Sunday, July 18, 2010

Open Thread for Our Readers

You, our reader, make TM-Free Blog the great resource it's become over the years.

But you may not have a chance to discuss just the topic that is of interest to you. Well, you deserve better than that!

Here is your space.

Discuss anything on your mind—or in your heart—in the comments below.

Or, if you have a topic or article you would like us to post on the blog page, just email me at




John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I am religious and christian, and meditated TM for years. Please excuse my poor English. If you managed to get free from TM: How did you do? I feel like an addicted, who can´t live even some days without TM or Mantra. But I want to, because I want to be free, decide freely, and TM hasn´t anything to do with Jesus Christ or the god of the bible. (Except the passages about the antichrist etc.)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hello, FeTM, I am well aware of the feeling I experienced working side-by-side with Mahesh and others. There was a time when we were so busy (I can no longer remember what we were doing, it was that important), that I didn't get to meditate in the evening. After a couple of days on just one meditation per day I began to feel really strange. -- When I decided that I had had enough with TM, I decided I'd just cut down, a little less every couple of days until I was down to about 10 minutes. Then I cut it to 5 minutes. After that, I didn't feel anything, no "need" to do TM, no "disruption" from not doing it. -- I don't think TM is particularly "anti" any particular religion, but it is very all-consuming and, not altogether unlike crabgrass, crowds out everything else. -- Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to assist you.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Is it hard to do? How long are you now without meditating? The mantra, doesn´t it come every time when you relax?
Religion: I am not sure, if it is not anti-christian, when Mahesh / the TMO postulates the eternal world peace without any religion..the only religion for the meditator is the meditation etc. I really don´t believe this. You see it also with TMers: They are proud and postulate to believe nothing...(except they want to trap a christian). Off course they believe Mahesh, in world peace, there import roll in it and the benifits of TM...
But christianity without believing? Christians believe somethimg else than that, it does not fit together. It´s not true, what Mahesh told about the not contradicting anything (of the perfect Hindu-"gods"). It´s not true as the rest he told.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

FeTM --- If I may be so bold as to barge in here..... I think the TM Organization, teachings, etc. are indeed non-Christian. I would agree that "Maheshism," which is the TM organization's over-arching belief system, is anti-Christian. However, the TM practice itself (close the eyes twice a day, 20 minutes) is possibly not anti-Christian. Although of course, you may want to change your mantra from the Hindu Goddess Saraswati to some syllables of your own choosing. However, if you think of your mantra as being a "meaningless word," then perhaps TM practice is OK, and there is no conflict.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hello, FeTM - I wouldn't be too concerned about what the TM organization is teaching. If you look very closely, you see that they say that TM makes the individual happy and this makes the family happy and this makes the neighbourhood happy and this makes the city happy ... I am sure you see their progression of logic. BUT, does TM "make" the individual happy? Right there, their whole house of cards collapses; yet they fill their heads with junk science that proves TM works.

Put that aside. I am told that many TM practitioners are devout Catholics, Jews and other religious practitioners. There is no real or direct challenge. It is just that TM seems to be a bit like crab grass in your front yard. It has a tendency to crowd out everything else.

I appreciate your distress. You have begun, metaphorically, to cross a river in two boats. Little good or dry comes of this. For myself, I took about a month to slowly cut back the time of TM. But for me, I had already decided that TM and the whole mishigas of Mahesh's never-ending add-on money makers was empty of any value or meaning.

If TM is not making the individual happy, then all the add-ons cannot make the individual happy. Frosting does not improve the cake, but it might cover up some kitchen errors and misjudgements.

If you feel that TM is not enriching your life, then turn your attention to what does enrich your life. If the mantra intrudes, replace it with something that makes you happy.

There is a story, a sort of joke. A person goes to a teacher to learn to meditate. The teacher teaches him and then says only never think of an elephant.

Several days later the person comes back very upset and says he cannot stop thinking of an elephant!!!!!!!!!

The teacher says what, you can't think of a monkey instead!

The TM mantra has no inherent being, no actuality that we do not give it. It appears to come up because at some point we have decided that we like it (that we think it is magical and will benefit us). It becomes a habit. Break the habit by replacing it with a habit of which you appove.

I hope that this is helpful.

With respect to Mahesh's sneaking in Hinduism when he says TM is a science, well, Mahesh has his own agenda and we do not have to subscribe to it. There is nothing "evil" about Hinduism, of course. But Mahesh's sneaky way of insinuating his preferences into our lives is not something I feel at all comfortable with. Mahesh is a lot like the mantras, something to which we have been conned into attaching ideas to that are not really there. Mahesh is a person with only the power we imagine him to have. So, replace the elephant of Maheshism with something with which you feel comfortable. Just a little at a time, just like TM, actually, as easily as the mantra appears, let the mind simply and effortlessly shift to something that is more in line with your own choices, your own preferences.

I hope this is helpful.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

you do transcen-dental medication ! ! !

Your advice is very sound, Karina. I apologize, FeTM, for not being more streamlined in my response to you.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hallo Karina,
I liked what you said, and replacing the mantra would be important for me, because of Saraswati... I am sceptical you know, and in fact I don´t want to give hinduism too much place in my life. But might be I´m a little bit radical and damaged through the Mahesh-experience.
Do you live good with TM and your faith? (I know the dentist-experience, too. Funny.) I like it, when you don´t make a too big problem from it, and I am sceptical about evangelicals, too. With them, I also made some bad experiences and I don´t like it so much. But some things about faith I learned from them, even though I rather stay with our "normal" church.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, replacing could be helpfull, but I´m sorry, I don´t like hinduism and I don´t want to become a hindu and surely, I don´t want to replace christian values through hindu-values. Not because I don´t like Indian people, and I hope not to blame any Indian, but I get involved in this religious context in a sneaky way. And now, when I want to go back to my god of my faith (and that of my "fathers"), I must say, it´s not so easy.
But might be, there are wise Hindu´s, who also see (and long told) , that what Mahesh did, was not good. (I think, there are many). I´ve heard, normally it´s not so easy, to find his (and a real) guru, (I think some indian governeurs (of real India) warned the west about the many false gurus, as Indira Gandhi did. They where concerned about indian an Hindu- reputation, I think).
And I´ve heard, meditation could be dangerous, is also written in hindu-scriptures. That´s why the mantra is not given to anyone, who wants to recieve it. That´s what I heard, and I hope indian readers are not angry, when they read my comment.
But I want to get back to my christian roots.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Transcen-dental, that was good ! Thanks sud' for today's chuckle.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi FeTM --- I quit the regular practice of TM a few decades back. My motivation was comfort --- In the winter I kept getting too cold from the lowered metabolism. I actually felt better when I stopped meditating.

However, even now there are some super-stressed out times that I crave deep rest--- such as being very short on sleep and needing a quick pick-me-up nap in the afternoon. Then I will meditate, but I consciously changed my mantra to Jesus. It has the two open-sounding vowels so it works just fine. (Jeeee-suuus)

Luckily, I broke the Maheshism spell, but I'm now quite fond of the regular pastor at our local church. Fortunately, he does not purport to be anything other than a mere mortal. Even after ten years of church attendance he never fails to deliver a superb, thought-provoking sermon, and far more intellectually scintillating than anything Mahesh ever preached. I find that quite miraculous, especially for a Presbyterian church.

But if the main pastor goes on vacation and they send in a replacement, then I close my eyes and start cranking up the dopamine (naturally of course) with my new mantra.

If you do change your mantra, but still use the same meditation technique, I'm sure you will feel almost 100% better about your need to meditate. Most Christians would even call it contemplative prayer.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

There are many practises of meditation in Christianity. I quit TM because I had had many advanced techniques, did many of Mahesh's programs and the burden just made me feel terrible. I cut out everything but TM 2x20 and still felt uncomfortable. I tried going back to just the simple mantra I had started with but that, like the advanced techniques, did nothing. I was just sitting and feeling uncomfortable. Life was generally overshadowed (an old fashioned word, now, I suppose, but we used it back in the day) by a general feeling of dis-ease. (Nope, checking didn't help and usually tended it make it more stressful.)

So, gradually, I cut down the meditation time until I was only doing 5 minutes twice a day. Then I stopped altogether and began, in this process of cutting down, to feel much more alive, much more satisfied.

I especially like your use of TM, Karina. Mahesh used to say that TM was like an aspirin (he called it an /ass pa'reen/). You took it and your headache went away. Nothing religious or belief oriented about it.

I think he was actually on to something. TM when you feel the need may indeed be beneficial for some people. TM 2x20 may not. One thing Mahesh left out of his world plan equation was our own ability to make decisions. He was the decision maker. We were to pay and follow and that was that.

Whilst I cannot say flat-out that everything Mahesh taught is absolutely and unequivocally bad or useless or manipulative (some aspects of Maheshism most certainly are), there are one or two things I learnt that I have decided for myself have value that I can appreciate.

Mahesh turned TM into a supermarket and you had to have all of it. No one goes to a supermarket and tries to bring EVERYTHING home. That is stupid and not sensible at all. You know what you want and you go in search of it. Mahesh's brand of meditation may suit some and not others.

I really think it has to be approached in no more complicated manner than that.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hallo Karina,
I begun a small blog (in German). As a diary in my way to live without TM. May I copy your comment as an example, how you handle it?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Look into Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk. He teaches a technique that leads to what the Christians call "contemplative prayer". You choose your own "sacred word" that is meaningful to you, and then you use it in the same way that TM teaches you to use the mantra. The difference, however, is that the intention is to open yourself to the presence of God.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Felix -- Please include with my full permission, and I'll trust you to do any translation. If you think your English is bad, you would not want to see my German!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yesterday I talked with a relative about Mahesh. At the end, we had to laugh a lot. It seems so rare, that one (me) could trap into this. (In the first days, I was ashamed. Who could I believe this nonsense, defend my own brainwash and give money to them? Later, I got angry and wrote angry letters to some TM-related persons.)
Today I thaught: Mahesh, didn´t he lived the American Dream? From nothing to a billionary? And we made it possible... Ok, from my money, he could have buyed a golden water tap maximum, but "in togethernis" we could help him much...

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

One approach is to move gradually - stopping TM does not have to be all or nothing. Miss a meditation now and again, let it fall off organically, like getting off a drug - this way you'll never have any sudden adjustment to make.

IMO you do not need another crutch to hold you up as you drop TM. Maybe a different form of meditation or religion is a good way for you but maybe not, many have gone from the 'frying pan into the fire' by substituting something for TM. I have several friends who have done this, some have become quite extreme in their new absorption into some other system. "Just living" is also a great way to go. Devotion to family and career and other interests is also spiritual in its own way, this is the fruit of being spiritual after all. You have gone inward for a long time maybe now is just a time to live in spiritual sobriety digesting what you may have learned and trusting yourself instead of putting your faith in another 'way'. The worst that can happen is that you would slow your spiritual development down (assuming you do not collapse into drug abuse or some other rut) and the best that can happen is that you would free yourself from a tendency to subsume yourself into a cult of one sort or another, the underlying sickness of not just TM but of any other ism.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

You are right with the ism´s, but I am not putting my faith in an other way. TM did this well, of course. I consider TM as something that is layed over the person. It has nothing to do with the person itself (my "self") nor with truth or any other good thing. But that´s my opinion, nobody has to share it, it´s just what I think. Today, I am also critical about the so called "spiritual development". What kind of "development" is this, when you never (in "this life") reach the truth, but always remain in "development"? With this "development" you could delude yourself effectivly... I know, this is a delicate theme, about the way and the goal and the "truth", but I already posted my believe here. You can be critical about it, share it or not. But I am glad, that it is possible for me (sometimes), to believe, and that I was baptised in our lokal church.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

To relativate, what I wrote above: one can always go in a wrong direction. And there is the risk and sickness, to believe in an ism. In this point, I agree with you totally. I even think, human beings are more or less easy to manipulate. More or less suscepitble for radical ideas, seducers and ism´s.
But all I want to say, is, that I don´t consider christian faith as something bad. (For me: If there is someone, I can trust, then it´s Jesus Christ. That´s the result of my Mahesh-experience.)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Why do you feel the need to pathologise everyone's beliefs as sickness? Maybe belief in scientific method could be seen as a sickness too, if it closes one's mind to other possibilities. Anyne who has studied the philosphy and history of science is well aware of its limitations, specifically that it is skewed by what scientists choose to investigate.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

He explicitly states that he wants to be free of TM but cannot stop because he feels addicted, that he cannot make it through a day without the mantra. He also suggests he is having issues about TM vis a vis Christianity and the anti-Christ. With all due respect for FeTM this does sound a bit like a classic TM pathology to me - which is OK FeTM, many of us here have or have had very similar situations! and we did manage to break free and feel much the better for having done so. I do not want to sugar-coat my advice or waffle about, and end up being mushy and vague.

In these cases, while still 'addicted' as it were, while still in the cult mindset, I feel it is better to make a clean break. If you slip into something else there is simply too much risk that the pathology will continue on by another name. Clinging to Christianity to save your soul from the devil TM for example, if an extreme one.

The best medicine I believe is actually immersion in everyday life - being with everyday people doing everyday things. If later on after having melded back into society you wish to try something else then maybe do it.

I do not think this is bad advice for such a situation. I could be wrong. I could be misreading FeTM's situation. I have only what he has told us to go on. I do not have all the answers so please, take this advice with a grain of salt.

At least I am not going to try to make a psychic reading!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

To add to above: I suggested gradually stopping TM because it might be possible to actually be addicted to the technique, in the sense that certain chemicals are relesased by the practice. (Not seriously addicted in a physical sense, the physical addiction is probably mild if it exists at all. But it could still make you feel out of sorts.) So a graduall stoppage may avoid too sudden a change in this regard.

Stopping gradually also avoids the problem of not being able to stop at all because one has falsely framed this as an all or nothing proposition - stop a little bit, skip a meditation, cut the time by a third, see how it feels, stop some more another day. There is no hurry. You can always meditate again another day.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Perhaps it would be of value to others if we could list the books, teachers, teachings that we have found of particular value in the spiritual quest.

I don't think Spiritual Quest necessarily has to be confined to meditation or what some might feel is the "mystical" quest.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I beg to differ. I politely suggest you look at the Christian teaching in a more "enlightened" perspective. There is a hidden teaching in Christianity or more accurately a hidden direct experience of Christ. This is found in the writings of your Saints and Christian thinkers. There are even practices that are similar to 'yogic' practices. And, this is not New Age mumble jumbo. Just look at the history of religion from Quackers, Shakers, and all the rest.

Yes, the TMO religion is not explicitly about Jesus Christ and the bible, its more in line with the TMO's perspective on Hindu philosophies. So, if that bugs you, its understandable. But, equating it to antichrist stuff is just plain nonsense. Btw, when He comes how will you know whether its the second coming or the Antichrist? If you read the bible you'll see that they put in a catch-22 in there.

Another thing do you really think there are multiple Gods, Jehovah, Krishna, Odin, Brahman, and so forth. Further, do you really think God, God were talking about, really cares what name you call him? As long as you call him by what your Faith requires, your ok. Thinking otherwise is a slippery slope toward divisiveness and, in fact, antichrist preparation.

I don't see the TM practice even with those weird mantras as a problem. I use the word "Amen", does that make me into an ancient person who worships volcanoes?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

When you say anti-christian what do you mean? Does the TMO have an ulterior motive to destroy Chistianity, kill believers, or something? Is Islam or Hinduism anti-christian? Or they like most "cultivations" state or imply that they are the true or best way? Don't they all, even this blog imply or state that being non-TM is the best way?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

"The difference, however, is that the intention is to open yourself to the presence of God."

Nope. Read up on what Yoga really means and its relationship to God (complex though). Very similar to Christian Mysticism.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Not as any kind of argument. But with reference to this and whether TM (Maheshism) might be anti-other religions, one might look at Science of Creative Intelligence. «groan» - But, in an effort to follow Mahesh's brand of reasoning, it is not beyond good reason and some common sense to see that by "creative intelligence" Mahesh is explicitly referring to Brahma, the creator deity in the Hindu/Brahmanical pantheon.

Since SCI is Mahesh's catechism, his not too cleverly disguised Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, thought control, or thought reform) mechanism of implanting his World Plan in the minds of one and all, I think TM could be viewed as anti-everything else and an explicit attempt to cultivate his and only his intention.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I think your making a categorical mistake here. The original poster was inquiring as to the TM practice, not the TMO or what you call Maheshism and its offshoots like SCI. Thus, my reply was based on TM practice as a form of Yoga technology (no matter how destructive and all that you may feel about it).

Even Schodinger and other physicists were mentioning Brahma. It just goes that the Eastern conception of God jives with many things (good and bad) and also why so easy to attempt to create a new sanitized philosophy based on Eastern mysticism. Brahma as CI is very palatable compared to a Charlton Heston in the sky evangelical world view no?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, jb, I am kind of off topic. I clearly see the point you are making and I have no disagreement with it. - While there are clearly remarkable similarities and parallels between contemporary understandings of physics and ancient literature -- that wasn't quite the point I was trying to express.

If you examine the "checking notes" [ or] Mahesh is very clear in this manifesto of TMism: we do not say that the person is making a mistake, we only say that this will be better [I am paraphrasing].

TM by itself is probably beneficial in that it allows a person to take a break from the daily grind and feel a little more energetic. But, look what Mahesh did with this "simple, natural" technique of what is possibly better categorized as power-day-dreaming.

That was the point I was failing to make. And it is in that context that I felt that TM was misused. In Mahesh's hands, so to speak, TM operates more like crab-grass, crowding out other life-forms.

I also agree that Brahma as CI is very palatable compared to a Charlton Heston in the sky evangelical world view no? makes more sense, except in Mahesh's hands. SCI is just TM evangelicalism.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Come on. Really?
"TM by itself is probably beneficial in that it allows a person to take a break from the daily grind and feel a little more energetic. But, look what Mahesh did with this "simple, natural" technique of what is possibly better categorized as power-day-dreaming."

With that attitude everything is suspect. The "Lord's Prayer", oh oh, wishful snot nosed begging. Mindfullness, bah, self-catanoziation, and so on. Come on. It didn't work for you. Ok. It doesn't work for many. Ok.

Note, we are still in agreement. Even the SCI is TM evangelicalism idea.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I can understand how some people might feel that the practice of TM is contrary to Christianity,particularly when the TMO hid the fact of the religious origin of TM and the mantras. Personally, I feel that if one chooses 'Jesus' as a mantra, that means that he or she is intending to worship Jesus. If someone was instructed in TM, and doesn't know that the mantra they were given is probably the name of some Hindu deity, I can't see how anyone could possibly say that they are practicing Hinduism, or that their practice of TM is somehow in conflict with their religious beliefs. This is quite aside from the question of whether or not TM 'works'.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I agree, Morris - I'm not a Christian, but I like the sound of "Jésu". But (and there is a Ned Wynn posting here somewhere to this effect) being "tricked" into repeating, perhaps prayer-like, Jésu, again and again and then discovering what I had been doing, I might not be especially pleased.

With respect to whether or not TM "works", I suspect that this is not quite the right question at all. Rather, I think we need to inquire, what happens when we do TM or what does TM actually do. I see mountains of TM research that only shows so-called results that "prove" Mahesh and the TMO are always and only right. What I do not see is substantial investigation into what actually happens, into what TM actually does to brain function, brain-body chemistry and so forth.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Actually, TM worked nicely for me, at least in the beginning before Mahesh started fiddling with it and giving me advanced techniques (apparently, to see what would happen). AND I think it is one of our basic necessities (if that isn't redundant) to approach things as if they were suspect. One has only to look at what happen in 2008 with banking and housing.

AND I know lots of people who have done TM for a long time and have no complaints. AND I saw a lot of damage in Mallorca and Fiuggi that Mahesh passed off as something good is happening, so, yes, I tend toward the suspicious and cynical.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hello lexiko,
though your comments taste very "salty", I want to thank you, Karina and Sudarsha for the hints stopping with TM. I feel less addicted now, though I´m quite sure there is a long term effect on the brain meditating over years regulary. Ah, and good luck in removing from the TMO/TM..;)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

there surely is (TM sickness; addiction and long term effect on the brain etc.), and on this way I want to thank you for the hints stopping with TM- good luck,

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hello Karina,
thank you for the hints (and the new mantra ;)- addiction and concerns about these things reduced. I wish you much fun and all good on your way with Jesus.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi FeTM,

I doubt that any of us, or anyone at all for that matter, have all the answers about this stuff. It's an open field of study. If you read through the anti-TM stuff you quickly discover that the critics of TM here and elsewhere do not much agree on questions about the value of the pure technique (minus the TMO lifestyle and the extra baggage) or on meditation in general or what a proper alternative, if any, looks like. There are few if any established facts on the subject so I think in the end our own instincts, aided a bit by what we pick up here and there from others and from our own experience of the technique, are the best guide. You are actually in touch with your own life and it gives you real feedback - taking things on 'faith' can make you go against that.

For the record though I did say I thought your TM connection was 'pathological' I did not mean to say that it was pathological to any great degree or that you personally are. I still think that simply backing off TM a bit and going by your own muse is a good way to start - maybe you will discover that your TM practice can be salavged, maybe not. I just think you should feel free to do what you will on the matter and not worry.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Dear FeTM,
After I quit meditating (partially because my program was 3 hours a day!) I go back to it once in a while such as meditating maybe once a month or once every two months. When I do meditate I have also changed my mantra to Jesus' Aramaic name, Yesh--ua. I still get the deep rest or quieting of the mind when I use this mantra.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I agree, Lexico. Yes, bloom where you are planted. Be of service to those around you, your community, family, co-workers and neighbours. At least you will have the time to be of service when not sitting with eyes closed for hours on end. What good is all the feeling-good if one does not share the fruits of it in action?

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