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Transcendental Deception: Behind the TM curtain
New book examines TM’s poorly designed and vastly over-hyped “science,” hidden agendas, and David Lynch’s campaign to push a million public school kids into Transcendental Meditation while falsely claiming it is not a religion
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular. Secular and rooted in scientific research, various forms of mindfulness meditation are widely practiced in schools and in the workplace. But not all meditation is created equal. In the new book, Transcendental Deception, author Aryeh Siegel exposes the hidden world of the enormously wealthy and highly secretive Transcendental Meditation organization.
Siegel was first introduced to TM in the early 1970s. What began as a casual interest in meditation to relieve stress would morph into an all-encompassing way of life for nearly ten years. He became a TM teacher, participated in small meetings with TM’s guru and founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and even had a place in Maharishi’s entourage in 1975 when he appeared twice on the Merv Griffin Show.
While primarily working at TM’s U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, Siegel was involved with some early studies that were supposed to demonstrate the power and efficacy of the TM approach. He also participated in what was called the “TM-Sidhi program” which promised that meditators could learn to levitate, become invisible, develop miraculous powers, and achieve permanent perfect health with eternal life.
Over time, Siegel became disillusioned with both his TM practice and the organization. He didn’t need his Ph.D. coursework in behavioral science at UCLA to understand that the so-called research TM was pushing was biased, poorly designed, and flawed. He came to believe that much of what passed for science in the TM world was too often a form of contrived promotion. Although Siegel seriously practiced TM and the Sidhi program for years, he experienced no miraculous powers, no flying or levitating, just wishful thinking and hype. It became increasingly obvious to him that TM was a poorly adapted form of Hinduism, a religion, yet falsely promoted to the public as secular and scientific. Siegel further experienced the TM organization as becoming increasingly authoritarian and cultic.
Transcendental Deception, the first comprehensive look at the TM movement written by a former insider, accomplishes the following:
Deconstructs the practices and philosophy of the Maharishi and the TM organization, demonstrating just how much it is a religion
Analyzes TM’s secret religious ceremony – the Puja – and explains why the TM movement keeps its content hidden, preventing the public, students and teachers from understanding the true meaning of the Sanskrit ritual
Explores how TM continues to maintain the fantasy that it is not a religion, but instead endlessly repeats the narrative that it is secular and scientific
Analyzes key research on the TM’s supposed benefits and demonstrates how most of it is preliminary, inconsequential or biased
For many people, this book will be a surprise, even shocking. Over the decades, millions have started TM, most looking for a simple form of meditation to reduce stress. Some people clearly benefit, but that’s equally true of many types of meditation, not just TM. Most people who practice TM know nothing about the organization and what goes on behind the scenes. Many celebrities who practice TM (Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tom Hanks are among them) have also been deceived.
Siegel says, “To be clear, I am not against meditation, mindfulness, or Hinduism. In America, anyone is free to practice any religion, but no religion has a place in our public-school system. Also, what concerns me is the deception at the heart of TM. TM has falsely promoted itself for decades, so it is important that people know the truth. That’s why I wrote this book.”
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