What is TM? How does it work? (long version)
Suggestions are carefully planted in you at a couple of "introductory lectures", where you are pitched the idea that Mahesh somehow has the inside scoop on some sort of ancient knowledge from India. If you don't buy this "ancient wisdom" pitch then you may buy the concurrently presented "scientifically validated simple relaxation technique" pitch.
By the end of the second lecture, you will have received two very strong suggestions multiple times. These suggestions are: (1) The TM teacher is a highly trained authority figure who is the direct delegate of even stronger authority figures, and (2) The practice of TM will induce a reduction in thought activity and will produce a concurrent deep relaxation.
Your acceptance of the TM teacher as an authority figure is important when trance induction occurs later. This planted suggestion of what TM will do to you is also very important later (you have to know what to do once you enter trance).
These "introductory lectures" constitute your first indoctrination into the TM doctrinal system. (One of the things you weren't told ahead of time is that TM (as an entire system of teaching) is actually a highly dogmatic religion.)
You have already accepted these suggestions to at least some degree, because in fact you sign up for instruction at the end of the second pre-trance suggestion-planting sessions ("lecture"). You fill out a rather personal form), which the teacher goes over in detail, apparently analyzing it carefully.
You've been carefully planted with the suggestion that the teacher has had esoteric training in "selecting a mantra that is life supporting for each individual", so you wonder what his special training lets him see in your form data, and/or lets him see in you personally, that would allow him to select your own personal mantra. This lends the teacher more of an air of authority -- which, again, makes it easier for him to induce trance and plant further suggestions later.
You have been told that the teacher will perform a "simple ceremony of gratitude" at the time of your "private personal instruction." You are told that it will be the teacher doing the ceremony and that you are not involved. "You are merely being asked to watch because personal instruction will begin as soon as the ceremony is over." This ceremony is supposedly just a sort of "remembrance" of the "tradition of teachers from whom we have this knowledge", and a strong ethical reminder to the TM teacher that he must "impart the teaching as he was taught to do by Maharishi so that the purity of the teaching can be maintained."
This is all just a rationale for subjecting you to a trance induction procedure called "the puja." (Note: "puja" ceremonies are common Hindu religious practices, and no disrespect is intended toward their use in traditional contexts.)
But, just a small point: you are asked to bring a "few things" for the ceremony: some fruit, a few fresh flowers, and a handkerchief. Huh? But complying is harmless, and you're already a little psychologically invested aren't you, and perhaps a little intrigued?
What you don't know is that you've just received multiple, and even stronger, new "suggestions" that the teacher is an authority figure (after all, you've been told that the purpose of the ceremony is supposedly to inspire him to exercise his "delegated authority" properly), and you've also received additional suggestions that there is something very special about all of this.
You've been brought to the very edge
of the TM rabbit hole, and you're looking over that edge.
You're ready to be pushed in.