Posts Tagged ‘Transcendental Meditation’

A 17-year landmark study @maharishiuni found group meditation decreased US national stress

December 25, 2022

World Journal of Social Science publishes study showing that group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi techniques by √1% of a population decreased multiple stress indicators in the U.S.. Scientists call for a group to create world peace.

During a five-year demonstration period, a group of 1725 meditators practiced the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi techniques twice daily to create coherence in US collective consciousness. Murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, robberies, infant mortality, drug-related deaths, vehicle fatalities, and child deaths by injuries all decreased, by 6% to 21% compared to the seven previous years. When the size of the group decreased over the next five years, stress began to increase again on all indicators. (Summary for EurekAlert! Press Release.)

Every year during 2000 to 2006 there were tens of thousands of stress-related tragedies in the U.S.. Official statistics from the FBI and Centers for Disease Control indicate that there were 15,440 murders, 93,438 rapes, and 86,348 child and adolescent deaths from accidents each year to give a few examples. This current study, published in the World Journal of Social Science, is the longest and most comprehensive of 50 studies to demonstrate what has been named the Maharishi Effect, in honor of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Maharishi International University (MIU) founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The results can be seen in the chart below. The blue line indicates that during the Baseline period of 2000 to 2006 the size of the TM and TM-Sidhi group located at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa increased to reach the √1% of the U.S. population (1725 people) and stayed there for five years during the Demonstration period from 2007 to 2011. All stress indicators immediately started decreasing. In the Post period when the size of the group size began to decline the rate of decrease in stress slowed and then it reversed and began to increase.

Indicators of Stress in the United States

The size of the MIU TM and TM-Sidhi Group is indicated by the blue line, the eight indices of stress in the United States are represented by the lines in different colors, and the US stress index—the mean of all eight variables—is indicated by the red line. The figure shows a phase transition to a global reduction of negativity in the U.S. when the critical threshold of the √1% of the U.S. population was practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program together in a group. When the Group size dropped significantly, the trend was reversed.

Lead author Dr. David Orme-Johnson said: “What is unique about this study is that the results are so visually striking and on such a large scale. We see reduced stress on multiple indicators at the predicted time for the entire United States over a five-year period. And when the size of the group declined, national stress began increasing again. Clearly, the group was causing the effect.”

“What is unique about this study is that the results are so visually striking and on such a large scale. We see reduced stress on multiple indicators at the predicted time for the entire United States over a five-year period. And when the size of the group declined, national stress began increasing again. Clearly, the group was causing the effect.”

Lead author Dr. David Orme-Johnson

Co-author Dr. Kenneth Cavanaugh commented: “This study used state-of-the-art methods of time series regression analysis for eliminating potential alternative explanations due to intrinsic pre-existing trends and fluctuations in the data. We carefully studied potential alternative explanations in terms of changes in economic conditions, political leadership, population demographics, and policing strategies. None of these factors could account for the results.”

The fact that all variables started decreasing only after the square root of one percent of the U.S. was reached indicates a phase transition. Like when water does not turn to ice until 32◦ F is reached, national stress did not start decreasing until the U.S. √1% transition threshold was achieved.

The fact that all variables started decreasing only after the square root of one percent of the U.S. was reached indicates a phase transition. Like when water does not turn to ice until 32◦ F is reached, national stress did not start decreasing until the U.S. √1% transition threshold was achieved.

The chart shows that in 2013 when the size of the TM and TM-Sidhi group quickly dropped all stress indicators abruptly increased. Apparently, the rapid drop in national coherence shook the nation.

The scientists used regression analysis to estimate how many deaths and events were reduced by the meditator group. For example, image 2 shows the red dotted line representing the Baseline trend projected into the Demonstration and Post periods. During the Demonstration period drug-related deaths (the black line) fell to 14% below their Baseline trend and were another 15 % lower during the Post period, for a total of 79,941 fewer drug deaths. The chart also shows that in the absence of the coherence creating group drug deaths eventually returned to their Baseline level.

Drug-Induced Deaths in the U.S.

IMAGE 2: The red dotted line is the number of Drug Deaths forecasted from the Baseline trend. The black line is the actual number of Drug Deaths. Similar analyses were conducted for all variables and the results are displayed in the Table.

TABLE: RESULTS OF REGRESSION ANALYSESThe first column shows the number of events per year during the Baseline period (Intercept). The second column shows the change per year during the Baseline (Slope). The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth columns show the thousands of events averted during the Demonstration, during the Post periods, the total events averted, and percent change, respectively. The last column shows the estimated total events averted by each individual participant in the MIU TM and TM-Sidhi group.

The unified field level of natural law

The finding that the effect was holistic, causing all variables to move up and down together, supports the theory expressed by both Maharishi from the Vedic perspective and by quantum physicist and MIU president Dr. John Hagelin from quantum field theory that the TM and TM-Sidhi groups are creating coherence in collective consciousness from the unified field level of natural law. This is big. It is evidence of the existence of the unified field from a completely different approach than using particle accelerators and detecting gravity waves.

This discovery of the unified field is more than just an intellectual knowledge. It is arguably the most immediately highly practical technological discovery in the history of science. The invention of the wheel mobilized humanity. The printing press, radio, the telephone, the internet, and satellites increased our ability to communicate with each other across vast distances and time. The discovery of DNA opened our minds to the subtle mechanics of natural law underlying the evolution and growth of all life forms. These are among the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. But what discovery can reduce human suffering as comprehensively as group meditation?

Relationship between individual and collective consciousness

The paper reviews the many concepts of collective consciousness as they have occurred throughout history in the sciences and humanities. None have practical applications as Maharishi’s does and none have been so empirically verified.

The paper discusses Maharishi’s theory, which holds that every individual automatically contributes to collective consciousness and reciprocally, collective consciousness influences every individual. This is universally true whatever the form of government—democracy, republic, monarchy, communism, or dictatorship.

It is essential for every individual to use evidence-based technologies to reduce their own stress and at the same time, the responsibility of every government to provide these technologies to everyone.

The paper summarizes the hundreds of studies showing that practice of TM increases coherence in the individual, as indicated by such measures as increased brain coherence, decreased anxiety, depression, and anger, increased creativity, increased IQ and emotional and social intelligence, and decreased PTSD symptoms, prison recidivism, drug and alcohol addictions, and sickness rates in all categories of disease. More coherent individuals form a more coherent society.

The Howard and Alice Settle Foundation

A grant for 75 million dollars from the Howard and Alice Settle Foundation provided stipends for participants to be in the group and provided funding to bring several hundred visiting TM-Sidhi experts from India to further augment the MIU group. Dr. Orme-Johnson commented: “This is a lot of money, but the savings from the 10% reduction in crimes would save over 200 billion dollars, not to mention all the other savings from reducing other sources of stress in the country.”

Scientists call for a group to create world peace

The paper concludes with a call to create a permanent √1% group for the whole world, 8,000 participants practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program together in one place. And as an engineering safety factor, a √1% group on every continent is needed. The world is so interconnected, no one is safe until everyone is safe, all living in harmony. This is easily within reach of any government or the world’s wealthiest citizens. The person who does it will be remembered as the greatest leader in history.

IMAGE 3: GROUP MEDITATION AT MAHARISHI INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY. Since 1979 twice daily group meditations have been held at MIU in Fairfield, Iowa for the purpose of creating coherence in the U.S. and world collective consciousness.

. . . . .

JOURNAL: World Journal of Social Science. ARTICLE TITLE: Field-Effects of Consciousness: A Seventeen-Year Study of the Effects of Group Practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programs on Reducing National Stress in the United States. PUBLISHED: Dec 14, 2022. DOI:10.5430/wjss.v9n2p1 METHOD OF RESEARCH: Data/statistical analysis. SUBJECT OF RESEARCH: People. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The published article contains 5 Tables and 10 Figures (Graphs).

News coverage

Besides the regular science news coverage so far, one mainstream article stands out—an excellent report by Brooke Kato in the New York Post: Group meditation curbs stress, whether you do it or not: study.

Thrive Global invited Dr. Orme-Johnson to submit an article on his study. They published it Wed Jan 25, 2023: A Seventeen-Year Landmark Study Finds that Group Meditation Decreases U.S. National Stress.

Steven Spielberg tells Martin Scorsese that he learned TM 3 years ago, and how he got David Lynch to be in his new film, The Fabelmans

December 15, 2022

Martin Scorsese recently interviewed Steven Spielberg following an NYC screening of The Fabelmans at the Directors Guild of America Theater.

Photo by Waldemar Dalenogare

Deadline posted this article about it: Steven Spielberg Tells Martin Scorsese Why A Very Private Director Made ‘The Fabelmans’ & How Laura Dern Convinced David Lynch To Play John Ford.

In it, Spielberg mentions how he and his wife had learned TM, Transcendental Meditation, 3 years ago through the David Lynch Foundation. He also revealed how the idea came up to ask David Lynch to play the role of John Ford in the film, how he pulled it off, and how David Lynch prepared for his cameo role. Apparently, David was unrecognizable as he took on the persona of the late, great filmmaker.

Entertainment writer Tomris Laffly was at the Q&A and posted several video clips of that conversation on Twitter, for which we are grateful.

And here is a part of that movie clip they talked about, especially the cigar-lighting scene, which Amanda Dugan just tweeted of David Lynch as John Ford in The Fabelmans. She later sent me the full YouTube clip of David Lynch as John Ford, which I’ve embedded here.

David Lynch playing John Ford being directed by Steven Spielberg in a semi-autobiographical film about his life.

Later added: On Jan 5, 2023, Jimmy Kimmel asked Laura Dern to share the story of how Steven Spielberg asked her to get David Lynch to play the role of John Ford in his film. She was the catalyst in bringing both of these master film directors together to “pay homage” to the master filmmaker they both admired. It’s from 4:36-6:40 and is cued up below.

These articles are worth reading: ScreenRant: David Lynch’s Cameo In Spielberg’s The Fabelmans Explained, Vulture: The Fabelmans’ Brilliant David Lynch Cameo Is All About Perspective, and The Film Stage: Watch Steven Spielberg Talk to Martin Scorsese About How David Lynch Became John Ford.

At the bottom of The Film Stage article, they embed a video from 11 years ago — Spielberg/Grazer/Howard – “John Ford” — of Spielberg recounting in detail the real-life story, when he was 15, of meeting John Ford, which, decades later, would became the ending for The Fabelmans.

Interestingly, Bob Roth @meditationbob had taught TM to both the Scorseses and the Spielbergs. CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, Bob is one of the most sought-after TM teachers around. He has taught thousands of people from all walks of life, including many of today’s top celebrities, like Lady Gaga and Oprah, Ellen, Katy Perry, Sheryl Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Liv Tyler, among others.

Improvement in U.S. homicide trends linked to group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs, new study shows

October 4, 2022

This summer, co-author David W. Orme-Johnson sent out an introduction to the latest Maharishi Effect research study. The previous TM study published on this M.E. research was the fourth in a series at the time. That post also listed the previous three studies: Follow-up study suggests large advanced TM groups reduced murder rates in large US cities. This latest and fifth large-scale study looks at the total national homicide rates before, during, and after the experimental period. This is a new development, which further confirms the efficacy of this approach. What follows is Dr. Orme-Johnson’s synopsis.

The study found that during the years when the size of the coherence creating group at MIU practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM Sidhi techniques reached the predicted national threshold of the square root of 1% of the US population (1725 people) that the rate of national homicides fell dramatically and that when the size of the group decreased once again to below threshold, that homicides turned around and started increasing again.

As there were no known alternative explanations for this phenomenon, because it was predicted in advance, and because it replicates dozens of previous studies, this study provides a powerful new layer of evidence that the group practice of this technology creates coherence in an underlying field of collective consciousness in which we all live and are connected.

Co-author Kenneth Cavanaugh offered some points about the paper.

Sections 1 and 2 of the paper contain a very readable and full discussion of Maharishi’s knowledge of collective consciousness. The final section (Section 6, Discussion) of the paper is also a very readable and nontechnical discussion of possible alternative explanations for the findings and the search for an explanation of the Maharishi Effect from the point of view of modern science.

The article was published in an open access journal with an Asian focus with the hope that its publication will help to increase support in India, Thailand, Nepal and other countries in that region for creation and expansion of large peace-creating groups there, as well as globally. So anyone can download a copy (or read it online) without charge and circulate it freely to others. The URL for this paper is https://doi.org/10.5430/sass.v8n1p1.

New Study Shows Improvement in U.S. Homicide Trends Linked to Group Practice of the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® Programs

A newly published, peer-reviewed study of a 15-year social experiment reports a highly significant 19.3% reduction in U.S. monthly homicide trend 2007-2011 when the average size of a large U.S. group practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs exceeded a theoretically predicted critical threshold. This improved trend was significantly reversed during 2012-2016 after the size of the group declined substantially below the predicted size required to create a measurable reduction in national trends of violent crime: the square root of 1% of the U.S. population (1,725 participants).

When the average size of the group at Maharishi International University (MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa USA was above the predicted threshold during the 2007-2011 “experimental period,” an estimated 10,594 homicide fatalities were averted as a result of the decline in homicide trend relative to the baseline trend for 2002-2006. The probability that the reduced homicide trend could be attributed to chance variation was reported to be less than 1 in 10 billion (p < 1 x 10–10).

As predicted, this declining trend in homicide rates was then significantly reversed in the “post-experimental” period 2012–2016 when, due to reduced funding, the size of the MIU group fell below the critical threshold. During the first post-experimental subperiod 2012-2014, the steeply declining homicide trend leveled out, shifting to a flat trend. (See Figure 1 and Figure 2 below.) The probability that this predicted increase in trend (relative to the experimental-period) could be explained by chance was less than 1 part in a million (p < 1 x 10–6 ).

During the second post-experimental subperiod 2015-2016, homicide rates soared when the group size declined more steeply. The probability of observing this increase in trend relative to the experimental period trend was less than 1 in 100 billion billion (p < 1 x 10–20).

The authors conclude that the theoretically predicted decline and subsequent increase in homicide trend could not be plausibly explained by other factors such as changes in police staffing, policing strategies, incarceration rates, the proportion of U.S. youth age 18-25, seasonal factors including temperature, or economic factors such as unemployment rates and rates of inflation; nor were the results attributable to pre-existing trends or violation of statistical assumptions for the time series regression analysis.

The study was authored by MIU research professors Kenneth L. Cavanaugh, Michael C. Dillbeck, and David W. Orme-Johnson. The article entitled “Evaluation of a Field Theory of Consciousness and Social Change: Group Practice of Transcendental Meditation and Homicide Trends” was published in the July 2022 issue (Vol. 8(1), pp. 1-32) of the international journal Studies in Asian Social Science. A free PDF of the article can be viewed or downloaded at the journal website. The URL for the paper is https://doi.org/10.5430/sass.v8n1p1.

Dr. Cavanaugh remarked: “There are now 32 research articles published in independent, peer-reviewed scientific journals or in proceedings of scientific conferences that validate the effectiveness of this consciousness-based approach to reducing the stress and tensions in national consciousness that fuel the growth of violence, crime, and conflict in society. This evidence-based, cost-effective approach offers an urgently needed solution for reducing the upsurge of social violence and conflict afflicting the U.S. and many other countries globally.”

Figure 1. Monthly U.S. homicide rate per 100 million people (mean daily rate per month) 2002-2016 with seasonally adjusted, fitted trend segments from time series regression analysis.

Figure 2. Monthly rates of change for the U.S. homicide rate (trend slopes) for the four trend segments of the segmented-trend regression model: baseline period, experimental period, and two post-experimental subperiods. The p-values indicate a statistically significant decrease in slope from baseline trend to experimental-period trend (supporting Hypothesis 1) and significant increase in slope from experimental period to the slope for post-experimental trends 2012-2014 and 2015-2016 (supporting Hypothesis 2). The p-value for the difference between the experimental trend slope and that for the 2015-2016 trend is p < 1 x 10–20 (not shown in Figure 2).

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For further references, see Examples of Maharishi Effect Research.

Related: New book suggests how governments can use meditation to help defeat the virus of violence

Bob Roth @meditationbob explains why and how #TranscendentalMeditation @TMmeditation is different from other types of meditation

June 11, 2022

Over the past two years I’ve been joining the daily morning and evening group meditations on Zoom facilitated by Bob Roth, a longtime Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), and author. Before each group meditation, Bob likes to share interesting scientific information about how the body works, or something in nature, and ends the call with an inspirational poem, quotation, or word.

Bob also answers questions that have been sent in. One that comes up often is how is TM different from other types of meditation, in particular mindfulness. Bob’s answer was so clear, I wanted to share it with you. It was transcribed and approved for posting. I found two relevant images in an article on TM Basics in Enjoy TM News that will help highlight Bob’s explanation. He also addresses the notion of the active “monkey mind” and how it can be calmed without effort, a key point.

Bob Roth: I want to address a pretty basic question that many of you know the answer to, but many of you don’t. And since this is a community experience (these group meditations), I want to be sure that everybody feels comfortable and is up to speed. And one of the questions that frequently comes up, even among people who practice TM, is, “How is this different from other types of meditation, or mindfulness meditation?” Because we hear that term: mindfulness meditation.

And I like to use a very simple analogy; that you have a cross section of an ocean. (You ever hear me use that analogy in the past?) And you have choppy waves on the surface. And that can be analogous to the thinking mind. And people who are familiar with different types of meditation often talk about the nature of the mind being like a monkey mind. It bounces all over the place and, just in search of, just bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. It’s an active mind.

And if you want to control the mind, if you want to have a calm mind, then you have to stop the monkey mind from bouncing all over the place. And so, many types of either mindfulness meditation or other types of meditation involve some type of control of the mind.

So, in that cross-section of the ocean, it would be attempting to stop the waves on the surface of the ocean. That if you want to have a calm ocean, what disrupts a calm ocean? Waves. So, if you could stop the waves, then you’d have a calm ocean.

By analogy, if you want to have a calm mind, what disrupts a calm mind? Thoughts. So, if you want to have a calm mind, stop thoughts. You’ll have a calm mind.

That approach to meditation is called a cognitive approach. Cognitive means attending to your thoughts, your moods, your feelings, your actions. So, in that type of meditation, there’s some degree of control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind. We appreciate that the surface of the ocean may be turbulent, but we also recognize that there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, and that there’s a depth to the ocean. And the depth to the deeper levels of the ocean? More silence.

In the same way, we appreciate that the mind is an active mind. All of the thoughts that we have during the day—we’re busy people. And we’re upset about things, and we’re happy about things, and we’re depressed about things, and we’re anxious about things, and we’re in love, and then we’re hurt.

All this stuff that’s going on are like waves on the surface, thoughts on the surface of the mind. And we call that the “gotta-gotta-gotta” mind.

Transcendental Meditation recognizes that there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

We know that when we want to talk to a dear friend about something important to us, we don’t say, Let’s go to a noisy sports bar. We say, Let’s go someplace quiet. Because when it’s quiet, we can think more clearly. We feel more settled within ourselves.

So, deeper levels of the mind—quieter. In Transcendental Meditation, we don’t try to stop thoughts on their surface. We effortlessly access what’s called (go in the direction of what’s called) the source of thought, from where thoughts arise deep within the mind of everyone—from where thoughts arise.

And that level of the mind is naturally quiet, like the ocean depth is naturally quiet. It’s there. That’s the hypothesis. You don’t have to believe in that. That’s the hypothesis. Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

We don’t try to stop thoughts. It’s a waste of time. It’s impossible. It doesn’t accomplish what we hope to accomplish. And what do we hope to accomplish? Just set up the conditions for the mind to settle down within. And why will the mind settle down within? Because your mind doesn’t wander aimlessly. The mind is in search of something more satisfying. When it goes out through the senses, we look for something—something more beautiful, something more delicious, something more fragrant, something more pleasurable.

When we close our eyes, wait a half a minute, and then begin to think the mantra in an effortless way, then the mind is drawn inward to these quieter levels. And as that happens, our body gains deep rest.

And then as we get deep rest, the body throws off stress, and that increases the activity in the body. And then we come up a little bit. And then we settle back down. And we come up and we settle back down. This is Transcendental Meditation.

So, it’s that vertical dimension—accessing a level of the mind that is already quiet. So, no control in this. Concentration and control, just is trying to manipulate the surface. And that is just difficult and uncomfortable and not Transcendental Meditation.

Easy, comfortable, let the attention turn within, and we settle down, we come up. And that is TM—transcendence. Going beyond ordinary human limitations.

More on that in times to come, but let’s do our meditation now.

* * *

This infographic on the TM website compares forms of meditation techniques and their impact on the brain by looking at amount of mental effort required, images of different EEG signatures, types of brainwave activity, and their descriptions identified by the Mayo Clinic.

In this related article, Parade Magazine asked Bob Roth to explain Transcendental Meditation and what makes it so special.

NEW: Nigel Barlow, host of the Change Begins Within podcast in the UK, spoke with Bob Roth on The Work of The David Lynch Foundation. It was a lively informative discussion. Available on platforms, like Spotify, I listened in their SoundCloud album with other related Talking TM tracks.

See this dynamic talk by Nigel Barlow about TM at Biohacking Congress.

See this video on the David Lynch Foundation: Change Begins Within.

You can follow Bob Roth on Twitter @meditationbob and Instagram @meditationbob. To learn Transcendental Meditation, visit tm.org.

Related posts: Meditation Basics by Doug Rexford is the best short video intro to Transcendental Meditation | New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation | Research validates the defining hallmark of Transcendental Meditation—effortlessness

What happened when three Ukrainian students reached out to Maharishi School in Fairfield, Iowa

June 3, 2022

How a conversation among friends sparked an effort to answer the call

I received an email alert and was surprised to read this wonderful story about something close to home. I inquired and found out how it came about from Curt Swarm, an Iowa weekly columnist, and Carol Chestnutt, the person featured in his article. Curt explained:

Well, Carol and Paul attend our church, First Presbyterian in Mt. Pleasant. At coffee, I was talking with Carol and she was asking about my Empty Nest column and I said that I could probably write about her and Paul, that everyone has a story. She then proceeded to tell this wonderful story about bringing the three Ukrainian Students to Maharishi School. Bingo! I asked her if we could get together for an interview so I could write the story. 

We met the next day. Such a wonderful visit. Not only did I interview her, but she gave me a tour of Vedic City and we stopped at one of the homes of a friend of hers. We also stopped at Maharishi University (MIU) and toured the campus.  So, Ken, this is how the story matriculated. 

Curt also gave me permission to “share this story on your blog, newsletter and the world. It’s the kind of story that needs to go around the world. ‘We need to help each other!'” Here is that inspiring story.

The Empty Nest: Three Ukrainian students to attend Maharishi School

By Curt Swarm   May 31, 2022

Mariia, Olena and Sviatoslav (or Sviat, pronounced “Fiat”) were in a quandary. All three are excellent students and college bound, but because of the war, their lives are scattered all over, some in other countries. These are teenagers, mind you, but they realized they had to take charge. They went to niche.com and searched for schools. They knew they wanted to go to the United States where they would be safer (hopefully). They did not want the east or west coasts because they feared the coasts could be the target of Russian nuclear attacks. The Midwest should be safer. They found that Maharishi School in Fairfield is the top private school in Iowa and in the top 6% in the U.S. Fairfield is a small town in the middle of nowhere, surely it would be safe.

Another attraction for the three war-torn students is that Maharishi School practiced yoga and Transcendental Meditation. One of the students’ mothers practiced yoga and TM, and the students knew it would help them cope with the stress of their new life.

One big problem is that they had no money. Their banks had been bombed so they had no access to what funds they had. But they called Maharishi School anyway. They were fortunate in talking to a lady in the admissions office who had a big heart. She talked to the head of the school, who said, “We’ll make it work.”

But they still have to get their visas. This requires travel to Bucharest, Romania. There is very little gasoline available, and they have no money. Somehow, they will accomplish it with nothing more than what they can carry in their backpacks. There will be days of waiting and living in the airport.

Meanwhile, in Fairfield, husband and wife, Paul Winer and Carol Chesnutt, in their late fifties, were discovering the hollowness of an empty nest. Their two girls had graduated from Maharishi School, and were off to college and doing other things. Carol and Paul discussed becoming foster parents.

Carol, with a degree in engineering, had done some marketing and part-time teaching at Maharishi. Her neighbor, who was in charge of admissions at Maharishi, called and said, “Carol, I need your advice. We have three Ukrainian students who contacted us. What’s the best way you can think of for raising money for their living expenses in the dorm?”

Carol’s heart skipped a beat. She talked to her husband, Paul. Yes, they had the room in their house for three students—two girls and one boy. However, these were war-traumatized teenagers. Wouldn’t they be better off with other students at the dorm, for interaction, socialization, and professional services, like counseling?  The cost for everything would be a little over $20,000 per student per year.

Carol set up a GoFundMe account. It started slow. She made some phone calls. They now have a little over $60,000. This is going to work! One donor offered to pay the students’ airfare and miscellaneous expenses, like for a comforter and curtains in their dorm rooms.

Carol and Paul know the students can’t spend their whole lives in the dorm, especially if they arrive this summer and classes don’t start until fall. Carol and Paul plan to host the students and make accommodations.

In Carol’s words, “We have to take care of each other. We can’t save three million, but we can save three. The first stage of a big undertaking is uninformed optimism. Then follows informed pessimism, once the hurdles are recognized. The third stage is adjusted reality, when it all comes together.” If you would like to help these three Ukrainian students, visit gofundme.com “Bring Ukrainian Students to U.S.” You will see Carol Chesnutt’s introduction.

* * *

More background information from Carol. In her reply, she wrote:

The story unfolded just as Curt said—around a table eating cookies after the church service. All of the story is accurate. 

It, indeed, has taken a team to support the Ukrainian kids: Springli and Michelle for having mothers’ hearts in the Enrollment Office at the School, Richard and Kaye and Laura for their compassionate, instant yes when offering full tuition scholarships, my husband who never says no to me when it comes to children, and the 65 donors. Most importantly, these kids have grit and inspired all of us.

Please put it on your blog! One of the students will be in 10th grade this fall so the School hopes to have her return for 2 more years which means we’ll need to do more fundraising for her. The more donations now, the better for later!

Michelle, the managing enrollment director at the school, wrote: “We are also grateful for Carol’s quick action to help champion the community support for these Ukrainian students who we are eager to have at our school. They are going to be excellent additions to our community!”

I agree. Looking forward to hearing more about this positive story as it continues to unfold over time.

Curt’s weekly column, “Empty Nest,” is published in 25 Iowa newspapers. Some of them that posted this story online are: Southeast Iowa Union, Ottumwa Courier, The Hawk Eye, Newton Daily News, Fort Madison Daily Democrat, Pen City Current, and The Bloomfield Democrat where I first read it.

Curt loves writing human interest stories and does so for free to practice his art. He says, “The column is an excellent creative outlet for me, as well as wonderful discipline—it requires me to write every week. And I haven’t missed a week in 15 years.” Visit Curt’s website to find out more about him.

If you have a good story, call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com

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David Frawley Remembers the Global Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India Today Insight

December 30, 2021

India Today Insight: From the Archives / Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Global Guru

Mahesh Yogi was the ultimate mystic yogi, mantra guru and meditation master

David Frawley December 28, 2021

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was probably the best known and most influential yoga guru from India over the last 50 years, with millions of followers in every part of the world. His meditation-based teachings have had an enormous impact, including on some of the best educated, most affluent and articulate minds and personalities from the East and West. Maharishi’s influence was extensive in India, in which he redefined the image of the guru, and the corpus of knowledge that the guru was expected to represent. He revived, reshaped and modernised the vast yogic and healing traditions of India and brought them on to the world stage with respect and sophistication, as relevant to everyone. Maharishi became a cult figure in the West—the media face of the yogi, mantra guru, and meditation master.

Yet, in spite of the adulation showered upon him, he did not encourage any personality cult around himself. Instead, he emphasised the higher “knowledge” that was impersonal in nature. He was able to articulate the ancient tradition of Vedic and yogic knowledge in all of its branches for the modern mind to appreciate and revere.

Maharshi was perhaps the first important guru to successfully use modern media and marketing methods, including television and video. He remarkably took the teachings of the old pandits of India—who were looked down in their own country as museum pieces from another era—and through his skillful repackaging gained them global respect in providing the inner keys to universal consciousness, the cutting edge of science and medicine, and the future evolution of humanity.

Maharshi had a deep concern for the state of the world and humanity. He created visionary schemes for new educational institutions, new communities and new cities. He researched how to bring Vedic values and dharmic principles into world governance, including how to protect nature, the Earth and its ecology. True to his universal nature, he was able to draw into his organisation people from all countries, age groups, religions, and cultures.

Maharishi developed a massive worldwide organisation with enormous funds and detailed projects. Naturally, there was much controversy about such a guru figure on the world-stage—particularly from a backward and non-Christian country like India. His notoriety and mass following challenged existing views of religion and of science relative to the nature of consciousness. Not surprisingly, some political and religious authorities felt threatened by his influence, particularly upon the youth. Probably no guru from India has had such an effect upon the world, or faced such relentless scrutiny.

Maharishi’s life story provides few details. He was born in Jabalpur, now in Madhya Pradesh, then in the Central Provinces of British India, under the name Mahesh. He was from the learned Kayastha caste. He studied physics at Allahabad University and graduated in 1942.

Maharishi followed the inspiration of his guru, the venerable Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Joshi Math in the Himalayas, who was one of the greatest enlightened masters of modern India. He met his guru during his university years. He soon became his guru’s close disciple and trusted secretary, an extraordinary honour and responsibility that provided him access to the guru’s unfathomable wisdom, a relationship that continued until Brahmananda’s passing in 1953.

Maharishi began teaching meditation in 1955 as he had learned from his guru, which he refined into simple practical techniques accessible to everyone. His disciples soon honoured him as “Maharishi” or “great seer”. Not content to teach in India, he decided to reach out to the entire world, when few Indian teachers travelled abroad. From his first world tour in 1958 to meeting with the Beatles in 1967, his teachings exploded upon the world stage. His fame quickly spread to the UK, to the US and then to all corners of the globe. He soon developed a world organisation to represent his teachings. From 1991 to his passing in 2008, he lived in the Netherlands, and communicated to his disciples through satellite TV, and his main impact shifted to Europe.

One can go on for pages with the names of the famous people that followed him, starting with the Beatles and the Beach Boys in the 1960s, whose counterculture generation he introduced to meditation and mantra. He inspired great teachers and writers, notably Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has a world stature of his own and carries on similar work, and Deepak Chopra, who has long remained the most popular writer in the field of spirituality and healing in the West. His impact was strong on Hollywood, including on innovative filmmaker David Lynch and actor Goldie Hawn. Yet to be true to Maharishi’s vision, let us examine the ways of knowledge that formed his main dedication.

Yoga, Meditation and Mantra

While yoga today is mainly known as an asana tradition, particularly in the West, it first emerged in the modern world as a spiritual practice, starting with Swami Vivekananda in the late 19thcentury, who coupled yoga with the great philosophy of Vedanta, aiming at self-realisation. Maharishi, as a yogi in the higher sense of the term, like Vivekananda, emphasised the yoga of meditation, including Mantra Yoga and the Raja Yoga of Patanjali. He did not keep yoga confined in physical limitations but opened it up to the highest realms of consciousness, restoring it as a science of meditation. On this basis, he expanded the Vedic and yogic teachings to show their relevance for all aspects of life and all branches of learning. Maharishi’s fame began with his worldwide teaching of meditation. He promoted his Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the West at a time in which the term meditation was not well known and many religious groups were opposed to it.

Today, decades later, meditation in many names, forms and traditions is highlighted throughout the world. Maharishi was the main pioneer who set this process in motion. As his TM meditation approach rests upon the use of special mantras, Maharishi made the term mantra a common word in world discourse. He simplified and streamlined mantra meditation with special bija mantras that have changed the lives of millions.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda was almost unknown in the West when Maharshi introduced it in the 1980s. It was languishing in India, with little support, as a backward if not primitive system of medicine. Today Ayurveda has spread globally as a futuristic mind-body-consciousness system of health and well-being, such as Maharishi revealed it to be. Many Indian yoga gurus today have their own ayurvedic centres and products. This would not have been possible without Maharishi’s global promotion.

Jyotish, Vedic Astrology, Vastu and Vedic Architecture

If one takes up the cause of astrology in intellectual circles one will likely be denigrated as superstitious. Maharshi returned recognition and dignity to the practice of Vedic astrology. He gave the impetus for making jyotish into a global movement, as he did with ayurveda. Jyotish is now practised along with yoga and ayurveda throughout the world. Vastu is the Vedic science of architecture and directional influences that was also largely forgotten. Maharishi brought it back into the limelight, particularly for his numerous building projects.

Vedic Teachings

Maharshi took his teachings back to the Rigveda, the oldest Vedic text, explaining its cryptic mantras as keys to cosmic knowledge, which few modern gurus have done. His support for India and the world reclaiming its Vedic heritage was crucial and changed the image of the Vedas from nature worship to the revelation of cosmic intelligence.

Expanding the Vedic Vision into the Future, Vedic Science and Modern Physics, Vedic Management Maharshi was a proponent of Advaita or non-dualist Vedanta, which his guru taught, and showed how it is integrally linked with all the Vedic sciences. Both Vedic thought and modern physics postulate a unitary field of consciousness to explain the laws of nature. Maharishi showed the concordance between the two. In the study of the brain, Maharishi revealed how Vedic mantras interface with brain functions and can aid in the unfolding higher brain potentials. Maharshi brought in Vedic principles into business management, detailing how higher dharma can uplift the corporate realm and create a new system of dharmic economics. He showed the relevance of Vedic knowledge to all walks of life and all levels of social and intellectual discourse.

Vedic Schools and Pandits, Legacy of Education Maharshi established a number of schools and universities, notably Maharishi International University (MIU) in the US, renamed as Maharishi University of Management(MUM), and Maharishi European Research Institute (MERU) in the Netherlands, as well as several universities in India with state government support. He developed special trainings to empower Vedic pandits in India. His schools have conducted scientific research on the benefits of meditation that are widely studied and quoted.

Expanding Vedic World Some may criticise Maharishi for using the media and marketing to promote yogic teachings. He was certainly an impressive showman when needed. Some of his projects were dramatic, like his yogic flying programme aiming to eventually teach people how to levitate. But these did bring attention to the teachings that he hoped for.

The vast amount of wealth and property his organisation acquired has come under questioning, and not all his projects or centres flourished. But if we look at how he used the immense resources at his disposal, his focus was always on the knowledge. Others criticised his brand naming Vedic teachings with “Maharishi Ayurveda”, “Maharishi Jyotish” and so on, as if his group owned these older traditions. But we should remember that without his modern endorsement many people might not have been willing to study these esoteric teachings from ancient India. Some of his followers found his organisation to be rigid and eventually went their own ways, sometimes with his blessings. Yet his ability to sustain such a global organisation must be admired.

The spiritual renaissance in India and in the world today was to a large extent made possible by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s untiring efforts in many fields of higher knowledge. He created an audience for Indian teachers and doctors to travel to the West that many have benefited by. He gave us an expanded Vedic, mantra and meditation vision of yoga that remains comprehensive, compelling and transformational.

Maharishi made Vedic knowledge into a globally respected teaching of futuristic vision and cosmic insight. His name, picture and mission is widely recognised and will likely be prominent for decades to come. Maharishi marked a new era in how India’s deeper wisdom is presented, the Yoga of consciousness, and how it can guide humanity into a new age of enlightenment.

David Frawley is a Vedic teacher, author and founder of American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Other posts about Maharishi

A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell and Remembrances of Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi International University founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with links to more articles and videos, like Les Crane interviews Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise.

What if you could give yourself a mental health break every day? @WTHRcom 13News Anchor @JuliaMoffitt13 reports on the benefits of #TranscendentalMeditation

December 21, 2021

Dec 21, 2021: Enjoy this holiday news report from Channel 13 WTHR: Hoosiers find holiday peace with Transcendental Meditation.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people, so 13News anchor Julia Moffitt met with an Indianapolis Transcendental Meditation instructor to learn about the technique. One of Julia’s friends had told her about it and suggested she meet with her TM teacher, Paul Wilson.

I was impressed with Moffitt’s report. It turned out to be an excellent presentation on Transcendental Meditation. You can tell a lot of work had gone into the pre- and post-production phases. Paul later told me he “spent weeks planning for the interview, and she (Julia) spent weeks getting it edited down to a little gem.”

They incorporated relevant visuals and video footage to best illustrate and augment the main points of Julia’s interview with Paul. The report also included the testimonials of two local meditators, Wally and Beverly, who described the benefits they received from their twice-daily TM practice.

Paul Wilson explained that “TM, as we call it, is a simple natural effortless mental technique that we do twice a day just seated comfortably in a chair with eyes closed. Takes about 15-20 minutes to do each time, and it provides a state of deep rest on demand.”

Julia Moffit remarked: “So TM is different than other forms of meditation because you don’t have to empty your mind, there’s no mindfulness or concentrating or mind control. As Paul said, anyone can do this, even children.” (She got that right! I never heard anyone explain it so clearly.)

Julia then described to her associates the cross-section of the ocean analogy to show how TM allows us to dive below the surface choppy waves and experience the calm at the bottom deep within the mind. It made sense to them. Along with the importance of people taking time out for self-care on a daily basis.

Julia came away with a clear understanding of what the TM technique is and the health benefits it could offer her viewers.

Enjoy watching this short (3:15) but comprehensive news report on Transcendental Meditation.

Paul Wilson is helping Indianapolis residents take advantage of the various benefits of the “effortless mental technique.”

WTHR.com is the news leader for Indianapolis and Central Indiana. See other cable TV news stations that reported on the health benefits of TM: WTNH New Haven 8, WXYZ Detroit 7, and Spectrum News 1 Rochester.

Visit www.tm.org to find a TM Center near you.

Interestingly, David Letterman is from Indianapolis and always considers himself a Hoosier. He also practices Transcendental Meditation. Enjoy this blog post, which includes Dave’s interviews with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey talking about TM. Included are links to other celebrities talking about TM, like this one: Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern share stories about their Transcendental Meditation practice.

Here is a surprising one. When Oprah interviewed Lady Gaga last year, they discovered they had both learned Transcendental Meditation from Bob Roth, aka @meditationbob. Lady Gaga described the tremendous health benefits TM brings her, especially her fibromyalgia pain: “Sometimes I can be in a ton of pain, and meditate and it goes away! It’s amazing!” Bob posted the clip on his Instagram.

Updated December 22, 2021.

Also see Transcendental Meditation benefits those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties, even PTSD.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

May 4, 2022: Paul Wilson appeared in this interview on WISH TV 8 in Indianapolis: Finding Faith with Randy Ollis: Learning about Transcendental Meditation.

Transcendental Meditation benefits those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties, even PTSD

September 22, 2021

Enjoy this excellent article on how Transcendental Meditation is benefitting Canadians, especially those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. Click here to see photos of the people journalist Kate Wilson interviewed for an Edmonton News story published in the Edmonton and Calgary issues of the Alberta Prime Times.

TM a natural for emotional and physical wellbeing

Transcendental meditation (TM) provides benefits to those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. 

By: Kate Wilson for AlbertaPrimeTimes.com (Edmonton and Calgary)

At the Edmonton TM Centre, Ami Stadnick helps clients from all walks of life to better manage a range of issues. Photo Kate Wilson.

Wade McKinley recalls the day he first stepped into a class on Transcendental Meditation (TM). As a young man in Vancouver, he’d been experiencing anxiety and depression, and a friend had recommended enrolling.

“I strolled in not knowing anything and said, Hi, I’d like to learn,” said the Calgary resident.

Now 54, McKinley has been practicing TM for 33 years. He says he values the rest it brings to his nervous system and body.

“There are times when distractions interrupt my peace of mind,” he said, but the stability that twice-daily meditation brings stays with him. “I still do TM exactly the way I was taught, but there’s growth in my experience. The quality of silence and settled-ness, it’s expanded into more aspects of my day.”

Setting the mind to rest

TM is a simple technique based on ancient yogic practices from India and renewed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the middle of the 20th century. It aims to bring the body and mind into a settled state of rest, without any concentrated effort.

A 1978 study in Hormones and Behaviour showed TM reduced cortisol–the ‘stress hormone’–by 30 per cent. A 1987 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed TM reduced hospitalizations and doctor visits among seniors, with the biggest reduction–about 70% –in people over 40.

In his 2018 book Strength in Stillness, longtime TM practitioner Bob Roth said the surge in interest in TM is partly due to an epidemic of chronic stress and related illness, and medication’s inability to prevent or cure it. He points to four decades of science showing TM’s capacity for improving brain and cognitive functioning, cardiovascular health and emotional well-being.

Help with medical issues

For Ruth Yanor, TM provides a priceless “reset button”. Seven years ago, she was weathering the debilitating effects of sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. 

“I was wrung out from poor quality sleep, and pretty close to not being able to function. Nothing was helping,” said the Edmonton resident.

An incident at a cross-walk–where she was hit and dragged by a truck–sent her to the hospital with rib fractures and lung punctures. An allergy to opioids meant Yanor was only given extra strength Tylenol to deal with her pain, so her physician suggested enrolling in a TM program.

“Meditating would clear things. I could keep the pain out of my mind, until someone would ask ‘how’s your pain’,” she said.

Now 63, Yanor concedes that while TM hasn’t corrected her sleep apnea it has been invaluable in allowing her to function over the day. 

“I calm my mind down with TM. It’s so wonderful to have this practice.”

Yanor’s instructor, Ami Stadnick, says the simplicity of TM relies on the mind’s natural capacity to settle, despite its tendency to be distracted.

“It may be a favourite piece of music or a conversation. Our attention, at least momentarily, is (wired) to jump to that,” said Stadnick, a registered psychologist. “We know that if given the opportunity, the mind would rather be in a restful state. TM sets the conditions so the mind will move to finer levels of activity. It is nature at work.”

At the Edmonton TM centre (there are centres across Canada, including in Edmonton and Calgary), Stadnick handles requests ranging from people who need to focus in a stressful workplace, to medical referrals to military veterans wanting a medication-free way to deal with anxiety. As a licensed TM practitioner, Stadnick has continuing access to seminars and follow-up training as needed.

For more information about Calgary and Edmonton TM centres, go to https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-calgary or https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-edmonton.

Veterans benefitting from TM

TM is now being offered to Canadian veterans and their families thanks to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute and a grant from Veterans Affairs Canada. As part of an overall initiative to bring benefits to people in at-risk situations or who are suffering from PTSD, a TM pilot program has been offering veterans and their family members TM instruction and a twice-daily home practice, along with follow-up meetings.

“We know veterans are not prone to sharing their experiences,” said Stadnick, a TM instructor in the pilot program. “Their peer group is always looking for a way to treat PTSD in a more natural way.”

A 2021 report on the program showed participating veterans, who averaged 51 years of age, went from higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and anger to significantly lower ones after only 3 months of TM practice. Family members also experienced significant decreases in stress and anxiety levels.

Out of the 36 participants, half reported improvements in general health, depression and fatigue. About 60% indicated a better relationship with their spouse and family members, while 86% reported a considerable reduction in stress.

The program is now extended into 2023 in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Montreal and Fredericton. If you know any veterans who might like to enrol in the TM program, contact Ami Stadnick at astadnick@tm.org.

. . . . .

Update from Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative on their extended grant from Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada announced their renewed grant for another two years to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute on their website: Recipients of the 2021 Veteran Family Well-Being Fund and published a Veteran story: Bruno Guevremont: Changing mind, changing self. In the article, Bruno describes the benefits he receives from his TM practice.

In 2019, he also trained in Transcendental Meditation, a simple mental technique that teaches practitioners how to settle their minds and their bodies, and reinforce the mind-body connection. “I did lots of research into different ways to care for your mental health, and I read that meditation can be good for you,” he recalls. “After meditation, I feel so chill, so incredibly peaceful. It helps you achieve a position of wellness, so that you can make the right decisions in life for yourself,” says Bruno.

See What if you could give yourself a mental health break every day? @WTHRcom 13News Anchor @JuliaMoffitt13 reports on the benefits of #TranscendentalMeditation.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Penelope Cruz decompresses on film sets, eases stress in her life with Transcendental Meditation

September 8, 2021

Female First published an article about Penelope Cruz and how meditation (TM) has been helping her forget the stresses and struggles in her life. I checked and received verification that she was recently taught Transcendental Meditation in Spain. The article has been picked up by many media outlets.

Meditation is Penelope Cruz’s escape

Penelope Cruz uses transcendental meditation to ease any stress in her life.

5 September 2021

Penelope Cruz

The Oscar-winning actress – who has two children, 10-year-old son Leo and eight-year-old daughter Luna, with her actor husband Javier Bardem – first experimented with meditation when she was a teenager but she started taking the practice seriously to decompress from her film sets and to ease any worries she may have.

She said: “I practiced meditation as a teenager, I stopped for a while, then I took the transcendental meditation courses and I chose to dedicate myself to it.”

I practiced meditation as a teenager, I stopped for a while, then I took the Transcendental Meditation courses and I chose to dedicate myself to it.

Penelope Cruz

Penelope is always busy with her career and her family and wants to devote herself as much as she can to her children, although her own mother Encarna keeps telling her to take more time for herself, despite never taking that advice herself when she was raising the ‘Nine’ star and her siblings.

Speaking to Italian publication IO Donna, she said: “I have a trait that I inherited from my mother, who was equally demanding with herself: she was very busy and yet – very generous – she managed to give everything to her three children. Now she says to me: you have to relax, you have to rest, you have to find time for yourself…”

Penelope – who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 2008 for her performance in Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ – will have spent 30 years working as an actress and she has to pinch herself each day that her childhood dream came true.

She said: “Acting was my dream since I was – maybe – two years old. A dream that does not bore: with each role you start from scratch.

“So I think: thank you!”

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It is interesting that Penelope Cruz had dreamed of becoming an actor from such an early age. She’s had an amazing career winning many awards. According to Wikipedia she is the first and only Spanish actress to both be nominated for and win an Academy Award as well as receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Another talented young artist who had a similar dream at a very young age is Angelina Jordan. From around 3 years old she knew she wanted to sing for the world and become a superstar. She has been inspiring millions with her voice. Discover and enjoy the amazing soulful voice of young Angelina Jordan. It is jaw-dropping great!

To find a Transcendental Meditation center in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Alan J. Steinberg’s debut novel reminds me of the age-old quest ‘To Be Enlightened’ I first read about in Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’

July 30, 2021

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” — Katha-Upanishad.

If you are a seeker, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg, MD may inform and inspire you. The theme is reminiscent of Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge*, which was made into a movie, twice.

In that story, Larry Darrel, traumatized from the war, postpones his marriage to travel, study, and find himself. He goes to Europe, and eventually India, where he meets a guru who prepares him for a profound experience of transcendence. Transformed, he returns to the world he left behind. The post-war economic recession had impacted his friend who is psychologically distraught. His former fiancee is now married to him. Larry later gets involved with an old friend who has suffered much and tries to save her. His ex is not content to have let him go and stirs up trouble. Complications lead to tragedy. In the end, Larry is free to live his life on his own terms; in the world, but not of it.

In this story, the main character, Abe Levy, a philosophy professor, already meditates. Unlike a greater part of the previous century, meditation and yoga have become ubiquitous in the west. But Professor Levy is not content with his twice-daily meditations. He is in a rush ‘To Be Enlightened’ and may risk his marriage and job to try and achieve it. The story has some surprising twists and turns along the way, enough to have kept this reader turning pages.

From the book description:

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life—a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

I found it interesting that the theme of each chapter was prefaced with a relevant profound quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, reputed author of the Tao Te Ching and founder of Taoism.

This is Dr. Alan Steinberg’s debut novel, and it is a worthy one. I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t know much about meditation, as well as those with a meditative practice.

The classroom discussions reveal interesting perspectives between western philosophy and the Vedic knowledge brought out by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. And Abe’s and his wife Sarah’s experiences in and out of their TM practice are very relevant to the story’s unfolding.

The book is an enlightening read. I enjoyed how other readers responded to it and appreciated Susan Miller‘s insights in her San Francisco Book Review. Here is a link to an excellent interview with the author.

You can download the first chapter at his website Alan J. Steinberg, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Dr. Steinberg publishes articles on meditation in Psychology Today. Visit his linktr.ee for links to articles, book reviews, and more.

UPDATE: Alan’s book won a 2022 Nautilus Book Awards, a Silver Winner (Cat. 1-10; 07 B – Fiction; Large Publisher, or Large Hybrid Publisher). Inviting imaginative storytelling that includes evolving human capacities, and can involve visionary positive futures and the resilience of the human spirit.

May 17, 2022: Los Angeles Author Alan J. Steinberg, MD Wins National Book Award. Cosmic Love Story Draws From Writer’s Own Experience with Spiritual Growth.

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*Scroll down in this blog post about my favorite romantic movies to the subheading LEAVING ROMANCE BEHIND TO FIND ONESELF to read more about Maugham’s novel and the two films based upon it.

Another novel about a meditating philosophy professor worth reading is, “The Best Of All Possible Worlds” by B. Steven Verney.


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