I believe I have uncovered another example of the changing teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Click on this link to watch an old videotape of Maharishi talking about TM:
Or skip the tape and go straight to my transcription of it, below.
(The videotape is from an official TM website. Although their website includes a transcription, I have watched and listened to the tape a half dozen times and have spotted a few minor errors in the transcription. So my transcription below is slightly different from theirs.)
There is no date (or location) given on the videotape. However, judging from the color of Mahesh's hair; plus the fact that he uses the word "pencil" as his sample mantra, rather than "flower," which became his standard sample mantra later; plus his stumblings and hesitations in explaining TM, cause me to guess that the tape was made in the mid to late 1960s.
Plus the fact that he offers an explanation for the basic mechanism by which he says TM works, i.e. "the natural tendency of the mind." The natural tendency he refers to in this tape is different from the "natural tendency" that he dwelled on in subsequent years. (I haven't listened to 2015 TM Introductory Lectures - maybe our readers have, and can let us know if this concept is still taught today.) The "natural tendency" that was impressed upon my generation (1971-1981) was that TM is easy, effortless, natural and effective because it makes use of "the natural tendency of the mind to go in the direction of increasing charm." This pronouncement has virtually become canonical in the basic teachings of TM.
Here is my transcript of the relevant first three minutes:
"...The teaching has been set up in a very, very standard form. What we do is…actual practice involves thinking of a word - a word devoid of meaning. We don't know the meaning. We don't try to know the meaning. And the principle is that if we know the meaning - then meaning is a static thing. If we say 'pencil, pencil,' someone who doesn't know what 'pencil' means in English, he just hears the sound 'pan-sool.' And someone who knows the 'pencil'…you see, the meaning is static.
"The sound changes in its pitch. It could be loud sound, it could be low sound or some…so. And the meaning is the same at every pitch, high or low. So if the mind is on the meaning, then there is no chance of refining the meaning. If the mind is not on the meaning, then there is a chance of refining the sound. Then there is a chance of experiencing the sound in its finer values; til the finest could be transcended, and the awareness could reach that inner wakefulness, devoid of any perception. This will be transcendental consciousness.
So we take a thought, and experience it, and in experiencing the thought, the simple formula is, that the thought functions as an impulse, as a motivation for the impulse, like that, like that. Then the mind is pulsating. If we don't try to manipulate the thought in any sense, concentrate or hold it on or anything, then the thought will start to be refined, refine, refine; it will sink out. The activity will start to die out, die out, die out. So this is what we say: naturally greater activity of the mind reaches its least value - in a very, very natural way. Any activity has a tendency to settle down and be quiet. So this natural tendency of the mind to be quiet is all that we use in meditation, and nothing else. (Emphasis added - Laurie.) So in a very innocent manner we think of the thought. And every time we think it, it becomes finer and finer and finer. We experience its finer states, and then it dies out...."
Have you ever heard this earlier explanation before? Does this explanation make sense? Does the newer explanation make sense? Or can you suggest a better explanation for how and why TM produces the results it does? What do you think is actually happening when a person does TM?
Mahesh told my generation that his name, "rishi" means "seer;" that is, seer of the Vedas, which he told us is the Eternal Truth. So what do you make of Mahesh changing his core explanation? Was it opportunistic, or sincere, or what? Did this "great seer" not see the "eternal truth"?
And anything else you'd care to comment on!