One of our readers, who has requested anonymity, has sent the editors of TM-Free a copy of their local TM center's latest newsletter. The newsletter announced that TM "Advanced Techniques" would be taught soon at the center.
This news brought back memories of my own instruction in my one and only TM advanced technique back around 1978. As I read the newsletter, I was struck by how much has changed since then.
In 1978, I believe the rule was that at least 2 years had to elapse between each technique. Today, it is recommended that 2 months elapse! Back then, instruction took about half an hour the first day, and if there was a second day (which I can't recall for certain), that took about 10 minutes. Today, instruction takes 2 hours the first day and 2 hours the second day. In 1978, the cost of the Advanced Technique was $200. Today it is $1,500. Back then, my teacher was called a "teacher of advanced techniques." Today they are called "Vedic Experts." My teacher was an American. Today, the teachers "come from India, the home of this profound knowledge." Why? To me, the wording implied that there is some benefit or necessity in having an Indian teach it.
Back in 1978, to learn my first advanced technique, I brought my fruit, flowers, handkerchief and $200 to the TM center. I then met my teacher, Lillian Rosen. She wore a blouse and a skirt down to her ankles, which I remember thinking was strange, since when I became a TM teacher, they had told us to dress in business clothes. If I remember correctly, she performed the Indian puja ceremony, and then asked me what my mantra was. I replied, "Ayim." She sighed, as if in exasperation, and then said, "Your new mantra is 'aingnama.' " I then practiced TM with this new mantra. She sent me home, and I believe I came back the next day to check the pronunciation of my new mantra. I wonder what is included nowadays in the four hours of instruction.
The newsletter also stated that a person would have to learn the three advanced techniques before being eligible to learn the TM-Sidhis program. My memory is fuzzy after all these years, but I believe that in my day, one had to have practiced TM for two years, plus maybe attend two weekend residence courses to be eligible. I wonder why the change. Since I learned TM for $35, and weekend residence courses cost $150, preparation for the TM-Sidhis program would have come to $335. Nowadays, with TM instruction at $1,500, plus 4 advanced techniques at $1,500 each, the cost of preparation to learn the TM-Sidhis comes to $7,500.
Also, in my day the first advanced technique was the one I describe above. Nowadays, apparently the first technique given is a technique done in bed before one falls asleep. I wonder why they made the change.
I also found the information in the newsletter questionable. For instance, they state that, "...Through the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, the mind becomes familiar with the experience of 'pure consciousness' - the simplest, least excited state of consciousness...." First of all, did you become familiar with the experience of pure consciousness through the regular practice of TM? I didn't. I think I experienced something like that about once a year, maximum. What was your experience with experiencing "PC"?
Secondly, on my TM Teacher Training Course, one of our instructors broke the news to us that a TM meditator doesn't experience the state of pure consciousness until the last stress is gone. What we experience before that is "purer" consciousness, a "less" excited state of consciousness - that is, if our instructor was telling us the truth.
The newsletter quoted some satisfied customers of the advanced techniques. I would like to critique the two strangest testimonials.
1. "I feel a greater sense of wholeness, a sense of being in tune with the cosmos. I have the impression that all of my environment and my school are inside my consciousness, that everything is in me." - Yves Bourque, School principal
Critique: He feels a greater sense of being in tune with the cosmos. But is he actually more in tune with the cosmos, or does he just feel that he is? And what does that mean, to be in tune with the cosmos? He also has the impression that everything is within himself. But since his school etc. are not actually inside himself, is this a benefit, or a sign of delusion?
2. "My meditation is very deep, yet very lively. I feel relaxed, yet my mind is fully awake. I feel waves of warmth and contentment. This is a very wonderful experience!" - Louise DeKreon, University of Alaska adjunct lecturerCritique: This is subjectively a very wonderful experience. OK if you want to spend $1,500 for a very wonderful experience. A mug of hot chocolate will also give you waves of warmth and contentment for $3.00.
By the way, the first quote is by one Yves Bourque. As you may know, Judith Bourque recently published a book called "Robes of Silk, Feet of Clay" regarding her love affair with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Is this a coincidence that the TMO chose this quote by a "Bourque?"
Of course, testimonials are not a particularly useful way to gauge a product. They leave many unanswered questions, such as, "What percentage of the students had positive, neutral or negative results?" and "What were the long-term effects of the advanced technique?" But since the TMO has seen fit to include testimonials in their publications, I thought it would be informative to include some testimonials of our own. So I will start with mine:
"When I learned the advanced technique, I felt high and mellow for 2 or 3 days. After that I felt nothing special." - Laurie, Editor for TM-Free Blog.
Now it's your turn! If you'd like, please write a testimonial of the results of your advanced technique in the comments section below. And share anything else that you like!