On another forum today I note yet another "debate" about the TM mantras ... whether or not they have any meaning.
I find it astonishing that this is still even an issue in the internet age. In Maharishi's earliest writing about TM in 1955, Beacon Light of the Himalayas (which can be downloaded over at Paul Mason's site), he writes: "For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal Gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal Gods and make us happier in every walk of life."
Later on, when he traveled to the US in 1959, MMY quickly learned that saying this about the mantras caused potential conflict with non-Hindu based religions. He adapted and moved on, saying that the mantras were meaningless sounds.
In the early and mid 1970s, a period where I spent a good portion of my time in on advanced TM Teacher Training courses in Switzerland and France, a number of teachers had done enough personal research to realize that the TM mantras were among tantric bija ("seed") mantras from the Mantra Sastra and other Vedic writings. For most of us this was exciting information ... we felt that we were among the privileged few who in on the secret.
And yet out in the world, there we were regularly telling our students that the mantras were "meaningless sounds". We saw MMY saying the same thing when asked about them so "meaningless sounds" was what we said.
Regular readers of TMFree know that TM's so-called "advanced techniques" are simply prefixes or suffixes to the basic mantra you initially were given. In my own case my first advanced technique (all given personally by MMY) was "Sri" pronounced "Shree". My own TM mantra was "Aing", pronounced "eye-yeeng". I knew what Sri meant from the TM puja (which I can recite off the top of my head to this day) .... it is a term of reverence meaning "glorious".
Later on I received another advanced technique from MMY, this time it was the suffix "Namah" which I knew, again from the puja, meant "I bow down".
Again, during this time, I was 100% devoted to MMY and the TM movement. I was thrilled to be young and at the center of it all! It did not bother me in the slightest that I had insider information about the mantras that I did not reveal to either students or people who came to my introductory lectures. The ends justified the means you see ....
Still later I received another advanced technique from MMY. If memory serves, it was in Vitznau on Lake Lucern at the Park Hotel, where we had, as usual, taken over the hotel for an extended length of time.
While waiting in line with other initiators for my advanced technique, my buddy in front of me whispered "ask him the meaning, he'll tell you."
I end up sitting next to MMY (in my own chair of course!) who gives me my next mantra addition, which turns out to be simply another "namah" tagged at the end of what I already had. Sri Aing Namah, Namah. I got up the nerve to quietly ask "Maharishi, what is the meaning?" He leaned in and said "Glorious Saraswati, I bow down to you again and again." He added "Do not dwell". People have asked me, what did he mean by that? I have no idea since I didn't literally say "what did you mean by that Maharishi?". I was just thrilled at the time to have the meaning of what I was doing confirmed by him. To be honest, I was thrilled to have such "secret" info confirmed by him.
It was only later, when his extreme paranoia about CIA infiltration began taking hold, when I was told to start shredding documents, when that little voice in my head began telling me that this wasn't quite right, that I began pulling away and coming to my senses ... it was only then that I started to think about the overt lies I had been telling in the course of my TM teaching.
That some people still find tortured ways to rationalize that mantras have no meaning, that the TM practice is not, in fact, a prayer to a hindu deity, is boggling to me. Now, make no mistake, if you WANT to worship hindu gods in this way, that's great! I certainly have nothing against it as a religious practice.
When you look at the modern TM movement you realize that the entire TM theological framework, including the activities of the Fairfield pundits, rests on the thinking or uttering of magic sounds that supposedly curry favor with Vedic gods.