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Transcendental Meditation™ (known popularly as TM™) is a meditation technique invented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The TM org teaches that by meditating and mentally chanting a silent "mantra", several levels of "higher consciousness" can be reached. Which of course is a big odorous pile of feces. Eventually, the brainwashed victim can allegedly attain "cosmic consciousness", then "god consciousness", and finally "unity consciousness".
Despite the veneer of spirituality, and widespread comparisons to new religious movements, most adherents of TM™ methods maintain that the movement is not based on any type of faith or religion, and that one can practice TM while holding other spiritual beliefs without incongruity. However, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has described TM as a metaphorical "path to God".
The Maharishi is famous for, briefly, being the personal guru for The Beatles, until their well-publicized falling out. John Lennon wrote the song "Sexy Sadie"  about him ("you made a fool of everyone…"). Reportedly, taking up TM™ got The Beatles to give up marijuana and LSD (briefly), and they promptly headed for India to study under their new guru, only to return denouncing the supposedly celibate Maharishi as a womanizer and a fake. "Unity consciousness," for the Maharishi, apparently also involved getting into some hot young British actresses' undergarments for a little "transcendence". This did not prevent Lennon from shortly moving on to another guru, Arthur Janov of primal scream therapy fame.
Luckily, their brief sojourn in India was a prolific period of songwriting, during which most of the songs for "the white album" (The Beatles) were written.
Oh, wait, this article is about some Indian lech, not the Beatles. But would anyone even care, had not they become involved with him those short months in early 1968?
Harrison commented years later, "Now, historically, there's the story that something went on that shouldn't have done – but nothing did." In 1992, Harrison gave a benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party, and later apologised for the way the Maharishi had been treated by saying, "We were very young" and "It's probably in the history books that Maharishi 'tried to attack Mia Farrow' – but it's bullshit, total bullshit." Cynthia Lennon wrote in 2006 that she "hated leaving on a note of discord and mistrust, when we had enjoyed so much kindness from the Maharishi". Asked if he forgave the Beatles, the Maharishi replied, "I could never be upset with angels." McCartney took his daughter, Stella, to visit the Maharishi in the Netherlands in 2007, which renewed their friendship. The New York Times and The Independent reported that the influence of the Maharishi, and the journey to Rishikesh to meditate, weaned the Beatles from LSD and inspired them to write many new songs. In 2009, McCartney commented that Transcendental Meditation was a gift the Beatles had received from the Maharishi at a time when they were looking for something to stabilise them. The Beatles' visit to the Maharishi's ashram coincided with a thirty-participant Transcendental Meditation teacher training course that was ongoing when they arrived.
Something called "yogic flying" is supposedly also possible through TM—and they really mean flying—though unfortunately all the photos and videos only show people hopping around on mats while seated in the lotus position.
The TM™ movement also promotes "Vedic Architecture", which holds that the layout and direction of a building can have positive or negative effects on its inhabitants. Specifically, its adherents believe that buildings should only face east (or in a pinch, north). Any other direction (especially south) invites bad "energies", and can even propagate criminal behavior. Ah well, one can always migrate to the Southern hemisphere, bringing one's architecture with one.
Naturally, no rational explanation is offered as to how these "energies" can be measured and verified, or even the mechanism by which these energies would know what side of the house one's door is on. "Vedic Architecture" appears to be the Indian equivalent of feng shui.
Natural Law Party
Not to be left out of the wacky world of fringe third-party politics, TM™ buffs in the United States started the Natural Law Party in 1992. The Natural Law Party's ostensible purpose was to propose and implement "scientific" solutions of all our societal woes. However, their real solution of every single issue? Transcendental Meditation, of course! Very funny. Unsurprisingly, they were never able to get anyone elected dog catcher, much less to "higher" public office, and they finally had a flash of
cosmic consciousness reality and disbanded the party in 2004. Party leader (and perennial presidential candidate) John Hagelin then went on to form something called the "United States Peace Government", which almost nobody has heard of, and fewer still care about.
In the late 1990s, Hagelin (who was considered a serious quantum physicist before he went nuts) offered the services of 7000 yogic flyers to create enough positive vibes to end the war in Kosovo, and also unsuccessfully challenged Patrick Buchanan for the Reform Party presidential nomination in 2000. Our friends to the North have also had to deal with the Natural Law Party; their most famous candidate was the late Doug Henning. Yes, that Doug Henning, the hippie magician you may remember from Sesame Street, ran for the Canadian House of Commons in 1993 but failed to win. The NLP stood in a number of other places, including the UK, where they blew a huge wad of cash on campaigning, but attracted attention for their yogic flying.
The Transcendental Meditation™ movement publishes scores of "peer-reviewed" articles in minor journals attempting to prove the medical benefits and crime-prevention of their seated chanting. Reputable studies show that there are, however, no benefits beyond standard relaxation techniques.
They also run an accredited university, the Maharishi University of Management. Meditation classes are a required part of the curriculum there.
- Falling Down the TM Rabbit Hole - How TM Really Works - A former TM teacher holds forth
- TM-Free Blog - Skeptical Views of Transcendental Meditation & the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — Blogging by several former True Believers
- Sceptic's Dictionary article on Transcendental Meditation
- A handy list of mantras to save you giving money to a yogi
- More mantra goodies
- The Rick Ross Institute's page on TM
- The Freedom of Mind Center's page on TM
- Is TM a religion?
- Tm is a religious practice
- Problems with TM Research
- Lies My Guru Told Me
- Tm technique presentation in Germany
- "sexy sadie"
- Yogic flying demonstration
- Fox news coverage of a national yogic flying competition
- TM's opinions on architecture
- Hagelin's personal web site
- Hagelin explains "Invincible Defense Technology
- "Is TM a cult?"
- "Trance 101" by the Jersualem Post"
- The International Cultic Studies Association's page on TM