Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
~ a critical assessment, growing up in TM ~
(click here for positive feedback)

Out of curiosity: 

I attended a recent TM introductory meeting. It's been
long since I'd left the group, nearly 2 decades since
I'd left; four decades since my childhood Initiation.

It is incredible that the group still has affected my
psyche after so many years, and my parents are still
somewhat loco. I was more or less raised in the TM
movement. 

The speakers looked as though they recognized me. One
familiar looking woman asked, with her loving spacey
smile "Do I know you?" I responded "I don't think so."

I'm nearly 20 yrs older than the last time those
people would've seen me, my hair is different, and I
purposely hid behind purple eye glasses. 

The meditators present were so dearly loving and
gentle with one another. Everyone spoke in the soft
monotone of calm tranquilty, control. Connecting to
their inner core (B.S.) 

I listened to these sincere presentors..they spoke all
lies. They believe the lies to the core of their
being. their sincerity was genuine. The presentors are
carefully trained and then selected for their various
regions to teach (no one in the audience would know
that). I live in an affluent educated area. The presentors 
were appropriately accomplished in their prior-to-TM 
lives.

Their sincerity was contagious to the group. I looked
around and watched people being sucked in by the
vision and the promises. 

The eager audience nodded in agreement as the
presentors explained that reality is not this physical
world. "Reality is what you experience inside
yourself. We each create our own reality. With TM you
can transcend the physical realm and come to the core
of true reality" 

All the verbage of my childhood and early adulthood.
Like sweet lollipops in front of wide-eyed children. 
Occassionally some phrased leaked though that I 
recognized as alluding to all the 'higher levels' of 
teachings, and bizarre lifestyle. No one else would 
have caught it. I wondered if I could identify the 
same w/ other groups. I think I could; that's why 
I never participated in other groups. 

The same old verbage used. It all appeared so
innocent, and sounded inviting and tempting. The
lauded scientific charts of decreased blood pressure
and slower respiration rate were presented on
powerpoint, as published in the International Journal
of Cardiology - or some such reputable medical
journal. Morphine will cause those same biological
repsonses too! Of course, stimulation of endogenous
opiates will have that measurable physical effect. And
how much does a morphine addiction contribute to
effectiveness in life? 

If one can just take the good and leave the rest, than
TM could be beneficial?..... I wonder. 

The problem is that the organization IS orchestrated
to keep one hooked and going deeper, or higher as the
case may be..and it becomes ugly the further one goes.

Any problems are blamed back on the individuals. the
leadership and methods NEVER accept responsibility for
problems..and take credit for ALL "good". When in
reality, any "good" comes from the individuality
anyway. Within the group, there was always pressure to
conform or suffer rejection. 

I wanted to ask the presentors about my friends'
children who had become schizophrenic, or the
suicides, or my father's severity of illness because
he used Maharishi Ayur-Ved rather than standard
beneficial medical treatments, or those groupies who
are fearful to leave the TM community because of the
"negativity in the outside world." 

The presenters would have calmly responded, with their
scripted answers, that some individuals had problems..
these isolated incidences of hardships had nothing to
do with this wonderful medition method (that causes a
dissociative calm and an automaton smile) 

The presenters are such convincing presentors,
automatons. I remained quiet and listened. The
phrases/ lingo are largely still the same from decades
ago. I excused myself early. Couldn't listen politely
anymore. 

It amazes me that this is being mass marketed again,
and a new crop of Initiates coming on board for $2,500 each.


Sarlo adds:

My correspondent wished to remain anonymous as her family is still involved in TM. 

Her claim in the last paragraph seemed grossly exaggerated, referring as it does to basic initiation fees, so i looked around and found other examples on the net. My correspondent meanwhile found the official TM page, more from her below.

Rick Ross quotes fees of $1000 in the year 2000, and from Steve Hassan we have:

MONEY: Involvement in TM is not cheap. Organized as a non-profit educational organization, the TM movement is valued between $2 and $3 BILLION dollars. Initiation starts at $390 [now $1000 -ed], followed by advanced mantras at $390, health mantras at $700, psychophysiological techniques at $700, herbs for $1000 per year, cleansing programs from $2700 - $6600, yagyas (religious ceremonies performed to solicit the aid of one or more Hindu deities), Jyotish (Hindu astrology TM-style), Ayur-Veda prescribed gems, Maharishi school and university education, and more. To pursue TM to its end can cost over $10,000 per year.

And lastly we have from Meditation Information Network the following commentary regarding MMY's nominal guru Brahmananda Saraswati:

Guru Deva used to give upadesha (initiation) without any fees. He used to say, "If I accept any gift from the disciple (or fees), then his sins are transmitted to me.'' In India, dharma, yoga, knowledge, specialized knowledge can never be sold for money. That is priceless. Anyone who puts a price on it insults it. So, a mantra is also never given for money. Knowledge cannot be sold for money. Therefore, the process that is being employed by Mahesh is merely for the sake of making money, and this is entirely against the canons of Indian culture and civilization.

Where money is involved that becomes a business.


Back to my correspondent . . . she says: 

The fees quoted by Hassan and Rick Ross are long outdated.

The following link documents the current, 2005, basic
Initiation fee to be $2500 in the USA:

http://www.tm.org/learn/course/requirements.html

The advanced programs, TM-Sidhis, yagyas and other
programs cost more than quoted by Hassan and Ross
today (2005). I don't know how much more though, and
would be too awkward to ask my family for a total
price breakdown. I know in the early 2000's that the
'cheap' yagyas began at $3,000. When I did the
TM-Sidhis in 1979 they cost $3,000. I believe they
are over $5,000 now. Oh yes, and the herbal
concoctions (some found to contain feces and
parasites) and the prescribed gemstones add to
thousand$ per year.

 

As of Oct '06, the David Lynch Foundation has withdrawn a grant offered to a Marin Co (CA) high school to sponsor a TM meditation club following protests by opponents. Rick Ross has archived the story from AP, the local paper has a slightly more sympathetic story. Following the links below is a copy of a letter sent to the school board by a former longtime TM adherent which was instrumental in deep-sixing the TM initiative. 

Marin Independent Journal
Rick Ross

San Rafael City School District
310 Nova Albion Way
San Rafael, CA 94903
cc. San Rafael City School Board members
Marin Independent Journal
16 October, 2006

Carole Ramsey, principal of Terra Linda High School (TLHS), deserves acknowledgement for her efforts to improve student life, reduce stress and increase academic success at TLHS through the David Lynch foundation grant for Transcendental Meditation ™.

Believing in the importance of education, I was an involved parent with the Dixie school district and later with TLHS, assisting with school events, youth programs and fund-raising. My personal life remained private.

What a surprise to see two consecutive cover stories of the Marin IJ addressing Transcendental Meditation™ (TM) at Terra Linda!

As a TLHS parent, and someone whose life has been profoundly affected by TM, I am uniquely qualified to express concerns about this program. The TM presentation on October 12 at TLHS was sophisticated and convincing. However, the presenters did not provide full disclosure of the TM program. In the interest of full disclosure of the TM program for TLHS, I offer the following.

My family has forty years and three generations’ involvement with TM. The Spiritual Regeneration Movement™ (SRM) is the founding organization to promote TM in the western world. In the late 1960’s, Maharishi told us “We present TM in scientific vocabulary because we live in a scientific age. If we lived in a religious age, we would present this as a religious program. The benefits will be the same, regardless of how it is presented.” The TM program promoted to TLHS is adamantly non-religious. I beg to differ. TM as originally taught by SRM is identical to that now taught through David Lynch’s foundation.

I was a founding participant of Maharishi International University (MIU), later renamed as Maharishi University of Management (MUM), as well as founding parent to MIU Prep, later renamed Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE). Leaders of these institutions spoke at TLHS, presenting a Utopic vision of their institutions. They skillfully dodged specific questions regarding TM instruction, methods and follow up.

The Transcendental Meditation community of Fairfield, Iowa is as-if my extended family. To this day, some graduates of MSAE request my guidance as they strive to function in the real world, outside of their protected meditation society. I harbor no ill will toward individuals in the TM Movement, in fact I love many of them. Their intentions are noble, as are those of any true believer. However, I believe full disclosure is mandatory for programs promoted in our public schools.

Between 1970-1972 Robert Keith Wallace, PhD and Herbert Benson, M.D. published landmark scientific studies on the benefits of meditation. Benson subsequently broke away from Wallace. Benson documented identical benefits experienced through traditional forms of Christian and Jewish prayer. Benson published his “Relaxation Response” method of stress reduction without the mysticism associated with TM. Short structured rest periods provide health benefits!

Evidence suggests that TM may be more than a catnap. Research indicates that TM may trigger a shift in one's psychological and physiological states. Like a prescription medication, this might be beneficial for the right person in the right dosage.

Others experience negative results such as anxiety or nervous ‘ticks’. There have been suicides. There was a recent murder on the MUM campus. However, TM instructors do not screen individuals prior to instruction. TM is presented as the magic bullet to solve all ills for all people.

As a teenager in the 1970’s, I helped introduce Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and Science of Creative Intelligence™ to two schools. We succeeded introducing the program into Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California in 1972 or 1973. I understand the good intentions of TM presenters, as well as the scripted timing of their unveiling.

The TM program experienced exponential growth in the 1960s and 1970s through targeting vulnerable college students with the Students International Meditation Society™ (SIMS). Most of those early meditators have since left the organization. TM’s resurgence again targets vulnerable youth.

TM instructors are Initiators or Governors of the Age of Enlightenment because, according to Maharishi, they govern in the realm of consciousness. When learning TM through their seven-step procedure, the new Initiate will bring an offering of fruit, a white handkerchief and flowers for step #4, a private Initiation ceremony. The Initiator will perform a puja ceremony in front of an altar to Guru Dev, Maharishi’s spiritual master. The Sanskrit puja offers obeisance to Guru Dev, Hindu deities, and a lineage called the Holy Tradition of Spiritual Masters from whence this teaching descended. According to TM teachings, the Initiator is the living embodiment of this ancient spiritual lineage.

What secular technique has a Holy Tradition? For this reason, in 1979 the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Transcendental Meditation™ and the Science of Creative Intelligence™ are too religious to be taught in the New Jersey public schools, partially because of the puja ceremony required for TM instruction. During the puja ceremony, the new initiate will hold one flower, quietly observing the Initiator perform the puja ceremony with burning camphor and incense, culminating with a bow to Guru Dev’s altar. With a gentle wave of one arm, the Initiator will invite the new initiate to likewise bow down to Guru Dev.

The new initiate will receive a secret mantra. The mantra is derived from the name of a Hindu deity. This word is never again to be repeated aloud by the meditator. Some common mantras are: Enga, Ema, Ainga, Shiring, Kirim, Sham. There are others. [Sarlo adds: Meditation Information Network, an ex-TM site has a list of these mantras and how they have been historically assigned.]

During the subsequent three meetings to elaborate upon the TM practice, new initiates will meditate together. In a relaxed semi-trance state, the brain readily absorbs information. The TM teachers will explain Cosmic Consciousness, God Consciousness and Unity Consciousness as evolutionary states of consciousness that can be achieved after long-term practice of TM. The Science of Creative Intelligence™ and TM-Sidhi™ program will be mentioned as options for advanced training at a later date. According to TM teachings, The TM-Sidhi™ program provides paranormal powers of invincibility such as friendliness, compassion, inner strength and levitation.

A TM-club could appear to be a positive peer support for those desiring a wholesome lifestyle and to associate with others of common values. For more vulnerable teens, this peer group’s idealism and group dynamics may prove seductive. A percentage of them will likely increase their involvement with programs at the local TM center. TM centers offer advanced meditation programs and residence programs to achieve deeper rest and release of stress along with a community of caring supportive other meditators.

As one becomes further involved, he or she will learn life style guidelines to enhance their growth of consciousness. Such lifestyle guidelines include the use of Maharishi Ayur-Veda medicinals, Ghandarhva Veda music, Maharishi Jyotish astrology, and architectural guidelines for enlightened household construction called Sthapatya Veda®. This is optional. Coercive persuasion is subtle and slow. A few may choose to attend Maharishi University of Management to study Vedic Science, or join the Thousand-Headed Purusha or Mother Divine programs –monastic branches of this non-religious organization. Some may participate in programs, such as the Invincible America Course currently held simultaneously at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and in Washington, DC, whereby groups of Sidhas (advanced meditators who have learned techniques for achieving paranormal powers) meditate together and also “levitate” together for hours daily. Maharishi teaches that these group meditations provide waves of coherent consciousness throughout the world, to generate world peace.

Group meditations, rather than political activism, would solve global problems. The devout may relocate to Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, where all is orchestrated according to the Laws of Nature, beneath the golden banner for Maharishi’s Global Country of World Peace. Purchases in Vedic City are made with their own currency, the Raam.

Those with more time and money may opt for further expensive and prolonged meditation courses to become Rajas. Rajas are given a geographical domain to support consciousness expansion on Earth. Rajas also wear gold crowns. There is a history, albeit repressed, of some participants having psychotic breaks and other negative results from prolonged periods of deep meditation on TM sponsored courses.

Alcohol and tobacco come with warning labels. TM lacks a warning label. Full disclosure is imperative when introducing a new program to our public schools. TM promoters well-intentionedly reveal stress management information in introductory talks. They believe that people “are not ready for the full revelation of knowledge. When consciousness has expanded from experiencing the profound bliss of TM, then we slowly reveal more.”

Some may benefit from fifteen – twenty minutes’ daily catnaps. Others may fall sway to a deeper commitment to this method of consciousness expansion. I observed more than my fair share of others’ psychotic breaks, familial destruction and financial devastation by good-hearted people who committed their lives to the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation™.

Please accept my personal experience, of forty years of exposure to TM’s global growth, as the disclosure label to this program coming to TLHS. In my opinion, if anyone wants to make a fully informed decision to learn TM, then go right ahead. However, I still maintain this does not belong in our public school system. David Lynch’s sponsorship for Transcendental Meditation™ is as well intentioned as Tom Cruise’s enthusiastic endorsement of Scientology®.

In the interest of full disclosure,
[name deleted]
early Child of the Age of Enlightenment through Transcendental Meditation™ as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Mother of three TLHS alums
San Rafael, California

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