Trancendental Meditation

Discussion in 'Modern Religions' started by iBrian, May 12, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    [NOTE: This thread originally started with some critical comments by myself on the nature and claims of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Since then, it was posted that this could constitute defamation. Because such an allegation requires treating seriously, the original comments and posts refering to those comments have had to be removed and the original post edited. - Brian]


    Vaj raised the topic of the Maharishi Effect and TM in another thread.

    While the TM movement appears to expound that this effect is very measurable and scientifically validated, I'd like to find out whether there are any scientific studies outside of the TM movement that actually validate their claims, and additional arguments about this.

    I have to admit to some degree of sceptism for the claims, and friends of mine have a very cynical attitude towards the methods of revenue generation in the TM movement.

    I'm willing to be educated here - what are member experiences of the TM movement, but from inside and outside of it, and can their claims really stand up to peer-reviewed scientific scrutiny?
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,


    nah.. i don't think your all that wrong here... rather like what we are seeing with Yoga these days...

    suddenly.. all the culture and spirituality is stripped out... repackaged and sold in the "industralized" nations as some sort of "cure all" or magic bullet with which we can slay all the problems of the world. actually.. the commercialization of this kind of thing bothers me quite a bit...

    if the Copenhagen interpetation of QM is correct... perhaps there is something to it after all.

    here are a few more links related to the Maharishi Effect to balace the view of one site only:

    http://www.vedicknowledge.com/maharishi_effect.html

    http://skepdic.com/tm.html

    http://www.trancenet.org/research/markovsky2.shtml
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I would certainly like to see an independent study of the Maharishi effect. Otherwise the simplest explanation (Occams Razor) is that the TM people are most responsible for crime, terrorism, and poor East-West relations - and that "imprisoning" all these "troublesome" individuals into single space is the cure for World Peace. :)
     
  4. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    I think your judgement might be unfair. I joined the TM movement thirty years ago and paid thirty rand (South Africa money) for my mantra. Within a week I had my first experience of feeling a deep affection for mankind in general. It was a warm sense of universal brotherhood that had never entered my consciousness previously. Then I paid another 70 rand for a course in the Science of Creative Intelligence. Over the past three decades of meditating on my own, I have seen my creativity magnify itself ten fold and I have come to realize that I never spent a better rand in my life. I have been out of touch with the movement for 25 years, so I do not know what the Maharishi effect is. But whatever it is, if my experience is any criteria, whatever the cost, it has to be worth it - and then some. Remember, something for nothing is worth nothing.
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    This is an old thread, and I tend to be more diplomatic now when commenting on faith. :)

    However, as someone who trained in chemistry and physics, I tend to become reactionary when I see any kind of spiritual group trying to claim scientific validation, when it is perfectly clear that mainstream science does not accept the claims of validation.

    Additionally, I have a friend who has a sister who is or was in the TM movement, and I think his critical assessment of them was probably manifest somewhere in my post when I originally made it. :)
     
  6. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    Diplomacy is certainly an adult attribute and I congradualte you on adopting it. I was an avowed atheist when I first went to a TM meeting. It was the scientific evidence, confirmed by controlled experiments conducted at Harvard university that got my attention. Their experiments with groups of meditators revealed a significant increase in IQ, something science previously believed was impossible. By the way, the Maharishi obtained a BSc in physics (At Madra University if my memory serves me correct) before he became a teacher in metaphsyicas,
     
  7. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    There are so many grey areas in science - areas of contention where there are different valid arguments at odds, but that are not usually covered in the popular press - so dealing in terms of absolutes with scientific opinion tends not to paint so accurate a picture of the subject.

    Additionally, statistics introduces another whole set of problems, not least presumptions in data collection to data interpretation.

    For example, you mentioned IQ - but the nature of what intelligence actually is, is a big discussion within psychology - and the notion of IQ tests and what they are actually measuring is yet another fierce debate.

    It's amazing how many mysteries and unopened doors there are in science, and how dynamic the discussions around various paradigms can be.
     
  8. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    I respect your reservations, for that is the watch-word of the scientific process. But what you have to say and how cautiously you have said it, underlines the precise dilemma the whole world is in at the moment. The more we dissect a problem, the more problematic it gets. This can go on infinitely, for there is no end to anything. In the meantime the planet is falling to pieces and forty million children are starving to death. A few days ago I gave you an honest and sincere report on an enlightening personal experience that lies beyond analytical evaluation, and you find yourself unable to validate it. Why? How is it that I can understand your position and all your reservations perfectly and you find yourself unable to understand or empathize with mine? Why is there no further questioning from you, asking for more information on my explorations into the vast unknown of the unconscious part of the human psyche? Why only polite rejection? Those are serious questions that only you can answer. But to do so you have to search diligently for them within yourself. The answers lie in the intuitive half of your psyche. You have to make a huge effort to get in there -with no material rewards, except a deeper sense of self-realization. Roger Sperry did a lot of scientific work on the dual brain split. He got the Nobel Prize for it. Learning about the inner spirit that drives you does not make you less of a scientist, or less critical. On the contrary it makes you far more effective, more creative. Try meditation. Then we can speak holisically. Right now I feel that I am only talking to one half of you. Salaam Brother
     
  9. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I'm extremely constrained by the amount of free time I have at present - when I come to CR, I simply make sure everything is running smoothly, and that outstanding admin duties are addressed.

    I read the discussions and listen, but currently only try to join in where issues of the running of the forums are raised (ie, on this thread), or else to throw in a couple of thoughts, comments, or observations (ie, the other thread).

    It's not ignoring any individual if I don't make reply - if other individuals make comments I find interesting, then that is sufficient for the discussion.

    For the rest of the time, I am simply reading, and learning from the members here. :)
     
  10. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    In my world the term is "getting too far into the weeds". In other words there comes a point where one must back up, in order to find a better place to anchor.

    Not everyone can be part of the "Rand Corporation", and spend their careers simply thinking. Too many other issues must be addressed...like kids ballet, or tee ball, or cricket, or football, or recitals, or wars, or family issues, or jobs, or (I think you get the picture).

    There is no room for "simply self" It is a luxury that the elders have, not the young. However the results of which are the responsibility of the elders to pass down to the young...(that is why the elders are the richest resourse man has). ;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  11. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    Your first statement is an oxymoron. Secondly the New Age elders of this day are busy up-dating and building upon the wisdom of the ancients - that is what the evolution of consiousness is all about.
    Thirdly: It sounds like I would like your father.
    Fourthly:. Your earlier point (unless I have mis-interpreted it, or you are refering to some other point) that we are simply wasting time with this debate, is definately dismissed for the reasons already stated. And please tell me specifically what it is that you understand about mine, then perhaps we can find common ground.
    Finally, if you are truly interested in this arguement, begin reading from page one on this topic, post your comments, and we will continue from there.
     
  12. taijasi

    taijasi GnĊthi seauton

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    Hmmm. I don't usually come at things from a typically Christian perspective, and I'm definitely not trying to derail the discussion, but I am calling to mind such writings as The Healing Power of Prayer, by Larry Dossey. In poking around on Google, I came across the following article, on The Power of Prayer, by Dr. Winston Morrow. It may be worth checking out, in a related vein.

    Also, in my time, I have been a member of two long-running esoteric meditation groups, as well as a live-in volunteer at a community where such meditation was also part of the curriculum & way of life. Really that's three groups, then, and I know dozens of individuals who belong, or have belonged, to similar groups. All in all I myself know of at least a dozen such groups, although links can be found on the Internet to hundreds of them.

    What each of these groups has in common, is their entire purpose - the very reason for their existence and meditative work (all according to essentially the same tradition) - being that of Selfless Service. The meditative work is done in the spirit of World Healing, and takes many different focii at different parts of the year, and depending on world events. This work, at one part, was a major component (the major component) of my spiritual path. At another point, the emphasis shifted toward outward, hands-on Service, but it has been my own finding that both of these methods of service are vital, having a profound positive effect on the world.

    Much, much more could be said about this meditative work, with examples given, and a basis provided for the very effectiveness of that work. Many Buddhist groups, also, in the Shambhalla tradition of Chogyam Trungpa, and the FPMT tradition - Foundation for the Preservatin of the Mahayana Trust, certainly exist and do similar meditative work of a healing nature. All in all, I suspect that the number of different types of groups worldwide, at this point, doing meditative work - is in the many, many thousands. Add to this the various Christian-based groups, or non-denominational groups, and meditative/prayer groups of other Faiths, and I don't doubt we reach the 100s of thousands, or millions. Membership then, must be in the high millions, or billions. Anyone who doesn't think that all of that has a profound impact on world events - at every scale imaginable ... ain't wrapped too tight. :p

    Anyway, back to TM ...

    andrew
     
  13. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Just to refer people to my edit notice on the original post.
     
  14. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    I appreciate any effort to get this debate onto neutral ground.

    Last I heard there are some five million members of the TM movement. So we have to assume it takes some kind of special magic for a fakir from India to bamboozle so many western minds. And there is magical manna in meditation. The reason why is because it directly addresses and exercises the right frontal cortex of the brain - which has been left to atrophy from sheer neglect in the modern western psyche. All the intellectual exercises and experiments we all undergo in the school classroom, for six hours a day, for twelve years and more, being fed with predigested information, are almost exclusively aimed at the left cortex. Arts and music, which help to exercise right brain expressions have been largely curtailed, if not dismissed alltogether. Virtually, only the encouragement of physical exercise, via sports on the playing fields has helped to keep it the intuitive half of the human psyche alive. The importance of the lack of dual brain development cannot be under-estimated. The fact that it has not been introduced into our schools, even when fifty years of scientific evidence has been presented to enlighten us on the subject, and which shows the essential nature of the interconnection, is not only somehing to be marvelled at - but fully investigated in itself - for it points to a deep bias in the modern psyche - that has serious future implications if it goes on ad infinitum.

    All kinds of scientiifc work outside the TM movement has been conducted on split brain evaluation. I refer you principlally to prof. Roger Sperry who received the Nobel Prize for his work on split brain experimentation. At the end of this post there is a short list for those interested in further investigation.

    The illustration below gives an immediate appreaction of the inter-relationship beytween the two halves of the brain and the reason behind the problems we are facing.

    [Copyrighted image removed by moderator]

    I have eight children of my own. My wife and I have home-schooled them from birth, usiing our own home-grown dual brain system (illustrated above) for the past twenty years. The oldest is now 21. The results have been phenomenal, not only academically, but in terms of ethical behavior as well. The reason why they are so well behaved is because almost immediately one stimulates the right brain, a sense of spiritual awareness emerges. This paranormal sense has nothing to do with religious dogma. It pricks the conscience and brings on a sense of personal policing. As soon as we evoked that supersitious sense of spiritual policing, via arts and crafts and yoga exercises and meditation practices every morning, we were able to leave the children to educate themselves with almost minimal assistence from us. In short by age seven, they were self-driven to excel.

    What I am trying to say here, is that we should keep a wide open mind on how the mind works. Twenty minutes of sitting still at dawn and again at dusk, (when the pineal gland is most active) will not turn anyone into a New Age freak. It will simply make you aware of the feminine side of your psyche or viseversa. I can go on and on with the advantages.

    Sperry R.W. "Hemisphere Disconnection of Cerebral Function in Surgically Separated Hemispheres. in F.J. McGuigan and R.A. Schoonover, eds. The Psychophysiology of Thinking. New York: Acedemiic Press. 1973. 209 -29 Sperry R.W., M.S. Gazzaniga, and J.E. Bogen,
    Interhemispheric Relationships: the Neocortical Commissures; Syndromes of Hemispheric Disconnection. Handbook of Clinical Neurology. P.J. Vinken and G.W. Bruyn, eds Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co. 1969, 273 -289.
    Pringle S.W. Psyche-Genetics. The Metaphsyical Implications of Human Evolution. Authorhouse. Betty Edwards. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Tarcher
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2006
  15. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    No, I think my part in this debate has come to an end.
     
  16. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    Sorry about the removed image. I had permission to use it, but no matter

    Here's a word picture.

    DUAL BRAIN DEVELOPMENT


    Left Brain .....................................Right Brain
    Controls right side of body...................Controls left side of body
    Analytical.........................................Intuituive
    Masculine........................................ Feminine
    Egocentric........................................ Ethical
    Mechanistic...................................... Artistic
    Relies on reason................................. Relies on instinct
     
  17. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    The number of adherents to an idea really doesn't validate claims of anything. It's especially the claims made that there is scientific validation to the Maharishi Effect and similar claims that I'd really like to explore, as this was a point I was earlier critical of.
     
  18. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    Strickly speaking what you say is true. But when millions are attracted to the same idea for decades, one has to assume there must be something of intrinsic value that is being offered and at least worth a cursory examination- which I believe may have been your intent from the start. As to the Maharishi effect, I'm afraid that I cannot be of much help as I have had nothing to do with TM for almost thirty years. If the effect is related to him as a person, I would be completely at a loss to explain what it is. But if it is related to the actual meaning of maharishi - a sanscrit honorarium for great teacher/knower, I could hazzard a guess as to what they mean by that effect. I have personally found that by religiously practicing meditation (not necessarily via a mantra, but by any system that can focus the mind and halt its interminalble analytical meanderings for a few minutes at a time) one eventually gains metaphsyical insights into reality that surface from the sub-cosnciousness. Bits of information that were not formerly present in the observing cionsciousness. Some of these insights are profound enough to want to make(compel) one to share them. ((Ureka!) In short there is an inner impulse to teach - even preach. All divinity students go through the same experience. Anyhow, this has been my experience ..and of course I have consequently suffered personal embarrassment in our modern milieu which is, rightly or wrongly, highly resistent to assertions of subjectively perceived truths. I do know that MIU, Maharishi International University. has been established for at least the 20 years. Check out these websites. http://cbeprograms.org/ and http://noetic.org/research.cfm
    By the way, my ancestors are Scottish thus I continue to have the same instinctive dour outlook before validation.
     
  19. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I think the concern about the Maharishi effect isn't so much that meditation can have a beneficial effect on the individual - I think there's a lot in the scientific lit which would agree with this, even in reductionist terms.

    The problem with the Maharishi Effect is that it claims that a small number of meditating individuals can have an affect outside of the persons, and provide an actual and measurable social effect on non-participants.

    This is obviously quite an astonishing claim, and one the TM movement claims to be able to prove with regular studies - the problem being, that it is only TM instutions that are proving TM ideas, so claiming scientific validation for them seems premature at best.

    As for millions of people following any idea - I simply take that as validation of humanity's diverse needs and interests, rather than validating those needs and interests as inherently good. After all, millions of people over the years taking up smoking or commiting suicide hardly validate those habits either. :)

    As for the warning of dour Scot aboard - note taken. Yorkshireman here turning into a Scot. :)
     
  20. MagnetMan

    MagnetMan What is enlightenment?

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    quote=I, Brian]I think the concern about the Maharishi effect isn't so much that meditation can have a beneficial effect on the individual - I think there's a lot in the scientific lit which would agree with this, even in reductionist terms.

    The problem with the Maharishi Effect is that it claims that a small number of meditating individuals can have an affect outside of the persons, and provide an actual and measurable social effect on non-participants.

    This is obviously quite an astonishing claim, and one the TM movement claims to be able to prove with regular studies - the problem being, that it is only TM instutions that are proving TM ideas, so claiming scientific validation for them seems premature at best.

    As for millions of people following any idea - I simply take that as validation of humanity's diverse needs and interests, rather than validating those needs and interests as inherently good. After all, millions of people over the years taking up smoking or commiting suicide hardly validate those habits either. :)

    As for the warning of dour Scot aboard - note taken. Yorkshireman here turning into a Scot. :)[/quote]

    Point taken. You are a more up on the Maharishi effect pers se than I am. Will add this tho. When I joined TM in 1972, a general concern for the environmental and other deteriorating global issues was barely noticable. It can be argued that over the past thirty years, with estimated 200,million westerners now engaged in some form of Far Eastern religious practices, they have had a significant effect on the mass consciousness in general. Trying to prove that this is so because of esoteric or exoteric influences, is in my opinion moot. What is real is that it is happening and we are all the more prepared to deal with exponetial factors of future shock because of it. In this repect I feel it is better to encourage such spiritual efforts, rather than denigrate them - if for nothing else than the fact that the TM researchers might be right after all. A further point, in reference to my former statement about the inner impulse to share good news. If two hundred million are also having my experience and preaching the good news, does that mass effect not encompass both views? Now how about a shot at synchronicity. How many Yorkshiremen are there? Several million? You might not know of a geologist called John Oglesby of Ilkly? Have'nt seen or heard of him since Tanganyika in '59.
     

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