Christian Library Australia

...because God cares about you

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Cults Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation

E-mail Print PDF

Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

Transcendental Meditation

INTRODUCTION

According to William Petersen, Transcendental Meditation had about three hundred thousand followers at the time he wrote his book in 1973.252 Since that time this cult has largely disappeared. However, it is helpful for Christians to study it because it was instrumental in paving the way for the New Age Movement. Shirley MacLaine was initially a follower of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and is now a leading figure in the New Age movement. So while T.M does not have many devotees today, it was a significant step toward the introduction of Eastern mysticism into the Western world.

15.1 THE ORIGIN OF TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION.

Transcendental Meditation was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian physicist who turned Hindu Guru. Born 1918, he was formerly known by his real name Mahesh Prasad Varma.253 He earned a graduation in physics from the University of Allahabad in 1942. He worked for five years in a factory where he taught himself Sanskrit.254 At the end of the Second World War he withdrew into the seclusion of the Himalayan foothills to meditate for the next 13 years. By 1959 he considered that he had found the answer to the worlds problems. He believed that he had discovered a technique that would revolutionise the world, and put an end to warfare.255 Finding little response to his teaching in India, he decided to promote his teaching in the West. So he moved to London, where he founded the International Meditation Society. For eight years he laboured in London without achieving much success. However, his cult was given a great boost in England when George Harrison of the Beatles came in contact with him and embraced his teaching. He was so impressed with the Maharishi that he influenced the other Beatles into going to Wales with the guru, where he introduced them to his special brand of meditation.256 For a short time the members of the Beatles were caught up with him. This in turn got other show business personalities involved such as the Rolling Stones. Unfortunately for the Maharishi, the Beatles lost interest in his message and techniques and so his cult lost a lot of its attraction. He decided to return to India never to return to the West. However, back in India he began to develop his organisation in a business-like-way. His organisation was very successful and in 1970 he moved his headquarters to Italy and then later to Spain.257 Such was the success of this cult, that it methods were even embraced by schools and universities. For example, in March 1977 the N.S.W. State Government gave a grant of $1,264 to enable T.M. to be taught in two Sydney schools.

15.2 IS TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION A RELIGION?

The Maharishi makes the claim that T.M. is not a religion, but simply a practice of meditation. He maintained that the practice of TM would encourage members in their particular religion. However, this argument that TM is not a religion is certainly not sustainable, for this cult is very clearly anchored in Hinduism. The initiation ceremony is clearly a Hindu ceremony, since in it Hindu deities are addressed. The ceremony is conducted in Sanskrit, which is a Hindu sacred language. The initiate is required to recite the names of various Hindu deities. Many of the prayers are addressed to Guru Dev, who is described as the "Self Sufficient" the embodiment of pure knowledge. An example of the prayers required are as follows:

"White as camphor, kindness incarnate, the essence of creation garlanded with Brahman, ever dwelling in the lotus of my heart, the creative impulse of cosmic life, to That, in the form of Guru Dev, I bow down."258

It is clear from such remarks that Transcendental Meditation is a religious cult and not simply a practice of meditation. Despite the claims of the Maharishi, we must regard this as an Eastern cult.

15.3 THE NATURE OF T.M.

What is Transcendental Meditation? According to Maharishi, Transcendental Meditation is a natural technique which allows the conscious mind to experience increasingly more subtle states of thought. With this form of meditation there is no need to contort yourself into the lotus position. All one has to do is sit comfortably for a few minutes a day and silently repeat your own special mantra. The Maharishi claims that once people begin to practice this form of meditation their lives will be transformed, they will become happier, healthier and less negative.259 Most Eastern religions teach that you have to discipline the mind for effective meditation. Not so! says the Maharishi. All you have to do is expose your mind to the bliss of the subtle levels of thought. In practice this means to put your mind in neutral, and let your thoughts rush in and then simply begin saying your mantra. If you have the correct mantra then you will expand your conscious mind. This will bring you in tune with the universe. When this happens all your in anxieties will fade. The Maharishi believed that if everyone practiced this form of meditation there would be no more wars for all tension in people would disappear.260 A mantra is simply a Hindu metrical psalm of praise, usually only a phrase or syllable that is selected to fit the personality of the person. The T.M. teacher looks over his candidate and gives him or her a secret Sanskrit word for meditation. If this word is revealed to anyone it spoils its effect, so it must be kept secret.261 The most important thing about this form of meditation is to let your mind loose to wander where it will. When set loose it will wander to the place that it most enjoys. The purpose of this is to give you deep rest and fulfilment. As the initiate proceeds with T.M he will reach higher and higher states of consciousness. The Maharishi teaches that there are three normal levels of consciousness, namely waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Beyond this, according to him there are other states of consciousness, such as, Cosmic consciousness. In this state of consciousness the person is able to remain in a 'state of being' on a conscious level and on a permanent basis. 262 When a person has reached this state of consciousness he is truly happy.

15.4 THE MAHARISHI'S VIEW OF THE BIBLE.

The Maharishi believes that the Christian Bible contains some truth, but not all the truth. He maintains that it has certain teaching which can aid meditation. In practice the Bible is sub-sub-servient to his own revelations. He is not adverse to using the Bible for his own ends, but consistent with other cult leaders he is guilty of misquoting and misrepresenting the teaching of the Bible.

15.5 THE MAHARISHI'S VIEW OF CHRIST.

Like other cult leaders the Maharishi also has a defective Christology. He views Jesus Christ as merely a human being, who through meditation became god-like. He denies that Christ could suffer or actually did suffer on the cross. He also does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

15.6 T. M INVOLVES BELIEF IN REINCARNATION.

Like other forms of Hinduism the Transcendental Meditation cult holds the doctrine of reincarnation. The Maharishi teaches that one must go through seven reincarnations to reach union with the divine. In teaching this he is out of accord with orthodox Hinduism which maintains that thousands of reincarnations are necessary before one can reach union with the divine.

15.7 THE PRACTICE OF T. M. IS IDOLATRY.

The practice of Transcendental Meditation is a breach of the first commandment. For such as meditate in this manner are worshipping false gods, since the mantra is a prayer to a Hindu deity. The Maharishi is a Hindu Guru and has cleverly presented the Hindu religion in a form more acceptable to the Western mind.

252William Petersen

253Maurice Burrell The Challenge of the Cults Intervarsity Press Leicester England 1981, p.93

254ibid p.93

255ibid p.94

256ibid p.94

257ibid p.94

258ibid p.102

259William Petersen op cit p.165

260ibid p.165

261Maurice Burrell op cit p.98

262ibid p.100

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 12:26  

Follow us on Twitter