The authors of this email exchange shared their communication in the interest of furthering discussion of Maharishi Mahesh. Their discourse evolved in response to Bart Wilson's recent post "A Transcendental Meditation Governor Addresses TMFB Readers" .
Two long time Initiator/Governors articulately and respectfully express contrasting opinions of the man who influenced many of our lives. Please notice, unlike some post-TM discourses, they express opposing opinions with mutual respect. From their writing, it appears that both these Initiator - Governors spent time with Maharishi. The messages reveal rarely seen raw honesty, soul searching, and personal conclusions.
With their permission, this exchange is posted for those who seek others' insights into "M."
Moderators of this blog do not endorse the opinions expressed below. We merely provide a forum.
Respectful discussion is a valuable step in recovery.
moderator note : This is long and possibly of greatest relevance to those who were close to Maharishi.
Dear Bart Walton,
It is very important that every person who has repudiated Maharishi, or been disillusioned by their experience of TM, or who is hostile to the TM Organization that they take in the very positive—and I believe, from one point of view, entirely appropriate and objective—attitude towards and understanding of Maharishi that you have expressed in this letter.
For there is great truth in what you say. Whatever way in which Maharishi fell short of our expectations of what an enlightened Master should be, what he was in his performance as a "spiritual teacher" or "spiritual master" was truly incredible. Incredible in his sheer charisma, sense of authority, fluidity of intelligence, and dominating integrity. I personally believe that the original experience that so many of us had—that Maharishi was godlike and beautiful and preternaturally wise—was valid; that is, There was something magnificent and sublime about Maharishi's personal presence, and that unless you caught this, You never knew who and what Maharishi was.
And therefore any subsequent turning on Maharishi and disavowal of his spiritual authenticity must continue to co-exist with this former recognition of what he was—because in this sense one's experience was not a lie. Maharishi was the most impressive and commanding individual human being of our lifetime. Those who loved him most, who revered him most, who sacrificed themselves most on his behalf, only these persons are entitled then to include within their perspective on Maharishi what purportedly are the negative—perhaps even extremely negative—aspects of his individual personality and his actions
You understand, then, Bart, what I am saying here. Your point of view—minus the rationale that attempts to justify the bizarre, contradictory, immoral behaviour of a "true spiritual master"—must be incorporated into any final and ultimate assessment of who Maharishi was—and his legitimacy as a spiritual master.
So, take myself: I was completely devoted to Maharishi—as devoted as any person could ever be. And Maharishi was not only extraordinarily powerful and wise and attractive to me—as a spiritual being,—his meditation techniques were—at least in my case—wonderfully efficacious. As efficacious as I could ever dream or want them to be.
And yet, despite all this, I came to judge Maharishi in the harshest and most extreme way anyone could be judged. How to account for this reversal of judgment?
Through a context of comprehension that required me to see all this supernatural positivity in the light of explanation other than one which proclaimed him perfect and pure and true.
And therefore, Bart, I came to know Maharishi in a manner which was even more intrinsically profound negatively than my prior experience of him had been intrinsically profound positively.—without any denial of the validity of that previous experience.
How does one, therefore, arrive at a judgment of Maharishi which is definitively negative while at the same time totally acknowledging the substance and truthfulness of your own experience of Maharishi, the judgment that is implicit in all that you write about him in this letter?
I can only refer to my own perception of Maharishi, for that perception—the one that came about twenty years after I was first initiated—both explained my total surrender to Maharishi, his exceptional claim upon my soul (for what he was and what he had given to me) and what would now have to be my eventual unequivocal total rejection of his personal and spiritual integrity.
How, then, did this come about: on the one hand the extreme validation by my own being of Maharishi's worthiness to be deemed a perfect spiritual master, simultaneous with the discovery and revelation that he was a consummate deceiver? (And I include in this my own spectacular experiences practicing TM and all the extra-TM techniques which were added. I had to, in view of what happened to me under this new apprehension of Maharishi, see that each and every positive experience I had acquired under TM had cost me something dear, for no matter what powers and gifts were conferred upon me through TM, these powers and gifts came at a terrible cost to my own physical and metaphysical well-being.)
I come to the main point of my letter, Bart. Maharishi was more beautiful and deep and wondrous than any mere human being who has ever lived. And the promise of his Movement, it went way beyond Christ or Buddha. At the height of the TM Movement and Maharishi's status in the universe—perhaps 1969 through 1976—it seemed that Heaven on Earth was not just an idea, it was an empirically inevitable reality. Just based on the tremendous influence Maharishi had by virtue of what he was [his "state of consciousness"] and what he was doing. And our best experiences under TM and the Sidhis irresistibly led us to conclude that this was all going to culiminate in just what Maharishi said it would: the transformation of creation itself. Oh, it was something to be an initiator in those times, and to feel the pulse of the cosmos seemingly right in tune with Maharishi.—Not to say the promise of one's own personal enlightenment.
However, what I came to know, Bart, was that all this was a conspiracy of the subtlest of intelligences which—God knows why—shut out from our awareness—and seemingly from the awareness of the entire universe—any real and meaningful opposition to Maharishi. Maharishi became what he was through the deliberate and unified intention of all these intelligences. They made him unaccountable to anyone or for anything. Thus, as you say, no one who came within a hundred feet of Maharishi could ever summon up the will and strength to criticize him to his face—You are unquestionably correct in this. This is the most formidable instance of "support of Nature". For those of us—we were thousands—the cosmos itself was personified in Maharishi, and to doubt or challenge Maharishi was in effect to go up against reality itself.
So these intelligences conspired to create this immaculate performance by Maharishi as a "true spiritual master". They made him what he was, although for us, we could just as well declare: Maharishi stands on his own, even independently of his spiritual aspirations and status as the most remarkable and attractive and intricate human being alive. There can be no doubt, as you say, that he was fulfilling the highest destiny in doing what he was doing. And in what he was—or appeared to be—he was pulling it off with maximum grace, intelligence, and versatility. But you see—according to my own personal experience—his immunity to criticism (criticism which could gather in its momentum and come right at him) depended upon the collective support of all these intelligences—the intelligences which apparently ran and sustained the universe itself.
Everything Maharishi and TM came under the power and influence of these intelligences. And they were metaphysically sovereign.
But something happened, Bart, after that halcyon period of inconceivable joy and grace;—those same intelligences were, in the final analysis, unable to sustain their perfect and unfailing support of Maharishi—and he went into at first an imperceptible but gradually more and more palpable decline. Until by the time of his death, he was, among a multitude of persons who once worshiped and adored him, spurned and disgraced.
As for myself, I believe another set of intelligences ultimately antagonistic to the intelligences that made Maharishi king of the universe, began to quietly and confidently assert themselves, and it was my utterly undeserved fortune to recognize this transition—and therefore to begin to see Maharishi in a completely different—literally—light. That light illuminated the truth about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: that he was himself the subject of a grand deception, the plaything of evil, a complete charlatan, and an utterly corrupt human being. He died in his weakness and humiliation, secretly aware of the coming scandals and his total dethronement as a "true spiritual master".
Just as I first felt the very highest spiritual Romance with Maharishi, I came to see him as the enemy of my soul, and—unknowingly I must believe—the enemy of the soul of ever meditator and initiator. Thus the innocence of my initial experience of both Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation gave way to the innocence of a subsequent experience of Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation which perforce made it necessary to denounce him without qualification. Even as I firmly believe that your own point of view about Maharishi must always be kept in mind as true and real and unchangeable. The only difference between you and me, Bart, is that I have seen Maharishi within a metaphysical context which transcends both Maharishi and TM. From that perspective I must judge Maharishi—even as no one will ever compel my loyalty, love, and self-sacrifice as he once did—as entirely inimical to the physical, mental, emotional, and yes, spiritual well-being of every human person.
Tragically, it would seem there is nothing on the earth to substitute for Maharishi—or, for that matter, TM. This fact is a unfathomable mystery only known to God.
Contrary to what has become the devastating implication of my letter—which, though, I believe will have no impact on you whatsoever—I appreciate the sentiment, the intention, and the truth of your letter. It appears to me that your project here was conceived in honour and sincerity. I would, had I not underwent this reverse Road to Damascus experience, argue even more vociferously and indefatigably in the very same cause.
Most sincerely yours,
An initiator who chooses to remain anonymous
Thank you for your beautifully written, heart felt and deeply insightful letter and for taking the time to write it to me. I take it as an honor that you have given me this gift of your time and attention in this way. And I recognize the healing effect this exchange has possibly had on your psyche that perhaps this has allowed you to express things you had not expressed before, or in ways you did not even fully understand until now. I agree with much of what you have said. The ideas you present about operating intelligences is very plausible. It makes sense. I take a more "I don't know" attitude. And I'm happy not knowing. Like Walt Whitman writes, "A child asks me 'What is the grass?' bringing it to me in great handfuls. How am I to answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he." So, like this, I do not know what Maharishi was or how it was that he seemingly rose so high and then, fell so low.
I feel very happy in my life and happy with what I learned from Maharishi, mostly unintentional. My good fortune is that I expected absolutely nothing from the TMO and they didn't disappoint me. I expected little from TM and I got more that I ever dreamed possible. So what can I say? I've been compensated like a king after having given relatively little.
Good luck to you and all the best in this incredible journey.
Dear Bart Walton,
I never expected such a generous and bravely open response from you. I had rather thought you would feel forced into a certain defensiveness on behalf of the point of view expressed in your letter at TM-Free Blog. But you prove yourself to be a human being able to receive into yourself the convictions of others—without necessarily being influenced by those convictions, but ready and willing to give them the very fairest of hearings. I consider this a rare virtue indeed. And one that goes directly to what I value most. Thank you again for this letter you have written to me, Bart.
Your letter to me is a perfect gem, and I shall consider myself as having been justified in the act of writing my letter to you if only because of the very letter that I have got back from you. Tenderness and intelligence: a nice combination.
Yours very sincerely,
Yes, I think we need to speak our truth and be heard. That always is healing to us. I think when people heal their pain about Maharishi, they will be able to fully receive the gift Maharishi brought us. This is what I think and if it resonates with you, you may find it helpful. If not, just forget about it. But early in our approach to Maharishi, our focus was on him, our ideal image of the God-Man. Then, when that image collapsed because we found out that he is not a God-Man, we felt very hurt and let down. But then, when we heal that hurt, there is an opportunity for our own Being to shine through. Then there is an opportunity to realize that it's not about a God-Man outside of ourselves. It's about Being within. This is the original message that Maharishi brought to the world and for this, I am deeply grateful. After he died, this realization came to me fully and no matter what demonic things people may say about him, I cannot help but bow in his direction. I feel I have received the pearl of teaching secretely from his heart to mine...but available to everyone who he touched through TM. Anyway, this is what I really wanted to share but I know that people on that web site would never hear this. So, I wrote what maybe a few of them might hear. No, Maharishi was not what we thought. But he brought a great gift to humankind. It's a paradox. How can a person who did wrong actions, also bring such a gift? I don't know or understand. But I can't deny the truth that shines inside of my heart and lights my experience every moment of the day and night.
Dear Bart Walton,
Although this, what you say in this last e-mail, is reasoned and equable and even inspired, I am grateful, Bart, that you did not take this tack immediately upon reading my original letter—else I would have been denied the humanly vulnerable and spontaneous expression of the whole person Bart Walton—that which made that first letter of yours so gracious and poignant. You obviously have a certain and definitive—and very personal—experience of Maharishi, and this is what I had gleaned from reading your open letter at TM-Free Blog. What startled and moved me was the entirely unanticipated—and unconditioned—way you responded to my letter to you. It seemed that you received the person who wrote that letter from the very place where I had written it—somehow a tiny miracle for me.
Of course, once things have flowed back and forth between us, it would only be natural and unavoidable for you to provide a summing-up perspective on this whole matter—which you have just done now with a kind of serene lucidity—I cannot doubt the honesty nor the subjective trustworthiness of what has gone in to forming such a perspective. And I thank you for writing to me—once again—and thus demonstrating—in these contrasting ways (at least as I interpret them) of exposition—how wide ranging and sympathetic is your own personal consciousness.
I thank you once again, Bart, for letting me first experience the kind of person you are [your original letter to me], and then letting me know exactly your thinking about Maharishi, and how you manage to live within the paradox of what he was/is without psychological or spiritual dissonance [this last letter to me].
It has done me much good, engaging with someone who is not either compulsively (and even fearfully) uncritical, nor who is determined to resolve the matter of who Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was/is by an arbitrary exclusion of memory, such as to make Maharishi seem as if always an out-and-out mountebank.
Yours very sincerely,
Dear Bart Walton,
Just one more basic thing about Maharishi: He always gave me the unambiguous and unqualified sense that I was to consider him as IT—that is to say, it would be unnatural NOT to project onto him the definition of perfection. This perception of him stood up under the most severe scrutiny for almost twenty years—and it was a perception, not an assumption or inference: Maharishi embodied all that he was proclaiming. If one had transcended doing TM, one transcended all categories of previous judgment of human beings when in the presence of Maharishi.
When it became clear that there were facts contradictory to this apprehension of Maharishi, then it became impossible to do anything other than what I did: which was to apostasize, for I had always held as inextricable the beauty and efficacy of TM and the personal integrity of Maharishi. When one of these two pillars began to collapse, I was forced to re-evaluate even the brilliance of TM—and I subsequently found it wanting in the very same way. That is to say, the experience of TM was sublime, but the objective effect of TM—excluding consideration of experience per se—was ultimately negative. And so with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Whatever differences there are between us re: Maharishi, there can be no question that nothing comes across in your letters that would allow me to conclude that you are blinkered in your apprehension of reality—as almost every other devoted initiator (devoted: to both TM and MMY) appears to be—to me, that is.
Thank you for that. I understand your feelings and have shared them from time to time during the last 30 years, although not as strongly as you feel them, perhaps because I was not as close to Maharishi as you seem to have been. What happened to me is the dawning of an understanding that the "perfection" which at first we see and bow down to outside, in the world, as a master, is only a reflection of the "perfection" that is within. If it were not within us, we'd never be able to recognize it when we see it outside. Once I found the perfection inside myself, I completely forgave Maharishi and all feelings about him were resolved and transformed into deep gratitude. He was a man and like all men, struggled with powerful pressures around him. And as a spiritual master he didn't stay in a cave but came out into the world, into the vortex of powerful greed and lust. He held his balance as best he could and gave us what he could. And also, I believe there is a lot that goes beyond appearances, in the subtle field of karma and sanskaras, that may have been at play in these things.
I am working on a web site about this which I will send to you when it's finished. It's about death and dying.
Dear Bart Walton,
If you don't mind my saying so, I deem this—in terms of what you set out to do through that initial letter at TM-Free Blog—the very best of all your letters. It is concise, it is cogent, and it is convincing.
Now if I were a secular psychologist—and I am not—examining your argument on behalf of Maharishi still qualifying to be a "true spiritual master", this is what I would say:
For what you tell me here to be true—that is, true objectively, and not just subjectively—this "understanding that the 'perfection' which at first we see and bow down to outside, in the world, as a master, is only a reflection of the 'perfection' that is within" should have occurred to you BEFORE any doubts came up about Maharishi's individual perfection—that is, his unquestionable superiority to every other human being on the planet—I certainly would have sacrificed my life for this conviction—absolutely not with respect to the idea that I was perfect, or that my perception of M's perfection was only made possible because somewhere I was perfect.
Have you ever watched Robin Williams improvise, or listened to Mozart, or read Shakespeare, or walked inside Chartres Cathedral, or seen Mia Michael's choreography (So You Think You Can Dance), or looked upon a beautiful woman? well, for me, Bart, Maharishi, as a spiritual master, was as brilliant in this capacity—as these other persons and structures display their beauty and genius and intelligence. No, to say that I was unconsciously projecting my own inner perfection onto Maharishi—this could only be true as a CONCEPT, never an innocent empirically-derived reality. If Maharishi had lived up to his initial reputation—and represented the very intelligence behind all of creation (at least in so far as he enabled that divine intelligence to come through him, without individual interference) throughout the course of his spiritual existence—you would never have recourse to this theory, this justification, this rationale—although at this point I believe you when you say it has become for you, truth at the level of reality (You even alluded in an earlier letter to the experience wherein Maharishi secretly conveyed this very truth to you).
If Maharishi "was a man and like all men, struggled with powerful pressures around him" and "came out into the world, into the vortex of powerful greed and lust" and"held his balance as best he could", why did he think all of us were incapable of receiving this very truth directly from him? and a fortiori, why did he consciously cultivate an image and status which was designed, in the presence of those who most admired and loved and sacrificed for him, to make false any other understanding of himself than the one which both you and I formed of him in his physical presence—that he was indeed perfect? He was in Unity Consciousness after all.
"Once I found the perfection inside myself, I completely forgave Maharishi and all feelings about him were resolved and transformed into deep gratitude". If this interior event represented the esoteric teaching of Maharishi why did he single you out from virtually all others, and leave the rest of us incapable of arriving at such a consummate reconciliation?—nay, leave the vast majority of those who revered him, either profoundly disillusioned or else clinging desperately to the very notion of him which he more than tacitly encouraged but which he ultimately abjured in his secret and wordless colloquy with yourself?
What impact would it have upon you, Bart, if you found irrefutable evidence that Maharishi's own master—Guru Dev—was himself flawed and fallen? And does—or did—Guru Dev approve, when watching Maharishi from wherever he is now, of the actions of Maharishi—those actions which have brought his (M's) once hallowed reputation into disrepute and contempt? If Guru Dev had "not stayed in a cave and come out into the world" would he too, perforce, have succumbed to the temptations and blandishments of the world? [I should stipulate the obvious: I have no evidence that Guru Dev was anything other than as he was and is portrayed by his disciples.]
No, for me, Bart, Maharishi was a virtuoso performer—all the way to the infinite. And I literally believe he enlisted all the powers of intelligence of the universe (of one particular and notorious category) such that these intelligences were truly able to transform every one of us who first began to meditate. The Checking Notes they are one better than Mozart. But Maharishi himself, his personality, his physical appearance, was the most beautiful thing to look upon and watch in motion. But that very beauty and integrity required the exemplification of perfection—in every single sense that counts. And Maharishi himself knew that he was giving the illusion of such perfection—and he never uttered a word that would hint at the extraordinary paradox that came to be conceived in your mind, and which now forms the basis of your own belief about him—sincere, passionate, serene as your articulation of such a belief appears to be. It might as well be true because you're not fighting to make it so. And that does warrant respect.
Another matter of concern to me, which had a big influence over how I began finally to see Maharishi, is the whole paradigm of reality that is instantiated in the Hindu religion—and all things essentially Eastern. The idea of the Self, of Enlightenment, of Gurus, of Oneness, of reincarnation, of maya, of karma, of gods, of an impersonal God, of perfection [what does "perfection" mean if it is traduced so violently in the actions of a "true spiritual master"?]: these ideas seem metaphysically false to me, and run counter to the powerful forces which shaped and gave birth to Western Civilization (Greek and Roman philosophy, Roman Catholicism). They also have come to be inconsistent with my post-TM, post-Maharishi life—even as admittedly, for twenty years, the cosmos itself seemed to me to be just as Maharishi said it was. However, after my apostasy, it now seems to me, Bart, that how I perceive and experience reality bears no resemblance to the depiction of reality inculcated in me by Maharishi. TM and Maharishi thus distorted reality for me—for the way things/reality appears to me now is in synchrony with the traditions of Western Civilization. Therefore, I must posit that the entire philosophy of Maharishi—and the East in general—is a kind of massive hallucination. But you will have become irritated with me by the time you are reading this sentence. The point I am making throughout this letter is a simple one: I believe Maharishi was fatally deceived, and I believe he was—and this even became conscious—a deceitful human being.
That said, I must confess that if I were going to doubt myself once again, I would take seriously the possibility that you are right, and that your final explanation and exoneration of Maharishi is a piece of real experimental knowledge. Mind you, I don't think it is, but you are a very credible spokesman for such a point of view—and I believe not only in your sincerity, but in your personal integrity. And I must suppose therefore that your beliefs about Maharishi are not such as to cause you to be in denial, else I would have sensed some fanatical adherence to your way of seeing Maharishi—and I certainly don't sense this at all.
Please forgive me if I have arrogantly assumed the right to dispute with you, when really there is no cause to. This was not my intention. My aim here, and in the other letters, is to continue to work out for myself the metatherapeutic process whereby I can become at peace with my enslavement to and ravishment with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He was the Romance of my life.
Yours very sincerely,