Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reflections on Recent Transcendental Meditation Publicity

The Maharishi University of Management Development Office sent out an email on June 12, 2011, inviting TMers to come to Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City (SM) for this summer's TM course. Amongst the enticements noted, such as international restaurants, the Raj Ayurvedic Health Spa, hiking paths, etc., was a quotation from a participant of a previous course. The complete quote is as follows:

"Each morning I emerge from the Dome I feel as if I am emerging with an entirely new physiology. I feel as if every cell in my body is clean, or more accurately, brand new. I experience a deep purity in my whole being, a crystal clarity, and the world and everything in it appears totally refurbished.

But it is not just my physiology that feels as if it has undergone a deep, deep cleaning; my psychology also feels that way. I am filled with a kind of sparkling happiness that I feel must be pouring from me and infecting everything and everyone around me.

It's as if my whole being gets saturated with this new, refined, glorified, indescribable level of my own awareness - as if this level is becoming increasingly structured in the very fabric of my whole body, my whole psychology, my entire Being day after day.

- An Invincible America Assembly participant"

This quote captured my attention. When I read it the first time, my TM-trained brain kicked in, and I thought, "What a wonderful experience! Clearly indicative of spiritual growth!" But when I thought it over, I realized what a telling quote it was, how it encapsulated some of the
tragedy and weaknesses of the TM movement.

So, switching from the part of my brain that experiences warm fuzzy emotions to the rational part of my brain, I started to critique the quote logically.

First, let's look at the language used. It's evocative, but when you read it with a critical mind, does it actually give information? What does "a deep purity in my whole being" mean? Is there usually a "dirtiness" in this TMer's whole being? What is "deep purity" as opposed to "purity"? What is "whole being"?

What is "crystal clarity"? Is it a physical state, a mental state, or what? How does it differ from "a clarity"? What is crystalline about it?

The TMer is filled with "sparkling happiness." What does this mean? How does it differ from "happiness?" How can happiness, which is an emotion, "infect...everything," meaning physical things?

Then, I decided to analyze three of the experiences the TMer reports:
(1) Every cell in the TMer's body feels brand new.
(2) It feels like the TMer's happiness is infecting everyone and everything around.
(3) It feels as if this glorified experience is becoming increasingly structured into the TMer's entire being.

Regarding the first experience, I think even the TM organization would concede that every single cell in the TMer's body isn't actually brand new each time s/he emerges from the Dome. It just feels that way. In other words, the TMer is feeling something that isn't true. In other words, the TMer is experiencing a delusion. The TMer is delusional.

Regarding the second experience, the TMer feels as if his/her happiness is infecting everyone around. But is this subjective experience objectively true? For instance, has the TMer asked everyone around (or even anyone around), "Do you feel infected with my happiness?" The TMer doesn't say. So we have no evidence that this perception is real. Therefore this is possibly a delusional experience. The TM publicists thought it was a worthwhile quote to print.

Regarding the third experience, wherein the TMer states that it feels as if her/his whole being is becoming increasingly structured at this level. This is, in effect, a comment made during the course in which the TMer predicts what will be the results after the course. There is no followup to determine that the prediction was accurate.

In summary, most of this quotation is pitifully unimpressive. And yet it was chosen by TM publicists to encourage TMers to attend the course. Why? Is the thinking of the PR people so impaired that they think this is a meaningful quote? Or are they taking advantage of what they perceive to be TMers' irrationality?

Since the MUM Development Office has presented one cherry-picked anonymous quote as convincing evidence of the value of the TM techniques, I thought it would be fair if I too offered some anonymous quotes of my own, as to some outcomes of TM programs:

1) "There was a higher percentage of suicides in Fairfield than in comparably-sized towns." - Former Sidha

2) "As people got off the plane in the U.S. after their TM Teacher Training course, I signed some of them into mental hospital." - Physician

3) "As a result of extensive meditating, my relative developed adult-onset Tourette's Syndrome." - Former TM teacher

4) "When I got back home, I walked around in a state of terror, because I had been taught that anywhere outside of Fairfield was polluted and cursed." - Former TM Governor

No comments:

Post a Comment