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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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  • Is There Life after Death? Fifty Years of Research at UVA
  • Harvard Neuroscientist: Meditation Reduces Stress and Literally Changes Your Brain
  • Bob Roth The Power of Meditation to Reduce Stress | TM
  • Dr. Lissa Rankin: "Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself" | Talks at Google
  • How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains: Sara Lazar at TEDxCambridge 2011

Transcription

MARCIA DAY CHILDRESS: Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome you to this Medical Center Hour. This is a program entitled, Is There Life After Death? Fifty Years of Research at UVA. I'm Marcia Day Childress from the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, and we're delighted to produce the Medical Center Hour and bring it to you each week during the academic semesters. I would quickly ask that there are a few-- a couple of seats still left. Anybody sitting on the stairs, I would encourage you please to find a seat, because the Fire Marshall who sometimes visits us doesn't approve of people sitting on the stairs. Does some aspect of our personality survive bodily death? Long a philosophical and theological question. In the 20th century, this became the subject of scientific research. 50 Years ago this year in 1967, Dr. Ian Stevenson then Chair of UVA's Department of Psychiatry within the department a research unit now known as the Division of Perceptual Studies to study what, if anything, of the human personality survives after death. Dr. Stevenson's own research investigated hundreds of accounts of young children who claimed to recall past lives. In our Medical Center Hour today, one of our History of the Health Sciences lectures, faculty from the Division of Perceptual Studies highlights this unit's research initiatives since its founding. They will also preview the unit priorities and partnerships for its second half century. We are delighted to welcome four presenters to cover this span of studies. On my immediate right, Jim B. Tucker, who is the Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences. He's also the director of the Division. Next, is Bruce Greyson, Chester Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences. Third is Kim Penberthy, the Chester Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences, and finally, on my far right Ed Kelly, Research Professor of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences. They will be presenting in this order. By way quickly of some historical background, I'll mention that the Medical Center Hour in past years often addressed the Division of Perceptual Studies research, especially Ian Stevenson's internationally known studies of children with possible past lives. And indeed, Ian presented here multiple times about his work. His research, like that of his successors in the Division, is I think especially noteworthy for scientific rigor with which it was performed. Indeed, Dr. Stevenson is standard for impeccable science was extraordinarily high, and it even continuously challenged him in his own work. I'd like to say that today's program is co-presented with Historical Collections of the Health Sciences Library and with the Department of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences here at UVA. All of the speakers have completed disclosure forms and none had conflicts of interest to disclose. So we'll start with Dr. Tucker. Welcome. [APPLAUSE] JIM TUCKER: Thank you very much. As you have heard, we are going to try to cover a fair amount today. I'm going to start by telling a little but about the history of our Division, and then we'll each talk about one particular area of research. And mine will be this work that Marcia mentioned that Dr. Stevenson began with young children who report memories of past lives. As she said, we do not have anything to disclose as far as conflicts of interest. So the story begins with Ian Stevenson, and he came here to be the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry in 1957. At that point, he was in the middle of quite a successful mainstream career. He had nearly 70 publications to his credit at that point. But he also had an interest in para-psychology. And after he had been here a while, he heard about these cases of children from various parts of the world who described memories of a past life, and he decided to go investigate those cases. He was able to fund that travel with the help of Chester Carlson, which is a name you've already with people on the Chester Carlson Chair. Chester Carlson invented the Xerox machine. So he was quite wealthy, and he became a big supporter of Ian's. So in 1967 with Carlson's help, Ian was able to step down as chairman in the department and establish the-- what we now call the Division of Perceptual Studies. So this year marks our 50 year anniversary, and we've been going strong ever since then. And most of the time we were-- our home was this old clapboard house on Wertland Street, which is now student housing. A few years ago we moved to our current home, which is near the downtown mall, and we certainly don't occupy the entire building. But we do have the Ian Stevenson Memorial Library there, which has over 5,000 books in it. And we also have a neuro-imaging lab. And as for Ian, once he established the Division in 1967, he spent the bulk of the next 40 years focused on these cases of children reporting past life memories. He published numerous books and papers about them. One of his books was reviewed in JAMA, and it's actually reviewed by the book review editor who wrote, "in regard to reincarnation, he has painstakingly and unemotionally collected a detailed series of cases from India. Cases in which the evidence is difficult to explain on any other grounds. He's placed on record a large amount of data that cannot be ignored." So to tell you a little bit about his phenomenon, we had now studied over 2,500 cases around the world. They are easiest to find in cultures with a belief in reincarnation. But they have been found wherever anyone has looked for them. They have been found on all the continents, except Antarctica. And they typically involve very young children who spontaneously start talking about a past life, and a recent ordinary past life. These kids are not claiming to be Cleopatra or Julius Caesar or anything like that. Just describing somebody who lived and died. The one part of the life that's often out of the ordinary is how the previous person died. In over 70% of the cases, the previous person died by unnatural means meaning murder, suicide, accident, combat, that sort of thing. And often the kids in most cases that we've investigated, the kids give enough details so that people have been able to confirm that somebody did actually live and die whose life matches the details that the child gave. Now along with the statements, that children often shows emotional or behavioral features that seem connected to the material they are describing, and I'll give you an example of that in a minute. In addition, some children even had birth marks or birth defects that match wounds, usually the fatal wounds on the body of the previous person. And Ian studied a lot of these cases. One was a little girl who remembered the life of a man who got his fingers chopped off as he was being murdered, and the little girl was born with her hands looking like that. There was a boy who remembered the life of a boy in another village who had lost the fingers of his right hand in a fodder chopping machine, and the second little boy was born with his hands looking like that, which is quite an unusual defect. And then there was a boy who remembered the life of the man who had been killed by a shotgun blast to the side of his head, and the little boy was born was born with just a stump for an ear and underdeveloped right side of his face. Ian also listed 18 cases in which children were born with two birthmarks, ones that matched both the entrance wound and the exit wound on the body of a gunshot victim. Now in recent years, we have focused more on American cases. And we can now say with certainty that this is not purely a cultural phenomenon that takes place in areas with belief of reincarnation, because we know lots of American cases. And most of them take place in families who have never believed in reincarnation before the children started talking about a past life. So I want to give you an example of a case, and then I'll turn things over to Bruce. This is a case that got some publicity a few years ago. It's a little boy named James Leininger. Well, he's not so little anymore. But James was the son of a Christian couple in Louisiana, and his dad, in particular, was quite opposed to the idea of reincarnation before all this started. But around the time of his second birthday, James started having horrible nightmares multiple times a week in which he would be kicking his legs up in the air and screaming airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out. And during the day, he would take his little toy airplanes, and he would say "Airplane crash on fire," and bam, he would slam them in the family's coffee table. He did this over and over again and his parents are apparently tolerant people, because their coffee table had dozens of scratches and dents from "Airplane crash on fire," bam. So when you add that play to the nightmares that he was having, he really looked like a traumatized child. But he had not experienced any trauma, at least in this life. And then a little while after his second birthday, his parents were able to have several conversations with him during the day in which he could talk about those things. And he said how his plane had crashed on fire, and how he had been shot down by the Japanese. And he said that he flew a Corsair. Now I'd never heard of Corsair, but it was a special plane that was developed during World War II. Then when he was 28 months old, he said one day that his plane had flown off of a boat. And his parents asked him the name of the boat, and he said Natoma, and it turns out there was a USS Natoma Bay that was stationed in the Pacific during World War II. Then when he was 2 and 1/2 his father bought this book on Iwo Jima to give his own father, James' grandfather for Christmas. And he was looking through it one day when James came and got in his lap. And they were thumbing through it, and they got to this page. And James' pointed at the picture and said "That's where my plane was shot down." And his dad said, "What?" And he said, "My airplane got shot down there daddy." And that just floored his dad that his 2 and 1/2 year old was talking like that. And then he learned that, in fact, that Natoma Bay did take part in the Iwo Jima operation. Then James got old enough to draw, he drew dozens and dozens of pictures of planes and battle scenes, and he always signed them James III and said that he was the third James. Well, eventually, with all this going on, his dad begin to wonder if he was remembering a past life. So when James was 4 1/2, he went to a Natoma Bay reunion. And he learned that one, and only one, pilot from the ship had been killed during the Iwo Jima operation. This was a young man from Pennsylvania named James Huston. So what we can do is compare was James Leininger said to James Huston's life to see how well that they match. Now James' parents said that he also talked about family life before the war, but we don't have documentation of those statements that was made before Huston was identified. But what we do have here, this is a list of items where we do have definite documentation named before anyone knew anything about James Huston. So James signed his drawings "James three." Huston was James Jr., which would make James Leininger the third James. James said they flew off the Natoma. Huston was the pilot on the USS Natoma Bay. James said they flew a Corsair. Huston had flown a Corsair. He was actually flying a different plane when he was killed, but he was part of the squadron that tested the Corsair for the Navy. James said he was shot down by the Japanese, and Huston was shot down by the Japanese. James said, he died in Iwo Jima. Huston was the one and only Natoma Bay pilot killed during the Iwo Jima operation. James said one day quote, "my airplane got shot in the engine and crashed into the water, and that's how I died." Eye witnesses reported that Huston's plane was quote, "hit head on right on the middle of the engine." James had nightmares of his plane crashing and sinking in the water, and Huston's plane crashed in the water and quickly sank. And James said one day that his friend, Jack Larson, was there. And Jack Larson was the pilot of the plane next to Huston's on the day that he was killed. James is now 18 years old. He graduated from high school last spring, and he has now joined the Navy. So with that, I will turn things over to Bruce Greyson. [APPLAUSE] BRUCE GREYSON: Thank you, Jim. A lot of the phenomena that we've been studying at the Division of Perceptual Studies or DOPS for the past 40 years have been new death experiences or NDEs. Many people when they come close to death report unusual and profound experiences in which they appear to have left their bodies and claim to have moved beyond the boundaries of time and space. These NDEs have been recorded in a variety of ancient cultures. You can find them in the writings of Cleo, in the Bible, in writings from Tibet, India, Egypt, China, Japan, and in the folklore of the South Pacific and Native Americans. The interpretation of these experiences varies from culture to culture, but the basic phenomena remain the same across the globe and across the centuries. These experiences near death were recorded in medical literature and journals in the 19th century. And they were described as a discrete syndrome in 1892 by Heim. They were written about quite a bit in fresh academic journals in the 1890s when Victor Egger gave the term near death experiences. That term became popular in English in 1975 when the book was written by a UVA intern named Raymond Moody called Life After Life. There remained some controversy now about what causes NDEs, and what there ultimate meaning is, but there's no question about there incidence or their impact on people. A variety of studies here at UVA and in Europe and the UK suggests that they occur in about 20% of people who have a documented cardiac arrest in study after study. We at UVA have developed a model of the NDE and a scale to quantify the depth of NDEs that's been used in hundreds of studies around the world. It basically looks at NDEs as being composed of component parts, changes in thought processes, changes in emotional states, apparently paranormal phenomena, and what seem to be otherworldly phenomena. The changes in thought processes include a sense of time being distorted. People often talk about having a sense of timelessness, thinking, being faster, and clearer than usual, having a life review or panoramic memory where your entire life flashes before your eyes, and a sense of sudden understanding or revelation where everything becomes crystal clear. The changes in feeling include a sense of peace and well-being, feelings of joy, a sense of oneness or cosmic unity, an encounter with what seems to be a loving, warm being of light. The apparently paranormal features include extraordinary sensory vividness. People report seeing colors they have never seen on Earth, hearing sounds they've never heard before, having what seems to be frank extrasensory perception of things going on elsewhere, visions of the future, and a sense of leaving the physical body. The otherworldly features include being in an otherworldly realm, an unearthly or mystical realm. Encountering some mystical being or presence, seeing deceased spirits or religious spirits, and coming to a point of no return beyond which you can't come back. Now most NDEs, in fact, have a combination of all four of these elements to varying degrees. As an example, let me give you a report of one woman who had the following experience. She said, during the war I was very ill in the hospital. One morning the nurse came in and found me showing no sign of life whatever. She called the doctors to whom I also appeared dead, and I remained so they told me afterwards for at least 20 minutes. I became aware of a brilliant light and felt drawn toward it. It seemed that time was different or nonexistent there, wherever there was. The light was beautiful to look at and projected feelings of unconditional love and peace. Looking around, I found myself in a beautiful green, undulating country. I then saw a young officer with a few soldiers approaching. The office was my favorite cousin, Albin. I did not know that he had died, nor had I ever seen him in uniform. But what I saw of him was confirmed by a photograph I had seen many years later. We spoke for a few minutes happily, and then he and the few men with him marched off. Then a presence beside me explaining that these soldiers were allowed to go and greet others who were dying and help them meet their death. My next vivid recollection after this was of looking down from about ceiling height onto a bed on which laid a very emaciated body. There were doctors and nurses around it. I yelled out to them, but they couldn't hear me. I could see everything clearly and felt warm, safe, and peaceful. In a few moments, I was looking up at them and feeling sensation of intense disappointment. I had come back from something so lovely and so utterly satisfying. Two days later, the doctor told me I was lucky I didn't die. I told him that I did. He looked at me in a strange way and scheduled me for psychological evaluation. I learned to keep my mouth shut about that from that time on. Now one of the problems we have in researching near death experiences is that for the most part, they're retrospective. We're getting accounts from people who had the experiences sometime in the past. That leaves open the question of how reliable memories of NDEs really are. Some authors have speculated that memories are embellished over the years. In particularly, that the sense of well-being and peace and the pleasantness of the experience gets embellished over time. Because we've been studying these experiences for four decades now, we're able to address this question. Starting in 2002, I started trying to reconnect with people I had interviewed in the 1980s about their near death experiences and asked them to describe their NDEs for me again. What we found-- oops, I'm going the wrong way here-- is that the NDE scale scores measuring the depth of the NDE were the same now in the 2000s as they were in the 1980s. And that held true for all four of the components, changes in thinking, changes in feeling, paranormal, and transcendental. So memories of the NDE are, indeed, reliable over yea. And that's in just that retrospect to research is also reliable. Another important question about retrospective reports of NDEs is whether they're influenced by cultural beliefs. We know that people's cultural beliefs influence how they interpret their perceptions. We see what we expect. For example, near death experiences of third world countries do not talk about entering a tunnel the way Americans do. They would talk about entering a cave or a well. One truck driver who I interviewed talked about entering a tailpipe. So you have to use whatever cultural metaphors at your disposal to describe the phenomenon. So our NDErs just reporting what they expect to happen when they come close to death. The image of NDEs that most people have nowadays is the one described by Raymond Moody in 1975. Now we've been collecting NDEs here at UVA since 1960s, years before Moody's book came out. So we compared 24 experiences we collected in the 1960s with 24 recent experiences that were matched with the original ones in terms of age, race, gender, religion, cause of death and proximity to death. What we found is that the features that Moody reported, were reported just as often before the experience and experience. No matter what we looked at, the out-of-body experience, the feeling of peace, meeting others, a being of light, noises, or life review all reported before we Moody had described them as often as they are now. And they also hold true for the after events that Moody reported, attitude changes, loss of fear of death, difficulty telling others, belief in survival after afterlife, and corroboration of extrasensory perceptions, or as often before described them as after. So report do not seem to be influenced by the widespread public knowledge of NDEs. Although the interpretation of the phenomenon maybe influence by culture, the actual experience appears not to be. But even though these memories of NDEs are reliable and consistent over decades, that doesn't establish that their memories are real events rather than memories of fantasies or hallucinations. To test that possibility, we use the memory characteristics questionnaire, which was designed to differentiate memories of real events from memories of imagined events. This memory characteristics questionnaire taps into the five aspects of memories that reliably differentiate memories of real from imagined events. It includes the clarity of the memories including the visual detail, sensory aspects, like sound, smell, taste, in the memory, contextual features, like the memory for location and spatial arrangements, thoughts and feelings during the recalled event, and the intensity of feelings both during the event and now remembering it. We asked people who had come close to death to rate their memories of that event, and also of real events that happened around the same time in their lives. And also about an imagined event from that time in their lives. What we found is that for those people who had NDEs, the near death experience was remembered with more clarity, more detail, more context, and more intense feelings that real events from the same time period. NDEs were recalled as realer than real events to the same degree that real events remembered as realer than the imaginary events. On the other hand, people who did not have NDEs reported there close brush with death to be as well as other real events, but not realer. So NDEs are remembered with great consistency over decades, and they're recalled as realer then real. How do we explain them? There are no variables that we found yet that can predict whether someone's going to have an NDE. Neither age, race, gender, religion, religiosity, or mental illness. There's been lots of speculation about physiological variables that may be involved in NDEs, but the bottom line is that it's hard to reconcile enhanced mental function, thinking and perception being clearer and sharper than ever before with the impaired brain function as you have in deep anesthesia or cardiac arrest. So why are near death experiences of interest to health professionals? One reason is that there's a consistent pattern of after effects from near death experiences. Changes in beliefs, attitudes, and guidance, and it's even corroborated with long term studies and interviews with significant others. We see increases in spirituality, a sense of concern or compassion for others, appreciation of life, a sense of meaning or purpose, confidence and flexibility in your coping skills, and a belief in postmortem survival. And along with these we see decreases in fear of death, the decreased interest in material possessions, decreased interest in status, power, prestige, and fame, and decreased interest in competition. A second reason that NDEs are important to us is what they suggest about survival of bodily death. As Dr. Tucker mentioned, our Division was founded to explore the possibility that something may survive after death, and NDEs do provide some evidence on that question. For example, we have enhanced cognition when the brain is impaired, such as by anesthesia or cardiac arrest, which suggests that the mind is not just what the brain does. Second, we have accurate perceptions from an out-of-body perspective. A recent review of over 100 published cases of people who had left their bodies during an NDE and reported seeing things, showed that greater than 90% were 100% accurate. Further evidence of potential independence of mind and brain. Third, we get accurate information that's imparted by deceased visitors in the NDE, such as the location of an important document or a hidden treasure, which is evidence that these were encounters with interactive beings not just mental images of the deceased. A shocking example of this are NDEs in which the person meets in the experience someone who was not known at the time to be dead. An example with the experiencer I mentioned before, who saw her cousin, Albin, who she had known had died. Of course, she did know that he was a soldier, so it's conceivable she could have imagined that he had died. But that's not always the case. We also have the NDE from a young girl, an only child who almost died during heart surgery and said that in her near-death experience during surgery, she needs someone who identified himself as her brother. When she told her father about this he was so moved that he confessed to her that he had had a son she didn't know about who had died before she was born. We have identified dozens of cases of this type. Some going back to ancient Greece. The bottom line is that our culture tends to talk about death as if it's the end. The end of all existence. But NDE suggests that it may be more like a change of state. I'm going to turn things over now to Dr. Kim Penberthy. [APPLAUSE] I'm happy to follow the snow men. Well, thank you. I am Kim Penberthy, and I am the newest member at DOPS, and I feel very honored to be part of this esteemed group bring with me what I'm going to talk about now, which is some of the directions we're moving in. As you heard, there's been an extensive history of research in the area of near-death experiences in children who remember past lives. That's not all that we are doing, though, or have done. And so I'm going to describe to you a little bit, very briefly some of the work I'm doing, and then my colleague, Dr. Kelly, will finish up. So the areas you heard of are important, because of the main question and mission that DOPS has. This idea of survival. This idea of the relationship between what we call the mind and the brain, and are we more than just the bodies that we inhabit. Additional research this builds in that area, which would make sense. So the areas of research that we've strategically outlined and planned and, sort of, begun to collaborate include areas that build upon this, including continued work in areas you've heard about. We're also looking to expand and focus our research in the area of end of life. I work in the cancer center as a clinician. I am a clinical psychologist working with palliative care, and we have a lot of questions about all the experiences of people while they were dying, the experiences of people who were working with the dying, and we'll hope to launch research in that area and begin hopefully this fall with a big event that we have. We also have a strong background in the neuroimaging field and have specific dedicated researchers to look at this. So the folks you've just heard about, and you've heard alluded to, we can look at their brains and look at what is going on with various imaging sort of strategies, including EEG, other imaging capacities that we have. And we have brilliant people doing that work. So we're always looking for individuals where we can, sort of, use these techniques and develop our hypotheses and test them. We also are looking at the phenomenon that exist where we can experience some of this ability without having the near- death experience or a memory of a past life. These are some extreme examples that promote these things that Dr.-- that Bruce was talking about. And one of the areas of research for me is how can we achieve these sorts of states of minds, this level of consciousness with intentionality. So not all of us will have a near-death experience. Not all of us will remember a past life. Does that mean we're excluded from this realm of understanding? And I don't believe that's necessarily the case. So my interests fold into what we've talked about. This idea of the-- this optimistic idea that we can achieve this. So one area of research that I have is looking at intentional strategies to develop these and understand this relationship between consciousness and the physical world. So I have currently got funding to look at the development of these skills, and how they may be associated to people who are practicing mindfulness, meditation, various forms of yoga. And I'm collaborating with my colleagues at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California where we have some preliminary data to demonstrate that there seems to be an association. And the reality is-- I mean this is what some of these practices developed for are to enhance these abilities. And we often in our modern day research don't ask about them. So we might teach someone how to meditate and measure their blood pressure and see that their blood pressure went down, which is pretty darn amazing in and of itself. We don't ask them, however, did you notice if you were more intuitive, or that you've had any kind of other extraordinary experiences. And if you-- it turns out if you begin to ask people, many of them we'll report that. So we're now currently looking at prospectively monitoring this in cohorts here and in California, and looking at it again in the tradition of DOPS in a scientific way, what we can find in that area. I have researched looking at developing a mindfulness-based intervention for people with lupus. There have been very few developments in this area for decades, and we were charged with this task of looking at can doing a mindfulness exercise not only reduce the stress, improved fatigue, but can it actually change biological markers. Markers of mental logical functioning or inflammation, IL-6, these sorts of things. And again this is a big deal, if we can look at intentionally developing these skills in order to help ourselves that way and help other people. So through the research at DOPS, I would just like to emphasize what we do is we strive to challenge some of the entrenched mainstream views that may be held in medicine even. And evaluation empirical evidence regarding consciousness, and its relationship to the physical world, including our body and our-- and the mind and the brain and looking at whether they are indeed distinct and separate. This is the work we do. And I'm going to hand it over to my colleague to discuss this a bit further, because it's important to understand the ramification of what this might mean not just for ourselves, our health, our ability. But I would challenge you to think about for the future of our death and our people as a race. So thank you. [APPLAUSE] So I'm to try to explain in the next five or six minutes the implications of those two large books. Yeah, I'll just stay here. Obviously, it's going to have to be very telegraphic. But we put out brochures both down here and on the table outside where you can find us, on your way to our website, which contains lots more information, and the real justification for some outrageous things that I'm now going to tell you. My career, kind of, brackets what goes on at DOPS. A little different background, I started out as an experimental psychologist studying psychology and language and cognitive science at Harvard in the 1960s. This is when we were recovering from the dark ages of behaviorism. Beginning to realize that there are things like minds and consciousness and so on. And I mean I had absorbed the view that most scientists held then and most do now, which is that basically mind and consciousness are generated by physiological processes going on in brains. Well late in the-- late in the piece when I was working on my dissertation, I became interested in experimental parapsychiology. This had to do with some experiences involving my sister, and I learned to my amazement that there was a vast section of Widener Library devoted to the subject of psychical research, including a lot of experimental research that I've never heard of before. And so I began reading it, and eventually decided well this stuff looks really interesting, and if it really happens, something's fundamentally wrong with our basic scientific outlook. And so I decided to sign up with JB Ryan down at-- in Durham. He had been at Duke most of his career, but had moved off campus. And so I started there at the usual $400 a month, six month trial period, and the lots of idealistic young people who clambered to occupy those few slots. Within a month, I met a guy who erased any doubts I still had about the existence of the basic phenomena that Ryan was studying. This guy could do basically anything we asked him to do. He succeeded at controlled psy task at prodigious levels of statistical significance. So the first take home lesson is, whether we like it or not, psy-phenomenon exist as facts of nature, and science is going to have to come to grips with that fact somehow. I had also gotten interested, because of some things we found out about this guy, and the possibility of measuring brain waves in relation to his performance in these tasks. And I won't go into that in any detail, but I'm happy to say that even though it, kind of, petered out at that time, this was in the School of Engineering, Electrical Engineering Department where I encountered my colleague Ross Dunseath over here. Raise your hand. We spotted him. He was an undergraduate at the time. He's been with us ever since. Anyway, the group was there. We made some headway, but the technology really was not up to it. We laid the, kind of, conceptual technical foundations, but couldn't do many of the things we hoped to do. We now have established at DOPS a really first class neuroimaging facility, and can begin to do things now that we could only dream about back in the 1970s. OK, but now we come to the other part closer to this. I had to give up psycho research for a long time. I worked in neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill. All the UVA enemies, right, the core. And we did some good things there and continued to develop our EEG techniques, and so on. But I was anxious to find a way back into the field, and actually married one of Ian's long time research collaborators, Emily Williams, in 1998 and retired early and moved here in 2002 so that we could work intensely on the first book, Irreducible Mind. Now the way that came about was that Mike Murphy who you may know as a co-founder of Esalen Institute out in Big Sur, California, which is now an island apparently, by the way due to the recent storms. He-- I mean, he's an amazing man much like Ian. In fact, we dedicated our book to Ian and Mike jointly even though they never met in the flesh. They are both, kind of, the descendants of the original founders of psychical research that is in the breadth of their scientific vision. Mike was well aware of the prevailing view in neuroscience, and if that view is correct, there can be no survival period. That's an inescapable fact. If mainstream view of production of mind and consciousness by psychological processes in the brain is correct, there can be no survival. That's the fundamental biological objection to survival, and it's been elaborated ad nauseam in a reason recent book called The Myth of an Afterlife. Anyway we started by just reviewing evidence for survival, which Mike was very interested in. But we gradually realized that we needed to undertake a much bigger project in two stages. Irreducible Mind is the first stage where we assembled in one place a whole lot of empirical evidence that we think disproves the conventional view of mind, brain relations. We incorporated all the experimental parapsychology and survival research by reference. We want to make a book about science survival, but we wanted to use that evidence, so there's a big annotated bibliography in there. But we then went on to describe a variety of other well-documented empirical phenomena that are difficult or impossible to explain from a conventional point of view. And I won't go through it. They include things like extreme physiological influence. The manufacturing of things like stigmata or hypnotic blisters. Even blisters having a specific geometrical form. They include, in particular, cases of this sort that Bruce talked about. Near-death experiences under conditions such as deep general anesthesia and or cardiac arrest. And those are crucial, because these things are happening under conditions that 99% of contemporary neuro scientists believe are-- the conditions which neuro scientists believe are necessary for conscious experience have been abolished. And that can be shown categorically. The way we know that they had the experiences during the time of unconsciousness is that they can sometimes report things correctly, things that happen during that period. And there are several arguments about all that, but that's the basic idea. Anyway, the end result of this whole exercise, and I have to finish within the next minute or two was to show that the correlations that exist between mental events and physical events, which we all accept that's just how it is, can be interpreted in a different way. That it is that mind, consciousness, or something inherently larger than we normally know that overflow the organism in some sense would operate the condition by the behavior of the brain and the sense organs and all the rest of it. Now to me that totally changed the landscape of the conceptual territory of this survival discussion, because now we have a way of thinking about the mind, brain connection that allows for the possibility that mind can operate separately from the organism. To me that eroded the biological obstacle to survive. OK, well now we've got that far, and so in psychological way, what does it all mean in terms of our fundamental worldview. That was a second much harder job, and we struggled with it for a long time, but finally put together a book that's remarkable at least for its authorship, because we have physicists, scholars of religion, and philosophers all under the covers of one book. And to cut to the bottom line, the basic picture is one that seems to convert the currently popular view of the relation between the physical and the mental. We have begun to think we're being driven towards some kind of an idealistic picture in which mind is not derivative from matter, but if anything the other way around. So it has fundamental implications for our basic vision of reality and our place in it. So I think I'll stop there, and we start questions. [APPLAUSE] MARCIA DAY CHILDRESS: Thank you. Thank you for four wonderful presentations. I daresay this is our mind expanding. And we are open to your comments and questions. We have a couple of mics we can bring to those of you who have questions. I would ask that you please identify yourself before you make your comment or ask your question. And you may direct your question to any or all of the presents. So who would like to start? AUDIENCE: I'm Bob Reynolds, a retired professor of medicine here and used to be a vice president. And I find this material absolutely fascinating and mind boggling. I'm reminded of a book made into a recent movie called Heaven Is For Real. And it tells the story of a three or four-year-old boy who has a ruptured appendix, and I presume had a near-death experience. And as he gets older, he tells the family about what he experienced. Would you categorize this as one of your near-death experiences, and the story that came with it? BRUCE GREYSON: Well, I would certainly characterize it as a near-death experience. There are a lot of questions about this particular case. He was a four-year-old boy as I said-- as you said. And his parents were quite religious. In fact, the father was a pastor. And there's a lot of suggesting that his account was, kind of, filtered through the parents belief system. That does not, of course, change the phenomena that he reported. He did, in fact, encounter deceased relatives that he didn't know, and so forth. So there are some phenomena that classify as his legitimate near-death experience, although the trappings may be colored by his family's belief system. AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm Anita Regal. I'm a retired nurse practitioner. First, I want to give a shout out to Dr. Tucker's books for anybody who hasn't read them. They're really extraordinary, and I think it underscores the rigor of the research. But I have a question for Dr. Greyson. When I was a nurse practicing in the coronary care unit, I had a few patients that I can recall that had or that talked about what sounded like near-death experiences. But there was one patients in particularly that was so disturbing, I mean I still remember his name and the vision, because it was really unsettling. It was not a pleasant experience. It was very-- he actually saw on a rainy day, he had-- it was during a cardiac arrest. He talked about being up in the room being able to see things going on that were confirmed. But then he talked about his experience where he actually saw his funeral. It was a horse drawn carriage. It was very, very unsettling to him. So it was not that peaceful, sort of, calming effect. Have you come across any experiences like that? I don't know if it was a near-death experience or not, but it was just very different from anything I've ever heard. BRUCE GREYSON: There certainly are a number of experiences that seem to qualify as near-death, but they are not pleasant. We don't know how many there are, because it's hard to get people to talk about these things. Most people who have studied the phenomena say that between 1 and 10% of people who have a near-death experience will have an unpleasant one. Although again, it's hard to say, because they don't talk about them. Nancy Evans Bush, who herself had a terrifying experience, wrote a book about it called Dancing Past the Dark, in which she describes not only a range of unpleasant near-death experiences, but how to deal with them, and how to make them into creative positive experiences. Most mythological hero's journeys, include travels through terrifying travails to get to get the final enlightenment or goal. And she, kind of, interprets in times-- in terms of that. That some people need to go through these horrible things to get to the point. Because we don't have many of these experiences to look at, we don't know what goes into making a near-death experience pleasant or unpleasant. For some people we know that what makes them unpleasant is the difficulty in letting go. And people who are very rigid personalities find themselves out of their bodies and are terrified by the experience. So instead of embracing the experience, they fight against, and that itself makes it terrifying. MARCIA DAY CHILDRESS: Hi, I'm-- I'm sorry there's one right before you sir. So sorry. AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm Mary Stack, and I very much believe in what you're talking in reading things on it. And I remember, so Oliver Sacks, in his Hallucinations, he's poo pooing. What is your response to what he says. Oliver Sacks presents the standard materialistic position that the brain creates in the mind. And he pretty much discounts all of phenomena that we look at and credit. And I don't know what his rationale was for this discounting those, except that they don't agree with his world view. Interestingly, he started one of his books, Musicophilia, which then-- with a near-death experience of Tony Cicoria, who was an orthopedic surgeon in Rochester, who had a near-death experience when he was struck by lightning, and then had a total personality change. He started composing classical music, which he had never been involved with music before. Totally changed his life. And yet Sacks interpreted this as just an artifact of his brain being fried by the electricity. So I know that he knows of our work, and he has read it, and just thinks it's not worth paying attention to. AUDIENCE: I'm Greg Patterson. I'm the Gamma Knife Nurse Coordinator here at UVA. Is your institute using anything to study isochronic or binaural acoustic waveforms to alter mental status? Such as in a lot of the popular literature, they're using theta waves, delta waves, to elicit out of body experiences, healing, changing brain chemistry, things of that nature. EDWARD KELLY: We're certainly interested in that subject. One of the implications of the kind of psychological model that I sketched is that we potentially have access to all kinds of capabilities that normally we can't access. Sometimes people blunder into it, through having a near-death encounter of some sort, some through meditating for decades, maybe there are all kinds of ways of accessing these things that we haven't found out about yet. Some kind of stimulation, whether electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain directly, or sound of one sort or another. I don't think anybody has discovered anything like that yet that is really all that effective, but the possibilities are definitely there. AUDIENCE: I'm Anna Tate. I'm one of the abdominal transplant nurse practitioners here. I had just a quick question. When you're talking about these near-death experiences that involve cardiac arrests or these anaesthesia, sedative states, does that include studying patients that have been in prolonged comas, or ICU sedative states but have normal brain activity? BRUCE GREYSON: We have not studied people in prolonged coma, simply because we want people who have an acute event that we can look at before, during, and after. Some people are. Steven Laureys at the University of Liege in Belgium-- who has done a lot of the important work with people who seem to be in a persistent vegetative state, and if you talk to them they can show these electrical responses-- he is now very interested in near-death experiences. Some of his grad students are working with me in collaborative research. AUDIENCE: Hello. I am Victoria. I'm a UVA student. I have a question. Is there a scientific explanation why people who experience clinical death have this-- some parts of their brain are activated or they have external powers? For example, in Russia, there are a lot of psychics who see the future, but the majority of them, they've had other trauma, or they had a coma. Do scientists explain what happens in the brain that after experiencing death, they have these powers? KIM PENBERTHY: That's you. [LAUGHTER] BRUCE GREYSON: I don't think we have the answer to that yet. We certainly have a lot of anecdotal evidence that people claim all sorts of abilities after the NDE that they didn't have before. It's difficult to study these with neuroimaging, for example, because a lot of them can't do these things on demand. There have been a few people to be studied in the lab who claim to be able to do these things on demand. But to do most neuroimaging techniques, you have to be physically still while you're being imaged. And a lot of these people have trouble doing that. But we are still looking for people who can manifest these abilities at will, that can do it in a way that we can do neuroimaging with. AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Libby Rexrode. I'm a nurse coordinator in the surgery department. I'm just curious how you find your subjects. Do they come to you, or are you made aware of these incidences, or how do you come about finding them? JIM TUCKER: Well, these days they find us. They go online if their child is talking about a past life, or if somebody has a near-death experience, or extraordinary abilities. Then they find Ed's lab. It would be very hard to go out and find people, but fortunately, it's very easy these days for them to find us. EDWARD KELLY: If I could add to that, though, it's the hardest part of our job, is finding suitable people to work with in our lab. So if anybody knows of anybody who has recently-- [LAUGHTER] Still send them our way, please. AUDIENCE: Dan Grogan. Unless I missed something, the only percentile correlation you looked at was, or mentioned, was cardiac events and trauma, suicide, war. Does that aspect-- I assume you were looking at the highest correlations. But connecting cause of death with NDE percentages, does that area lead you in any other direction? Or is there some-- what's the current theory about why those areas correlate? And then, I'd also be interested in your view of the young man of James III, and his personality in the Western context, rebirth or re-incarnated folks-- what they bring to society after that in the arc of their life. BRUCE GREYSON: I'll take the NDE part first. We have studied-- we have files on more than 1,000 near-death experiences. About a quarter of those are from cardiac arrest. Most of them are from other causes of death. The problem with a lot of these cases is that it's hard to know how close they were to death, because they happened in a car accident or some place where they are not being monitored. We like to study cardiac arrest, because we know exactly what's going on with them, so we can get nice figures about that. Because with people who were in a car accident, we don't know what the baseline is, so we don't know how many of them have NDEs. So it's neater to do research with cardiac arrest, but we study other people as well. In fact, we have not found that the way you come close to death has any impact on that type of near-death experience that you're going to have. There are some exceptions, like people who were intoxicated at the time or under the effect of drugs tend not to have as many NDEs, or to have shallower, quote, NDEs than people who were mentally clear at the time. JIM TUCKER: So as far as the question of what children who remember past lives, what they then take with them into their life-- most of the children, by the time they get to be six or seven, stop talking about this stuff, and they just go on with their lives, as far as we can tell. Now, some of them as adults say that it did give them more of sort of a spiritual outlook. But for the most part, they seem to be pretty much like the rest of us. They're certainly not little mystics or anything like that. They're just kind of typical kids. We've done psychological testing with stuff some of them. The only thing that really showed up is they tend to be quite intelligent. But otherwise, they're pretty much just like everybody else. MARCIA DAY CHILDRESS: So we've come to the end of hour, but obviously, not to the end of your questions. So you'd be welcome to come down and talk with the presenters following the program. We invite you to join us next week, March 1st, at 12:00 noon, please, because we're combined with Medical Grand Round. We have Gerard Clancy here with us, who's president of the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He's also a psychiatrist. He will be talking about a story of success in reversing urban health disparities. So please join us then at noon next week. Please now join me in thanking members of the Division of Perceptual Studies. [APPLAUSE]

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"[81]. 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.[82][83][84] 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".[85]

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.[86][87] The goal of the TM-Sidhi program is to accelerate personal growth and improve mind-body coordination [88] by training the mind to think from what the Maharishi has described as a fourth major state of consciousness[89] called Transcendental Consciousness.[90]

Yogic Flying, a mental-physical exercise of hopping while cross-legged,[91][92] 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".[93][94] 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.[93][95] While empirical studies have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals[96] this research remains controversial and has been characterized as pseudoscience by skeptic James Randi and others.[97][98]

Teachers

The Maharishi began training TM teachers in the early 1960s,[99] and by 1978, there were 7,000 TM teachers in the U.S.[100] In 1985, there were an estimated 10,000 TM teachers worldwide,[101] and by 2003, there were 20,000 teachers,[102] and a reported 40,000 teachers in 2008.[103] Notable individuals trained to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique include Prudence Farrow,[104] John Gray,[105] Mitch Kapor,[106] and Mike Love.[107]

The first teacher training course was held in India with 30 participants in 1967 and 200 participants in 1970.[108] 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.[109] In 1973, the TM teacher training course consisted of three months in-residence.[110] 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.[111] 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.[109]

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][112] 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".[113]

Research

Scientists have been conducting Transcendental Meditation (TM) research since the late 1960s and hundreds of studies have been published.[8]:14[114][115] 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][116] TM research has played a role in the history of mind-body medicine[117][118] and helped create a new field of neuroscience.[119]

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.[120] Research reviews of the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique have yielded results ranging from inconclusive[121][122][123][124] to clinically significant.[125][126][127][128][129] 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][122][130] while others assert that the quality is improving and that when suitable assessment criteria are applied, scientific evidence supports the therapeutic value of meditation.[131][132][133] Reviewers Canter and Ernst assert that some studies have the potential for bias due to the connection of researchers to the TM organization[134][135] while TM researchers point to their collaboration with independent researchers and universities as signs of objectivity.[136]

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[137] 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.[138][139] 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".[140] 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.[141][142][143]

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),[144] England (Maharishi School),[145][146] Australia,[147][148][149] South Africa (Maharishi Invincibility School of Management),[150] 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)[151][152] 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[153][154] while a member of the Pacific Justice Institute says practicing Transcendental Meditation in public schools with private funding is constitutional.[155]

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.[156] 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.[157] The Sunday Times Herald reports that there are "more than 100 Japanese companies where TM was introduced at induction."[158]

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.[159]

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[160] 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.[161]

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.[162] 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.[163]

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.[164][165][166][167] In 2010, the Superintendent of Prisons announced that the TM technique was being offered to inmates at the Dominica State Prison.[168] In 2011, the technique was taught to about 65 individuals at the Children of the Night shelter for teen prostitutes in Los Angeles.[169][170] 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.[171] 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.[172][173][174][175][176][177] 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"[178] 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.[171] Other initiatives to teach the TM technique to war veterans at risk for PTSD, were underway as of 2010.[179][180] 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.[181][182]

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][183] 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.[184] 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."[185]

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.[186] The Maharishi says that transcendental consciousness can be experienced through Transcendental Meditation, and that those who meditate diligently could become aware of cosmic consciousness.[187] An indication of cosmic consciousness is "ever present wakefulness" that is present even during sleep.[188] 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.[188][189] 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.[190]

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.[191] 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.[191]

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".[192] 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.[193] 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.[193] These symposiums were held at universities such as Humboldt State University and University of Massachusetts.[194][195][196][197] The following year, the Maharishi developed a World Plan to spread his teaching of SCI around the world.[197][198]

The theoretical part of SCI is taught in a 33-lesson video course.[199] 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.[197][200]:p 125[201] Until 2009, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) required its undergraduate students to take SCI classes,[202][203][204][205] and both MUM and Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in Switzerland have awarded degrees in the field.[206] 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".[207] SCI is reported to be part of the curriculum of TM related lower schools in Iowa, Wheaton, Maryland[208] and Skelmersdale, UK.[209] In 1975 SCI was used as the call letters for a TM owned television station in San Bernardino, California.[210]

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.[211] Price says instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique is "never offered without indoctrination into the metaphysics of 'creative intelligence'".[211] Skeptic James Randi says SCI has "no scientific characteristics."[97] Astrophysicist and skeptic Carl Sagan writes that the "Hindu doctrine" of TM is a pseudoscience.[98] Irving Hexham, a professor of religious studies, describes the TM teachings as "pseudoscientific language that masks its religious nature by mythologizing science".[192] 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.[212] 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.[213]

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[93][214] 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.[93] 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".[93][94] 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.[215]

The Maharishi effect has been endorsed by the former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano,[216]

The effect has been examined in 42 scientific studies.[217] Critics, such as James Randi have called this research pseudoscience.[218] 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.[219]

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".[220] 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.[221][222] 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[223] 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][224] 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".[155] 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".[225][226] 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".[227] Martin Gardner, a mathematician, has referred to TM as "the Hindu cult".[228] 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".[229]

Religious leaders

Some religious leaders and clergy find TM to be compatible with their religious teachings and beliefs, while others do not.[230][231][232] 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.[233] 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.[234] In 2003, the Roman Curia published a warning against mixing eastern meditations, such as TM, with Christian prayer,[235] though a 2013 statement suggests that eastern meditations can be useful.[236] Clergy who practice the TM technique and find it compatible with their religious beliefs include: Catholic priest Len Dubi;[237] Orthodox rabbi Abe Shainberg;[238] Irish Jesuit William Johnston;[239] Donald Craig Drummond, a Presbyterian minister;[citation needed] Raphael Levine, the emeritus rabbi of Temple De Hirsh Sinai;[240] Placide Gaboury, a Jesuit priest who teaches at the University of Sudbury;[200]:pp 182–185 Kevin Joyce, a Catholic priest;[241] and Keith Wollard, a United Church minister.[242]

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][243] comedian Andy Kaufman, political commentator and Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan,[244][245] Jerry Seinfeld, who has been practicing the technique for 40 years,[246] and Pulitzer Prize winning music critic Tim Page.[247] Once asked if TM could substitute for religion, musician George Harrison replied that "It's not a substitute for religion. It is a religion."[248] 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."[249]

Scholars

The technique has been variously described by sociologists and religious scholars as religious and non-religious.[250] 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".[251]

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".[252] Liebler and Moss write that "unlike some forms of meditation, the TM technique does not require adherence to any belief system".[253] 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] [162][254] 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."[255]

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][256] 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."[257] 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.[258][259]

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".[260] 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.[261][262] 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.[200]

In 1975, the yogi met with Pierre Trudeau to discuss "the possibility of structuring an ideal society" through TM,[263][264][265] 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.[266][267][need quotation to verify][268] 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.[268] In 1987, an Israeli government report defined TM as a "cult group ... targeted by anti-cult activists".[269][270] The 1995 report of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France included Transcendental Meditation in its list of cults.[271][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][272][273] 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.[274][275] 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.[220]

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