The hippies were an aware generation, on the edge of discovering and achieving remarkable things. Spiritual growth divorced from restrictive religion. A government accountable to the people. Wars that couldn’t happen because kids wouldn’t serve in them. The questioning of authority. Noncompliance with idiocy. Community empowerment through back-to-the-land living and support of local trades and local commerce, breaking the growing stranglehold of Big Business.
The flower children challenged all the assumptions: spiritual, political, social, economic. They asked the big questions and were willing to go to jail for their principles. The hippies knew something was wrong with the world, and even tried to name it: the Establishment, the System. They were so close to the truth that they had to be stopped. Since they couldn’t be stopped, they had to be diverted.
The hippie movement was poisoned from within. Drugs, thrills and depersonalized sex ate away at flower-power vision and resolve. Heads were clouded by pot and heavy metal. Icons announced that getting the latest kick was the way to personal freedom. Drugs weren’t bad – the Establishment only said that to stop our having fun. Drugs would set our mind free. Multi-partnered sex would set our soul free.
The focus turned from activism to pleasure, thrills that never satisfied. We grew bloated with decadence, and longed for a way out. We wanted to be spiritual, but didn’t believe in Jesus. We lost our self-confidence, mourned our lost innocence. If only someone would show us the way back to feeling wonderful again.
That’s where Maharishi found us in the 1960s and 70s when he made his trips to America. He tossed life vests into our turbulent sea. We followed his voice and made it to the shore. We’d be forever grateful.
The hippies could not be allowed to grow into adults and assume responsible places in society. Not without being purged. Our enemies corrupted us, and then we begged for purging. One of their own, Maharishi obliged us. He taught TM to take our “stress” away. We gladly gave it to him. But “stress,” our cares, were attached to our souls. When TM took them away, it took part of us with it. Instead of working our problems through and becoming integrated, we gave them to a mantra, the hypnotic song that transported them, with pieces of our personality, into another dimension.
Is it a stretch to allege that the death of the hippie movement was intentional? A form of cultural genocide? The Establishment lost its critics once the hippies were assimilated. Gone were the voices crying “foul!” and “fraud!” The Establishment and the agenda that drives it wanted the hippie movement killed. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was their henchman.
Transcendental Meditation diverted the hippies to “changing the system from within.” We were taught to respect authority, and teacher/initiators were ordered to wear the Establishment’s suit-and-tie uniform. Maharishi said we’d been wrong in our rebellion, and because he had saved us, we believed it. How could a man who lifted us from our lost lives of drugs and hedonism not be telling the truth? We never questioned the man for a minute.
Was it coincidental, the sheepifying of the flower children? Look what the gods got out of it, those psychic off-world entities the mantras carried our worship to. The hippies were too conscious to fall for the Christian religion. It seemed juvenile to us, the idea that God needed blood sacrifice, the blood of his son no less, to be satisfied with “sinful” mankind. We didn’t see ourselves as sinners, and even if we were, why would a loving God’s solution to sin be stringing someone up on a cross? Nope, it didn’t compute.
And so a whole generation was moving into adulthood refusing to pay toll to the divine. No prayer would come from the hippies. No aroma of worship would waft up to the heavens, full of human emotion and energy. No helpless cries for forgiveness from the flower kids. The psychic vampires were hungry, and they knew things were going to get worse. Someone had to convert our generation into dinner-producing devotees, energy batteries for the “divine plan.” The only way to pull that off was to give religion in the West a major face-lift.
So Maharishi took Eastern religion and brought it to the West disguised as a relaxation technique. He taught it to the hippies, saying the mantras (which are names of gods) were “meaningless life-supporting sounds.” (See Where Have All the Flower Children Gone? – Part One for a discussion of this deception.)
His strategy worked. We fell for it. By the time we learned we were worshipping gods and had taught six-million people to do the same, we were so deeply mired in “the teachings” we barely batted a blink. It was easy to just go along: so much of our will had already been surrendered to our guru and what he stood for.
I find it ironic that we who smirked at the silly idea of a decent God wanting blood sacrifice wound up sacrificing something every bit as precious as blood on the altar of gods no more decent than Jehovah. That something was our life force, contained in our consciousness. We gave ourselves away piece by piece, breath by breath, meditation by meditation, our minds lulled and soothed by a mantra, while Indra, king of the gods, drank and distributed our Soma to his clan. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
The final goal of meditation is to become a vessel for the divine, a conduit of the Infinite. Your consciousness merges with the mantra, and you become one with the word. Your body, mind, will, desires all get surrendered to the That. You become a pure vessel of divine will. The detachment you experience is called “witnessing.” You no longer recognize yourself as “the doer.” You observe your thoughts and actions as separate – they happen independently, disconnected from your conscious will or control. Someone else, “God,” is doing them.
Does that sound terrifying? Not to TMers. They’re taught dogmas that make this scenario equate with achieving the ultimate purpose of life. It’s called liberation, enlightenment. Of course, from the gods’ perspective, that’s exactly what enlightenment is: complete possession of the human personality: purpose of life achieved.
Why People Still Meditate
If Transcendental Meditation is as debilitating as I’ve made it out to be (see Part One of this two-part article for a discussion of the effects of TM), why is anyone still doing it?
I think there are two answers, as there are two types of meditators who could answer this question. The first group is people who only went as far as learning the initial technique, the 20-minutes-twice-a-day routine. Many of them still happily meditate several times a week, and still claim benefits. I have a friend like this who has practiced beginner TM for years. She changed her mantra to a word she made up when she learned that mantras are names of Hindu gods. She reports she continues to get the same good results, a calm centeredness when she meditates and a rejuvenated feeling as she goes about her day. On days she doesn’t meditate, she misses this.
The second group that continues to meditate are people who went deeply into “the teachings,” learned advanced techniques and the TM-Siddhi Program, and typically became teachers. While it’s hard to tell how many have left this group, it’s clear that at least several thousand still belong, judging by the TM community in Fairfield, Iowa where dyed-in-the-wool meditators came together to live, at Maharishi’s behest, in the 1980s and continue meditating together to this day.
From my experience, observing many old friends and acquaintances, veteran advanced TMers (and those who have switched to other gurus but continue to meditate) are, as a group, troubled in a host of ways. Some developed health problems at an early age. Some exhibit bizarre emotional reactions and personality or psychological disorders. Others, who claim they’re now enlightened, see themselves as superior to their fellows. One woman reports it’s a drag for her to shop these days because her dharshan (aura) is so compelling that other people helplessly follow her about, seeking her advice and attention. This person compared the rank-and-file meditators of Fairfield to “beggars” whom she must limit contact with in order to protect her high-grade spiritual experiences.
Why do the veterans hang on? Not counting those on an ego trip, the reason seems to be because “things in the beginning were so good.” People talk about how great it felt in the early days, before they learned advanced techniques or the TM-Siddhis. Many cite how TM got them off drugs. One man who lived on the outer edge of Maharishi’s inner circle for years recounts how his mother was cured of suicidal and schizophrenic tendencies when he (the son) asked Maharishi for help.
How do we explain this, cures and reprieves from drugs, if TM is bad for you? The answer lies in some subtle understandings.
First, Maharishi was a powerful man, as alleged in Part One of this article, a procurer for the gods. The powerful typically reward faithful servants, so it’s reasonable Maharishi would be rewarded by the gods with some special abilities. In the same vein, it’s no surprise that Maharishi would reward his own higher-ranking disciples. Does the fact that he healed the mother of one of his staff prove Maharishi’s work was intended to bless mankind? No more than a hunter giving a bone to his dog proves that the hunter is too kind to kill animals.
Second, let’s look at the contention of many ex-hippies that TM got them off drugs. This is undeniably the case. Maharishi’s movement required that new initiates had to “be clean” for 14 days before they could be initiated. We were told that if we cheated and took drugs in the meantime, the chemicals in our system would keep the meditation from working. Once we started the practice, we were told that if we returned to drugs, all would be spoiled. We liked the high from TM better than drugs, so we gave up drugs in its favor. That’s how Maharishi “saved” us from drugs. Not really a very big miracle.
I don’t deny that the beginner’s TM technique, as taught to new meditators, produces some positive results. It settles down the mental chatter, bringing the mind to stillness. I believe experiencing that stillness is very beneficial.I also believe consciousness is the stuff of creation, that dipping in its waters refreshes, heals, clarifies and energizes. This is why TM feels great in the beginning and produces a sense of peace plus tangible life improvements.
It’s later that the problems begin, with advanced techniques and the siddhi course. Why? Because as the initiate progresses, the toll he must pay to the gods for the privilege of spiritual experience increases. In the beginning, he was reciting the name of a god for 40 minutes a day. After advanced techniques and the siddhis, he’s reciting the name of the god along with the words “I bow down,” and the 40 minutes has grown to 3 hours. Besides that, he’s reading hymns to the gods for 20 minutes daily and listening to chanted hymns on audiotape at night as he falls asleep. How do all these god-focused extras change the meditation experience?
The mind is now deflected from experiencing pure consciousness in meditation. Advanced techniques inhibit that because the mind is too busy putting out for its deity, the god of the mantra, too busy “bowing down” to That. The gods harvest human consciousness, a source and storehouse of energy. Our life force becomes their food, and they receive it through the worship of advanced meditation.
Maharishi himself taught this, although he put a spin on it to make this seem like a good thing. He told us that the hymns we read generate Soma in the body, which the gods rightfully take from us during the hymn reading. “Soma” he defined as a substance, part physical/ part ethereal, that is produced in the body during meditation. He said this is what the Greeks meant by “ambrosia” and “nectar of the gods.” It is the duty of mankind to provide the gods with Soma, in return for which we’ll be blessed with enlightenment and good fortune. Rig Veda’s Ninth Mandala is called “Soma Mandala” in India. One oft-repeated line is, “Flow Soma, for Indra to drink.” Indra is king of the gods, and we recited such lines to him many times a day.
It’s when you reach this stage of meditation that the good effects wane and the problems usually begin, things like chronic health issues, depression, irritability, arrogance, difficulty focusing, difficulty working. Meditators are told they’re “just unstressing,” ridding themselves of the impurities in their consciousness, that in time the good feelings will be back again.
In the “flying hall” during group meditation when I was a meditator, over half the people would typically fall asleep. Yet our routine provided plenty of time for sleep. Rest was built into our schedules. I suggest that advanced meditators sleep so much because of all the life force being depleted through the Soma mandala and through the increasingly worshipful nature of the mantras.
In case any meditators were squeamish about the god thing, Maharishi reassured us that gods are not real entities in the sense we humans think of them. Rather, they are “impulses of creative intelligence,” “laws of nature” that exists within ourselves and that we’re merely activating. There was never talk of energy depletion. Always it was represented that giving the gift of Soma to the gods was an honor and duty for humans and something of great benefit to us personally. Our lives were so entwined with the TM movement by then that most people didn’t question this, in spite of all the problems we were having. We wanted so badly to believe Maharishi.
The bottom line is, TM changes as you do it. In time the initial good results turn into a curse. An allegory helps explain how this happens, and why it is so hard to break free. (A copy of the allegory appears at the bottom of this article).
Breaking the Charmed Sleep
There are thousands still asleep on the cosmic beach, the victims of Maharishi and other “masters” who teach that the ocean of pure consciousness cannot be accessed without a guru or mantra, without their sacred teachings. Disciples pay a high price, less in dollars than in the loss of personal autonomy. The authoritarianism of the master/disciple relationship, coupled with the stripping of the ego, work to create the surrender to “the One” that Eastern religions taut as the great goal.
Gone is self-trust and independence. People become mouth-pieces of the masters they serve. Like the nuns and monks on Maharishi’s “Thousand-Headed-Mother-Divine” and “Thousand-Headed-Purusha” programs, meditators who’ve gotten in deep turn into another head of the cosmic beast, the monster that calls itself “deity” and devours within its maw all that will bow down.
Mantra meditation not only turns people into batteries for the gods. It makes us an extension of the gods and their will. Under the guise of getting disciples to surrender to higher consciousness, gurus get their flock to surrender to the deities their mantras name and serve. Rather than becoming an embodiment of the Infinite, the advanced meditator comes to embody the entity whose name he surrenders his mind to several hours a day. His eyes become cosmic, his charisma irresistible. He is a vessel of that to which he has given himself. Like a tuning fork that hums the pitch of the ringing fork beside it, “the enlightened” entrain to the will of the beings they serve. Through them, “divine will” flows into the world, unimpeded by the thoughts, will or desires of the meditator, which have long since been sacrificed.
In time TM declined in popularity, as many disciples woke up and exited the movement. In Maharishi’s wake, other procurers for the god realm arrived on the Western enlightenment scene, writing books and riding the cosmic circuit. They converted the disillusioned and reinitiated them back into the racket, which they represented as (through them) reformed. Fairfield is awash with thousands of people who extracted themselves from the clutches of Maharishi only to march into the embrace of gurus who are even more blatant and aggressive in extracting their personhood.
The new gurus achieve this miracle by explaining that there are good gurus and bad ones, true masters and false. If you had a bad experience, it means you just had a false guru, an unfortunate experience from which you can only recover by finding a true guru. The breed of gurus who flowed into the West as TM’s heyday waned serve up new promises, attractive new personalities, and teachings tweaked to “correct” the Indian dogmas that had started bothering people. Just as TM renovated religion so those who could see through Christianity would accept its more palatable teachings, the new schools of Indianism make over the obvious inconsistencies and scandals of TM, while operating from the same fundamental lies.
The lie that you need a master to find yourself. That your guru is divine and you are ignorant. That obedience to the teacher is the door to Truth. That you’re not pure until you surrender your personhood to the One. That attachment to people, desires, or things is a mark of ignorance, but attachment to the guru bestows eternal life.
The good news is, while many continue going around in circles, increasingly more are kicking the habit. Old hippies are dusting off their old ideals and ideas. We’re evaluating the detour we took and learning from it, ready to go forward rather than ride forever on the god-and-guru merry-go-round, losing more of ourselves over time.
“Conspiracy” is not a far-fetched concept to reviving hippies. It’s what we sensed but didn’t have a word for back in the 60s and 70s. The lid is off the truth again, and people are whispering. We’re talking about it, old hippies and younger men and women of independent thought and quickening awareness. People are spinning words into a freedom-web, an anarchical Internet, spanning the globe. Through posts and blogs, forums and emails, we’re sharing truth as we find it: fact by fact, experience by experience, thought by thought, website by website.
The freedom-web is spinning not only on the Internet but in kitchens and coffee shops, on sidewalks and hiking trails, in bars and lunchrooms, across the world. As it grows, this buzz we spin will catch every liar it touches. Those who feed off human consciousness and all who serve them surely will be brought down. Not in blood and hatred, but in a new consciousness, an empowered human freedom, that does not tolerate consigning one’s individuality to others or being told by self-serving tyrants what to think and do.
Oz is not really the fierce head spouting thunder and smoke. He’s the pudgy man hiding behind the screen, frantically working silly buttons and levers. Once we pull back the curtain and reveal him, the game is up. Until then, expect him to thunder like never before. He’s desperate now and shaking in his boots. He knows we are so close to the unveiling.
© Bronte Baxter 2008
The Untold Cost of the Cosmic Toll-Road
(An Allegory by Bronte Baxter)
Suppose you want to go visit the ocean, only you know of no road that goes there. One day you find one. It’s owned by a man who tells you you’re free to use his road anytime you like. He seems like a real nice fellow. After you use his road a few times, though, you learn he’s been stealing a dollar from your pocket every time you pass by. You don’t mention this, as it seems a small price to pay for the use of the road. Or maybe you do mention it, and he tells you that’s his toll-road charge. He took it without saying for your own good, because if you knew you had to pay you might have backed out of your first excursion and never would have had that wonderful experience. Now that you’ve been there, he’s sure you won’t mind paying the dollar. This explanation seems a little off, but you buy it. After all, what really matters is the great time you’re having at the beach.
After a while, the man announces he’s raising the toll. Now it will cost you five dollars every time you pass. You go to the beach every weekend, and it’s great, but the price for using the toll-road keeps getting higher. It’s very expensive now, hundreds of dollars a week. You inquire again if there are other roads that will take you to the sea, free ones maybe, but the man and your friends who use the road tell you this route is the only one .
So you keep going there and paying. But after a while, the beach isn’t such fun anymore. You’ve taken a second job to support the toll-road, and by the time you get to the sea you have no energy left for anything but a nap. You only go into the water on rare occasions. While you’re sleeping on the beach, goons who work for the toll-guy patrol the premises, picking the pockets of the sleeping sunbathers. You hear rumors among the crowd that someone is robbing people, but you don’t believe it. True, you’re missing some money, but you’re sure you left it at home and only thought you had it with you.
The fact that this starts happening every weekend doesn’t disturb you. You’ve been so spacey and foggy-headed lately – you can’t expect yourself to remember if you had your money when you got to the beach or not. All that matters is the sun and the sand feel so good. You’re so tired, and they are so soothing. You’ve forgotten about boating and swimming, picnicking and flying kites in the wind, all the things you used to enjoy in the early days when you would come to the oceanside, back when it was practically free. All that matters now is how good it feels to get to the beach and fall asleep. Yours cares dissolve away. You don’t think you could live without it.
One day you wake up from a beach nap to see a couple of people flying kites on the sand, in between all the snoring bodies. A couple more people are playing in the surf. It looks fun, and you call out and ask them, where do they get so much energy? They yell back that they’ve found a free road that takes them to the ocean and they don’t have to work to pay the toll-guy anymore. In fact, coming to the ocean energizes them now, the way it used to do back when the toll-road only cost a dollar or two.
You say, that’s impossible. Everyone knows this toll-road is the only route to the beach. No, say the others, the toll-guy lied to us. This free road has been there all along. It’s even older than the toll-road. In fact, it’s not even the only free road that will take you here. There are plenty of them. They just take a little work to find, and then you’re on your way.
You hear this, and you start to get mad. Who are these guys, coming in here telling you nonsense like that, and saying bad things about the toll-guy? If it weren’t for him and his generosity, letting you use the toll-road, your life would be empty. You never would have found the beach. You are eternally indebted to the toll-road guy for that.
You wonder why these kite-flyers and swimmers are lying, telling you all the money you’ve spent on the toll-road all these years was a waste. You simply can’t accept that. It would mean you’ve been a fool, and you won’t let anyone make you look like one. No, they must be lying. They’re just here to make trouble. You lay back down in the sand, tune out everything you just heard, and fall back into the welcome numbness of sleep.
© Bronte Baxter 2008
CLICK HERE TO GO TO THIS BLOG’S HOME PAGE (TO VIEW ALL BLOGS AND ARTICLES BY BRONTE BAXTER).
Anyone may republish this article on another website as long as they include the copyright and a back link to this site.