I originally published this essay on TM-Free Blog on March 6, 2010. However, I think it may have gotten lost in the shuffle of
the recent troubles with our "comments" system. There were only 5 comments to it, and 4 of those comments have disappeared. Therefore, I am re-posting it. I hope you all will enjoy reading it.
Once upon a time, many years ago in a far off country, there lived a baker named Stephen Steddmun. He baked his own special bread, and called it Steddmun Heartibread (SH).
Many people bought and enjoyed his bread, and after some years, he started a university. He named it Steddmun University (SU). Although SU offered classes in the usual university subjects, all classes were philosophically built around the premise that SH was the basis of all things worthwhile in the world.
Steddmun's photo was everywhere: in classrooms, in students' rooms, in faculty offices. He was often referred to as "The Great Baker Steddmun."
Everybody at SU - student, faculty and staff - were required to eat at least one slice of SH at each meal in the campus cafeteria. People who did not eating the required slices, or who surreptitiously ate a different brand of bread, were expelled.
Classes began with everyone eating a half slice of SH, since SH was believed to improve intellectual functioning.
The SH recipe was a closely guarded secret, and when you bought your first loaf, you were sworn to secrecy. You also had to pay about a week's salary for your first loaf.
The Great Baker Steddmun taught that the recipe for SH came from a long line of bakers in Norway, his land of origin. Special events in the SH world therefore often began with the reverent singing of a Norwegian song, thanking the ancient Norse gods for giving this recipe to humans. It was sung in the ancient Viking language (a language now spoken only by scholars.)
Students, staff and faculty all attended special R&R month-long retreats, where they cut back on other foods, ate additional amounts of SH and other SH products, chewed slowly, breathed in the aroma of the bread, examined the SH special texture, and noted the improvements in their own lives brought about by eating SH.
At these retreats, they also cut back on outside intellectual inquiries, and instead heard many lectures by The Great Baker Steddmun. He would explain how SH was the root of all things meaningful in the world.
For instance, he said that SH was the heart of all world religions. Aren't Christians taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread"? And aren't Jews commanded to honor the Sabbath, which many do by baking a special bread? Even Eastern religions came from SH - macrobiotics, loosely based on Taoism, reveals that the healthiest diet is one consisting of cooked hearty grains.
SH was also the basis for civilization, Steddmun taught, for archeologists today believe that cities could only come into being after humans learned how to cultivate grain. Because cultivating grains provided a surplus of food that hunting and gathering did not, some members of the community could then devote themselves to activities other than finding food. And thus was born art, religion, government - i.e., the birth of civilization.
SH, said the Great Baker, was the secret to physical health. "Is not bread called 'the staff of life'?" And it was also the secret to mental health. "Did not the ancient Greeks say, 'A healthy mind in a healthy body'?"
Steddmun also explained that the secret to fulfilling social relationships was to eat SH. "At those times when people are truly loving and caring for each other in peace, they will say they are "breaking bread together."
SH was also the secret to politics, economics and world peace. "The French Revolution demonstrated that humans will foment chaos when they are deprived of bread. The starving Frenchmen pleaded, "We have no bread!" and when the callous Marie Antoniette replied, "Then let them eat cake," the wars began.
The Great Baker Steddmun insisted that SH was not a religion or a lifestyle. Still, many people at SU devoted their lives to SH with an almost missionary zeal, baking it, marketing it, and spending more and more hours eating SH and its related products.
The library at SU has on file hundreds of Steddmun lectures. However, the librarians have removed from the shelves books written by competing baking companies, recipe books for other types of breads, and criticisms of SH.
The National Academy of Science has awarded SU's research institute the sum of $5 million (US) to study the health benefits of SH. Ninety percent of the researchers are long-time SH-eaters. Do you think the grant is a good idea? Do you think that lack of bias on the part of the researchers is assured?
1) The above tale was made up by me. There is actually no Stephen Steddmun, Steddmun University, or Steddmun Heartibread.
2) Every sentence in the story does however allude to a reality about the TM world. If you like, pick your favorite sentences from the story, and explain what TM thing they are referring to. (Essay question: 10 points)
3) If you don't know what some of my sentences are referring to, and want to know, just ask in the "comments" section. Other commenters who are able to accurately explain the sentences in question also get 10 points.
4) In the past ten years, the National Institutes of Health of the United States have awarded over $24 million (US) to Maharishi University of Management to research the benefits of Transcendental Meditation. (See official TM website). Do you think this is a good idea? Are you satisfied that lack of bias on the part of the researchers, (most of whom are MUM meditating faculty), is assured? And if you don't think it's a good idea, what might we do about it?