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The Healing Power of Transcendental Meditation

By William T. Hathaway

I suffered a brain injury at birth. An EEG test showed chaotic, abnormal brain waves, and in school I had attention deficit disorder. I couldn’t concentrate and my thoughts were cloudy. My grades were mediocre, and I flunked out of my first university. I wanted to become a writer, but my writing was disorganized and unclear. In despair I took marijuana and other drugs, but they made my thoughts even foggier.

Then I started Transcendental Meditation. My thoughts became clearer, and I didn’t want drugs anymore. I could concentrate. And I could write. One of my essays gained me entrance to a much better university, Columbia in New York City, and this time my grades were so good I received a scholarship. My first novel won a Rinehart Foundation Award, and I became a professor of creative writing. I’ve now published eight books and many shorter pieces.

My EEG now shows normal, orderly brain waves with no sign of damage. TM healed my birth injury and gave me access to my talent and mental abilities. Without meditation, this change would not have occurred.

How did it happen? Physiologists have discovered that during Transcendental Meditation nourishing blood flow to the brain increases by 20%. Our brain waves become more coherent, synchronizing and coordinating across both hemispheres, an indication of more integrated mental functioning. The whole brain becomes more activated, and that gives us access to more of our potential. In the blood stream arginine vasopressin, a hormone that improves memory and learning ability, increases, as do serotonin and melatonin, hormones that indicate relaxation and well being. Adrenalin, cortisol, blood lactate, and blood pressure decrease, indicating lessened anxiety. The effortless process of TM produces mental and physical rest that is twice as deep as in sleep, although we’re fully awake. This rejuvenating state enables the body’s self-healing mechanism to repair the damage from traumatic events and illnesses. With these blockages gone we are more able to develop our full capabilities.

Physiological studies published in independent peer-reviewed journals indicate that TM creates this state of deep rest and removes these stress blockages more effectively than other forms of meditation: http://www.truthabouttm.org/truth/TMResearch/ComparisonofTechniques/index.cfm.

Research on the physiological changes: http://www.truthabouttm.org/truth/TMResearch/TMResearchSummary/SummaryContinued/index.cfm – physiology.

More information on the effects of TM on attention deficit disorder: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/schools.html.

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William T. Hathaway’s new book, Lila, the Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old Indian girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

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Hacking Consciousness – The Stanford University Video Series

Hacking Consciousness

The Stanford University Video Series

Reviewed by William T. Hathaway

This new Stanford video series investigates consciousness as the source of not only the human mind but also of all energy and matter. Consciousness is seen as the essence of the universe, a unified field which gives rise to and pervades all manifest phenomena. Five scientists from different disciplines describe how we can contact this field and use it to improve our lives. The series, designed by Michael Heinrich, is now available free on YouTube.

The intellectual background of the series is a fascinating conflict affecting all of us that is now going on in science and philosophy, centering on the question, What is the basis of the universe? In the 19th century advances in physics, chemistry, and biology led to an empiricist understanding of nature, and Enlightenment philosophy replaced superstition and myth. Leading thinkers in all these disciplines agreed that the universe is just matter in motion governed by natural laws which are open to human understanding. Reality is fundamentally material. Humans and other animals interact with an objective, external world through sensory input mediated by our consciousness, which is a neuro-chemical phenomenon of our brain cells. Thoughts are just reflections of the material world in the brain.

Early in the 20th century, though, experiments by physicists shattered this view of the world. Their studies of subatomic particles revealed facts incompatible with the classical materialist paradigm. Matter, supposedly the basis of the universe, proved to be insubstantial at the quantum scale, disappearing into wave functions that have only potential existence. Also at this scale the position and speed of an elementary particle are interrelated in such a way that it is impossible to know both of them. The more exactly one is determined, the more uncertain the other becomes, so motion can’t be predicted.

More amazing yet, an objective world independent of the observer doesn’t exist. The particles and the observer are linked at the quantum scale; the very act of observation affects the matter being observed. The realm of discrete objects is transcended and everything becomes united in an indivisible whole that is inherently subjective, since nothing else exists but that. Matter is continually emerging from and dissolving back into an abstract, nonmaterial unified field. The unified field is the ultimate reality, the source of the manifest universe. The frontier of science now lies in discovering more about this transcendental field.

This research sent shock waves not just through science but through the whole culture. Idealist philosophers, who maintain that the universe is fundamentally just thoughts and who had been pushed out to the fringes of philosophy by 19th-century empiricism, now seized upon these facts as proof that matter doesn’t exist. Even some distinguished physicists such as Niels Bohr and James Jeans went to the extreme of trying to replace physical reality with human consciousness. The new knowledge also inspired postmodern philosophy, which declares reality to be a totally subjective collection of individual narratives without any overarching coherence.

The materialists, including many conventional physicists, fought back, deriding these theories as solipsistic nonsense based on unwarranted conclusions drawn from scanty evidence. They were confident that research in the future would confirm their view. But none has appeared, and the two sides have been at loggerheads for decades now. In true dialectical fashion a materialist thesis has been challenged by an idealist antithesis, and the two sides are locked in conflict. According to dialectics, this clash of mutually exclusive opposites will lead to a new synthesis that incorporates elements of both but at a higher level of knowledge. This is how science progresses, how our understanding of the world increases.

In the first session of Hacking Consciousness, John Hagelin, who has a PhD from Harvard in quantum physics, discusses how that synthesis is emerging now and from a surprising angle. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who had a master’s degree in physics and then studied metaphysics with one of the great swamis of India, was able to fuse these two contradictory positions into a new wholeness. His knowledge of both sides of the dichotomy enabled him to develop a new paradigm that overcomes the binary opposition and gives us a deeper understanding of matter.

His starting point was the fact that both the universe and our minds have a similar, parallel structure. Both are composed of layers progressing from gross to subtle, from manifest to potential, each state very different from the previous. The gross, macroscopic level of the universe is the reality we perceive with our senses. The laws of classical mechanics accurately describe its activities.

Beneath it lie molecular, atomic, and subatomic levels whose activities can’t be accurately described by classical mechanics. The new science of quantum mechanics was developed to explain these levels of reality. Then physicists discovered that quanta — the tiniest physical unit — manifest out of quantum fields which in turn have their source in a unified field of unmanifest potentiality. The laws of nature differ enough at these levels so that each needs to be dealt with on its own terms. We can’t necessarily apply the laws of one level to another; they are related but still quite different realities. For example, dynamism is far greater at the finer levels than at the surface: nuclear power is millions of times stronger than chemical power.

The mind has a similar progression. The surface level is our ordinary thinking awareness which mediates our sense impressions of the macroscopic level of the universe. Beneath that surface lie subtler, subconscious levels of mental activity that science is beginning to explore. Underlying it all is a transcendental field out of which thoughts arise and which mystics, artists, and philosophers of all cultures have contacted and described as a reservoir of creativity and dynamism.

Maharishi revived the ancient Vedic technique of Transcendental Meditation, which allows the mind to effortlessly move from the surface down through the subconscious until it reaches this source of thought, an abstract, unbounded field where all thoughts fall away and the mind is left alert but nonactive, aware of its own nature, of its oneness with the universe. Here in the silent, thought-free state of transcendental consciousness the split between subject and object, observer and observed, is overcome, and the ultimate reality of unity is experienced. This is the state of samadhi, in which the mind absorbs some of the concentrated energy of that unified field and emerges ready for more fulfilling activity. EEG studies indicate that TM, due to its effortlessness, achieves this state of least mental excitation more effectively than other forms of meditation: http://www.truthabouttm.org/truth/TMResearch/ComparisonofTechniques/index.cfm.

Maharishi realized that thoughts are the mental equivalent of quanta and that the unified field we experience in samadhi is the same as the unified field underlying the universe. This discovery affects all of our lives because it shows that each of us contains the essence of the universe; in fact in the state of samadhi, where our individual boundaries fade and we merge with wholeness, each of us is the universe. But when we come out, we’re back in the boundaries of surface reality, and there to say that we are the universe is mere solipsism. Each reality needs to be respected on its own terms.

Other teachers from the Orient have taken the idealist position and stated that the manifest universe is just maya, an illusion. But Maharishi integrated the materialist and idealist positions and showed that both are true at their own level. These levels are different realities with their own laws of nature that are valid there. Our surface world really is composed of matter in motion, and that matter and its motions can be reliably measured. The fact that it manifests out of a nonmaterial unified field doesn’t make it an illusion. Manifestations are real at their level.

Hagelin presents theoretical and experimental evidence that the unified field of physics and the unified field of consciousness are identical — i.e., that during the meditative state, human awareness directly experiences the unified field at the foundation of the universe.

The other speakers in the series discuss the implications of this new knowledge for their disciplines. They include Tony Nader, an MD with a PhD in physiology from MIT; Jon Lipman, an architect and vastu expert; Pamela Peeke, an MD and nutritionist; and Fred Travis, a brain-wave expert with a PhD in neuroscience.

Like most cutting edge research, their findings are controversial. After watching the videos you should decide for yourself how they fit with your ideas. One of the good features of YouTube is that you can share your opinions there with others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ4Uv-5_3VM&list=PLP-XVUpWZ-wWtKmq7F3Ff0aHY1NdvXSuj&index=1. (If the images flicker, try them on full-screen mode.)

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William T. Hathaway’s new book, Lila, the Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old Indian girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted at www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.


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Transcending Death

By William T. Hathaway 

Death. The very word casts a pall of doom. Why is it so upsetting to us? Perhaps because it conflicts with two different ways in which we know the world. If both of these ways told us we are nothing more than matter, merely a conjunction of atoms, death wouldn’t bother us. We would just accept that as the way the world is. But we know intuitively that we are immortal beings. Our sense perceptions, though, tell us we die and cease to exist. We see that the person we knew is gone. The body lying there is not them at all. Where are they? Where are we going to be when we die? How can an immortal being cease to exist? This contradiction between two kinds of knowing creates an epistemological crisis in us. What is really true?

The contradiction is bridged when we reach the state of samadhi in Transcendental Meditation . In samadhi we transcend, go beyond, our thoughts and our everyday, relative self. We leave them behind, analogous to dying and leaving the body, and we shift into the transcendental Self, the field of consciousness that manifests and animates the universe. Our individual boundaries drop away, and we merge with this unified field where everything becomes one. But paradoxically we’re still us; we don’t disappear into it. Instead we experience this field as the interface between God and the universe, filled with divine love, energy, and intelligence. But we usually experience it only for a few moments; it’s too overwhelming for us to stay longer. We think How wonderful! and are pulled out into the relative again, back into thoughts and boundaries. But our minds have been infused with some of the qualities of that field, and we bring those into our activity, making our life more energetic and enjoyable.

After many experiences of leaving the small self and merging with the big Self but still maintaining an individual identity, we no longer fear death. We understand that just as we join with the transcendental field in meditation and then return from it again, we join with it in death, rest awhile, and then return in a new body filled with desires to experience relative life. But once all our desires are fulfilled (the state of enlightenment), we don’t take another body. We stay there with God. Why go anywhere?

# William T. Hathaway’s first book, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new one, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns Transcendental Meditation and the environmental crisis: www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. He was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org


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“Visit to the Brahmasthan” – by William T. Hathaway

Residence buildings at the Brahmasthan of India. Source: globalgoodnews.com

Residence buildings at the Brahmasthan of India. Source: globalgoodnews.com

Visit to the Brahmasthan of India

By William T. Hathaway

I’ve had wonderful results in my active life from Transcendental Meditation — clearer thinking, more energy, more success — but I’ve had very few experiences while meditating. A couple of times a year I might have a few moments when the thoughts thin out enough for me to sense there is a field of silence underlying them. Very rarely I’ve glimpsed a bit of glow coming from that underlying field. I treasure these few moments.

I recently visited the community that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi built at the central point of India, the Brahmasthan. Two thousand Pandits live there, meditating and performing Vedic ceremonies. In my first program in the yogic flying hall I felt deep silence as soon as I started meditating. And it didn’t go away as it always had before. It lasted, and it glowed. When I started the sutras, I gradually became aware that the silence had an energy to it, an inner dynamism. As I went on, joy began radiating from it like sunlight.

When I started yogic flying, I could sense this whole field was alive, filled with divine Beings. There was Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and others whose names I didn’t know. There was Maharishi, Guru Dev, and Shankara. As I made great leaps, they told me, “We are bringing you up! We are bringing you up!” They were raising me into the air, but like cosmic parents they were also raising me into the full adulthood of higher consciousness. And amazingly enough, as good parents, they loved me.

I could perceive that they weren’t dwelling only in the transcendent but were permeating the whole atmosphere of the Brahmasthan. Then they weren’t just permeating the place but also permeating me. Then they were me. At this, I was totally enveloped in divine love. I was divine love. The unity of creation became a living reality. I had heard this statement before, but now it was no longer abstract. It was me. And this is going on all the time in full glory whether I’m perceiving it or not.

For the next four weeks I didn’t perceive it at all, just my usual mantra and thoughts, sutra and thoughts. Then at the end of the final Vedic chanting ceremony of my visit, I felt a sensation in the area of my heart. It was Maharishi! He was suddenly there, as if he’d just popped in. Then I realized he had been there all along, but I had only now become aware of him, as when a statue is unveiled and you can finally see it. This was no statue though, but a living presence. I remembered the section of the puja that describes the guru as “ever-dwelling in the lotus of my heart.” I could see this wasn’t a figure of speech but a statement of fact. Devotion poured from me to him, and I basked in his approval.

People were leaving the hall, and as I stood up, his presence expanded to become like a hollow tube running from the top of my head to the base of my spine. My awareness was centered inside the tube, and I was perceiving everything from this inner core of silence. This is my Brahmasthan, I suddenly knew. People too have Brahmasthans, a transcendental center out of which activity manifests.

I started walking, but I wasn’t walking. I ate a prasad banana, but I wasn’t eating. Walking was happening and eating was happening, but I wasn’t doing them. I was observing it all like a king on a throne enjoying the activity of my kingdom but not involved in it, totally free within myself. This is delightful, I thought, but what is it?

This is the Self, Maharishi explained. The one great Self that enlivens the universe. You are in the Self now, and that is separate from activity.

That sounds like enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, I thought.

Yes, Maharishi told me. Just a glimpse of what awaits you.

Gradually the glimpse faded, and my real identity became overshadowed by relative activity. Now that I’ve had these experiences, though, I know my deeper reality and I’ll never be the same again.

* William T. Hathaway’s first novel, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new book, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns TM and the environmental crisis: www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. He was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org


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Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, by William T. Hathaway

New Novel

Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, William T. Hathaway’s just-published book, concerns Transcendental Meditation and the environmental crisis.¬†

It is set in 2026 as the earth’s ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Water supplies are shrinking. Rain is rare, and North America is gripped in the Great Drought with crops withering and forests dying. In the midst of environmental and social collapse, an old woman and a young man set out to heal nature and reactivate the cycle of flow by using techniques of higher consciousness. But the corporations that control the remaining water lash out to stop them. A blend of adventure, ecology, and mystic wisdom, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness is a frightening but hopeful look into a future that is looming closer every day.

An odd couple, Bob, 18, and Jane, 77, meet at a California hot springs and set out together on a quest. Jane is convinced North America’s water has retreated into a deep subterranean aquifer, and she is searching for the place where it comes close enough to the surface to access it. She teaches him to meditate, and their visions help them find the cavern that connects to the water.

A selection:

Jane and I drive around to the north side of Mt. Shasta, hoping to be able to sense the subterranean springs from there. In the moonlight the mountain looks like a silver pyramid soaring up from the horizon into the starry purple night. The ancient volcano is lord of all it surveys. Veils of clouds are blowing around its peak.

We find a grassy glade in the forest, but the grass is dry and brittle and the tree branches droop from the drought. As we are spreading our blankets out to meditate, motion on the other side of the clearing catches our eyes. Out of the trees steps a black-tailed doe. She sees us and pauses, one foot raised, sniffing, listening, looking. Jane and I stare enthralled. As the doe gazes at us, our eyes join across the space, across the species. Communication flows between us: cautious curiosity about a fellow creature. She breaks contact, begins nibbling, then looks back at us as if saying, As long as you stay on your side, it’s OK.

We watch her in delight until she trots off, then we close our eyes to meditate. At first my mantra goes with my heartbeat then slows and goes with my breath. The sound stretches out into a long hum floating through me. I seem to be beyond my skin, filling the whole clearing. I feel like I’m sinking into the earth. I want to hold on, to keep from disappearing, but something tells me to let everything go. I free-fall through space, then realize it’s impossible to fall because there’s no down. I’m hovering … like a dragonfly over water. The sound fades away, leaving me without thoughts. I seem to expand beyond all space and boundaries to unite with everything. For a moment I know I am everything, the whole universe, but as soon as I think, I’m everything, I’m not anymore. I’m just Bob Parks sitting on a blanket over cold ground.

I start the mantra again. Its whisper clears my thoughts away, and my mind becomes quiet. Part of me is watching the quietness of my mind and enjoying it. I never knew I had this watching part before. It doesn’t need to think. It’s just there, aware of everything but separate from it — a wise old part of me.

I realize I’m off the mantra, drifting on thoughts, so I pick up the sound again and follow it as it gets fainter and finer until it becomes more visual, pulsing light behind my closed eyes. It seems to shine into something, a big cavern that’s inside of me but also outside of me. The boundaries between me and everything else disappear — no difference now between inside and outside. I can see dimly into the cavern. The walls and ceiling are crystal, its facets glinting in the mantra light. Below them in all directions stretches a vast dark sea of water, its ripples gleaming. It’s deep, deep as the earth, and I want to plunge in and dive all the way to the bottom. I’m sitting above it. Down there beneath me, beneath these rocks and dirt, rests the water.

I can sense this sea’s immensity, stretching from California under the Great Basin of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, the parched American desert, the last place the corporate drillers would’ve looked. We’re sitting by the tip of it closest to the surface. From here it goes deeper and deeper, soaking through strata of sand and porous rock, a huge aquifer waiting to be freed and flow again.

I want to jump up and yell, “I found it!” but that thought makes it disappear. I take a deep breath and am back sitting cross-legged on my blanket. Too stunned to say anything, I lie back and feel the ground under me, this good ground with all that good water under it.

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A further sample of Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness is posted at http://www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. William T. Hathaway’s other books include A World of Hurt (Rinehart Foundation Award), CD-Ring, Summer Snow, and Radical Peace: People Refusing War. He and his wife, Daniela, direct the Transcendental Meditation Center in Oldenburg, Germany. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.


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You Are God

William T. Hathaway

William T. Hathaway

You Are God Who? … Me?

By William T. Hathaway

The statement “You are God” seems an absurd and presumptuous blasphemy, so it needs to be clarified. According to the Vedic tradition and panentheism, it’s not just you who are God; all of us are God. And it’s not just all of us who are God; everything is God. God is the universe in synergy, the whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

This contradicts mainstream Western theology, which is based on a split between creator and creature. According to this view, God made the universe with us in it and is now observing our behavior, rewarding us or punishing us based on our obedience to His rules.

The religions of the East and the mystic traditions of the West have a different view: God became the universe, manifested it, is it. Rather than observing the universe, God lives it. The universe is God’s active side, engaged in time, space, and matter. God is more than the universe, but there is nothing in it that isn’t God.

But if it’s true that we are God, why are we in such an ungodly mess? Because our unity with God is a living reality only in a higher state of consciousness. Reality, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said, is different in different states of consciousness. Ordinarily we experience three state of consciousness: deep sleep, dreaming, or waking. Each has its own reality with distinctive physiological parameters of brain waves, blood chemistry, and metabolic rate.

Waking state is the realm of duality. Here we are bound in the relativity of time, space, and matter, so we perceive separations between ourselves and others. In waking state the idea that we are God is nonsensical. It contradicts our perceptions.

But it’s possible to experience a fourth state of consciousness that has its own reality and physiology. It’s called transcendental consciousness because it’s beyond the other three, existing at a more fundamental level. Here the duality and materiality of waking state are only surface conditions. The deeper underlying reality is unity, where the separations fade and everything, including matter, is experienced as one unified field of consciousness. Here your individual thinking mind merges with the mind of God. You’re no longer just a part of God. You transcend the boundaries of your small self and expand into the one great Self, the divine spirit animating the universe. All separations between you and God disappear, and you become One.

In transcendental consciousness you really are God and you really are experiencing a sacred life. The most effective method I’ve found for achieving this state on a regular basis is Transcendental Meditation. But even with TM, it’s usually a fleeting experience. In transcendental consciousness the mind is without thoughts. It reaches the source of thought, where it becomes pure Being — alert and aware but without an object of awareness, consciousness experiencing itself. This state is so blissful, so all-encompassing, so divine, that we think, How wonderful! And as soon as we have that thought, we’re no longer there.

But as we come out, we bring some of the energy, intelligence, and joy of this unified field back into our waking state of consciousness, where it enriches our life. And ironically, one of the ways it enriches it is by giving us a deeper appreciation of our separateness from God. The sense of separation we experience in waking state is a great aid to devotion. It’s easier to love something external to us, even if this externality is only partially true.

Each experience of transcendental consciousness also heals our nervous system of stresses we’ve accumulated in the past. It is these stresses, or karma, that make our mind unable to stay in that state while we’re thinking and acting. Once those stresses are gone, which usually takes many years, we function in that state permanently.

This is enlightenment, the height of human development in which our unity with God is a living reality, not just a concept. Then we live a sacred life, permanently perceiving the truth of the Veda: I am the Divine, You are the Divine, All this is the Divine.

* William T. Hathaway is the author of A World of Hurt (Rinehart Foundation Award), CD-Ring, Summer Snow, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, and Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.