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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Transcendental Meditation (TM) Becoming very popular after its introduction outside of India by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918?- ) in the 1960s, TM requires devotees to meditate twice daily, repeating their individually assigned mantras. TM is a philosophy that also teaches siddhis such as levitation (flying in the air by mind power) and invulnerability (safety from all assault, physical and spiritual) along with an assortment of other supernatural claims.
      Study of the siddhis is an aspect of the Maharishi's “Science of Creative Intelligence,” which has no scientific characteristics at all. Though wide claims have been made for the effect of TM on the world, none of the claims have stood examination. One of the Maharishi's attractive analogies——in which he equates the solar system with the structure of the atom——is not only crackpot science; it is very bad crackpot.
      TM obtained a brief surge of great interest when the Beatles embraced the idea for a few months in 1967. They were quickly disillusioned when the promises of the Maharishi went unfulfilled, and dropped out. However, Beatle George Harrison again joined the TM political party and ran for Parliament in the U.K. in 1992, as did many other TMers, including Canadian conjuror Doug Henning. None of the TM candidates won office, though they'd been told by the Maharishi that their election was assured. In 1993, Henning tried for political position as a TM candidate again, this time in Canada; he was unsuccessful.
      The Maharishi claims to have discovered the secret of age reversal, though his own ripening process appears to be continuing at the expected rate. Tens of thousands of students have taken his course in levitation, but none have flown, which would appear to have been the eventual goal. And tests of the “invulnerable” siddhi have not been successfully conducted, as far as is known, in spite of the fact that such a test would appear to be easily designed and implemented.
      Currently, the growth of TM has slowed, though Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, still functions as the center of the movement in the United States.

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