Is the Transcendental Meditation program a religion or cult?

by CynthiaYockey on February 8, 2009

No, the Transcendental Meditation program is not a religion.

No, the Transcendental Meditation program is not a cult.

The TM program is not a religion because it does not require you to believe anything. You do not even have to believe the TM technique will work in order to learn it and practice it successfully.

The most authoritative resource on the Web regarding the facts and myths about the Transcendental Meditation program is run by Dr. David Orme-Johnson. It is called There Dr. Orme-Johnson debunks myths and discusses scientific research about the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program, which is by far the most-researched program for the development of consciousness, something he is uniquely qualified to do as the editor of five volumes of collected research about the TM program, which total 3,732 pages and make a stack about a foot tall.  (Buy all five for only $350.00!)

Dr. Orme-Johnson also is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed, published scientific papers on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program. In addition, he is a qualified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program.

For people who continue to assert that the TM program is a religion or cult, despite the facts that its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, specifically said it isn’t, and that you don’t have to believe anything and can come and go or start or stop as you please,  so that it is missing the defining criteria religion-wise and cult-wise, Dr. Orme-Johnson addresses the question here and also by providing letters from the following religious leaders (with their permission):

Andean Path
Shaman Maliku Aribalo, November 4, 2008

Father Leonard Dubi, December 1, 2008
Father Thomas R. Miller, June 17, 2008
Father Cletus Stein, October 2, 2008
Sister Carol Wirtz, August 25, 2008

Mohammad Haghverdi, December 24, 2008

Senior Rabbi Allan Green, June 27, 2008
Rabbi Michael Shevack, November 12, 2008

United Methodist Church
Reverend Jonathan Chadwick, November 4, 2008

Unity Church
Reverend Don Lansky, June 30, 2008

I am bringing this up because I will be discussing topics related to the Transcendental Meditation program on this blog, including enlightenment and the Maharishi Effect. The Maharishi Effect is the name of the phenomenon that groups of TM-Sidhas practicing their advanced meditation program together have been shown to produce positive effects at a social level, such as reduced crime and acts of war. This is important because the positive effects were, (1), created by a small group of people (the square root of one percent of the surrounding population is the threshold number to generate the positive effects), and (2), everyone else got observable benefits without having to do the TM-Sidhi program themselves, which is HUGE because it is unique in NOT forcing everyone to toe a particular line in order to produce positive results to a host of otherwise intractable problems.

Boo-yah, y’all!

I feel urgent about bringing this up because of the number of Muslims who are taking seriously their religion’s requirements to convert or kill everyone who is not their brand of Muslim and the stricture that they are to use whatever deception is required to advance their religion.

I feel urgent about bringing this up because, when I was a Realtor in Silver Spring, Maryland, one of my colleagues, a German woman in the Potomac office of my company, was honor-murdered in her Potomac home by her Muslim obstretician husband.

I feel urgent about bringing this up because my friend, Alan Scherr, a former teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program (see! I told you it’s easy to leave!), and his 13-year-old daughter, Naomi, were among the six Americans murdered in Mumbai by Islamic terrorists on the night of November 26, 2008.

I feel urgent about this because my father and I escaped being blown up by a bomb made domestic terrorists by no more than 10 minutes on March 23, 1970, when we were driving home on Rte. 1 from my bassoon lesson in Baltimore with the principal bassoonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Gerald Corey. I heard the explosion and felt the shock wave that shook our house. (Which also means, BTW, that I take a very dim view of Bill Ayers’ bombings and his on-going wish that he had done more.)

I feel urgent about this because you cannot kill hate by shooting it.

And the recent war in Gaza is just the latest illustration that you can’t kill hate by appeasing it or negotiating with it.

These are the things that are driving me to discuss the Transcendental Meditation program and the Maharishi Effect in this blog. Because, you know, discussing becoming a conservative lesbian doesn’t push me far enough beyond the pale.


Oh, if you want to learn more about the Transcendental Meditation program, you can find an authorized teacher nearest you in the U.S. by filling out the contact form here or get more information here.

My personal connection to the Transcendental Meditation program is that I learned it in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Feb. 2, 1974. It helped me recover from the loss of my younger brother in a car accident on Aug. 22, 1973. I learned the TM-Sidhi program in 1978 (“Levitate in ’78!”).  My life partner from Sept. 25, 1984, until her death on Dec. 7, 2004, from complications of multiple sclerosis, was artist and TM teacher, Margaret Ardussi.

Here is a brief explanation of how the Maharishi Effect works by Maharishi himself from an interview with a reporter from the Boston Globe in 1990:

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