About the Authors
Founder and Managing Director, Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre Bad Ems,
Germany; President, Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Lancaster, USA; Director of
Expansion and International Relations, German Association for Ayurveda DGA eV.
founded in 1983; Secretary General EURAMA – European Ayurveda Medical
Dr. Girish Momaya, DSCI
Director, Maharishi Vedic University, The Netherlands
Ph.D. in Maharishi Vedic Science
Assistant Professor, Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA; Board
member, International Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education; Advisory
Board member, Maharishi School, Melbourne, Australia.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Insight into Vedanta, the Ultimate Knowledge of Life,
and Its Application to Bring World Peace – from Philosophy to Science
Lothar Pirc, Br. Girish Momaya, & Susan Brown1
Vedanta, a brilliantly shining star amongst the galaxy of Vedic Literature, is an
integral part of the six Darshan Shastras or the Upangas of the Veda, namely Nyaya,
Vaisheshik, Sankhya, Yoga, Karma Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Vedanta deals with the
knowledge and experience of the essence of totality of life and a systematic path to
the highest evolution possible for mankind.
Vedanta, the Vedic cognition by Vyasa, brings to light Brahman as the ultimate
source, course and goal of life and Moksha or enlightenment as the practical path to
the highest pinnacle of human evolution. Brahma Sutra of Vyasa starts with the quest
of total knowledge of life with the words ‘Athato Brahma Jigyasa’ and finds its
fulfillment in the Mahavakyas of the Vedas, such as ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, ‘Tat Tvam
Asi’, ‘Ayam Atma Brahm’ and ‘Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahm’, and in the aphorisms of
the Bhagavad Gita such as ‘Esha Brahmi Sthitih.’ Vedanta deals with the knowledge
and experience of the ultimate truth of life – Brahman, knowing which nothing more
remains to be known.
Great sages of India like Adi Shankara, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Raman Maharishi,
and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi realized and lived their lives in Unity Consciousness and
complete freedom – a state of Advaita and Moksha expounded by Vedanta. They
taught and guided humanity to the path to enlightenment. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s
master Swami Brahmanand Saraswati, who had been the Shankarcharya of Jyotirmath
in the Himalayas, was adored as Vedanta Incarnate by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan,
eminent Vedic scholar and second President of India.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has successfully brought the light of Vedanta to the whole
world through his teachings and through direct experience of the nature of the unified
level of the Self, through his technique of Transcendental Meditation. He showed the
world how the invaluable applications of Vedic knowledge and technology could
transform the individual lives and transform the world consciousness to happiness,
harmony and peace.
1!Acknowledgement: The scientific research sections of this article and the chart summarizing
higher states of consciousness are based on an article by Lothar Pirc, Karin Pirc, and Jeremy
Fields previously accepted for publication in the Light on Ayurveda Journal (in press)
Vedanta, the ultimate knowledge of life brought to light by the great Veda Vyasa,
illuminates the highest value of philosophy as a living reality. Great sages of India,
such as Adi Shankara, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Raman Maharishi, and in our time
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his master Swami Brahmanand Saraswati, lived their
lives in Unity Consciousness, the state of complete freedom described as Advaita and
Moksha, and guided humanity on the path to enlightenment.
This paper discusses the global teachings of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in
light of the wisdom of Vedanta.
Maharishi brought experience and understanding of enlightenment to the world
through the systematic, scientifically authenticated technique of Transcendental
Meditation, with its source in the Vedic tradition of India. Maharishi’s master, Swami
Brahmanand Saraswati – the inspiration and guiding light of all Maharishi’s teaching
had been the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath in the Himalayas, and was adored as
Vedanta Incarnate by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, eminent Vedic scholar and
second President of India.
Through the Transcendental Meditation technique, Maharishi gave millions of people
of every culture and nationality the opportunity for direct experience of the unified
level of the Self, Atma, the field of Transcendental Consciousness. He demonstrated
the universality and naturalness of this experience, regardless of a person’s beliefs or
level of intellectual understanding, and developed a science of consciousness which
brought enlightenment into the arena of systematic research methodologies.
In the vast scope of his teaching, Maharishi worked with Vedic experts to revitalize
many traditional fields of knowledge in light of consciousness, demonstrating to the
world how the invaluable applications of Vedic knowledge and technology can
transform individual life and world consciousness to happiness, harmony and peace.
Forty Branches of Vedic Literature – Constitution of the Universe
To place Vedanta in the holistic context of Maharishi Vedic Science, and to consider
the supreme value of direct experience, we will briefly discuss the chart Constitution
of the Universe. A central theme of Maharishi’s teaching is to relate each part of
knowledge to the wholeness of knowledge, and the wholeness of knowledge to the
Self of the student. We see this principle applied to Veda and the Vedic Literature in
this chart, illustrating each branch of the Vedic Literature as part of an integrated
whole, rather than as scattered branches of literature.
In this chart, forty branches of Veda and Vedic Literature are seen emerging from
Atma, the Self – the field of consciousness of everyone – and culminating in Brahm,
the ultimate wholeness of the Self that includes the totality of knowledge. This
beautifully illustrates Maharishi’s description of Veda, as stated on this chart, as the
‘verbal expression of Atma’, ‘the sounds of the self-interacting dynamics of
consciousness’. These self-interacting dynamics arise from the nature of
consciousness to know itself – the self-referral nature of consciousness – which sets
up a relationship, or reverberation, between consciousness as the knower, as the
process of knowing, and as the known. In this way Maharishi illustrates the impulses
of Veda as subtle ‘sounds’ within the inner field of consciousness of everyone.
Maharishi analyzes the four Veda and the other 36 branches of the Vedic Literature as
unfolding sequentially, illustrated in the chart as moving vertically downwards. Rk
Veda, the first expression, is identified as the totality of Natural Law – the
Constitution of the Universe, the source of all the laws of nature governing the
creation and evolution of the entire universe. In the same way that the diverse laws of
a nation have their basis in and are unified by the nation’s constitution, so the laws of
nature have their common source in and gain their organizing power from the total
potential of Natural Law in the Samhita, or wholeness, of Rk Veda. For this reason,
Rk Veda is shown on the chart as the ‘Samhita of Rishi, Devata, and Chhandas’ – the
togetherness of knower, process of knowing, and known.
Maharishi explains that Rk Veda is available in the field of self-referral which is
‘intimately available to everyone in one’s own Transcendental Consciousness, the
source of all activity, the source of all performance that structures the brain
physiology and remains lively within it’ (1994, p. 172).
The branches of the Vedic Literature, referred to as the structuring dynamics of Rk
Veda, emerge from this Samhita, each characterized by a specific quality of
intelligence. In the research of Dr. Tony Nader, M.D., Ph.D. – honoured by Maharishi
as Maharaja Adhiraj Rajaraam – each branch of Vedic Literature shown in this chart
has been found to have a parallel in the human physiology, both in the quality of
intelligence expressed in that aspect of the physiology, and in its structure and
It will be seen that this chart is arranged in a series of ‘loops’, representing the
different Veda and branches of Vedic Literature. It is in the ‘loop’ known as the
Upangas, in which Vedanta is located.
The Constitution of the Universe chart culminates with four Mahavakyas – great
saying from the Upanishads expressing the supreme totality or completeness of
enlightenment. The expressions used in the chart are:
Atmai Vedam Sarvam – All this is Atma. (Nrisimhottaratapaniya Upanishad 7)
Ayam Atma Brahm – This Self is Brahman. (Mandukya Upanishad 2)
Aham Brahmasmi – I am Totality. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10)
Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahm – All this is Totality. (Chhandogya Upanishad 3.14.1)
Maharishi’s insight into the Mahavakyas is expressed in a recently published book
by Dr. Vernon Katz, who worked with Maharishi on translating and commenting
on the Brahma Sutras, the central text of Vedanta2. The book records
conversations with Maharishi on topics related to the Brahma Sutras – including
the master usually gives the student one of the ‘Mahavakyas’, or ‘great sayings’, of
the Upanishads, at the appropriate moment to bring about enlightenment . . . I asked
Maharishi what difference the bestowal of these sayings could possibly make for
Indians, who must have been familiar with them from childhood.
Maharishi replied: ‘But when the experience is ripe … it’s a revelation.’ When
there is no basis of experience the Mahavakyas remain just phrases but when the
experience is ripe, to be told ‘That thou art’ [Tat Tvam Asi]3 — or ‘Truly, all this is
Brahman’ [Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahm], is awe-inspiring. (Katz, 2011, p. 54)
We will now look more closely at the six Upangas – subordinate (upa) limbs (anga) –
or Darshana (as illustrated in the chart). (Darshana means sight, or cognition.) These
six are illustrated here as a ‘loop’, moving from Nyaya in the top left and culminating
in Vedanta. Each of the Darshana was cognized by a Rishi – Nyaya by the sage
Gautama, Vaisheshik by Kanad, Sankhya by Kapil, Yoga by Patanjali, Karma
Mimamsa by Jaimini, and Vedanta by the great Veda Vyasa.
Although the Darshana have been viewed as the basis of varying, even opposing,
schools of philosophical thought, Maharishi (1967, p. 472) sees them as each
2!The translation and commentary are not yet published.!
3!Chhandogya Upanishad 6.11.!
providing a necessary aspect of complete knowledge and growth of consciousness. In
his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, Maharishi discussed the Darshana, saying:
‘Each system is so thorough in itself that it appears to be sufficient to give complete
knowledge for liberation’, going on to say, however, that: ‘In order to be complete,
knowledge requires the support of all six systems,’ so that every possible aspect of the
object of knowledge will be considered (p. 473).
Likewise, all six Darshana are involved in the path of gaining enlightenment, with the
first three – Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Sankhya – presenting ‘the intellectual aspect of the
path of enlightenment’ and the other three – Yoga, Karma Mimamsa, Vedanta –
presenting ‘the experiential nature of the path to enlightenment’ (Maharishi, 1994, p.
Of the 40 qualities of intelligence associated with Veda and Vedic Literature, Yoga
has the quality of Unifying. This unifying quality finds its fulfillment in the Lively
Absolute: Living Wholeness – I-ness or Being quality of Vedanta. Vedanta, meaning
the end (Anta) of Veda, is referred to as Uttar Mimamsa, the final analysis
(Mimamsa) of Veda. In addition to the Brahma Sutras, the Upanishads expound the
wisdom of Vedanta, with the Bhagavad-Gita also extolled as a Upanishad.
Knowledge of Vedanta, Maharishi (1967, p. 492) has commented, may seem to be
beyond the comprehension of ordinary human intelligence – only in higher states of
consciousness is Vedanta fully realized and lived. Fortunately, through Maharishi’s
simple, natural technique of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programs,
these higher states of consciousness are within reach of everyone. Knowledge of
Vedanta no longer need remain abstract and seemingly beyond ‘ordinary’ human
intelligence – it can be lived on a practical level in daily life.
The process of realization described by Vedanta is based on four qualities: Viveka,
discrimination; Vairagya, non-attachment; Shatsampatti, the six treasures; and
Mumukshatva, desire for liberation (Maharishi, 1967, p. 493).
In the context of the physiology, as brought to light through the research of Dr. Nader,
first published in 1994 in the remarkable book Human Physiology: Expression of the
Veda and Vedic Literature, Vedanta corresponds to the totality of the integrated
functioning of the entire central nervous system and the whole physiology (p. 178). 4
The grand wholeness of Vedanta is the supreme level of knowledge, in which all
diversity is as if subsumed in Unity. As Maharishi (1995) comments:
this is the merger of diversity into unity; the whole reality, being self-referral, is
visualized in terms of Unity, pure wakefulness, where every aspect of diversity
has been dissolved, and having dissolved all variations of Unity, the spirit of
Unity rejoices in its ultimate sovereignty. (p. 461)
4!The illustration ‘Vedant: Integrated Functioning of the Central Nervous System’, from the
book Human Physiology: Expression of the Veda and Vedic Literature (see details in
References), is used with permission.
Vedanta, as will be seen in reviewing higher states of consciousness, corresponds to
the reality of Unity Consciousness – and its fulfillment in the state of Brahman – the
final of the states of consciousness described by Maharishi and discussed below.
Brahman and higher states of consciousness
Inspiring descriptions of higher states of consciousness are found in the literature of
many cultures, particularly the Vedic Literature of India, often referring to a sense of
unity with existence, an expanded sense of Self, glimpses of a celestial realm, and
inner transformation (Bucke, 1991). These accounts are sometimes thought of as
‘mystical’ or purely philosophical. Because the experiences may be fleeting or not
repeatable, they have not been considered sufficiently reliable for objective
evaluation. Maharishi’s technologies of consciousness culture experience in a
systematic, reliable way, based on refinement of the physical body and nervous
system, thus opening the way for regular, sustained, and physiologically measurable
experiences of higher states of consciousness.
Maharishi summarized growth of higher states as growth of wholeness of life, known
in Vedanta as Brahm, the totality. The following quote puts experiences of higher
states in the context of Brahm, the totality:
Maharishi likes to explain wholeness by way of an analogy. ‘The whole is something
more than the collection of parts. The house is more than the walls, floor, and ceiling
put together, but without these components the house will not be found.’ We could say
that the ‘houseness’ of the house is Brahman, and that its components are the
experiences of higher states of consciousness. Brahman is built up out of these
experiences but transcends them, not because it is an empty abstraction but because it
is completely full — it excludes nothing. (Katz, 2011, p. 14)
The ‘story’ of higher states of consciousness can therefore be said to be the story of
Brahm, which Maharishi discusses here in relation to the Brahma Sutra:
The word ‘Brahman’ derives from the root ‘brih’, to grow great, and its present
participle, ‘brihat’ — vast, abundant, huge, unbounded. The Brahma Sutra traces the
steps whereby Brahman waxes great in the awareness, until it becomes full-grown as
that vast, unbounded whole which is more than the collection of the different states of
awareness out of which it has grown. The story of Brahman, therefore, is the story of
the growth of consciousness. (Katz, 2011, p. 14)
Before outlining this ‘story’ of the growth of consciousness, we can see this process
as the fulfillment of the Brahma Sutra – and, therefore, as the fulfillment of Vedanta.
As Katz (p. 14) points out, Brahman remains an empty abstraction unless seen in the
context of higher states of consciousness, the parts that structure the whole. While
Maharishi may see the Brahma Sutra as the final pages of the story, it is difficult to
understand the final pages without being familiar with the earlier development of the
story. Indeed, the Brahma Sutra can be said to tell the whole story. In this context,
Maharishi comments on the first Brahma Sutra, which is:
‘Now from here the desire to know Brahma’ – Athato Brahma Jigyasa’
(Brahma Sutra I.1.1)
Referring to growth of consciousness as a natural process of evolution, Maharishi
‘From here’ means, having taken birth as man, having gained this beautiful nervous
system. Anything that is born evolves; evolution is natural. Vyasa wants everyone to
evolve in such a manner that the course of evolution is known to himself, not just to
drift on the path of evolution like a river which does not know where it is heading. He
wants everyone to desire to know Brahman, and then to evolve to that value
[Brahman ]. . . The sutra exhorts us to desire for the knowledge of Brahman, not in
the future but here and now. Begin from here, from this moment, from this level of
consciousness, from this place … start to desire now.’ (as cited in Katz, p. 15)
What, then, is the process that begin ‘here and now’, ‘from this level of
consciousness’? – what is the potential for individuals to develop higher states of
consciousness and enlightenment through regular experience of Atma in
Seven states of consciousness
Most people experience three major states of consciousness that are commonly known
as waking, sleeping, and dream states. Modern science has shown that each state is
characterized by a unique set of physiological correlates and a unique set of cognitive
experiences. The mind and body cycle daily through these three states and this cycling
is an essential requirement for maintaining normal health and mental functioning.
Although higher states can be found individually defined and described in different
passages in the Vedic Literature, the organization of these into a coherent sequence
reflecting developmental stages of the process of gaining enlightenment was one of
the profound contributions of Maharishi to humanity.
In a 1964 lecture at the All-India Yogic Conference, Kolkata, Maharishi discussed
higher states of consciousness by relating Yoga, the state of union, to Brahm:
The state of yoga is the state of unity, totality, Brahman, wherein lies great harmony,
eternal power, and absolute bliss. All this is not very difficult to attain, as many think.
The knowledge of yoga is the knowledge of the Absolute. Besides being a straight
path to Self-realization, it enables the knower to harmonize the inner field of life with
the outer, and as such it becomes a base of material prosperity. In this way, man
gains perfection and is able to give to himself and to society the best of his intellect
All human beings in every walk of life desire peace, energy, happiness, efficiency,
and prosperity. Thus, yoga has its universal appeal for both the householder as well
as the recluse. (Maharishi, 1986, p. 548)
In this beautiful description, Maharishi gives a taste of the meaning of higher states of
consciousness – Self-realization – as experience of harmony, power, bliss, peace,
energy, and efficiency, and the ability to experience the best of one’s intellect and
physique, for one’s own fulfillment and as the basis for giving the best of oneself to
The ‘higher states’ of consciousness as Maharishi organized them begin with the
fourth state, Transcendental Consciousness – Turiya Chetana – the state of restful
alertness of mind and body experienced during the Transcendental Meditation
technique, which is physiologically and experientially distinct from waking,
dreaming, and sleeping (as discussed in the research section below). Regular
experience of Transcendental Consciousness, alternated with activity during the day,
gives rise over time to the fifth state, Cosmic Consciousness – Turiyatit Chetana – in
which Transcendental Consciousness co-exists spontaneously with waking, dreaming,
and sleeping. This is a state of complete inner freedom. The inner experience of
restful alertness is not lost even during dynamic activity, due to a stress-free,
integrated style of functioning established in the nervous system through regular
experience of Transcendental Consciousness. As the restful state of the nervous
system co-exists with the active state, stresses resulting from experience would not
cast any impression and can be quickly dissolved.
With further refinement of the nervous system, the sixth state, Glorified Cosmic
Consciousness or God Consciousness – Bhagavad-Chetana – develops. This state is
characterized by perception of the finest level of relative existence, the glorious
celestial sphere of experience, in which the heart flows in universal love for all
creation. This refinement and expansion of the heart creates the ground for direct
experience of the Divine.
As experience moves beyond the celestial to the ummanifest state at the basis of all
existence, the seventh state, Unity Consciousness – Brahmi Chetana – brings together
the transcendental fullness of the knower and the transcendental, unmanifest value of
the objects of perception. Every object is perceived in terms of the Self. Nothing is
foreign to the Self and unity of life prevails as a direct experience. This is the
attainment of ‘Advaita’, the state of unity, expounded by Vedanta. This is where the
desire to know Brahman, which started as ‘Athato Brahma Jigyasa’ culminates as the
‘Anta’ or the end of Veda – Vedanta; where the realization of the Mahavakyas occurs;
where ‘Esha Brahmi Sthitih’5 – ‘This is the state of Brahman’ – of the Bhagavad-Gita
In each state of consciousness, the world is thus perceived differently – each state has
its own world. This is on the basis of a different style of functioning of mind and
body. Maharishi has summarized this as follows:
Physiologically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually (with reference to the
Self), life is different in different states of consciousness. This means from zero
level of awareness, zero level of intelligence (sleep state) to the infinite,
unbounded level of the fully awake, fully alert state of consciousness (self-referral
Unity Consciousness) the physiological structure and function is different.
(1995, p. 445)
The definition here of ‘spiritual’ as ‘with reference to the Self’, in the context of
different states of physiological function, gives insight into the nature of Self-
realization as a measurable reality of the normally functioning, stress-free human
A scientific basis for the identification and characterization of a fourth major state of
consciousness – Transcendental Consciousness – began with the research of Wallace
and others in the early 1970s (Wallace et al., 1971, 1972). This research will be
discussed below. There are now scientifically measurable, well-defined correlates for
this fourth major state of consciousness ─ Transcendental Consciousness, the state of
‘restful alertness’, which corresponds to Samadhi. Similar research is being
undertaken to identify physiological parameters for the fifth, sixth and seventh states
of consciousness in available subjects who report sustained subjective experience
compatible with the description of those states from the Vedic traditional texts.
These include a study of patterns of EEG coherence, power and contingent negative
variation, which characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states
(Travis et al., 2002), psychological and physiological characteristics of a proposed
object-referral/self-referral continuum of self-awareness (Travis et al., 2004), and
electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep in long-
term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program (Mason, Alexander,
Travis, et al., 1997).
The following chart summarizes the seven states of consciousness as organized by
Maharishi, and gives some of the characteristics of each state.
Seven States of Consciousness as Organized in Maharishi Vedic Science
Description of experience and knowledge
in this state of consciousness
Mind and body resting and rejuvenating in preparation for activity; an
important part of the daily cycle for health maintenance; no experience of
objects of perception, and no experience of oneself.
Mind and body rejuvenating in preparation for activity; important for
balanced mental and physical health; illusory experience of objects and
of oneself. The validity of subjective dream experiences requires
evaluation outside of the dream state.
Mind and body are engaged in activity; oneself and the objects of
perception are experienced as bound in space and time. The essential
absolute nature of the object and the subject (self) are unknown, thus this
is also called a state of avidya (or ignorance).
Described by Patanjali6 as the complete settling of the mind; also known
as pure consciousness or Samadhi. The mind transcends the activity of
thought and sense perception, and identifies with the silent, non-active,
non-changing, unified level of Atma – universal Self; experienced as a
state of self-referral “restful alertness”.
Fourth state of inner unbounded awareness or temporary Samadhi
becomes permanent Samadhi, spontaneously maintained along with the
changing states − waking, sleeping, dreaming; the essential nature of the
Self is realized, in a state of complete inner freedom, the basis for
maximum skill in action.
Characterized by perception of the finest relative or celestial value of the
objects of perception, which develops with increasing refinement of the
nervous system; in this state the heart flows in waves of universal love.
Realizing both the inner Self and the outer objects of perception to be
essentially transcendental wholeness, the highest Yoga is attained – the
unity of Self and non-Self. This is expressed by the Mahavakhyas: Tat
Tvam Asi – Thou Art That, and Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma − All this
verily is Brahman.
Transcendental Consciousness (4th state) is available in a systematic repeatable way with practice of the Transcendental
Meditation technique. The 5th, 6th, and 7th states of consciousness develop naturally as a result of regular alternation of
experience of Transcendental Consciousness with waking, sleeping, and dreaming states.7
Research on Transcendental Meditation
That the experience of enlightenment – the fulfillment wisdom of Vedanta – has been
brought from the realm of mysticism into the practical world of today is illustrated in
the scientific research on Transcendental Meditation. To date, over 600 published
scientific studies have been conducted at over 200 research institutions and
6!Yoga Sutra 1.2.
7!For further references visit the website of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and
Cognition at Maharishi University of Management:
http://www.mum.edu/cbcc/publications.html and http://www.mum.edu/cbcc
universities worldwide on the benefits, for both individual and collective health, of the
transcendent state produced during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation
technique (Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-
Sidhi Program: Collected Papers, Vols. 1-6).
These benefits include changes in metabolic rate, brain wave activity, hormone levels
and blood flow to the brain. Some of the studies received financial support from the
US government. For example, the National Institutes of Health have awarded 24
million dollars over the past 20 years for research on the effects of the Transcendental
Meditation technique on hypertension and cardiovascular health8. These effects
include reduced use of hypertensive medications (Schneider, Alexander, Staggers, et
al., 2005), reduced blood pressure (typically larger effects than with other procedures)
(Rainforth, Schneider, Nidich et al., 2007), reduced heart failure (Jayadevappa,
Johnson, Bloom, et al., 2007), reduced thickening of the coronary arteries (Castillo-
Richmond, Schneider, Alexander, et al., 2000), reduced risk factors for hypertension,
diabetes, and obesity (Paul-Labrador, Polk, Dwyer et al, 2006), and increased lifespan
(Schneider, Alexander, Staggers et al., 2005).
There is evidence, even early on in an individual's regular practice of the
Transcendental Meditation technique, of significant global health improvement. These
health promoting and disease preventing effects suggest an integrative process of
development in mind and body. Indicators of this development include a more
8!For a list of research on the Transcendental Meditation technique funded by the NIH please
reference the NIH website at: http://www.nih.gov/, or at this link:
balanced state of the physiology, changes in the EEG-pattern inside and outside of
meditation that demonstrate greater coherence in brain function, reduction of all
indicators of stress, rejuvenation (higher DHEAS levels), and improved bodily
functions and behavior.
For example, five-year retrospective study conducted by Orme-Johnson using Blue
Cross Blue Shield data compared health care usage over a wide range of medical
categories in a group practicing TM (n=2000) and a matched control group not
practicing TM (n=160,000). In the TM group, inpatient and outpatient length of
treatment was significantly reduced – by 46.8% for children, and by 73.7% for
midlife and older adults (age > 40 years) – as compared to controls. The health
insurance costs for hospital admissions of the TM group were significantly reduced –
30.6% to 87.3% lower – in 17 of 18 disease categories than costs for the non-
meditating group (Orme-Johnson, 1987).
TM also reduced health care costs. Cost data was obtained for 599 subjects for the
period three years prior to starting the practice of TM with the period three years after
starting the regular practice of TM. There was a significant pre-to-post intervention
decline (-12.4% ) in annual healthcare costs. In subjects who initially had the highest
health care expenses there was an 18% reduction; in the over-50 age group there was
a 19% reduction (Herron & Cavanaugh, 2005).
These results are truly unique, in that the treatment was not specific to the condition.
That is, among TM practitioners, the intervention was the same – twice daily sessions
of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Yet dramatic health promotion and
disease prevention changes were found for meditating subjects even though they had a
diverse range of medical conditions. That a mental technique, Transcendental
Meditation, that is associated with the expansion of consciousness leads to health
benefits supports the theory that consciousness is primary and matter secondary. It
also leads to the logical conclusion that attending to the connection between
consciousness and its expressed values in the mind and body, should be the primary
line of therapy in any effort to promote or restore health, balance, and wholeness. This
completes a feedback loop as health, balance, and wholeness are the psycho-
physiological conditions fundamental to enlightenment.
Research has also been conducted on the health effects of Maharishi Vedic Vibration
treatment, a treatment complementary to Transcendental Meditation used to restore
balance to mind and body. For example, in a published, randomized double-blind
experiment involving 176 people with arthritis, significant improvements were found
after Vedic Vibration treatment. Another study of 358 people with chronic illnesses
found significant improvements in each of six disease categories.
A remarkable body of research – around 50 studies – has also been conducted on the
broader social effects of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced practice called
the TM-Sidhi program, drawn from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The TM-Sidhi
program includes the practice of Yogic Flying, which creates maximum mind-body
integration and a high degree of coherence in the brain. When practiced in large
groups, the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs have been found to
generate a powerful influence of coherence and peace in society. This has been called
the Maharishi Effect.
The earliest evidence of the Maharishi Effect came towards the end of 1974, when
reduced crime rates were reported in a number of cities in which over one percent of
the population practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. An expanded
version of this study, with crime statistics for 24 cities, was published in 1981
(Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, & Landrith, 1981). The first study published on the effect
of large groups of Yogic Flyers was in 1987 (Dillbeck, Cavanaugh, Glenn, Orme-
Johnson, & Mittlefehldt, 1987), reporting on decreased crime rates during four large
gatherings of Yogic Flyers – in the U.S., India, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
While the editor of the journal in which this study was published, The Journal of
Mind and Behavior, commented that ‘On the one hand, the paper was based on an
extremely unconventional idea’, he went on to say that ‘On the other hand, this idea
was backed up by rigorous statistical analysis, a level of mathematical sophistication
rarely seen in psychological or sociological studies.’
A study using time series analysis to control for a wide range of factors, found a
highly significant decrease in war deaths in Lebanon – up to 76% – along with
decreased accidents and fires, and improvements in quality of life during times when
large numbers of people practiced Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi
programs together in the region (Orme-Johnson, Alexander, Davies, Chandler, &
Maharishi Effect studies have also been conducted on terrorism, international
relations, quality of life, and the economy, establishing the Maharishi Effect as the
most thoroughly researched and practical method of creating peace and a high quality
of life in society and the world as a whole.
The nature of the practice and how to learn
While theoretical discussion of Transcendental Meditation can touch on a vast range
of philosophical topics, the true value of the technique is that it is so easy, natural, and
enjoyable to practice. Maharishi was moved to teach this technique to others when he
saw the disparity between the Vedic expressions of the nature of life as bliss – and the
reality of what people experience in their everyday lives. The simplicity and
effectiveness of the practice, and systematic way in which its regular practice allows
one’s inner potential to unfold, brings the possibility of bliss and enlightenment to
Science has brought us so far in comprehension of the world around us, and in
advanced technologies – and yet human life remains unfulfilled by material
achievement alone. The heart and mind crave inner peace in a highly active world.
Where is this peace to be found? As in the ocean, with great activity on the surface
and silence below, our minds become caught in ceaseless waves of activity and we
fail to experience the silence within. Without trying to stop the activity,
Transcendental Meditation allows a natural inward dive – allows the mind to settle
down and directly experience the inner silence beneath the waves of activity.
Transcendental Meditation is not a technique that restricts the mind or forces
concentration against thoughts. Rather it uses the natural tendency of the mind to
move towards more and more happiness. This tendency is usually directed outwards,
but when given the right start, the mind flows effortlessly towards maximum bliss and
fulfillment in the silent state of Transcendental Consciousness. Effort and strain will
only inhibit this natural flow.
Research has found that Transcendental Meditation gives deep and revitalizing rest,
unfolds the full potential of the mind, strengthens health and increases longevity,
improves our behaviour with family, friends and colleagues – even reduces criminal
behaviour – and as we have seen has a direct, measurable effect in reducing accidents,
violence, and even war-deaths, and improving international relations. The quality of
life in society can truly grow to Heaven on Earth.
Such benefits for a more blissful, peaceful life for individuals, and a peaceful,
progressive society and world family is the most fitting result we can imagine from
knowledge of the timeless, beautiful wisdom of Vedanta.
The technique is taught is seven steps of instruction – after the initial introductory
talks, about an hour to an hour-and-a-half over four consecutive days. Everyone
taught individually – as people are different and step-by-step instruction is needed for
maximum benefit, it is learned from a trained teacher rather than from a book. There
are a few simple, practical requirements to learn which are discussed individually
with a teacher before you begin. However, to gain maximum benefit from
Transcendental Meditation and unfold higher states of consciousness, the main
‘requirement’ is to enjoy twenty minutes twice a day of the natural, effortless process
of transcending, while sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.
Major areas of Maharishi’s Movement activities
To enrich his programs for individual life and enhance growth of consciousness in the
world, Maharishi brought out a vast array of practical programs in education, health,
administration, and architecture. For example, in the field of education, he developed
Consciousness-Based education, used widely now in the Maharishi Vidya Mandir
system of schools in India, at Maharishi University of Management in the U.S.,
founded thirty years ago, and at other educational institutions in many parts of the
world. In Latin America alone in recent times many thousands of students have
enjoyed the benefits of Consciousness-Based education.
In the field of health, starting in the early 1980s Maharishi worked with leading
Vaidyas to develop Maharishi Ayur-Veda and the Maharishi Vedic Approach to
Health, in which all the traditional modalities – herbs, Nadi Vigyan, Panchakarma,
use of Vedic sounds in Maharishi Vedic Vibration programs – are brought to their
full, original effectiveness through being applied in light of consciousness. Through
Maharishi’s work, knowledge of Ayur-Veda – previously unknown in the West –
came to the attention of millions of people, with thousands of Western doctors being
trained in Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Panchakarma clinics opened in many countries.
Maharishi also worked with Vedic experts in the areas of Jyotish and Yagya, and in
the field of architecture brought Sthapatya Veda to the West to provide houses,
offices, and town planning in accord with natural law. In the Iowa, U.S., a city –
called Maharishi Vedic City – has been established in which all buildings and town-
planning follow the principles of Maharishi Sthapatya Veda.
Most importantly, Maharishi worked tirelessly to revitalize the training of Vedic
Pandits, based in their experience of transcending and Yogic Flying, and established
the foundation for large, permanent groups of Vedic Pandits to perform Yagyas for
world peace, in the Brahmasthan of India, and eventually at locations around India
and the world.9 Already there is a group of 1000 Yogic Flying Vedic Pandits in the
U.S. – with a campus in Maharishi Vedic City – performing Yagyas from the
heartland of America. Leaders of Maharishi’s organization around the world are
working hard to raise the funds to bring permanent financial support to the Pandit
groups in India. In 2008 Maharishi established the Brahmananda Saraswati Trust,
presided over by the current Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, to establish these groups
for creating and maintaining world peace.
Individual enlightenment and world peace through the timeless Vedic wisdom are the
ultimate fulfillment and living realization of the supreme philosophy of Vedanta.
Maharishi’s genius, inspired by his master, was to bring out the full range of Vedanta
in a practical form – the most profound philosophy of life brought into the realm of
modern science – and to apply this for the long-lasting well-being of humanity.
9!See www.VedicPandits.org for further information.
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