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Friday, February 22, 2008

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation Transcendental meditation (TM) is an alternative practice of relaxation, wherein a person undergoes a calming ritual for 20 minutes every day. In this soothing process, a sacred verbal formula or mantra is repeated rhythmically to further ease the mind.

The chief proponent of this ancient ritual is Sankara, an outstanding medieval Hindu scholar. However, the most popular leader of TM is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a disciple of Guru Dev, one of the four religious leaders in polytheistic India. Maharishi introduced TM in 1955, and brought it later to England. He also founded a university in the U.S. in 1973, the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.

Maharishi has his very own definition for meditation. He clearly distinguishes it from concentration or the act or process of focusing attention. He believes that the reverse of it is required for his technique. The mind should be passive during meditation. In fact, there shouldn't even be any conscious effort on the part of the person. According to Maharishi, the mind should simply be left alone and naturally dive into "the great ocean of Creative Intelligence." The individual mind should be constantly and unconsciously infused with the power of "Being.” This only means that a successful living demands a continuous intake of that meditative power.

It is necessary in TM that the thought is suspended to achieve a certain sense of unity with the Being. Maharishi's discussion of transcendental meditation ethics also delves into the recognition of the different ethics of the various religions in the world. Moreover, it is also not absolute since there are no written standard of what is acceptable or not.

In transcendental meditation, the ceremonial initiation is distinctly religious. This consists of the "puja" or worship ritual wherein the TM beginner offers six flowers, three pieces of fresh fruit, and a white handkerchief. The teacher puts these offerings to an altar where the picture of Guru Dev is placed. With some candlelight and incense, the teacher chants a Sanskrit thanksgiving song to the departed Hindu masters. The teacher worships the Hindu version of the holy trinity or "Trimutri.” These are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who are the manifestations of Brahman. However, the primary focus should only be on Guru Dev, the master of Maharishi. In this ritual, the picture is suggestive of an idol, which in India has to be served.

In the final ritual, the teacher kneels at the side of the convert before beginning to repeat a secret mantra which was chosen aptly for him. The mantras appear to be meaningless at first but they are actually taken out from Vedas which invoke various deities for assistance.

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