Gina Catena, M.S.
What happened to some TM-children.
Being raised in the Movement, or any cult, differs from a convert's experience. Upon leaving the group, most therapists advise former cult members to rebuild life based upon their pre-cult persona. When a cult convert leaves the group, they can return to their former life locale, family or career. There is a pre-cult basis for life, and another paradigm from which to view the world.
Someone raised in a cult lacks a pre-cult persona. We normalized the group-think in all facets, because it's all we knew. If a cult-raised child leaves the group without family, the person lacks any foundation for adult life in the outside world.
There are many good people in the TMO. I have no criticism of the individuals. I criticize the leader's methods, and ensuing destructive group dynamics.
My entire life was based upon TM, as I was raised in the TMO from a young age.
Jim Jones Jr, formerly of Jonestown, has become a close friend. Decades after our respective cult upbringings, he and I share a similar worldview. We both agree that we were raised as-if in Disneyland. And we loved it! Then the Haunted House took over. We've both moved on, and are doing what we can to reach others through our twisted histories. Making lemonade where life gave us lemons (or Kool-Aid in JJ's case).
For a preview of a compassionate movie about a tragic history, click on the movie title, "Jonestown, the Life and Death of People's Temple."
My daughter was eleven when we left Fairfield. She was teary watching this movie, remembering her sweet idealistic childhood community, how she missed it when we moved away, and knowing loved ones' ensuing painful stories.
Maharishi twisted his Hindu tradition to his own ends, just as the Reverand Jim Jones (Sr.) twisted evangelical Christianity and social activism to his ends. Teachings do not define a "cult"; destructive behaviors define a cult.
While my mother was in Switzerland at Maharishi's feet with Susan, Sudarsha and Joseppi, I lived at MIU Santa Barbara and Fairfield as a teenager. No one had custody of me. Maharishi told my mother I was better off at MIU unsupervised. My mother's children would benefit from her prolonged "Rounding" to purify the family.
Many TM parents leave their children for months on end, while parents attend TTC or other advanced programs. Children are often left with a hodge podge of caretakers. Child-abandonment for enlightenment is deemed to magically benefit the entire family. These are typical cult dynamics - the higher mission, as defined by the charismatic leader (MMY) supersedes all else.
Does statutory rape, as often occurs with TM young girls while parents are in Program, count as a family "benefit" or "side effect" to familial devotion with TM?
Of course, such occurences are blamed upon the girl's negative karma, and the ignorance or stress (release?) of the perpetrators.
A decade later, my six-year-old daughter did not want to go to "Laurie's house" (not her real name), she initially wouldn't say why. Finally she relented as to her reasons, "The man who lives there likes to pull down our pants and look at our bottoms."
I spoke with mothers of other little girls with whom he played. The other mothers denied there was a concern, saying he played an innocent game with little girls, pulling down their panties and tickling their six year old bottoms. This "Governor" stayed home from group program, providing childcare free of charge for other TM parents while they meditated for hours daily. Other mothers accused me of over reacting.
The police said without others to come forth and lacking physical evidence of damage to my child, there was nothing to be done. My children never went to that house again.
Such occurences generally are not reported, lest the victim(s) would be denied admission to the TM Sidhi program or to Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE).
One lovely young girl in elementary school was refused admittance to Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE), after thorough interogation before an all male board of well-suited MSAE faculty. They interogated her in detail about a prior childhood sexual molestation. Her mother's presence was forbidden for this unique "admissions interview," as the interview board wanted an objective evaluation of the child. The panel asked detailed questions and listened attentively to her history. Of course, none of the interview panel were child therapists, as Maharishi abhors therapy. After this grueling voyeristic experience, the child was denied admitance to MSAE as "her impurity would taint the rest of the student body." She said that experience of blame-the-victim was more traumatic than was the original sexual molestation.
When I was grown, the few adults close to the children were generally aware of incest, sexual abuse, and drug abuse. Children did not complain or press charges because they did not want to come forth against all that they loved. They didn't discuss this until their late teens or beyond. By then they were too old for "Child Protective Services" or police involvement. Many later said, "Gina, why do you think I used to hide at your house when I was young? We were safe in your house." I will not name them, at their request.
One story on trancenet, by an anonymous contributer, details personal abuses of a TM-child. I do not know this young woman. Her story is familiar. From my life and the next genearation of TM-kids-now-adults coming through my home on a regular basis, I safely vouch for the veracity of her experience. She is courageous to come forth on trancenet. The settings and social dynamics she described are familiar.
"Annie's Story" can be read here.
This IS the TMO at work where many families are concerned. There are many instances of sexual, physical, drug abuse and neglected children as parents pursued enlightenment. The numbers are too high for coincidence. The parents are, by and large, well intentioned under-the-influence, True Believers.
As "Annie" vividly described on trancenet, as children, we didn't know what was wrong. The perpetrators were family loved ones. We trusted and thought it was normal. Parents validated that we were in good care. We learned to trust the untrustworthy.
The next generation of grown children (my generation is only a few) and I do not take legal action because we wanted to move on. I only recently, accidently, learned that professionals are interested in my life story. Go figger! After years of silence.
My parents, as early TMers, did the best they knew. They were/are caring True Believers (TBs). Like the rest of the TM-family, they converse in circuitous conversation with all good returning to MMY's teachings.
Not everyone had tragic experiences. However, neglected children's stories should not be denied.
Devotees tell me, "Things are changing for the families now. Administration tells parents to stay home from Program if their child has more than two problem incidents."
Why must parents be instructed to be present for their children?
Why wait until after trouble occurs?
Why is child-trouble so commonplace, that TM administration creates a policy around the issue?
What created the follower-mentality?
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the effect of TM-the-technique from TM-the-organization. For practical purposes, they are one and the same, just different places along the cult-addiction spectrum.
If you are among the silent next-generation, know that you are not alone. Your parents meant well, as did the majority of your community!
There are night clubs in each major US City where TM-kids-now-adults meet. The 20-something kids know which clubs to find one another for support (sorry, I don't know the clubs). The connection between the cult-kids is strong. Memories of the cult/community' trusting naivete, the connection and idealism, continue to bond. Molested kids remain silent to preserve their "family connection.' They understand that their abuse resulted from dysfunctional group dynamics (brainwashing), not from their parents' willful neglect. The silence comes at what cost? Even my 25 y.o. son (was 5 y.o. when left FF), has limited memories of our FF daze, says when meeting another TM-raised young adult that he feels an instant connection which he describes as, "I feel your pain."
Our close community was wonderful in many ways! We will never find a community so entwined. I will always miss it. We relinquished something sweet by leaving. We also relinquished controlling judgements and shrouds of secrecy. For those who were hurt, your memories are real. The betrayal is real. You CAN move forward!
Strength, compassion and personal self-direction are positive after affects for which we can be grateful.