I recently went to a screening of a film entitled Meditation, Creativity, Peace for the promotion of the David Lynch Foundation For Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. The film was put together by film students and featured David Lynch as he toured and talked about Transcendental Meditation.
For anyone interested in understanding religion, in an attempt to start with clarity, I recommend a category of ‘Modern Religion.’ Any religion that has a founder or foundation after the beginning of the nineteenth century should be arranged for study in the category of Modern Religion.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a worldwide organization founded by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi sometime in the 1950s. The TM movement is a good subject for illustrating how a practice with it roots in an ancient world religion can be easily studied and understood as a Modern Religion.
TM’s founder, who passed away in 2008, was a Hindu guru, taught by a guru in a long lineage of traditional Hindu Vedanta. But the Mahesh Yogi founded an international organization for the advancement of one particular type of meditation practice.
Over the years the organization has taken on the teaching that the efficacy of transcendental meditation has been validated by modern science. As with many modern religions, TM practitioners often use language borrowed from modern physics and quantum mechanics.
TM has for its ultimate goal nothing less than world peace and universal harmony among all nations.
TM fits well into the category of Modern Religion as it regularly incorporates the discoveries and theories of contemporary science, and isolates a practice from a long-standing religion of the past.
Most significantly, this modern religion sees itself as a viable solution to modern political problems and to the challenges of being a modern person in a modern world.
It is also significant that this religion has been the target of hateful ‘anti-cult’ propaganda. Please see my post concerning the use of the word cult in religious studies.
Filmmaker David Lynch, comedian Russell Brand, and David Lynch Foundation Executive Director Bob Roth interview with David Lynch