Vajra Fist

The TM rabbit hole

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My brother asked me about a couple of months ago if I'd tried transcendental meditation. He was considering paying nearly a thousand pounds for a personalised mantra from a TM teacher. 

 

I vaguely remember a few ex-TM teachers who had broken away from the group were offering the method for a heavily discounted price, effectively free. So I downloaded them, and sent them over to him.

 

https://www.mountsoma.org/meditation/

 

http://www.natural-stress-relief.com/

 

Then out of curiosity, I decided to give it a try. 

 

I found it quite pleasant. Where normal mindfulness meditation would leave me peaceful, but somehow vacant, this mantra meditation seemed to activate the parts of my brain linked to creativity and intelligence. 

 

Then I started reading a bit about TM. My own experience with cults has made me incredibly sceptical now about gurus, but compared to the likes of Yogi Bhajan or Osho, Maharishi always seemed quite benign. Yes there are accusations he slept with a few female students, but he never sexually assaulted anyone.

 

But I always found it a bit objectionable that a movement so geared toward world peace would made its methods so exclusive. A basic mantra costs between £295 to £725. Then you can pay for more advanced mantras, or apparently up to $40,000 for siddhis like 'yogic flying'

 

 

Also, if you make a donation of $1 million, you can apply to be a 'raja', or national representative of your country within the TM organization.

 

The whole thing is fairly strange, but has always seemed relatively harmless. If you have the mantra and it works, then you can just use that and stay away from the culty aspects of the group.

 

Then I watched this incredible film. 

 

 

One of the highlights of it was an interview with the head of a monastery in India, who was a student while Maharishi was there. This guy said Maharishi was a book keeper and didn't receive any training as a priest. He said the man Maharishi claimed as a teacher (Guru Dev) refused all forms of payment in exchange for teaching.

 

And he told the interviewer: "What you have learned from Maharishi will not bring you spiritual progress."

 

A lot of people who've practiced TM or mantra meditation for a long time say they have experienced higher states of consciousness, or bliss, but I don't believe anyone in the movement has attained anything approaching enlightenment.

 

I'm curious what the Bums take on TM is.

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Just as an aside...When I saw this this intriguingly titled thread, I had an idea what it might be about.  I was very wrong.  ;)

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My sole experience with TM happened when I was in high school.

Two friends and I took LSD (my first time) and went to a TM lecture at our high school.

The acid kicked in about 30 minutes into the 2 hour presentation. 

Needless to say it was a blissful state of consciousness!

The presenters were visibly annoyed by our uncontrollable giggling but kept their cool and didn't ask us to leave...

We then walked about 5 miles to my buddy's house and stayed there the rest of the night, and a wonderful and memorable night it was.

Interestingly, my brother considered trying TM recently until they told him the price of a mantra.

I taught him some basic meditation for free so he didn't pursue TM.

 

PS - yogic "flying" 

:lol:

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3 minutes ago, steve said:

The acid kicked in about 30 minutes into the 2 hour presentation. 

 

"I'll remember your face"

 

 

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I didn't realize that was a Terry Gilliam film!

Good stuff

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14 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

Just as an aside...When I saw this this intriguingly titled thread, I had an idea what it might be about.  I was very wrong.  ;)

 

Yes, there's a difference between TM‚ĄĘ and TM the abbreviation (which I never thought of or anticipated when years ago I took my¬†virtual taoist name -- and was shocked when someone used the abbreviation¬†for the first time -- but then got used to it).¬†

 

My only exposure to¬†TM‚ĄĘ was via a friend who was one of the early¬†practitioners.¬† He later moved on¬†to the original source,¬†advaita, and was into that hook, line and sinker.¬† I remember finding it somewhat peculiar, since he was Japanese American and an expert on traditional Japanese cuisine, of which I was (and remain) an aficionado -- yet completely uninterested in either zen or shinto (let alone taoism) whose principles are built thereinto.¬† On second thought, it wasn't peculiar at all, considering my own food preferences don't necessarily reflect my spiritual leanings (and if they did have to align, I'd probably convert to something¬†like Russian-Islamic Shintoism.)¬†¬†

 

I remember him telling me of how the hopping on the butt in¬†TM‚ĄĘ was practiced with the goal of learning to hover...¬† fake it till you make it sort of thing.¬† It was funny to envision a whole group of people butt-hopping toward enlightenment, I regret¬†never having seen it first hand.¬† ¬†¬†¬†

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I¬īd never pay thousands for a secret mantra but I¬īm a sucker for novel fitness routines and would happily pay $50 to attend a butt-hopping workshop.¬† Such a workshop would be sure to attract an interesting crowd, justifying the price of admission for the networking opportunities alone.¬† Every day the news seems more and more grim and¬†butt hopping -- perhaps in conjunction with laughing yoga -- could be the perfect antidote.¬†¬†

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I know a few people who've been associated with the TM movement. I agree, the price tag is very high. But the method is effective from what I heard. 

 

Two famous members from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's inner circle of disciples are Deepak Chopra and Sri Sri Ravishankar. Both have developed organizations which have massive following -- and are responsible for mainstreaming many of the things that were taught in the TM tradition. 

 

While this might be hagiographical, this Wikipedia page outlines MMY's background/lineage -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maharishi_Mahesh_Yogi

 

He certainly has the background -- and iinm, he was selected to become the Shankaracharya (head pontiff) of the Jyotir Math - one of the four main seats of Hinduism established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD.

 

I practice Sri Sri Ravishankar's Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and it is very powerful. I suppose that TM is pretty powerful too. Many western "awakened" people have been TM students.

 

It really boils down to one's proclivities and karmic predilection when it comes to the success/failure in pursuing any given spiritual path. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dwai said:

I practice Sri Sri Ravishankar's Sudarshan Kriya Yoga

 

I kept meaning to ask you if the kriya you've spoken of practicing is Sudarshan Kriya. I read about this in James Nestors book and looked into it, but apparently its a similar situation, with £300 to learn and further expenses for more advanced pranayama. Will drop you a message to chat about this rather than derailing the thread. 

 

1 hour ago, dwai said:

He certainly has the background -- and iinm, he was selected to become the Shankaracharya (head pontiff) of the Jyotir Math - one of the four main seats of Hinduism established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD

 

Actually it is the current shankaracharya of the Jyotir Math, Swami Swaroopananda, who was interviewed in the film, saying that Maharaishi was never trained as a Yogi and his methods won't yield any spiritual progress. Reading between the lines, I wonder if he has as much of an issue with the fact the methods were taught openly or sold for high prices (rather than being offered for free).

 

Edit: he seems a fairly controversial figure himself, so who knows?

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaroopanand_Saraswati

 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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53 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

I kept meaning to ask you if the kriya you've spoken of practicing is Sudarshan Kriya. I read about this in James Nestors book and looked into it, but apparently its a similar situation, with £300 to learn and further expenses for more advanced pranayama. Will drop you a message to chat about this rather than derailing the thread. 

When I learned it, it was 100$ per head (back in 2003 or so). I think if one can afford it, it is a very powerful method to learn. I would ascribe the high price to the huge amount of community welfare/outreach programs the organization runs. 

53 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

Actually it is the current shankaracharya of the Jyotir Math, Swami Swaroopananda, who was interviewed in the film, saying that Maharaishi was never trained as a Yogi and his methods won't yield any spiritual progress. Reading between the lines, I wonder if he has as much of an issue with the fact the methods were taught openly or sold for high prices (rather than being offered for free).

 

Edit: he seems a fairly controversial figure himself, so who knows?

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaroopanand_Saraswati

 

I don't know much about him but I think he's the Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Peeth (which is located in Dwaraka, in Gujarat (western state in India) and not Jyotir Math (which is the one in North India, in the Himalayas). 

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Posted (edited)

the root "mantra" that can be used by itself and exists in both sound and silence before all other mantra is :  Om...

it's that simple and there is no charge except honesty and sincerity to begin with. 

Edited by old3bob
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, old3bob said:

the root "mantra" that can be used by itself and exists in both sound and silence before all other mantra is :  Om...

it's that simple and there is no charge except honesty and sincerity to begin with. 

 

That's the interesting thing. The mantra can be anything. Om is a good one, but the word 'one' is likely to be just as effective.

 

That was the mantra used by Herbert Benson, when he developed a method similar to TM called the Relaxation Response (with near identical results.)

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Relaxation_Response

 

For anyone curious, the 'personalised' mantras used by TM are listed here. 

 

http://minet.org/mantras.html

Edited by Vajra Fist
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, dwai said:

 

I don't know much about him but I think he's the Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Peeth (which is located in Dwaraka, in Gujarat (western state in India) and not Jyotir Math (which is the one in North India, in the Himalayas). 

 

He's also Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math. It's on the link above and here:

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3071031/Allahabad-court-rules-Vasudevanand-Saraswati-NOT-Shankaracharya-Jyotir-Mutt.html

 

He was a direct student of Brahmananda Saraswati (Guru Dev), while Maharishi was at the temple. He said that Maharishi wasn't taught anything at the time.

Edited by Vajra Fist
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55 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

That's the interesting thing. The mantra can be anything. Om is a good one, but the word 'one' is likely to be just as effective.

 

That was the mantra used by Herbert Benson, when he developed a method similar to TM called the Relaxation Response (with near identical results.)

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Relaxation_Response

 

For anyone curious, the 'personalised' mantras used by TM are listed here. 

 

http://minet.org/mantras.html

Personalized mantras contain a transmission by the teacher in the traditional context. While one can certainly pick a mantra for practice, a teacher who has unlocked the power of a mantra can accelerate a student’s growth by initiating them. 

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14 minutes ago, dwai said:

Personalized mantras contain a transmission by the teacher in the traditional context. While one can certainly pick a mantra for practice, a teacher who has unlocked the power of a mantra can accelerate a student’s growth by initiating them. 

 

While that is certainly true in some traditions, I hesitate to believe it is so in TM. Mantras are chosen based on the person's age and gender from the list above. 

 

While the puja may serve as a means to connect the practitioner to the tradition, I don't think there is anything special in the mantra itself - brain scans have been carried out comparing TM mantras to random words or sounds and found little difference. 

 

I also don't think it's the case that a teacher has unlocked the power of a particular mantra and conferred transmission, in the same way in vajrayana. For one, in most cases the TM teacher doesn't have the same mantra as the student. 

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Posted (edited)

If I send my partner to the grocery store to get milk, there¬īs a chance he¬īll come back with something called¬†nutri-leche.¬†¬†It¬īs a milk like product, something he remembers¬†fondly from his whole-foods deficient childhood, but to my way of thinking¬†it¬īs not¬†milk.¬† No farmhand has ever squeezed a cow¬īs udder and coaxed forth a warm stream of vegetable oil.¬† There¬īs a lactic magic to real milk that nutri-leche will never match, a magic something-something that can¬īt be duplicated by synthetic vitamins added in after the fact.¬† In the same way, I don¬īt believe that a random sound is equivalent to a special mantra lovingly passed from teacher to student.¬† Maybe I am wrong.¬† I guess I just want to believe in the power of certain sounds,¬† and more importantly, the power of certain relationships.¬† I want to believe that there¬īs a teacher who is¬†tapped into some sort of universal knowledge, who gets me on a deep down level that I don¬īt even get myself, someone who knows just the right sound for me.¬† That just might be a mantra worth paying for.¬†¬†

Edited by liminal_luke
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Saw a mantra on the internet yesterday from some bacon guru - "We smoke em, you eat em".

Sounds good to me.

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5 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

If I send my partner to the grocery store to get milk, there¬īs a chance he¬īll come back with something called¬†nutri-leche.¬†¬†It¬īs a milk like product, something he remembers¬†fondly from his whole-foods deficient childhood, but to my way of thinking¬†it¬īs not¬†milk.¬† No farmhand has ever squeezed a cow¬īs udder and coaxed forth a warm stream of vegetable oil.¬† There¬īs a lactic magic to real milk that nutri-leche will never match, a magic something-something that can¬īt be duplicated by synthetic vitamins added in after the fact.¬† In the same way, I don¬īt believe that a random sound is equivalent to a special mantra lovingly passed from teacher to student.¬† Maybe I am wrong.¬† I guess I just want to believe in the power of certain sounds,¬† and more importantly, the power of certain relationships.¬† I want to believe that there¬īs a teacher who is¬†tapped into some sort of universal knowledge, who gets me on a deep down level that I don¬īt even get myself, someone who knows just the right sound for me.¬† That just might be a mantra worth paying for.¬†¬†

 

Agreed. There's a certain absurdity in chanting an everyday word in English as a meditation object, like 'cheese', even it has been proven by brain scans to be as efficacious (in some cases more so) as a sankrit seed word.

 

The mantra I've been practicing comes from the Surya Ram method above. The word is one that was given to all males initiated into TM in the 1960s. So its probably the same one that old timers like David Lynch, Paul McCartney etc  are still using. 

 

https://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/tm

 

So in my case, I have a mantra transferred to me by a teacher who has unlocked the power of it, through millions of repetitions, with detailed verbal guidance. I got this for £4, rather than £750 from the TM organization. 

 

The only thing I'm lacking is the puja, or initiation ceremony. That could be worth the price, I don't know. 

 

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9 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

If I send my partner to the grocery store to get milk, there¬īs a chance he¬īll come back with something called¬†nutri-leche.¬†¬†It¬īs a milk like product, something he remembers¬†fondly from his whole-foods deficient childhood, but to my way of thinking¬†it¬īs not¬†milk.¬† No farmhand has ever squeezed a cow¬īs udder and coaxed forth a warm stream of vegetable oil.¬† There¬īs a lactic magic to real milk that nutri-leche will never match, a magic something-something that can¬īt be duplicated by synthetic vitamins added in after the fact.¬† In the same way, I don¬īt believe that a random sound is equivalent to a special mantra lovingly passed from teacher to student.¬† Maybe I am wrong.¬† I guess I just want to believe in the power of certain sounds,¬† and more importantly, the power of certain relationships.¬† I want to believe that there¬īs a teacher who is¬†tapped into some sort of universal knowledge, who gets me on a deep down level that I don¬īt even get myself, someone who knows just the right sound for me.¬† That just might be a mantra worth paying for.¬†¬†

 

Yes, so many of us want¬†are conditioned to believe there is someone who knows what we need, something magical ‚Äúout there,‚ÄĚ something inaccessible without a special relationship‚Ķ And it‚Äôs so easy for people to take advantage of that. How much truth is there to such notions?¬†

 

From the relative perspective, our side, it is very real and true. From the absolute perspective, the side we are trying to grasp, nothing is needed and no one can give us what we already, always are. It’s a frustrating and wonderful paradox.

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A mantra for reminding oneself of acting wisely and cautiously:

 

o-wa-ta-na-sai-am

 

Say aloud often, faster or slower as necessary.

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17 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

Mantra is better in some obscure language.  It is more effective. 

 

It makes them more effective at loosening our conceptual entanglement..

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5 minutes ago, Earl Grey said:

A mantra for reminding oneself of acting wisely and cautiously:

 

o-wa-ta-na-sai-am

 

Say aloud often, faster or slower as necessary.

So true, actually.

When I really know how much of a dick I can be, it stings far less when others point it out!

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4 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

Agreed. There's a certain absurdity in chanting an everyday word in English as a meditation object, like 'cheese', even it has been proven by brain scans to be as efficacious (in some cases more so) as a sankrit seed word.

 

That is assuming that a brain scan tells the whole story.

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