn't go to Vietnam. I was a Vietnam era veteran, but I just thought it was a good thing to do. I liked it, and I didn't make a career out of it. I had -- opportunity to go to officer's school, and thought I could progress faster doing studies on my own. And, in fact, that was the case. But the Air Force changed my life. I mean, it got me out of the small town, and I saw the world. And when I lived in Europe, I visited all sorts of different countries, and visited my family in Yugoslavia. I would never have done that without the Air Force. So, I am deeply grateful for that experience. It was -- it's a life -- it was a life-changing situation. Became a TM teacher, taught -- you know, learned another language. So, very, very grateful, the opportunity that was presented, and then got my education -- I mean, finished my education when I got back with the GI Bill and bought a house. And there's so many things. So, it fit, you know? And I really didn't have the brains to figure that out, what I was going to do when I got in. I just said, hey, I'm going to do this and see what happens.

SY: You were, what, 18?

DZ: I was 20.

SY: Twenty.

DZ: Yeah, yeah, so --

SY: Yeah.

DZ: -- but it was beautiful, I -- so, it was good situation. Very grateful.

SY: And you liked the physical challenge, too, right?

DZ: I liked it. And the Air Force isn't, certainly, as physically -- challenge as, like, the Marine Corps or the Army. And my Marine friends and my Army soldier friends all agree.

SY: I heard (laughter) the joke the other day that -- of the Chair Force.

DZ: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

SY: That was the joke that I heard, yeah. (laughs)

DZ: But, you know, I take it in all good humor.

SY: Yeah.

DZ: And I admire them and am very grateful for all their service as well. So, it just -- we're -- I like to be part of the team. And being part of Norwich team and being accepted here and being part of the culture is really good. But, you know, in the beginning, it was very much, you know, weird and strange and odd, which I can understand. I understand that. But once we start looking at the science and the practical application and who I was and -- I wasn't into some of the strange things that are stereotypically associated --

SY: Well, again, you're this bridge.

DZ: Yeah, yeah.

SY: You're this, like --

DZ: Yeah.

SY: -- amalgam that works, right? (laughter) Bringing meditation into these, like, more sort of, like, macho worlds --

DZ: Yeah, yeah.

SY: -- like a prison or like the military or --

DZ: And, you know, what I find is that, you know, these young men and women -- Norwich -- the students here are just -- they absolutely amaze me. I mean, at the end of the sentence, they call me sir as opposed to other things that I was called when I worked in the criminal justice system, the combinations of family and different kinds of things were just very creative. (laughter) But they are so motivated, and to add this tool to their -- already their intensity is really nice, because it's like a tune-up twice a day. So, it's going to make them even more effective. So, I say, as a decision-maker, when you become an officer, if that were my son or daughter, I would hope to goodness that you would have a clear mind when you're making decisions when lives are at stake. And clear minds make less mistakes. And your troops -- and you may not even have to go to war. You could be that formidable, that we don't want you as an opponent. We can -- let's have this chat. And so, who knows down the road? But we'll see. Greater minds than mind will make those decisions. But my biggest -- my hope is that they can get it in the curriculum and get it going and have somebody do that. And there's a few young people here who are interested in becoming teachers, and that would be really magnificent. There's a staff member who's interested in becoming a teacher. I would like that. It would be organic in nature, and then I could go onto whatever else I'm supposed to do and -- (laughter)

SY: Right, whatever happens to be next.

DZ: That's right.

SY: Right?

DZ: That's right.

SY: And --