A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

On Transcendental Meditation I: Nature Support


The Transcendental Meditation (TM) Movement was founded in 1957 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Its members practice a meditation technique that originated in ancient India, which they believe improves the health of body and mind, and the quality of one’s relationships and professional life. They also believe that when communities practice TM, it has benefits for society, including lower crime rates.

I have not picked this topic at random. I have personal experiences with TM and the movement and I have no doubt that I would be seen as an apostate by its leaders. I will not be telling my story, at least not in the foreseeable future. This will be an ongoing series in which I will critique TM and the main claims on which it is founded.

First, I want to be clear on whom I’m criticising. Most Transcendental Meditators practice their technique twice a day and then get on with their lives like the rest of us. They find that it relaxes them, makes them feel good mentally and physically, and believe that they are better equipped to face life each day as a result of the personal experience their meditation gives them. Some of them attribute this to supernatural causes while others believe its effects are purely natural. Either way, I have no grief with these people. They are free to believe what they like and practise meditation if they so desire. But it is my considered contention that they have been deceived, and it is those who have committed this deception that I intend to scrutinize. The target of my criticism is the Maharishi himself, and those who have climbed to the higher echelons of the TM Movement.

In this opening article of the series, I will address the concept of Nature Support. This is a key tenet of the TM Movement’s power, as it is the foundation upon which many of its boasted benefits are built. The practice of TM, we are told, aligns us with Natural Law, thus making our lives run more smoothly. I have taken Chapter 6: Life Supported by Natural Law from Robert Roth’s book TM to examine this claim.

One day everything is a strain. You feel worried and tense and out of-step with the day. You just miss an important phone call, hit all the red lights when you’re rushing for an appointment, and can’t find a parking place anywhere.

Another day you feel quite good. Everything seems to go right and click into place. You find the perfect parking place, reach the right person on the phone, and come up with a workable solution to a problem at the office. The day seems to go effortlessly and you wonder why every day can’t go at least as smoothly.

It can — through “support of natural law.”

This claim cannot actually be supported. What TM really does, is make you think things are going better, by causing you to view them differently. The first part of this quote is quite right. We have days where everything seems to go wrong, and days when everything seems to go right. Most days are somewhere in between. The belief that Nature Support through TM is aiding your life is not supported by any statistical data. TM adherents don’t drive around amazingly reaching every traffic light as it turns green. They have good days, bad days and, mostly, average days like the rest of us.

The belief that they are being aided by Nature Support is built on a form of selective thinking called Confirmation Bias. All this means is that every time something goes right for a TM adherent, they notice it, attribute it to Nature Support and remember it as evidence, and yet another example of the wonderful power of TM. Whenever something goes wrong, they do one of two things (bear in mind that the decision is not taken consciously). Option one, is to simply forget it, without ever really thinking about it and wandering why Nature Support failed them. Sometimes though, something really bad happens which can’t just be swept under the carpet and forgotten. This is where Option two comes in. I wrote in my article Everything Happens for a Reason that no matter how bad an event or situation is, people will always perceive some possible way in which it could have been worse. For example, as tragic as the 9/11 Terrorist attacks were, more people would certainly have died had Flight 93 actually reached its intended target, whatever that may have been. Option two, is to find something, anything, that can be regarded as somehow positive in whatever disaster has happened, no matter how small or insignificant it may be in context with the misfortune that has befallen them, and attribute that small mercy to Nature Support.

For example, after a house flood caused by a burst pipe, they may see Nature Support as the reason that nothing of great value was destroyed, or that they had just taken out a new insurance policy the day before. Because we don’t tend to look for evidence that doesn’t support our beliefs, they won’t ask why, with all their meditation and Nature Support, they had a burst pipe and a flood in the first place.

There are many similarities between prayer and Nature Support. When people pray for a loved one to be healed and they go on to make a full recovery, they praise God for answering them. If their loved one just deteriorates and dies, they do not criticise God for not answering their prayers. They try to excuse him with weak rationalisations, like moving in mysterious ways and acting with wisdom for the greater good or a higher purpose. The same can be said for Nature Support. Whenever something good happens, all the credit goes to Nature Support, but when something goes wrong, it gets none of the blame. The only difference is that while prayer is an appeal to a supernatural being, TM is an appeal to a supernatural force.

Although Roth refers to ‘Natural’ Law, what he presents is anything but natural. His case is made through a complete distortion of what a law, in the scientific sense, actually means.

Throw a tennis ball up in the air and it falls to the earth: gravity, a law of nature.

Heat water to 212°F and it boils: a law of nature.

Water a plant, give it proper food and sunlight and it grows: laws of nature.

There are, for example, countless laws of nature that govern the functioning of your body. If you align yourself with those laws — eat the right foods, exercise properly, get enough rest, etc. — your body maintains its health.

Violate those laws and you fall sick and suffer.

Roth lists and refers to actual scientific laws, and then tries to associate this idea with healthy living. The comparison does not work. Scientific laws are ‘universal and invariable facts of the physical world’. What this means is that, by definition, they can’t be violated – otherwise they wouldn’t be laws! This is why the laws of gravity and thermodynamics can’t be violated. They are not there for us to ‘align’ with. If you violate a law, you disprove that law and therefore show that it never actually was a law at all.

It is quite right to say that if you eat healthy food and exercise regularly you will be healthy, and if you eat junk food and don’t exercise you will not be healthy, but this has nothing to do with the maintenance or violation of any laws. All scientific laws are being followed to the letter.

Like a strong current in a river, natural law propels life in an evolutionary direction. It is the invincible force in nature from the level of the unified field that continually creates, maintains, and evolves life.

This quote is an example of something that features heavily in nearly all TM literature – meaningless pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. It is a perfect candidate for my question how do you know that?. The mention of evolution is there simply to add to the mood of scientific importance. There is no such thing as an ‘evolutionary direction’. Natural selection is the force that drives evolution, which is very different from Natural Law. There is no need to posit anything as vague and supernatural as Natural Law when explaining the origin, maintenance or evolution of life.

The sad thing about a persistent belief in Nature Support, as with a belief in God, is that it involves the payment of credit to a source that is not only undeserving, but that probably does not exist.

It may well be the case that after practicing TM a person feels more relaxed and invigorated than they may otherwise have done, simply through natural processes. It is perfectly plausible and acceptable, and in fact evidentially supported, that closing your eyes for twenty minutes and sitting quietly would achieve this, without the need for mantras, inductive Hindu ceremonies and an exorbitant fee. But for TM adherents to credit this practice for everything good that happens to them is nothing short of a miscarriage of justice. Every time a TM adherent lands the big business deal, gets the girl or wins the race, they do it with varying degrees of the same components used by the rest of us: hard work and randomly distributed good fortune. They should keep the credit for themselves.

Other Posts in this Series:

On Transcendental Meditation II: Ayurvedic Medicine

Links and Further Reading

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27 Responses to “On Transcendental Meditation I: Nature Support”

  1. Interesting. I would not have expected this as a topic here, but it is quite relevant.

    I too have experience with TM. Back in 1973, while in college, I became a TM whatever-you-call-it. (can’t remember). I took a bunch of flowers and an orange to the local TM center (a home outside Boston) and received my mantra and was told how to meditate. I tried it for a few weeks, but all I got was headaches, though the first time at the center was very, very relaxing. I think I got headaches because I tried too hard to reproduce that first experience.

    Interestingly, at the same time, one of my roommates, who was in a pre-med program, was involved in a lab experiment where they compared TM with simple relaxation techniques. I don’t remember the details, but the basic conclusion was that you could obtain similar benefits from simple breathing and other relaxation techniques. In my opinion, just closing your eyes and clearing your mind in a quiet room is helpful. I’ve done it since, but anytime I try to use my mantra, I get a headache again.

    I never got to the theoretical side of the program, and could have cared less. I never read any books on it, nor attended any lectures, other than the initial one in which I signed up. I do remember some crap about bubbles, but that’s it. You’re right, all that Nature shit is just pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo. However, I do think that basic relaxation techniques are legitimate, but strictly from a individual health point of view. I don’t think it alters events outside our bodies. However, relieving stress in the world is a definite plus, and anything that helps that process should not be summarily dismissed.

  2. I think you have some things right and then you miss the point on some others, but isn’t always like this.

    I know TM teachers who have committed suicide. It is my opinion that it is not because of the good parts that are there in TM , but the guidance that is missing once the good stuff from the effects of TM kick in. One of the one’s that committed suicide had good results and experiences with TM, and he kept it up. He just needed competant direction. This is what an enlightened Guru can give. The teachers of TM are mostly not that. As long as there is smooth sailing fine, you hit it in the hit or miss section. It is where one is in need of very enlightened guidance that there is going to be a miss.

    Maybe Maharishi feels it is their karma but I don’t quite buy into this. There truly are many that have evolved with TM. This is also a potential casualty as this higher state of existence requires a Guru one to one. I am a former TM teacher, I am now with an enllghtened Sat Guru one to one. These two things are all the difference in the world. Why is it necessary when there is true and significant benefits with something like TM to be one to one and then with a Sat Guru? Because a Sat Guru can take you to where they are, and in the one to one guidance, they can see where you are and where you need to go.

    I have met people who have something from TM and other groups, but they think they have more than what they are accessing, then they have chosen to be on their own, they say they dont need a Guru, or claim to have one which they have no direct access to- which is about one and the same. So, they think they are enlightened, then no need to progress.

    Interesting and I have never heard a direct response but as in the tradition of Yogananda, he was pronounced enlightened by his Master, and I believe he was given the green light to be a Guru. In the case of Maharsihi, there is no indication of this. His master was of the Swami order, and it would be in keeping with moving the tradition forward that the diciple who will be carrying forth the tradtion has taken vows of sanyas in the tradition of his master, was confirmed enlightened by his master and also apointed to be Guru. None of this took place in Maharishi’s case that I know of. People may say that Maharishi was not a Braman and therefore couldn’t but his master was from the south, I believe. The northern seat where the Swami order is held would have allowed for it. In any case, even this info is coming from the disciples and the air has not been cleared that I know of, from Maharishi. And if it has, I have never met one of his TM teachers, including myself that knows about it.

    Furthermore, one of his disciples did the same, Sri Sri Ravi shankar, declaring himself a Guru. I suppose we can put Deepak Chopra in the same group. So we have a Self declared Guru’s disciples also Self decalring.

    A clasic understanding of a Guru is they are there so that their disciples are in clarity. Clarity is an attribute of higher states of consciousness as well. What good is the Guru if the students are walking around in confusion? There are many more casualties than the 6 suicides I know about. Maharihsi is invited to clear the air about all this but that seems unlikely to happen as he is too busy saving the world to be concerned with this.

    This reminds me of sending off the boys to die in war for our freedom. This is not wise and a hefty price to pay for those bennefiting , in my opinion. Plus how can he save the world with the good vibrations of confused students? The formula is these confused students, who think they will get a cosmic ego, will save the world by practicing yogi flying in large groups.

    The most senior of these students are quite tucked away. I know some of them and it is not hard for me to recognized confusion so keeping them tucked away will save on the embarrassement.

    Maharishi, come clean on all of this- clear the air. Right to the point. How is it you are carrying forth the tradition of your master when he has not appointed you Guru or confirmed your enlightenment?

    The students who have remained are in awe of the capabilities of Maharishi. He is no doubt like Bill Gates in his skills at running an international organization with very cleaver business moves. This what appears to be super human behavior, and even the complicated speaches and quoteing of scripture and all the other things does not address my issue I have brought up here. That simply is the way the tradition works, there is no other way. One doesn’t declare themselves enlightened and a Guru, the Guru does this.

    Ron

  3. Good points, tobe. The new age needs to be debunked just as vigorously as traditional religion.

    In some ways the new age is worse, because of their abusive co-opting of scientific jargon.

    I think meditation can be valuable. But only when kept in perspective. There’s no mumbo jumbo or contacting alternate realities. It should be viewed as a conscious and intentional manipulation of one’s own brain states to achieve a desired mental result, nothing more.

  4. I also write as one with considerable experience of Transcendental Meditation, having spent the best part of three years, in my younger days, working unpaid for the movement in Switzerland and Germany, unpaid. I no longer meditate.

    I agree with much of the article above, but would argue that while people are subject to confirmation bias http://skepdic.com/confirmbias.html there is more than that involved.

    Teachers of Meditation will tell people – because they have been so told, and believe – that meditation and hypnosis have nothing in common. I have come to believe otherwise.

    The teaching of Transcendental Meditation puts people into a suggestible state, which they can then recapture in their private meditations.

    Sometimes things are not smooth. When something internal happens, like headaches, or bodily tics, or when external things do not seem to show ‘Nature’s Support’, then often a meditator will go back to the teacher to have their practise checked.

    The checking procedure will also put people (including the checker) into a suggestible state. The meditation will generally subjectively seem particularly deep.

    In the suggestible state following a check, the meditator will be told – quite sincerely – that something good is happening. The tics and headaches can be put down to ‘unstressing’ – getting rid of accumulated stress, and bad external things happening can be attributed to ‘burning karma’ – a phrase I heard many times.

    A win-win situation for the meditation memes – if everything seems fine, something good is happening, if not – then still something good is happening.

    But what is really happening? My view is that people are voluntarily putting themselves into a dissociated state during meditation, and this is not really a good idea at all, even though it can feel pretty good.

    I’d urge meditators and potential meditators to have a good look at Joe Kellett’s website http://www.suggestibility.org/index.htm

    I’ve had some email correspondence with Joe, and, without dotting every i or crossing every t, am in broad agreement with what he has to say in his site.

    David B

  5. Nice to see an article criticising beliefs other than the Abrahamic ones, which frankly we all know far too well.

    I wonder if the rational criticism of other belief systems in this way allows Christians to see the flaws in their reasoning (or lack thereof). I’m ever hopeful. 🙂

  6. Good point, James Bradbury, I often wonder the same. It’s my hope too that when they see the superstitious nature of others’ beliefs they’ll rethink their own.
    Sadly, I’m often reminded of just how strong the delusion is. It creates a double standard that the carrier doesn’t realize. Allowing their own superstitions to escape the harsh light of reason while at the same time laughing at, say, the unprovable historical assertions of Mormonism or the way Islam contradicts the OT, even while claiming it as the foundation of the religion, as an “Abrhamic” faith.
    Xians completely ignore the fact that Xianity is just as much a contradiciton of Judaism while claiming they follow the same god, and that OT pseudo-history and NT mirales are just as unprvovable as the tellings of the Nephites et al. in the BOM.
    Damn…yet another critique of Abrahamic relig’s…I’ll stop there.

    I have considered trying meditation as a practice to reduce stress and increase focus. But, it’s hard to separate the true benefits from the hype since so much spiritual baggage accompanies any discussion of the topic. I’m not sure TM is the same as what I’m thinking about, though. Also, I remember reading that it can even have harmful psychological side-effects because long-term deep meditating changes brain chemistry. Also, there’s this site: behind tm facade

  7. Did anyone else find that their eyes just glazed over while reading Ron’s comment? Truth, it doesn’t matter in the slightest who declared whom to be enlightened. What matters is whether the technique works and whether there’s evidence for its claims.

    Aren’t the TM people the ones who claim they can learn to fly? I’d love to see another post in this series addressing that. 🙂

  8. @ Ebonmuse

    Did anyone else find that their eyes just glazed over while reading Ron’s comment?

    I’m relieved to hear you say that, I thought it was just me.

    Aren’t the TM people the ones who claim they can learn to fly?

    Their Sidha program is often referred to as Yogic flying. They had to issue an acknowledgement in the 70’s, I think, that it wasn’t actually levitation (they just sort of skid along in the yoga position). They made a rare mistake of actually making a clearly testable, falsifiable claim, and look what happened.

    @ Spanish Inquisitor

    Interestingly, at the same time, one of my roommates, who was in a pre-med program, was involved in a lab experiment where they compared TM with simple relaxation techniques. I don’t remember the details, but the basic conclusion was that you could obtain similar benefits from simple breathing and other relaxation techniques. In my opinion, just closing your eyes and clearing your mind in a quiet room is helpful. I’ve done it since, but anytime I try to use my mantra, I get a headache again.

    You’ve hit on something I intend to write about in a later article of the series. As I understand it, this is what most independant studies on TM show. Of course, if the TM movement endorsed that view, they wouldn’t be able to justify their fees.

  9. Their Sidha program is often referred to as Yogic flying. They had to issue an acknowledgement in the 70’s, I think, that it wasn’t actually levitation (they just sort of skid along in the yoga position). They made a rare mistake of actually making a clearly testable, falsifiable claim, and look what happened.

    Okay, that’s hilarious. Do they still try to justify it as being some sort of flying? Because really, “just sort of skidding along in a yoga position” doesn’t sound like something with a lot of point to it.

  10. @ Lynet

    They don’t maintain the claim that it’s actually phsyically flying, I don’t think. It’s supposed to be a deeper form of transcendental consciiousness. They also believe that when lots of them do it in one place, it brings peace to war torn areas. That, I will definitely be writing about.

  11. Thoughtful post, Toby. I admire your courage in tackling something from your past in this way. Readers may also be interested in TM-Free Blog and Trancenet for more debunking information.

    J.

  12. The links in John Knapp’s comment above don’t seem to work.

    However I found tm free blog via google, and there is a load of stuff there that I didn’t know about.

    David B

  13. Whoops! I do that all the time. Sorry! TM-Free Blog and Trancenet. These links should work.

    J.

  14. I found this article sane and thoughtful. Perhaps I can add a bit to helping others understand where some of the magical thinking underlying TM comes from. I have studied Hinduism quite extensively over many years and researched the Vedas. TM is in many ways a concoction made up by Mahesh “Yogi” with ingredients which he gathered from his previous apprenticeship as assistant to a Hindu religious figure, the Sankaracharya, but which he modified to fit what a gullible public could swallow to bring him fame, wealth, and most of all power – the very antithesis of the traditional Hindu holy man who would seek wisdom through renouncing the things of the world.

    The first important point is that there is no such thing as “Vedic wisdom”. The four Vedas are collections of liturgical hymns from about B.C. 1500-1000 as composed in the north of India. They reflect their times and the people. A key concept in Vedic times was “rta” or natual order, a harmony which pervades and underpins the whole universe and which is at times stated in the Vedas as equivalent to “truth”. Truth was not considered in the modern scientific sense as correspondence to objective evidence, but as both what exists as potential and what could be created through special ritual procedure and sacred chants, aided by a chemical stimulant – soma. Mediated by soma and liturgical chant, often after fasting or deprivation of sleep, the participants in Vedic ceremonies believed themselves in the presence of the gods of their pantheon (of rain, fertility, friendship, power, justice, truth), who would bless them with the things they wanted -more cattle, victory against their enemies, etc.

    All this is perfectly understandable when put in the context of the times, thirty-five centuries or so back, and the level of understanding of objective reality possible for people at the time who were guided by shamanistic rites. Unfortunately, none of this makes too much sense in the world of today where natural processes are much better known and explained through the physical sciences. They can then only be considered as providing insight into an ancient civilization – not a set of beliefs for now.

    As many others have explained over the years, the “mantra” of TM is no more useful or helpful than any other word -what gives it potency is the belief of the TM practitioner. Words in Sanskrit (or any other language) do not magically alter external reality – just as no one actually levitates or flies around (as shamans believed they could – because of their drug-induced out of body experiences).

    The self-help industry is worth billions of dollars. But there is no regulation to keep out cranks, charlatans, and exploiters. The superstitious world of pseudoscience, magical thinking, and self-induced alternative states of consciousness (mostly through autohypnosis and regulation of breathing) found in India (along with all the substantive basis for modernity in its educated citizens) provides ideal material for the export of what the author Gita Mehta called “Karma Cola” – degenerate practices and beliefs for the West, as hamful in their way as the tobacco and caffeine products exported from the “advanced” societies. Equally pernicious is the traditional Eastern deprecation of personal identity, (“ego” as the root of evil and suffering) and the exaltation of the communal “self”. For insecure people grappling with the need for existential meaning and tranquillity, the whole “warm” and receptive atmosphere of a community of believers is an irresistible temptation. But this merger of identity only breaks down even more their fragile sense of self, and puts them at the mercy of the predatory “gurus”.

    As with other products, the best message to anyone interested in TM or any similar movement is: Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

  15. @ P. Hari Prasad

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed comment, it’s very much appreciated. 🙂

  16. After perusing the above TM-bashing from the tiny crowd of nattering nabobs, some of whom persistently appear on blogs and on their own websites (sites whose sole purpose and strange preoccupation is to defame and malign something as good and innocent as TM), I thought I would offer, for the sake of clear-minded, empirically oriented people who are out to gain a balanced view on the TM Program, a few points of reference. Of the 6 million people who have learned the TM technique over the years, yes, through shear statistics, there will be some people who dropped out, didn’t follow through, became disillusioned when their expectations didn’t match their progress, but I myself am one of those millions of satisfied customers who have experienced increased energy, creativity, bliss, and so many benefits from TM that I don’t have time to list them all. I can only direct you to the scientific research studies on TM, available at http://www.tmbusinss.org and other TM sites, and to the facts that:
    1. The NIH has granted $24 million for scientists to further their research on TM, in it’s applications to heart attack, stroke, normalizing blood pressure, and other areas of health. All the studies show profound positive results–life saving results.
    2. The American Psychological Association, the AMA, and the American College of Cardiology have all reported on the health benefits of TM in recent years, issuing press releases on the research, featuring TM papers at conferences, or publishing the studies in their journals.
    3. Of the 600+ scientific research studies on TM, over 200 of them have been published in leading, peer-reviewed journals, such as The International Journal of Neuroscience, Psychosomatic Medicine, Yale’s Journal of Conflict Resolution, the American Physiologists, and many others. These journals do not publish research that is not up to the highest standards of science. The climate is highly competitive and generally only the most sound and relevant studies are accepted for publication.
    4. The TM Organization is non-profit in the truest sense of the word. NO ONE in the organization has become wealthy off of teaching TM–from the bottom to the top. Anyone who has worked in the TM organization and been on the inside, such as myself, can testify to this. All the money goes to support the worldwide teaching activities, especially going to Africa and Asian countries where there is often no course fee at all.

    I have addressed just a few of the points raised in the above slinging of negativity. I can only encourage people considering TM to think critically, FOR THEMSELVES, examine the scientific research, listen to the TM introductory lectures, and use your common sense. There are a handful of people on the internet who do not want you to benefit from TM, who have their own agenda, and who feel threatened by the practice and by seeing other people rising to enjoy a better life through TM. Follow your own heart and mind and go for the bliss.

  17. @ tomwalabala

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, but you haven’t actually engaged with any of the points I made in the article. I suspect that, at best, you scan read it.

  18. You’re right, I only responded to the above responders. As far as Nature Support, you have your point of view, which I sympathize with. I know it must make sense to you. As for myself, in my own life I have directly seen the growth of support of nature, life getting better and better, increased fulfillment of desires, everything getting easier the longer I practice TM. The thing is, you can interpret that in so many ways, according to your own belief system. What makes support of nature a comprehensible reality, I think, is to directly experience it’s source: Brahman, the Unified Field, whatever you want to call it. You say that this concept of nature support gives rose to an undeserved credit going to a probably non-existent source, as with many religious beliefs. If the concept of nature support were based entirely on faith, that would be the case. But I have experienced Brahman, the field of infinite intelligence as the basis of everything in the universe. I have experienced that deep within my own self is this substance of pure awareness that everything in the universe is made of. It is a field of pure bliss and knowingness. I could call it many things, but it is beyond words. It is the same field of Brahman that is described in all the Vedic texts, which tell its story with precision and exactly as I experience. Someone who prescribes solely to the superstition of materialism could argue that I’m imagining this and that all the rishis of upanishadic times were likewise deluded. That is why Maharishi has always invited scientists to explore the effects of TM, so that the process of diving into that transcendental field twice a day can be verified to be beneficial, to prove it’s a reality, for the good of everyone. But to really prove it, you have to experience it yourself because it is a subjective reality. Actually it is both subjective and objective, because it is where the two values meet and are one–hence it’s called the Unified Field. If you experience this field daily, and live it as an all time reality at the basis of your life, then Support of Nature is an easy concept to wrap your mind around. If you know that at the source of your actions is this field that nurtures and upholds all existence, that it is the home of all the laws of nature, that it is your own self and the self of everything, then seeing it as delivering to you the fruits of your desires is not so far fetched. Otherwise, to oppose the concept as empty and faith-based and imaginary is quite reasonable–the “waking state consciousness” explanation, as opposed to the experience of a higher state of consciousness where these concepts are not just concepts but experiential reality.

    You said laws of nature cannot be violated. I think you’re right, in a sense. But think a little deeper about what happens when you eat an entire case of M&Ms. You will get a stomach ache. If you eat a normal meal, you don’t get a stomach ache. The laws of nature being “violated” (with the case of M&Ms) are the laws governing digestion, which are there to process food and disperse nutrition throughout the body (another way of saying, “to uphold evolution,” but in a different sense of the term evolution, as you noted). You have the free will to eat whatever you want. Either way, whatever you eat, the inviolable laws of nature respond to your actions. It’s a matter of acting in accord with them, or opposing them. Even when you act in opposition to them, the inviolable laws are upholding your actions, allowing you to perform, so as you said, you are not violating the laws and you cannot really literally “violate” them, but you can act in accord with certain laws, or out of accord, and reap the results.

    By the way, to declare natural selection as the final say on the process of evolution might be quite a leap of faith. If you experience the Unified Field–a field of perfect, all-knowing intelligence at the basis of the universe–it sort of puts a new twist on the concept of evolution, just as experiencing Samadhi (pure consciousness) puts a new twist on the discussion of consciousness being an epiphenomenon of the brain.

    All the negative talk above about TM, it’s so contrasting from my experience. I just wanted to represent another, more positive view here for the sake of someone who may visit this site who is still innocent and open to TM not being the lame and shallow thing that some of the people above make it out to be. Thank you for the opportunity.

  19. Hello,

    It was one year ago since I wrote my comment- I am still in my path with my Guru, things are going well.

    I would still maintain it is all the difference in the world for one truly seeking enlightenment to be working one to one with a Guru. It is a unique path I am on in that the guru works via internet, phone and of course in person. The path must be practical according to my Guru, and I attest to that. One of the 6 enlightened in the path here is a housewife with 3 babies that has only met my Guru once in person. If the path were not practical, enlightenment would not have occured for that one.

    These writings will not bring about any clarity, it is in the actualization of working with the Guru that the clarity comes about. There is a transmission possible which is only known and understood by the student being worked with- this is a matter of which student and which Guru- for a very ripe student working with an enlightened Guru, this would possibly bring about the most noticeable transmission and most rapid progress for unfolding enlightenment.

    Ron Fried

  20. Not sure how I ended up here, but I thought I’d leave leave some of my outside opinions that might give some scope on the topic.

    First of all, If TM is all it’s cracked up to be why not teach it for free on the internet. The fact that that they sell it to you through meetings and seminars should be evidence enough of fraud. This is the inforamtion age FFS. It’s obvious that someone’s trying to make money off people that need direction in their lives. That wall of text that tomwalabala posted is obviously propaganda that may as well have been copy and pasted straight from the official TM site.

    If taking time each day to meditate helps you focus I’m all for it, but I think where people are going astray with this is the need to feel like thay are a part of a greater community of like minded individuals. This flawed concept has plagued mankind throughout history with all religions new and old and will always be used to exploit people for money or social power.

    Sure, Millions of dollars are used to research the positive effects of TM, but really so-called doctors and scientists (who are obviously practicioners of TM) are just wrighting their own paychecks.

    That’s my two cents anyways.
    Peace

  21. Hi guys,
    Just a few words of support for TM. I too am one of the millions of happy TM’ers who practice it each day and reap the tangible rewards and benefits. Regarding the mis-information about TM research I wanted to say that there are more than 600 studies on TM and related programs researched in over 20 countries. 350 of these studies were performed by scientists who do not practice TM. In addition most of these studies have been peer reviewed by other scientists and published in over 100 reputable scientific journals. So there is no ground for dismissing TM’s very solid foundation of research. Also TM is a profound but delicate meditation technique that requires personal instruction and cannot be learned from a book or CD. So there is an non-profit organization and a fee. It is because of this structure that TM has reached 5 million people around the world. There is no other meditation technique in the world that comes close to this kind of worldwide acceptance and scientific validiation. Its the real deal folks! Peace everyone! Kbob

  22. To me the best thing about TM is the profoundly beneficial influence it has had on my life and the lives of my family. I am a third generation meditator, my children are the fourth generation. I learned TM after my parents and grandparents, and quite a few cousins learned as well. We are from all different ages and professions: lawyers, actors journalists, writers, physicians students and housepainters, but every day, twice a day, we close our eyes and practice the simple, effortless technique called Transcendental. Meditation, diving within and tapping into deep silence and our own inner potential. There is a reason why so many millions of people across the world have learned TM. Because, quite simply, it works. Here is a good website for information: http://www.doctorsontm.com/

  23. It would take a very long time to verify all of those 600 studies.
    I learned TM many years ago when the prices were much more reasonable(at least some of them were). I have no idea why the prices are so high now. I have heard several excuses, 1 from a guy who used to dine w/ TM leaders in Fairfield, Iowa, who claimed that some of the money goes: to TM teachers, to TM projects and the rest to India(possibly to Maharishi’s family).
    The term “non-profit” signifies that the organization is exempt from paying taxes. It can still make a profit(legally). I am very perplexed by the secrecy of the TMOrgan.

  24. The effect of TM is ok but not worth the many thousands of $ that so many pay. Nor is it clear exactly how the hudreds of millions of $ are all spent! The TM leaders may give vague explanations but how can these be verified?
    To learn the TM-sidhis($5000), teacher training($14000), TM-health spa/pancha karma(easily $1000), etc, could cost over $20000! How is possible meditators are not concerned about TM fees?

  25. “…they do it with varying degrees of the same components used by the rest of us … ” correct observation, no great insight there; and assuming one perceives all. You and I both experience the cause and effect of life, and utilize that to fulfill desire and intention. With learning, it becomes apparent that some underlying order must underlie cause and effect. Seeing ourselves in terms of cause and effect, could imply to some degree, an underlying order in ourselves. If and when the desire for more is acknowledged, it would seem practical to look into an ability to acquire more of that underlying order for the purpose of fulfilling ones desire. If repeated scientific inquiry shows positive results associated the means to tap that order, then that means would be objectively verified. But as THEY say, the proof lies in the eating of the pudding. One’s own potential. Up to you. No one can tell you to get more; not induced as matter of debate.

  26. In Romania something strange was happening. TM was teached in 1980 to 300 hundreds of personas many of them scientists or intelectual people like poets painters, philosophers. After some tine many doubt about that and even try to create a “more scientific” method they say. After a while TM was interdicted in Romania by Comunist Party and in centralized press was criticized like the „enemy of people”, persons who want to sell us to imperialists. At that time any person in the country was heard about that and colective consciousness was oriented now against TM. But in this country next ten years was a such decline of quality of life that you can not imagine. Normal TV shows was reduced to 2 hours a day political comunist party propaganda, electricity and heating sometimes cuted hours of even days. An amazing point is that they ironicaly criticized use of candles and in vedic ceremony but in few years all the county start using candles for light few hours a day. Normal food shops are in few year so empty that you are not able to identify what goods the are selling. It was even a joke: a customer ask: do you have cheeze? And the response was: here he do not have winde that place nearby they do not have cheeze. In that time comunist party even start to demolish churches. All ended in romanian revolution. I do not say the can be corelated. Can be a simple coincidence. Anyone can not claim this. But there are to many concidences like that. For example a neibghour country Bulgaria even if they had a velvet revolution to enter to democracy they have a better economy even if our country are almoust the same like culture religion and so. Coincidence: they have 60 TM teachers and we have no one resident. This coincidence can be significant or not. But I think we must be very atentive to not damage the whole world. Better to multiply reserches.

  27. I think everybody makes good points. I am going to try and not sound one way or the other, I know I will but I only will talk about my experience, for what it’s worth. I actually am a college football coach now (used to be a player) but before I came full circle I actually went to Maharishi University of management in Fairfield and graduated 2 years later. In my experience the university and movement felt like 2 separate things. I actually agree that there is probably corruption in the movement. I think it’s kinda weird and it never did justice in my opinion to the university and the great people that went there and taught there and mostly practiced TM there or the TM-Sidhis program. I can even remember once in a blue moon the top end people coming to visit our school with all-campus meetings and it was such a disconnect. It just felt off and different from the University. Although, I must say I don’t think the movement people are malicious or bad people or anything I just think that people carry them “selves”, egos, whatever we wanna call it with them, wherever they go. I liken it to that of any religion or business really, every part has it’s “bad” and it’s “good” just because people are high up or running a business or religion cult whatever doesn’t mean they know what the heck they’re doing, is going on or are good people. On a side note don’t religions usually ask for 10% of what ones makes. Anyways, who cares what it is really? It’s irrelevant, and more importantly it’s irrelevant to ones own experience with mediation, or TM. I do practice TM and have practiced “regular” meditation too, I think their both beneficial. Personally It’s hard to say my experience has been “good” or “bad” if that makes any sense. TM definitely relaxes me, brings clarity and overall just brings well being, especially to my body, it seems to really get rested. But on a higher note I think with any practice like this “bad” stuff comes out, and in my experience to be cleared and seen. Just like some therapy might do or what have you and for you intellectualls Carl Jungs “shadow”. The people in these threads seem very intelligent and probably are, yet if your really intelligent you will see that intelligence is tanted with “you” with our perceptions and our conditioning and experiences. So what’s really true? Our beliefs aren’t true. ironically mediatation is a tool to get out of the stream of you of your mind being you into a realm perhaps that someone above mentioned as pure consciousness or whatever we wanna call it. And if you don’t get that then really ponder it yourself. I’m not trying to prove anything or get anywhere I could care less. But I do feel from my experience that this realities exist despite our perceptions and egos about them.
    And as far as support of nature goes it’s an easy concept, it’s just things happening that you can’t explain how in the world you ran into your car mechanic that night when you just needed your car fixed the next day. I don’t know, again it takes an experience and again these happenings and synchronisms just seem to happen the more I’ve meditated.


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