Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trumpscendental meditation

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I've blogged a few times in the past about TM (transcendental meditation) and the so-called "Maharishi Effect" -- f'rinstance, this 2007 post about TM's grip on celebs and the popular culture, and this 2009 post about Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's TM-itation scheme. Well, TM is still going strong, and in yet another example of politix meeting Scamworld -- marginally, anyway -- The Daily Beast has published a piece mentioning that #NotMyPresident Donald Trump's surrogate wife Ivanka and her pet boy Jared are involved in TM.

Granted, despite Ivanka and Jared attending a TM gala last year, it appears that Ivanka's day-to-day involvement is limited simply to meditating 20 minutes or so twice a day as a means of "calming the mind, eliminating distractions, and boosting my productivity." At least that's what she wrote in her selfish-help book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,
which was published last year. On the other hand, at least in the recent past, she has had her staff TM-ing too, according to the above screen grab of a link to which I am forbidden access when I try to follow it. (But here's a Wayback link. And here's a link to a June 2015 article on My Morning Routine, which seems to be the article to which the screen-grabbed link refers.)

At any rate Ivanka's involvement, no matter how peripheral, gives an air of legitimacy to the TM scampire, as does every other celebrity who's involved in TM, given the fact that we live in such a shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture. Also, of course, Daddy's little lap sitter has publicly participated in events that promote TM, and she's good friends with the head of a high-profile TM advocacy foundation, making her more than just a garden-variety meditator. So perhaps those who are
bashing The Beast for "using Ivanka as clickbait" (as reported by the right-wing propaganda and conspiracy outlet RT) need to get off of their high horse and look around at what's really going on.

It's not as if The Daily Beast is breaking any new ground. There have been numerous truly groundbreaking exposés of the TM cult/scampire over the decades, and I don't even include my own contributions in this lot, because I certainly wasn't breaking any new ground either. But The Beast article does provide an important and arguably a timely reminder that the con is still on.

Which brings us to the point that what makes this matter Whirled-class blogworthy is that it is not just a meditation thing (and I should reiterate, as I have in previous TM-critical posts, that I have nothing against meditation). As has always been the case with TM -- and virtually every other branded scheme or cult -- there's a huge and pricey con going on too. From The Beast piece:

“You may have people looking at people doing yogic flying and say, ‘That’s strange,’” [Bob] Roth [CEO of the pro-TM David Lynch Foundation, who is Ivanka's friend that I mentioned above] added. “I happen to think seeing people playing football, or boxing and beating each other up, is strange.”

It couldn’t be more different from the TM introduced to most casual meditators. But it shows there are essentially two TM movements: a “retail” version for the general public with an anodyne message about ridding yourself of stress, and another, more spiritually oriented movement for a small but devoted cadre of true believers—a virtually unknown “secret society” of sorts—that promises to unlock supernatural abilities and provide all manner of
magical outcomes, some of which can allegedly be attained by paying teams of Indian monks thousands of dollars to chant for you half a world away.

TM is also a behemoth of a business. When the founder of TM died, he left an estate valued at $3 billion. TM has its own set of scientists, viewed with skepticism by the mainstream scientific community; its own universities and lavish properties around the world; and dubious claims to world government.
By the way, here's RationalWiki on "yogic flying." Also known as yogic bouncing up and down.

It's that whole
Maharishi Effect narrative that really draws in the suckers, though. The claim is that if a sufficient number of folks do the proper type of TM-ing, they can change the world for the better, affecting everything from crime rates to the economy to politics to war to climate change. It's all due to a shift in the quantum mechanical properties that make up the invisible fabric of our interconnected consciousness, according to the above-mentioned David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth. And of course TM's own team of researchers has the scientifical proof to back up their claims. Those spoilsport mainstream scientists aren't so sure, though. Lots of other folks are skeptical as well.
“The style of research they use is what I call ‘painting the bullseye around the arrow,’” says ex-TMer Patrick Ryan, who attended Maharishi International University, the progenitor to MUM, against his Navy master chief father’s advice, and spent 10 years in the movement as a “spiritual warrior” before quitting in the 1980s. “If a bunch of TM meditators get together and the stock market goes up, TM made it happen. If there’s another course and crime rates go down, or if accidents go down, TM created that. Find a positive thing that’s happened and take credit for it.”
Yep, that's pretty much the Scamworld/McSpirituality M.O.

And then there's this...

One of the most expensive programs in all of TM, according to their most recent tax filings, is the so-called “pandit program,” which gathers hundreds of young Indian men in trailer homes on a special campus in Iowa to chant yagyas—Hindu rites—nonstop for two years at a stretch in an effort to bring about peace on earth.

The program began in 2007, and reactions among locals were mixed. Residents
reported being approached by pandits on rural roads, asking for money and begging not to be sent back to the compound. In 2014, a mini-riot by some 60 pandits resulted in a sheriff’s deputy allegedly being attacked by members of the group.

Bob Roth said the domestic pandit program has now been all but shut down, maintaining that they have “like, four” pandits left in Iowa. According to its
most recent tax filings, the TM affiliate which fundraises for pandit expenses reported spending $2,164,960 on pandit support in Iowa in 2016. However, the cost of fully implementing the pandit program’s Global Peace Initiative, according to the organization, is $45.5 million a year.

If you want a team of pandits to
chant for you personally, the costs of which vary “depending on the size of the desired effect and the magnitude of the problem being averted or defused—for example a natural disaster, violent outbreak, or severe economic downturn,” that’s also available.

For a minimum donation
of $1,500, you can get wedding anniversary prayers from a team of pandits. For $1,000, the pandits will chant for your newborn child. And for $1,250, the pandits will recite the necessary prayers to “resolve the pressing problems confronting the United States, including joblessness and economic recession, and government gridlock, obstructionism, and extreme partisan infighting.”

Hey, if they could just yagya Herr Twitler out of office, I would become a true believer. 

I seem to recall that Mr. Fire was also a fan of those remote prayer rituals called yagyas (also known as yagnas), and was pushing them in conjunction with his own McMiracles schemes. (By the way, that linked story about his "best friend" being miracle-healed by a yagya...take it with a grain of salt. The book from which the excerpt was taken was published several years after the death of the person in question. She was still alive when he first started spreading the story, but in subsequent publications he didn't mention, at least in the context of that story, that she died a sad death. Some more insight about this can be found in the discussion section of this October 2007 Whirled post.)

I buried the lede. So shoot me.
Notwithstanding all of the above, I am always open to learning new things. And it turns out that I may have been totally wrong about Donnie John. According to at least one passionate TM fan, Trump is a highly creatively intelligent human person.
Here's a site that is not an official TM site but that is apparently operated by someone who is a fan of both TM and the Trump family.

And lest I be accused of burying the lede, I have no defense except for poor planning. For this matter is actually far more significant in possibly every way that matters on this blog than the mere fact of Daddy's girl being a Transcendental Meditator. One of the pages on the site linked to in the previous paragraph reveals
"The Qualities of Creative Intelligence That Helped Donald Trump." I give you...
Click to enlarge

SCI points, in case you're wondering, refer to the Science of Creative Intelligence. You guessed it: it's a Maharishi thing. On that same page, we get a glimpse of Donnie John's Vedic ass-trology specs.
For the past eighteen years, Donald Trump has been in his worst dasha -- Rahu. Rahu acts like an eclipse, a cloud darkening the mind, insanity, the material world, obsession (in this case with his tenth house of power in the world), cruelty, and darkness in general. But on October 14, just before the election, he entered the best dasha of his life -- Jupiter. During his acceptance speech, he talked about unity and working together. Jupiter, a very good planet in his chart, rules his fifth house of purva punya, return of good deeds from the past. It also rules his eighth house of transformation. So these two areas expand during his 16-year Jupiter dasha. Jupiter represents The Guru, good fortune, wisdom, kindness, giving, forgiving, teaching, healing and helping others. So he has moved from the worst time of life to his best time of life, and just a month before the election. Jupiter dashs, the Guru, made him president. We should see a completely different Donald Trump in the next few years. This event coincides with rising world consciousness. Everyone should forget his past and look to the planets to see what he is about to accomplish. His family is the first in the White House to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. That's a First Family! ---Gerard Owmby

Yeah... the best time of his life, and the worst time of ours. This shameless orange-nosing makes former Trump buddy Oprah's egregiously misplaced optimism in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election look almost rational by comparison. I think it's very interesting because it shows that "spiritual" sycophancy of the Drumpf dynasty, and willful blindness to their awfulness, are not restricted to hypoChristian nutcakes such as the folks behind the silly new-ish movie, The Trump Prophecy (which the base loves, of course, and which had most other folks with any taste or discretion rolling in the aisles), or any of the other T-vangelicals who litter the landscape with their mighty declarations that Herr Twitler is God's Chosen One. In other words, you don't have to be a Bible thumper to misuse religion in the service of Trumpboosting.
According to the article in The Daily Beast, there are those who suggest that the TM organization is slowly dying, particularly since the current leader of the org, Tony Nader, lacks the cult-like devotion associated with the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But that really doesn't matter, because there will always be derivatives, as well as newer cults and scams arising to take the place of the old, particularly as long as there are celebrities and reality show stars and starlets to embrace and endorse the schemes. And if those celebs are part of a powerful political family, all bets are off. As we also like to say on this blog, in Scamworld (and politics), there are no neat and tidy endings.

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Blogger Yakaru said...

OMG, OMG, forehead hits table a few times, when will this end, I preferred the old US-neo-colonialist-capitalist-hegemony-stuff, when will it end, when it end, I know it won't but I don't want to admit it to myself, etc, etc.

Monday, October 15, 2018 4:20:00 PM  

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