Chandler, Howard M.
Transcendental Meditation and awakening wisdom: a 10-year longitudinal study of self-development.

Order No.9107332

Psychologists commonly define wisdom as highly developed self-knowledge associated with integrated functioning of affect and cognition. Classical Greek philosophy refers to wisdom as a transcendental experience of universal wisdom. The Vedic Psychology of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi unifies and extends these modern and classical perspectives. It proposes that the unified source of all knowledge and experience, including affect and cognition, is a transcendental field of pure consciousness (the Self) that can be known by direct experience (Self- knowledge). This experience is said to promote holistic human development. Wisdom is described as a state of enlightenment, in which stabilized Self-knowledge results in a fully integrated personality. Daily practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) is held to provide the repeated experience of transcendental consciousness necessary for awakening wisdom.

To test the prediction that TM fosters growth of wisdom, 10- year longitudinal data for measures of Loevinger's ego or self development, McAdams' intimacy motivation (interpersonal warmth), and Rest's principled moral reasoning were analyzed for 34 TM practitioners, alumni of Maharishi International University (MIU). These variables provided a convergent measure of growth of wisdom, inclusive of holistic self development affective functioning, and cognitive development in the moral domain. Comparable ego development data were collected from alumni of three control universities, matched with MIU for gender and age.

Covarying for pretest score, MIU alumni increased markedly on ego development in contrast to the control samples (total N = 136, p =.0000002). Two of the control groups did not change significantly, while one decreased significantly. At posttest, 38% of the MIU subjects scored at the highest Autonomous and Integrated stages, compared to 1% of the controls. The MIU posttest mode (Autonomous) was three levels above the mode for controls and two above the highest of 30 samples surveyed. MIU alumni also increased substantially in principled moral reasoning (p =.001) and intimacy motivation (p =.01). Posttest scores were among the highest reported in the research literature.

These findings indicate that experience of transcendental consciousness during TM promotes holistic self development in adulthood, inclusive of both cognitive and affective functioning. They suggest that educators should implement TM as a practical means to develop wisdom. Source: DAI, 51, no. 10B, (1990): 5048


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