People may ask how I made the TERRIBLE ERROR of attending Maharishi University of Management (MUM). Well, it’s honestly not that difficult. Often times people directly attribute Sanskrit or study of the Vedas to religious practice, classifying it’s beautiful texts with other ancient and sacred texts such as the Bible, Koran, the Diamond Sutra, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and texts of this nature. I’ve dove into many of these texts to surface with profound wisdom which opened my eyes to the diversity of mankind and spirituality — less the religous undertones.
I’ve always believed that ancient societies understood something about life that wasn’t particularly obvious within the context of the modern day. Even in the realm of physical infrastructure we marvel over the unexplainable architectural feats such as the numerous pyramids and temple complexes, and certainly such mastery is not limmited to the scope of design and engineering.
This notion of an international university was a means to gain greater understanding of the differences between global cultures that are too often devicively leveraged to divide us rather than unify us.
When my study turned to Vedic scripture, I chose to teach myself to read and write Sanskrit in the Devanagari script for nearly two years. My study led me to the http://is1.mum.edu/vedicreserve/, a wellspring of much desired Vedic texts.
At first, I landed on the reserve when searching specific texts on Google. Over time, searching different texts, I found myself returning to this resource as google search results would index it frequently. It became my ‘go-to’ in private study for a second opinion, so I decided to dig deeper into the origin of it’s source which was Maharishi University of Management.
In my cultural ignorance, I had assumed that the source was foreign — perhaps native to India. But much to my surprise the source was domestic to the United States of America. Engrossed in the knowledge I had been gleaning from the study, I decided to seek a more academic approach to this pursuit, the source of which was rooted in universities featuring degree paths in the “Classics”. Already familiar with Greek and Latin, I noticed Howard University featured an explicit Ph.D. track in Sanskrit — as did Maharishi University of Management with it’s ‘Vedic Science’ — and decided to apply to both universities alongside wildcard applications to Indiana University’s Dhar India Studies program, and Oxford’s Centere for Hindu Studies program. Additionally, I applied to M.I.T. and Stanford University–I also harbor interests in artificial intelligence, informatics, cloud computing, and things of this nature.
Maharishi University was the first to respond, approving me for Federal and Local Grants which covered 80% of the $26k tuition. They also approved me for an additional $10k in federal loans, creating a refundable surplus of approximately $6k.
With funding in place, and confirmation of a Vedic Science degree including a path to a Ph.D. in Vedic Science, I pushed to try the online education they offered in the form of an M.A. which expressed that a Bachelor’s equivalent might qualify me to get started right away–perhaps I might still qualify since I could demonstrate a mastery of graphic design, mobile application and website development, and business management as a successful free-lancer and NAVY engineering student.
Unfortunately, having not a Bachelors degree in my toolbox of achievements, I did not qualify for the program. My only choice was undergraduate studies, requiring me to move to the brick-and-mortar campus located in Fairfield, IA. I might add that the Associate Dean of Students declared that I possessed a Dr. (Doctoral) equivalent of intelligence — perhaps placation.
It got even better though, the university also boasted sustainable “Green” living, which harmonized with my knowledge and practice with renewable energy sources such as solar power, and featured vegetarian diets which already comprised nearly 90% of my nutrient intake. It also featured meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM), of which I wasn’t explicitly familiar — though I already practiced other forms of meditation.
It was a miracle, as if the university was made to support an enthusiastic and open minded individual such as myself! I was so excited to pursue this opportunity, nothing — aside from my wife and family — mattered more.
As I did further research I encountered an assortment of negative reviews amid numerous positive reviews. Every university certainly has some students who hold unsavory dispositions from their experiences. Even in my few personal successes I’ve learned that some achievements harbor undue scrutiny, and perhaps the university — in it’s marketing swagger — was catching a backdraft from it’s association with the Hollywood roster of Transcendental Meditation (TM) advocates.
Some of the primary influences that compelled me to overlook the online neigh-sayers were particular.
The university, advertising itself as “MUM”, boasted accreditation from the same organization as the Big Ten schools, as their website expresses:
Maharishi University of Management is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Moreover, photos of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey meditating in the Campus’ “Golden Domes” seemed to add further validation, as brands of this magnitude certainly wouldn’t risk their hard earned salience by associating themselves with a fictitious or phony institution of higher learning. Even the somewhat popular film director David Lynch seemed to sponsor a film program at MUM.
Representatives even boast that TM aids veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), so as a veteran it further resonated with me — particularly in conjunction with the June 9, 2013 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Barlass writes:
Fred Travis of Maharishi University of Management was awarded a $2.4M grant from the US Department of Defence for research on the use of meditation to help veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts cope with stress.
Accreditation, sustainable energy, vegetarian fare, sanskrit literature, meditation, stress reduction, and the Oprah stamp of approval. It was time to take the next step, enrollment; error.