Bizarro is brought to you today by A Table With Your TM Mantra On It.
Early this morning I had already gotten a few questions about this cartoon. Apparently, “TM” is not a common enough phrase anymore so it mystified many readers.
It stands for “Transcendental Meditation,” a particular brand of meditating that touts a celebrity guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, as its founder. I actually took the TM course a few years ago and learned to meditate. What I found out is that it is extremely subjective. I do believe that meditation is a good mental practice for achieving a calmer state of mind in general. It helped me relax, think more clearly, worry less, etc. What I don’t believe is that there is any magic in the process or the mantra, which is what TM clearly promotes. In my experience the practice of sitting quietly for 20 minutes and repeating any mental image or word inside my head will achieve the same results. I’ve experimented with this for myself so I know it to be true.
In my opinion, a book about meditation is going to benefit you as much as paying a buttload of money to learn it from a cult. I like meditation and am glad I learned it. But I learned as much from reading about it before hand (from sources other than the TM folks) as I did from the TM course I paid for. Mediation can powerfully change your life and there is some science to it, but then again, so can anything a person believes in, so who knows? The brain is a powerful and little understood three pounds of meat.
My opinions aside, there’s nothing more to this cartoon than the fact that if you remove one letter from “ATM,” you get “TM,” so the guy on the right is meditating instead of withdrawing money.
You could always go deeper if you want and say that the guy on the left is withdrawing money to pay for his bogus “mantra” assignation, but that would be more than I intended. By the way, the TM folks convince you that your mantra is special and should never be uttered to another human being. This is an attempt to convince you that your mantra has special powers, of course. In truth, as you can see from the first blue link in this post, there are very few mantras assigned and they are given out more-or-less based on your age when you learn it. I was about 50 when I took the course and the mantra I was assigned, “Kirim,” is on the chart (compiled by a researcher who interview former teachers.)
If you’ve had personal experience with meditation, please share in the comments section. I still believe mediation is a sound scientific process to treat yourself to for twenty minutes a day. So is a nap, in a different way, but there’s no one who offers to teach you to nap by giving you a super-secret “nap word” to repeat in your head until you fall asleep. “Zzzzzz,” perhaps?