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Elucidation of the TM - Movement

 
 

  alt.meditation.transcendental 6/1992

From: borden@cfa.harvard.edu (Dave Borden)
Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental
Subject: Information on TM
Message-ID: <1992Jun9.153247.1285@m5.harvard.edu>
Date: 9 Jun 92 15:32:47 GMT
Reply-To: borden@m5.harvard.edu
Organization: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA,  USA
Lines: 121
Sorry to those of you who have already seen this, but that was quite a
while ago and there are a lot of readers who didn't start following this
newsgroup until after the article became unavailable.  There was a recent
large posting on the subject on brainwashing and cults; this is along the
same lines.  Here it is:
The following is an excerpt from "Combatting Cult Mind Control", by
Steven Hassan, pp. 87-88, published by Park Street Press in Rochester Vermont
in 1988 and 1990:
		PATRICK RYAN AND TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION
	Patrick Ryan, now a successful entrepreneur, was involved in
Transcendental Meditation for ten years.  He is a graduate of Maharishi
International University (MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited institution.
Most people think of TM as a harmless way to relax through meditation.  But
for those who plunge deeply into the TM organization, it takes on cult
qualities.
	Pat has since founded a support group called TM-Ex for former members,
and talks openly about the movement's darker side.  "It has all of the
characteristics of a destructive cult," he says.  "A lot of my friends and I
have been greatly damaged by our involvement with it."
	Like most destructive cults, TM uses a good deal of deception (1). Its
public spokespeople say that "TM is not a philosophy, a religion, or a
lifestyle."  Yet, Pat points out, "People become vegetarian, celibate, recite
mantras composed of the names of Hindu gods, and worship Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
as the 'enlightened master of the universe.'"
	In its advertising, TM emphasizes the practical benefits of
meditation - particularly the reduction of stress.  TM promoters show videos
of members from all walks of life testifying to its benefits.  TM sales pitches
are full of blood pressure charts, heart-rate graphs, and other clinical
evidence of TM's effectiveness.  Not mentioned is the fact that scientific
tests show similar benefits can be obtained by listening to soothing music,
or by performing basic relaxation exercises available in books costing a
couple of dollars.
	After a TM student pays up to $400 and receives his own personal
mantra to chant, he is told never to reveal it to another.  Why?  Becuase the
same "unique" mantra has been given - on the basis of age - to thousands of
people (2).
	Most people who learn TM never go beyond the prescribed twenty minutes
of meditating twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon.  They can hardly
be called cult members.  But a few continue to visit the TM centers for
"checking," and go on to pay for more and more advanced courses.  Eventually
they may get to the point Pat did.  He paid $3,000 to learn how to levitate
and fly.  In reality, he found himself reciting the more "advanced" mantras
while vigorously hopping up and down with his legs crossed in the lotus
position for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon
	Not surprisingly, he experienced painful muscle spasms, headaches, and
involuntary twitching.  He went to his instructors for help.  "They told me
that I was unstressing." he said.  "They told me to go back and meditate and
fly harder."
	"It wasn't until Bob Kropinsky won the first lawsuit against TM for
fraud and negligence that I learned about people who have been hurt by
Transcendental Meditation," (3) Patrick continued.  "The top leaders blame the
members for everything and haven't done anything to correct their policies."
As in other destructive cults, there is never a problem with the leader, the
doctrine, or the organization's behavior - it's always the fault of the
members.
	Pat began to question his involvement with TM only after sitting in
on the deprogramming of his sister Michelle from The Way International.  As
Way ex-members told Michelle the criteria that define a mind control
environment, Pat began to hear alarm bells going off in his head.  The same
methods were used in TM.  He realized his problems were a response to practices
that were short-circuiting his nervous system.
	Pat started digging into every source he could find to understand the
history and background of Maharishi and the organization.  He discovered from
former MIU faculty members that some of the much-touted medical experiments
had been conducted without proper scientific procedure (4).  He has now become
very critical of the organization in which he was previously involved, and
active in warning others of its destructive and deceptive practices.
1) "'Psychological Damage' from TM Found Worth $137,890," The Washington Times
   Metro (Jan 14, 1987), 5B.
   Snapping, 174, 176.
2) Darrel Sifford, "A Psychiatrist Probes Effects of Transcendental
   Meditation," Phildelphia Inquirer (June 19, 1988), 2F.
3) Michael A. Persinger, Normand J. Carey, and Lynn A. Seuss, TM and Cult
   Mania (Massachusetts: The Christopher Publishing House, 1980), 155-56.
4) Ibid., 60-65.
Here are some useful addresses and phone numbers:
Cult Awareness Network
National Office 			(local affiliates nationwide)
2421 West Pratt Blvd., Suite 1173
Chicago, IL 60645
312/267-7777
TM-EX
Patrick Ryan
P.O. Box 2520
Philadelphia, PA 19147
215/467-4939
Steven Hassan is widely recognized as America's leading Exit-Counselor.
(Exit-Counseling is a non-coercize alternative to deprogramming.)
A little bit of my personal opinion: meditation can be a profound, wonderful
thing - it's too bad that frauds like Maharishi use the western mystique
for eastern culture to further their own greedy desires for money and power.
I vote "aye" for an "alt.meditation" newsgroup.
     - David Borden
       borden@m5.harvard.edu
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