Friday, August 20, 2010

Discussing "M" - two Initiator-Governors discuss their views of Maharishi Mahesh

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

Dear Friend,

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.  

Bart Walton

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,
Initiator Z

Dear Friend,

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. 

Bart Walton

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,
Initiator Z

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.

Initiator Z

Dear Friend,

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,
Initiator Z


John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Derren Brown, a famous
mentalist, demonstrates how trivial it is to give people "spiritual experiences". Start at 4:20...

See if you can figure out how he does it.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Derren Brown, a famous mentalist, demonstrates how trivial it is to give people "spiritual experiences". Start at 4:20...

See if you can figure out how he does it.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Derren Brown, a famous mentalist, demonstrates how trivial it is to give people "spiritual experiences". Start at 4:20...

See if you can figure out how he does it.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Now this is scary. All the stuff that is coming out and these characters posting their thoughts is proving that TM does not increase intelligence. ha ha ha ha. No wonder after years of this I'm still just a handsome lovable bozo.

BTW, people should disclose at the beginning of their ponderous rationalizations that they converted to some religion, like Christian Fundamentalism. Would provide a valuable perspective on what they are saying.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Derren Brown, a famous mentalist, demonstrates how trivial it is to give people "spiritual experiences". Start at 4:20...

See if you can figure out how he does it.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Derren Brown, a famous mentalist, demonstrates how trivial it is to give people "spiritual experiences". Start at 4:20...

See if you can figure out how he does it.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Who or what exactly are the 'intelligences' of which the long-winded speaks?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I don't understand why the response to Bart was put on the front page. Bart's defense of Maharishi that started this debate I can understand, the points are at least intelligible, but the response from initiator Z is, in addition to sounding batty, hopelessly vague - what on earth (or off of it) is Z trying to say? Sounds like a thinly veiled fundamentalist rant I suppose. If that's it then just say so.

It's of course a free place to post your thoughts but which of those thoughts you put on on the front page is a choice of the people who run this site and this choice does not speak well for this place.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I, too, Lexico, found that "Z" made no sense. Obviously s/he was rummaging wildly through a thesaurus and making a really strange impression in addition to what sounds like courtly politeness (hardly in fashion, especially in my experience of TM).

He or she exemplifies the ravages of TM, perhaps. I don't know; although I suspect we've all encountered individuals who took their TM-pride way beyond the rational.

Perhaps "Z" will put in an appearance here and we can have more pieces of the puzzle to work with.

From both Bart and Z, I get the impression of individuals who are not particularly grounded in the reality many of us rely upon. I have noticed in some TM practitioners that there is a preference for occult oriented thinking, almost as if they imagined that thereby they could escape from something (perhaps that aforementioned reality many of us rely upon).

TM wasn't advertised as escape, yet that was the approach of many, including Mahesh himself who escaped into his own fantasy world and then tried to impose it on the rest of us. Curious, eh? There's probably something there, but I am not clear, yet, on what that might be. (I suspect it has something to do with imagining that the mantra is somehow magical.)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Well, you have to admit, it's an explanation of sorts. For months since I arrived here, we have been chewing over the mystery of MMY, all the contradictions existing in him, his behaviour, the TMO, etc. I've more or less summarised our conclusions above. But I suppose Z's explanation is an alternative..that MMY flourished due to the support of various celestial or demonic powers and then declined as a result of the withdrawal of that support, or the ascendancy of antithetical supernatural powers. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I remember the famous letter from one or both of the Kaplan brothers wherein they disavowed their former allegiance to Mahesh. (Letter is archived somewhere here on this site.)

In that well-known missive there was also more than a hint that perhaps Mahesh's power came from a bargain with demons. There was nothing to suggest in their letter that their viewpoint arose from fundamentalist Christianity. I understand that their are many other religions, even Buddhism, that believe in demonic powers.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I suppose the supernatural is an explanation of sorts. Personally, I think that Mahesh didn't have much to begin with. He was intelligent, clever and had found, purloined, made up a meditation method.

While the substance of that method, as easily as is very, very valuable, that value alone didn't float Mahesh's grandiose boat one bit.

He wanted more and more and, although TM doesn't appear to have satisfied him, at least he managed to con more and more out of sincere followers and sycophants.

Not much spiritual there, unless my definition of spiritual doesn't apply, I guess.

I suspect, I don't know how to substantiate it, but I nevertheless suspect that those contradictions in and of themselves demonstrate that Mahesh was not in the least what we claimed he was. If we compare Mahesh with Guru Dev (although our ability to assess Guru Dev is severely limited by Mahesh's penchant for secrets), we don't see any contradictions in Guru Dev. Perhaps, and I emphasize "perhaps", the more contradictions, the less likely real spiritual achievement exists.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, I agree with this. I am not claiming to any ability to recognise a spiritual master; but common sense would tell you that while every human is vulnerable to human weakness, people with integrity are generally consistent in their integrity; they don't generally pose conundrums in terms of contradictory behaviour. It's reasonable to expect a certain transparency, simplicity and conventionally moral conduct.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I was completely sold out, overwhelmed, besotted and infatuated with Mahesh and everything TM ... until I actually got to spend time with Mahesh. Then the actor playing god better than god became less the god he played and more the painted performer whose paint, props and constant prompting from the wings became overwhelmingly apparent. He was simply the deluded emperor wearing invisible clothing.

There were obviously those who were closer than I to this performer who remained completely established in their belief system. But, we see this in all religions. I wasn't one of those who believed myself capable of knowing what the perfect spiritual master was all about, much less deserving to "have" such a master. Still, Mahesh just wasn't what he pretended to the public and TM didn't deliver what he said it would - which is not, exactly, the same as declaring that his meditation was worthless. It has its own merit; it just does not live up to the fantasies Mahesh tried to impose on it and us.

But, these days, the spiritual market-place is well-populated with those of manifest integrity as well as charlatans and our ability to check out all of these folks, meet them, be uninhibited in our ability to ask difficult questions -- all this is far more possible now than it was when we encountered the personification of the TM phenomenon.

From my side, my experience with TM, while both glorious and horrific, has better prepared me to continue my own spiritual quest. So, I suppose in a positive way, I can look at the negative side of the Mahesh/TM-experience with some gratitude. What other reasonable and useful option is there?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

While this is true, Karina, and the Faust legend is ever with us, I suspect that any kind of bargain with the dark side can only be a metaphor. That said, I have no doubt that Mahesh made plenty of bargains during his time with Guru Dev. I think we have to ask ourselves just what was in it for Mahesh to have Guru Dev attend that Yagya or whatever for which Mahesh so humbly and gloriously imposed Shankaracharya on himself in order to write the kind of letter he obviously needed Guru Dev to authorize.

What did Mahesh gain from getting Guru Dev to attend?

If you examine the full text of Beacon Light of the Himalayas, it is quite clear that Mahesh got all sorts of important people to send letters of congratulation and support. Mahesh's contribution to that document is relatively small compared to page after page of praise from others.

How'd he manage that? Whose string was he pulling to get all those strings pulled?

I'm not going to discount bargains with the dark side, but I am going to reference Occam's Razor: the simplest explanation is probably the most accurate. (I like the illustration here:

So, rather than speculate about dark forces, maybe we might begin to ask some of those uninhibited hard questions about who's string was Mahesh pulling: hint maybe begin at the beginning with how cleverly and expertly he manipulated others to organize things for his "appearances" and then how he used those appearances to not only glorify himself but also his fantastically imaginative "wision of possibilities".

For me, I see a clever little man going about his self-promotion a lot like sending out a chain letter.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Funny you should mention this. On a music board I am on, it was tossed around that this group, which has known unprecedented success for decades, might have made a pact with the devil à la Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil down at the crossroads in exchange for playing the blues. But someone squashed that line of speculation by saying that only musicians with no talent needed to resort to such bargains.

Hardly anyone ever mentions that GD died in mysterious circumstances; he was poisoned. So, was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick? Who had the motive, means and opportunity? Could it be some Uriah Heep-like character who had been faithfully working in the shadows for 15 years, seeing GD being praised and venerated, and who was prohibited by his caste from ever being GD's successor?

The murder of one's master, a saint...does a blacker crime even exist? And where do you go from there?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


[I wish we had better emoticons, but this is the best I know how to do. It's supposed to be me laughing with appreciation.]

Having a Uriah Heep or an Iago in the Ashram like keeping a fox in the chicken coop, actually casts some shadow on the awareness of Guru Dev. Maybe Guru Dev was into keeping the bad guys in plain sight? Hard to tell.

It appears that there were indeed strings of some substance which Mahesh was at liberty to pull. He seems to have manoeuvred Shantanand into succession and then "banked" on Shantanand as well as his own luminosity-by-association with Guru Dev.

Did it all start with his unctuous worming his way into Guru Dev's room to adjust his table [!!!!!], i.e. to snoop and take stock? Find out who the important people are, then schmooze them (on behalf of Guru Dev, of course), then write that letter (who was he doing a favour for, what did that favour cost someone?).

Paul Mason reminds us that Mahesh became a brahmachari only two years before Guru Dev died. So for 13 years Mahesh was, as the present successor to Guru Dev put it, the bookkeeper.

Was Mahesh even the right caste to get monastic training? What kind of monastic training might have been possible? Sanyasi training? I cannot fathom a Sanyasi Mahesh (, which may also account for Mahesh omitting any commentary on those 12 missing Gita chapters!

Yes, only those incapable need bargain with the dark side. I recall Mahesh telling a story about some berk coming to Guru Dev claiming that "his" master didn't like Guru Dev and was sending an evil spirit to harass him (Guru Dev). Mahesh giggled and said that Guru Dev only replied what if he doesn't come.

While I doubt Guru Dev took the dark side seriously, or any more seriously than any reasonable person considers the dark side of humanity, I doubt there was any supernatural dark side interested in Mahesh. But I am fully confident that Mahesh manipulated his way into rich, influential hearts and minds he felt he could control, at least until he got better rich hearts and minds. It does seem to be his pattern of behaviour.

With respect to a supposed "yantra" encrusted with jewels kept under Guru Dev's bed, well, so what. Do jewels make anything magical? The Queen of England has a whole tower full of jewels, but I haven't seen any magic coming from Windsor Castle. With regard to having a yantra, again, so what. I got one in an Indian import store. I also have an encyclopaedia of mantras I got from India. Again, big giggle.

Yes, Alchemy became modern chemistry. Alchemy still doesn't turn lead into gold.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

off topic I know. But what puzzles me is that people who were indoctrinated into fundamentalism at an early age will sooner or later come back to it with a vengeance. And, this is with them really going whole hog into other things, even intelligently. There must be some kind of human development process or theory at work there. Could it be that leaving fundamentalism sets up a cognitive dissonance in people (perhaps the why of cultism)? To me its just a fear of being an adult, an attempted return to having a parent again.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Doesn't seem off topic at all, JB. I think you are right. Perhaps those of us who were indoctrinated into Maheshism are now coming back with a different kind of vengeance. I think that many of us now recognize just how corrupted and "soiled" the sincerity of our youth (no matter what our age then) actually was and we are bent upon discovering the motives and actuality of this little ballzie Indian. Payback's a nasty thing; rhymes with witch and isn't concerned with eating or serving anything cold or otherwise. Like the old Radio show taught us: the fact, just the facts, Ma'am.

That's what we're looking for and everyone's contributing what they can. Your contribution, here, JB, is much appreciated, significant and deserving of additional consideration.

Thank you.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

JB -- Just curious what you meant by those who were indoctrinated into fundamentalism "at an early age." Do you mean indoctrinated by one's family of origin during childhood, or as a young adult who gravitated towards the absolutism of TM and Maheshism?

If you meant introduced to fundamentalism in the tender years of childhood....well, my experience is quite the opposite. It has been my observation that many who got sucked the swiftest into the Mahesh vacuum were those who had never had any experience with fundamentalism in their childhood. I felt my prior experience with fundamentalism worked somewhat like an inoculation. I still succumbed to Mahesh, but not as hard, and not as fast, as many of my friends.

Having grown up Catholic, I had already been told that we Catholics were "special" and were almost guaranteed our place in heaven, no matter what our sins here on earth were. Consequently, I was far more wary of Mahesh than my former spouse, who never had been exposed to a fundamentalist religion. Having once rejected Catholicism, I found it much easier to reject Maheshism.

Yes, I do agree with you that life inside of the cultish TMO conveniently gave us a "parent," albeit a narcissist one. It also served our own purpose in that it helped us lengthen our adolescence and postpone growing up for quite a few years.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha-- As always, I'm in awe of your knowledge of Hindu lore, Mahesh history, then weaving it together into a fascinating tapestry, complete with references to Shakespeare and Dickens. You are a true master at this craft of writing!

In contrast, I know little about the early days of Mahesh, or the inner workings of an ashram. I'll gladly take your word for how things were, or should have been.

Guru Dev poisoned? It happens often enough to dependent older adults today, but to an "enlightened" master? Was there money, land or other property for Mahesh to inherit? How old was GD? I really don't know those stories....tell us more if you can.

However, I do recall the "Guru Dev" movie that was pulled out of the mothballs for some sort of special treat for us rounders.

What always struck me every time I saw it was the young Mahesh in a very animated, loquaciousness mood. He seemed to work the crowd. Even his body posture and hand gesticulations were faster and quicker than anyone else.

Was Mahesh "pulling strings?" --- Yes, he definitely looked the wheeler-dealer part in his few seconds on camera. But murderer? I would like to know more.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Karina

Money? Mahesh told the story of the box under Guru Dev's bed. One, he said, had "only to put the hand" [where'd this guy learn English, in a cave?] and there would be enough for whatever was needed.

I doubt Mahesh was in line to inherit anything. He was only a less than Brahman caste bramchari of two years standing when Guru Dev died. But as far as I know, the courts STILL have not settled Guru Dev's will which, I am told, was tampered with.

I have long puzzled over this business of Guru Dev being dispatched by Mahesh or "the cook" or anyone else. Guru Dev was quite elderly and, examining the photographs we have of him, he appears quite frail in some. -- However, the records seem to indicate that in his last months Mahesh "took" him on some speaking something or other. How could Mahesh do this? Guru Dev travelled with an entourage of very high caste monastics. Anyway, Guru Dev died. Mahesh we are told, overcome with grief, swam down into the Ganges with the coffin and himself (by his account I note) nearly died. AND then, sometime thereafter, Guru Dev's consciousness (also by Mahesh's account) entered into Mahesh and once again, it almost killed him.

This last little story isn't too well known, but I have told it before. Curious that an individual of Guru Dev's standing would pick a yob like Mahesh to inhabit (in other words, I don't take this kind of mood-making mythologizing seriously). Besides, wouldn't an individual of Guru Dev's standing want out when the sexcapades got under way?????

The Guru Dev film is available from Paul Mason ( But the "very animated and loquaciousness mood" Mahesh presents could have been filmed at any time and might not have anything to do with the actual appearances on film of Guru Dev. With respect to Mahesh apparently "adjusting some flowers" scene, it looks like a photo op Mahesh lept into. But that's my cynical opinion, not evidence.

IF and you can see I have tried to emphasize "if", if Mahesh murdered Guru Dev, I wonder, first, what purpose that would serve, cui bono? The story, now almost legend, persists. Perhaps Mahesh and Guru Dev "had words", perhaps Guru Dev made an issue of Mahesh's micromanaging (of the ashram? of Guru Dev's affairs?). Perhaps Mahesh was afraid of getting booted out and having nothing?

There are reasonable assumptions, given what we know of Mahesh's behaviour, narcissism and so forth. BUT we have to remember that we really don't know, don't have a way of knowing (unless Swaroopananda, the current Jyotir Shankaracharya knows and one day talks - and why would he have kept quiet all these years). We have to be careful of speculation in what is essentially a vacuum of information.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Is it not definitely known that GD was poisoned?

>>Besides, wouldn't an individual of Guru Dev's standing want out when the sexcapades got under way?????

Instead he was forced to have sex with numerous nubile Western devotees.

I never heard the story of GD inhabiting MMY's body. Maybe just a self-aggrandising fantasy.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

To the best of my knowledge, probing and asking, Deborah, there is no known evidence that Guru Dev died of poisoning. Part of the rumour is/was that it was the cook who poisoned him (and Sattyanand is supposed to have been the Ashram cook). I cannot fathom Sattyanand doing anything more dangerous than leering at pretty girls.

However, it is reported that Mahesh took Guru Dev on some kind of speaking engagement or something. I can't get my head around how he could have done that, either, but it is reported in print. On this tour or whatever it was, Guru Dev died.

Then the business of Mahesh going down with the coffin into the Ganges.

But then Mahesh disappears, hides out (?) in a cave/basement up in the hills and then turns up in the south of India promoting himself as the Beacon Light of the Himalayas. Well, he really pretends that it is Guru Dev he is promoting, but the obvious seem obvious enough to me.

A recent correspondent reminded me that Adi Shankara had gone into another person's body to find out what, being a life celibate ... where have we heard this before ... this business of carnal pleasure was all about. Apparently he didn't like it and went back to his own body pure as the driven snow. So maybe Mahesh told his little tale to make it appear that Guru Dev was on a plane with Adi Shankaracharya and, probably of much more significance, to make himself seem even more worthy.

I know the person Mahesh told his tall tale to and she told it to the person who told me, so it looks like a somewhat limited chain of passage. But Mahesh didn't tell private stories unless there was a self-aggrandizing point to it. So why hasn't this story been better known? I think I've only mentioned it twice before on the Internet.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

With respect to Guru Dev's life and activities, as well as what is verifiable concerning Mahesh's, everyone should check out Paul Mason pages and publications:

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

So GD wasn't poisoned but died of natural causes? I am very sure I read on this site that he was poisoned. It's quite a vicious rumour if untrue. One thing is for sure, GD's death made it possible for MMY to launch his career marketing mantras to the West, something that could have hardly have happened when GD was alive.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

There's the rub, isn't it. I had heard the poisoning story before my TTC, but I don't recall just when I first learnt it.

Mahesh was about 37 when Guru Dev died. Mahesh had no doubt made a lot of connections by this time in his 13 years in the ashram. Guru Dev was in his 80s (84 ?) and from the photographs, possibly not in great health. Maybe just a little too much strain, a speaking tour, perhaps, was all it took; all innocent and no poison necessary.

But I certainly agree with you that Guru Dev was getting in the way of Mahesh's plans. Those plans had already to have been fairly well thought out as Mahesh disappears for only a few months before popping up in the south of India announcing his Spiritual Regeneration Movement and the World Plan to go with it.

There's probably some well-worn adage about the perils of impatience, but none come to mind just now.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I mean indoctrinated period. It could be Christian or Maheshism, really no difference from a cultish analysis.

I think my idea was inverted. It's fundamentalism -> TMO -> oops -> fundamentalism.

I meant it in terms of first exposure during the earliest developmental age. For some that could be teenage years. If my theory is correct, I would expect that TMO cultish people who embraced it as their first "fundamentalism" and are now in revolt, will eventually come back home to Maheshism once they find that the opposite "cults", like tmfree attitude cultivation, are not fulfilling. :)

So in a few years all you guys and gals will be wearing those burgher king hats and paying thousands for Yagyas performed by Hashish stoned priests.

And, why are Catholics told they are 'special'? I thought Jews were God's chosen people? Ay veah, what do I know....

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


I remember reading and listening to tapes where MMY said only that he had a thought that kept coming back to him, Ramasharam, a place in Southern India. I never heard or read about Guru Dev entering or taking over MMY. In fact, it seems that MMY only theorized that this was Guru Dev prompting him.

Unfortunately, in the Yoga world there is violence, drugs, and murder. Another Saint Tat Wale Baba was actually shot dead by another Yogi in the Himalayas. He appears in some pictures with MMY. Great article on him here:
So much for one percent of population business formula. If Rishis can't change an area what kind of chance does a group of bozos bouncing on their ass?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, JB - I got to meet with and listen to Tat Wale Baba when I was at Mahesh's ashram in India. He was HUGE. There was a presence there. But I am quite content to think that in my somewhat topped up state of mind at being at Mahesh's ashram, maybe I was just imagining that.

It still remains curious to me that I seem to be the only person on the various TM forums (forae? fora?) who has heard this story about Mahesh himself saying that Guru Dev's consciousness directly entered into him. As I said, Mahesh told one of his really close, petite ladies (who I am sure did not respond to any sexual overtures Mahesh might have made) who told a very close friend of mine (who told me). The lady in question was very intelligent, very petite and pretty and very capable. Mahesh, as with so many such people (although they are probably somewhat rare) relied heavily on her skills and, from other accounts, no doubt lusted after her (King James could sure turn a phrase).

Mahesh's square root of 1% nonsense is so painfully and obviously a lame attempt at a front, a way to 'use science to prove it' for those who have no idea what science might possibly be. I am definitely affronted.

I still wonder whether Mahesh felt he was in some jeopardy with respects to the continued good graces of Guru Dev and decided to wear him out, for good! There's no proof, no evidence, nothing to, in any possible way, substantiate this, yet, Mahesh took an elderly man on a speaking trip and the elderly man died.

And Mahesh made a career, a fortune, a fantasy empire on the back of that gentleman's reputation.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Makes a lot of sense. Thanks

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Sudarsha, I will take the "high" or deluded road and think that MMY was really on his own Hermann Hesse-ish character melodrama and that Guru Dev just played some mythic part in it. Yea, MMY made a fortune and, perhaps funneled it back to India and his family, but did he really personally profit from it? Was he living La Vida Loca? Except for a little booty call here and there, it seemed he was only about the TM crusade. From some reports even his health did not really profit from the wisdom of the east. And at the end was doddering on about politics, something he never really grasped and the TMO neither.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Many thanks, JB, for articulating this really puzzling part of the enigma in the riddle that remains Mahesh. Now, I have no idea how he lived in Vlodrop, but when I was with him, he lived in nicer quarters than mine, but not that much nicer (and, for which I have no accounting, he always made sure that I had a nice place to stay, at least I was told that Mahesh picked my living space for me - for what possible reason, I am totally befuddled to say).

He didn't indulge in fancy dress (à la OSHO, for example), he did ride about in a white Mercedes, but not a Jaguar or a Rolls Royce. His only extravagance, as it were, was very, very fine silk dhotis from Vanarasi, supplied by a Hindu devotee and a shahtoosh shawl (shahtoosh is illegal, now as the goats from which the wool comes are now an endangered species, but it probably wasn't when it was given to him).

Quite the puzzle.

He seems to have been every bit as committed to his mission as we thought we were.

Recently I read a brief biography of Jigmey Lingpa who at the age of 29 received, in a series of dreams, the teaching and commission to teach from Longchen Rabjam who had died approximately 394 years previously.

This is from the Tibetan tradition in which I find many parallels with Maheshism (Dzogchen, for example, is the epitome of profound teaching, the pinnacle teaching of which revolves around effortless non-doing(!).

So, did Mahesh believe his own PR? Did he really think he was somehow endowed with some special dispensation? How could he have believed what so many of us see as not-so-credible stuff? While I have no specific quarrel with TM per se, while I can clearly see that many people remain happy with it, I am also aware that there are many people who are not doing well under the coconut tree of TM but believe they are. How could Mahesh be such a great "master" and simultaneously allow himself to remain totally ignorant of a segment of what he was preaching?

Too many issues, too many riddles, conundrums, puzzles and enigmas for me to sort; but I think that the more we find the little pieces, the more we examine those bits and bobs of information, the more we are likely to begin to see connections and indications of just what Mahesh was about.

From my side, right now, he was an intelligent con artist who had one interesting thing (TM) that he manipulated (us included) into his fantasy empire ... and, of course, made sure that his family kept the money.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

It's hard to believe you want to let him off the hook! Just think of all the things he was aware of, everything described in the Kropinski case for example, and ask yourself, how was that not selfish and self-serving, to not have addressed these issues? Look at the insane fees and the pittance people in the TMO were paid. Look at the way he advocated celibacy while carrying on clandestine affairs almost from the very beginning. What about the terrible treatment of the children at the ashram in India; did he actively get involved and put a stop to that and hold people accountable? He was NOT some driven idealist on a mission.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

It would be good if we could sort this out. I too am puzzled because M seems to have been both a 'driven idealist' and a two-faced, greedy SOB. Somehow I can't quite write him off as a total phony, though I am open to being convinced.

If his estate was indeed worth 3.5 billion dollars this is a real smoking gun for me. Where has this money gone? How could you have a world-saving, time-critical mission and not put that money you collect for that mission directly back into it?

Do we have any solid info on the money? Was the estate really 3.5 billion? I find that a little hard to believe. I am aware that number appeared in some obituaries but I'd like to know how this was verified. Teaching TM and the Sidhis alone would not have generated that figur,e I don't think, but his real estate investments might have. Assuming it was a very large estate who has it now? We hear about his family, his 'nephews' but if they have it what are they doing with it?

Is it possible M believed in his mission but then over time he lost faith in it and then decided just to milk it? In the end he seemed to be satisfied he had done what he could, could he have believed he had'done enough and that sat yuga was inevitable? He did inaugurate sat yuga in 05 or 06 or so! LOL, or maybe he came to think it would take a very long time for his 'knowledge' to get recognition and he wanted a war chest to last the movement for the duration or through the 'violent purification'. I have no idea. I'm just probing. I have very strong doubts as to what M was up to but I think some people, perhaps feeling betrayed, have maybe jumped to the conclusion he was a total fraud when the truth may be a little more subtle.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Did GD die on the speaking trip? What are the details here? Even if he died as a consequence of the stress this is hardly evidence of any intent on M's part. Without a lot more info here this is reckless speculation.

Was GD is such bad health that going on a speaking trip was clearly dangerous? Do we know of any solid motive M would have? What have I missed here?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, Lexico, this is reckless speculation, although I'd prefer to spin it just a little differently and consider that I'm simply tossing out possibilities based on the very scant evidence we have. - Eventually, one possibility will be supported by some evidence that we can rely upon and then we can proceed from there.

Why does the poisoning story persist? Why did Mahesh take Guru Dev on that final speaking engagement; how could Mahesh do that? Still, it appears that that's where/when Guru Dev died.

Obviously, if we could go to India and simply ask Swaroopananda, the current Jyotir Shankaracharya, we might get an answer. But I don't know.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

At first I was shocked at what you said, Deborah, then I re-read what I had written and I was more shocked! Absolutely NOT, no way do I want to let Mahesh off any hook. He hooked us, he snared us into hooking ourselves.

You are absolutely right, of course. He was possessed by his own greed and blinded by it into the bargain. He could only see what he determined he should see as the Beacon Light of the Himalayas he felt he was.

Maybe this explains why or how he could appear to live a relatively unadorned life style (apart from the white Mercedes and the fine Varanasi silk dhotis). He ate crap (based on my one experience I had no desire whatsoever to repeat), slept little, lived in ordinary rooms (although I don't have any idea how Vlodrop was kitted out).

Maybe he really was so deluded that he could only see exactly what he wanted to see or felt he was entitled to see. But there are, as you so clearly articulate, mountains of evidence that he had brought no such thing as heaven on earth.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I think, Lexico, that he could see that he had failed. He said so just before that fateful encounter with the Beatles. He said at that point he would finish his world tour and then retire into silence in the Himalayas. Maybe that was hype of the manipulation-of-others sort. But the encounter with the Fab Four changed that.

I think he was milking his con-artist ability. Obviously, he was much more successful at that than he was as spiritual regeneration or any of the other nonsense he tried to use to make TM look like more than what it was.

It appears that the Shrivastava family (Mahesh's father was a Shrivastava and his mother a Varma) controls the money. Just where that money is and how much there really is is anybody's guess.

One of the things that irks me to no end is that Mahesh could turn straw into money, let others praise him as the saviour bar none, and keep every cent. He never, to the best of my knowledge, helped anyone who was in financial need. Like Marie Antoinette, he said starving people should learn TM (and pay for it, although he might have reduced the rate) - then they'd be happy and starving.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'm glad to see that others are as interested as I am in this conundrum of Mahesh. Who was he really ???

The more I read and learn about Mahesh, the more I think he was mentally ill, living out his own manic fantasy. I believe the mental illness theory explains both Mahesh's sincerity and fairly simple life, while not disputing the overarching insanity of his teaching and organization. The TMO is probably not the first, nor the last, time that a mentally ill person founds a religion.

Mahesh's belief that GD's spirit entered into him is just further evidence, at least for me, that he was truly mentally ill. Mental illness comes in many packages and flavors; people can appear normal on the surface. Hypomania is often very hard to discern.

I'm reminded of the Oscar-winning movie A Beatufiul Mind. This movie told the true story of John Nash, a brilliant but schizophrenic physicist. Early in his career, Nash was manically trying to discover some hidden messages that he believed were being sent to him via the headings in hundreds of magazines. As I recall, he worked unceasingly, day and night, to save the world by decoding these "messages." Obviously, it was nonsense, but Nash persisted in this particular delusion for many years.

As i hear these early stories of brings to mind the insanity of John Nash. Both were brilliant....but both suffered from delusions.

Yes, indeed, we do have little information about Mahesh's early life, but not zero information. I'm sure we could uncover more. I'm always amazed what "The History Detectives" (a TV show) can do to solve mysteries. Forensic scientists can describe a person's life and death just by finding a few fragments of bone. I do think finding more substantive proof about Mahesh's state of mind, and considerable fortune, is doable --- but by whom? As Sudarsha suggests, perhaps the answer to the riddle resides with the current Shankaracharya.

Anyone listening out there in the blog sphere from India???? Anyone have more information?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hey, Karina

I don't think Mahesh was mentally ill, not until very late in his life. But he seems to have had a manic need to appear/be productive (as if someone were, somewhere were threatening or else). Such "spectres" can only be self-made, of course, but also have causes and conditions in which they blossom.

Perhaps his proclivity for secrecy tells us something. While I was in Seelisberg, an elderly Indian couple came to stay in our hotel (The Sonnenberg). Actually, they took over the only bathroom on our floor which was a tad inconvenient for the rest of us. We weren't allowed to go near them, coulnd't as much as say hello. But, aside from hearing the elderly gentleman vigorously clearing his sinuses, we actually didn't see them. Apparently visiting Mahesh (were they his parents? extremely cautious rumours and questions lingered) meant staying in your room.

"Dr." Varma, Mahesh's uncle liked to chat with us (in Mallorca). But Mahesh put a stop to it and confined him to his room!

I suspect that the greater the secrecy the greater the likelihood that there is very little that is being guarded. I am eager to see the "extra" material contained in the DVD of David's film David Wants to Fly. It is being released in November this year. David sent me a copy of the film, but the "extra" material is, apparently, still being edited. David said there was more from the Shankaracharya.

Unfortunately, I was too dim to remember to ask what he had found out. 8-(

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hey, Karina

I don't think Mahesh was mentally ill, not until very late in his life. But he seems to have had a manic need to appear/be productive (as if someone were, somewhere were threatening or else). Such "spectres" can only be self-made, of course, but also have causes and conditions in which they blossom.

Perhaps his proclivity for secrecy tells us something. While I was in Seelisberg, an elderly Indian couple came to stay in our hotel (The Sonnenberg). Actually, they took over the only bathroom on our floor which was a tad inconvenient for the rest of us. We weren't allowed to go near them, coulnd't as much as say hello. But, aside from hearing the elderly gentleman vigorously clearing his sinuses, we actually didn't see them. Apparently visiting Mahesh (were they his parents? extremely cautious rumours and questions lingered) meant staying in your room.

"Dr." Varma, Mahesh's uncle liked to chat with us (in Mallorca). But Mahesh put a stop to it and confined him to his room!

I suspect that the greater the secrecy the greater the likelihood that there is very little that is being guarded. I am eager to see the "extra" material contained in the DVD of David's film David Wants to Fly. It is being released in November this year. David sent me a copy of the film, but the "extra" material is, apparently, still being edited. David said there was more from the Shankaracharya.

Unfortunately, I was too dim to remember to ask what he had found out. 8-(

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I hope you'll pardon my intrusive nature here, but I want to say just another couple of words about Jigmey Lingpa. He was reputed to have been, prior to his visions, unlearnèd, that is, he didn't have monastic or scholarly training in the Dzogchen/Nyingmapa tradition. So he kind of mirrors the earlier tradition of Totakacharya (whom we were all to emulate, I guess).

Of course, Jigmey Lingpa is one of the great luminaries in the Nyingmapa pantheon.

I raised this issue only because I have long suspected that Mahesh had gotten to know some Lama(s) whom he had pumped for information. Whether a Tibetan Lama would have visited Guru Dev, I do not know. But having watched Mahesh buttonhole any and everyone he could and ply them with murmurs of innocent sincerity and interest, well, perhaps that accounts for the source of some of his supposed teachings.

Mahesh was most likely unlearnèd as far as the extensive philosophy of Shankara is concerned. He must have picked up a great deal, but those who know more about this than I am ever going to have told me that Maheshism just isn't Shankar's philosophy.

Unsurprisingly, to me at least, Mahesh knew better than Guru Dev, than Shankar, etc.. His narcissism and overactive self-glorification simply took control; but what did we know? With whom were we able to compare him?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha ---- A new story about Mahesh! Thank you! I often wondered about his parents, recalling the line from Hermit in the House when he tells Mrs. Olsen, "Mother knows son is doing fine." (Of course, the Olsen's got the phone bill later and soon realized how Maharishi's "mother knew son was doing fine." )

The secret visitations you describe are more evidence for my theory. Paranoia and secrecy are very suggestive of mental illness. Paranoia was a common theme for him. He seemed paranoid of the CIA, other rival teachers, and now, even his own relatives/visitors.

There are other characteristics of Mahesh you (primarily) have observed, and shared with us, from your close association with him that strongly suggest to me mental illness from the very beginning of his public life.

Here's my list so far (in no particular order):

delusional beliefs,
hearing voices (GD's ?),
manic behavior,
reduced need for sleep and food,
increased sexual interest,
disorganized thinking,
obsessive compulsive thoughts and activities,
attention deficit.
severe anger outbursts.
lack of insight into his own behavior,
lack of empathy,

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Awesome list, Karina. I think we need lists, lots and lots of lists. I don't generally associate mental illness with Mahesh's level of organization, but I also have to take into account that his "do nothing/accomplish everything" policy (watch for Earl Kaplan's comment on that in David's film) actually applied to us doing everything and Mahesh just conducting, sort of like Toscanini. Yes, he seems to have had a master plan, but that plan also devolved into the rubbish he expected us to pay for in the thou$and$. He had TM. The rest seems to have been borrowed from here and there for only one purpose, to make or to appear to make TM work, or appear to work. Talk about pulling the polyester over our eyes. WOW, what a mastermind of next to nothing.

Regarding his paranoia, well, that goes without saying. One of his greatest fears was that we might find out something. Too bad the Olsens didn't have the courage or clarity of vision to trace that number and ask a few questions.

HH the Dalai Lama and Chögyam Trungpa are well known, highly respected, highly trained teachers whose life story from birth is an open book! They have nothing to hide. We only suspect that, maybe, Mahesh's father might have been a school teacher. So, begging the question, what skeleton lurked in the recesses of his closet?

The paranoia that demands Mahesh's level of secrecy suggests that the biggest secret is indeed something that would destroy his credibility.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, can exist in people who still appear very functional.

For instance, Mel Gibson, Ted Turner, Patty Duke, Dick Cavett, Jim MANY more well-known names.... have publicly acknowledged bipolar illness even during the height of their careers. Here's a website with lots of famous names on it .

I do believe that if Ted Turner could have created CNN and been bipolar, then a bipolar Mahesh could have had built the TMO. I think that is the best explanation I can come up with to explain the inherent contradictions of Mahesh. I do wonder what the Indians will say....if they ever decide to talk.

I do eagerly await the English version of David Can Fly. What will "The Rajas" say? Let's hope they ban it ---you get a lot of free publicity that way!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I hadn't processed bi-polar so well. Thanks, Karina. This has contributed a lot of sense and is maybe what Mahesh was hiding.

We know that in public, Mahesh could be all sweetness and light while in private, demanding, unforgiving and irascible. Then, of course, just when he had been rescued from oblivion by the Beatles, they dumped him.

Obviously, we can mark this as the turning point in "the movement". Yes, most of us thought that, finally, Mahesh felt we were ready for something more than just TM 2x20. But that's how we saw it through the delusion we had accepted as Maheshism.

Truth apparently is somewhat different. Mahesh had been pushed up against the wall and was ripping us all off for everything he could. AND, of course, we were magnificently ripped off.

You've made a real contribution here, Karina. Many, many thanks.

As for banning David's film, well, more power to'em. It's a wonderful film. Already the dark forces of Maheshism are trying to put it down. I doubt they've even seen it. But, when they do, they'll see what they're all like in ways they'd rather not. The fires of denial will have to burn exceptionally bright to drown out themselves disclosing the truths about themselves!!!!!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Wasn't Tat Wale Baba the snake guru who lived in a cave with all sorts of dangerous animals?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Deborah - I don't think Tat Wale Baba kept any animals around, snakes or otherwise. He lived in the forest above Mahesh's ashram. I didn't see a cave or any kind of dwelling in the area where we met him, but, truth be told, he was rather overwhelming as a person, tall, big-boned, very dark skinned and nearly naked with hair down to the ground. It was pretty difficult to notice anything else. JB's link and further Googling should give you some suggestion of the kind of "presence" he exuded.

What is curious to me is that he and other gurus from the neighbourhood seemed to enjoy coming to Mahesh's ashram. Mahesh would invite these people, I suppose, to impress the people 'training' to become initiators. But this was pre-Beatles. I think Mahesh's credibility plummeted amongst the area gurus when it appeared Mahesh was really commercializing his meditation. Once the Beatles dumped him I think there was only one (possibly two) more courses in India before he started indoctrinating his teachers in the West.

Maybe Tat Wale Baba getting assassinated by one of his own tipped Mahesh off to the perils of an unruly country? Maybe, to that point, those other gurus thought, like us, that Mahesh was doing a good thing.

Funny story, sort of, with these gurus coming to visit Mahesh and impress the Westerners. One of Mahesh's trainees met the Kashmiri guru Swami Laksmanjoola and became one of Laksmanjoola's chief disciples. Still is according to Laksmanjoola's web site.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Surprising...I read somewhere that Indians with any pretensions to sophistication at all viewed MMY much as we would view some itinerant back woods preacher, not to be taken seriously at all.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Well, he was just that. But look at how those "back woods" preachers made names for themselves. A lot to be said for charisma and manipulative skills.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I think it is more subtle. Unfortunately, in the real world villains are not in a special costume accompanied by theme music. Its all a shade of gray. They too, like us, sometimes get swept away by events. Good and Bad is like most things, on a bell curve. I think most Gurus, if not all, will shift toward the bad, if success and "western" lifestyle overtakes them.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Even if all the accusations you mentioned are true, that doesn't negate being a driven idealist on a a mission. In fact, just the opposite. I would expect any Mission to have a lot of innocents crushed under the wheels. This is especially true in any for the "People" type of thing.

BTW, I thought the Kropinski case just showed that crazy people should not do any form of meditation, even TM?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I think that this is unfortunately bordering on the way things are, not necessarily confined to gurus. The quest for more and more (play Mahesh's theme music here) is like quenching thirst with salt water. Won't work.

Something I admire in other traditions, something glaringly absent in Maheshism, is a complete training that guards against the ravages of the thirst for more and more. Teachings that aim at recognizing the pitfalls generally succeed in avoiding them. Maheshism seems to rest squarely on promoting the pitfall of greed. Very curious that Mahesh succeeded as well as he did, if that's what he thought success was.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Help! -- This thread is getting increasingly convoluted and difficult to find the sub-threads to reply to. But, I suppose, we are all somewhat expert in convolution, having been followers of Mahesh at one time!

Regarding bipolar illness, indeed there is stigma with the label, but few people realize how widespread it is. Not all bipolar people are evil and bad, but these types do get the most press.

For instance, it was disclosed that the local rapist/murderer that was recently arrested in our town is bipolar. However, many people in Hollywood with very big names and lucrative careers, are also bipolar. Bipolar illness tends to be the proverbial blessing and curse rolled up together in one package. Mahesh had the bipolar positive traits of high intelligence, creativity and abundant energy that is on the plus-side, as well as the negative traits which I listed in a previous post.

If you want to know more, a New York Times best-selling author and psychiatric researcher, Kaye Redfield Jamison wrote an excellent book on the subject called An Unquiet Mind. She is both an expert in the field of Bipolar Disorder, and a sufferer herself of the illness.

You may guess that I have more than a passing interest in this particular illness. Both of my children (actually adopted children) have been diagnosed with juvenile bipolar disorder. I am involved in support and advocacy groups related to this disorder. Although this illness certainly presents parenting challenges, I am hoping that with early intervention, treatment, and the therapy that they are receiving, that their adult lives will be normal. So far they are on track, being mainstreamed, maintaining good grades, and having friends. It does take a lot of effort and work though, and is one of the main reasons I'm not working outside the home.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Yep, we know all about convolution. Perhaps it would be useful if you could re-post the above note about bi-polar on John's New Thread thread that just went up. I think that this is a very valuable area of consideration to discuss, especially in light of our various experiences of Mahesh's behaviour.

As an aside of no particular significance, yet, I have been reading some of the esoteric literature from the Bön and Nyingmapa traditions of Tibet and continue to notice descriptions of meditation that sound curiously similar to Mahesh's attempts to explain TM and "transcending".

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Putting M's $$$ stockpiling aside, if we can do that, his emphasis on the 200% of life I actually liked. Particularly coming out of the hippy thing it seems like the last thing we needed was a philosophy which would directly or indirectly promote a passive, 'who needs money dude' way of thinking. There was a real chance you could fall right into the paralyzing fatalism that seems to have plagued India and which was also a side-effect of drugs and the hippy lifestyle, IMO. Were most of us really destined to turn on tune in and drop out into a reclusive lifestyle? The thirst for more and more can become an endless, futile quest for material satiation but the good side of it is a constant progression - of knowledge, skill, scientific progress, and the rightful exercise of our human powers in the world. It's hard to separate the two but that is the challenge of the householder life - to find a balance, to use wealth wisely. What we needed I think was someone who could show how to integrate the inner and the outer in a workable way. If M had come out preaching the ills of capitalism and materialism he would have been just another guru talking about how corrupt the west was. So he sort of did the opposite. Was this a cynical ploy to get westerners to buy into his program or was he really convinced the west was onto something with its practicality and creative dynamism and just wanted to inject some transcendence into something that was already working without attacking its foundational principles? I prefer to believe the latter, that's how I approach it anyway.

Looking at his actions though I think we can see that he didn't exemplify this principle very well. I still like the principle though and I'm not so sure I want to buy into the anti-materialist philosophy any more than the materialist one, they both have their negative sides.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Mahesh seems to have turned up with a message (possibly the wrong message for today) that resonated with the thinking of the early 60's and only picked up steam when he became famous by association with the Beatles. That said, his theory that with ("his") meditation one could have 200% of one's life certainly sounded good, desirable, fabulous, actually. It's mathematically challenged, but it was the thought that counted, that also resonated and made great sense.

Mahesh said (not sure when I heard it, Poland Spring or Estes Park, maybe on a tape) that if the West got interested in ("his") meditation, then India would want to copy the West and his main mission was to get India (just as you have described, it, Lexico) out of its rut.

Well, India turned out to be much more interested in the Beatles and the West than he anticipated and much less interested in ("his") meditation than he anticipated. Trouble was, while he could call England scorpions and damn Democracy, he could hardly turn on India.

So, he created his own country, crowned a king, sold raja crowns and just generally devolved into his fantasy world. TM, despite his efforts had done none of the things he said it would (although that 200% still, as you suggest, remains a driving force and has allowed for many people to look elsewhere for what seems altogether possible).

It seems that logically, we can only be grateful to Mahesh for getting us off our hippie butts and looking for something that was better. The casualties along the way are on Mahesh's conscience, if he has one. Yes, people have to take responsibility for their own choices and many we have all known just weren't prepared for that, something also down to Mahesh who, as a teacher, was duty bound to teach the whole thing, just not the juicy bits that would make him famous with the least amount of work on his part.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha-- Perhaps I will take your suggestion, although not today. Maybe after the weekend.

Regarding your discovery that the Tibetan meditation teachings also describe effortlessness and transcending, similar to TM instruction ----- I had a similar experience just last week. At my church (mainstream Christian), the pastor was doing a series on "Spiritual Apps" --trying to be modern and up-to-date lingo wise. The "spiritual app" that he explored last week was meditation. The instructions given in church sounded like checking notes! I was somewhat surprised, but I think that Dr. Benson's book on the Relaxation Response has been influential.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

8-) -- much to Mahesh's chagrin, Dr. Benson has been very successful in helping others! There's a lot to be said for the checking notes, at least the beginning bit (it gets really tedious after that, but the point being made is actually important). Your minister sounds like a kind of fun guy. We all need more spiritual apps. -- I hope to see you in a new thread next week. Perhaps we can all continue what we are doing here and in the original Bart thread in a that new thread? It seems there's much to discuss.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha, there is another anecdote in Paul Mason's website on Guru Dev which refers to Mahesh. It's been a while since I've read it. I think Mahesh wrote it. It refers to various poets/musicians who composed & played spiritual music for Guru Devand - something like that. (It's been a while.) When I read between the lines, what I gleaned was that Mahesh had control over who performed for GD in what order, and M basically took bribes to determine who would get to play for GD, or how strongly they would be introduced - and then they would become famous becuase GD approved of them, or they played for him; and then those musician would become richer through performing in India and cutting records. So Mahesh held the strings and manipulated it for money and power. (Someone, please find this section!! :-)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Regarding the 5-minute grainy black & white tape of Guru Dev at the Kumba Mehla (?), early 1950s (?). sitting so silently, with thousands all around him, with Maharishi on the platform with GD, haranguing the crowd....I worked in the International Film & Tape Library at Livingston Manor, NY in 1975-76 and distributed that tape. While other tapes could be purchased by the TM centers, that tape could only be rented by the week. The sense I got was that it was holy/sacred/sublime/not allowed to be diluted by being owned by non-National.

Anyhow, Maharishi used to say of that film, "Watch GD, how he sits, how he looks, his saintliness." (paraphrase). But 30 years later, I started to think, "Why of all the films of GD that must have been produced, did MMY only authorize the distribution of the one film of GD that included MMY on his platform, in a place of honor?! " So maybe the film was distributed by the TMO really to raise up MMY's position, not to honor GD, as the official blurb went.

In fact, when I became a TM teacher, I was subject to a similar photo op. MMY sat on his throne, and one by one,
each new initiator would stand at a microphone near him and be photographed, making it look like we were his special beloved best speaker. Actually, he was ignoring us as he answered questions, and we stood near by, silently in front of the mike.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

It's a very interesting question, Laurie. But we don't actually know how many if any other films were made. Perhaps you could contact Paul Mason on this point. I suspect that this particular film "suggests" that Mahesh was really significant, although the business before the microphone could have been done almost any time and spliced in and Mahesh "adjusting" flowers on the float/truck carrying Guru Dev might just have been an opportunistic photo op (if that isn't too redundant). Also, there are some photos about of Mahesh with really important people, more opportunisticism? Then that obviously doctored photo of Mahesh sitting at Guru Dev's feet when, in reality, it had been the President of India who was sitting there and who was brushed out and Mahesh brushed in!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Somehow Mahesh insinuated his control-freak self into the Ashram's business. How this is possible, I do not know; but someone suggested that he understood modern stuff like the wire recorder that captured some of Guru Dev's talks and how to set up speakers and a microphone, how to operate a projector, all kinds of stuff that was probably as foreign to Guru Dev and other life-long traditionalists in the Ashram as they would have been to the previous Shankaracharya some 150 something years previously.

We do know that the TM puja comes from some praise of Guru Dev that was written by some pundit that Guru Dev didn't like and said should be tied to a stone and thrown in the Ganges. Mahesh retrieved it and voilà, the TM puja is born.

I think we need to continue to read between the lines, share our speculations and theories and see if we can locate evidence in support of what we suspect and/or modify our suspicions and theories as evidence helps us confirm clearer insights into the what's-what of the charade that Mahesh seems to have perpetrated.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

To add to the discussion on if MMY was "mentally ill" -- To disclose my bias, I am a true believer in western psychotherapy of the traditional variety, that the earlier something awful happens in our childhood, the larger the impact it makes. As such, what I know about MMY is that he had an older brother. The older brother was a bully. The older brother made MMY's life so miserable that MMY moved out of the family home by the time he was about 16 to live with his uncle.

Now, imagine who you were at age 16. How would you like to rip yourself from your mom, dad, sisters, neighborhood, friends, mom's cooking, the corner stores and the local plaza where your friends hung out, the trees you used to play under, the neighborhood ally cat you used to feed, the backyard where you used to bury stones and pretend they were gold coins....leave them all at age 16, when your sexual feelings are just starting to develop, and you're just starting to plan your adult years, and you don't yet have your driver's license, and you're crossing the bridge from childhood to adult hood, wanting the security of your parents' boundaries plus the know-it-all impulses of adolescence -- would you move out of your parents' house at that age, and move in with your uncle? How abusive that bullying older brother must have been, for MMY to have taken a precipitious flight like that and given up his home at such a young age! Why didn't his father, (the schoolteacher), who should have known about the cruel ways boys can treat each other, not intervene? Why did mom not intervene? Was there no patriarchial grandfather or matriarchial grandmother to intervene? The abuse must have started at a very young age.
The elder brother must have learned the bullying from somewhere - perhaps from the father?

I'm letting my imagination run wild here, to offer possible scenarios. For the sake of full disclosure, my father was bullied by his older brother, and my father came to hate him. As adults, they saw each other about once every two years. My father passed on the abuse - he bullied me. I reacted by bullying myself. People respond to bullying in different ways. But it tends to leave a strong impact. Do with this psychological approach to understanding MMY what you will!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Just a short answer's possible that in India, it's not uncommon for young people to go live with their extended family; perhaps the nuclear family isn't quite so important there. Also, MMY's uncle, Dr Varma, was lovely, and he had a big house. So maybe it wasn't quite as you have depicted it.

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