Transcendental Meditation

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The transcendental meditation technique, often referred to simply as TM, comprises a form of meditation.

Technique and Procedures

Proponents of TM have consistently marketed it as a simple, natural, effortless and easily learned mental technique practised for 15-20 minutes twice daily while sitting comfortably in a chair.

In essence, the technique comprises the silent mental repetition of a simple sound known as a mantra, allowing the repetition to become quieter and quieter during the course of the meditation. The TM movement encourages practitioners to keep the mantra private and never to repeat it aloud, since it has the purpose of moving inwards into the 'refined' levels of the mind. TM differs from most other forms of meditation in its goal of transcending the mantra (in fact, transcending all thought) to reach the state of self-awareness (samadhi).

The TM organisation has attempted to keep the precise method for choosing a mantra a secret, but ex-TM teachers have stated that mantra choice simply depends on the age of person at the time of initiation. If someone does the initiation again after (say) 5 years, at a different TM centre, without mentioning the former initiation, he/she will get a different mantra.

According to the TM organisation the mantras comprise meaningless sounds chosen to have a soothing effect upon the nervous system. Examining the full list of mantras issued by sources disassociated from the TM movement over the years shows that each mantra names one of the Hindu gods. This may concern anyone who already committedly practises another religion. However, the TM organization maintains that TM does not constitute a religion and that its practice remains compatible with all faiths.

Historical Development

In 1959 the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendantal Mediataion, started teaching TM to people all over the world, rather than just in India. Over four million people have learned the technique and the Transcendental Meditation organization has centers and facilities all around the world.

In its initial stages the Maharashi emphasised the religious aspects of the technique and operated under the auspices of an organisation named the 'Spiritual Regeneration Movement'. But the requirements of the West made him adopt a more secular approach in the 1970s, renaming the movement and emphasising relaxation, relief from stress, and improved personal effectiveness as TM's primary benefits.

The Maharishi continues to act as the global coordinator of the teaching of TM. He resides in Vlodrop in the municipality of Roerdalen in the Netherlands.

Effects and Claims

Electroencephalograph (EEG) analysis indicates that practitioners doing TM exhibit characteristics of an alleged fourth state of consciousness known as "restful alertness", and distinct from waking, dreaming, or sleeping. No other method has ever demonstrably produced this state.

The movement referenced many medical and sociological studies to strengthen the scientific acceptability of their claims, although critics have subsequently questioned the independence and methodological fitness of such studies. More recent research also documents harmful effects in a minority of long-term practitioners, including troubling physical tics, emotional volatility and inability to concentrate.

In the late 1970s the claims for the TM technique and associated advanced 'Siddhi Techniques' became more radical and increasingly targeted at existing adherents. Propounded benefits include a measurable decreased crime rate in cities with 1% of the population practising TM, or the square root of that number practising the TM-Sidhis program (the Maharishi Effect), and extraordinary effects including levitation.

According to the proponents of TM, the practice helps in attaining "higher consciousness", which every human being allegedly possesses in common, and which allegedly interacts with our daily choices. Proponents also assume that in daily existence, humans of flesh and blood do not stand as close to this higher consciousness as they could do. TM therefore basically aims to get closer to this consciousness. Since the higher consciousness allegedly equates to the good, people approaching this higher consciousness should more readily understand, intuitively, what good means and will thus more likely behave well. This leans on a belief that it is desirable to act well, and undesirable to act badly, in line with arguments proposed by Plato's Socrates in Menon and The Republic.

The modern interpretations of TM's significance mostly examine its health claims, e.g. reduced blood pressure, better concentration, etc. In these areas its supporters can view TM as simply the most effective form of waking relaxation.

Some of the contemporary proponents of meditation make various claims that it can lead to reductions in stress, hostility, illusions and attachments, and can help in treating mental illness. On the other hand, evidence exists that meditation can lead to more mental problems in psychiatric patients.


Critics of TM state that transcendental meditation consists of simple plain old meditation as practised by in many religions, and further state that absolutely no basis exists for anyone to claim that they invented it or spread it. Many cult researchers considered TM a cult, according to them one of the largest in the present day.

An organization called ex-TM exists for people who formerly practised transcendental meditation. This organization has the general agenda of denouncing transcendental meditation as a dangerous cult. The organization also describes the effects of TM as hypnotic.

Natural Law

The Natural Law political parties originated with Maharishi's decree that parties around the world should run for government, in order to inflict the natural law, which is defined by the "global consciousness".

Celebrities known to have practised TM

Raam currency

In 2002 the Maharishi Global Financing Research Foundation, as Treasury of the "Global Country of World Peace", issued the Raam NL in The Netherlands. The Raam provides a "currency", worth 10 euro, as an inspirational example for other countries to use the Raam in the financing of poverty removal and peace-creating projects by the Foundation.

A US version of the Raam has a value of 10 US dollars.

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