Thursday, October 14, 2010

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

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John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Anybody else see this article?

David Lynch told Russel Brand that if he learned TM, it would help him enjoy pornography. Pretty funny stuff.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I remember the days when we said whatever just to get someone to start TM. Partly, we needed the money, being, as we were, taxed 50% of our proselytizing by “the movement” - I guess we also said ‘whatever’ because we had some kind of belief/confidence that was not wholly grounded in much of anything.

Still, MUM, it’s an interesting article and sure to raise eyebrows if not actually some serious questions. Thanks for alerting us to this.

We might also note that, yes indeed, TM does appear to increase your focus upon whatever it is you are into. We all had difficulty with the oft-asked question will TM make a bank robber become a better bank robber. No really satisfactory answer was readily available – but, think about what changed in your life and what didn’t. What did TM really do for you, for anyone?

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

"What did TM really do for you, for anyone?"

Post-meditation things were/are more enjoyable. Simple things like the taste of food, the beauty of nature, friendship, lovemaking . . . all of these things were obviously savored more intensely after meditation, as if a layer of fog was lifted. TM for whatever reason had this effect and it was so clear and obvious that I cannot deny or doubt it. This effect was short-term, for a few hours or so after. The long-term effect of this was less clear I think, possibly because it is so hard to compare to a time that is so distant in memory and also possibly because it is hard to distinguish between normal growth that everyone goes through over time and the supposed TM acceleration. I like to think there was a cumulative effect of this in my life but it is hard to be sure. The positive effects were also countered to a degree by the cult baggage so it was a mixed bag.

I have a hard time with trashing TM completely, even though I am a critic of the TMO and have a generally negative feeling for it, because there were clearly some good effects. I have repeatedly confirmed that TM still has this effect on me by going back to it occasionally. I would still do it but I am too lazy and restless and also because I fear the connection to the cult mindset which still lives on in me to a degree.

As for enhancing ALL things, including life-damaging things, (not that porn must be necessarily be in this category but surely SOME things are) yes and no, but mostly I don't think so. No more-so than exercise or good food or good sleep might do. I really do think that meditation will tend to put a stop to self-destructive or anti-social activities, on balance, though it is no panacea for such by any means, for one thing you will not be so tense that you feel the need, the temporary stress-relieving aspect of life-damaging activities will be less satisfying I think. The precise mechanics of this, psychologically and physiologically, are probably complex beyond my knowledge but this has been my experience anyway.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I can't speak as to whether TM will make you a better bank robber (although I have heard rumors about Dillinger), but I do remember opening my eyes after I was initiated, and it seemed like seeing the world for the first time. Colors were much more vivid than I ever remembered them being before. On a more prosaic level, I was in the habit of following a certain procedure when brushing my hair, and at one point the hot comb, or whatever it was, always fell to the ground. The first time I did it after I learned TM, I caught it in mid-air before it hit the ground, which never happened before. Not exactly 'Heaven on Earth', I know, but still something.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Like you, Lexico, I cannot trash TM itself, not entirely; but the long-range effects are of a dubious nature, certainly seldom living up to any of Mahesh’s claims.

I suspect the continuation of TM (just 2x20) is, in the long run, less catastrophic than the experiences reported from the long rounding courses.

I will continue some thoughts below, in response to Morris.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Funny you should mention Dillinger. According to my mother, she met Dillinger when she was quite young and, according to her mother, they were related to one of Dillinger’s henchmen!

That said, I agree with you and Lexico: that first experience of TM, and experiences soon after, were quite remarkable. The contrast was striking.

But, we need to look at why there was that contrast and why the impact of it seemed to dissipate. One reason is that we became accustomed to the effect. This is quite normal in all forms of meditation I have investigated (as a practitioner as well as an observer).

The “but” or other shoe now drops: I cannot see the long-term value of TM. It is a remarkable introduction to the possibilities inherent in being a human being. It is almost as if Mahesh went running wild with the introduction and never discovered that there was more (as one finds in many other forms of meditation).

He tried to make TM deliver “his” promises without understanding what TM itself was delivering or able to deliver (and certainly did not understand or bother to understand what it was not able to deliver).

Mahesh cobbled together many add-ons and aps, but he was fundamentally unable to understand what he was teaching and, therefore, unable to grasp that the fiddly bits he was espousing were of no value in and of themselves and bore no relevance to TM itself.

The evidence is abundant.

What would have allowed TM to deliver? Again, looking at other forms of meditation, via experience and observation, the beginning technique is fundamental, but where it leads is also fundamental, that is, to a deeper resonance (a word I use in my Yoga Sūtra translation to account for the references to the praṇava (OM) [see i27 and associated sūtras]. Mahesh’s obsession (re-read the checking notes) with the mantra limited the long-range effectiveness of TM. If one constantly returns to the beginning, as it were, then progress is constantly cut short. Mahesh himself used the simile of receiving a telegram from your uncle: “meet me at the train station” and thereafter worshipping the telegram and never making it to the train station.

Same for TM and the mantra.

So, as the mantra enables one to experience a situation of calm and clarity, then one shifts to the calm and clarity as the object. And where that takes you becomes the object.

But I suspect that Mahesh just couldn’t bother with being encumbered with that kind of teaching burden. He wanted quick and profitable (whether in terms of money or recognition, I think they were the same to him).

But the technique or method is absolutely NOT the whole story! One needs a responsible teaching that serves as both container for the method or technique and effective means of completely understanding the method or technique including how it enables us to interact with the real world, not just the fantasy playground of the closed world of Maheshism. In this regard, I think Maheshism as a whole is very superficial. It might sound great and certainly roped so many of us into its containment-belief-system.

Yet, again by comparison through practise and observation, it is substantially superficial and, while it seems able to support the little fiefdom of Maheshim and Maheshites, in the long run it doesn’t lead where Mahesh’s claims point and, instead, seems to limit those sincere and devoted believers to that small and safe enclave.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I agree with you. And if the movies are to be believed, Dillinger was quite the ladies man.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...


Yes! My mother remembered Dillinger being very handsome and charming. His right-hand man, Homer van Meter, according to my grandmother, was a distant cousin.

My great great grandfather, on my father’s side was a Union Solider in the American Civil War. I’m not quite sure how I feel about being related to someone of such notoriety as van Meter, however, but we can’t be picky when it comes to distant, long deceased relatives, I guess.

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