Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reminder: Controversial "Message from Maharishi" Tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 30 at noon EST

Just a reminder:  If you want to keep abreast of this interesting scuffle in the TM world, you can video- or audio-stream the "Message from Maharishi" for free, live, on Sunday, November 30 at noon, Eastern Standard Time.  (See the previous TM-Free Blog post regarding this controversial presentation which is not endorsed by the official TM organization, but which appears to have the support of Jerry Jarvis, former head of the U.S. Students International Meditation Society.)  

It is recommended that you tune in at about 11:45 a.m.

Or if you miss it live, it will be available in the future for listening.

Here is the link for streaming:  

After clicking the link above and downloading the page, scroll to the bottom and click the link to access streaming.

After listening, please feel free to share your thoughts in the "Comments" section here at TM-Free Blog.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Maharishi Message from Beyond the Grave?

Power struggle in American T.M. movement?

Most organizations seem susceptible to splintering.  Christianity, the Republican Party, you name it.  Why not the T.M. movement, following the death of its charismatic founder?

John Hagelin, "Raja of Invincible America," appointed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before Mahesh's death, is the final arbiter on what is and is not official American T.M. policy.  (The T.M. organization was designed by Mahesh as a monarchy, not as a democracy.)

Hagelin has sent out an email to all "certified governors." (I assume that means all T.M. teachers in good standing.)  The email informs them that they are to ignore an upcoming event coordinated by T.M. teacher George Hammond.  Hagelin is  concerned that T.M.ers might take this presentation seriously because the well-loved Jerry Jarvis, former head of the U.S. Students International Meditation Society (a T.M. organization) seems to have given this presentation his blessing.  Hagelin is also concerned that this presentation of mediumship will lower T.M.'s credibility in the mainstream community, such as public schools and the military, where T.M. is trying to make inroads.  Also of interest to me was his concern that the "purity of the teaching" would be diluted; although some might read that as a concomitant concern that Hagelin's power would be diluted.  Although Hagelin's email was confidential, it has become public through posting on the website  Anyone with access to a computer can read his email here:

The event in question is a free lecture presentation entitled “The Pervasive Influence of Personalities and Ideas on Human History.”  It will take place on November 30, 2014, starting promptly at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria,Virginia, near Washington DC.  The presentation will be live-streamed for free, and will be followed by a question & answer session which will not be live-streamed.  The presentation and possibly the Q&A will be recorded, and will be available for free online at a later date.

Hammond claims that Mahesh Yogi appeared to Hammond several years after Mahesh's death, and instructed Hammond to share a message with the world.  Hammond says that the reason Mahesh wants people to hear this message is because "[h]earing these clear explanations should disintegrate many deeply embedded but totally unnecessary fears."
You can see the invitation to this event by clicking:

No RSVP is necessary for the free live streaming.  TMFree Blog takes no position on if the message given at this presentation actually comes from the deceased Mahesh, nor do we have an opinion on the content of the message itself, whatever it will turn out to be.  However, I will listen in to the live streaming because I am curious to see how the politics of the T.M. movement will play out, and I invite all interested to listen to the streaming, too.  Then we can discuss it on TM-Free if we wish.

Monday, November 03, 2014

"TM-Kids" Open Up Publicly

Willy Blackmore's essay about a young father's childhood hometown was published online October 24, 2014 : Growing Up in Utopia .

He describes the contrast between growing up as a non-Iowan in Iowa.  How do you tell your current friends that you learned to fly when you were 17?  Why do local Iowans think "you're not from around here" when you really did grow up in their backyard? He eloquently describes coming of age surrounded by cornfields, idealistic ex-hippies who believe they bring world peace by holing up to bounce on padded foam for hours daily, shmoozing with visiting celebrities, and his peers' angst.

Click here to read Willy's : Growing Up in Utopia

After years of declining invitations to make a formal presentation at San Francisco's reputable intellectual forum The Commonwealth Club of California, On October 20, 2014 I presented  Cult or Benign Cure-all? Life in Transcendental Meditation's Hidden Society

With an illustrated Power Point presentation and screen shots of TMO's active websites, I described the lives of my loved ones and myself in the TM Movement from 1966-2014.  By coincidence fifty years of my family life were defined by the TM Movement, even though I physically left in the late 1980s with my own three TM-born children. Without throwing slanderous stones, I shared stories of loved ones as TM's focus changed from mysticism to mystical science, of child neglect, psychosis, suicides, thousands of dollars spent for promises, fortunes lost and the next generation's struggles for self definition.  Such stories lay doubt on the David Lynch Foundation's promise of one-shot panacea for Transcendental Meditation in public schools, the Veterans Administration and elsewhere.  Listeners might appreciate post-talk objections that were raised by TM true believers.

You may listen to the 45 minutes audio track by clicking here : Cult of Benign Cure-all? Life in Transcendental Meditation's Hidden Society

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TM Town Struggles into 21st Century

TM Town Struggles into 21st Century: Mental Health Problems lead Fairfield to Re-Evaluate Core Doctrines

As you probably know, the beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who suffered from depression, committed suicide on August 11, 2014.

In the weeks following Williams' suicide, residents of Fairfield, Iowa, USA, home to Maharishi University of Management and to several thousand TMers, have been inching suicide out of the closet.  Researchers noticed that Iowa has a higher rate of suicide than the national average.  And Fairfield has a higher rate of suicide than the average Iowa city.

Fairfield residents have been dragging their feet around suicide prevention for years.  This is due not only to the American stigma around mental illness.  It is also exacerbated by TM official and unofficial doctrine.  Just a few of them are:

- Maharishi disapproved of Western psychotherapy.
- If you saw a psychotherapist, you could be disqualified from attending a TM course.
- TM is supposed to make you emotionally healthy, therefore if you report emotional problems, you are making TM look bad.
- People with emotional problems have been advised to do more asanas or learn the TM-Sidhis, rather than to seek professional help.
- People with emotional problems have been told they are "unstressing" rather than being advised to seek professional help.
- When people have had emotional problems (including hospitalizations and suicides), the TM organization has tended to hide the information or blame the person for being too emotionally unstable to begin with.
- People with emotional problems have been misdiagnosed by TMers as being in higher states of consciousness.

A fascinating report on the blossoming of open discussion on mental health problems in Fairfield is found here:

 "Fairfield Cares," a grassroots organization helping to increase honest conversation about mental health problems of TMers holds meetings and lectures.  And Maharishi University of Management, after 40 years of denying counseling  to their students, are adding counseling to their health services.  However, they state that it is offered as an "adjunct" to TM, since, according to TM doctrine, scientific research shows that TM improves mental health, making people happy and stable.  

The TM organization (TMO) doesn't publicize any of the research which shows that sometimes TM causes or exacerbates mental illness.  Until I discovered TM-Free Blog, I believed what the TMO taught - that every research study ever done on TM showed that TM produces only benefits.  You can find many articles on TM-FreeBlog about emotional problems that some people have experienced due to T.M.  You can find information on the suppressed research on the far-right column of TM-Free Blog's home page.  

What have been your experiences with the TMO and mental health?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Open Thread for Readers

What's on your mind?  Share your thoughts on TM and related subjects here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Update on Maharishi Vedic Pandits

On January 24, 2014, Hi India, the newspaper serving the South Asian community worldwide, ran a 2-page article on the sorry plight of Maharishi Vedic Pandits residing in a fenced compound in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, U.S.A.

On August 30, 2014, Hi India published a second article about the Vedic Pandits. According to this article, (, despite their January expose, neither the Indian Consul General in Chicago, nor leaders of Chicago's Indian community, nor officials in India have initiated any action to help the Vedic Pandits.

Hi India suggests that after the posting of their first report, the following actions should have been taken, but were not:

- The TM university responsible for the pandits should have invested more resources into improving financial compensation and living conditions for the pandits, rather than into damage-control of their image.

And further, that the Consul-General of India situated in Chicago should have done the following:

- sent someone to the compound to take a first-hand look at the living conditions of the Vedic Pandits.

- raised concern about the passports of the pandits being held as ransom by the sponsoring University, and insisted that the passports be returned to the Consul General’s office, in accordance with Indian policy.

- investigated the plight of the "165 missing pandits." (This was a group of 165 pandits that the TM University drove to Chicago's O'Hare airport after the uprising, in order to send them back home. It was never made totally clear if these Indian men requested their return to India, or if, following the uprising, the University picked out the pandits whom they perceived to be "troublemakers," and forced them to leave. Whichever is the real story, it appears as if instead of boarding their appointed planes back to India, many fled the airport in the sub-zero weather and disappeared.)

- engaged with Chicago police and the local Indian community to locate missing Vedic Pandits who may have been wandering around Chicago.

- lodged a complaint with local police, Immigration officials, other Indian Consulates in the U.S. and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

 - issued a press release about the pandits.

- investigated the recruitment tactics and the contract between Vedic Pandits and their sponsoring university.

- demanded the complete list of Vedic Pandits who arrived, left and are missing from the compound.

- asked for travel and ticket details and matched this information with pandits' arrival (or failure to arrive) at Indian airports.

According to Hi India, the Chicago Consul General failed to do any of these things. The conditions of the pandits at the fenced compound at Maharishi Vedic City remains unmonitored by outsiders. And the "missing pandits," (who speak little English) who fled O'Hare Airport 8 months ago, are unaccounted for.

Well, we finally know the fate of one of those missing pandits. According to Hi India, Ajit Panday, age approximately 23, has been found in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. On August 24, 2014, he was shot to death by an unidentified armed robber at the Big Brother 2 Food Mart in Atlanta, while Ajit was closing up the convenience store for the night.

Ajit was brought to the U.S. by Maharishi University about two years ago. When the University brought him to the airport in January, he apparently snuck out of the air terminal rather than boarding a plane to India. He somehow ended up in Georgia, which is approximately 600 miles (approximately 1000 kilometers) south of Chicago, and entered the underground economy of undocumented workers.

 In their statements, the Indian owners of the convenience store and of the property it stood on shrugged off responsibility for his death, stating that they had cautioned Panday to be careful in the night time.

As for how his countrymen have treated this undocumented man, Panday had been working without pay at the store for more than two months. He worked more than 15 hours per day, 7 days a week. No proper food, sanitation or security was provided in the back room of the store, where Panday lived. The owners claim Panday was a friend who they were helping out by giving him a place to stay, and in return he willingly volunteered his time at the store.  There were insufficient security systems, insufficient security training and insufficient backup at the store.

Ajit Panday's body was still in the mortuary six days after the murder, apparently because his family in India is too poor to ship the remains home. Ajit was the only bread-winner in his family, which consists of a widowed mother and two younger siblings.

The owners of the store state the body is still in the U.S. because the family has failed to give authorization to ship the body.

Ajay Prakash Shrivastava, nephew of the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and head of global operations of the sponsoring Maharishi University, said that he could not trace the family, although all the information is available in office records.

Though Ajit is the first casualty that has come to light, there may well be other Maharishi Vedic Pandits being mistreated somewhere in the U.S.  Not to mention those being mistreated in their fenced compound in Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa.

TM-Free Blog has posted several articles about the Vedic Pandits.  Click on any of these titles to see the TM-Free article:  

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Did Maharishi Teach Different Ways to Do TM?

Readers of this blog who learned TM may recall the importance Mahesh placed on how to think the mantra.  My notes on how to check a person's meditation, which date from approximately 1973, read in part, "...Now this time, when we close our eyes, sit easily, and after about 1/2 a minute begin to think the mantra in the same, effortless way we think any other thoughts."  And, "In this meditation, we do not concentrate; we do not try to think the mantra clearly.  Mental repetition is not a clear pronunciation; it's just a faint idea...Just think the mantra easily, effortlessly...."

In my TM-Free research, I stumbled on an older set of checking notes, from about 1961.  There I found that Mahesh did not tell people to "think" the mantra.  Rather, back then he talked about "listening" to the mantra.  I don't have the notes on hand, but here is my best recollection of what was written:  "Think the mantra easily, and then just follow it down; listen to it as it changes."

Does anyone have an old set of checking notes that they can share with the readers?  Do you think this change is significant?  

Monday, September 01, 2014

New Cult Recovery Support Group in DC Area

The cult recovery group Refocus ( is pleased to announce a new Washington DC-area cult recovery support group.  They meet once a month in Arlington, Virginia.

If you would like to attend the support group, you are invited to contact the co-facilitators, Mary Moore at 703-967-7744 or Marita LaPalm at 734-546-9880 for more information.

I attended a cult-recovery support group for several years, and found it very helpful.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Open Thread for Readers, continued

Commenting for each post automatically closes after 30 days.  Therefore I am posting this today to re-open the system so that readers may continue writing comments.  Thanks, everyone, for your intelligent and caring comments!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Open Thread for Readers

"Open Thread" means you are welcome to comment about any topic, just so long as it's of relevance to readers of this blog.  Or to ask any question of relevance to readers of this blog.

Heck, you're always welcome to do so, even if the post of the day is about something else.