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Transcendental Meditation (TM)

Transcendental Meditation (TM)

A popular Hindu meditation technique first taught in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Allahabad University physics graduate who, in the 1940s and 1950s studied among monks in the Himalayas. Emerging with his teachings in 1958, the Maharishi's transcendental meditation spread across the United States and Europe by the mid-1960s. Due largely to the endorsements of celebrities such as the Beatles, Jane Fonda, and Mia Farrow, TM became one of the first forms of Eastern meditative practices to receive widespread media attention in the West. Essentially, TM is a streamlined form of the ancient Hindu initiation of bestowing a mantra, or sacred Sanskrit word or phrase, for the pupil to meditate upon for a short period each day.

A number of personal and social benefits have been claimed as a result of meditating. In fact, the movement has cited 508 individual scientific studies conducted since the 1970s, measuring psychological and physiological differences between meditators and non-meditators. The reports laud the physical and mental benefits of transcendental meditation, citing increased creativity, broader comprehension, improved perception, lowered blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and decreased medical visits among the meditators.

In 1977, studies such as those conducted by Fales and Markovsky at the University of Iowa question the validity of claims made by TM studies. Particularly, the analysis examines the phenomenon known as the Maharishi Effect, which asserts the effect advanced TM meditators can exercise over the social serenity of local communities. The scientific work on TM has been criticized within the academic community for methodological flaws, vague definitions, and loose statistical controls. It has been argued that the effects attributed to TM are the same effects produced by any number of yogic and meditative techniques; this places TM in the context of goals and results of traditional meditation.

The TM movement has also been criticized for lifting the time-honored Hindu practice from its religious context, mass producing it as a contemplative quick-fix for western consumers. Critics have argued that TM is disjointed from the Hindu mysticism from which it emerged, as well as from the other great world religions that have emphasized the need for patient and continuing self-purification through spiritual disciplines in order to give integrity to spiritual growth or eventual transcendental consciousness.

Traditional Hindu mysticism regards meditation as a later stage in the program of continuing spiritual discipline, and passive meditation is considered secondary to active meditation in quality and results. Moreover mantra-diksha, or initiation, is not normally given until the aspirant has proven his or her fitness to engage in meditation. Hinduism also reserves its highest transcendental experiences for those who have properly fulfilled their social and religious obligations.

Criticisms aside, the five million TM participants (as asserted by the program) seem to attest to the everyday value of TM as a simple, natural means of relaxation and a feeling of well-being. The method has received worldwide endorsement at every level of society, including support from politicians, scientists, doctors, and members of the general public. Many have brought TM to the pragmatic world of business, asserting its positive affects on productivity, job satisfaction, and employee health in the workplace.

Sources:

Akins, W. R., and George Nurnberg. How to Meditate Without Attending a TM Class. New York: Crown, 1976.

Bloomfield, Harold M., Michael Peter Cain, and Dennis T. Jaffe. TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress. New York: Delacorte Press, 1975.

Chopra, Deepak, M.D. Creating Health. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1987.

Fales, Evan and Markovsky, Barry. "Evaluating Heterodox Theories." University of Iowa 1997. http://www.trancenet.org/. March 28, 2000.

Forem, Jack. Transcendental Meditation. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974.

Hemingway, Patricia D. Transcendental Meditation Primer. Philadelphia: McKay, 1975.

Kory, Robert B. The Transcendental Medication Program for Business People. New York: American Management Association, 1976.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. New York: Bantam, 1973.

Orme-Johnson, David W., and John T. Farrows, eds. Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program. Collected Papers 1. Seelisberg, Switzerland: Maharishi European Research University Press, 1977.

Kanellakos, Demetri P., and Jerome S. Lukas. Psychobiology of Transcendental Meditation: A Literature Review. W. A. Benjamin, 1974.

Scott, R. D. Transcendental Misconceptions. San Diego: Beta Books, 1978.

The Transcendental Meditation Program. http://www.tm.org/. March 28, 2000.

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Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation, service mark for a meditation technique and program founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and based on Vedic philosophy. Stressing natural meditation and the mental and physical benefits and personal development that could be achieved, Transcendental Meditation is said to help individuals achieve a higher level of consciousness. Brought by Maharishi from India to the West in 1959, Transcendental Meditation was a distinct subculture within the 1960s youth movement, attracting actress Mia Farrow, cultural philosopher Marshall McLuhan, and the Beatles, and continues to have many practitioners. See also meditation.

See A. Campbell, Seven States of Consciousness (1973); R. Roth, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Mediation (1987); D. Chopra, Return of the Rishi (1991).

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Transcendental meditation

Transcendental meditation. Taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and comprising ‘a specific and systematic mental technique which can be easily learnt and enjoyed by anyone, whatever his opinions or beliefs’. The Indian-based philosophy holds that this (mantra) technique leads practitioners to ‘the field of pure consciousness’. This alone ‘is the self-sufficient reality of life’. Transcendental meditation is widely used, especially in America where it enters into the worlds of education, business, and welfare. This is in accord with Maharishi's aim of transforming society, especially through the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment.

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transcendental meditation

transcendental meditation (TM) Meditation technique based partly on Hindu practice and rediscovered in the 20th century by an Indian spiritual teacher, Guru Dev (d.1958). After his death, his pupil the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced the technique to the West. Those who practise TM concentrate on and repeat a mantra over and over in order to become relaxed and achieve self-understanding. In physiological terms, TM decreases oxygen consumption and heart rate and increases skin resistance and alpha brain waves, yielding a relaxed mental state differing from sleep or hypnosis.

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Transcendental Meditation

Tran·scen·den·tal Med·i·ta·tion (abbr.: TM) • n. trademark a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices, promulgated by an international organization founded by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c.1911– ).

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Transcendental Meditation

TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION

Transcendental Meditation or TM is an artful combination of an initial simplicity of technique with a final complexity of theory and practice. It was introduced in the United States in the early 1960s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu monk with a degree in physics from Allahabad University. Maharishi studied Vedic teachings and the philosophy of Shankara in the Himalayas under Swami Brahmanand Saraswati ("Guru Dev"). The TM technique involves the silent repetition of a mantra or sound derived from the Vedic tradition, practiced 15 to 20 minutes twice daily, and is taught for a fee. In 1976 Maharishi introduced the TM-Siddhi program, which is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It stabilizes the experience of transcendental consciousness gained through TM and develops mind-body coordination. TM officials estimate that currently there are about 3.5 million TM practitioners worldwide, one million of whom are in the U.S.more than there are in India. There are about 50,000 practitioners of the TM-Siddhi program.

Unlike meditation techniques which emphasize the importance of effort and the enduring of painful sitting postures for extended periods of time, TM sees meditation as a relaxing and effortless technique which "mechanically" reduces stress and nervous excitation.

Maharishi contends that he is promoting science and not religion, but this is somewhat misleading. The vedas are Hindu religious documents, and Maharishi himself in 1963 characterized TM as an "approach to God realization." The theology being promoted is a scientifically informed and nonmonastic version of Shankara's Advaita Vedanta. As for the TM technique itself, it is quite similar to the practices advocated by John Cassian, the Hesychasts, the author of the cloud of unknowing, and, more recently, Dom John Main, OSB.

According to Maharishi's Vedic psychology, the TM technique exploits the natural tendency of the mind to seek greater happiness and intelligence. During the practice of TM the mind spontaneously attends to increasingly subtle levels of consciousness because they are increasingly attractive. The mind eventually begins to "transcend," i.e., leave behind mental activity and attain a fourth level of consciousness which is different from waking, dreaming, and sleeping. In 1963 Maharishi described this "transcendental consciousness" as a condition of "restful alertness." The idea of a fourth level of consciousness is at least as old as the Indian upanishads (prior to 500 b.c.), but Western scientific awareness and studies of such a state are new. From 1970 on, many articles appeared describing the physiology of the "wakeful hypometabolic state" which TM produces and the benefits that result. According to those studies, the practice of TM neutralizes deep-rooted stress, accelerates cognitive growth in children, facilitates the development of moral reasoning in adolescents, and improves the test scores of adults in the areas of fluid intelligence, field independence, and perceptual flexibility. Studies of the elderly indicate that TM improves learning ability, cognitive flexibility, systolic blood pressure, and longevity.

The TM program and the TM-Siddhi program are part of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, an integrated science of life which seeks to unify Vedic teachings with the ideas of modern science, especially unified field theories in physics. Another aspect of the Technology is Maharishi Aryuveda, a holistic system of medicine that emphasizes prevention, balance, and the restoration of harmony along with the development of consciousness. For social problems, Maharishi maintains that there is a collective consciousness which is ultimately based on the transcendental consciousness attained in TM. This transcendental consciousness in turn is a field of pure consciousness which is the unified field of natural law. According to this theory, one individual transcending to the unified field can influence the development of coherence and orderliness in the whole of society and the physical environment.

See Also: new religious movements; hinduism.

Bibliography: r. k. wallace, The Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field (Fairfield, Iowa 1986); Modern Science and Vedic Science 1 (January 1987), maharishi mahesh yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living (New York 1963). d. deniston, The TM Book (rev. ed. Fairfield, Iowa 1986).

[t. anderson]

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Transcendental Meditation

TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION

TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION . Beginning as a method discovered by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (b. 1911), Transcendental Meditation (TM) became an international movement in 1958, when it was presented as a scientific response and practical remedy to the various problems of modern life. This thrust was stressed even more when its founder and teachers denied that the movement was a religion, or that it had been founded as such. Instead, they argued that it was an easy technique that could be mastered by anyone. By using this method, a person could overcome ordinary problems such as mental and emotional stress and high blood pressure while obtaining greater relaxation, gaining greater physical energy and mental clarity, and achieving more advanced stages of consciousness. In spite of its many modern benefits, this new method of yoga claimed to be part of an ancient Hindu spiritual lineage.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was born Mahesh Prasad Varma on October 18, 1911 in Uttar Kashi, India, traced his spiritual heritage to the great Advaita Vedānta thinker Sankara (c. 788820), and beyond him to ancient Vedic literature. Maharishi studied for fourteen years with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (18691953) at the Jyotimath, a monastic community located high in the Himalayan mountain range of India, although he was never appointed successor to his own teacher. Before his student apprenticeship, Maharishi earned a college-level degree in physics and mathematics at Allahabad University in India. His educational background partially explains his tendency to wrap his message in scientific jargon and to stress the scientific advantages of his method. The Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) is, for instance, the official name of his belief system, which is conceived as dynamic due to its ever expanding and increasing nature.

The use of scientific language to convey a religious message accomplishes at least two objectives: (1) it gives the belief system legitimacy, and (2) it forms a cognitive connection to the contemporary Western worldview that is dominated by science. TM operates from the basic presupposition that there is a compatibility between Advaita Vedānta, the Vedas, and Western science. Since 1988 TM has, for instance, worked intensively to demonstrate the parallels between quantum physics and its method.

Mission to the West

Before making his mission to the West, Maharishi began his spiritual mission beyond India in April 1958 with a trip to Rangoon, Burma. He then traveled to Bangkok, Thailand; the island of Penang; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Singapore; Hong Kong; Hawai'i; and finally the U.S. mainland. On a subsequent journey in 1960 to Germany he opened nine yoga centers, and later that year he traveled to the Scandinavian countries, beginning with Norway, before going to Italy, Greece, and Nairobi, Kenya. Later trips were made to South America, which made his movement a truly global enterprise.

Maharishi's introduction of his spiritual discovery to the West was preceded by the efforts of Swami Vivekananda (18631902) and Yogananda (18931952). Vivekananada traveled to America to attend the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 and launched the Vedanta Societies, whereas Yogananda traveled to America to attend the International Congress of Religious Liberals, organized by the Unitarian Church in Boston in 1920, and established the Self-Realization Fellowship with more than 150 centers throughout the world. Following in their footsteps, Maharishi arrived in America in 1959 and lectured on yoga in San Francisco, with additional trips to Los Angeles, New York, London, and Germany. His movement was initially called the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which later became the name of the adult branch of the movement. The other wing of the movement was named the Students International Meditation Society (SIMS), established in 1964 in Germany. An early emphasis of the movement was its mission to college campuses, which was given a huge impetus in the mid-1960s when the British rock group the Beatles studied with the Maharishi in India. This event generated worldwide publicity for his movement. After his estrangement from the Beatles, the Maharishi initiated, instructed, and toured with the Beach Boys. Maharishi used his celebrity status with icons of popular culture to endear himself with the youth culture. By the 1970s, student centers could be found at over one thousand campuses. By the beginning of the 1980s the movement estimated that 1.5 million people had practiced Transcendental Meditation with a teacher. The college-campus focus of the movement culminated with the establishment of Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1974 on the campus of the bankrupted Parsons College.

Pushing the margins of science, Maharishi established the Maharishi European Research University in 1975 at two lakeside hotels on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. The purpose of the university was to research the effects of Transcendental Meditation and to determine the existence of higher states of consciousness. During the following year Maharishi envisioned his own world government with the ancient Indian Vedas as the basis of its constitution. He appointed ministers to various positions with titles like the Development of Consciousness, Prosperity, and Fulfillment and Health and Immortality. During the 1980s Maharishi began a program called TM-Sidhi with the purpose of teaching students to achieve yogic powers, such as the ability to fly or levitate. There was a public demonstration before 120 journalists in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 1986 that did not correspond with the media hype for the event and resulted in media ridicule of the movement. The members of the media were amused at the sham performance of students jumping on mats imitating acts of levitation.

Meditative Technique and Message

The meditative technique of Maharishi is grounded in a Neo-Vedānta metaphysical philosophy in which an unchanging reality is opposed to an ever-changing phenomenal world. Maharishi's book Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation (1963) expresses his basic philosophical position. The unchanging reality is equated with Being, which represents a state of pure existence that is omnipresent, unmanifested, and transcendental. Not only is Being beyond time, space, causation, and ever-changing phenomena, it remains unrecognized by human beings because their minds do not realize their essential identity with Being, since minds are captive to the outward-projecting senses. The essential nature of Being is further identified with absolute blissful consciousness, which radiates from Being. Maharishi compares Being to the ocean, upon which there are many waves. These waves are like the field of continually changing phenomena. What is really important for Maharishi is for human beings to realize Being, because without this realization a person's life is without foundation, meaningless, and fruitless. This realization is within the capabilities of everyone by means of TM.

This form of meditation is intimately connected to a person's breath (Prāa), which is an expression of Being in the sense that it represents a tendency of the unmanifested to reveal itself. The breath represents the latent power of Being within a person. As the nature of Being, breath plays a role as the motivating force of creation and evolution. The breath can be harnessed and used to help the mind of a person realize Being directly. This is accomplished by Transcendental Meditation, which enables a person to extricate oneself from a state of relative experience, transcend ordinary thinking, and gain the permanent state of Being. This means that a particular mind loses its individuality. It becomes instead a cosmic mind that is omnipresent, pure, and eternal.

Before achieving this cosmic state of mind, the human mind is like a seed that produces a tree. What this analogy attempts to show is the interdependent nature of the mind and karma (action). It is impossible for action to occur without a mind. In turn, it is karma that produces the mind, which in turn creates more karma. This suggests that karma owes its existence to the mind, and in turn creates the mind. By means of karma, the original, pure consciousness of Being is transformed into conscious mind. If karma represents what is temporary and perishable, Being is its exact opposite because it represents eternal unity. Karma creates diversity within the unity of Being.

Within the context of this metaphysical edifice, the technique of Transcendental Meditation involves saturating the mind with Being by harnessing one's breath and making it harmonious with the rhythm of nature and cosmic life. Maharishi emphasizes the naturalness of his technique. Moreover, the technique is a simple, easy, and direct way to development one's mental capabilities and latent potentialities. In contrast to ancient ascetic traditions of India, in TM it is not necessary to renounce the world or withdraw from one's family. That is an ascetic practice which can be performed within the context of the ordinary activities of the world.

Instruction in the technique of meditation stresses that it is an easy and natural process. Students are instructed to devote twenty minutes each day to practice, ideally in the morning and early evening. At the beginning stage, a student does not have to be convinced that the method will work. What is important is the correct practice. If a student performs the technique properly, positive results will follow automatically. The proper technique involves seven steps. The initial step involves attending a introductory lecture that is intended to prepare a person for what is to follow. In the second step, the theory of Transcendental Meditation is presented through a preparatory talk. The third step involves an interview with the teacher, at which time a student is given a sacred mantra (repetitive formula) that is personally fitted to a person, who is not to reveal it to others. By focusing on the mantra, persons are able to concentrate their attention on it. The final steps involve periodic verification and validation of a person's experiences by returning to and checking with a teacher.

Maharishi identifies seven levels of consciousness, with the final one culminating in a state of unity. The fifth state represents a cosmic consciousness that represents an awareness of Being even after the cessation of meditation, whereas the fourth stage stands for the transcendental state, which is a state of pure consciousness described as beyond the previous state of waking, dream, and deep-sleep consciousness. The fifth stage is an expansion of the pure consciousness achieved on the fourth level from an individual to a wider cosmic dimension. The sixth state is called God consciousness. Traditional yogic postures are unnecessaryin TM a person can simply sit upright and comfortably on a chair with eyes closed. The movement tends to stress that anyone can learn this simple, effortless, and easy mental technique.

From the perspective of Maharishi, this yogic technique and Neo-Vedānta metaphysical edifice are not a form of Hinduism. In fact, Transcendental Meditation is not a religion at all. By de-emphasizing its Hindu roots, stressing its nonreligious nature, and focusing on the scientifically demonstrable value of the technique, TM created a successful message that was embraced by many spiritual seekers and a scientifically minded audience. The movement used scientific means to demonstrate how the technique calmed the mind, increased awareness, relaxed the body, and lowered metabolism.

Millennial Expectations

When Maharishi initially arrived in the United States, he stated at a press conference his rationale for coming to America. He confessed that he had learned a secret, swift, deep form of meditation that he was now motivated to share with the world for the spiritual regeneration of its inhabitants. A few years later, he established the Spiritual Regeneration Movement of Great Britain, located in northern London. In 1975 Maharishi announced the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment. His bold and optimistic pronouncement suggested the commencement of a period during which humans can reach their fullest potential and that will be characterized by boundless happiness, harmony, peace, and personal fulfillment. This new dawn will also represent a period when science will verify and validate the teachings of the Maharishi. Moreover, even those who did not meditate would enjoy the benefits of this new age. The Maharishi took this message on tour to various countries. The impetus for such millennial hope continued in December 1983January 1984, when he created the Taste of Utopia Assembly, which was staged at Maharishi International University. The purpose of this gathering was to unite Vedic wisdom and the practice of the TM-Sidhi program. Their fusion would usher into existence a utopian age of peace and prosperity. This vision represented a fuller expression of a utopian hope embodied within the movement from its earliest moments.

As Transcendental Meditation grew in the awareness of ordinary citizens, many tended to associate it with New Age religion. During the 1960s and 1970s, people were experimenting with drugs like LSD to induce altered states of consciousness and bliss. Within the context of the drug culture and New Age religion, TM appeared to ordinary people to be offering similar results. Thus, numerous practitioners of various forms of New Age religion and former drug experimenters were attracted to the TM movement because of its apparent kinship with these other forms of spiritual experimentation. Besides such perceived forms of kinship among TM, drug culture, and New Age spirituality, Transcendental Meditation shared with New Age spirituality a holistic view of life. This was a form of thinking and living that attempted to extricate itself from all forms of dualism, such as the dichotomy between body and mind. The Transcendental Meditation movement also intersected with New Age spiritualities with respect to organic and vegetarian dietary practices and alternative forms of medicine. In 1985, for instance, Maharishi launched the World Plan for Perfect Health along with a medical institution, the World Center for Ayurveda, in India.

The Transcendental Meditation movement promised a transformation of both the individual and society by means of an expansion of consciousness to unimagined states. In short, TM aimed to create a perfect society inhabited by perfect individuals. The movement offered a realized eschatology for a transformed mode of living in the present moment that promised a horizon of economic well-being, psychological and somatic healing, peace, and mental comfort.

The Transcendental Meditation movement has attracted disenfranchised, disaffected, and disenchanted seekers looking for spiritual experience, healing, community, a general sense of well-being, and happiness because of the decline of community, the rise of impersonal organizations, alienation, fragmentation of life, secularism, competing multicultural messages, and religious pluralism. With the promise of a perfect society, TM offered a personal and private form of spirituality for many disenchanted seekers.

See Also

Millenarianism; New Age Movement; New Religious Movements; Vedānta; Vivekananda; Yogananda.

Bibliography

Eck, Diana L. A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation. New York, 2001. A look at the impact of Eastern religions on America based on research for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

Ellwood, Robert S., Jr. Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1973. A useful reference work on new religions and New Age cults that is dated in some places.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation. New York, 1963; reprint, New York, 2001. This book sets forth his basic philosophy, yogic method, and its connection to science.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary: Chapters 16. London, 1967. Maharishi's incomplete commentary on this important text from his own perspective.

Rothstein, Mikael. Belief Transformations: Some Aspects of the Relation between Science and Religion in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Aarhus, Denmark, Aarhus University Press, 1996. A comparative study of TM and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The author explores the former movements embrace of the scientific world-view and the latter movements reject of it.

Russell, Peter. The TM Technique. London, 1976. A study of the method and levels of consciousness by a member of the movement who studied with Maharishi.

Carl Olson (2005)

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Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation

Popularly known as Transcendental Meditation (TM) and officially called the World Plan Executive Council, this neo-Hindu meditative practice eschews classification as a religious group by drawing attention to its scientific basis, the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI). Research on TM reveals that its meditative technique brings about a relaxed state of mind, which has been verified using scientific methodology, and hence the practice yields benefits that are not necessarily religious. However, TM is unequivocally based in classical Hindu religious traditions and espouses a religious message that is outlined in the 1962 text The Divine Plan: Enjoy Your Own Inner Divine Nature, published by the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. In 1978 critics who opposed the teaching of TM in public school districts of New Jersey won their case in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey. The court ruled that TM was based on religious principles and therefore should be banned from the public schools. TM is seminal among the Hindu and Buddhist teachings that came to the United States after World War II.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1911–), the principal exponent of TM, comes from Uttar-Kashi in the Himalayan region of India. He learned TM during thirteen years of rigorous study with Guru Dev in India. Before beginning his disciplined meditation practice, he had earned a B.S. in physics at Allahabad University in India. Arriving in the United States on his first world tour in 1959, Maharishi initiated the growth of his movement during the 1960s. His plan was to bring the Age of Enlightenment by disseminating the meditative practices among new members. His World Plan, announced in 1972, inaugurated this mission to spread the Science of Creative Intelligence around the world. Although the meditative technique gained fame in the 1960s when some well-known entertainers such as the Beatles, Mia Farrow, and Jane Fonda practiced it, membership has decreased dramatically since the late 1970s. However, there are still numerous TM centers throughout the United States and Europe, and the international headquarters is in Switzerland. While Maharishi has no legal affiliation with the World Plan Executive Council, his teaching inspires several contemporary institutes and agendas. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, Maharishi International University offers courses from a TM perspective and awards both bachelor's and master's degrees. Adjacent to the university is the Maharishi Center for Ayur-Veda. The Natural Law Party, which the council sponsors, supported a U.S. presidential candidate several years ago, and the party is now active in the United States and Europe.

TM practice has its roots in the Indian traditions of Yoga, and the specific variety of Yoga that Maharishi teaches is a simple technique of sound meditation (mantra-yoga) that uses a mantra, a terse sound, the repetition of which is the vehicle to purify one's awareness. The meditator begins to practice after receiving his or her private mantra during an initiation ceremony that includes acknowledgment of Hindu deities and a lineage of gurus. The goal of the practice is to calm the fluctuations of the mind through concentration on the sacred mantra. Meditating from one-half hour to an hour every day not only promises to bring tranquillity of mind but also promotes increased productivity, creativity, and general well-being. More specifically, widespread research studies at universities worldwide have documented the positive role of TM practice in reducing alcohol and drug abuse and raising intelligence quotients.

Maharishi's book The Science of Being and Art of Living outlines the cosmology of TM that undergirds the meditative practice. According to him, "the unbounded field of the Being ranges from the unmanifested, absolute, eternal state to the gross, relative, ever changing states of phenomenal life" (Mahesh Yogi 1963, p. 31). The practice of TM "brings the life to a state of eternal freedom, supplementing it with unlimited creative energy and harmonizing the abstract absolute values of divine Being with the concrete physical material values of day-to-day human life" (p. 81). The goal is God-realization.

Although membership statistics for the World Plan Executive Council are not known, the council reports that more than a million people have taken basic TM courses in the United States alone. TM peaked in 1976, when it initiated the most people, and thereafter it began to decline rapidly. Currently, active meditators number in the tens of thousands.

See alsoGuru; Hinduism; Meditation; Practice; Yoga.

Bibliography

Bainbridge, William Sims, and Daniel H. Jackson, "The Rise and Decline of Transcendental Meditation." In The Social Impact of New Religious Movements, edited by B. Wilson. 1981.

Campbell, A. The Mechanics of Enlightenment: An Examination of the Teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. 1977.

Emery, C. Eugene. "Maharishi Followers Try Presidential Run." Skeptical Inquirer 17 (1993): 122–123.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. The Divine Plan: Enjoy YourOwn Inner Divine Nature. 1962.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. Life Supported by Natural Law. 1986.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. The Science of Being and Art ofLiving. 1963.

Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi. The Treasury and the Market. 1961.

Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults inAmerica. 1986.

Melton, J. Gordon. "World Plan Executive Council—U.S." In Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th ed. 1996.

Patton, John E. The Case Against TM in the Schools. 1976.

Marcy Braverman

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