Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion

By Lola Williamson | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Let us end where we began—with three meditators who follow three different HIMMs. Since 1969 Walter has meditated twice a day under the auspices of SRF and has attended a weekly satsang at his local center for almost as many years. Aaron has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1970 and performs his TM-Sidhi program in the “Dome” twice a day. Jennifer began meditating using the TM technique, but later received shaktipat from Muktananda, and for almost thirty years has chanted and meditated in the early morning and attended satsang weekly.

The differences and similarities among these three meditators are concrete. Walter follows very specific techniques that he learned through a mail-order correspondence course —energization exercises, the repetition of “hung-sau” with his breath, and listening for “aum” with his arms resting on a T-board, thumbs blocking his ears. He later added more advanced techniques learned through personal initiation, which involved circulating energy up and down his spine. He sometimes attends “convocation” with three thousand other SRF students in Los Angeles during the summer. There he hears talks by the monks of SRF and practices meditation with a large group. His is a modest path—not as flashy as Maharishi’s promised enlightenment in five years or Muktananda’s instant euphoria upon receiving shaktipat. Walter feels that progress is slow, and he looks forward to the experience of transcending thought again—which thus far has occurred only once. Still he feels, in his words, that “Something essential is missing if I don’t meditate.” When he did not feel the tiniest bit of fear upon having a major heart attack, he realized the benefits of his years of practice.

Aaron began with the simple twice-a-day practice of Transcendental Meditation. Over the years, his program has expanded quite a bit. He has a daily Sidhi practice in which he develops characteristics like intuition and friendliness, as well as the ability to leave the floor as he “hops” while repeating “light as cotton.” He feels that “nature supports” him because he is more in tune with cosmic intelligence from doing this daily program. He occa

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Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • A Note on Transliteration vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - Background 1
  • 1: What Are Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements? 3
  • 2: Laying the Foundation for American-Style Hinduism 26
  • II - Three Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements 53
  • 3: Self-Realization Fellowship 55
  • 4: Transcendental Meditation 80
  • 5: Siddha Yoga 106
  • III - In Their Own Words 133
  • 6: The Guru-Disciple Relationship 135
  • 7: Mystical Experiences 161
  • 8: Worldview 186
  • Conclusion 215
  • Notes 235
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 251
  • About the Author 261
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