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Transcendental Meditation technique

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Transcendental Meditation technique or TM is a form of silent mantra meditation,[1] developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The meditation practice involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one's eyes closed.[2][3] It is one of the most-widely practiced,[4][5][6] and among the most widely researched meditation techniques,[7] with over 340 peer-reviewed studies published.[8]:p 14[9] Beginning in 1965, the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the USA, Latin America, Europe, and India. In 1977, a U.S. district court ruled that a curriculum in TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) being taught in some New Jersey schools was religious in nature and in violation of the First Amendment.[10] However, the technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.[11]

The technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism,[12]:p 188[13] and as a non-religious practice for self-development.[8]:p 4[14][15] Over its 50-year history the technique has had high visibility in the mass media and effective global propagation, and used celebrity and scientific endorsements as a marketing tool. Advanced courses supplement the TM technique and include an advanced meditation called the TM-Sidhi program. In 1970 the Science of Creative Intelligence, described as "modern science with ancient Vedic science",[16] became the theoretical basis for the Transcendental Meditation technique.[17] The Science of Creative Intelligence is a pseudoscience.[18]

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Transcription

Q: Earlier this evening we managed to abduct John Lennon and George Harrison. The film of the Maharishi was still being processed at the time but we started by taking up a point that the Maharishi had first made at the end of his conversation. The two things that the Maharishi said this morning were the results for people who meditated and followed this system of meditation. The two things he claimed for it were serenity and energy. Have you found that? Lennon: I've got more energy. I mean, I've got the same energy, but I know how to tap it sort of. Q: How do you mean, exactly? Lennon: Well, you know, the energy that I found through doing it, I know damn well I've had it there before. I just haven't, I've only used it on good days, you know, when everything is going well. And then I found more energy, because it's been going well. So with meditation, I find that, if it's not too good a day, I'll still sort of get the same amount of... Q: And can you link the two in any way? I mean, is it true of any day of meditation is equally good? Lennon: Well, the worst days I have on meditation are better than the worst days that I had before without it. Q: Have you found that George? Harrison: It's all...the energy is latent within everybody. It's there anyway. The meditation is just a natural process of being able to contact that, so by doing it each day, you contact that energy and give yourself a little more. Consequently, you're able to do whatever you normally do, just with a little bit more happiness, maybe. Q: How do you come to reach this stage of meditation? The Maharishi this morning was very clear about how that he gave to everyone or his teachers gave to everyone a specific sound, and that each person had a sound that was, tried to be in rhythm with the person... Harrison: Each person, the individual life sort of co-relates with their own rhythm, so they give a word or a song, a mantra which co-relates with that rhythm. So by using the mantra rather than a thought, because the whole idea is to transcend to the subtlest level of thought. So you replace the thought with the mantra, and the mantra becomes more subtle and more subtle until finally you've lost it in the mantra. And then you find yourself at that level of pure consciousness. Q: What I was in fact...is the mantra something you use to get back to the subject, if you find earthly or irrelevant thoughts... Lennon: Yeah, it's also like that. You just sort of sit there, and you let your mind go, wherever it's going, it doesn't matter what you're thinking about, just let it go. And you just introduce the mantra or the vibration, just to take over. You don't will it or use your willpower. Harrison: If you find yourself thinking, then the moment you realize you've been thinking about things again, then you replace that thought with the mantra again. Sometimes you can go on, and you find that you haven't even had the mantra in your mind, it's just a complete blank. But when you reach that point, because it's beyond all experience, then it's down there and that level is timeless, spaceless, so you can be there for five minutes and come out. You don't actually know how long you've been there, because it's just the actual contact of that, and then coming back out to the gross level, like this level, and you bring that level with you. Q: But I mean, in fact, then the aim as opposed to sitting and thinking or anything, is to reach a point in a sense when you have no thoughts, is it? Lennon: Yeah, but you're not even conscious of that sometimes. You just know that, the only time you're conscious is when you suddenly, it's like you don't know you're awake or something, asleep until you're awake, most of the time, you know. You just aren't asleep before. You come out in twenty minutes. Sometimes you come out and it's been twenty minutes sitting there, and other times you come out and it just seems as though no time has gone at all. Q: And can you look back at the end of that period and recap what's happened in the last. . . Lennon: That's why you go and see these people. So they sort of say, ëWhat were you doing?' and you say, ëWell, nothing, I haven't done anything,' and they say, ëWell, how about this?' and you say, ëOh, it did seem very short' or ëThat seemed to happen.' Harrison: You can't really tell anybody what it is, because it's, the teaching is all based on the individual experience. But if you were to do it then you get instruction, which leads to some sort of experience, and upon having experience you're taught the next part. But really. . . Lennon: It's like we're trying to tell you what chocolate tastes like. Harrison: Or how it is to be drunk, you know, they've got to be drunk themselves before they know what it is. Q: I can see that, I mean you're doing very well in fact, in expressing something that probably is inexpressible. Because, I mean, the thing is at the end of it, do you feel more relaxed, do you feel you know more about yourself, do you feel you know more about something else or someone else? Lennon: You don't feel you have more knowledge or anything. Well, maybe you do, but I can't feel that exactly. You just feel more energetic, you know, just simply for doing work or anything. You just come out it, it's just ëLet's get going!' you know. Harrison: The real thing is, it takes a lot of practice to arrive at the point, if you can remain there permanently. But the whole thing, we've only been doing it for a matter of six weeks maybe. But there's definite proof, I've had, that it is something, it really works. But in actual fact, if you take a long time to arrive at the point where I'm able to hold that pure consciousness on this level or to be able to bring that level of consciousness into this level of consciousness, which is the aim of it. Q: You mean the aim is to carry on the state you're in, in meditation, when you're here, when you're in your rec room. Lennon: You know, we practice. He said, one of his sort of analogies or whatever, is that it's like dipping a cloth into gold. So you dip it in, and you bring it out, and you dip it in and you bring it out. And if you leave it in, it gets soggy, you know, like if you're sitting in a cave all your life. And if you bring it out then it's the same. But the meditation is going in and going out and going in, so that when, after how many years or whatever, when you bring it out, it's the same when it's out as it's in. So when you do it in this, you really zap in all the time inside. But that's something else. Q: But I mean, the thing is, you said permanently. One of you, I think it was Paul, said in fact that this feeling that meditation gives is the sort of permanent version of what drugs can give temporarily, is that true? Harrison: Well, not really, because drugs, it's still all on the relative level. Like this, sleeping and dreaming and waking, all those three states that people live through, is all only relative, which is on this level. Whereas this is on a subtler level, so really you couldn't compare it. With drugs you do have a glimpse of a few things like that. Q: Is it as deep? Harrison: The thing is, you could take drugs, which would heighten perception a little, and then maybe to try and get into that subtle level with the drug. But just to take the drug and hope it's going to bring that subtly onto this gross level is a mistake, you know, it never worked. Q: I mean, you experimented with drugs, is that why you put them on one side? Lennon: Well, we dropped them long before the Maharishi. Q: Oh, it wasn't. . . Lennon: Yeah, we just, you know, we'd had enough acid, it had done all it could do for us, you know, there was no going any further. It only does so much. Q: What does it do? Lennon: Well, what it does mainly is that is more finding out about yourself, you know, and that kind of scene, so it's more psychological than anything else. Q: Whereas this is not psychological? I mean, it seems. . . Lennon: Well, it will be in the end. But I mean, with acid, it is just all about yourself, it's all that, but this just sort of a bit gentler. Or more gentle. Q: See, you're on the ball even there. But do you think that with acid in fact that what you discover is yourself or just a fantasy? Lennon: No, it's yourself more, but obviously you do have hallucinations as they call them, it's only a sort of state, but it is about yourself, you know. You don't find out, I mean you could find out about other people, but they're only mirrors of yourself anyway. But you find out about yourself, you know, instead of taking a hundred years, or maybe you never find out. Harrison: People can look at themselves objectively, you know, instead of thinking that you are the big cheese. Lennon: Or even you're not the big cheese, whatever you think. Harrison: Yeah, or whatever you think, you can see yourself from a different point of view. So consequently, it shows you a bit more truth than you've seen. Only, of course, truth depends on the person's feelings. The thing is, you see certain things that have been there all the time, and yet you've lived with such a narrow concept of just general things, just like the trees or the glass or anything. Q: But I mean, presumably when you gave up those experiments with drugs, it wasn't because you felt you knew everything about yourselves, but because of the disadvantages of the thing as well. Harrison: Because the thing is, your true self isn't on this level, again, it's on a subtler level. So, whatever the true self is, the way to approach it is through that meditation or some form of yoga. We're not saying that this meditation is the only answer, it's obviously not. Yoga incorporates lots of different techniques, but the whole point is that each soul is potentially divine, and yoga is a technique of manifesting that, to arrive at point that is divine. Q: You've had six weeks of this and it's already had a tremendous impact on you, do you find that this sort of tremendous concern with meditation and one's own self and so on, is now starting to impose, not necessarily rules, but a difference to your conduct of the rest of the day, I mean towards other people or anything? Lennon: No. Q: Or rules of any kind? Lennon: It doesn't, you see. It's just something you had, if you haven't been treating your teeth all your life, it's just suddenly that somebody says, ëHey, it's a good idea of you clean them.' So you try it, and it seems quite good. You just add it to your routine, you know. So you're just the same, just with that, the little difference of doing it. You add to your religion, you don't have to change your religion or anything. You know, whatever you are, you carry on. But this is something that is a plus. Harrison: And you're surprised your teeth are suddenly shiny. Q: But I mean, in fact, if you'd compare this with say something like Christianity, which is concerned to try and find serenity, to give energy through the Holy Spirit or whatever. At the same time, a good fifty per cent of that is concerned with then, one's responsibility to other people. There doesn't seem to be any of that in this. Lennon: Because it's, you know, if you go, if you asked Maharishi or any of the people, give us a few rules for living by, well, they'd be the same as Christianity. You know, Christianity is the answer as well as this. It's the same thing, just. . . Harrison: Christianity, how I was taught it, they told me to believe in Jesus and God and all that, they didn't actually show me any way of experiencing God or Jesus. So, the whole point of to believe in something, without actually seeing it, well, it's no good. You've got to actually experience the thing, you know, if there's a God, you must see Him. And that's the point, you know, the whole thing, it's no good to believe in something, you know, just. . . Lennon: And the whole thing about the kingdom of heaven is within you, you know, that's all it means, to have a peep inside. There's nobody to see, you know, some old fellow, it's still just like electricity, you don't see it. Q: But I mean it's the same in a sense that you now have evidence, you personally feel of this thing, equally Christians feel they have experience of that thing, but in both cases, it's impossible to prove it to anybody else, isn't it? Lennon: Yeah, but having been, I'm still, I'm really a Christian, I've done this, I know the difference between being fifteen and just being, ëOh, it's very nice' and all that, and had I been told meditation at fifteen, now I would be pretty groovy. Q: Yes, but I mean, the word, for instance, the word God, does it mean something different to you now than it did before Maharishi? Harrison: It means all sorts of things to me. I mean, the first concept of a man in the sky, well, I kicked that one a few years ago, but I've got back to that now, because it's a man in the sky as well if you like. It's just everything, the whole thing that it's just everything, every aspect of creation is part of God. Lennon: I think of it just as a big piece of energy, you know, like electricity, just a bigger piece, a big powerhouse. Harrison: The energy that runs through everything, that holds everything together and makes everything one. One big piece of energy. Q: But yes, I'm still concerned about the outgoing part, I mean, how does it, is it solely concerned with one's self, or does it in any way, make one feel more responsible for other people or more responsible people that are depending on you or. . .? Harrison: Well, you realize that your actions are going to lead to whatever the reaction is. And so, that's like the only thing about your attitude to other people. If you treat other people good, they'll treat you good. If you kick them in the face, they'll probably do the same thing. And that's the easiest thing to do with religion. Action and reaction, that's the thing that Christ was saying about you sow you reap. It just means, whatever you do, you get it back. And that's why it doesn't really matter what people say or think because they get it back just like you'll get back what's coming. Q: That's Old Testament. Lennon: Everything you read about all the religions, you know, they're all the same. It's just a matter of people opening their minds up, to allow the, yeah, all right, Buddha was a groove, Jesus was all right. They're all saying exactly the same thing. Q: How would you, what differences would you say there were between Jesus, say, and the Maharishi, for instance? Lennon: Well, I don't know, you know. Maharishi doesn't do miracles, you know, for a kick-off. I don't know how divine or how you know, super-human or whatever it is, he is, that's all. But I mean Jesus was. . . Harrison: A divine incarnation. Like some of the people like Christ and Buddha and Krishna, and various others, are divine the moment they're born. That is, they've achieved the highest thing, and they choose to come back to try and save a few more people. Whereas others manage to be born just ordinary, and attain their divinity in that incarnation. Lennon: So Maharishi was probably one of them, you know, who was born quite ordinary, but he's working at it. Q: How do you think in fact, this, the Maharishi, this meditation can for instance help the world's problems? Lennon: Well, if everybody was doing it, it would just be. . . Harrison: It's the same thing that Jesus said about go and fix your own house, and it's solved, everything's fixed up then. If you sort yourself out, everybody needs to go home and find out for themselves, and fix up all their personal problems. Then no other problems exist, because they only cause the problems that exist in the world. It's all each person, individual, it's just up to him to do it. Q: And as each person does that, as each person goes deeper and deeper within themselves, is each person going to find good and good thoughts below? Lennon: It doesn't matter what you're thinking when you do it. I mean, you could be thinking the most awful things in the world, I suppose. The point is to get down there and then you're not thinking anything. It's when you come out you might be thinking quite the same, you know, after a few weeks. I mean, we don't really know what happened to a sort of, a killer or somebody that did it, you know, maybe he changed his mind, we don't know about that, you should have asked him that side of it. But, it's for the good, you know, and it's simple, that's the main bit about it. So they're bound to be a bit better than they were, whatever they were before they did it. Q: And each person, you're saying, each person, there's no one to which it's not possible. Lennon: Anybody. All you've got to do is be interested in it, whether you're interested in it to knock it, or to do anything, but if you just want to try it to find out, that's all you need, you know. Because the fellow that runs it here in London, was a real sort of, you know, trying to knock it down for months before he got it. You know, he was a real cynical whatever you call it. Q: I mean, even so, as you look at this thing, you find that you say on the one hand there's no rules for how it will affect people or anything, but I mean, looking back in your last work in Sgt. Pepper, there the music was affected by the experiments with the drugs and so on that you'd been doing. Are you finding now we've grabbed you in the middle of this day of a recording session, are you finding a difference in yourselves as you work, in what you work at, and how you work? Lennon: All the differences in Pepper and all that were in retrospect, you know. It wasn't, sitting and thinking, oh, we had LSD, so we'll make a little tinkle on this, you know, it all. . . Q: Oh no, as you look in retrospect to what you did yesterday. . . Lennon: We can't see what we've done now. Harrison: I feel that we're all a little more tolerant, we've been learning that over the past four or five years, but I just lately, I think we are very much more tolerant than we have been. And I hope that we'll get even more tolerant. Q: One of the last things I asked the Maharishi was what he thought that people were on earth for. After six weeks of his teachings, what would you say? Harrison: To create more happiness, to fulfill all desires. The personal things, that everybody's going to be here until they have fulfilled all desires. I mean, this gets into other things that may take up hours of argument. Q: How do you mean they'll still going to be here? Harrison: Well, I believe in reincarnation. I mean, it's just something that I feel exists, that what you sow you reap, so when you die, life and death are still only relative to thought, there's no such thing really, you just keep going. I believe in rebirth, and then you come back and go through more experience and you die and you come back again and you keep coming back until you've got it straight. That's how I see it. Q: And then what? Harrison: Well, the ultimate thing is to manifest that divinity so that you can become one with the Creator. I mean, it sounds pretty far out, talking about things like that, but that's just what I believe. Lennon: I believe the same, but it's just when we're talking about meditation and that, it's frightening really for people that haven't done it or still, that still fancy the meditation but they hear about coming back and all that up there. So, you know, I'd sooner put it over and forget about that. Harrison: Because that's not really important. Lennon: That happens anyway. Harrison: The whole point of his meditation is for now, you know, because it's now all the time, it's present and past has got nothing to do with it. Lennon: Not to live to get into heaven by being a good boy, or to go to hell, just to live better as you're living, do whatever you're doing better. And live now, you know, not looking forward to the great day, or whatever it turns out to be. Q: And there we must leave it. John and George, thank you very much indeed. Lennon & Harrison: Thank you. Q: Thank you, thank you and good evening. We're returning to a subject we dealt with last week. Before that, we return to one other subject we dealt with last week. Namely, the bad news, good news jokes we asked you to send in. I've got bad news for you and good news, the bad news first. Mrs. I.M. Lancaster of Ilford said I've got bad news for you and good news. The bad news first. Here's a letter from our son's principal. He's being sent down for having a girl in his room. And now the good news: he's passed his biology exam. G.W. Pilson of Upper Warlingham, R.S.M. to soldier: the bad news for you, you've been posted abroad. The good news: she's a cracker. (Laughter) Antony, I never know whether this is Tiggy or Thye of Bushy is right up to the minute. Policeman to motorist after crash: the bad news first, the doctor says you have ten crushed ribs. Now the good news: you passed the breathalyzer test. Some of them went further than that and wider. From Oswestry we had this: doctor after examining woman. I have good news for you, Mrs. Smith. Woman: No, Miss Smith. Doctor: Well, I have some bad news for you Miss Smith. (Laughter) You're going to have a baby. Woman: That's impossible, I have never ever been with a man. At this, the doctor takes a pair of binoculars from his drawer and looks out of the window. Woman: What are you doing? Doctor: Last time this happened, three wise men came over the horizon and I don't...(Laughter) And Alan Iliff of Keele, the bad news first: the Chinese have landed on the moon. The good news: all of them. And now we return to the subject we dealt with on Friday when we talked to the Maharishi, and then we talked with John Lennon and George Harrison and we welcome them back very much indeed again tonight. We said we were going to deal with the letters that you sent in and so on, and that's what we want to do. First of all though, one subject that lots of people have referred to, and we talked about a little in fact after the program, talking about meditation and the Maharishi in general, and after the program on Friday, is the whole area is . . . what would you say, would you say that your lives have altered since the Maharishi, that they've got more meaning and purpose, or more fun or something? Harrison: I think our lives have been altering all the time, that's what life is, it's one continuous alteration, and you keep altering until you've made yourself perfect, or as near perfect as you're capable. But, we have altered a little more, probably, since meeting Maharishi, because we've got something more to work on now. I mean, before we've known . . . I've been under the impression that meditation and yoga, things like that, have held the answer, personally, and yet I haven't actually had any form teaching, whereas when Maharishi came around, there he was, ready to teach us. Q: But in fact from what you were saying, it would seem as though, that before meditation and before the Maharishi, there weren't enough answers or from what John was saying last week. . . Lennon: Go on. Q: . . . that life, [laughs] I'm implicating you here, that, I mean, that life, you had bad days and good days. That now, there are more good days, that life has more purpose, that things like money and so on weren't enough before. Lennon: Yeah, well I mean we said that last week. It's just that the good days are very good and the bad days are okay, you know. It's just through tapping me source of energy. Q: And I mean, has it altered your attitude to something like money, was money ever satisfying and it isn't now, or what? Lennon: No, it's not all . . . what I meant about the money last week was, before we sort of made it, as they say, money was partly the goal but it still wasn't a, sort of, "let's get some money." But, we sort of got, suddenly had money, and then it wasn't all that good, you know. Harrison: By having the money we found that money wasn't the answer. Because we had lots of material things that people sort of spend their whole life to try and get. We managed to get them at quite an early age. And it was good really, because we learned that that wasn't it. We still lacked something, and that something is the thing that religion is trying to give to people. Q: And now that you've got meditation, would you . . . now you have that plus. Would you be as happy now if all the money were taken away? Harrison: Yeah, I'd probably be happier actually, because it's the . . . if you have some income, then you have some income tax and if you have a big house, you have all the other things, headaches that go with it. So, naturally, for every material thing you gain, there's always a little loss, whether it's mental or in some other way. You get a headache for everything you own, so if you don't own anything, you've got a clear mind. Lennon: You'll get them all saying, "give it away," now. Harrison: Yeah. [audience laughs] Harrison: You see that's like. . . Q: Yes, a lot of people seem to think that, that this was one of the things that was sort of too easy about meditation, that where Jesus Christ said "give everything away to the poor," the Maharishi says "just give one week's wages." I mean, do you think that's too easy? Lennon: No, I mean, why is it too easy? It's better than not doing anything. Isn't it? You know, what's easy about it? Q: Well, I'm quoting them, I'm not sure really. Harrison: You see, his meaning for this meditation is to . . . so that people don't alter their day to day routine, but through the meditation their routine will naturally become influenced by the meditation experience, so they can keep all their material wealth and things like that that they have. It's just that this gives them some spiritual wealth to go with it, and with that you're able to put the material wealth more into the true perspective. Instead of, I mean you can use all the material things, like we've got them and it's nice to have them, but we don't really believe in them, whereas some people, who haven't the material things, they tend to believe in them. Q: But if you were to choose at this moment between having meditation and all that goes with it, and having all your possessions, you would choose to give up the possessions? Harrison: Yes. [Lennon nods in agreement] Q: Jay Gadney writes, from Plumstead, London, about a friend of his, who is a compulsive gambler. And he says that this friend is married with two children. And he says "could meditation stop the friend gambling?" Now does it . . . because he says that it was implied on Friday night that meditation helps people to do the right thing. Now does it? Is it a practical aid like that? Lennon: I don't know whether it could just do . . . I mean, you've have to ask that John that, sort of, it would help him, you know. He might see what he's doing a bit better. Maybe he wouldn't have so much time for gambling. Harrison: You see, with the meditation, the natural thing, it comes: consciousness expansion. And once a person's consciousness has been expanded, then things that they used to do, they probably have less meaning for them, because they're just able to see themselves a little bit more, a bit clearer. So, consequently, things like gambling, probably the person would just see that it was pointless himself. Q: Yes. A lady writing from Gosport, goes further. She's been practicing transcendental meditation for some time, and she says that you become more and more aware of all the dangers that exist in present living. And she finds that she avoids social things and withdraws because you find it such a strain to have patience with a senseless conversation, apart from it being an aimless waste of time. Well, thank you for coming. But the . . . now, can you see yourself getting as impatient as that. . . Harrison: No. Q: . . . with life on the superficial level. Lennon: Is she doing the same one? Q: Well, she calls it TM, but I mean, which I assume is . . . but she says. . . Harrison: There's various forms of meditation. And as we're trying this one, we're not able really to comment on hers. Obviously, hers isn't much cop, otherwise. . . [audience laughs] Harrison: Otherwise she'd be happy and able to go through society with whatever she need do, I mean, it's . . . this is part of this thing, is to stay and be able to do everything that you normally do, just to be able to do it easier. Q: Can you, you explained sort of after the program was over on Friday, that, I mean, I was, what the eventually aim of it is and the eventual aim of life is and the eventual point with meditation that you hope to reach. Scribbling on there again if you like, what were you saying there? Harrison: Well, with this expansion of consciousness, these three states that we live in at the moment, like sleeping and waking and dreaming. They're all known as relative states, because it's all relative. Transcendental meditation takes you to that transcendental level of pure consciousness. But by going there often enough, you bring that level of consciousness out onto this level. Or you bring this level onto that level. But, the relative plus that level becomes cosmic consciousness. And that means that you're able to hold the full bliss consciousness in the relative field, so you can go about your actions all the time with bliss consciousness. Q: Yes . . . and can you go as though. . . Harrison: And there's a higher one, yes, they go higher and attain what's known as god consciousness and then higher still to one known as supreme knowledge where the people who know about supreme knowledge know about all the subtle laws that control the universe. Consequently, they're able to do all those things that are called miracles. In actual fact, a miracle is just having knowledge of supreme law. Q: And so these people are able to do miracles, are they, when they reach this point, also able to live longer and do this? Harrison: Yes, well there's lots of cases, there's a book I've been reading about a yogi known as Sri Puri Baba. He lived to be 136, and when he was 112, he got cancer of the mouth, and started smoking cigarettes and got rid of it. [audience laughs] Harrison: And there's another one, there's one who's in the Himalayas at this very moment and he's been there since . . . I mean, it sounds pretty far out, you know, to the average person who doesn't know anything about this, but this fellow's been there since before Jesus Christ, and he's still here now in the same physical body. Lennon: Same suit. Q: So, from before Jesus Christ. He's still there? Harrison: They get control over life and death. They have complete control over everything, having attained that higher state of consciousness. Q: And this is eventually the aim of anyone who takes that meditation? Harrison: Yeah. Q: But a long, long time ahead. Harrison: Well, I think Maharishi's. . . Lennon: I mean, they don't mean this life, you can be at that miracle scene. That happens later, a few more lives, maybe, you might get. Q: When you've returned a number of times. Lennon: Yeah. Q: Yeah. Harrison: But his plan is so that people from the age of say 15 practice it. By the time they're our age they've already attained cosmic consciousness, that is, the state of bliss. Q: Stage three, as it were. Yeah. Harrison: And then, they're at an age where they can go and act, and manage to change the world a little bit for the better. Rather than sort of waiting ëtil you're almost dying, then thinking, you know, "What is it? We've got to find out where we're going, what's all this thing about death?" And then they start panicking, and then it's a bit late. The whole point is to try and find it out at this age and then you've got your whole life to go and act upon it. Q: And then, you set about doing something about the world around you. Harrison: Well, obviously, that if you believe in certain things, and other people aren't, as it were, harmonizing with these laws. It's all the thing about the Ten Commandments, all that, it's that sort of thing that certain people have laid down laws, or they've said that these laws exist and we live within these laws anyway, whether we like it or not. We're controlled by these divine laws. So, if you harmonize with the laws, then everything's much nicer, and nature tends to support you. Q: Right. At that point can we throw it open to our audience here. I can see in the audience a number of people who are leaders in the practicing of meditation, who have come along here tonight, including John Allison, and Nick Clark, and also John Mortimer, who's expressed his views in print on the subject of meditation, so if we could turn our cameras around to audience. . . John, have you got some comment to make at this point? Mortimer: Yes. First of all, I don't accept universal divine laws, that's a difficulty, but I think you've really got to judge these beliefs by their pragmatic effect, and the amount of good they're going to do in the world. And what worries me, very much about this attitude, is that it seems to be tremendously self-involved, and finally, tremendously selfish. And, the idea of sitting very quietly perfecting yourself, while everybody else goes to hell around you seems to be not really. . . Lennon: For 20 minutes a day? Mortimer: . . .the most, well, but it seems to me there is a great deal of very important things happening in the world, we're in a great crisis of history. And if we all wait to perfect ourselves, nothing will be done about it. Lennon: But it's 20 minutes in the morning, so's you can go out and do something about all the. . . Harrison: You're not listening to what we said, I mean. . . Mortimer: But you see, this kind of doctrine of universal love, in a way seems to me to end up by not really caring about anybody very much. Harrison: Well, that's your point of view. Mortimer: What I think one needs is a little, well-earned loathing of things like President Johnson and Ronald Reagan and so on, and not sitting in San Francisco watching the flowers grow, and letting Governor Reagan be elected perhaps for the presidency of the United States. Lennon: Well, that's not the same thing, you know, I mean, that's . . . watching the flowers grow in Haight-Ashbury is not what we're talking about. Mortimer: No, but I think that everything, nothing that you've said seemed to me to have any real consciousness of the historical crises in which other people are getting. . . Allison: This is the whole point of this whole situation. This is in order to expand the conscious capacity of the mind for right action. And if the intelligence is increased, and if the contentment is increased, and if the energy is increased, this all comes to bear upon whatever the moment may be. The whole purpose of this teaching is for action. Mortimer: But with great respect, that hasn't happened in India. What's happened in India is an enormous acceptance of disaster and the kind of placient. . . Allison: Precisely, now this whole point is what is wrong with spiritual teaching, it has been wrong for centuries. Mortimer: Well, that may be wrong with the Maharishi himself. Allison: This is precisely the situation which he has come to reform. His position is exactly the position that you're taking up. Q: How do you mean? Mortimer: Well, I'm very pleased to hear it. Q: How do you mean? Clark: May I say a word? Q: Yes, of course. Clark: A few moments of silence every day, of deep silence, can only be good, do good to us all, in this world of noise, first. Second, in these moments of silence, once we are conscious of something deep in us, which is our own being in eternity, independent of our becoming in time, then we have had the greatest and deepest experience of our life. Third, if in that moment we can feel that our object is to receive the love of the universe that brought us here and to give something of this love to all, at all times in all places, if we can, and if not we struggle to do it. It can only be good. Q: John. Mortimer: Well, again, it's very very self-involved. You want to get peace, you want to enjoy peace, you want to enjoy prosperity. You think the universe is something which has independent love for you, I don't happen to agree. I think the universe is a soulless, biological thing, and it's up to us to improve it. And we're not going to improve it if we're going to stay quite still, enjoying peace and perfection. Lennon: But nobody's staying stay still all day, are they? Allison: I'm not doubting your sincerity about this John, but do you think you're capable of doing a right action from a state of unlovingness? Mortimer: Oh yes. I'm sure you are, I don't think there was much love in Lenin, or much love in many many people who have enormously advanced the happiness and the progress of humanity. If Lenin had stopped quite still and had 20 minutes silence and then contemplated his navel, we'd still have czars. Allison: You might not have had the purges in the 1930s. Mortimer: Exactly, it's a very difficult choice. Audience member: What is the basis, what is the motivation of your action and your social concern? You're a man who is socially concerned. On what basis? Mortimer: I think that you must try and do an imperfect best to improve a lot of other people. Audience member: But you don't seem to know why. Mortimer: Because I think that it's finally a kind of evolutionary necessity, I think that we must advance. Clark: Must you not improve yourself first? Take the problem of war. We all want peace, I mean except idiotic people who . . . or evil people. But, first, if we work for peace, we cannot truly work for peace unless we have peace in ourselves, unless we have love in ourselves. Then, you can work for peace, and you can be crucified if necessary, it is. But you cannot suffer and work, finally, and this is the solution of the modern world, what we might call Christian communism. Q: At that point let me go back to John and George. I mean, is this fair the parallel that's being drawn here, between your sort of, getting very involved with meditation, and that somehow being very very selfish, and not caring about the world. Lennon: No, what they're saying about selfishness is it sounds as though you're going to sit down in silence all the time. You know, you do it in the morning, say, to do your day's action, whatever it is, better. But you're putting it down, saying, "we can't sit down contemplating our navels, while all this is going on." The whole point of doing it is to have more energy and more control over yourself, to be able to do whatever action you want to do. Mortimer: I never thought any of that for a moment. Lennon: What were you saying then? Audience member: Some of us here are Quakers and we've been practicing what some people would call a form of meditation, which has driven the society of friends into action. Now, after last week's wonderful program, we're very impressed and people have been saying to us, there's a couple of lads there who are natural Quakers. Now, do they think they're Quakers? Harrison: Well, it's all the same. This is the point we've got to try and get over to people, that religion, there's only one God and they're all a branch of the same thing. And the sooner people get over this sectarianism, the better, you know. I mean, I'm a Quaker, I'm a Christian, and I'm a Buddhist, and I'm a Hindu. And it's all the same. Audience member: Well, that's what Quakers have been saying for the last 300 years . . . the divine in all of us. Allison: I want to come back onto this thing of action. It's a commonplace that we live very much on the surface of our minds in relation to the surface of events. This is a very weak situation, now, it's also commonplace that there's a great depth in every human mind. All this transcendental meditation is, is a simple technique of coming to the deepest aspect of that, having established oneself in that state to come out and act, like pulling an arrow back on a bow. If you don't know about shooting an arrow, you say, "well what are you pulling it back for?" But this is the whole technique of shooting the arrow. Mortimer: Yes, but then you see there is in this belief a kind of faith in a transcendental will in the universe, which I don't happen to share. But I think you can waste a tremendous lot of time trying to get into a state of bliss, in communion with that. Q: There's no faith at all, John Allison? Allison: This is a perceptual method, it's absolutely unconcerned with conceptual apparatus. Mortimer: I don't think the Maharishi made it that clear to us really. Q: Do you find, John and George, that your beliefs have altered as a result of meditation? Harrison: No, they've been strengthened. But I've always believed this for the last couple of years, but through the meditation, it's just strengthened it. You see, all these doctrines and beliefs that have been laid down by great prophets, they've been put down there because these people have actually experienced it. And by their experience with some form of truth, they've tried to put it out for all the rest of the people to take up. But his argument is just based on no experience at all. Q: You said just now that you're a Hindu, you're a Buddhist, you're a Christian, you're all of these. Harrison: Yes. Q: People think of those things normally as different. What is it . . . in what way is it that they're all the same? Harrison: Well, because it's teaching the people through various forms how to approach God. And God being the one and only creator. They're all different. Audience member: But is this experience driving our friends into some kind of community, this is what's bothering us a bit. Is this something you must do on your own, or does it lead you into community action? Harrison: Well, you must do it on your own to attain your own bliss state, naturally. It's something that Jesus said, something about "go and fix your own house first," and that's what you've got to do. Everybody goes and fixes themselves up, and when they're all straight, then they're all able to act together, because we're all one anyway whether you like it or not. Q: We've got about three more things to do in this second half tonight, but it's quite clear talking to the audience and so on during the break that there's a lot more to be said on this subject. So, we'll scrap the rest and we'll carry on with this. Do you think it's fair, what's been said so far by John Mortimer and so on, suggesting that meditation is selfish? Lennon: I don't see how it's selfish, if we've no need to be here. You know, I mean we don't sort of dig doing TV for the fun of it. We're here just because we want, you know, we believe in meditation. So that's not very selfish. Harrison: And we can sort of maybe help a few other people to understand that it's, you know, that it's easy. Mortimer: But we've got no need to be here either, really. [audience laughs] Lennon: We're not claiming you're selfish though. Mortimer: And I would like to understand, I think that perhaps we should try and get it a little clearer, what we're talking about. If we're talking about a mystical religious belief, which I think that George Harrison is because he talked about the divine laws. . . Harrison: It's not mystical. . . Mortimer: Well, let me just finish this. Then that's one thing, which I would dispute, but I would like to ask John Allison, whether really this has got anything to do with a belief in God at all. Because if all we're talking about is a technique of self-examination that you can perform over shaving in the morning and then go out and help mankind more as a result of having done it, then nobody in their senses would dispute that it was a very excellent thing to do. Are we talking about that, or are we talking about a universe which has some hidden laws and a hidden creator, who manifests himself only to people like Mr. Harrison and the Maharishi when they get into a state of trance, that's what I want to know. Harrison: Well, let's face it, these laws that you say, hidden laws, they are hidden, but they're only hidden by our own ignorance. And the word mysticism is . . . just been arrived at through people's ignorance. There's nothing mystical about it, only that you're ignorant of what that entails. Mortimer: Everybody with any religious belief has always thought that everybody else was ignorant about its mystical value. But are we really talking about mysticism, or are we talking about a technique of improving yourself, which is totally scientific and rational? Allison: You can take it either way, you can take it either way. This is because it is a perceptual method. If a man has got a great conceptual apparatus and he meditates, he will begin to understand the nature of the conceptual apparatus and if he's wrong about it, he will begin to understand where he's wrong about it. If he's got no conceptual apparatus, he simply perceives an abstract experience. Now, when he's had an abstract experience, he may wish then to give himself explanation for it. But it's primarily a perceptual method. Q: And how, for everybody, do you define the word "perceptual"? Allison: Experience, rather than thinking about something. Not an idea, not an attitude, not a belief, an experience. It's the difference . . . conceptual is a biological textbook, going for a walk in the country is an experience. They refer to each other, but they're in different situations. Mortimer: But why should this abstract experience be any more valuable than the other experience, you see. George Harrison talked about a bliss experience. Well, you can have a bliss experience by drinking a bottle of whiskey. Why is his bliss experience. . . Q: A hell of a non-bliss experience the next morning. Mortimer: How is his abstract bliss experience in any way more valuable than anybody else's bliss experience? Audience member: You are notoriously as an anti-God man, but if you told me that the God that you don't believe in, I'm sure we'd all say we didn't believe in Him either. But one isn't talking about belief, one is talking about experience. And this experience is an inner experience, and having had this experience or having this experience you then have to describe it. And certainly there is a language to describe it. But it's something that can be talked about, it's something that is actual, it happened as much as the historical... Q: Yes, but look, but I mean the thing is that, what is the difference then, what is the difference between the two things that John has just said. What is the difference between a bliss experience through meditation and assuming it's possible, a bliss experience through drinking as I sound as though I'm doing at the moment . . . a bottle of whiskey. Harrison: Because the bottle of whiskey one is relative. It could be relative bliss depending on how intoxicated you got, whereas the meditation, you go beyond this ordinary experience that's on the relative level of experience, it's beyond that. And this is why you can't tell the people about it really, it's something that if they did it themselves, then they'd know because they'd actually experience the thing. You can't talk about an abstract experience, you can't really put it into words. Mortimer: You see, that's what Dr. Allison has talked about, he says it's an abstract experience. Well that sounds to me a very blurred conception, and as uninteresting really as abstract art. Why isn't it better to have an experience which is related to the actual world we live in? Lennon: What's wrong with abstract art? Allison: Well, this is the point. Could I make this point? John, the thing is, that in the last resort, people can talk about meditation until they're pie-eyed, as if you're a public meat on television. And in fact, it won't convince you or anybody else at all, it's just simply something you have got to try. I cannot tell you what a strawberry tastes like. The last resort if you want to know what a strawberry is like, eat it. You may like it at the end of it, or you may not. Now, the point. . . Mortimer: It doesn't give the strawberry some translucent, mystical. . . [audience laughs] Allison: No, look, let's . . . see for yourself, I adore strawberries, they're one of the most delicious things in the world, but I mean, let's get on . . . a side track. Yes. Q: Now let's get on to your restaurant. [audience laughs] Allison: No, but the point is this, the point is this, John if I could just finish. It's the reason that all of us who practice meditation feel it's so important for people to know about it, is because you do come to a state where you can find total serenity, total peace. And this is desperately what the world is needing. Mortimer: There are many many ways of achieving total serenity. Lennon: How do you do it? Mortimer: I've never have had it. Lennon: Well, why don't you try it then, instead of talking about it? Mortimer: I don't honestly know whether it's something I'm particularly interested in. You can achieve total serenity by going mad, you can achieve marvelous serenity by going to sleep. What one has got to decide is whether the serenity which you are seeking is (a) of practical value to the world, and (b) particularly enjoyable to yourself. You say it's enjoyable, we don't know. Allison: Don't worry about whether I personally enjoy this, it's totally irrelevant. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil and sin in the world? Something unpleasant. Mortimer: I certainly believe there are very many unpleasant things in the world, yes. Allison: Now, I believe it is true to say that all sin is fear-motivated. I believe fear is the central enemy of mankind, whether it's neuroticism, whether it's actual active aggressive evil, it doesn't matter what it is. Fear, fear, fear, this is our heritage. I think for original sin you can read original fear. Now, paradoxically, society, for countless generations have been trying to fight fear with more fear. Fear of hell, fire, and damnation. Fear of what society will say, what people will say. Fear of the hell, of the cat, fear of the galleys, fear of prison, fear of this, fear of that. Piling fear upon fear upon fear. It's not surprising, that in fact society is in a ghastly terrible state. Now, where the Bible says "perfect love cast without fear," this is just what we're talking about. You arrive at a state of peace, of serenity, of joy, inside yourself. You are no longer afraid, therefore you are able to give out love to other people. Mortimer: Nobody is going to argue that it is not a good thing to cast out fear. Nobody's going to try and pretend it's not a good thing to love people and have goodwill as much as possible. The only thing that I'm venturing to question is whether the pursuit of your own serenity is the best path towards achieving all these excellent. . . Lennon: Well, if you're happy, you're more likely to make other people happy, that's all it is, you know. Mortimer: Not necessarily. Lennon: Why? Mortimer: I can imagine a very happy husband giving his family absolute hell. Lennon: Well, he's not really happy then, you know. I'm talking about true happiness. Q: How would you characterize true happiness? Lennon: Well, as opposed to happiness from a bottle of whiskey, and happiness from going in there. You know, same again. Audience member: Is it not a difference of words? A bottle of whiskey, I would say, gives us pleasure, if there's something transient, if I drink it, somebody else cannot drink it. But an experience of joy, even the experience of a poem or music, of contemplation of nature, we all can have it. And therefore, that higher experience, and we call it joy, is the joy, and this joy grows higher and higher until we can find a joy in the very center of our souls. The joy of being and the joy of love. If for a moment we all have this feeling of love now, here, universal love, the millions or thousands of people who hear us would feel it. Q: Yes, but what is a feeling? Harrison: What is a feeling, right. This is it, you see. It's all . . . it's vibrations that people give off. I mean, if somebody's happy then he gives off a good vibration as opposed to being annoyed, he'll give off a bad vibration, it's something like that. If you get a lot of people like when we first went to Bangor, we met all these meditators, and it's so obvious just by seeing the people because they give off this peace and happiness. And that's the thing, the more people who do it, the more the vibration, and that's the influence for everybody else. The bigger the vibration, the more people receive it, and the more the other people will believe it. Mortimer: You see, there were a lot of Christian saints who spent their time up in convents, carefully cultivating their innocent serenity and the grooming the perfection of their own soul. And there were other saints, I suppose, who went out into the world and tried to improve a lot of other people. I think you simply have to choose which you admire the most. Harrison: But sometimes you don't. . . Allison: John, this is literally a cake-and-eat-it scene. I agree with you, there have been techniques, and there probably still are techniques of people withdrawing totally from the world and living in a cave, or sitting on the top of a pillar and doing absolutely nothing at all, apparently doing nothing at all. Maybe they feel wonderful and quite fairly you say "what good do they do?" Now, all Maharishi has come to do in the waste, is to teach every single one of us, what. . . [sound of objects falling] Lennon: Look out, Charlie! Q: Oh, the end of the world, this. Lennon: It's a miracle. [audience laughs] Q: No, somebody's just drunk a bottle of whiskey. [audience laughs] Allison: This is cosmic consciousness at work, obviously. Now, what was I saying? Q: You're not expected to remember. Allison: No, this whole point is that it is a technique whereby somebody, whatever you're doing or maybe frightfully busy, you just meditate for 20 minutes, 25 minutes, half an hour, twice a day and you come back slap-bang-on with very much more energy to get on and do things. It is an increase in energy. Audience member: Are you claiming this is something new? Harrison: No, no, it's ancient. Audience member: You are expressing in a new way something that has been with us all the time? Harrison: Yes, yes, and it'll always be here. Audience member: But it had to be rediscovered from time to time because our society, as it goes on, overlays it with materialistic concerns, we build a nice structure for ourselves, we're getting at the money, we're building ourselves a nice career, and we're kicking our people in the teeth while we're doing it. Q: The thing that people were concerned about after Friday's thing, was that, that this meditation, while it may do something for the individual, was not also concerned with the other 50% stopping us or other people kicking each other in the teeth. Now, today it's clear that the way John Allison, George, and John see this thing, it equally then reacts on the way you live and the way you behave and the way you care about other people. But I don't think it is the meditation that does that, is it? We've rather fortuned to have three exponents here who do care, you could be an exponent and not give a damn, couldn't you? What you just said is that. . . Allison: It's not this matter at all, you see, one thing that Halliman said, that state of pure consciousness which is what the tension is led to, is the same in everyone. You come to that state, this is union with the whole creation. Having established that in the mind you come out of it. Little by little as you go on, year after year meditating, more and more and more of that comes out. So, in the midst of your dynamic frenzied activities, that is not overshadowed, and that becomes automatically expressed by your actions. Mortimer: Then you're back on a mystic faith and a universal conscience. Harrison: Mystic, mystic, all the time! You know, there's nothing mystic about mystic, you know, it's just a word that people have invented because they don't understand it. Q: But alright then, John, what is then the difference would you say between John Lennon before meditation and John Lennon after a few weeks of meditation? Lennon: Well, before I wouldn't have been here. I've got more energy and more happiness. I don't know about intelligence. I'm just happier, you know, I'm just a better person. And I wasn't bad before. Harrison: I'll second that. [audience laughs] Lennon: Thank you George, thank you. Q: And that, there with personal testimony, is where we must leave it. Until tomorrow night, good night.

Contents

Practice

The technique is recommended for 20 minutes twice per day.[19] According to the Maharishi, "bubbles of thought are produced in a stream one after the other", and the Transcendental Meditation technique consists of experiencing a "proper thought" in its more subtle states "until its subtlest state is experienced and transcended".[20][21]:pp 46–52 Because it is mantra based, the technique "ostensibly meets the working definition of a concentration practice"; however, the TM organization says that "focused attention" is not prescribed, and that the "aim is an [sic] unified and open attentional stance".[22] Other authors describe the technique as an easy, natural technique or process,[23][24]:340–341[25] and a "wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state".[26] Practice of the technique includes a process called "unstressing" which combines "effortless relaxation with spontaneous imagery and emotion". TM teachers caution their students not to be alarmed by random thoughts and to "attend" to the mantra.[27] Scottish chess grandmaster Jonathan Rowson has said that his TM practice gives "a feeling of serenity, energy and balance", but does not provide "any powerful insight into your own mind". Laura Tenant, a reporter for The Independent, said that her TM experience includes going "to a place which was neither wakefulness, sleeping or dreaming", and becoming "detached from my physical self".[28] Worldwide, four to ten million people are reported to be practitioners.[29]

Mantra

The TM technique consists of silently repeating a mantra with "gentle effortlessness" while sitting comfortably with eyes closed and without assuming any special yoga position.[24][30] The mantra is said to be a vehicle that allows the individual's attention to travel naturally to a less active, quieter style of mental functioning.[8]:pp 16–20[31][32] TM meditators are instructed to keep their mantra secret[24] to ensure maximum results ("speaking it aloud, apparently defeats the purpose"),[33] to avoid confusion in the mind of the meditators,[20] and as a "protection against inaccurate teaching".[34][35]

Selection

The Maharishi is reported to have standardized and "mechanized" the mantra selection process by using a specific set of mantras and making the selection process "foolproof".[20][33] Professor of psychiatry Norman E. Rosenthal writes that during the training given by a certified TM teacher, "each student is assigned a specific mantra or sound, with instructions on its proper use".[8] The Maharishi said that the selection of a proper thought or mantra "becomes increasingly important when we consider that the power of thought increases when the thought is appreciated in its infant stages of development".[21]:p 51[36] He said that mantras chosen for initiates should "resonate to the pulse of his thought and as it resonates, create an increasingly soothing influence",[37] and that the chosen mantra's vibrations "harmonize" with the meditator, and suits their "nature and way of life".[38][39] TM students are therefore given a "specially suited mantra".[12]:p 188[40] Author George D. Chryssides writes that according to the Maharishi, "using just any mantra can be dangerous"; the mantras for "householders" and for recluses differ. The Transcendental Meditation mantras are appropriate mantras for householders, while most mantras commonly found in books, such as "Om", are mantras for recluses and "can cause a person to withdraw from life".[41][42][43]

Former TM teacher and author Lola Williamson reports that she told her TM students that their mantra was chosen for them based on their personal interview,[44] while sociologist Roy Wallis, religious scholar J. Gordon Melton and Bainbridge write that the mantras are assigned by age and gender.[12][45][46][47][48][49] In 1984, 16 mantras[12][50][51] were published in Omni magazine based on information from "disaffected TM teachers".[52][53] According to Chryssides, TM teachers say that the promised results are dependent on a trained Transcendental Meditation teacher choosing the mantra for their student.[41]

Meaning and sound value

In his 1963 book The Science of Being and Art of Living, the Maharishi writes that words create waves of vibrations, and the quality of vibration of a mantra should correspond to the vibrational quality of the individual. Likewise, religious studies scholar Thomas Forsthoefel writes, "the theory of mantras is the theory of sound".[54] Author William Jefferson writes that the "euphonics" of mantras are important.[33] Sociologist Stephen J. Hunt and others say that the mantra used in the Transcendental Meditation technique "has no meaning", but that "the sound itself" is sacred.[32][51] In Kerala, India, in 1955, the Maharishi spoke of mantras in terms of personal deities, and according to religious studies scholar Cynthia Ann Humes, similar references can be found in his later works.[54]:p 63[55]

According to authors Peter Russell and Norman Rosenthal, the sounds used in the technique are taken from the ancient Vedic tradition, have "no specific meaning",[8][56]:pp 49–50 and are selected for their suitability for the individual.[57] Nevertheless, the Maharishi mentions that sometimes it is beneficial for the Mantra to be associated with a specific meaning in order to suit one’s own private psychological background.[58] Author Lola Williamson writes that the bija, or seed mantras, used in TM come from the Tantric, rather than Vedic tradition, and that bija mantras are "traditionally associated with particular deities and used as a form of worship".[59][60] According to Needleman, many mantras come from the Vedas or Vedic hymns, which are "the root for all later Hindu scripture",[20] while the 1977 court case Malnak vs. Yogi accepted the TM mantras as meaningless sounds.[61] Likewise, philosophy of science scholar and former Maharishi International University professor Jonathan Shear writes in his book The Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions that the mantras used in the TM technique are independent of meaning associated with any language, and are used for their mental sound value alone.[62] Fred Travis of the Maharishi University of Management writes in a 2009 article published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology that "unlike most mantra meditations, any possible meaning of the mantra is not part of Transcendental Meditation practice".[63]

Course descriptions

The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in a standardized seven-step course over six days by a certified TM teacher.[5]:148–149[24][56]:p 134[64][65][66] Except for a requirement to refrain from using non-prescription drugs for 15 days before learning TM,[20][67] all who want to learn are taught provided they can pay the course fee, which is $960 for adults and $480 for students.[68] The technique is taught via private and group instruction by a TM teacher trained to instruct students and provide follow up.[8] Instruction is given on separate days, beginning with a one-hour "introductory lecture" intended to prepare the student for subsequent steps.[24] The lecture discusses mind potential, social relationships, health, and "promoting inner and outer peace". The second step is a 45 minute "preparatory lecture", whose topic is the theory of the practice, its origins and its relationship to other types of meditation.[24][65][69] This is followed by the third step: a private, ten-minute, personal interview, allowing the TM teacher to get acquainted with the student and answer questions.[8][65][70]

According to the TM web site, the personal instruction session takes 1–2 hours,[69] and students are required to bring a clean handkerchief, some flowers and fruit, and their course fee.[12] The initiation begins with a short puja ceremony performed by the teacher. The stated purpose of the ceremony is to show honor and gratitude to the lineage of TM "masters",[12][71] or "Holy Tradition"[72] that is listed in the Maharishi's translation and commentary of the Bhagavad-Gita.[73] It is regarded as putting students in the right frame of mind to receive the mantra.[44] The ceremony is conducted in a private room with a "little" white altar containing incense, camphor, rice, flowers and a picture of Maharishi's teacher, Guru Dev.[44][74] The initiate observes passively as the teacher recites a text in Sanskrit.[72] After the ceremony, the "meditators" are "invited to bow", receive their mantra and begin to meditate.[39][44][74][75]

On the day after the personal instruction session, the student begins a series of three 90 to 120 minute "teaching sessions", held on three consecutive days, called "three days of checking".[5][8] Their stated purpose is to "verify the correctness of the practice" and to receive further instruction.[69] The first day's checking meeting takes place in a group on the day following personal instruction, and gives information about correct practice based on each student's own experience.[65] The second day of checking uses the same group format, and gives more details of the mechanics of the practice and potential results of the practice, based on student experiences.[65] The third day of checking focuses on subjective growth and the potential development of higher stages of human consciousness, and outlines the follow-up programs available as part of the course.[4][5][76][77] New meditators later return for private follow-up sessions to confirm that they are practicing the technique properly, a process called "personal checking".[20] The preferred schedule for follow up classes is 30 minutes, once per week for one month, and once per month thereafter. The purpose of the follow-up, or "checking sessions", is to verify the practice, give an opportunity for one-on-one contact with a TM teacher, and to address any problems or questions.[8][70] Course graduates may access a lifetime follow-up program which includes consultations, "refresher courses", advanced lectures and group meditations.[78][79] Advanced courses include weekend Residence Courses and the TM-Sidhi program.

According to the TM organization, TM course fees cover "initial training and the lifetime follow-up" program, while helping to "build and maintain TM centers" and schools in India and around the world.[8]:9[80] The fees also reportedly provide TM scholarships for special needs groups, as well as grants and scholarships through TM's Maharishi Foundation, a government approved 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization.[8]:p 9[69] The fees may "vary from country to country", depending on the cost of living,[8]:pp 9, 216 and has changed periodically during the 50 year period it has been taught.

The Maharishi has drawn criticism from yogis and "stricter Hindus" who have accused him of selling "commercial mantras"[citation needed]. At the same time, the Maharishi's "promises of better health, stress relief and spiritual enlightenment" have drawn "devotees from all over the world", despite the fees.[81][82][83] According to The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Religions, by Brandon Toropov and Father Luke Buckles, insistence on fees for TM instruction has caused critics to question the Maharishi's motives; however, "the movement is not, to all appearances, an exploitive one".[84]

TM-Sidhi program

The TM-Sidhi program is a form of meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1975. It is based on, and described as a natural extension of the Transcendental Meditation technique.[85][86] The goal of the TM-Sidhi program is to accelerate personal growth and improve mind-body coordination [87] by training the mind to think from what the Maharishi has described as a fourth major state of consciousness[88] called Transcendental Consciousness.[89]

Yogic Flying, a mental-physical exercise of hopping while cross-legged,[90][91] is a central aspect of the TM-Sidhi program. With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program in 1976 it was postulated that the square root of one percent of the population - that is, at least 0.01% of people in an area - practicing the TM-Sidhi program, together at the same time and in the same place, would increase "life-supporting trends" in that given area. This was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect".[92][93] These effects have been examined in 14 published studies, including a gathering of over 4,000 people in Washington DC in the summer of 1993.[92][94] While empirical studies have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals[95] this research remains controversial and has been characterized as pseudoscience by skeptic James Randi and others.[96][97]

Teachers

The Maharishi began training TM teachers in the early 1960s,[98] and by 1978, there were 7,000 TM teachers in the U.S.[99] In 1985, there were an estimated 10,000 TM teachers worldwide,[100] and by 2003, there were 20,000 teachers,[101] and a reported 40,000 teachers in 2008.[102] Notable individuals trained to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique include Prudence Farrow,[103] John Gray,[104] Mitch Kapor,[105] and Mike Love.[106]

The first teacher training course was held in India with 30 participants in 1967 and 200 participants in 1970.[107] A four-month teacher training course was also held in the USA that year. The first part was four weeks long and was offered in both Poland, Maine and Humboldt, California with the final three months being held in Estes Park, Colorado. About 300 people completed the training.[108] In 1973, the TM teacher training course consisted of three months in-residence.[109] A 2007 TM web page and 2009 book, report that the TM teacher training course in more modern times consists of six-months in-residence,[23] and includes courses in Maharishi Vedic Science, extended meditation practice and becoming the "custodian" for an "ancient Vedic tradition". Additionally, TM teachers are trained to speak on the Transcendental Meditation program, teach it to others, provide "personal checking" of their student's meditation, create lectures on related topics, organize and lead advanced TM courses and programs.[110] The Maharishi trained his teachers to "make logical presentations in language suitable to their audiences", and teachers lead their students through a sequence of predetermined steps.[108]

A 2007 research study reported that details of the training and knowledge imparted to teachers are kept private.[70] In 1976, Janis Johnson wrote in The Christian Century that TM teachers sign a "loyalty-oath employment contract", saying "It is my fortune, Guru Dev, that I have been accepted to serve the Holy Tradition and spread the Light of God to all those who need it."[72][need quotation to verify] Author William Bainbridge writes that a section of a training bulletin for TM teachers called "Explanations of the Invocation" draws a "connection to Brahma, the Lord of Creation".[12] A 1993 article in the Ottawa Citizen reported a partial translation of the puja as "Whosoever remembers the lotus-eyed Lord gains inner and outer purity. To Lord Naryan, to Lotus-born Brahman the creator, to Vaishistha, to Shakti, to Shankaracharya the emancipator, hailed as Krishna, to the Lord I bow down and down again. At whose door the whole galaxy of gods pray for perfection day and night".[111]

Research

Scientists have been conducting Transcendental Meditation (TM) research since the late 1960s and hundreds of studies have been published.[8]:14[112][113] The Transcendental Meditation technique is a specific form of mantra meditation[1] developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and has become one of the most widely researched meditation techniques.[7][114] TM research has played a role in the history of mind-body medicine[115][116] and helped create a new field of neuroscience.[117]

Early studies examined the physiological parameters of the meditation technique. Subsequent research included clinical applications, cognitive effects, mental health, medical costs, and rehabilitation. Beginning in the 1990s, research focused on cardiovascular disease supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.[118] Research reviews of the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique have yielded results ranging from inconclusive[119][120][121][122] to clinically significant.[123][124][125][126][127] More research is needed to determine the therapeutic effects of meditation practices and sources vary regarding their assessment of the quality of research. Some cite design limitations and a lack of methodological rigor,[70][120][128] while others assert that the quality is improving and that when suitable assessment criteria are applied, scientific evidence supports the therapeutic value of meditation.[129][130][131] Reviewers Canter and Ernst assert that some studies have the potential for bias due to the connection of researchers to the TM organization[132][133] while TM researchers point to their collaboration with independent researchers and universities as signs of objectivity.[134]

Institutional programs

In schools and universities

Maharishi Centre for Educational Excellence, Bhopal, India
Maharishi Centre for Educational Excellence, Bhopal, India

Transcendental Meditation in education (also known as Consciousness-Based Education) is the application of the Transcendental Meditation technique in an educational setting or institution. These educational programs and institutions have been founded in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Africa and Japan. The Transcendental Meditation technique became popular with students in the 1960s and by the early 1970s centers for the Students International Meditation Society were established at a thousand campuses[135] in the USA with similar growth occurring in Germany, Canada and Britain.[12]:p 188 The Maharishi International University was established in 1973 in the USA and began offering accredited, degree programs. In 1977 courses in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) were legally prohibited from New Jersey (USA) public high schools on religious grounds by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[136][137] This "dismantled" the TM program's use of government funding in U.S. public schools[54]:pp 63–66 "but did not constitute a negative evaluation of the program itself".[138] Since 1979, schools that incorporate the Transcendental Meditation technique using private, non-governmental funding have been reported in the USA, South America, Southeast Asia, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Israel.[139][140][141]

A number of educational institutions have been founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Transcendental Meditation movement and its supporters. These institutions include several schools offering public and private secondary education in the USA (Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment),[142] England (Maharishi School),[143][144] Australia,[145][146][147] South Africa (Maharishi Invincibility School of Management),[148] and India (Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools). Likewise, Maharishi colleges and universities have been established including Maharishi European Research University (Netherlands), Maharishi Institute of Management (India), Maharishi University of Management and Technology (India), Maharishi Institute (South Africa)[149][150] and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University (India). According to an article in Newsweek, "critics believe that TM is a repackaged form of Eastern religious philosophy" and opposed its use in public schools[151][152] while a member of the Pacific Justice Institute says practicing Transcendental Meditation in public schools with private funding is constitutional.[153]

Corporate programs

Transcendental Meditation has been utilized in corporations, both in the U.S.A and in India, under the auspices of the International Foundation for the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Maharishi Development Corporation. As of 2001, USA companies such as General Motors and IBM were subsidizing the TM course fee for their employees.[154] A number of Indian companies provide the TM technique to their managers. These companies include AirTel, Siemens, American Express, SRF Limited, Wipro, Hero Honda, Ranbaxy, Hewlett Packard, BHEL, BPL Group, ESPN Star Sports, Tisco, Eveready, Maruti, Godrej Group and Marico.[155] The Sunday Times Herald reports that there are "more than 100 Japanese companies where TM was introduced at induction."[156]

Social programs

The TM technique has been incorporated in a variety of U.S. social programs for criminals, the homeless and war veterans. In 1979, the TM technique was offered to inmates at Folsom prison, San Quentin and the Deuel Vocational Institute. According to a TM representative, meditation has been included at "over 25 prisons and correctional institutions" in the U.S.[157]

In Senegal, "more than 11,000 prisoners and 900 correctional officers" in 34 prisons received instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique between 1985 and 1987, and the wardens at 31 prisons signed a proclamation recommending that TM be offered throughout the entire system.[8]:pp 193–195[158] More recently, the TM technique has been introduced to prisoners in the Oregon Correctional System and a research study is underway to record the effects of the program.[8] Since the late 1980s the TM technique has been offered as part of the programs at Fundacion Hogares Claret sanctuary for homeless and orphaned children in Medellin, Colombia.[159]

In 1996, several judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit of St Louis, Missouri, began "ordering convicted felons" to attend the Transcendental Meditation course as one of their conditions for parole.[160] The program was administered by the non-profit, Enlightened Sentencing Project and received endorsements from Federal Judge Henry Edward Autrey, and other members of the Missouri District, Federal, and Supreme Courts.[161]

In 2010, the Doe Fund of New York City began offering the TM technique to its residents, and homeless men were given instruction in the TM technique through an organization called Ready, Willing and Able.[162][163][164][165] In 2010, the Superintendent of Prisons announced that the TM technique was being offered to inmates at the Dominica State Prison.[166] In 2011, the technique was taught to about 65 individuals at the Children of the Night shelter for teen prostitutes in Los Angeles.[167][168] Psychiatry professor Norman E. Rosenthal says that TM is compatible with most "drug treatment approaches" and could be incorporated "into an overall treatment program".[8]:p 171

Military

The TM technique was first employed by the military in 1985, when the US Armed Forces conducted "a small pilot study" on Vietnam veterans.[169] The Transcendental Meditation technique was taught to military personnel with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as part of two research studies conducted at the University of Colorado and Georgetown University in 2010.[170][171][172][173][174][175] In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it was "studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars"[176] and the Department of Defense funded a $2.4 million grant to Maharishi University of Management Research Institute and the San Diego Veterans Administration Medical Center to further investigate the potential effect of the TM technique on PTSD.[169] Other initiatives to teach the TM technique to war veterans at risk for PTSD, were underway as of 2010.[177][178] The technique has been taught to students at Norwich University, a private military academy, as "part of a long-term study" on meditation and military performance.[179][180]

Theoretical concepts

Views on consciousness (1963)

In his 1963 book, The Science Of Being and Art Of Living, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says that, over time, through the practice of the TM technique, the conscious mind gains familiarity with deeper levels of the mind, bringing the subconscious mind within the capacity of the conscious mind, resulting in expanded awareness in daily activity. He also teaches that the Transcendental Meditation practitioner transcends all mental activity and experiences the 'source of thought', which is said to be pure silence, 'pure awareness' or 'transcendental Being', 'the ultimate reality of life'.[21]:pp 44–53[24][31][181] TM is sometimes self described as a technology of consciousness.[32] Pathologist Vimal Patel, says TM has been shown to produce states that are physiologically different from waking, dreaming and sleeping.[182] According to author Michael Phelan "The fundamental premise of the psychology of fulfillment is that within every person exists a seemingly inexhaustible center of energy, intelligence, and satisfaction... To the extent that our behavior depends on the degree of energy and intelligence available to us, this center of pure creative intelligence may be described as that resource which gives direction to all that we experience, think and do."[183]

According to the Maharishi, there are seven levels of consciousness: (i) waking; (ii) dreaming; (iii) deep sleep; (iv) transcendental consciousness; (v) cosmic consciousness; (vi) God consciousness; and, (vii) unity consciousness.[184] The Maharishi says that transcendental consciousness can be experienced through Transcendental Meditation, and that those who meditate diligently could become aware of cosmic consciousness.[185] An indication of cosmic consciousness is "ever present wakefulness" that is present even during sleep.[186] Research on long-term TM practitioners experiencing what they describe as cosmic consciousness, has identified unique EEG profiles, muscle tone measurements, and REM indicators that suggest physiological parameters for this self described state of consciousness.[186][187] However, the Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness notes that it is premature to say that the EEG coherence found in TM is an indication of a higher state of consciousness.[188]

TM and altered states of consciousness

Transcendental Meditation is linked with changes in the states of consciousness of the practitioners. For centuries, mystics and practitioners of meditation have held that people may attain ‘higher’ states of consciousness through meditation techniques. Transcendental Meditation is sometimes associated with what is called ‘a fourth state of consciousness’, which is gained through the practice of meditation, and is therefore termed ‘higher’ and more valuable because repeated experiences presumably enable a person with increased energy, intelligence and satisfaction.[58]

Studies involving the link between transcendental meditation and altered states of consciousness have existed since the beginning of the practice itself. Many early studies have reported brain wave patterns not seen in other states of consciousness. One, for instance, studied four Indian meditators who showed prominent alpha-wave activity in their normal resting periods, and a marked increase in the amplitude of their alpha waves during meditation.[189] In addition, the Japanese neuropsychiatrists Kasamatsu and Hirrai reported the appearance of waves other than alpha in zen meditators within fifty seconds after the beginning of the meditation period.[189]

Bloomfield (1975) links the continuous practice of TM with a ‘fourth state of consciousness’ which is different from the waking, sleeping, and dreaming states of consciousness. He claims that the psychophysiological state gained during the practice of TM is so unique that it qualified as a fourth major state of consciousness. He noted that the state had characteristic brain waves, level of Oxygen consumption and blood chemistry, suggesting that this state is distinctly different from waking, dreaming, and sleeping, as well as altered states such as hypnosis or autosuggestion.[58]

Science of Creative Intelligence (1971)

In 1961, the Maharishi created the "International Meditation Society for the Science of Creative Intelligence".[190] In 1971 the Maharishi inaugurated "Maharishi's Year of Science of Creative Intelligence" and described SCI as the connection of "modern science with ancient Vedic science".[16] Author Philip Goldberg describes it as Vedanta philosophy that has been translated into scientific language.[191] A series of international symposiums on the Science of Creative Intelligence were held between 1970 and 1973 and were attended by scientists and "leading thinkers", including Buckminster Fuller, Melvin Calvin, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Hans Selye, Marshal McLuhan and Jonas Salk.[191] These symposiums were held at universities such as Humboldt State University and University of Massachusetts.[192][193][194][195] The following year, the Maharishi developed a World Plan to spread his teaching of SCI around the world.[195][196]

The theoretical part of SCI is taught in a 33-lesson video course.[197] In the early 1970s the SCI course was offered at more than 25 American universities including Stanford University, Yale, the University of Colorado, the University of Wisconsin, and Oregon State University.[195][198]:p 125[199] Until 2009, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) required its undergraduate students to take SCI classes,[200][201][202][203] and both MUM and Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in Switzerland have awarded degrees in the field.[204] The Independent reports that children at Maharishi School learn SCI principles such as "the nature of life is to grow" and "order is present everywhere".[205] SCI is reported to be part of the curriculum of TM related lower schools in Iowa, Wheaton, Maryland[206] and Skelmersdale, UK.[207] In 1975 SCI was used as the call letters for a TM owned television station in San Bernardino, California.[208]

The Science of Creative Intelligence is not science.[18] Theologian Robert M. Price, writing in the Creation/Evolution Journal (the journal of the National Center for Science Education), compares the Science of Creative Intelligence to Creationism.[209] Price says instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique is "never offered without indoctrination into the metaphysics of 'creative intelligence'".[209] Skeptic James Randi says SCI has "no scientific characteristics."[96] Astrophysicist and skeptic Carl Sagan writes that the "Hindu doctrine" of TM is a pseudoscience.[97] Irving Hexham, a professor of religious studies, describes the TM teachings as "pseudoscientific language that masks its religious nature by mythologizing science".[190] Sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge describe the SCI videotapes as largely based on the Bhagavad Gita, and say that they are "laced with parables and metaphysical postulates, rather than anything that can be recognized as conventional science".[48] In 1979, the court case Malnak v Yogi determined that although SCI/TM is not a theistic religion, it deals with issues of ultimate concern, truth, and other ideas analogous to those in well-recognized religions.[210] Maharishi biographer Paul Mason suggests that the scientific terminology used in SCI was developed by the Maharishi as part of a restructuring of his philosophies in terms that would gain greater acceptance and increase the number of people starting the TM technique. He says that this change toward a more academic language was welcomed by many of the Maharishi's American students.[211]

Maharishi effect (1974)

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi claimed that the quality of life would noticeably improve if one percent of the population practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. This is known as the "Maharishi effect" and according to the Maharishi, it was perceived in 1974 after an analysis of crime statistics in 16 cities.[21]:329[92][212] Author Ted Karam claims that there have been numerous studies on the Maharishi effect including a gathering of over 4,000 people in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1993.[92] With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program including Yogic Flying, the Maharishi proposed that the square root of 1 percent of the population practicing this advanced program together at the same time and in the same place would create benefits in society. This was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect".[92][93] The TM organization has linked the fall of the Berlin Wall and a reduction in global terrorism, US inflation and crime rates to the Maharishi effect.[213]

The Maharishi effect has been endorsed by the former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano,[214]

The effect has been examined in 42 scientific studies.[215] Critics, such as James Randi have called this research pseudoscience.[216] Randi says that he investigated comments made by former Maharishi International University faculty member Robert Rabinoff in 1978. He spoke to the Fairfield Chief of Police who said local crime levels were the same and the regional Agriculture Department who reportedly deemed that farm yields for Jefferson County matched the state average.[217]

Maharishi Vedic Science (1981)

The Maharishi proclaimed 1981 as the Year of Vedic Science.[21]: 336 Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) is defined by author Patrick Williams as "a practical, workable Vedic science that is integrated with modern science" and a "scientific approach to human development based on complete knowledge and systematic techniques".[218] It is based on the Maharishi's interpretation of ancient Vedic texts and includes subjective technologies like the Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi program plus programs like Maharishi Sthapatya Veda (MSV) and Maharishi Vedic Astrology (MVA) services which apply Vedic science to day-to-day living.[219][220] Vedic science studies the various aspects of life and their relationship to the Veda.

Characterizations

Characterizations of the TM technique vary amongst scholars, clergy, practitioners and governments. According to the Maharishi his technique requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone.[21] The technique is described as effortless[221] and without contemplation or concentration[56]:pp 40–42 Author Peter Russell says trying to control the mind is like trying to go to sleep at night, it won't work.[56] He says instead, the TM technique utilizes the tendency of the mind to move towards greater satisfaction.[32][62][63][222] According to TM advocates, the technique is "purely a mechanical, physiological process", the "two-minute ceremony" invokes no deities, the mantras are "sounds without meaning" and the technique "pre-dates Hinduism by 5,000 years".[153] Anthony Campbell, author of the book Seven States of Consciousness, writes that TM requires no "special circumstances or preparations" and does "not depend upon belief".[223][224] A 2011 article in Details characterizes the TM technique as a "Hindu meditation practice ["stripped"] of its religious baggage" offered "as a systematic, stress-reducing, creativity-building technique".[225] Martin Gardner, a mathematician, has referred to TM as "the Hindu cult".[226] According to author R.S. Bajpai, the Maharishi "secularized the TM [sic] by purging it of all the religious rites and rituals and spiritual mysticism".[227]

Religious leaders

Some religious leaders and clergy find TM to be compatible with their religious teachings and beliefs, while others do not.[228][229][230] Wayne Teasdale, a Catholic monk, said that TM "is what is called an open or receptive method" that can be described as giving up control and remaining open in an inner sense.[231] In 1968, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, "came to the support of Maharishi's theory".[33] William Jefferson wrote in 1976 that a Jewish Revivalist had called TM "an insidious form of worship" while Trappist monks in Spencer, Massachusetts, had found it useful.[33] In 1984, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, wrote a pastoral statement after Ferdinand Marcos, then president of the Philippines, invited more than 1,000 members of the TM movement to Manila, saying that neither the doctrine nor the practice of TM is acceptable to Christians.[232] In 2003, the Roman Curia published a warning against mixing eastern meditations, such as TM, with Christian prayer,[233] though a 2013 statement suggests that eastern meditations can be useful.[234] Clergy who practice the TM technique and find it compatible with their religious beliefs include: Catholic priest Len Dubi;[235] Orthodox rabbi Abe Shainberg;[236] Irish Jesuit William Johnston;[237] Donald Craig Drummon, a Presbyterian minister;[citation needed] Raphael Levine, the emeritus rabbi of Temple De Hirsh Sinai;[citation needed] Placide Gaboury, a Jesuit priest who teaches at the University of Sudbury;[198]:pp 182–185 Kevin Joyce, a Catholic priest;[citation needed] and Keith Wollard, a United Church minister.[238]

Laypersons

Lay celebrities who have practiced the technique include David Lynch, who was raised a Presbyterian, and Clint Eastwood who says he found "there were no religious aspects",[33][239] comedian Andy Kaufman, political commentator and Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan,[240][241] Jerry Seinfeld, who has been practicing the technique for 40 years,[242] and Pulitzer Prize winning music critic Tim Page.[243] Once asked if TM could substitute for religion, musician George Harrison replied that "It's not a substitute for religion. It is a religion."[244] According to John Lennon, "You can make it with meditation if you're a Christian, a Mohammedan or a Jew. You just add meditation to whatever religion you've got."[245]

Scholars

The technique has been variously described by sociologists and religious scholars as religious and non-religious.[246] Its adherents says it is a non-religious, "scientific strategy", yet it appears to have "spiritual elements" such as the puja ceremony performed during the TM instruction.[32] Religious studies scholar Eugene V. Gallagher writes that, "practitioners describe TM as a science rather than a religious discipline", but its "principles were clearly derived from Hindu practice".[247]

In the book Cults and new religious movements, author Roy Wallis characterizes TM as a "world affirming new religion" that "lacks most of the features traditionally associated with religion".[248] Liebler and Moss write that "unlike some forms of meditation, the TM technique does not require adherence to any belief system".[249] Religious studies scholars Michael Phelan, James R. Lewis and Tamar Gablinger say that TM participants "may meditate for relaxation, but otherwise have no contact with TM", and that TM "attracts a large number of people with low levels of commitment around a much smaller group of highly committed followers."[31] [160][250] Moreover, Phelan writes that TM is "being opposed by many religious groups who believe that it is a religious practice", and that "the TM objectives and methods are congruous with the criteria of revitalization movements [as] defined by Anthony F.C. Wallace ... whose goal is to create a better culture."[31] Charles H. Lippy writes that earlier spiritual interest in the technique faded in the 1970s, and "it became a practical technique ... that anyone could employ without abandoning their religious identification."[251]

On the other hand, Bainbridge finds TM to be a "... highly simplified form of Hinduism, adapted for Westerners who did not possess the cultural background to accept the full panoply of Hindu beliefs, symbols, and practices",[12][252] and describes the TM puja ceremony as "... in essence, a religious initiation ceremony".[12] Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh of the Greek Orthodox Church describes TM as "a new version of Hindu Yoga" based on "pagan pseudo-worship and deification of a common mortal, Guru Dev".[13]

In the book Cults and new religions, Cowan and Bromley write that TM is presented to the public as a meditation practice that has been validated by science, but is not a religious practice nor is it affiliated with a religious tradition. They say that "although there are some dedicated followers of TM who devote most or all of their time to furthering the practice of Transcendental Meditation in late modern society, the vast majority of those who practice do so on their own, often as part of what has been loosely described as the New Age Movement."[253] They say that most scholars view TM as having elements of both therapy and religion, but that it "has no designated scripture, no set of doctrinal requirements, no ongoing worship activity, and no discernible community of believers." They also say that Maharishi did not claim to have special divine revelation or supernatural personal qualities.[254][255]

George D. Chryssides and Margaret Z. Wilkins write in A reader in new religious movements that TM and other new religious movements have been criticized for "surreptitiously smuggling in forms of Eastern religion under the guise of some seemingly innocuous technique of self improvement or health promotion".[256] Chryssides went on to say in Exploring new religions that although one can identify the yogi's Hindu background, Hindu lineage, mantras and initiation ceremony, TM is unlike religion in its "key elements": "there is no public worship, no code of ethics, no scriptures to be studied, and no rites of passage that are observed, such as dietary laws, giving to the poor, or pilgrimages."[14] Psychiatry professor Norman E. Rosenthal, author of Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, wrote that "Maharishi extracted the TM technique from its religious context and distilled it to its essence, which he believed could be of value to people of all creeds."[8]:p 4

Government

In 1968, the yogi conducted a one-hour meeting with Secretary General of the United Nations U Thant. In the 1970s, courses in the TM technique were conducted at 47 military installations around the world (including eight in the U.S.), with 150 enrolling in the course at the West Point military academy. The TM technique was also taught at five U.S. federal prisons, and three in Germany and Canada. During this period, ten U.S. senators and more than 100 Congressional staff members learned the technique.[33] In 1972, the Maharishi met with the Governor of Illinois (Daniel Walker) and received a standing ovation when he addressed the Illinois state legislature before they passed a resolution characterizing Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence as useful for Illinois public schools.[257][258] In 1974, TM was cited in two Congressional records regarding the SCI course being offered at 30 American universities and the technique being "in use" in some American prisons, mental institutions and drug rehabilitation centers.[198]

In 1975, the yogi met with Pierre Trudeau to discuss "the possibility of structuring an ideal society" through TM,[259][260][261] In 1977 a U.S. district court in New Jersey held that a curriculum comprising the Science of Creative Intelligence and TM was religious in nature (Malnak v Yogi). The decision was appealed and in 1979 the 3rd Circuit opinion affirmed the decision and held that although SCI/TM is not a theistic religion, it deals with issues of ultimate concern, truth, and other ideas analogous to those of well-recognized religions and it therefore violated the Establishment Clause. Beginning in 1979 the German government released a number of booklets about problems arising for seven new religious movements in Germany, with the German term for these organizations variously translated as "psychogroups" and "psychotheraphy groups". These organizations, including TM, filed lawsuits trying to block the reports. The courts ruled that the booklets must only include factual information and exclude speculation, rumors, and matters that are unclear, and the booklets were re-released primarily containing quotations from materials of the organizations themselves.[262][263][need quotation to verify][264] In 1996 a commission appointed by the German government concluded that new religious movements and "psychotherapy groups" did not present any danger to the state or to society.[264] In 1987, an Israeli government report defined TM as a "cult group ... targeted by anti-cult activists".[265][266] The 1995 report of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France included Transcendental Meditation in its list of cults.[267][need quotation to verify] The U.S. government has characterized the Transcendental Meditation technique as worthy of research and has awarded more than $25 million in funding from different branches of the National Institutes of Health for scientific analysis of the effects of TM on high blood pressure.[22][268][269] The U.S. United States Department of Veterans Affairs sees it as a potential tool for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and commenced research on the technique (and two other meditation systems) in 2012.[270][271] According to Patrick Gresham Williams, "the government will pay" for any U.S. veteran to learn TM if it is prescribed by a Veterans Administration medical doctor.[218]

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