Let's Talk about Reform
Over the last 3-and-a-half years we at
trancenet.net have received many communications
that are variations on a basic theme, "What do you
have against meditation?" (Feel free to substitute
"alternative health," "multi-level marketing,"
brand-name "psychological seminars," you name it,
The answer in most cases is, "Absolutely nothing."
We don't take issue with the practices or beliefs,
but the actions of their sponsoring groups. Let's
take the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental
Meditation, for instance, since that is the
technique and movement I am most familiar with.
Meditation is one of nature's miracles. For most
people it is an extraordinary experience that adds
much to life. Many forms of meditation have been
documented to offer specific benefits, such as
lowered blood pressure and increased relaxation
when practiced regularly. And TM seems to be as
good or better than any of the forms of meditation
that we know of.
So what could be the harm in teaching meditation?
Absolutely none, if that were as far as it went.
Many people seem to have gotten the idea that
trancenet.net and other critics have some awful
agenda to destroy the TM and similar movements and
to eradicate meditation, prayer, and "New
Religions" from the planet. This simply isn't the
Wewould, however, like to see some simple
reforms. Reforms that we believe most group
members themselves would find it hard to argue
We imagine that readers familiar with the TM
movement may have many reforms to add to this --
and that readers from other groups may have
differing, yet similar lists.
- full disclosure of movement finances,
particularly international finances,
- an elective or accountable structure of
representation (as in most churches),
- free flow of information and full disclosure of
"secrets," especially those that might affect
potential members' choices regarding freedom of
- removal of decisions about who may attend
weekend retreats (and other forms of "spiritual
evolution") from anonymous "thought police" who
depend largely on loyalty tests,
- creation of a member-driven task force to set
reasonable fees for retreats and other courses,
- full disclosure of the movement's political and
- and, perhaps most especially, full disclosure of
negative side effects and real efforts to address
and heal them. (For those interested, see
http://trancenet.net/secrets, where you'll find
that TM checkers are secretly trained from the
beginning to anticipate serious problems and
negative side effects.)
It's not our purpose to debate satisfied members
of these groups. We have no reason to doubt that
many, many have experiences and beliefs that are
very fulfilling. Who can ask for more?
It is our hope, however, that by raising concerns
that many of us on all sides have in common, we
can move the discussion of TM -- and similar
groups -- past futile name-calling and on to
meaningful discussion of where we might go from
The jury is still out on whether TM and similar
groups will become yet more radical -- or whether
they will enter the mainstream. Honest attempts at
measured reform may hold the balance.
Current and former members together, the future of
our groups is in our hands.
John M. Knapp
executive director, trancenet.net
Member of the Internet Link Exchange
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