From the tradition and its outlooks
Lola Williamson tells about Maharishi and the tradition he made known parts of to people in other countries:
Mahesh Prasad Varma (Maharishi's birth name) was born near the central Indian town of Jabalpur into a scribe caste family. . . . After his studies he became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom he called Guru Dev; Mahesh served as his secretary. . . . For twenty years, people [had] tried to persuade him [Guru Dev] to become the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math (also called Jyoshimath), one of four monasteries established in the eighth century by Shankara. Swami Brahmananda [finally agreed] in 1941, [and] was . . . installed as Shankaracharya. (83)
Mahesh left Jyotir Math after his guru died . . . In 1958 he established the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, an organization formed to bring meditation to the world. He stated publicly many times that it was established under the direct inspiration of Guru Dev. As he wrote in the introduction to his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, "It was the concern of Guru Deva, His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, to enlighten all men everywhere that resulted in the foundation of the worldwide Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1958, five years after his departure from us." (84)
By connecting his own teaching to that of Guru Dev, he was essentially connecting it to the Shankaracharya tradition and thus the Vedic tradition. Yet in doing so, he was also breaking with that very tradition. . . . (84)
The Shankaracharya tradition stems from Adi Shankara. He reorganised the swami order, and lived about 700 CE if not earlier. William Cenkner (1995) offers a historical overview of the tradition. (WP, "Adi Shankara > Birth-dates").
Further, in two books, one by Swedish Elsa Dragemark (1972) and one by Dr Raj R. P. Varma (1980, 123-25) it is told how Guru Dev asked his disciple (Maharishi) to "give a technique to family people in general, so that by sitting and meditating for a few minutes in the morning and evening every day, they might enjoy peace and happiness in their lives." [Dr Varma, in Dragemark]
Also, author Paul Mason credits Brahmananda Saraswati with giving Mahesh the method of swift, deep meditation and telling him it was suitable for lots of people. Mason assesses that the bulk of Maharishi's key ideas are rooted in Guru Dev's thought. (Mason 2005, 50)
TM is short for Transcendental Meditation
TM is a thoroughly researched, very easy meditation method that has helped many, including pupils and students who get better grades and are helped in other ways too. There is a body of research on it. [◦David Lynch Foundation: TM research].
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008) brought the TM method out of India to many parts of our world. ◦Over seven millions had learnt it by 2017. It could even be well over that number:
Over six million people in India, and millions more in all parts of the world and from all walks of life have learnt Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation. ("Maharishi in the World Today." Global Good News. Nd. [2012?] Emphasis and highlighting added.)
So it may be somewhat uncertain just how many millions have been taught Transcendental Meditation. Also, there may not be any statistics on how many who keep at it and meditate regularly, and no statistics on how well. Such points matter, and averages-based statistics may ferret out such facets of it all.
A large movement spreads the prime TM and its additions: (1) TM is found to work for good; (2) Additions to basic TM may draw somewhat sceptical comments; (3) The TM movement has been sued for psychological damage. There are more cases than those who have been settled out of court. A comparison with Christianity may be just fine at this point:
Suppose you think you are a good Christian because you have been told so - can you talk a big mountain to throw itself into the see? If you cannot, will you take your church or cult to court for psychologically damage caused by being indoctrinated with much unsound make-believe? A chuch may tell it is a gospel (Matthew 21:21). But something the church may not find fit to tell you is that Jesus said his teachings and kingdom were for Jews only. But not any Jews, only ill Jews, canonical gospels state. And the missionary command is a later-added forgery, tells scholars like Geza Vermes (2012). The Bible is not always pleasant reading . . .
If you should get depressed over being told what really is in the gospels, fair and square, look to the bright side of not having to sell all you own, tear off limbs, and let bullies take over your farm - all that and much else on the word of Jesus for Jews only . . .[The places]
To elaborate on that: "Housewife, instead of giving up your home and all you own, jewelry and more just because some gunless hobo knocks on your door, slaps you on your cheek and claims all you own in the name of Jesus (Matthew 5:37-42 etc.), learn instead that for non-Jewish Christians there are four requirements and a Spirit of Truth involved -" (Acts 15:27-29; 21:25)
First for free, later for money, still later for more money
What Maharishi was commisioned to do, was to help people enjoy peace and happiness (see above).
Maharishi first handed out TM for free for a few years. In 1959, while in the USA, he started to charge money for it, yet "told us he was passing on what he had learned from Guru Dev (83)," writes Williamson. But Guru Dev did not want or charge money for teaching others.
After Maharishi started to charge money, he went on to charge still more money for TM, and asked his followers for extra money too. Hence: "By the time of Maharishi's death the TM movement owned a vast amount of real estate, managed businesses that sell everything from holistic cosmetics to ayurvedic medicine, established schools from elementary through the university level, ran ayurvedic clinics, and had laid the foundation for a world government. The expansion continues." (Williamson 2010, 82)
Maharishi had many big plans, and saw that money was needed for helping the world swiftly. He also invested in real property to the end that the TM movement owned many bases. That is vital. However, "the Beatles were surprised and upset when they learned the Maharishi expected between ten and twenty-five percent of their annual income, deposited to a Swiss bank account in his name," writes Paul Saltzman in "The Beatles in India" [◦The site]
Saltzman also quotes Bill Harry's Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia: "Despite the fact that the Beatles' association with him had been brief, the Maharishi's cause had blossomed with the international publicity. The money poured in as the converts grew and the Maharishi immediately began to buy property. In England alone he bought Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, Roydon Hall in Maidstone, Swythamley Park in the Peak District and a Georgian rectory in Suffolk. He set up his headquarters in Switzerland and at one time he was reported to have an income of six million pounds (twelve million U.S. dollars) per month, with two million followers worldwide." That is not bad. [◦The site]
After Maharishi in 1976 had introduced his form of yogic flying, he asked investors too for money in order to keep a meditation task force of a sort. Intentions is one thing, results may be quite another, and the theorised effects of such special TM group meditations may be questioned. For all that, in a press conference on 25 April 2007, Maharishi said:
I invite the world press to inform their readers that anyone who has slightest intelligence would find the fulfilment of all that he can aspire to in his life today just by following the advice of all these leaders of the Movement . . . rising to a pinnacle of his life . . . anyone who has slightest intelligence should come out of the fog . . . .
If the readers have . . . ten dollars, twenty dollars, a hundred dollars, a thousand million, a hundred million, a billion, a hundred billion, five billion, twelve twenty billion: our organization is for giving them a choice. Anyone who has any money to invest get much more . . .
If this is not convincing, ask them: have you even the slightest intelligence in you . . .? [T]he world economy has been cruel to those who have a lot of money. When they invest here and there, their hearts are palpitating. . .
[S]o much of the population is suffering - they are poor. . . .
When we say, "Poverty Removal Programme", [they say], "Oh, how you are going to do it; how you are going to do it?!"
[I]f they have any intelligence, anyone who has the slightest intelligence and anyone who has the slightest money to invest, the road is clear . . .
[I]f they do not want to go by emotions of fulfilment, they can continue with tears in their eyes, with trembling hearts. This is a challenge for the investors of the funds of the people, those who are managing all those big, big, huge funds - pension funds and all that. . . .
This is a very great offer to the world, and we are going to succeed. We are going to succeed; we are going to succeed. We have a plan and programme to make every country invincible . . . If one's nation does not rise to invincibility, he will have no life tomorrow, because sovereignty . . . can be washed off very quickly tomorrow.
Our offer is [to have] just a few hundred people - just a few hundred people - learning this art of engaging Natural Law and making national consciousness integrated, raising national consciousness to a high level of invincibility. The dreams of the wise of the ages past are coming to be fulfilled by this aspiration. It is simple, and we want to start in every country. Every country is our dear family, a unit of our dear family. We do not want any country to be under the sway of the other one, under the fear of other one, like that. We want to raise the national consciousness of every country to a high level of dignity to the extent of invincibility.
All glory to the Vedic Tradition who had this knowledge. . . . "Man is made in the image of God." These are not trifling words. . . .
[Y]ou establishing institutions of leadership where you are going to train leaders which will maintain a high level of invincibility in every nation, a high level realization for every religion, and perfect health in every country - all the good that one could ever imagine and express.
[T]he Rajas are being trained more and more and more. That leadership is being trained in the world, which is going to transform the world. . . . They . . . will do a favour for themselves, their environment, their families, and their countries. . . .
[T]he wise have been desiring the people to be happy . . . and peaceful, but now there's invincibility, integration of national integrity, perfect health, longevity.
I heard the other day a beautiful expression . . . "Anything can be transformed into anything". . . . [A] serious man say he has the technology for transforming anything into anything? And he has the technology of invincible defence. And he has the programme for a long, long life in immortality . . .
With these achievable formulas for every man singly and every nation collectively, the whole world is being set on the path of enormous dignity. [I]t is the northern wind that is going to sweep the whole thing. It is happening, happening. Watch it and enjoy it or suffer from it. (Global Good News, Archive 25 April 2007 Press Conference Highlights, highlighting added)
A status report might be: "Invincible? Not there yet."
Maharishi wanted money to make the world a better place through TM additions; that is how it is. Maharishi also wanted a former Franciscan monastery college at Vlodrop, the Netherlands to become a better place. The Maharishi Foundation had bought the 260,000 m2 large property in 1984. In 1990, it became the Maharishi's headquarters. Maharishi himself settled there permanently in 1992 and dwelt in a large, custom built residence until he died in his sleep in February 2008. He liked it there, said he.
Maharishi said "If the readers have . . . a hundred billion, . . . twelve twenty billion: our organization is for giving them a choice." a year before he died. Next year, on 9 January 2008, the nearly 90 years old Maharishi "heard from twenty-seven Rajas [leaders in the TM Movement] that many times the required number of Yogic Flyers have been trained to create perpetual Invincibility for the whole world; and having also heard the news as documented in the world press about the irrevocable transformation in world consciousness - greater harmony, positivity, and progress in all areas of life - "
Here it may be fit to point out that Maharishi got ill, maybe died and if so might have been resurrected so that he could settle in the Netherlands in 1992. Here are some details:
His follower Deepak Chopra writes that a few days before August 1, 1991, in meditation he had a vision of Maharishi lying in a hospital bed with intravenous tubes in his body, breathing on a respirator. He called his parents in Delhi, and his mother told him that Maharishi was very ill, and that his father, a cardiologist, was taking care of Maharishi.
Past midnight Chopra came to Delhi in a chartered plane. His father was still with Maharishi. A room in a house had been converted into an intensive care unit. Chopra goes on:
saw Maharishi lying unconscious in a bed with IV tubes and a respirator just as I had foreseen. My father informed me darkly that after drinking a glass of orange juice given to him by "a foreign disciple," Maharishi had suffered severe abdominal pain and inflammation of the pancreas, along with kidney failure followed by a heart attack. . . . Over the next few days Maharishi's condition worsened. The pancreas and kidney functions continued to deteriorate, and his heart didn't improve. My father was of the opinion that Maharishi should be taken to England for a course of kidney dialysis. The Indian TM organization, centered around Maharishi's nephews, Prakash and Anand Shrivastava, were adamant that no one in the movement should find out that Maharishi was grievously ill. The rationale was that his followers would panic and lose faith.
Maharishi had been teaching invincibility, perfect health, immortality and things like that, so keeping his treatment secret was not out of the blue. Yet Chopra had misgivings: "I was troubled that his falling ill had to be hidden essentially to preserve the image of a superhuman being who couldn't get sick like mere mortals."
Chopra and a Canadian, Neil Paterson, flew to England and made arrangements for Maharishi to be admitted to a private hospital on Harley Street. Deepak's father and two other doctors chartered a plane and brought Maharishi to London. Outside the London Heart Hospital,
one of the accompanying doctors ran up with the news that Maharishi had suddenly died. I rushed to the ambulance, picking Maharishi's body up - he was frail and light by this time - and carrying him in my arms through London traffic.
I laid him on the floor inside the hospital's doors . . . The attending physician felt that Maharishi was clinically dead. [However,] after 24 to 36 hours the attending informed us that Maharishi was recovering miraculously. His kidney function was returning to normal, his heart was beating independent of the pacemaker, and he had started to breathe on his own. Within a few days he was sitting up in bed, drinking milk with honey.
Maharishi recovered only slowly. After some time he accepted Chopra's blood and regained strength to be brought to a London hotel. In all, Maharishi was out of circulation for almost a year; few in the TM movement knew where he was, and almost no one was willing to concede that he had been ill, recounts Chopra, and:
After he was fully recovered we flew him via helicopter back to his chosen residence, which wasn't in either India or the U.S. but the obscure village of Vlodrop in Holland. . . .
Maharishi had spent decades traveling the globe to promote TM; now he remained permanently in Vlodrop . . .
On more than one occasion, he casually mentioned that I was seeking adulation for myself. . . . Maharishi said, "People are telling me that you are competing with me."
Here he was now, in my eyes, playing the part of an irascible, jealous old man whose pride had been hurt. For my part, I was dismayed that he might believe the rumors. . . .
Chopra and family left Vlodrup afterwards. He says,
When we arrived home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, the phone was ringing. A contrite and forgiving Maharishi was on the line. He said, "You are my son, you will inherit all that I have created. Come back and all will be yours."
I replied that I didn't want what he was offering. . . . By the end of the conversation, however, I relented and told him that I would think about it. . . . At the same time decisions were made to raise the cost of TM astronomically, putting it out of reach for ordinary people. On January 12, 1994 I went back to Vlodrop for the annual New Year's celebration and told Maharishi that I was leaving permanently. . .
(Deepak Chopra. "The Maharishi Years - The Untold Story: Recollections of a Former Disciple." Huffpost, 02/13/2008, Updated Dec 06, 2017. Highlighting added)
Maharishi expressed a wish [after having been fed with lots of little reliable information about the state of the world]:
Today, the record shows that the world has been transformed to Invincibility, and we should think of a memorial for an invincible world. . . .
[T]he Tower of Invincibility . . . can only be a place of highly reverberating knowledge - and knowledge of Jyotish is that knowledge that will absolutely secure this for all times.
Maharishi explained that the Maharishi Towers of Invincibility would be places where people practise Yogic Flying for national Invincibility in each country, adding, "Have it as a university - a place of learning."
Maharishi pointed out this is going to be a shrine of knowledge where courses will be held on Jyotish, Vedic Mathematics, Sthapatya Veda, Vedic Agriculture, Vedic Health Care, and all areas of Maharishi's Vedic Science.
Past midnight he said, "I am retiring . . . there will be a set-up of administration so that the whole world will never go wrong." [◦Source]
TM has been served by much research. Some findings are debatable, and others not.
Lola Williamson tells from earlier stages and phases of Maharishi's work:
By all appearances, Mahesh, who was now calling himself Maharishi (great sage) Mahesh (great lord) Yogi (one who practices yoga), was establishing a new set of rules while associating himself with the very conservative "Holy Tradition." Ironically, . . . this [was also] disregard of tradition. (84)
The tradition that Maharishi associated himself with, does not allow non-Brahmins to teach Vedic things. Maharishi was no Brahmin.
Since he associated himself with the Holy Tradition of Shankaracharya, Maharishi never taught without honoring the tradition through a worship ceremony. (85)
Maharishi broke with tradition in other ways as well. . . . he often stated that by simply adding twenty minutes of meditation to one's daily routine, appreciation of worldly life would be enhanced. (85)
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating (Proverb)." The basic TM meditation has worked very well for Swedes. That is what a large Swedish study from the 1970s documents. The TM method, pure and simple has helped nearly all of them. There is research on it from Sweden. Dr. Jaan Suurküla documents that the basic TM method helps much, and is very, very safe:
As early as in the 1970s, the Swedish government's National Health Board conducted a nationwide epidemiological study that found that hospital admissions for psychiatric care were 150-200 times less common among the 35,000 people practicing Transcendental Meditation in Sweden, than for the population as a whole. The calculation was made by Professor Jan-Otto Ottoson, Scientific counsellor of the National Health Board in Sweden (Suurküla, University of Gothenburg, Vasa Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1977.)
Source: Paper 127: Jaan Suurküla. "The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Prevention of Psychiatric Illness." Vasa Hospital, University of Gothenburg, Sweden - Paper prepared in May 1977.
Dr Suurküla ends the paper thus:
The remarkably small incidence of psychiatric illness among the population of individuals who had learnt the Transcendental Meditation technique compared to the general population indicates that the TM technique is not only safe but also has considerable value in the prevention of psychiatric illness.
Dr ◦Suurküla further concludes in 2010:
TM has not only a preventive effect against psychiatric illness but effectively promotes mental stability and improved mental health, even in severely disturbed cases. . . .
Considering that there are important differences between the TM technique and [other] meditation techniques, there is no scientific basis for concluding that these results are valid for meditation techniques in general. [◦Suurküla findings]
Hence, TM helped nearly every Swede who learnt it some decades ago.
Minding some problems of TM in the USA
Lola Williamson (2010) appears to lump togeter basic TM, later additions to it by Maharishi, and involvement with the TM movement, but it might be far better not to do. Simply put: Faults, failings and benefits of aligning oneself with a movement is one thing; and benefits from a pure and simple meditation method (TM) can be quite another. Faults and failings linked to the added methods could stem from the added methods, what surrounds them in the way of words and organisational things, or a blend of the two.
TM and its movement appear to help and gratify some people while leaving others not only dissatisfied, but possibly socially or psychologically weakened. Leon S. Otis, for example, published an article in Psychology Today, (April 1974) that summarized a study on meditation done by the Stanford Research Institute. The article briefly mentioned that TM may be harmful for "some people:' Following its publication [complaints by TM meditators ] about the adverse effects of TM . . . prompted him to pursue survey research on TM that pointed to a statistically significant increase in psychological problems (anxiety, confusion, depression, withdrawal, etc.) in slightly less than half of the 1,900 subjects. These negative qualities appeared to increase over time. The survey also showed that people who stopped meditating had fewer negative consequences from the practice than those who continued. The TM organization, like all of the HIMMs [Hindu-inspired meditation movements] discussed in this book, sidesteps the issue of potential problems that the techniques or the organization may elicit. Certainly TM has benefited many people, but idealism about TM's benefits prevents leaders in the movement from taking the same precautions against possible injury or abuse that other organizations take. (103)
The misgivings went into a book in 1984. Optimists may focus like this: "So TM helps about half of those Americans who get involved." If people get told just how to deal with meditation issues before things get out of control, much might be gained, and the percentage of folks who get help from basic TM might increase. Possibly. It is after all a well tested meditation method, and results are encouraging.
Randomized Trials 7 - 9 � Improved Cognitive Performance and Reduced Anxiety through TM Practice Compared with a Traditional Contemplation Technique, Napping and Usual Schooling.
Three controlled longitudinal studies on students in Taiwan randomly assigned subjects to the Transcendental Meditation program, napping, usual schooling (no special treatment), or to a contemplation meditation technique in which the subjects recited the word "Tao", which has a well-known meaning in the Chinese culture. All students had usual school classes. In addition, the experimental groups (TM technique, tradition meditation, or napping) practiced their assigned technique daily during school for approximately 20 minutes and a second [time] at home in the afternoon.
Study 1 (N = 154, mean age 16.5, males and females) found that after six months the TM group increased on all seven measures - field independence, creativity, general fluid intelligence, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time) and decreased on state and trait anxiety - compared to the no-treatment and napping groups, with the exception that the comparison of the TM group with the napping group did not reach statistical significance for general fluid intelligence. The napping group did not differ from the no-treatment group on any measure.
Study 2 (N = 118, mean age 14.6, males and females) found that after six-months the TM group improved more than the traditional contemplation technique group on five of the measures - creativity, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time) and state and trait anxiety. The TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, as in study 1. The contemplation meditation group improved more than the no-treatment group on two measures, field independence and speed of information processing (Inspection Time).
Study 3 (N = 99, mean age 17.8 years, males) found that after a year the TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, replicating studies 1 and 2.
Reference: So, K. T., & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (2001). Three randomized experiments on the holistic longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence, 29, 419-440.
[See more TM studies]
Another source of information, the David Lynch Foundation, informs that what is called the Quiet Time programme - which has TM as its core - sums up, adding references:
- 10% improvement in test scores -and a narrowing of the achievement gap
- Highly effective for increasing creativity
- Improved teacher retention and reduced teacher burnout
- Greater happiness, focus and self-confidence
- Reduced ADHD symptoms and symptoms of other learning disorders
- 86% reduction in suspensions over two years
- 40% reduction in psychological distress, including stress, anxiety and depression
- 65% decrease in violent conflict over two years
[More of the good stuff, with research sources]
Later studies on TM shows it helps in other ways too. [◦Documentedly so] -- [◦More of it]
Now, there is able research and not so able research. We might need to study research findings to find of which is which. For example, findings from Sweden, do they apply to Swedes in other parts of the world? To Swedish-Americans? To all Europeans too? And what can Americans do? Meditate better and believe less, for example?
Could it make sense that basic TM helps Americans too, but they are less at ease than people of other nations? UN's "Human Development Index" has the USA ranked as No. 13, below such as Canada, Singapore, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany and so on upwards. So the USA is not the best country by the variables used to compare different countries. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/HDI
There are general problems in the population, cult problems and regional differences. Cult problems may be due to factors that intertwine: (1) Low self-assertiveness in those who become cult members, (2) the American "cult climate" with up to 5000 cults (Singer 2003, xvii), (3) and what happens to movements that strike root in such a soil, so to speak. Lola Williamson thinks hybridisation takes place. We will revert to that further down.
Are many and grievous problems of Americans significant reasons why the very gentle, easy and helpful TM method is accompanied with tensions and distress among many of them? TM is said to bring much of inner distress to the fore by and by in a helpful process. But unpleasant, unsettled memories and much else needs to be dealt adequately. That is a given. Lola Williamson describes this part of the method:
Drifting away from the mantra to other thoughts and then coming back to it is considered part of meditation. The mind, according to Maharishi, finds delight in the "finer levels of the relative" as it relaxes with the process. There is some effort (but very little) involved in "picking up" the mantra. Maharishi called it "half-effort." (87)
There are tentative matters to explore further as well. Much TM research has been done in the USA, and could be skewed by that alone. For with its regional differences, the USA as a whole is rather marked by:
- Unsound stress. In the US, job stress has escalated along with the perception of having little control but lots of demands - and associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders. more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems In a report, 40 percent of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful. https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress
- Mental illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a health survey in 2004: An estimated 25 percent of adults in the U.S. reported having a mental illness in the previous year. Lifetime prevalence rates of mental illness in the U.S. were around 50 percent in 2004. So in a family of four, one may be suspected to have a mental illness. Besides, two-thirds of people in US nursing homes have a mental illness. (John M. Grohol, Psy.D. "CDC Statistics: Mental Illness in the US". 8 Jul 2018.)
- Much undue violence:
(a) Domestic violence: 22% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life, according to a United Nations study. Since this population included women who had never been married or partnered, the prevalence of domestic violence may have been greater. (WP, "Domestic violence in the United States")
An illustration: "The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were [found to be] murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That's nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war." (Alanna Vaglanos. "30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It's An Epidemic." HuffPost Dec 06, 2017)
(b) Gun violence in the United States results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries annually. (WP, "Gun violence in the United States").
- Anxiety and depression. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
- Youth homicides. Youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrialized nations. https://peacealliance.org/tools-education/statistics-on-violence/
- Grief. There is much grief around. It is a result of a major personal loss. The American psychologist, professor, and author Edward Diener "has found two life events that seem to knock people lastingly below their happiness set point: loss of a spouse and loss of a job. It takes five to eight years for a widow to regain her previous sense of well-being. Similarly, the effects of a job loss linger long after the individual has returned to the work force." (Claudia Wallis. "The New Science of Happiness." Time Magazine, January 9, 2005 - http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1015832,00.html)
One or several of these variables could get under the skin of many, many Americans, and meditation, which is for brightening their days, has to combat such traces and influences "under the skin," or "under the hood." It could be the good effect of meditation that stirs memories and more that are not pleasant to get more deeply aware of. If so, bad meditation experiences could be for one's good, but who can tell? Surface statistics may not. Yet there is a knack to meditation and so on, and a way to deal with this phenomenon better than repressions. It helps to be careful.
It does not help to get inflated. To revert to the possibility that "If TM does not help all in a country, the trouble is in part with the people there, and not the meditation method." The guru Yogananda (1893-1952), who had initiated 150,000 Americans in kriya yoga, concluded something interesting after about 27 years among them:
One day in May 1950, while they were walking together at Twenty-Nine Palms, the Master [Yogananda] said to his disciple with deep earnestness, "Apart from [James J.] Lynn . . . every man has disappointed me." (Novak 2005, Chap. 6)
As for Maharishi, he settled in Vlodrop, the Netherlands. Actions sometimes speak louder than words.
It is wise to study the assembled evidence to see whether and how far
- The pure, basic TM method helps Swedes, students in other countries than Taiwan, and others still;
- Added methods help students and others in other countries in the world - and the USA;
- The growth of "things" surrounding basic TM help some or harm some. There are indications that the "research game" of the TM movement has been marked by fraud. It may go along with secrecy and hierarchy. It could be such factors that are responsible for great misgivings from former researchers in the movement. Williamson refers to some. (Ibid. 101-2)
There are pros and cons of many things, and often room for much between them.
In some public schools students improve their lot by adding Transcendental Meditation, TM, to what they otherwise are occupied with.
Basic TM may also be added to sound homeschooling and self-help learning: the very simple and easy technique has been found to boost creativity and learning ability and markedly reduce stress and anxiety, which seldom help learning and may hamper and hinder it.
Additions may be of many sorts, and all of them may not be equally excellent for all in the short run, the middle strech and towards the end. - Still, there could be room for many additions to a good thing. The basic TM method is a good thing, while at least the marketing of some additions may be less good as desired, little good, and so on down to horrible. As for all additions, like yogic flying, the marketing word "flying" seems unattainable if it is soaring into the sky that it is taken to mean, or around the spire of the church, or something.
If most of those problems are due to learning "yogic flying", and not being able to levitate, but butt-bounce or not on a mattress, failures are levitating may not be due the basic TM method at all, but rather a marketing fore for publicity. We may discern between pure and simple basic TM and its many benefits on the one hand, and added methods to it and ways of publicity on the other. On the "third hand", effects of secrecy and hierarchy and deliberate fraud in the TM Movement might take their tolls too, including some that Williamson refers to (Ibid. 101-2)
Maharishi got influenced by Americans to trade basic, formerly free TM for money, and influence, property, and so on. He added to the basic TM, and the additions cost lots of money. He went on to ask for more money still. The question is how far the asking for money was an undue influence - or expedient. If you want to go teaching very very many, make efforts at better living conditions, organic gardening, preserving forests and wildlife and so on, you could need money and influence and many others to help you also. To resemble like the few who own half of the world's resources is the sacrifice, and public envy a claw. Still, just such efforts may be the most worthwhile ones.
Forestalling a possibly menial movement
To forestall a little and wisely might help much. So let us try to, shall we?
It might pay to investigate the possibility of American cultishness taking over the good seeds that are to strike root in a diversified American soil. It is best to do it before the cult weeds grow tall and choke the good things altogether, or somewhat. And as Tao The Ching's chapter 63 has it,
Forestall trouble when it's easy to.
Act on the major when it's still minor.
For this world's troubles start with simple things,
And major matters rise from little ones.
Thus the wise, not making much of them,
Can always see their great works through.
. . .
Even the wisest looks for the trouble ahead,
And ends up with the trouble spared.
(From Moss Roberts 2001)
What about this?
It comes to America; it gets framed by cultish strives and grows into a hybrid of a sort. Watch out; a hybrid may not be good to all folks.
In many walks of life it pays to pay heed, maximise benefits and good things, and lessen downsides. This filtering mastery can be good for surviving too.
Lola Williamson (2010) observes that TM in America looks like one of the movements that comprise new hybrid forms of religion in that country. In other countries is seems not so, but she deals only with the United States, where there are up to 5000 cults in our times, by one estimate (Singer 2003, xvii). So the USA is rather cult-ridden. New movements may or may not be victims of such a maelstrom, or perhaps melting-pot is better said. There is a danger that TM in the USA little by little loses a lot, unless care is taken to keep the teachings as pure and unadultered as can be. Consider the possible signs:
- Why ignore Guru Dev's talks for Maharishi's adaptations? Something is lost in adaptation.
- Why publish dozens of books around Maharishi's teachings, adapting some of them to this and that in ways that reflect many American walks and ways little by little? The USA is not an ideal country, it is just number 13 in the UN Human Development Index. Let us adjust to facts so as not to be misled and idealise glamour and the rich all too unsoundly. [No. 13: the USA]
A possible glide into unfortunate Americanism or highly unfortunate Americanism or outright neuroticism had better be forestalled, for to copy Americanism is far from good enough if Sigmund Freud saw the light when he concluded in his time, "America is a mistake; a gigantic mistake, it is true, but nonetheless a mistake."
Cultishness is one side to American ways that have grown large since then. There may be lots of neurotics in lots of cults, as the guru Yogananda said. "I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind." (2002, 270)." It is in part "Birds of a feather flock together" all over again. Birds may become many, and who knows, some could twist and overcrowd the better parts of a movement. It happened to Christianity in the old church [Evidence].
Moreover, the early church was marked by many divisions and massive forgery, also in the four canonised gospels. Things are not always as good as they are presented to be by those who profit from that. [Dr Bart D. Ehrman documents it fairly in several books]
The TM movement spreads the method - and much has been added to the first technique in time. The primary TM technique works like charm, but some get hurt by involvement with the organisation, says one researcher (below).
◎ An adaptation circus is about. Not all adaptations are good for us, although some are, or may be, at least potentially.
Today it is possible to learn a lot from books about the way of living that Guru Dev advocates for lots of folks. It is possible due to books by Paul Mason. The teachings are published in Cornwall. And yet, the TM technique - one of the gifts of Guru Dev - had better be learnt in a living tradition. That is a main old teaching.
It is possible to turn from America to Cornwall, England and get a better view? In the town Penzance, many books filled with cream teachings by Guru Dev are published in Hindi and English. A biography of Guru Dev, and one on Maharishi are published there too, and basic teachings. An international initiative to gather and preserve Guru Dev's talks over the years is linked to the publisher too. It could be good if the TM movement tended better to its roots.
As for the TM movement in America, Lola Williamson (2010) has studied it and finds it has become one of the hybrid forms of religion there already. American ways . . .
She explains that good meditation allows the mind to settle into a state of quiet alertness. Many scientific studies have been done on the physiological and psychological effects of meditation, and health care practitioners often recommend it to patients to ease stress and improve physical vitality. This, however, is not the phenomenon she is considering in Hindu-inspired meditation movements. (9)
Shall We Throw out the Baby with the Bathwater?
The proverb on not throwing out the baby with the bathwater originates in the 1500s. Lola Williamson has taken pains to live up to this originally German proverb. It means something like "Take care to keep what is valuable and may grow, and dispense with the mass of lukewarm or tepid bathwater that has served its purpose, hopefully."
Along this track, Williamson writes:
I had to investigate . . . negative rumors . . . I came to believe that a cultlike atmosphere pervaded many of the movements. . . . (x)
I participated in Transcendental Meditation for ten years (1971-81) as both student and teacher of TM. The teacher training involved a preliminary course called The Science of Creative Intelligence, followed by a three-month course, which I attended in Vittel, France, in 1973. This course consisted of extended periods of meditation, listening to lectures by Maharishi, TM's guru, on audiotapes, discussion, and training in how to teach meditation. Part of the course was taught by Maharishi in person. (xii)
Now, when a person says he or she has researched something, it means many things. Not all research is quality research. Exploring research (qualitative research) is not much into statistically rooted research either, so qualitative research findings are often nothing but preliminary. Further, qualitative research depends on the researcher. The questions she asks, what she discerns as issues to explore further, and so on. It is the proverb "Take a donkey to Paris, and a donkey he returns." Let us say it takes a researcher of some quality to detect issues of some significance in Paris and elsewhere. There are other proverbs along this line, and even a poem from the Far East. I render it on top of Arne Dørumsgaard's version of it:
The Journey Abroad
Home he came,
All he could understand.
What Williamson writes about the TM movement, is from the perspective of Americanism and not so much the perspective that "neo-Hinduism is great and many American ways are much wanting." She does not seem to share the guru Yogananda's views from several decades earlier:
The American people . . . because a perfect standard of national government has not been achieved, political graft, gangster and bootleg rule, divorces, juvenile crimes, and immorality are stalking wildly in this land in spite of her being a nation ruled to death." - Yogananda
Source: Swami Yogananda. "What is the Best Polity?" East-West [Magazine] 1935, (Continued from November Issue)
He published that after fifteen years among Americans. Fifteen years later he maintained that every man but one had disappointed him (above).
No American succeeded Maharishi as the sovereign ruler of the TM movement.
Dr Tony Nader was crowned king
Maharishi is succeeded by a Lebanese doctor . . . Tony Nader . . . The new leader is [called] "His Excellency Maharaj-adhiraj Raja Ram, First Sovereign Ruler of the Global Country of World Peace:' Maharaj means "great king" and adhiraj means "primary king;' so his title could be translated "the great and foremost king of the kingdom of Ram:' . . . Maharishi and his close followers believe that they are helping to establish a new Ram Raj in which morality will reign as a result of many people practicing Transcendental Meditation.(81)
If people at large became moral, that would not be so bad, would it?
As for flamboyant titles and ceremonies, it is a truism that nobility without wealth is flat. The Church in medieval times sought money of the world too, by offering indulgence and claiming it to be a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins after death. Such claims made credulous folks give the Church their farms and money - (WP, "Indulgence")
It is bad to play on faith for wealth and prestige by such as fluffy promises, ceremonies and costumes that are laughable. "Follow the money to find status at work," is another tip. "Go for solvency you too," is another and perhaps the most valuable of these.
Maharishi let Dr Nader be crowned king during a five-day coronation ceremony in October 2000,
when he was declared to have reign over this new "Heaven on Earth" that Maharishi had predicted for so many years. . . . At the end of the ceremony, a royal procession included horse-drawn carriages, bagpipers, an elephant, and an airplane with a banner that read, "Glory to Nader Rama, Ruler of Global Country:' Nader Ram was also to have charge over . . . forty ministers of the cabinet of the Global Country of World Peace. According to the Global Country's official website, this newly formed government provides "a parental and nourishing role in the family of nations."
Obviously the TM movement has traveled some distance since Maharishi inaugurated the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1958. Establishing a world government is just one example of Maharishi's many innovations that attempt to bring ancient Indian knowledge and practice to a modern-day setting. Examination of his various plans to revive ancient medicine, architecture, government, and meditative techniques reveals a central theme: the integration of worldly and spiritual realms. He refers to this complex of projects as a revival of "Vedic science." (81)
To be crowned a king without land yet, means to become the leader of the organisation. It may not always be fun. But is it good, bad or a mixture of bad and good? Maharishi tried to get a TM country with its own flag and currency, but it shows up that countries are much reluctant to give up tracts to him voluntarily and peacefully - However, it is possible to buy land in a country if you are rich. Many will settle for that, or their own flat. (WP, "Global Country of World Peace").
Gold clothing, rich brocade, gold crowns studded with jewels, and ceremonies are parts of what keeps the royalty in the United Kingdom rolling. And a movement is helped by public attention, so perhaps emulating the British might help? Maybe, maybe not. Much depends on the money flow, power and influence. To some, a king is a unifying symbol, and to some a person to look up to in a sort of half-symbiosis also, with hails going a long way. Some democracies have done away with their monarchies and found elected leaders to be preferable. Maharishi was seeking bases to bring peace and prosperity to the world, but "was openly critical of democracy in his later years and tried to create his own governmental system based on the authoritarian model of kingship," writes Williamson. There is more:
Maharishi was pleased enough to declare that Dr. Nader was worth his weight in gold – literally. Telecast on satellite to followers of TM, Maharishi held an elaborate ceremony in his throne room in the Netherlands in which Dr. Nader sat on a scale surrounded by floral arrangements and baskets of fruit while two men slowly piled bricks of gold on the other side of the scale. (103)
More about it:
Dr. Tony Nader Receives Research Award of $850,000
BY NITYA HUNTLEY
The Berman family has recently donated $850,000 in honor of Dr. Tony Nader . . . to be used as an endowment for Dr. Nader to continue his research.
The donation is to honor Dr. Nader's research by giving him his weight in gold and will be presented at a special event in the U.S. on June 26, 1998. Another $850,000 is being raised so that his resarch into the discovery of Veda in the human physiology will be funded by an amount that equals twice his weight in gold.
Craig Pearson, University executive vice-president, says, "This is the knowledge on which the University is founded, and the Bermans' gift is a huge support in expansion of the knowledge. Maharishi refers to this discovery of Veda in the human physiology as the greatest discovery in the history of science. It shows that the Veda is not Indian, not German, not Dutch--it's universal."
When Dr. Nader was weighed in The Netherlands to be given the equivalent in gold, extensive press coverage followed. "We're again expecting a huge wave of publicity," says Mr. Pearson. All are invited to attend the June celebration at a location to be announced.
(Source: Fairfield News, Vol. 13, #14, May 27, 1998. Copyright 1998, Maharishi University of Management
So, publicity is what it much of it was about, and feeding Dr Nader well to make him fat and heavy before weighing him may not have taken place. The gold was not paid for by Maharishi and the TM movement either.
Further, a human being that matters should be worth more than the clothes, shoes, gloves, and what is put on its head, according to the psalms of the Old Testament. Maharishi is into it too, by maintaining with the first book in the Bible: "Man is made in the image of God." Genesis 1:27: "God created mankind in his own image, / in the image of God he created them; / male and female he created them."
Woman too, says the first of the two creation stories in Genesis. From a psalm comes this:
What is man . . .?
You have made him a little lower than God [or the angels],
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands . . .
- Psalm 8:4-6. NASB
To enlarge on that: "You have made woman - / You crown her with glory and majesty! / You make her to rule over the works of Your hands (and the same with man). . ."
It might be easy to forget all that. However, by lifting "the son of man" - which means the human being - from being everyday habit-ridden into the light, much comes to light. And if a woman who is frail to look at is made in the image of God, how can a "daughter of woman" lift up herself, or be lifted up? That is a question.
Dr Neil Douglas-Klotz explains that the Aramaic bar means "son" and nasha human being, man and woman, and that the term barnasha is cognate with "frail and forgetful". In order to 'lift up the son of man', Jews used certain methods long before Jesus - and in his days too - to lift up their "son of man" (raise their conscious awareness). (Douglas-Klotz 2001, 162-63). Williamson:
That initiates of TM often have powerful mystical experiences is undeniable. . . . In an extensive study of sixty-seven TM meditators conducted in Germany, many practitioners reported . . . the initial experience was positive and often contained mystical elements. One wrote that he experienced "colors . . . a long canal, saw . . . light, stars, cattle . . ." (90)
Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is one example of a Hindu-inspired meditation movement. Although Maharishi, TM's founder, never referred to his system as "Hindu," it certainly displays some easily recognizable Hindu elements. (2)
She says that even though those who became TM teachers were not Hindus many incorporated parts of a tradition into their religious style.
HIMMs [Hindu-inspired meditation movements] comprise a new cultural and religious phenomenon that arose in America and continue to be a strong cultural force with no sign of abating . . . HIMMs . . . could perhaps more properly be called Neo-Hindu-inspired meditation movements. (4, 18)
People who participate in HIMMs have created a system of meaning that has several interwoven components. . . . They also share a common lifestyle . . . (most are vegetarians) . . . They seek a balanced life that combines self-effort with a sense of ease . . . (5)
[T]he term "Hinduism" encompasses such a diversity of traditions that it really has no meaning . . . On the other hand, broad categories are useful as comparative tools . . . (5, 6)
[S]ome might argue that HIMMs is not broad enough to merit a separate category and would better be considered a subset of Hinduism. Yet if it is to be considered a subset of anything, HIMMs might better be subsumed under "American religion," . . . Regarding HIMMs as a separate category with its own distinctive features has more heuristic value. (6)
[E]ven a cursory examination of these Hindu-based movements reveals that they display all of the characteristics of what is normally associated with religion. (13)
We may need to redefine the term "religion" in the coming years as more and more people cease to identify with Christianity or another established religion and instead begin to associate with "movements" or simply with being religious in their own way. (13-14)
Hindu, Vedic and Better
Fortunate are they who live in union with God ... They are above the limitations of religion or race. - Maharishi, in Williamson 2010, 12
1. Hinduism can mean well-nigh anything. It is that diversified.
2. Vedic means several things too. (a) The root is the Sanskrit word vid, knowledge. In this sense, Vedic means 'of knowledge.' (b) In a wider sense, it refers to ancient ways and works and traditions in parts of the Indian subcontient a couple of thousand years ago, basically Hindu history and culture between 1500 BCE and 500 BC. (c) It also refers to the Vedas. They are Scriptures in an early form of Sanskrit. In ancient Vedic culture, there might not have been such a difference between what is now termed tantric teachings on the use of mantras, meditation, yoga, and ritual on the one hand and the orthodox ways on the other hand. (WP, "Tantra")
3. Better: Se the Maharishi quotation above.
Lola Williamson further:
Practitioners of TM are particularly quick to point out that it does not derive from Hindu sources, but rather from Vedic sources . . . To further appeal to a contemporary audience, followers of Maharishi refer to their scriptural and cultural source as "Vedic science" rather than Vedic religion. (14)
While HIMMs attempt to distance themselves from the Hindu religion by focusing on philosophy, the attempt falls short since Hinduism includes philosophical dimensions. (15)
Traditional Hinduism was, and is, for Hindus only. . . . The idea of converting foreigners to Hinduism does not exist for many traditional Hindus. Neo-Hinduism, on the other hand, was devised for an international audience . . . and continues to be, a missionary religion. (19-20)
Modern gurus today use texts selectively. Ideas are given legitimacy by finding scriptural support. (Cf. 24)
Followers of HIMM feel they should not become sidetracked by the New Age spiritual smorgasbord, yet it is this very milieu that enabled HIMMs to get their start in the United States. (50)
[Maharishi] emphasized both material prosperity and spiritual enlightenment, and was always hopeful that his scientist followers would find a "unified field theory" that brought together the material and the transcendent realms. Furthermore, Maharishi placed an enormous emphasis on the cultivation of mystical powers (siddhis) from the mid-1970s until his death. (82)
The TM movement has gone through many changes since Maharishi first offered to Westerners a simple meditation technique . . . and had laid the foundation for a world government. (82)
So, the term 'Vedic' is fit for missionary purposes and perhaps selective use of texts too. That meditation should crown a way of life that aims at material prosperity and spiritual enlightenment, is part of Buddha's teachings for householders and Vedanta lore too.
MIU and more
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) first in India in 1955, and since 1958 world-wide. He went on to establish Maharishi Vedic Universities to enable individuals to "live tall" and to find the basis of purposeful living deep within.
When the idea of having a university for his key teachings was introduced to him, Maharishi embraced it. Maharishi International University (MIU) came into being by steps and stages, relocated, was renamed Maharishi University of Management, MUM, and then named Maharishi International University (MIU) again on 11th December 2019. It is located in Fairfield, Iowa. Dates and even countries for the early Maharishi International University (MIU) and various locations and relocations in its first few years differ somewhat among various sources, but the idea of a TM university was offered to Maharishi in Mallorca by a student. The idea was carried further.
A shift in terminology from religious to secular and scientific occurred in the 1970s. (93)
In 1971 Maharishi International University (MIU) was established . . . In 1973 TM purchased the abandoned Parsons College in the small town of Fairfield, Iowa, where MIU relocated and where it continues to function today under the name Maharishi University of Management (MUM). . . . Maharishi School, also in Fairfield, began in 1974 as an elementary school, and in 1981 the Upper School was added. Today the junior and senior high schools are together accredited as a college preparatory school, and a large percentage of its graduates are accepted at four-year colleges and universities. (94)
in 1976 the focus of the movement shifted. Maharishi's organization began to teach a new technique called the TM-Siddhi technique (spelled "Sidhi" by the TM movement) and advertised that it would accelerate the attainment of enlightenment. (94)
Charles F. Lutes (1912-2001) teamed up with Maharishi and travelled the world with him four or five times to open hundreds of meditation centres. In 1969 he became a TM teacher. As Maharishi's personal representative in the United States, "Charlie" handled much of the TM movement's business affairs and was a close advisor to Maharishi in organisational and practical matters. Charlie distanced himself from the TM movement after Maharishi introduced Yogic Flying, but Maharishi thought fondly of him anyway. [More on Charlie Lutes]
The TM-Sidhi technique is based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra (ca. 100 BCE – 500 CE), a foundational text of "yoga." . . . [B]ased on the Yoga Sutra, the process of samyama [holding well together] combines three parts: dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Dharana [focusing well] . . . involves holding the mind's attention on some object, like a mantra . . . [S]amadhi [union] may be with the object of focus or with the transcendent absolute. . . . The Yoga Sutra acknowledges that through samyana, a yogi can attain certain siddhis, or powers. However, the text also warns that the pursuit of siddhis may distract the yogi. (95)
The technique involves repeating chosen sutras mentally. [For example,] friendliness [may be] attained by repeating the word "friendliness;" . . . (96)
I have not spoken with anyone, nor have I heard of anyone, who has developed omniscience or supernormal strength or the ability to walk through walls using these sutras. No one has demonstrated levitating or flying, but only "hopping" – that is, coming off the floor and moving forward in space a short distance from a seated cross-legged position without using the hands or arm muscles to push. More emphasis is given to the flying sutra than to any of the other sutras. (97)
Caution is called for: Williamson thinks she has not met omnicient ones, or extremely strong ones, or persons able to walk through walls. But why does she think they would show off to her about such things? And often "it takes one to know one."
As for levitation, Norwegian Roar Skjervø one day said he could levitate, laid down on a cantina table among coffee cups and had a moment that was photographed. He had learnt that sort of further TM. Lola Williamson might have missed the photo that was spread over the front page of a Norwegian newspaper in 1986. Here it is: ["He might have levitated, but could he fly?"]
Also, the connotations of the Pali term commonly rendered as omniscience are quite different from those of the English word. In Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta 71 and ascetic wants to clarify the precise scope of the Buddha's knowledge. In the Theravada tradition the Buddha is omniscient in the sense that all knowable things are potentially accessible to him.
Buddha says he is able to see the passing away and reappearing of beings, and he understands how beings pass on according to their actions. And in Anguttara Nikaya (ii.24) Buddha says, "Whatever in the world (loka), with its devas - with its hosts of recluses and brahmins, of devas and mankind - whatever is seen heard, sensed, cognized, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind, - all that I do know."
Thus, claims and their meanings may vary, and opinions too.
In 1976 Maharishi conducted a one-year course for some of his TM teachers in Seelisberg, Switzerland. . . . Maharishi stressed "techniques" and scientific verification of those techniques. (A guest he invited, Muktananda, claimed) that Western science granted only superficial knowledge compared to the knowledge attained through yoga. . . . Muktananda told jokes, . . . wore sunglasses and an orange ski cap. . . . Then, very abruptly, Muktananda got up from where he was sitting, went over to Maharishi, sat down next to him and gave him a big bear hug. . . . Muktananda . . . was known to grab people's noses or stick his finger in a person's ear. (98)
It is not oddity that make the yogi. And what if the best yogis are largely unknown to men and women? The Tao Te Ching tells:
From Stanza 15
The ancient master workers of the Way
Were too deep to be recognized.
Picture them . . . But who can do so now? (Translation by Moss Roberts, extracts)
The one who was skilled at practicing the Way in antiquity,
Was subtle and profound, mysterious and penetratingly wise.
His depth cannot be known.
. . . he cannot be known. (Translation by Robert Hendricks, extracts)
From Stanza 17
With the highest, those below simply know they exist.
With those one step down – they love and praise them.
With those one further step down – they fear them.
And with those at the bottom [those whose abuse they endured] – they ridicule and insult them.
. . .
Hesitant, undecided! Like this is his respect for speaking. (Hendricks)
We have seen what ancient Daoists thought about accomplished masters of the Way. One might add to it that stepping down from being largely unknown and into public recognition really is going down - and being in the public eye for long may have its dangers too. A beard may or may not help.
Before 1976, TM practitioners were very reserved in their practice and behavioral style. . . . In the sixties, some of them even grew beards and wore white robes. (98)
After 1976 when the TM-Sidhi program began, . . . the quiet, orderly group practice broke out in pure pandemonium. (90)
It has been said that one reason why Alexander the Great won so widely when he set about conquering "the world", was that he noticed how opposing soldiers grabbed his soldiers by their beards in close combat. Hence his soldiers were to shave.
The revolution that ended the reign of beards occurred on September 30, 331 b.c., as Alexander the Great prepared for a decisive showdown with the Persian emperor for control of Asia. On that day, he ordered his men to shave. Yet from time immemorial in Greek culture, a smooth chin on a grown man had been taken as a sign of effeminacy or degeneracy. What can explain this unprecedented command? . . . Alexander replied, "Don't you know that in battles there is nothing handier to grasp than a beard?" But there is ample cause to doubt Plutarchis explanation. (Christopher Oldstone-Moore. "Off With Their Beards! A very short book excerpt." The Atlantic, March 2016, No. 3.
On another note:
Maharishi couched everything he taught in either "scientific" or "Vedic" terminology . . . It appears that Maharishi used a text from the yoga tradition in a completely original way in an effort to make his students fly. (99)
When the flying technique emerged, TM movement scientists extended their research to include the "brain coherence" that occurs during yogic flying. (101)
First, it was and is impossible to make EEG measurements with moving persons, such as those, "flying on". (Williamson 101). All claims from proponents of the TM movement are not true, then, tells Lola Williamson (100-1). In the rigorous goings of university research, one seeks to escape or avoid that personal interests, or business interests, influence what the researchers choose to study, how to go about, and what conclusions to draw. Independent research is the ideal. When a movement or a cult does research on things it promotes, researchers may lift an eyebrow. Results may be true, the procedures examplary, and yet a shadow of suspicion of partiality or bias may linger on.
Since Williamson published her book in 2010, independent research confirms that basic TM helps far and wide. WebMd.com summarises:
Some studies have found that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and the use of health care services.
Meditation, both TM and other forms, is generally safe and may improve a person's quality of life. But experts agree that meditation shouldn't be used as a single treatment for any particular health condition, or instead of conventional medical care. (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 29, 2017)
Despite such findings, some people get disgruntled.
As for meditation, it depends on how you do it too.
Granted that, people get disgruntled for many reasons and to various degrees. Some reasons are phoney, and others are for real. Being disgruntled be due to huge expectations, wrong expectations and further. Being disgruntled may also be due to bad goings, maybe psychological problems due to idealisation of bearded Maharishi, and so on and on. If we get disgruntled with people because of their beards or no beards, or the shapes of their beards, we are too preoccupied with externals, it seems.
And yet small children get disappointed if Santa Claus has no beard. And a fashion model with a beard might get a hard time if she is "one out ot ten women" - with much facial hair. Yes, great prejudices make for much conform "Barbie ways." What matters is not to succumb to conformism and its prejudices if we deem it all right to play along, and if a model succumbs and shaves here and there and also resorts to electrolysis, she might "save face." Who knows what is normal and what is not when it comes to excess facial hair?
More women have excessive facial hair, or think they do, than you might think. Approximately 20 million American women remove facial hair at least once a week . . . if a woman's mother or father has a good amount of facial hair, chances are that she will, too. . . . [H]eavy facial hair is quite normal in some families. (Laurie Green, MD. "Excess facial hair: What's normal, what's not." CNN, Nov. 29, 1999)
Considerable social stigma is associated with facial hair on women . . . Many women globally choose to totally remove their facial hair by professional laser treatment. (WP. "Facial hair > On women")
Crazy to sue?
In 1986, a disgruntled former meditator sued the TM movement for psychological damage. The case was settled out of court. (Williamson 2010, 100). Some more:
Three people brought suit claiming the Transcendental Meditation movement falsely promised to teach them how to fly, reached an out-of-court settlement, attorneys said.
Terms of the settlements, by stipulation, remained private. The plaintiffs had accused the movement of fraud, saying meditation did not provide the promised benefits such as reduced stress, a reversal of the aging process and the ability to levitate. Instead, they contended, they suffered psychological damage.
("Guru's School Settles With Former Students." Omaha World-Herald. Omaha, NE: Apr 18, 1991. p. 26 - in https://sites.google.com/site/myalternativetreatments/a-96) Notes 214 and 215.
We have to discern between marketing and what actually happens. We have to discern between average effects as given by various statistical measurements combined - and individual effects, which can vary much, as the Bell curve (Gauss curve) tells of. However, there is little evidence of other than butt-bouncing so far. That is where matters stand.
In the suit claims, it was the hype surrounding the TM additions that were the culprit, not basic TM itself. It needs to be stressed. It should also be seen that marketing claims that are overblown or do not work as told, are disappointing to many.
For example, think of all who tell they are followers of Jesus and still are not able to get big mountains to throw themselves into the sea. How disappointed many should be if they believed a little. How very much psychological damage . . . Those who see they have been taken in by words that were never meant for them, may or may not sue - as Jesus said his teachings and kingdom were for (ill) Jews only. (Matthew 21:21; 15:24; 10;5-8) Ill Jews only? [Gospel passages show it]
There are many other big-sounding words in the gospels. They are put in the mouth of Jesus, they too, if he is not quoted verbatim, which is hard to tell for sure. ["Let them have a faith certificate or stay swindled or sue"]
Now, if sueing one's church and movement for claimed psychological damage due to marketing words, how might cause(s) and effect(s) be ascertained full well?"
Much boils down to, "You need an actual case," a lawyer wrote. Further, "No respectable lawyer will file a frivolous suit. [And] you don't just come up with ideas over what to sue. . . . And you don't listen to your silly friend." (from Quora, "How do I sue someone in the USA?")
Lola Williamson again:
Whenever movement scientists claimed correlations between different fields or between macro- and microlevels of phenomena, Maharishi was delighted. (103)
I met and interviewed wonderful people and visited the beautiful homes that had been built using the guidelines for Vedic Sthapatya architecture. I met business managers, teachers, artists, and doctors, all of whom seemed to have genuinely benefited from their involvement with the TM movement. (103)
My own experience with TM was positive, but I was involved in what some TM teachers now call the "good old days;" before several levels of secrecy and hierarchy had developed. Even some of those interviewees who were very sure of their relationship with Maharishi had doubts about his behavior and found it necessary to maintain psychological distance from the TM organization in order to sustain their positive image of it. (105)
Look behind titles and see what the persons do. Or strive to do. That is fair counsel. Perhaps we see there is more than one way to educate people.
As for TM, a large study in Sweden, from the the "good old days" and the simple TM method, shows that the first method is largely benefical and safe. ◦Dr Jaan Suurküla's findings] Other findings about the first TM method also support that it is healh-bringing.
Adherence to the TM movement and the cults of the USA, however, might have adverse effects.
◎ Good sense often flies away due to low conformity and lots of "hats off".
◎ Educational psychology has to a large extent been rooted in (1) compusive curriculums in (2) public, conformised school settings - and those parts of a learning frame may cramp and worse, through soundness-hindering features that are halfway baked into former educational research. It is time for a wider berth.