I recently made a post titled “Should I Try Transcendental Meditation?“, in which I was generally critical of this meditation practice, as it’s in service of a decidedly “for-profit” corporation. This started a few interesting conversations with others who were supporters of TM, including a link to this page.
I’m still not convinced.
I decided to email the TM organization directly with the following questions:
1. Meditation usually involves an extended period of focus on a certain point (the breath, a mantra etc.) Does TM involve practices that differ from this in any way?
2. Your website has quotes from prominent members of Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism and Islam. Has TM received similar praise from members of Eastern religions? If so, why has this not been published? If not, why not?
3. On the TM.org website, James Krag, M.D. states “The vast majority of [academic] research on meditation has been on the Transcendental Meditation technique” Do you know of any reason for this? Why have other thousand-year-old meditation techniques not been studied as extensively as TM?
4. Why isn’t the TM method published openly?
5. Why are TM mantras kept secret?
I received a response advising me to call the TM national coordinator of Australia. I replied, saying that I would prefer an “on-the-record” response via email, so I would have a hard copy that couldn’t be misinterpreted or falsely depicted. I am yet to receive a response.
Questions 2 and 3 are what trouble me the most. The benefits of ALL meditation practices are real and significant. How has the TM organization managed to convince mainstream universities that their secret practice is deserving of the most attention? And if their practice is in some ways better, why are there no commendations from other Eastern religions that use differing styles of meditation?
Let me make clear: I don’t think Transcendental Meditation is bad for you. Using TM is better than no meditation at all. But other meditation styles are freely available, without any need to praise a certain guru or pay large sums of money. Importantly, most other religions using meditation do not claim to have “the best” meditation available. In fact, at a certain level of consciousness, ideas of “best” and “worst” start to drop away. It seems that Transcendental Meditation does not function at this level.
If you’re practicing TM, represent TM in some way or no someone that does, feel free to leave a comment with the answers to these important questions.