Sunday, February 11, 2007

Follow up on Creativity and TM

In response to "comments" on Susan's post

on Creativity and the David Lynch Lynchpin :

Thank you Judy for keen observation and appropriate quotations.

Your intelligence and commitment are admirable qualities. I admire your tenacity to read and consider viewpoints contrary to your own.

Your quotes exemplify potential hazards of cult mentality.

Typical cult-thinking attributes "all good" in life to the guru or the method espoused by the cult leader.

In actuality, talented creative accomplishments derive from the individuals themselves. The TMers you quote on the MUM site were creative on their own. They learned to attribute their creativity to TM (as does Lynch, as did the Beatles for a few brief months).

On the other side of cult thinking, all "bad" or "negativity" in life is attributed to individual shortcomings, or threats from the outside, e.g. "negativity," "stress," "the world of ignorance," "lack of Nature's Support."

Dysfunctional dynamics actually originate from a circuitous closed theology and group dynamic. The problems are then blamed upon individuals' negativity or stress, or association with threatening outside influences.

Some (like Susan) find their creativity diminished when under cult influence. Others (like myself) found their social circle shrink. Others had more dramatic effects. Some had little or no negative effects from association with TM.

The point is to be aware that TM needs a warning label, just like wine contains a warning label.

Some are more vulnerable than others to cultic influence / coercive persuasion. Nothing more.

TM's inocuous presentation is as benign and attractive as "People's Temple" early revival meetings under Jim Jones. The People's Temple in San Francisco at least helped many poor and aged through their nursing homes and civil rights activism, prior to their flight to South America and mass suicide/murder.

Fortunately, MMY does not have the extreme paranoia streak of Jim Jones.

Sadly, society at large tends to ignore the threat of cult seduction and influence until confronted with the extreme drama of Jonestown or the deaths in Waco. Nonetheless, staunch limitations from the True Believer syndrome threaten inner freedom.

Fortunately, MMY is a more astute and focused business man than was Jim Jones. He maintains his compsure through global expansion, and would not request followers to speed up their evolution to enlightenment by ending this incarnation en masse.

Unfortunately, MMY's composure allows others to normalize the group dynamic and limiting mindset of the TMOrg.

Judy, your insights are excellent. Your comments bring pertinent points home for consideration.

Thank you,

Jai Freedom-of-Mind,
Gina

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your quotes above exemplify potential hazards of cult mentality.

Typical cult-thinking attributes "all good" in life to the guru or the method espoused by the cult leader....

...Talented creative accomplishments derive, in fact, from the individual themselves. The TMers you quote on the MUM site probably were creative on their own. They now attribute their creativity to TM....

Couple of points. First, I was responding to Sue's question as to whether other artists practicing TM had found that it had helped their already-existing creativity. I can't recall hearing any TMer claiming TM had caused them to become creative; nor did the TMers I quoted suggest such a thing (nor does Lynch, for that matter).

Second, the tendency of TM practitioners to attribute all improvements in their lives to TM appears to me to be reflected in reverse by the tendency of angry former TMers to attribute all deterioration in their lives to TM. It seems to me that if the first is open to question, the second is as well.

You write, "Some are more vulnerable than others to cultic influence / coercive persuasion." I agree. But presumably you would characterize this vulnerability as an individual shortcoming. If so, why should it not receive at least some of the blame for bad experiences with TM and the TMO?

Although not all the research cited by TM as proof of TM's benefits is of high quality by any means, some of it is very good indeed. There is not an equivalent body of research, either quantitatively or qualitatively, showing that TM is harmful. (That's at least partly because the TMO has the bucks to fund large numbers of studies, as well as the ability to attract research grants from institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, of course.)

The bottom line is that the burden of proof at this point is on those who believe TM is harmful to support that claim. At present, such support doesn't go a whole lot beyond anecdotal reports such as Sue's.

"Cult thinking" is certainly a hazard. But in my observation, many TM critics have their own problems with this kind of thinking; and they have significantly less data to back it up than the TMers have to back up theirs.

Judy Stein

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

Your point about the lack of research pointing out TM detrimental side effects is a good one.

The research community is swamped with material created by pro-TMers. Apparently there is little interest in studying the side effects of meditation. So we are left with a few studies from the 70s, published at trancenet.net and anecdotal reports.

However, the traditional meditation literature from India abounds with warnings against practicing mental techniques without the guide of an enlightened master. And, too, there is the observation of anyone who has been deeply involved with the TM Org. Fairfield, as well as Purusha and Mother Divine, are awash in stories of TM "basket cases." And the stories of "Fiuggi Flipouts" are legion among old timers. Also, consider the affidavit of Anthony DeNaro, in which he reports the Maharishi was willing to accept TM casualties in order to achieve his world plan. Then, there are the Checking Notes, whose General Points discuss unpleasant side effects.

My point is there may not be a lot of research on negative side effects, but the anecdotal evidence is there. It's my hope that at some point there will be serious research, rigorous by Western scientific standards that will put this issue to rest.

Whew, sorry I got so long winded. My bottom line, Judy, is that you raise a very good point. And one that needs some serious attention.

I wish just one of us critics were engaged in research.

J.

Gina said...

Yes, as in alcohol or tobacco, the onus is ultimately upon the user to beware - as in Be Aware.

Studies showed that some individuals have a neurologic predisposition to alcoholism or addiction. They have greater risk of alcoholism than others.

Alcohol comes with a warning label for all users, whether or not their neurotransmitter production created an inherent vulnerability to addiction.

Many benefit from an occassional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage. Some studies actually demonstrate cardiac benefits to limited use of alcohol.

Once upon a time, alcoholism was not publicly recognized as an issue of concern.

Tobacco use has an association with lung cancer. Many claim benefical relaxation from smoking. Some smokers live to a ripe old age with excellent health.

Not all cancers are related to smoking. Not all smokers will develop cancer, but they are aware of the risks of smoking. Cigarettes come with appropriate warning.

We advocate for appropriate warnings with entry to Transcendental Meditation. To justify such warnings, the ill effects must be recognized, along with the deemed positive outcomes.

Those learning to fuction without Transcendental Meditation, after years of trance states, may appreciate :

http://www.refocus.org/

The critics of TM do not engage in research, as we lack a multibillion dollar global organization to advocate for research funding.

Thank you, Judy, once again for intelligent analysis.

Gina

Anonymous said...

John and Gina, as I noted, I'm well aware of the main reason for the disparity between positive and critical TM research. But you haven't addressed my main point, which asked about the possibility that TMers' tendency to attribute everything good in their lives to TM was mirrored by the opposite tendency on the part of former TMers, to attribute everything bad in their lives to TM. I suggested that if the first was questionable, perhaps the second is as well. What do you think?

Judy Stein

Gina said...

Judy,
I am not able to answer your question, as the entire basis of my life comes down to being TM-based. I was raised in the TMO from a young age.

While my mother was in Switzerland with Susan, I lived at MIU Santa Barbara and then FF as a teenager. No one had custody of me. Maharishi told my mother I wqas better off there.

Does statutory rape of young girls while their parents are at program, as often occurs, count as a family "benefit" or "side effect" to devoted familial involvement w/ TMO programs?

Of course, such occurences are blamed upon one's negative karma, and the ignorance/ stress (release?) of the perpetrator(s).

Such occurences generally are not reported, lest the victim(s) would be declined admission to the TM Sidhi program or to MSAE.

One young woman, coming to visit me this weekend, was refused admittance to MSAE, after thorough interogation by MSAE well dressed men. They interogated her about a prior childhood sexual molestation. Her mother's attendance was disallowed. After a grueling voyeristic experience, the child was refused attendance at MSAE as "her impurity would taint the rest of the student body." She said that experience of blame-the-victim was more damaging than was the original sexual molestation itself.

This IS the TMO at work where many families are concerned.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish what is the effect of TM-the-technique from TM-the-organization. For practical purposes, they are one and the same. That is why the term "cult" is appropriate.

Three generations of my family affected by TM.
I have three wonderful children, TM-born. That IS something good out of TM!

My current independence and self determination is in response to learning to function outside of TMO, without family support.

Best to you,
Gina

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

I do think that the principle you mention is operable, but to a minor extent. I don't frequently state that I believe that TMers attribute everything good to their meditation. Nor do I remember anyone making a big point of that on this Blog. So what you are raising is a largely straw dog.

That being said, I think that it would be human nature to emphasize one's own point of view and to interpret facts in light of it.

That's why we encourage dialogue here. Had we not wanted dialogue -- especially when it disagrees with our viewpoints -- we would have not allowed commenting. This is the solution that most of the pro-TM lists and groups have opted for.

Instead, it's my intention -- and I'm backed by my fellow contributors here -- to make a welcome place for people who disagree with us. It's been my intention to welcome you personally. I extend the welcome mat to others who disagree as well.

No one -- especially not me -- has a lock on the truth. Together, we may, just may, stumble into grace.

I hope you will continue your contributions, Judy. Don't give up on us -- or get bored. You have a very special contribution to make in our success.

J.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

I do think that the principle you mention is operable, but to a minor extent. I don't frequently state that I believe that TMers attribute everything good to their meditation. Nor do I remember anyone making a big point of that on this Blog. So what you are raising is a largely straw dog.

That being said, I think that it would be human nature to emphasize one's own point of view and to interpret facts in light of it.

That's why we encourage dialogue here. Had we not wanted dialogue -- especially when it disagrees with our viewpoints -- we would have not allowed commenting. This is the solution that most of the pro-TM lists and groups have opted for.

Instead, it's my intention -- and I'm backed by my fellow contributors here -- to make a welcome place for people who disagree with us. It's been my intention to welcome you personally. I extend the welcome mat to others who disagree as well.

No one -- especially not me -- has a lock on the truth. Together, we may, just may, stumble into grace.

I hope you will continue your contributions, Judy. Don't give up on us -- or get bored. You have a very special contribution to make in our success.

J.

Anonymous said...

I don't frequently state that I believe that TMers attribute everything good to their meditation. Nor do I remember anyone making a big point of that on this Blog. So what you are raising is a largely straw dog.

Uh, John? This happens to be one of the main points of the very post that is the subject of these comments. Perhaps you should read it again? Start here:

Typical cult-thinking attributes "all good" in life to the guru or the method espoused by the cult leader.

I quoted this in my initial comment, to which you responded, so I'm not quite sure how you could have missed it.

Judy Stein

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

I didn't miss it. It's not a point that is dwelled on here. It seemed to me that you spoke as if it were a significant criticism of the TM Org and adherents. It's at best a minor point, as I said.

DId you miss my point that I do believe it is an appropriate question to raise for both TMers and critics?

When I agree with you, I'm pleased to say so. When I disagree, naturally, I feel free to say so. This was a case where I agree with you, with a minor reservation.

J.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

I didn't miss it. It's not a point that is dwelled on here. It seemed to me that you spoke as if it were a significant criticism of the TM Org and adherents. It's at best a minor point, as I said.

DId you miss my point that I do believe it is an appropriate question to raise for both TMers and critics?

When I agree with you, I'm pleased to say so. When I disagree, naturally, I feel free to say so. This was a case where I agree with you, with a minor reservation.

J.

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