Tag Archives: Transcendental Meditation

Confronting the Great White Brotherhood – Occult Psychodrama

(Addendum of August 6, 2013 : The psychic, Ms. McClendon, referenced in this essay, phoned me this morning after she read this post. Ms. McClendon stated that 1) She’s never received complaints about her services, 2) She does not prey upon others, 3) She does not advertise her services other than a long neglected website, and, 4) She provides readings to those who contact her of their own accord. According to Ms. McClendon, my mother had initiated contact after being referred by another psychic. As the author of the post, I must add that in the two years since I wrote this essay, my family is faring better without intrusion by psychics and fantasy directives.)

The following story demonstrates an inner drama that can occur to any true-believer who stands steadfast in spiritual fantasy. Complex cognitive dissonance is exhibited by many who leave one cult while still carrying their fantasy belief system.

After leaving one cult, many former cultists incorporate other equally egregious teachers, forming an inner multi-cult-uralism to avoid the pain of facing life losses related to following one charlatan.

Following a few paragraphs of family background guru-history, a transcribed “reading” demonstrates how both the Reverend Carol Lockhart McClendon and any predatory guru-psychic flatters and encourages vulnerable clients.

Background :

“The Great White Brotherhood” (GWB) aka Reverend Carol Lockhart McClendon convinced my mother that her two recent gurus, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (The Beatles guru) and the younger Hasmukh Taylor became financial grubbing charlatans because other spirits overtook their bodies. This fantasy excuse for the gurus’ unethical behavior states that original good spirits left those bodies because they completed their Earthly work. This phenomenon is identified in New Age circles as a “walk-in”.


According to the GWB, early devotees of the Maharishi in the 1960s during the Beatles heyday received true spiritual teachings from an enlightened “Master.” Then the last few decades of increasing grandiosity within Maharishi’s TM Movement – e.g. rajas, palaces, costly prayer treatments (yagyas) – are attributed to leadership by a walk-in spirit assuming Maharishi’s identity. For a true devotee, the Maharishi could never have become so materialistic. Belief in a fantastical “walk-in spirit” allows one to deny having succumbed to skilled con artists. Others believe that Maharishi’s followers (not Maharishi himself) orchestrated the secretive and wealthy inner workings. Such justifications protect one from facing the painful cognitive dissonance between belief and reality.

Cognitive dissonance threatens a disciple’s vulnerable psyche such that a convoluted justification is required to maintain a fantasy worldview. This is common with many who slowly awaken to having been misled by one spiritual deception, only to succumb to another.

The deemed GWB also explained that the person currently known as Hasmukh Taylor, coincidently, is also a “walk-in”. In this case, my mother believes she (and now I also) are the only people on Earth who understand the grand spiritual deception by these walk-ins to Maharishi and Hasmukh Taylor.

The simpler explanation – that many spiritual seekers succumbed to inspirational spiritual con artists – is too threatening to a true believer’s sense of self.

In this mindset, the person Hasmukh Taylor is a masquerade overtaken by another soul using Hasmukh’s body. No logical conversation will convince my believing mother to the contrary. She comforts her sense of rejection from her beloved young guru Hasmukh by the belief that the original Hasmukh is gone, and another spirit assumed his identity.

In reality, Mr. Hasmukh Taylor ceased responding to this one disciple because I directly threatened to expose him after he had accepted money from my vulnerable aging mother. As deemed disciples, my mother and her friends believed they had earned the right to receive initiation from him after nearly a year of study. Hasmukh thus established himself as the personal true guru to a small group of my mother’s friends, demanding spiritual subservience. She and a few friends enthusiastically offered services and funds for the right to be accepted into Hasmukh’s discipleship. This typical cycle of manipulation creates dependency through the use of praise, judgement, withholding and then honor bestowed by an unethical leader.

As expected after I confronted Mr. Taylor about his shenanigans, during a private audience with this deemed guru, he ceased responding to my mother’s telephone calls and emails. She was crushed by his rejection. I informed her that Hasmukh ceased speaking with her because I threatened to expose him.

Rather than painfully acknowledging that she had fallen for (another) spiritual con-artist, this disciple (my mother) is convinced that she maintains a spiritual connection what-she-calls the “original Hasmukh” and that “Hasmukh II” (as she now refers to him) builds his earthly following using Hasmukh’s writings, through his website for Pranava Yoga, and charging for spiritual seminars. Unfortunately I cannot also protect my mother’s friends who continue to follow Hasmukh, believing that he is a true guru.

Such a psychological house of cards is the inevitable result of “New Age” spirituality brought to Illogical conclusions. Those so-called gurus who peddle spiritual scams feed off pain and isolation of the vulnerable.

Seeking counsel by using familiar resources, my well-intentioned mother discussed her concerns with another spiritual con-artist who claims to channel Earth’s spiritual leadership – “The Great White Brotherhood” no less!

The “Reverend” Carol Lockhart McClendon claims to channel a group of spiritual beings ostensibly called “The Great White Brotherhood” (Wikipedia definition) (GWB). My mother has paid for these consultations for years, believing she receives a direct line to our planet’s highest spiritual governing body. As channel for the GWB, Reverend Carol Lockhart McClendon has a small group of clients. She also holds meetings and mini-retreats for her followers.

Concern for my mother’s confusion about conflicting ‘spiritual’ lies, and Reverend Lockhart McClendon’s advice contrary to that from my mother’s physician, prompted me to schedule a “reading” with this self proclaimed spiritual channel.

According to her website “Carol uses a process of working with spiritual guides, the Christ Consciousness, the Council and the Great White Brotherhood. These energies work with each individual to explore questions related to this life, past lives, future lives and parallel lives, as well as working with the client’s energy system. “

After my $150 check had cleared, Reverend Lockhart McClendon provided a telephone “reading” at our appointed hour on May 11, 2011. As you read the transcript please notice her cheerful flattering manner for vulnerable clients.

My “Reading” with the Great White Brotherhood follows :

Carol : Hello? is this Gina? It’s so good to hear you, honey. I know your mother well. It’s wonderful to work with several members of a family.

Gina : Hello Carol. It’s nice to meet you, so to speak. You have a warm voice. My mother has been appreciative for your services for years.

Carol: Well bless your heart. We’ll have a good reading.

Gina : Would you please explain to me how this works?

Carol : The Great White Brotherhood comes in to raise a person’a vibratory field so that you can plug into your main source and receive information yourself. They are about empowering you. Sometimes a person is too close to a situation to see clearly. Objectivity, they can be necessary to help a person redirect to their own inner source.

I never encourage people to become dependent upon me. They, the Brotherhood I mean, direct everyone back to their own source. They offer only support and validation for a person’s own perceptions. A person should not call weekly, for example. Everyone must act on their own. I help clients to be comfortable with “them” (The Great White Brotherhood). Because of this approach, clients maintain their own connection to their source and emotional independence.

This information is coming in to this planet everywhere now. The time has come to support this. The Great White Brotherhood is coming through many channels to uplift the planet. They place seed information, do you understand? S-E-E-D?

Gina : Yes, I understand. My mother exposed me to such teachings all my life.

Carol: Good for you. Then you have an advantage over others new to the Path. They place seed information in at least 5 places with others so teachings are leaked to uplift the world. Do you understand the process of how they work? Has your mother told you, or should I explain it?

Gina : It’s better if you explain it, just to be sure I have it straight. It’s been awhile.

Carol : Ok, I will begin with a prayer of protection so that we are all protected by the light. Then I will step aside and they will come through my body. They usually begin with a monologue. Often your questions will be answered within the monologue. When they are done, they are gone. I will trance and observe the proceedings; it’s more fun for me that way to observe the whole thing. Your akashic record comes up. There is one thing very important that you must do. (a moment of serious silence)

Gina : What’s that?

Carol: When you are done with your questions, you should always ask “If there anything I need to know that I haven’t already asked?” That will allow them the opportunity to read anything anything else of relevance from your akashic record.

Gina : Ok, I’ll add that to my list.

Carol : Then we shall begin the prayer now. Are you ready?

Gina : Yes.

Carol : Call your guides around you. We all have spiritual guides you know. They are available for you to call them to support you at any time.

The white light surrounds and envelopes Gina and all her guides right now, that she maybe receptive to the Great White Brotherhood and heavenly host. May Gina be protected from negativity and guided to her highest truth. May I also be protected and blessed as they access the higher wisdom to raise Gina’s vibratory rate and connection to the source of truth. The air and miles between us are drenched in the white light to support our work today. We ask these things in thy name. Amen

(After the prayer, Rev. Carol Lockart switched to a slow paced, controlled, deeper voice)

Carol as the GWB : You have been on a long spiritual journey of many lifetimes. You’ve come so far already. You have already traversed 2/3 of the path toward your spiritual goal. You are taking flight now in an individuating way. You have walked this path in so many lifetimes and are now near the end of your journey. We are here to tell you you have arrived in the last third of your consciousness expansion.

We must tell you something that you may not like. Your body is your vessel for this journey. You are to complete your spiritual journey this lifetime. But remember this.
You must begin to take better care of your vessel, so that your vessel can carry you for this last 1/3 of your journey.

Things are changing for you. Your life will become smoother. You will find that you think of things and they come across your path in unexpected ways. Life will become must easier and smoother for you. Your rewards are upon you.

Do you have any questions for us?

Gina : Yes. My mother has been speaking with you for many years. She finds great comfort in your guidance. She was both relieved and concerned about some things you explained to her. I would like to understand these things better myself.

Carol as the GWB : Yes. Continue.

Gina : As you know, my mother was devoted follower of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for many years. Her life was dictated by her role as a TM Initiator. She tells me that you explained that the changes she saw in Maharishi’s Transcendental Movement in the last years of his life were because he had stepped out of his body and another soul entered his body.

Carol as the GWB : Yes, that is so.

Gina : Would you please explain more about this to me? How does this work and why?

Carol as the GWB : There are souls to receive the blessings of the guru. When those early acolytes received their blessings, they could move on. That guru’s work was done and he could leave. A “Walk-in” is another soul, another entity if you will, who assumed the body of the Maharishi. This allowed the guru who instructed your mother to move beyond to his next role. All that the original acolytes received was good and pure teachings. Do you understand?

Gina : So you say that another entity assumed the body and identity of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi? My mother said you explained the new entity did not present true teachings. That is why the TM Movement became such an expensive business enterprise.

Carol as the GWB : Yes. Fresh and new acolytes need the new person to hang onto. The original acolytes had outgrown the old teacher, so he left and a new teacher is there for those who remain in kindergarten, if you will. You cannot fit a size 6 into a size 5 shoe. It is like that. The original acolytes grew to a larger dimension, so the soul in the body left and another came in. This is a slow process you see, as the new soul and the original soul slowly make the shift.

Gina : What year would you say this happened?

Carol as the GWB : The debriefing process was complete in 1973.

Gina : So, in 1973 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s body had a new soul inhabiting his body?

Carol as the GWB : Yes, the walk-in.

Gina : Hmm. I understand. My mother spent 3 months with Maharishi in Mallorca Spain in 1971. That implies her six months with Maharisihi in 1976 were with someone else. You gave the same explanation for her more recent guru Hasmukh Taylor. You said he left his body and another entity took over.

Carol as the GWB : Yes, he is still in the process of transitioning, but another is taking over so he is liberated to move to another realm. You see, when someone outgrows a size 5 and becomes a 6, they must move forward to the next level. He has moved to a higher realm and can no longer fit the identity he has been.

Gina : My mother says you attributed my concern about Hasmukh’s misleading behaviors due to my spiritual atunement to this process?

Carol as the GWB : Yes, Gina, your preconception of this occurrence is due to your high spiritual evolution. You detected a change of this guru’s energy. You knew he was not quite the same. He was true to the new identity, which you perceived as different from the original. You see, the walk-in self is often not even aware of this process himself, but you detected it.

Gina : So, you are saying that the walk-in person himself might not be aware of the process?

Carol as the GWB : Correct.

Gina : I see. My mother is amazed that she is only person on the planet who knows that other beings inhabited both the bodies of Maharishi and Hasmukh Taylor. More correctly – that would be 3 people on the whole planet who know this – my mother, you and now I have this insight. This seems incredible to me. My mother is grateful for your explanation. However, this information causes her some distress. Her beloved friends continue to follow teachers who you claim to be entities using gurus’ bodies. She doesn’t know how to address this to her friends, nor within herself.

Carol as the GWB : Original acolytes have reached a certain peak and new ones are at kindergarten level. Those that say in the teachings have other lessons to learn with the new energies. They should stay with the teacher. It is not up to your mother to alert them. They have to figure this out for themselves. As they grow spiritually, they will feel the change in the gurus’ energy, just as you did Gina.

For those of you further along on the path, the lesson for you is patience. This is your spiritual lesson, be patient as you are so far along. The others might not want to question yet. Do not interfere with their information and teachings.

The key to being so far along on the spiritual path is to know when to say something and when not to say anything. The best is to wait until others’ ask. Do not offer the information.

Gina : So, you say my mother and I are not to disclose this information to others?

Carol as the GWB : That is correct.

Gina : Hmmmm. In general, how would one know if a changed personality is due to another walk-in assuming a person’s identity? It can be unnerving to wonder who has switched out use of various identities.You are describing a world with zombie-like beings assuming others’ bodies. At any time, someone such as my mother, could attribute a personal disagreement to a deemed personality change from another soul assuming someone’s identity. This level of delusion can potentially extend to a dangerous extent. How is a believing but vulnerable person to cope?

Carol as the GWB : That is when you need to trust. See the change in personality. That there is a shift when you see the change. Prayer will ground your mother. You mother actually knew when the shift took place. It takes place over a long time. If it keeps coming to you again and again, it is not about the person, it is about you recognizing true teachings and rejecting that which is false. Do you understand what we are saying?

Gina : Yes, I believe I understand as well as anyone from Earth can understand this. I’m also interested in the GWB’s referral to Carol to discuss my mother’s medical conditions. Carol suggested that my mother defer her prescribed thyroid medication and use iodine drops. Does the GWB or Carol have access to clients’ medical records to make such recommendations?

Carol as the GWB : (after a brief hesitation) When we offer health guidelines, we always say to “clear this with the physician and to find fi the physician will agree with the plan.” Iodine is an organic substance, any physician would agree that this can only be beneficial. Organics will always work. You mother should take small amounts and clear it with her physician. The thyroid is a master organ as far as organs are concerned. Taking iodine drops will take some time to take affect. Organic substances always work. There is no harm. Your mother’s physician would agree.

Gina : OK. Is there anything I need to know that I have not already asked?

Carol as the GWB : There is much to come your way. You came across high consciousness. encourage you to trust what you perceive. You are on the final leg on the edge of graduating to another level this lifetime. Remember that when one door closes, another opens. This is a very exciting time for you. You do not need to be concerned with the guides and how they will impact. Your guides are always with you even without your concern.

Gina : Thank you for the encouraging words. Now please listen to what I have to say. My mother, like others, consults you in times of vulnerability. Your words may offer a degree of short term comfort.

Please be aware that your talk about walk-ins confuses an older woman’s sense of reality. When a person has a tenuous grasp upon reality, such delusions can push a person further into uncertainty. You’ve established a zombie-like world where spirits assume other’s bodies, in which a vulnerable person has trouble navigating.

Your suggestions about her medical care are also of questionable sources. Your work could construed as elder abuse or practicing medicine without a license. You should be careful. I’m paying close attention to your activities. With your spiritual access to google, you may find that I’ve been published and spoken at conferences about cults and undue influence. I have personal friends in the legal and psychology profession who work in this arena. It is your prerogative if you choose to hear my words as a threat. I suggest you be careful. Do you understand what I am saying?

Carol as the GWB : Yes, we understand your words. Please understand we do not speak of zombies. We have never discussed zombies!

Gina : You are right. “Zombie” is the term I am using. It is a natural extension of the world of walk-ins that you speak. You do not know the full situations of your clients. You should take care not to plant risky delusions to those who consult you. You could perhaps be held liable for undue influence. “Walk-in” or “zombie”- the semantics are unimportant. You are planting seeds of fear and identity confusion to clients whose psychological and physical states you are not licensed to influence.

Carol as the GWB : We understand. We will leave now. (a moment of silence ensued)

Carol : (with a normal voice, no longer metered and slow) I observed your interaction with them. I understand your concern for your mother. She has one reading left that she paid for. I will refund her money for that reading and not speak with her again. She no longer needs our services.

Gina : I think that is a wise decision.

Carol : Could you tell me what you mother’s diagnosis is?

Gina : It is not my place to discuss another’s medical or psychological state with you. And it is not your place to reveal information about one client to another. I merely suggest that you be careful as you make your living by deluding the vulnerable. Thank you for your time. I wish you a good day.

Carol : I understand.

Gina : Ok. Good bye.

Carol : Good bye.

click.

Tuesday Meditation

Setting : 1969 small town Southern California. My father is a military engineer. This is next of a series about growing up in the early days of the Transcendental Meditation Movement. My parents ran a TM Center out of our home

It’s Tuesday, weekly meditation evening. I clear the table and wash dinner dishes, while Mom, Dad and Gunnar arrange chairs in a circle in the living room. Mom and Dad talk about keeping our home vibrations pure to support group meditation. “We must enliven silence within each of us, without disruption.”

My mother carefully lights incense and Dad dims lights before other meditators arrive. I remove the pink telephone handset from the wall receiver, wrapping it firmly in a kitchen towel and stuffing it behind the blender to muffle the noisy dial tone. The home must be silent for Tuesday’s mediation meetings.

Mom explains, “This evening’s tape is about the seven stages of consciousness, Gina. This is important, you should stay and listen. You will integrate Maharishi’s knowledge and reach Cosmic Consciousness while young. You are spared the stress and problems that others experience before earning initiation. You must have been very special in a past life to earn this opportunity!”

Our parents often invite us to join their meetings, as they want Maharishi’s knowledge to uplift our impressionable minds. “This is more important than your school homework,” they explain.

I arrange flowers, fruit, and glasses on the table with a pitcher of distilled water while Mom and Dad go change and prepare for the meeting. I don’t where Gunnar is. Herb Tea is ready to simmer later. Sometimes our parents allow me to thread the delicate reel-to-reel audio tape sent weekly from Maharishi’s regional offices in Los Angeles or New York.

Gunnar and I dutifully greet arriving guests, “Welcome” we smile with breathy voices as we’d been taught. “Please remove your shoes and leave them here.” we point to the mixed shoe collection in our entryway. Padding in stocking feet, we escort guests to the encircled chairs in the living room. “Please sit and enjoy the silence until everyone has arrived. Refreshments will be served later.”

Like a silent actor, I try to feel special and enlightened with my brother, but I just want to leave.

When the living room circle is complete, our parents lead group mediation. The adults sit straight with closed eyes. Upturned palms rest lightly in their laps, feet flat on the floor, or gently crossed at the ankle. Incense infused stone silence with uniform seating is a normal weekly event. Suppressing a sneeze from incense, Gunnar and I signal one another, pointing to the front door. We nod and tiptoe out of the house during adult meditation.

I breathe deeply of spring’s evening air, away from suffocating silence indoors. Mom and Dad do not call us back. Our parents are the local group leaders; they must maintain spiritual calm. They expect us to be perfect enlightened children. We peddle our banana-seat bicycles to friends’ homes to watch television or do homework.

A few hours later, Elaine’s parents send me home because it’s bedtime. My brother and I arrive home as guests leave, ritually saluting “Jai Guru Dev” they shake hands and depart. “Jai Guru Dev” means “Praises to Guru Dev”, honoring Maharishi’s deceased spiritual Master for this path to enlightenment.

Mom and Dad come to my bedroom, calm and relaxed from meditating, “Good night Gina. Thank you for leaving us alone with our group.” They hug and kiss me quickly good night. They leave and I hear them down the hall doing the same with Gunnar. They never reprimand us, nor inquire about our unaccounted departures during meditation. I wonder if they care.

On day at dinner, Mom announces :


“Charlie Lutes arrives tomorrow to lead meditation. Gina, Charlie will sleep in your bedroom tomorrow, so this evening, move into Gunnar’s room. Bring everything you’ll need for two days and nights, so you won’t disturb Charlie tomorrow while he is our guest.”

Before I could respond to my mandatory relocation, Mom continues :

“Charlie was Maharishi’s first initiate in the USA. He is a retired business man, using business skills to build Maharishi’s following. He is pure and spiritually evolved. We are honored to have him visit.”

“Remember when I told you that Roland Olson had been a pharaoh? Well, Charlie is a true Kshatriya, of India’s warrior caste. Maharishi is also a Kshatriya. They are both spiritual warriors who battle the world’s dark forces and ignorance. Charlie used to be a great military general. Now Charlie uses his part warrior experiences to battle spiritual darkness.”

Mom sits up taller and smiles, “Maharishi says we are all kshatriyas’ battling darkness by bringing light to the battle the world’s darkness.”

Gunnar and I stop playing footsie beneath the dining table, while we listen. I had seen television footage of the Vietnam War. I envision a military commando arriving from Southeast Asia to teach meditation.

Mom continues:
“In past lives, Charlie was Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great. He is one of history’s greatest Kshatriyas, coming to teach meditation for a few days.”

I’ heard of Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great. I imagine a gladiator visitor. Surprised that they are the same person and coming to our house, I look across the table to wide-eyed Gunnar. Confused, we simultaneously turn questioningly toward Dad. Dad nods in agreement with Mom, and goes on,

“Maharishi says we are all Kshatriyas, the warrior caste, battling evil forces by enlivening humanity’s pure consciousness. In his past lives, Charlie was many of history’s greatest conquerors, when he was less spiritually evolved. Each lifetime he evolved as an improvement upon his past. Charlie used his innate leadership to become a successful businessman. Now retired, Charlie leads our spiritual army in Maharishi’s service.”

Gunnar looks excited and asks “Will he bring guns or swords like a G.I. Joe?” He imagines hosting the living embodiment of his war doll.

I freeze while contemplating how to tell my friends that Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun will be sleeping in my bedroom. I decide it’s better to say nothing.

“What does he wear?” I ask, wondering how I will explain a living gladiator to the neighbors.
Dad laughs, “He wears normal business clothes in this lifetime.” Gunnar looks disappointed. I sigh with relief that I don’t have to explain gladiator in our driveway.

“David Wants to Fly” with San Francisco friends

Nearly 30 friends gathered with overwhelming support for a personal coming-out gathering, at yesterday’s 4 pm screening of “David Wants to Fly” for the German Gems Film Festival in San Francisco’s beautiful Castro Theater.

A mutual friend is convinced that I could save Mark from his confusing past. So, Mark sat next to me at our pre-film lunch. He was raised in Fairfield, Iowa’s Transcendental Meditation community, attending Maharishi schools. Like many second generation TMers, Mark also spent time on Maharishi’s segregated celibate “Thousand Headed Purusha Program” with prolonged mediations and accompanying indoctrination videos. Marks parents had alternately served as Maharishi University faculty and for David Lynch’s foundation to spread TM to the world. As a young adult trying to find his way, Mark’s inner battles continue to haunt him as tries to create an independent life. He struggles to sort love for family and community enmeshed with Maharishi’s world plan, and the insanities he saw around him.

Mark asked questions about Maharishi’s sex life and the Shrivastava family bank accounts, to which I could only respond, “Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.”

“But why won’t those former lovers of Maharishi come forth and talk?”

“They’re concerned about stigma, Mark. One them did write a book about her experience as Maharishi’s lover, called ‘Robes of Silk, Feet of Clay’. The rest remain silent.”

“But there isn’t stigma for this background, not today! I know.” Mark spoke emphatically. “When I tell people in New York about my background, they find it interesting, they don’t hold it against me.”

“Mark, you and I were raised in this. We didn’t make a seeming unwise choice. So society provides allowances for us to speak of the cult experience. However, the professional world often adversely judges those who joined a cult, viewing them as flawed, weak, insecure.”

Across the table, Joe added, “No one in my professional world knows my background with Maharishi. It could jeopardize my job. I’m very careful who I disclose this to. The professional world thinks I was old enough to know better when I joined.”

I turned to Mark, “There could be concern about their work stability or professional judgement. That is why former cult members are reluctant to speak forth. Maharishi University graduates often struggle with listing their cult education on a resume. Society overall still does not understand that anybody could be vulnerable for brainwashing techniques and social persuasion. In fact, ICSA found that the majority of those who join cults are actually above average intelligence, just caught at a vulnerable time of life.”

“But there are a lot of people who would want to know about those women who slept with Maharishi. This is big news!” Mark emphasized.

“No, Mark, it’s not big news. Outside the (TM) Movement, no one cares. The rest of the world does not care about the Movement. That’s why the Movement got away with their shenanigans for so long.”

“I disagree with you. And I really want to know where Maharishi’s family money is. I want to talk with someone who knows first hand about the Movement finances.”

“Probably in unmarked Swiss bank accounts.” I shrugged. “The only people who know are the account holders themselves, and they won’t talk. According to Maharishi’s former secretary, Maharishi sent his nephew to UCLA business school so he could run the Movement’s finances. Maharishi’s ex lovers don’t talk because they must continue with their current lives. Outside the TM Movement, sleeping with Maharishi does not carry a mystical connotation. Who would want to publicly admit they had slept with a slimy haired guy dressed in white silk and beads, even if he was the Beatles guru?”

I leaned over to Mark, “But his old secretary told me that one of the lovers stole Maharishi’s beads. He showed up for the next day’s lecture without beads to play with.”

Mark laughed, “Those would be worth a lot of money.”

“Sure,” I chuckled, “How much do you think Maharishi’s beads would fetch on eBay?”

I continued while Mark slowly chewed his lunch, wondering how much he was digesting, “One of the reasons that TM is a cult, compared to other meditation forms, is because of the secrecy. People are lured with promises of scientific method to deep rest to release creativity. In actuality, vulnerable people are brought to a supposed spiritual practice to lure them into an obtuse deceptive and expensive society – the one that you were born into. From the beginning with mantra instruction, the initiate is told to keep the mantra secret ostensibly ‘for your own good.’ A new initiate is trained to keep things secret. From that point on, the secrets continue to unfold, at higher and higher prices.”

Mark responded with calm dignity, “Hindu scriptures explain that a guru must sometimes deceive his disciple for the disciples’ own good.”

“Mark, I’m sorry. You’re not as aware of the recruitment process, because you were raised with this and are accustomed to the mythological society. But TM is not presented that way to the outside world.”

Mark nodded.

Joe, a former TM Initiator, interjected from across the table, “That’s ancient hinduism. This is modern America and Europe. Do you think such deception is appropriate? The validity of ancient mystical teachings is the study of philosophy. TM claims to be scientific, but it is anything but. TM teachers know they are lying. It is deception by omission. Their goal is to recruit people for increased involvement with the TM Movement. You know that. I know that. They know that. They speak in their trained semi hypnotic voices to reassuringly encourage someone to begin TM.”

Mark nodded in agreement, “I cannot disagree with you here.”

“Mark, it’s not normal. We were taught to ‘reveal higher levels of knowledge’ only to those who are ready. The TM insider definition of ‘those who are ready’ means those who’ve relinquished critical thinking so that they’ll slowly accept a alternative life paradigm, then pay Maharishi’s organization thousands of dollars to maintain their status.”

Mark added, “When I was on Purusha, rich kids like the Daniels’ kid could do whatever they wanted. They didn’t follow ‘Program,’ at all and never got into trouble. The rest of us had to stay strictly on ‘Program’ or be reprimanded.”

“That’s right, it’s about keeping the wealthy happy so they’ll continue to donate. You saw that. It’s not about spirituality. A valid organization does not hide their hierarchy to the outside world – whether it’s a business, church or political institution.”

Mark defended the Movement, with standard insider justifications, “Going into the future, if the Movement survives they might not need to hide the hierarchy anymore. It’s an early developmental stage of the Movement. Early Christianity probably kept secrets. The Catholic Church has a robbed monastic hierarchy too.”

“Mark, first off the Movement tells the world that Transcendental Mediation is not religious. You know differently. I’m not an expert on the history of the Catholic Church. I know that Catholicism began with a public alliance with Rome’s government under the Emperor Constantine. Today, anyone entering a Catholic church knows the existence of priests, nuns, convents, monasteries, the palatial Vatican, extremes of Opus Dei and their holy communion. The basic structure of Catholicism is not hidden, whether one accepts the teachings or not. The basic structure of Transcendental Mediation is hidden by presenters who try to bring this to school children, businesses and other groups. That is a classic mark of a destructive cult.”

Joe added, “The people who went psychotic on the long rounding courses are split inside themselves, from the trance technique and dissociation that can occur. That’s not higher consciousness, that’s an aberrant dissociative state.”

Mark almost whispered, “I know people who went crazy and others who committed suicide. Someone recently.”

“I know, Mark. I’m sorry.” I momentarily placed my hand on his, “We all lost loved ones in the Movement. I knew the Swarz family too.”

“You knew them?” He looked up.

“Yes, a long time ago, when Daniel was a baby. They are good people. It’s sad.” I sighed, “Mark, many of them did not need to go insane or die. They could have accessed real help.”

“But those who became schizophrenic already had a weakness toward that. TM didn’t make them that way.” Mark declared.

“Maybe some had a propensity for mental problems, But TM should not be marketed as panacea for everything. If TM teachers really helped, they could refer troubled meditators to appropriate professionals, rather than direct them more deeply into the Movement for solutions.”

“The Movement changed.” Mark returned to a defensive stance. “They don’t tell people to continue to meditate thought unstressing. You’re talking about the old days. Those old directions changed. It’s better.”

Joe looked momentarily surprised, he turned to me, “The Movement doesn’t encourage long rounding anymore?”

“Joe, they don’t push the long meditations as much as they used to.” I explained, “I think they tired of the law suits. Now they sell other products to keep the money coming. Untested Ayurvedic therapies, spa treatments, magical architecture plans for thousands of dollars, special gemstones, yagyas to balance the doshas, fundraising arms for donations to spread TM elsewhere and generate new recruits.”

“What are doshas?” asked Joe

“Some type of mystical body energetic tendencies. I refused to learn them. It’s a theory that creates a market for Maharishi teas and other magic for enlightenment. They changed products to suit a changing market. Have to maintain the novelty factor.”

I continued, “For example, yagyas were the big push some years back. For thousands of dollars a person could buy mystical prayer ceremonies performed by invisible Indian pundits. When I nearly died of a car accident in 1999, as a single mother of three with one in college, my mother was pleased to have purchased a $10,000 yagya for my recovery. My daughter was confused when her grandmother sent thousands of dollars to India while our family was in a survival crisis. We were were trying to keep our home and continue my daughter in college when I had almost died. I explained to my daughter that was the best her grandmother could offer. We shouldn’t take it personally, just pretend we don’t have a grandmother because she’ll never be able to provide real support.”

I turned to Mark next me, “That’s what a cult looks like. You’ve seen it. It’s not about deep rest, nor consciousness, nor spiritual growth. It’s money for Maharishi’s family.”

Mark quietly nodded; he didn’t respond.

At this time, I thought to myself, I cannot save Mark. I’m not a professional exit counselor. Bringing someone out of cult-think, without precipitating an identity crisis or anxiety attack is the purview of experts. Mark still self-defines by the fantasy. He wants to create his life outside of the Movement, seeing some insanity in his family’s behaviors. It’s not possible to live both worlds. Mark’s family and entire history are defined by Maharishi. What would be left for Mark if he leaves TM fully? He may awaken in his own time, or not. It’s not my responsibility to convince him.

We paid our restaurant tab and took a sunny walk to the Castro movie theater. Even more friends turned out at the movie! After keeping my family history quiet for decades, the acceptance and support of intelligent accomplished peers was overwhelming. What an odd way to unite my life’s first and second halves – on a sidewalk ticket line. The irony of my coming-out-of-the-closet in San Francisco’s famed tolerant Castro district did not go unnoticed.

Inside the beautiful theater, Eve spoke from the row behind me. “When waiting outside, I asked the person in line next to me ‘Why did you come to see this film?’ He responded, “Transcendental Meditation is being taught at my kid’s high school. I want to see the other side of the story.’ I told him about your family upbringing, how you helped prevent TM from coming to you kids’ high school; that’s why we are attending this film! It’s exciting. We’re proud of you, Gina!”

I smiled and laughed, not knowing how to respond. “Thank you for coming today. I really appreciate it.”

A master of ceremonies briefly introduced the filmmaker David Sieveking on stage. Then lights dimmed as the red velvet curtains pulled open, and the film began.

The audience watched Sieveking’s skillful and compassionate editing of his enthusiastic youthful journey to meet his idol, filmmaker David Lynch. At Lynch’s encouragement, Sieveking paid 2,800 euros cash for TM instruction. The film then follows Sieveking’s journey through images into some of TM’s global empire, New York, Berlin, Vlodrop, Iowa, India. After filming Maharishi’s memorial service on the Ganges, Sieveking was granted access to inner aspects of the Movement in Vlodrop, Netherlands. He filmed the lavish golden-crowned assembly of rajas in long white robes and gold chains during an early power struggle between Maharishi’s deemed successor, Maharaja Nader Raam, and the Indian factions of the Movement. In several instances, TM leaders directed Sieveking to turn off his camera. Several film clips include former devotees revealing bits of the Movement’s underbelly.

The post-film Q & A primarily revolved around film making. David Sieveking spoke frankly of the irony that he sought David Lynch and Transcendental Meditation to spur his filmmaking career. In the end, David Lynch and the Transcendental Meditation Movement demanded to censure the film. When Sieveking refused to allow the Movement censorship rights, David Lynch and the Movement refused further interviews with the young filmmaker who they referred to as “David from Berlin.” Both Lynch’s foundation and Maharishi’s organization had threatened Sieveking with law suits.

The audience laughed when Sieveking explained that meeting with an entertainment law attorney proved more beneficial for his stress level, than had the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Ironically, Sieveking’s pursuit of David Lynch and Transcendental Meditation did, in fact, provide the basis for a successful film. It’s just not the film that Sieveking had initially expected to make.

My friend Joe stood up, “Thank you, David, for making this film. I spent 15 years devotedly working for this organization. You’ve depicted that world eloquently and compassionately. The only thing missing was stories of the severe psychological and financial damage that occurred to many. The movie did not highlight those aspects, but you probably could not cover that. Transcendental Meditation is both manipulative and dangerous. Over all, your film was an excellent portrayal of the inside of that organization. Thank you.”

After the film, Mark (the young man struggling with family relation to TM) cornered David Sieveking in the lobby, discussing aspects of the TM Movement. David Sieveking politely spoke with Mark, while trying to work contacts for his filmmaking career. Sieveking is not a professional exit counselor, nor a cult expert. He is a talented young filmmaker who recognized when he had stumbled upon a story, and pursued that story with passion.

Over dinner later, I asked another girlfriend, “So, as an outsider, what did you think of the film?”

“Oh, Sieveking did a great job! I was not fully objective, because I know Gina and I’d heard her stories. In the beginning of the film, I was surprised because I’d expected a hard core expose’. In fact he presented TM’s sales pitch. He showed how wonderful it is to relax with meditation. It was all just lovely, in fact, really lovely. He had a break up, a psychological crisis, and retreated to the comfort of meditation with new friends. Then he slowly revealed the group’s cracks, and the cracks just got bigger across the globe. The viewer walks that road with him through cracks that seem ready to crumble. He also clearly alluded to the fact that there is more to those cracks, but he could not tell those stories because of legal threats. The film clearly shows there is deep ugly dysfunction in Transcendental Meditation. He is a brilliant filmmaker with a bright career ahead of him! The fact that he’s funny and handsome doesn’t hurt!”

Cult is as Cult Does – post conference and third generation thoughts

Having just returned from 2010’s annual conference of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) in New York, my friends at home inquire what I found the most impactful from this year’s conference. Naturally, my friends inquired about my audio – visual presentation of Maharishi’s influence on the Beatles. In reality, that presentation was a no-brainer, because I revealed what any Maharishi devotee or former devotee understands as Maharishi’s teachings within the Beatles songs. More about that another time.

The most rewarding aspect of these ICSA conferences – the Anti-Cult Cult (ACC), as my children say – are my conversations with those who study destructive cults and coercive persuasion around the world. Over the years, some of us developed warm friendships through sharing perspectives on our pasts, integrating eclectic history (to say the least) into current identities. Some attendees are researchers and writers on long-term effects of destructive cults, others are peripheral in the field (like me). Still others consult to governments and publish on the seduction methods of charismatic destructive groups. Not all attendees have direct cult experience; some are therapists, academicians, and attorneys who work with these issues professionally without ever having been directly involved. Their humility, knowledge and commitment are inspirational. There is comfortableness to be with a group that does not judge others because of an unusual history.

The majority of those who attend ICSA conferences are intelligent, humble, respectful, accomplished and committed to supporting personal freedoms. Through various languages and our multi-cult-ural exposure, attendees apply obscure background and studies to positively impact and protect others from devastating mindf**ks.

Over the years, a few attendees impressed upon ICSA and cult experts that those raised in cults have different issues than do former cultists who joined and left a group. After all, those raised in cults lack a “pre-cult identity” to which we can return after leaving a totalitarian ideology. Thanks to unrelenting efforts of Joyce and Michael Martella, ICSA’s recovery workshops offer special tracks for Second Generation Adults (SGAs).

Now – to my personal highlight of the conference – an in depth conversation with a woman I’ll call Susan.

Susan and I initially met a few years ago, over dinner at an ICSA conference. Once again, we found ourselves sitting together at dinner on July 4th, enjoying a fabulous multi-course meal, fireworks through a window-wall over New York City’s skyline, lights reflected in the nighttime river.

Cult is as cult does, beyond the façade. We know that. Yet, it was still surprising for both Susan and me to learn the many similarities in our current lives.

Susan was raised in a polygamist group in the midwest. Like me, she left the group with her children, obtained an education and career. Her children are now adults and conducting their lives. She remains single.

Susan was raised with small town support of large families. Everyone dressed simply and worked hard with an agricultural and manual labor based economy. At one point, her father took another wife who was 14 years old. A strict interpretation of Christian and Mormon scripture provided their overriding life guidance.

I was raised in global setting that eventually settled into small town Iowa, with a Hindu-esque flavor, devout women wore sarees, men had assigned colors for their suits. Celibacy was the highest calling for the spiritually devout. Other guidelines about diet, clothing, sleeping, architecture developed over time. Occult-esoteric spiritual beliefs guided life decisions. Many live outside the group, but remain governed by occult dictates of Maharishi and others. I also remain single.

Both groups support a spiritual hierarchy with peer pressure for certain practices. The economic basis of towns which surround our respective groups is dependent upon the cult’s contribution to the larger local economy. As Susan said “Local law enforcement and others won’t interfere with polygamist society, because the outsiders are economically dependent upon the contributions from polygamist groups. Many of the sheriffs attended school with the polygamist men. They are old friends and won’t interfere. There have been mixed marriages between those raised in polygamy and outsiders. No one will address the problems directly. The entire larger community is complicit with the polygamist lifestyle.”

I concurred, saying, “The same situation exists with Fairfield, Iowa. Even the current town mayor is a ‘Governor of the Age of the Enlightenment’ whose son was arrested with other TM kids in the largest illegal marijuana growing bust in Northern California. The TM mayor does a good job managing the town. Fairfield’s lagging economy was revived through the influx of Maharishi’s followers. There are long-standing friendships between locals and TMers, shared community projects, and some intermarriages. No one will publicly address the misrepresentations, damaged psyches, or financial deceptions inherent with the TM Movement’s programs.”

While the larger communities surrounding both our groups are well aware of various child neglect and repressed activities, economic dependency halts societal intervention.

Critical thinkers from both of our communities, who can no longer tolerate the larger dysfunction, usually relocate to create lives elsewhere – ourselves included. Both cult mentality and the surrounding mixed-cult mentality repress free expression and political activism. We suspect this must be common with communities adjacent to other sect groups.

Susan and I both gave birth at home with unlicensed birth attendants within our respective groups. We both lived with a generalized distrust of the medical profession. We were lucky in that our children and we were healthy! We both left with our children, the oldest child was ten years old when we left. We both raised our children largely outside of the group dictates and social support. We both went deeply into debt to obtain education and career while raising our children. We’ll probably never fully catch up financially. We both blundered while learning to function socially and professionally without background training. We both made it!

We both love many people from our cult-based pasts. Some loved ones from our past maintain contact, many reject us for leaving and even more so for publicly revealing the underbelly of our respective heritage.

We also discussed how many cult ‘experts’ don’t understand our mixed allegiances and ongoing effects upon our daily lives. We cannot completely leave the group-think in our past because our families carry multi generational effects. We cannot have healthy identity if we pretend that the first decades of our lives never happened. We both agree that it’s not worth denying our past to maintain a relationship. We’ve tried; it doesn’t work. And thus we remain single.

Susan said “I love the 14 year-old my father married. Not that I agree with that lifestyle, but she is part of my family. I recently ran into my ex mother-in-law (still living in polygamy), she said she misses me and still loves me. That must have been hard for her. We were happy to see one another.”

I explained my aging parents; my father died last year, still in fantasy-think. My father believed he must have been a terrible person in a past life, that his decades of crippling pain were punishment for past life transgressions, not due to his stubborn refusal to obtain proper medical care. He spent thousands of dollars on Maharishi’s various mystical treatments. As the next of kin, Susan and I try to keep our elders safe despite the challenges of fantasy-based conversations. Yet we simultaneously keep an emotional distance to protect our own sanity and careers.

Susan and I discussed what we called the third-generation effects in our respective families.

Our adult children are divided between influences from idealistic well-intentioned cult-think family members who accuse us : “You mother is blaming others. She’s not taking responsibility for her life.” We both find that our grown children direct their greatest frustrations and anger at us.

Both Susan and I were the only family members who explained the awkward past to our children, apologized for our contribution to continuing the legacies when we were still sorting our own heads. We absorb justifiable anger from our adult children. We are the ones who acknowledge the confusing mixed messages, our errors in judgement, and give as we can personally and professionally to prevent future such abuses. On some level, our activism keeps the wounds open for our adult children.

On a lighter note, coincidently Susan and I were both born in New York, before our parents’ involvement with extreme sects. The New York conference was a shared homecoming, to more innocent childhood times and exploring the city we love but had not properly learned to navigate!

We had similar conversations with others from around the world whose children were born within dogmatic groups, now adults in mainstream society, and living with cross cult-ural influences.

While ICSA and others in the cult studies field begin to study and publish about SGAs, time marches on. Many SGAs are middle-aged and older. We brainstorm among ourselves to support our third-generation adults, trying to provide a loving family with open communication, without denying the past. Many of our adult children feel we over-emphasize the past. Another woman raised in polygamy shared her grown son’s insight : “It will take several generations to get this out of our family, won’t it?”

So, my highlights of participating with ICSA or the ACC? It can be both rewarding and exhausting to connect with others with similar eclectic interests. Research and writings in this field continue to grow, documenting our realities, validating experiences and benefiting others. One friend said, “We are bonded by a shared pain.”

My children ask “How does involvement with an ICSA conference differ from attending Maharishi’s various advanced courses around the world?” I explain that ICSA is not a destructive group, there is no requirement on political nor religious beliefs, no lifestyle dictates, nor dictated sexual orientation, there is no charismatic unaccountable leadership, there are no secret inner teachings for which must earn the right to access, no mystical ceremonies (operating AV equipment was a mystical rite for me!). ICSA is a group, as any honest human group, with a common purpose. We rejoice in our shared common purpose, we don’t always agree, we share, discuss, agree-to-disagree, and then return to our private lives. We believe in using our past to advance the common good. For those of us who live with ongoing cross cult-ural influences – connecting and learning from one another is invaluable!

Getting Out of the Mindset

A young adult (identity withheld on request) sent an email titled “Getting out of the mindset.” In an extensive self-revelatory and reflective message, this young adult explained having been born and raised in the TM community of Fairfield, Iowa, educated K-12 in Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE) including some time at Maharishi University of Management (MUM).

While grateful for the deep connections of close friends in the precious home community, this person’s doubts about TM’s validity spurred personal searching into the background of TM and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This person concluded that TM is not what the teachings portray. The young adult wrote of the ensuing personal liberation from a restrictive mindset, “ever since I have been skeptical of about every idea I have, realizing it may or may not be true. Once you embrace that idea you become more powerful, you have more control over your mind and your life, and I have become a happier, smarter, more understanding person because of it.”

This person sent an email because, “Since this first big anti-TM event I have still been unable to completely free myself of the TM doctrine… and still hold some concept that TM might be special…. Indoctrination is frightening, and letting go of world views you have had since you were old enough to understand them is a tough process.. I keep wanting to move out of Fairfield but the utopian style community the movement has established here is hard to escape. I have many, many friends who I love dearly here, and to leave them behind is a scary thought. What saddens me is that most of my friends are still in the TM mindset to some degree. None of them take it very seriously but it still remains in the back of their head that TM is special, jyotish can tell them what will happen in their lives, and that nature can “support” certain things they do. If you have any interesting stories or points to relate to me about my process of escape I would love to hear them! The topic interests me a lot.”

Name withheld by request
Full email not reproduced here at the writer’s request; only a few pertinent quotes included above.

Gina’s comment to readers of this blog: I am neither a professional exit counselor, nor therapist. I hold a deep respect for the potential of existential and psychological crisis when one questions all they have been raised to believe, and the community they love. Many from the TM Movement have been close to others’ psychotic breaks or suicide attempts when the duress of such personal crisis hits. Thus, I avoid acting in a therapeutic role and do not accept clients for cult recovery assistance. Professionals in the field of cult recovery are linked to the right on this blog. The young adult, above, already formed personal conclusions about involvement with the TM Movement. The writer, previously unknown to me, requested personal stories about leaving TM. My response follows.

Hello _____,

Thank you for your kind and heartfelt letter.  I sigh deeply.

You are intelligent and independent thinking.  Good for you!  Your compassionate self and social analysis will serve you well in life!

Your anguish is real.  It is hard to leave a utopian community and mindset.  Oh so hard. However, in a true utopia, you would not fear reprisal from expressing your own opinions. The outside world is not so scary, not tomasic, not full of rakshasas as you have been told.  However, you will never again find the “instant community” of enmeshed, almost extended family, to which you are accustomed in Fairfield. 

You CAN, with time, develop meaningful friendships and deep connections, with others outside of Fairfield.  You can meet others who are willing to question themselves, share discussions of same, and support one another in finding one’s own path of integrity through life.  However, the bonds are not instant. Unlike cult life, healthy bonds are not instantaneous. True connection develops over time, sharing consistently with integrity, and with acceptance of differing opinions.

It is true — you will never find the intensity of social closeness… e.g. enmeshment… that you experience in Fairfield, unless you join another cult!

Fairfield IS a special place, but it is not totally unique. Other cult based communities offer their version of the same social dynamics in which you were raised. There is a range of group-think within Fairfield, as you well know. This is also a common phenomenon in neighborhoods surrounding other cult communities throughout the world.

It is normal to be anxious about losing your loved ones and family from expressing your opinion in a cult setting. In a noncult setting, it is extremely abnormal to have such anxiety. You have normal responses to an abnormal situation. It can be frustrating to have circuitous thought-stopping conversations that return forever to TM, Ayurveda, and jyotish to solve everything. You probably don’t want to hurt the feelings of those you love by directly saying “That’s ridiculous!”

You are correct, in my opinion — once you embrace the ability to question EVERYTHING — you become more personally “powerful”.. thus the name of my blog “Coming to Life.”

I respect your desire for anonymity, as your social and professional connections remain TM and Fairfield based. Some of those whom I love in Fairfield are well aware of my online activism against the TMOrg and Maharishi’s leadership; others have ended our friendship over my outspokenness. You see, one is predicted to fail if they leave the deemed support of the deemed-utopia. Instead, others and myself have succeeded on the outside. What greater threat could there be?

You requested personal stories of “escape.” In that vein, I offer a bit of personal experience. You may find it helpful.

I, too, dearly love the Fairfield community. I was the first ‘ru to graduate from Fairfield High School in 1975, before MIU prep began a middle school or high school. My daughter attended K-2nd grade at MIU Prep (MSAE’s precursor). We will always miss the idealistic “loving” community that you call home.

Like avoiding social heroin, we could never again live in such a restrictive setting. And like a recovered heroin addict, we will always miss the addictive high of our former community’s enmeshment. Truly, there are many in Fairfield who I love deeply and forever. I will not name them. You and I must know many of the same people.

The only resources that I can offer you, are those linked on my blogsite. You can, of course, reach toward the “extended TM family” of the grown kids who left. They help one another throughout the world. In most major cities in the US there are small groups of young adults who come from Fairfield. They support one another.  I don’t have a listing of such.  It’s not my place to disclose who I’m in touch with.  You could ask around for contacts, perhaps older siblings of your friends.   As you know, there is a range of continued belief in TM and Maharishi. Many former TMers follow Amachi or other gurus.  Some joined born-again Christian groups or the Mormons to provide instant community.

I suggest that you apply to a non-TM university somewhere. You will sharpen your mind while developing relationships with other motivated young adults and university faculty based upon a commonality of interests, rather than based upon adoption of another’s dogma.

Obviously from my online voice, I’ve rejected most of the TMO official teachings and lifestyle.  My home even has a south facing entrance!  I still prefer natural fiber clothing and a healthy lifestyle. I still like Indian food! Unlike many TM kids, I’ve never been a rebellious party-animal.

After leaving Fairfield, my (now grown) children were raised with swim team, little league and the Boy Scouts in an upper middle class suburb.  We’ve made lifelong friends with amazing people who never heard of Maharishi, other than “Oh, the Beatles followed him briefly!”.  We spent some time with Unity church, to give my children a respect for open spirituality.  No more church or spiritual labels, now that the kids are grown.  My grown children live honest lives of integrity; they do not attend church. Yes, it was immensely difficult for me to learn to connect with non-TMers, to consciously eliminate my TM-based vocabulary and worldview. But it is possible. If I could do it without cult recovery information and resources, and no other ex-TMers to assist, then you certainly can succeed! I suggest accessing professional cult-recovery resources; your adjustment will be much smoother with information that is now readily available.

My father died last year in fantasy TM-think, after decades of needless pain while paying for costly TM cures through yagyas, ayurveda, jyotish, mystical talisman gemstones and other such. My aging mother continues the same vein while spouting Maharishi-isms.  I couldn’t tell you how my adult-kids cope with the extremes cult-think or non-cult from their parents. My grown kids (3rd generation TMers) tease me as being part of the “ACC” (Anti-Cult Cult). I’ve told them to be careful because, “cult think / social enmeshment is our family illness.” Be wary of false flattery. Trust others’ behaviors over their words or kisses.

The International Cultic Studies Association runs workshops for those born or raised in cults – Second Generation Adults (SGAs), that’s you and me.  The ICSA workshop for SGAs could help you sort things out, without providing another dogma. My adult daughter found one SGA workshop helpful, even though she left Fairfield at the age of 10; she is really a 3rd generation.  For info on those workshops, click HERE. ICSA also has SGA mini-workshops associated with their annual international conferences, the next one will be in New York City this summer, for information on the NYC conference, click HERE.

Good for you – to access resources to help you reflect back onto your community.   Breaking free is a lonely process, compared to the seeming validation of group-think, but you will ultimately be stronger and more real. As Shakespeare wrote, “This above all: to thine ownself be true and it shall follow as the day the night – thou can’st not then be false to any man.” That’s the bottom line.

Coming to your own perspective on YOU, your community and your life is an important step in claiming your autonomous adulthood!  We must make difficult choices as we move forward into autonomous adulthood.  Sounds like you may be on the verge of such a step!

Let me know if you visit the Bay Area.  I’d be happy to take you out for lunch or coffee.

You are intelligent and determined – you will make it!

With admiration and respect.  

Warmly, 
Gina 🙂

Home Is Where the Heart Is (part one)

Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower, and draws all good things toward you. Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others. Do not strain after the needs of life. It is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way life proceeds more naturally and effortlessly. Life is here to Enjoy!
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

When my brother and I heard the loud mechanical roar of the Champion juicer coming from the kitchen, we knew it was safe to emerge from our bedrooms following our afternoon meditation. Walking into the kitchen, past the 50 pound weekly bag of carrots that was nearly my size, my father yelled over the juicer’s roar, “Your juice is almost ready,” while forcing another large carrot into the juicers’ grinding blades.

My throat gagged at the sight of rising frothing carrot juice in the stainless steel bowl. Chunks of dry clumped carrot pulp filled the plastic bag, rubber banded to the juicer’s pulp ejector. I scrounged through kitchen cabinets for a fine strainer to further filter my required glass of carrot juice, so that I could tolerate swallowing. Carrot juice made my tongue and lips itchy and swollen, so I swallowed as quickly as possible.

Dad reminded us daily how important the carrot juice was. If my friend Elaine visited, she benefited from carrot lore and a glass. Friends gradually stopped coming over.
Dad often said:

This juice contains most of the nutrition you need for the day. The Beta Carotene and other vitamins are more pure and more nutritious than any other foods. By concentrating the nutrition of seven or eight carrots into one glass, without the needless pulp, your body will be more pure and more strong than it would be by eating regular foods.

Dad made a special concoction of one third carrot, one third celery, and one third apple juice, to counteract his slowly debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.

I downed my carrot juice, after running it through an extra fine kitchen strainer, purposely holding my throat open to guzzle without tasting. My father slowly drank his special mix, “You have to masticate the juice Gina. The juice is concentrated, but it needs the benefit of your saliva to be digested and used in your body.”

He spoke while swishing the juice around his mouth with chewing motions, his lips and cheeks alternating swelling in and out. “Doctors won’t tell you this, because it would keep you healthy and put them out of business. The medical profession wants people to be sick, so you have to keep returning to them for more and more drugs to weaken your nervous system and keep you dependent upon them.”

My father was convinced the medical profession was evil. He would beat the medical system through carrot juice and meditation.

We drank our juice exactly 20 minutes before dinner, to allow the nutritious juice to be absorbed, prior to taking in solid food which would slow our digestion and make us dull.

In the middle 1960’s, Our parents directed the family focus for eternal enlightenment. With the mystical key of our specially awarded mantra, twice daily without fail, we meditated in silence. After school, Dad returned home from his job as civil service mechanical engineer before five p.m. Our parents took the kitchen’s pink wall telephone off the hook, wrapping the receiver in a towel to muffle the inevitable dial tone and warning bleep which emanated from a phone off the hook.

Our parents meditated in the living room – Dad reclined in his green naugahyde lazy-boy lounger while my mother sat cross legged upon the zippered plastic covers of the brown danish modern sofa. Gunnar and I retreated to our respective bedrooms, allowed only to emerge when our parents finished meditating. We individually chanted our Word of Wisdom, or children’s meditation, silently while playing or otherwise engaging ourselves in our rooms.

While neighborhood children played outside after school, our family silently meditated. To further prevent interruptions, my mother hung a sign on the front door with the words, Do Not Disturb. Meditation in Progress. The sign humiliated me by the public proclamation of our differentness. Mom and Dad were happy with the sign, because no neighborhood children knocked on the door for us when the sign was up.

The loud whirr of the Champion juicer grinding carrots signaled that we could leave our rooms.

By the time we finally sat to dinner, other neighborhood children had finished eating and were outside playing. Gunnar and I could hear their shouts and street games; we wanted to join them.

No,” Mom said each evening, “Dinner is family time; we have to sit together.” Sitting in our assigned dining places, my brother across the table and a parent on each side, we closed our eyes and bowed our heads while Mom whispered Maharishi’s dinner grace,

In thy fullness, oh Lord
Filled with thy grace
For the purpose of union with thee
To satisfy and glorify thy creation
With thanks to thee with all our heart
And all adoration for thy blessings
We accept this gift as it has come to us
This food is thy blessing
In thy service
We accept with all gratitude, my Lord
Amen

Mom slowly opened her eyes and lifted her head after grace, as if coming out of a deep trance. My brother and I knew to wait for Mom to appear fully awakened before we could begin eating.

Our family time consisted of a simple, almost raw food, dinner and listening to the latest spiritual lessons. Interaction with our parents was minimal. They downloaded scripted spiritual messages to us.

Dinner consisted of a salad without dressing, because dressing was deemed tomasic, or toxin laden. Vegetables were lightly steamed to avoid draining their nutrients. We were not allowed salt nor condiments. My brother and I wanted fish sticks, potatoes, hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, cookies, and ice cream.

Our parents relented, by allowing us to drink milk, even though they said “Milk is for cows. Humans are the only animal that think it’s acceptable to drink milk after infancy. Drinking milk will give you too much calcium and create bone problems later in life.

My brother and I relished the forbidden smooth white liquid. Mom often reminded us, “You father’s arthritis is because he drank too much milk growing up on the farm in Norway. That calcium settled in his joints causing arthritis.” Gunnar and I guzzled milk anyway.

Dinner was family time, but my brother and I were not allowed to participate in conversation. We often played footsie beneath the table, sometimes resulting in one of us unable to restrain laughter and spraying a mouthful of milk across the dinner table. In such situations, Mom yelled, “Leave the table now! If you must behave like animals, then you don’t deserve to sit at the table! Go to your rooms!

We ran giggling down the hall to our bedrooms, glad to escape to our records and comic books.

When Gunnar and I behaved, by eating in silence, mother expounded on spiritual lessons. Usually we behaved by eating quietly and listening to Mom’s teachings, so that dinner would end as quickly as possible and we could be excused.

About a year after our childhood initiation into TM, my mother held up a new book at the dinner table, A Hermit in the Houseby Helena Olson had just been published in 1967.

This book was written by Helena Olson. You two were initiated in the Olsons’ house; Dad and I visit them often. Did you know the Olsons were the first family to host Maharishi when he came to California? The Olsons had the vision to see that this tiny Indian man is a great sage. They offered their home for Maharishi to establish his Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the west. To this day Helena Olson is called Mother Olson, for being the mother to the Movement. Mother Olson wrote about the time Maharishi lived in their home. You two were initiated in this home; your father and I were initiated by Roland Olson.

I asked, “So? What does that have to do with us?

My brother and I listened disinterestedly while chewing our broccoli, cashews and brown rice. Mom flipped through black and white photos of Maharishi lounging in the Olsons’ TV room, or with their daughters. She continued:

The Olsons were grateful to have meaning to their previously materialistic life in Beverly Hills. By supporting Maharishi, they have a new purpose to bring spirituality to mankind. Your father and I attend Los Angeles meditation meetings at the Olsons’ home. They tell wonderful stories about Maharishi! Many of her stories in this book, but not all.
When I helped Helena in the kitchen, I confided that while Roland initiated me, I had a vision that he was an Egyptian pharaoh performing a ritual. I asked Helena “Was Roland once a pharaoh in a previous lifetime?”
Helena looked at me, she then looked down and smiled as if she was embarrassed, “Not a very good one, I’m afraid.”

(My mother chuckled with such an intimate revelation.)

You see, children, even though Roland was not a good pharaoh, he learned management skills from that lifetime. We all carry our lessons from one life to the next. Those skills served him as a business man in this lifetime, and now he uses his experience from being a pharoah to spread Maharishi’s teachings. You won’t read stories like that in this book, because most people would not understand higher spiritual truths the way we do.

I loved ancient mythology, I was interested that we had been in a real pharaoh’s house! Immediately I asked, “Do you know which pharaoh he was?” I wanted to look him up in our encyclopedia, or school library. How exciting that we were associated with ancient royalty! I didn’t care about this new book, I wanted to know which pharaoh he was, and if we were in his court.

Mom responded, “No, I didn’t ask which pharaoh. It doesn’t matter, since he wasn’t a good one anyway.

Then how can I look him up?” I was disappointed, even bad kings were in history books. I wanted to know which ancient royalty were our friends!

My mother excused herself to use the bathroom. In Mom’s absence, Dad asked about our school day. Gunnar and I talked about playground games. Retching and splashing sounds came from down the hall, as if Mom was vomiting into the toilet.

Is Mom sick?” I asked.

No.” Dad said, “She’s always done that when she eats too much.

She does what?” asked Gunnar.

She empties her stomach.” Dad calmly responded.

Ugh! Why would someone want to barf?” I exclaimed, imagining the experience and taste from being sick.

We heard the toilet flush, the water from the sink, and the rubbing sound of a toothbrush, as Mom presumably cleaned up. Then she returned to the dinner table. She sat at her place, smiling, looking perfectly normal.

Mom, are you sick or did you just make yourself barf?” I asked.

Yuk!” Gunnar said.

No, I’m not sick. Since I taste dinner while preparing it, then sometimes I overeat when joining the family for dinner. Vomiting afterwards is a natural way to relieve my over filled stomach. Since I already absorbed the carrot juice’s nutrients, there is no problem with getting rid of extra food. Ancient Roman royalty vomited after feasts. They ate, drank, celebrated, then emptied their stomachs so they could rejoin their party and continue.

I thought that she made barfing after dinner sound like a royal tradition!

Gross!” Gunnar said while placing a hand on his stomach and mimicking retching movements. “How do you make yourself do that?

Just put your finger into the back of your throat. It’s easy. Try it sometime.” Mom calmly explained while reaching for more rice.

Ugh! How can you eat again right away? That’s weird!” I said,
May I please be excused? I can’t eat anymore.” My mother gave me permission to leave the table. I carried my plate and utensils to the kitchen while wondering about the pharaoh who was my parents’ friend.