Transcending is coming in contact with our true self…and redefining who we really are
There are plenty of examples on this website of the profound changes that the experience of transcending can create (see here for a short overview of the most spectacular effects of TM). The question may come, however, how a simple relaxation technique can cause such profound effects on all areas of life, especially since other meditation and relaxation techniques don’t appear to have nearly the same effects? There must be something about the experience of transcending that is far more profound than simple relaxation. On this page we investigate what transcending really is.
There are many theories about who we are, about the nature of consciousness. Now it seems that the oldest theory of them all appears to be the right one. The ancient vedic texts, described how consciousness is a field, something that permeates everything in Nature, and connects everything with everything else, but that somehow gets an individual expression of consciousness through a human body. At the source of our thoughts we are intimately connected to everone and everything around us, and when we transcend we have a direct experience of this connection.
You can see what’s below as a theory that you don’t need to agree with, or even read, to have effects from your TM practice. TM is a scientific natural technique that doesn’t require any beliefs or intellectual understanding. We don’t need this theory to practice TM, but we do need it to be able to explain why transcending, and only transcending, has such remarkable effects on all areas of life.
What is our “true self”? Who are we?
Most scientists today think that consciousness is the result of all kinds of electrical processes in our brain. Just like millions of switches in the processor chip of a computer work together to create the experience of the software, so there are millions of electrical and chemical processes in our brain which, all together, create the experience of our consciousness.
We are, in their view, some kind of very sophisticated robots, nothing more, nothing no less.
The computer analogy actually sounds logical, because it does seem to match our experience perfectly. We all know that when we put our computer in sleep mode, the software will stop working (sleep). If some parts of the computer’s hardware aren’t functioning properly, this has a clear influence on the quality of the software (brain damage). And if the hardware is broken, then it’s “game over” (death).
The fact that medical sciences have in recent years evolved to the point where they can explain precisely how specific functions of the brain can bring about specific experiences only strengthens this viewpoint. It seems to leave no other possibility: the hardware creates the software.
But still, in our hearts we know and feel that we are not just walking machines. Robot’s don’t have warmth, creativity, feelings, love. It’s exactly all these qualities that make us human, different from machines.
For thousands of years we have felt a conflict between what our minds tell us and what our hearts tell us, but the answer has been there all along.
And so there’s a conflict. Our intellect tells us one thing, our hearts something else. This conflict has been going on for thousands of years, ever since the days of the early greek philosophers.
But the answer has been with us since the beginning of time, we only have to change our perspective a little. It is possible to be both closely linked to our bodies, like software to the hardware of a computer, and still be more than purely mechanical beings. What if we use another analogy to describe the functioning of the human nervous system, not like a computer, but like a radio.
Imagine that someone doesn’t know how a radio works, then what does he see? If he turns off the radio, the music stops playing. If he starts messing around with the hardware of the radio, then this will have a clear influence on the quality of the music, and if he breaks the hardware completely, there is no more music.
Someone who doesn’t know better would be convinced that the music is being created by the radio itself, in the same way hardware creates software.
But of course we do know better. A radio is just a complex device that allows us to give a local expression to a vibration on a field, a field that is much bigger than the physical boundaries of the radio itself. We also know that this field is also able to generate different kinds of music at the same time, by vibrating at different frequencies: 97.5 FM: Classical – 101.3 FM: rock – 105.6 FM: dance etc.
Likewise we could compare human consciousness to a wave on the ocean. There is one ocean that rises into different waves simultaneously. Each wave is unique, different than the other waves, but they are still a part of the same ocean. Each human body is then more or less like a radio, tuned into a specific unique frequency so each and every one of us has their own personal music, our thoughts.
We see that this analogy does not conflict with all the discoveries of our modern medical sciences. Just like the music is still linked to the functioning of the radio, so is our consciousness still linked to our brains. Yet at the same time this analogy allows us to paint a much broader picture of our true nature.
If we are all connected to each other, why can’t we experience this? Actually we do, all of us, every single day.
In essence this hypothesis means that we are all connected to each other at the source of our mind. But then the logical question is: “if we really are connected to each other, why can’t we feel this?” Actually we do feel this, everyone of us. When there’s an appeal to donate some money to help people at the other side of the world survive after a natural disaster has struck, a lot of us do want to help. Why should we? A robot wouldn’t bother. But we do, because we’re not robots. We’re humans, and to be human means to feel connected to other human beings.
Love is exactly how we experience that connection. That is what love is, a feeling of feeling connected to others.
The problem is that we only use a very limited part of our mental potential, and as such this experience of love (and all other aspects of life) is very limited. The part that is described by modern psychology as the “conscious mind” could be compared to only the top part of the wave. Everything else is hidden in our “subconsciousness”. It’s there, but we are unable to consciously experience it. At its base, in the deepest part of our subconsciousness, the wave merges with the ocean, the level at which we all are connected, or what Carl Jung described as the “collective unconscious”.
Why do we only use a small part of our mental potential? Because we forgot how train the mind to use more.
But why are we unable to experience these deeper levels of our mind? Because we forgot how we can train the mind, and the brain to experience these. Our mind works like a muscle, when we train it, it grows, if we don’t train it, it weakens. When our attention is focused outward, focused on one particular point of attention, then it is like we only enliven the top local part of the wave. When we go through live only keeping our attention there, this will be the only area of our mind that we consciously develop. All the rest stays hidden.
What happens during TM practice? The mind naturally starts to experience finer levels of thoughts, and it is as if the wave sinks into the ocean, until we transcend (= go beyond) the finest stage of thought and come into a state of pure being. The wave merges completely with the ocean and we will have a conscious experience of the ocean itself, a conscious experience of our true, unlimited nature. The wave will return afterwards, but the qualities of our true nature will to some extend remain in our mind. A memory of our true nature will remain. Through regular repetition of this experience we start to develop our full mental potential.
Through this analogy we can start to understand from yet another perspective why the experience of transcending can only be reached in a completely effortless and natural way. If we make an effort, as we do with almost any concentration techniques, we really only keep the mind active. And as long as the mind is active, the wave will remain in its individual wave form. Only a completely silent wave will merge with the ocean. This is why the fact that TM is completely natural and effortless is not just a nice-to-have, but is the essence of its effectiveness.
The more we transcend, the stronger the memory remains, and the more our true nature is noticeable in our everyday acts. All spectacular improvements that one would have noticed with TM in almost all areas of life, are a result of this. This is the difference between normal relaxation and real transcendence.
All the research on the TM technique is really research that shows us:
1. How remarkable the power of the body is to heal itself, and
2. What our true nature is.
Qualities of the ocean: unity
We can describe the qualities of the ocean, this field of consciousness and the source of life, in different ways, but ultimately it all comes down to the same quality, namely unity.
These days it is very popular in new age literature to describe concepts of how we all are connected to each other, but what most people don’t realise is that unity today is becoming much more of a scientific reality. The latest discoveries in physics indicate a reality of a universal field of consciousness that lies at the origin of our full material universe. see unity, a scientific reality?
By individually analysing these qualities of unity we not only obtain a much clearer image of why Transcendental Meditation has such exceptional effects, but it also helps us to better understand our own human qualities.
Unity = Life: creativity, intelligence, self-consciousness
The latest discoveries in physics show an image of a universe in which life isn’t something that just happens to walk around here and there in an otherwise dead material world. Rather it shows that life is something universal, a universal field of consciousness. Life, which is intelligence, creativity and consciousness is everywhere in Nature, and human nature is a part of Nature. Human life exists because the human body functions like a radio, and is able to give individual expression to this field.
If we look at it from a purely logical perspective the computer analogy actually never made sense. A collection of dead material little balls, like atoms in computerchips, no matter how many there are together, will never create life. But life, with it’s qualities of intelligence and creativity, can perfectly create material things. Just look at any sculptor.
By transcending we get back in touch with the source of the life. TM practitioners feel more alive, healthier, and become more self-aware, (see transcending = being yourself) and become more intelligent and creative.
Unity = pure positivity: Growth, evolution, happiness, peace
In our daily life we speak of opposite values, everything is relative to something else: warm-cold, light-dark, love-hate, positive-negative, ups and downs. At the level of unity these contradictions disappear and only one quality remains, which the ancient texts described as pure positivity. We can observe this quality in nature through the fact that everything is always growing and evolving to a better state. We can observe this quality in ourselves when we feel happy. Happiness is an expression of our true (positive) nature. Unity is also linked to peace. When all contradictions disappear, so do all conflicts, so that only peace can remain.
The first thing that TM practitioners usually experience is a deeper state of inner peace and happiness. (This can be measured objectively through the increase of the happiness hormone serotonine in the brain during TM practice). In the long term this state of inner happiness and peace will remain outside of the meditation, when the experience becomes more and more ingrained in our personality.
“Don’t fight the darkness, just turn the light on” Maharishi
By enlivening positivity in our consciousness, negativity will disappear. Stress will disappear, negative thoughts, depression and fear disappear, just like the darkness that automatically disappears when the light is switched on. It’s really that simple.
Unity is being connected: love
Love is the feeling of feeling connected to someone else. On a superficial level in our daily life we only feel this connection to a limited extent, with a small group of people to whom we’re very close, our partners, family, friends, etc. At the source of our mind, the ocean, we are connected to everyone. Sometimes we experience this. When we indeed send money to people at the other side of the world in order to help them after a natural disaster, for example. These are people that we have never met, with whom we have no physical connection whatsoever. And yet we feel connected, we still want to help. Because we are connected..
TM practitioners that regularly experience this reality will feel these qualities grow. They become more loving in their relationships, start treating other people better, feel a stronger connection to nature etc.
Unity = Omniscience
At the level of our everyday life we only have limited knowledge of what happens in our direct environment, things we can observe with our senses and analyze with our intellect. At the level of the ocean we speak of a reality in which everything is connected, and where information is available about everything. Most people sense that they subconsciously know a lot more than what is only in their conscious mind. Sometimes impulses from within that level reach our conscious mind, which we percieve as intuition, a gut feeling that we know more than our intellect is able to tell us. Some people have more talent for intuitive matters than others, just like how some people have more talent for a sport or for playing the piano. They have just developed an ability that is innate to everyone.
TM practitioners do not only experience their intuition improving, but even getting the right thought at the right time, as if a super computer exists that is able to calculate all outcomes of all possible thoughts and then, in line with its purely positive nature, creates the thought that will have the most positive effect, both for the individual and his surroundings.
A good example of spontaneously getting the right thought comes from the students of the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in the United States. This is a small school on Iowa, where children practice Transcendental Meditation throughout primary and secondary school. These students have won the world championships in Destination Imagination’s creative problem solves 4 times already (a series of competitions in which every year 100.000 of the world’s most creative children take part). No other school in the world has been able to replicate this. They just have the right creative solution at the right time. This extraordinary success is one of the reasons why more and more governments support TM in education.
Unity = Infinite organising power
At the level of the ocean everything is created from within the ocean. At this level we speak of omnipotence, or an infinite organising power. Individuals have the ability to create, not only with their hands, but even at the level of their own consciousness. In New Age literature these days there is a lot of mention of positive thinking, visualisations and affirmations. When we focus on positive things, we notice that our environment becomes more effectively positive and supportive, is how the theory goes.
In practice this only works for some people, while for most it will take a long time before they really notice any effect, because we try to create an influence from the most superficial part of our conscious mind.
It’s a bit like throwing a stone into a lake from a far distance. You can only throw a small stone, and the waves that you’re able to create (the influence that you can create) aren’t very big, hardly noticeable. By practicing TM we start to learn how to use a larger part of our mental potential, and it’s like we’re getting closer to the lake. We are now able to throw bigger stones, with bigger effects.
TM practitioners will notice in time that not only will they get the right thought spontaneously, but they will also get more support from their environment for a successful outcome of that thought. In religious terms one could say that it’s like “God’s will” supports the thought, and everything is organised to make the thought of wish happen. This is why TM practitioners generally have more success, both personally and professionally.
Studies in Norway for example have observed that the difference between people who are extremely successful and normal people is directly linked to how coherent the brain works as a whole (a way to objectively measure how transcendent our consciousness is integrated into everyday life). The difference between normal managers and top managers, and normal athletes and world-class athletes, is in the brain. (see developing brain potential)
Unity, measurable in the brain
All these concepts may sound very abstract and may seem far from practical daily life, but with modern technology we can see the practical effects immediately. Through EEG coherence measurements, we can see in real time how our brain gets more interconnected, and start to function more as one unified whole. EEG coherence has been linked to decreased ADHD, impulsivity, neurotism and emotional instability, and increased ethical behaviour (more love), intelligence, creativity. It has also been linked to improved learning ability, faster reflexes, better academic results etc. Everything that makes human life so special appears to improve when our brains start to function more as one unified whole. And transcending is the most powerful method ever researched to create this more unified functioning.
Unity = Invincibility
Transcending has an effect in all areas of life, and all at the same time, because it brings us in contact with the source of all life. This is confirmed in more than 600 researches and 350 publications around TM. But all these improvements are only side effects of a total new state that grows within our consciousness, a state that Maharishi liked to describe with the word “invincibility”.
In this state our inner peace and happiness are invincible, nothing and no one can disturb it. In this state we have invincible self-awareness, we will always remain ourselves, whatever happens. In this state we have invincible creative potential. There is no problem to which we can find no solution (a bit like the students of the Maharishi school, they aren’t fully invincible, they haven’t yet won every world championship, but more than any other school in the world). In this state we feel invincible connectedness, a love for others that can not be overshadowed by anything or anyone.
The message that Maharishi has brought from the beginning was that that it’s a birth right for everyone to experience this state. This is the real life. We just have to learn how to get back in touch with its source.
“I call my method meditation, but it is, in fact, a technique of self-exploration; it enables a man to dive into the innermost reaches of his being, in which dwell the essence of life and the source of all wisdom, all creativity, all peace, and all happiness…The word meditation is not new, nor are the benefits of meditation new…But for centuries the technique of meditation of this kind has been forgotten. This is why man suffers, or seems to suffer.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi