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May 27, 2012

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I don't know if the author will approve this, but I'll try anyway. I'll make this short, and I'll say more if I'm encouraged to do so.

You can't make up your own technique, show that it is worthless, and then conclude that Transcendental Meditation (TM) is useless. This is completely bogus.

Furthermore, the mantra is only a small part of what makes TM work. The method for thinking the mantra is the most important part, and you haven't duplicated that at all. No wonder your mind gets dull--you are probably not transcending at all!

"I've meditated daily, mostly using a mantra (a word or words repeated over and over) just as TM does."

Here are some of the ways your procedure differs from TM:

1. You use a different mantra. We have no idea what it is, or what its characteristics may be. There are mantras that are suitable for use in transcending, and there are mantras that are not.

2. You repeat it over and over, keeping it in mind. The is not the procedure taught in TM. Keeping the mantra in mind prevents transcending. Since you are (probably) not transcending, you are not practicing anything even remotely resembling TM.

TM increases sharpness of thinking, mostly through the dissolving of internalized stresses. I'll write more if my commenting is welcome here. I know that some people are deeply offended by criticism, while others are interested in learning.

David Spector
Natural Stress Relief/USA

David, what is "transcended" in TM? And why does TM want to transcend it, whatever it is? Lastly, how do you know whatever it is has actually been transcended?

"mantras that are suitable for use in transcending,...."

---are there ones that are highly, partially, and mildly suitable? I prefer the highly supercharged ones. I'm into high quality high speed tranceding.

Brian: Thinking is transcended in any transcending technique (TM or NSR). During the practice, thinking becomes less concrete, quieter. When the finest impulse of thought is left behind, what remains is pure awareness, without thought, which is paradoxically the source of all creative thought. We know this because we have so many intelligent thoughts in a lifetime; if they have a source at all, it must have some characteristics of great intelligence and creativity. Contact with pure awareness does make us measurably more intelligent, universal in our awareness, and creative.

We want to transcend thinking to expand the consciousness (it is normally limited to concrete and repetitive expressions of thought).

We know that thought is transcended when we experience unbounded bliss. This state of transcendence is described by different people in different ways, so don't expect "unbounded bliss" to be your experience exactly. Also, transcendence has physiological correlates, so one can indirectly measure the freedom from internalized stress in a laboratory (serum biochemistry, breathing characteristics, skin resistance, EEG characteristics, etc.).

Roger: Yes. The ancient bija mantras are suitable for quick transcending. Students of TM and NSR generally notice quieter breathing, more abstract levels of thinking, and "gaps" of missing time even in their first meditation. But again, I emphasize that the method used to think the mantra is more important to success than the sound itself.

David Spector
Natural Stress Relief/USA

David,

Define what you mean by pure awareness, unbounded bliss, and physiological correlates. One transends from thinking to these. Do give detailed descriptions, and does the mind/ego play some sort of role in what you describe? Thanks for your response.

David,

When the student of TM and NSR is practicing, where does the finest impulse of thought go? Where is it left behind? Does the resultant improvement in intelligence and creativity involve any kind of thinking?

David, modern neuroscience has found there is no such thing as "pure awareness." Meaning, most of what the brain does is unconscious, outside of direct perception or control.

So even if a meditator isn't consciously thinking, the brain is going about its business. I'll probably write a blog post along these lines today (to go with previous blog posts about the illusion of pure awareness).

What TM teaches is akin to premodern notions about the Earth being the center of the universe. That's all prescientific people knew, including the sages of India. But now we know better. If TM doesn't update its teachings to match modern scientific knowledge, it can't be taken seriously.

@Roger "Pure awareness" is waking-state consciousness without any distractions. In the state of pure awareness there are no thoughts to distract the attention from the essential nature of the Self. This might sound strange, but it is a very natural experience. Anyone who learns transcending can have this experience easily. "Unbounded bliss" is a clear experience of pure awareness. We experience the Self as having no boundaries in space or time. The nature of the Self is perceived directly as joyful or blissful. A "physiological correlate" is a physical measurement of the body that indicates a state of mind. For example, certain kinds of random EEG (brain waves) correspond with having an epileptic seizure. When we practice transcending, the unique state of restful awareness created by transcending, mentally, can be measured in the body. Over 600 research studies have validated Transcendental Meditation, one form of transcending, as creating a unique state of consciousness, one that produces many benefits in daily life. The ego does play a role in deep meditation, but its role is to attempt to avoid new experiences. Therefore, the ego can be disruptive to personal transformation. But the ego is easily quieted as part of the overall quieting of the mind that happens automatically during transcending.

The "finest impulse" of a thought doesn't go anywhere. It is simply an experience. For example, if we have the desire to drink orange juice, that is just a thought. It doesn't by itself go anywhere or do anything.

No, the improvements in intelligence and creativity through transcending do not result from any special activity in the mind. It is the natural result of the elimination of internalized stresses. It is the stresses that limit our full functioning in life, and the stresses that are dissolved through the deep rest of transcending.

@Brian You are quiet incorrect in your generalization that modern neuroscience has drawn conclusions about consciousness or the mind. The same puzzle that scientists have wondered about concerning the body versus the mind remains. Of course, individual neuroscientists may have their own radical theories about the mind, as is their right.

You are correct that the brian is always functioning, no matter what the state of consciousness. However, it functions in different ways. Sleep functioning is very different from waking functioning, as can be seen in the EEG. This is a remarkable difference, since the EEG is a very gross measurement that is a vector sum of all the neurons in the brain, modified by the interference produced by the bone of the cranium and the electrical conduction of the blood vessels of the head.

What TM teaches is not at all like the ancient teaching that the Earth is the center of the Solar System, or the Universe. All aspects of TM that we experience during meditation or afterward in our daily life have been confirmed by detailed scientific experiments, in many cases replicated over and over. NSR (Natural Stress Relief) is a newer form of transcending, but we have conducted our own research to verify that it produces dramatic reduction in anxiety and other predicted effects. We have published our research in two peer-reviewed psychology journals and are preparing further papers for publication.

TM can and is being taken seriously. The NIH is spending millions on research into TM's effects on health, the VA is beginning to run studies of the effect of TM on PTSD in returning veterans, and many high schools with serious violence and behavior problems have adopted the Quiet Time program in which the students, faculty, and administration all learn transcending.

David Spector
President,
Natural Stress Relief/USA

Thanks David,

"The "finest impulse" of a thought doesn't go anywhere. It is simply an experience. For example, if we have the desire to drink orange juice, that is just a thought. It doesn't by itself go anywhere or do anything."

---What would be the "finest" impulse of an experience, regarding the desire to drink orange juice? I can see the "impulse" or desire to drink the orange juice, however what would be the experience? What would it be that doesn't go or do, as an experience?

"For example, certain kinds of random EEG (brain waves) correspond with having an epileptic seizure. When we practice transcending, the unique state of restful awareness created by transcending, mentally, can be measured in the body."

----Explain, what the measure would be and how one knows it's a measure specifically related to trancending?

thanks for your continued interest. Best wishes, Roger


"It is the natural result of the elimination of internalized stresses. It is the stresses that limit our full functioning in life, and the stresses that are dissolved through the deep rest of transcending."

---What would be a specific example of "internalized" stress? I can see a stress that could limit one's full functioning, however, how does one know that the elimination process is the result of tranceding? Please explain, in detail, the process. Thanks again, for your response. Roger

David, thanks for your response. I too am a believer in meditation, having meditated every morning since 1969. My question remains, though:

Neuroscience knows that most of what goes on in the brain happens outside of conscious awareness. Many experiments have shown that peoples' experiences are influenced by factors (memories, priming, motivated reasoning, etc.) outside of both their control and awareness.

So this notion of "pure awareness" seems highly problematic to me. Yes, it is possible to calm the mind and reduce/eliminate distracting thoughts and emotions. But awareness then isn't "pure," in the sense that completely uncontaminated water is pure.

It just is calmer and clearer than it is when in an agitated and muddy state. Unconscious processes in the brain still are churning away, doing their thing, having their effects on conscious experience.

So this is what I was getting at when I alluded to the discredited belief that the Sun goes around the Earth. Modern science knows this isn't true, just as modern science knows that there is much more to the human mind that what people are consciously aware of.

"Pure awareness" may seem possible, but this is an illusion -- even if ancient pre-scientific yogis in India believed in it. They were wrong. And if TM believes in that form of pure awareness, it also is wrong.

"The ancient bija mantras are suitable for quick transcending."

---Nothing wrong with meditation. I have no problem with meditiation. That said, what would be the ancient bija mantra, that would quicken transcending? Respond with the specific mantra.

This topic is very interesting.

@Roger, When we transcend, we discover that the process does "go somewhere": we find ourselves "diving within". Of course, each client will have their own words for this experience. I happen to like "diving within." With practice, we can feel ourselves slipping into quieter states of thinking. We can also feel the internalized (stored) stresses dissolving, or slipping away.

An analogy will make this clear: when you are very quiet, you can hear things, like a pin dropping, that you ordinarily would not hear.

I cannot describe the finest impulse of the desire for orange juice, because by definition the finest impulse is an experience (specifically, a desire), not a concrete event or idea that can be fully defined in words.

An analogy would be individual consciousness itself. We all know that it exists, and is not shared with anyone else, and has certain characteristics, such as being self-referential. But describing consciousness in words, sufficient as a definition, is impossible.

Or, if that analogy is too abstract, consider the taste of a strawberry. We know what it is because we have experienced it. But any description in words is pale; it cannot convey the distinctiveness of the actual flavor.

The most commonly-referenced EEG changes during deep meditation are the growth in amplitude of Alpha waves. These are periodic wave packets having a frequency of 10-15 Hertz. There are also changes in other frequencies of brain waves, but Alpha waves are the most common and prominent. They can be seen in the raw data without any Fourier (frequency-domain) analysis.

To measure a state of consciousness, it is necessary to combine separate physiological measurements. So, one might measure EEG changes, skin resistance changes (which indicate relaxation), blood serum biochemical changes (in cortisol, lactate ion), and others. This need for combination, which is due to the crudeness of current experimental science) is exemplified by the Polysomnograph, which is the multiple recording of physiological measures that is done during medical sleep studies to help diagnose those with apnea and other problems that cause insomnia.

A specific example of internalized (stored) stress might result from being almost hit by a car. Since the person is not actually hit, there is no somatic (body) damage. But there may be severe mental damage. This would result from a stored stress. Releasing (reversing) that stress during TM or NSR might result in the person reliving their experience of almost being hit by the car, along with the fear which they experienced at the time. The fact that this experience was an overload is what caused the stress to be internalized in the first place. Once this stress is completely dissolved thorough deep rest (and experienced as repeatedly reliving it on a very quiet level of the mind), it is gone for good and will never return.

When you experience the elimination of a stress and its failure to return, you will start to see that our theory of stress makes sense. For example, I've always picked at my fingernails, to the point where they become so short they are painful. I did this even as a toddler. After a few years of practicing transcending, my desire to pick my nails disappeared. Once it had gone completely, it has never returned, no matter what external stresses (stressors) have been present. I understand this as the presence of an internal stress that prompted me to pick my nails, unconsciously. While I don't know what caused the stress, it's easy to infer that the stress is gone from the disappearance of the unconscious behavior.

@Brian "Neuroscience knows that most of what goes on in the brain happens outside of conscious awareness." Yes, definitely. But that is on the objective level of analysis. On the subjective level, what goes on in the brain is experienced as the mind, with its thoughts, emotions, etc.

Consider an ant colony. Objectively, each ant is like a very simple machine. It behaves in certain ways, influenced by certain kinds of events in the colony. But on the collective level of analysis, the behavior of the colony shows "emergent" characteristics (such as useful shapes for the tunnels it constructs) that cannot easily be predicted from the behavior pattern of an individual. Thinking, emotions, planning, and much, much more emerges in our human mental experience.

The philosophy of reductionism (sometimes called reductivism), which is not a necessary part of neuroscience, states that the behavior of a complex system (including human life) can be understood by understanding the functions of its parts. Reductionism accepts emergent characteristics, but insists that they can be understood completely by understanding the component processes. There is a certain error inherent in this view, as many emergent phenomena have been shown to be impossible to understand from an understanding of the components. Examples include chaos, which can be useful yet cannot be predicted from a thorough knowledge of a simple mechanical system, including its starting or boundary conditions, and the truth of a statement in a simple predicate calculus, which cannot be determined from complete knowledge of the axioms of the calculus (this was proved by Kurt Gödel in 1931). Another way to state this last example is that even a mathematical, rigorous proof may require a leap of creativity to construct.

The danger of reductionism, even as a misconception of the domain of neuroscience, is that it can lead us to discount all emergent phenomena as not having a real existence. Thus, in the name of neuroscience (which actually studies the properties of neurons and networks of neurons), you may end up devaluing music, poetry, art, and love, which are all emergent properties of the overgrown ganglion we call the brain. Pure awareness is just another of these emergent properties. Its importance as a waystation or a watershed event on the path to the elimination of stored stresses is hard to overestimate.

"Many experiments have shown that peoples' experiences are influenced by factors (memories, priming, motivated reasoning, etc.) outside of both their control and awareness."

Yes, that's true. And the biggest influence on our behavior and experience are arguably the stored stresses that limit our abilities. Without stored stresses, we live in natural love and acceptance. With stored stresses, we constantly battle with our environment and with ourselves. Which would you choose, if you had a choice? You have a choice!

"So this notion of "pure awareness" seems highly problematic to me."

Only because you are trying to understand it within a mechanistic, objective framework, where it has no existence. Pure awareness is a mental experience. It has no more physical existence than consciousness. Yet you are conscious, are you not?

Normally, pure awareness happens very rarely for most people, or not at all, because of the obscuring effect of our many stored stresses. In contrast, during the practice of transcending pure awareness can be experienced starting in the very first session. With time, it can be experienced increasingly often and increasingly clearly.

The reason you object to this is that you haven't experienced it. That's actually fair! It's okay to have doubts and skepticism when you come to practice TM or NSR. You will discover what we claim for yourself. Until then, just suspend judgement for a bit, so you have the change to discover your own truth in your own experience. If you insist on rigid opinions, you will have control but not transformation. My clients have found that transformation is wonderful. Control is only good until something better comes along--something better has just come along.

"It just is calmer and clearer than it is when in an agitated and muddy state. Unconscious processes in the brain still are churning away, doing their thing, having their effects on conscious experience."

Yes, correct. Consider the details: bringing the attention to finer states of thinking, and then to pure awareness, affects the body (any effect in the mind or body affects the other). It settles the mud (distortion) caused by stored stresses. Physically, in the brain, the transport of ions continues unchanged. Objective and subjective are different levels, with different characteristics. Note that I never said that the brain was silent. I said that the mind could be silent. Thoughts can wind down and stop, leaving the mind calm and joyful. But the brain, which generates thoughts, still metabolizes, still transforms energy, still uses oxygen and ATP.

"'Pure awareness' may seem possible, but this is an illusion."

No, it's not an illusion. Pure awareness is not only possible, but demonstrable through experiment: simply sit and practice TM or NSR. It is only an illusion to someone who cannot imagine it because they have never experienced it.

@Roger I am not primarily a scientist or a debater. I am primarily someone who spends his time helping others. Therefore, I will not put any mantra into print, even though you asked me to do so. If you are very curious, there are many people who do not understand the value of mantras who have listed them in various places on the Web. We don't analyze mantras in print because learning transcending is easier the freer the mind is of analysis--innocence has its value here.

The point that is vital to understand is that the mantra is not a magic wand that brings all the benefits of TM or NSR. The mantra is just a meaningless sound that is easy to forget. The magic comes from the way we think the mantra. We think it in such a way that the mind follows the thought backward, toward the source of thought. Let me explain.

Every thought develops in the mind. It starts as some impulse of desire ("I'm thirsty"), grows into a concrete expresson of that desire ("I want to go to the refrigerator to get orange juice"), then gets translated into actions that are aimed at achieving a goal. In transcending, we take a meaningless sound (the mantra) and follow it backwards, which means to less concrete expressions. The characteristic of the mind that makes transcending work effortlessly is the pleasure that the mind takes in thinking abstractly, and ultimately in resting in the Self without any thought at all (this is the same as "pure awareness").

So the mind follows the thought of the mantra to quieter expressions, eventually abandoning the mantra entirely to bask in the light of the Self, which is pure awareness. This is the most enjoyable experience possible, since it is the same silent creative intelligence that is at the source of all intelligent thought. In pure awareness, we experience the source of all thought. It is pure, abstract potential, without the faintest contamination by actual thought. It is like an archer drawing back the arrow in preparation for flight: all potential energy, no kinetic energy.

Again, all this is actual experience. All TM and NSR clients have this experience (which has been called Satori, Nirvana, or the fourth state of consciousness), and have this experience increasingly clearly as the stresses disappear over the months and years. It is based on the mind's natural effortless thinking of thoughts, which we usually disparage as "mental chatter" or "monkey mind". But in transcending we harness the natural tendencies of the mind and use them to find the source of all thought in the silence of pure consciousness. It really is a very clever technique, and quite automatic in its functioning.

Best of all, it's all easy to do, requires no belief, and works even if skepticism is present. All that is required to learn is to follow the simple instructions. In TM, there are four instructional sessions of about 1.5 hours each. In NSR, there are six lessons of about one hour each. Almost everyone who learns transcending experiences some improvement in their life from the very start. And it only gets better with time.

Thank you for all the questions. I really enjoyed how intelligent they were. Let's move on now to actually learning transcending by visiting the TM or NSR websites. Without actually learning, the benefits exist only in the imagination.

David Spector
President,
Natural Stress Relief/USA

Thanks David,

I have a few questions, no need for any futher replies.

"But in transcending we harness the natural tendencies of the mind and use them to find the source of all thought in the silence of pure consciousness."

---can the "source" be described? This should be beyond time and space, thus beyond the mind and experiences of the mind. The Absolute.


"All TM and NSR clients have this experience (which has been called Satori, Nirvana, or the fourth state of consciousness), and have this experience increasingly clearly as the stresses disappear over the months and years."

---Those mentioned experiences would come from the mind and be part of relativity. I could agree with stress reduction in meditation, however, the individual experiences described would be relative and sourced from the mind. The "pure" awarness term would be relative, and of the mind.

What is the source of an experience? What is an experience? Is this beyond the subjective? What is awareness, that makes it pure?

@Roger You continue to have excellent questions. I suspect that you won't be satisfied until you experience what I've described for yourself. That can only happen if you learn transcending.

Anyway, I'll try to answer.

Yes, the source of thought is not in the relative, it is Absolute. It is remarkable that humans have the ability to perceive the Absolute directly. Because it is not in the relative, it cannot be described adequately in words (just as consciousness or the taste of a strawberry cannot be described).

An analogy is the screen in a movie theater, known only by the many different images that fall upon it. Only when a movie is not showing, when the house lights reveal a white screen, can it be seen in its true nature. Like that, consciousness takes on the flavor of whatever is being experienced. We normally do not perceive the nature of pure consciousness, because that nature is overshadowed by the specific experiences (sensory input, thoughts, actions, and other aspects of that which is relative).

When we transcend all thought, and experience what is at the source of thought, pure awareness, we see the light of consciousness in its own pure nature, not overshadowed by specific experiences.

Yes, individual experiences during the process of stress release are relative. This means they are always individual, and always changing. They also always have the nature of activity. Yet all of this activity takes place within consciousness, which does not change. Our consciousness is intact and unchanging throughout our entire lifetime.

Pure consciousness is Absolute, unchanging, the essence of intelligence and creativity. There is no stress in pure consciousness. Stress can only exist in the relative, individual mind.

The source of all intelligence, love, and creativity is pure consciousness. The source of stress is pure, relative, ignorance. When all we know is argument, trying, and ego, then pure consciousness is hidden, distorted by these attachments and identifications. But when the light of the source of thought comes into our life, we gain pure subjective knowledge of the Self. This provides an anchor for life in the field of fulfillment.

The source of an experience is stimulation of stored stresses by sensory input or by memory of the past or by anticipation of the future. An experience is an activity projected on the screen of pure consciousness. This is not beyond the subjective, but the pure awareness (the source of thought) is Absolute in nature, and hence beyond any subjective experience. Awareness is self-defined. It is like the axioms that make a mathematical system work. Awareness came first, then all these complications of mind and body developed from it.

I'm answering each of your questions, but my answers only stimulate more questions. Satisfaction can only come from your own experience of reality. And that experience of reality (pure awareness) cannot happen while you remain in the grip of internalized stresses. It is only by following instructions, by learning, that we can actually discover the source of thought, pure awareness. It is as easy as waking from a dream: we just follow the easy instructions and dive within. The greatest teacher is then found within.

Again, instruction in transcending is offered by Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Natural Stress Relief (NSR). These organizations are here to serve you, Roger, as soon as you feel ready to move forward.

David Spector
Natural Stress Relief/USA

Thanks David,

This is a blog, to ask questions and present comments. You don't have to answer questions, if you don't want to.

"I suspect that you won't be satisfied until you experience what I've described for yourself."

---I'm not seeking an experience that someone is describing. I'm just interested in the mechanism as to how one thinks their experience is created, etc. etc.

"Yes, the source of thought is not in the relative, it is Absolute. It is remarkable that humans have the ability to perceive the Absolute directly. Because it is not in the relative, it cannot be described adequately in words (just as consciousness or the taste of a strawberry cannot be described)."

--I can relate to this "source" as the Absolute. That's all I could do. However, not sure what you mean by an ability to perceive the Absolute directly? Describe what you mean by perceiving directly. I like, "The Absolute is beyond time and space". Therefore, the Absolute is beyond the mind/ego.


"The source of an experience is stimulation of stored stresses by sensory input or by memory of the past or by anticipation of the future. An experience is an activity projected on the screen of pure consciousness. This is not beyond the subjective, but the pure awareness (the source of thought) is Absolute in nature, and hence beyond any subjective experience. Awareness is self-defined."

---Describe the mechanism, relating the beginning creation of a subjective experience from the Absolute? This Absolute, being beyond the subjective and objective.

Blah blah blah warra warra warra, shut up and meditate!

Liz, thanks for your advice. However...

Don't know what you mean by "blah blah blah." Do you believe in absolute silence? That'd make it pretty hard for me, or anyone, to function, though it would stop my wife telling me about undone chores, so that'd be a positive. Also, didn't you use words in writing your comment?

Also don't know what "warra warra warra" means. Is it a TM mantra I'm supposed to use after I become completely silent, except for the voices inside my head?

"Shut up"... Isn't this a bit uncourteous? After all, you were the one who chose to visit my blog and read what I wrote.

"Meditate"... Maybe you didn't read what I wrote. I do meditate. I've meditated every day for more than 40 years. I still meditate. But thanks for your comment anyway. I'm glad you didn't shut up and meditate, because otherwise we couldn't have had this comment conversation.

the TM technique produces an effect, but is
probably elementary. advanced TM techniques cost
from $1500 to $5000.

Those advanced TM techniques are just the inclusion of more mantra syllables and what is called samyama, i think. Anybody stupid enough to pay this kind of money for a simple meditation technique must be out of their mind to begin with!

There seems to be very little difference between a state of hypnosis and a state of meditation in the sense that they both involve relaxation and concentration and both constitute trance states. Some people, therefore, are more prone to exaggerated effects from meditation just like some people are more suggestible and fall into hypnosis easily.

Roger,

My 2 bits

You expressed that the "this Absolute, being beyond the subjective and objective.

I would say this of the Absolute, "This Absolute, being the subjective AND the objective,including in itself a totally transcendent space-state where past, present and future are one.


Janya,

I like your 2 bits.

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