There are so many different ways to lie. There are lies of omission, lies of commission, bending the truth, creeping around the truth, changing the story over time, rationalizing, and more.
There are also the fascinating questions of our own part in the lies we hear - why we did or didn't believe the lies, why we did or didn't take responsibility for perpetuating the lies.
I hope to cover these and other topics in future installments of this seven-part series. I hope those who gain healing from remembering, sharing and re-evaluating their TM stories will enjoy these trips down memory lane. Today's essay focuses on Maharishi's practice of progressively revealing more "inner secrets" as a person moved up the TM hierarchy.
When I learned TM in 1970, the hierarchy looked like this:
TM teacher ("initiator")
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
When I became a "meditator," Maharishi and my initiator taught me certain things. I was 19 years old and naive, and I believed what I was taught. Two and a half years later, when I moved up the hierarchy and was studying to become an "initiator," Maharishi and his course leaders informed us that some of the things they had taught us as meditators were not true, but that now the actual truth would be revealed to us lucky insiders. I was 22, and meditating 12 times a day, and I believed what I was taught.
And here is what I was taught. When I first learned TM, I was told that the mantra was scientifically selected by initiators who had been carefully trained on long courses how to choose the sound that would be most beneficial to each particular individual. But on my TM Teacher Training Course (TTC), I learned the trick to choosing the right mantra in four minutes: age 10 to 12 got "ing," age 12 to 14 got "im," age 14 to 16 got "inga," and so on. Scientific? Carefully chosen? Takes months to learn? Hah!
As a meditator, I had been told that the ceremony I watched on instruction day (the "puja") was not religious, and that it was just to remind the teacher to teach the meditation properly. But on my TTC, we learned that actually the ceremony was loaded with religious references. (Part of the English translation is "...to Lord Naranaya, to lotus-born Brahma the Creator...," who are Hindu gods.) Also, we were told that through carefully gesturing and contemplating during the puja, we initiators were transported to a higher state of consciousness that would both assist the student in learning to meditate, and in speeding us toward enlightenment.
As a meditator I was taught that TM improves every area of life; on TTC I was told that TM sometimes increases the frequency (or was it the intensity? I can't remember) of seizures for epileptics. (In writing this paragraph, I re-evaluated an event from 35 years ago! On my TTC, one of my dorm-mates stopped rounding or attending lectures, and spent most of her time partying with the local Spaniards. I had always judged her as flighty to waste her money that way. Now I remember that she had a severe epileptic seizure while we were rounding; and in retrospect, I bet that's why she stopped participating in the TTC program. My apologies for looking down my nose at you all these years, dorm-mate!)
When I learned TM, I was taught that when I experienced no thought and no mantra, I had "transcended." On TTC we were taught that no one actually transcends until the last stress is dissolved, but it just "feels like" we transcend.
(Those are just four examples. If I ever get around to re-reading my old TTC notes, I wonder if I would find more. If I do, you the readers will be the first to know!)
Maharishi thus demonstrated that he was at home with lying - but only to lowly meditators, I thought. I know now that the joke was on me. After I left TM, I learned that Maharishi had lied to us initiators many times. I suspect now that people who were higher up the hierarchy heard yet a different set of "truths" from the ones I learned on TTC. But were people at the top ever taught the real truth? Or did Maharishi only give out more elaborate lies? Did Maharishi even know the truth?
So - what about you? What did the TM hierarchy look like in your day? Do you remember being taught one thing when you were at one level in the TM hierarchy, and then when you moved up higher, being taught something different? Share your thoughts and memories with us if you'd like!