Transcending = Being your Self
The more our minds can have the experience of their true nature, the more we learn to be ourselves 24/7
Many wise teachers throughout history taught the same lesson about success in life – “Know your Self” or “Be yourself”. Both actually mean the same thing. In practice, however, the application of this lesson was not found to be easy – people can go through their entire lives without coming to know the true nature of the inner Self in any sustainable way.
What does it mean to know your Self, to be yourself?
In our daily lives, our attention is always focused on something other than what we might call the Self. It is focused on something we see, hear, feel, or think. From the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we fall asleep at night, we are swept up in a continuous train of thought and experience which overshadows the experience of the inner Self. In effect, the “knower”, never “knows” himself.
Then how can the knower know himself?
By bringing the attention inwards, instead of outwards. The mind will go inward when there is nothing to draw the mind’s attention outward. This means no perception, no action, no thoughts, just a state of pure “being” – being yourself.
But how can we get into this state?
It is easy to see or do nothing, we just sit down with our eyes closed. But to think nothing? Anyone who’s ever tried to think nothing knows it’s very difficult because the more we try not to think, the more we are thinking.
This is where the whole understanding of meditation got on the wrong track – the introduction of effort with people trying to get into this state.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a completely natural process based on the original understanding of meditation. With the proper technique and the proper guidance, effort or trying is unnecessary. The mind will go there by itself, completely naturally, completely spontaneously, because it wants nothing more than to go there. For the mind, this is the state of coming home – see How did Maharishi discover the TM technique. The fact that TM is easy and effortless isn’t just a pleasant side benefit, it is the only efficient way to experience that state of pure being.
Maharishi’s whole teaching was, in essence, that true meditation is exactly the opposite to what so many had come to understand “meditation” to be – some form of concentrating or controlling the mind. In reality, if we make even the slightest effort, as so many concentration techniques require, we are only keeping the mind active and that effort actually prevents the mind from transcending the finest stage of thought and experiencing pure silence.
A properly trained TM teacher, on the other hand, can guide any person, to this state of transcending and then train the person to let the mind return there by itself, completely naturally, effortlessly and spontaneously.
What is the effect of frequent repetition of this experience?
If we frequently repeat the experience of being ourselves through the Transcendental Meditation practice, then the mind will habituate to this experience, even when we get back into activity. Eventually, we come to a state where it never disappears. Then, we will remain ourselves in all possible circumstances. Being yourself is like a tree with deep roots and a big trunk. Being deeply rooted in the Self, the storms of life have little impact. It is not difficult to see how this can lead to success in life. People who are themselves remain calm, even in difficult situations, and experience much less stress, which greatly benefits their health. They are less the football of circumstance. they tend to quickly find creative solutions to problems – stress blocks creativity, being yourself allows it to flourish. They have more self-confidence, tend to have far fewer conflicts and far better relationships. All areas of life improve. (See success.) Moreover, they radiate positivity, and other people feel that they can also be more themselves around them.
Being yourself, objectively measured
Regular TM practise increases self-actualization to a degree never seen before.
It is fairly easy to objectively measure to what extent people can be themselves, through self-actualization tests.
The general understanding in psychology used to be that self-actualization stops developing around adolescence, along with other intellectual capacities. However, when people start practicing the TM technique, self-actualization dramatically increases, independent of age.
This study is a meta-analysis of research carried out on self-actualization and different kinds of “meditation” techniques. 42 research studies were covered. All other forms of meditation had a very small effect, i.e., little increase of self-actualization. The average effect of 18 Transcendental Meditation studies, however, showed an increase that was 3 to 4 times stronger – for more information about this research, see self-actualization. This is the difference between mere relaxation and true transcending. Only by having repeated experience of one’s true self, can we become more our true selves during our daily, active lives.
Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who first developed the concept of self-actualisation, estimated that only 1-2% of the general population could ever hope to be fully self-actualized. Yet, he did descibe how some people sometimes had “peak experiences” which could result in growth of self-actualisation. As descriptions of the experience of transcending closely match descriptions of Maslow’s peak experiences, it now seems that there is a systematic way, through the Transcendental Meditation Programme, to induce these peak experiences. Indeed, results of long-term TM research show that, after 10 years of TM practice, 38% of those studied were at the highest level of self-actualisation.
Repeated experience of our true inner nature can also help us transcend our small individuality and gain a greater conscious awareness of our fundamental connection to the rest of creation – see Transcending = Highest human experience.