Meditation Blog : August 2005 Archives
In a recent interview with Newsweek, the film director David Lynch talked about his plans to raise $7 billion for his new foundation — the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education. Lynch has been a dedicated practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) since the 1970s. The foundation's purpose is to make instruction in TM available to schoolchildren across the United States. Lynch believes that the biggest problem facing children is stress, and that TM is the ideal antidote. While Lynch's intentions seem noble, TM and its parent organization have a controversial reputation. The Journal News article "Meditation Controversy" gives an overview of the TM movement, its efforts to introduce TM into schools, and presents the viewpoints of the organization's critics and supporters.
TM was trademarked as a meditation technique under the auspices of the Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation. The corporation's name is derived from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded TM in the 1950s and remains the head of the organization. Here is a list of the corporation's trademarks, as taken from the TM website, which gives an indication of the organization's expansive activities:
® Transcendental Meditation, TM, TM-Sidhi, Maharishi Ayur-Veda, Maharishi Ayurveda, Science of Creative Intelligence, Maharishi, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, Maharishi Global Construction, Maharishi Yoga, Maharishi Yagya, Maharishi Vedic Astrology, Maharishi Jyotish, Maharishi Gandharva Veda, Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health, Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology, Maharishi Instant Relief, Instant Relief, Maharishi Rejuvenation, Maharishi Rasayana Program, Maharishi Vedic Management, Maharishi Corporate Development Program, Consciousness-Based, Maharishi Vedic University, Maharishi Vedic School, Maharishi Vedic Center, Maharishi Ayur-Veda School, Maharishi Ayur-Veda University, Maharishi Ayur-Veda College, Maharishi Ayur-Veda Foundation, Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center, Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, Maharishi Medical Center, Maharishi Vedic Medical Center, Maharishi Medical College, Maharishi Vedic, Maharishi Vedic Medicine, Maharishi Vedic Psychology, Maharishi Self-Pulse, Maharishi Heaven on Earth, Maharishi Center for Excellence in Management, Maharishi Vedic Management, Maharishi Master Management, Natural Law Based Management, Maharishi Corporate Revitalization Program, Maharishi Global Administration through Natural Law, Maharishi Vedic Development Fund, Thousand-Headed Purusha, Maharishi Thousand-Headed Purusha, Maharishi Purusha, Purusha, Thousand-Headed Mother Divine, Mother Divine, Ideal Girls' School, 24 Hour Bliss, Spiritual University of America, Breath of Serenity, Maharishi Amrit Kalash, Maharishi College of Vedic Medicine, Vedic Science, Maharishi Vedic Science, Maharishi Vedic Observatory, Vastu Vidya, Maharishi Vastu, Time Zone Capital, Council of Supreme Intelligence, Prevention Wing of the Military, are registered or common law trademarks licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation and used under sublicense.
Other than describing it as a "simple, natural, effortless, easily learned technique," the TM website gives no specific detail on the technique itself. The site states, "The Transcendental Meditation technique must be learned personally from a certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program. The technique cannot be learned from a book, video or audio tape." The initial course of instruction, which comprises four 1-2 hour sessions, costs $2500. Subsequent courses in "advanced techniques" are charged at the same rate.
The TM movement has numerous critics, some of whom are former students and teachers of TM. These critics have made detailed information on the organization and the technique available online. Trancenet offers a comprehensive overview of TM, including statements by prominent former members of the movement. Meditation Information Network describes itself as "supporting critical examination of Transcendental Meditation and the programs associated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi." Falling Down the TM Rabbit Hole is maintained by Joe Kellett, a former TM teacher, whose purpose is to explain "How Transcendental Meditation really works, a critical opinion." Each of these sites reveal the TM technique itself — the repetition of a mantra derived from the Hindu tradition. These critics argue that despite TM's claim to be non-religious and non-sectarian, the TM movement is based in a belief-system and religiously motivated.