Impact of mantra recital, etc.

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at GMX.LI
Tue May 16 06:06:00 UTC 2000

Am 12 May 2000, um 21:51 schrieb Vidyasankar Sundaresan:

<color><param>7F00,0000,0000</param>> Without taking sides in this debate, let me just say that if I

> were a vipassana teacher, I would find disadvantages with TM too.

> And vice versa, I may add. There are deep-rooted religious

> politics going on in the background, as far as such claims are

> concerned.

</color>This is a very relevant observation. Perhaps we should say that
even more than "politics", commerce and marketing are involved.
TM has been marketed very well, and therefore it has drawn a lot of
attention and is the best known meditational system from India in
the West in recent times. As a result, even if there are more than
"600 published scientific studies" on TM, the sheer number should
not convince us that TM in itself is superior to other systems as a
method. (To give a parallel illustration: the Bible has been
translated more than any other book, and very scrupulously too.
This is no proof that Christianity is a superior religion, or that the
Bible is the best piece of world literature.)

I would actually go one step further than Vidyasankar Sundaresan
and assume that the "politics", "marketing" etc. are crucial in
determining the effectiveness and personal desirability of a method.
For instance, speaking for myself: I find it suspect that an
organisation that says so much about ancient Indian and 'Vedic'
this-and-that under the leadership of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
cannot get its Sanskrit sandhi right (unlike, e.g., Ramana
Maharshi. Observant readers will already have understood what I
mean). This one detail is so disturbing that I will never be able to
trust the leader or his organisation fully, even if most of what they
say proves to be no nonsense; and this disturbance is bound to
affect the efficaciousness of their methods in my individual case.

(The above is *not* an invitation for TM justifications such as
"sandhi is old-fashioned", "the guru knows best", "you must be
wrong because you aren't an Indian", etc. I have heard them all
before, and they do not convince.)

Given the huge variety of such possible individual variables that
could be <color><param>0000,0000,0000</param>relevant, we must wonder how meaningfully scientific
those 600 studies can be (assuming that the word "scientific"
means, as seems to be customary on this anglosaxon list,
"materially countable / measurable with the use of machines").


Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
Institut fuer Indologie und Tamilistik
Universitaet zu Koeln
E-mail zydenbos at
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