Interview with Maharishi
Selttled mind, silent mind
By Kathy Juline
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the worldwide Transcendental Meditation Movement, after graduating from Allahabad University with a degree in physics, studied for thirteen years with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the world’s foremost exponent of the ancient Vedic Science of consciousness.
Then in 1955, after spending two years in silence in the Himalayas, Maharishi began teaching his Transcendental Meditation technique. In 1957 Maharishi founded the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement and began the first of his many world tours to bring his technique to people on all continents. He has authored a number of books, including on the Bhagavad-Gita A New Translation and Commentary with Sanskrit Text, The Science of Being and Art of Living, and Love and God.
Transcendental Meditation, which you developed, has enjoyed phenomenal international success. What is it, exactly?
Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural program for the mind, a spontaneous, effortless march of the mind to its own unbounded essence. Through Transcendental Meditation, the mind unfolds its potential for unlimited awareness, transcendental awareness, Unity Consciousness — a lively field of all potential, where every possibility is naturally available to the conscious mind. The conscious mind becomes aware of its own unbounded dignity, its unbounded essence, its infinite potential.
Transcendental Meditation provides a way for the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence-active and silent, point and infinity. It is not a set of beliefs, a philosophy, a Iifestyle, or a religion. It’s an experience, a mental technique one practices every day for fifteen or twenty minutes.
What are some of its practical benefits?
Scientific experiments with people who practice Transcendental Meditation indicate that it tends to produce normalization in all areas of life. It reduces stress, improves health, enriches mental functioning, enhances personal relationships, and increases job productivity and job satisfaction.
Can other kinds of meditation produce similar results?
They can, of course. However, one advantage of Transcendental Meditation is its extreme simplicity. It is very simple for anyone to learn. In addition, it has been the object of scientific research for over thirty years, and its beneficial effects are well-documented.
What gives Transcendental Meditation such great potential for positive change?
To answer that, we must look at the nature of creation itself. Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That’s why it is so effective.
Consider this example. The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree-leaves, branches, flowers, fruit-though the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence-like the leaves and flowers of a tree appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence.
In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.
How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?
The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.
Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind-or performing mind-to quiet mind-or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence. The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.
The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all.
Can you offer us more understanding of the “settled state”? Why is it so important?
The settled state, as we know from physics, is the state of being from which nature’s intelligence functions and administers the whole universe. The settled state is where we find the principle of least action, through which natural law operates. It is Important because it is the fundamental level of life.
And being in the “settled state,” or the state of least action, is equivalent to transcendence?
Yes. Transcendence is the state where the mind has moved beyond everything other than itself. That means it has transcended all kinds of activity, small and big, and it has settled down in its own authority, in its own sovereignty, into the unbounded dignity of its own intelligence. And in this state, transcendental consciousness turns out to be a lively field of all possibilities.
So, while the mind usually operates in an active, or “unsettled” state, Transcendental Meditation takes it to the settled state.
Exactly! To understand this process, we must ask: how does the mind work? What does it do? We know the mind is always subject to its own nature, which is to evolve. Evolution is the essential nature of existence. The mind is always searching for more and more and more-more knowledge, more happiness. The mind moves on, always toward more and more.
But the mind has two sides. One side is in the direction of diversity, in the direction of many, many. The other is in the direction of unity, the unified state. Gaining unity means rising to Transcendental Consciousness, the settled state, while gaining diversity means moving toward more and more activity. Unity is on one side, diversity is on the other side. Both sides belong to the nature of the mind.
The mind moves to diversity in search of more and more, and it moves in the direction of unity-a quiet state of unbounded awareness, unbounded consciousness, unbounded intelligence-in search of less and less. The move of the mind from its active state to its quiet state is part of the nature of mind itself, and we say the mind in that state is at one with the unified field of all the laws of nature. Its potential is unbounded, infinite; it enters the field of all possibilities. When the mind gains its unified state, that is Transcendental Meditation.
What is the nature of transcendental consciousness?
It is unity consciousness, an encounter with the field of unified consciousness. In transcendental consciousness, the mind experiences itself, intelligence experiences itself. The mind is the observer of its own reality. In that state, the mind is transcendental consciousness.
Just as the quiet surface of the ocean is the source from which all waves arise, so the self-fulfilled state of mind, which we call transcendental consciousness, is the source of all activity. We call it the unified field of natural law, from which all the different laws of nature emerge and conduct their specific activities in the relative world.
Is the state of unbounded awareness maintained during the day, even after the formal meditation period ends?
As a result of regular practice, it is maintained more and more. The situation is as though we were to take a white cloth and dip it in yellow dye. We bring the cloth out and put in the sun and the yellow fades away. Then we put it back again and again into the color and back again and again into the sun. It keeps on becoming yellow and yellow and yellow, then fading, fading, fading. But over time the color becomes permanent. That happens to the mind through regular practice. That unbounded awareness, that pure consciousness, the field of all the laws of nature, becomes ingrained in all activities of the mind. Then the mind begins to live in Unity Consciousness. That’s how Unity Consciousness becomes a living reality.
How does a person learn to practice Transcendental Meditation?
Through instruction. What happens is that the mind, in its active state, learns to experience its own less active states, experience its progressively minimized active states, until eventually it cognizes the transcendental state of consciousness.
But in learning to do this, we must remember that the mind has usually been allowed to wander around so long in the realm of knowledge or power or the pursuit of happiness that it must be taught how to know itself again. That’s why teaching becomes necessary. After learning Transcendental Meditation one knows what the natural state is. But to realize this, one has to be liberated from unnatural programs, performances and experiences.
Most people have no experience with Transcendental Consciousness, pure consciousness, the pure nature of the mind. They are aware of active mind, which is the waking state of consciousness. They are also aware of the complete forgetfulness of the mind, the sleep state. And they are aware of the middle stage, the dreaming mind. But they are not aware of pure or Transcendental Consciousness. So the experience of that consciousness is taught in Transcendental Meditation, though it’s nothing other than the very nature of the mind.
When people begin to practice Transcendental Meditation, do they experience purging or cleansing effects, when negative things come up? Does moving into that unified state of consciousness involve a painful period?
We think about a cloth again. When the cloth is very, very dirty, you begin to rinse it in soap. You rinse it once and then twice. But as it gets cleaner, soiled patches which didn’t seem to be there before begin to appear.
However, if you keep on washing and washing, those patches start to fade away and fade away more, then they fade away completely. Similarly, when old habits of stress and straining begin to be neutralized through Transcendental Meditation, a person may feel discomfort as other, more subtle habits of stress come up, but only because the natural state is returning and the stress is leaving. This is part of gaining normality and natural status.
For example, some people may say, “I don’t worry about things like I used to. Does this mean I am losing myself, my identity?” To them, this normalization of the mind feels strange. They have been behaving with boundaries, in space and time, and now they wake up to unbounded awareness. So there is often a feeling of difference and strangeness at first.
You say that Transcendental Meditation is a program for the mind. What is its relationship to the intellect?
Transcendental Meditation does not involve intellect. Transcendental Meditation is an experience of the mind, from the active levels to the unified level. It’s just an innocent experience of active mind and an innocent experience of settled mind, silent mind.
Through certain other meditation practices, however, particularly those in which the intellect seeks God through recalling the qualities or names or virtues of God, the intellect is stimulated and begins to thrive. It does so increasingly in the presence of God, in the glory of God, in the dignity of God, in the grace of God, in the merciful nature of God. There may then come a point where intellect is in its natural state and comprehends the unbounded awareness of God, the merciful nature of God, the presence of God. The intellect, through pursuing God intellectually, can recognize its natural status as the mind wakes up to its unboundedness.
The intellect thus leads one to the settled state, a non-intellectual experience of pure being. The intellect can finally be enveloped by all the exalted qualities of God as it arrives at its natural state, the level of fundamental intelligence. That will be the same as Transcendental Consciousness, the union which recognizes the unbounded dignity of the light of God, the feeling of God, the experience of unboundedness, pure intelligence. But such is not the approach of Transcendental Meditation, which does not operate through the intellect.
What new applications are you currently exploring for Transcendental Meditation?
We are working in many directions-dealing with education, community planning, prison rehabilitation, and so on-but our primary focus is on promoting what we call “irreversible world peace.” We are seeking to establish several permanent groups of 7000 advanced transcendental meditators in various places around the planet. Their meditations will create a powerful coherent influence in the collective consciousness and neutralize built-up stress and tension in the world, creating an environment of progress and peace.
Our goal is to create Heaven on Earth, and we are taking practical steps to accomplish it.
What recent successes have you had in applying Transcendental Meditation to achieve this goal?
There have been many scientific studies validating the effectiveness of this program. Just now I could mention two recent demonstrations-one from the poorest country in the world and one from the richest.
For the last year, the president of Mozambique, His Excellency Joachim Alberto Chissano, has been organizing instruction in Transcendental Meditation for large numbers of his people. Recently, he credited their practice of this discipline with keeping the peace in Mozambique after many years of civil war.
During June and July of 1993, in Washington DC, about 4,000 experts in TM demonstrated the power of this technology to eliminate stress and create more coherence and harmony throughout a society. Scientists now report preliminary statistics from the Washington police showing a 13% drop in total violent crime during the demonstration compared to the same period in 1992. News reports show that president Clinton and Congress enjoyed much greater success and appreciation during the demonstration than either before or after it.
We feel very fulfilled by these results, and wish to invite every government to establish a coherence creating group in its capital city. This step will ensure that every government has a neat, clean, pure atmosphere in which to make decisions.