Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T.M. in Yoga Journal, March/April 2001

Just for fun, I'm sharing with you the results of my spring cleaning.  This week I was going through old magazines, and picked this issue at random to browse through.  Wow!  Maybe it was a slow month at Yoga Journal, because they sure filled up a lot of space with T.M. related stuff.  Maybe the T.M. organization (TMO) public relations department sent out a bunch of "infomercials" (advertisements disguised as news items.)

Here's what I found:

1.  Paid advertisement: "America's Premier Ayur Veda Health Center - Maharishi Vedic Medicine at the Raj. Offering medically supervised programs based on….."  It included a testimonial: "I decided to try The Raj to avoid a lung transplant. It saved my life. Today I can converse without coughing, my heartburn is gone…."

[Since this is the TMO I'm dealing with, I googled the patient's name.  For what it's worth, I found her obituary - she had died of cancer seven years after the advertisement, at the age of 71.  She was treated at The Raj for something other than cancer.  - Laurie]

2.   News note: "A recent study found that ancient Vedic healing techniques….Four patients suffering from diabetes, sarcoidosis, hypertension and Parkinsons….Three weeks of Maharishi Vedic Medicine which incorporates diet, herbs, purification, yoga, T.M., Vedic sound therapy," ["Vedic sound therapy" is the term the article used for chanting - Laurie] and "yaghyas" (sic) which were defined in the article as "a Vedic therapy for restoring the harmony between an individual and the cosmos."   "….Over 18 months, many of the symptoms were reduced and some were even able to lower or discontinue medication. Source: Behavioral Medicine 2000; 26: 34-46."

3. Health article: "Allergy Alert: Stop Sneezing with these Herbal Remedies….Medical Director of Raj Maharishi Ayur-Ved Health Center in Fairfield, Iowa…imbalance of kapha dosha…Director of Research for Maharishi Ayur-Ved Products International says…."

4.  Paid advertisement: "Experience the Youthful Skin Transformation. Our Youthful Skin(™) line contains potent, natural-sourced….$26.95 for sample pack (4-step regimen of 4 lotions)."

5.   Health article: "Bathe in the Elements: Ayurveda prescribes cleansing your body in water, air, earth, fire and space….Ayurvedic 'bathing'….For example, 'an air bath…of deep breathing and focused awareness of the breath…bathes the lungs…,' says a visiting consultant at The Raj, an ayurvedic health center in Fairfield, Iowa…."

6.   News note:  "The Beatles Anthology.…Some consider the Fab Four's personal friendship with the Maharishi to be an early inspiration for the popular rise of yoga and meditation in the West."

7.  First-person story:  This one had no mention of T.M., but it ended with this paragraph, which, considering the heartbreak that sometimes results from following Maharishi, seemed to me ironically  apropros:

"Don't bow down to just a man," [a local guru  - Laurie]  I reply.  "Instead, bow down to your own Self that you recognize inside him.  Then bowing down to him is no different than bowing down before your own higher nature."  My student finally did choose to bow down.  Afterward, he looked relieved.  That's one of the opportunities that gurus provide:  They give us a chance to put aside our selfishness and replace it with surrender and service."
  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Conference on cults July 2-5


 If you enjoy attending conferences, you may be interested in knowing that the 
International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) will conduct its 2014 Annual International Conference jointly with Info-Cult/Info-Secte at the Sheraton Silver Spring (Maryland), a short subway ride from downtown Washington, DC. 

The theme of this year's conference is "Government, Human Rights, and the Cult Phenomenon." However, talks are by no means limited to this theme.

The program will be varied with numerous sessions pertinent to former members of cultic or other high-demand groups, families, helping professionals, researchers, and others. A track within the program will include sessions addressing aspects of the conference theme of government, human rights, and the cult phenomenon. 

Recent conferences have had about 100 speakers, so there will be much to choose from.

The conference takes place from July 3-5, 2014.  On Wednesday, July 2nd, there will be pre-conference workshops for mental health professionals, researchers, families, former members of high-demand groups, and people interested in educational outreach. 

I attended an ICSA conference many years ago, and greatly enjoyed meeting other former TMers and attending the talks.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Second Hand Cult Abuse - Fifty Years

A TMFree Reader sent the following story in a small series of emails.
She gave permission to post the story minus names.
This resembles stories of many who lost loved ones to TM, or have TM family members.

**********************************

I have been reading some blogs over the past few days and wonder if anyone is interested in my experience with TM?  I have communicated with ++++ a number of times. It comes in waves, at the moment I have been following the Pandit riot.  Anyway to cut a long story short I am a 70 year old grandma in Australia whose marriage and life was messed up for a very long time due to the fact my (ex) husband's obsession with TM.
Has anyone looked into the effect on families, i.e. those partners who are not TMers and what they are put througyh and what numbers divorce?  I would very much like to be in touch with other such persons here in Australia. I am sure there must be a number just like me.
MM visited Australia on 7 Dec 1967. Husband was asked to organise accommodation, media etc. We picked MM up from the airport in our little car. MM wrapped his sari around him pushed me aside and squeezed into the front seat leaving me carrying a 16 month old and heavily pregnant to attempt to get into the back seat.  It started right there. I was pushed aside over and over for 20 years until finally I said enough. I am still getting over the constant TM bashing (like a non smoker who inhales cigarette smoke I was contaminated).
Briefly my ex husband (of over 20 years) did the teacher training course in Fiuggi in 1972. We had been living in Italy for 2 years and I was sent home along with my +++ children ++++. He stayed for 3 months. This was upsetting for the children and put even a bigger burden on me. Starting children in school alone, opening the house after a rental of 2 years, getting used to Australian way of life etc.  He had been meditating since the early 1960s but it did not seem a big problem back then.   
When my husband returned from Fiuggi in 1972 he announced almost immediately he returned that sex would have to fit in with his duties as a TM teacher, i.e. none before or during...what a shock for a young 27 year old to be told essentially that our sexual relationship would make him "impure". That I would have to "book" him ahead of time. He didn't say that in so many words but for all those years that is what I carried inside me. Our married sex life was over really. 
Anyway "Down the Rabbit Hole" has left a big impression on me. I do so identify with what and who my husband became in those years after Fiuggi.  I think you call it "disassociation"? wonderful word and describes him exactly.     
He did his teacher training in TM in 1972 in Fiuggi as I said and we had just completed a 2 year stint in Genova where he did post doctoral work at the University.  I observed a changed person when he came home 3 months later. He was glassy eyed for weeks and talked of little else than the film the TMers had seen at the end of the course...The Beatles Yellow Submarine!!  I was so exasperated. I had spent 3 months learning to live back in Australia with 2 little boys beginning school. The "disappearance" of their father for such a long time had a long term effect on our eldest son who was very stressed at beginning school without his Dad around.
TM replaced a father who should have been around for his children. He never had time to take his sons to sports etc and was minimally involved in their lives. As for me I spent school holidays alone with the children as +++ chose those times (Uni holidays) to go on his extra TM courses.    
But those 25 years were a big part of my life and should have been healthy happy ones. I am also very angry with myself for tolerating so much for so long. Why didn't I leave so much earlier and had the chance of beginning a new life without him or TM?   But gradually I began to believe there was something wrong with me because I didn't embrace TM. I put 150% into our marriage because I thought if I worked harder he would care more for me. The more I did the less he did, so the last few years he sent all his spare time meditating and running marathons. My mother in law asked me why I worked so hard!
Fortunately I prevented ++++ taking the +++ children++  out of the highly prestigeous school they had managed to gain entry for. He wanted to put them in a newly opened TM school (as I suspected the school lasted all of 6 months). Thankfully I won that one. 
Recently +++ has spoken to the family about having a unit with the door "facing the right way". My son thought he meant Feng Shuey (dont know how to spell it)...but I realise now that it is another directive from the movement. It's just never ending.  In short TM I have believed for a very long time is an addiction for some people, or rather for people "in the hierarchy of the movement".  +++  was/is very influential in the movement in Australia. I know now that a lot of our money was syphoned off to the movement which is why I never had access to our bank accounts etc.    
Mostly I dont think about TM these days (unless at one of the grandchildrens' parties and their grandfather is there, then I get all shaky which seems ridiculous). When I begin to read some of the stories online which I do every now and then it takes me days to get over reading about things I was so close to. I really dont understand it as I have been alone for 25 years now. A counsellor told me, much to my horror, that I was emotionally abused. No he never laid a hand on me but I know that it was abuse. Being made to feel a 2nd rate human being on the "enlightened scale" , being called crazy, are not the acts of a so called "enlightened" person are they? Problem is my children and friends think of him as a quiet gentle person. They also think I should "get over it". I had noone to speak with about this in those 20 years as we lived interstate. Had we been near parents and friends he wouldn't have got away with his actions and behaviour. Because I was the one to initiate a divorce I was treated very badly by his parents for some time. Ironically toward the end of mother in law's life she confided in me that they both "live on another planet"!!! Whoa why didn't she speak up sooner? 
Anyway I do feel for you having been in a real family tradition of TM. I truly don't know how you cope.  Joe was great..I know some TMers have referred online to his "mental condition". That seems a standard comment about ex TMers who speak out and must originate somewhere in the movement?  I also came across an item referring to MM saying bad things would happen to those TMers who did not conform to his wishes, or some such thing.  In Weggis one of the little TM children I spoke of referred to an Australian couple whose little girl was born deaf...he, all of 8 years, said Maharishi told those people not to marry and that is why they had a deaf baby....scary?
I am amazed and truly horrified at the recent riot in Fairfield and the details surrounding it. Haven't the authorities done anything about these people?  My ex husband spent 10 years on the Fairfield University Campus after we divorced (with wife #2 also a teacher). He was a Prof of Mathematics and no dill, or I didn't think so for a long time.
We also spent 6 months in Lucerne Switzerland where husband was wired for the brain wave stuff. I saw a lot of neglected children in Weggis (children of very well known TMers and was horrified at the lack of time education and care taken of these children (who latched onto me as a sort of 2nd mother as I wasn't involved in the TM side of things).
I would love to hear of anyone in a similar position to me.  You see even now writing this I feel a sense of guilt and fear.  Discussing TM brings on a trembling and agitation I can't explain.  I have seen and heard what the movement is capable of over a period of 50 years.
Sincerely
  
Grandmother in Australia

Friday, April 11, 2014

"The Sopranos" illuminates Maharishi Mahesh Yogi


I recently read the book "The Psychology of The Sopranos:  Love, Death, Desire, and Betrayal in America's Favorite Gangster Family" by Glen O. Gabbard, M.D. © 2002.   I found these paragraphs:

"…In his study of how Nazi doctors could work at Auschwitz, [psychiatrist and thought reform expert Dr.] Robert Jay Lifton coined the term 'doubling' to characterize how the self was divided into two functioning wholes….They could spend their days committing genocide and their evenings listening to Mozart and helping their children with their homework.

…Lifton later studied fanatical religious cults and found similar mechanisms at work….Cult leaders often have the same form of division within the self.  Charismatic gurus may have the capacity for loving attachment and altruism in one corner of the psyche while promoting violence and mayhem from another sector.  Because the disparate aspects of the self remain unintegrated, they are less prone to come into conflict with one another and therefore less likely to cause guilt.  Hence the cult leader…may present an absolute certainty and conviction that is enormously appealing...."

Perhaps this explains the founder of the TM movement.  I have never understood what made him tick.  Unlike some former TMers, who feel Mahesh was always a con artist, I felt that he was sometimes very sincere in his beliefs.  Lifton's theory could explain Mahesh's personality dichotomy.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Meet Mumosa!

To enhance your enlightened enjoyment!

A new site http://mumosa.com exposes fallacies of Maharishi University of Management and life in Fairfield, Iowa - the North American mecca for the Transcendental Meditation Movement.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rekha Basu : "There's a little disconnect" in TM Pandit Compound




Rekha Basu states "There's a little disconnect" when pandits for peace threw rocks at a sheriff, during a stealth 6 a.m. operation to remove their leader for an undisclosed reason.

In summary, there needs to be some oversight about this suspicious situation.

Rekha Basu, journalist for the Des Moines Register, explains Vedic City and Pandit compound clearly to non-TMers. In this video interview she reviews the noble purported goals of the TM Movement, the financial and cultural contributions to the larger community, and the pandits' apparent totalitarian controlled living situation :






She provides an excellent overview of the Pandit compound in the video interview and her article "Maharishi Vedic City: Inside the compound with Rekha Basu".

Ms. Basu investigated only the pandit compound. So she understandably made a mistaken assumption in introductory remarks, stating that Vedic City private homes are for faculty of Maharishi University of Management.  In reality, MUM faculty live primarily on campus, because (like the fenced-in pandits) MUM faculty are compensated with room and board and a minimal stipend. The only MUM faculty who live off campus either have an outside income, personal trust funds or married into wealth.

Vedic City private homes are owned by private TM devotees.

The psychological totalitarianism of the TM Movement extends beyond the physical pandit enclosure.

Thank you, Rekha Basu!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Meaning of the TM Mantras

On another forum today I note yet another "debate" about the TM mantras ... whether or not they have any meaning.

I find it astonishing that this is still even an issue in the internet age. In Maharishi's earliest writing about TM in 1955, Beacon Light of the Himalayas (which can be downloaded over at Paul Mason's site), he writes: "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."

Later on, when he traveled to the US in 1959, MMY quickly learned that saying this about the mantras caused potential conflict with non-Hindu based religions. He adapted and moved on, saying that the mantras were meaningless sounds.

In the early and mid 1970s, a period where I spent a good portion of my time in on advanced TM Teacher Training courses in Switzerland and France, a number of teachers had done enough personal research to realize that the TM mantras were among tantric bija ("seed") mantras from the Mantra Sastra and other Vedic writings. For most of us this was exciting information ... we felt that we were among the privileged few who in on the secret. 

And yet out in the world, there we were regularly telling our students that the mantras were "meaningless sounds". We saw MMY saying the same thing when asked about them so "meaningless sounds" was what we said.

Regular readers of TMFree know that TM's so-called "advanced techniques" are simply prefixes or suffixes to the basic mantra you initially were given. In my own case my first advanced technique (all given personally by MMY) was "Sri" pronounced "Shree". My own TM mantra was "Aing", pronounced "eye-yeeng". I knew what Sri meant from the TM puja (which I can recite off the top of my head to this day) .... it is a term of reverence meaning "glorious".

Later on I received another advanced technique from MMY, this time it was the suffix "Namah" which I knew, again from the puja, meant "I bow down".

Again, during this time, I was 100% devoted to MMY and the TM movement. I was thrilled to be young and at the center of it all! It did not bother me in the slightest that I had insider information about the mantras that I did not reveal to either students or people who came to my introductory lectures. The ends justified the means you see ....

Still later I received another advanced technique from MMY. If memory serves, it was in Vitznau on Lake Lucern at the Park Hotel, where we had, as usual, taken over the hotel for an extended length of time.

While waiting in line with other initiators for my advanced technique, my buddy in front of me whispered "ask him the meaning, he'll tell you." 

I end up sitting next to MMY (in my own chair of course!) who gives me my next mantra addition, which turns out to be simply another "namah" tagged at the end of what I already had. Sri Aing Namah, Namah. I got up the nerve to quietly ask "Maharishi, what is the meaning?"  He leaned in and said "Glorious Saraswati, I bow down to you again and again." He added "Do not dwell". People have asked me, what did he mean by that? I have no idea since I didn't literally say "what did you mean by that Maharishi?". I was just thrilled at the time to have the meaning of what I was doing confirmed by him. To be honest, I was thrilled to have such "secret" info confirmed by him.

It was only later, when his extreme paranoia about CIA infiltration began taking hold, when I was told to start shredding documents, when that little voice in my head began telling me that this wasn't quite right, that I began pulling away and coming to my senses ... it was only then that I started to think about the overt lies I had been telling in the course of my TM teaching.

That some people still find tortured ways to rationalize that mantras have no meaning, that the TM practice is not, in fact, a prayer to a hindu deity, is boggling to me. Now, make no mistake, if you WANT to worship hindu gods in this way, that's great! I certainly have nothing against it as a religious practice.


When you look at the modern TM movement you realize that the entire TM theological framework, including the activities of the Fairfield pundits, rests on the thinking or uttering of magic sounds that supposedly curry favor with Vedic gods. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Inside Pandit Compound with Rekha Basu - Des Moines Register

This morning's Des Moines Register featured Rekha Basu's visit to Vedic City's Pandit Compound :





Read the full article and enlightening comments at :
Maharishi Vedic City: Inside the compound with Rekha Basu

Ms. Basu wrote an eloquent summary of the conditions of these young men.

She reported in such a way that insightful readers will question implications between the lines.
As she said in the above video "Decide for yourself".

Hopefully this report brought up enough questions that an external investigation will ensue.

TMFree hopes that investigators will fully evaluate the circumstances of this camp.
Where there is smoke, there is often fire.

Transparency is necessary.

One correction to the Register's article - TMFree is NOT Gina's blog.
TMFree is a co-moderated blog with several contributors listed in the right side bar. Mike Doughney "owns" the blog. (Thank you, Mike!)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Pandit Protest or Freedom Cry

ABC’s KTVO TV in Iowa March 11, 2014 reported on a “Pandit Riot” that took place at the gate to Vedic City’s pandit compound after TM officials arrived with sheriff support at 0600. They planned to remove one of the compound’s leaders for unspecified disciplinary action and possible return to India :




According to the televised report, dozens of the Indian men who receive $50 monthly stipend (with $150 presumably sent to families in India) surrounded the sheriff’s vehicle, threw rocks and broke a squad car light. The sheriff called for other law reinforcements from Wapello County for support.

The Global Country of World Peace or Vedic City authorities must have suspected some unrest to justify requesting sheriff support to escort this pandit leader away. 

The pandits protested their leader’s departure. Law enforcement officials could not understand words that were shouted in Hindi. News reports do not mention any attempt by law enforcement to understand the pandits.

News reports do not address (lack of) a Hindi interpreter. There is no mention if the shouting men were later provided an objective interpreter or offered impartial legal representation.

Credit goes to the sheriff who avoided escalating an altercation by successfully backing his vehicle away through the unarmed crowd. The sheriff’s office did not press charges since no one knows who assaulted the vehicle. Vedic City agreed to cover costs for the sheriff’s auto repairs.

The sheriff expressed incredulity that these men “held no respect for the law” when they mobbed his vehicle.  

The pandits were escorted back inside their square mile of fenced compound.

TMFree previously posted concerns about the pandits’ captivity in a previous three part series that can be read by clicking here.

The recent “riot" might be a desperate attempt by these caged men to communicate to the outside world. 

One woman interviewed for the televised report stated that these pandits WANT to stay impounded together, rather than return to their family squalor in India. However, if the pandits want to stay impounded, why did 163 of them escape within the last year? Their absence was not reported by the sponsoring TM organization that holds their passports. 

AlJazeera's review of January 27, 2104 “Indian Vedic students go ‘missing’ in the US”  
can be read by clicking here.

Vedi City's pandit situation resembles this animated United Nations’ video about modern human slavery :


These young pandits receive slave wages of room and board plus $50 / month. $150 per pandit is supposedly sent to their families in India. They may spend their $50 at small store in their compound. They rarely leave the compound. Their “job” is to inspire donations from TM True Believers for mystical chants that TM leaders promise will assure good weather, economic prosperity and world peace. For video clips, click here.

If these men want greater rights, they could be desperate enough to vie for attention from law enforcement.

Raja John Hagelin, Maharishi's Raja of North America (aka Dr. John Hagelin in the films “What the Bleep Do We Know” and “The Secret”) Bill Goldstein, spokesman of The Global Country of World Peace, and John Revolinski, an administrator for the pandit campus, said the majority of these pandits began living in TM’s pandit compounds as children. This sounds suspiciously like child trafficking.  See “Students inquire about pandits during forum” by clicking here.

Revolinski referred to the pandits’ group dynamics. He did not discuss the group dynamics of the larger community which colluded to keep these men inside a fenced compound.

Some reports state the pandits have R-1 Visas. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web Site defines R-1 visas here.  A key excerpt below :

“An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.   …
To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition."

Forgive our confusion. For decades the TM Movement stated they are a non-religious organization. The TM Movement used this non-religious argument to infiltrate public schools and the American Veteran’s administration through the David Lynch Foundation.

Yet, the pandits received visas to work for an “organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States”. 


Vedic City issued a TM-speak statement on March 11, 2014 which can be read here, and stated that :

“A very harmonious meeting was held with the entire Pandit group immediately after the incident to discuss what transpired. An internal review of the situation is being conducted with an aim to avoid any such repeat incidents in the future. “  

No investigator had contact with the pandits. Will an outsider speak directly to these men?

How can law enforcement assist the containment of voiceless innocents inside an isolated compound?

Some reports said these men were promised an education and job training. Does chanting for a net of $50 monthly equal a career?

Pandits are human beings whose concerns should be heard. These are not the mute Orca whales whose captivity in San Diego SeaWorld garners press attention through animal activists.

An objective legal investigation into this should be initiated by people outside of Jefferson County, Iowa. Authorities of southeast Iowa already demonstrated both lack of objectivity and collusion with Vedic City through seven years of silence about these men confined to one square mile in a cornfield.

The pandits may have learned that drama attracts attention after fire fighters responded to a small fire in a pandit mobile home on November 8 2013, as reported here.
Another fire on March 3, 2014 was reported here.

If these men are desperately calling for help, they might be succeeding.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

April Workshop for People Raised in High-Demand Groups


 I just received an email from the International Cultic Studies Association.  They will be holding a workshop which TMFree readers may be interested in.  So here is the information:

"Surviving and Moving On After a High-Demand Group Experience: A Workshop for Second-Generation Former Members
When: Friday 4:00 pm April 4, 2014 to Sunday 2:00 pm April 6, 2014
Where: Guest House Retreat & Conference Center, 318 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412.  Guest House is a delightful retreat and conference center in the scenic Connecticut River Valley. It offers spacious guest rooms with private bathrooms, superb cuisine, and amenities that range from a grand piano in the lobby to wireless Internet in every room. 
More Information:  http://www.icsahome.com/events/workshopsgas
As increasing numbers of people born or raised in cultic movements have reached adulthood, the International Cultic Studies Association has developed a program that addresses their special needs.
Second-Generation Adults (SGAs) do not have a “precult identity” to which they can return. Raised in fringe subcultures, they frequently have educational and other skill deficits that interfere with adjustment to mainstream culture. Having grown up in high-demand, high-control groups, SGAs struggle with issues of dependency, self-esteem, and social conflict. They often have to deal with the trauma of physical and/or sexual abuse. SGAs have difficulty getting help because they tend to lack finances and be wary of other people, including helpers. 
Meeting annually since 2006, this workshop addresses the needs of SGAs through presentations by specialists and former members, including discussions in which attendees may participate according to their comfort levels. Special attention is paid to the need of SGAs for privacy, reflection, and working at their own pace.
This workshop has been made possible by special donations and the willingness of facilitators to volunteer their time. Without the dedication of these people, registration fees would be much higher than they are. Donations cover a substantial portion of the total cost. 
We cannot accept onsite registrations, and we cannot guarantee acceptance of registrations received within 14 days of the workshop start date."

I hope this information is helpful to our readers.