The TM Movement Going Forward
January 12, 2015
To my TM movement family:
Every one of you who became an initiator, every one of you who learned TM and enjoyed it for years, every one of you who dedicated your entire life to helping me achieve my goals, and every one of you who just heard me speak once, but smiled inside, is part of my TM movement family. The part you decided to play in our family was your own choice, but that choice was undoubtedly rooted in our previous history together, in the kind of relationship you have developed with me, and in the intensity of your desire for spiritual progress.
As all those who worked closely with me know, there were many decisions I felt I had to make over the decades to protect the integrity of Guru Dev’s wisdom, and some of those decisions required that I put the pursuit of the goals of the TM movement ahead of my personal relationships with some of you. My clear realization after my physical death that I had made many such decisions disheartened me. Guru Dev was kind to me, as always, and reminded me that my dismay was similar to Arjuna’s dismay in the Bhagavad-Gita when he realized that the battle he was about to fight was against his own relatives.
In that light, Guru Dev and I decided to discuss this issue with our own closest friends ― the other members of The Movement we all formed millennia ago with the common goal of increasing the happiness and enlightenment of the human race.
Due to several revelations made during our “comparing notes” meeting, our discussions extended into a lengthy reanalysis of our goals and our methods that proved very fruitful. One of our surprising conclusions was that the inspiring stories we have told you, and other similar attempts we have made to increase your enthusiasm for spiritual progress, have often generated more new fears than dispelled old ones.
One example of the many ideas like this I developed for your benefit should suffice. Buildings made in accordance with Vastu architectural principles have definite advantages. They can be healthier and more beautiful places to work or to live in. But Vastu principles also provide a clear idea of how difficult the remaking of all of human civilization would be. Because as difficult, costly, time-consuming and improbable as remaking all the buildings in the world according to Vastu principles would be, much harder still would it be to remake all human personalities in this world in accordance with nobler principles. And since neither buildings nor personalities are remade quickly, it does not take long before the fears caused by thinking that your spiritual progress will suffer simply because some building entrance is not facing in the right direction, or because some material used in your home is not natural enough, begin to overwhelm all the advantages of these specially designed buildings.
Since all the members of The Movement agree that fear is based on ignorance, and since so much of what we have tried has led to such fears, that made us think. We even thought that perhaps we might have been missing something all along.
All of us in The Movement, for example, found it fascinating and surprising that our experiences of unusual states of consciousness could be reinterpreted coherently with a very different explanation. Due to our own emotional attachment to the previous explanation, it took time for us to realize that the discrepancies between our theory and our experiences were actually of great importance. It will undoubtedly take much more time for us to reevaluate both the meaning and the usefulness of our previous observations on yoga, the process of transcending, samadhi and related subjects. And that is why the members of The Movement have unanimously decided to experiment with a different approach: to use total transparency when presenting our explanations, hoping that will prove even more inspiring in the long run.
It is already clear to us, for example, that our reevaluation will produce a more expanded understanding of enlightenment, because several common understandings imply that a permanent state of enlightenment is essentially an exit strategy from human life ― either through divine merger or extinguishing individuality or reaching a permanent plateau in individual consciousness or at least escaping forever from the grip of karma and the illusions of maya. Not one of these various understandings emphasizes character development because each implies individual personality is inherently flawed — something to be escaped. But if our individual minds are themselves eternal, then success in pursuing enlightenment might be more wisely measured by not only the development of one’s full potential, but also by its utilization through greater clarity of mind, more intelligent decision-making, more personal integrity, more profound happiness and higher quality emotions. All of us in The Movement find it inspiring that the process of improving those character traits essentially has no limits — and is only subject to each individual’s personal vision of what is possible to achieve.
The Movement’s decision to no longer impose any behavioral rules was similarly motivated. When comparing their advantages and disadvantages, it is suspected that the rules’ disadvantages far outweigh the advantages due to the many fears those rules generate, and due to the enticing power over less courageous minds that rule-generation makes possible. So The Movement has decided to experiment to see whether that proves true.
The Movement has also reached another major conclusion: to replace its use of the master-disciple relationship with friendship. We have often felt, being able to assess other personalities so well, that we could make better decisions for others. But sometimes all that appears to do in the long run is make those people enjoy being subservient. And then they go and make themselves subservient to another mind who enjoys their subservience simply because it allows that subsequent master to feel more powerful than his disciple. And the whole thing quickly becomes a mess. Those disadvantages, which we have been aware of for a long, long time, now totally outweigh what we had always perceived to be its advantage ― preparing a mind for ultimate submission. Since we now have serious doubts about that goal, those clear disadvantages have no corresponding advantage to make them acceptable. So we are also eliminating whatever we think might lead to submissive behavior.
Some of you might find this new approach unsettling or confusing at first. But I hope it will quickly begin to feel better than what came before. I also think that these new explanations will be almost immediately liberating to some, especially those of you who have already reached similar conclusions independently.
Unintentionally, of course, the TM movement is ideally suited to test The Movement’s new approach. Its quick slide into fear and restrictions, which began decades ago and which I can now see many of my own decisions are responsible for, distresses me, as I have seen my family do this before. And I want to nip it in the bud this time.
The method I have chosen for that is an experiment designed to discover what protects the purity of the teaching more. I have told you tales of how the Vedic teaching has always been lost. And the members of the Holy Tradition have assumed until now that the protective rules we have always put in place have slowed an inevitable process of loss over time until one of us returns to regenerate the purity and effectiveness of the teaching, as I have done. But we now wonder whether the fear generated by those protective rules has been even more detrimental to the purity of the teaching than having no rules and no fears might have been.
So we are guessing that even an adulterated teaching without fear may be more effective than an unadulterated teaching full of fear due to the teachers’ insecurity about violating those protective rules.
I am therefore freeing all my teachers from those protective rules. I am also freeing all the leaders of the TM organization from the impossible tasks I gave you. Every member of the TM movement family has free will. Exercise it. I have confidence that most of you will make responsible decisions about sharing with others the gift of transcending. And I am not concerned that there might be dismal failures involved, that some fools will step forward and say they see the light when they are actually immersed in darkness, and will mislead others until one of the more courageous members of our TM movement family steps forward and gently redirects the misled to effective transcending. I even know this will happen. Often. But this is a long-term experiment whose outcome will take centuries to determine, and given the repeated failures in the past to protect the purity of the teaching, I am willing to give this a try. Because of its priceless value in making life more profoundly fulfilling, everyone in the Holy Tradition wants to eventually find the best way to make effortless transcending a daily experience for billions.
Based on the depth of our experience, but awaiting confirmation from the results of this experiment, I can safely say that the members of the Holy Tradition assume that:
- An unadulterated teaching process for teaching TM, without any fear-inducing rules in the process or in the organization, should prove most effective,
- An adulterated teaching of TM which uses the natural tendency of the mind to turn within, and which is taught without any fear in its process, should also prove effective,
- Any teaching of TM which gets caught up in fear and so loses its effortlessness could soon prove counterproductive, and
- Any teaching of a meditation technique which does not use the natural tendency of the mind to turn within, and which gets caught up in fear and effort, could also prove counterproductive.
Even so, don’t waste time condemning other ways to turn within. That’s like saying only Shankara has something to say about yoga. No matter how brilliant, no one person is the whole game. The whole game includes all of us, in all our great multiplicity.
Let me emphasize again that, for the purposes of my experiment, you can certainly continue to teach TM just as I taught you to, and the TM movement can continue to operate just as I organized it. Or not. Everyone should feel free to move forward as simply as possible, unburdened by fear of failure or responsibility for some spiritual disaster if two flowers fall to the ground during puja ― or if you forget to meditate twice one day. Anything like that. But be courageous. No one is going to punish you if you are courageous — except maybe your former friends ― who will be your future friends again once they discover their own courage within. In the meantime, many of you have years of productive teaching still ahead of you.
It is for that reason that I have intervened now, so that you can enjoy those years without fear and then continue on, pleased and happy with your involvement in our TM movement family.
This intervention, dramatic enough in itself, has had its special moments too. One was during my third conversation with George, on January 6th, 2014, the fourth day after his sister Mary Iber died. I showed him scenes from my childhood as John the Baptist, when his sister Mary was Elizabeth, my mother. I showed him these scenes as he was driving his car on a bridge near San Francisco, visually projecting them into his field of vision. I also showed him many other scenes like that as he drove to the San Francisco airport which filled in gaps in our two previous conversations.
During that third conversation I also described the details I wanted included in my former mother Elizabeth’s cremation. Following those instructions, we were able to have her body cremated at 10 a.m. on my birthday, January 12, 2014. I am very grateful to those of you in our family who stepped forward to help make this happen for me.
As part of that cremation ceremony, to make it as clear as I could to all of you that the primary value of a meditation technique is to reconnect you with your Self, I asked George to cremate the mantras, along with the body of his sister, in a simple ritual I gave him during that third conversation. I felt I needed a powerful symbol to convey to each of you that my meditation technique, and any other meditation technique, is dispensable. But your Self is not. Because I sometimes overemphasized the importance of the TM technique itself, at the high cost for many of you of misperceiving its actual degree of importance, I am concerned that, if things continue on their current path, the TM technique will be transformed within a few decades into something resembling a sacrament administered by a priesthood which uses fear to keep others dependent on them. And I do not want my name associated with anything of the kind, as that will undoubtedly ruin most of TM’s effectiveness.
You will find that Guru Dev made the same point about the relative value of meditation techniques when contrasted with the ultimate value of your Self.
Of course, even though I have had them symbolically cremated, the mantras will certainly continue to be effective. That was only a ritual to show you that I meant it when I had George explain during the 30th November presentation that I was stripping TM back to its purest form — the simple intent to turn within using the natural tendency of the mind to do just that.
I will of course be keeping track of my experiment, looking in on you from time to time. But the TM movement is also your movement. You can make of it whatever you want. In the meantime, my energy is directed to working with my friends in The Movement on our new plan.
I would also like each of you to know that, whether or not the TM movement leaders consider you part of the TM movement family, I do. And I will for centuries to come. You are my family, my friends, and although I will take a different role in our family in the future, I am sure my closest friends will always recognize me.
I would encourage every current and every future TM movement leader to follow the Holy Tradition’s lead, set during our “comparing notes” meeting, in analyzing all TM movement policies and decisions with an eye to discarding anything that causes fear — especially any fear that outweighs anticipated advantages.
But whether we succeed in eliminating fear from our family or not, I am confident that in the centuries to come people will say about each of you that you have a gift. A gift for helping people turn within. A gift given by Guru Dev to me. And a gift given by me to you.
Let your gift spread widely.
Jai Guru Dev
The Eternal Problem of an Established Spiritual Authority
During the 30th November presentation, Guru Dev’s Message focused on the problems caused by effective teachers being seen by their disciples as infallible spiritual authorities. Although Guru Dev, as Maharishi always referred to his teacher Brahmanand Saraswati, did serve as the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math in India until his physical death in 1953, he only reluctantly accepted that position after years of persuasion.
Guru Dev asked that it be made clear that his reluctance was caused by his concern that the spiritual authority created by his successful efforts to share his wisdom would become too attractive to less generous-minded personalities.
As Guru Dev said: “I would never tell you to just believe whatever I say. That is because if you simply believe whatever I say, you will get in the habit of believing the words of any Shankaracharya. Then, even if someone unfit assumes that position, you will also believe whatever he has to say.”
The members of The Movement recognize that this is an inherent problem when establishing any human institution which requires that decision-making authority be given to a relatively small number of individuals, such as governmental, business and educational institutions. In those cases it is always crucial to keep a watchful eye to prevent the institution from being hijacked for personal gain.
However, in the case of an institution designed to spread spiritual wisdom, that inherent problem becomes a fatal problem. Sharing spiritual wisdom is, in essence, sharing the knowledge someone developed about how to pursue happiness and personal freedom more effectively. But since free will gives each individual mind a sovereign right to pursue happiness in whatever way it chooses, any institution designed to dictate a path to happiness will always remain problematic at its core.
Since those who seek power over other minds find leading such institutions to be one of the most attractive sources of such power that exists, and since the fundamental human desire to be happy so often develops into an emotional need, many people fall for any kind of spiritual guidance from anyone willing to offer it. That is why the creation of an institution to share new spiritual wisdom often results in taking one step forward, followed quickly by three steps backward.
For these reasons, and especially given the ease of disseminating spiritual wisdom in the information age, the members of The Movement have unanimously decided to replace their use of the master-disciple relationship with friendship, and to avoid, in the future, the creation of institutions designed to share such wisdom, relying instead on non-institutional methods.
There is hope, which Guru Dev shares, that this will work much better.
And no one in The Movement is going to miss “ashram politics” for even one second.
Dismantling Decades of Disastrous Decisions
Maharishi’s Analysis of His Life’s Work Conveyed August 23rd — September 12th, 2015
December 25, 2015
After reviewing my life, under Guru Dev’s kind and loving guidance, I find myself torn between letting go and interfering. But I can’t help myself. While I can live with the long-term effects on my personality of similarly disastrous decisions I made in the past, I do find it very difficult to leave so many devotees adrift, all muddled up as they try hard to reinterpret everything I did, in whatever creative ways they can, and to obey everything I said, even when I contradicted myself, just so they can maintain the illusion that I lived infallibly and was therefore worthy of their devotion. And so I remain concerned that hundreds of my teachers continue to support decisions they dislike, or even abhor, just because they believe, for some reason, that is what I want them to do.
I would hope, by the time you have finished thinking about my analysis of my life’s work which follows, that you will conclude instead that I didn’t need to be perfect in order to be your valuable friend, and that our future together should be even more enjoyable when we live it on that basis.
Analysis of My Life’s Work
I feel I achieved three Unqualified Successes during my life:
- My unshakeable confidence in my conclusion that it is the natural tendency of the mind to turn within, which led to my successful rebellion against the accepted wisdom of the ages on this crucial point about how to meditate most effectively. The result, within a relatively short period of time after coming to that conclusion, was the creation of the Transcendental Meditation technique to harness that natural tendency.
- My choice of Guru Dev to be my teacher. His wisdom and love have never failed me.
- My decision to revive and clarify the spiritual wisdom in ancient Vedic texts in light of my conclusion that it is the natural tendency of the mind to turn within.
My Qualified Successes I’d list as:
- The development of advanced rounding courses, which proved very good for many, but too intense for some.
- The TM-Sidhi program’s experimentation with the Yoga Sutras to release spiritual energy, which also proved very good for many, but not for some. I regret deeply that I did not react faster to the obvious evidence that knowing oneself too clearly too quickly was too much too soon for them.
- Holding onto my light-hearted sense of humor for as long as I did. I only wish it could have been longer.
- Having thousands of personal friendships, and sharing Guru Dev’s wisdom with them individually. But I was not able to maintain that pace as I aged.
I feel that several of my decisions Muddied the Clear Water:
- I was so delighted with the success of TM that I overemphasized its importance. I should have made it much clearer that the TM technique, like any spiritual technique, is only a means to an end, as Guru Dev taught and as I explained in my commentary On The Bhagavad Gita, particularly Chapter Six, Verse 5. In TM’s case, it is a very simple end: the ability to turn within at will.
- I also overemphasized advanced techniques. While it is useful to develop flexibility while turned within, that comes naturally with experience. By using advanced techniques as lures to ever-increasing one’s speed of development, I gave the impression there is always more to learn, and always a reliance on techniques, instead of clearly emphasizing that turning within does not depend on any technique. And even though I remain convinced that almost everyone would find TM useful for establishing a habit of turning within easily, stating it that simply would have been enough.
- Although I followed the members of the Holy Tradition in focusing on higher states of consciousness as the end goal of human life, it is quite clear to us now that the experience of unusual spiritual experiences may be interpreted differently by each mind, and may be used in human life just like any other experience: as something to share, as something to keep private, as something to get elated about, as something to overemphasize, or as something to take in stride as a normal part of a successful life. And now that Guru Dev, the other members of the Holy Tradition and I are focused on the eternal nature of individual life itself, it is also quite clear to us that a permanently relevant goal for life would have to be implicit in individual daily life, because otherwise individual life would have no further purpose once you reached its experiential goal, such as a higher state of consciousness. This subtle shift in goals, from particular experiences in higher states of consciousness to life’s implicit goal: happiness, has such far-reaching implications we will probably be uncovering them for centuries.
- I also carried the importance of effective spiritual wisdom too far in education. It seemed to me, and still does seem to me, more important to gain spiritual wisdom than to develop academic, intellectual skills. But both are highly valuable, and mixing them together in the same institution, where one is considered superior to the other, can quickly lead to demands to subordinate intellectual freedom to whatever is considered the spiritual wisdom of the moment. This eliminates intellectual independence and that has diminished the academic reputation of MIU/MUM for many. Since universities succeed to the extent they remain open to all intellectual inquiry, I should have kept the ashram atmosphere separate from MIU/MUM, and I apologize to all the professors who served my goals handicapped by this muddying of clear waters.
- I concluded, and often joked, that paying attention to past lives is for the ignorant. This conclusion was based on the Holy Tradition’s previous idea that enlightenment dissolves all or at least most cause-and-effect relationships. Guru Dev and Shankara have recently persuaded me, by helping me recover my own memories, that our personalities are the continuing result of the many decisions of our daily lives, wherever lived. And that being aware of oneself as a being of light, and recognizing that similar beings of light abound, and that similar light pervades the universe does not change the crucial role personality plays in the pursuit of happiness. It is also clear to me now that knowing oneself, and understanding the deep roots of our desires and motives, is very valuable in that pursuit.
- Now that I have stepped back, and can remember many lives lived outside Vedic culture, I feel my attempts to revitalize that culture, based on my own ancient emotional attachments to it, fall among those decisions that made some of my TM teachers very happy and others miserable. It is also distressing to me that for many that revitalization merely reinforced their ancient superstitions. Vedic culture, like any other human culture, was itself only a qualified success, and compared to many 21^st^ century human cultures its disadvantages outweigh its advantages. One fundamental reason for that is that a more democratic alternative is now strongly preferred. I don’t have the heart to try to prevent any of my TM teachers from individually indulging in Vedic culture all they want, but I realize now it would have been much better for the TM organization to have stayed focused on simply teaching TM.
When all is said and done, I feel the following were Disastrous Decisions:
- My decision to use fear to motivate total dedication to the TM movement and its goal of World Peace. I sincerely hoped that assembling large groups together in various places in the world could avert what I felt was an impending disaster, and I also felt I needed to force my devotees to take it seriously. At that time my dreams were haunted by a man whose extremely destructive desires died with him at Amritsar in June 1984. But my concerns did not subside as quickly, proving all too clearly my own maxim that “fear is ignorance”.
- My related decision to rely on the Indian pundit program instead, after repeated failures to gather together sufficient numbers to create World Peace. When Guru Dev and I started to review this decision, he said to me very gently, “Pundits? What were you thinking, Mahesh? You and I don’t respond well to someone continuously singing our praises. Why would the gods? And certainly not Brahman? I know you tried almost anything to bring about World Peace. But in doing so you forgot what I said so often: peace will not be achieved unless fear, anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed and lust are first conquered within themselves by the leaders of nations. So forget about World Peace for now. Just forget about it. We can revisit that goal in a thousand years.” I have taken this advice, including Guru Dev’s final insight for me on this issue, which was that greed comes in many guises, and that being emotionally greedy for spiritual experiences is essentially the same as being greedy for gold.
- Allowing financial shenanigans. This was motivated by my “the needs of the movement come first” attitude. But in the end, the end did not justify the means. It was just too easy for me to forget that in the heat of the moment.
- Putting the movement’s needs ahead of my personal relationships. The same “needs of the movement” attitude often took precedence over the demands of friendship, to my dismay.
- Eliminating from the movement personally popular leaders and encouraging uncritical support of my own and other leaders’ decisions. Guru Dev showed me that these disastrous decisions were unconsciously caused by my past life experiences with other spiritual leaders who had taken over similar movements I had founded.
- Allowing the admiration of my followers to develop into the trappings of worship. Guru Dev showed me that my early resistance to this eroded over time due to my unresolved feelings that my efforts in previous lives to help humanity lacked sufficient appreciation.
- All attempts to influence politics or gain political power. Guru Dev showed me that my creation of a court around me, with monarchical-style hierarchies and titles, was motivated by unfulfilled desires from my previous life as a shah. He told me that in many ways I began behaving like a shah again, instead of a spiritual leader, and that I should guard against this streak of political authoritarianism.
- Trusting members of my family more than those who were trustworthy. This dynastic tendency extended beyond my actual relatives to those who had been my sons in other lives. And it is very clear, and painful, to me to see that indulging them as I did was not only a problem for the TM movement, but also a problem for them.
- Playing at science. I have a disturbing image in my mind of guards bullying little old lady governors in their Dome when they get tired during their programs. That is the sad result, Guru Dev told me, of believing in the Maharishi Effect, which he dismissed as an illusion, because the evidence of the ages is clear that although creating a nicer atmosphere may cause people to relax, it does not really change them. Otherwise resting in heaven between lives would fundamentally change every personality. And that does not happen. Only individuals making decisions about how to pursue their own desires, based on their own wisdom about life, can shift their own personalities over time. That is why Guru Dev assumes that any evidence that appears to validate the Maharishi Effect will prove over time to be inadequate and will never be scientifically persuasive.
- Not saying “No” more often. At times I was begged over and over again to make some change or another in the TM movement against my better judgment, such as separating the genders organizationally. And sometimes, even though I felt the requested change was not really good for you or the movement, I gave in. Next time I will be a better parent and just say “No”.
Funnily enough, when Guru Dev and I first started thinking about the future of the TM movement, he asked a surprising question: who should “own” the TM movement? I had never thought of it that way before. We discussed the possibilities and settled on the TM teachers: those who not only enjoyed TM themselves but also wanted to share it with others.
All the assets of the TM movement are a means to that end, and have been held in trust to serve their desire to share TM freely with others. Vedic culture praises those who are not too attached to assets. So do not imagine that I would want you to hold onto any particular asset owned by the TM movement. Nothing is sacred, not even my gilded prison in Vlodrop.
My TM teachers should feel free to independently consider what changes might be made to better serve our desire to share TM freely with others, to recapture the fort we all focused on so effectively for the first two decades, in order to transform the TM movement into an enthusiastic, dynamic, effective and loved organization again.
It is never too late to reverse course, to refocus on the main goal, as I demonstrated during my life many times. But Guru Dev and I understand that might prove easier for the next generation of TM movement leaders, who have never met me personally or worked with me directly, and it is my hope they too will listen to my explanations of how and why the history of the TM movement took the path it did, and accept my admission of fallibility, of letting my own personal fears and unfulfilled desires shape the final decades of the TM movement in ways which would have been almost unimaginable prior to 1975. If they do listen, I know they will be comfortable making whatever changes to the TM movement are needed over time to continue to serve its only goal: to teach TM to as many people as possible.
I know it is not easy to free yourself from excessive emotional attachments to a culture you thoroughly enjoyed in the past. But, as Guru Dev recently showed me, those attachments are almost never due to clear thinking about that culture’s merits. Rather, they are mostly due to vague feelings that your happiness is dependent on that culture’s continuance.
So instead of holding onto the past, Guru Dev and I are looking to the future. And we see that a worldwide human culture, incorporating the best of each nation’s cultural accomplishments, is in its infancy. We dearly hope that TM, our pristine version of turning within, stripped of all unnecessary cultural baggage from the past, becomes an integral part of Vedic culture’s lasting contribution to human civilization.
Shankara’s intellect has convinced the members of the Holy Tradition that it was a mistake of the heart for us to be afraid of the mistake of the intellect. An even more beautiful explanation of life has resulted from a rigorous analysis of its inherent patterns, and we are all supporting the changes in emphasis and tone that result.
Two of the main shifts in emphasis for us are to transform the guru-disciple relationship into one based on friendship and to focus on realistic appraisals of how pursuing enlightenment affects our personalities. So I have created this public record of what are usually private analyses of why I did what I did in order to help each of you engage in a similar analysis of your own life’s work and personality.
At the very least, I want to free as many of my TM teachers as I can from those elements of my personality which have entangled them due to their devotion to me. And I can assure you that repeating such mistakes over and over again, as I have done in the past as Jewish, Vedic and Muslim spiritual and political leaders, gets a bit tiresome. So Guru Dev advised me to be this candid to help all of us avoid future repetitions.
That is why I am asking those of you who truly love me to no longer obey my every expressed whim, to honor my most profound contributions to human culture by rescuing them from the unnecessary accretions which are hindering their effectiveness, and to reinforce my own desire to stay focused on what really matters: our pursuit of our own and humanity’s happiness. I do not know if I deserve to have my legacy purified and strengthened in this way by you, but I do know the best of you are quite capable of accomplishing that feat if you draw deeply upon your own abundant inner spiritual courage.
Jai Guru Dev
The Movement’s Vision
(Conveyed December 27th – 30th, 2015)
January 12, 2016
To my TM movement family:
The Movement’s new consensus, reached only four years ago, has already had a profound impact on each of us who formed The Movement over 5,000 years ago to increase the happiness of the human race. One of the most startling impacts came from recognizing that we had failed to notice something about ourselves that we have been busy pointing out about others, because we too have been explaining away our own behavior to ourselves in ways which always put it in the best possible light.
Such self-serving explanations veiled our real reasons for that behavior, violating our own well-known injunctions against hypocrisy (“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that speck out of your eye,’ while all the time a log remains in your own?”).
Of course, it is more complicated than that. It is always more complicated than that. But it is still clear to us now that the Vedic wisdom most of us in The Movement have taught for ages sometimes trapped us in personal hypocrisy. For example, it used to be our understanding that the freedom caused by gaining enlightenment meant an eternal escape from past karmic influences. To fill in the obvious theoretical gap that an enlightened person still pursues desires, and still physically exists until the end of his body’s life rather than disappearing at the moment of enlightenment, the concept of lesh avidya was created: that the faint remains of former ignorance play out as long as the body exists.
So I consoled myself with the thought that it was merely lesh avidya at work when I first decided that repairing my relationship with my wife from a previous life was more important than my brahmacharya vows. And later I thought that, since karma no longer bound me, I could safely take on some of the karma of other wives and lovers from previous lives by renewing each of those intimate relationships. I was convinced that I was free of all the consequences of my actions since I had had all the experiences required to conclude that I was permanently enlightened. I was also convinced, as Vedic wisdom teaches, that long periods of celibacy had helped me achieve my own enlightenment, so at the same time as I was setting my own vows aside, I was still persuading many of you to be celibate. I was your guru then and I saw that as my role in your life: to guide, to inspire, and even sometimes to force you faster along the path to enlightenment as dictated by Vedic culture.
I know that some of you are angry at my unintentional, unwitting hypocrisy, which only became clear to me during The Movement’s recent discussions, and that some of you feel it was a serious mistake for me to try to inspire you with the illusion that I, and some of the others in the Holy Tradition, were life celibates.
I also know some of you feel trapped by what happened. I do as well, probably even more than you do as I have been trapped far longer. I even personally resisted the new more transparent explanations that Shankara championed, and explained so thoroughly and effectively, during The Movement’s recent discussions which I had instigated. It was not emotionally easy for me to discard all those Vedic explanations which had consoled me when making these personal, intimate decisions, to watch them all crumble under the combined force of Shankara’s and Jehovah’s arguments, to be left without a veil to hide behind, with only the reality that I am a man, and that after centuries of vigorous religious leadership I had secretly yearned for personal tenderness in my relationships with others.
That yearning had led to my life as a shah, where I was expected to have many wives and lovers. Guru Dev, as I have already explained, showed me how the unresolved and complicated desires from that life, which I had not consciously remembered, came roaring back into my life this time. But once those misleading Vedic explanations had been dismissed by Guru Dev, I myself could immediately see the real underlying reason for my behavior. I unconsciously missed that tenderness. And I must confess that is still the only thing I do not regret about all these personal complications ― the tenderness of my intimate relationships, for which I remain most thankful.
I know there are those in our spiritual family who have copied such actions, thinking that they too are enlightened, that they too are only indulging in lesh avidya, that they too are free from the consequences of their actions. I hope this explanation of how our personalities keep affecting our decisions, even if we are enlightened, will help free them from that delusion. And I trust everyone else will understand why I, like all the other members of the Holy Tradition, never again intend to start another movement nor pretend to be living as a brahmacharya during a time when I am not.
Of course we do not expect others to adopt that conclusion as quickly as we have. It did, after all, take almost two years before some of us accepted Shankara’s arguments. But since my friends and I started the guru-disciple culture, and reinforced it in each other over the centuries, sometimes as guru, sometimes as disciple, it would be foolish for us to expect its imminent demise. We are aware that any culture, once created, keeps mutating and spreading, depending on those who take it up in pursuit of their goals. And we know that our ideal of enlightenment has also been adopted over the centuries by many motivated mostly by their desperate hope to be released from all the binds of their karma, who recognize and are afraid of what they have done in the past, and want to escape its consequences.
However, our having discarded that hope, that version of the theory of karma, need not frighten even those desperate adopters, because at the same time that we are shattering the hope of permanent escape from individual life, we are also discarding the idea that our past actions govern what events happen to us in our current life, although their continuing influence on our personalities may sometimes make that appear to be true. And there is no reason to fear the specter of mountains of karma if they don’t exist.
When the members of The Movement realized that such emotional excuses for our own behavior had crept into our comprehensive explanation of life, and that instead of alleviating fear, they have actually been generating more fear, our attempts to explain why undesirable things happen to us took a new turn ― a revitalized interest in the power of reason to appraise the value of any explanation, no matter whose explanation it is, or where that explanation is popular, or how widely believed it is. That is why our new mission statement is: to make reason as attractive in Heaven as it is on Earth.
It seems an obvious choice now, but it had previously never occurred to any of us that individual life itself, and the physical Universe itself, might both be eternal. That was beyond our imaginations’ horizon. We had always assumed that a creator had created both us and the Universe ― a projection by us of one brighter, more intelligent, more creative and more powerful than any of us. The subtle logical flaws in creation myths, and the fact that the continuum of change requires a totally different perspective to understand it clearly, combined to keep us calmly unsuspecting in the dark.
It required each of the members of The Movement to have both the full and prolonged experience of what we called enlightenment, and the full understanding of Vedic wisdom, to form an effective basis for our honest sharing and discussing of the disadvantages of, and the problems caused by, those ideas. It was that combination which allowed us to break out of the confines of those ideas and to reach a new consensus on a rational explanation of individual life as an eternal free-will experience.
That is why we are committed, going forward, to changing our behavior from being your inspiring guru to being your friend who will simply explain whatever spiritual wisdom we have acquired, without ever complaining again about how you live or expecting you to conform to our current conclusions.
We have completely dropped the notion of having desires for what others should desire, since we have already dropped the idea that one divine will exists whose desires for all of us we thought we were serving. That admittedly enticing belief has also often frustrated us, and for good reason. It violates the reality that each individual has an eternally free will ― which is why it has never been completely convincing to us that the purpose of the existence of all those free wills was simply for them to discover, some day, that they should have been obeying one divine will ever since they were created in preparation for eventually merging with that divine will.
The Movement’s vision has shifted dramatically as a result. Our vision is now focused on our shared home, the Earth, where trillions of minds live. Ironically, the vast majority of those minds appear relatively content with pursuing the daily adventures of survival (even though they are indestructible) and we have no plans to interfere with their contentment. Among the tiny minority of those minds who are human, such survivalism has also been popular, but the development of technologically-advanced civilizations has encouraged many to pursue more fulfilling desires.
More than half of the human race now also has some emotional attraction to images of virtuous living, often due to having experienced or heard about one of us. But that emotional attraction is insufficient to inspire almost any of them to adopt a different method of pursuing happiness other than just going along with the daily flow of life based on the passions and fears they have developed due to their own personal experiences.
Since we no longer have any issue with this, we will cease trying to change that reality with any inspirational method other than sharing clear explanations of what we understand about the effective pursuit and experience of happiness.
What we will focus on instead is creating ever clearer explanations, both of our own lives and personalities and of how the physical Universe works. Although The Movement has a clear advantage when it comes to spiritual wisdom, we are trailing behind the millions of scientists who have recently been pursuing more accurate physical and biological knowledge. But we will catch up soon on that front too, because we are not as afraid of stepping on (our own) toes as they are.
Such fears seem to create almost impermeable barriers to clear perceptions. Being afraid of treading on sacred ground, of looking foolish by even thinking about ideas their peers consider nonsense, or of even considering any idea outside the deterministic model, keeps otherwise rational minds away from accepting the reality that all minds are essentially long-lived beings of light. We don’t have the scientific answers as to how that reality is structured. But we see them. We experience them. So it is interesting to us, and we are turning our attention to that as well.
We will therefore be encouraging scientists to be ever bolder in their pursuits, and it should help matters that we don’t care in the slightest if they want to believe that life in the Universe is an accident, or a completely determined physical side effect of exploding stars, or that the Universe itself was created by a Big Bang. We certainly understand the emotional appeal of determinism, as it releases one from personal responsibility. But that dodge will become unnecessary as it becomes ever clearer that there are no punishments waiting for free thinkers, or for any exercise of your free will (other than the revenge that other individuals or social institutions think you deserve ― and we have each felt that lash more often when we were virtuous than otherwise).
It was anomalies like that ― the infliction of pain as a response to virtue ― which originally supported our understanding of karma, because karma was supposed to even things out over time. But those anomalies also eventually convinced us that the popular versions of the theory of karma must be inaccurate, since to even things out over time does imply that at many times injustice still reigns. Still, we think something similar to karma is true. What has appeared to us to be karma at work is probably just the combined influence of all of our own decisions to reward and punish others to attempt to make them conform to our image of what we want them to be.
But The Movement now sees that there is no advantage whatsoever, to us or to others, to want others to be anyone other than who they are – indestructible minds with free will and developed personalities. And so what we always understood to be karma, and its unfathomable ways, we now see as the enduring nature of all of our personalities’ passions and fears affecting the physical world. What happens in the physical world of action is neutral. It is our personalities’ relationship to that neutral physical world which causes our pleasures and pains and develops our perspectives on what is good and what is bad, on what is virtuous and what is not.
Because our new consensus about life is completely based on engaging more intelligently in the pursuit of our own self-interest, rather than trying to overcome it, we think it is far more likely that many scientifically-oriented minds will eventually share our overall vision of individual life. But whether that happens or not, we look forward to working with those scientists, and with political leaders, business creators, artists and others, to create ever more interesting human civilizations which allow free will to thrive, because our new consensus makes it perfectly clear to us that others’ beliefs don’t really affect us nearly as deeply as we had thought, and so we no longer consider it optimal to influence other minds by creating uniting belief systems for them.
That has also made it easier for us to see that no matter what other minds think about life, only one kind of relationship between eternal equals makes sense in our mutual pursuit of more happiness: friendship. However unequal we are in abilities, power and intelligence in that pursuit, friendship remains the best relationship to have with any other mind. Trying to dominate another mind’s decisions may be practically effective at times, yet it is still an illusory goal for the dominator, and it is always counter-productive for the dominated mind, even if (and perhaps especially if) it temporarily improves their behavior.
The members of The Movement have always had considerable respect for free will, but there is considerably more in our new consensus, because we have discarded the undercutting idea that the ultimate purpose of free will is to submit that individual will to a divine universal will. And we are confident that the advantages to our own personal pursuit of happiness caused by this shift in our vision will more than compensate for the slight inconvenience of our no longer being considered divine.
As for believing in these communications, no one in The Movement expects or wants you to believe them. These are explanatory, not mandatory, concepts. This is an intellectual shift in understanding for all of us, one I myself resisted. So resistance to adopting these explanations is expected and that does not bother anyone in The Movement. We expect billions to remain emotionally attached to previous explanations, and to exaggerated beliefs about who we are, for the foreseeable future. But we also expect that civilizations which emphasize free will, which we will all help create, will eventually become irresistibly attractive to the vast majority of influential minds.
Still, we do want each of you to hear that this shift in The Movement’s vision has occurred. We have long recognized the power of ideas to shape, and even to distort, our own individual pursuits of happiness. The same is true for those who have listened carefully to any of us over the centuries, and even for those who have only sort-of listened. So we believe these new ideas, as well as even better ideas to come, hold the promise of an ever more civilized future.
I expect there will be many members of our extended spiritual family who will find it difficult to perceive the value and the power of this shift in understanding, because our main focus for such a long time has been on purifying and living our spiritual ideals, rather than trying to understand life rationally. That is such a different perspective on the pursuit of happiness that I expect most will cling even more tightly to how I explained things when I was Maharishi. But even that tighter clinging will demonstrate that a doubt has been effectively planted among your thoughts, and I will do my best over the coming centuries to clarify this new perspective until those doubts give way to a new freedom from our past visions.
In the meantime, almost any kind of turning within will help practically everyone, and those of you who use my effortless version will find it especially helpful in freeing yourself from clinging to partially valuable, partially problematic, perspectives.
This is what I couldn’t wait to share with you, as all of us in The Movement believe that these ideas will fundamentally change human civilization at its cultural core.