Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

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.

Australian Yoga Life Magazine features Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in their Early Pioneers of Yoga series

June 7, 2016

AYL-50-coverAustralian Yoga Life is Australia’s longest running yoga magazine and one of The Top Ten Best Yoga Magazines In The World. Their 50th issue (March-May 2016) featured Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his contribution to meditation. AYL senior writer Peggy Hailstone wrote the article for a new series, Early Pioneers of Yoga, which explores the yoga pioneers of the early 20th century who have shared the teachings of modern yoga. The article first appeared in Australian Yoga Life magazine www.ayl.com.au and is available with permission on The Uncarved Blog. It opens with these two paragraphs.

If not for Maharishi Mahesh, Western meditation might look significantly different. Instead of coming to the cushion, couch, or chair in our aesthetically-pleasing comfortably-furnished lounge room, we’d probably be seated legs akimbo on our roo-skin mat in our sparsely furnished garden shed. And while the loincloth might have given way to shorts and a t-shirt, meditation would likely have endured as an impenetrable pursuit for the mystical and numinous.

This simple act of making meditation accessible is one of the Maharishi’s greatest legacies. Others include opening meditation to scientific investigation; removing the requirements of religiosity, reclusivity and renunciation; packaging and promoting meditation as effortless, simple and natural. The Maharishi’s offering – which he eventually named and trademarked Transcendental Meditation® (TM) – has since produced 40,000 meditation teachers (worldwide) and five million practitioners.

Click this AYL PDF to read the rest of this respectful article on Maharishi.

Related: A Tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | Les Crane interviews Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | Watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise | The story behind the making of the International History documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Author Philip Goldberg Remembers January 12 as A Double Guru Birthday Fest on HUFFPOST TASTE

February 3, 2015

, HUFFPOST Blogger, Interfaith Minister, and author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’ remembers January 12: A Double Guru Birthday Fest

MMY-HUFFPOST

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12 is celebrated throughout India, and in countries with large Hindu populations, as the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. A national hero, Vivekananda is revered for updating the wisdom of India’s ancient sages and bringing those teachings to the West, in 1893. By coincidence – or astrological design, take your pick – another vital figure in that East-West transmission was also born on that date, and he too deserves to be celebrated.

The man who became known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born Mahesh Prasad Varma, on January 12, 1917, or perhaps 1918, in Central India. While attending Allahabad University, he heard that a famous saint named Swami Brahmananda Saraswati was in the area, and he went to him “as a thirsty man at a well.” Mahesh asked to become the swami’s disciple. The reply was the same one many future gurus received when they were eager young seekers: first finish school. After graduating with a degree in physics, he was formally accepted as a disciple. By then, the swami had been persuaded to accept the much-esteemed, and long-vacant, seat of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math–one of four monastic lineages established centuries earlier by the great reformer Shankara. The Shankaracharya would become a legend, and so would the humble disciple who served him primarily as a clerk for thirteen years.

After his guru died, in 1953, Mahesh spent a few years in the Himalayas before traveling to the sacred sites of South India. In Trivandrum, a stranger asked him to give a public talk. He was evidently good at it. Before long, he found himself on what we now call a speaking tour. At a festival in Kerala in 1955, people were impressed enough to call him a “Maharishi”–maha meaning great, rishi meaning sage–and the appellation stuck. When he became world famous a dozen years later, the naïve press treated “Maharishi” as his name, and that’s what he’s been called ever since.

That global fame, as most people know, resulted from his historic encounter with the biggest celebrities of the postwar era. In August, 1967, at the suggestion of George Harrison’s then-wife Patti, the Beatles went to hear Maharishi speak about his Transcendental Meditation at the London Hilton. They became instant enthusiasts and, six months later, went to India for an extended stay at Maharishi’s ashram. In the opening paragraph of American Veda, I refer to that as “the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.” It was as if the earth itself had tilted, allowing the insights of India’s yogis to pour into the West at an accelerated pace.

It was easy at the time for reporters to write off “the Beatles’ guru” as a lucky guy who got rich and famous off the lads’ monumental celebrity. It was easy to label him “the giggling guru” because he had an infectious, high-pitched laugh and he found much of modern life rather amusing. It was easy to mock him as the face of guruhood at a time when yoga and meditation were seen as accessories of flower-power counterculture. All of which belies the fact that Maharishi was a very practical man who took his mission–to spiritually regenerate the world by expanding individual consciousness–very seriously, and he worked longer hours in its service than most CEOs could endure.

He had been planting seeds non-stop for a dozen years when the Beatles sought him out, repeatedly circling the globe and teaching his simple, powerful form of meditation to all comers, and he kept at it for another forty years after the Fab Four made Rishikesh a pilgrimage site for Western yogis. If history is fair, he will be recognized as one of the key figures in the transmission, adaptation and assimilation of Yogic teachings into the mainstream of American life.

Nowadays, everyone from ordinary physicians to giant HMOs recommends meditation to reduce stress and prevent illness. This, to put it mildly, was not the case in 1968. It was Maharishi who convinced scientists to study the practice, and he made sure his systematic TM procedures were compatible with research protocols. He understood that ours is an evidence-driven age, and that Americans would embrace something as exotic as meditation only if science demonstrated its value. The first paper on the physiology of meditation was published in 1970, by one of Maharishi’s students, a UCLA doctoral candidate named Robert Keith Wallace. The collective research juggernaut that followed ushered meditation from the fringes of society to the center, and directly into your armchair, cushion or yoga mat.

So, for whatever stars and planets were aligned on those two January 12s, we can be doubly thankful.

Published 01/09/2015 02:30 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2015

Who was Dear Prudence the Beatles sang to in India? What happened to her? Here is her story.

December 21, 2014

See the full article with more photos and quotes featured in the 21st issue of Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation® Magazine (Enjoy TM News): The “Dear Prudence” Story by Rolf Erickson. Reprinted here with permission including the video: Dear Prudence: A Portrait Of Prudence Farrow Bruns.

The “Dear Prudence” Story

BY ROLF ERICKSON

photo_prudence01Prudence Farrow Bruns, PhD, is the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan and award-winning writer/director, John Farrow. She has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for 48 years, and has been a teacher of the TM program for 46 years.

It all started so simply. It was 1966, and 18-year-old Prudence Farrow was sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at her brother’s home in Los Angeles. She was reading a book on meditation when she heard a voice say, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.”

The voice was that of Peter Wallace, a friend of her brother. Peter had spent six months traveling through India, where he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and began the Transcendental Meditation technique. He told her how simple and effortless the technique was, and yet how profound the experience and benefits could be.

“It was the simplicity of the practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I’d been trying different methods of meditation for some time, but they had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”

So Prudence learned the TM technique at UCLA. After experiencing the positive effects of TM for herself, Prudence wanted more. She wanted to meet Maharishi and to study with him. “At that time Maharishi had courses in India,” says Prudence. “He brought people there, and they studied for three or four months with him. You meditated for long periods under his guidance.”

On January 23, 1968, three days after her 20th birthday, Prudence traveled with Maharishi from New York to Rishikesh, India to attend her TM teacher training course. And that’s when the “Dear Prudence” story really began.

The Beatles Make the Scene

One month after Prudence arrived in Rishikesh, The Beatles showed up to study with Maharishi. While they all spent some time there, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed the longest.

“The Beatles were all very nice, humble, modest, kind, and down-to-earth people,” Prudence remembers. “I was closest to John and George, since they were my ‘course buddies’ during our studies with Maharishi. We were supposed to look out for each other during the course.”

photo_prudence02

Prudence (left) sat next to Ringo in course photo.

Prudence soon became known for her tendency to keep to herself in her room, focused on her meditation practice. “I was deeply immersed in my studies and meditation, locked away in my quarters. John, as my course buddy, was concerned and wanted to bring me out of my room to enjoy the experience more.”

John and George would come over to her room and play their guitars, encouraging her to come out and sing with them. It was this experience that became the inspiration for their song “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”

Before he left Rishikesh, George mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but she had no idea what it was. She didn’t hear the song until it came out on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”

Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice did pay off. After four months, she graduated from the course and became one of the first and youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time.

But that was just the beginning of the “Dear Prudence” story.

Prudence Comes out to Play

Once she completed her teacher training course in India, Prudence definitely did come out to play. Over the past 46 years, she’s instructed thousands of people in the TM technique throughout the United States and Canada. She married TM teacher Al Bruns in 1969, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

She’s produced Hollywood feature films and a play in Manhattan. She was an assistant to the curator of the “Theatre Collection” of the Museum of the City of New York. She has been a magazine writer. She’s written two books.

Prudence earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in 2007, with a major in South Asian Studies and Sanskrit. She has made presentations to conferences at numerous universities, including Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawaii. She’s taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University.

TM and Yoga

Prudence continues to teach the TM program in Florida. In fact, she’s the most successful teacher in the U.S. at setting up Affiliate Programs in yoga studios. Maybe that’s not so surprising, considering that she’s a lifelong yoga practitioner, and she opened a yoga institute in Boston back in 1967.

photo_prudence03

Prudence attended India’s Kumbh Mela last year.

Maharishi Foundation created the Affiliate Program to bring TM to yoga studios and fitness centers. When a studio becomes an Affiliate, their members can learn TM at a reduced course fee, and the studio receives a share of the income. Everyone benefits—the new TM student, the yoga studio, and the local TM teachers.

Today most people think of yoga as a series of physical postures. But Maharishi has explained that in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali identifies eight limbs of yoga, and the eighth limb is Samadhi or transcendental consciousness. Maharishi said that with the practice of TM, Samadhi is actually the easiest limb of yoga to achieve, since no effort is required. We simply tap into the natural tendency of the mind to go within, to transcend, and that transcendence nourishes and supports all the other limbs.

“I do think that Transcendental Meditation is—of the meditations that are available to us—the most direct, and the simplest,” says Prudence. “When you meditate, when you transcend, it allows your heart and mind to balance. And when they’re balanced, that’s when you are really healthy. You are happy. You’re happy mentally, happy emotionally, and happy spiritually. Those three are all components of what make a human being, so that connection to transcendence is absolutely necessary for health.”

Creating a Better World

Fortunately for us all, Prudence did come out to play.

“The years of meditating have enriched my life so much,” Prudence says. “And that’s why at this point in my life, I’m giving back. We need a better world. We need people to be more conscious, to be more evolved. And expanding the mind, like TM does, is absolutely vital to bring about stronger people. If you can strengthen people inside, you’ve changed the world.”

So even today, 48 years later, the “Dear Prudence” story continues.

[In July 2018, this article was updated and published in Enjoy TM News.]

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Last year, Prudence Farrow Bruns participated in a series of Consciousness Talks at Maharishi University of Management, called Our Conscious Future. Here is a clip from her talk where she discusses a conversation she had with George Harrison about his spiritual awakening. Prudence, George and John Lennon said they felt it was happening to many in their generation, and that it would continue long after they were gone. Listen to Prudence describe The “Dear Prudence” Story. For other fascinating presentations, visit ConsciousnessTalks.org.

Years later, The Beatles released many versions of their songs on the 50th Anniversary of The White Album, now out on Spotify, which include The Esher Tapes. There are 3 versions of Dear Prudence there: the Esher version of John Lennon singing on guitar; one of just vocal, guitar, and drums; and the 2018 mix.

Another beautiful song that John Lennon wrote about his experience with Transcendental Meditation was, Across the Universe. Spotify included John Lennon on guitar singing Across The Universe–Take 6.

This article was also published in GGN: World Peace News. Here are some related videos and interviews with Prudence Farrow Bruns: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”: A Portrait of Prudence Farrow Bruns, Maharishi and TM and Ted Henry interviews “Dear Prudence” Farrow Bruns about her life with TM and Maharishi and Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Prudence’s memoir is now out: Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song. Listen to an interview with Prudence about the book online at Spirit Matters with Dennis Raimondi and Philip Goldberg. Read an interview about the book in Rolling Stone: The Real ‘Dear Prudence’ on Meeting Beatles in India. Read this excellent article in the Pensacola News Journal: Woman behind Beatles ‘Dear Prudence’ reads at Open Books. Here is another interview: In Conversation With: Prudence F. Bruns, Transcendental Meditation Teacher and Inspiration Behind “Dear Prudence”. Prudence Farrow Bruns | Conversations with Jeff Weeks | WSRE Pensacola PBS.

Watch the A&E biographical film, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007) and the earlier CBC documentary of Maharishi at Lake Louise. TMhome also posted the International History Channel documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: How it was made: The story behind the film.

Watch this November 8, 2018 Lyndsey Parker interview for Yahoo Music: Mike Love remembers ‘beautiful, spiritual’ beginnings of the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ in India.

Read The Story Behind ‘Dear Prudence’ by Jennie McKeon, Dec 23, 2018, for wuwf 88.1, NPR for Florida’s Great Northwest.

August 9, 2019: ‘Dear Prudence’ Bruns in Parade discusses world peace, the ’60s, and why kids love the Beatles.

June 29, 2020: Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us! I later updated this post on September 9, 2020 with the online premiere of Meeting the Beatles in India, a film by Paul Saltzman.

Dec 21, 2020, Bob Roth announced on Instagram that a free rental of the film, “Meeting the Beatles in India” by Paul Saltzman, will be available between during the last week of 2020 thanks to @LynchFoundation and @TM_Program.

Transcendental experiences during meditation practice – paper published in @AcademyAnnals

January 13, 2014

Overview of research on individuals experiencing higher states of consciousness published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

Today, millions of Americans say they practice some form of yoga and/or meditation. It’s become a health fad. Yet the goal of these practices seems unknown or elusive to many practitioners — transcendence.

Dr. Travis, PhD, Director, Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, Maharishi University of Management

Fred Travis, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management

An article: Transcendental experiences during meditation practice, by Fred Travis, PhD, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, provides an overview of research on individuals experiencing higher states of consciousness. It is published today in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: January 2014, Volume 1307, Advances in Meditation Research: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications, pages 1-8.

The paper is based on a presentation Dr. Travis was invited to give at “Advances in Meditation Research” (AMR), a meeting of the nation’s top meditation researchers, which took place a year ago  at the New York Academy of Sciences New York City.

In his paper Dr. Travis explains that different meditations have different effects, and that meditation can lead to nondual or transcendental experiences, a sense of self-awareness without content.

However, after a search of the scientific literature he reported that physiological measures and first-person descriptions of transcendental experiences and higher states have only been investigated during practice of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique.

TM is an effortless technique for automatic self-transcending, different from the other categories of meditation — focused attention or open monitoring. It allows the mind to settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought — pure awareness or Transcendental Consciousness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness — one’s innermost Self.

This figure, a 2 X 2 table, compares subjective and objective experiences during waking, sleeping, dreaming, and pure consciousness. As seen in this table, waking state contains a sense of self and mental content, thoughts and perceptions. In contrast, during pure consciousness, there is only Self-awareness, without any sense of time, space, and body awareness.

This figure, a 2 X 2 table, compares subjective and objective experiences during waking, sleeping, dreaming, and pure consciousness. As seen in this table, waking state contains a sense of self and mental content — thoughts and perceptions. In contrast, during pure consciousness (Transcendental Consciousness), there is only Self-awareness, without any sense of time, space, and body awareness.

Dr. Travis discusses a study of descriptions of Transcendental Consciousness from 52 subjects practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique and found that they experienced “a state where thinking, feeling, and individual intention were missing, but Self-awareness remained.” A systematic analysis of their experiences revealed three themes: absence of time, space, and body sense.

Specific physiological changes are associated with this subjective experience of Transcendental Consciousness. These include changes in breath rate, skin conductance, and EEG patterns.

Dr. Travis further explains that with regular meditation, experiences of Transcendental Consciousness begin to co-exist with sleeping, dreaming, and even while one is awake. This state is called Cosmic Consciousness, in the Vedic tradition. The paper presents first-person accounts followed by an overview of the physiological patterns associated with Cosmic Consciousness.

Whereas control subjects describe themselves in relation to concrete cognitive and behavioral processes, those experiencing Cosmic Consciousness describe themselves in terms of a continuum of inner self-awareness that underlies their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In addition, the Cosmic Consciousness subjects showed the EEG patterns seen during Transcendental Consciousness along with the EEG patterns when they were asleep, and during waking tasks. This leads to higher scores on the Brain Integration Scale developed by Dr. Travis.

Dr. Travis suggests that such higher states of consciousness can be seen as normal developments beyond the classic stages described by Piaget. One simply needs a technique to experience transcendence and thereby facilitate the development of these states. The practical benefit of higher states, he says, is that you become more anchored to your inner Self, and therefore less likely to be overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of daily life.

“This research focuses on the larger purpose of meditation practices — to develop higher states of consciousness,” explained Dr. Travis. “This paper is the outgrowth of meetings at Esalen and the Institute for Noetic Sciences to chart the future of meditation research.”

Source: EurekAlert!

The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences is the oldest continuously published scientific serial in the United States and among the most cited of multidisciplinary scientific serials worldwide. Established in 1823, the Annals is the premier publication of the Academy, offering volumes of review articles in special topical areas and proceedings of conferences sponsored by the Academy as well as other scientific organizations. You can find out more about them here: http://www.nyas.org/whatwedo/publications/annals.aspx.

Read the Foreword to Advances in Meditation Research: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications, by editor Sonia Sequeira.

Related: Health India’s Editorial Team says Transcendental Meditation (TM) is taking the world by storm

Medical News Today: Overview of research on individuals experiencing higher states of consciousness during transcendental meditation.

A PDF of the study is now available at ResearchGate.

KTVO’s Tess Hedrick interviews Dr. Richard Beall, Head of Maharishi School, on the new school year

August 18, 2012
New additions for MSAE
Posted: 08.17.2012

Published on Aug 17, 2012 by

Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment staff is preparing for the first day of school / KTVO’s Tess Hedrick

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — Wednesday August 22 is when school begins for students at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment.

You’ll be seeing some new faces around the school this year.

Dr. Richard Beall, the head of Maharishi School says there are more new staff and faculty members this year than any other year in the history of the school.

“Fortunately a lot of those are young staff members, young faculty, that are graduates of our school. They’ve come back to be a part of the community. They’re doing some interesting things so we’ve got this renewal sense of infusion of new talent, new energy, new creativity that we’re really excited about,” said Dr. Beall.

Not only will there be new staff this year but also a brand new demonstration kitchen that will be the culmination of the school’s sustainability program.

“We have a 4,000 square foot greenhouse. So the children for many years have planted and grown and nurtured and ate things. Now they can do things we call seed to plate. So they’ll be taking what they’ve grown in the greenhouses and bring it back into the kitchen. And the nice thing is we’ll integrate that in, not only an elective on cooking, but also the chemistry of food preparatory, especially in our social studies — looking at culturally like that,” said Dr. Beall.

Dr. Beall said that the special thing about Maharishi School is that the staff allows their students to grow from the inside out by stopping each day to practice Transcendental Meditation.

“That pays in two ways. They get rid of stress and it also optimizes their brain so when they go to the classroom — the kids who walk to school here or they get out of their cars — they don’t go directly to the classroom, they go to a meditation, they do yoga and meditation. So I say, the student that goes into the classroom is not the same one who got out of the car right here. They’ve been able to get rid of stress and now they’re really awake and that pays all kinds of dividends during the day,” said Dr. Beall.

Meditation for Students: Results of the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time/TM Program in San Francisco Schools

December 24, 2011

David Lynch Foundation Event in San Francisco: Meditation for Students

The David Lynch Foundation held a benefit gala in San Francisco on June 1 at the Legion of Honor, to showcase the successes of a five-year project to bring the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique to students in inner-city San Francisco schools. In this video, you will hear James Dierke, principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School talk about the unprecedented academic achievements of his meditating students; iconic filmmaker David Lynch talk about the inspiring work of his foundation among at-risk populations; and Dr. Norman Rosenthal, internationally renowned psychiatrist and NY Times bestselling author, discuss the amazing results of scientific research on the TM technique. See other featured past events posted on the David Lynch Foundation website. To hear more about the David Lynch Foundation and it’s programs, please visit: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

Uploaded by on Jul 7, 2011.

See selected highlights of Inspiring results from the TM-Quiet Time Program in the San Francisco Unified School District.

‘Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values’

January 31, 2011

‘Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values’
2011-01-09 10:10:00

Chicago, Jan 9 (IANS) There has always been a pervasive but undocumented feeling that Indian philosophy, as manifest in Vedanta on the intellectual plain and yoga on the physical plain, has very significantly influenced the West in general and America in particular. That feeling now finds a meticulously constructed scholastic endorsement in the form of an important new book.

Author Philip Goldberg’s ‘American Veda – From Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West‘ (Harmony Books, 398 pages, $26) offers a comprehensive account of the inroads made by Indian philosophy since the early 19th century.

‘The combination of Vedanta and Yoga was a perfect match for certain American values: freedom of choice and religion, individuality, scientific rationality, and pragmatism.  They appealed especially to well-educated Americans who were discontent with ordinary religion and unsatisfied by secularism, giving them a way to be authentically spiritual without compromising their sense of reason, their consciences or their personal inclinations,’ Goldberg told IANS in an interview.

He said Indian teachers who came to the US were conscious of the openness of American society and they adapted the teachings accordingly.

Explaining the mainstreaming of Indian philosophy in the US, Goldberg said, ‘I think the remarkable growth of the ‘spiritual but not religious’ cohort of Americans would have been unthinkable without access to the practices derived from Hinduism and Buddhism.  In addition, the philosophy was presented so rationally that its premises could be regarded as hypotheses, and the practices were so uniform and so widely applicable that they lent themselves to scientific experimentation.’

The book begins with a claim that is deliberately designed to be an attention grabber. ‘In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness. The media frenzy over the Fab Four made known to the sleek, sophisticated West that meek, mysterious India had something of value. Our understanding and practice of spirituality would never be the same,’ Goldberg writes.

He points out that translated Hindu texts were very much a part of the libraries of John Adams, the second president of the United States and one of its most respected statesmen and political theorists, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, an eminent poet and essayist who led the transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century. From there those ideas permeated to author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau and poet Walt Whitman among others.

In recounting Thoreau’s perspective about the Bhagavad Gita, Goldberg refers to a much quoted passage from the book Walden. Thoreau writes, ‘In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.’

The book has two distinct trends in support of the author’s primary contention about how Indian spirituality changed the West. One trend is at the operational level where words such as mantra, guru, karma and pundits have so seamlessly become part of the mainstream lexicon. The other trend is much deeper in terms of internalising the core values of Indian philosophy.  Asked if the people in the US are conscious of this, Goldberg said, ‘Some are conscious of it, and therefore grateful to the Indian legacy.  Others are not: it’s seeped into the American consciousness in subtle but profound ways.’

Goldberg also talks about the ‘Vedization of America’. On whether it can be attributed to the general secularisation/pluralisation significantly caused by the rise of agnostic information technologies, he said, ‘If you mean, could the trends I describe be attributed to the growth of pluralism and other social forces, independent of the Indian influence, it is very hard to say. Certainly, the combination of factors made for a perfect storm. I tend to think that the experiential practices of meditation and yoga, and the intellectual framework of Vedanta, accelerated, deepened and broadened what might have been an inevitable but amorphous evolution.’

On whether he apprehends any organized backlash or pushback against Indian philosophy, he said ‘Not a big one, but some of it is inevitable. There has always been a backlash from both mainstream religion – conservative Christians in particular – and the anti-religious left. Vivekananda faced up to it in 1893, and all the important gurus were confronted by it. Right now, there’s an anti-yoga campaign by some Christian preachers.  I’d be very pleased if my book becomes a lightning rod for such a controversy. Bring ’em on!’

On a movement in support of a ‘Christian yoga’ that may be gaining some ground Goldberg said, ‘That’s a more complicated issue than is often realised. The question, ‘Is yoga a form of Hinduism’ depends entirely on how one defines both yoga and Hinduism.  That there are people teaching Christian Yoga and Jewish Yoga strikes me as a backhanded compliment to one of the great glories of the Vedic tradition: its universality and adaptability. That having been said, the idea that yoga is ‘a Hindu tool,’ i.e., a form of stealth conversion, strikes me as a projection by Christians of their own messianic drive to convert the ‘heathen’. That conversion is not in the Hindu repertoire – and that the gurus and swamis and yoga masters are content to have their students become better Christians – is hard for many to comprehend.’

(Mayank Chhaya is a US-based writer and commentator. He can be contacted at m@mayankchhaya.net)

Huffington Post named American Veda one of the top ten religion books of 2010.

Listen to this KRUU FM interview with Cheryl Fusco Johnson on Writers’ Voices, Oct 12, 2012 http://www.kruufm.com/node/14325/node/14325.

Samadhi is the beginning, not the end of Yoga

May 24, 2010


JUNE 2010 Issue

Samadhi is the beginning, not the end of Yoga

By Neil Dickie

Yoga or union of the mind with divine intelligence, begins when the mind gains Transcendental Consciousness. The process of diving within is the way to become established in yoga. —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

This article is for the many people who suspect they could take their yoga practice to a higher level by practicing meditation, but who delay starting, thinking meditation to be either too difficult or too advanced for them.

One reason many assume meditation to be difficult is a common misunderstanding of the eight-limbed or Ashtanga system of yoga laid out in the revered Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the text of the Yoga Sutras, the eight limbs of yoga are laid out in the following order: the five yamas or personal virtues, such as ahimsa or non-violence, and satya, truthfulness. Then the five niyamas or rules of life, including shaucha, purification, and swadhyaya, study. Then pranayama, the breathing practices; then asanas, the poses of yoga; then three stages of mental practice. And finally, comes the eighth limb, samadhi, the union of the busy thinking mind with its deepest most silent level, the unified field of consciousness. Think of an individual wave settling down and experiencing the unbounded ocean.

However, despite the fact that Ashtanga translates as eight LIMBS, and not eight STEPS or stages, many have thought Patanjali meant that his eight-fold approach should be practiced only in step-by-step, sequential order, starting with the personal virtues and observances, and that only advanced practitioners should attempt samadhi.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi created a stir in the world yoga community some 40 years ago when he travelled the world teaching Transcendental Meditation, a simple, easily-learned technique to bring the direct experience of samadhi. Maharishi was teaching anyone interested, irrespective of their knowledge of the other limbs of yoga. As the popularity of TM spread, so did concern in the yoga community. In Germany, an upset delegation of yogis came to him and demanded an explanation. They knew that Maharishi had been for many years the closest disciple of the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a highly respected spiritual leader and the elected custodian of the Vedic tradition in Northern India. But in spite of this traditional background, Maharishi was now teaching meditation to the masses. What could be the reason, they asked?

Maharishi welcomed the delegation and began by establishing common ground with them—his respect for the authority of Patanjali. He then, however, explained his view that Patanjali had, due to the long lapse of time, become badly misinterpreted. The order of Patanjali’s famous eightfold yoga had, he said, become the reverse of what Patanjali intended. “The practice of Yoga was understood to start with yama, niyama (the secular virtues), and so on,” Maharishi said, “whereas in reality it should begin with samadhi. Samadhi cannot be gained by the practice of yama, niyama, and so on. Proficiency in the virtues can only be gained by repeated experience of samadhi.”

For example, Maharishi said, one can only truly progress in ahimsa or non-violence as one grows in the realization that there is a common unity of all things. This unified reality of life is directly experienced in samadhi. Similarly, he said, asteya or non-covetousness can only be realized when one feels fully contented, and the only way to be truly happy inside is to realize the field of bliss-consciousness—again only possible through repeated experience of samadhi.

But there’s a second, perhaps even more common reason for the widespread belief that meditation is difficult—as it is generally taught, it is. Patanjali defines yoga as “the complete settling of the mind” (Yoga Sutras, 1:2). Our experience of teaching meditation during the past 20 years is that most other types of meditation today involve concentration, effort, and control. As such, they effectively prevent the mind from completely settling down. Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation, in contrast, involves no concentration, effort or trying of any kind, and allows the mind to quickly and easily dive within to its silent core.

But can an easy, effortless meditation be “real” meditation, leading to enlightenment? Yes. Some have misunderstood that the simplicity of Maharishi’s TM means that it is watered down, or “westernized.” But TM is actually the revival of meditation in its pure and original form. It is simple and easy not because it is watered down, but because it is natural, in full accord with the nature of mind and body. That is also why it is so efficient. Nature has tremendous efficiency. Activity in nature always follows the path of least action. In the same way, the TM practitioner effortlessly dives within the mind, gains samadhi, and enjoys, even outside of meditation, steadily increasing access to that field of pure intelligence and infinite joy.

See www.tm.org or www.doctorsontm.com for information on the many published scientific studies on the benefits for mind, body and behaviour resulting from this practice.

Neil Dickie is a certified Transcendental Meditation instructor who treasures his daily yoga asana practice (neil.c.dickie108@gmail.com). For more information, or to find out the dates of upcoming free introductory talks, call 613-565-2030. Email: Ottawa@maharishi.ca


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