Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: "The Secret of the Mantras" by Richard Blakely

I just finished reading "The Secret of the Mantras" by Richard Blakely, and I highly recommend it.  This memoir of a baby boomer growing up in the U.S. and moving to France in time for the student uprisings of 1968 includes a 3-month TM Teacher Training course in Rishikesh, India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Beatles. 

What a fun read!  What a witty sense of humor Blakely exhibits as he confesses his own foibles, as well as the foibles of TM life.  Of particular interest to readers of TM-Free Blog may be the following revelations:

- In 1968, Mahesh gave new initiators three mantras, chosen by age.  (Nowadays there are about 16 mantras, chosen by age.)

- In 1968, Mahesh taught initiators only the Sanskrit and the hand gestures for the exotic ceremony preceding TM instruction.  (Nowadays, initiators must also memorize the English translation and the emotions one is attempting to experience during the rite.)  

-  In 1968, students meditated for hours non-stop on courses.  Due to the emotional unraveling of some Westerners, Mahesh added yogic stretching.  (Nowadays, short meditations are alternated with yoga stretches and breathing exercises.)  

- In 1968, Mahesh taught that TMers shouldn't force themselves to change habits such as smoking, drinking and meat-eating if they found the change stressful.  Mahesh said that with continued meditation, unhealthy habits would automatically fall away.  (Nowadays, "advanced" TMers are encouraged to take up vegetarianism, celibacy, early bedtime, silent meals, etc. etc.)

This last point particularly catches my attention.  I find Mahesh's level of hypocrisy? extent of unclarity on fundamental principles? unfathomable.  Whatever could he have been thinking, either then or now?  What kind of teacher is this?  

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