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TM's Secret Forms & Data Bank

The constant use of forms sets the TM movement apart from eastern spiritual groups, where a personal relationship with one's teacher is the norm.

That these forms were important cannot be denied: They were subject to the utmost secrecy, never to be revealed to the public. Some were even numbered to ensure that each was accounted for.

Critics speculate that they serve at least 7 functions:

  1. They discourage a personal relationship between teacher and student, focusing attention on the TM movement and the Maharishi.
  2. They further restrict the TM teacher to a "parrot" role. Virtually every aspect of the TM teaching is either memorized verbatim or conducted from printed forms, books, and videotapes.
  3. They extend the Maharishi's control over the teacher.
  4. They extend the Maharishi's control over the students. Nearly every form must be signed by TMers and usually contain impressive, legal-sounding language that seems to imply legal action if the tiniest aspect of the TM teaching is revealed. (Some critics question the validity of any of these contracts on various grounds.)
  5. They look impressive to the new initiates, projecting the image of a world-wide movement.
  6. They are an additional source of revenue to the TM movement. Teachers or TM centers must purchase these forms from MIU/MUM Press. Photocopying is frowned upon.
  7. They allow for easy collection and storage of information. Files, most computerized, were kept throughout the '70s and '80s on nearly every TMer. The information was said to be used in deciding who would be allowed to go on future courses. Because most committed TMers are convinced that only the TM movement is a valid source of "new knowledge" and "deeper experience (extra meditation periods)" these files held at "National" were a main source of fear and control within the TM movement. With "National's" decentralization in the '90s it's unclear who, if anybody, has access to this data today.

The forms below are a very incomplete selection of the dozens of forms a TMer will complete during his or her involvement with the movement. (Please see our "Wish List" below.)

Initiation Forms

Interview Form (31K) (Copyright 1974 International Meditation Society) New initiates were told that the personal information about drug history, psychological and other illness or treatment, and so forth be kept strictly confidential. In many TM centers this was more or less true. But these forms were not kept securely and many teachers and volunteers regularly snooped through these files. Also, it wasn't unusual for an initiator to pull an "unstressing" meditator's file to look for "impure" activity in their background to explain their problems with meditation.

The various circles and checkmarks that TM teachers made on the interview form had no meaning other than impressing and intimidating TMers. The Maharishi told TM teachers to make checks at random! Two specific areas, however, he ordered us to check:

  • The space labeled "other program(s) for self-improvement." Many initiates complain of feeling intimidated, fearing they either have not enough experience or too much with "other systems." In point of fact, intimidation about "other systems" will be a constant theme in the new meditator's career with TM.
  • The only significant mark the teacher made on the interview form was the circle around the initiate's age. This is the only datum the TM teacher uses to select the "personal" mantra from a list of approximately 15.

    Note the legal-sounding language at the bottom of the form that appears to threaten litigation if any aspect of the TM teaching is revealed.

Address Form (20K) (with Address Form Back (7K)) (Copyright 1973 Internatinal Meditation Society) contained education and career information that came in useful when we needed volunteers or credible endorsements.

Address Card (3K) (no date, 1970s?) was for local Center use as a paper database for marketing mailings, requests for donations, and so forth. Later many TM centers put this information on PCs.

Initiation Day (15K) (©1973 IMS), First Day (13K) (© 1975 IMS), Second Day (13K) (© 1975 IMS), and Third Day (16K) "experience" forms (© 1975 IMS), handed out during Three Days Checking, ask a series of vague questions intended to convince the new meditator that he or she is having profound experiences.

Initiator Forms

Front (17K) and Back (6K) of the A Form (©1973 IMS) reported revenue generated by each TM teacher back to "National."

Initiator Address Form (11K) (no date, 1970s?) was required by "National" before "salaries" could be disbursed. The movement kept tight reign on TM teachers' whereabouts and teaching activities.

TTC Experience Form (8K) (no date, 1970s?) reported on prospective TM teachers' experiences on long "rounding" courses. Course Participants were supposed to relate "flashy" experiences, correlate them with a verse from the IX or X Mandala of the Hindu Rig Veda, and hand them in daily. (Note the admonishment about secrecy or confidentiality.) Collected by course leaders, these forms were reportedly forwarded to "International," where the Maharishi's staff pored over them for signs of instability -- or flashy quotes for movement publications.

Governor Experience Form (22K) (no date, 1970s?) were required from "Governors of the Age of Enlightenment" on a monthly basis to report on progress of the "World Plan," personal growth or problems. These forms were mailed to "International," where the Maharishi's staff pored over them for signs of instability -- or flashy quotes for movement publications.

Wish List:

  • Citizen's Experience Forms
  • TTC Application Forms
  • WPA Application Forms
  • Residence Course Application Forms
  • SCI Application Forms
  • MAV Health Inventory Forms
  • Others

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