Suicide in Fairfield: Iowa town struggles with mental health awareness

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Fairfield, Iowa
Fairfield is home to Maharishi University of Management, which pioneers “consciousness-based learning” and where all students and faculty practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. — photo by Matt Steele

When you live in a small town, you have a connection to just about everyone. With a recent string of suicides in my community in Fairfield, Iowa, it has felt personal every time, whether it was a classmate, childhood friend, neighbor or someone I saw out for a drink the weekend before.

Since mid-2008, 20 people have died by suicide in the greater Fairfield area, according to the county medical examiner. Four of the suicides have occurred since May of this year. Statewide, suicide rates are on the rise, going from 11.7 to 14.4 cases per 100,000 people from 2010 to 2013, surpassing the national average, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

At a recent event held by community organization Fairfield Cares, I listened as a woman with a calm but carrying voice recounted one of several suicide attempts from her past.

“Every time I hear of another suicide, I briefly relive that paralyzing darkness,” said Janet McDonald to a hushed room of about 150 people at the library early this month. “I have momentary but frequent flashbacks, of what it feels like to be gripped in the clutches of hopelessness and despair, and to then act on it.”

As McDonald speaks, my thoughts go to my cousin, whom I never had the chance to meet. John, a former football player at the University Iowa and a new father, was 21 years old when he took his own life, months after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1982. I imagine the fear he must have felt. I have a big family, and each member is an important presence in my life. I have a sudden feeling that there’s a place missing. I wonder what he was like; and if he had lived, what would our relationship be?

During National Suicide Prevention Month and just weeks after the universally loved comedian Robin Williams took his own life, groups like Fairfield Cares and the media have been drawing attention to the underreported threat suicide poses in the U.S., an epidemic that claims a life every 13.1 minutes according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. And while it doesn’t have one root cause, we now know that mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or schizophrenia is present in more than 90 percent of cases, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The stigma that still surrounds mental illness in the U.S. is a burden to those already struggling. Yet in Fairfield, there’s an added layer of complexity to the issue. I grew up in the town’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) community, of which McDonald is a part. My parents were among thousands of baby boomers who moved to town in the late ‘70s to attend Maharishi’s university, to raise their children and to meditate in groups in golden domes. As young adults, my parents were inspired by Maharishi’s vision: “The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness,” he had said.

Growing up in Fairfield, I enjoyed the caring community and the freedom a small town opens up to a child. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I gained a real appreciation for meditation. I experienced chronic anxiety while studying in graduate school and coping with a serious illness in the family, and I found meditating, along with counseling, helped me stay calm.

Yet the recent suicides and the town’s response has driven home a suspicion I have felt for a while: that people’s determination to attain a perfect life, or enlightenment, has led to a culture of idealism and often a lack of acknowledgement of what’s really happening.

Many people in pursuit of Maharishi’s vision of peace, bliss and enlightenment have felt shame when dealing with mental and physical problems. In a tight-knit community that offers a sense of purpose and belonging, those with experiences outside of that picture ultimately face a fear of being cast out. I’ve heard people make offhand comments, such as “You only get cancer if you want cancer,” or “modern medicine is poison,” with little notion of how harmful and personally offensive I, and likely others, find them to be.

Social work professor Brené Brown explores the high correlation between shame and suicide in her famed TED talk, “Listening to Shame.” Perfectionism, she says, is a form of shame, in which we do everything in our power to prove our worth so we can avoid pain, shame and vulnerability. “Shame is the gremlin who says, you’re not good enough,” said Brown.

In my experience, people who come to Fairfield to learn to meditate are often looking for answers in life. Here, they find a comforting vision of what a perfect world could look like where these difficult feelings don’t exist. However, this belief can backfire. As Brown explains, “shame flourishes with secrecy, silence and judgment.”

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A Voice in a Void

Psychologist Dr. Scott Terry is on a mission to open the community’s eyes. Terry, who moved to Fairfield two years ago after founding counseling centers throughout the Midwest, both condemns and supports the TM movement.

“Meditation is not a panacea to life’s problems,” he said. “I tell my clients to meditate like I tell them to exercise: it’s a tool, and it’s about what you do with it. If you misuse a tool, it can be more destructive than helpful.”

Terry learned to meditate when he was 12 years old, which he said helped him overcome hyperactivity, where he would sit in class for hours, rocking and ripping out chunks of his hair.

“I was literally freaking out,” he said. “I started to meditate, and my ADD didn’t go away, but my hyperactivity did.”

Since taking up his practice in Fairfield, Terry has many patients in the meditating community. In the past year, he said, he’s become increasingly disturbed by trends he’s seen emerging in town.

“There’s a huge amount of suicidal behavior in Fairfield,” he said.

Terry said he’s run across a variety of troubling attitudes regarding suicide. He’s seen people mistake manic behavior — sometimes characterized by a person thinking he or she is acting as god — as enlightenment. When such situations result in a suicide, he said families often won’t acknowledge the death as a suicide but as an act of an enlightened being.

“People are in complete denial about what’s going on,” he said. “It’s so fucked up.”

As someone who knows several grieving families, I see this as a coping mechanism for an otherwise unbearable situation. But clearly, the precedent is dangerous. Terry said he’s seen patients contemplating suicide because they’d seen other enlightened community members make that choice.

Suicides are also underreported in Fairfield, said Terry. This summer, Terry said he spoke to a woman who has kept her sister’s suicide a secret out of fear of losing her job. “The stigma is so dramatic here, people are afraid,” he said.

He’s also seen individuals, families and even counselors recommend meditation or herbal remedies in place of medication to treat serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. “This is extremely dangerous,” he said.

In June, after three people in the community died by suicide within three weeks of each other, Terry reached a boiling point. He drafted an open letter titled “Mental Health issues that urgently need to be explored now in our community.” Within the 10-page letter, he outlined all of the unhealthy stigmas unique to Fairfield, as well as pointed out the inadequacies of Maharishi University of Management’s (MUM) mental health services and how they could be corrected. The letter, he said, “went viral” on campus, winning him allies as well as enemies.

A Gradual Transformation

In the past year, a dialogue has opened up in the community that I didn’t think possible in the past. When a former student killed herself in July 2013 after struggling with depression, a few friends and community members started a Facebook group in hopes of starting a discussion about depression. There, people I’ve known for years began opening up for the first time about their depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and even suicide attempts.

It also served as a place to debate the value of modern medicine. When one woman posted an article claiming turmeric extract cured depression, it started a confrontational conversation thread about people’s judgment regarding medications.

In the forum, Minca Borg, a founding member of Fairfield Cares, also discussed MUM’s subjective policies. While attending MUM from 2008 to 2012, she said administrators prohibited students from playing a film about bullying and suicide because of strict criteria for events hosted on campus. “The idea was to create a safe space for discussing LGBTQ issues and bullying,” said Borg. “The policy wording was very subjective: ‘to protect the consciousness of the students.’”

But according to Terry, “MUM is seriously changing. They’re hearing the wake-up call.” He and the executive vice president of MUM, Craig Pearson, began the Fairfield Mental Health Alliance, a working group that’s hosting a free seminar on campus in October, where a panel of psychology experts (including Terry) will discuss proper treatment of mental illness and suicide prevention. The group is also working on a website, which will act as a central hub for all mental health services in town.

Among MUM faculty, Pearson is spearheading the effort to open a dialogue about mental health. “We want to empower people to reach out and seek professional help,” he said.

He’s helping to draft a campus-wide statement, which he said the administration will print and disburse to students this fall. “It’s basically emphasizing a common-sense approach,” he said.

In a pre-release draft Pearson shared with me, the statement encourages people to seek help from a licensed professional when experiencing mental health issues. It does, however, include language favoring natural medicine and acknowledges the value of modern drugs for potentially “serious or life-threatening” conditions.

He said the university, which currently has only one psychologist on campus running student support services, is also considering offering therapy at the campus’s new wellness clinic that currently offers basic services such as flu treatment.

The most powerful part of the statement in my mind, addressed the need for authenticity and openness in the community, saying, “We want people to feel free to talk about themselves as they really are, not just the ideals they aspire to.”

This is a significant departure from the values I grew up with, where idealism often boxed out any room for honest discussions. At the Fairfield Cares event, this newfound openness was tangible as suicide survivor Tom Allen shared his story. “I don’t care about the stigma of going to a psychiatrist and taking medication,” said Allen. “I can’t afford to care.”

Allen says stigma and isolation are what keep people from getting help, whether they meditate or not. “Isolation is part of the boundary we can break.”

While Fairfield’s issues with treating depression and other serious mental illnesses are unique, the stigmas surrounding diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are prevalent in all communities. Clearly, the ‘ideal’ approach is to talk these issues through, and find the right mix between healthy, holistic living, and modern psychiatric medicines.

I for one, am happy to see Fairfield setting the record straight: Meditation can do many things, but curing cancer, schizophrenia, severe depression or Parkinson’s isn’t one of them.

Donna Schill Cleveland is the editor in chief of iPhone Life magazine. She likes to write about tech, health and women’s issues. She holds a masters degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication.

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  1. TM saved me from excruciatingly intense suicidal tendencies and it has kept me balanced for many years. I don’t see how I could go on without it. However, I am aware that there is an attitude among many people that if a person needs some help with mental issues they must be weak, and this keeps many people from seeking help when they need it. I am a strong advocate of the benefits of TM. But sometimes we need some outside help, and it’s important to get it and not to be made to feel bad about it. We all have to support each other. Life on Earth is pretty challenging these days and we have to help each other to be able to pull through and rise above all the bad stuff.

  2. One of the last sentences your cousin John, spoke to us was “Tell people about this!”
    We are so very grateful to you, Donna, for doing so.
    ..John’s mother.

  3. Insightful reporting. I had no idea suicide was a rising problem in Fairfield. But after I lost a close childhood friend there, I wondered a lot about the ideals of enlightenment and the role they play in mental health in Fairfield. I’m glad it’s being taken more seriously.

  4. Great work, Donna. Taking a hard look at these issues is the only way that real change might happen. I admire you for telling it like it is.

  5. I am a sophomore student at MUM and have already experienced some of the more troubling dialogue they give students for their problems.

    After going through a intense breakup with my partner of 3 years I went to the school counselor, Jonathan Shapiro, for advice to help me not be depressed as I move on with my life. I gave him many concerns as to why this was hard for me but he addressed none of them and told me “look at all your sidha friends. They don’t have the problems you do. Why don’t you just become a sidha then you’re life will be perfect.”

    I immediately reported him to someone I felt trustworthy, Rod Eason of student activities, and was informed Shapiro should not have said that but I was not assured Shapiro would be spoken to about his actions.

    I put this article on Facebook with my story about Shapiro and someone I was acquainted with in the community said the same thing happened to him almost 10 years ago.

    So then I emailed this article to John and told him that I felt his statements are “insensitive advertisement” and needs to stop. Its amazing what is said behind closed doors and in secret documents within this movement. As long as I am her I think the biggest way I can help the ccommunity is be transparent about my experiences and that’s why I am writing this. I hope it inspires more people to unite and discuss this.

    1. Kenny, if you have any way of getting the Siddhis, do so. I am not a governor and I am very far from promoting any particular philosophy or technique, but my experience with the Sidhis is that it gave me superhuman strength. I lost my wife and baby in a car accident, and I suffered brain damage and fractured spine, but thanks to the Sidhis practiced some 12 hours a day in the hospital, I rose from the tragedy like phoenix. I raised my surviving 3-year-old daughter, and her three younger siblings in my next marriage. Anybody who knows Ligaya, Lena, Givan, or Haven Tichy may be shocked to know our background. Like silk, the Sidhis are beautiful and subtle, but stronger than steel.

  6. This article is informative as well as insightful. The lack of acknowledgment of the mental health issue reminds me of a similar philosophy I grew up around before moving to Fairfield: they just need more Jesus. As was mentioned in the article, shame is one of the roots of this issue, not just in Fairfield but in any community where “secrecy, silence and judgment” are prevalent.

  7. People come from all over the world to Fairfield looking for themselves. You don’t have to come here. Yourself is within you. The answers is within you. The problem is when they come here and find no answers, some kill themselves.

  8. well written Donna, thank you for writing so clearly, credibly, incisively and from your heart…, transparency and realness and true compassion is the only way for the FF community to come to grips with itself after years of persistent delusion and ostracizing….the stigma of shame about so many things is overwhelming…i hope FF has reached a collective tipping point; we are not immune to the momentous change happening all around us throughout the world…

  9. Great article. I got curious about the math, so I used the statistics given in this article and from what I calculated, the Fairfield suicide rate is MORE THAN TWICE AS HIGH as the state suicide rate (and as stated in the article, the state suicide rate is already higher than the national average). The math is laid out below.

    From this article: “Since mid-2008, 20 people have died by suicide in the greater Fairfield area…Statewide, suicide rates are on the rise, going from 11.7 to 14.4 cases per 100,000 people from 2010 to 2013, surpassing the national average, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

    Fairfield suicide rate: 20 cases / 10,000 people (approximate Fairfield population) / 6 years (2008-2014) = .0333% per year

    state suicide rate: 14.4 cases / 100,000 people / 1 year = .0144% per year
    (using the 2013 state suicide rate here–the average suicide rate from 2008 to 2014 would be lower, which means the Fairfield rate is actually even higher compared to the state rate than shown here)

    comparison: Fairfield rate / state rate = .0144% / .0333% = 2.3125
    Which would mean that the Fairfield suicide rate is 2.3125 times as high as the state suicide rate.

    1. Correction, using the population of Jefferson County, not just Fairfield (thanks to Matthew’s comment, below):

      Jefferson County suicide rate: 20 cases / 16,000 people (Jefferson County population) / 6 years (2008-2014) = .0208% per year

      comparison: Jefferson County rate / state rate = .0208% / .0144% = 1.44
      Which would mean that the Jefferson County suicide rate is 1.44 times as high as the state suicide rate.

  10. Note 1: the math (from Angela, above), needs to be double checked. First of all, the number of people confirmed by the county medical examiner as having killed themselves is for Fairfield plus all of Jefferson County which is a total of 16,000 people. (not the nine-thousand or ten thousand population living inside the Fairfield city limits).

    The number will still be high compared with the state rate, however our neighbor community of Wapello County also has an above average rate that might be higher than Jefferson County (I will check this on Monday — I have the official report).

    Second: less than half (and probably one third or less) of the twenty people reported by the county medical examiner as having died by suicide are people who learned the Transcendental Meditation technique sometime in their life. This makes sense: most of the people in Jefferson County/Fairfield Iowa are not connected with the Transcendental Meditation movement. At least five people, and as many as ten people (out of the twenty people who were reported to have killed themselves since 2008) were Transcendental Meditation practitioners. This is a high number (approx. one a year, out of a population of between two and four thousand people), however it is not as high as if all of the twenty reported deaths in our county since 2008 were people who have learned Transcendental Meditation.

    1. You have to seriously take into consideration that folks that were ALREADY depressed, started practicing TM, to rleive

      1. You have to seriously take into consideration that folks that were ALREADY depressed, had cancer, schizophrenia, etc, started practicing TM to help with their existing situation.

        It would be a wrong conclusion to say, that “TM didn’t help” or that they were TM’ers and still they got depressed, etc. The fact is they already had that condition.

        These serious conditions don’t get cured overnight and they do need professional help.

        1. RajaCare blaming the victim of a mind control cult for not being able to achieve the goals of a madman is beyond silly. Clearly you aren’t a true believer otherwise you would have gone down the road to insanity as well or do you actually still believe you are “flying” when you put yourself into a trance and execute the suggestion to hop using 100% physical force to do so??? The mental illness is inherent in the belief system of TM. The duality and cognitive dissonance of repeating “meaningless” sounds that end up having HUGE meaning for the believer. The idea that this isn’t a religion and yet we have Raja’s and are led by the reincarnation of Ram on earth and the group was founded by someone calling himself “his holiness”. The hypocrisy and inherent conflict with reality is why TM’ers are so schizophrenic and develop addictive personalities from the repetitive trance induction done day after day and year after year. One thing TM’ers are incredibly skilled at though I must admit is the ability to go into complete denial when confronted with reality. Sad that that is about the only real skill developed from Maharishi’s pillaging of the west.

          1. I actually agree with what Kyle states. I know of a It may be a bit on the brutal side, but I’ve seen the PRESSURE that the TM community puts on those who don’t fit in. There are cults within cults here. I wish a true outsider would come here and dig deeply (not difficult) to find the actual dysfunction and madness associated with the movement. TM is a hoax for the most part. While meditation, and I mean any form of general meditation can have benefits, it has definitely not bridged MANY gaps in this community.

            Last but not least and probably the least effective and most dysfunctional aspect of the TM community is to try to Control what they do. People are regularly kicked OUT of the domes; or shamed in other ways if they don’t follow “the program.” Which means not involving yourself in other practices and for heaven’s sake never visiting another Saint or Guru. It’s a sloppy sloppy situation here. Where “Bliss” or “Heaven on Earth” is sold for a very high monetary price and failure to fit in – can cost you your life.

  11. As a clinical therapist living and working in Fairfield, your article highlights some of the stumbling blocks I’ve come across when working with the TM community. However, I have seen improvement in the 9 months since I moved here as I have seen more people seeking help. Especially since the death of Robin Williams. The other often ignored issue is that the mental health services have always been here for those looking for help. The recent publicity makes it seem like there was no therapists, psychiatrists, etc. available in the community. It is simply that many of the MUM community didn’t seek out what they considered “traditional” mental health services. What we know is that there no single intervention that works for everyone, however many of the components of TM are part of a healthy lifestyle that can alleviate depression. It is all about having tools in the toolbox.

  12. Free will forms the core principle for the spiritual path. In any area of life, if one is forced to do something against one’s will over a prolonged period of time, a pendulum swing is inevitable because the desire for balance (peace, happiness, good health) is inherent in life.

    By nature children are open and accepting. Until a certain age, children don’t much question what their told, but if their learning environment — both at school and at home — severely restricts their freedom to explore and learn, the result can be disastrous.

    The knowledge of and path to Self Realization is ancient. It exists in every culture and religion, east or west. Although this knowledge doesn’t originate in Fairfield, Iowa, it has been uniquely applied there. This application could be viewed as an experiment that has yielded mixed results.

    From an early age FF children are taught that they possess the highest knowledge on earth, that by adopting this knowledge they will easily attain the highest human experience, the highest states of consciousness. Further, they are taught that this will happen spontaneously, and that their life will soon be lived in a state of problem free profound bliss.

    As innocent minds observe their environment, they soon discover that parents, teachers, siblings, and friends struggle with many of the problems they’ve been taught will cease to exist in higher states of consciousness. A potential schism results. What the child observes doesn’t agree with what he/she has been taught.

    To have been taught from infancy that the most optimistic, happy, healthy, ideal life is easily attainable, and then to have shadows cast on that vision by divorce, disease, or any number of life’s challenges, can lead to doubt, and in some cases, despair.

    Once the pendulum swings, the potential for depression, cynicism, anger, and disillusionment are magnified.

    In order to avert the pendulum swing we need to clarify our understanding of the goal. Enlightenment is a state in which the expression of individual free will is unprecedented. Enlightenment is not attained by stripping one of one’s free will. Rather, free will needs to be honored if individuals are to aspire to the lofty ideals they’ve been taught.

    1. You have put the experience of so many who grew up in the TM community in FF in a succinct and well worded nutshell, Thank You.

    2. Very interesting, I’ve always thought TM kids were born into something really great without all the struggle and hard work of those who had to work their butt out of a mud hole, who have seen the bottom out there, and have pulled ourselves out by the hair. Us who totally appreciate all this stuff from TM because to us, it is like light to the darkness from where we came, to which we never wanna go back…. over my dead body!
      But I can see how those kids are having a certain disadvantage in life by being told that everything is bliss. And I can see why they get disappointed. Because from believing only the good they are now forced to deal with the bad, and they don’t have tools for it. Well sure, they have TM and all of that, but by what you write, it sounds like they have not learned that their strength comes from within. They haven’t actually learnt to deal with crap, and from there, transcend it. There are those who have, due to different reasons, and those people are among the most enlightened I know. I still think going to MSAE would have been heaven on earth compared to my Auschie inner city school (which the students burned down recently)… hey I’ll trade for real… but i’ve also learned to stand up for myself and not accept or expect anyone or anything from outside to fix my life for me.

  13. Great piece, Donna.

    Shame, perfectionism, denial, and avoidance, as well as stigma of pharmaceutical applications and mental health issues are all critical concerns in dealing with the topic of suicide, especially in the context of a system of self development which professes to be a solution to all the age-old problems of mankind.

    But of the 20 suicides in Fairfield, my understanding is that 15 of them may not have been related to the meditating community. IF that’s true, it means the higher rate of suicide, which the Fairfield Cares group has noted is twice the average for a town our size, is a community-wide concern.

    In other words, if only a quarter of the suicides are related to the meditation community, the percentage of “meditator-related” suicide would actually be half the average. In any case, it’s definitely tragic and worthy of discussion and understanding.

    I’m glad to see attention being put on this important topic with many area individuals, businesses and organizations, including the mayor and the police chief, joining together to shed light on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

    Fairfield’s grassroots community radio station has just launched a new program MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS with Dr. Scott Terry and Rob Hubler, co-founder of Fairfield Cares, airing Tuesdays at 6:30pm, rebroadcast Thursdays at 12:30pm, with archives available online.

    1. Grteat input, Jimmy! Love your stats. I left my five-cents worth too, and I think a number guy like you may appreciate it. Yet again, it may be too controversial for American audience.

  14. True Believer
    The true believer’s position is: “I have the ultimate truth. You disagree with me. We cannot both be right. Therefore you must be a) unstressing/purifying too rapidly, b) ignorant of the truth, c) evil, d) a poor pathetic psychologically damaged individual, e) a raving lunatic, or f) a mixture of all of the above. And the solution is to (1) meditate less, (2) meditate more, (3) meditate for decades, (4) attend more courses, (5) take these funny little pills that are not monitored for purity or contents, (6) take lots of castor oil enemas, and most importantly of all (7) pay us much more money.”

    And the true believer’s favorite weapons are i) ridicule, ii) sarcasm, iii) shame, iv) intimidation, v) distortion, and when finally pressed to the wall, vi) flat denial.

    From this link by former TM Governor of the Age of Enlightenment :

    1. KC, your cynical views are obvious, but not really in touch with reality. The thinking you describe may happen within the TM Org, as it does within any insular organization, e.g. US Army or large corporation. However the average person doing TM derives a great deal of benefit from it, without any of the extreme thinking you mention. For most, it is a useful tool, but not a panacea. Your distortions and lies about the technique lead me to believe that you could benefit from some therapy and counseling yourself.

    2. A True Believe believes based on evidence, logic, and personal experience. If you haven’t experienced our collective SELF during Transcendental Consciousness, in a while, look in the mirror, and your regularity in meditation and sleep. But don’t whine and discourage people who could benefit.
      However, neuro-physiologies are different and not everyone will make it to Cosmic Consciousnes. As with IQ, the ability to achieve CC may be 80% genetic and 20% environmental. TM has been found to increase IQ points, from wherever the meditator starts. You have excellent DNA from your father Clyde, who sacrificed big city business opportunities and moved to Fairfield to give you the best place to grow. So you did well without being regular in TM.
      Mother Nature is sometimes a bitch, working by Tough Love, and Natural Selection. Not everyone has what it takes to get to Cosmic Consciousness. It is a socialist myth that “everyone should make it.”
      The goal of the Fairfield TM community is to spread brain wave coherence from near the population center of the USA. Yes, it is tough to build a new business community here, as it will be for the first families on Mars. It brings out our best, and makes us challenge ourselves to think of new innovative business ideas.
      Similarly, US Marine Corps Boot Camp is not for everyone. But those who stay with the program get the benefits, and are steeled. Same with Fairfield. We don’t need whiners or negative thinkers. So it good for us in Fairfield that you, Susan Shumsky and Claire Hoffman moved away. Nevertheless, best wishes.

      1. People should not be discouraged that everyone won’t make it to CC. Wilma Rudolph had polio as a child, but went on to win 3 gold medals in track in the Olympics. We never know who may reach CC. So everyone should be encouraged to keep practicing regularly, morning and evening. Don’t listen to losers or negative thinkers. There are benefits along the way to CC.

        1. I am a True Believer in TM only because of 1) Evidence: TM research that has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals, 2) Logic: ex. deep rest for better activity, and 3) personal experience.

          I did my MUM MA Thesis on Critical Thinking Ability. I am a skeptic about Sthapatya-Ved’s Southern Entrance hypothesis. 1) Evidence: no published studies in over 20 years, 2) Logic: inconsistencies, such as the Sun is good in the East, yet somehow becomes bad in the South, and 3) personal experience seeing PimusTel fail in a SV building.

  15. Excellent article and high time for it. As a former TM’er and former staff member of MIU, I know how the mentality ticks in Fairfield. I am very very happy that there is an increasingly open discussion of the things that lead to suicide and that something is being done to help those who struggle within themselves.

    Knowing the Movement as I do, I have no doubt that any common sense solutions to the problem will be accepted and implemented by MUM and the Movement leaders only when circumstances and people’s upset absolutely force them to. Of all the problems with the Movement TM related suicides are one of the darkest.

    In response to several posts above, it shouldn’t matter if the entire number of suicides are TM connected or not. The promise we were all given was that such things a depression shouldn’t happen to begin with if we did TM and ESPECIALLY if we got the siddhis.

    You’ve got yogic flyers and guys doing yagyas and these suicides still happen? So much for the Maharishi Effect.

    I know that the real True Believers all blame the victims and claim they were of the program or they weren’t meditating properly. Kenny Odom’s post on his experience with Jonathan Shapiro highlights exactly how the Movement generally deals with such things.

    I will also point out that the TM related suicides have been happening since at least the 1960’s and have been ignored, denied or explained away by the Movement and its leaders. It is only the people outside the Movement power structure that will help people who struggle with any sort of mental emotional problems in any substantive way. This is not judgement but both experience and common sense.

    Maharishi’s method was ignore, deny or send the people suffering away so he didn’t have to deal with them. His Movement leaders do the same thing. They cannot afford to admit that people who have been doing TM and TMSP for decades in some cases can get to the point of having all sorts of mental/emotional problems because the PR around TM and TMSP is that the practice prevents or eliminates such things.

    Of course those of us who did or do TM know that is nonsense. But the Movement’s money making machine depends on people believing in TM “has no negative side effects.” And so it goes. Don’t count on the Movement to do anything it isn’t forced to do, unless it makes them look good or brings them money, and admitting that siddhas and governors have severe problems does neither.

  16. “Maharishi’s method was ignore, deny or send the people suffering away so he didn’t have to deal with them. His Movement leaders do the same thing.”

    As an active TM teacher for about 10 years, I would agree with the above statement. Individual teachers, or course, did not have the training to deal with people with such challenges. However, there was _no_ discussion on TTC on how to deal with such situations (e.g. to refer them to mental health professionals).

    The TM culture has always been, and probably still is, “If you’re having (mental health) problems, it’s your fault and TM is not at fault.”

    Final Point: While Craig Pearson and some other movement leaders may be convinced to make some changes, I am not convinced that TMO culture will change so easily. In one of the Wikileaks documents from just a few years ago, in the minutes of some TMO meeting (for recertified governors, I think), Maharishi was quoted as saying something like “We are the experts on health. We do not take medical advice even from those physicians within our own movement.”

    1. James, it is obvious you have “anger management” issues with the TM movement. Have you taken your meds or seen a Doctor lately??

      1. When you point a finger at someone or something, (You are such a fool) your other three fingers point back at you. The human view of the world is just a reflection of thoughts in the human mind.

        But overall, fantastic discussion. Thanks to everyone who is contributing here and not fixing blame. There is much that can be done together. Waking out of the darkness and stigma.

      2. Rather than respond to your ‘virtual drive-by shouting”, I’d prefer to invite you to engage with the arguments I made in my two comments.

        As indicated in the piece and many comments, there is clearly a concern about the attitude of the TM leadership in MUM and FF towards dealing with mental health issues.

        I posted my opinion that the TM movement is culturally opposed to western medicine and has been for a long time. I supported my opinion by quoting from an internal TM movement document in which Maharishi spoke directly to movement leaders in the US in 2005.

        In particular, Maharishis is quoted by one of the TM Rajas (leaders) as saying: “…medical professionals give poison. So don’t engage any medical Drs. for anything—absolutely whatever it is—even if they are in our Movement family.”

        To anyone who has been involved in the TM movement, as I have been for many years, this is not news. What is unusual is that, due to Wikileaks, there is written evidence that anyone can look at.

        My point in my posting was that I would like to think that Craig Pearson and other leaders were moving to a more responsible response to mental health issues, but that I doubted that this would happen due to Maharish’s very clear attitude over many years.

        This is a very serious issue and a robust discussion is needed and can only help people. I would be happy to engage with you in such a discussion, but there’s no point in me responding to the kind of comments you’ve made.

    2. Yes, it is so. The need for reform and accountability is pressing. I saw just now this article, and agree it is very long overdue for a shift in attitudes. Mr Terry has moved the whole thing forward and we salute him. More is needed, but we are glad for this change. But I ask – did it take deaths to accomplish this? In a consciousness-based place, who can call this ‘averting danger not yet come’? It is crime it took so long, and, those responsible for such a delay should be removed from their positions. The old ways of thinking are driving people away and have fouled the nest. Even those who are live here, have withdrawn, have been driven away. Behind closed doors you hear these laments and complaints – complaints with no redress, for fear of expulsion. A confidential survey would reveal much in detail but as all know – no such survey is likely anytime soon because bosses do not want truth. If their leadership were determined by vote – oh, what a change there’d be. The time has come for a new leadership. In these days, the whole thing has become politicized and weak. Always, there was some of this element, but now – it is more so than ever. I pray, as many do, a new leadership emerges from the ashes. A dwindling bunch of toadies propping up old politburo style bosses is not a real leadership.

  17. The policies below are what I was referring to in my previous posting. I would like to think that MUM participation in current mental health initiatives in Fairfield represent a change in direction, but I doubt it very much.
    Governor Recertification Course
    Overview of Policies & Procedures
    May, 2005

    We are not going to take help from medical Drs. as medical professionals give
    poison. So don’t engage any medical Drs. for anything—absolutely whatever it
    is—even if they are in our Movement family

    Hold onto the fact that we are the supreme authorities on health—we know how
    to create perfect health—we are challenging all governments in world.

    1. Yes, While “some” Western Medicine is absolutely necessary, most (90%) of it is not. There are many healthy preventive alternative holistic solutions for the common man, but if you are in an advanced stage of any disease, then some western medicine is ofcourse necessary. You have to use common sense in this respect.

      Here are some possible reasons for avoiding Western Medicine:

      1. There are hundreds of articles that prove that more people die of the side effects of Western Medicine than the disease itself. It is an epidemic itself! Here are just a few articles a.
      b. “an article authored in two parts by Gary Null, PhD, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, and Dorothy Smith, PhD, describes in excruciating detail how the modern conventional American medical system has bumbled its way into becoming the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.
      From medical errors to adverse drug reactions to unnecessary procedures, heart disease, cancer deaths and infant mortality, the authors took statistics straight from the most respected medical and scientific journals and investigative reports by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), and showed that on the whole, American medicine caused more harm than good.”
      c. Here is a balanced article about using Western Medicine

      2. Western Medicine treats the symptoms and not the root cause of the disease itself. Here is just one article about it.

      3. The big Pharmaceutical companies, the true and legal DRUG LORDS, are interested in BIG Profits and keeping you sick and addicted in order to make the most money off you and they have the Government through their lobbyist in their back pockets, Here are just a few articles about it:

      4. Western Medicine’s knowledge is very limited in its knowledge and far from complete. According to the holistic approach of Ayurveda, the first thing to do is determine a person’s body type, does he have more Air (Vata), Fire (Pitta) or Earth and water (Kapha). A person with exactly the SAME disease must get a DIFFERENT treatment depending on his body type.

      This is just scratching the surface of what is very wrong with modern medicine versus Holistic medicine. That said, it is best to get educated and use common sense and do use some Western Medicine when it is needed.

    2. That document is part of a set that can be found on the Wikileaks website, it’s easily found by googling on the title. It’s quite an eye-opener. It was allegedly written by one of the “rajas” (current heads of the TM movement who tend to wear royal golden crowns when they get together) who was also chairman of the movement’s Natural Law Party here in the U.S. The part quoted by James simply reflects part of the the inner core belief system, that was progressively revealed to meditators if they became more intimately involved with the movement, for example, by moving to Fairfield and going to MIU/MUM. These sentiments are relatively common among long-term meditators.

  18. My beatiful neighbor child Donna,
    thanks for a brave article. Much longer ago than I care to admit, I was sitting in my blue Dodge with a vacuum cleaner hose stuck in the tail pipe, and the flat tool pinned in the window. The pint of vodka in my blood made me feel quite invincible, and I didn’t think I will miss too much of this world. The movie in front of my eyes spanned 28 years but took only a couple of minutes to watch.

    I grew up in the country side near Prague riding horses bareback and dodging school buses while biking backwards sitting on my handlebars. I was a show-off in the class too, and had what it took to intimidate nearly all of my teachers. On top of it, I was modeling for pretty good cash. In short, you couldn’t find a cooler peace of protoplasm within a biking distance.

    I married at 18 to my architecture school classmate and divorced her four years later only to re-marry a girl willing to leave our communist snake pit with me. She was the reason for my Boston parking lot advanture, and at this point, I wasn’t sure if I loved or hated her more. But then I saw my grandmother, the angel who taught me everything worth knowing from counting in Czech, biking forward, and grafting cherry trees, to writing in Russian, reading in German, and singing in Italian. She was a midwife and a teacher, and at eghty, she still climbed apple trees and rode a morcycle. “I can kill myself, but I have no right to kill you,” I thought and turned off the engine. The splitting headache afterwards didn’t last a year, but by the end of the month I got a letter from my dad informing me that my ninety-year-old grandma died looking at my graduation photo. “I understand”, I thought. “You taught me compassion too, and your last act of kindness was living long enough to save my life.”

    I wish every child was as lucky as I am. And I wish no boy was sexually mutilated minutes or days after his birth. I know from my friend midwife Robin Lim’s “Placenta” book, that no child whose umbilicus remains intact for at least 24 hours (not cutting off 65% of their oxygen and T-cell supply), ever encounters any mental disorder. I also know that every boy treated with compassion and love during his first year will be a kind man unwilling to injure others. After all, who in the world is fighting today? Circumcised Muslims, circumcised Jews, circumcised Africa, and circumcised America. Even in uncut Ukraine, the one who fights are Muslim Chechens on the side of Moscow, and American Blackwater mercenaries on the side of Kiev. Hitler may or may not have been circumcised, but those who put him in power were, and his father was illegitimate child from the house of Rothschild.

    What does all this have to do with Fairfield? We are a self-selected group. TM is often the life saver in choppy waters, and Fairfield is to the direction within what California is to the direction west. Other possible reason is that years of meditation took great deal of mystery – and fear out of death. After all, if life is good, death is at least as good, for without it, we wouldn’t have soil, and given the birth rate of our species, even a rock to rest our foot on. Suicide is often the most sensible answer, and one of the two species with greater-than-human brain-mass-to-body ratio, the dolphins, are capable of it. While mating for life may be for the birds, suicide requires imagination and forethought. In spite of its obvious merits, it is a very unkind act to those who love us, especially given our cultural lack of appreciation for death. No, I wouldn’t want to survive again the demise of my child or life partner, but I would certainly never want to injure those I love more than my own life – by taking it.

    Birth may be the most stressfull event of our lives and death the greatest stress release. Thanks God, we all must die, but it takes kindness to die wisely. Let’s make the birth of our children as kind as possible, so the gentleness lasts them a lifetime. I remember an article in the Omni magazine about a European research that linked teen suicide not to income level, intelligence, or success with the oposite sex, but to the child’s experiences at birth. A boy who hanged himself in his parents suberbean garage was born with umbilicus twice wrapped around his neck. And all those who overdosed themselves were born drugged to unesthesized mothers. Did the obstetricians that deliverd them became their executioners a decade and half later?

    Before making any satistical links to TM, we may want to figure the percentage of the boys who were circumcised at birth or 8 days later, from the boys and men who killed themselves, and if the Heidelberg University(?) research is right, we may come to some shocking conclusions. Donna, this blog hits on some very politically incorrect ideas, but feel free to publish it if you think it has merit.

    Your once-neighbor Viktor Tichy

    1. P.S. I am not a governor and I am rather repulsed by promoting any particular philosophy or technique, but my experience with the Sidhis is that it gave me superhuman strength. Seven years after the car-vacuum hose incident and four years after learning TM and the Sidhis, I lost my wife and baby in a car accident, and I suffered brain damage and fractured spine. But thanks to the Sidhis practiced some 12 hours a day in the hospital, I rose from the tragedy like phoenix. I raised my surviving 3-year-old daughter, and her three younger siblings in my next marriage. Anybody who knows Ligaya, Lena, Givan, or Haven Tichy may be shocked to know my background. Like silk, the Sidhis are beautiful and subtle, but stronger than steel.

  19. Thank you all for the insightful discussion. Aunt June, thank you for your support; Viktor and Kenny, thank you for sharing your stories.

    I’d like to clear up any discrepancies regarding the suicide rate in Fairfield. In the article, I simply stated the overall number of suicides in Jefferson County, because with such a small population, any one case has such a huge affect on the rate. I also wanted to focus on the troubling attitudes within the meditating community that have come to light as a result of recent suicides in the community regardless of the suicide rate.

    But as I’m seeing from the comments here, people would like to know how Fairfield rates compare to other communities. Fairfield’s rate is indeed higher than the national average, which is 12.3 cases per population of 100,000, per year (as of 2011, the latest stats available).
    In Jefferson County, the rate is 19.83 cases per 100,000 as of 2014 (based on 20 suicides in 6 years with a county population of 16,810.) James Moore is correct in saying that the high suicides rate is a community-wide issue.
    As Matthew and James have pointed out in the comments, around a quarter of the 20 people who have died by suicide practiced TM. However, this does not mean, as James said, that suicide among TM practitioners is half the national average. On the contrary, the rate is actually higher than that of the county, because roughly 3,000 of the county’s nearly 17,000 practice TM. Assuming 5 of the residents who died by suicide were part of the meditating community of 3,000 in the past 6 years, the rate would be 27.75 cases per 100,000, which is more than double the national average.

    1. You have to seriously take into consideration that folks that were ALREADY depressed, had cancer, schizophrenia, etc, THEN they started practicing TM to help with their existing situation. In other words, most folks were Already sick to BEGIN with.

      It would thus be a totally wrong conclusion to say, that “TM didn’t help” or that they were TM’ers and still they got depressed, how is that possible?, it means it doesn’t work etc. The fact is they already had that Sick condition and were looking for help through TM, but ofcourse TM doesn’t cure anyone overnight and in these severe serious conditions they don’t get cured overnight and they do need professional help as soon as possible.

      I do see how folks can confuse the two, but their conclusion is incorrect.

      1. This is more TM blabber and misdirection. It is a typical TM Movement response to scurry around and try to deflect ANY suggestion that TM might not have helped or might in fact have caused or contributed to the mental/emotional states that lead to depression and suicides and attempted suicide.

        You can’t just assume that people were having problems before they did TM, tho that is a typical Movement response. I know for a fact that some of the TM related suicides ove the years were committed by people who had done TM and TMSP for DECADES before killing or trying to kill themselves. One such suicide was a Purusha man who set himself on fire in the basement of Maharishi’s home in Vlodrop Holland. The reason he was in the basement to begin with was “whoever” was in charge put him there because he was unstressing so much, the vaidyas said being in the basement would calm his vata.

        Too many people who have done TM for years and still gotten depressed and other emotional states can testify to these things happening. TM does not work for everyone, nor is it without what could be called negative side effects or impact on one’s mental/emotional state. Ask anyone who was on the famous Mallorca course or the Fuigi Italy course about the level of unstressing there.

        Rather than trying to fit the facts into the scenario where TM is the salvation of the planet and is good for everyone and without blemish, try looking objectively at the facts. It does require a different perception of Maharishi and his Movement but its in plain sight once you stop believing he and it could do no wrong.

    2. Please see my comments elsewhere, it is important to understand. You have to seriously take into consideration that folks that were ALREADY depressed, had cancer, schizophrenia, etc, THEN they started practicing TM to help with their existing situation. In other words, most folks were Already sick to BEGIN with.

      It would thus be a totally wrong conclusion to say, that “TM didn’t help” or that they were TM’ers and still they got depressed, how is that possible?, it means it doesn’t work etc. The fact is they already had that Sick condition and were looking for help through TM, but ofcourse TM doesn’t cure anyone overnight and in these severe serious conditions they don’t get cured overnight and they do need professional help as soon as possible.

      I do see how folks can confuse the two, but their conclusion is incorrect.

      1. I think in your message you are referring to TM practitioners in Fairfield who decided to end their lives.

        You write “In other words, most folks were Already sick to BEGIN with.” This, in fact, seems to be the core of your argument.

        My question to you: How do you know that most of these folks were already sick before they began practicing TM? Where did you get your knowledge of the health history of these individuals?

        1. Like many in this small community, we knew off those few persons that took their life and know those that are still around. TM advocates better mental Health, but serious diseases like depressions takes alot of time and professional help to get cured. They are many stressed (and sometimes not so well) individuals that start TM, come to Fairfield, hoping to experience Nirvanna. Like I said, they should have professional help.

          1. Like many in this small community, we knew off those few persons that took their life and know those that are still around.

            You have not answered my question directly, but your statement above implies:

            1) Yes, you know the health history of each of the 5 TM practitioners who ended their lives.
            2) You know that each of those 5 people had mental health issues before they started
            to practice TM.
            3) ‘Many’ other people in FF also knew the health history of these 5 TM practitioners before they started TM.
            4) You and ‘many’ others in FF also know ‘others who are still around” i.e other TM practitioners who have mental health issues.

            Frankly, I don’t believe a word of what you write. What you are doing is maligning the TM practitioners who ended their lives in an attempt to bolster your argument.

          2. “How do you know that most of these folks were already sick before they began practicing TM?”

            Let me explain what I know:

            1. TM Does not make a person sick. All 500+ Scientific reports proves it in fact makes you healthier. That is the point I was making.

            2. So if a person becomes sick, it is not because of the TM practice. They must have been sick before or IF they got sick During the time they were meditators, it was due to some other outside influence, other than TM and it is not because of meditation that they got sick, that is my point and I was not malignant about anyone, as you are absurdly suggesting.

            3. I do know for a fact, being a TM teacher myself and teaching over 500 people, that many come to learn TM, when they have mental disorders and many come to FF, searching for a solution, that may not be there.

            4. If you still don’t get what i am trying to say, so be it. This is my last post on this.

          3. I’m laughing out loud at RajaCare’s assertion: “TM Does not make a person sick. All 500+ Scientific reports proves it in fact makes you healthier.”

            This is a statement of faith, not of fact. Those studies to which you refer (actually a tiny number compared to the decades the movement has had to produce support for its extraordinary and ridiculous claims) are largely products of the TM promotional machine over the course of some decades. Those of us who’ve closely followed the subject are aware of the fact that meditation is not always effective, and may for some cause negative outcomes, particularly for those who meditate or do other related mental practices for extended periods daily as some do in Fairfield. Blaming the victim for not doing it right, or some other such vicious nonsense, just dodges the core issue, that TM is not the panacea that its pushers claim it is.

            I’ll just quote from the conclusions in the abstract of what’s commonly referred to as the Alberta meta-study on meditation (google that phrase to see the whole thing). This paragraph applies many times over to anything quoted in a TM sales pitch:

            “Many uncertainties surround the practice of meditation. Scientific research on
            meditation practices does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective and is
            characterized by poor methodological quality. Firm conclusions on the effects of meditation
            practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence.”

  20. The dark side to the TM “Movement” is the method the “Administrators” use to control the flock. That would be the direct use of “Fear”. Do it our way or you will be banished from our holy “Golden” domes. A sad commentary on their enlightened out look on life. A total contradiction in the concept of “Enlightenment”.

    It seems the whole purpose of the community is to strive for the highest level, “established in Being, perform right action”, and yet, the administrators are terrified when one such being, in their flock, attains that lofty level. When the right action begins to be expressed from such a being, “they”, the administrators, those that administrate from their level of consciousness (that would be from Ego and small self), turn against the one, established in Being, since it would mean they would lose their ability to control and manipulate out of fear. The One fully illumined does not function out of fear. This is why so many, who become fearless, realize that Fairfield is not a healthy environment to be in.

    I’m sorry to be railing on the administrators, but they are the ones at fault. They live in their make believe, picture perfect post card world of control, manipulation and DENIAL. If they truly were enlightened or even understood what enlightenment was/is they would be all accepting of diversity of opinion, not fearful of it. But as it is, presently in FF, the movement is a cult, for better or for worse and if you don’t go by their rules, you’re rejected…you are a bad person.

    Some day, hopefully soon, the dark side of certain fake individuals within the higher levels of the movement will be exposed by the Light. Many “followers” will be in disbelief. Shocked even. And their enlightened world will implode in on them. But this will be good. This will finally begin the process where the foundation of Love and Compassion can be built. The world is long over due.

      1. My guess is that this comment is a cut and paste from “You are such a fool” intended for Pat, but failing to replace my name with Pat’s name? My response as above.

  21. I looked through the article and comments and grew even more depressed. Good heavens, people. It does not even occur to anyone that these suicides are the FINAL STEP in the pervasive problems of the community, those that people have lived in denial of for all these years. Absurd comments like suicide rates, higher or lower, for heaven’s sake, the MMY effect should take care of the MIDWEST!!! What are you talking about?! But more than that are the cause CAUSES of the suicides. Are you people blind?! Drugs, crime, mammon greed, divorce, incest, murders, on and on and on. Is that not a big enough bell to hear in your inner space? Good Lord! The problem is the MEDITATION!!! Can’t you accept that fact? THE AMOUNT OF MEDITATION!! You’re still trying to talk yourselves out of it, going to shrinks, etc. Lord. Cut down your meditations, do civic work, etc. and I promise all of these therese things tthat you have been trying your darnedest to deny will miraculize begin to reduce, and you will begin to enjoy your meditations much much more. Very depressing to read these comments that can’t even grasp that. What in the world does it take? More than some suicides of your brothers and sisters that for sure!! Come on, the world needs what you have, don’t just throw it away in self-indulgentce!!!

  22. I agree with Muff. If there’s any solid, empirical proof that the TM community is in trouble it’s these comments. A lot more than the suicides themselves. Monday morning quarterbacks and self-appointed gurus as far as I can see. Some of the comments are okay, I guess, but forty years too late, kind of like spraying for termites when the house has buckled to its knees. There needs to be a completely new mindset, but I see NO clue to that in these comments. None of them. Might be able to waterboard it out of them, but maybe not even then. The percentages take the cake!! I especially like James talking about FF as having half the rate as other places. It’s that kind of mentality I don’t see being rooted out there. Too bad. Beautiful concept. Beautiful technique. But everyone became attached to their egos with all of the time with their eyes closed, and it imploded, but not in the last few years, since its inception. Take it from one who knows. First Sidha there.

    1. Agree — a great state of decay. But I argue, it is moment in time – normal for anything. Yes, a mess, but, what will come up next will be an improvement. No? All generations go through this thing. As ours ages and nears the end of its cycle of power, a new group steps in. I think it will be a different day and many past things will be gone for good. I remember well falling of wall, in Germany. This time was amazing and impossible. Against all odds and in crazy way – the impossible happened. In same way – this will happen with old leadership and politburo of movement. Patience and love will help. But also – not tolerating the obvious stupidity. These people now fear for jobs — they know situation for them is closing, finishing. There is an old saying “The truth surfaces like oil on water.” Such will be the case here friends.

  23. Thanks, Donna,

    For clarifying the numbers into comparable subsets. I was using the number of TM-related suicides as a percentage of the total number of Jefferson County residents. But, as you point out, almost a suicide per year over the past 6 years related to the TM community (27.75 per 100,000) is definitely a clarion call.

    With the statewide Iowa figure, according to Angela, at 14.4 per 100,000 people, the TM-related rate is double the statewide rate, which is even higher than the national rate. If I’ve done the math right, he Fairfield community rate (excluding the TM subset) is 17.85 per 100,000, or 24% above the statewide average, but nowhere near as acute as the TM-related subset appears to be.

    I’m so glad proactive steps are being taken to elevate mental health discussions out of the shadows, groups forming to offer support and understanding, and an apparent willingness across many fronts to address this critical topic.

    Thanks again for highlighting the subject.

  24. Matthew here. I have run out of time to look up the death rate in neighboring communities (I said I would do this by today). Quite frankly, my interest in the death rates is so that people have an accurate basis to start from. Articles about the issue, like what Donna wrote here, bring light to this difficult subject. My belief, like other people have noted, is that when people kill themselves it is the extreme end to a situation of being in serious pain. No one deserves to be forgotten, especially when they need help. This is why raising awareness about this issue (people being so desperate that they end up killing themselves) is vital. Without the ability to see what is happening with our friends and neighbors, we will be blind, which is not good for anyone. I am grateful to Donna, for writing this article, and to all of you for taking the time to read the article and look through the comments. We have a lot of work to do, as a community, together, and raising awareness is the first step.

  25. Hundreds of millions of dollars, millions of meditations, yagyas, manifestos…..the A of E seems to have petered out into suicided hotlines, appointments with shrinks, and pills. I guess I would agree with the M and M boys most. seems pretty obvious that there might be a problem that is very deep seeded and across the board, one that maybe involves this pop every day. How obvious can it get? Although everyone seems to have a handle on it, like Mr. Moore and Miss Angela with their invaluable stats, but you’re left with just more paperwork. Donna’s article was good because it’s been the first time that the iceberg’s been seen. Not the tip, just the suspicion of what is there. But it’s also very limited, even just in terms of deaths and suicides among the TM community. They started in the 1970’s., bodies found in apartments, etc. TRAGIC!!! Others kids have jumped in front of that accursed train, not just the recent one. And then the murders. No, although there seems to be an open dialogue now, and peoples’ intentions are sterling and noble and worthy of martyrdom, the problem goes much much deeper. Too much meditation. You will always, always come back and end up with that. I’m a believer. I believe TM and its brother techniques can save a sinking planet, but not in the way it is being implemented. Too much, too much, too much.

  26. Viktor, you bring up some good points — really outside of the box points. I would carry that line of thought even further. Who really knows the history of a person’s soul? How many lifetimes? How many tragedies? How many negative patterns of thought?

    When I was in high school, two friends committed suicide in a two week period. Both were very bright, sensitive souls that I looked up to. It rocked my world! Even before that, I had my rope and my chosen tree, although in my later years Viktor’s carbon dioxide solution would be my choice. When young, I felt that I did not land in the right world. Far too harsh. Everything was far too crazy. At the age of six, I realized that everyone was going to die, and I didn’t see anyone who was happy. But, fortunately, I had an inner knowingness that I would fine a better way.

    And I did find it! Started TM at 24 and became an initiator within a year. I knew what it was the instant I heard the words, Transcendental Meditation. Now, after 40 years of regular TM & TM Sidhis, at least an hour twice a day, I am just as elated about discovering it as I was in 1973. During that time, I’ve experienced divorce, bankruptcy, winning and losing significant wealth, and other challenges. But, I’ve grown stronger all along the way.

    I knew some of the people in FF who checked out and other TMers elsewhere who have. It’s always a shock and a seeming tragedy, especially with those who choose to go dramatically. I’m happy that this discussion is taking place as I believe this is a time for massive healing for all people everywhere on Earth. But, I would be careful about throwing too much criticism Maharishi’s way. He came to do a very big job — spiritually regenerate a whole world. Consider what a lost world it was when he arrived on the scene. I’m aware that, to many, it looks just as lost now. But, it isn’t. I’m a Vietnam vet. We were losing 350 men a week! I cried the whole first day of Shock & Awe as I knew exactly what was coming. But, even Iraq and Afghan. are not nearly the horror that Nam and Korea were, not to mention the big ones, WWI & WWII! And consider all of the craziness we see in our news every day. It was all there in the 50s too. But, nobody dared talk about it. Now, all that past trauma is coming up for healing, in large part do to millions of people transcending (and purifying). And now, everything is on the table for discussion, even if major portions of our society still don’t want to deal with it.

    Maharishi put a program for self-development in place that could be practiced as little or as much as one desires. Regarding medication, all I ever heard him say was to favor what was natural, but use whatever means necessary to take care of a problem — use your common sense. I was not there for this quote about not trusting even Movement doctors, so I can’t make comment on that. But, I have 2 MAs from MIU and have watched thousands of hours of videos of M. He always taught that with regular meditation one would tend to make better decisions.

    This point about the Movement losing its way is nonsense. Look at the Wikipedia list of A-Listers who do TM.
    Look at all the indigenous peoples around the world who are taking to TM wholesale, esp. in Latin America, the children of the Mayans, Aztecs, and others. I’m happy that the people M chose to run the Movement after his passing are focussed on continuing his work of spiritually regenerating this world.

    As for MUM, I’ve known Craig Pearson for nearly 40 years. He’s a very smart and caring person. And, I’m confident that he will follow through as needed. I’ve known Jonathon Shapiro nearly as long. He is a really good man too. Actually, I used to work in his office back in the ’70s as an academic counselor. I’m sure that at times I was perceived as having gotten it wrong. None of us is perfect! But, at MUM, there is real desire in that direction.

    I’ll conclude by saying that I’m quite happy with the results I’ve had from doing so much meditation. But, I’ve also come to see more and more clearly that, in a sense, each of us lives in our own universe, created by what we choose to believe is true. If you choose to believe that the world is totally FUBAR (Fooked Up Beyond All Repair), then that is your primary reality. If you choose to believe that everything is perfect, and ever growing more perfect, then that is your primary reality. I think that suicide becomes a choice only after a person has fallen into a habit of choosing to believe in problems and limitation. This bad habit may be carried over from countless lifetimes so that it seems so ingrained that it is insurmountable. I also believe that sometimes death is the easiest way to get rid of some big stress. So, I would urge everyone in this discussion to be very careful about what you choose to believe is the truth. We all have free will. And it is all maya anyhow — an illusion of the mind. If that is true, then why not pick something really wonderful believe?

    1. That is one point of view. Another is Maharishi was a liar, cheat, sexual opportunist and con artist. He lied about being a life long celibate. He lied repeatedly about the mantras. He lied when he said TM is 100% positive with no “negative” side effects.

      He begged for money for decades, gained hundreds of millions of dollars which he used for his own ends rather than using it for the purposes he said he wanted it for. That makes him a con artist on a massive scale.

      He and his top lieutenants also have consistently lied about the “unstressing” phenomenon that has been in place for decades. Maharishi was a brilliant and corrupt businessman, a fine speaker and certainly charismatic. He created a world plan designed to enrich himself and his family financially, have a never ending supply of young American and European sex partners will he was young enough to enjoy such a perk, and set himself up as the center of a personality cult.

      He was, according to those who spent a great deal of time around him, a fanatic Hindu who would shamelessly praise other religions in public while disparaging all of them except his own in private. He turned the TM Movement into a westernized Hindu cult. If you can look at the “rajas” with their pretensions and their gold crowns paying homage to a man who calls himself Maharaja and who Maharishi claimed was the incarnation of the Hindu Ram and NOT see this as a Hindu cult you are being willfully blind. You want to lionize a man like Maharishi? I suppose everyone has to have something to do.

    2. Sam, I thoroughly enjoyed your comment. I’ve been reading all the comments to this article and getting increasingly depressed by all the doom and gloom. With all the meditating I’ve been doing for the past 40 years, I was beginning to feel really lucky I’m not entirely deranged by now. Thanks for infusing a little more perspective on this issue. This kind of article, timely, useful and fair-minded as it is, will really bring out the anti-TM’ers. To them, this article proves that TM causes mental illness. Whatever. The movement can always do better at handling this kind of stuff, and it’s good to know there’s some indication that’s happening. But the part of your response that really resonated was your last point. We’ve all got way more power than we realize. Yes, even those who have never meditated a day in their lives are all very powerful. They get to decide the kind of Universe they exist in. Amazingly, we all have that choice. To come to a clearer understanding of what that means in my life has been very liberating. Maharishi showed us an alternative Universe long ago. And though I’m not a “Movement” person per se, I will always prefer Maharishi’s Vedic vision of life over the so-called “real world” which is the collective dream that most others agree on. Let them call us brain-washed and dangerous. We’re just exercising our right to believe in our own dream, exactly what they don’t want us to do. Take care, my friend. So happy to know you’re following your bliss.

  27. I think Sam’s comment is the most important one here. Without a doubt. My suggestion is for the reader to read it carefully not once, but two and three times, all of the statements. Then sit by yourself questions like, why did I not think of releasing my stress years ago? Why could I not see that the destruction of the Earth’s water, soil, forests, wildlife, and many of its peoples was not far less than a war? Why in the world do I not feel secure in this organization’s hands? This is the kind of thinking that is absolutely sinking the ship. Terrible.

  28. This is a minor point, but a lot of medications from the legal drug industry only block the receptors of cells, so the person taking them won’t feel pain, or receive certain chemicals that have caused the initial condition in their cells. These medications also poison the body. That’s not to demonize anyone taking them, it’s just something I wanted to bring up. If you take them and you feel they are helping you, fine.

    What I feel is happening with regards to what will or won’t bring the human body back to a state of health is that the people who are saying that “western medication is bad”, etc, are, as the article stated, spoken by people who are not fully grounded. Many ‘cures’ can actually be found by truly understanding how the body, emotions, and thoughts work together, in addition with a balanced diet. Medications like ritalin or adderall for adhd, or zoloft fro depression destabilize the physiology.

    Sickness, or health, is caused on all levels of being. We are more than the physical body.

    Again, if you feel that taking medication is the best course of action for you, then do so. I am not here to judge anyone who does. I am an advocate for the expansion of human consciousness. What needs to happen here is balance between being spacey and being grounded. We humans can be the Superbeings we once were, but not without fully accepting the cards we’ve been dealt, our humanity. Our Humanity is our power.


  29. now wait a minute. does this mean that no one sees the inner connectedness between this needless tragic ending of these beautiful people’s lives, and an exorbitant divorce rate, broken families, hundreds upon hundreds of discarded and orphaned children, rampant drugs, criminal incarcerations, murders, and many deaths and suicides that have never been tallied in these totals……..look, this thing has gone on for fifty years, it’s been in front of everybody’s noses for all this time. When does denial become outright criminal? And you think a few counsellors and drugs are going to remedy the situation? Wait a minute here. Are we on the same planet?

  30. Donna, I must compliment you on your courage in reporting on, and commenting on, this troubling subject. I came across the phenomenon when researching my book, “Transcendental Meditation in America: How a New Age Movement Remade a Small Town in Iowa.” Whether it’s a matter of biochemistry or of the downside of pursuing an impossible degree of perfection, depression and suicide do seem to be a problem in Fairfield, as in many places. Sadly, facing up to the problems seems more difficult in your town, however.

  31. Hi all.
    Greetings from an European country.
    I am a long time meditator. Started in the late 1960s, as a very young man. School boy actually.
    Some years before I’ve started TM I’ve managed to slip into a very strong depression. This were the times of Flower Power, huge conflicts between generations, the sudden imprint of Rhythm’n Blues and Rock’n Roll, right? Not so healthy all this for an almost child.
    Nevertheless: I’ve started TM. And what shall I say? In those times the offical meditation time was double compared with today. 16 years old as I was, I was said to meditate 30 minutes twice a day! (Today a teen’s meditation time equals to his age, until he/she is 20.)
    The result was quite rocking. Days and weeks of feeling great, but days and months of beeing depressed again too.
    Heavy times. Roller coaster. Eventually it lead to an attempted suicide …
    I survived because the gas was not poisoned. I did not knew. But what I knew short before I’ve opened the window again was what my eyes saw:
    Just some hundred meters away, in the midst of the Italian mountains, there stepped into the scenery a meager old man, in old worn blue clothes, with a donkey and a cart, starting to make hay (yes, the sun was shining). No machines, only man, donkey, cart, sense.
    This gesture of him, this age-old rhythm of making hay, the same as from time immemorial, this gesture was speaking to me: “Look”, said the picture (it was a 3D-movie actually, live!), “look, that’s the world as it is. As it was and as it will be. Forever. Everything is well set. There are seasons, there are plants, there a animals, there are men, and there is this great, great natural theatre. Go with it. Keep calm. Nothing to worry about. Everything is fine.”
    Something, something, like this.
    I was consternated, I was ashamed–and I was very, very thankfull, that the gas did not murdered me and the house.
    I’ve opened the window, and I took a dep breath.
    From this day on I never had any depressions anymore. Not a single day. Never like these dark times before. There were heavy periods in my life, hopelessness, conflicts–but never this depression thing again.
    Today, after more than five decades of meditation (to be honest: take some years off, in the harder times I did not manage to stay regular) life has changed completely. There is a deep, serene “knowingness” inside me, always calm, always bright, always happy–in the midst of “normal” turmoil of our western day-to-day life. Very strong, very bold. The only “problem” I am facing today are the nights: They want to stay bright and awake, but I am not yet very well accustomed to it. Sometimes I hear radio all the night long: without any other effect that I know in the morning: I was always awake. Sometimes with rdadio, sometimes without. So this thing will stop soon.
    What I want to say with all this:
    Yes, there are people who bring quite a burdon into their life. You know, I’ve died almost during birth for the first time! Umbilical cord around the neck. We call it trauma today.
    And if those people start to meditate, slowly, slowly they step back from their “karma”.
    Like someone who lost his way in the mountains. Can he jump right away back to the smooth highway? No. There is always a path from here to there. If he finds his way back without slipping into a crevasse, fine. If not, he managed at least some part of his way.
    Two things I’ve learned in this regard:
    Yoga Asanas–if done correctly and on a daily basis–are a really great help for all these border liners. What “correctly” means: Ask your TM teacher for the new Maharishi Yoga Asanas Set (1999).
    Second: Stay yourself. Do NOT and under NO circumstances, whatsoever, try to play any others role–be it the role of a father, a mother, an ideal TM teacher, an ideal MUM student. No. “Be yourself, no matter what they say.” That’s not my philosophy (the quotation is from Sting, actually). That’s the only one philosophy the Maharishi gave to the world: Be yourself. Be natural. Nature knows best. Avoid all -isms. Avoid all people who want you to do something. Don’t be a slave. Become yourself. Experience yourself in deep meditation–and live yourself in the midst of dynamic activity.
    Communities like Fairfield and MUM are great–as long there is no group pressure, no wishful thinking (oh! How did the Maharishi hate this habit!). Strong individuals. Standing on their own feet. Avoiding the wrong. Using the fine offers. By their own.
    All the best for Fairfield. Lighthouse of knowledge.

  32. @RajaCare:
    Better to talk of 350+ peer review studies. The other studies include BA, MA, docotoral thesis which are not counted as clinical studies in a more narrow, scientific sense.

  33. In regard of the stats: There is an aspect which is not yet covered here, neither by comments nor by the article itself.
    We all know that there are MANY ways to suicide oneself. The obvious ones are known: those procedures which end life immediately.
    But there are many more ways to suicide: misuse of alcohol, of drugs, of food, being all day long a coach potatoe, and even driving a car: How many people are suiciding subconsciously by raving?
    The standard suicide is only the tip of the iceberg. To get a more holistic view how a society is functioning we have to take into account ALL the ways of a misleaded and finally deadly life.
    My proposal: Make a professional social study covering all standard parameters of a good life. And THEN compare. May be there are way less murderings, way less deaths because of misleaded life, but some more suicides.
    That would be an interesting topic for scientific research then: Why overall betterment of life (if so), yet more suicides?
    We must see the whole picture.
    And yet it is very useful to open this discussion so that nobody feels bad anymore if he or she needs some help other then TM. You see: In former times there were uncles, aunts, grand fathers, grand mothers, fathers and mothers around, ready to hear what is going on in a younger life. Today we are globalized, no connections to our most beloved ones. Skype is only a weak alternative. A psychologist could be of very great help.

  34. Dear Dr Pearson

    The recent article by Donna Schill Cleveland and discussion about Fairfield and suicide disturbed me, as it must have you. You are to be congratulated on addressing this new problem in a constructive and open way at MUM.

    My response to Donna’s article comes from a TM teacher who has taught over 9000 people to do TM; a Psychologist who is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa; and a Maharishi Ayurveda consultant who has been practising MAV for over 20 years.

    My immediate family has experienced a suicide of a critical member, and the sense of rejection/confusion left behind seems not really ever to go away completely.

    Over the decades that I have been working in Johannesburg I have supplied Vedic Psychology therapy to the meditators in my area who have needed this. These meditators have not necessarily wanted to visit a psychologist who is not into consciousness.
    It has made a huge difference to those people, and it probaby has saved a few lives.

    Many psychologists and psychiatrists refer their clients to our TM Centre because Transcendental Meditation helps so very much with resolving emotional pain, so it helps these professionals with their therapy. So I get to meet many distressed individuals and I have been privileged to have learned so much from them and their growth of consciousness.

    So I wondered if I may make a contribution to the discussion on suicide based on all this experience?







    It is very tragic to have lost wonderful lives in the community.
    If it is true that an apparent lack of support systems is contributing, and if it is true there is a climate of shame associated with mental health problems – obviously this needs to be addressed urgently.

    First thing is to remove all stigmas and this applies as well when choosing physical therapies like Auyurvedic clinics etc.
    The University or TM movement can give advice and/or make recommendations if they have good reason to do so.This is always well intentioned.

    But it should end there.

    If therapy/treatment has to be received in a climate of secrecy or guilt it diminishes it’s effectiveness.

    Nobody needs anyone else’s approval to get well –they just need to get well and serve the gift of life.
    Recourse to modern medicine may be necessary and essential when needed and should be available and encouraged case by case.

    As long as we do not apply a value system and a judgement system there are many technologies that can be enormously helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and mental disease .
    Maharishi has given us Transcendental Meditation, and its virtues have been extolled in the article. But so have its limitations when dealing with depression and other mental health problems.
    The danger is that the Fairfield community swing too far in the other direction.

    So we do not wish to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.
    Maharishi himself was aware that TM alone would/might not take people from their suffering state to full Enlightenment.
    For this reason he also added many other technologies which help so much with restoring wholeness to the psyche and relieve suffering.
    Among the best are Panchakarma and Yagyas.
    PK is as much an emotional cleansing as a physical one. Yagyas can lift so much of the heavy karma.
    The psychological MAV herbs also help a lot. I prescribe them even to non-meditators often. Examples are: Nervous System Weakness, Worry Free and Blissful Joy.
    Other technologies like Aroma Oils, Vedic Chanting, Maharishi’s Yoga Asanas, Pranayama all help hugely. These should also be tried — they may be enough in many cases..

    Otherwise they can be combined as needed with more traditional ways of dealing with mental illness.

    In his brilliant book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell (p 216-252) draws on the work of Rubinstein, Phillips, Ashton, Kreitman and others documenting suicide as an epidemic phenomenon in Micronesia, England, Wales and the USA.
    We do not want to have the tipping point apply to suicide in Fairfield!
    It is very dangerous to deify suicide. A community like Fairfield could well embrace a trend like this and allow an atmosphere of deification to develop around suicide.
    Suicide does not signify a spiritual superiority that other lesser souls could not begin to understand – as has been asserted by some.
    It is understandable that the relatives who are left behind desire to deal with the loss and the grief. Of course they want to make sense of it all and to believe that their beloved lost one has gone for a higher purpose.

    But I believe that if we are on earth our life purpose is not finished. If our work/purpose was done we would naturally pass on.
    There is also no guarantee that something better awaits the soul who committed suicide or that this will be an end to the suffering.
    Maharishi was known to have said this is not a good life choice–reiterated by Maharaja at the recent Next Generation conference last month.
    So it is essential that the therapy/general atmosphere MUM help the disturbed person look at all this and rather make moves to improve life for themselves on earth for as long as they have to be here.

    “To get a human body is a rare thing.–Make full use of it ” from a wire recording of Guru Dev-full quote below
    It is rare to meet someone who does not feel somewhat uncomfortable about staying on allopathic drugs for depression/anxiety/bipolar etc long term, and who does not dislike their side effects.
    This is also true in the world outside the Fairfield environment, even though there is not that much stigma attached to allopathy in the outside world.
    When dealing with the Fairfield community I would think it is essential to keep this in mind throughout the therapy of whatever kind–it would make all the difference to the experience and outcome. So particularly in Fairfield, I believe the following ideas would be appreciated:
    Time in a human nervous system is never wasted time.
    However a life terminated by suicide is always a waste at some level.
    Every meditator is a Spiritual being having a human experience. This human experience may be extremely difficult, according to the Jyotish chart.
    Some very high souls bring in huge suitcases of Karma to work through and there can be enormous mental distress as a result. But enormous evolution is still taking place even with symptoms of mental illness present – if we are meditating.
    The whole goal of Vedic Psychology is recovery.
    Recovery from what ? Recovery from a fractured sense of self.
    It is only when we have lost our true essence that we suffer — this is of course Pragya Aparadh.
    The goal of therapy is to enliven Smirti or memory of who we are. This is the MAV intellectual approach which is very much like Cognitive Therapy( CT) used a lot in depression therapy and demonstrated to be effective for a wide variety of psychiatric disorders,psychological problems and medical conditions with psychological components.

    We know from Maharishi that all our emotional stress is physically stored or has a physical counterpart.
    Hans Selye coined the word Stress in 1936, defining it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”.
    Stress (Distress as opposed to Eustress) is stored physiologically and can be caused by any experience that we ever had that we personally interpreted as being difficult to process through.

    Since we somatise our emotional pain, it would be effective to work with the body in resolving the emotional pain (which is how I have worked for a long time).
    Donald Van Houten summarises this in his book: “Ayurveda and Life Impressions Work:”
    “No matter if they were initiated by physical, mental or emotional causes, life impressions become etched into our flesh because they become established in the membranes—one can develop through therapy, insight into historic information. Even with mental insight in place, our bodies still hold on to the old historic imprint. Until the life impression is released from the tissues, it can continue to reappear when a situation jogs your membrane memory.”
    That is why therapies that address the body are so useful.

    Something is needed here .

    Only a new seed will yield a new crop.

    So perhaps, respectfully, delicately, we could look at how we could make these ideas available to those entrusted with the caretakership of Fairfield’s future and particularly the MUM community.

    I offer these ideas in all humility.

    Jai Guru Dev

    Vicki Broome

    Vicki Jean Broome DSCI M.Ed Psych
    Tel: 011-483-0684
    Fax: 011-728-1280
    19 3rd street Houghton
    You will discover very interesting TM information on our website HERE

    Visit our friendly Houghton TM Centre Facebook page HERE

    “To get a human body is a rare thing.Make full use of it .There are four million kinds of lives which a soul can gather. After that ,one gets a chance to be human,to get a human body.Therefore one should not waste the chance.Every second in human life is very valuable”

    Guru Dev–Swami Brahmananda Saraswati,Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math Himalayas –from a wire recording
    Vicki Jean Broome DSCI M.Ed Psych

    Tel: 011-483-0684
    Fax: 011-728-1280
    19 3rd street Houghton

    You will discover very interesting TM information on our website HERE

    Visit our friendly Houghton TM Centre Facebook page HERE

    1. Beautifully stated. Unfortunately, here, on the campus and in other places, you would be ostracized for speaking these things as they would be seen as a threat to the political power of some individuals. I would be surprised if you did not receive emails from some leaders chastising you for saying these things. The leadership has reached a state of brittleness that can not be sustained. Most here have reached the eye-roll stage. When the so-called leaders speak, one first sniffs for the political motives. These days there is an abundance of denial and obfuscation – it seems to be the main product.

  35. I have a couple comments to make regarding 350+ or 500+ or however many studies proving positive effects of TM. For one thing, the methodology is questionable in many TM studies – the large majority were paid for by the movement and lacked control groups (and by control group, you have to compare to a group that is doing some other type of relaxing activity such as yoga, mindfulness etc to be sure that the results are due to TM and not just relaxation/placebo effect). And even the ones that might have some validity are measuring the results of relaxation (20 min 2 x daily) on the physiology which is a MUCH different thing than extended periods of rounding, growing up or living in what is essentially a very socially conservative environment where you are told what to think, not allowed to think anything negative, etc etc. It is an important distinction to make. All the people swearing TM “saved” them did likely experience a benefit. It is a stressed out world and a technique that helps bring about the relaxation response is a great thing. The problem is, the rest of the entire movement is a bunch of made up nonsense that is good for almost no one and is nothing short of a social experiment for children. And the positive results of TM (due to relaxation) could be brought about by doing yoga, mindfulness, PMR or any other technique that brings about relaxation response.

    And regardless of ALL this, even if TM is the panacea some claim it to be, there will STILL be people with personal struggles, depression, suicidality, etc. Even if the rate of suicide is the same or lower than comparisons, mental health services should be accessible and promoted. All college campuses need to have suicide prevention programs and resources available, it is shocking that MUM just not added them and it sounds as if they are poor quality. Debating whether or not TM saved YOU doesn’t justify their negligence in this regard.

  36. I was reading in the follow up’s to the article that the 20 suicides in Fairfield were not all MUM related. Maybe 5 were TM free. But what is even more concerning in that the much smaller percentage of the Fairfield. population who are TM’ers made up for the other 15 suicides. This means a much higher percentage of the population in the MUM community are committing suicide then the non TM community.

  37. Finally!! I am so glad this is being discussed at last…it’s a start…long overdue and welcome…Just a few hours ago I learned of another FF resident that got taken to the hospital psych ward..there’s got to be a better way!! :-) Discussion and being open about the subject is a very good way to begin!! :-)

  38. TM is certainly a potent answer to the despair and mental illness that can lead to suicide. It works wonders on many of these mental and emotional struggles. However, where that breaks down, I would say, after spending a few weeks in Fairfield, is with the Utopia idea and ideal that has the TM community in a self-involved lockdown mentally. Utopia’s just don’t work. It’s been tried again and again. It most certainly cannot be manufactured or faked — and the TM community is made of of a diverse group of people, many of whom may not be in higher states of consciousness at all, despite the “Group Consciousness” so lauded. People are individuals with individual progress in their evolution.

    I found the town interesting and observed the native/local community was quite separate from the TM community, even long time TMers who have raised children their. Something of an us and them contrast still exists. I liked going to eat at local places with what I call the “real people,” the people who did not have that strange, gaunt physical appearance and beige/colorless dress. Many of those visiting when I was there commented right away on the proliferation of people who looked ill, rather than healthy and blissful, on campus and around campus. They all took on a rather creepy sameness in a strange giant look that among the men, manifests in a common insect-like look! So many of the middle aged and older men look like walking Praying Mantises! Skinny, gaunt, unhealthy looking. If this is what a Vedic diet does to white Westerners, no thank you! The Indians, by contrast, do NOT gain this look — leading many of us to conclude this diet is not good for Westerners. It’s a genetic and cultural thing.

    The women, many of them, have the look of gaunt pioneers, dressing in an almost Amish fashion, or Mennonite fashion, sans only the headress.

    What’s with all that?

    As for the kids raised in this sequestered, unnatural atmosphere, it can’t help but lead to depression or rebellion. The rebellious are better off — like any kids raised in a commune. Essentially this is a commune. And a kid who is raised in Fairfield and goes to nothing but Movement schools and goes to college at MUM, will be clueless to go out and act and be successful in the “real” world. In the relative. And I would point out that Maharishi NEVER taught this — he wanted to equip people to be hugely successful in the world, and hugely successful in their spiritual evolution toward enlightenment.

    This is what happens when the leader has passed on . . . I found the look of many people of TM in Fairfield to be downright frightening.

    1. I think you are right the diet is not right for westerners… Maybe the rice and beans eaters are afraid if they eat anything else they are not gonna get enlightened.

  39. As a former ordained meditation monk of 14 years in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship Monastic Order, I experienced such shame, guilt, and fear of not living up to the perfection of the divine examples of the gurus, saints, and senior disciples. The psychological damage can be irreversible and dozens of monastics had psychotic breakdowns, including myself on one occasion.

    The website explores the hidden (and often darkside) of meditation and we have some great discussions in the comments, like here for this article.

    Thank you for sharing your article and comments

  40. The sidhis are great… especially when done in the domes but… the administrators have been doing everything possible to make it uncomfortable. Literally kicking people around from place to place, messing around if it was not for that everyone would be enlightened by now. Plus the domes are full of old bullies who literally have no shame in life. They have done more stealing there than I have ever experienced in big cities, even. Enlightenment LOL… Everyone complains too much but at the same time, there is no compassion for individual needs. Come to FF if you want to be kicked around.

  41. Why are these issues made so complex? Everyone has a specific disposition and they will respond according to their inherent nature. One person may feel the need to see a psychotherapist to cope with their soul issue or seek out more metaphysical practices. Each person and circumstance will be unique a diversification of tools may be necessary to alleviate the suffering of the psycho spiritual being.
    An approach that I do see being useful is allowing people to speak their truth and be their authentic selves. Removing the veil off of who we were told to be or who were conditioned to be forces one to take a serious look into the essence of our true nature which is neither holy nor Evil, it just is and we have the power to shape our essence into the experience that is most beneficial for our life’s journey.

  42. Pingback: Bleeding Heartland
  43. After spending years involved in TM, including attending a teacher training course, I eventually came to see the movement as a cult. Ironically, it was the teacher training course that marked the beginning of my perception of the movement as something other than it claimed to be.
    The denial that its roots are clearly part of the Vedic culture, which makes it inherently religious, was only one of the many issues that I gradually realized, as I grew more and more disillusioned with the entire movement.
    My experiences with people who lived in Fairfield were similar to those of some of the other commentators who mentioned the disturbing lack of individuality, not only in outward appearances, but also a deeper blankness in their demeanor.
    And, as in any cult, there was always a standard answer to any criticism of the various utopian goals the movement claims to have achieved.

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