Wednesday, July 07, 2010

ABC "Nightline" "Transcendental Meditation Thrives in Iowa"

ABC Nightline finally aired their special on TM and Vedic City on July 5, 2010.

Click on link : Transcendental Mediation Thrives in Iowa for televised familiar views of places and dear old friends, the "TM family."

They claim they "are not a cult", but images portray otherwise.

A reader suggested "the video clips are sanitized", possibly due to liability concerns by ABC News, and that "the TM Movement is probably well aware of its wonky image."


revoluce said...

A little one-sided. Besides, what group ever admitted they are a cult?

jb9876 said...

"but images portray otherwise"? I didn't see any images that portray cultishness. I views the online video. What would a cult look like? Being a cult is, I bet, determined after the cult has already done its damage. Besides a cult now is tomorrows major religious sect. Some would say Jesus and his followers were a cult too.

What it looked like was a religion and kooky people. As I was watching I thought: I wonder if there is a loudspeaker in some minaret belting out the call for all to come to butt-bouncing.

They need to stop with this vedic truth business, if they are so smart from meditating, lets see some new discoveries and technologies, and at minimum real research. Eastern facing doors, oh veay.

Sudarsha said...

I don't know what images portray a cult. I think of TM as a cult so what I see in the video looks rather odd, out of balance with the rest of the US. Since I think of the Mormons as a pseudo-Masonic cult, I see cultishness in Salt Lake City.

I also think of all religions, as in all religions as cults, as well.

But cult, as in culture is part of how humans express their herd instinct as well as their territorial necessities.

While the video seemed harmless enough, knowing more than just a little about the underbelly of Maheshism, I think that there was a lot left out that definitely would have lead to wondering if this particular culture had a little less than an up side.

Sudarsha said...

Perhaps to carry what I said just a little farther, we have the video clip of Mahesh saying that the nature of the mind is to go in the direction of more and more. I remember all heads nodding together in the affirmative. But that's just a really cool definition of nothing more exalted than common GREED.

Then there's the assumption without any form of validation that the brain waves (actually the squiggles) on the monitor somehow demonstrate what a coherent mind is. Steven Hawking probably has a fairly coherent mind, as does HH the Dalai Lama. I suspect their brain waves (or squiggles on a monitor) would show nothing more than just squiggles on a monitor.

After all, Mahesh used to say that we judge meditation (TM) by results in activity, as revoluce clearly alluded to above. The results in activity I see is just a bunch of probably nice folks banding together to do their thing in relative comfort and safety.

The problem that seems to plague cultures is that one tries to dominate another or disparage another or invade another. History is full of such stuff, the most recent really, really nasty cult was, of course, the Nazis. But "ethnic" cleansing is just another example of cultures gone over to the dark side.

I think that if Maheshism ever got enough power, it would try very, very hard to take over in whatever way it could, by force, seduction, craft or legislation. But I also don't think that this does not apply to all other cultures (although the ladies' book club in our building is probably not likely to think about such things).

I wonder if the media clip John has shared here is more likely to be an engineered effort to thwart some of the effect of David's film. Now, with Judith's book reaching readers, the crowned heads of utter nonsense are probably having to change their royal undergarments several times a day. Good for them.

Deborah1900 said...

When did MMY change from being referred to as MahaREEshi to MaHARshi?

The video made me laugh...the reporter's corny voice combined with the outlandish TM ideas.

jb9876 said...

There has always been attempts to submit contemplative practices to scientific scrutiny. Who knows, perhaps that would share light on how consciousness works. This has been done with Buddhist monks and others. So, TM group is following a worthwhile approach. Many teachers such as Gopi Krishna called for scientific investigation into the mechanism of human spiritual evolution.

Note that you are using "coherent" in a different way then the investigation intends. Is Hawking in a mystical altered allegedly higher state of consciousness? He could be, thats not the point. The point is the TMO has put forth a theory that x correlates to y. It should be normal science process to investigate that. Very difficult since even normal human brain functioning is still being explored by traditional researches.

Darth said...

Definition of a cult ? I heard one guy claim that what defines a cult is a group of people that share a communal or close social bonds almost like a clan, but what they also share is a contempt or disrespect for those living in the world outside their community.

Sudarsha said...

Hi, jb

I understand the point you are making and see how what I said differs from what the TMO is claiming. I am reading The Universe in a Single Atom by HH the Dalai Lama. His approach is to use very standard science practises to understand exactly what is being observed. He also said that if science should demonstrate that some theory or principle of Buddhism was incorrect, then, Buddhism would have to change.

I cannot imagine Mahesh doing anything like this. I was standing next to Mahesh one day in Seelisberg as he was getting ready to start some talk and someone said something about TM and science. Instantly Mahesh quipped: we'll use science to prove it.

This still rings in my ears. He would use science to prove he was right. Nothing else would do but proving he was right. This accounts, I think for my very jaded view of what the TMO has passed off as scientific inquire. This is our theory and, see, we are right. Not quite how science works; but Mahesh invented his own brand of science, the science of creative intelligence.

I was also part of one of Mahesh's early brain wave studies. This was also in Switzerland and I didn't pass the initial test that would permit me to be an example of what they were proving.

Anyway, many thanks, jb, you have made some very valid points and it would be very interesting if you could flesh them out to some degree so we could get a clearer idea of how you see TMO research.

Sudarsha said...

good question, Deborah - around Mahesh, some said MahaREEshi and some said MaHARshi. Mahesh referred to Patanjali as MaHARshi Patanjali. I suspect that MahaREEshi is a bit more British in its origins.

I also have no idea where the two different pronunciations originate. Mahesh never, to my knowledge, corrected anyone on this.

Sudarsha said...

I like this, Darth. Cult is how we form groups. Some are more contemptuous of others and some are not. It's when the contempt gets out of hand that extremes begin to be noticed and the pejorative use of the vague term "cult" comes more into focus ... that is, when some group raises our ire!!!

Some cults are harmless and might even be beneficial. A cult in Toronto actually started one of Toronto's major hospitals, the Sisters of St. Joseph. Other cults, maybe like the Moonies, might not live up to such standards.

I think the adage by their fruits you will know them is a useful measure and, oddly, is the same qualifier Mahesh used when he originally talked about TM: we go by results in activity.

Apparently those results were not as outstanding as he imagined they would be so he said he'd use science to prove it ... apparently to prove what was not observable. Which is another of those factors that, in my estimation, calls the TMO's science into question.

revoluce said...

I believe MahHAr'shi is the correct (Indian) pronunciation -- many Brits seem to have picked it up correctly. But the Americans mispronounced it Maharishi and that stuck.

Sudarsha said...

Ah, ok. That sounds good to me. I do remember one particular American on my TTC who pronounced it mAAH'uh'reeshee, the AAH sounding like the 'a' in apple.That decidedly sounded wrong!

What is funny, I guess, that I spent 9 months in India where English was a second language and I cannot recall anyone's pronunciation of /maharishi/

Karina said...

Watching Nightline's report on TM's pseudoscience of "brain wave coherence," I was amazed at how easily the reporter uncritically accepted the explanation ----just like we did.

"But it is forty years later!!" I was yelling in my head. "There's the internet; do your research! There's no excuse these days for being dazzled by squiggly lines on a monitor."

Nightline obviously did not send out their best and brightest on this puff piece. If the reporter was just a bit more thoughtful he would have realized that "brain wave coherence" also describes epilepsy --- and even death!

Sudarsha said...

I suspect, Karina, that the "reporter" was specially selected and the whole puff piece was heavily sanitized by the TMO before being aired. Or perhaps the TMO just bought some air time for some self-gratification.

I have no idea what the TMO hopes to prove/demonstrate with its blather about coherence. I strongly suspect, I don't have the academics to know, that "coherence" as a sound-bite strongly appealed to Mahesh and was, therefore, proof of ... belief, that is, things not seen or heard. Coherence didn't have to mean anything applicable to the ins and outs of neuroscience. I think it just sounded good to Mahesh. "Stress" sounded good, too, so he went his own way with it. I suspect that "science" and "creative intelligence" had no real or useful meaning to Mahesh, but he felt he could use such words, the same as he said we'll use science to prove it.

What sounds good often works.

Karina said...

Hi Sudarsha -- Isn't it funny how one can hear the truth of a person that they unwittingly reveal about their true motives in a single short comment, yet it can take us, the deceived, years to truly comprehend it?

When Mahesh said, "We'll use science to prove it," that succinctly sums up almost fifty years of the TMO scam.

As the old saying goes, the truth can hide in plain sight.

Sudarsha said...

I remember Mahesh telling a story (he said from the Vedas, I suspect from Hindu folklore, although the two are probably the same). The gods were trying to decide where to hide the truth of life. This god suggested this, this other god suggested that, yadda, yadda.

Finally Indra (I don't really remember which) said: let's hide it in man's heart because he'll never think to look there.


On my TTC, Mahesh kept saying the actor can play god better than god. He was, of course, laughing at us, how easily we were bamboozled. By then, I'm sure he knew perfectly well that TM just did not live up to his claims.

Well, when life gives you lemons ...

jb9876 said...

Interesting stuff. But, if two things have something in common it would take more research to show what the correlations are and all that. TM involves closing the eyes, death involves closing the eyes. Ahhhhh, TM will kill you. LOL!

Your correct though, there are similarities and a very big reason why TM or any technique can be dangerous, even contemplative prayer. At any moment the Kundalini Syndrome can be activated.

Some references
"Signs of a Awakened Kundalini":
Transcendental meditation: A double-edged sword in epilepsy? :

Karina said...

Thanks JB for the citations. The link to TM as a double-edged sword in regard to epilepsy has a whole bunch of other meditation /EEG related research articles listed at the bottom of that page. I can't wait till the house gets quiet, dinner over, kids in bed, then maybe I will have a chance to read them. I have a feeling that some in there are actually scientific, not merely pseudo-scientific.

Laurie_of_TMFree said...

"What is a cult?" The mini-speech answer I give goes like this: "Any group off the beaten path can be called a cult. Nothing wrong with being off the beaten path. But the problem is with DESTRUCTIVE cults. So, what is a destructive cult? It's one that takes all/most of your money, your time and your mind. It draws you in by deception, and it keeps you in by mind control." And I agree, no group ever says, "We're a cult." And no one ever says, "I'm in a cult."

"We'll use science to prove us right." I also recall MMY saying, "We'll find the laws that make what we're doing legal." That's a similar approach. (He was talking about how to keep new arrivals to Fairfield there, or how to give them matriculating status.)

Regarding that sanitized TV short about M. Vedic City, they reported that the citizens "meditated" together for world peace. Actually, they "fly" together for world peace. But I think saying the truth would have made the citizens look flaky. I also noticed that all the TM big shots talked in a funny sing-song voice.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

This site is very interesting. On this page it talks about "kindling":
Of course, since TM is following the traditional yogic technology one would expect that similar experiences and most importantly dangers are present. Also, the world view would be changed based on internal experience. I would expect that those people in which TM has been effective (more then just relaxation) are naturally susceptible to esoteric internal change and so ripe for cultic exploitation if not careful.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

What is wrong with that statement: "We'll use science to prove it,"? Isn't that part of the scientific method, assert something then through experiment and so forth either prove it or not. More details:

If I recall, many New Age therapies such as Acupuncture do the same thing. Not many Acupuncture cults that I'm aware of.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, jb

It is one thing to use scientific method to analyse something in order to understand it, it is another to use the appearance of science fraudulently in order to sell something that is fundamentally flawed, useless as advertised and un-tested for actual validity.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

So, you knew Mahesh?

"... in order to sell something that is fundamentally flawed, useless as advertised and un-tested for actual validity." Gee, you better head to the far east and warn everyone of how yoga and Buddhist practices are crap. There are millions of people all over the world doing things similar to TM, you can help them from wasting so much time.

But seriously, your criteria are overly broad. That would apply to any approach toward spiritual development, such as Buddhist practices, the Eastern Desert Fathers, many saints, and so forth. Perhaps, next time I'm attending Mass I'll rise up and challenge the priest to confirm all that dogma, and what's with that Jesus prayer, was it studied in a clinical setting? Hey, that "amen", isn't that a mantra, part of some ancient Jewish thing or other volcano worshiping tribe?

I read somewhere, but can't remember the exact words, but it was something like, its too important to wait for exact knowledge, you have to begin now.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

IN REPLY TO JB "so you knew Mahesh?"

No quarrel, jb

you said Gee, you better head to the far east and warn everyone of how yoga and Buddhist practices are crap. There are millions of people all over the world doing things similar to TM, you can help them from wasting so much time.

That's correct, at least to some extent, but not quite the point. Mahesh was using the cosmetic appearance of science for the express purpose of getting people to accept, not question and buy, buy, buy.

You mention Buddhism about which I know a little. Yep, Buddhism is full of all kinds of ceremonies, beliefs and so on that really do meet the criteria of "crap". In The Universe in a Single Atom, HH the Dalai Lama says that if science demonstrates that some aspect of Buddhism is incorrect, then Buddhism must change.

I can only imagine Mahesh saying: if science proves us wrong, then we'll change science!

When Mahesh blathers on and on about Wedic this and Wedic that, I wonder if any of his people are in any way independently aware of the Vedic writings. I have before mentioned the Upanishads (e.g. They are the real meat of the Vedic literature and yet do not do too much to actually support what Mahesh is preaching; hence my comment to use the appearance of science fraudulently in order to sell something that is fundamentally flawed, useless as advertised and un-tested for actual validity.

Yes, I knew Mahesh.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


"I can only imagine Mahesh saying: if science proves us wrong, then we'll change science!" Not so hard to imagine given that I read or heard about the episode where people criticized MMY's use of logic to show that the transcended is everywhere since one can transcend at anytime (something like that). Well, someone wrote a spoof, and MMY said that logic is wrong. LOL!

Anyway, I'm sure MMY used "science" for self-interest or to spread his gospel at any cost. I just object to shotgun aiming. A lot of things we use now, like semiconductors, where found by people who's politics or behavior we would not approve of. Are people throwing out their TVs?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, jb, this is very true. Despite the Volkswagon's origins, people liked the car anyway. That being said, the car itself was a decent product. TM (2x20) is a decent product, as well, at least within certain limitations.

My concerns, my arguments, such as they are, focus specifically on Mahesh himself trying to sell something that he himself had to have known simply did not in any live up to the grandiose standards he declared.

I am no more in favour of Mahesh and the Maheshites fobbing off TM on children (who will thereafter support this nut-job's organization for ever), than I am in favour of selling cigarettes to children or reviving the original method of manufacturing Volkswagans.

There are many good things many of us have found in TM as well as in our association with other TMers. This is a given with which I have no difficulty. But when that, by some sort of extension of "logic" leads to some kind of closed-minded, unquestioning, unquestionable support and allegiance to all things Mahesh, then I want to see people raising the red flag.

Whether in yoga, kundalini, Catholicism, Taoism, Zen, or the Bon religion of Tibet an individual fully informed or trying to become fully informed finds what is useful for her/himself, that is something good. But when people are hoodwinked into a belief system claiming not to be a belief system, when they are bilked out of money and other resources for the good of the organization, then I think there is something amiss that needs some examination.

I know that this is perfectly obvious, at least to some; yet it is heretical to many TM insiders. Maheshism is a closed thought system. It is a closed with which I have some familiarity and which I feel that familiarity obliges me to speak out. I don't have a lot of good communication skills, so I speak out with more than just a little clumsiness, to be sure. Happily spell-check at least catches some of the errors.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Back to Deborah's interesting post about her psychic experiences, and that when you experience it first-hand, it feels really compellingly valid.

I'm not one who has had psychic experiences. But one thing I learned in my recovery from TM is that for me at least, how something "feels" is not ultimate criterion for if it's true or not. To wit, I truly felt that I was lifting off, flying, doing yogic levitation when I used to do the TM-Sidhis practice of "flying." It felt like it was not me using my muscles; but rather that I was lifting up but becoming light, or going against gravity, or something like that. It took a lot of hard thinking and investigation for me to come to realize that yes, it was my muscles that made me rise up, muscles that I was using unconsciously.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I am in complete agreement with you. I think we just emphasize different things or a different viewpoint. Other then a few residence courses, I was not into the TMO or MMY, so don't have a very strong anti-cultic "attitude". Even so, I still saw the cultic/religious/outsourcing warning signs, but since I'm not a joiner, saw no problem just taking what I need in my own path.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Laurie-- Your point is very well taken. Feelings, by their very nature, are like shifting sands. They change. It is hard to build something solid upon flighty feelings. Just because one "feels" something, it does not make it true or a good guide as to a path to follow. However, "feeling", for me, does not due justice to what psychic experiences I have had. The experiences I have had have been much more concrete, and usually involve telling someone else about it in advance of the event. One it happens, which is not often, there is usually nothing vague about it. It is not a feeling, but a fact.

Here's a rather humorous, and trivial, "psychic" experience I had on a course once while rounding in Switzerland in 1975. During one meditation I kept seeing a very UGLY traffic-light-yellow jacket, with bright embroidery on it, and edged in white lace. This image just kept floating into my internal visual screen while meditating. It was like a song that I just couldn't get out of my head. I remember being quite annoyed about it and telling my husband (at the time) about this ridiculous image that I couldn't get rid of. Well......two weeks later, the exact article arrived in a box in the mail for me. It was a Christmas present from my in-laws who had bought this garish garment for me in Mexico. My (then) husband and I were both astonished as I immediately recognized it from my meditation, and he remembered me describing it to him. It was such an unusual garment and I have never seen a duplicate of it before or since.

There were absolutely no advance clues as to how it was that I saw this, nor any benefit to me, or anyone else, for have "seen it coming."

BTW, I kept the jacket for years in the basement of my father's farmhouse, and used it when going down to the barn to feed the animals. (Fortunately, most animals are color-blind.) However, every time I saw this jacket, it reminded me of the funny "vision" I had while meditating, and that indeed, psychic visions are possible. So perhaps my vision had some use after all, or at least a use for me.

Although it would be nice to have solid concrete proof about the naturalness of psychic abilities, unless there is some patent pending on a psychic pill, it is highly unlikely that any further scientific research will be undertaken in this country for a very long time.

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