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Don's Open Letter to a Critic

by Don Krieger

Unfiltered Helgi,

I don't understand the correspondence that you have forwarded to me but here are the basic reasons why I have left TM:

(1) The TM movement claims that TM is compatible with all religions and that it is not a religion itself. Both statements are false. TM and SCI have been declared a religion by several courts in the US and barred from the public schools. There are numerous religious authorities in a variety of religions who have declared TM anathema to their religions including Judaism and Catholicism. The ethics committee of the Danish Medical Association declared it unethical to prescribe TM to patients because of the distress they might suffer on learning that they had been deceived when they had learned TM, that their mantra is the name of a Hindu god and that the puja initiation ceremony is an act of idolatry.

(2) The TM movement claims that TM has no negative side effects. This is demonstrably false, not only in the lives of many meditators, but because negative side effects are described in detail in the 3 night's checking which are part of the TM course. These are explained away as "unstressing" and remedies are suggested. The fact that these remedies do not work for everyone is never mentioned, nor are prospective meditators warned during the introductory lectures.

(3) The TM movement claims that practice of the TM and TM sidhis programs lead rapidly to cosmic consciousness and full enlightenment. Never in its more than 30 year history has the movement presented even a single individual as living cc or as able to manifest the sidhis. I for one meditated regularly for 28 years and practiced the sidhis for 19 and am not cc or enlightened.

As a responsible person, I am unwilling to deceive people to get them to start TM, nor am I willing to stand idly by while this is done. I and numerous others have come to significant harm as a result of TM practice and involvement with the TM movement. That there are 600 research studies on TM with perhaps 200 published in refereed journals testifies only to the perseveration of those devoted to TM and the yogi. These studies, at their best, provide evidence only that TM has some effect. They do not support the assertions of the TM movement that the technique produces enlightement. For instance, the work done by Paul Mills showing reduced blood pressure response to pain (cold pressor stress) was interpreted by the authors as evidence of greater physiological stability. It could just as easily be interpreted as evidence of disociation, i.e. that the subject is capable of "separating himself" from a stressful stimulus and is, in fact, responding in an inappropriate fashion. The studies on the so-called super-radiance effect are all seriously flawed in design and in the statistical methodology which was used. In particular these studies are designed in a manner in which it is very easy to "mine" the data and report results which are consistent with the researchers' bias rather than with the facts. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the TM researchers to support their absolutist claims. Neither I nor anyone I know claims that TM is bad for everyone. I claim that it is bad for some and that the TM movement perpetrates a deception by not warning prospective meditators and by not telling them that there are many including religious authorities and legal authorities who disagree with the movement's claims that TM is compatible with all religions and is not a religion itself.

Wake up, Helgi. How long have you been meditating? Are you enlightened? Would you have spent the money and time you've spent on TM till now if you had known at the beginning what you know now?


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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.