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Chapter 5 of 7



-In selecting recorded material we restricted ourselves to 24 cases. The material available is considerably more comprehensive.

-The chapter is constructed in a way that will allow specific problem areas to be individually analyzed, and to work out connecting threads not at first visible to the naked eye.

-No definitive all-embracing analysis was prepared, rather, a systematic approach to questions and problems which had prominence in the statements made during the interviews. There are also a number of other subjects which have been left out to achieve a streamlined presentation.

-The evaluation is mainly hermeneutically descriptive. Examples were investigated within the context of text alone. In the summaries, conclusions were reached in response to each of the main themes.



"There were no difficulties in my stopping, since I'd always maintained a distance and really wasn't integrated at all." (2)

The people in this group were not prepared to submit to the leadership role of T.M. teachers and governors, and thereby caused trouble:

"I did not submit to the will of those other people, and in doing so I aggravated them." (2)

Time and time again the critical disposition of the group became evident. One young man in his answer best represents the other:

"If I am to judge the movement, then I go by the people in it who have been influenced in one way or another by it, and I judge this influence of T.M. to be a bad one." (2)


This section will outline the special characteristics of the people in this group (ex-meds), before we allow the people themselves to give testimony in the second part.

In the grouping together of these people we took their general social situation/status as a basis. Most were, as students people who had a steady job, quite secure as regards their portion in society, and had taken up the meditation only as a relaxation technique. This is also shown by the often heard remark, that they believed you could also relax using other methods:

"I was often pretty tense after my working day and hoped that the meditation would relax me and my evening would be better used because of that." (2)

"I saw the meditation as a way to relax; I wasn't aware of any other possibilities." (2)

One woman stated her main motive in taking up the meditation was not for the meditation itself, but to keep her husband, who was involved full time with the organization.

"I wanted to keep my marriage, because of that I spent time and money. I thought it was a phase my husband was going through that would pass. At first I tried to manage the situation in a normal way, but there was no point. I then decided, well, I'll do the meditation as well..." (2)

The marriage ended in divorce.

Another characteristic of this group is the relatively short period of involvement with T.M. The longest anyone in this group spent at T.M. was three years. In the other groups there were also some who exhibited the same characteristics. However their appearance resulted in more stability for the people quoted in this section.

Two people took up the meditation as its being a part of a religious cult. Those religiously motivated people were consequently able to concentrate on the religiosity of T.M.:

"In those times it was a religious thing for those who were seeking it, otherwise those courses wouldn't have been running." (What is meant are lectures on the Bhagavad Gita.) The person continues "I had no interest in lying to everyone that it was a relaxation technique, because I knew that it was something else." (2)

The fundamental criteria of this group can be summed up in two words: "getting out" and "crossing over".

Since they had little involvement or commitment to the organization from the beginning, the ex-meditators generally left the organization before they stopped the practice of T.M.

"I had noticed during discussions at the table that you could get through to nobody, everyone lived in his isolated little box and no one was interested in me as a person". (10) They carried on meditating for a while at home after they had totally distanced themselves from the organization. With the loss of company (of other meditators), the meditation also lost its meaning and they began to view it much more critically. They were able to stop the practice without any great difficulty and take up other interests.

In cases where experiences of a positive nature were associated with T.M. often the process of stopping the meditation practice became considerably more difficult. According to testimonies made, withdrawal symptoms were experienced.

"As soon as I stopped the T.M. meditation I knew that I was dependent on it. Things were bad. My wife needed only to aggravate me a little, and I was flat out on the floor. I was more sensitive and excitable and I slept a lot." (2)

Many gave up the secrecy of the mantra after they stopped meditating, which in some cases demanded a lot of self- control.

"After I gave up, I had to say my mantra. But I couldn't do it, I found it very difficult." (2)

"Up until now I've treated my mantra as if it were a holy object in a curious way it still has a lot of significance for me. It's very personal, like a piece of me." (2)

In order to fill the new vacuum, all of the ex-meditators in this group looked for a new involvement in something else, which means that they had passed the critical phase of their leaving T.M. Because of this we describe them as "crossing over". They named their new interests as Zen- yoga, therapy, self-discovery groups, spiritual practices, drugs, Christianity.


We noted that repeatedly, social reasons were given for their departure from T.M., individual people consciously keeping the T.M. group at a distance in order to get a clear picture of the situation.

"I once tried to make contact with some of the meditators, to try and get to know them, but I quickly found out that they weren't interested. I made the observation as I got more involved in the organization that those who had been meditating for a long time had almost no social contact with others anymore: in other words, the more you get submerged in the movement, the more you shut yourself off from the outside world.

"Unlike before, I lived really isolated and old contacts with people just completely changed in character. I just wasn't interested in those things anymore. You kept on getting preached to about self-realization and cosmic consciousness." (2)

"During that time I had a lot of contact with meditators (governors and T.M. teachers) they have absolutely no relationships with other people, I have to say it. They never go out anywhere where there is poverty and suffering, since the stress (negative karma) could go into them and they don't want that...when young people go out into the world and learn the harshness of the world, the hard facts of life, they have a natural defense against it overcoming them, but those, they stand there, their defense system is totally dismantled and they're completely helpless. They are not in a position (as meditators) to go their own way in the world. They can live only inside the T.M. circle. They need the protection of the crowd. I noticed that too in my own case, how quickly you get used to certain surroundings. Because I'm a realist, I was able to get myself out of it again.

"I also found, that governors evade the issue if a conflict of any type threatens to develop. They actually stand behind another (neutral) person who has both feet firmly in the ground. Governors aren't able to get along at all." (2)

"I noticed with my initiator that people as soon as they become initiators, only think according to Maharishi. Those people function in an already existing framework. Absolute dependency on the master , the T.M. teacher and in all their thinking... I once asked him a question, but he couldn't even understand it, it was all beyond his horizon of thought. He was so saturated with Maharishi that he himself faded more and more into the background and I didn't want that to happen to me. I didn't want to be one of Maharishi's marionettes...I left the movement..." (2)

Some of the people who were critical of the general grouping of meditators had in a passing way a personal satisfaction with the practice of meditation, which in part had to do with experiences they had during the meditation.

"Our sense of partnership grew; there was more unity in the family. We all meditated, our children as well, and that was part of the daily routine for us, like eating and drinking." (2)

"I still meditate, but I'm very distrustful of the organization. I only regard the method as being a good thing. I took part in seminars for two years, took one course, and now have distanced myself from the organization." (2)

"I had a really long day during my T.M. phase, because I needed less sleep. I could even do my homework in the evenings...I was always well rested. For a time I needed only three or fours hours sleep." (2)

"Scenes from my childhood that I had long forgotten came to mind again...during the day I would sometimes think back on my mediation, and I would hardly notice things around me. It was so bad that one day I nearly got knocked down by a car...I was so involved in the meditation process that I hardly noticed anything." (2)


Various characteristics come to light. Social factors are the connection to school or profession. No person in this group expressed dissatisfaction with regard to their job. They did not experience their work as being burdensome, so that the promises made by T.M. were received by people who were in a relaxed frame of mind; from that it can be deduced that meditation was limited on their part to being simply a technique, a method. Regarding meditators who had a conscious religious motivation, they were able to see from an overview of their motivations that they were sure of why they were taking up T.M. They were able to separate claim and reality and draw suitable conclusions from that. (In all other groups this ability to consciously evaluate one's motivations decreased as a result of T.M.)

These people remained able to argue and disagree during the T.M. phase. This ability was necessary in the light of the aforementioned distance from and rejection of the organization.

They lost in only a very small measure their personal stability, stability which allowed them to observe and evaluate other ordinary meditators. They all desired an intensive voyage of self discovery, but in spite of the ensuing disappointment remained active, in that they involved themselves in other clubs or took up other interests. They did not experience any great challenge from the T.M. group. Therefore the effects of the practice were positive or neutral.



When we used the term "view of reality" to describe and evaluate the world of ex-meditators, we used it in two ways: Those interviewed used the term to justify and give a philosophical basis for their activities, decisions, and interpretation of the world.

"I believe that T.M. is religious, because you get to think things that you otherwise wouldn't have. But not with regard to a real world descendency from a high god down to lower things, rather it involves a unity... the being of the world. I didn't have such concepts before." (2)

On the other hand there are hidden in their experiences and world view a set of psychologically definable perceptions. "For example, he (Maharishi) once said "From the 1st of May there will no more suffering. Then I got really excited and said "My mother hasn't been too well lately. I'm glad now that there'll be no more suffering (for her) after the 1st of May. But when you go up to the people after that date and challenge them about it, they are able to talk their way out of it really well." (2)

The justifications that people give in their testimonies should be treated as having been reflected on by the people themselves and are psychologically interpretable perceptions.

They constitute the kernel of the testimonies. Only in scattered parts do these perceptions become clearly visible.


Maharishi had the idea of giving the hinduistic concept "karma" the same significance as the concept of "stress". In doing this, "stress" was attributed (in a westernized form), hinduistic-religious concepts. T.M. had, for the western world, the key with which all positive and negative aspects of life could be afforded a particular significance. (See section 4.3.1. for further comments.) All negative effects of the meditation are attributed to "bad karma" or "knots of stress", when they occur in meditators. When either during or after the meditation a meditator feels unwell, he is, according to T.M. theory, "unstressing". T.M. doctors diagnose this.

"Every time I had difficulties the doctor told me that I was unstressing, that it was a completely normal reaction. I was getting rid of years of accumulated stress. I told him that I was extremely ill and that, in my opinion, my blood circulation wasn't in order. But he denied that... I should meditate more." (2)

Whoever walks the road of "unstressing" should personally avoid all possible outside causes of stress, since the atmosphere (around him) could lead to a negative accumulation and consequently a hindering of his own development.

"It once happened to me that I had backpains due to tension. I wanted someone to massage my back, but no one would do it, since, they said, that that is stress and unstressing, and if we do that with our hands then it will go into our bodies." (2)

The personal unstressing on the part of the meditator has as a consequence a reduction in contact with people and a reduction in relationships.

We can deduce here that the western concept of "stress" (the curing of which constitutes a large part of the promises made in T.M. advertising), has its cause in "karma" this "relationship" between the two is only known to insiders.

"The Indian teaching on karma definitely influenced me. Whatever I do has a consequence...Maharishi was in Hamburg, there was a big deal and a lot of initiators were there, because your karma would get better because of it." (2)

We will deal with the "view of reality" in the following section, against this background.


After initiation the behavior of most of the people questioned in this study towards their surroundings changed.

This change took place first in the thinking and perception of the person, induced by the meditation.

"A hell of a lot of thoughts come and you don't pay any attention to them anymore. Practically speaking, I wasn't master of my own thoughts; you go around in an unnatural way with thoughts spinning around in your head." (2)

The procession of thoughts was described by an ex- meditator in the following way:

"I experienced my nervous system...I experienced how impressions differ...how it went into me...My awareness wasn't only directed outward, but also inwards. I naturally had to be damn careful about all those desirable things around me. If you see everything with more awareness, than you get careful what flows into you. You get more sensitive, more selective. I saw myself as a film projector in which there as a film. And we could look at it-like this, that the black part was the unconscious mind, and the place where the pictures showed up, that was the conscious mind, and during the meditation the black part departed from the other part of the film.

"T.M. was for me a means to see for the first time that such desires have an effect on us. I'd thought it over beforehand, how I would explain it to you. My psyche is a desert, a large expanse of sand, and now there's rain falling, that is desires. I build a house with a roof on this sand, that means, that I shield myself off from the desires. I make somewhere a small hole and let only one or two drops of rain in". (2)

In the above it is clear what happens to a person because of the mantra. As a result of the stopping of desires there is a complete turn of the attention onto the mantra, what T.M. calls non-concentration. As a result: "a greater overview and improved capacity to turn the attention towards specific aims". (Realization of an ideal society, a scientifically based program, MERU press, 1976, page 24)

We shall see in section 5.6 that following this "desire- stop" is the meditation, the causes of an over- susceptibility with serious health risks can be established.

Besides this mainly psychological change is the perception, many meditators also underwent (some unconsciously) a change in their world view. They expected as a result of the mantra's influence a positive effect on the world as a result of their own good karma. Direct contacts were perceived by people with this particular viewpoint.

"She said to me...well, I hope you've noticed the harmonious vibrations coming from me...everything was so harmonious...it had nothing to do with harmony, but she couldn't see that. If anything nice happened, then she attributed that immediately to her vibrations". (1)

Likewise, meditators saw their good vibrations working directly on objects.

"When I had a green light three times in a row, then it was the meditation and not the traffic lights." (2)

Meditators felt themselves bound to the world in a new way, i.e. mental, through their meditations.

They could give up all activities, only the participation in the bettering of the world's karma was their task. This should be made clear in the following examples.

"When the politics of the country underwent a change, he said that that happened through unstressing, and Maharishi... there didn't have to be suffering in the world. The whole world could be changed with meditation." (1)

"He was interested in nothing anymore. Maharishi would love to take over the governing of the world, and then there would be no more war or starvation anymore." (1)

"He even maintained that my cousins' varicose veins would disappear if he did T.M." (1)

"Even when something happened behind the iron curtain, then it was because of T.M. peoples influence...she once said that race discrimination in the U.S.A. would go if they all did T.M."(l)

"The state could pay for us. He would do so much for mankind with his meditation, that the state should take care of us." (3)

To complete these examples we now give another piece from a T.M. circular:

On 20th December, Guru Dev's birthday, we achieved the long sought after one percent mark with 38 sidhas, which gives actually an effect of 1.6%. On the next day all sidhas who were not needed drove to Burg on Eehmern for the world peace assembly.

On our return we learned of something that gave us great joy: the rate of crime in the city, which had been rising year after year, sank according to the newspaper reports by 9.9% in 1979 as against the previous year's figures.

And some particular types of crime had reached their lowest level since 1970, according to press reports. Neumurster, up until now the place with the highest rate of criminal acts committed in Schleswig-Holstein, gave up its unenviable first place position this year." (Center of the Age of Enlightenment, Neununster: a circular of 3rd Sept.. 1980)

Accordingly, all negative aspects or appearances are attributed to a lack of meditation or the stressed atmosphere of the world of non-meditators.
"How right we were in our prognosis was shown by one weekend in July: on the 19/20 day of July we had to do without our 1% effect because of people going away on holidays, and only did the program with between 19 and 25 sidhas. The local press had headlines of "a rash of break- ins throughout the entire city", that criminals and car stealers were "unusually active during the weekend" and kept the police on their toes. Of course, we did something very positive this weekend and are happy with this first real test (albeit involuntary) ." (center of the age of enlightenment, Neununster: a circular of 3rd Sept. 1980)
These aims are witness to a "deeper understanding" of societal processes. An ex-T.M. teacher described this awareness and that of his contemporaries like this: "Deeper understanding was our vocabulary for perception. Although today I hold power over others to be a negative thing, in those days I considered it to be positive: power in the sense that a particular force of radiance is created by T.M. which influences other people... with us it was like this, whoever is in the highest state of consciousness has the right to exercise power over other people who have a lesser awareness. That is, in an Indian context, caste-awareness... it's a matter of consciousness and reincarnation." (2)


The testimonies made about the meaning of the Maharishi- effect are very significant. However, it will only be considered here in the light of the statements previously made above: the hope, that 1% of the world population can rescue the rest of the world from their misery and suffering, through T.M.-meditation, a belief held with unquestioning trust for the authority of Maharishi. Just a few examples are given here:

"What he said up there (on the video) was totally accepted as the truth. It was like this: he spoke the truth and nothing but the truth." (2)

"Maharishi was a sort of prophet to me." (2)

"Like Jesus, Maharishi is a completely self-realized man." (l)

Another special facet is also closely linked with Maharishi's authority, which can be seen from the examples shown above.

Negative karma, the negative vibrations of the world of non-meditators causes a growing unwillingness to have contacts with the outside world, depending on how much importance the meditator ascribes to his personal "unstressing", in other words, a freedom from negative or bad vibrations. The Maharishi effect provides an ideal justification for a withdrawal from society, since many see such a move as being best for their own unstressing, and the unstressing of the world. Everyday social intercourse is substituted with a meditative creation of a positive atmosphere; i.e. a positive karma.

Therefore, for many meditators there was just the one aim: to dismantle or reduce the importance of outer reality, in order to be able to turn one's attention completely to an inner reality.

"I differentiate between the reality that has an effect on me and the reality that works inside me. I try to dismantle the reality that has an effect on me as much as I can..." (2)

The dismantling of the reality of the outer world has its justification in the authority of Maharishi's.


From the material presented concerning the view of reality it can be seen that the foundations of changes in the personality are to be found in T.M. theory. The perception of meditators takes on special characteristics, which act as a mounting force on social physical and psychological behavior. Social contacts are evaluated by meditators according to the criteria of whether these social contacts will promote a positive or negative karma. The view of events in society generally only has a significance in as far as it affirms their own experience of meditation. Meditators keep contact with their surrounding world over an ideological bridge. Isolation from the world is built into the theory of karma and is expressed in testimonies given in this chapter.

Fear or anxiety about stress governs physical activity as well. Physical activity is reduced in favor of meditative calm. All exercises, like for example "asanas", serve only as a physical relaxation for further meditation.

"It's always said - rest and activity, the principal maintained by T.M. But as far as I'm concerned you don't have activity...those exercises are just pseudo-activity.' (2)

The psychological make-up of meditators seems to be subjected to a most intensive influence exerted by the view of reality as molded by T.M. teaching. All experiences during mediation and in the everyday world take on a new meaning. Negative or positive karma serve as yardsticks for the evaluation of experiences; where many ex-meditators judged unpleasant and fearful images as being knots of stress, yet could not be free of these images and became mentally ill. The mediation is seductive in that it seduces people to lean over the edge of the well where the unconscious mind dwells. The meditators hope that there they will be rid of their negative karma. Due to the lack of competent and expert care on the part of the T.M. movement, many lean over too far and fall into the well.


Statements made in this section about the social behavior of the people questioned (as meditators) should be seen in two ways: Those interviewed themselves made a distinction between meditators and non-meditators in the evaluation of their behavior. We will now follow up this distinction. The consequences for the professional career as a social phenomenon will be dealt with in some detail.


Maharishi is the undisputed authority in the social sphere of the T.M. organization. (see 5.3.4) Every meditator occupies a step in the ladder of the hierarchy.

"The more you got involved in it, the more exclusive the company becomes and everything revolves around Maharishi. Then you get an advanced mantra from Maharishi. He keeps this a secret to himself and you are all the more dependent on him because of that." (2)

This is the way an ex-T.M. teacher sees it. In the surrounding area of Maharishi's influence, allocation of position depends on the height of consciousness. This is arrived at by increasingly advanced techniques, (T.M. teachers, sidhas) and through longer meditations, and is extremely expensive for all those aspiring to such positions. This money spent in doing so serves as far as the meditator is concerned, not only in his own development, but also the betterment of his surroundings and even society. Therefore social relations, involvement in a physical way for the betterment of others and society becomes superfluous, since the meditation on its own will automatically achieve the desired end.

Apart from the pressures on meditators to become more deeply involved, they succumbed to the strong pressures on them both from without and within themselves to conform. This conformity was the guarantee for promotion, a rising up the ladder.

"As I went, they started talking about style of hair and appearance. It was suddenly the way that T.M. people should wear their hair short, and I said that no way would I consider that. People when I myself got involved in T.M. started to change their appearance and overtook me in an institutional sense, because they were obedient...I noticed how people let themselves be molded...This increasing regimentation aggrevated[sic] me..." (2)

"After the course was half-over, people liked to swap their experiences; and got a thrill out of doing it - it was like a qualification, to have such experiences." (2]

The readiness to accept external pressures to submit is promoted very forcefully through an intentional structuring of the groups by T.M. initiators. (see 4.1.5)

The Meditator's behavior was judged by those questioned to be a behavior in isolation. This lonesomeness was particularly marked during participation in courses.

"I once tried to make contact with some of the meditator's, but quickly found out that they weren't interested." (2)

As against that others reported that they started up friendships with other meditators.

"I only started friendships with other meditator's during the T.M. phase. (2)

"(He) only had contacts with meditators, and looked for others (non-meditators) so that he could get them to do T.M." (1)

The relationships towards people of the same mind took a different shape, because they saw themselves as elitist and were already part of the movement. There is to be seen a "reduction of social relationships down to the elitist circle of meditators" (24). Whoever stands on the edge, neither 'on the inside' or 'the outside', and has an undecided attitude, experiences an isolation as part of the crisis of 'crossing over'. This crisis is either evaded or negated as being non-existant[sic]. The readiness of people interested in advancing to comply is combined with a strict limitation of the self in terms of outside forces, so that an "in between" position is not tolerated by the movement. The attraction of advancement lead many to comply and conform, as well as to shut themselves off from outside influences.

"I know of a woman; she was a housewife and very lonely. She went back there again to find herself, and get friends. She was completely dependent on it. She couldn't go on anymore without T.M., and it was that kind of people she was looking for. People like her give every penny they have, just to be there. The loneliness of people like her is used by them - they never leave that place, it's really like a drug. If they do come out once in a while, then everything around them means nothing..." (2)


Because of the intensive courses and their participation in assemblies organized by the movement, a decisive change took place in the relationship of meditators to family and friends. We are going to give some examples here, in order to make this phenomenon clear.

"There weren't actual difficulties, but I distanced myself from certain people because they were very touchy, and I wanted to avoid that negativity, so that I wouldn't be dragged down to that level. Whenever I felt negative vibrations in certain people, I avoided those people and broke off contact with them." (2)

"The main reason I left home was that in doing so I could meditate in peace. Back there that was the most important thing for me......to advance further.......I'd had a lot of friends before (the meditation). When I moved out from home, they came to visit me, but I never opened the door. I wanted my peace and quiet. I was most often alone and had uncontrollable compulsive thoughts. I got depressed very much after and just wanted to die......' (2)

"When I was still meditating and was involved in conversations with people, who were of a different opinion about things than I, I always said to myself: let them talk, they aren't as advanced as I am; I never tried to really listen to them." (2)

"There was a consequence for the family life as a result of my meditating. I kept on withdrawing more and more and just wasn't interested in communication anymore. A certain arrogance had crept into my thinking and I thought that my parents were somehow of little value since they weren't experiencing what I was and were leading a stressful life. From then on I looked down my nose at them ...and I noticed, as I got more involved in the movement, that those who had been meditating for a longtime had almost no social contact with others anymore; in other words, the more you got submerged in the movement, the more you shut yourself off from the outside world." (2)

"The friendships I had didn't do anything for me anymore. I thought that other people lived as though in a dark room and weren't aware of what was really going on. You do it unconsciously, keeping away from them, because you see things so differently...I saw in my relationship to others a certain danger for my own development. ["]

A shifting around in the area of relationships because of changing interests is an everyday experience in the world. Here, however, as regards the breaking off of contacts by meditators, the scales are heavily weighed against non- meditators. The following testimonies will serve to illustrate that this is a trend in the T.M. movement. The world of non-meditators is a world of negative karma and radiates this bad karma out on meditators who come in contact with it. Here we give again a quote from section 5.3.3:

"Deeper understanding was our vocabulary for perception. Although today I hold power over others to be a negative thing, in those days I considered it to be positive; power in the sense that a particular force of radiance is created by T.M. which influences other peep.....with us it was like this, whoever is in the highest state of consciousness has the right to exercises power over other people who have a lesser awareness. That is, in an Indian context, caste-awareness.....it's a matter of consciousness and reincarnation." (2)

Similar utterances confirm that this is a common thought in T.M.:

"Let them go to hell those who don't want to meditate. What does it matter if they have miserable lives...I noticed how people became much paler, slower in their movements, much more introverted and paler - many of them staggered around. In response to all of those phenomena, you are told that it is proper and normal, it is unstressing. Spiritual encumbrances were coming to the surface and they were causing the suffering...meditators are glad when something like that happens, because, they say, then it's gone out of the system. I doubt that. When I said that those experiences hadn't gone, the T.M. teacher said: well, you're not enlightened yet". (2)

"And when he became ill, Mr. X said to him that that wouldn't have happened, if all of us were meditators...there were always confrontations because we weren't meditators." (1)

"Maharishi said that the other partner would also have to meditate, so that the marriage wouldn't break up...It is said that you get more healthy and calm and you can work better. But that didn't happen to my husband, in fact, the opposite: I find that others around (him) are just extra weight. He once said to me that one could advance so far that one wouldn't feel anything anymore, not for other people either that you only live for yourself and don't feel for other people, or care about what's happening around you." (3)

These examples show the way in which the view of reality fostered by T.M. affords the opportunity to lay the fault of broken relationships with non-meditators. (It is far more probable that the cause lies in the destabilizing effects of the meditation. Section 5.6. deals with this).

The "world of T.M." becomes a concrete subject for discussion, and all other themes are relegated to the sidelines.

"We were actually on good speaking terms, but in his case he was actually only able to talk about T.M." (1)

"He was possessed by T.M. and addressed everyone; for example if someone was with him in a bar, he immediately started talking to him and everyone around the table about it." (1)

"Every night she read sections of Maharishi's works out to me. She was also trying to carry her mission to friends and relatives." (3)


The social contacts which the people questioned had between themselves as meditators and to non-meditators show two distinct tendancies[sic]. Inside the T.M. grouping a submission to the wishes of T.M. officers is required, officers who are supposedly in a higher state of consciousness than the ordinary meditators. At the same time this has consequences, (using the same logic) for non-meditators. "A crisis of crossing over" (into the movement) was established in meditators who were beginning the practice. Most attempted to overcome this by yielding to the attraction of the promised fruits held out for those who meditated more intensively. Whoever remains at the periphery and is in any way critical, is branded as having no consciousness to speak of, or enlightenment.

The mandatory involvement in the T.M. movement causes a strong "insider mentality". People who go it alone live in isolation, without communication from the movement. The initial companionship during courses ends up in people becoming effectively isolated from others of similar disposition.

"The people in the center exhibited a very strange behavior. When someone asked them a question to which they couldn't give a direct answer, they gave a self-satisfied laugh and wandered off, almost as if to say - our world is in order. We don't lead a stressful life, we don't have problems. They consider themselves to be elite." (2)

Because the aim is to become enlightened and together with that a freedom from stress and problems, particular questions arise with regard to the movement's portrayal of itself. We have examined the social aspect. There is an effective contradiction between the claims for a perfect world and everyday social intercourse. The origin of this incompatibility is, according to the statements of meditators, to be found in the negative karma of the world of non-meditators. The representatives of this much sought after world are however (almost) all newly won initiates. They have in their world a whole range of contacts which, in the sweeping view of the movement, are seen as potential causes of stress. On entry into the sphere of the movement's influence, the meditator is forced to dismantle the communicative structures of his past. In doing so, difficulties will arise in the cases of things which the new meditator holds dearly and for a long time. These are usually the parents, the marriage partner, the boyfriend or girlfriend. After this, decisions will be made with regard to institutions, as to how they affect or hinder the path to enlightenment. This however, can depend on the individual strength of the meditating person. As demonstrated above, there are a whole range of arguments available. The meditator justifies his behavior using such arguments. There is no guarantee of reciprocity in social intercourse to others, but above all to non-meditators. The requirement of absolute compliance and ready submission on the part of the meditator appears to be a large part of the social order of T.M.



Besides those people who, experiencing positive or neutral effects from the meditation, saw their job situation being supported by the practice, there were others we interviewed who testified that their own or their relatives' professional career was damaged by T.M.

During the interviews we heard that Maharishi insists that meditators should not give up their jobs. On the other hand there are instances of him having urged people to stop their studies or give up their job.

"It is Maharishi's view that people who have a job should stay in it and not work full-time for the organization. Only those who are pursuing an active career can spread the technique, others are too far distanced from the reality of the workplace." (2)

"Maharishi said to him that he should go ahead with his examinations." (1)

We have now to establish what the reasons were which caused a great number of the people we interviewed to stop their studies or give up their job.


The job or particular studies an individual pursues are here seen as a form of social relationship with others. Therefore, in the minds of the people we questioned, there was a connection in terms of 'role allocation' when their expectations of themselves and of others were juxtaposed. In a less concrete way, those expectations of themselves and others also played a role in the area of the relationship between the worlds of the meditator and the T.M. community on one hand, and on the other, between the meditator and the rest of the outside world.

A particular conflict of interests develops from this, because insiders see the professional career as being a 'position on the borderline', and the meditator has to permanently fulfill two different sets of expectations. The cause of this conflict would again appear to lie in the meditation.

"In the beginning phase of his practice of meditation he wasn't able to work anymore. His concentration really suffered." (1)

"I always told people that they would have more energy and greater intelligence, but realized that I had no increase in energy, that in fact I had less. Another thing was that I had lost all love of my work. I had no continuation time-wise in my job, because I kept taking leave. I thought it was because of my work that I was so disinterested and lacking in energy, it was a big problem for me. Then suddenly I had the idea of giving up T.M." (2)

"He kept on trying to do different things. He went to various supermarkets to work in the store-room. He also tried working as a computer programmer, but couldn't concentrate sufficiently." (1)

"She is very absent minded at her work, never to the point and has absolutely no confidence in herself anymore." (3)

"Progress was for me a religious or spiritual word. It got better and more intensive, but everything became also more esoterical and exclusive. I was not at all disposed to go into a factory during that time." (2)

The above examples illustrate that the meditation causes a temporary or complete lack of drive, which the meditators found to be upsetting. The capacity to concentrate as well as physical activity are redirected through the meditation and are, it is to be suspected, aimed at other goals. Here it is shown that for many meditators the meditation is not a strength-gathering contemplation, but an uncontrollable mental process which can lead to a lowering of drive and incentive on his part.

The last quote above of the people we interviewed makes it obvious that the T.M. movement means something quite different than they would have us believe when they promise increased achievement, concentration, or energy. The increase in concentration and achievement are related only to the meditation practice, and not to general activity. Outside activities become increasingly blocked. An ex-meditator described it thus:

"Practically speaking, I wasn't the master of my own thoughts anymore, you go around in an unnatural way with thoughts spinning around in your head. In time that had an affect on my ability to concentrate. The ability to apply your mind to something disappears in time. It's hindered in some way by the meditation...The type of thinking employed during the meditation is a contradiction of the thinking required for concentration. The ability to concentrate seems to be somehow in opposition to T.M. In the long run, I believe that this negative trend will definitely appear in a person who meditates." (2)

It is established that an undisputable[sic] contradiction exists between the promises of T.M. and the general expectations in relation to increased performance and concentration abilities. This contradiction manifests itself in a priori sensitive meditators as a negative psychological conflict.


In the career field, we can view the consequences of a rising 'alternative' career in T.M. Those who can't bear the tension caused by the practice of T.M. will give up his job, among other things. In doing so, a main component of everyday activity is left to one side. No social or time restrictions now apply to the dynamics of involving the self in meditation. These people now concentrate fully on their spiritual aspect, i.e. T.M. The final consequence of this development is the advancement to being an insider and an officer of T.M. For many people, being an initiator is a valuable stage in the T.M. hierarchy. The money given for initiation seems to attract some people.

" I thought about becoming a T.M. teacher, because, I said to myself, what they're doing, they're right: a fine life, that type of activity. There was a lot of learners there. I thought, that's not bad, if you ever need money; and added to that nice peaceful surroundings - why not, I wouldn't be doing anything illegal." (2) The termination of work represents a reaction to the practice of meditation and the altered framework of perception. A further consequence is the inability to work due to decreased drive and incentive. The decision to become a T.M. teacher is often based on a wish to pursue a career inside the T.M. organization, and is in some cases influenced by the imagined prospect of a stress-free pleasant lifestyle.



"If I had never been in the hospital I would probably never have suffered something like I did: If I had never done T.M., I would probably never have suffered what I did. The whole thing was not a direct result of T.M., but happened because T.M. has created a basic assumption." (2)

This quote illustrates how T.M. affects people and how these affects appear in the group of interviewed people who suffered mental or physical damage. The pressures which people found themselves under took on such threatening forms that in critical situations they weren't able to stick the pressures from without and within, which caused a "total failure". Under the general title of "total failure" symptomology we can draw up the medical picture and study the cases where ex-meditators completely lost control over themselves and suffered a mental or physical breakdown. In this section we propose to first give a short portrayal of experiences had during meditation and after that, using examples, to describe the various reactions to these experiences.


Almost unanimously, all those interviewed reported that their first experiences of meditation were of a positive nature.

"My mantra took the form of a dove." (2)

"Dreams and pictures, scenes from my childhood that I had long forgotten came to mind again. Voices that gave me courage." (2)

"I experienced in the meditation that smell of freshly cut corn - I came from a farming background. Scenes that were long forgotten, but at the same time I found it sinister." (?)

"I felt inside more worry-free, like a child, but only for a few days, then it was gone. (2)

For a limited period of time most ex-meditators found themselves spiritually uplifted in the meditation. But it is precisely those who experienced these pleasant feelings who became perplexed as negative experiences of an unlimited nature appeared and threatened to increase further. Initiators are ready (for example on courses) to deal with a "going crazy" of participants and gave in this instance the following instructions to course participation:

"It was pointed out to us that it was possible that someone in some form could go over the edge or get into difficulties or get very depressed. In such a case we were told who we could turn to. There was someone available." (2)

The sole answer given to people in such difficulties and the sole help offered is the diagnosis "unstressing".

"On the first course there were some people who had to go to a doctor because of pain. The general advice was to feel the body mentally, and if it became serious, they went to a T.M. doctor. If someone showed really extreme reactions, then they started talking about unstressing. A girl had been in bed for a few days, she was unable to get up... Dr. X said the headaches could be a sign that her last remaining stress was dissolving. It wasn't nice, but that you could become enlightened afterwards." (2)

"Whenever I had difficulties, the doctor said that I was unstressing, and it was a completely normal reaction." (2)

However no help was sought, rather, many meditators turned this state of suffering into a virtue of sorts, and took on the hardships of meditation and its consequences in order to come nearer to the state of enlightenment they sought. We will present a range of meditation experiences using examples, examples which may allow us to understand the course for the onset of an effective undistinguishability[sic] between delusion and reality.

"I suddenly had a fear of all people; depressions, compulsive thoughts. I hadn't any control over my thoughts...a persecution mania, fear of spirits and devils, which I saw during and after the meditation...distorted faces that really terrified me, also even when I hadn't done my evening meditation and was trying to sleep. People, figures and faces that came up to me." (2)

"Once I went down a long long canal where there were bodies and at the end there was a big tunnel...and then I saw animals, unidentifiable beasts - tigers and lions and tubes unrolling, toward the end only negative and frightening forms. It's hard to describe them. I can't identify them with any particular thing, a mixture of wolf and bear." (2)

"He felt himself hovering under the ceiling while he was lying in bed. He felt himself to be outside his body...I told him he was frightening me every time I see him contracting uncontrollably and exclaiming like that. Then he said that that was because of his continuing practice of meditation." (1)

"He once said that he got a pain when he meditated, it came up the back of his neck and all over his head." (1)

"Finally she didn't know at all what to do with herself. She was convinced that Maharishi was following her around, in her thoughts, was influencing her from a distance and that she couldn't escape from him, it was almost an insanity." (1)

"He wasn't able to fly, but he said "I had the feeling that I was able to fly." (1)

"She went off from Friday to Sunday and told me it was to relax herself. When she came back she was so exhausted that she went straight to bed...and twitched and was talking a lot, but then just went out like a light.' (3)

The conflict inherent in the above experiences lies in the fact that these people experienced these happenings as being entirely their own. They involved themselves in them without any outside guidance. Moreover they defended these images and feelings against any criticism or questioning, being themselves backed up by the authority of the initiators. In that sense, they interlocked within themselves external reality with the subjective internal reality, while resisting any criticism. In a lot of cases that led to the edge of depersonalization. As soon as meditators threaten to "go crazy" in a T.M. center, however they are sent away and kept at a distance. The danger of stress being unloaded onto the other meditators was too great. This diffusion of inner and outer reality is a part of the meditation program which has as its aim enlightenment. But where this diffusion manifests itself in meditators, there shows itself the face of a possible insanity.


The examples are given in an edited form, in order that the anonymity of the interviews remains intact. Names and place names are altered.

"We were telephoned from B..... she wanted, she had told them, to come home - or maybe they wanted to get rid of her...she had gotten herself a new mantra and after that she just went completely apart...we both sat in the back of the car (on the way from the center) she clung to me the whole way and cried and couldn't calm down. She was experiencing a lot of fear as well - I had to sleep in her room. When she was back living at home she said to me: I feel like a small child. I'm glad to be back with you, I feel like I'm the baby again."

She also heard voices during her breakdown; she said that she heard the voice of her father coming out of a frog.

Dr. X. asked her, "You're always looking up at the ceiling, do you see someone?" She answered that yes, she could see someone, but she couldn't say who, it was shadowy. Her father, in the very delicate phase before the doctor was involved[: W]e took her with us into our own bed, (my wife had already spent 14 nights with her in my daughter's own bed). It was late at night and she was lying between both of us. We both held her by the hands, in order that she would have the feeling of being surrounded. She kept on sitting up and exclaiming because she could see someone...then she jumped out of bed in one leap and ran down the stairs, through a glass door, along the corridor, opened the front door, down another few steps and ran screaming loudly down the street in her nightdress...I ran after her dressed as I was and unfortunately fell down, she noticed that because she stood still for a moment...I ran back home, got dressed and got into my car and drove off after her...I saw a car parked in the next corner (about 3 o'clock in the morning) and my daughter was sitting next to a man in the car. I didn't know who the man was...I didn't know who he was. I pulled her out of the car and when she didn't want to go back into the house, my wife struck her once, and then the situation came somewhat under control; that was the decisive event which led us to consult a doctor...["](l)

["]For seven years now we've been trying everything! We went to the Uni-clinic with him then. The doctor there gave him a referral, but no, he wanted to first go to Mrs....(T.M. teacher) and ask her if he should allow himself to be treated by a doctor. She (the T.M. teacher) then wanted to send him to a T.M. doctor...she said she wanted to speak to our son in private...later she gave us the name of a T.M. doctor but my husband said 'no, we're not going to him, but if you want to take the responsibility for our son's welfare, then we'll leave him here and go back home.['] At this she got very agitated and said 'no, no, if you think it's right that he should go to the Uni-clinic, then do it!['] While we were on the way there, he rang her up again and asked if it was really o.k. that he go there...

After he had been in the clinic for treatment, the doctor advised that he should take up some skilled manual job to help himself out of T.M. So he started a training course, and it went well for about 4 or 5 months. Then one day he phoned us up - he was on the way to Maharishi. Two days later we got a call from the police; he had had a mental breakdown on the highway and was now lying in a hospital, not far from his destination. He had told the doctor there what his mantra was, and was talking non-stop. [']I've betrayed the mantra,['] and his description of himself as a traitor followed because of that. We drove to the hospital to pick him up and the doctor told us: This is nothing new, they've (T.M. authorities) already handed a good many to us from up there who went insane.

"...on the way back (to Germany) he suddenly said, [']mother I want to get out, I didn't get up there to see Maharishi. You can't just take me back home, I haven't seen him yet.[']

["]...if only someone would come along who would treat him afresh, no previous history, no taking old medicines that he's addicted to, just to start on a new page, but that's not possible...everywhere it's the same." (1)

"The headaches began happening first during T.M. courses, insomnia occurred, and in particular weight loss. When I started doing very long and intensive meditation I ended up in hospital: the doctor just couldn't understand what was happening and had sent me into hospital - the doctor said that I had been admitted in a delerious[sic] state - but he didn't know what was going on. When I was in hospital they did not diagnose delirium - it wasn't that extreme, but I didn't sleep three nights in a row, with lions and tigers and snakes like a film going on. There was a sea serpent and a spider - I was still 100%, and did not stop the meditation. Someone was sawing at my neck or had sawed off my head. I had a continuous headache, a distinct slowing down in my thinking or movement - an increasing ability to move my body, which has something to do with a mental process, and effects your involvement in things and your will-power - a stronger emotional dependency o insomnia was still present, as before." (2)

"When I went to France, there was chaos. Myself, as a person with such a finely tuned and different perception suddenly has to think in another language. I was like a small child who suddenly has to start from the beginning again. And what I had learned for myself was as if rubbed out. I was in the role of a small child, I had to learn to speak again. It was because of this that my development was suddenly ended. Because of that I got into a terrible crises. It was horrible, thinking was suddenly French.... ["]I had had my thoughts and perception so beautifully in shape and then came another language and it destroyed everything.

["]I wasn't meditating much during this time. All at once I developed a French "I"[personality], and the French "I" considered the German "I" to be mad - I mean that I thought like a French person and wanted to be like a French person. In a certain measure that can be traced back to a certain weakness of mind. I saw myself in a particular way, the way of my French "I" which wasn't meditating. My verbal thinking was different. The meditation did not experience my French "I" that came only after the meditation and behaved just like the German "I" before the meditation. I was living more like a Frenchman lives, going out everywhere in the evening, hanging around with French girls... ["]Meditation is an introspection for me...it was really an overloading, that too much happened at one time...and I wasn't able to live as I wanted to live...I was persistently frustrated...the problem with the language...I threw away chances....I had a certain mental crisis and it must have been the meditation...and I wanted to think in that way and then couldn't think anymore.

["]I noticed then that it was already working...the unconscious and that I now had things to work out...I already had worked out things here...my German "I"...that were for a long time...and then I go to France and they come back again and new things with them...new things into my unconscious and I have here the big problem of creating purity and clarity again. I'm now gone so far that I can say...desires, I have control over them again. My filter is working again...it's a terrific strain...sometimes I had the feeling that there was a machine from hell inside me." (2)


From the examples given the connection between physical health and the experience of meditation becomes quite clear. All people who suffered a breakdown were involved in almost full-time work for T.M. organization, and/or avoided contact with non-meditators during their T.M. meditation phase. Because of this the delving into the sphere of meditation was equivalent to the shutting off of the external reality. The external reality became a part of their inner experience and lost its familiar shape, to which the senses could orient themselves. On the basis of the 4 examples presented here, the suspicion grows that the meditation offered by T.M., caused, in the meditators' cases which we have investigated, a far reaching alteration in the view of reality, which

-damages or causes further damage to social relationships,

-the drive to achieve (motivation) is considerably lessened, to the degree that practical work (i.e. in a job) becomes intolerable to the meditator,

-and in addition to all conditions brought about by the intense practice of the meditation,

it gives rise to physical and mental damage.

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