As my husband and I drove home from a family trip in the light of the full moon, I pulled out my review copy of Jack Forem’s Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and read the introduction aloud. Wrapped in the warmth of the author’s exquisitely crafted story, we were transported back in time to the early days of the TM® program, when Jack Forem first met Maharishi and was inspired to write America’s first book on the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with Jack Forem 1975

Seven years in the making, the original book was published in 1973 by Dutton and instantly became a best-seller and beloved classic, inspiring thousands of people to begin the practice. This new edition, written nearly forty years later and published by Hay House, will capture the imagination of those who started meditating in the early days and those who have just begun.

Filled with inspiring words of wisdom from Maharishi, interviews of practitioners of the TM® technique, quotes by famous people from Einstein to Oprah, and references to the Vedic literature of India—from which this tradition of meditation originated—the book illuminates fundamental principles underlying the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The book also dives deeply into the scientific research on TM practice, brilliantly distilling dozens of research papers published in leading academic and medical journals. And with Maharishi’s profound insights, it answers age-old questions concerning the goal of life, religion, and spirituality, the psychology of relationships, higher states of consciousness, and world peace.

Jack Forem became a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique in Rishikesh, India, in 1970. He served as the head of the TM Center in New York City and later worked directly with Maharishi writing educational materials, teaching TM teacher training courses in Europe, and leading conferences and seminars on the development of creativity, leadership, and higher states of consciousness. The son of two writers, Jack is a professional writer with a dozen published books.

Here, Jack Forem speaks about his experience in updating his classic work and his creative process as a writer.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 11.06.52 AMEnlightenment: What were the biggest changes you made to the original book and why?

Jack Forem: I wanted to revise it because I felt there was so much more scientific research on the TM program and global expansion of the Movement now. The first book was fine for its time, but now it seemed too small. It needed to be painted on a bigger canvas.

I thought it would take two months, but it took two years. The deeper I went into it the more I found that was new. When the first book was published, there were only a few research studies on TM practice. Now there are 350 published studies, most of them peer-reviewed. To convey the essence of a research study is not an easy job—it took time for me to understand each study and to make it clear and readable to others.

My process was to interview more people, to read more, and to see if the old things seemed as important as the new developments. Now people are more aware of the value of meditation and the ideas of evolution of consciousness and enlightenment. Back 40 years ago, these ideas were new to most people. So I didn’t want to dwell on the basics as much—I wanted to talk about the deeper aspects.

Enlightenment: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?

Jack Forem: I don’t have a typical day as a writer. I try to put in at least a few hours writing, but some days I just can’t. So much of what you do as a writer is not writing—you think about things, you read, you do research. It’s not like I work from 9 to 12, or 9 to 5. I’ve never been able to do that. It’s not my way.

I once was sitting in a room with Maharishi with a small group of people and we were writing something. Someone said, “Maharishi, we should have a staff of writers working full-time.” And he laughed and laughed and he said, “Writers can’t work full-time.” He looked at me when he said it.

Sometimes I write a quick first draft and when I go back and look at it, I might throw the whole thing away. Usually there’s enough good in it to revise it. Other times I work very slowly, sentence by sentence, and make sure it’s right before I move on. It depends on the material.

Enlightenment: How has the TM technique helped you as a professional writer?

Jack Forem: TM has helped me by giving me deeper insight. Being able to think at subtler levels and to understand what Maharishi is saying has helped me to express the knowledge better.

Sometimes I don’t know what to say when I’m working. Then I will either meditate or naturally let my awareness settle down and that helps me find a direction—what I want to say next or how to say it better.

Enlightenment: What benefits from TM do you notice now compared to when you learned 46 years ago?

Jack Forem: Now I rarely get upset—things are very smooth. But if there is anything upsetting or difficult in my life, meditation helps me dissolve my anxiety or worry; it resolves anything unpeaceful inside.

Basically I feel pretty good. (Laughs.) I wouldn’t have been able to say that before I learned TM. There’s an underlying stability, a sense of Being or pure consciousness, that I definitely did not have earlier.

Enlightenment: What three things would you like people to remember after reading your book?

Jack Forem: First, I’d like people to realize that through this knowledge, enlightenment is a real possibility for anyone.

Second, the technology that Maharishi has developed for world peace is the great hope of humanity and the world. I didn’t fully realize how effective those programs are for creating harmony, coherence, and peace until I started reading the research on collective consciousness. I am profoundly impressed.

And finally, I want people to realize that this knowledge came from Maharishi. He has provided a path to enlightenment and a better world for all of us to enjoy. He wouldn’t have asked for the credit, but I like to give it to him.

Linda Egenes is a professional writer and the co-author of Super Healthy Kids – A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda.

(I originally wrote this interview for Enlightenment Magazine, Issue number 10. Reprinted with permission.)

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