Jun 14, 2024

Weber’s Transcendental Meditation in America

Weber’s Transcendental Meditation in America
Weber’s Transcendental Meditation in America
By MUM Student -June 23, 2014

Weber, J. (2014). Transcendental Meditation in America: How a New Age Movement Remade a Small Town in Iowa. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press.

Joseph Weber’s “Transcendental Meditation in America” exhumes the emotions and mindset of many people ensnared in the whirlwind of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s influence — largely what I consider the socio-political fall-out from Maharishi’s propagation of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Webber intuitively frames the book on objective standpoints that span beyond the facade of enlightened perfection to which the TM movement stakes claim, and fleshes out the book with a flood of data, statistics, and compelling first hand accounts of the collateral damage obstructing the life, liberty, and pursuit-of-happiness of too many citizens in Fairfield, Iowa, and beyond.

I consider the book a what-you-need-to-know guide to approaching all things Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and encourage anyone associated with — or considering associating themselves with — any Transcendental Meditation (TM) enterprise such as Maharishi University of Management (MUM) to give it a read.

Weber’s worldly writing waxes wonderfuly wicked, compelling — and sometimes shocking — details unviel the cultural volatility woven into the social fabirc of Fairfield, and the widespread fear seeded in so many people — both with and apart from the TM movement. While proponents of TM, such as the administration of its Maharishi University of Management, propose fear, destruction, and quarreling are supposedly bred by south-facing entrances, I might suggest that fear is bred by entirely different patterns of intent. (Weber, 2014, p. 9)

Take for example the account of Dale, who “Feared his comments would be taken out of context and was uncomfortable about appearing in this book” (Weber, 2014, p. 16) Or others such as Jimmy Caplan who “recalls one night when when the noise of guns firing outside awoke him” expressing “I thought that was the end of me” when Mahesh secretly placed him and others in bullets’ way amid Iran’s revolution in the late 1970s.(Weber, 2014, p. 24)

Annother account stating

following a guru in this day and age is dangerous, [it is] taking orders from one person and putting all of your personal intuitions and feelings behind and devoting it to this one person, who is no longer living

was waged by a young critic who preferred remaining unnamed for fear she might be cast as “anti-movement.” (Weber, 2014, p. 181)

Fears of forcing meditation into schools were leveraged against Connie Boyer in her run for an Iowa state house seat.(Weber, 2014, p. 60) Boyer goes so far as to attribute the fear in part to religion. (Weber, 2014, p. 61) Even fears of radio waves from wireless utility meters and wireless internet surface as TM’s subscribers attribute a myriad of illnesses to the technology. (Weber, 2014, p. 66 & 109)

Consider the fear of being fired from Maharishi University of Management for deviating from “established dogma” as mentioned by Kai Druhl.(Weber, 2014, p. 150) Or Radiance Dairy owner and operator Francis Thicke, who expresses “At first, people were a little bit afraid of me because I was a meditator…” (Weber, 2014, p.67) Fear of loosing the farm as posed by the Palm family, the 119 year operators of the farm — owners since 1942 — who fought a legal battle against seizure on the basis of eminent domain waged by Maharishi Vedic City proponents. (Weber, 2014, p. 170)

Explicit references to fear being leveraged as a devicive social control mechanisms are proposed by David and Earl Kaplan — once supporters of the TM movement — who state that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ruled “… through lies, fear, and deceit.” (Weber, 2014, p. 145)

But even Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself seemed to harbor fear of his prominent adherent Deepak Chopra’s success, which ultimately led to Chopra’s disassociation with the TM movement in 1994. (Weber, 2014, p. 162) Perhaps Maharishi’s most notable fear is that his own “Maharishi Effect” was in fact the biggest fish on the guru’s stringer. In response to Earl Kaplan’s request to invest heavily in a force of 10,000 meditators in India in lieu of world peace, Kaplan says

Mahesh looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘Earl, if we created the group then we don’t know if it would create world peace or not. We would have to have the group and see what effect it has.’

(Weber, 2014, p. 146)

I find the underlying fear of Maharishi Vedic City’s rapidly approaching collapse quite compelling in consideration of the architectural residue that will inexorably remain in wake. (Weber, 2014, p. 189) In my opinion, collapse gives rise to the burst of a Vedic Housing Bubble as lending institutions — desperate to recover loans — are forced to short-sell an entire city, perhaps bankrupting neighboring towns in the process. I sometimes envision tractors pulling chain bound kalashes from roof-tops much in the likeness which the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, in Firdaus Square Bagdhad, April 9th of 2003.

Keen to marketing and branding campaigns, I second Mike Doughney’s stance that “… TM is a Western product, reflecting aspects of Western culture. It is as Hindu as Chow Mein is Chineese …” — eliciting one of a few key lol-moments of the read.(Weber, 2014, p. 155)

The coupe de grace, chapter 10 ‘Death in Paradise’, underscores some of the TM movement’s greatest pitfalls — particularly at Maharishi University of Management (MUM). We can rapidly identify the usual pattern of justification and marginalization of misfortune in Bevan Morris’ retort that: Maharishi University of Management (MUM) cannot be expected to be free of the influence which gives rise to the “16,000 murders a year and 18 million people who are seriously mentally ill” in America. (Weber, 2014, p. 99)

Statements of this nature, by Morris, seem statistically ill, a fallacy of division; confusing truth about the whole with the truth about all or some of the parts. While the nation might harbor murder totals near 16,000 people per year, but an unfortuante share are university students. While many universities enroll 10,000 – 100,000 students per year, Maharishi University does well to breach an enrollment of 600 student’s per year. (Weber, 2014, p. 61) I’d rather be one student of 10,000 or 100,000 in the event Morris’ common-every-day-force-of-violence readys to strike. As Jim Carrey so eloquently orated at Maharishi University of Management’s graduation commencement address “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality…”, perhaps Jim excludes the possibility that some choose — at times — a path based on logic, stats, and real-life odds.

In other words, these deep social misfortunes too often manifest in the loss of life — both homicidal and suicidal — breaching the university’s “fair share” in respect to statistics such as enrollment and population. Moreover, in wake of the movement’s claim to the “Maharishi Effect”, we would expect that occurrences would fall far below the “fair share” in the least. I second the notion of the Movement’s “fear of bad publicity” in reflection on my personal experiences with MUM’s “circle-the-wagons” approach. (Weber, 2014, p. 90)

There are too many accounts to exclude the possibility reality that both positive and negative outcomes from experiences with Transcendental Meditation harbor some degree of truth — in my opinion, there’s too much negative truth to justify the positive truth. Perhaps it’s not that 50% of accounts of Transcendental Meditation related experiences are positive, it’s more a matter that 50% of the accounts are negative — and in either grade book I fear 50% is a “Failure.


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