Monday, April 09, 2007

REMAINS OF IGNORANCE: Drugs, Sex, and Rock 'n Roll

Leaving Transcendental Meditation leaves a void. First, there may very well be a physical addiction to trance. But beyond this is a spiritual hole that many just can't fill.

One day you are working to realize that you are Divine. The next you must face that you are yet another victim of a spiritual con facing bankruptcy, divorce, or madness. The shock can be horrific.

Unfortunately, as with other addictions, former TMers sometimes turn to new addictions to satisfy their craving for the spiritual connection they believed TM provided. It makes its own warped sense.

But those leaving TM aren't the only ones dealing with addiction. Evidently for some TMers in good standing in the Domes and Centers, TM just isn't enough to fill the hole in their souls.

I've worked with current and former TMers who are secret alcoholics. Ecstasy addicts. Pot heads (like Sir Paul McCartney). Second-generation TMers on heroin and Speed (on the streets of Fairfield). One governor abused ephedra every chance he got. Another confided to me that he drank 8 or more 20 oz. Diet Cokes a day because a caffeine buzz reminded him of what it used to feel like "witnessing" when he was rounding.

And substances aren't the only addictions TMers struggle with. One governor I knew alleged that "Johnny" Gray -- of Mars and Venus fame -- had a real sex problem after he left TM. His first attempt at starting a movement was what he laughingly called the "SCI of Sex." Pretty wild for a former brahmacharya (TM celibate monk). Second generation Fairfield TMers allegedly take part in group sex and other addictive behaviors. And how else explain the fad of young women taking up with much older TM men -- usually well-connected in the Movement -- in Fairfield and elsewhere?

Food, too, can be a problem. Most TMers are slender, no question. But it appears to an outside observer that some suffer from an eating disorder -- usually binge eating. I haven't seen Bevan Morris in a Bramha's age. Is he still tipping the scale at 300 lbs?

I've only written glancingly of these problems rampant in the TM Movement and for those who have left. But in the interest of full disclosure, I struggled with the bottle for about 2 years around 2000. And my own weight is sadly not under control. I'm on a continuous cycle of bingeing and dieting -- something that started 30 years ago during my full-time-for-the-Movement commitment at Livingston Manor. (Most eating disorders blossom in pre-adolescents or adolescents, by the way, not in adults. Update: As Judy Stein rightly points out, binge eating is not typically a disease of childhood. According to the DSM-IV TR, typical onset is in the late teens or early 20s.)

If TM is the most powerful spiritual knowledge in history, why are there so many spiritual voids being filled in such self-destructive ways?

Does any part of this resonate for you? Do you find yourself struggling with one or more addictions?

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!


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 had similar experiences.

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