Thursday, May 28, 2009

Revisiting the TM-Sidhis. Part 1: The Early Years

When I became a TM Teacher in May of 1973, the highest status one could obtain in the TM movement was "TM Teacher." But starting around 1974, Maharishi invented the "Six Month Course." TM Teachers attended this course to learn Maharishi's newly revealed meditation technique, the "TM-Sidhis," and they came home with a new title, "sidha," and top status in the TM hierarchy. Sidhas, we were told, had special powers. We were never told outright that they could perform "miracles," but that's what the TM-Sidhis program was all about. They could make themselves invisible, we were told. They could walk through walls. They could fly.

I first heard Maharishi talking about the TM-Sidhis program in 1975 on an audiotape. He was recounting a conversation he had had with his staff members. "They asked me, 'What more can we do, Maharishi, to help spread the World Plan?' I told them, 'More lectures, rounding, meeting with government officials, newspaper articles.' 'But, Maharishi, what more can we do?' they kept insisting. And finally I said, 'You know, I am very tempted to give you something.' And that was how the TM-Sidhis program came to be."

I did hear an alternate story, also from Maharishi, about why he had started teaching the TM-Sidhis program. He said that the average person's consciousness was rising, due to the influence of TMers on the atmosphere. Therefore, when people attended a TM lecture, they were no longer impressed by the TM teachers, because the teachers were no longer that much more spiritually advanced than the audience. Therefore, to attract people to TM now, the teachers had to rise up to a significantly more advanced level.

But before people learned the much-longed-for TM-Sidhis per se, there was a gray area. That was the Six-Month Course, the quasi-TM-Sidhis course/not-TM-Sidhis course where you were sort of promised the Sidhis but sort of not. I don't know exactly what the course participants were told that made them want to attend, but whole batches of them returned home without the Sidhis. However, they did come home with a several-hours-long "program" that they had to do twice a day. They were sworn to secrecy as to what this program consisted of, and they did it behind closed doors. "One Six Month Course will enlighten some people, two Six Month Courses will enlighten most people, and three Six Month Courses will enlighten a horse!" Maharishi told us, laughing mirthfully.

The people who took the first Six Month Courses were real pioneers. I met one such pioneer in the spring of 1975. His life revolved around staying on his "program." He spent hours a day alone in his room, and had to be in bed by 10 o'clock. He was unhealthily skinny, his skin glowed white, and he ate mostly oranges, almonds, yogurt and honey, which Maharishi had said were the most "sattvic" (pure/spiritual) foods, and which would apparently assure quickest spiritual growth, and support his no-longer-quite-human body. I feared for his health. His high spiritual vibration did not preclude him from walking into my bedroom one night, however, wearing only his underwear. Years later I realized that he had been offering to have sex with me. At the time, though, I had naively assumed that sex, like alcohol, was off limits for him.

I had a second friend who had also taken a Six Month Course. They had been told that they would be taught the Sidhis. That didn't exactly happen, but her course was promised that if they showed up for a second Six Monther, they would be taught for sure. So she saved her money and took a subsequent course. They weren't taught the TM-Sidhis on the second course, either. "Why didn't they teach you?" I asked, horrified by this breach of promise. "Because we were bad," she replied. "We were supposed to send Maharishi a monthly report saying how we were doing with the long program he had given us, and some of us didn't send it in every month."

The first "real" sidhas I met were the two women who ran the Advanced Training and Rest (ATR) course I attended in late 1975, at South Fallsburg, New York, U.S.A. Their skin seemed to glow. They appeared to float, rather than walk, through the air, with a special grace. They were both very pretty, and very dignified, and they wore graceful, feminine silk dresses which were modestly cut. I thought they could read my mind. I was in awe of them, and I was scared of them, too.

Years later, when I started reading TM-Free, I learned that those early Six Month Course participants were not just pioneers, but guinea pigs. Maharishi was experimenting on them, trying to figure out how one does "the TM-Sidhis."

Are there are any readers out there who attended one of those early Six Month Courses? Or do you know anyone who did? If so, please break the code of silence. Please tell us in the "Comments" section below what they promised you, what they taught you, what you did there, what the results were, what the side effects were, what program you had to follow when you returned home, how you felt about all of it, or anything else that you would like to share from those days.

So these are my memories of the early days of the TM-Sidhis. Since I am writing from memory, I'm sure there are errors in this article, and I'd be glad for any corrections you'd like to make.

I'm sure many of us were told different stories. There was so much secrecy and rumor going around at that time. For instance, were you told the same stories I was told about how the TM-Sidhis came to be?

If you'd like, share with us your own memories, thoughts and feelings about those early days of the TM-Sidhis.

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