TranceNet: Joe Kellet
A Simple, Natural, Relaxation Technique?I'd like to relate a few of my adventures from my years as a TM meditator and teacher.
PART I: SOMETHING GOOD IS HAPPENING!At TM introductory lectures no mention is made that there could be any unpleasant experiences associated with TM. True to it's nature as an "esoteric" teaching (a teaching with many hidden levels of indoctrination), TM keeps the fact of possible negative experiences from the student until he is already past the first level of initiation. Only after initiation, on one of the "Three Nights After Initiation,"is the concept of "unstressing" introduced.
TM doctrine teaches that all (absolutely all!) personal difficulties and restrictions are caused by "stress," which is some "abnormality" in the "nervous system." If we could free ourselves of stress we would be able to experience "pure consciousness" at all times. That is, we would be in "Cosmic Consciousness" (CC) and would be blissful and would effortlessly perform "spontaneous right actions" at all times. Furthermore, these "right actions" would enjoy the "support of Nature" and would therefore be successful. This is the "normal" state of life that would be enjoyed by all people if only the "stress" weren't in the way.
Notice, by the way, that we just said that this "simple relaxation exercise" is supposed to produce people who are morally perfect, people who will "perform spontaneous right action" in everything they think or do. Also they will receive "support" from something called "Nature." Yet TMers deny to the public that theirs is in any way a spiritual or religious teaching.
This is one example of the fact that TM is an esoteric spiritual system where the full truth is revealed in degrees only as one becomes more deeply indoctrinated. Students are told in the "Three Nights after Initiation" that a mere "twenty minutes twice a day" (20x2) of meditation is enough to produce CC. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of actual "insider" TM doctrine. MMY told us on Teacher Training Course (TTC) that mere 20x2 meditation would not produce CC, but that we should continue telling people that it would. Only long "rounding" (see below) courses could produce CC, he said, but once we got people doing 20x2 meditation then maybe they would come to longer courses so we weren't really lying. This is an example of TM-style "spin doctoring" directly from the Master.
This is also an example of how people are deceived about TM doctrine even after they are initiated. As a teacher I frequently lied to people "for their own good" because "they weren't ready yet" to receive the full truth, and so did my friends who were teachers. We didn't think of it as "lying." We thought we were giving the people as much truth as they could handle. We thought it would be wrong to tell them more than they could handle since they might "misunderstand" and not start or continue with TM, which would be bad for them.
We did a lot of "spin doctoring." We deceived people by deliberately using words that would be misunderstood by the audience. We said "TM is not a religion" even though we knew that insider TM doctrine as a whole was incompatible with all major religions (including mainstream Hinduism in large part). But we didn't think of ourselves as "lying" because we were mentally using a very restrictive definition of "religion," using the word to mean something like "an organization that demands faith in a doctrine." Even though we were teaching doctrine incompatible with other religions we weren't demanding faith so TM was "not a religion." We ignored the fact that people could be and were kicked out of the Movement for openly disputing TM doctrine -- we didn't consider this as "demanding faith," rather it was "protecting the purity of the teaching."
But I digress. TM doctrine declares that the "deep rest" produced by TM is the answer to this barrier of stress that is keeping us from CC. Stress is only removed by rest. The rest of sleep is supposed to be able to remove casual, surface-level stress. However, the rest of sleep is insufficient to remove the deeper, more serious, more obstreperous stresses "deep in the nervous system" that are keeping us from being morally perfect, happy, and successful.
TM doctrine says that only by experiencing the much deeper rest of TM can these deeper stresses be removed. Since this involves a physical purification of the nervous system there can be physical and emotional experiences associated with this purification ("we all know how emotions are affected by our physical state"). These experiences can be pleasant or unpleasant, but the quality of the experiences is completely irrelevant. The only important thing is that stresses are being removed and we are closer to our goal of CC and even higher states of consciousness (including "God Consciousness" (GC)!). One is just supposed to ignore the experiences associated with "unstressing" and "return to the mantra." The whole thing sounds very innocuous as presented in the "Three Nights after Initiation."
What one doesn't hear about on these three nights of post-trance indoctrination (more on this below) is the concept of "heavy unstressing." A meditator usually only receives doctrinal instruction regarding heavy unstressing on "residence courses" where one goes off for several days of peace and quiet plus the opportunity to meditate more than just 20x2. There he may learn that if a major stress is released there can be negative physical and emotional experiences long after the meditation is over.
And these major stresses are more likely to be released on a residence course. This is because this is where the "prolonged deep rest" over a period of days is supposed to produce rest deep enough and prolonged enough to attack those whopper stresses that are really impacting our lives and keeping us from CC. The experience of having these major stresses "unstressed" can be emotionally and physically very uncomfortable, but we should just keep meditating and should be happy the stress is on the way out.
But we should never make important decisions while on a residence course because our decision-making process is clouded by the process of stress release. (Actually, the reason we shouldn't make major decisions is because we are in a trance state so much that we can become dissociated -- more on this below).
Note that according to TM doctrine there is no possible excuse for abandoning TM. If you feel great it's because you practice TM and you should therefore continue meditating. If you feel absolutely miserable it's because "Something good is happening!" (a major TM catch phrase) in that those bad old stresses are being released, you should therefore continue meditating. TM is working its wonders no matter what happens to you in your life!
Anyway, this "heavy unstressing" is something that the Movement doesn't talk about in public, and that MIU doesn't do four-color bar charts on. The experience of "heavy unstressing" is real and fairly common, regardless of whether you accept TM doctrinal explanations for the cause of it. A significant number of people come home even from weekend residence courses with very uncomfortable negative emotional overcasts, and similar problems can occur even for 20x2 meditators. What is a "significant number of people"? Enough people so that all TM "checkers" and teachers are taught how to help people with such problems.
On a long course, such as a Teacher Training Course (TTC), heavy unstressing is a major fact of life for many people. My TTC (the "Mallorca/Fiuggi Fonte Course" circa '72) was infamous for the "heavy unstressing" that went on. One TTC staffer (for any TM historical buffs this was Billy Clayton who was a "skin boy," one of MMY's personal attendants who carried MMY's deerskin and laid for him to sit on) called this the "General Hospital" TTC because so many people had severe problems.
At one point we were "rounding" for 14 hours a day! A "round" is a period of meditation followed by a period of yoga postures or "asanas." Meditation, asanas, meditation, asanas, etc. etc. etc. for 14 hours a day, day after day. At other points in the course we rounded fewer hours a day which gave us time for hours and hours of indoctrination sessions. This went on for a minimum of three months for everyone, but there were people like me there for six months and even longer doing this.
It was very common for people to acquire major tics of large muscle groups, most commonly in the form of very noticeable head jerks. I'm talking about sudden jerks of the head to right or left of about 45 degrees. In addition there were people with major emotional problems. MMY had to establish "heavy unstressing clinics." At attempt was made to help unstressors at these clinics by application of physical therapies including body massage and foot massage.
Several people were not able to become TM teachers at this course because they were not able to free themselves of the major body tics before it was time to "receive their mantras." MMY could not send people back to their communities as official "Exponents of Reality" when they had been so conspicuously damaged by the TTC experience.
One course participant went home and was hospitalized for mental difficulties by his father, a psychiatrist. MMY was quite disturbed by this event (he of course particularly wanted the endorsement of psychiatrists) and he discussed this negative turn of events in an open session. I met another course acquaintance again after I "graduated" TTC and returned to the LA area, and she was still having very conspicuous and embarrassing major head jerks. I myself managed to overcome my physical tics in time to become a teacher, but I went home in a very strange mental state. (More on this below.)
I stayed on for a month after the official TTC ended to witness the taping of the original "Science of Creative Intelligence" course by MMY. MMY was openly unhappy by the amount of "heavy unstressing" that had gone on (again, that's how we heard about the psychiatrist's son). His position was that the course selection process had let too many people into the course who "weren't ready" for the dramatic evolutionary power unleashed by such prolonged meditation.
In fact "heavy unstressing" is never considered to be caused by "something wrong with TM." It is considered to be a fact of life which must be faced by anyone who wants to attain the happiness of CC. TMers are told that the answer to unstressing is to ignore it and keep meditating on their regular schedule. If a person stops meditating, according to TM doctrine, the stress is left in an "unstressing" state and the negative experiences will continue indefinitely. Sometimes a person is advised to reduce their time of meditation, and in extreme cases meditation is temporarily replaced by a body awareness practice called "feeling the body," but TM itself cannot be dropped permanently without bad consequences.
Supposedly, if a person keeps on as instructed the stress will ultimately be unstressed and the person will be forever free of it. This hope is what keeps people meditating through some excruciating emotional experiences. They can't stop TM no matter how horrible they feel. The worse they feel, and the longer they suffer, the bigger the stress is that they are unstressing, and the more important it is to continue TM and get that stress completely unstressed. According to TM doctrine, there is never a good reason to give up TM -- the worse things get for you the more you need TM.
When someone does the unthinkable and gives up TM anyway as a result of heavy unstressing everyone is sorry they stopped. But they feel that (1) the person is better off as result of the evolution they did gain before quitting and the person will be in a better position to march towards CC in their next life and (2) it's just too bad they were too weak to face the unstressing, keep meditating, and overcome the stress in this life. There is never a thought among the hard-core that perhaps TM itself is at fault in some way, or even that TM just wasn't right for that person, or that the person is in fact worse off for having done TM.
There is another danger from heavy TM involvement other than from heavy unstressing. So let me start over and tell my story again from a different angle.
PART II: SPIRITUAL COUNSELLING FROM THE MASTERThe religious (or spiritualistic, or psychic, or occult -- take your pick) side of TM was covered up in the "great scientification" of TM in the '70s. I was first introduced to this side of TM by knowing Helena Olsen. She was the woman whose family took MMY in as a houseguest in LA during his first tour around the world. MMY affectionately called her "Mother Olsen."
She described the experiences of hosting MMY in her book A Hermit in the House . She herself told me the Movement asked her to pull this book from publication because it presented MMY as a Hindu spiritual teacher and presented TM as a spiritual teaching, which conflicted with the newly mandated "scientific" presentation of TM. The book documents the early days of the "Spiritual Regeneration Movement" when the publicly avowed goal of this Movement (that's where the phrase "the Movement" came from) was to "spiritually regenerate the world." The Movement at least presented an honest face to the public back then.
She had become a teacher on one of the "India courses," the TTCs conducted before "scientification," and she had had extensive doctrinal instruction from MMY over the course of many years. At the time I met her, she and her husband (a phone company executive) were running the "American Meditation Society" which attempted to reach business executives similarly to the way that the Student's International Meditation Society (SIMS) was targeting the student population. (AMS was short lived.)
Helena Olsen introduced me to such ideas as that there were "dangers" from negative spiritual powers at "subtle levels of the mind" without the "protection" of the mantra. She also talked about Hindu deities (now called "manifestations of Creative Intelligence") making it clear that subtle levels of the mind were well populated ("anything that you can name exists"). This was no big deal to TM teachers who had gone to the "India courses" before scientification but this was inside knowledge for a new initiate of the scientific 70's. She was merely introducing me to what had been taught before the "science" facade began to be painted on. My attention definitely began to focus on the hidden spiritualistic side of TM.
Note that my current objections to TM are not based on the fact that MMY was and is teaching Hindu thought and practice (although quite modified from traditional Hinduism). My concern, as you will see, is that MMY is at the very least a dishonest and incompetent teacher of Hindu thought and practice.
Anyway, I went to a seven day residence course, got good and dissociated from spending many more hours in trance (meditation) every day and I soon had an experience wherein I felt the spiritual presence of the late "Guru Dev" (as MMY's teacher is usually called by TMers). I "knew" that Guru Dev wanted me to go to TTC and become a TM teacher. Back home I checked with Mrs. Olsen who felt that the experience was valid. She endorsed my TTC application, and soon I withdrew from UCLA and was on a plane to TTC on the island of Mallorca. And (unfortunately as it later turned out) I had enough money to pay for six months of TTC rather than just the required three.
TTC involved hours of "rounding" alternated with daily hours of doctrinal instruction from MMY. For some reason we later had to move the course to Italy, so we had to "come down" in the number of "rounds" we were doing so that we wouldn't be too dissociated to deal with the practical requirements of travel (this wasn't the doctrinal explanation for why we had to reduce rounds).
After the course moved to Italy, we came "up" in rounds again, I began having severe headaches. I went to see Helena Olsen, who was also at the course to visit MMY, for help. She decided that my problem was that my evolution had advanced so rapidly that I was experiencing my mantra at extremely fine levels of thought, which I didn't know how to handle yet. She was quite happy for my spiritual progress and said that I should talk personally to MMY because I should have an advanced technique. She took me to see him. We caught him as he got off of a helicopter after looking over real estate for the newly proposed Maharishi International University (MIU). But he only said that he'd see me the end of my TTC.
More rounding and indoctrination, rounding and indoctrination, rounding and indoctrination. For weeks and weeks, and months and months. (Combined with "heavy unstressing" as described above.)
During TTC we listened to an audio tape where MMY explained why TM had to be presented in the context of science. He said that the world was just not ready to receive the spiritual message, and therefore we had to present TM in ways that the world understood and respected. Someday, he said, we would be able to present TM using the "sweet language" of spirituality again. We were played another tape wherein MMY described TM's relationship to all other spiritual teachings. TM, he said, was like the trunk and roots of a large tree. All other spiritual teachings were like branches emerging from the tree. These other spiritual teachings contained, at best, only parts of the truth. Each of the world's "great religions" represented whatever parts of the truth that could be sustained within the cultural context in which the religion developed. Only TM contained the entire spiritual truth, and we were part of the great effort to reveal this truth once again to the world.
Well, when I was finally ready to go home at the end of the SCI extension MMY did in fact give me my "advanced technique" which just involved adding a "shri" to my mantra. He also gave me my teacher mantras since my head jerks had stopped when I had come down to two meditations a day, and I went home. But I was still suffering from severe dissociation (as I now understand the condition) and from ever increasingly bizarre and powerful "spiritual experiences" (as I then understood the condition).
These problems really threw me for a loop. At home I was so dissociated I wasn't certain I properly remembered my teacher mantras. This was extremely distressing to someone as dedicated as I was. I had to go up to Humboldt College to see MMY at a TTC-prep course he was giving there to have the mantras verified. After I went home again I was still too dissociated and self-absorbed in an increasingly fantastic inner "spiritual" world to continue my studies. I could not handle the real world because of the dissociation, and I did not care about the real world because I was becoming so "spiritual" and the focus of my attention was increasingly being focused on TM spirituality. I walked away from my classes and drove up from UCLA to the ATR course (a sort of R&R for TM teachers) that MMY was conducting near UC Santa Barbara. This is where MMY accepted me into "M-group" ("monastic-group," a group of teachers dedicated to celibacy) and where he privately accepted my personal offer of love and service to him as my spiritual Master.
Shortly after that I went up to Santa Barbara again to stay for a week or so at the rented college dormitory which by now being used as the first MIU campus. MMY was in residence there overseeing the founding of MIU. Someone close to MMY had suggested to me that I might be able to get on MMY's staff. I got there before MMY arrived and helped this person prepare MMY's apartment for his arrival -- everything had to be extraordinarily clean. After his arrival, I helped the skin-boys a few times with some of their chores such as spot-cleaning MMY's dhotis (the white robes). Mostly I spent a lot of time in a small group of people who were listening to the first MIU catalog being read to MMY for his approval. One such meeting was conducted at the beach estate of one of the Beach Boys.
I remember vividly the absolute command that MMY held over those around him in these very private sessions. I remember how intelligent and sophisticated and forceful he was. There was no "giggling guru" stuff in these private sessions. He displayed all the talents and abilities that could have made him a very successful executive in any secular business enterprise. I was never after able to believe that anyone in the Movement was able to institute any major policy that MMY didn't approve of. Such belief is a major way TMers rationalize the insanity of the Movement; they say "MMY just couldn't know about this" thinking that he is a simple other-worldly sort of person who has only a loose grasp on his underlings.
I had a couple of opportunities to privately relate some of my "spiritual" experiences to him, including an ever deeper awareness on my part of my dedication to him as my spiritual Master. MMY approved of the direction things were going for me.
Finally, during this same stay at the "MIU campus" I had very dramatic "spiritual" realization one night. The next morning I waited for MMY and walked with him to his car (he was heading out to view potential Academy real estate in the Santa Barbara hills) to confirm this new realization. I said to him "I am a rishi." For those not familiar with the term, I was telling him that I could cognize ultimate spiritual truths for myself. This was a truly incredible delusion on my part, yet he replied "Yes" in an affirmative tone. I said "What should I do?" He replied "Be practical in society."
That evening I additionally "cognized" that I was not really human. I was an incarnated "deva" (analogous to an angel) and, what's more, so was MMY. We had been peers working together on a spiritual plane as "devas" for aeons. But I had done something spiritually wrong (the fallen angel gig) whereas MMY had continued on a spiritually upward path. Now MMY had deserved to incarnate here and lead the spiritual regeneration of this planet, and I was getting a chance to incarnate here also as a human being and redeem myself by helping him.
I wanted to "verify this with the Master" also, so I followed MMY into an elevator as he was on his way to his rooms after the evening meeting. As he turned about to face the door I started opening my mouth to tell him this "cognition." He looked into my eyes and interrupted me by saying forcefully "What you have in your mind is right! -- be practical in society." Then the elevator door opened and he walked out of the elevator and off into his rooms.
Well, after having the greatest Master on the planet confirm my spiritual status, I didn't question it. Based on a series of continuing "cognitions" I dropped out of college and embarked on eleven years of making important personal decisions based on these delusions, and living in a fantastic and increasingly horrific inner world based upon these delusions. The personal sufferings from mistaken personal choices and from this deluded mental state were excrutiating.
Finally someone was able to successfully help me to question the basic unproven assumption underlying my delusions. This assumption, this belief that had been programmed into me since I first walked into an introductory lecture, was the premise that "MMY is a great spiritual teacher with the highest teaching on the planet." After I finally realized that I had absolutely no basis for believing this, and after I further realized that this was even quite unlikely based on what I had gone through, I was finally able to start recovering. Once I realized that MMY was at best an incompetent spiritual teacher the whole set of delusions based on the indoctrination I'd received, and based on his private "spiritual counseling," began to fall like a house of cards.
One of the people who helped in my recovery was Dr. Margaret Singer at UC Berkeley, one of the world's foremost experts in the study of destructive cults and their use of "mind control" (or "thought reform" as it's more commonly called by researchers). She had been studying TM and was quite interested in hearing my TM experiences. She confirmed that a significant percentage of the population (I've read elsewhere that it is 10-15%) are highly susceptible to post-trance indoctrination. That is, such people are likely to have a severely reduced level of critical evaluation about anything that they are told immediately after they come out of a trance state. These people are therefore in particular very susceptible to any spiritual indoctrination received while they are in such a post-trance state.
Well, TM is a trance-induction technique and almost all TM indoctrination is conducted after meditation while the student is in a post-trance state. The TM technique itself is taught only after the student witnesses a puja that is likely to induce trance in many. The "Three Nights after Initiation" indoctrination is always given right after the "group meditation." And I had six months of almost continuous post-trance indoctrination at TTC, not to mention the residence courses that I had attended prior to TTC. Dr. Singer considered TM indoctrination such as I had experienced at TTC to be among the most powerful of any group she had studied. Dr. Singer also said she had talked to many TMers who were graduates of long rounding courses. She considered dissociation and induced psychosis to be a very real risk of heavy TM involvement. (She also said that many people react very badly to any form of extended relaxation practice and such practices are therefore not a general panacea.)
Mine was admittedly a much more intense experience of the destructive nature of MMY's influence than most people ever get. Why bring it up then? To let people know what TM is like at its esoteric core where MMY gives personal instruction. This may make some of the outer eccentricities of the Movement seem more explicable. Most TMers think "Yes, this is not the way things should be, but MMY would correct it if he knew about it!," but I assert that the Movement is the way it is because of MMY rather than despite him. And my story may make someone think twice about starting or continuing with TM. Even though few will suffer as much as I did, every step further into TM involvement is a step towards experiences like mine. A desire to warn people is my only motivation for publicly revealing these events.
Go ahead and remotely psychoanalyze my own weaknesses that may also have contributed to this very real personal tragedy if you want, but don't lose sight of MMY's role in this. He's at best an incompetent teacher, and at worst he's also malicious or crazy. He is completely unworthy of any trust.
PART III: BEWARE OF SCORPIONS!I don't attribute any malicious motives to those defending TM, even when they attack me personally. I know that I had no malicious motives when I used to defend TM, and I would have been pretty ticked after reading this story because of all the "harm" I would have foreseen from the "misunderstanding" it would cause.
A TM apologist who has internalized the TM Prime Directive (see below) just "knows" that there is nothing wrong with either MMY or with TM. So there must be something wrong with me! But they are just trying to defend Truth against Untruth. They are just trying to protect the public from being being confused and thus being denied the "benefits" of TM. Sometimes they get a little aggressive and forget to "speak the sweet truth," but then they see me as being pretty aggressive by posting this story.
There are only a few responses that a fully believing TMer can have to my story. The absolutely unquestionable core of TM doctrine, the ultimate foundation of the TM belief system, the TM "Prime Directive" (my term), is that MMY is a great spiritual teacher with the highest teaching on the planet. Fully indoctrinated TMers have been induced to accept this without the slightest objective proof.
Based on prior experience (I posted an earlier version of my story to alt.meditation.transcendental in 1993), I have found that for someone who accepts the Prime Directive there are only a few possible explanations for my telling this story to the public, and these explanations tend to fall into categories. I'm going to go through some of them, along with my responses, so that I won't have to keep responding to them individually if they pop up again.
Category 1: "Malicious motivation"(1a) One explanation is that I am maliciously making this all up. This is because I am anti-spiritual, or anti-Hindu, or anti-something-else. Or I am just generally hateful and want to bring down anything that is good and pure, and TM is the most good and pure thing on the planet. Consider the saint who tried to save the scorpion from drowning and got stung. He tried to save the scorpion again, and got stung again. When asked why he persisted in the face of such treatment, the saint explained that it was his nature to try to save, and the scorpion's nature to sting. I'm just a scorpion.
My response: I can't prove my motivations. I assert that my motivations are to help other people avoid having their minds abused, and incidentally to also avoid having their finances abused, by warning them about MMY and TM.
(1b) Another variation on (1) is that I am in cahoots with, or am influenced by, the nefarious "TM-EX" organization which is some sort of cabal that makes money by telling lies about TM and by then charging people for anti-TM materials and for needless "exit counseling." Anyone who charges money like that is suspect.
My response: Note that it is perfectly fine for the Movement to make millions because "that's different." There is also room for concern in that destructive cults have a real animosity for cult education organizations and "exit counsellors."
Category 2: "Unreliability"(2a) There are several approaches to arguing that I am just not in touch with reality. One argument is that I am just experiencing "heavy unstressing" and the whole story above is itself a distortion that originates from this unstressing. It's too bad I didn't continue meditating and finish getting rid of this particular stress, which must be a really huge one.
My response: This argument is pretty hard-core and will probably not be offered for public consumption, although will seem possible to hard-core TMers. If you accept TM dogma then the "unstressing" theory becomes a real possibility. If you don't accept TM dogma, then you're probably already skipping on to...
(2b) Another variation on (2) that is more suitable for public consumption is this: I have already admitted to having had delusions about spiritual experiences, so I could also be having delusions about the things that I claim MMY said to me. You can not trust that anything I described ever actually occurred as I described it.
My response: You'll have to make your best guess as to my reliability. There is also room for concern in that this is a classic dodge that destructive cults use in response to charges from persons damaged by cult experiences: "That person admits to having had severe problems so they are untrustworthy!." This is a Catch 22 in that we can only trust tales of abuse from those who have not been abused.
(2c) A subtler variation is: Every organization, no matter how wonderful it is, will have disgruntled people leaving it. These disgruntled people view all of their experiences with the organization through the lens of their disgruntlement. You can't trust the objectivity of someone who is disgruntled.
My response: Why are we asked to believe that only people who are "gruntled" can be objective? Also note we have Catch 22 again in that we should only listen to the complaints of those who have no complaints.
(2d) Another variation on (2) is: Every organization has people joining it who have unreasonable expectations. I was undoubtedly looking for something in TM that TM never claimed to offer. I may have been looking for a "God" in MMY, rather than just doing the TM technique and receiving The Knowledge he teaches.
My response: All I can say is that he accepted a Master-disciple relationship between us, was told everything that was going on with me, had ample opportunity to personally correct me, but never did. As I've said, he is at best an incompetent teacher.
Category 3: "Take the moral high ground"TM apologists like to take the moral high ground. They will argue that those who promote TM are being "positive" because they are saying "good things," whereas I am being "negative" because I am saying "bad things." You don't want to listen to someone who is so "negative," do you?
My response: Hmmm...yelling "Don't stand in front of that moving truck!" is "negative," isn't it?
Category 4: "It's all a misunderstanding"Those who are inclined to be charitable towards me (which I do appreciate) tend to argue that I may be basically of good intention but I had undoubtedly failed to properly understand MMY's responses to me. The whole episode is tragic but was based on my misunderstanding. It was completely reasonable, somehow, for MMY to say "what you have in your mind is right" to me without even listening to what I had in my mind, even though he had verbally accepted my discipleship several months before, and even after he had confirmed that morning that I was a rishi.
My response: As I've said, I think this whole thing demonstrates that MMY is at best an incompetent spiritual teacher.
Category 5: "Master knows best"As a last ditch defense it can be argued that the Master always knows what he is doing but his purposes may not be understandable by others who are at a lesser state of spiritual attainment. What MMY said to me was perfect for my spiritual needs at the time, even if I can't understand why. If I had remained faithful to the Master all would have been made clear.
My response: This argument is also pretty hard-core and is not often offered for public consumption. There is also room for concern in that this is another classic cult dodge, "Everything The Leader does is by definition correct!"
Well, those are the kinds of arguments that were offered last time. All arguments involved either an "ad hominem" attack ("blame the victim"), or involved "spin doctoring," or involved the last ditch irrefutable argument of "Master knows best."
Again, MMY and TM can't lose. Anyone who thinks TM is a good thing should be respected and listened to, but if anyone has a serious objection to TM then please refer to (1) through (5) above. To the fully indoctrinated TM apologist it is absolutely inconceivable that MMY could be at fault, or that TM could be less than the highest teaching on the planet. For the fully indoctrinated everything, including my little story, has to be explained in the light of the Prime Directive.
Of course there are also a good many meditators reading this who do not find my story inconceivable, just hard to accept. You have not internalized the Prime Directive but you probably still think TM is generally a good thing. Your opinion of TM is based on the fact that you've only personally seen and heard good things.
Perhaps you are a 20x2 meditator and are enjoying the benefits of deep relaxation without having really internalized the indoctrination. (Not everyone falls completely over for post-trance indoctrination!) MMY seems like a good sort, and at worst harmless. The TM teachers seem a bit spacey and pompous. The exaggerated pronouncements of the TM Movement are laughable. But so what? What's the big fuss? It seems harmlessly eccentric at worst and actually does seem to do some good! This was the attitude of the largest percentage of meditators when I was involved. You've never seen or heard anything like what I am describing. You are perhaps thinking that what I am describing is theoretically possible, but it doesn't correlate to your experiences.
Well, to these people I can only say this: I think that your position is quite reasonable! All I can do is tell you what I learned and experienced through TM and then let you draw your own conclusions. Be sure to keep an open mind though. You might try getting the TM packet from the Cult Awareness Network and you might contact TM-EX (note to conspiracy theorists: I have no affiliation with TM-EX, not so much as even a fee-splitting arrangement!). If you're reluctant to expose yourself to "negativity" about TM then beware, you might possibly be succumbing to indoctrination already!
If you're already a 20x2 meditator then don't let them get you on a rounding course, even for a weekend. As a matter of fact, keeping your wallet and checkbook in your pants or purse has the almost magical effect of protecting you from the worst negative effects of TM, both the unstressing effects and the indoctrination effects. This is because you have to pay for most of the opportunities to have your mind really blasted. If you've already paid for 20x2 (I hope you got it before the prices went up), and if you like it, then of course go ahead and do it, but don't let it get past that. And if you start feeling bad effects from 20x2, give it up. You're strong enough to live life without TM! -- if you think you're not you should also consider whether you may be succumbing to indoctrination.
Of course, my critics could also be right about me, about my base motivations and my negativity and my unreliability and all. So do your own research and then you be the judge about TM. You're going to be the judge anyway! Personally I wouldn't recommend touching TM with a ten-foot pole.
There are too many methods of secular stress reduction, techniques that don't come with so many destructive side effects, that don't have so much weird mental input ("The Maharishi Effect," "Maharishi X" (substitute almost anything for "X" with more strange developments always appearing)), that don't weaken you by teaching you how not to deal with your problems ("just meditate and act"), that don't lie to you ("CC for just 20 minutes twice a day"), that don't always have newly invented courses or initiations to pay for, that don't produce dissociation, and that don't encourage people to develop and maintain destructive delusions.
As I said, there are secular stress reduction techniques (take a look at Benson's The Relaxation Response ). For those who want to pursue Enlightenment there are many respectable Eastern practices. And there are of course spiritual practices in other religious traditions. Just find a group or teacher that promotes true personal growth, that takes care of people rather than abusing them, and that respects individual free will by allowing people to know the doctrines and practices of the group before they submit their hearts and minds to to the group's care.
Copyright ©1995 Joseph W. Kellett, All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author.