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Transendental Meditation (TM)
A system of
meditation by which a person can achieve or reach a fourth state of
consciousness, or the transcendental consciousness. Transcendental
meditation, or TM as it is often referred to, gained a widespread
following in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States and western European
countries although it his a very ancient background.
The technique employed in TM is cited in the Vedas sacred writings
going back as far as 1000 BC. Over the centuries it has been transmitted
by such men as the 8th century Hindu philosopher
Shankara and the 20th century sage Guru Dev (meaning Divine Teacher) who
taught Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi, graduating in 1942 in physics
from Allahabad University, spent two years in a Himalayan retreat and then
begun teaching TM about 1955 in India. Since he has traveled throughout
the East and West promoting his "World Plan" for the training of teachers
to spread TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence which seeks to
integrate all knowledge.
In technique TM differs from other systems of meditation involving neither
concentration nor contemplation. Maharisi claims it can only be learned
through the personal instruction of a qualified teacher. A student is
given a personal mantra
and instructed in the use of it while meditating twice daily for about
twenty minutes. The mantra is meaningless, and is not chanted
verbally or mentally. It is void of all religious significance.
The meditative technique requires no specific postures or times. But,
ideally it is usually done in the morning and early evening. It requires
about twenty minutes.
The regular use of the mantra is the vital principle of TM. According to
Maharishi such use enables the practitioner to reach a state of
consciousness that is a field of Being, pure creative
intelligence, or pure thought. Thoughts rise effervescently from the
depths of the mind like bubbles in a bowl of water. Thoughts increase in
size until reaching the level of conscious awareness. Maharishi likened
the mind to an ocean which is active at the surface but still on the
TM, it is said, allows the practitioner to reach thoughts at their
origination points which promotes more creative intelligence. It is here
that one encounters the True Self, because the individual is in a state of
restful alertness in which no mental activity occurs. It is called a
fourth state of consciousness because it differs from the common states of
waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, and from the states
of altered consciousness.
In such a transcendental consciousness state, there seem to be no
boundaries between the subject and object, they become one. The first
experience is one of emptiness that becomes silent joy.
Others have described this transcendental consciousness state as ridding
oneself of the of all chattering thoughts and jostling impressions which
invaded the surface of the mind. Some say the
practitioner is like a deep sea diver going to the depths of the ocean,
only in TM one reaches the depths of the mind. In this pure consciousness
one experiences the fundamental aspects of the
true self. It is at this point others say they have reached enlightenment,
One, or the Infinite. But, in strict TM terms, this is the source of
unlimited energy and "creative intelligence." When the experience
increases in strength it can effect all aspects of human life.
It has been reported, as with other forms of meditation, that
physiological changes do occur in practitioners. Changes include the
lowering of respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, and
lactase (a chemical in the blood associated with strenuous activity and
stress). With decreased stress some persons have reduced their alcohol
consumption and drug dependency. Other persons report over all health
improvements. Also, an increase has been shown in more synchronized alpha
brain waves. This is said to result in an increased mental capacity
bringing an improvement in work and artistic abilities.
Practitioners are said to be able to achieve three higher states of
consciousness with practice. The fifth or cosmic consciousness, as defined
by Maharishi, is a "transcendental consciousness maintained with the three
states of ordinary consciousness in a permanent awareness of the True
Self. In this state of Self Realization, the ego and identity continue to
function, but one defines one's self from within rather from the external
world." Such a state of consciousness is only reached when one is
permanently and totally free from stress.
The sixth state of consciousness, according to Maharishi, is a glorified
global consciousness in which the practitioner becomes aware of the
"finest levels of existence, but not the absolute.
The more subtle values of all things are perceived, and everything seems
composed of and pervaded by pure light."
The unity consciousness, or "Unity," is the seventh state of
consciousness, as it is called by Maharishi. It is characterized "by
absolute awareness of the external world, or experiencing
one's essential unity with all that is."
Maharishi claims that through TM these states of consciousness can be
reached within a few years as opposed to many years or a lifetime of
practice in yoga or Zen.
Other differences between TM and traditional Eastern meditative teachings
are that there is no renunciation of the ordinary world in order to
achieve these enlightened states. Maharishi
recognizes the importance of well being and living in the world, but not
being attached to it. TM does not embody the doctrine of maya, which holds "that the relative, phenomenological
world is an illusion and only the absolute is real." Maharishi claims,
"the illusion lies in the relationship between absolute and relative."
It is estimated that in the mid-970s TM had about a million practitioners.
Maharishi lectured, wrote books, and made videotapes promoting TM. He
founded the International Meditation
Society and the Maharishi International University based in Iowa and
Switzerland. Most practitioners reside in the United States, Canada and
West Germany. A.G.H.
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