Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Fairfield Flip-Flop

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Our new pal John Knapp forwards a pointer to his blog:
TM-Free Blog: Versions of the Age of Enlightenment Techniques

In our first major revelation at http://tmfree.blogspot.com, there is a LIVELY discussion taking place about the many versions the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught of the fabled Age of Enlightenment techniques. We're up to 5 and counting.

The Age of Enlightenment techniques were taught on the legendary 6-Month Courses of the Transcendental Meditation Orgs in the mid '70s.

Beside being a historical curiosity, the many versions taught point to a savage, even criminal, flaw in the Maharishi as a guru. He's just making this stuff up as he goes along. And in engaging in "impermissible experiments" on human subjects he may not only be immoral. He may be breaking the international law of the Geneva Conventions.

Read all 5 versions, plus essays and reader comments at http://tmfree.blogspot.com.
It sure looks like the old madman was just spitballing for most of the 70s, seeing if he could get anything to stick on the wall. It makes perfect sense that the Maharishi was reaching for whatever he could to get his grandiose dreams off the ground. But unfortunately for him, butts only bounce so high.

13 Comments:

At 1/20/2007 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the google ad on his blog was for Maharishi's TM University...ironic? sad? clever? You decide

 
At 1/20/2007 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in the early history of TM should get a copy of a book by Joyce Colin-Smith,
entitled Call No Man Master.

Joyce C-S was one of the very earliest MMY converts and worked as his admin secretary in his early years in London.

She described how he was chillingly indifferent to the reports that soon came in that his methods were producing injurious side effects. She noted that bringing in new recruits was essential, because persons who did TM became so passive that the office work wasnt getting done.

After Joyce left TM, she found herself suicidally depressed and after years of supporting herself as a writer, found her creative impulse was dead.

She met other artists who were involved with TM and they told her they'd lost thier interest in working.

Joyce was on the point of making a noose to hang herself when she found a way to settle her mind. Eventually, she found herself able to write again,but could only produce nonfiction.

She had supported herself years before by writing a series of novels, but after her years of TM, was unable to produce fiction.

 
At 1/21/2007 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anon..
that's an interesting perspective. I know little of the MMY technique. but I will say this. he wrote one of the first comprehensive interpretations of the Bagavad Gita .
I never got into TM but what you say makes sense.
Anyone with an overactive imagination and anything that may have lead to the field of the TM etc WOULD become somewhat detached with the mantra given. and therefore the pysocologil ramifications would make sense. after al in reality it IS a SCIENCE. also
For no other than a scientific reason than the MANTRA would raise ones kalpana[ imagination] to a more subtle plane a to negate it.
so what you say is probably true.
but one must look at this technique as a SCIENCE not as a a mystical toy that supposedly will give people siddhis [ powers]. maybe on paper that looks good. but hardly practical.
Its like telling a 5 year old that since they are going to school for the first time. in a short while they will be teaching at a university. ..

 
At 1/22/2007 8:43 AM, Blogger facedog said...

I do not want to defend Maharishi and I see that these folks have an anger that burns clean, but I can't help but feel that they don't have everything right.

I am an ex-TMer who went to a different system of meditation a long time ago. These folks talk a lot about disassociation and seem to feel they have been psychologically hurt by their years of TM. What I believe they are calling "disassociation", others, in a variety of traditions, call "witnessing". In my understanding, witnessing is a sign that individual awareness has expanded to a degree where the individual is able to identify with more than the body, mind, and emotions. There is certainly a distinct separation from oneself and the environment which wasn't obvious before and can take some getting used to. For instance it is harder to see only one side of a conflict and it is harder to be selfish without knowing it. Sometimes the person you are talking to appears to be your own self, etc. This is my experience and it came after doing TM for 5 years and going on a number of courses.

I don't enjoy the fact that Maharishi experimented on his students without their knowledge. I do see in the man a sociopathic edge, like a General who sends out troops, knowing they will die. His dreams for the world, if they had succeeded, might very well have pleased Hitler to some extent.

But the folks at TM-Free Blog seem to go overboard to me in that they don't always know what they are talking about, attacking meditation generally, simple pranayama, and vegetarianism, etc. Some of them seem sure they have become psychologically damaged and they want to convince me that I am as well. No thanks! The question is how best to integrate pure consciousness with regular work and family duties. For me this has meant decades of hard work, doing my duty as a husband and father, making tons of mistakes like my own parents did, and going on.

The "spiritual path" has always been difficult and dangerous. Maharishi should have told people this. I don't think much of him as a teacher because he didn't care for his students as people. But meditation remains a good tool.

I would enjoy reading Blades comments on this because he seems to know about it from first hand experience.

 
At 1/22/2007 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading somewhere (maybe it was on the Usenet TM group) that Gurudev apparently instructed Maharishi not to have disciples - but that is hearsay.

I think the main reason for the "damaging" effects of these techniques is that the people who went loopy failed to integrate their meditation practice with their regular life. I have myself experienced the Xanax®-like effects of doing TM, and while very pleasurable, as with any drug, you need to be careful not to go overboard.

This is the reason why in ashrams run by the Sivananda / Satyananda tradition, as well as at my own Guru's ashram in India, the focus is on Karma Yoga (work) alongside meditation practices. With the kind of samskaras us folks have, it is a blunder to use meditation as an escape from the world and life itself.

 
At 1/22/2007 1:29 PM, Blogger TheBlade said...

Hi facedog, I'd be happy to make some comments.

The story of Maharishi and TM is full of twists. The following are simultaneously true -- few people recognize the truth of them all.

(1) The Maharishi is probably a sacro-mythical narcissist with a sociopathic edge, and with very strong skills in priestcraft.

(2) He was instrumental in bringing useful meditation technique (which is not his) to the West.

(3) He cultivated the (lie) that it the technique was his.

(4) Many people benefited from the technique.

(5) Because of his personal shortcomings, he injected all sorts of pathologies into his organization, which was involved in all sorts of lies and deceptions and excesses, and his lack of care for people verges on the criminal. Many people received serious harm from involvement in his organization. Part of the problem is that they were completely unprepared by him for the difficulties of the spiritual path.

(6) He is so sacro-mythically inflated that for some time he has been seeing himself as the natural leader/ruler of the world according to 'Natural Law', and has been making efforts to establish himself as such, with no results.

(7) He is now in a permanent vacation in cuckoo-land.



Discourse on TM can be marred by parties not knowing that the above can be (and are) simultaneously true. The above seven points do not contradict each other, or prove each other false. Mistakes of along those lines are made by people both on the PRO- and the ANTI side of the TM camp. These mistakes are apotheosization, and its dual mistake, demonization. They are the tendencies to believe that 'him and his' are either all good, or all bad. The truth is that he brought both good and bad with him.

ANTI people (in demonization mode) will deny that people have benefited from the technique. PRO people (in apotheosization mode) will think that because people benefited from the technique, that he is not personally riddled with pathologies which have passed to his organization. PRO people have a difficulty recognizing that he is permanently stuck in cuckoo-land, even though he achieved some things of use at some point.

In another twist, I believe it is true that 'Guru Dev' did not want Mahesh to take followers -- however, I'm not so sure that Guru Dev's reasons are as pure as they seem. Apparently Guru Dev was a caste-traditionalist, and, on the basis of what would now be simply called caste-prejudice by many, did not want Mahesh to teach, only because Mahesh was a non-Brahmin!! So much for the apotheosization of Guru Dev!

 
At 1/22/2007 5:52 PM, Blogger facedog said...

I certainly agree with what you've said about Maharishi generally. I would also be interested in your thoughts about "disassociation".

antarananda said, "the focus is on Karma Yoga (work) alongside meditation practices. With the kind of samskaras us folks have, it is a blunder to use meditation as an escape from the world and life itself."

The idea that intense activity was needed to stabilize and integrate what was gained in deep meditation was taught by Maharishi along with the idea that service to the movement was the most effective kind of activity for doing it. If someone had problems focusing, intense physical activity was recommended. But for some it obviously was not enough.

What I fault Maharishi on was that he didn't let us know the risks and when he found out that many were not ready for long meditation, he continued with it anyway.

From the little book we all read about Guru Dev, he did indeed sound like the kind of guy who would forbid Maharishi to teach because he was not a Brahmin. He also seemed biased against women.

 
At 1/22/2007 6:04 PM, Anonymous mule puky said...

anon said,

"She met other artists who were involved with TM and they told her they'd lost their interest in working."

.............

I think this is probably bullshit. When I was in the TM movement, there were gobs of "writers, artists, and scientists" everywhere, meaning they were artists and scientists in their own minds. A guy who taught jr. high biology was a scientist. Someone who liked to draw or took a watercolor class was an artist.

All creative people dry up at some point or go through long periods of dryness. To blame that on meditation is childish. The reason they stopped being interested was that the work they produced was itself not interesting to anybody, even themselves. If this loss was related to meditation at all, it is more likely that their “creativity” bubbled up from a very shallow well of neurosis, which they began to loose by meditating.

If Joyce Colin-Smith made her living from creative writing, name something she ever did beside writing a self serving whine fest called Call No Man Master, which sold about 15 copies.

 
At 1/22/2007 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that intense activity was needed to stabilize and integrate what was gained in deep meditation was taught by Maharishi along with the idea that service to the movement was the most effective kind of activity for doing it.

Even with this teaching, they were still having unsupervised marathon sessions at the Mother Center, no? I think even if one were to be practising any kind of silent witnessing type meditation method, whether vipassana, or Self-enquiry a la Ramana, in such an environment, with lack of sleep and lack of contact with the outside world etc, most of us would come unhinged. It's sad that the environment facilitated this. This is why I have come to believe that for the vast majority of so-called seekers, brief periods of cathartic dynamic meditations a la Osho, or therapy and gentle emotional release processes would be better for mental and spiritual wellbeing.

What I fault Maharishi on was that he didn't let us know the risks and when he found out that many were not ready for long meditation, he continued with it anyway.

I agree. It's no surprise that with such a burgeoning number of people directly under his "command", there was little to no individual attention or care given.

From the little book we all read about Guru Dev, he did indeed sound like the kind of guy who would forbid Maharishi to teach because he was not a Brahmin. He also seemed biased against women.

It could also be that although he may have been a puritanical Brahmin, he also was a true Guru and was able to judge Maharishi's abilities and temperament, and as a good Guru warned him not to accept disciples. I know that Maharishi was never granted sannyas nor could he become the next Shankacharya because he was not born a Brahmin. It's also why Sri Sri never became a sannyasi - because his Guru wasn't one.

 
At 1/23/2007 5:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re comment that TMer's may have mistaken the witness state for dissociation - from what I've experienced of both states, I can't imagine they would. They are quite astonishingly different. Dissociation has a recognizable dullness, a timelag in the responses, a defocused sense of oneself as the one to whom one's own thoughts and feelings refer (ie, 'spaciness'). The witness state may be detached, but the self-sense is very clear, even if no longer embedded in the old formal identity, and it's not in the least bit 'spacey'. It may perhaps appear like that to someone on the outside only insofar as the one experiencing it still needs to renegotiate and integrate the state. But to the one experiencing it, it's not at all confusable with those states deemed 'dissociative'.

 
At 1/23/2007 1:33 PM, Blogger facedog said...

anon said

Dissociation has a recognizable dullness, a timelag in the responses, a defocused sense of oneself...

.............

For months after my first month long TM retreat, called the Science of Creative Intelligence course, I would be sitting at ease and suddenly see beautifully colored geometric shapes come pouring through the wall of my apartment. This was usually associated with full bodied jolts of electricity. Of course I never told my local TM teachers about this. I just assumed I was a little crazy. On the course itself I experienced such intense sexual tension that I could barely stand it. This was my experience on all courses. When I asked several teachers about it, they lied and said they had never heard of this problem and offered no solution.

I did find the solution after a while. It's called "getting older". Doing ones dharmic duty in the world, trying to be a decent person, trying to be worthy of love received. This is what helped.

Whether disassociation or witnessing, my final appreciation for the meditation is gratitude. But Maharishi should apologize for what he knowingly did. If he feels no apology is due, he is a sociopath.

 
At 1/24/2007 7:43 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

facedog saod,
I did find the solution after a while. It's called "getting older". Doing ones dharmic duty in the world, trying to be a decent person, trying to be worthy of love received.

..................

More preachy, self-righteous sniveling from facedog, what a treat! You should have stayed in Fairfield or become a pastor in your local Methodist church. Next time you get such insights, keep them to yourself.

 
At 1/24/2007 3:26 PM, Blogger facedog said...

Thanks, Betty, whoever you are. Doesn't seem that TM or AOL did you any good. Maybe your local Methodist Church would be a good place for you. Mostly decent people with no big axe to grind. Best of luck to you!

As for these Age of Enlightenment techniques, I never had the money to get them but I looked them over and can see how they could be very useful to some people. Betty, close your eyes and put your attention on the palms of your hands. Maharishi used to generally reccomend "feeling the body" as a way of releasing stress. If a person was on drugs and could not meditate, they were told to feel the body for ten miuntes twice a day.

 

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