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David Yarger's Story

Unfiltered "Please consider the possibility that things regularly considered to be the effects of 'unstressing' are actually direct effects of the meditation itself and not related to any 'dissolving of stress' from within the body."

This was part of the dialogue which occurred during my last "checking".

This "checking" was very different from the previous "checking" experiences. For one thing, we did not meditate. The encounter actually began with my instructor informing me that he would be able to refund my course fee for TM, but that he was also sure that if we were to start the process anew that he knew in his heart that we could achieve the desired results.

Those "desired results" had not been achieved even though there was no doubt in his mind that I had been doing the technique properly. His evaluation of the situation was that my body was having difficulties in dealing with the "soma" that was being produced as a result of my meditations. He found this puzzling in part due to the short time which I had been practicing the TM technique as well as the shortened time periods of the meditations.

The length of meditation had been reduced during day two or three of the "three days checking" process. My meditation during that particular "checking" had been, as they say in TM terms, "rough". The explanation offered then was that my body was going through major "unstressing" as a result of the ten minute "checking" meditation. My instructor advised me to shorten my meditations to 15 minutes twice a day.

15 minutes seemed a lot less tedious then the original 20 minute meditation sessions. In fact, the whole process went smoothly for the next few "checkings". So well, in fact, that I inquired if any employment opportunities were available at the local TM center. I was told that no positions were available. However, since I was involved with local access television, he proposed an arrangement where I would receive a percentage (10%) of the course fee from those who started the TM program as a result of any media exposure which I could generate.

I inquired about my next "checking" appointment. I was told that he would call me within a couple of days to set up an appointment.

A few months later he did call. By that time I had stopped meditating. He inquired why I had stopped. I explained that undesired results led to my discontinuing the practice. In particular, "spacing out", being at work and totally losing focus, as well as loosing situational awareness while driving. He advised me to "continue to discontinue" my meditation.

His next call came with his enthusiasm for "starting over again, right from the beginning."

I agreed wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, adding that in order to get "right back to the beginning" he should refund my course fee in full. He said he would consider the possibility. I also took the opportunity to explain that I was no longer interested in the possibility of using local access television for promoting TM.

His initial inquiry regarding media exposure of TM promoting materials prompted me to check out the current public opinion of the TM movement. I found the alt.meditation.transcendental newsgroup on the internet, and subsequently websites such as and which offer critical evaluation of TM and other groups.

At one point, I was practicing my meditation technique as the family computer was printing out reams of material from the website for a friend, a long term TM devotee of 24 years who quickly took a keen interest in the material. I would meditate, then spend hours reading accounts of negative experiences related to TM.

My curiosity prompted me to continue my own practice and experience the results as they occurred. Just because some people have reported negative experiences did not necessarily mean that it was inherently bad in all cases or for all people. I had been told that "cosmic consciousness" could be attained by regularly meditating, so I continued to do it. Perhaps I would be able to learn how to fly. After all, it could work for me.

After having spent a great deal of attention to ayurvedic readings and practices over the course of the previous two years, I was not eager to abandon the technique which had been indicated to be the single most important part of an ayurvedic routine. This simple technique was to have the power to balance all three doshas, thereby providing immense benefits to health. I had learned how to practice the "sun salute", the ayurvedic neuromuscular integration exercise, had adjusted my diet according to seasonal routine recommendations, had read Pantanjali and other sources, had tried some of the MAV products, all with sincere intention.

Then, one day while driving, my girlfriend asked me if I realized that I had just driven right past a stop sign. Upon hearing her ask, I realized that in fact I had not even slowed for the stop sign in question. I began to reevaluate the value of my meditation, then stopped meditating.

Months latter, still no refund, cosmic consciousness, enlightenment, just .... . I have no faith in the conclusions of research which the TM movement uses as a basis for so much of its rhetoric. A lot of the critical viewpoints strike me as reactionary, however many more strike me as totally sincere. In addition to my own limited experience, I have also taken into consideration the opinions of several long term meditators, sidhas, and governors.

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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.