This is the first chapter in an evolving book, “Blowing the Whistle on Enlightenment: Confessions of a New Age Heretic,” by Bronte Baxter
What I expected to see when I came back to the Fairfield scene after 20 years away from Transcendental Meditation was a group of mainstay meditators true-blue to Maharishi and a group of robust dissenters, whose minds questioned everything they learned from their guru days. Instead, I found the true-blue meditators, but not the kind of dissenters I anticipated. I encountered people who had left the TM movement but hadn’t substantially changed their belief system. This latter group had changed in the way that people change hats, or redecorate their homes, leaving unaltered the structure underneath.
The dissenters had splintered into a myriad of Eastern or Eastern-related philosophies: Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and Andrew Cohen were popular, and Neo-Advaitin gurus had rallied many behind their minimalist philosophy. “Saints” like Ammachi visit Fairfield regularly, dispensing dharshan and picking up new recruits. Across town, small groups meet in “satsangs” to discuss their growing enlightenment or to chant songs to the gods. Heated debate is common between adherents of competing gurus, and people grow vitriolic over whether Maharishi has slept with young women or not. There is a smattering of hedonists and atheists, but ex-TMers in the Fairfield circuit mostly show up with an intact Vedic worldview. That worldview is a lens through which they perceive and measure all gurus and reality itself.
The is a very interesting read and explains a lot.