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Flying yogis and flying millions

Acolyte David Lynch isn’t happy with this exposé of Transcendental Meditation


 

TM, David Lynch

He was the original guru pop star. Made famous by the Beatles in the 1960s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the godfather of the Transcendental Meditation movement, known as TM. He inspired such acolytes as author Deepak Chopra and filmmaker David Lynch, and remained TM’s figurehead until his death in 2008 at the age of 94. The Maharishi was once dubbed “the giggling guru.” But now it appears he may have been giggling all the way to the bank. David Wants to Fly, a new documentary shown last week at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival, offers compelling evidence that the Maharishi’s empire of enlightenment is more devoted to shaking down its followers and amassing wealth than transcending the material world.

The “David” of David Wants to Fly refers to the film’s director, a cheeky 32-year-old German named David Sieveking, and to the dubious feat of “yogic flying” or levitation. It could also refer to David Lynch, who has emerged as TM’s most prominent spokesman and is the prime target of Sieveking’s obsessive investigation. Sieveking embarked on his documentary as an avid Lynch fan dying to meet the genius behind Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. But by the time he’d completed his film, five years later, it had turned into an exposé. Sieveking told Maclean’s that Lynch threatened to sue him and tried to block the film’s Berlin premiere. No wonder. It depicts TM as a secretive hierarchy with overtones of Scientology, and portrays Lynch as its Tom Cruise.

Sieveking, who makes himself a character in the documentary—a neurotic man on a mission—is like a cross between a young Werner Herzog and a skinny Michael Moore. He first travels to America to interview Lynch as a star-struck fan, then becomes an eager student of TM. As his odyssey takes him from Manhattan to the headwaters of the Ganges, he never loses faith in the power of meditation, but he becomes deeply skeptical about TM’s well-heeled leadership.

He learns that its “rajas” pay $1 million for their exalted rank. At a groundbreaking ceremony for a TM university in Switzerland, we see Lynch introduce Raja Emanuel, TM’s “King of Germany,” who wears a gold crown and offers a provocative pledge: “I’m a good German who wants to make Germany invincible.” Jeers erupt from the crowd and a voice yells, “That’s what Adolf Hitler wanted!” Emanuel replies: “Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it. He didn’t have the right technique.” Trying to quell the catcalls, Lynch leaps to the raja’s defence, and hails him as “a great human being.”

Sieveking interviews several TM defectors, including Colorado publisher Earl Kaplan, who donated over US$150 million toward the construction of a vast meditation centre in India, where 24-7 shifts of 10,000 yogic flyers would create world peace. Visiting the project site, Sieveking finds an abandoned, half-built ghost town. And he shows footage of “yogic flying,” which looks more like cross-legged yogic hopping. We also meet the Maharishi’s former personal assistant, who says, “He’d use people and discard them when they ran out of money.” And although the guru preached celibacy, the ex-aide says one of his jobs was to bring women to the Maharishi’s room for sex. Another ex-disciple, Judith Bourque, reminisces about her torrid love affair with the Maharishi, which ended when he found another young woman.

Rumours of the guru’s sybaritic lifestyle have been rampant ever since the Beatles heard that he had hit on Mia Farrow in the late ’60s. His behaviour provoked John Lennon to write a derisive song called Maharishi, which George Harrison persuaded him to retitle Sexy Sadie (“What have you done? You made a fool of everyone”). The film shows Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr rallying to support TM at Lynch’s star-studded 2009 TM benefit. “John Lennon,” says Sieveking, “would be rolling in his grave.”

As for the analogy between TM and Scientology, the director acknowledges certain parallels, but considers TM less rigid—“you can’t be a moderate Scientologist.” Sieveking says he became paranoid after the German raja threatened to destroy his film career. Yet Lynch “is still a guru for me as a filmmaker,” he maintains, just not as a spiritual figure. “I wanted to be his friend. It’s tough for me, because now he sees me as an enemy.” But Sieveking may have found a new guru. Apparently Michael Moore, that documentary raja, is anxious to see his film.


 

Flying yogis and flying millions

  1. Sure TM and Scientology are big scams. But then again, so is the LDS and Catholic Churches. For that matter, can anyone look at one of those Protestant Megachurches and not wonder if the money lavished upon their preachers' could be better spent on feeding the poor?

    Let's look at the Vatican. Have you ever seen a bigger scam in your life? And while you don,t have to buy your way into heaven if you're a Catholic, at least a handful of Popes have bought the Papacy.

    The difference between these older scams and the newer ones is that after a certain number of years, a scam becomes so entrenched it becomes an institution. Mormonism was derided tersely during the days it's founder was alive. Yet after a hundred or so years, it has become a faith and a tradition that commands the respect of any religion. People are still a little weird about it, but once it gets as old as the Lutherans or the Church of England, the only people who will scoff at the idea that it is a legitimate faith will be the followers of even older scams.

    And all the while, we will say that all critiques of it are shameful, because one cannot criticize religion.

    At what point does a cult become a legitimate religion?

    • when i took a course "the anthropology of religion" in university it stated that all religions start as cults and go through phases until they may become institutions or religions ..so maybe you took this course

      • No, I hadn't actually.I did have a brief period in my adolescence when I was very interested in religions of all kinds, and read up on them as much as I can. However, by the time I was a college freshman, I had already come to the conclusion that most of them were only in it for the money.

        Whether it's the New Age bookstores selling incense at $2 a stick, or hare krishnas selling flowers, or church gift shops selling plastic statuettes of saints, or the very odd practice of selling bibles-wouldn't you want that to be the one book that was free to everyone?-it all looked like a scam to me.

        I've wondered why it is that we lavish so much on cathedrals, megachurches, temples and synogogues. I see people with signs that read 'Car Wash for Jesus' on the side of the road, and the ever present collection plate. If the money were going to feed the poor or build free hospitals, fine. But it's not. It's being spent on very expensive silk robes for Popes, imams and rabbis.

        Why would god need us to have houses of worship dedicated to him with gold inlay and marble and teak? How does any of that benefit God? Do we think that God is some compulsive gambler who is perpetually short on cash? You'd think so, based on the fundraisers that never seem to end.

        Same thing with other forms of spirituality. Probably the only ones that impress me are the ones where the clergy live simple lives and the money is spent on humanitarianism, like many (but not all) of the Buddhist groups or the Jains.

        I don't trust any holy man that comes to me wearing an Armani suit.

        • "I don't trust any holy man that comes to me wearing an Armani suit". Do you really judge people by their clothes?

          Think about it: isn't that rather superficial? If you're that shallow, I can see why you believed everything in this article and in the film, you just look at the surface and that's it. Clothes do not make the man. Anyone can wear a cheap suit, a robe, or a loin clothe, and it doesn't mean they're anymore spiritual than anybody else.

          "Probably the only ones that impress me are the ones where the clergy live simple lives and the money is spent on humanitarianism." Then you should adore TM and Maharishi: He was a monk, owned no possessions, lived the simplest life of anyone I've ever met (not merely because he was not involved in worldly affairs, family life and all that, but because he was established in a state of awareness that itself was totally simplicity, innocence, non-contrivance, and awakened self-knowledge.) And every cent taken in from TM course tuitions has always gone strictly for humanitarian purposes: to make the practice of meditation available to others, so that people can reduce their stress and unfold their inner creativity and potential as a human being, which is the most compassionate act there is. Period.

    • When you say TM is a scam, you are claiming that for over 50 years people have been paying money for something that does not deliver the results, or that they could get the same results without having to pay. Look, dude (or chick, whatever the case), TM has spread by word of mouth, from one person to another, because people have experienced results. After 40 years of scientific research, and over 600 studies–hundreds of them in peer-reviewed medical journals–after $26M from the NIH, there's no question that TM works. So the first part of your assumption is lame. The second assumption buried in your accusation, that anyone can get the same results from elsewhere, is just not supported by research. Look at the meta-analyses like the one done at University of Kentucky 2 years ago: it compared all mind-body practices and found that only TM significantly lowered blood pressure. There have been many such studies, just search PubMed.

      Every expert in meditation knows that all practices are not the same and have different results. Could TM be taught for free, without the system of training that Maharishi set up? Without the rigorously trained teachers and the lifelong free follow-up and support to make sure people are practicing correctly? If TM were a scam, the answer would be, yes. But have you done sufficient research or analysis into this to draw the conclusions you have drawn? I think not, because your assertions sure sound thoughtless and, well, just wrong. You know the old saying about ASSumptions.

      And oh yeah, I've been doing TM a long time, taken all the advanced courses, and in no way am I involved in a religious practice. It is a technique, not a system of faith or belief. It is all about direct experience and practical results. You don't even have to believe in it for it to work. I think you need to find out more about it so you can comment in a more informed way.

  2. compelling evidence that the Maharishi's empire of enlightenment is more devoted to shaking down its followers and amassing wealth than transcending the material world.

    This is supposed to be a surprise?

    • uh, where is the EVIDENCE? all I see here is opinions….and ones that are very contrary to fact.

  3. the cynicism toward TM shows a lack of critical thinking. the article is critical, but not "thinking" or discriminating. the author swallows the storyline of this one-sided film without questioning. TM is not a cult or a religion. i've been practicing it for 25 years and i'm not cult member nor involved in religious belief. the film (and this article) distort the facts beyond recognition. it reminds me of the German filmmakers of an earlier period, who would use the medium to manipulate and brainwash the audience, with the end result of hurting innocent people. if you look at TM objectively, what have you got? $26M in research grants from the NIH to further the scientific validation of the benefits. millions of people having learned the practice and enjoying life-enriching results. hundreds of independent research studies verifying not only that it's good for you, but can be life-saving (see American Heart Association and AMA research). a comprehensive teaching program unlike any other meditation classes, in which you learn a technique that had been lost to society, east and west, for thousands of years before being revived by Maharishi. there's nothing wrong with TM, if you look at the honest facts and not self-serving distortions. it's simply a fabrication that the TM organization is "well heeled" and that anyone has ever made money off of it. this is just "swiftboating." if all this were true, where is the evidence for it? use your head. cite facts and not twisted opinions. because TM is a non-profit organization, the financial records are public access. the organization is totally clean. and i love david lynch.

    • He didn't say the practice itself was useless… the film maker just claimed that the leadership is and was in it for the money. So watch the film, and perhaps you will see your facts and citations, or perhaps not. Just wanted to clarify the author's viewpoint, and to allow you the chance to see the facts that the film has found.

      • there are no facts or citations in the film. i saw it. i addressed the myth that the leadership is in it for the money. there are zero facts to support that premise, presented neither in the film or in real life. just very slanted opinions and glaring disregard of fact.

        • Been doing tm since 1974, worked for the Movement for years, there is truth to what each side says – and let me tell you from experience, the leaders at the former MIU ain't no peaches. If you think they big boys aren't in it to rake in the $$$ you are extremely innocent.

          That said, the meditation technique is a classic mantra meditation that delivers. Unfortunately the leaders of the Movement on virtually all levels have never lived up to the ideals espoused by the Movement. When you can't give 'em money, you are not important to them and if you are on staff in any movement facility and you become ill its bye bye and don't call us till you can serve us.

          I had fairly good experiences with my time in the movement cause I knew the score and didn't expect any better but I watched a lot of others get abused in various ways – yeah I still meditate and the above comments are from experience – the best way to approach TM is to meditate and don't fool with the Movement any more than you have to.

          • Well said, M. Jackson. I've been doing TM since '73 and think it's great. The Movement is another story. I foolishly expected in my early encounters with the Movement, that it would reflect the greatness of the technique. How naive of me. As a technique that offers so, so much it will, naturally, attract a disproportionate number of f**ked up people and the, of course, run the Movement.
            If someone wants a great technique for relaxing, unfolding your mental potential, learn TM. If you're looking for a religion and a cult and a way of life, then join the TM Movement. But that's TOTALLY unnecessary if all you're looking for is the former.

          • Simple TM meditation is no big deal but it is over priced.

            The problems come from the various other things the movement promotes. The Siddhis, where the claim is made that you will learn to levitate. Bouncing around on a foam mattress is sold as being the first stage of flying. You have 60 year old guys in the first stage of flying since they started in the 1970s. Then there is the fascination with hindu-lite concepts, like east facing homes, astrology, yagyas (much like prayers), gem therapy and ayurveda cooking and medicine.

            You can spend a fortune on it. It is a waste.

      • And where is the evidence for the leadership being in it for the money? It's a delusion. The Rajas are financially self-sufficient. The organization charges a one-time flat fee for life, and the teachers are mostly volunteers. The money goes to spreading that knowledge around the world. John Lennon lamented his accusations near the end of his life. All saints are assassinated in one way or another. The world is as you are.

    • Do people like Judd Weaver work from a cheat sheet? The just rattle off these cliche myths ad nauseum.

      A breakdown:

      >hundreds of independent research studies verifying not only that it's good for you,,,,

      It is meditation that can be good for you. TM is to meditation what Pizza Pizza is to italian cuisine.

      > but can be life-saving (see American Heart Association and AMA research).

      "Life-saving" is overblown. Regular mediation or prayer or yoga or Tai Chi etc. has some statistical impact on heart disease and hypertension. But it is only one of a number of interrelated factors and NOTHING will stop you from dying.

      > a comprehensive teaching program unlike any other meditation classes,

      TM is unlike any other meditation class in the same way that a Burger King hamburger is unlike a meal in a real restaurant. For one thing, it's trademarked. For another, it comes off a production line that is engineered for profit.

    • More canned propoganda…

      > (TM) … unlike any other meditation classes, in which you learn a technique that had
      > been lost to society, east and west, for thousands of years before being revived by Maharish

      Rubbish. Meditation has existed in every society in the world since prehistory. Mantra-based meditation exists in every single religion in the world. Meditation has even been distilled in a completely non-religious context in programs like "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction" (see author Jon Kabat-Zinn). Any buddhist centre and many yoga centres give meditation classes without the cultishness of TM and at a fraction of the price. As an example, Shambhala buddhist centres exist in most major cities in Canada … http://www.shambhala.org/

  4. The opportunist is the young German filmmaker looking to make a name for himself with a biased, poorly researched documentary.

    People pay thousands for computers and iPhones and electronic toys that become obsolete in a couple years. Or a couple thousand a year for health club memberships that get limited use and benefit. Or thousands every year on drugs, alcohol and tobacco that are scientifically validated to destroy your health and well-being. The TM course costs $500-$1,500 for private, individualized, 7 day meditation instruction with lifetime free follow-up anywhere in the world. And the benefits to this investment are cumulative – that is the benefits and therefore the value of the investment INCREASE with every year of practice. It's an investment that easily pays for itself.

    I've received the benefits of TM for over 30 years – never spent a night in a hospital, great health, high energy, low stress, success in business, clarity of mind and purpose, contentment, great relationships and zest for life. How much is that worth? $500-$1,500 is cheap for something that grows in value and benefits to mind and body every year.

  5. Most TM teachers don't make a living teaching TM. They work other jobs for money and teach TM as a vocation and for the joy of it.

    Money made from Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Japanese allows students and adults in third world, developing countries to learn TM for free or a lot less.

    And there are programs for Americans who can't afford it. David Lynch has established a foundation so students can learn for free. Donations come from philanthropists and other TM Meditators who have benefited from TM and want to help others learn who otherwise could not afford it. Anyone who really wants to learn TM can find a way to learn.

    Over 600 research studies have been conducted on TM at more than 200 universities and research centers (including Harvard, UCLA, and Stanford). These studies have been published in more than 100 peer reviewed journals.

    • 1. The grant program by Lynch–the money goes to the movement.

      2. The six hundred studies claim is bunk. First of all, there isn't 600 studies. Second, a large number of studies says nothing about quality. The National Institute of Health commissioned a review of mediation research which included TM, the conclusion was that the research in general was of poor quality and few if any conclusions can be drawn as to the effectiveness of mediation.

    • I think you should say, here is documentation of your opinion.

    • What evidence do you have that Lynch considers his critics "enemies?" He has completely ignored this whole discussion, and I find nothing on Google about him criticizing this film at all. What I hear him say is that he encourages every young filmmaker and holds freedom of expression above all else. You just made that up to further your cause. The two TM-smear sites you link to are hardly validation of the negativity. Here is a review of the "suggestibility" site, which also features a renowned psychiatrist's response to the "habitual victim mindset" of the anti-meditation advocate:http://skepticsontm.blogspot.com/2009/03/review-s

      • I suggest you ask the film maker about law suit threats.

        Renowned psychiatrist? Come on, no reputable medical professional would ever diagnose anyone based on what they post on the net. The psychiatrist has an agenda, the agenda that TM is pretty and sweet and no no no can't ever be bad and if you criticize it, you have a personal problem.

    • so you feel confident in your claims? Why do you leave out your name?

  6. The German invincibility thing got totally misunderstood as folks in Germany are naturally sensitive to this sort of thing. Maharishi wants EVERY nation to become invincible. By that he does not mean dominate the world. He means self-sufficiency. He means a feeling of friendship to and from all nations. No enemy will be born to a self-sufficient, strong, contented, peaceful and compassionate nation. To have a friend, you must first be one.

    And Maharishi was a monk. George Harrison and Paul McCartney both recently said the Mia Farrow rumors were pure bunk. Westerners just love the lusting, money-grubbing guru story, retold again and again with no proof.

    To see how genuine Maharishi is, just read his "Science of Being and Art of Living." Or his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. Or at least start them. In a few pages you will see how genuine and profound is his wisdom and understanding and how simple and complete is the knowledge. No mysticism. No flowery, poetic, hypnotic, New Age goobbldygook. Just point blank wisdom, clear and simple.

    • Hello Widestrides…found this side for "David Wants to Fly" recently and have read through some of the comments. Generally I don't like to spend much time arguing back and forth, but since I have found you so strongly defending Maharishi's status as a celibate monk I felt at last that I should write and tell you, on the basis of my experience as his lover between 1970-72, that most of the rumours regarding his sex life are probably true. I was however never raped…I was seduced. When rumours are spread, it is a good idea to try to get to a description from one of the persons actually involved if possible. I invite you to read my book http://www.robesofsilkfeetofclay.com It is not an angry or bitter book attacking Maharishi…I in fact praise much of his work. But it is time to reveal his more human sides, one of them being that he loved young, beautiful women and very much wanted to be intimate with them. He was still brilliant as a teacher of meditation, but as a person he did not walk his talk.

  7. The problem with all organizations is that they are staffed with people. And while motives may be pure among some, it eventually becomes a game with several maneuvering contestants, and the basic human faults that have wreaked havoc throughout history come into play.
    TM undoubtedly offers something of value, but it would be naive to think that once money is involved, the leaders of TM would be immune to the greed that follows money like a shadow.

    • Your reasoning is valid, but is not based on the reality of the TM organization: NO ONE MAKES ANY MONEY, SO THERE IS NO GREED TO ENGAGE. Is it so hard to believe that there is one organization which is truly non-profit, and ALL the money goes to making the teacher of meditation available to more and more people? That has always been the story with TM. Ralph Nader is quoted in Newsweek as saying that the TM org is the only truly non-profit he knew of in America.

  8. i don't know – the film seemed pretty weak and disingenuous to me – i am sure that the TM organization, like any organization, has probably made its share of mistakes (even if the TM meditation itself totally rocks)

    and so, on one hand, it seems that you've got a smarmy wanna-be filmmaker who starts out with a clearly biased agenda to "punk" David Lynch

    and on the other hand, you've got many hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies performed over the last 40 years, from top research institutions around the world, published in highly regarded medical journals – and you also have famous people like David Lynch, Hugh Jackman, Howard Stern, Mehmet Oz, Moby, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Donovan, Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, Jerry Seinfeld, The Alkaline Trio, Laura Dern, Mike Love, Clint Eastwood and Stephen Collins (among many others) who enjoy TM so much that they feel to publicly advocate for it

    you also have current grants and research being done through the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the National Heart and Lung Association, Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School and the Veterans Administration

    but the smug flippant cheap shot seems to always be an easy one to take (and to review/promote)

    • Isn't that what you are doing? You are making a smug flippant cheap shot at the filmmaker. Accusing him of having an "agenda" which you TM'ers seem to like to do with anyone who exposes the movements lies.

  9. TM ripped off a Hindu meditation technique and has made billions selling it to people who trusted their marketing. So sorry that many of you still buy the dogma.

    You can learn TM by googling the "mantras", which are assigned by age–no need to spend thousands.

    The research has never been independent–always performed by TM believers. Analyze the research, and you will find limited use of statistics and inadequate controls. NIH has also funded Reiki, homeopathy, and various herbs–funding research does not mean that NIH or any research institution believes in the product.

    • Your basic premise is false, that "TM ripped off a Hindu meditation technique," as is your further premise that someone "made millions." First, if TM was ripped off from Hinduism, that would mean that you would find the very technique of TM commonly practiced among Hindus, even if called something else, and that the technique was widespread throughout India. But the TM technique cannot be derived from what is today known as Hinduism. In all the books about meditation and all the ashrams in India, they are teaching meditation, even mantra meditation, but what they are teaching and practicing is not the TM technique, which was lost to Indian society for thousands of years. Maharishi revived it, took no credit for it, and made no money on it. You've got it so wrong.

      You cannot learn TM by Googling "Mantras." I promise you, despite the misinformation from the anti-TM site you're talking about, that is not TM. Is there a single research study showing that anyone has ever learned meditation in the way you describe and gotten the same results that people get with TM? No, not a single study.

      Far as I can tell, the only dogma being propagated in these comments is coming from the naysayers who claim to have a handle on TM, but their cynical belief system is all conjecture and speculation.

      • This "lost for thousands of years" stuff is a TM perpetuated myth for which there is absolutely no evidence.

    • The big fib that "The [TM] research has never been independent–always performed by TM believers" is a common falsehood spread by the few anti-TM crusaders who cruise the Internet looking for places to post their negative comments about TM. Such naysayers obviously never looked at the research bibliography. The vast majority of studies were conducted by scientists unaffiliated with TM or Maharishi University (www.mum.edu). 360 scientists in 30 countries have conducted studies on TM, at over 200 medical schools & universities. This research has appeared in 350 peer-reviewed journals. The NIH continues funding TM research because there's a precedence of solid, promising evidence. And most of the studies which included researchers at Maharishi University also included non-meditating scientists from other universities, usually as lead scientists.

      The anti-meditation crusaders try to spread the rumor that the research is "bias" or "fraudulent" but they never provide evidence of such. These accusations never come from the scientists themselves or the editors on the boards of the peer-reviewed journals, the criticisms come from non-science activists with an axe to grind.

      • Your claim of "independence" is absolutely not based on fact. There is no count of how many of the researchers do or do not do TM. That is not disclosed when a study is published. The only disclosures have to do with affiliations with various TM organizations or funding from various TM organizations.

        Nevertheless, bias or fraud aside, the research in general has been found to be of poor quality in various reviews of the research.

    • Sugarskulls, I practice Yogic Flying, love it and get a lot out of it–or I wouldn't do it. It seems you never clearly understood what it was your aunt was doing. No one pays huge fees "to learn to fly." That's just your interpretation. Yogic Flying comes from the Vedic tradition, the source of yoga, ayurveda, TM, and other fields of knowledge that are highly respected by billions of people in the world. Yogic Flying is a venerated practice from Patanjali, the founder of the Science of Yoga, who 2000 years ago complied the Yoga Sutras which contain advanced yoga meditation practices intended to speed the growth of full human potential. The TM-Sidhi program is a revival of Patanjali's techniques, and are practiced for the practical benefits enjoyed in daily life. Over 50,000 people have learned these techniques, which involve about 30-40 hours of training, much of it in residence. The course fee merely reflects the cost of offering this training, and it's not an unreasonable fee. If you never experienced the benefits directly, I can see why you have the perspective that you have: you view it from the outside, when in reality it is an inner experience. How can you condemn someone else's experience? Besides not being respectful or open minded, you're toying with that unfortunate human trait of intolerance.

      • Gee, how about the people who sued because they didn't learn to fly after being told they would?

  10. I did TM when I was in college and it helped me with my migraine headaches and calmed me down. Once the instructor came to me and told me when I asked what my mantra meant, he replied that it wasn't important and I told him it was since it was supposedly based on our background from the information that I had given him. So when he told me again that it was not important for me to know, at 19, I was curious but with no avail I left. I still meditate and pray daily and I not ever gave money nor bowed down to even a picture of this guru. Not into that!

  11. what a waste of bandwidth

  12. I've used the TM meditation technique twice daily for 35 years and I'm totally satisfied with the results. The organization is first class.

  13. Are you suggesting that the interviewees, including the one claiming that his job was to bring woman to the man's room, as well as the one who claims to have had a relationship with him, are liars? Or deranged?

    Also, what is wrong with sex? Sex is as pure as anything else natural.

    • i don't know what dowling woods is claiming but i would claim that yes, the man asserting that his job was to "bring women to the man's room," is blatantly lying. why would that be so hard to consider? a sensationalizing filmmaker out to slam Maharishi could easily produce someone who would make such statements. there are all kinds of hustlers in the world. it is so incongruent with the facts of Maharishi's life, to anyone who knew him, that the "lying interviewees" is the obvious strategy used.

      • You say "it is so incongruent with the facts of Maharishi's life, to anyone who knew him".

        What about Mia Farrow? She knew him. Take a look at her claims in her book "What falls away" Here, I'll make it easy for you: go to Amazon athttp://tinyurl.com/2cn6ueh and do a search inside and go to page 128 and see what she says in her own words.

        Look, judd weaver, you weren't there and you aren't now nor were you ever privy to the private sex life or non-sex life of the man.

        I personally think that TM is the greatest thing around for personal self-development. However, many people — perhaps including you? — hold him up as a guru and created a cult around him. This has been one of the major reasons the TM Movement lost so, so much of its credibility over the years. You all crowded around him and treated him like a god-figure…so much so that when he came up with nutty ideas that totally destroyed the credibility of TM on the world stage, you are pushed and encouraged him to do so.

        The bottom line is: TM either works or doesn't work irrespective of what Maharishi did or didn't do in his personal life.

      • The Beatles' new manager, jealous of Maharishi's attention, did exactly the same thing when they visited India. His lie about Mia Farrow prompted the Beatles to leave. Later they regretted leaving.

      • You weren't there. You can't know that he is lying. You tune out the negative information about Maharishi and insist on only seeing roses. There is plenty of negative information out there but you just don't want to see it. I understand. It is hard to learn that your guru was a narcissist.

  14. Sugarskulls, I practice Yogic Flying, love it and get a lot out of it–or I wouldn't do it. It seems you never clearly understood what it was your aunt was doing. No one pays huge fees "to learn to fly." That's just your interpretation. Yogic Flying comes from the Vedic tradition, the source of yoga, ayurveda, TM, and other fields of knowledge that are highly respected by billions of people in the world. Yogic Flying is a venerated practice from Patanjali, the founder of the Science of Yoga, who 2000 years ago complied the Yoga Sutras which contain advanced yoga meditation practices intended to speed the growth of full human potential. The TM-Sidhi program is a revival of Patanjali's techniques, and are practiced for the practical benefits enjoyed in daily life. Over 50,000 people have learned these techniques, which involve about 30-40 hours of training, much of it in residence. The course fee merely reflects the cost of offering this training, and it's not an unreasonable fee. If you never experienced the benefits directly, I can see why you have the perspective that you have: you view it from the outside, when in reality it is an inner experience. How can you condemn someone else's experience? Besides not being respectful or open minded, you're toying with that unfortunate human trait of intolerance.

    Are you sure that so many people doing Yogic Flying "looked down on you?" Could it be that was also just your interpretation? I know hundreds of people who do Yogic Flying, and they are kind, compassionate folks who just don't go around looking down on others. Many people around the world are continuing to learn the Sidhis, thousands actually, every year. To generalize and condemn thousands of people because they find the practice beneficial, sounds more like one of those anti-TM activists posing as an innocent bystander, than an actual person just stating their mind. But whatever…

    No one has to defend the TM org, the selection of the mantras, or the practice itself. The proof is in the pudding, as Maharishi always said.

  15. So many distortions here about TM. John Lennon would not be rolling in his grave about Paul and Ringo's support of TM, but he probably is rolling around about the injustice presented in this phony film. Yoko Ono attended Paul and Ringo's recent concert to raise money for putting TM in the schools. She said in Rolling Stone that 'John would be the first to be up there supporting Maharishi.'

    Lennon recanted years later and apologized to Maharishi for writing "Sexy Sadie," which he called "an error in judgment."

    This film wasn't based on research or accuracy, it was based on crap.

    • I know people who were interviewed for the film. You, sir, do not know their experiences and have no right to call them crap when you weren't there.

  16. That's assuming that the criticism about the TM org is true and valid. But I know these people in TM, have worked with them. The filmmaker doesn't know them. He doesn't personally know Lynch and spent very little time with him except in an interview, and then he didn't even include the interview in the film, because it didn't fit his agenda, presumably. Yet here he is bashing all these people and the whole TM organization.

    You're also assuming TM is a religion. It's clearly not, and the deeper you look the more apparent that becomes. There's no more basis for assuming the people at the top of the TM organization are are despicable than assuming that about Apple Computers or Trek Bicycles. It's just an organization, but in this case a non-profit one, working to help the world.

    • My experience as a former TM teacher is that TM definitely IS a religion and the deeper you look into it the more obvious it becomes.

  17. I've been practising TM for over 40 years, and this article bears absolutely no resemblence to the TM I practise or the Maharishi I know. Anyone who has experienced the absolute fulfilment characteristic of long term regular practise of Transcendental Meditation would know, that sex could not possibly have any competing allure. We are talking about a state of consciousness in which all desires are fufilled and no further desires remain. That is how it is. Any joy provided by the senses cannot possibly add anything to it, nor any pain diminish it. It truly is the most beautiful and completely satisfying of any experience you could have, and once established it can never be lost again. This article could only have been written by someone who has no knowledge or experience of this, and one can only feel compassionate towards such a person, because they are missing out on something so very beautiful and totally divine. For myself, I can only feel love and deep, deep gratitude to Maharishi for this gift.

    • I've been doing TM for 37 years and it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, I wouldn't be surprised at ANY of the revelations this film may hold if the review is to be believed (I haven't seen it). The bottom line is: TM works regardless of the Maharishi's sex life or the lousy way the TM Movement is run. I welcome the film because the result is it may focus the Movement back on the things that are important, like getting people to start TM.

    • I agree. TM is great – only advice is – give it a try.

  18. Hey Sugarskulls, I practice Yogic Flying, love it and get a lot out of it–or I wouldn't do it. It seems you never clearly understood what it was your aunt was doing. No one pays huge fees "to learn to fly." That's just your interpretation. Yogic Flying comes from the Vedic tradition, the source of yoga, ayurveda, TM, and other fields of knowledge that are highly respected by billions of people in the world. Yogic Flying is a venerated practice from Patanjali, the founder of the Science of Yoga, who 2000 years ago complied the Yoga Sutras which contain advanced yoga meditation practices intended to speed the growth of full human potential. The TM-Sidhi program is a revival of Patanjali's techniques, and are practiced for the practical benefits enjoyed in daily life. Over 50,000 people have learned these techniques, which involve about 30-40 hours of training, much of it in residence. The course fee merely reflects the cost of offering this training, and it's not an unreasonable fee. If you never experienced the benefits directly, I can see why you have the perspective that you have: you view it from the outside, when in reality it is an inner experience. How can you condemn someone else's experience? Besides not being respectful or open minded, you're toying with that unfortunate human trait of intolerance.

    Are you sure that so many people doing Yogic Flying "looked down on you?" Could it be that was also just your interpretation? I know hundreds of people who do Yogic Flying, and they are kind, compassionate folks who just don't go around looking down on others. Many people around the world are continuing to learn the Sidhis, thousands actually, every year. To generalize and condemn thousands of people because they find the practice beneficial, sounds more like one of those anti-TM activists posing as an innocent bystander, than an actual person just stating their mind. But whatever…

    No one has to defend the TM org, the selection of the mantras, or the practice itself. The proof is in the pudding, as Maharishi always said.

  19. I was interviewed and filmed by David and appear for approximately 0.75 seconds in his film. I found David to be a very serious, very professional and at the same time fun-loving individual. I had spent 2 years as one of Mahesh's secretaries (but not one of the skin boys), had helped create the SCI course and even helped train 1,500 teachers in La Antilla, Spain. Mahesh "rewarded" me, so to speak, by sending me to India to teach SCI.

    I felt I knew Mahesh fairly well, having watched him, day after day, moulding people to his way of thinking and getting them to do whatever he desired.

    David's film very skilfully demonstrates that Mahesh and his trained minions are not necessarily interested in the spiritual welfare (whatever that is) of the world quite as much as in the financial gains of their very fascist-styled organization.

    People need to see this film.

  20. Buzzing of mosquitoes over the head of an elephant. The longstanding reputation of the TM organization has endured for decades and will continue long after this grumpy writer jumps from his steed. Amazing it was even given ink….

  21. I have been involved in the TM movement for around 35 years and look forward to seeing this film. The reviews I've read seem to show that the film presents the truth.

    Are the mantras meaningless words? A little research turns up the fact that the "mantras" are the names of major Hindu Gods.

    Is this a religious cult? On advanced courses participants are put into in a light hypnotic meditative state and indoctrinated. Participants offering criticism watch the polite facade fade and the religious fanatic emerge. One person was privately accused of being a "fundamentalist Baptist" while another was told to leave (no refunds) for involvement with a charismatic Catholic group. Who knows what it says in my dossier and the dossiers they keep on everybody. And school children are chanting the name of a Hindu Deity.

    What about those titles? Worker's at the top are sometimes rewarded with fake PHD's which they use as prefixes. While contributors of a million dollars, for a month's video conferencing with the late Maharishi, have the title of "Raja", gold crowns and imaginary kingdoms into which they've divided the world.

    What about the money? Many Fairfield, IA members struggle to pay for food and shelter while being asked for more bucks for "enlightenment" techniques, herbs, courses, Maharishi astrology, Maharishi house building, Maharishi health spas, etc. Meanwhile, the TM movement sits on very valuable real estate all over the country that the faithful have unwittingly bought for them. When the valuable real estate is sold, the proceeds and the bulk of other donations disappear off shore.

    Is there a caste system? The top leaders are men only. Women are third class citizens, most men are second class and the high rollers are first class. The fourth class are the overworked "volunteer staff". The organization is a feudal system that opposes democracy and is built on bank accounts.

    Personally, I find Hinduism interesting but prefer the opportunity to make up my mind for myself while I hang onto my wallet.

  22. I'm glad to see a lot of support on here for TM…

    I learned TM two years ago thanks to the David Lynch Foundation… I am so grateful because I was too suspicious to pay 2,000 dollars to learn even though I knew I wanted the technique. While sometimes the TM teachers do creep me out… they are sort of out of touch with society, they are good people who believe in what they are doing. You are as involved with the movement as you want to be. If I get out of touch with the teachers–they just let me go… maybe cuz i'm poor though…

    the only thing that bugs me is their sense of superiority like… everyone else is wrong. if maharishi didn't come up with it, it's not worth anything.

  23. It should be noted that the majority of the positive TM comments here come from people that work for the TM org. Their job is primarily to do just this. They live in fairfield, IA at MUM and they spend all day on their computers looking for sites that say negative things about tm and then cover them in lies. There is currently a big debate over on wikipedia because they have been adding false information and removing truths from multiple TM related pages.

    As a personal opinion, TM is fine, but the movement is a terrible cult.

  24. Macleans, you have sunk to an all-time low in printing this article, which is filled with tabloid style, unsubstantiated drivel from sources with personal agendas. Anyone with the least amount of intelligence will see right through it. Same with the film. The words "obsessive investigation" should give everyone a clue to where this film and story is coming from. George Harrison and Paul McCartney have publicly said the rumours were false, conjured up by one of their aides. Every organization, government, department, business, society has its detractors: the reason often has more to do with them than the organization. It's called sour grapes. David Sieveking lives up to his name "king of sieves". Everything about this is full of holes.

    • http://www.woodyallen.art.pl/eng/artykul_eng_08.php

      "One day, as Farrow was meditating beside the Maharishi, she was alarmed to find his hairy arms around her. Her sister felt she should be pleased to be embraced by such a holy man, but Farrow upped and left."

  25. Check out the good that David Lynch is doing transforming the lives of at-risk youth in prisons and schools, supporting work to save the lives of thousands of orphans on the streets of Colombia, showcased on NBC's “Last Call with Carson Daly” .
    http://dlf.tv/

    • The only good that David Lynch is doing is filling the coffers of the TMO that, by the way, already has the financial resources to accomplish all their goals particularly the pundit project at the Brahmastan of India. Just imagine how much money all those Indian schools are bringing in that advertises itself as "the largest chain of privately held public schools in India" (http://www.maharishividyamandir.com/index.jsp). Is it any wonder that Girish is smiling?!?

    • So? Mother Theresa did much more FOR A LOT LONGER.

      Is that a reason to become Catholic?

  26. A number of the pro-TM commentors often post on blogs and websites that are critical of TM. Laughing Crow is one name you see frequently. I believe he is from the US and affiliated with the movement. Have any of you actually seen the movie? As far as I know it hasn't been shown in the US. Come on now, be honest.

    • The film is a hatchet job and you have done the public a great disservice by printing a totally uncritical review. Maharishi was one of the world's great spiritual leaders. He revived a highly effective, ancient meditation technique, making a high-quality, deeply restful meditation easily available to the public for the first time. TM has since been shown to dramatically improve health and well-being in studies at approx 250 different universities and research institutes around the world. Over 5 million people have enjoyed the benefits of his Transcendental Meditation, including about a quarter million people in Canada. Maharishi also revived Ayurveda, the great natural health care system, both in India and in the West, which has been lauded by the WHO as being highly cost-effective for both prevention and cure. Maharishi was a great scholar of Vedic wisdom, including yoga. Check out his translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita. My professors in college agreed that it is the best on the market. The rumors from Rishikesh during the Beatles sojourn there have been fully answered by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as well as by Cynthia Lennon in a 2008 London Times article in honor of Maharishi, just after he passed away. The film also very unjustly portrays David Lynch, who has donated very generously and worked tirelessly to bring the peace of meditation, free of charge, to hundreds of thousands of at-risk youth around the world. The film besmirches the name of two good men, and by uncritically reviewing it, you have done the same. I would have expected better from Macleans.

      • The following should have been a reply to "Neil's" comment so I'm re-posting it as a "reply"…sorry for the repetition:
        Neil writes: "I would have expected better from Macleans". In what way can you make such a judgment…yes judgment!…when I doubt that you have traveled from Asheville to Canada to even see the film that, to my knowledge, isn't yet available in the US? Your judgmental attitude "Neil"…or any of the pseudo-identities that you post under to hide your real name…sums up very nicely why the TMO has and continues to alienate some of its strongest advocates. Take off your "cult-moneymaking-tinted" glasses and see the true reality of the situation so that you can live up to my expectations of you "Neil"!!!

  27. Neil writes: "I would have expected better from Macleans". In what way can you make such a judgment…yes judgment!…when I doubt that you have traveled from Asheville to Canada to even see the film that, to my knowledge, isn't yet available in the US? Your judgmental attitude "Neil"…or any of the pseudo-identities that you post under to hide your real name…sums up very nicely why the TMO has and continues to alienate some of its strongest advocates. Take off your "cult-moneymaking-tinted" glasses and see the true reality of the situation so that you can live up to my expectations of you "Neil"!!!

    • LaughingGull: I did not have to travel from Asheville to Canada to see the film, because I live in Canada. Ottawa, to be precise. I'm also a former reporter–also in Canada. I did a long article on TM for my college newspaper back in the 70's, and I've been keeping track of them with interest ever since. I made a judgment on this sadly slanted and distored film, but an informed one, unlike that of the author of this sorry exercise in unbalanced journalism. Yours truly, Neil

      • My apologies Neil if I offended you. Your comment to which I was responding reads so much like that of a TBer (True Believer) who tends to have eyes glazed over with his/her own self-righteousness rather than that of a former reporter who "did a long article on TM back in the 70s" and has "been keeping track of them with interest ever since." Just the defensive tone of the comment alone speaks volumes…if you aren't a TM initiator yourself, then you should have been. Plus I've read several reviews of this indie documentary from both Germany and Canada and have only seen the English trailer…but guess what, they're all very positive with regard to the sensitive way that Sieveking handled the material he was given and what he observed. It's very interesting that he saw the same craziness in such a short amount of time that took decades of one-pointed hard work from some of Maharishi's most devoted followers. It IS all about the money, honey…how else can you explain putting a price on spirituality and having it available only to those who can afford its outrageous pricetag???

  28. Wow … "received the benefits of TM for over 30 years – never spent a night in a hospital, great health, high energy…(blah blah blah". Well a former room-mate of mine in university has had great health for 25 years, high energy, became president of a brokerage by the time he was forty, started many companies, very creative, now retired. Is worth >$100M. Happy family. Never did TM.

    I have an uncle who taught TM for several decades, worked in the organization for decades. Now an alcoholic, on welfare.

    It is MEDITATION in general that has benefits. No miracles. It just helps. "TM" is just an exploitive trademark. Get it? "TM"? Trade Mark? Maharishi's great joke on America!!

  29. Maharishi's "TM" corporation didn't invent anything new. They just commercialized mantra-based meditation that has been in the public domain for thousands of years. If someone wants to learn meditation, there are lots of options: they can learn Christian meditation in many church basements in your city. They can learn it in many yoga studios in your city. They can learn it from any buddhist organization in your city. They can take a cheap Mindfulness Based Stress Relief course in many workshops around town. These options are much cheaper, more honest, and less cult-like than TM (trademark).

  30. It is meditation IN GENERAL that has benefits.

    The Maharishi's trademark of meditation (get it? TM… trademark) was just a very successful COMMERCIALIZATION of one beginner-type of meditation: mantra-meditation. This kind of meditation and many more types have been around for thousands of years.

    You can learn meditation (withough TM's b.s. hype and flaky promises of levitation) in many yoga studios, in any buddhist centre, in any Mindfulness Based Stress Relief workshop around town, in many church basements ("Christian Meditation"), and from many other sources.

    Just please stop rewarding the TM organization for applying the McDonalds business model to a technique that has been free for thousands of years.

  31. That movie was full of lies so I refuse to see it.

    I have been practicing TM for 71 years and I tell you — it works.

    I feel great. I've never been sick — I never even sneeze. I get by eating only one grain of rice a day. I run marathons in less than two hours. I am happy and everyone I know adores me. I can bare-foot waterski. I climbed Mount Everest. I invented radio. I sleep less than five minutes per night — standing up! I can make love for 7 hours. I invented the Internet. I have perfect skin.

    I travel around the world and spend no money on plane tickets — I just yogically fly. I can see through clothes. I am indestructably blissful. More blissful than you.

    There have been 71,268,001 completely independent studies (funded and run by TM Inc.) proving that TM increases your intelligence, makes you live longer, improves your skin, makes your jokes funnier, and makes your flatulence smell like roses.

    I owe it all to TM.

    Did I mention I can fly?

    • Hands down, the funniest comment I've seen anywhere in months…well done Greg! BTW, I've been practicing TM for 73 years and I subsist on prana alone…so that makes me more enlightened and better than you. And flying is sure over-rated, ain't it? As my good friend, Mr. T, said recently: "I pity those butt-bouncing fools in Fairfield."

      • That's nothin'.

        I'm dating the goddess Shakti.

  32. I go to the school in Fairfield, IA. While TM is cool and works for some individuals, the general dogma of the place is sickening. The school claims to be non-religious yet they won't allow students in the media lab to put up black shades to stop reflections (and reduce eye strain) because 'Maharishi said black is unconsciousness'. They closed off west facing entrances because 'they are not conducive to our well being'. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Things go much deeper into the accreditation of the school, money, and how one of its faculty is on the state board of accreditation (conflict of interest?). The school advertises a fairly secular image, yet upon arrival most students catch on to the dogma. FAFSA now publishes attrition rates and MUM was sitting around 45% attrition rate for 2009-2010. So again, TM is fine for some, but it is the organization itself that seems to be a little loony. I, for one, welcome this documentary because the trailer seems to indicate a truth that I get to experience every day on campus.

  33. Found this side for "David Wants to Fly" only recently and have read through some of the comments. Generally I don't like to spend much time arguing back and forth, but since I have found many so strongly defending Maharishi's status as a celibate monk I felt at last that I should write and say, on the basis of my experience as his lover between 1970-72, that most of the rumours regarding his sex life are probably true. I was however never raped…I was seduced. When rumours are spread, it is a good idea to try to get to a description from one of the persons actually involved if possible. I invite you to read my book http://www.robesofsilkfeetofclay.com It is not an angry or bitter book attacking Maharishi…I in fact praise much of his work. But it is time to reveal his more human sides, one of them being that he loved young, beautiful women and very much wanted to be intimate with them. He was still brilliant as a teacher of meditation, but as a person he did not walk his talk.

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