Promised Divine Bliss: A Christian Analysis of Transcendental Meditation

As Christianity’s cultural influence wanes, different versions of spirituality have increased their prominence in Western society. Eastern forms of spirituality have been growing in the West since the latter half of the twentieth century, Transcendental Meditation in particular. First established by Maharishi Mahesh, Transcendental Meditation spread quickly from India to Europe and the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century. Through the practice of mantra repetition, Transcendental Meditation promises inner peace and unification with the Divine. Transcendental Meditation has quickly assimilated into Western culture since the 1960s, emphasizing its nonreligious aspects and accessibility for all people. Transcendental Meditation continues to be incorporated in the social sciences, as psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors implement Transcendental Meditation into their techniques and professional practices.
Transcendental Meditation has cemented itself in its cultural prominence, affecting Christian churches believers as well. Rather, most Americans now imagine Transcendental Meditation’s practice, an emptying of the mind to reach inner peace, when they hear the term “meditation,” rather that its Christian definition. The Church must recapture this practice, clearly define true spirituality, and respond to counterfeit practices. This paper will argue that Transcendental Meditation is not a biblical practice; rather, only through Christian meditation upon the Triune God who provides reconciliation and peace, will one truly know oneself, live free, and embody true joy (promises Transcendental Meditation guarantees). Upon an analysis of TM and the writings of its founder, its history and influence in American culture and the social sciences, this paper will offer a biblical critique and suggest how the Church can respond to increasing questions regarding meditation from both within and without believing congregations.