Transcendental Meditation (TM)
This Eastern method of meditation was introduced into the United States in 1965 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi means teacher, learned man, and guide and is a title used in India for Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu leaders. Mahesh is a surname.
The addition of Yogi indicates that this Hindu monk has his background in yoga. Transcendental meditation (TM for short) is derived from the teachings of yoga, although it represents only a part of stage one of yoga.
The word transcendental is misleading. In theological language, it is used to describe that which belongs to the realm of the divine. Transcendence, the realm of the Trinity, is not accessible to human beings. Within transcendental meditation, according to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental means no more than crossing from conscious to unconscious activity. The nature of the system can best be explained by a description of the exercises in meditation. There are at present in the United States about two hundred-fifty centers at which TM is taught. Some four-thousand teachers are scattered across the country. There are also about one-thousand teachers working in sixty other countries. From the USA, teachers have gone to Germany and Switzerland to teach this new form of meditation. It is significant that among the earliest disciples of TM were the Beatles. Up to two thirds of the followers of this movement are still recruited from aimless young people, many of whom are on drugs. Some hope to become free from their drug addiction through this meditation. According to Lindsey and Carlson, the movement has thirty thousand members in the universities of North America.
The introductory course in the USA is four evening sessions long and costs $100. Participants are taught to sit down for twenty minutes each day,relax, shut their eyes, and meditate. Each one is given his own special mantra as an aid to meditation. The word mantra is from the Sanskrit and means something like password, motto, or giver of power, bearer of mysteries. The mantra must be kept secret. No one is allowed to reveal his mantra to another, or it will lose its power. During the meditation exercises, the mantra has to be repeated for twenty minutes. If one’s thoughts wander, one should not force oneself to use the mantra. That would mean that the conscious mind was checking and cont rolling the subconscious. Meditation is intended to open the gate of the unconscious and mobilize its powers.TM claims it is not a philosophy, a religion, or autosuggestion, but simply a technique to liberate the powers locked in the unconscious.
What results are expected from this meditation? Some participants give up TM after a few exercises, having found it no help. The majority,however, swear by TM and practice it successfully.What is achieved? Those who practice it claim to find relaxation; stress is relieved, tensions disappear. Some even claim that after some time they can feel their blood circulate. In addition to such passive experiences, there is also an active side. A reservoir of unbounded energy is discovered. People become creative, capable of greater achievement. They become better able to cope with everyday life.They are no longer “lived,”driven and controlled by the unconscious. They begin to live themselves, to be master of the situation. On the medical side, it has been confirmed that the physical and psychological condition of patients who practice TM is visibly improved. Blood pressure becomes normal, circulation more stable. The mental state becomes more relaxed.
This all sounds very good. What is there to be said from a Biblical and Christian point of view?
What would happen if people spent the forty minutes or sixty (where it is practiced three times a day) in Bible study and prayer? Would the results not be even more evident? What is the significance of the mystery? At the beginning of the meditation,the person has to produce and use three fruits, six flowers, and a new, white handkerchief as initiatory offerings. As we have already said, no one is allowed to reveal his mantra. Such mysterious rites are also to be found in freemasonry and certain kinds of magic.
Another thing that does not conform to the Christian faith is the many hundredfold repetition of the mantra. This leads inevitably to the assumption that results will automatically follow, such as is frequently found in non-Christian religions. The thoughtless droning of prayers corresponds to this automatic repetition of the mantra. Psychologically, it is a method by which the consciousness is by-passed and the unconscious given free play. This is in contradiction to the Bible plan of salvation. Our conscious mind must be submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit. Something which I regard as greatly significant is the fact that this kind of meditation works best for people with a psychic disposition. That alone is sufficient ground for warning Christians against it.
Last but not least, do we need a Hindu monk to teach us how to relax? We have Jesus, the Son of God, who has brought us not just relaxation but redemption, deliverance from our “deep self,” and peace.
More about TM by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
TM is a simplified form of mantra yoga. In the practice of TM, one sits on the floor in a certain position, closes the eyes, breathes slowly and rhythmically and mentally concentrates on the sing-song repetition of a certain word, the mantra. It is recommended that this exercise be done for about twenty minutes twice a day. The immediate goal of this practice is help oneself to get rid of excessive tension, to calm down and to acquire inner strength — all things which are certainly needed in our fast-paced modern life. Those who promote TM try not to emphasize its religious and philosophical aspects; indeed, they conceal from beginners the fact that the practice of TM brings man into contact with the pantheistic ideas of Hinduism and occultism. To popularize TM in the U.S. its chief “apostle,” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian, removed much of the Indian terminology from it, replacing it with a modern scientific and psychological vocabulary. This did not change
the essence of it.
In fact, when a novice is initiated into TM he is obliged to bring with him three types of sweet fruit, fresh flowers and a clean handkerchief. These items are put into a basket and placed before a portrait of the guru in the room where the initiation takes place. A candle is lit and incense is burned while something is softly chanted in Sanskrit. Finally, the initiate is given a mantra, a Sanskrit word whose meaning is concealed from him. Now he is obliged to repeat this word during his sessions of “meditation.”
Mantras are taken from the Vedas. Any of the names of the deities of the Hindu pantheon is considered a mantra, so that one who continually repeats the mantra may receive a “visit” from such a deity and converse with it. Some mantras are “concrete,” and contain the name of a “deity,” such as Krishna, Siva, Sarasvati, etc.; others are “abstract,” and call upon the impersonal
Absolute, so as to attain liberation and entry into a state of samadhi, or union with the Absolute.
The well-known yogi Sivananda points out in his book “Japa Yoga” (i.e.,the yoga of repeating mantras) that every mantra is distinguished by a particular rhythm and has a cipher or code which, as it is repeated, opens the way for a man to contemplate the deity of the mantra. In other words, what happens is that a man loses his spiritual self-defense and comes into contact with fallen spirits. In speaking of the presence of a deity, or davata, in every mantra, Sivananda himself defines it as “a supernatural being, higher or lower,” which is the source of the mantra’s power. Thus, it is clear that a mantra can evoke a lower, evil being, “the dark side of the Force.”
It is not difficult to learn TM. By practicing its form of meditation for twenty minutes twice a day, one quickly achieves the relaxed, half-asleep state of trance. This is a state of “complete contentment,” similar to the effect of some narcotics. This is what is called transcendental meditation. Followers of TM enthusiastically proclaim the simplicity and successfulness of their method, while they remain silent about the religious aspect of their practices and the sad spiritual consequences to which they lead.
While the practitioner of TM is not required to change his religious beliefs or accept any new moral principles, the very fact that TM includes a pagan rite of initiation and the ritual repetition of an occult phrase in its continued exercises puts one on the path of participation in the Hindu religion. TM has as its basis a pantheistic conception of the Prime Reality, with which one who practices TM tries to become one. Success in TM is achieved by having a man ascend the “ladder of consciousness” until he reaches the seventh andfinal step, when he is dissolved in the sea of the cosmic “superconsciousness.”
At this point he supposedly finds complete peace and realizes his own divinity. This is, at best, a hallucination, and more probably a demonic deception. Such is the final goal of these exercises in meditation. TM is the Indian antithesis of true Christian meditation, which consists in reverent reflection on God. Christianity counsels active divine meditation to the end that one may more deeply understand one’s faith and strengthen it.
The Lord commanded Joshua, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy muth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night” (Jos. 1:8). When a Christian meditates on the truths of the faith, he comes to understand them better. As the Lord promised His disciples, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Just the opposite takes place in TM. The very word “meditation” loses its proper meaning. Meditation means an activity of the mind in which one tries to understand something better, to comprehend it.
In TM, on the contrary, one must suppress all activity of the mind and mindlessly repeat a word which one does not even understand. In this way the mind and the nervous system are overloaded, and the brain is turned off. Modern research has shown that the constant repetition of any phrase, such as “apple pie,” is capable of bringing about considerable changes in one’s psycho-physiological state. The exercises of TM cause a man to drop his self-defense, thus opening up access to his subconscious for the fallen spirits, against which St Paul the Apostle warns us in his Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 6:10-17).
So, TM should be considered dangerous and harmful. It produces those fruits which are common to occult practices: a lessening of faith, an increase of pride and even mental breakdown. Christianity has far better methods to give the inner man relief and calmness. First of all, there is sincere and heartfelt prayer. Morning prayer promotes internal discipline, which protects a person against excessive worry in the course of the day. Evening prayer provides relief, internal comfort and a sense of peace before one goes to sleep. It is a good thing to learn to preserve a prayerful disposition throughout the day. This is greatly aided by the
“Jesus Prayer” (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner), which gives one a constant awareness of the presence of God. Nervous exhaustion and dissatisfaction arise chiefly from a conscience soiled by sin and from the passions which are at war within us. Therefore, it
is necessary to purge one’s conscience periodically by heartfelt repentance, Confession and Holy Communion.
It is very beneficial to think about God and matters of faith in the morning, right after morning prayers. Read a chapter or a passage from the Holy Scriptures and try to understand what you have read, applying it to the circumstances of your own life. This Christian form of meditation, strengthened by prayer, truly brings with it peace, a sense of collectedness and spiritual enlightenment.
The word yoga is derived from, Sanskrit and is possibly the root underlying the Greek word ioge, shelter, and the Latin jugum, yoke. If these linguistic associations are anything to go by, to practice yoga is to put oneself under a yoke, or to seek shelter from a protective power. It is impossible to present yoga fully in a short chapter. To begin with, there are many forms of Indian and Tibetan yoga, so many that it would take more than one large volume to list them all. It would take up too much space here even to describe one single form. For a good introduction to yoga, Maurice Ray’s book Joga, ja oder nein? is recommended. This book describes Hatha Yoga and Raja (Royal) Yoga from the standpoint of the Christian faith. It is the best discussion of yoga from a Christian point of view known to me.
In this brief account I can only give a very limited part of the whole. I have used the following sources:
1. Pastoral counseling in the West and the East, especially in East Asia, where I have traveled extensively eight times.
2. Information given me by the Indian professor de Roy, who has studied the yoga practice in his country.
3. The definitive work by Mishra on Patanjali Yoga: The Textbook of Yoga Psychology.
Several key sentences from Mishra’s. work will introduce us to the spiritual atmosphere of yoga:
a. The higher ego of man is transcendent and immanent, without beginning and without end, it has no birth and no death.
b. Yoga means the synthesis of the physical and metaphysical universe.
c. Heaven and hell are only products of the human mind.
d. Behind magic, mysticism and also behind the occult the yoga system is present.
These four sentences show clearly that yoga and the Bible cannot be harmonized in the remotest way. The systems of the Far East and the
If we take a cross section of the most well-known forms of yoga, we can recognize four stages.
The first stage has the aim of helping the student of yoga to gain control of his consciousness and his body. This goal is achieved by means of mental and physical exercises. The mental exercises include meditation, autogenic training, concentration, and “koan,” a litany involving the continuous repetition of a mantra (secret word).The physical exercises include breathing exercises and various bodily postures like the lotus position, the cobra position, and the headstand. This first stage is thus psychosomatic in nature, producing unity of body and mind.
There are many Christians who believe that it is possible to participate in this first stage of yoga without harm. It is merely a matter of relaxation exercises. If only this were true! Counseling experience tells otherwise. This technique of relaxation and these “emptying exercises” so highly spoken of by the yogis lead to the inflowing of another spirit — other spirits. The students of yoga do not notice it.
Ex 266: G.C., a Christian teacher, told me that during an evangelistic campaign, a certain man and his daughter had wished to become true Christians. But they found themselves unable to do so. Only after they had renounced their yoga exercises and repented of them did they succeed in coming
through to Christ.
Ex 267: In Johannesburg, South Africa, I counseled a theology student. He was a young man who had been converted to Christ some years before. Hearing about a yoga course which had been announced in church, he applied to join. After a few months, he noticed a change in his spiritual life. His
desire to read the Bible disappeared. He also became tired of prayer. I advised him very strongly to give up his yoga exercises at once and to renounce the whole thing. The second stage of yoga involves the control of the unconscious mind. When a person has mastered the second stage, he can control and guide, for instance, his visceral nerves. I have met masters of the second stage who
can perform astonishing feats.
Ex 268: In a Western university town, I met a theology student who practiced the second stage of yoga. He was able to increase or decrease his circulation of blood. Being inclined to be humorous, he used to entertain his fellow students by showing off his abilities. He could make one of his ears red and the other one white at the same time. He could also cause red spots to appear on his skin by suggestion.
I could only wonder what kind of gospel this young man will one day preach to his parishioners.
Ex 269: In a great metropolis, I heard of a police officer who is likewise a master of the second stage. He was able to produce stigmata (wound marks) on the palms of his hands, by suggestion. He is certainly not a saint: he is an atheist. Incidentally, we may note in passing that wound marks on the palms are not necessarily a religious phenomenon. There are unconscious
and conscious, religious and non-religious stigmata; in other words, four types of wound marks which have absolutely nothing to do with Christ.
As to whether imitation stigmata appear also as a result of mystical meditation on the wounds of Christ, I can only say that it is possible. It is certainly not necessary for faith or for salvation. We have Jesus, and we have no need of people who bear the stigmata, whether saints or otherwise, to give us salvation.
Ex 270: In Southeast Asia, I have often seen yogis who are able to reduce their breathing, pulse-rate, and circulation to a minimum. They then go into a trance-like sleep, which can last between two and four weeks. During this time they take neither food nor fluids.
Ex 271: The most enlightening experience I have had of this sort was in California. A young woman came to me for counseling. She told me that she had been a master of the second stage of yoga. In the course of her yoga exercises, she had actually chosen Jesus as her guru. Note this, not Jesus as her Savior and Redeemer, but only as her example, her great master. During her yoga exercises, she developed occult powers. She became unhappy about it, and tried to free herself. It was then that she first realized what a power yoga had over her. She began to seek Christ. Several of her friends prayed for her. After terrible struggles she became free. She wrote an account of her experiences entitled “From Yoga to Christ.” She gave me permission to publish it.
Yoga does not liberate; it enslaves. Yoga does not free; it binds. Yoga does not enlighten; it brings confusion. Yoga does not prepare the way for Christ , as Father J . M. Dechanet (Cahi –
er du Val) claims, but makes people immune to redemption through Christ . Yoga does not open the door for the Holy Spirit , but for spiritist spirits.
This will become even plainer when we describe briefly stages three and four. The third stage of yoga is concerned with the mastery of the natural powers. I have found very few examples of this in the West , but very many in the East . It is the speciality of Tibetan yogis to combine magic and yoga. After three years of apprenticeship under a lama, who is the master of this art, the adept (apprentice) has to be able to produce energy in the form of heat in natural objects, such as melting ice by means of mental concentration.
I have still more frequently come across the converse of this, where yogis are able to produce heat and even flames. We find this among the fire worshippers, who also practice fire magic.
Ex 272: In Port Elizabeth, one of these fire masters, who had emigrated from India to South Africa, came to me for counseling. He made a confession and asked for my help. I showed him the way to Jesus. He was willing to accept Jesus as his Lord. I do not know if he has continued in the faith. Occultists often fall back into their old ways. Those who are st i l l in doubt as to whether stage one or two of yoga results in occult processes must admit that when it comes to stage three, yoga leads to the powers of the abyss.
Maurice Ray writes, “Everyone who seriously engages in Hatha Yoga gains new powers. These include telepathy, presentiments, second sight and all the powers of a supernatural order which are indispensable for occult activities.” Perhaps we ought to have this in mind when we read the example of the pastor who was able to discover hidden things by meditation. At the fourth stage, the yogi gains the mastery of the dark arts. The Lamas of Tibet are particularly well known for this. I have collected very many examples of stage four yoga. In Kalimpong on the Tibetan border, I came into contact with many Tibetans. I have also received reports from former missionaries in Tibet. Especially enlightening was the confession of a man who has given me permission to publish his story.
Ex 273: My informant had studied yoga, magic and spiritism for ten years with the Lamas. He had heard of my lectures in Sydney and followed me on to Newcastle, Australia. He made a full confession and named his specific sins. He said, “What the Lamas teach is the cult of spirits, the cult of demons. Please help me to become free.” We had a long talk together. From this man I learned that the Tibetan yogis are masters of the trance, materialization, excursion of the soul, telekinesis, levitation, perfectly controlled telepathy, and all the arts of spiritism. At stage four, which I have met in this intensity only with Tibetans, Zombis, Alauts, Maccumbas, and voodooists, yoga can no longer, with the best will in the world, disguise its true character. Here
yoga reaches its ultimate master — Satan, whose desire it is with his promises and his wiles to snatch people away into the abyss.
There is no need for further comment on the religious side of yoga.Yoga ends not only in self-redemption and atheism, but in the cult of demons. Those who undertake to take part in yoga exercises enter a force field by which they are unwittingly directed towards the origin of these powers. These are the powers of which Paul speaks in his epistles, (see Colossians 2:15). Christ has freed us from the spirits, demons, and powers. The chief of these powers is Lucifer, who is seeking to win back those he has lost. And what successes he has gained, for yoga has become the fashion in the West!
A quotation from a book published overseas confirms my own view. In the book Satan kampft um diese Welt, by Lindsey and Carlson, we read,
“Chris Pike (a son of Bishop Pike) told me in a personal interview that he previously practiced yoga and meditation. As a result he had become controlled by spirit beings which had nearly destroyed his life. He then renounced these powers in the name of Jesus, and today he is a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. His life was completely changed.”
All Christians who are allowing themselves unsuspectingly to be led astray into yoga should take note of Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.””
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