Monday, February 26, 2007

REMAINS OF IGNORANCE: Loving the Typically Stressed Family

REMAINS OF IGNORANCE is an occasional feature of quick hits on life after Transcendental Meditation. It's a reversal of the Maharishi's translation of lesh-avidya. He claimed this was a Vedantic concept: Even after enlightenment there remains some slight residue of ignorance without which one would "drop the body" or die. I've found that even after I left the TM Org behind, there remain in my mind "alien artifacts," bits and pieces of TM-based myths that still affect me today. I represent my own experience only here. But I've learned from my years counseling TMers that a significant number of others have similar experiences.

I'd like to talk about my relationship with my family. Before, during, and after TM.

I experienced more than average conflict with my family as a youth. As I've mentioned before, my father was an alcoholic. Conflict was our daily bread. But despite that, I loved my brothers, sisters, and parents dearly. Even after entering college, I spent every holiday with them and visited at least once a month.

This closeness ended shortly after I became a checker and began living at the local TM Center in Binghamton. I never heard the Maharishi deprecate family relationships. Quite the opposite. He spoke lovingly about families, particularly mothers. But there was an attitude among TM teachers and "strong" meditators that I became exposed to as I got more deeply involved in the TM Org.

All non-meditators were "mud" – even family – and if you associated with them, you could pick up their "stress." (As I've written in the past, "stress" in the TM Movement was understood as a quasi-physical substance, which could be easily passed from individual to individual.)

It wasn't long after being exposed to this idea that I started seeing my non-meditating family less and less. Even after they started TM, I avoided them because they weren't "regular" enough in their practice. I remember this being a topic of general discussion while I was on staff at the Academy for SCI at Livingston Manor.

In the last 20 years or so of my involvement with the TM Org, I visited with my family a grand total of 5 times. Only when I married at 38 did I begin contacting my family more regularly. Eventually reflecting on the lies that I told my family – and my wife – led me out of the TM Movement.

In time, I moved to my mother's hometown. Once again, I see my family most weeks and take part in weddings, births, birthdays, and all the wonderful events that mean being involved in life. My unnatural distance from my family ended, therefore, with the end of my involvement with TM.

My biggest regret is that my father died during my 20 years away from the family. We never had a chance to make our peace with one another.

I realize that this posting is personal and that many, particularly those that grew up within the TM Movement, may not connect with these feelings.

But does any part of this resonate for you?

This article could also have been entitled "Non-Meditating Friends" or "Non-Meditating Co-Workers."

Do you have this or similar "Remains of Ignorance"?

Please consider posting your thoughts in the comments below. Just click on "Comments" and type away. Please feel free to remain anonymous. You may help another former TMer with your insights!


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