Friday, November 19, 2010

The Flow of Consciousness: 14 Lectures by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Relationship Between Language, Literature, and Consciousness

At this point in my blogging career, I have posted fifteen articles that have included the label of "consciousness-based writing." Now I have a resource to use when I write about the relationship between consciousness and writing: The Flow of Consciousness, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Here are some sentences from the first of fourteen transcribed lectures, a lecture entitled "Literature: the Link Between Objective Reality and Universality."
"It is the marvel of speech that it contains within its fold the surface values--the dignity, the role, and the magnitude of the surface value--and, in describing the surface value, unfolds the truth which structures the surface value--the deeper value, the deeper significance."
"What makes an expression a literary expression are these values in the consciousness of the writer--a very wide comprehension and the ability to contain the ocean in a drop."
"So the study of literature gives us models of how beautiful speech can be, of how comprehensive and enjoyable speech can be, of how purposeful speech can be for the refinement of the emotions and intellect."
The difficulty of quoting from this lecture was to choose what not to quote. The overview of the lecture states that the lecture "describes the joy of reading as an experience of the writer's bliss, which is 'arrested' in the expressions of successful writers."

The lectures compiled in The Flow of Consciousness were given by Maharishi during the years 1971-1976, according to a Maharishi University of Management publication. Retired literature faculty members Rhoda Orme-Johnson and Susan Anderson organized the book, which includes thirty pages of introduction, providing a context for the lectures. Each of the fourteen lectures is prefaced by an overview.
"As with many of Maharishi's recorded talks, most of these lectures were occasional: Maharishi giving an extended answer to a question during a course to train teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique, or making comments after having heard a well-known scholar during a symposium of the Science of Creative Intelligence."
The body of the book consists of two parts.
  • The first focuses on literature, "including talks on literature as the link between objective reality and universality, the question of whether an artist must suffer in order to create, and the nature of learning and progress of knowledge."
  • The second focuses on language, "including talks on the principles of communication, enlivening consciousness as the basis of all languages and communication, and how language reflects the laws of nature of a particular region."
Dr. Orme-Johnson advises: "The talks are organized by audience, going from wisdom that's oriented to those new to the Transcendental Meditation technique, to talks that were for teachers of the technique. Someone new to this would want to read the book in sequence."

As a teacher of literature, I believe it is important for a connection to be established between a student and a work of literature that answers the following questions: Why should I read this? What's in it for me? Ultimately, reading literature is a communion, the establishment of some level of unity between writer and reader. Language is the medium; consciousness is that which contains the medium.

At Maharishi University of Management and at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (where I teach), students practice the Transcendental Meditation technique to expand that container of knowledge. Both schools have the motto "Knowledge is structured in consciousness."

Maharishi's book The Flow of Consciousness is a study of how knowledge, which is structured in consciousness, is expressed through language.

Let's end with a quote from the book by Maharishi about poets:
"Poets throughout the ages have sung the song of life, and each song has its own dignity, has its own value, and has its own meaning, and that meaning any man can have here or here or here, any level of consciousness, bringing dawn to any truth."
Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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