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College Paper I did in 2009 for my World Religion's Class
(More Truth about Transcendental Meditation. It's possible there are some repeats for another paper I wrote about TM, but expressed differently.)

Transcendental Meditation® as a Religion

      “Transcendental Meditation was ruled a religion by the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, Docket No. 76-341 (H.C.M.) Civil Action, in the case of Alan B. Malnak. et al., Plaintiffs, v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, et al., Defendants, in a summary judgment issued October 19, 1977, followed by an order and judgment, filed December 12, 1977.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi talks to Purusha (Switzerland, 1982)

      Religious meaning of Mantras: "For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods and make us happier in every walk of life."  ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in "Beacon Light of the Himalayas," 1955.

      The above was said in a book by Maharishi that has been suppressed by the TM® organization for about 40 years.  I think it is now available to purchase again.

      I am writing this paper about Transcendental Meditation®, because, even though they say it is not a religion I believe it is and I will mention some things, including the ones above, to prove my point.  For the remainder of this paper I will use mostly TM® because it is short for Transcendental Meditation®.

Image: Linda in 1974      I learned TM® because I had heard about it from a book about the Beatles.  I’d been thinking of doing something along a spiritual path for some time and I chose TM®.  I went to the introductory lecture in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1974, next to the town where I lived.  The lecture was given by two very handsome men in suit coats and ties.  They appeared to be kind and sweet.  We weren’t told anything about it being a religion at that time; in fact, we were told it was not a religion.  Yeah, right.  We also weren’t told about the sacred puja that was to be performed during our initiation.  It was only through time and experience that I discovered, it is a religion and a cult and new initiates are hypnotized during the introductory process, the initiation process and during other aspects of the TM® routine.   

      I still remember my initiation ceremony in 1974.  I went to the TM® center in Andover, Massachusetts and into a small room with my initiator.  Near one wall were comfortable chairs; against the facing wall was an alter with many religious looking items on it - including small stainless steel bowls containing rice, water, and loose incense. There were also flowers, candles, sandalwood paste, camphor, and other ritual offerings.  At the back of the alter, and leaning up against the wall was a picture of Maharishi’s Master, His Divinity Swami Brahmanda Saraswati Maharaj Jagad-Guru Shankaracharya of Jyothir Math.  We called him Guru Dev.  For my initiation I was told to bring some fruit, flowers and a white handkerchief to be offered to Guru Dev and the holy tradition. I was told to bring these items and was not told exactly what they were for. These were carried by me into the initiation room in a wicker basket.  My initiator then went through a ceremony, which included offering of my flowers, fruit and handkerchief to Guru Dev and some Holy Masters and putting some of the loose incense on my handkerchief.  I stood there holding one of my flowers. My initiator also sang a chant in Sanskrit which included the names of the TM® Holy Tradition and kneeling and bowing down before the alter.  I was also asked by gesture to kneel and bow down, and I did. What did I know what I was doing?  I was young and I now, as I mention elsewhere, believe I was hypnotized.  I later found out that during the bowing down he sang something like, “I bow down to Thee,” only in Sanskrit.   This chanting and ritual activity in front of the alter, the Puja, was apparently to “tie the soul of the initiate with Guru Dev, the Maharishi's long-dead teacher Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and ultimately to Mahashiva as the true teacher/guru” (suggistability.org). 

      The TM® people have insisted for many, many years that TM® and the organization have nothing to do with religion.  It certainly sounds like a religion to me, but I just went along with the program because I wanted to learn this great technique that would bring peace and enlightenment to me and to the world.  Also the mantra they gave me, I discovered later, is the name of a Hindu Goddess – one of the names of Mother Divine.  At the time I was told it was a meaningless sound. 

Image: Guru Dev      The evening after the group I was part of was initiated, we had a meeting at the TM® Center with one of the initiators there; it was called the three days of checking, and this was just the first day.  On the picture of Guru Dev (see picture to left), which was in the lecture hall as well, there were Sanskrit words behind him.  The initiator who gave the first lecture, trying to be funny, pointed to the Sanskrit words and said that the words translated into, “Ha, Ha, now you’re a Hindu.”  Ha, ha, indeed.

      After all that, I was still hooked.  Didn’t have a clue it was a religion, or I just didn’t want to know, or I was naïve, and I didn’t know that my mantra was the name of a Hindu Goddess. As I mentioned before, they said it was a meaningless sound.  After the three days of checking, I continued going to the lectures every week that were held at the TM® center.  I also attended "rounding" weekends where we did extended practice of TM. Eventually I became a staff member in a TM® Retreat center in Upstate New York.  I was totally into it.

Photo: Woman ready to meditate      I met my husband, Bert, at that place in upstate New York.  It was a place where we lived in communal rooms, in 1976-1977, (men separate from women), had communal bathrooms, meditated together in groups and attended many pujas.  We watched many videos of Maharishi lecturing to us about enlightenment.  We received $25 per month as a stipend and did what we were told to do.  No sex, no watching TV, and there were lots of other rules that we followed.  Before I went there, it was suggested that I don’t take my car, so I drove there with my mother and she took my car back to Massachusetts.  Is that devotion, stupidity, naivety or what?

      Bert and I eventually married and moved to California (in 1978).  Then we heard that Maharishi wanted his followers to go to a place in Missouri, where they were building another retreat center.  We worked and lived there for over a year (1978-1979) and we learned the advanced TM® techniques, called the TM® Sidhis® in exchange for our work there.  And that’s basically all we got for working there for almost a year and a half.  Oh, yeah, we also got our $25 stipend every month and room and board.  The TM® Sidhis® included learning to levitate.  I never did actually levitate - it was mainly hopping.  I don’t think anyone has actually levitated.  We drove to St. Louis, Missouri and then to Fairfield, Iowa to learn these techniques.  There were many pujas, very religious looking ceremonies, done again at each level of this instruction. 

      After learning our advanced techniques we moved back to California, where we lived in yet another communal situation with other members of another TM® place called a Sidha Village, in Los Altos, CA. While living there I got pregnant and had our daughter, Erica, at a nearby birthing center. 

Image: The golden dome in Fairfield Iowa      Maharishi then suggested that his followers move to the Fairfield, Iowa university and meditate and practice our “program” together in large groups in the Golden Domes to help bring about world peace. Bert and I were not allowed to stay on campus because we had a child, so we rented and eventually bought an inexpensive house in town.  Bert worked as the maintenance man at MIU (now called MUM), made hardly any money, and we religiously attended the group TM and TM advanced practice. Many of the buildings, both inside and out, were decorated with statues and pictures of many of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses; the women often dressed in saris or very India-style looking dresses.  We attended the practice of TM® and the advanced techniques inside the Golden Domes (one dome for women and one for men) twice a day, went to many ceremonies in the Men’s dome some evenings, watched videos of Maharishi and listened to Pandits singing the hymns of the Vedas which was holy chanting. 

      Maximos Aghiorgoussis calls TM a “pagan pseudo-worship”. He states, “there must be a religious rite of initiation, in a suitable room full of incense smoke, with lit candles (the only dim light), and a huge photograph of Guru Dev to which offerings are made and idolatrous worship is rendered. The offerings include a seemingly strange collection of three sweet fruits, at least six flowers, and a clean handkerchief. The offerings are offered during the religious rite Puja, which is performed in Sanskrit (a language unknown, of course, to the non-Indian young followers and users of the method), during which rite glory and worship are offered to the (pagan) "god" Guru Dev.

      “Finally, the initiate receives a so-called mantra, an exclusive word known only to himself and which he may not disclose to anyone; otherwise the word becomes useless. The initiate repeats this word insatiably when practicing TM twice a day for twenty minutes at a time. … TM is essentially a new version of Hindu Yoga.” (Aghiorgoussis)

Image: The "Golden Dome" in Fairfield, Iowa.      I fell for it for many years.  I wanted to do something good in the world and help myself in the process.  I wouldn’t even mind if they had said at the beginning that it was a name of a Goddess that was given to me as a mantra and said that TM® was a religion.  Maybe I wouldn’t have minded, who knows now?  Anyway, it pisses me off to find out that it is a religion.  It pisses me off that people are spending all this money, (TM now costs $2,500 to learn) not really knowing what they are getting themselves into.  Not only does it sound like a religion it also sounds like a scam.  Lies, lies, lies, many lies are told to people to get them to learn TM, and to people after they learn the technique.  I wish I could shake people who are thinking of learning, who have learned and who are as into it as I was and tell them the truth that it is a religion and it is hypnosis.

Photos by me from top:
Me in 1974
Guru Dev
(I took this picture of a picture)
Me ready to do my "program"
Bert and me with our daughter and my mother in front of the Golden Dome in 1982
Me and my husband Bert at MIU in 1978

Below are some places to find out more about Transcendental Meditation®

http://www.suggestibility.org/  -  A critical opinion of how TM® really works
http://angelstarcreations.com/writings/TM.html - the paper I wrote for my anthropology class - includes the video I made about TM.
http://angelstarcreations.com/metaphysical/tm_exp.html  - My experiences with TM®.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Meditation - Wikipedia about TM®
http://www.tm.org/  -  The Transcendental Meditation® Web site.

Also see my more extensive list on my "Anthropology Class" Paper

All images on this page are by me. The video is from YouTube by someone else.

Read my other Writings about TM:
My Experiences | My Anthrolopogy Paper (includes lots of good links to check out)
An Open Letter Written by Someone Else

Back to Main "My Writings" Page

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