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Chapter 2 of 7



Even at the beginning of the investigation there existed many contacts with people who had come to us on account of the T.M. organization. In many cases people asked directly for help because difficulties of various kinds had arisen as a result of their links with T.M. This was apart from any information they intended to give us on the subject. This network was the starting point for our investigation.

Our aim was to systematically establish the entire spectrum of reasons and causes for voluntary and involuntary departure from the T.M. organization, as well as problems which arose in the course thereof. In doing this, we were confronted with the following difficulty, that from the many contacts we had with ex-meditators or their relatives, only a few were prepared to give unconditional information on their experiences before a third party. Many said repeatedly that they wanted to forget those experiences (of T.M.), were taking their children into account, or were afraid of reprisals or retaliation on the part of the T.M. movement. Therefore we had to give a guarantee of anonymity to those involved in the questionnaires.

For the reasons named we proceeded methodologically according to the "Snowball Method", where certain people involved in our investigation in turn named others and so on etc.


Altogether 67 people were questioned. All those questioned had a direct or indirect relationship with the T.M. movement. It was necessary from the beginning to divide or classify them into three groups:

- The Parents: The 30 parents questioned were indirectly affected people, for whom transcendental meditation became a problem when one or more of their children exhibited strong social and/or mental transformations. Therefore in the profile-chart filled in by the parents we envisioned two different aspects to their view of the subject. They would reflect as involved observers, their impressions - of their children as well as their own personal attitudes towards those incidents.

-Married Partners: These were the group, where one of the partners was a practitioner of T.M. during the time of the investigation. 1O married people were questioned. The statements made by those can be seen in the same light as those of the Parent group: we received information from the non-meditating partner about the meditating partner. The high degree of dismay shown by the non-meditating partner was clearly evident during the proceedings. -Ex-meditators: The 27 ex-meditators questioned had practiced the T.M. meditation over a large period of time. This group of ex-meditators constituted a most important addition. Among the entire 67 questioned, they were those directly affected. From them we obtained information normally restricted in the T.M. movement under the imposed obligation of secrecy, information to which those not directly involved in the T.M. movement rarely had access. At the same time they afforded the opportunity to establish a tangible relationship between the theory and their own experiences.

The general impression we had of all at the beginning of the investigation was a negative experience with the practice of meditation or its consequences, and a wishing to avoid the T.M. organization and its representatives.


We designed the questionnaire bearing in mind the type of difficulties involved, the particular circumstances of the specific groups and their knowledgeability concerning the subject. It is composed of various layers; we determined to classify individual development in three stages, (in the sense of a cross-sectional investigation).

-Social circumstances
-The time immediately preceding involvement with T.M.
-The phase during the practice of T.M.
-The phase shortly after the giving up of the practice and leaving of the T.M. movement (this principally concerned the ex-meditator's group).

The questionnaire was composed of both "private and open" questions. This approach facilitated on the one hand, a standardized-quantitative investigation, and on the other, more elaborate answers could be considered and interpreted in a qualitative fashion. This appeared to us to be the most suitable way in which to inquire into the experiences and attitudes of those questioned.


The personality profile was constructed in consideration of the total number of people being divided into three groups, the parents, married partners and ex-meditators. The differing circumstances of the three groups had to be taken into account during the selection of items. As a common denominator attitude-wise were the "promises" of the T.M. movement, which have been the basis of its advertising activities for years. The special claims put forward by T.M. made it possible for us to monitor their success by using a personality profile: T.M. proclaims, in most of its advertisements, that its scientific investigations are the "objective" foundation for an improvement of the quality of life for the individual and society. "The quality of life of the society is determined by the quality of life of the individual." (Realization of an Ideal Society, MERU press, 1976, page 1).

The personality which is stabilized in itself forms the basis of all other changes, thus the practice of T.M. This "person" will achieve "the qualities of flexibility, stability, integration, purity, and growth." (The Basic Element of Success. Progress and Fulfillment, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, M.I.U. press 1974, Heidelberg)

The promises of the T.M. movement are posed as being "fruits" of the meditation, and in some editions, (The Basis of Progress and the Basis of Health, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, M.I.U. press 1974, Heidelberg), are laid out in chart form. in these charts all qualities are portrayed in their "physiological, sociological and ecological dimensions". These publicity-oriented charts were a source for our compilation of a list of items. In the publications "The Basis of Progress" and "The Basis of Health", the authors did not bother to give any semantic depth to either of these two conceptions. They work instead on the assumption that there is a "common-sense" understanding of both concepts, particularly on the part of the reader. The lack of any effort at making distinctions goes so far, that the authors even used the same attributes (or values) as indicators in both volumes. These attributes, (for example stability, growth, fear, depression) were meant to be a clarification of the subject matter: their use in the manner described only led to a further blurring in semantic terms. Even worse, these values are in themselves divided into more detailed concepts, which are used rhetorically to "top-up" or compliment the main concept. At this stage the confusion becomes complete, and all relics of scientific method degenerate into a simply labeling procedure, all of which does not support the claims the T.M. movement makes for its research investigation. (On the question of advertising and publicity see 1.5)

Because of this, it was necessary to refer back to attributes which had continually surfaced in interviews with ex-meditators, parents or marriage partners. It was obvious that those attributes were "immediate" in the sense of having an immediate importance for the person interviewed. The items selected for the personality profile are consequently divided into two categories:

(a) Items or attributes actually mentioned in T.M. advertising and also mentioned by affected people in our interviews.
(b) Items not directly mentioned in T.M. publications, but which were emphasized by independent observers in their evaluation of T.M. practitioners.

The personality profile is made up of 22 attributes. Under (a) the following were chosen: self-awareness, ability to make contacts, equilibrium, will-power, dependability, spontaneity, openness, tolerance, optimism, warmth, and cordiality, humor, enjoyment of work, honesty, perception of reality, politeness, concentration. Under (b) were chosen shyness, sensitivity, apathy, egotism, ambition, ability to make critical evaluations.

The graph depicting the personality profile (i.e. the changing values of those interviewed), was divided into three phases, each phase corresponding to a particular period of time. In the first phase, the judgment of the person was required for the period "before T.M.". The second phase (depicted on the same chart), indicates the judgment of the person for the period "during T.M.". The third phase, which was with only a few exceptions limited to the group of ex-meditators, was used to ascertain the judgment of the interviewee for the period "after T.M.." (This phase has not yet been evaluated). To help in evaluation, a scale was used consisting of -3, -2,-1,0, +1, +2, +3, whereby, a movement in the direction of -3 indicates a decline in the personal attributes concerned, and a movement in the direction of +3 a greater manifestation thereof.

2.5. ON THE QUESTION OF REPRESENTATION i.e. the validity of the report in statistical terms.

The underlying restrictions imposed by the T.M. movement, and the accompanying aura of silence, makes extremely difficult the evaluation of the complete number of those concerned in the T.M. movement. Therefore a "sample poll" in terms of a quantitative statistical representation is hardly possible. The investigation we have carried out took on a more qualitative structure. It is nevertheless valid to state that the "snowball method" chosen by us, while not claiming to be theoretically 'perfect', is also a close approximation of a representative cross-section. (compare Noelle-Neumann, "polls in Society", Reinbeck 1976, p. 156). The size of the entire group was also raised from 50 to 67, so that intended comparisons between the three sub-graphs would not be frustrated by too low a number of people.


All concerned were contacted by telephone and written inquires. Those who declared their readiness each took part in a 2-3 hour interview, which was taped. From the first selection of people we obtained further addresses and contacts. Those interviewed came from all parts of Germany. The interviews were carried out between 6-12-1980 and 8-25-1980. The personnel involved in carrying out the interviews always consisted of at least one teacher, a doctor of education, or a person specially qualified to deal with socially handicapped people.

Two interviewers interviewed one person. While one recorded the answers, the other asked the questions: in open questioning further questions arose. This method proved itself invaluable in the whole course of the interviewing. The (personality) profile chart was, as a rule, dealt with towards the end of the interview, in as far as the person interviewed was ready to do so.


The questionnaire supplied the quantitative basic-data for testimonies made in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th chapters.

The personality profile is a part of the quantitative evaluation. The basic-data are depicted in the form of graphs, and interpreted in an accompanying text, so to their context.

Taped interview:
The spoken interviews formed the basis for the qualitative evaluation, made in Chapter 5. Single passages from these interviews also appear in Chapter 4, to illustrate more clearly the subject matter in that chapter.

Method of procedure:
Examples taken from the taped interviews and questionnaires, are incorporated into individual chapters and are used as illustrations. For reasons of anonymity, any testimonies are given as only coming from a certain subgroup; therefore the number before the stroke (or 'dash') indicates the sub-group involved [1=parents, 2=ex- meditators, 3=married partners.]

The number after the stroke indicates the variable, for example 1/67 means an instance from the group of parents, part of the entire group of 67. Examples which are followed by two numbers with the stroke between are taken from the completed questionnaire; testimonies after which there is only one number, (no stroke, no other number), are sequences from taped interviews.

For the sake of a streamlining of terminology the following terms were introduced: The term meditator means all those practicing T.M. meditation in this report. This is occasionally divided into ordinary meditators and insiders, for reasons of comparison. Ordinary meditators are those meditators who have not attended further courses in extra techniques, or applied for extra techniques. Insiders are those much more deeply involved in the T.M. organization, i.e. Sidhas, Checkers, T.M. teachers, and Governors.

The terms parents, ex-meditators, and married partners will mean the individual groups as already defined; the group of ex-meditators will however also include people who, though still meditating at the time of the interviews, had nevertheless severed all links with the T.M. organization.

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