Monday, May 14, 2007

Something Good is Not Happening

As I think back to my days in TM, one of the things that has become clear over time is how much of what went on was about MMY using others for his own selfish ends, one of the hallmarks of narcissism. MMY set the tone and his followers modeled his behaviors.

The TM Movement talked a good game about world peace and creating an ideal society. But the actual society they created used people, treating them poorly. There was little or no interest in addressing the individual needs and concerns of followers.

If one worked for the Movement, housing was usually decrepit. Basic medical care was often lacking. Pay was invariably low. Promises of benefits were frequently broken.

As one example of broken promises, when I first became a TM teacher in the 1970s, we received ATR (advanced training and rest) credits for each person we initiated. After acquiring a certain number of credits, we earned enough to go on a rounding course for free. We worked hard to acquire these credits because rounding was a chance to soak up some more of the bliss we all pursued so avidly and blindly.

One day, it was announced, with no explanation, that all ATR credits were canceled. I knew people who ended up leaving the TM Movement, embittered by the lack of integrity.

As another example of lack of concern for basic needs, when I went to India for a one-month course in New Delhi in 1980, everyone was initially housed in hotels. As the course progressed, announcements were made each day that certain hotels occupied by men were to be vacated. The occupants would then move to a dusty place called Noida, which was in the middle of nowhere outside of New Delhi. Men slept in makeshift tents and used unsanitary facilities that would have brought in the authorities anywhere else.

My hotel, which only housed about a dozen men, was somehow overlooked each day when the list was read. About a week before the end of the course, they figured out that we still had hotel rooms and instructed us to pack and move out of our hotel. I had decided a while back I wasn't going. So when I learned we had to move, I scrambled to find another hotel room and paid for it myself so I wouldn't have to go to Noida. It turned out to be a smart decision since I was one of the few who didn't get seriously ill. I did, however, come back with intestinal parasites, which took months to get rid of.

When mistakes were made that affected people adversely, they were covered up. Once, while at MIU, I got food poisoning. Since I hadn't eaten anything other than cafeteria food, I knew it was a result of something that happened in the campus kitchen, so I informed the kitchen staff. They denied anything was wrong and insisted I must have vomited in the middle of the night because I had the flu or ate something off campus. There was absolutely no interest in identifying the source of the problem and correcting it. They were only interested in avoiding trouble and the local authorities.

Reflecting back, the prevailing mindset of the Movement was to get the most out of people while giving them the least. I still cringe when I think about those days.

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