What was the first lie you spotted? When did you first notice Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or the Transcendental Meditation organization (TMO) lying to you?
For me, possibly it was at the introductory lecture. The lecturers said that TM was not religious in nature. I knew that their leader, Maharishi, wore white robes, religious beads, long hair and beard, and had a name that included the word "Yogi." He taught something called "meditation," which I knew was a Hindu religious practice. On the wall behind the lecturers hung a large painting of an Indian yogi. The TM teachers called themselves "initiators." Initiators initiate people into spiritual mysteries, didn't they - not into scientific techniques, right? And the initiators talked slowly, ethereally, with a dreamy-eyed inspiration. They were pale and they glowed. Of course, none of these proved that TM was religious in nature, but it certainly gave me pause. I overlooked the contradictions because the initiators explicitly stated that TM was not
religious in nature. They also had an answer to the yogi/yoga question: "Just because Maharishi is a Hindu monk doesn't make this a Hindu religious practice. After all, Linnaeus was a Christian monk, and he studied genetics, but that doesn't make genetics a Christian sphere." And as for the painting on the wall, and as for calling themselves "initiators," well, that was all chalked up to "tradition." So although I suspected they were lying at that lecture, I couldn't prove it.
However, on initiation day I spotted my first clear-cut lie. At the preparatory lecture, the lecturers had promised that we initiates would not participate in the "non-religious traditional ceremony of gratitude"- we would just witness the initiator perform it. True, I had to bring my own fruit, flowers and handkerchief; but I reasoned that the TM center didn't have the refrigeration facilities to provide the fruit and flowers for everyone. However, before I entered the initiation room, I was instructed to remove my shoes. Once inside the initiation room, I was instructed to stand during the ceremony. I was given a flower to hold during the ceremony, and at one point the initiator took my flower and offered it up before the painting of the elderly yogi. And finally, at the end of the ceremony, the teacher reverently kneeled before the altar, and gestured for me to do the same. So the initiators were surely stretching the truth in assuring us that we were not "participants" in the ceremony.
How did I justify this deception in my own mind? Trying to remember now, 40 years later, this is what I think happened. First of all, I was anxious to learn TM. I was startled by the gleaming altar. I was disoriented by the Sanskrit chant. I was in over my head, so it was easier to just give in and obey than to question every inch of the way.
Second, this was the tail end of the 1960s. I lived by the 1960s mottos, "Don't trust anyone over 30" and "God is dead" and "Down with the System." If Western religion was corrupt, then the "mystical East" had the truth, and I was glad to be privy to its secrets. I interpreted the deception as a way of pulling something over on those ignorant adults, and I was flattered to be part of the deception.
And thirdly, at the first follow-up meeting on the day after initiation, when there was an opportunity to ask questions, I was too blissed out from my first meditations to embarrass the initiators with piddling questions such as how they could swear that we new students would not be participants in the ceremony.
How about you? When was the first time you became aware that the TMO was lying to you? And how did you deal, mentally and/or concretely with their first deception?