In Catching the Big Fish—David Lynch’s little and somewhat disappointing book that’s sort of about his life and creativity—there’s repeated gushing about Transcendental Meditation. Lynch credits it as the backbone of his life and career. While proselytizing about any meditation technique instantly puts me on guard, I’m a huge fan of Lynch the artist and the bits of Lynch the person I feel I know. I don’t discount that TM has played that role in his life. Curiosity set in. I put down the book and fired up my trusted web browser to check out the official website. Seemed highly likely there would be some classes or groups in the Santa Fe area.
I didn’t make it much further than the fees page. Right there next to a picture of Jerry Seinfeld it says:
Tuition for the four-month TM course
(which also includes a lifetime of free follow-up):
Adult course fee: $1500
Full-time student: $750
Couples who learn together: $1500 + $750
That isn’t a typo.
It’s $1500 to learn how to meditate.
The organization’s goal is to develop the full potential of the individual, minimize the negative impact of stress, and bring unrestricted and fulfilling progress to all areas of society.
By “all” here, they mean everyone that is willing to pay $1500 or who they deem deserving of an exception to the fee. Not “all” as in this is so great for humanity we will open our doors to anyone that shows any interest.
On the same site there’s a page devoted to TM’s positive effects on world peace. The gist of which is: the more people that practice TM, the closer we get to true world peace.
That message is more than a little mixed.
Around the same time, I signed up to get email reminders about an ongoing series of free talks entitled “The Future of Love”. Which is presented in part by Ken Wilber’s Integral Life organization. While far from a devote, I like a lot of what the various folks falling under and around the “Integral” banner have to say. At times I’ve been amazed with Mr. Wilbur. When I received an email from the list that wasn’t a reminder, it was a “Video from Ken Wilber about Transforming the World”, I was hesitant. Yet curiosity couldn’t stay away. The email linked to this “Exclusive Invitation For You” page.
It’s time for this critical shift in consciousness to hit its tipping point—become a member and help make this a reality today. To make it easy, we want to extend to you a special invitation. When you sign-up now, you’ll receive one month of free access to Integral Life Premium Membership.
The page is straight out of an internet direct marketing e-book. Uninspired at best. Deeply cynical at worst. …Search Google for “Guide to World of Warcraft Gold”. You’ll find a number of pages with the exact same structure and tone. A tone devised to manipulate.
I understand that money is a massive issue. Especially if what you are trying to do is on a global scale. It can’t always be completely free. However, Transforming the world/your life does not start with a credit card number. In fact, it turns away a lot of wonderful people who take your spiritual whoring as proof that the entire thing is an outright scam that prays upon people who are weak willed.
Right now, there’s a small group of people on our planet—less than 5%—who are in a position to create the next major step for humanity… and since you’re interested in these discussions, you’re one of them.
It’s no wonder that they could think that way… I think I’ll take my chances with the other 95% percent.