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Transcendental Meditation

The Changing Face of TM
The Ritual of Initiation
Maharishi's World Government
The Mantras of TM
No Room for the Unfit
A Religion of Success
"A Happy, Hungry Man"
How to Meditate Yourself Away From Problems

Transcendental Meditation may be defined as a simplified form of yoga fashioned by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the TM organization. He is the absolute leader of the organization, in all respects fulfilling the role of a guru within the movement. As indicated by his name he is a yogi (someone who is practicing yoga), but he is no "monk," as his followers have often claimed. For some years he was a low rank helper in a large Hindu monastery in Northern India, but he was never ordained as a monk. Had that been the case he would have been styled swami, the correct title of a Hindu monk.

The allegation that Maharishi is a scientist likewise forms part of the legend that TM has built up around him. He only studied for one or at the most two semesters at the Allahabad University, and never took any exams. He is in all respects self-taught, which is rather obvious for any critical reader of his writings. But precisely because his followers are not critical, he gets away with a host of absurdities.

In any case, he is an enterprising person. Yet, on account of a coincidence he became world famous in 1967 when The Beatles and actress Mia Farrow became his disciples. That brought fame to him and his organization overnight. This sudden success, however, also had a sudden end when these prominent disciples witnesses the master's special interest in a female follower during a stay at his resort in the holy city of Rishikesh on the Ganges. Later, The Beatles made a song about "Sexy Sadie," which originally had Maharishi's name as the refrain.

The Changing Face of TM
At first, Maharishi called his organization Spiritual Regeneration Movement. At that time he was overtly referred to as guru in the publications of the organization. When he introduced his new type of meditation, however, a name with a more scientific ring to it was needed. That is how the term "Transcendental Meditation" came about, and from that time on the organization strongly denied its Hindu-religious character, because that might jeopardize TM's access to public schools and educational institutions in the United States.

Accordingly, it was to be Maharishi's biggest defeat ever when, in 1977, a lawsuit in the USA resulted in a verdict which established as a fact that TM is a religious movement and that it is of a distinctly Hindu nature.

The Ritual of Initiation
The conclusion of the court was due, not least, to the content of the ritual of initiation that everybody who wants to learn to meditate must pass through in order to receive his mantra and become a TM person. The ritual must be kept secret, but has been made public by the critics. It is a reduced version of the sacrificial ceremony (puja) that takes place daily in a Hindu temple. The ritual is performed by the TM teacher on behalf of the pupil, exactly the way a Hindu priest performs the sacrifice on behalf of the believer when the latter has brought his sacrificial gifts to the temple. The TM student too brings sacrificial gifts (fruit, flowers and a white cloth) for the ceremony, which takes place in front of an altar, where a picture of the Maharishi's own master, Guru Dev, is placed. After the teacher has laid the gifts on the altar, he or she pronounces a long string of words in Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism. The pupil is given no opportunity to understand the meaning of these words, even though they are pronounced on his or her behalf by the teacher. One part of it goes, in English translation:
"I bow down to Guru in the glory of Brahma, Guru in the glory of Vishnu, Guru in the glory of the great Lord Shiva. . . I bow down to Guru Dev, Shri Brahmanada, in the bliss of glory, in overwhelming joy, in the bliss of unity, in the incarnation of knowledge itself, which is beyond the Universe just like Heaven. . . The blinding darkness of ignorance has been removed by my anointment with knowledge, the eye of knowledge has been opened by Him. Therefore: to Him, to Shri Guru Dev I bow. . ."
After this verdict, TM was no longer able to function with in the American public school sector. Then it tried energetically to penetrate the public sector, and it still has not given up on this. An international organization of "Physicians for TM" was produced to further this project. In Denmark it was, however, disavowed by the Ethical Council of the Physicians Union, and today there is not much left of the organization.

A statement by the Ethical Council of the Common Danish Organization of Physicians, dated September 15, 1979, among other things, states:
"Even though very few persons may understand the words of the ritual or the mantra, later information on this point can undoubtedly be unpleasant, or even lead to severe mental or spiritual conflicts, especially for religious persons who have gone through the process believing that the words in question were neutral and unassociated to any religion. The Ethical Council is therefore of the opinion that any physician who proposes Transcendental Meditation as part of the treatment should explain the meaning of the ritual and the mantra to the patient before referring to or commencing Transcendental Meditation, in order that the patient may choose freely and on the basis of sound information."
Conversely, TM now tries to present itself as the ultimate in natural medicine, taking up the old Indian popular medicine, which is described in the Ayur Veda, an old Hindu holy scripture. Yet the project mainly consists of big words. Lately, TM has started to promote "consciousness-induced agriculture," claiming that barren land can be rendered fertile by meditation.

Maharishi's World Government
All of this makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Maharishi suffers from a lack of contact with reality. The TM organization is totally dominated by his will. He holds each and every crucial top position within TM. Within the movement, nothing of any significance happens against his will. That became especially clear when Maharishi launched the "Age of Enlightenment" on his birthday, January 12, 1975. Three years before that, he had launched a World Plan, including a World Government. Furthermore, he put forth the theory of the "Maharishi Effect." It claimed that undesirable circumstances within a given population would be reduced and beneficial circumstances would increase if one per cent of the population practiced Transcendental Meditation. By means of pseudo-statistical material, the TM organization endeavored to "prove" that crime, and natural disasters had been positively influenced in those parts of the word where one percent of the populace were meditating.

Following the disaster in court in 1977, Maharishi launched his craziest project so far: "The Flying Project" (also called the Siddhi Project). Whereas TM usually makes use of Mantras, Maharishi now introduced a number of sutras, i.e. short sentences picked from an Indian manual of yoga (Patanjali's Yoga Sutra) from the time around Christ.

During short and highly intensive courses (for which participants had to pay thousands of dollars), the meditators practiced constant repetition of one such sutra (i.e. "I am light as cotton"). Simultaneously, they performed some vehement respiration exercises, which provoked spasmodic starts in their muscles. This made them jump during the mediation, leading them to believe that they were hovering in the air, or at least very close to it. Some TM meditators suffered serious mental damage because of these tough and vehement courses.

The Mantras of TM
During his first initiation, the pupil receives a mantra from the teacher. A mantra is a short word of one or two syllables, which must be kept secret and is claimed to be completely unique. At the same time TM organization, however, claims that a mantra does not have any meaning but is a sound word without content. In reality the TM teacher allocates mantras according to the key given below, all disciples of the same age receiving the same mantra. All of the mantras are picked from Hindu scriptures, and each of them is the abbreviated name of a Hindu god. The list gives the mantras of TM, their corresponding god names, and the age groups to which they are given.



Age Group



3-10 years



10-12 years



12-14 years



14-16 years






16-18 years



18-20 years



20-22 years



22-24 years






24-30 years



30-35 years






35-40 years



40-45 years






45-50 years



50-55 years



55-60 years



60+ years

The financial aspect is essential to the understanding of the TM organization. It is actually a multi-national company with a management, which is totally dominated by Maharishi himself and members of his family. The leadership has secured large properties in India for itself and has bought up many industries, where the employees are obliged to practice Transcendental Meditation. That also goes for all students at TM's educational institutions. According to Maharishi it is all supposed to lead to a global enforcement of TM.

There is no doubt that financial profit motivates this world organization and carries it from one bizarre project to the next. But the internal motor, the motivation of its members, probably is the human quest for eternal health and immortality. Accordingly, TM has a program of rejuvenation of the meditating persons. One Danish physician, Bent Eikard, has claimed in public that TM meditators are at average 12 years younger than non-meditators of the same age. He has not been disciplined by his union.

"No Room for the Unfit"
The rejuvenation project, like the multitude of other TM projects, is a reflection of Maharishi's general contempt of weakness. He has clearly voiced this contempt in the following words:
". . .There has not been and there never will be any room for the unfit. The fit are going to reign, and if the unfit do not follow, there will be no room for them. Where light governs there is no room for darkness. In the age of enlightenment, there is no room for ignorant people. The ignorant will be enlightened by a few straight, enlightened people traveling around with that purpose. Nature will not allow ignorance to reign. It simple cannot do that. The non-existence of the unfit has been the law of nature." (Inauguration of the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, January 12, 1975, page 47)
A Religion of Success
It is its character of a religion of success that makes TM an ideology for the strong, a method of making the strong even stronger, but in a manner completely out of touch with reality. This in its turn is connected to the denial of suffering found in Hinduism. Maharishi takes this Hindu component so far that he flatly rejects the Christian understanding of suffering – he denies that Jesus suffered at all.

"A Happy, Hungry Man"
The denial of the actuality of suffering has some grave consequences to our relationship with our fellow human being and his problems. The following quote is from an interview published by TM where Maharishi deals with the problem of hunger:
Question: There are millions of people who are ill or starving: they can't have happiness.
Maharishi: Why not?
Question: Unless something is done for the starving, or the very ill, or children, how does one deal with that?
Maharishi: The hungry man can be a happy hungry man; if he doesn't take to meditation then he'll suffer hunger and misery. Hunger is there, hunger is one thing. Now hunger will go through bread and butter but without too the man could be made happy by leading him to the field of bliss within. . . He should forget everything about bread, he doesn't need to meditate on bread. . .
Maharishi: Jesus never suffered and those who saw him suffering saw him from their own level of suffering. . . so they could not see anything except suffering in him.
Question: Is not the Cross a symbol of suffering?
Maharishi: No, the Cross does not represent suffering and it is not meant to. On the other hand, it is the symbol for eternal life. It represents cosmic existence, fullness of life. . . a life of all bliss, wisdom creativity.

(Meditation by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with Questions and Answers, International SRM Publications, London 1967, page 140 ff.)
How to Meditate Yourself Away From Problems.
The TM meditator is told that he can meditate all his problems away. But what is really going on is that he meditates himself away from the problems. In this way an illusory attitude to the realities of life is created and this leads to deep psychological damage.

In itself TM is not really very different from other types of yoga. Consequently, one should not expect to see a far higher number of psychological injuries among TM practitioners than among those of other Oriental forms of meditation. This is, however, the case. There are people within all meditation systems who are affected, but over the years TM has revealed itself as particularly risky form of yoga. This can be explained by the exorbitant, inflated level of ambition typical of that organization. TM gets people so high in the air that they fall all the harder. Many people have been seriously hurt.

A further problem is the organization's lack of supervision of its followers and their meditation, which means that they go astray all the more easily. The meditators are told that nobody can be hurt by participating in TM, and consequently they are not aware of this possibility. Once the injury has occured and the meditator gets into altered states of conciousness he is unable to cope with, the organization rarely offers any help or support.