Academic journal article Communal Societies

Death of a Guru: An Analysis of the Postcharismatic Phase in the Transcendental Meditation Movement

Academic journal article Communal Societies

Death of a Guru: An Analysis of the Postcharismatic Phase in the Transcendental Meditation Movement

Article excerpt

You see, to meditate and transcend... is one way of achieving Cosmic Consciousness. The path of surrender is another way. The path of surrender starts by tuning the mind with the mind of the Master. Tuning the mind with the mind of the Master means: Whatever he likes, I begin to like. I begin to forgo my liking. If he wants me to go that way, I go that way, and having gone halfway, if he wants me to turn, I turn, and again he wants me to go that way, I go that way. If he wants to return I return. Nothing of my will, everything [is] His will.

This is how by foregoing our own likings and disliking, adjusting our mind to the mind of the Master, that is picked up by the disciple and that is the most important thing. If he asks to do this, you do this. If [having] gone halfway, he wants us to stop, we stop. You don't feel in the least that "Oh, so much effort has been put and now he wants me to stop!", nothing like that. The way he turns, we turn, the way he likes, we like, the thing that he dislikes, we begin to dislike. This is how one begins to forego his liking and disliking and begins to tune his mind to the mind of his Master. In this line it is not the work that is important, it is the flow of his mind that is to be kept, and that is important.

As the Master wants, so he moves, his likes and dislikes begin to become the likes and dislikes of the disciple. Like that he attunes his mind. When the mind of the disciple is completely tuned to the mind of the Master, then the thoughts of the Master become the thoughts of the disciple. The feelings of the Master become the feelings of the disciple and when that attunement is gained because the mind of the Master is Cosmic Consciousness, the status of the mind of the disciple gets to that standard automatically. The relationship of the disciple and the Master is two bodies and one existence, two minds and one mind. This is how, because the natural state of the Master's mind is Cosmic Consciousness, the mind of the disciple is cultured to that state in a spontaneous, automatic manner.

--Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Thoughts of a Yogi: Transcribed Lectures and Incredible Ideas--Maharishi's Legacy to the People of the World (published by the author, 2014), 17.

Introduction

In the last year, I have been attempting to understand the Transcendental Meditation movement, founded in 1959. It is, at every turn, a group of people that defies simple explanation. This paper endeavors to make sense of the movement, both in a historical context and looking forward to the future. In 2008, the movement lost its founder-leader, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is currently undergoing a period of rapid social change, presenting a unique ethnographic opportunity to understand social change on a small scale. This paper is the result of my attempts to understand the movement's transition into a period without its charismatic leader, as well as to discuss threats that groups such as TM face in maintaining their survival as organizations.

My previous research conducted on the role of the TM movement in Fairfield, Iowa, centered on the relationship between environmental sustainability and TM. (1) This ultimately gave way to the larger issue of the state of the TM movement in light of Maharishi's passing in 2008. The focus of this paper is the postcharismatic phase of the TM movement, both within Fairfield and globally. As the bulk of my research was conducted in Fairfield, most of the paper is concerned with Fairfield. However, I will also include information from interviews I conducted at Maharishi European Research University (MERU) with members of the Global Council, the governing body of the movement, and other members of the movement who live and work at MERU. This is to give a perspective that highlights differences between Fairfield and the global movement as well as to illustrate the changing relationships both within Fairfield and between Fairfield and the larger movement. …

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