(Note: Anyone with more than a casual interest in TM will want to view the new film "David Wants To Fly.")
This site is critical of Transcendental Meditation®
My name is Joe Kellett. Although I am a former "Transcendental Meditation"® (often just called "TM"®) teacher I no longer in any way represent the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or any or his organizations.
On the contrary, the purpose of this site is to provide information and arguments recommending against involvement with any of his organizations.
They want to do much more than just teach you how to relax!
However, after researching those sites then come back here. What you will have read is that TM produces very deep relaxation which has been scientifically proven to have both physical and psychological health benefits. (You may have read some outrageous things about "world peace" too but let's skip over that for now.)
What that scientific research does in fact show is that (a) TM produces deep relaxation in some people, and (b) deep relaxation can have physical and psychological health benefits. I have no argument with that. It's true (however do beware though of egregious spin-doctoring performed in TM propaganda regarding scientific research).
What I do have a problem with is that TM teachers use that as a starting point to recruit people into a cult. For one example, many people who start off thinking that they will just learn how to relax end up paying several thousand dollars for classes in developing supernatural powers such as levitation. Here is a video of people who started off just wanting to relax but who now (several thousand additional dollars later) are practicing what they sincerely think is actual physical levitation (the music is whimsical but that's actual footage of a "group flying session)!
Those people aren't just "learning" how to levitate. They are also "learning", they sincerely believe, how to become invisible. In fact, they are "learning" quite a number of supernatural powers. And that's just the beginning of what they're getting into. How did those people get from just wanting to relax to finding themselves practicing levitation and invisibility?
First, those people were deceived
TM teachers are trained to deceive you. They are good people and they deceive you from good motives because they want to hide from you things that "you aren't ready to understand yet." If you heard those things then your misunderstanding might prevent you from learning TM, and that would be a very tragic thing for you.
These well-intentioned TM teachers will deceive you in two ways. The first way is that they freely employ a technique of deception called "mental reservation." This form of deception involves hiding information from you while letting you believe that you have all of the information that you need. This was the form of deception employed by Bill Clinton when he said "I did not have sex with that woman." He wasn't "lying" (at least not according to his private unstated mental definition of "sex") but he was still deliberately "deceiving." As he famously said "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is". TM advocates are pulling identical deceptions on you!
TMers also quite freely and egregiously employ a form of propaganda called "spin doctoring." This is a form of deception involving deliberate distortion of the facts. In this website I will show you how both of these techniques of deception are used.
Second, those people's psychological vulnerabilities were taken advantage of
As I will discuss in detail this is how TM works: (a) first a person is told that by following a certain procedure he will attain deep relaxation, and (b) then he is then shown how to induce a trance state in himself in which that suggestion is acted out. Of course TM is very elaborate and effective in how it carries this out and I discuss this in great detail at that link.
And once some people are in a trance state they become so "suggestible" that in addition to acting out the suggestion that they should relax deeply, they will swallow doctrinal indoctrination whole without rationally analyzing it. This process of trance induction followed by immediately by doctrinal indoctrination is how all cults recruit. The only difference between the many various cults is how they induce the trance state and what the specific doctrine is that is thus inculcated.
Heavy TM involvement can create severe psychological problems
Attorney Anthony DeNaro, former professor of economics and business law at the private TM university Maharishi University of Management, as well as being a former legal counsel to the same institution, described a very serious and deliberate pattern of fraud, and that "outright lies and deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of:
A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome, and even outright lies and deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing techniques). Euphemisms are employed to describe essentially dangerous, unstable and injurious behavior. "Unstressing," for example,
...There were meditators who experienced serious breakdowns during and following meditation. MIU and the counseling staff usually opted for banishment in these cases, although their practices often triggered mental breakdowns. Many students who experienced severe and uncontrollable trauma from meditation came to me for assistance and counseling since Jonathan Shapiro and his staff were punitive and hostile in their "therapeutic" approach.
A lot of people are coming to this site curious about David Lynch. David Lynch is the Tom Cruise of Transcendental Meditation.
Tom Cruise believes absolutely that 75 million years ago the evil galactic ruler Xenu perpetrated mass atrocities that are causing the population of the entire world to suffer intensely to this day. The reason that humanity is suffering is that our own souls are encrusted with "body thetans", migrant souls that were created when Xenu blew up volcanoes containing millions of people who were in suspended animation. Tom Cruise is trying to save the world by telling all of us how to get rid of those body thetans.
Lynch is a whole lot nicer, but just as nuts. He believes the following (taken from "David Lynch: The weird world of David Lynch", "The Independent", 21 July 2005 -- read the whole article!):
Students who meditate, Lynch assured the New York Post yesterday, will: "Start shining like a bright, shiny penny and their anxieties will go away. By diving within, they will attain a field of pure consciousness, pure bliss, creativity, intelligence, dynamic peace [emphasis mine]. You enliven the field, and every day it gets better. Negativity recedes."
Ok, that qualifies as "eccentric" but not as "nuts" yet. It gets better:
With his new outfit, Lynch also intends to ease tension for all the rest of us by putting together " peace-creating super groups of 8,000 meditators" [emphasis mine] around the world, who will all chant simultaneously for peace and harmony. It is important that each group has 8,000 participants because "it's the size of the square root of one per cent of the world's population."
But it gets much better! (taken from the same article):
Lynch has insisted in recent interviews that he still has some way to go with TM before achieving full enlightenment. A few years ago, however, he did achieve the status of "siddha", or yogic flier. In other words, he is one of those people whose state of meditation becomes so profound that they are meant to levitate from the ground [emphasis mine]. (In practice this seems to involve a lot of hopping about one knee, hopefully on a rubber mat.) "I'm not a great flier," he said recently.
Here's that "levitation" clip again. Seriously, Lynch really believes that these people are rising up into the air via supernatural powers! Now we've reached the level of "nuts."
He also firmly believes that by continuing to practice this budding skill twice daily it will only be a matter of time until TMers will be able to hover in place, and that after that they will eventually be able to zoom about at will. (Go here and search for "2525" -- perhaps "by the year 2525" they'll be hovering, but it seems like "Stage III" zooming might take awhile.)
And as a trained "yogic flyer" himself Lynch practices this skill himself, faithfully, at least twice a day, whenever possible. Yes! Lynch believes that he can levitate!
And that's just a start
And, again, that's only the tip of the TM doctrinal iceberg. For example, TMers believe that the practice of TM will eventually bring them to a state of moral perfection. And after that they will achieve a state where they will have a direct perception of God!
So I am comparing myself to Cruise and Lynch? Most emphatically not in terms of such things as talent and accomplishment. But all three of us are human beings who put our pants on one leg at a time. All three of us share that we have a human psychology. And most, importantly, all three of us also share that our paths to our crazy beliefs involved the exploitation of the same extremely common vulnerabilities in human psychology. These are the vulnerabilities that are exploited by all cults.
How much money do you have? Get more!
Learning the basic TM technique will set you back $1500 in the US. How much more money do you have? However much it is, it's not so much that you can't spend it all on TM. TMers often end up spending everything they have on TM-related offerings . For example:
- You will definitely want to purchase levitation instruction. The last I heard this is on the order of $3000.
- You can seek "perfect health" by buying "Ayurvedic Medicine" consultations, and then buying ayurvedic remedies.
- You can seek to put your life in order by buying astrology horoscopes and readings.
- Based on your chart, the astrologer will recommend that you "eliminate dangers and negative tendencies in your life" by buying some yagyas (that's the same page as just given for astrology, just go down a few paragraphs). These are prayer ceremonies to Hindu deities. Hey, that's cool if you're Hindu, but it's something that definitely doesn't come up when the David Lynch Foundation pitches TM to an assembly of school parents. The DLF definitely practices deception by mental reservation at those meetings Maybe some of the parents don't want their kids exposed to surreptitious religious evangelism that will lead some of the kids to the eventual purchase of yagyas as adults.
- Based on your chart, the astrologer will also recommend gemstones for you to purchase and wear.
- You can buy what's called an "advanced technique." This involves merely having your mantra adjusted for which you pay over $1000.
- You can buy a house built according to Mahesh's brand of "Vedic" feng shui. Specifically, you'll want a "Fortune Creating Home."
Is TM is a religion? Dig through the mental reservations!
TMers will tell you over and over again that TM is just a "simple, natural relaxation technique" that requires no faith in order for it to work. So what am I talking about? How can a "relaxation technique" be a "cult"?
Here's the first egregious deception by "mental reservation" that you will encounter. When TMers say that TM is "just a relaxation technique" they are employing a deception by mental reservation because there are two meanings to the term "Transcendental Meditation":
- There is, indeed, "TM-the-relaxation-technique."
- But there is also "TM-the-dogmatic-spiritual-teaching ."
They are deceiving when they tell you that TM is a simple relaxation technique because despite having told you that, they are also going to teach you TM-the-dogmatic-spiritual-teaching as an integral part of your instruction in the relaxation technique! And their conscious hope is that you will come to believe in this teaching.
In other words, they are pushing both "TMs" at you at once, one overtly and the other covertly. I discuss this at length elsewhere in this site . And some people will in fact come to believe in the TM spiritual dogma because of suspension of their psychological "reality testing" mechanism.
It is TM-the-dogmatic-spiritual-teaching that is a cult. Saying "TM is just a relaxation technique" is much like saying that "Scientology is just a personality test." This is because in both cases the covert goal is that you will come to believe in the spiritual teachings.
Both the TMers and the Scientologists are very good people. (Yes, I include the Scientologists, most people in cults are very good people, Tom Cruise is a very good person who truly and sincerely cares greatly about you, he's only trying to do the right thing for you and the world; the fact that he does this in an oppressively arrogant and offensive way is a different matter.) These good people only want the best for you. TMers consciously deceive only because they are afraid that if they tell you the real plan for you up front that you will run away, to your own very great spiritual detriment.
(A note: I can't keep saying "TM-the-relaxation-technique" and "TM-the-dogmatic-spiritual-teaching" throughout this web site. You'll have to figure out which one (or maybe the combination) that I mean by the context.)
But, but... Scientology?
Tom Cruise jumps on couches, gets in Matt Lauer's face, and has crazy-eyes. But David Lynch seems quite normal except for some apparently harmless eccentric views. So how can I compare TM with Scientology?
Because TM and Scientology differ in degree but not in kind. The things that I'll be talking about are much more obvious in Scientology, which makes the comparison an effective way of pointing out the same things in TM.
A quick tour?
In this website I'll go into much more detail. Perhaps more detail than you really want. If you're intimidated by the Table of Contents below then at least take a look at the following to see if you want to read more of the site:
- It might be interesting to just quickly skim the Table of Contents below.
- Perhaps check out this partial list of crazy TM beliefs.
- Here's a one-page description of how the TM technique itself is merely trance and suggestion.
- Here's an explanation of how TM is a full-blown religion.
- Most importantly, I describe how TM is a psychologically dangerous cult.
- But it needn't all be gloomy, have a look at "Fun with TM web links." Also try clicking on some of the trademarks below.
If you're still interested then keep reading. But just one more thing before going
into detail. I suggest that you also have a look at the TM-Free blog . You'll find
very informed ex-TMers there who know where the bodies are buried. There's
lots of good stuff to read, and you can post there with any questions that you may
have. Also take a look at Coming To Life
Stories. This is Gina Catena's blog. I mention her in my discussion of David Lynch. She literally grew up in
the "TM Movement" (as TMers like to call it). She is also a frequent contributor to
the TM-Free blog mentioned above.
I have already learned TM and this all sounds pretty scary! Am I in a cult? Should I stop meditating?
I have validated Maharishi's teachings through my own innocent experience, without any exercise of faith. And his teachings have been scientifically validated and are intellectually sound. I am not in a cult!
Except where noted the entire contents of this site
copyright © 2000-2010
by Joseph W. Kellett
All rights reserved
Many terms used on this site, including but not necessarily limited to "TM"®, "Transcendental Meditation"® and "TM-Sidhi"® are trademarks of Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation.
Please see the trademark notice at the bottom of the TM.org copyright page for what I presume is the current complete list. Below is the list from that page as of March 8, 2008.
® Transcendental Meditation, TM, TM-Sidhi, Maharishi Ayur-Veda, Maharishi Ayurveda, Science of Creative Intelligence, Maharishi, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, Maharishi Global Construction, Maharishi Yoga, Maharishi Yagya, Maharishi Vedic Astrology, Maharishi Jyotish , Maharishi Gandharva Veda, Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health, Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology, Maharishi Instant Relief, Instant Relief, Maharishi Rejuvenation, Maharishi Rasayana Program, Maharishi Vedic Management, Maharishi Corporate Development Program, Consciousness-Based, Maharishi Vedic University, Maharishi Vedic School, Maharishi Vedic Center, Maharishi Ayur-Veda School, Maharishi Ayur-Veda University, Maharishi Ayur-Veda College, Maharishi Ayur-Veda Foundation, Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center, Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, Maharishi Medical Center, Maharishi Vedic Medical Center, Maharishi Medical College, Maharishi Vedic, Maharishi Vedic Medicine, Maharishi Vedic Psychology, Maharishi Self-Pulse, Maharishi Heaven on Earth, Maharishi Center for Excellence in Management, Maharishi Vedic Management, Maharishi Master Management, Natural Law Based Management, Maharishi Corporate Revitalization Program, Maharishi Global Administration through Natural Law, Maharishi Vedic Development Fund, Thousand-Headed Purusha, Maharishi Thousand-Headed Purusha, Maharishi Purusha, Purusha, Thousand-Headed Mother Divine, Mother Divine, Ideal Girls' School, 24 Hour Bliss, Spiritual University of America, Breath of Serenity, Maharishi Amrit Kalash, Maharishi College of Vedic Medicine, Vedic Science, Maharishi Vedic Science, Maharishi Vedic Observatory, Vastu Vidya, Maharishi Vastu, Time Zone Capital, Council of Supreme Intelligence, Prevention Wing of the Military, are registered or common law trademarks licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation and used under sublicense.
Basically, if you assume that any English phrase beginning with the word
"Maharishi" is trademarked then you'll be heading in the right direction. There
are others too, though. My personal all-time favorites are "Thousand-Headed
Mother Divine"®, "Council of Supreme Intelligence"®,
and "Thousand-Headed Purusha"®.
You may find it interesting to follow some of the links above.
You may find it interesting to follow some of the links above.
(Link button images are courtesy of aLT-wEB)