This missal takes a look at effortless meditation, TM, and its founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Many of the effortless meditation techniques in use today found their modern popularity through Maharishi and his transcendental meditation technique. Maharishi(1918–2008) was the disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, known as Shankaracharya (Guru Deva) from 1941-1953. In the late 50's he began traveling, teaching his meditation and setting up centers for instruction. He became well known after meeting the Beatles, and continued to have celebrities and the well known for students.
The Transcendental Meditation Program has grown into a world wide organization claiming to have taught over 5 million the Maharishi's technique. Many others have their own versions of this teaching, claiming 'effortlessness' as their goal, and even the method. While the TM group and others may have taught many to remove stress from their lives and helped them in coping with the modern world, the money involved and the weight of such a large organization makes one wonder about the claims to spiritual attainment.
In the Maharishi's own words, transcendental meditation is "a simple, natural program for the mind, a spontaneous, effortless march of the mind to its own unbounded essence. Through Transcendental Meditation, the mind unfolds its potential for unlimited awareness, transcendental awareness, Unity Consciousness — a lively field of all potential, where every possibility is naturally available to the conscious mind. The conscious mind becomes aware of its own unbounded dignity, its unbounded essence, its infinite potential. Transcendental Meditation provides a way for the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence — active and silent, point and infinity. It is not a set of beliefs, a philosophy, a lifestyle, or a religion. It's an experience, a mental technique one practices every day for fifteen or twenty minutes."
When asked why private instruction, with a fee, was necessary, he answered "What happens is that the mind, in its active state, learns to experience its own less active states, experience its progressively minimized active states, until eventually it cognizes the transcendental state of consciousness. But in learning to do this, we must remember that the mind has usually been allowed to wander around so long in the realm of knowledge or power or the pursuit of happiness that it must be taught how to know itself again. That's why teaching becomes necessary."
“Through Transcendental Meditation, the human brain can experience that level of intelligence which is an ocean of all knowledge, energy, intelligence, and bliss.”
His teaching became increasingly concerned with world peace and harmony, with mass meditations to promote this, even to the extent of trying to influence elections. In his early days he seems to have been more concerned with the spiritual side, before the organization became so affluent. I've met one of his students from the earlier days, and he feels the Maharishi's teaching was then focused primarily on effortlessness.
The idea of meditation being 'effortless' is much talked and written about, but also much misunderstood. In my experience, this 'effortless-ness' can mean two very different things. On the down side, it can be a cop-out from the very work necessary for most of us to obtain our true state as the effortless observer. One cannot find truth by wishing it in the imagination, no matter how much thinking and talking one uses. Maharishi himself said that " to realize this(the effortless state of realization), one has to be liberated from unnatural programs, performances and experiences". If the ego wishes to escape these traps of the mind, it may latch onto an easy way out through the very imaginative projection system that got it into trouble in the first place. This is not transcendence.
"The important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
Most of us have had tastes of this transcendence, through trauma, drugs, accident, or the presence of another, but finding it again in everyday life requires the removal of what masks it: the negative reaction pattern of the over-imaginative thinking mind. As the Maharishi also talked about, in transcendence we fulfill desire at its source in the present, rather than through compensation after the fact. For most of us, this requires much effort in clearing the field. Paradox is also a good sign, it indicates we're getting close to the limits of the mind.
In the quest for effortlessness, it may be best not to confuse our desire to be free of tension, with the means to rid our minds of this tension. The hidden emotional patterns formed throughout our life time may be the stuff of dreams, but only wishing for their disappearance is yet more dreaming. During our meditation we may come upon these patterns, and find by consciously facing them we dissolve them, ridding ourselves of the very energy knots that disturbed our mind in the first place. Intuition can see how this happens. We may also catch glimpses of effortless-ness, and thus finally see how meditation works.
- Related Sites -
Tricks and Traps
Trap: The Imprint of Stress. We grow up in a hierarchal structure, whose function is to pass along stress in order to get through the day. This may leave an indelible but unconscious imprint on our emotional state. We find ourselves automatically drifting into this same point in whatever hierarchy we find ourselves in in the present, whether it be family or the work environment. The following illustrates the structure and flow of stress and emotion.
The boss stresses out the worker,
who then argues with his spouse,
the wife yells at the son,
who calls his sis a louse.
The sister smacks a brother,
who's had enough of that,
so he kicks the dog, who runs outside
to bite the boss's cat.
They all declare they hate it so,
but round and round this world they go.
Trick: Conscious Review. In order for meditation to be effective, we review the negative hotspots in our past until we can get some emotional distance on them. We may then begin to see our meditation progress more rapidly, when the inner turmoil has been consciously dealt with. The resentment and need to blame has been faced, and thus faded from our emotional state, leaving a clear field.
Fear of Effort
" Man must develop a system of work, and work with persevering dynamism.
"Our immortality is dependent not on our ability to extend our personal illusion indefinitely but to transcend it." - Richard Rose
One reason many find the idea of effortless meditation so appealing is their fear of effort and its consequences. They may have come from a negative environment, causing them to feel any decision or effort would lead only to more negativity and failure, thus forming in their thinking a desperate need to avoid all real involvement or responsibility. The appeal of an ashram lifestyle, with no stress or effort required other than pleasant dreams would certainly seem like a good compensation for the unrelenting emotional reaction patterns still active in their minds.
Modern psychiatric drug therapy works in much the same way. The persons conscious mind is kept separated from the turmoil of the unconscious emotional state through manipulating brain chemistry. While both of the afore mentioned methods for avoiding one's self are valid for those in dire need of rest and recovery, they eventually rob us of any chance for spiritual realization if continued unabated. We cannot believe we will find the truth by wishing ourselves into bliss, or by hiding behind a wall of drug induced safety. But if we have the intuition there is another way out of this prison of dreams, sooner or later we will need to face what might lie within the labyrinth of our own minds.
There's a story of a man whose fears boxed him into the point where he could no longer leave his house. He was convinced that if he set foot outside, he would surely die. He couldn't stand his hell any longer and decided death was preferable to the living dungeon of fear and isolation he found himself in. The method he chose for his suicidal delivery was to go outside, get in his car, and drive. He was convinced this would lead to certain death. To his surprise, nothing happened, he just kept driving. The spell was broken and he eventually came to lead a normal life.
We too may feel that the world is hell and our involvement in it our downfall, a valid intuition. But if this only leads to boxing ourselves up in a tiny part of our mind, afraid to face the fears of its own making, we've only fallen for the trap of fear and laziness. When we've had enough, and even death seems preferable to this dungeon of thought and feeling, we may decide to leave the mind, good and bad, whatever the cost. What a surprise when from our new vantage point we find it to be nothing more than a very well developed dream machine, with proper uses to boot as well as its dungeons and dragons. Facing our fear of falling, we leave the nest; transcending our mind, we learn to fly.
This soaring above the field of play requires a certain effortless- effort, much akin to simple attention, and a paradox to the mind. This attention is not identified with the objects it sees, but is free in its very watching. It is effortless, but not asleep to itself, and most importantly, it does not indulge in the emotions of fear and desire it may see below, having come to rest behind and beyond the mind and its feelings. It is found not by pulling the covers over our heads in the vain hope things will get better because we wish it, only, but because we face our mind and its creations, and get to the bottom of it. We get out of bed, leave the house and take a drive, and lo and behold, we become that which contains the playhouse, rather than the character involved therein. Find out who you really are, rather than indulging in what you've been told you should be.
- Quotes -
" Having the Kingdom of Heaven within you, you have no right to suffer in life, you only have to enjoy the grace of God.
" Nothing from outside can stop a man from enjoying lasting peace and permanent joy in life, for it is the essential nature of his own soul.
" Whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life." - Maharishi Yogi
" Correcting oneself is correcting the whole world. " - Ramana Maharshi
" What I suspect we need is not any kind of path or discipline, but a collection of tricks or devices for catching the Dark at the corner of the eye, as it were, and learning how to spot its just-waiting-to-be-seen presence, combined with strategies for stopping the hyperactive survival-programmes from immediately explaining the perception away." - John Wren-Lewis
" Life is empty and meaningless. It is in emptiness that we create possibilities for extraordinary results. " - Aron Ralston
" Yo, yee Pharos, let us walk through this barren desert in search of truth, and some pointy boots, and maybe a few snack crackers."
- Southern Culture on the Skids
Idiocy: never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. - despair.com
Copyright 2009 - Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.