Transcendental Meditation technique


Transcendental Meditation technique

The Transcendental Meditation technique is a specific form of mantra meditation[1] often referred to as Transcendental Meditation. It was introduced in India in 1955[2][3][4] by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1914–2008).[5] The meditation practice involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day, while sitting comfortably with closed eyes.[6][7]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught his meditation technique in a series of world tours beginning in 1957.[8] From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, both the Maharishi and TM received significant public attention in the USA, especially among the student population.[9][10] During this period, a million people learned the technique, including well-known public figures.[9] Worldwide, as many as six to ten million people are reported to be practitioners of the TM technique.[11]

Transcendental Meditation is part of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health[12] The theoretical basis developed to underpin the Transcendental Meditation technique is the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI), which describes the Maharishi's view of Natural Law. Skeptics question whether SCI is actually scientific. According to proponents, practicing the TM technique can lead to higher levels of consciousness and supernormal powers, including the Maharishi Effect.

TM has been reported to be one of the most widely practiced, and among the most widely researched meditation techniques.[13][14][15][16] Independently done systematic reviews have not found health benefits for TM beyond relaxation or health education.[17][18][19] It is difficult to determine definitive effects of "meditation practices in healthcare" as the quality of research has design limitations and a lack of methodological rigor,[19][20][21] due in part to the fact that many studies on TM appear to have been conducted by authors connected to the TM organization and on subjects predisposed positively towards TM.[22][23]

The TM technique is made available worldwide by certified teachers affiliated with the Transcendental Meditation movement, a name given to a collection of organizations introduced and developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The movement actively markets TM as a scientifically proven technique but not a religion while there are sociologists and governmental bodies that have categorized it as part of a new religious movement. TM is taught in a standardized, seven-step course over a four day period by certified teachers.[6] The fees vary from country to country. In the United States the adult fee is $1,500, while prices in the United Kingdom (UK) are based on income. Transcendental Meditation is a registered trademark of the Maharishi Foundation.[24]

Practice

The TM technique consists of silently repeating a mantra while sitting comfortably with eyes closed without assuming any special yoga position.[25][26] It is practiced twice daily, morning and evening, for 20 minutes. The practice should be easy and natural, the mantra repeated with "gentle effortlessness".[25][27][27][28] The mantra is utilized as a thought in the meditation process,[29] and as a vehicle that allows the individual's attention to travel naturally to a less active, quieter style of mental functioning.[27][29][30] The experience is described as a "subtle state of thought" and a "wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state".[31]

It is recommended twice per day; once after waking in the morning and in the afternoon before dinner but not immediately before or after sleeping, or after eating.[9][20][27][32]

According to the movement, four to six million people have been trained in the TM technique since 1959. Notable practitioners include The Beatles, David Lynch, John Hagelin, Deepak Chopra, and Mia Farrow. For more practitioners, see List of Transcendental Meditation practitioners.

Mantra

Mantra selection

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains 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".[33] The Maharishi says that certain, specific vibrations suit certain people and that this method of meditation enables the mind to experience subtler phases of the vibration until the source of all vibration is experienced.[34] Religious Studies scholar George D. Chryssides says that, according to the Maharishi, the mantras for "householders" and for recluses differ. The Transcendental Meditation mantras are appropriate mantras for householders, while most mantras commonly found in books are mantras for recluses.[35]

William Jefferson, in The Story of the Maharishi, says that the secrets of the mantras and their subsequent standardization for today's teachers of the technique were unraveled by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after his years of study with his own teacher, Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati) so that selection is foolproof, and that the number of mantras from the Vedic tradition, which could number in the hundreds, have been brought to a minimum number by the Maharishi.[36] According to philosophy professor Jacob Needleman, the Maharishi told a reporter that he had succeeded in mechanizing the mantra selection process.[37]

TM teachers have said that the results promised by the Transcendental Meditation technique are dependent on a trained Transcendental Meditation teacher choosing the mantra for the student, according to Chryssides and professor of psychiatry, Norman E. Rosenthal.[27][35] Sociologist William Sims Bainbridge says that initiators have said the mantras are selected "to match the nervous system of the individual".[38] A 1972 biography of the Maharishi says that the chosen mantra's vibrations "harmonize" with the meditator.[39] Lola Williamson says that when she was a TM teacher she told students that their mantra was chosen for them specially based on their personal interview.[28] The Maharishi is quoted as saying that mantras chosen for initiates should "resonate to the pulse of his thought and as it resonates, create an increasingly soothing influence".[40]

Mantras are assigned by age and gender, according to religious scholars Roy Wallis, J. Gordon Melton, Bainbridge, and others.[28][38][41][42][43][44][45] There are reportedly 16 mantras.[38][46][47] They have been published in various sources. Omni magazine published the list of TM mantra, which it says it received from "disaffected TM teachers".[48][49]

TM meditators are instructed to keep their mantra secret.[37][50] Robert Oates writes that this is a "protection against inaccurate teaching".[51] One concern is that a meditator will teach the technique to friends to avoid paying the tuition fee.[50]

Mantra meaning and sound value

Speaking in Kerala, India, in 1955, the Maharishi connected the mantras with personal deities. Similar references can also be found in his later works.[52][53] At other times, the Maharishi stated that "The theory of mantras is the theory of sound."[53]

Russell and Rosenthal say the sounds used in the technique are taken from the ancient Vedic tradition and have "no specific meaning".[27][54] Lola Williamson says the bija or seed mantras used in TM come from the Tantric, rather than Vedic tradition.[55] In the Tantric tradition, these mantras are associated with specific deities and used as a form of worship.[56] Vishal Mangalwadi says the mantras are usually the names of deities, chosen as meaningless terms in the Japa yoga tradition.[57]

In the 1977 court case Malnak vs. Yogi (see below), an undisputed fact in the case was that the mantras are meaningless sounds.[58] William Jefferson says that the "euphonics" of mantras is important.[36] 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.[30][47]

Philosophy of science scholar and former Maharishi International University professor Jonathan Shear, in his book The Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions, characterizes the mantras used in the TM technique as independent of meaning associated with any language, and are used for their mental, sound value alone.[59] Fred Travis, Professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at 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".[60]

Teaching procedure

The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in a standardized, seven-step course by a certified, authorized teacher.[6][61][62] Potential meditators are asked to refrain from using non-prescription drugs for 15 days before learning TM.[37][63] Otherwise, all who seek to learn TM are taught it.[57] Steps one to four include an introductory lecture, a lecture on the theory behind TM, a personal interview and initiation, and a follow-up session to verify correct practice.[25]

The private interview and initiation last about 10–15 minutes.[20] The initiation begins with a short puja ceremony performed by the teacher. The ceremony is said to give honors and thanks, or worship,[57] to the previous masters who passed down the TM technique,[38][64] a lineage called the "Holy Tradition".[65] It is regarded as putting students in the right frame of mind to receive the mantra.[28] Students are required to bring to their initiation a clean handkerchief, some flowers and fruit, and their fee.[38][50][57] Initiates remove their shoes and kneel in a private room in front of an altar which has incense burning in front of pictures of Guru Dev and the Maharishi, to which they are expected to bow.[28][50][66] During the initiation or puja ceremony the initiate observes passively as the teacher recites a text in Sanskrit.[65] An article in the The Ottawa Citizen gave 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".[67] Bainbridge quotes from a training bulletin for TM teachers which explains the purpose of the invocation: "The truth of Brahma, the Creator, born of the lotus, rooted in the eternal Being is conventionally and traditionally depicted by a picture of Lord Narayana, lying in a restful pose, has the stem of a lotus emerging from his navel, and Brahma, the Creator, is seated on that lotus. So the wisdom of Transcendental Meditation, or the philosophy of the Absolute knowledge of integrated life came to the lotus-born Brahma from Lord Narayana".[38] The student receives a mantra only after this ceremony has been performed.[68][69] Subsequent group sessions with the teacher ensure correct practice including step five that verifies the correctness of the practice and gives further instruction, and step six that explains the mechanics of the TM technique based on personal experience. In step seven the higher stages of human development are described per this system of meditation.[6][32][70][71]

The new meditator later returns to confirm that they are practicing the technique properly, a process called "checking".[37] These follow-up sessions validate the practice and address problems or questions, including practical and theoretical issues.[20]

Course fees

The TM course consists of 6 hours of personal and group instruction and a series of “weekly and monthly personal checking sessions”.[27] Course graduates qualify for a lifetime follow-up program at any Transcendental Meditation center including personal meditation checking and “consultation with any certified TM instructor", refresher courses, Advanced Lectures, special events, group meditations, and celebrations.[72][73] The fees cover costs of instruction and administration.[74]

From 1967 to 1968, the fees for instruction in the UK, the US, and Australia were variable, ranging from the equivalent of one-week's salary to a flat fee of $35 for students.[75][76][77] By 1975, fees in the US were fixed at $125 for adults, but with discounted rates for students or families.[78] At the time, author John White wrote that fees were "becoming exorbitant", that TM instruction should be free, or at least much cheaper, and that a lot of people question paying $125 for six hours of instruction.[79] Fees rose to $400 for adults and $135 for students in the US and Canada by 1993, and then were increased to $1,000 for adults and $600 for students in 1994.[80][81] In Britain, TM cost £490 (£290 for students) in 1995.[82] By 2003, fees in the US were $2,500.[83] In Bermuda, where fees had been kept below the international average for many years, a 2003 directive from TM Movement headquarters to increase prices from $385 to $2,000 was partly responsible for the suspension of TM instruction there. A former instructor was critical of the fees for excluding ordinary people and making TM something exclusively for the wealthy.[84] In January 2009, The Guardian reported that the expensive fees for TM instruction had "risked it being priced into oblivion" until David Lynch convinced the Maharishi to "radically reduce" fees so as to permit more young people to learn TM.[85]

In 2009, fees in the US were reduced for a one-hour-a-day, four-day course to $1,500 for the general public and $750 for college students and grants, scholarships and loans are available to those that qualify.[74][86][87]

Fees in the UK were also reduced, and a tiered fee structure introduced, ranging from £290 to £590 for adults, and £190 to £290 for students, depending on income.[88] The Maharishi was criticized by other Yogis and stricter Hindus for charging fees for instruction in TM, who contended that it was unethical, amounting to the selling of "commercial mantras", however "his promises of better health, stress relief and spiritual enlightenment drew devotees from all over the world" despite the fees, according to the BBC.[89][90][91]

TM teachers

TM teachers learn how to assign mantras during a teacher training program that lasts from ten to twelve weeks.[50] Many details of the training and knowledge imparted to teachers are not known publicly.[20] TM teachers sign what one writer calls a "loyalty-oath employment contract", which he quotes as 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."[65]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began training TM teachers in the early 1960s.[92] As of 1978, there were 7,000 TM teachers in the U.S.[93] A TM leader estimated 10,000 TM teachers worldwide in 1985.[94] In 2003 there were a reported 20,000 TM teachers.[95] By 2008, 40,000 TM teachers had been trained.[96]

One ex-teacher said in 2004 that he had spent tens of thousands of dollars on "TM sessions, retreats, and teacher training".[66] Some ex-teachers have said they feel they were lying to students, either about details of the mantras or about the religious nature of TM. One said: "I was lying about the mantras — they were not meaningless sounds; they were actually the names of Hindu demigods – and about how many different ones there were — we had sixteen to give out to our students".[97] Another writes that TM teachers convinced themselves that they were not deceiving students.[98]

Some people do TM training as a full-time job, while others do it occasionally.[99] Part-time instructors have included doctors, lawyers, and executives.[100][101] An Australian TM teacher said he had personally initiated over 20,000 people over a thirty year period.[102]

TM teachers who go on to learn the TM-Sidhi technique are called "Governors of the Age of Enlightenment".[103] Some TM teachers have objected to the cost of the instruction and began teaching independently.[104] Notable people trained to teach Transcendental Meditation include: Prudence Farrow,[105] John Gray,[106] Mitch Kapor,[107] and Mike Love.[108]

Supplemental techniques

"Rounding" is a more intensive meditation process taught as part of Residence Courses.[109] A round consists of a sequence of yoga postures called asanas, breathing techniques called pranayama, a standard TM meditation, and rest. Each round takes about 50 minutes and is then repeated several times.[110] Rounding is said to be especially effective in facilitating "unstressing" in the practitioner. Unstressing is a release of tension in which deep relaxation may be accompanied by physical and emotional effects, including insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and spontaneous imagery.[111]

The movement also teaches, for additional fees in the thousands of dollars, "advanced techniques" of Transcendental Meditation, introduced by the Maharishi in the mid-1970s when new enrollment in Transcendental Meditation collapsed. The TM-Sidhi program, introduced in 1975, expanded the number of offerings.[38][53][112] This later program teaches that, through the power of meditation, one is able to gain various "signposts" of spiritual progress, such as the powers of levitation and invisibility, walking through walls, colossal strength, ESP, perfect health and immortality, among others.[7] The Maharishi has said that "thousands" have learned to levitate.[113] Skeptic James Randi, however, concluded after investigation that there is "no levitation, no walking through walls, no invisibility".[113]

Maharishi Effect

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi predicted that the quality of life for an entire population would be noticeably improved if one percent of the population practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. This is known as the "Maharishi Effect".[114] With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program including Yogic Flying, the Maharishi proposed that only the square root of 1% of the population practicing this advanced program would be required to create benefits in society, and this was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect", according to a MUM webage.[115]

Practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs has been credited by the TM organization with the fall of the Berlin Wall, a reduction in global terrorism, a decrease in the rate of inflation in the US, the lowering of crime rates, and other positive effects.[116] The Maharishi Effect has been endorsed by the former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano, who applied this technology in his country,[117] and positive results have been reported in 42 independent scientific studies.[118] Some have described this research as "pseudoscience".[119] James Randi followed up on some of the claims attributed to the Maharishi Effect that Maharishi International University of faculty member Robert Rabinoff made at a talk in Oregon in 1978 attended by Ray Hyman. Randi spoke to the Fairfield Chief of Police who had not experienced any drop in crime rate and the regional Agriculture Department whose statistics on yield showed no difference between Jefferson County and the state average.[120]

According to a follower, the Maharishi said that "the earth yields up its treasures" when the one percent threshold is met.[121]

Research

Institutional programs

School programs

For schools belonging to the Transcendental Meditation movement, see Educational institutions

TM in public schools in 1970s : Malnak v. Yogi

As of 1974, 14 states encouraged local schools to teach TM in the classroom, and it was taught at 50 universities.[122] Among the public school systems where TM was taught were Shawnee Mission, Kansas,[123] Maplewood, Paterson, Union Hill and West New York, New Jersey,[124] Eastchester, New York[122][125] and North York, Ontario.[126]

In 1979, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the 1977 decision of the US District Court of New Jersey that a course in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) was religious activity within the meaning of the Establishment Clause and that the teaching of SCI/TM in the New Jersey public high schools was prohibited by the First Amendment.[127][128] The court ruled 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. The court found that the religious nature of the course was clear from careful examination of the textbook, the expert testimony elicited, and the uncontested facts concerning the puja ceremony, which it found involved "offerings to deities as part of a regularly scheduled course in the schools' educational programs".[129] State action was involved because the SCI/TM course and activities involved the teaching of a religion, without an objective secular purpose.[128] The Malnak decision resulted in the dismantling of the Maharishi's programs to establish Transcendental Meditation in the public schools with governmental funding.[53] This "judicial rebuff" of the New Jersey school project did not render "a negative evaluation of the program itself" and those that oppose the practice in public schools are said by religious scholars Douglas E. Cowan and David G. Bromley to be mainly conservative Christians and civil libertarians who seek to preserve church-state separation.[130]

TM in schools and universities 1990s–present

Students in a Peru classroom practicing the TM technique

Since 1994, a number of schools and universities in the U.S. have introduced Transcendental Meditation on a voluntary basis, with parental consent, and teachers and parents are taught the meditation before the students learn.[131][132] Often referred to as the Quiet Time Program, the students and teachers meditate for 10 to 20 minutes twice per day.[132][133] The program consists of TM instruction and follow-up, as well as training of school faculty and staff to supervise the TM sessions offered at the school.[134]

The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace (DLF) provides funding for some school programs and subsidizes the cost for training in TM, which was $650 per year in the US as of 2004.[135][136] In 2006, six public schools were each awarded $25,000 to begin a TM program and a total of twenty five public, private, and charter schools in the United States had offered Transcendental Meditation to their students.[137][138] As of 2008, the foundation had funded more than 2,000 students, faculty and parents at 21 universities and schools, in addition to substantially higher numbers at schools overseas.[131] Programs have been conducted in Washington D.C., Hartford CT, San Francisco CA, Detroit MI, Steamboat Springs CO, Tucson AZ, Los Angeles CA and Chicago IL.[132] According to the DLF, it has funded school programs in New York City, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Vietnam, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Israel.[139][140][141]

  • The Fletcher Johnson Educational Center, a charter school with 1,500 students in Washington, D.C., introduced the TM program for schools in 1994.[131][142] Its principal, George H. Rutherford, is a member of the DLF's Board of Advisors.[143]
  • The Ideal Academy Public Charter School began its program with the approval of the Washington, D.C. Board of Education in 1997.[131][137] The 2005–2006 pilot project at Ideal Academy was conducted along with research to document the effects of the program.[142]
  • The Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit began using the program for students in the fifth through eighth grade in 1996 and was featured on the Today Show in 2003.[144][145] The school has since been classified by the Skillman Foundation as a "High-Performing Middle School".[146] Over the years, the program at Nitaki Talibah has been funded by various foundations including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, the Liebler Foundation and the DLF.[144] The program at the school has been researched by Rita Benn of the University of Michigan's Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center.[144]
  • The Chelsea School, a private school in of Silver Spring, Maryland, offers the program to its fifth through twelfth graders who have attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). The program was part of a three month pilot study conducted by William R. Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist and health advisor for the TM's Committee for Stress-Free Schools.[144][147][148]
  • The New York Times reported in 2005 that American University, in Washington D.C., was scheduled to begin offering Transcendental Meditation in its classes the following year, pending approval, and conducted a research project to study its effect on mental health, IQ and student grades.[149] Later, the practice of the technique by 250 students at American University, Georgetown University and Howard Universities in the Washington D.C. area was monitored as part of a research study conducted by American University and Maharishi University of Management.[131][150]
  • According to the DLF web site, the TM program was introduced to the Arts and Technology Academy at Weaver High School in Hartford CT in 2006. Four hundred and fifty students as well as principals and administrators are reported to have been instructed in the technique.[151]
  • A voluntary program at the Kingsbury school, a private K-12 school for students with learning disorders located in Washington D.C., began in 2005 and was featured on the PBS program, To The Contrary in 2007.[152][153][154] According to the school director, about 10 percent of the teachers, parents and students declined to participate because they found it be religious and cult-ish.[131][152]
  • In the San Francisco area there are three schools which offer the technique as part of their school program, funded primarily by the David Lynch Foundation. The Visitacion Valley Middle School began the program in 2007 and the Everett Middle School and John O’Connell High School began the program sometime after that.[155][156]
  • In 2008, the Lowell Whiteman Primary School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado was in its second year of a two-year trial using Transcendental Meditation in their classrooms. The program is being used with fifth through eighth graders. After instruction, the TM teachers visit the school once per month to asses the students progress and their meditation technique.[157]
  • In 2009, about 160 students and teachers at Tucson Magnet High School in Tucson AZ, took the training in Transcendental Meditation and meditate daily for 15 minutes before or after school.[158]
  • In 2010, the women's squash team at Trinity College in Hartford, CT began practicing the TM technique together after every practice.[159][160]
  • In 2011 music mogul Russell Simmons announced plans to provide financial support to the David Lynch Foundation to teach TM at Hillhouse High School in New Haven Connecticut.[161]

The introduction of Transcendental Meditation into some public schools is viewed by some parents and critics as an overstepping of boundaries.[56] Some parents have opposed these efforts based on concerns that it may lead to "lifelong personal and financial servitude to a corporation run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi".[136] In 2006, the Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, California canceled plans for Transcendental Meditation classes due to concerns of parents that it would be promoting religion.[162] In spite of critics, many parents say they feel the meditation has created "profound results" and that they "hardly view TM as exclusively, or even overtly, religious".[131]

In 2004 the New York Committee for Stress-Free Schools held a press conference in New York City. It included testimonies from students, educators and scientists who support the use of TM in the school setting.[163][164] In 2005, conferences sponsored by the New England Committee for Stress-Free Schools were held in Providence, Rhode Island; Fairfield, Connecticut; and Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston conference was attended by 100 teachers and featured testimonies from school principals who have experience with the TM program in schools.[133][165]

According to a 2008 Newsweek article, there is a "growing movement to bring Transcendental Meditation... into more U.S. schools as a stress-buster for America's overwhelmed kids". Critics have the belief that Transcendental Meditation is a revised form of Eastern, religious philosophy and oppose its use in public schools. Advocates say that it is a physiological technique that calms the mind and improves grades, attention span and happiness while reducing disruptive behavior.[131] University of South Carolina sociologist Barry Markovsky describes teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique in schools as "stealth religion".[166] According to Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Transcendental Meditation is rooted in Hinduism and, when introduced into public schools, crosses the same constitutional line as in the Malnak case and decision of 1979. In May 2008, Lynn said that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State is keeping a close legal eye on the TM movement and that there are no imminent cases against them.[131][136] Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says doing Transcendental Meditation during a school's "quiet time" (a short period many schools have adopted that children use for prayer or relaxation) is constitutional.[131] TM is being used in schools, with some governmental sponsorship.[53][clarification needed] Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, was quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying that "there is no good evidence that TM has positive effects on children. The data that exist are all deeply flawed."[167] A 2011 research review that discussed three "carefully conducted" studies on TM and a study on the TM and TM-Sidhi programs concluded that, "These findings provide good support for the use of TM to enhance several forms of information processing in students. . . ."[168]

The web site for Consciousness-Based Education, South Africa lists 12 partner schools in the USA, Netherlands, Australia, India, Ecuador, Thailand, China, and Great Britain and says that "Consciousness-Based Education has been introduced into more than 230 schools and more than 25 universities or other tertiary institutions worldwide".[169]

Corporate programs

Transcendental Meditation has been utilized in corporations both in the U.S.A and in India. As of 2001, companies such as General Motors helped their salaried employees pay for TM; IBM reimbursed half the TM course fee for its US employees.[170]

The Washington Post reported in 2005 that The Tower Companies, "one of Washington D.C.'s largest real estate development companies", has added classes in Transcendental Meditation to their employee benefit program in order "to contain stress-related ailments and health care costs". Seventy percent (70%) of the employees at The Tower Companies participate in the program.[171][172][173]

A number of Indian companies give their managers training in Transcendental Meditation to reduce stress. These companies include: AirTel, Siemens, American Express, SRF and Wipro, Hero Honda, Ranbaxy, Hewlett Packard, BHEL, BPL, ESPN-Star Sports, Tisco, Eveready, Maruti, and Godrej. All employees at Marico practice Transcendental Meditation in groups as part of their standard workday. According to the Times of India, this practice benefits both employees and employers.[174]

Social programs

In 1979, the TM technique was one of the programs offered to inmates at three California correctional institutions: Folsom prison, San Quentin and the Deuel Vocational Institute. A TM representative stated that meditation has been included at "over 25 prisons and correctional institutions".[175] In the African country of 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.[176][177] The TM technique has been introduced to prisoners in the Oregon Correctional System and a research study is underway.[178]

In 1996, Judge David Mason of 22nd Judicial Circuit of St Louis, Missouri, began offering the transcendental meditation program to criminal offenders in Missouri. The program, administered by the non profit Enlightened Sentencing Project continues to this day and has received endorsements from several judges, including Judge Philip Heagney, Judge Henry Autrey, and others from the Missouri District, Federal, and Supreme Court.[179]

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.[159][180][181][182] In 2010 the Superintendent of Prisons announced that the TM technique was being offered to inmates at the Dominica State Prison.[183]

In 2011, the technique was taught to about 65 individuals at the Children of the Night shelter for teen prostitutes in Los Angeles.[184][185]

The Transcendental Meditation technique was taught to military personnel with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as part of a two research studies conducted at the University of Colorado and Georgetown University.[186][187][188][189][190][191] Other initiatives to teach the TM technique to war veterans who are at risk for PTSD, are ongoing.[192][193]

Psychiatry professor, Norman E. Rosenthal says that TM is compatible with most "drug treatment approaches" and could be incorporated "into an overall treatment program.” [194]

Theoretical concepts

Maharishi Vedic Science

Maharishi Vedic Science, or MVS, is based on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts. MVS includes two aspects: technologies, including Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi programs, by which the Maharishi says human consciousness can be experienced; and programs, such as Maharishi Sthapatya Veda and Maharishi Vedic Astrology, developed for applying this knowledge to aspects of day-to-day living.[195][196] Sixty services and courses are offered by MVED and the Transcendental Meditation movement, as of 2006.[197]

Science of Creative Intelligence

The Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) is the system of theoretical principles that underlie the technique of Transcendental Meditation. SCI describes "pure creative intelligence" as the basis of all life, and Transcendental Meditation as a means to contact the field of creative intelligence, and according to the theory, realize life's full potential.[198][199] The TM organization refers to the Science of Creative Intelligence as both theoretical and practical. Russell investigates SCI as part of an in-depth exploration and understanding of the TM technique. Russell goes on to write about SCI as the interface between the subjective experience or subjective knowledge attributed to practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, and the objective experience of the various fields of knowledge.[200] SCI, introduced by the Maharishi, has been called his "unified theory of life"[201] and "the science of expansion of awareness or the science of progress in life".[202] An official TM website says it as "the systematic study of the field of pure creative intelligence, the Unified Field of all the Laws of Nature, and the principles by which it governs the coexistence and evolution of all systems in Nature".[203] "Science of Creative Intelligence" has sometimes been used as a synonym or alternate name for "Transcendental Meditation".[204]

According to Cynthia Humes in Gurus In America, SCI was a new name for the Mahirishi's Advaita Vedanta teachings.[205] Shear describes the TM technique itself as having its origins in the Advaita Vedanta, a darshanas (school of thought) developed by Adi Shankara in India in the ninth century CE.[59]

SCI theory is taught in a 33-lesson video course, while the practical aspect is the experience of the TM technique itself.[206] The Independent describes how children are taught SCI at a Maharishi School in the U.K. where they learn principles that include "the nature of life is to grow" and "order is present everywhere".[207]

In 1961, the Maharishi created the "International Meditation Society for the Science of Creative Intelligence".[208] An official chronology lists 1971 as "Maharishi's Year of Science of Creative Intelligence". Humes says the shift towards science and away from spiritualism started around 1970.[205] The Second International Symposium on the Science of Creative Intelligence was held in 1971 at the Humboldt State University campus in California, attended by a small number of scientists that included a Nobel Prize-winner.[209] The following year, 1972, the Maharishi developed a World Plan to spread SCI across the world.[210] KSCI, a UHF television station in San Bernardino, California, was started in 1974 to broadcast the TM movement's "educational program".[211]

Courses on the Science of Creative Intelligence were offered in the early 1970s at universities such as Stanford, Yale, the University of Colorado, the University of Wisconsin, and Oregon State University.[212] Degrees in SCI have been awarded by Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Iowa[201] and Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in Switzerland. Classes at MUM present topics such as art, economics, physics, literature, and psychology in the context of SCI.[44][213] For most of its history, MUM required all students to begin by taking a class in the Science of Creative Intelligence that included 33 videotaped-lectures by the Maharishi,[214][215][216] but by 2009, it was only required of graduate students, according to the MUM catalog.[217] The president of MUM credits SCI with the success of its graduates.[218] Individuals who have earned master's or doctoral degrees in the Science of Creative Intelligence include Bevan Morris,[219] Doug Henning,[220] Mike Tompkins,[221] Benjamin Feldman the Finance Minister for Global Country of World Peace,[222] John Gray,[223] and David R. Leffler. SCI is also on the curriculum of lower schools including the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Iowa, Wheaton, Maryland,[224] and Skelmersdale, UK.[225]

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.[199] Price says instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique is "never offered without indoctrination into the metaphysics of 'creative intelligence'".[199] Skeptic James Randi says SCI has "no scientific characteristics",[226] and in a 1982 book, says that TM's claims are no more substantiated by scientific investigation than other mystical philosophies.[227] Astrophysicist and skeptic Carl Sagan writes that the 'Hindu doctrine' of TM is a pseudoscience.[228] Irving Hexham, a scholar of New Age and new religious movements, describes the TM teachings as "pseudoscientific language that masks its religious nature by mythologizing science".[208] Neurophysiologist Michael Persinger writes that "science has been used as a sham for propaganda by the TM movement".[229][230] Sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge describe the SCI videotapes as being 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".[44] 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 hopefully increase the number of people starting the TM technique.[231] In the court case Malnak v Yogi, SCI was held to be a religion.[198]

Views on consciousness

In his 1963 book, The Science Of Being and Art Of Living, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says that, over time, the practice of allowing the mind to experience its deeper levels during the Transcendental Meditation technique brings these levels from the subconscious to within the capacity of the conscious mind. According to the Maharishi, as the mind quiets down and experiences finer thoughts, the Transcendental Meditation practitioner can become aware that thought itself is transcended and can have the experience of what he calls the 'source of thought', 'pure awareness' or 'transcendental Being'; 'the ultimate reality of life'.[29][232][233] TM has been described by the movement as a technology of consciousness.[30] According to Vimal Patel, a pathologist at Indiana University, TM has been shown to produce states that are physiologically different from waking, dreaming and sleeping.[234]

Girish Varma, a nephew of the Maharishi's who is a Brahmachari and chairman of the Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools Group, says that scientific studies have proven that practitioners can attain divine power through TM.[235][236][237]

Seven States of Consciousness

According to the Maharishi there are seven levels of consciousness: (i) waking; (ii) dreaming; (iii) deep sleep; (iv) Transcendental or Pure Consciousness (Skt: turiya); (v) Cosmic Consciousness (Skt: turiyatita); (vi) God Consciousness (Skt: bhagavat-chetana); and (vii) Supreme knowledge, or unity consciousness (Skt: brahmi-chetana). The Maharishi says that the fourth level of consciousness can be experienced through Transcendental Meditation, and that the fifth state can be achieved by those who meditate diligently.[238] The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness says that it may be premature to say that the EEG coherence found in TM is an indication of a higher state of consciousness.[239] A sign of cosmic consciousness is "ever present wakefulness" that is present even during sleep.[240] Research on individuals experiencing what they say is cosmic consciousness as a result of practice of TM has found EEG profiles, muscle tone measurements, and REM indicators that suggest there is physiological evidence of this higher state.[240][241]

Characterizations

Self characterizations

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes Transcendental Meditation as a technique which requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone.[242] The technique is described as being effortless[243] and natural, involving neither contemplation nor concentration, and relying on the natural tendency of the mind to move in the direction of greater satisfaction.[30][59][60][244] Advocates of TM say that the technique is "purely a mechanical, physiological process" and that "the practice pre-dates Hinduism by 5,000 years".[245]

In his book The TM Technique, Peter Russell, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation who had spent time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says Transcendental Meditation allows the mind to become still without effort, in contrast to meditation practices that attempt to control the mind by holding it on a single thought or by keeping it empty of all thoughts.[61] He says trying to control the mind is like trying to go to sleep at night — if a person makes an effort to fall asleep, his or her mind remains active and restless.[61] This is why, he says, Transcendental Meditation avoids concentration and effort.[61]

Other views

According to Catholic monk Wayne Teasdale's book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, Transcendental Meditation is what is called an open or receptive method that can be described as giving up control and remaining open in an inner sense.[246]

Anthony Campbell says that because TM is a natural process, its practice requires no "special circumstances or preparations". Campbell writes that Transcendental Meditation is "complete in itself" and does "not depend upon belief" or require the practitioner to accept any theory.[247] A reporter for The Sunday Times was initiated into the TM technique and said it did have a calming effect, though he called the idea that TM could help bring world peace "ludicrous".[248]

Government

Transcendental Meditation and some of its associated organizations have been described as a religion or a cult. A US courts held it to be a religion in Malnak v Yogi (1977 and 1979). In addition to the 3rd Circuit opinion in Malnak holding that Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intellingence were religious under the Establishment Clause,

A 1980 report by the West German government's Institute for Youth and Society characterized TM as a "psychogroup". The TM organization[who?] sued unsuccessfully to block the release of the report.[3][249] The 1995 report of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France listed Transcendental Meditation as a cult.[250] In 1987, an Israeli government report condemned TM and other groups as cults.[251] However, Gabriel Cavaglion, an Israeli social scientist, says that scholars in Israel viewed the report as "one-sided and negative".[252]

Religion

Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, wrote a pastoral statement in 1984 after Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos invited more than 1,000 members of the movement to Manila to reduce dissent through Yogic Flying. Sin said that neither the doctrine nor the practice of TM are acceptable to Christians.[253] In 2003, the Roman Curia, a Vatican council, published a warning against mixing eastern meditation, such as TM, with Christian prayer.[254] Other clergy, including Catholic clergy, have found the Transcendental Meditation to be compatible with their religious teachings and beliefs.[255][256][257] Religion scholar 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 affiliation.[258] Bainbridge found Transcendental Meditation 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",[38][259] and describes the Transcendental Meditation puja ceremony as "...in essence, a religious initiation ceremony".[38] Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh of the Greek Orthodox Church describes TM as being "a new version of Hindu Yoga" based on "pagan pseudo-worship and deification of a common mortal, Guru Dev".[260]

William Johnston, an Irish Jesuit, says that despite its religious origins the TM technique as introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has no attachments to any particular religion.[261] Former Maharishi University of Management Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, James Grant writes that the Maharishi's techniques for the development of consciousness are non-sectarian and require no belief system.[262] The official TM web site says it is a non-religious mental technique for deep rest.[263] The Maharishi refers to the technique as "a path to God".[264] Andrew Sullivan, political commentator for The Atlantic and an openly gay Roman Catholic, wrote in 2010 that he does not consider his practice of Transcendental Meditation to be a "contradiction of my faith in Christ".[265][266] Martin Gardner, a mathematician, refers to it as "the Hindu cult".[267]

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 religions 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."[268] They say that most scholars view Transcendental Meditation as having elements of both therapy and religion, but says that on the other hand, "Transcendental Meditation 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.[269]</ref>[270] Transcendental meditation has been accused of "surreptitiously smuggling in forms of Eastern religion under the guise of some seemingly innocuous form of health promotion".[271]

Psychiatry professor Norman E. Rosenthal, author of Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, writes that "Maharishi extracted the TM technique from its religious context and distilled it to is essence, which he believed could be of value to people of all creeds."[272]

Marketing

The late 1950s and the 1960s saw increasing interest in consciousness raising and mind expansion. Alan Watts popularized Zen Buddhism while Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and Timothy Leary spread the gospel of LSD. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began developing the framework to support Transcendental Meditation in the West in 1959. TM's eventual success as a new social movement was based on "translation in Western language and settings, popular recognition, adoption within scientific research in powerful institutions, and the use of sophisticated marketing and public relations techniques."[273] At least until 1992, the organization had a public relations officer on staff.[274]

According to a 1985 book titled The Future of Religion by sociologists William Sims Bainbridge and Rodney Stark, while the movement attracted many people through endorsements from celebrities such as the Beatles, an even greater promotional method was "getting articles published in scientific journals, apparently proving TM's claims or at least giving them scientific status".[275] Philip Goldberg's 2010 book on the spread of Vedic philosophy to the West, American Veda, states that Maharishi decried the fact that Vedic teachings had been "shrouded in the garb of mysticism," and instead used the language of science. Goldberg said that "Maharishi’s appropriation of science was clearly part of his agenda from the beginning".[276] The movement then used apparent endorsements from the scientific establishment as "propaganda", reprinting articles that were favorable to the TM technique. Bainbridge and Stark also say that the movement aggressively used positive statements by governments officials in their publicity efforts.[275]

Sociologist Hank Johnston analysed TM as a "marketed social movement" in a 1980 paper.[277] Johnston says that TM has used sophisticated techniques such as tailoring promotional messages for different audiences and pragmatically adapting to different cultures and changing times.[277] Johnston says that TM objectifies the rank-and-file membership, markets the movement as a product, and creates a perception of grievances for which it offers a panacea.[277] He concludes that these "calculated strategies" led to the "rapid growth" of TM.[277]

A 1991 JAMA article found on investigation of the movements marketing practices a "widespread pattern of misinformation, deception, and manipulation of lay and scientific news media."[278] These were seen as efforts to gain "scientific respectability".[278] Similar concern has been raised in the 1980 book TM and Cult Mania.[279]

For its consistency and ubiquity, TM has been called "the McDonald's of the meditation business" by columnist Adam Smith.[280] Yale University architecture professor Keller Easterling compares TM to "Arnold Palmer Golf Management", a developer of golf courses, saying that both are "ideologies and practices" that are regarded as "commercial products".[281] According to Easterling, TM maintains a partial story which allows it to keep the "brand amnesiacally refreshed" and alter plans without explanation.[281]

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