Transcendental Deception
Sep 14 · 5 min read


Aryeh Siegel is a former teacher of Transcendental Meditation who left the cult and is revealing its hidden Hindu truths. He is the author of ‘Transcendental Deception’. Discover more at

My wife and I were teachers of Transcendental Meditation during the mid-1970’s and we were part of the ‘siddha’ program, an advanced course that TM promised would lead to enlightenment. We were both teachers of TM and so deep in the cult that at the time we could no longer distinguish reality from the fictions perpetuated by Maharishi.

We followed the siddha directions faithfully. We paid a monthly fee to participate in group siddha meditations in a foam-lined warehouse in West Los Angeles. Although I devoted well over four hours a day to TM and the siddhis for well over a year, I did not experience anything Maharishi promised. Nor, from what I could tell, did anyone else.

BOUNCING ON OUR BUTTS (but no enlightenment)

What was called levitation was a total joke. While most people think of levitation as hovering in mid-air, in the TM world it consisted of mostly younger, more athletic siddhas hopping around on their butts on thick, dense foam pretending they were flying through the air. Maharishi had to do some fancy footwork to explain the absurdity of what was happening. In the process, he brilliantly redefined what normal, everyday people meant by levitation. He said the hopping was the “first stage” of levitation and called it “yogic flying.” (This first stage has now lasted well over forty years.) Based on my total lack of results, I was happy that that since I was a TM executive, my course was free.

I also recognized that other aspects of TM were failing me. Importantly, my strong research background led to a troubling realization: nearly every study done by TM researchers was at least biased, short term, had no or inadequate control groups, and most were poorly designed. To be fair, I had to include the study that I co-authored at Folsom Prison in that assessment.

At that point, I stood at a career crossroads.


I thought that strengthening my skills in research design and analysis would make me a more valuable resource if the movement was interested in higher quality studies. If not, I could move on with a marketable skill set. In 1977, I was accepted into a Ph.D. program in behavioral science research in the UCLA School of Public Health. By that September, I was a full-time student, working full-time in my TM position, and doing my TM and siddha program four hours a day. Also, we had a new baby daughter.


My life was complicated, but it was about to become much simpler. For reasons that remain unclear to me to this day, TM’s hierarchy changed dramatically. Without any explanation, Jerry Jarvis, who ran TM in the U.S., disappeared from the national center. Next to Maharishi, Jerry was the most beloved person in TM. I can’t remember what we thought had happened to him; I only remember feeling uncomfortable that he was there one day and gone the next, with no explanation. Then, the office was reorganized and a bunch of dreary, dour, gloomy, cheerless replacements arrived. Within a few weeks, my wife and I, along with almost everyone else, were told to leave.

We continued to meditate, and our programs continued to average about two hours in the morning and two in the evening. I’d like to say I remember the time “flying” by, but it didn’t. The program was highly structured. It included thirty to forty minutes of TM, repetition of the nineteen English phrases (sutras) that comprised the various siddhis we were given, breathing techniques (pranayama), yogic postures (asanas), and rest periods. Every session was capped off with reading about Hindu gods who are fighting malignant demons in a Hindu scripture known as the ninth mandala of the rig veda. So much for TM claims not to be a religious practice.


Eventually, we stopped going to the group “flying” program. We put foam mattress pads in our garage and did our program at home. It gave us more flexibility and cut down travel time to and from the meditation warehouse, along with saving the monthly fee.


Some months later, a woman who identified herself as from the TM national office called to inform us that we were no longer welcome at the group meditation center and that our admission badges had to be returned. When I asked why, she said we had “disowned the movement.” We didn’t care, because we had moved on with our lives. Still, it was strange as we had never said anything negative about Maharishi or the TM organization.

Although it was upsetting at the time, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Before long we saw that we had been lied to by TM and that the only thing achieved by ‘Yogic Flying’ was that you could cause damage to your knees. I eventually had a knee replacement. I left the cult. Many people were not so lucky.[This is an excerpt from Transcendental Deception. Get your copy at]


Aryeh Siegel is the author of TRANSCENDENTAL DECEPTION: Behind the TM curtain — bogus science, hidden agendas, and David Lynch’s campaign to push a million public school kids into Transcendental Meditation while falsely claiming it is not a religion. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and family. Discover more at

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