David Yarger's Story
"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
www.trancenet.net and Minet.org. 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 www.trancenet.net
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
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
Months latter, still no refund, cosmic consciousness, enlightenment, just
.... . I have no faith in the conclusions of research which the TM
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
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
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
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.