≡ Menu
YogaDork

Enlightenment: The Missing Element

in YD News, Yogitorials
 Transcendental Meditation (TM) is taught in 2,000 schools in Latin America, here in Peru, through the David Lynch Foundation, the program is called "A Consciousness-Based Education". | image credit: Jdontfight/wikicommons

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is taught in 2,000 schools in Latin America. Here, in Peru, through the David Lynch Foundation, the program is called “A Consciousness-Based Education”. | image credit: Jdontfight/wikimedia

by Ann Purcell

In my upbringing, there was never any discussion about enlightenment, period. I had never heard of enlightenment as a possibility in any church service, or any educational program. Even in India the concept of enlightenment is reserved for the rare few recluse who wish to live in a cave and give up all worldly possessions.

I have since been blessed with the spiritual fervor, and techniques to bring on the experience and understanding of what enlightenment actually is. Just as a flower’s natural tendency is to bloom and blossom, I now see enlightenment as the most natural state of the human nervous system. This state has immense practical value for day-to-day life. I realize that by not sharing the experience of enlightenment with our youth we are missing an essential element in the growth of society.

What Is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is becoming the person you are meant to be. For me it means enjoying 24 hours of inner and outer peace and contentment. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s (the founder of the Transcendental Meditation Program) definition of enlightenment:

Enlightenment is the state of consciousness, which is always evolutionary, progressive—never negative and never defeated. Once one is in light, one doesn’t tumble as one does in darkness… That’s how we would define enlightenment—a lively state of all possibilities, a state of no failure, no weakness, no problems, no suffering—that kind of state of consciousness, that kind of state of life. [Oct 24, 1983]

This may sound like an out of reach fanciful idea, especially if you were taught like I was; it is necessary to struggle in life. The closest teaching to enlightenment I received was that if I lived a good moral life, I might make it to heaven afterwards.

Waiting until the afterlife for a promise of heaven with no proof that it could be fulfilled was not an option for me.

Discover the Field if Silence and Peace Within

Although, I would not change any of the important lessons learned during my teenage years, meditating earlier on in life could have saved me from a lot of stress. I know I would have been a more focused student. My restlessness and inability to focus makes me wonder if I had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD)? I always had a hard time focusing in school and in my summer jobs.

The day I learned Transcendental Meditation I was 18 years old. My life took a 360-degree turn. Inwardly, I discovered a field of silence, peace, and bliss inside. I had found heaven within. Outwardly, there was a deepening experience of contentment, energy, efficiency, and focus. I now had the ability to zone in on my schoolwork, and to choose more life-supporting behavior. There was an inner stability growing in me; I was less upset by outside circumstances.

Becoming more focused in any undertaking was one of the first benefits I received after learning to meditate.

Enlightenment: Our Birthright

A thought from Maharishi, which resonates very clearly with me is that enlightenment is our birthright; and the goal of all life is to develop the full potential of who we are.

I firmly believe that it is essential students start to meditate in school at about ten years of age. By meditating earlier on, children tend to be happier and more grounded. These students will be more likely to see how, on a deeper level, all of life is interconnected. They will have a vision of the whole range of life, from the depths of their silent being to the outer changing values of daily life. With this understanding, our children will create industries more beneficial to the environment and the well being of all people. They will also have a broadened awareness to help solve the urgently needed solutions our world is facing.

By introducing Transcendental Meditation into our school systems parents and educators have the opportunity to raise enlightened children. More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies document the many health benefits and the growth of consciousness of those who practice meditation regularly.

The tools we need to change the world exist right here, inside of everyone. How could we have missed this essential element? We have been looking outwardly in the wrong direction. It is time now to open our eyes (and by open I mean close) and embrace the light, which shines within each of us. This light is the silent transcendental level of our own Being, and is found by using the proper meditation techniques.

As Jackie DeShannon says in her song, “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.” That love is inside us, waiting for its power to be unleashed to unify and bring peace to the world. Why would we want to miss this most essential element in a child’s upbringing?

~

Ann Purcell is an author and has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. In addition, she has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment was released on March 13, 2015.

——

Earlier

 

34 comments… add one

  • Asananine

    There are numerous critics of TM and its founding Guru. Believe what you wish, but at least do some research before plunking down your cash. As to introducing this into schools, I find this less than enlightened.

  • Abbie Smith

    It was the best investment I ever made. My health improved (asthma got better), relationships with my family turned around, I became clear on what I wanted to do with my life after great frustration with not finding the answer in college, I truly enjoyed going to church for the first in years.

  • Wondering

    Agreed asananine!

  • Purush

    Hello, I was so happy to read this whole blog and the comments, what makes me happy is that it has given a deeper understanding of enlightenment and started a conversation that may bee a taboo for some or not, depending on there state of being but most importantly this puts our attention on how easy it is to gain enlightenment. You see that folks, Easy :) I don’t know about you but I like easy because this means its simple and simple means I can include it into my lifestyle because in the end time and effort are the few valuable possessions that we can truly carry wherever we go!!!

    This makes me feel good because in my travels around different cultures I have noticed that the fundamentals are the same but the perceptions are different just like the artists are all human but the sculptures are different just like religions are different but the law’s of nature are the same for all so it must be that enlightenment being a most natural state of being must belong to everyone and what belongs to everyone must be abundant and easily available everywhere just like water or air or how can it be enjoyed by all so the most abundant of all is space elementally or silence vibrationally and to gain this state many traditions use some technique or other but nothing explains effortlessness as TM does!!!

    Some people are critical and that’s who they maybe as those who are not maybe that. what she is particularly talking about in this blog is how easy it is to attain that stability by directly going to the source or silence with this scientifically studied, efficient and effective technique. This doesn’t mean we will all be Buddha or such like and I am certain that if a Buddha came to be now he won’t have to spend so much time under a tree starving for so long as this technique is the most advanced and latest version of its kind which has evolved through the time tested methods by the most ancient tradition of Monks in the world!!!

  • Purush

    Hello, I was so happy to read this whole blog and all the comments, what makes me happy is that it has given a deeper understanding of enlightenment and started a conversation that may be a taboo for some or not, depending on there state of being but most importantly this puts our attention on how easy it is to gain enlightenment. You see that folks, Easy :) I don’t know about you but I like easy because this means its simple and simple means I can include it into my lifestyle because in the end time and effort are the few valuable possessions that we can truly carry wherever we go!!!

    This makes me feel good because in my travels around different cultures I have noticed that the fundamentals are the same but the perceptions are different just like the artists are all human but the sculptures are different just like religions are different but the law’s of nature are the same for all so it must be that enlightenment being a most natural state of being must belong to everyone and what belongs to everyone must be abundant and easily available everywhere just like water or air or how can it be enjoyed by all so the most abundant of all is space elementally or silence vibrationally and to gain this state many traditions use some technique or other but nothing explains effortlessness as TM does!!!

    Some people are critical and that’s who they maybe as those who are not maybe that. what she is particularly talking about in this blog is how easy it is to attain that stability by directly going to the source or silence with this scientifically studied, efficient and effective technique. This doesn’t mean we will all be Buddha or such like and I am certain that if a Buddha came to be now he won’t have to spend so much time under a tree starving for so long as this technique is the most advanced and latest version of its kind which has evolved through the natural time tested methods by the many countless lifetime’s worth of combined efforts from the most ancient tradition of Monks in the world!!!

  • Dwayne

    All of the above claimed benefits of meditation could presumably be achieved by “generic” methods as opposed to the “trademarked” TM. The blatant specific flogging of TM is (IMO) rather spam-like and inappropriate.

  • Abbie Smith

    The Transcendental Meditation technique is completely unique in my experience. It’s effortless and the mind goes deeply without trying to make it go deeply. Contrast that with mindfulness where you have to hold some state in your mind or try to do something. Or concentration which is holding the mind on one thing and actually can exhaust the mind and create more stress in the mind. Also TM is not contemplation which involves thinking about something–maybe some uplifting saying or whatever nice though, it does not take the mind to its depths and to experience pure wakefulness, transcendental consciousness at the source of thought.

  • Carter

    Dude, many people who practice TM experience profound results. Otherwise, why would they talk about it? “Presumably” is the most significant word in your comment. When it comes to something as powerful as expanded sense of self i.e. refining the experience I walk through the world with; I could either choose something that millions of people are practicing and having success with or I can presume that this other thing will have the same effect.

    As you may have guessed I have been practicing TM for years (no I am not getting paid by TM to write this, do not teach it etc..) and I can say that for me a lot of the power of the technique lies in the instruction. I do not know much about the generic versions of which you speak, but logic says, if it is free there is probably not going to be much support. Any insight into providing instruction —most likely lacking.

    At that point what would be the difference from saying saying the mantra or sitting there thinking the word apple, or bird, or about what they had for dinner last night…

  • George

    I don’t claim to be enlightened, but this sounds to me like a pretty superficial definition of enlightenment. I never heard enlightenment is some kind of happiness guarantee. My understanding is that even the Buddha’s last days were filled with a great deal of physical pain. For a more complex take on this, I’d suggest Johannes Bronkhorst’s Absorption: Human Nature and Buddhist Liberation.

  • Abbie Smith

    Being enlightened doesn’t mean one doesn’t experience life anymore. My understanding is that when one becomes established in true enlightenement–in a state of absolute bliss consciousness, then one continues to go through the emotions and feelings of human life but one’s being, one’s state of absolute bliss established inside one’s self, is not touched by any of the pleasures or pain in the outer.

  • Asananine

    Let’s have a look at the promotion of TM education in Germany by the David Lynch Foundation. The marketing pitch is that TM will make the country “invincible”. When it is pointed out to the speaker (not Lynch) that Hitler also desired an invincible Germany, he answers: “Yes, but unfortunately he didn’t succeed”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up6zyI-cV5k

  • Abbie Smith

    Everyone understands your concern. I urge you to look at the following website which explains how to achieve invincibility for a nation. http://www.invincibledefense.org/invitation.html Invincibility is not achieved by how big an army one has, how many guns and missiles/bombs/armaments, etc. Invincibility is when the collective consciousness of the people of a nation is so coherent, so orderly, so positive, so healthy, that no outside influence of disorder, no negativity, no ill health of any kind can penetrate it. This is what the man was inferring–that had Hitler been invincible there would have been no destruction, no killing, no war. But he didn’t have total knowledge. His wisdom was fragmented and partial and the people of the nation followed him and destruction resulted. Maharishi’s Technology of the Unified Field is how true invincibility for any nation will be achieved.

  • Asananine

    It appears that TM is not content with just teaching people how to meditate, but makes all kind of absurd, unsubstantiated claims as to the benefits of TM in particular. An excerpt from the linked page:

    “During the last 25 years, a powerful, innovative approach to peace has been extensively field tested—in the Middle East and throughout the world. The consistent result has been dramatic reductions in terrorism, war, and other social violence. These findings have been replicated, published in leading academic journals, and endorsed by hundreds of independent scientists and scholars. The efficacy of this approach is now beyond question.”

    Stating that something is “beyond question”, does not make it so. Please name any area of the Middle East where this is true. Sadly, if this is what they teach, I believe even more strongly now that they have absolutely no business indoctrinating children in any public schools.

  • Nice article, but more infomercial than journalism. However, I wished I had picked up this practice in high school or junior high. As it stands, I did not learn TM until I was in my last year of college in 1975. Better late than never. This October will mark 40 years of twice daily dropping into Self and knowing my true nature and refreshed by that experience.

    The main advantage of TM in schools over other practices is that over time since it is universally taught the same around the world because of the stringent, consistent, albeit autocratic training regimen for teachers, a true apples to apples accounting that eliminates variables can provided details about its efficacy. Other techniques while quite beneficial, like mindfulness, are subject to huge variations in the qualifications of teachers and what exact constitute the practice.

    DO check out the critics and criticism of TM. Also, figure out what the agenda of the critics might be. Lots of criticism comes from religious groups, competing practices, scientist and therapist who only had access to those who had other baggage and not those who actually benefited from the practice.

    I’m not the biggest fan of David Lynch or his movies and television efforts. However, I do respect and admire that he feels strongly about helping with making available a practice that improved his life that he would like to see available to others.

    Because I have 40 years of yoga, meditation and other practices in my experience I can see pretty easily how much TM has made the world of yoga in the West a more main stream affair.
    Prior to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi it was had for Americans to be able to name an Indian Guru except maybe the late Paramahansa Yogananda. TM set the stage for folks like Chopra and his mega empire which has cross fertilized with the likes of Dr. Oz, Oprah, Paul McCartney, Donovan, Ringo, Dr. John Gray, Barbara De Angelis, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish, People who might be polar opposites politically, like Clint Eastwood and Russel Brand have that inner peace in common.

    Our youth is inheriting a troubled and complex world. I truly hope they get the tools they will need to personally survive and thrive in it. TM is an easy tool to learn. They will also need many more as well.

  • Hi Ann Purcell,
    Thanks for discussion about Enlightenment in case of India.

    Although I know the unofficial form of this term but came to know about the official term from your article. I always enjoy my inner and outer peace. I love to do whatever I want and love to learn in my own way.
    Hope other educational institutes of developing and underdeveloped countries will also start believing in this theory.

    Thanks once again! I would love to tell my friends about this.

  • Thanks John. Over 300,000 students have learned  Transcendental Meditation ins chools around the world over the past 5 years and many schools are implementing this “Quiet Time Program”

  • Hope this produces calmer students … would like to hear about how they have changed versus a control group in a decade from now!

  • Amy

    This is a profound and powerful blog with a vision that could change the world. I love Ann Purcell’s clear and beckoning voice, moving us all toward recognizing the importance of creating opportunities for children to learn to meditate and the far reaching benefits of bringing it into the schools. Her words very poignantly highlight what a profound loss not doing so is for children’s development. I look forward to hearing more from this author, who has the laser like ability to go to the heart of the matter. Thanks so much for your inspired words.

  • TM as an organization is not perfect. It has many brilliant, if somewhat flawed people connected or associated with it, but then, what organization doesn’t, especially on an international scale. Nuff said. There’s definitely room for improvement and a new generation is being active sought to pass the reigns to.

    So many misconceptions about the TM practice. Let me throw some light on it:

    TM is not mindfulness, although mindfulness can and does occur from time to time. It is not part of the technique, but can occur as a byproduct of the practice.

    TM is not Kundalini meditation, nor involves the chakras However, Kundaliini will awaken to various degrees depending on the practitioner’s own state. Lee Sannella covers this in his book. Once again, it can be a byproduct of TM, just not the a focus or endgame. Like many a Kundalini initiate TM is received via diksha, but the initiation is to just provide a push in the proper direction, so it is not shaktipat.

    It is not contemplation, but contemplative behavior can manifest. It is not the focus nor the aim, just a byproduct.

    It is not prayer for that is a very focused, direct addressing of the Divine. TM is about being opened to the Divine in our nature in an innocent manner.

    It is not like chanting where the clear expression of a mantra or sutra is desired. A mantra is used, but it is merely a vehicle, not the destination, and like many a journey the vehicle can change over time.

    TM is not devotional for nobody is asked to worship their initiator, Maharishi or his guru, or any of the Hindu / Vedic Pantheon. TM once learned, the practitioner never visit a TM center ever again.

    TM is not about outcome or expectation of result. It’s the exact opposite. It’s about putting in the time to meditate, and then once done, forgetting about meditation and getting on with your life until the next meditation.

    It’s not about gaining insight, but that can occur too. TM is more like a trip to Vegas, baby. What happens in meditation stays in meditation. You don’t take into mediation an agenda to get things resolved or clarified, and you don’t come out of meditation with your open eye activity concerned with what happened with your eyes closed.

    YMMV

  • Tripsy

    Hi Ann, I’ve been doing TM for years and for me its more profound than the other things I tried before learning TM. Some of my friends complain about the cost but when I explain that TM has always been non-profit and that it’s been given free to 500,000 children, homeless people and war veterans, they feel better. I’m sure the TM teachers need to pay their rent just like the yoga teachers do. Thanks for giving us your thoughtful insights on love and enlightenment.

  • Asananine

    TM has amassed an estimated net worth of $3.5 Billion (Wikipedia). The fact that they are non-profit has benefited them greatly.

  • Asanine, You can’t believe Wikepedia. Although there has been a huge upsurge of people wanting to learn Transcendental Meditation in the past 5 years, I know many  Transcendental Meditation teachers struggle to make ends meet—paying the center rent and their own personal rent. The  Transcendental Meditation organization tries to donate a percentage of the course fee to inner city school projects for students to learn to meditate and to many other projects.

  • Asananine

    Are you implying that the organization has no money to pay their teachers or just that they keep most of the profits for themselves? What do you peg their net worth at given that they own lots of real estate and other companies?

  • Asanine,
    Teachers of  Transcendental Meditation get a substantial percentage of the course fee through teaching.
    The national organization also gets a small percentage to run the national administration. I am not sure of the exact number of  Transcendental Meditation centers in the country, many are rented offices. I do know we need 100′s of more centers and the money is not there to fund them. I am not sure what are the assets of the Transcendental Meditation organization, but I do know it does not even begin to come close to a billion. There is the university in Iowa, Maharishi University of Management, that has the asset of the university.

  • Lynelle

    I practice yoga and also play with meditation, which makes me feel great. However, I have never even really thought about enlightenment. The concept feels very foreign, but intriguing… Ann Purcell are you enlightened? I would love to hear more about this from someone who is experiencing it.

    Does anyone have any recommended resources (videos, books) elaborating on the subject?

  • Lynelle,
    As I mentioned in my blog I had never thought about enlightenment either. Re: if I am enlightened? I think we are all works in progress. I feel so much more happier and stable in that happiness. The ups and downs of life’s events don’t affect me as much now. Also my meditations are becoming very deep, blissful, and absorbing. I am pleased with my progress. In my book the  ”Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment” I go into the 7 states of consciousness. AT the end of each chapter I give experiences of people from around the world of these higher states of consciousness. You can download to free chapters from my website: enlightenmentforeveryone.com

  • Asananine, not sure what your issues with a successful , international organization that is more than 50 years old having a broad and well established net worth. Is poverty a hallmark of successful enlightenment? The Wikipedia article you are probably sourcing points out that the TM organization have successful diversified (which is good financial) stewardship into “teaching centers, schools, universities, health centers, herbal supplements, solar panel, and home financing companies, plus several TM-centered communities” and they have taught somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000,000 folks. With that much going and with prudent investing, a secure foundation for the longevity of its mission can be assured. And I’m sure so folks did really, really well financial along the way. But, also keep in mind that orgainzations like the Susan G. Komen foundation and the Red Cross deal in large funds and pay their CEO’s about $500,000 per year. Do you begrudge them as well for being financial successful in doing their good works. By its longevity and sheer numbers TM has stood the test of time and provides reproducibility. If these kids that Ann Purcell has written about fail to achieve and find peace, then the program should definitely be stopped. I think most folks are worried it might be successful.

    There are plenty of boutique gurus and meditation techniques out there, but so few get onto the radar with their message. TM is the McDonalds of the Enlightenment Movement according to authors Adam Smith and John White in 1975 and the mass market, fast food analogy is not far of the mark. But, this is not a criticism in the sense that something is universally available and consistently taught like a Big Mac and Fries.

  • Asananine

    I am skeptical of anyone that markets their services based on claims of attaining “enlightenment” or “invincibility”. I am also skeptical of an organization that claims to be doing non-profit or charitable work, while amassing huge wealth. This applies to any organization, lest you think I have a particular grudge. If TM adhered to simply offering a meditation technique, then fine, no issue.

    This whole discussion reminds me of another 62 year old, international, wealthy organization that claims to have the ultimate solution. They also accuse their critics of having an agenda. They also have achieved a non-profit status. They also have many celebrity adherents that they eagerly promote. They also have have managed to introduce themselves into public schools; in their case, anti-drug programs. I mean who can argue against that? Hint, HBO has made a recent documentary on them.

  • Asanaine, I enjoy the points you are bringing up because folks DO need to think about these things. However I want to quote your last contriubtion “This whole discussion reminds me of another 62 year old, international, wealthy organization that claims to have the ultimate solution. They also accuse their critics of having an agenda. They also have achieved a non-profit status. They also have many celebrity adherents that they eagerly promote. They also have have managed to introduce themselves into public schools; in their case, anti-drug programs.” You are obviously referencing the Church of Scientology and the recent HBO Documentary “Going Clear”. I have seen this doc. and I also read the book it is based last year. In fact, I have probably read every book out there that is critical of Scientology as well as those critical about TM. When I think of what you wrote I am more inclined to think the same words are easily applied to the Republican Party especially with their astroturfing campaigns on the net. I’m not very fond of the terms “enlightenment” and “invincibility” being thrown about, but at the end of the day, those terms are really about just Self Realization in new packaging.

  • Tripsy

    What do the companies Etsy, Go Daddy, Beats Electronics, Aruba Networks, Nest, Hillard Partners and DocuSign have in common? They all were purchased or valuated in excess of $3 billion dollars. So $3.5 billion is a minor amount for a 50 year old, global, non-profit with schools and centers in dozens of countries. A billion dollars ain’t what it used to be.

  • Asananine

    What the companies you reference have in common is that they are commercial, profitable entities. They are clearly designated as such.

  • This is a very useful list. It gives some perspective on the financial background of various institutes that do good works:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_charitable_foundations

    Notable are Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at $42.3 Billion and Catholic Charities USA at $3.8 Billion.

  • Asananine

    The Gates Foundation has effectively contributed to advancing humankind, with global initiatives too numerous to mention. Personally, I see no valid comparison whatsoever.

  • ptt

    “Is poverty a hallmark of successful enlightenment?”

    Actually…

Leave a Comment