Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recovering TM Cult Children --

Given that most posts here generate stimulating conversation about the TMO, Maharishi and cult (and recovery) dynamics, I couldn't help but note the lack of comments (both here and on TM-Free's FB page) to a recent insightful post Maharishi Mahesh Demeans Children. which quoted Helena Olson's "Maharishi at 433" about the guru's attitude toward children. This post was shared anonymously by one our readers who was raised in the TM Movement and included a number of revelatory remarks about adult TM-children's view of the Movement.

The lack of commentators' response to the words of a TM-kid who is finding their voice to publicly speak the unspeakable (criticism of the guru) reminds me when I was the only born-and-raised person in a cult recovery therapy group. Someone else in that group (a former cult member) looked at me askew and said, "That's really interesting. I never thought about the children in our cult."

I laughed and shook my head, "That's the point." I responded, "Children were left largely to their own devices. The leaders did not think about children.  Parents followed leaders' dictates, leadership bent upon narcissistic and financial goals. Cult members with follower-mentality lacked guidance on how to parent. There was some variation, and mostly a lot of neglect."

Sadly, little attention is placed, even in cult recovery, upon the larger issues of those born-and-raised in TM and other cults. The programming from birth can be hard to overcome. Some have lifelong effects that interfere with professional, social and family development. Into adulthood, many remain dependent primarily upon their cult-based childhood friendships because they are unable to create bonds with outsiders.

When leaving the group, "kids" lack any history of a non-cult life from which to navigate the outside world.

Just noticing... still little-to-no recognition for those whose parents and community had 'more-noble' priorities.

Fortunately, an informal network of TM-kids helps one another, in cities around the world. They (we) have our own stories. Most TM-kids share their stories quietly between trusted friends. They do not speak out publicly to avoid rejection from family and lifelong friends, many of whom remain in degrees of TM mentality.

For TM'ers who may respond saying "Maharishi said that your children are your program."
I guarantee that Maharishi NEVER said that. In 1979,  I was a 21 year old single mother, with a 2 year old child from a relationship that had begun as statutory rape when I was 15 years old.

My parents had left me at MIU Santa Barbara to attend the local high school, without a legal custodian when I was 15 years old. They thought it was a pure, safe environment (variation of a common experience for subsequent decades of TM kids). MIU Prep was a joke at that time - a babysitting service based around a few dirty donated fisher-price toys and volunteer babysitters (including me).

I told Bevan Morris, "Our children are our Program" at the first World Peace Assembly in Amherst Massachusetts, summer 1979.

Bevan Morris had called me to a private audience to threaten banning me if I didn't participate in full Program. He said I would be responsible for World War III and global economic collapse because I continued my self-modified version of Program to allow me to also care for my daughter.

In 1979-mid 1980s I then told other parents, as I had told Bevan, "Our children are our Program. Maharishi doesn't know about children because he doesn't have any." I also said the same when I taught childbirth and early parenting classes to TMers in Fairfield, Iowa through the mid 1980s. It seems that some community remembered the message, although attributing it to their guru.

The stance of Maharishi and his Movement (led primarily by single men) toward children and parenting was "Do your program to support spontaneous right action and glean the support of nature". Meanwhile parents were told to meditate for hours daily and donate ample $ums to Maharishi's vision.

MIU Prep and MSAE (Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment) were established by motivated parents, not because of Maharishi's interest in children. When TM leadership learned they could glean publicity through MSAE, there was a smidgen of interest to exploit enlightened children to attract followers. That's the same motivation behind David Lynch Foundation's efforts toward school children.

For the most part, TM children hindered the quest for enlightenment, to be seen and largely ignored. Other than teaching children to meditate and parrot the guru's teachings, the Movement did not support nurturing, protecting nor inspiring children's individuality. Fortunately, a few parents had strong parental / maternal instincts; those homes often became a haven for other kids.

Seems that's still the case. To the TM-kids out there - remember, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

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