Dye the cloth

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught that the benefits of practicing Transcendental Meditation accumulated over time. The analogy to clarify this accumulation was called “dye the cloth”. Here is a link that has a transcript and video of a 1972 talk by Maharishi in Houston, Texas in which he uses the “dye the cloth” analogy.

Briefly described, in order to dye a white cloth to be yellow the cloth is dipped into a vat of yellow dye and then hung out in the sun which fades the cloth. Then the cloth is dipped into the dye again and put into the sun again but this time the cloth doesn’t fade quite as much. By repeating this process numerous times, finally the cloth becomes colorfast.

The TM technique was like infusing Pure Consciousness into the mind, and activity was fading most but not all of that infusion. Through regular practice, the mind would eventually hold onto Pure Consciousness even while in activity.

The accumulation of benefits was supposed to lead to enlightenment. This was a main principle of the TM movement and helped to keep me and others practicing TM regularly twice a day.

However, this analogy and description did not fit my experience. I did benefit from each meditation in relaxation, energy, and alertness, but the benefit did not accumulate over the months and years. I say this in retrospect; when I was a TM teacher, I believed that I and others were accumulating benefits even when it was not apparent.

Contrary to the theory that benefits gradually accumulate, some traditions and people state that there can be a dark night of soul before enlightenment. Thus, whether a seeker feels great or terrible, they can fool themselves into thinking that they are on the verge of enlightenment.

Another way to describe the TM benefit was through releasing physical stresses in the body. Maharishi taught that we accumulated stresses in our physiology and that thoughts in meditation were an indication that stress had been released. One would be enlightened after all stresses had been released.

Another way to describe the accumulation of benefit involves the awakening of the kundalini energy center. I don’t know how often that Maharishi spoke about this, but here is a link to a 1970 transcript. I and other TM teachers may not have directly heard Maharishi speak about kundalini, but we were aware of this theory by talking with each other. Kundalini energy was supposed to move up the spine and activate parts of the body. Enlightenment was the result of kundalini energy activating energy centers in the head. To facilitate the upward rise of kundalini energy, I and others would meditate with an upright spine while sitting cross-legged or in full lotus.

Conclusion

These theories enticed me and others to meditate regularly and to go on courses in order to speed our growth to enlightenment. Although there was an immediate benefit from practicing TM, I did not experience an accumulation of benefit over the years of practicing TM.

I doubt that a state of enlightenment exists. I overdid meditation and related spiritual activities; this led to my kundalini crisis/mental health problem. I suspect that many other meditators and religious people have overdone their spiritual pursuits.

I and others have gone on a wild goose chase in which we think and hope that we are either enlightened or we are close to enlightenment.