My first exposure to Transcendental Meditation (TM) was when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was on the Merv Griffin Show in the 1970s. I was a young teen back then and found this giggling Yogi fascinating. His image stuck in my mind for years to come. Years after seeing him on TV, I found his book at a yard sale and read it. I decided Maharishi’s cure for everything that ails this planet was something I had to have.
I relentlessly searched, and after several months I found a Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher who lived about an hour’s drive from my home. I was now 23 years old. We made an appointment, and soon I was “initiated” and taught the technique.
I was thrilled with TM; it was a godsend. It gave me the peace I was looking for. It gave me the badly needed relaxation I was craving. I became angry at my church and commented that one week of TM did me more good than reading the Bible a hundred times. Hopefully, I didn’t offend any Christians, but this was the truth. I thought so highly of TM that I got some of my friends into it.
Several years later, I was intrigued with the beautifully done pamphlets and fliers I was receiving from Maharishi International University (MIU). They claimed it was one of the best universities around.
During this time, I gradually began noticing that I was having difficulty finishing my thoughts and was getting spacy. I checked with my TM teacher, and she said that was part of the normal process of “enlightenment” and not to pay attention to it. “Just watch the thoughts as if you are in a train and watching the scenery go by.” I didn’t realize it then, but I was being trained to dissociate from my emotions and thoughts.
I applied and was accepted into MIU, and very happy to be in such an enlightened school. The classes started, and the first of the core courses was quantum physics. This was the classic “trying to get a drink out of a fire hose” type of course—too much new information all at once. I was surprised to be one of the few who got an A+ from that course. Never has so much been said about things so small.
Honestly, I didn’t “get” quantum physics, but they told me I had the best paper they had ever seen. I told them that I took random statements by Maharishi from those handwritten on sheets of paper they had stuck on the classroom walls. These statements were so general in nature that they could be applied to understanding quantum physics, changing your tire, or catching chickens.
The following courses were the dullest, most miserable, and most useless courses I had ever experienced. The Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) had nothing to do with creativity or intelligence. I told the Vedic psychology instructor that his course cured my insomnia and told the business teacher that I learned how not to teach business.
Meanwhile, I was getting more spacy and having to force myself to be able to finish a thought. Anxiety was creeping into my meditations and starting to spill over into daily life; it eventually developed into a full-blown mental disorder. At that time, I chose to quit TM, and my thoughts for a while seemed to get crystal clear.
The classes continued to worsen by the day. I thought they couldn’t get any worse, but they did. I began talking to other students about the poor-quality classes, and some agreed with me. Several told me just not to question the school—“just get your degree and get out.” I was there to learn; a degree was secondary to me, I told them.
Sorry to say, a year’s worth of classes, and I didn’t learn anything worth remembering. Others disagreed and said I was “unstressing.” They said MIU was perfect and I was the problem. This view left me confused, and I didn’t know what to make of it. My impression was that, by Christmas break, more than one-half of the freshman class had dropped out.
Every morning, world news would be announced in class. Then we were told how our collective consciousness in the practice of TM and the siddhis was changing the world for the better. I don’t recall anybody really believing this, but most of us learned to keep our opinions to ourselves.
If any bad news came up, the explanation given was that the world was unstressing. I struggled for about a month with what unstressing could be. What is wrong with me? What’s missing? And a thousand other questions to myself. It wasn’t making any sense.
Eventually I earned the reputation as a rabble-rouser because I was complaining about the lousy classes. One of the teachers called me into her office and told me I was unstressing for saying the classes were garbage.
Suddenly, the answer to my question popped into my head, and I replied instantly, “How can I tell the difference between unstressing and my conscience?” This poor lady was dumbfounded and actually broke into tears. She had no answer.
Telling people they are unstressing is the main method of mind control they use at MIU and in the TM movement. They say that you are unstressing to get you not to pay attention to your very own inner voice that is saying, “Something is very wrong here.” So anybody who buys unstressing is already under their control. Victims can no longer trust their own inner instincts and thoughts. Now they can be controlled and made to pay outrageous amounts of money for advanced techniques or Maharishi’s mercury-laced pills, which I called “enlightenment in a bottle.”
I remember hearing a conversation that involved several TM teachers who were taking the core courses. I heard them complain for nearly fifteen minutes about how terrible the classes were. Then one said, “Oh, we must be just unstressing. Anything Maharishi has done is perfect.” A few agreed, and that was the end of the conversation.
Some of my friends had entered into the TM-Sidhi program. When they graduated from the program, their personalities had changed, and I didn’t like what I saw. They were constantly complaining of “lack of rest,” and they began to isolate themselves, leaving behind their social lives. This couldn’t be good. But they all claimed they felt great, and that the “Yogic Flying” was exhilarating.
I began telling all the students I could about my discovery. A handful of them listened and left MIU, but the majority said I was… you know… unstressing. Staff began to harass me. Security was on my case. Suddenly, all my grades became Fs. I could not go anywhere without staff or somebody hassling me. I no longer felt safe and started saving up so I could get out of there.
A friend found one of my final exams randomly thrown on a hallway floor. Tracked over and trampled, it was marked all over with red ink. The teacher wrote that this was the worst exam he had ever seen in his career.
This same friend took the very same class the next semester, and the same teacher held up a photocopy my final exam as an example of providing great answers, getting directly to the point, and not wasting any words. My friend nearly fell off his chair in laughter, much to the puzzlement of his classmates.
I quit the courses, but the finance office would not let me have my money back (and MIU is not cheap; the tuition is comparable to an Ivy League school). So I continued to live on campus since I couldn’t get my money back. I was working in the school cafeteria as a townie, and then they fired me.
Near the end of the semester, I was called into a meeting with the faculty. I was told higher education was not for me and I was… you guessed it… unstressing. They counseled that I should find a trade or something. The campus psychologist was actually siding with me until he was corrected for unstressing. They expelled me from MIU for speaking the truth. Certainly, I was quite pleased with myself for standing up to them and figuring out how they were brainwashing us. I wondered how PhD students could be duped by such a simple yet evil and debilitating method of mind control.
In retrospect, the majority of MIU students and staff seemed to me to be good people. I quickly made friends. Everybody there was into self-improvement, and there were so many different and interesting ideas to explore. Never did I see any drugs or alcohol. I never saw any violence or gross misbehavior commonly seen on campuses. I did, however, encounter a small cell of Satanists on campus.
I had a nice racing bicycle and many times left it unlocked. It was never stolen, and I never heard from anybody about their bicycles being stolen. In some ways, MIU was a paradise; but underneath it all was a stealth hell clutching at the souls of innocent and good people.
Unfortunately, Maharishi took a lot of good, sincere people to the cleaners and screwed up their lives. Some of the town folk who came into the TM movement gave all they had for the never-ending “new techniques” that came out every few months or so.
It took nearly twenty years for my thoughts to become coherent again and for me to shake the anxiety disorder that arose during my time at MIU. The spaciness left quickly after I quit TM, but the dissociation was the last to leave.
Many people involved in the TM movement were spacy and pleasantly goofy. It was as if they were all on some sort of tranquilizer. I began calling the town of Fairfield, Iowa (where MIU is located) the “city of happy emptiness” and MIU “a bottom-rate university with delusions of grandeur.”
Thank God that I only wasted 1 year there. Can you imagine wasting 20 or 30 years getting your brains scrambled in a place like MIU? Staff members were paid $50 per month plus room and board. The PhD students were being paid just $100. In my opinion, hundreds of these honest, sincere people are still unwittingly wasting their lives, bank accounts, and talents in virtual slavery to the ideas and memory of a dangerous charlatan, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
About the Author
Stephen Coleman is currently working in the mental-health field. He volunteers in prisons and travels, teaching simple mental health in poor nations. He is married and has four children from his first marriage.
 Now Maharishi University of Management (MUM).