Thursday, September 30, 2010

Open Thread for Our Readers — New Readers: Check This Out!

Here is your space.

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

Or, if you have a topic or article you would like us to post on the blog page, just email me at jmknapp53@gmail.com.

New Readers: Some of the most important discussions and information sharing takes place in our comments. Why not check 'em out? And maybe share your thoughts there, too?

Enjoy!

J.

34 comments:

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Maharishi was a third world man. I mean no racial insult by this. I only point to what I see as obvious. His education, his culture, his society, his religion, his philosophy were not of modernity.

Have you heard the fanatics of Islam proclaiming this thing or that thing? Have you noticed any similar ways of thinking? Do you see a familiar manner and look in their eyes?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hey, Paul - while the first half of your above observation rings true like all the church bells in Rome (not necessarily on time, although close - my point being all the racket!), the second half is, I think, just a little out of sync with the "facts". I have absolutely no doubt that Mahesh went from True Believer to total Fanatic regarding "his" TM. But I don't think he should be compared with fanatics who besmirch Islam. Mahesh was over the top, but not THAT over the top.

Still, you have a point, one which I think could be fleshed out more.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Since Sudarsha mentioned Rome, I'd like to throw into the noisy analogy the Christians, and, in particular, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

I'm sure, with the Popes' blessings, the Crusaders set off to the Holy Land with that same glint in their eye that Paul III mentions. And I see that same glint in the eye of some modern TV hosts. Although actual lances aren't used very often in the USA for religious combat, we certainly have a war of words that can be heard unceasingly on certain cable channels. I think some of the religious political rhetoric might even make Mahesh look even sane in comparison. I too have found that fanaticism knows no boundaries.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

As you probably already know, Karina, the crusaders were little more than barbaric marauders ... but with a mission. The "crusaders" destroyed towns along the way to the "holy land", often christian towns! They took what they wanted, ate the food for which they did not pay and, in one case, possibly more, turned to cannibalism when the town couldn't provide their wants.

The ugliest parts of religion are embodied by love, kindness, generosity and compassion turning cancerous, as the crusaders aptly demonstrated.

While I don't think the ghost of the crusades or the spectre of the inquisition will or should ever cease to haunt the RC church, it is a reminder that religion contains the slippery slope of its own undoing.

Hopefully those terrible extremes will, one day, be a thing of the past, despite our current abhorrence of the "jihadist" misdirection of Islam.

Maybe, one day, even the TMO will clean up its act, although I suspect that day is far in the future, if the TMO survives itself at all.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Looking at history, it is so easy to be discouraged about our membership in the human race.

Today I was at a museum that had a exhibit of copies of ancient relics and statues from the Mayan period. After centuries of scholars hoping to decipher the bountiful hierpglyphics, only recently was the key to the ancient writing discovered by one brilliant scientist. I have often wondered how or why was their cultural knowledge lost, and so quickly. I found out the answer today --- Catholic priests killed all the Mayan scribes and burned their books in an attempt to "Christianize" the population. The padres of the Spanish Inquisition found their way to the Guatemalan peninsula.

Indeed, the RC church continues, and it is almost a miracle that any part of Jesus's message of compassion has survived the centuries of institutionalization. I fear the same for Islam.

Last night 20/20, an ABC news show, had an interesting investigation into Islam. Especially interesting, at least from a ex-cultist point of view, was an interview with an Egyptian who, as a youth, got caught up into the Jihadi rhetoric. Fortunately, at a pivotal moment, he pulled out before committing a violent murder. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/ "Does Islam Condone Violence?" Now, as an Islamic intellectual, Tawfik Hamid, is a fellow at the Potomoc Institute. He seems to have made a career out of exposing the cult-like aberrations of the Islamic fundamentalists.

Indeed, we do live in "interesting times," but I suppose that could be said for almost any period of history.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yep, very interesting times (may you live in interesting times is, if I remember correctly, a Jewish curse). What I observe is that religion and politics are poison to one another. Religion and science, on the other hand, at least according to Albert Einstein, supplement one another and are symbiotic ... or would be better off being symbiotic.

It amazes me that the RC church, or any church for that matter, survives. Almost all forms of x-ianity seem bent upon self-destruction and still survive. Perhaps this tells us something about what Jesus had to say and that we should pay closer attention to that than the politics of religion from which we ought rightly to flee as one would from a burning building.

The story of Tawfik Hamid and others who have followed similar paths is heartening, a sign, perhaps, that humanity is not completely nihilistic and cancerous in its interpersonal interactions.

Thanks for sharing this piece of news, Karina.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

There is no dichotomy between "modern" and "third world." There are many modern-thinking people in the third world. Mahesh was of the third world and was certainly imbued with traditional values and culture but he was very open to Western thinking. His background included education in science and his approach tended to be very pragmatic and innovative, even in the presentation and dissemination of what he called a centuries-old technique.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

While I like your analysis here, Revoluce, and certainly agree, Mahesh demonstrated many characteristics that we associate with the "third" world: a tendency to only have trust in dictators, a demonstration that money (and the power that accompanies it) was more important than anything else, that people were basically serfs unless they had what the authority could use (usually states as "the authority needed").

Still, India, as a third world nation in Mahesh's youth was extremely far behind the "developing" world. Yet, India, centuries earlier, had given mathematics the zero, the Upanishads, the Buddha, silk, the Taj Mahal ... it's a long list.

I think the dichotomy to which Paul referred might well have been to the distance between Mahesh's thinking and western democratic thinking. But perhaps we should let Paul clarify that.

Mahesh had "appearance" down to a near science. I will talk about that in a bit, have to go now.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Mahesh left India over 50 years ago. His version of Indian culture was far from modern. There is a silly addage that I can't help but remember --- "You can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy." One cannot take the country --- India ---- out of Mahesh. He may have had lots of modern audio and video equipment surrounding him, and may not have lived in India for decades at a time, but his mentality was still very old-style Indian.

Remember what he thought lawyers were good for? (Making sure that he got to do whatever he wanted to do.) Remember what he thought scientists were good for? (Making sure that science "proved" that TM was superior to all other techniques.)

Knowing what life in India was like fifty years ago, it is no wonder to me that Mahesh resorted to lies, fraud, bribery and chicanery. Given the desperate times in India, Mahesh's fleecing of the gullible Westerners was very understandable to his fellow countrymen, if not laudable in their eyes. To Indians, Mahesh was exacting some measure of justice from those who for centuries colonized their nation, and trampled upon their culture. I think most Indians would never speak ill of Mahesh to a Westerner, because they intuitively knew what he was doing. They kept mum to keep the secret from us --- we were Mahesh's unwitting victims, and they were too polite to let us in on the joke. But, of course, we unmasked the charade ---- but didn't find it quite that humorous.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Karina, just a very small possible correction: there was a photo of one of Mahesh's passports on Paul Mason's Web page (http://www.paulmason.info/) but he seems to have taken it down, at least I couldn't find it just now. It appears that Mahesh was actually born in 1917 which coincides with the one time I actually saw Mahesh's passport and noted he was born the month before my mother who was born in February 1917.

Mahesh was clever and probably filled Guru Dev's ashram with what was in the late 40's and early 50's in India very modern equipment; hence, the film and wire recordings. Mahesh probably operated sound equipment when Guru Dev gave large public talks.

Yet it is significant that Mahesh, knowing the advantages of modernization reverted to "Vedic" nonsense that he seems to have concocted more of every time he opened his mouth. It was as if he were trying to go backwards in time and take as many as possible with him. I really like your "3rd world survivalist mentality" - it sums up the deviance from truth and facticity that Mahesh was so cavalier about tossing around.

When I was in India in the mid-70's, bribery and corruption were the interpersonal languages de rigueur. Yet, I also met individuals who were of the highest personal integrity. Like TM, one can only say about India that experiences vary.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

re Mahesh playing god: wasn't it Voltaire who said that God was a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh?

I really don't know who said that, but it somehow seems to apply to Mahesh. He was titillating us with his insights and superior knowledge and we were nodding knowingly for the self-gratification. It was all some gigantic play: The Emperor's New Clothes, featuring that giggling sod from Allahabad.

Now, I think we can laugh out loud, giggle, titter and enjoy the farce for what it was and the foolishness of our part in it. Laughter is still the best medicine, after all.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Well I sure laughed out loud when I read your Voltaire quote. That was new to me, and probably very true --- hence the laugh of self-recognition. Yes, it does feel nice to be getting to the age when we can indeed laugh at our youthful follies.

Hmmm....maybe we could collectively plot out a documentary or movie script, a David-Wants-to-Fly undertaking, but in English. I'm sure our accumulated wit and wisdom must be good for something!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yep, you caught me Sudarsha! I took the info from Wikipedia, but even as I typed it, I did think that was too early a birth year for him. Glad you had the right info.

My mother was also about the same age as Mahesh, and she lived to be 90 ----- without the benefit of TM, ayurvedic medicine, or yagas.

Despite Mahesh's sale of "perfect health" and ayurvedic medicines, TM True Believers never comment upon Mahesh's unremarkable length of years. I suppose that they have some contorted logic by which they excuse Mahesh from his obvious lack of perfect health and immortality.

I do smile when I think of that, particularly because I was called before our local TM council (Portland, Oregon) because someone had reported back to the center leader that I had expressed the opinion that perfect health and living to be immortal was rubbish. I was not very apologetic and refused to back down. Therefore, I could not get a recommendation to study the siddhis. Although my husband was upset, I was thrilled --- Finally, I had "earned" my liberation from TM and the TMO. (Just a little side story I couldn't resist retelling. :) )

Indeed, I was happy last year when I learned that Mahesh had gotten old and died ---- just like I thought he would. I'm guessing that some of the TBers were surprised, and were still holding out for Mahesh's physical immortality. What do you think?

Yes, I have some lovely Indian friends, but most are here in the USA. Due to caste, education, and economic status, they have escaped the "third-world survivalist mentality" which I observed so often in India. I hope, for the sake of India, things are getting better after 60 years of independence. One thing is for certain, In the West the present day younger generation is not interested in Indian gurus and snake charmers. Instead, Indian con-men are making copycat prescription medicine, and elaborate internet scams. The times they are a changing.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'm not sure "age" is quite the deciding factor when it comes to seeing the silly in the folly of our youth. I think it's just decent mental health!

In the early days, I suspect that Mahesh's mental health was a lot better (the giggling was immature, of course, but still demonstrated his ability to see the fun in life). I doubt there was any giggling later, after the 'sidhi' stuff.

Your film idea is quite interesting. Perhaps you and/or others could take one of John's "open threads" and get the ball rolling?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Somehow Canada, or Toronto, seems to have not been imbued with the notions I have so often heard about WP or TM Councils. I remember, prior to going on that fateful ATR that ended me in 3 years with Mahesh's circus, that all the teachers at our centre got together to "approve" or evaluate those who wanted to apply for TTC. That was about it. Somehow the spirit of the TM dictator didn't catch on here, at least not when I was around. Maybe after?

You have a good story of escape. Unlike those who admired their own superiority, nodding ever so knowingly at Mahesh's supposed insights and wisdom, you were not afraid to acknowledge that you saw things differently. Being Hoovered into the vortex of the mass reaction to Mahesh was very common. You have much to congratulate yourself for, for not being converted!

I had thought, several years prior to Mahesh's death, that, were he to die suddenly and unexpectedly, there might be massive grief and possible suicidal tendencies amongst the co-dependently faithful.

However, by the time he actually died in 2008, there was little doubt that everyone could see it coming. But, because my confidence in the truthfulness of the TMO is near absolute zero (brrrrr), I wonder if he was already dead when Hagelin or Morris or whoever it was announced that Mahesh said his mission was finished and he would die soon or something like that.

Creating confusion and upheaval is no way to keep the money flowing in, so I suspect his death was carefully orchestrated as far as announcements and "preparing" the faithful was concerned.

I remember Mahesh saying vague things to the effect of flying to the moon (!), immortality, perfect health. It was advertising hype, it was also lack of truth in advertising, but that's religion, eh? But as it became increasingly obvious that he was deteriorating both mentally and physically, people began to suspect if not actually see the light.

Hagelin did everyone a favour by announcing that butt-bouncing was helping the stockmarket (right before the stockmarket went into decline). Then there was that shield of inwincibility (well, I winced) that was going to protect the US and then there was Katrina.

I think that that, too, generated a lot of suspicion about the light, if not actually causing it to blink on!

Many thanks for your story and insights, Karina.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Well, just using reality (like David-Wants-To-Fly) we've got the basics. How about a ex-cultist blog sphere movie?

I'm sure blog sphere movies have been done, but I wouldn't know. (Only once have I been to a non-G rated movie in a real theatre since I got pregnant a dozen years ago! Thanks to Netflix and cable TV I am able to occasionally keep up with pop culture.) The only cyberspace movies I know of are decades old --- WarGames and You've Got Mail. Surely there are newer ones?

Let's see, we've got a good setting, or settings --- a dozen diverse international locations around the world. We've got the interesting cast of characters --- all of us! We've got the quirkiness angle ---- ex-cultists. We even have the dialogue written ---- just check the TM-Free archives.

Now, all we need is a mission, a motive, also called, a plot. Any ideas?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Love your idea, Karina, but I have zero creative abilities, and beyond appreciating your idea, I don't know what to do. I'd like to write a story or a novel, but draw an instant blank when I remember that, first, you need a plot. What happens? I donno.

So, I suppose that first we need to collect our stories, of which there are many recorded here. Then we need a creative genius who can put our stories into some sort of meaningful order so that there's a point and a purpose to retelling them.

The rest is probably easy. It's getting that creative genius on board.

Aside from David's film (which I saw here in an actual movie theatre), the previous new film I saw in a theatre was Dances with Wolves. I have difficulty with large crowds. I suspect that David is not interested in doing another TM film, but I don't know that for sure. He'd certainly be my pick to tell the TM story from the side of those who dropped out because they saw through the façade of Maheshism.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Dances with Wolves --- that was even an older movie than the ones I had seen long ago! Was there a crowd for David Wants to Fly in Toronto?

Theme-plot ideas: My head is a popcorn maker with ideas from old threads I've read here. Let's see --- (1) old boomer-baby friends reconnecting ---that's lots of potential right there. Let's see there's mutual aid, forgiveness, old sexual liasons, those who are still involved in spiritual life, those who have rejected all spirituality as a result of the TMO, etc..

(2) An ex-cultist confronts an ex-spouse, who is still a True Believer, but they share an adult child together. Can they reconnect? Can the child forgive the parent for the decades of neglect? Can the TBer accept the ex-spouse for their blog sphere efforts to bring down the TMO ?

(3) How about an adult-child born into the cult, whose parent committed suicide while on a TM course. The child, now engaged to be married, can't answer his soon-to-be in-law's questions about his family's past. He seeks to learn more, and uncovers the painful truth, but only with the help of the ex-cultist blog sphere.

(4) Or the ex-cultist who never recovered from the Fiuggi course, and a retired ex-cultist attorney, with absolutely no experience in class action suits, decide to follow the international Mahesh Varma money trail to seek recovery for life-long injuries that many suffered. With the aid of a world-wide blog sphere, they are successful.

(5) Young students at M.U.M. reach out to the old-timers in the blog-sphere. Together they battle the establishment and seek to make the school have full-disclosure as to the religious nature of their program.

Sudarsha --- just a few plots that suggest themselves to me after being on board here at TM-Free for about a year-and-a-half. I'm sure that there is much, much more buried in the archives.

Can you tell I'm the bored housewife? It's not that I don't have a lot to do --- it's just that my brain gets bored with the mundane. I'm a late bloomer; my kids are only 11 years old, and unfortunately, with significant special needs which preclude more gainful employment. Hence, my fertile imagination takes wing.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Your ideas sound great to me, Karina. Having children with special needs is very difficult. When I worked on the adolescent unit at our hospital, an 8-hour shift seemed like more than could be tolerated some days. How you do it all the time is just beyond my imagination.

Yep, the theatre was packed front to back, side to side,when David's film was shown here. It was shown twice. I went to the second showing, but I understand it was just as packed at the first showing. While I suspect a lot of attention was on Lynch being part of the film, certainly the showing I attended raved about the film. The person in sitting in front of me turned out to be someone I had initiated back in the 70's.

Bored housewife? You just don't come across as someone who could be bored with anything in life. I really enjoy your energy and ideas. I wish I had some ideas to bat back and forth with you. Your fertile imagination is wonderful.

The City is doing work on the existing water mains, so we have had no water during the day since yesterday. I'm feeling slightly disconcerted as they are also making a racket (have been since 7:30 this morning). It makes for disconnected concentration.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Here's a basic premise: a group of ex-cultists who post on an anti-cult forum decide to meet in real life for a weekend to discuss their experiences and try to solve the mystery of what happened to them. The venue..why, it could be MY place, a big, seriously spooky 17th century house in the south of France. They're all internet friends of course, who have 'known' each other for a considerable time. But perhaps things aren't quite as they seem, when reality and cyber-reality meet....

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

IIRC, it is a Chinese curse..?
(If I recall correctly...)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hmmmm, could be. Maybe it belongs to several traditions?

Now, I have a question: what does IIRC mean? (Yep, I'm one of those folks what can't play Scrabble; mix up the letters "cat" and I'm at a complete loss! sigh talk about lack of creativity. -- is there an emoticon for rolling one's eyes?)

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Oh....you flatter me Sudarsha. It is I who admire your writing so much. If you aren't cut out to be a novelist, or a screen writer, or a Scrabble player, you do do a damn good job as a therapist and essayist. As I said before, even your rants are a joy to read.

Regarding special needs kids --- I can tell you really "get it." Thank you. Just today I've spent two hours trying to get my daughter (11 years old) to go to school, including going to the local police sub-station and having a nice officer talk to her about truancy. Then I am in ongoing negotiations with the school over my son's homework load --- that was about another hour's worth of effort with emails between the teacher, the counselor, and the principal. Then, to get a little perspective, I talked to a good friend who has been down this road with her daughter, and got her input. Then household chores, a little bit of real work, then the marathon really begins in about an hour when they both come home from school. So yes, philosophizing about life, and the camaraderie here, is a source of enjoyment for me, in between the many mundane chores of raising children.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Ohhh, Deborah, that sounds like fun. Why don't we make it a REALITY show, and come with a film crew in tow? (smile, wink)

It also sounds similar to another baby-boomer movie, Seacacus Seven. It was low-budget and the first feature film of independent producer John Sayles. It was very funny. Anyone out there also remember it?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I do seem to get off on my rants, don't I. I am so pleased that you can see the silly side of that. Often my friends have taken my bilious babbling as something serious when I'm trying to put a funny face on something extraordinarily irritating and stupid (political, religious, social ... I'm seldom particular about my little festivals of humdrum whining).

Special needs children are a tremendous challenge which you seem to be able to shepherd with skill, compassion and grace. How you manage to do this as well as maintain your own life and sanity (saintly, I think, is a better word) is far beyond my comprehension. But, yes, I get it. Our rehab facility was able to offer parents something we called "respite care". We'd take the special needs child for a two week period so that the parent or parents were able to get a break. I cannot tell you how often we marvelled at the strength and phenomenal capacities of "our parents".

I look forward to our insights and sharings, Karina. Time spent with you, here, has consistently been enjoyable.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha, Did you have a chance to do some bilious babbling over the lack of bubbling bath water the other day? Just curious :) I could see where having no water would be very disconcerting and merit some serious whining. I hope you indulged yourself.

Respite care..... yes, I do look forward so much to a week during the summer when my twins both go to summer camp.....but then, of course, I search through hundreds of the photos the staff post online every day, hoping to catch a glimpse of either one of them. The heart knows no logic. I figure I might get some true time off in about ten years ---- if I'm lucky.

Some days, even weeks, are good, but with the start of middle school this year, it has been, well.....hellish. The emotional storms, including streams of tears and violent tantrums, have been so bad that I even have a hypno-therapist coming to the house every Sunday to work on some of the children's issues. The hypnotist made a CD and my son uses it every day this past week to de-stress and visualize himself being able to complete the homework assignments. It seems to help some, and I have been considering teaching him meditation, to increase his dopamine levels, which appear to be seriously deficient. (He has lots of diagnoses, including ADD, OCD, dysgraphia and language processing issues. Math, science, and music are his strengths, and he is actually quite good in these areas. But writing...that's pure torture for him.) His twin sister --- well, she's a whole other story, different than her brother, but no less challenging.

Yes, parenting special needs kids are very demanding, and one can't help but wonder why so many children in this generation have these serious problems. (Autism, ADD, bipolar, Asperger's, learning disabilities, etc.) It is the subject of nearly endless speculation by many, including me. Growing up used to be so much simpler it seems.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'm glad you get a break during the summer. Camp, for kids (and adults, too), is far better than what we were able to provide in a hospital setting.

You might want to check out Jon Kabat-Zinn's meditation teaching CDs (http://www.mindfulnesstapes.com/author.html). There might be something you feel could be useful there. Kabat-Zinn and Mark Epstein (Thoughts without Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart) have been instrumental in making meditation understandable as well as getting it legitimately investigated by real science. I think we have Dr. Benson to thank for that, too.

I don't know what the statistics are regarding the occurrences of the afflictions you cite. I wonder if in the past children as well as adults were simply hidden away by families who had no other recourse.

The simplistic and offensively blithe manner in which the TMO tosses off itself as the panacea for all such impediments tends to set me off. Trouble is, when I rant for funny's sake, I tend to be taken seriously and when I try to be explicit about something as crapspackle as Maheshism's money-grab exploitation of the suffering of others, I come off funny.

I remember in Latin class in school learning about Cassandra (prophetess destined never to be believed) and felt that we were probably related somehow.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I suspect that this is off topic, or something; but I ran across a book title, Spiritual Bypassing (http://www.northatlanticbooks.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781583942925) that sounded quite interesting with respect to something we share here, recovery from negative cult experience.

While this is probably quite close to Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, it could nonetheless be another excellent contribution to the "cause" of seeing things in our life more clearly.

So: Has anyone else run across this, or better yet, read it??? The reviews at North Atlantic Books are rave, of course.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

The meditation site you referenced above looks very interesting. Would you recommend any specific CD for children? In the end, I would like him to progress beyond using a tape, to actually meditating on his own to calm his anxieties, and the above program looks good, but perhaps more for adults than kids.

I'm so pleased to see how the self-hypnosis/relaxation/visualization is affecting my son. He does appear to "go under" when the therapist is here. At school, the principal allowed him to use a little meditation room (storage closet) where he can listen to the CD, but I'm not sure how that is actually working out for him. He says, "Fine," but one never knows. I do think that the David Lynch Foundation is onto something in that meditation can be calming for certain types of kids ---- just too bad the meditation technique used is TM with all the unnecessary trappings of a save-the-world Vedic movement. The mindfulness meditation you cited above seems so much saner --- and non-offensive to people of any religious persuasion.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Replying to Karina: "The meditation site you referenced above looks very interesting."

The "reply" space is getting too much like that broom closet!

I don’t know which CDs might suit your son. Perhaps you could select the one that seems most appropriate for you and then adapt it for your son’s needs.

Lynch’s delusional obsession (which is actually Mahesh’s delusional obsession, eww) is probably, at its root, more about gaining financial and body-count support for the TMO and far, far less about any concerns that TM is going to “help”.

But I also feel very strongly that when the process of meditation (not necessarily TM itself, but approaching the subject as effortlessly as one experiences any thought) is valuable. From my own perspective, the simplest breath meditation leads to the most substantial results in terms of calm and peaceful inner/outer interaction with life in general. TM might well give the exact same feeling of calm and peacefulness; but I think our experience and observation is that those engaged in long-term TM do not always or effectively engage well with life in general.

Now, a caveat: if your son is doing well with the self-hypnosis/relaxation/visualization, perhaps now is not really the best time to introduce something else or something that might seem different. Something to discuss with your son’s therapist, no doubt.

I have a lot of confidence in Kabat-Zinn and Epstein. They aren’t trying to build up a personal empire - always a red flag, I think (now). They are dealing with actual, researchable, long-standing material that is not something existing only in their closed fists (kind of how I see Mahesh’s approach). They are both highly trained in meditation as well as in their respective clinical practices.

So, keeping in mind that you are well aware of the pitfalls of TM, proceed with caution, watchfulness and your obvious and truly remarkable parenting skills!

I hope this is helpful.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Thanks Sudarsha --- I am actually always on the lookout for the next step --- setting my sights so to speak. Right now the broom closet and CD playing is mostly working, but it is not a perfect solution. Just this past week (5 school days) the storage room has been locked, and the batteries ran low on the CD player, and a teacher had to come in there to get something....etc.. Although the experience is teaching my son that he can enjoy quiet and restfulness, the CD-dependent self-hypnosis meditation is still is not a self-sufficient process. Ultimately, I would like my son to be free of technology, and be able to calm himself whenever or wherever he happens to be. Indeed, that is the beauty of meditation.

However, I do NOT want him to learn TM --- for so many different reasons. I especially don't want him to get the idea that since a little bit of meditation feels good, that a whole lot of meditation would be even better. Being that he has ADD I doubt that will be an issue any time soon.

You mentioned the breath meditation --- is that taught by Kabat-Zinn or Epstein ?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I am afraid I only know about Kabot-Zinn’s teaching method through reading his books and also through people who have takes his courses. If I remember correctly, his courses begin with breath meditation, (i.e. letting the awareness return to and experience the in and out breathing, ānāpānasati in Pāli, something I myself learnt relatively soon after abandoning TM and still do at the beginning of my present meditation). Obviously, I would recommend teaching this method by using the beginning section of the “checking notes”, substituting “breath” for mantra … but not carrying it so far as the TM method, I think, misuses it.

Being able to practise on one’s own, not having to rely on a broom closet or batteries, is very important. You might check out http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/hospitaldvd.html to see if this sounds like something that is affordable. I am sure you could contact Kabat-Zinn through the CONTACT US link. The trick, I think (and I use “trick” seriously), is to adapt something _you_ understand for your student/children whom _you_ understand (how very _UN_ TM!!!).

Are you familiar with the “children’s technique” in TM? I have taught several TM teachers how to teach it (not everyone came home knowing everything they should have and, in one case, Mahesh asked me to teach it to someone he had just made an initiator but who, apparently, hadn’t taken the whole TTC !, !, !, ! so I taught this person in the car on the way to the airport, !, !, !, !). It may have some merit if not, as you so perspicuously observe, overdone and does not lead to getting co-dependent/hooked on doing it or trying to do it all the time, or substituting it for living one’s life.

If you don’t know how the “children’s technique” is taught, perhaps you can contact my directly (my information is somewhere on the right hand column) or sift through John’s Trancenet.net. Combining the TM “children’s technique” with Dr. Benson’s very useful method might be a place to start and/or when your son has become comfortable with doing breath meditation(ānāpānasati), perhaps simply, at any time (not just in a formal sitting where learning most usually starts), returning to an awareness of breathing would be beneficial.

But again, I want to “stress” conferring with your son’s therapist and actually learning the material yourself so that you understand what is being taught and can gear the teaching to your son’s needs.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOPXgBflM8I
This is a fictive dialogue, fashioned according to real proceedings in the Transcendental Meditation movement. I am NOT anti TM. There are different currents in the present TM movement, some more liberal and inclusive, others fundamentalist and exclusive. The common group practise ranks very high in TM, and there are constant appeals for it in the belief to create world peace. And yet people seeing other spiritual teachers, saints, where banned. Now common practitioneers have been readmitted, but not teachers of TM, even if they are inactive.
You may use it and embed it if you like.

PS: I have now enabled comments at the youtube site.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Karina, I am enjoying reading your posts here. Especially this one with ideas for screen plays. 35 years ago I started a screenplay called "Bliss Killings", about a group of TBs trying to bump off former TBs who knew too much. At the time, that scenario didn't seem to far fetched. Making we could turn it into a comedy...

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