QUOTE (Chanahari @ Feb 11 2008, 03:07 AM)
And how could MMY and TM hook people up, if it was just an initiation into a mantra? How did they made people stay around for more, to go to programs, to join an organization? One would think, "once initiated, always initiated", and the initiatee could easily meditate throughout his/her life without even meeting other TMers again.
Before a person became initiated (a rather loose term compared to being initiated into KC for example) into practicing TM in the 70’s, you would attend an introductory lecture and a follow up lecture. All a person would have to do was pay the $35, bring a white handkerchief, fruit and some fresh flowers to your initiation session. You would go into a nice room, usually something small inside a house, where you were asked to kneel with the TM teacher in front of a picture of MMY’s spiritual guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the Shankarachara of Jyotimath, called then simply Guru Deva. They would then use your hanky, fruit and flowers as part of the offering that included incense and water, while they chanted their pranam prayers to the lineage of Shankarachara, though they would never explain the whole thing to you, just saying it was a formality and that no more Vedic references would be given outside of hearing your mantra given to you very quietly, where you would then repeat it in a low tone for a few seconds before you were told to say it silently, then led into another room, where you would proceed to do your first silent meditation for 20 minutes. There were about 3 follow up meetings that included group meditations with your teacher and all those initiated on the same day you were, after that, you were let go into the world to meditate on your own.
The TM program hooked many people by organizing a system that encouraged every new meditator to come to their local center for monthly checkups called Checking. You would sit with the TM teacher and meditate for about 10 minutes, then he or she would ask you a series of questions as to the ease and comfort to the practice, having set answers to guide the newbie if any problems popped up in their practice. This supposedly adjusted the experience to be positive and working correctly. Of course, while you visited the center, they would tell you about daily or weekly group meditations that you could attend at the center, for it was widely advertised within the movement that the meditation experience would exponentially improve and make one evolve more quickly by practicing in a group. Once you did this for a while, you were encouraged to attend weekend or weeklong meditation courses, where one would learn hatha yoga postures and breathing pranayam techniques to go along with the regular meditation. Soon your 20 minutes turned into 30 or 40-minute sessions.
With time, they introduced advanced mantras that one could receive (for a price) after meditating after so many years. They would also encourage you to take part in the center and help out for initiations or group programs. One could learn to be a checker, the person who guided people in meditation in order to see that it worked properly. This would usually lead to a recommendation to become a teacher, where you would go to Switzerland and be around MMY for a month or two, meditating for hours a day while learning how to dispense out mantras to the public and learn the Puja ceremony.
TM would evolve in the late 70’s, introducing the practice of the Sidhi’s of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, where one would learn to levitate, become invisible, develop the strength of an elephant…etc. This changed things within the movement, taking the emphasis off their simple meditation technique and introducing a set of practices that once learned, turned your 20 minutes twice a day into 1 1/2 hours twice a day, plus the cost of learning the siddhi’s were a few thousand dollars back then. They also developed a permanent course for men and women called Mother Divine and Purusha, where you became a practicing celibate monk, though without the robes.
One did not have to do all that though, one could take their meditation and never go back to the center or even think about their organization again, and I’ve met a few people that just did that. I was mostly that way by nature, not trusting authority due to my drug induced Marxist youthful past, but my peers and girlfriend at the time talked me into taking advanced classes and a few week long courses that lead eventually to spending a few months in Israel doing group meditation and flying (hopping really) while trying to supposedly bringing peace to the Middle East. It was that experience that led to some dissatisfaction with the whole process, thinking I needed a more in-depth look into the culture and tradition behind all the scientific, political application of meditating. Because at the time there were few if hardly any institutions teaching the tradition of Shankcharya, it was Gaudiya Vaisnavism that caught my attention and that was the direction I took after the TM experience. TM lead to KC and in some ways that totality took 25 years out of my life pursuing unobtainable spiritual perfection, though much hard learned direction that led back to the unique self that we all are and manifests in so many creative surprising ways. I am sure many still in both camps would argue that I probably did not practice it correctly or purely enough to leave both institutions, but it was what it was, just like we all have some unique way or road to travel in order to arrive at the destination of who we are at this distinct precious moment, whatever and wherever that may be.