Wednesday, July 21, 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...

One subject I have never seen discussed on this board is "sleep witnessing." Mahesh's often cited this as some sort of proof of having arrived at Cosmic Consciousness.

My questions to all is have you ever experienced this form of sleep, and if so, what do you think it is or was?

Is it merely a fancy name for insomnia? Is it body disassociation spilling over from day into night?

Is it similar to any other condition, mental illness, or drug reaction? Do other traditions mention this strange experience of sleep?

Where did Mahesh get this "witness sleep" terminology? Was it from Vedic scholars at Estes Park???

Anyone have thoughts on this arcane subject?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

"Where did Mahesh get this "witness sleep" terminology?"

This is all over the "vedic" writings and teachings of high end sages. Mahesh did not make it up. For example:

"In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing." --- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

These kinds of phrases are used. So, unless one has experienced "wisdom" one really doen't know what this means. MMY explained this using the rose, remember? It was like Vedanta For Idiots.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I agree that "seeing" and "awake" and terminology like that is used by other spiritual teachers -- of all religious bents.

My question concerns witnessing SLEEP. That is a novel concept that I have not seen/read/heard elsewhere. Perhaps it is in Vedic literature, but that is not a favored reading genre for me.

I have, on rare occasions, had the experience of "witnessing sleep" but I think it might be just a form of insomnia, or other malady.


John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

A friend of mind said that she regularly "knew" that she was sleeping and/or dreaming and if she didn't like the dream, she just switched to another dream. - I have never had any "sleep witnessing" although I have had sleep paralysis (which went away when I stopped TM).

My sleep witnessing friend also developed ticks and head bobbling in as well as out of meditation when she learnt the 'sidhi' rigmarole.

It's difficult to evaluate a thing from personal accounts, anecdotal evidence. I don't know if the TMO has published any scientific studies in this area. It would be interesting to see something like that, although I very cynically suspect that we'd learn more about the efforts of the TMO to make science conform to pre-existing belief than anything else.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

The quote I gave says it all. Here is the full passage:

"Q: But is there anything beyond the Self?
M: Outside the Self there is nothing. All is one and all is contained in 'I am'. In the waking and dream states it is the person. In deep sleep and turiya it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme. But in fact all is one in essence and related in appearance. In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
But why be concerned with the Supreme? Know the knowers and all will be known." -- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Other sessions hone in on sleep more. One thing is that MMY did explain it more explicitly, like a Vedanta For Idiots type of book. Afaik, he is the only one that gave the exact sequence and effects, even in "Science of Being and Art of Living" book. That in itself is pretty amazing. When he spoke of looking at the flower, that was Vedanta come alive, not rehashed philosophy

BTW, "I Am That" is a great book. Its a question and answer sessions that ordinary people had with this sage. They ask very good questions that try to understand his consciousness, like what happens when you are dreaming, do you have desires, and all pragmatic questions like that.

I have had sleep paralysis all my life, lucid dreaming, and witnessing sleep. They are all different. Would be very useful to do scientific studies on that if someone could be found that do this every night.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Your funny, in a nice way of course. Like when you write, you always get a little dig in:
"My sleep witnessing friend also developed ticks and head bobbling in as well as out of meditation when she learnt the 'sidhi' rigmarole. "

When I'm aware of dreaming, I can actually control the dream, replay it over and over. Once I had a nightmare and replayed it and fixed the problem. You anti-TMers better hope I'm not actually changing reality. Just kidding....

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I dig lest we forget that TM/Maheshism isn't what it appears to be.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Some personal experiences and ruminations about conscious sleep:

I have lucid dreaming. I'm not sure if all of them are but the ones I remember seem lucid. I was 'aware' I was dreaming and making it up as I went along, changing the details. "Oh look, what a massive and beautiful blue wave, of *** it's a tsunami! it's going to wipe out all the poor sunbathers, I better fly up to the top of the hotel and watch this spectacle." Sometimes I have less control but still feel a sense that it is all safe, just a vivid fantasy, and not real.

I do feel that way while awake too, much more than when I was young and so 'mixed up' with what I experienced. This part does not feel pathological to me. It is so automatic, as if it was or should have been that way all along, and my 'overshadowed' state was the illness. I make no claim to be enlightened, it feels so simple and commonplace, and I'm way too messed up as a person to be enlightened. Life is not all bliss. I am not put together just right, but that's OK. I do feel the basic fact of my existence is a miracle, regardless of external circumstances, and I am very grateful for mere being.

Is changing the dream what constitutes lucid dreaming, or is it the awareness you are changing it, this I am not sure? I am also not sure if I am aware through the whole dream or just as I am waking up in the middle of a dream, half sleeping, half awake. This half state is one I feel I have become quite familiar with over the years. I sometimes hear myself snore, though this is a brief moment. Maybe I am simply not sleeping as deeply because I am older (mid-50's). As you age I do believe it is a fact your sleep becomes less deep and refreshing. My sleep isn't all that refreshing. Maybe I am simply aging or have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, and I tend to interpret it in 'witnessing' terms due to the exposure to TM ideas about it?

I remember when I was in my twenties having more interesting and profound sleep events, including sometimes experiencing a bright light and some bliss as I was drifting off. I also used to 'awake' in the middle of being asleep and feel as if I were a mere eye in the middle of an infinite empty universe, a terrifyingly empty, lonely, feeling, yet awe inspiring in a way too - definitely unusual. Also, if something awoke me in the midst of deep sleep, it was like coming out of a very VERY deep sleep, I was disoriented, foggy to the point of being unable to function for a few minutes - that experience is much rarer, almost gone completely. When I awake it is almost instant 'on' now.

My TM history: I got out of the TMO in 82 after being a teacher for 7 years. I continued to meditate and do yoga, with great passion actually, though free of the TMO and following my own muse, feeling that I had made the TM program somehow 'my own' while still being true to the 'main principle', LOL, for quite a few years after until I eventually drifted away because of family duties and other reasons in the early mid nineties. I have occasionally meditated in the years since but only rarely. Now I am more or less fully immersed in the everyday world and feel like all that was a memory, yet, I would like to unravel it some more. TM and the TMO got such a hold on ,y soul for a time I am still not sure what to make of it and how far removed from it I really am . . .

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I believe that "lucid dreaming" refers to being aware that you are having a dream/that this is not waking reality. I don't think it refers to having the ability to change the dream or not.

Being aware during dreaming is different from being aware during sleep ("witnessing sleep,") which is what Karina was asking about. I have occasionally had lucid dreams ("Wow! I know you're dead, but for this dream, I can make you alive again.") When I was on TM Teaching Training, and meditating 12 times a day, I did experience "witnessing sleep." It felt like, although I was asleep and dead to the world, there was a part of my mind that was not dead to the world, that noticed what was going on - that noticed that I was asleep. It was a very pleasurable sensation, if I recall correctly. It felt blissy, luminous, incandescent.

As to scientific research about witnessing sleep from the TMO, my guess is that if they could have come up with something impressive, they would have published it, and if they couldn't come up with something convincing, they didn't publicize it.

Speaking of that, does anyone remember that MIU used to say that their graduating students would have to submit to a brain scan, and that it would show improved brain functioning? Did anything ever become of that? Did they find nothing worth reporting, so they dropped it?

I know nothing about "witnessing sleep" being talked about in Hindu scripture, but when I was on TTC (1973? 1974? Punta Umbria and La Antilla, Spain) MMY emphasized that being able to witness sleep was a sign of spiritual advancement. (He used the word "evolution" at the time, remember?) He also said that non-TMers who were spiritually evolved might witness sleep. So after TTC, I asked a friend of mine, a very sweet soul who had gotten involved with Hassidic Judaism (a branch of Judaism with lots and lots of rules) if she ever witnessed sleep, and she said "sometimes." According to MMY directions, I told her it was a sign of "purity."

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Opening up the "witnessing sleep" question is turning into Pandora's box. It seems like there are so many aspects and related sleep experiences and states.

There is lucid dreaming (Laurie's and Lexico's experience); dream manipulation (jb9876); awareness of deep dreamless sleep (Sudarsha's friend, and JB), half-awake, half-asleep (Lexico) and sleep paralysis (Sudarsha, JB.)

To that I would also like to add the weird sleep that one experiences when in the twilight state of waking from anesthesia --- Can opiate drugs create a state similar to "witnessing sleep?"

Thanks JB for the longer quote. Does Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, from whom you quoted, speak more directly to the individual seeker's sleep experience, or just in the generalized Vedanta philosophy that you quoted? What particular part of the above listed sleep experiences do you think are related to spiritual development? Just curious....

I now think that just getting a night's uninterrupted and refreshing sleep in a sign of spiritual development. As Lexico pointed out, as one ages good sleep is often more elusive.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

"Does Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, from whom you quoted, speak more directly to the individual seeker's sleep experience, or just in the generalized Vedanta philosophy that you quoted?"
He is basically describing his own personal state as a means to explain enlightenment and of course will use the code words of his tradition and upbringing. He will also direct the question back to the questioner as a goad to reflect on what he is saying, sort of like Ramana Maharshi did. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is an interesting character, did not play at being enlightened. Little old guy had a family, smoked cigarettes, shop keeper, etc. See

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I remember when we were doing 24 hour rounding at the Karena. It felt like I was 'witnessing sleep', because I seemed to maintain awareness throughout, and there were no dreams, as I recall, but for all I know, it was just a very light state of sleeping.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I want to add, I am very interested in learning about Tibetan Dream Yoga, which is effectively advanced lucid dreaming. If anyone has anything to say about it, please do. I have had lucid dream experiences for many years, but with no consistent control.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

On the six month and siddhis courses I started to experience a sound like rushing wind sometimes as I was dropping off to sleep or just waking up. This continued after I left the movement soon after, and I always wondered what it was.

I finally had the thought that if I could make the sound continuous instead of coming and going, something would happen. I don't know why I thought this. One night as I was dropping off to sleep the sound started and I concentrated on keeping it going. This time I was successful, and I went into a dream while knowing I was dreaming

I got very excited and thought I had achieved a breakthrough of some kind. In this dream I had a vague sort of body and there was no space! The feeling of no space is indescribable. I was flying around in this no space, odd as that sounds. My body sort of created space for itself as it went along.

To make a long story short (to everyone's relief), somewhere along the way I got so wrapped up in the dream action that I lost the awareness that I knew I was dreaming, and it turned into a regular old dream. This happened many years ago and I have neber experienced this again.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Karina, the idea of "witnessing deep sleep" is called yoginidra in Sanskrit or "yogic sleep". One of it's most obvious hallmarks is the need for sleep is not only greatly reduced, one awakes after "sleep" feeling deeply refreshed.

Needless to say, it's not a very common state. IMO it is not associated with TM or it's sleeping techniques, although it is seen in deeper forms of meditation.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi Deborah, What is 24-hour rounding? I've never heard of it before. Was this on your TTC? Did people have benefits from this? Did they go crazy?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Laurie, yes it was on the TTC. We were supposed to meditate pretty much round the clock, except for meals. We were told not to lie down, because then we would drift off into sleep.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Not that I'm an expert, but yoga nidra is really a meditative state or transitional experience. Just like there are different stages of Samadhi (with seed, without, etc). Or maybe yoginidra is deep sleep witnessing, but...

Witnessing the three states of consciousness is different. In witnessing the thing that gets awoken, Self, witnesses the changing mental landscape. When you go from wake to sleep to deep sleep, its like changing gears on a bike, the hum changes. But, its not the mental thinking mind that does the witnessing, its just awareness without an object. Its not occult. In between each thought, even now, we are still aware of being aware, though not explicitly. In awakening its always explicit, tacit.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I think most already know that. Even people just visiting this site would know that, just glance to the banner on the left side of the page. Also, very few apologist for TMO hang out here. This is rather like a cult in a way, or an AAA for TM. "Hello, my name is Follow the Leader, I started TM when I was lost and confused ..."

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Some or possibly many in Fairfield keep an eye on what we say here, jb. As I have frequently said, TM by itself is not necessarily something bad. However, what Mahesh has done with TM does not bode well. Look at what the x-ians did with the message of a Jewish peasant! crusades, inquisitions -- I wouldn't want something like that to erupt in any form again.

Yep, TM-Free is a culture of its own. This is how humanity seems to work. Yep, we are conducting our own sort of crusade and inquisition. But a counter-revolution, a counter-culture such as our own is, I feel, the positive result of those from the inside of one cult waking up to things that just aren't right.

The young soldier who seems to have blown the whistle on the recklessness of the previous administration is an example.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Deborah

This was the Mallorca course, yes? I remember Mahesh throwing caution to the wind (as it seems to me now) and having people do something that he knew full-well was dangerous. I had arrived in Mallorca for my first ever ATR (full of anticipation, of course, hopes and happiness). What I remember most clearly was the freaking-out that followed: something good is happening and waves of bliss were among the most savage porkies Mahesh ever spat out! I think it ranks up there with his insensitive view of TM and starving people: they will be happy and starving.

I would very much value your memories of those days.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Thanks for your comments jb9876. I agree with you, in part. I don't believe it's a simple 'yes or no' thing. Certainly in Maharishi Vedic Science, in Cosmic Consciousness (turiyatita), the belief is that one one is permanently, during what one would conventionally call "sleep", established in yogic sleep, as one is permanently established in union. Actually, in such a case, the alleged witness-consciousness, pervades all states of conventional consciousness.

Therefore, the benefits of such yogic-sleep would be naturally present, if they were in fact occurring.

Replication and scientific observation would be a breeze.

My observation would be that originally, in the c. Gita Ch. 1-6 daze, TM dogma was that *onset* of deep sleep witnessing was a *sign* that CC (Cosmic, All-embracing Consciousness) was dawning. Later on it seems to me like it was said or implied that witnessing deep sleep consistently meant that the person was *in CC.*

In other words, at a certain point, they started "dumbing it down". The True Believers, so caught up in their own believing, never noticed. Oh my.

That just how it seems to me. I could be wrong on the specifics of TM dogma, re: "witnessing", as it's not something I follow closely.

IME, there are two separate states being blurred together here. One is a transitional state you describe, where the shakshi or witness-consciousness begins to "turn on". Another one is where it is turned-on "permanently". Both represent the same experiential state, the difference is in the claim of permanence, i.e. the duration.

Either way, it is a very unforgettable type of unconventional experience. IMO, the TM-version it is often confused with different styles of sleep-disturbances which are well known. Instead of getting some sort of "deep rest", one actually gets less rest. If, in fact, TMers were "witnessing deep sleep" whether they were established in CC or just consistently experiencing the shakshi during sleep, it would readily evident simply by their need for less sleep. There'd be a high physiological "wow" factor.

But sadly, this is not what is actually happening IMO.

If it was, the TM Org would not only be talking incessantly about this incredible finding, but they'd also be pushing it to every media outlet that was willing to listen and every journal that would publish these remarkable physiological findings.

IMO what we are more likely seeing from TM-followers is the result of hyper-vigilance on what they heard from Ole Mahesh. They're just looking, looking, looking for something to happen. When that "thing" doesn't happen, they (being a desperate followers) insert the most conveniently available item.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Some responses. Regarding the dumbing down of CC stuff. Yes, deep sleep witnessing could be sign of *onset* of CC, and having consistent witness of deep sleep may not be sign of CC. No contradiction, if CC is defined as witnessing all states and activity.

Regarding TM-version and sleep-disturbance and less sleep. I don't follow what you mean. Why would witnessing any sleep mean less sleep? Is that a historical fact, Yogis need less sleep? I would think that the body needs what it needs, depends on many things.

And your other points. Wow, this bashing just never stops. Unfortunately, that stops any flow of real information and is just a substitute or rather projection of everyone's Eriksonian trust-betrayal infantile state. Boo hoo, your big bad daddy figure mislead you and now went away? Awwww. I'm sorry. (all in goof).

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Regarding Witnessing Sleep ...

I wonder if witnessing sleep is in any way related to witnessing activity. Mahesh lectured frequently about the experience of "CC" and the disorientation feeling that can come from witnessing activity. I recall that even Mahesh admitted it was a flat, empty feeling.

In hindsight, it now sounds to me like the biochemical brain changes of depression. Many ex-TMers have talked about feeling disassociated, and the mental and emotional dysfunction that this brings in its wake. Again, sounds like depression to me.

I wonder if the "lowered metabolism" of vulnerable meditators was turned down too many notches and they ended up with a meditation-induced mental illness. I think the meditation-induced disassociation/depression could, in extreme cases, be extremely pathological and lead to suicide. However, in the majority of cases the consequences were not as severe.

I wonder if this "dissasociation" spills over into sleep and becomes the "witnessing" aspect of sleep. Some people find that they have very bizarre sleep patterns when depressed (disassociated).

Just as vigorous exercise is being recognized in the mental health community as an antidote to depression, many ex-TMers also recognize that vigorous exercise is an antidote to the debilitating effects of excessive meditation.

BTW, I think there are some archived threads on this site regarding disassociation.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

My point was in genuine yogic sleep, yes the need for sleep decreases to as little as a couple of hours. One modern yogi has postulated that the reason is that in conventional sleep, while the body and in general the thinking mind get some well-needed rest, only in yogic sleep does the unconscious mind get deep rest. Thus after an episode of (or in the permanent experience of) yogic sleep, one feels cleaned out and refreshed as if from deeply within.

An interesting observation, if true.

This state is not only historically the case with actual yogis, but it is also described in more recent works and biographies.

This deeply restful state, along with the need for less duration of overall sleep, seems sharply different from those described in TM sleep-witnessers IMO. YMMV. They remind me more of the tortuous state(s) described by Polysomnographers, where sleep gets just barely below the threshold of normal sleep cycles and one lays in this limbo slightly below waking state, but never truly going into deep sleep long enough to refresh oneself.

IIRC even Ole Mahesh described that one of the benefits of CC was *a decreased need for sleep*. It's a very traditional claim he was making, even if his students did not seem to ever attain it.

Karina it's not unusual for Advaita Vedantins to "diss" the "lower" darshanas or ways-of-seeing reality. CC belongs to yoga-darshana and Advaita Vedantins in the Shankara mold believe his Unity Consciousness was the bestest. So therefore it's not surprising to hear them diss CC.

It's what Shankara did after all.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Vajradhatu, To the best of my memory, MMY did *not* change his definition of CC with regard to witnessing sleep. (I was in TM 1971-81). I believe that what he said was that when CC was permanent, one would witness sleep every time one slept. Before CC, one would witness sleep sometimes. One initiator compared it to "originally having a stomach ache all the time, then having moments when one does not have a stomach ache, then finally always being pain-free."

There are so many things one can strive for in life - being loving, helping people, being kind to animals, feeding the hungry, working for justice, etc. etc. That being the case, I now, 30 years later, question whether the goal of witnessing sleep full-time is such a valuable goal. Anyone else have any thoughts on that?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

You could well be right Laurie.

It seems to me what at one time was precisely as you described "when CC was permanent, one would witness sleep every time one slept. Before CC, one would witness sleep sometimes". Sadly this seemed to morph into 'witnessing deep sleep consistently means one is in CC/a "higher" state of consciousness'. Whether it was the org who began fudging this definition to meet their own needs and own expectations or it was a combination of M's micromanagement and their desire to feel 'important' and 'special', I cannot say.

What is clear to me, having talked personally to one of the TM Org's "star sleep witnessers" touted as being in CC, is that this person actually ended up (upon independent sleep lab testing) to have a sleep disorder. No CC or any sort of "yogic sleep".

Needless to say, the person in question felt used and was quite expectedly enraged at the attempted sleight-of-hand at his expense.

But I think it's important NOT to throw the baby out with the bathwater here and realize authentic states of yogic sleep *do* exist and could represent incredible potential for human beings.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Not sure if all "disassociation" is equivalent to "witnessing". Like tonight walking to my car I was witnessing. Its not that the ego or the mind was separate from activity, but that my awareness had a different frame of reference, that it was not 'overshadowed' by my activity, and that it was in fact silent and above. Very blissful and free. I guess this could be a mental disease, but I don't think so. Then again, do nuts know they are nuts? I'm sure meditation can induce all the nasty things mentioned in this community, who disagrees with that? Even I had bad stuff happen. I bet it would have happened even if I just did the rosary.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Great info, thanks.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Ah Ha! As I suspected...the awareness of witnessing one's sleep might just as easily be explained away as a sleep pathology and not a higher state of consciousness.

At times over the years I have had "awake" sleep due to twin babies, worries, snoring husband, etc.. What always amazed me was that I THOUGHT I was awake for hours, yet the hours passed so swiftly, and then I was able to get up and manage the following day's responsibilities. For me, I think wakeful-sleep is a form of insomnia. Even though I am thinking "I am awake," I actually was getting some sleep-like rest. These rare experiences of wakeful-sleep don't happen to me due to bliss, but for quite the opposite reasons.

Thanks for sharing Vajradhatu. I'm glad to know that someone was able to have this experience evaluated by an objective sleep lab. It does not happen to me often, but when it does, I always associate it with some sort of sleep-disturbance.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Perhaps we can start a thread about recollections of long ago courses. If anyone wants to ask me any specific questions, just provide an email address.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi Deborah --- I am curious if you remember my ex-husband who was also in Mallorca (Karena Hotel?) , and then in Fiuggi. We were married at the time, but I only went to the Fiuggi portion of the course. In Italy we stayed mainly at the Vesuvio, then for the last month, we stayed in some little pension that I have forgotten, but went with all the other CPs to the big meeting hall in town. Daily he had to sit in the "heavy unstresser" section due to his severe ticing.

My former husband and I divorced in 1990 (after 19 years of marriage), then I recently learned that he died early this year. I do believe that the long-term effects of the TM course (ticing, OCD) truly changed, if not ruined, his life.

Please email me at parcregent at yahoo-dot-com. Thanks.

Thanks ---

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

For what it's worth, Bill Clinton slept 4 hours a night. (Was he enlightened?) Also, Susan Shumsky (?? I think that's her name, I could be wrong) was a TMer who believed she was enlightened because she started witnessing all the time. She wrote a book about it. She died of a brain tumor. My doctor said that brain tumors can sometimes cause dissociation.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'm pretty sure Sue Shumsky is still alive.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I recall a particular sleep experience that went on for about 3 years. I had a much-loved cat who had had a stroke which had left him partially crippled. He slept on the bed with me and I was very afraid he would jump off in the night and injure himself. Up until his death, my sleep was defined by a sort of hyper-awareness where I was sensitive to the slightest movement he made, and I would awaken. I am not sure how to categorise this.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Wakeful Sleep -- I had a similar experience to Deborah's --- except I had twin babies. Unfortunately, my experience lasted years too, as I had children who were poor sleepers. Often one, and sometimes both, would end up in bed with me.

I was always "on alert," even when asleep. I sometimes thought I didn't get back to sleep, but then the clock told me otherwise as suddenly it was morning. It is an odd, and not that great, feeling of wakeful sleep. I did survive though. Years later, I was finally able to get normal dream-filled sleep, and I really relished it.

I'm sure a sleep study would have shown sleep abnormalities --- and it wasn't "enlightenment."

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi Revoluce. I looked at the link you provided on Susan Shumsky, and you are correct. Susan S. is alive. But who am I confusing her with? Anyone know? This other woman, once a TMer, believed she became enlightened. She wrote her memoir, which I read. She later remembered childhood sexual abuse. She died of a brain tumor.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

As soon as I read the name "Susan Shumsky" in the above post, Susan's image popped into my mind from the mid-70's. I recall her as being tall, very thin, and very much all business. She had an old-fashioned school marm look about her, even though she was still in her 20's. Then I clicked over to her website now.....WOW!

She is transformed, and beautifully so, at least from exterior appearances. I don't know about her "divine revelation" (name of her website), but she definitely had a marketing revelation. Susan looks stunning, and apparently is succeeding as a New Age teacher and writer. She is even not afraid to acknowledge her years with Mahesh.

I'm glad to know that some people, like her, managed to successfully turn their cult experiences into cash. Many have tried, but few have succeeded.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Why would she be afraid to acknowledge her years with Mahesh? It represents a large part of her credentials as a guru, as it does with Deepak.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I started to develop insomnia when I began learning the first phase of the sidhis in 1994. I was told by Greg that it was probably due to the wind and an imbalance, so drink Maharishi teas and cover my head. I was also informed that it becomes more likely to not sleep during a full moon. When I did the flying block, several months after that, I went for 4 or 5 days not being able to sleep, so I'd get up and write in my journal or do laundry. The female teacher on that program dismissed my reports to her of insomnia and told me that I was probably just sleep witnessing. During those two weeks I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time, and it freaked me out, so I'd force myself to move. Towards the end of the two weeks I did develop sleep witnessing, an awareness of being even while sleeping, a small part of me awake, alert while my body slept. A few times over the years, I recall thinking "What is that annoying noise?" and then I realized that the noise was my snoring and I had woken myself up. So there was a part that was alert and aware that thought the thought, "What is that annoying noise?" I developed tics during the flying block, but became able to control them unless I was meditating or releasing stress, such as now when I get reflexology. I do not have lucid dreams where I can control things. Since I stopped TM 3 and a half years ago, the sleep witnessing is gone as well as the sleep paralysis, and I sleep deeply and soundly with no insomnia Finally!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

>>> I recall thinking "What is that annoying noise?" and then I realized that the noise was my snoring and I had woken myself up.

This is a valuable siddhi, and you could help the world and enrich yourself by imparting it!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I wonder if the phenomenon of sleep witnessing among TM-ers is likely the result of too much rest. If one meditates for hours - that is a form of rest. Then if the same person tries to get the regular ration of sleep (like 6 or 7 or 8 hours), very likely for part of that time - he or she will be not so deep asleep and experiencing so called sleep witnessing. During sleep - time is so relative, therefore time with experience of witnessing might feel like it is the whole night. When in physiological reality that person is supposed to be up and moving. The habit for excessive rest might be keeping him or her in bed, but the mind is already up and witnessing.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

However I feel it is a strange way of feeling accomplished - based on the experiences during sleep. Even if it is taken in the context that it is a sign of CC and therefore one is helping the world by making it more coherent... I feel if one is in CC, the last thing he or she will care to talk and analyze will be sleep patterns. I suspect in CC so much more happens and such state of exaltation is envoked that this little talk of "special experiences" must feel ridiculous.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

The topic of enlightenment in the TM movement is often another manifestation of the ego. I am talking here about that same ego that wants to shine. The ego in this case has found a twisted way of being more than others - by "being enlightened". Then the ego gets so concerned of proving it - with all these special experiences, then with special behavior, with special way of talking, with bubbly behavior so one looks like is in bliss. It never ends. It is the code of the enlightened ego. Engrossed in posing and looking enlightened - so it can get recogniztion and high fives, so it get accepted and it feels like it belong, for some it is in charge and revered... I actually think it is a lot of fun - looking at it all from a little bit distance. Someone should make a gig of it - as a stand-up commedian. There is SO MUCH material there. SO MUCH!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I actually believe there are some spiritually advanced people among TM-ers. Most likely not even in Fairfield. (careful - I am not talking about TMO). But you will never hear them speak about their states of consciousness and special experiences and will hardly notice them. They are quietly going about their lives and you will know them from their fruit.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

You've made a valuable observation, Debra. I hope that the movement accomplished more than just the accumulation of $ and oddity. Some people who have communicated with me felt very strongly that directly because of TM they were able to "advance" (not my choice of words here) to something they felt was more valuable.

I also do not think we can rule out the basis of TM itself, as easily as as the source of much spiritual advancement. What might be useful would be to see if we can find some rationale or agreement that would allow us to talk about spiritual advancement in terms that are not particularly swayed by one religion or philosophical point of view or another.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Laurie, I think you were referring to Suzanne Segal --- her name came up on Fairfield Life. If you google her name you will find quite a bit about her and her experiences. Apparently she had left the TMO a few years before having these possibly CC experiences.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I never took the TTC but I did take meditation courses with ACEM aka as former Norweigian TMO that had left Mahesh and ran their own courses, the rerasoon that I mention this is that they had TTC level meditations, no rounding just 8-9 hours of meditation every day. I never heard about anyone that went ill on these courses. Off course the settings was different since we after meditaion had games with the aim of returning to the objective world, all the teachers was doctors or students from psychology dept on university but stil I never of anybody gone nuts.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

This is very interesting, Darth. Thank you for this information. I have been on many meditation courses NOT in the Mahesh tradition and, although we sometimes meditated for many, many hours each day, there was never any behaviour or difficulties such as I witnessed at Mallorca and Fiuggi.

Your experience raises many questions about what was going on on Mahesh's TTCs. It's almost like Hansel and Gretel in the Witches' oven, Mahesh cackling away something good is happening.

Perhaps something good came out of those courses for those who did not succumb to the obvious ravages of Mahesh's "rounding"/oven - I simply do not know and have yet to discover a reason to generate interest in giving TM/Maheshism another chance.

If Mahesh was any kind of teacher, then, as teachers do, he showed us a path "as easily as". There was and could not have been magic (because that's irrational and unscientific). But the path he showed us, "as easily as", was not without its own merit. In my study and research, I have come across similar teachings from non-Hindu sources that are much older than Shankara and the re-emergence of Brahmanism in India.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Something common?
This is my idea which I use as a guiding rule:

All mystical teachings have the following in common - silence, stillness and prayer. Include also purity on every possible level, exclude ego as much as possible and then go into experiencing and tuning to the Divine persistently and consistently (often called devotion) and you have the prescription. It does not necessarily include quitting one’s family or job, but the option of monastic life for the ones who hear the call is always there.

All genuine spiritual teachers have something in common as well:
- High level of personal spiritual development of the teacher(usually the best test for this is what the heart of the disciple dictates. This is a tricky one. Some hearts are not that awakened and are just looking for a babysitter – usually they find what they look for).
- Egoless-ness
- Purity (excluding any lies and any intentions to trick, manipulate or take advantage of his/her disciples)
- Their instructions are free (the disciples choose their own donations)
- They are willing to make personal sacrifices to speed up the evolution of the genuine disciples (sometimes called taking their karma).
- No attachments to people and no cravings for material stuff

Difficult experiences:
It is well known and documented that when the body and physiology are not ready, the rising of Kundalini (which usually accompanies spiritual awakening) can cause some unusual and even disturbing experiences. For that reason – a well prepared teacher is essential to lead and assist along the way, so no mishaps occur.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

This is excellent. Thank you.

Mahesh's mantra, the mind goes in the direction of more and more is, of course, simply a statement about greed. Recently I had the opportunity to attend a course with H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche. I was alternately fascinated an horrified when he noted that greed is limitless (if the whole Himalaya were one piece of gold it would not be enough for one person) and this limitlessness does only one thing, limits us! The greater our greed, the greater our limitation. The less our greed, the freer we are.

That Mahesh should have based his teaching on a definition of greed and limitation strikes me as one of the most egregious of flaws in spiritual development. The mind, seeking more and more, does not find the source of thought because thought can have no source, otherwise, we could easily control it, which we cannot. TM, in effect, becomes about limitation, not freedom.

How free was Mahesh controlling all those things he had put his ego, I mean name, on? How free was he in his paranoia and micromanaging of others.

Well, I ramble. Thank you again, Debra. Your insights are surely valuable to us.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

And after all said I would like to express my gratitude for my overall experience related to TM:

I consider MMY as one of the most savvy and successful businessmen in the field of New Age. His methods deserve to be studied. If not for their spiritual merit, be it for their business and marketing acumen. He was right on the pulse of the needs of the time (even ahead).

The educational institutions he left behind are valuable for many reasons (MUM and MSAE). Very unique and special too.

The Fairfield community is soulful and powerful. One can meet outstanding people and good people who make any disappointment feel just like an adventure. It is nice to have a community like that when it is time to practice love and compassion. As we all know - love and compassion are an important practicum of our spiritual growth.

The prices that are so widely discussed and targeted as outrageous are comparable with the prices asked by other New Age businesses.

After all if one does not put the high expectations of turning MMY into his/her savior - a lot can be gained. And as he liked to say: turn your lemon into lemonade (or maybe someone else said that :-)) and look at the bright side of it. There is lots of sunshine there. Good luck...

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

If that is true, it's always possible that they were spiritually advanced before beginning TM.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

>>>>I consider MMY as one of the most savvy and successful businessmen in the field of New Age. His methods deserve to be studied. If not for their spiritual merit, be it for their business and marketing acumen. He was right on the pulse of the needs of the time (even ahead)

Here you and I part company. MMY did immeasurable harm relative to the good he did in the world. Providing a business model of how to fleece naive and trusting people is not something admirable, to be studied or copied, except as a precaution for future avoidance.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

- Purity (excluding any lies and any intentions to trick, manipulate or take advantage of his/her disciples)
- Their instructions are free (the disciples choose their own donations)
- They are willing to make personal sacrifices to speed up the evolution of the genuine disciples (sometimes called taking their karma).
- No attachments to people and no cravings for material stuff

Excellent criteria. MMY fails on every point.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

>>>Mahesh's mantra, the mind goes in the direction of more and more is, of course, simply a statement about greed.

And this is exactly why we were duped, our Achilles heel. If he said spiritual progress was related to voluntary poverty, celibacy, sacrifice and service to the poor, how many of us Westerners would have signed on? We wanted to be plugged in to the source of abundance of all kinds and he was clever enough to market his techniques to our greed.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I suggest reading the documentation relative to the Kopinsky lawsuit.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I agree. I myself feel damaged. I always feel damaged and disappointed when I go and buy my new car and it does not come with the beautiful young woman I saw in their glitzy commercial. It happens every time and I am planning to open a blog to share my experiences about all those commercials. I get mislead every time. I pay the high price and I expect for that price at least one woman to come with it. Never got any... I am so sad. What about you?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I often wonder why they do not put handsome young men next to the cars they advertise. How do they know who exactly will get the bait? I will discuss that in my blog.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

My dear ex-followers,

This is your old guru – Mahesh (you know me by my stage name – Maharishi Bear Yogi). I feel there is some unrest in your hearts and it makes me write you this letter. Here am I, back from the unknown, writing you (giggle). What troubles you makes me often giggle (please giggle with me).

You have forgotten, dear children, the old tradition not to speak bad about the dead. I am only reminding you and as you can see if I am writing you a letter very likely I am not that dead (giggle).

I would like to offer my apologies - you feel I did not fulfill all your desires. I understand. Disappointment can be a habitual state for many people. That is part of being a human. My only wish was to see into your hearts and to fulfill your hearts’ desires 200%. Why do you forget that the movement I created is all yours? You are all wealthy beyond belief! Go and use what it offers at the TM centers and palaces. They are called palaces for a reason – it is because you are all little princes and princesses. There are new products and new ideas offered in the palaces every month. What you will find there will enhance your health, well-being and spiritual growth. Remember children anyone who is in CC transcends prices and money. Anyone who is in CC sees the world as abundant and full of love. There is no judgment there. There is only bliss and floating (maybe some hopping at first) (giggle, giggle).

Dear children, never forget that I had only good intentions for you. Right before I left the body I arranged for some scientific research and proof of all that goodness. You will receive the results soon. Look often in your mail box (giggle). Please, please avoid restlessness and constant judgment. They are like poison for your nervous system. Forgive if possible. If not, look for the new product in the Maharishi Stores called “Forgive All”. Soon it will be followed by “Judge Not”. These two products are the most advanced Ayurvedic formulations offered to you after many years of tests and scientific proof for their efficacy.

My team of Ayurvedic specialists worked hard on a formulation called “Enlitend”. One pill would have been enough for you to make the leap into the transcendental void of never ending bliss and then all your problems would have been solved. They created it but I did not provide it on the market on purpose. I did not want my followers and ex-followers to be escapists. I would like you all to face your problems with joy and gratitude. Overcoming difficulties is an important part of your spiritual growth. Be brave, dear children. Sometimes a solid down-to-earth discrimination is the best remedy. I had plenty of that and knew how to use it and did me lots of good.

Dear ex-followers, do your program every day (even if it is not the one you bought from me) and fill your hearts with the single desire for universal love and peace. (no giggle)

Jay Guru Dev

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Great big huge BINGO!

We were duped by our own innocence, our own ignorance (ok, lack of information) and our desire for something that sounded so good.

But to have to be responsible for my own errors in judgement is one thing. I accept that. But Mahesh bears a modicum of responsibility, too, for the pain he caused (and for the joy, I suppose). I do not, however, think that any joy he caused outweighs the misery that can be directly attributable to him.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Of course he is responsible! If a thief breaks into your house through an open window, while it is your negligence that made it possible, that does not absolve the thief from the conseqences of his behaviour.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


While we are in total agreement on this point, isn't it interesting how Mahesh wormed his con-artist's way out of responsibility by making a dogma of blaming the victim.

In itself, Mahesh damned his own endeavours by his own words and actions, damned the success of "the movement" by smearing it, ever so liberally, with the excesses of his own ego and his own shortcomings in the enlightenment department.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Some may interpret tm-free as cultish but not as cultish as that scene in Fairfield. This blog gives us a chance to discuss commonalities. I must have had serious faith in the TM act to leave the east coast & spend more than 3 months in Fairfield.
No one is forced to stay in Fairfield but after investing in an air ticket or auto expenses to arrive in this isolated town surrounded by corn fields and then to discover what I thought was massive mental conditioning @MIU/MUM...
Perhaps the TM techniques are like tools, not good or bad. It depends on how TM techniques are used. Nevertheless
I have encountered some very bizzare modes of thought & behavior among tmers, esp. the teachers. I know not how they arrived at these states. There must be some psychological explanation!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Where has all that TM money gone?

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