HOW I MADE THE MANTRA GO AWAY
by Dave H.
When I tell my friends that I once was involved with a cult, their eyes get wide and their response is generally, “You?” And then they want the details.
So I tell them that I was one of those people who got caught up in Transcendental Meditation when it was sweeping the U.S.A. in the 60s and 70s. I explain the initial meetings, the Puja ceremony, the post initiation checking meetings, etc. I even tell them that for awhile, TM actually brought me some benefit.
I was never one of those uber-movement types, although I did attend a residence course or two in Fairfield, Iowa, where I was introduced to “rounding” and the whole TM thing took further root. Had I not awakened, I could have easily been drinking the Kool-aid.
Then MMY announced that we could all learn to levitate and the Sidhis program was launched. The shock of it forced me to examine what I had become involved with and thankfully, the critical thinking I had learned in college began to kick in. Levitating? Becoming invisible? How could I belong to an organization that advanced such thinking and demanded high fees for the “knowledge?”
I immediately stopped doing TM and promised myself I would never think my mantra, “Shirim,” again.
But it wouldn’t go away. For over a decade that pesky mantra would creep into my thoughts: waking, sleeping, dreaming. At first I gave it no notice, just shutting it off whenever it would appear. But after many, many years of putting up with it, combined with all of the wacky stuff coming out of the TM movement, its continued presence became a major concern for me. I wanted it gone.
I consulted with a therapist, a very capable person, but not experienced in cults. He suggested that I pretty much do what I had been doing, shut it off when it showed up in my thoughts. But that was not good enough for me.
I live in a very beautiful part of Southeast Minnesota, an area with 300-foot bluffs and an incredible paved bicycle trail system. One weekday summer morning I walked out a couple of miles on the trail. Not many people out there that early in the morning. I stopped on a bridge and decided to shout Shirim as loud and as many times as I could. It was strange how guilty I felt for even thinking about doing this. Guilt and fear manifested themselves, as if something really bad would happen to me. That’s how deeply the movement hooks had gotten into my psyche.
But I did it. I shouted that mantra out into the light of day, loud, clear and often. Then I came back a couple of days later and repeated the experience. And then a third time.
It didn’t happen overnight, but after a couple of weeks I noticed that the mantra and I were no longer joined at the hip, and its encroachment into my life began to diminish. And today, it doesn’t show up at all.
When I read of all the junk that the true-believers in the TM movement accept as truth … Jyotish, Yagyas, Sidhis and such … I am so blessed to have my once-abandoned critical thinking skills and pleased that the mantra no longer has power over me.
And all I had to do was shout it into the atmosphere.