Transcendental Meditation

Doctrines The Maharishi and the TM movement deny that their teaching and technique is a philosophy or religion, saying it is a science and simple mechanical technique for physiological, psychological, and sociological benefits. This is backed up by impressive scientific reports to show TM results in better skin resistance, decreased cardiac output, faster reaction time, increased learning ability, and so on. The Maharishi claims that members of all religions can be better persons through TM. This secular appearance has been to attract followers and gain the support of governments and educationalists.
TM has two central doctrines, the science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) and Transcendental Meditation (TM). The Maharishi, like many gurus, bases his system on Advaita, Hindu theism, and for him Creative Intelligence is the Ultimate Reality or God, though sometimes he uses "God" to describe a special consciousness below the Absolute. SCI is a form of theology. To the Maharishi the universe is made of waves of energy beneath which is a subtle stable energy called Creative Intelligence. The way to transcend the outer energy and experience the inner pure energy is by Transcendental Meditation.
The Maharishi explains the world not as maya but through a modified doctrine of karma, which he says is the cause of creation. The ocean of pure energy has an inherent tendency to vibrate called prana which is reflected upon by karma and so creation starts with mind. The material universe is mithya, a phenomenal existence that is neither real nor unreal. We must become aware of the Self and liberate it from bondage in the material world. Like Aurobindo Ghosh, the Maharishi believes in seven states of consciousness: dreamless sleep, dream, waking, transcendental, cosmic, god, unity. He describes five paths to liberation: the psychological, the emotional, the physiological, the psycho-physiological, and the mechanical. The mechanical path or TM is the easiest and best.

History Maharishi Mahesh Yogi refuses to talk about his past, so this is obscure. He was born in 1911 or about 1918 in the Deccan in the Kshatriya (warrior) caste. In 1940 he graduated in physics from Allahabad University. He spent the next thirteen years with his guru Brahmananda Saraswati, who was Shankaracharya (a religious leader like a pope) of Jyotirmath in the Himalayas. From 1953 he was a recluse for two years in the Himalayas working on a task set by his guru - evolving a simple form of meditation which anyone could learn. He emerged to start the Transcendental Meditation movement and in 1956 took the title Maharishi, Great Seer.
He started in South India but with little success, so decided to go to the West and arrived in England in 1958. He went to the U.S. in the 1960's. TM took off with the Beatles' interest and they went to India to the Maharishi's new ashram in Rishikesh. However, they soon gave it up, John Lennon describing TM as "Just a waste of time." In California the hippy movement was ready to embrace religious cults. In 1965 forty students at the University of California enrolled on a TM course; by 1971 this had risen to 73,000.
In 1972 after seven days of silence the Maharishi launched his World Plan with 2,000 new teachers. This would have one teacher for every thousand people with 3,600 World Plan centres to train teachers and one World Plan centre for every million people. Overall organisation is through the Maharishi International University and the World Plan Executive Council. The science of Creative Intelligence would be taught using global television. Nepal was the first country to invite the Maharishi to broadcast on television. Then a TV station set up in Los Angeles. In 1975 The Age of Enlightenment in Asia was started in Delhi by the Maharishi to boost the World Plan. In England he started The Spiritual Regeneration Movement which was later registered as a charity. The aim was to save the world in three years through meditation. To promote a more secular image in the U.S. the Maharishi formed the International Meditation Society (IMS) and the Students' International Meditation Society (SIMS), which became the fastest growing student movement in the U.S.
There was phenomenal growth in the 1970's with 30,000 people taking up TM a month in the U.S. In 1975 there were two TM books in the top ten bestseller lists for several weeks.
In 1971 the Maharishi International University had been founded. This has taken over many of the earlier organisations.
TM continues to be a successful international movement. There has been acceptance of TM by governments - the U.S. Government has funded TM research projects - and educationalists, even in India, so TM is taught in schools, prisons, and in business.

Symbols The TM meditation technique is based on a mental symbol, the mantra, which is repeated for twenty minutes twice a day. Part of the mystery was thought to be that your mantra was given individually to you, but fraud charges in the U.S. revealed that TM mantras are chosen according to the age of the adherent. And in fact there are only sixteen mantras in all. That such a simple technique could have such success shows the superficial spiritual awareness of the Westerners who through TM first encountered Eastern religion. The writer was at a yoga ashram in India in the 1970's where five different mantras for different purposes were given in five minutes to each student by the guru at the end of a three month course simply as a small bonus to add to the months of steady yoga practice.

Adherents By 1977 there were in the U.S. 370 TM centres with 6,000 teachers and 600,000 meditators (Mangalwadi 1977, 105). There is now a worldwide TM chain of centres and universities with 300 in the U.S. and 60 in the U.K. The U.K. has 100,000 meditators and 100 full-time teachers. The worldwide estimate of practising meditators is four million (Puttick in Longman 1994, 248-9).

Main Centre
 For the world, the Maharishi International University with main centres in Los Angeles and Seelisburg in Switzerland. In India, at the Academy of Meditation, Shankaracharya Nagar, Rishikesh.