The Impact of Maharishi's Vedic Science Based
Education in Higher Education:
The Example of Maharishi International University

Christopher H. Jones

Maharishi International University
Fairfield, Iowa, U.S.A.

Part 2

II. Maharishi's Vedic Science Based Education in Higher Education

Previous writing on Maharishi's Vedic Science Based System of Education has focused on general theory and outcomes (Levine, 1972; M.C. Dillbeck, Aron, & S.L. Dillbeck, 1979; American Association for Ideal Education, 1985; S.L. Dillbeck & M.C. Dillbeck, 1987); on individual empirical studies (cf., Orme-Johnson & Farrow, 1977; Chalmers, Clements, Schenkluhn, & Weinless, in press; Wallace, Orme-Johnson, & M.C. Dillbeck, in press), or on reviews of research at the elementary and secondary levels (Nidich & Nidich, 1987; Nidich & Nidich, 1989). This paper complements these approaches by reviewing theory and research on Maharishi's Vedic Science Based Education at the post-secondary level.

Maharishi International University was founded in 1971 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in direct response to the challenge of substance that colleges faced then as well as now. As early as 1959, in a lecture to educators, Maharishi described the modern-day university as "hovering on the surface of knowledge." As a result, he said, "every subject is suffering and every student of every subject is suffering" (Maharishi Vedic University, 1986, p. 269). There are two sides to knowledge, he explained, the object of knowledge - the known - and the subject, who is the knower. While education at all levels was providing knowledge of the object, it was missing the knowledge of the subject or the knower, in whose awareness the knowledge is structured. As a result, while students were learning the theories of the sciences or the humanities, the source in consciousness from which the theory was born remained hidden. Thus, even the objective knowledge was missing its foundation. From Maharishi's perspective, colleges have not realized their potential primarily because they have not been able to develop the knower as systematically as they have developed the known.

In the same address in 1959, Maharishi offered his solution to this lack in education - a technique whereby students could experience the silent, unmanifest source of thought deep within the mind. Maharishi describes this source of thought as the experience in individual life of the absolute basis of all relative existence.

. . . it is necessary for the student of every subject to connect [a] field of study with the field of the Absolute within. . . . If, along with the study of each subject, the experience of the Absolute is taught to the students, then they will be able to fathom the deeper levels of that subject and the whole range of that subject will be studied properly. When the two extremities of that subject - the gross, expanded value and the transcendental value - are connected, then the field of that subject will be complete, and the study of that subject will bring something real and useful in life. (Maharishi Vedic University, 1986, p. 269)
Maharishi International University (MIU) was founded to achieve this integration between the gross, surface values of the various disciplines and the transcendental value in the consciousness of the learner. It brings together the two major streams of knowledge in the world - modern science and Maharishi's Vedic Science - on the ground of Vedic Science, which itself is a complete science of both objectivity and subjectivity.

At the heart of Maharishi's Vedic Science is the technology of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi program. This technology systematically cultures the mind's ability to appreciate surface values along with the transcendent. It develops an intellect that, like a great tree, is diversified in numberless small branches and yet securely unified at its roots - simultaneously infinitely diverse and completely unified (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in press).

The Fundamentals of Vedic Science Based Education

The single unifying theme of Maharishi's Vedic Science Based System of Education is that education, to be ideal, must provide the knowledge and experience of the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness, the self-sufficient source of all creativity in nature and human experience. The student must come to understand the more surface values of the subject matter - its facts and figures - but not see these as the primary reality. The facts and figures must be understood in terms of deeper levels of thought and ultimately as expressions of the wellspring of human consciousness, the absolute level of consciousness at the source of thought. This absolute value of consciousness, by interacting with itself, gives rise to all the disciplines and to all their practical applications.

A complete explanation of the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness is available in Maharishi's Vedic Science (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986; M.C. Dillbeck, 1988), but a useful introduction to their range and significance can be found in modern physics. One of the dreams of Albert Einstein in the early days of quantum field theory was to forge a physical theory that would unify the four fundamental forces of nature: electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Einstein did not live to see this happen, but over the last three decades quantum field theory has made tremendous strides toward the realization of Einstein's dream (see, e.g., Georgi, 1981). In 1978, for example, Weinberg and Salam were able to show how electromagnetism and the weak force were actually diverse expressions of a more fundamental electro-weak force. For this they received the Nobel Prize in the following year. In the last two years, Hagelin (1988) has proposed a grand unified theory linking all the forces except gravity to a grand unified force.

There is little doubt at this time that in principle gravity, too, is susceptible to this same process of unification. Thus physics today has glimpsed the goal that Einstein had set more than half a century ago of a completely unified field giving rise to all the force and matter fields - a unified field theory, or, as popular journals have called it, the t.o.e., the "theory of everything" (Taubes, 1986).

These current events in science would be of merely academic interest except that several of the qualities of the unified field emerging from physical theory remind us more of life in its animate expressions than of the great lifeless machine that Newtonian mechanics first depicted. According to quantum field theory, the unified field is self-interacting in that it must interact with itself in order to give rise sequentially to the known forces and particles (Hagelin, 1987). Mathematically it appears to contain an infinite amount of free energy; hence it is infinitely dynamic. And finally, it is self-sufficient, in that it gives rise to natural laws from within itself, without the need of an external agency. Thus, it appears from physics that nature is more self-aware, more dynamic, and more self-contained than previously thought.

According to Maharishi's Vedic Science, these qualities of the unified field are salient qualities of consciousness. Maharishi's Vedic Science explains this resemblance in its description of the origins of human consciousness. The qualities of the unified field at the basis of physical theory appear similar to the qualities of human consciousness because, according to Vedic Science, consciousness is the primary constituent of mind, body, and environment. Maharishi has explained that consciousness in its pure state gives rise, on the one hand, to the flow of consciousness as thought and to human action, and, on the other hand, to the force and matter fields of the objective world. In other words, consciousness, by virtue of its self-awareness and through its own self-interacting dynamics, gives rise to all the diverse levels of the mind and matter. It is this field of pure consciousness that can be directly experienced during Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation technique.

Maharishi explains the practical value of this understanding of man's intimate connection to his environment:

The unified field is the unmanifest basis of the whole creation, the creator and governor of the whole universe. Through Transcendental Meditation it is simple to open our awareness to this state of transcendence. Spontaneously, the conscious mind identifies itself with the self-referral unified field, the fountainhead of all the streams of activity in nature. As we gain more and more familiarity with that self-referral performance, our thoughts and actions spontaneously begin to be as orderly and evolutionary as all the activity of nature.(Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 97)
In this unified field of consciousness the three aspects of the educational process - the knower, the known, and the process of knowing - are unified into one self-referral state where knowledge is its own knower, where the innumerable impulses of natural law which structure objective and subjective creation are found together. This togetherness of knower, known, and process of knowing in the unified field of pure consciousness is called in Vedic Science the Samhita - literally, the "togetherness"- of all the impulses of consciousness.

The fundamentals of Maharishi's Vedic Science based education can be derived from this single principle of the emergence of both nature and experience from the self-interacting dynamics of the Samhita value of consciousness. Because all knowledge arises from the Samhita value of consciousness, any part of knowledge that is understood separately from its source in consciousness ultimately becomes dry, potentially misleading, and of relatively little use to the knower - the unfortunate result when the various branches of modern science are taught without reference to their source. Conversely, knowledge of the Samhita value of knowledge connects and coordinates all other aspects of knowledge. As the sap brings nourishment and vitality to every fiber of the tree, experience and understanding of the Samhita brings to the parts of knowledge vitality, purposefulness, and practicality.

In addition, by knowing this level of reality one gains access to the source of all the laws of nature, which Maharishi calls "the switchboard of natural law," bringing mastery over the course of action. This, according to Maharishi's Vedic Science, is the fruit of all knowledge, the ability to act spontaneously in accord with all the laws of nature, "the ability to know anything, do anything and achieve anything" (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in press). Maharishi offers the experience and understanding of the Samhita as a practical solution to the challenge of substance with which we began; he explains that to identify one's conscious mind with the transcendental organizing center of human experience is to gain the highest knowledge available about nature and consciousness. Through this experience one develops the ability to act in accord with the orderly and evolutionary force of natural law, to fulfill one's desires in a way that is naturally and spontaneously fulfilling for oneself and society.

The two ways in which this unification of knower, knowing, and knowledge is gained in Maharishi's Vedic Science based education are through (1) the regular experience of this Samhita value of consciousness using the technologies of Vedic Science - especially Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program, and (2) the connection of all that is learned in the classroom to this Samhita value, the unified basis of knowledge. In 1971, Maharishi founded a new discipline, the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI), which links the modern academic disciplines with his Vedic Science, connecting the knowledge in each discipline with its source in the unified field, known in SCI as the field of pure creative intelligence. In practical terms, the students and faculty begin each day with the practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program, which gives them the direct experience of the self-referral state of their own consciousness. Then in the classroom, by connecting through SCI all new knowledge to this familiar source of knowledge, all parts of knowledge are understood in relation to the wholeness of knowledge and experience in the student's own Self.

The effects on individual and collective life of these two aspects of Vedic Science based education stand in contrast to the effects of a college education following the traditional model. Instead of feeling increasingly lost in an ever-expanding horizon of knowledge, students begin to feel increasingly at home with knowledge, at home with themselves. Instead of identifying their minds and whole being with the isolated parts of the traditional disciplines, they begin to identify more and more fully with the Samhita of knowledge and knowing which is their own Self. Instead of their consciousness becoming increasingly dominated by the pressure to achieve, combined with the constant wear this pressure brings to the physiology, they become increasingly at ease with a rapid pace of development. They begin to enjoy and focus on their own progress.

The fundamental features, then, of Maharishi's Vedic Science based education are the two mentioned above - the experience and the understanding of the Samhita value of consciousness - plus the most advanced knowledge of the traditional disciplines, and specific techniques of teaching which connect the surface values of knowledge with the source of knowledge (see Figure 1).

This alternation of direct experience of the self-referral state of consciousness through the TM and TM-Sidhi program, with the intellectual probing into the relationship of that self-referral state to all of knowledge, is designed to lead to more refined states of consciousness, supported by more balanced, integrated styles of physiological functioning. Maharishi has laid out the intended outcomes of this system of education in his descriptions of higher states of consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1969). Above all, Maharishi states, higher education should be for higher consciousness.

In the next section we will describe in more detail the main features of Maharishi International University, the first institution to implement Maharishi's Vedic Science based educational system from pre-school to the Ph.D. level. Here many of the abstract fundamentals of the approach discussed above are embodied.

Maharishi International University: The Model of Vedic Science Based Education

At Maharishi International University every aspect of the curriculum is designed to help the student experience the underlying self-interacting dynamics of consciousness and to connect these dynamics to all that is learned. The main features of the curriculum at MIU are listed below according to the fundamental of Vedic Science based education that they reflect:
A. Applications of the technologies of Maharishi's Vedic Science.

  1. Research in Consciousness course. All students enroll for a course in "Research in Consciousness," the main feature of which is the personal practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program. This course, taken concurrently with their traditional coursework, supplies the means for experiencing the principles of Vedic Science that are brought out in classes.
  2. Collective practice of Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program. An important feature of the Research in Consciousness course is collective practice of the technologies of Maharishi's Vedic Science. Approximately 1600 students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding community come together twice daily in one place to practice the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program.
B. The knowledge of Maharishi's Vedic Science.
  1. Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence integrated throughout the curriculum. SCI describes in the simple language of everyday experience the nature and functioning of consciousness, both in its pure unmanifest form as the unified field and as the manifested, concrete universe. SCI in turn provides the intellectual framework used in all subsequent courses to connect each of the disciplines to the student's experience of pure consciousness, the unified source of knowledge.
  2. Regular courses in Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence and Vedic Science. All students begin their undergraduate study with a course in Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI), taught on videotape by Maharishi. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary principles which describe the functioning of intelligence in nature as a whole and in human life. These principles are common to both the subjective approach of Vedic Science and theobjective approach of modern science. Maharishi's Vedic Science is the science of consciousness in its pure form, describing the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness underlying phenomenal creation and the process by which those dynamics give rise to experience and to natural law. All students also spend a two-week period twice each year studying advanced topics in both Vedic Science and the Science of Creative Intelligence.
  3. Interdisciplinary First-Year Program. In the first year at MIU, all undergraduate students take a sequence of core courses, collectively entitled "A Vision of All Disciplines in the Light of Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence," which connects the fundamental concepts of 14 or more major academic fields to the students' experience and understanding of their own intelligence. This sequence of coursework is designed to make students feel at home with all knowledge and to enable them to see the various disciplines as expressions of their own intelligence.
C. Vedic Science based teaching techniques and curriculum design.
  1. Main Point Charts and Unified Field Charts. In teaching the traditional disciplines, all faculty use visual aids that identify the main points of each lesson and connect these main points to the student's experience and to the evolutionary dynamics of consciousness elucidated by the Science of Creative Intelligence. In addition, each university department has developed a "unified field chart" which depicts the relationships among (1) the areas of study within a discipline, (2) the unified foundation of the discipline, and (3) the experience of the unified field of natural law during Maharishi's TM and TM-Sidhi program. This chart ensures that, in learning the subject matter of a course or a discipline, the student does not become lost in a particular topic. With the unified field chart each lesson can be placed in the context of the evolution of consciousness in its subjective and objective expressions.
  2. Teaching techniques that refine the mind. All faculty are educated in the use of teaching techniques that create a stress-free learning environment and help to refine the functioning of all levels of the mind. Professors learn to unfold the knowledge of a lesson, for example, in the same way the Samhita itself unfolds, beginning from the wholeness of the main idea and elaborating that wholeness into its constituent parts, while still maintaining the wholeness at every step of elaboration. Thus knowledge is imparted in a way that supports the students' growth of intelligence toward enlightenment, where the intellect is simultaneously infinitely diverse and completely unified.
In addition to these unique aspects of the MIU educational program, there are other features which, although not defining characteristics of Vedic Science based education, have been developed by the faculty in the context of Vedic Science and contribute to the overall educational impact. For example, all courses at MIU are taught intensively, one at a time. Instead of taking several courses simultaneously over several months, MIU students take each course separately over a period of one to four weeks. This format allows the student to probe deeply into one field without competing demands from other coursework. Two other practices that are likely to contribute an effect include:(1) a longer academic year (44 weeks) which permits a longer period of exposure to the college experience, and (2) a "tutorial system" - that is, a mentoring system in which every student is assigned to individual faculty for advice and support through an informal relationship.

In the next section we examine the latest research on Maharishi International University. This research documents how the latent potential of students is fostered by Vedic Science based education at MIU. By developing students' abilities and by providing the integrated knowledge of the knower, the known, and the process of knowing, MIU enables students to resolve the "transcendent issues," referred to by Boyer, on the ground of pure consciousness, the fountainhead of all the streams of knowledge.

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