By Rory Mulholland
Reuven Zelinkovsky was a colonel in the Israeli army, but now he has renounced military might to join a squadron of yogic flyers at the Sea of Galilee to throw a "shield of invincibility" around the Jewish state.
As Hezbollah rockets fired from nearby Lebanon boomed in the background, he explained that the solution to the latest conflict to engulf the Middle East was "not to kill the enemy but to kill enmity."
This can be done through the "technology" of yogic flying which, for those trained in the technique, is the spontaneous result of transcendental meditation, said Zelinkovsky as he emerged Tuesday from the first of two daily four-hour sessions.
The bespectacled electronics engineer, who served in the army from 1966 until 1982, is part of a worldwide movement led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the former guru to The Beatles.
The movement's Natural Law Party has unsuccessfully fielded candidates in US presidential and British general elections, touting yogic flying as a solution to the world's ills.
Yogic flying, derided by critics as glorified bum-hopping, is the purported ability to levitate through the advanced practice of transcendental meditation, or TM.
Proponents of the art say world peace can be achieved by thousands of simultaneous yogic flyers spread across the globe.
Here in Israel, according to a formula that says the square root of one percent of a country's population is the number needed to tap into a collective consciousness robust enough to create a "shield of invincibility," 265 people are needed.
But Zelinkovsky's squadron, which includes architects, health workers and pensioners, many of whom are also teachers of TM, now numbers only about 20 after falling from a peak of 65 last week.
This, he explained with the conviction of the converted, is why Israel's war with Hezbollah, which has already left hundreds dead, has not stopped.
"All my life I've been looking for scientific solutions to problems," said Zelinkovsky.
He slowly came to realise that his belief in the power of TM and military life were not compatible.
"I went to my commander and presented this solution. It was like talking to the wall so I left. In my mind I continue to be an army man. But now I use a new technology to serve the nation."
Alex Kutai, the leader of the yogic flying movement in Israel who titles himself the Prime Minister of the Peace Government of Israel, was leading the squadron at the lakeside Nof Ginnosar Hotel from where all other guests have fled for fear of being hit by rockets.
He has called on the elected Israeli government to recruit the required number of yogic flyers instead of wasting millions of dollars on military equipment.
As Zelinkovsky put it, "if you take the cost of the just the tail of an F-16 fighter jet you could have peace in the Middle East for a year. We can do what no army can do."
Across the border in Lebanon, another yogic flying group is believed to be at work but the group here in the Galilee is not currently in contact with them, said Zelinkovsky, who worked in telecoms after the army before becoming a full-time TM teacher.
An hour after he spoke to AFP, a rocket fired from Lebanon landed in the town of Mghar, just a few kilometres (miles) from the hotel, and killed a 15-year-old Arab Israeli girl.