Monday, January 29, 2007

Lifton's Thought Reform Criteria Applied to TM. Part Two of Eight

Lifton’s Criteria of Thought Reform - Part Two
As applied to Transcendental MeditationTM
Gina Catena, M.S.

Last week we examined Lifton's analysis of environment as applied to common TM Movement practices, which can lead toward personal manipulation (mind control influences). You may review part one of this eight-part series by clicking here.

Lifton's second criteria of thought reform addresses "mystical manipulation."

MYSTICAL MANIPULATION (Planned spontaneity)

“Additionally behaviors and emotions are orchestrated in such way to appear to arise spontaneously from within the environment.” (1)

For example, during group practice of the TM-SidhiTM program, a spontaneous “wave” or “lift off” may occur during “flying” and a group of individuals bounce about in unison with cheering or laughing aloud. This is called “a wave of bliss.” In actuality, this has been orchestrated through suggestion of such experiences in the “knowledge meetings.”

Any positive event in life is explained as “Support of Nature” for living “a life of purity.” Individual behaviors and hard work are never credited with resulting fortune, but rather the result of mystical “Nature’s Support.” However, negative outcomes in life are blamed on the individual for not being good enough, not having adequately earned “Support of Nature.” To gain appropriate “Support of Nature,” one is encouraged to purchase expensive yagyas (mystical prayer ceremonies costing thousands of dollars), donate more time or money to spreading the teaching, or attending more expensive advanced meditation programs.

Retrospective evaluation of positive news events is designed to demonstrate “spontaneous support of nature because of super radiance effect from group TM-SidhiTM practice.” This propaganda creates mystical enthusiasm in adherents, nothing more.

Maharishi’s request to hear others’ esoteric meditation experiences (on the current “Invincible America” course held in Vedic City/Fairfield, Iowa) subconsciously inspires internal mystical experiences for some. Many want the privilege of sharing their experiences publicly with their deemed Spiritual Master. (We could also address whether emphasis on mystical inner visions increases risk of psychosis).

“Totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative.” (2)

Maharishi claims descendence from an ancient Indian “Holy Tradition.” This provides an exclusive connection for mystical divination. (Tom or John can write an essay recanting the mythic holy tradition).

As one slides the slippery slope into TM, from involvement at regional TM center meetings with the kindest people you could ever meet, group meditations, advanced courses, TM, TM-SidhisTM, the lifestyle of Maharishi Ayur-VedTM may become the only recognized path to enlightenment,

“so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment)” (3)

“The individual then develops the psychology of the pawn, and participates actively in the manipulation of others.” (4)

At this point, a well-intentioned meditator, Sidha, TM Teacher, or “Governor” identifies with the group message over their individuality. The individual fulfills directives from their leaders to recruit and retain others, completely unaware that they spontaneously are acting on the wishes of Maharishi's recruitment efforts.

My TM loved ones request, “Gina, move back here. We love and miss you. You’ll have support of nature if you live here. It will be the best thing for your evolution.” They mean well. I love them too! I also know that full acceptance into their world would require me to relinquish some critical thinking to directives originating from Maharishi’s center in Vlodrop, Netherlands.

“The leader who becomes the center of the mystical manipulation (or the person in whose name it is done) can be sometimes more real than an abstract god and therefore attractive to cult members.” (5)

Maharishi, Bevan Morris, Raja Hagelin and other spokespersons for the higher knowledge can seem more accessible than an abstract deity. The leaders and group dynamic offer immediate validation for “good” behavior rather than relying upon an internalized value set, which lacks feedback. TM leadership rewards "good" behavior through praise and exclusivity for bringing global influence toward world peace, enlightenement, expansion of happiness and spreading creativity and bliss to others.

The combined effects of this psychological manipulation

“Legitimizes the deception used to recruit new members and/or raise funds, and the deception used on the ‘outside world’." (6)

The greatest deception was done to ourselves by our own minds, by believing that all was good because it felt good!

Working for the higher good of global enlightenment, world peace, perfect health and personal enlightenment provides the noblest motives.

TM is deceptively presented to the business and educational communities for “deep rest and release of stress.” TM teachers are aware of their selective deception while making recruitment presentations.

True Believers justify deception, believing that slow revelation of this “path to enlightenment and pure bliss” is in the best interest of new recruits. The True Believer lacks malfeasance. S/he believes in the ultimate goodness of their deception. The end justifies the means. Sincerity in itself is a valuable recruitment tool.

Click here for Part Three.

1. ibid Lifton
2. ibid Lifton
3. ibid Lifton
4. ibid Lifton
5. ibid Lifton
6. ibid Lifton

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