Article written by Indira Gilbert (Pillay)
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is being introduced in many schools in South Africa (and abroad) under the name of CBE (consciousness-based education) claiming that it assists the learner to concentrate and subsequently produce improved academic results. Not only is its religious nature withheld from those it is planned to recruit – its religious nature is actually denied. The TM movement plans to get into an education system (they report however, that they are already functioning in many schools in South Africa – the names of the schools can be obtained from them) by training educators to meditate. The educators will then meditate with the learners for 15 minutes at the beginning and again at the end of the school day. The school is required to amend its time-table in order to accommodate the programme. Nothing is mentioned about the rights of learners concerning TM or the modifying of the time-table for the entire school.
The TM movement promotes their agenda by:
- disguising with the name – CBE (consciousness-based education) - when approaching the education fraternity;
- highlighting the so-called benefits which were conducted by their organization, their followers, or research funded by them; and
- not explaining exactly what their method of improving school behaviour/performance is, nor how it is done.
On gaining the interest of those addressed in improving our schools (and everyone wants to improve the school set-up), educators are asked to sign-in for training. The training too is not explained. Only when those interested in the programme go in for training are they exposed to what actually happens.
Those who have signed into the programme are asked to bring an “offering of thanks” to the fathers of the programme – the gurus of the past. The offering has to be cloth (a handkerchief), flowers, fruit, and camphor. A payment too is necessary (all in the name of “an offering of thanks” – how scientific can that be?). A ceremony of initiation is conducted – the Puja ceremony (not a ceremony or ritual of thanksgiving as claimed). The prayers are done in Sanskrit so that the persons interested in the programme do not understand what is being said nor do they realize that they are submitting to deities. Camphor is burnt, water is sprinkled, and flowers, cloth (white handkerchief) and incense, sandal paste, rice, flour, incense, fruit, betel leaf and coconut are offered to the gods and goddesses while the invocation is read. All these have significance to the Hindu faith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camphor; http://www.india-crafts.com/articles/puja-items.html; http://www.hinduwebsite.com/rituals.asp). The Hindu ritual of worshipping a deity (Puja/ Pooja), is an elaborate, holy ceremony (http://www.india-crafts.com/articles/puja-items.html). The English version of the puja chanted during the ceremony can be obtained by writing to the address below.
Persons of Indian origin are usually aware of the meaning of such offerings, of the puja ceremony and Sanskrit prayers – and those who do not belong to the Hindu faith usually back down from the programme. The other ethnic/racial groups do not have any such point of reference and go along with the programme on the basis of what is said to them viz. that it is not a religious practice – only an offering of thanks.
Those who continue in the programme are each given a mantra (individually and secretly) and are led to believe that theirs is a unique mantra which must not be disclosed to anyone lest it lose its significance. How scientific can this be? In reality there are only 15 mantras. Hence 1/15 of the TM practicing population (6.67%) shares the same mantra.
Well-meaning educators (with the consent of governing body members) will subsequently take this programme to their learners who will readily accept it as it comes from their educators and the education system. The parents likewise do not question the programme. If they do, educators who know no better will positively market the programme to them. Even if parents are addressed by the movement itself, they will be provided the same incorrect information as were the educators. This is exactly how the TM movement is moving into various countries. I have been led to believe that they have already entered many so-called “black” and “white” schools in South Africa, and a few of the so-called “Indian” schools. A list of the mantras and the English version is attached.
TM is a religious practice. Beside this aspect being withheld from all whom the movement targets to recruit, when confronted they actually deny the religious nature of TM. They insist that people from any religion can and do practice it. While this may be true it is because the true nature of TM is withheld – people are being misled. This is the worldwide propagation strategy. According to the Maharishi (the founder of TM) TM is:
- “a path to God.”
- “the only way to salvation and success in life; there is no other way.”
- “a very good form of prayer which leads us to the field of the creator, to the source of creation, to the field of God.”
- a means whereby “a sinner very easily comes out of the field of sin and becomes a virtuous man.”
- the wisdom of transcendental meditation, which is the knowledge of the integration of life established in the Absolute, came to lotus-born BRAHMA from LORD NARAYANA. (http://www.lightlink.com/trance/secrets/puja/tradt.shtml)
The Maharishi’s motivation in promoting TM as non-religious is “shrewd opportunism”:
“Whenever and wherever religion dominates the mass consciousness, transcendental deep meditation should be taught in terms of religion….Today when politics is guiding the destiny of man, the teaching should be primarily based on the field of politics and secondarily on the plane of economics…… . It seems, for the present, that this transcendental deep meditation should be made available to the peoples through the agencies of government.”
A mantra is a religious syllable from the Sanskrit language. Mantras are primarily used as spiritual conduits, words or vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Mantras are interpreted to be effective as vibration, which may include verbal repetition in the form of chanting or internal mental incantation. For this reason great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation. Mantras originated in the Vedic religion of India, later becoming an essential part of the Hindu tradition. Mantras are used in Eastern spiritual traditions to divert the mind by focusing it on a spiritual idea. (http://www.indiaclub.com/Shop/SearchResults.asp?ProdStock=26294). Regular chanting is expected to create certain vibrations in the body and mind which would facilitate the spiritual transformation of ones ordinary self. http://www.hinduwebsite.com/rituals.asp
The TM mantras are not “meaningless sounds,” – they are inseparable from the names of religious deities!According to scholar Sir John Woodroffe’s Garland of Letters TM mantras have been widely available throughout India for centuries. The Maharishi himself, in a quote from the Beacon Light of the Himalyas, explains mantras to be a spiritual tool to be used to call on spiritual beings “on other levels of creation.” He explains the deeper, religious purpose of the mantras:
“We do something here according to Vedic rites, particularly, specific chanting to produce an effect in some other world, draw the attention of those higher beings or gods living there. The entire knowledge of the mantras or hymns of the Vedas is devoted to man’s connection, to man’s communication with the higher beings in different strata of creation.”
“For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods and make us happier in every walk of life.”
“The mantra has always been there, recognized as the most effective means among the Hindu religious disciplines” (Swami Ritajananda).
“The Hindus believe that one can purify oneself from sin by meditation on the mantra, be liberated and attain bliss. This is salvation” (Swami Ritajananda).
“The sound Om is very important – the Divine Shepherd, i.e. God, Himself becomes the mantra Om” (Swami Ritajananda).
The mantra is the sound symbol of the Supreme Lord. The Name of the Lord [Om] and the fact of repeating it with faith ensure that the devotee attains all he is searching for (Swami Ritajananda).
Om (AUM) is considered to be a very sacred word. It is the universal name of the Lord. It imparts divinity to every thing it touches. When it is joined with another word as prefix, the word becomes divine in nature and when it is uttered it creates certain vibrations which have the ability to transform the consciousness. Therefore in Hinduism all chanting is preceded by the use of this sacred syllable (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/rituals.asp; http://sanskritdocuments.org/articles/Hindu_Rituals.pdf).
The mantras are in Sanskrit – this prevents those who are initiated from realizing that they are actually mediating on names of deities. The list of the mantras can be obtained by writing to the address below.
Documented side-effects of TM
It also needs to be noted that there are documented side-effects of TM which, for obvious reasons, is not spelt out. Reported negative effects include muscle twitches, convulsions, headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, inability to focus, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, dissociation, depersonalization, nervous breakdown, and suicidal inclination.
There are various implications arising from the practice of TM (http://minet.org/Documents/German-Study).
As an aside, while their many claims sound impressive, an analysis of their studies presents an entirely different picture of the ‘Maharishi Effect’. (http://www.behind-the-tm-facade.org/transcendental_meditation-harmful-personal.htm).
Transcendental Meditation was ruled a religion by the United States District Court, District of New Jersey (October 19, 1977) and the TM group and their literature was removed from all schools. A detail of the court ruling is attached.
Other Issues of concern concerning the introduction of TM into the schools
Permission being obtained from parents for learners to participate in the TM programme will make no difference as most of our parents (and the public) are not aware of what TM really is. Parents will subsequently be giving uninformed permission. As educators (guardians of our children), and should protect our children from any offer which is not open and which intentionally mislead in their presentation.
Some principals/educators in schools in Chatsworth have come together to train for the implementation of the programme despite being advised that the practice is deeply religious-based. I am not against the teaching of religion at school – all religions should be taught at school, but they should be taught as religions. Once TM is accepted into the school system, yoga (another form of Hindu worship) will be introduced for the physical education classes, and we will not even be aware that we are actually practicing Hinduism.
Article written by Indira Gilbert (Pillay)