One day in childhood, I received an unusual thought: If ever I find some truth to religion, I will become a minister. This happened roughly at age 10. I recall that it just came to me—not in connection with any particular religious experiences, which always were structured by the Lutheran faith of my childhood.
Perhaps regularly attending a small church with my family in our hometown of Windom, Minnesota, kindled a spark of spirit in me, even at that young age. That spark would ignite into a flame later in my life.
Searching for Inner Peace during the Vietnam War
Jump forward several decades: I needed to learn how to cope with stress in my military duties. During the Vietnam War, I served as officer-in-charge of an 18-hour race relations training program, from January 1973 to May 1974, at U-Tapao, Thailand. My duties entailed presenting the history of minorities in the United States, as well as the nature of prejudice and discrimination, while showing films of the civil rights movement—and being the referee for lots of arguments!
At the encouragement of my supervisor—who by sheer grace happened to practice the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique—I read the Daily Bulletin on base and learned of the availability of meditation instruction. Although TM was not available to learn there, there was yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises), and even some kirtan (singing and chanting). To my surprise, these were offered as approved recreational pursuits! The meditation that was taught was helpful and greatly benefited me.
Upon discharge from military service, I sought out other meditation instruction and continued with it for the next 35 years. It did provide some moments of profound relaxation but not the depth that I’d sought in that childhood thought.
On one occasion of TM practice, I found myself with a fresh experience—being immersed in pure joy that endured for nearly an hour, even while driving my car afterward.
Awakening to Bliss in Iowa
Jumping forward a little more, I moved to Fairfield, Iowa, with my wife Vina and our son Prana. We came here so he could finish his B.S. at Maharishi University of Management. We all learned TM in February 2010. Our daughters Anala and Dhyana also came and learned TM here.
I found that TM awakened in me the following: On one occasion of TM practice, I found myself with a fresh experience—being immersed in pure joy that endured for nearly an hour, even while driving my car afterward.
After I learned the advanced TM-Sidhi® program in June 2011, shades of that very special experience were repeated a number of times, as recorded in my journal: “Bliss; spontaneous; a sweet, tender mood; softness; nearly brought tears. Felt like who I am. Breathing, so delightful! Deep, smooth, with a euphoric flow at the end.” Just what I’d sought for decades.
I felt that with the taste of joyfulness, I’d at least closely approached my age 10 wish to be in touch with the divine.
To make this a bit more clear, the Upanishads of the Vedic tradition explain that there are five koshas or sheaths, from gross to subtle: first the body; then life energy; next, mind; then discriminative faculty; and finally the sheath of joy or bliss, all of which cover one’s innermost Self or Being. While I was perhaps not yet in touch with that Self in the above experiences, I nevertheless felt that with the taste of joyfulness, I’d at least closely approached my age 10 wish to be in touch with the divine.
Growing Awareness of Joy, Expansion, Peace, and Delight
Although the blissfulness in meditation did not continue on a daily basis, I did count 54 occasions of it—I actually kept track! This began in early July 2011, after I learned the TM-Sidhi® program in June. A joyfulness arose, and a few times it lingered for more than two hours after meditation, even when engaged in activity.
I described some of my meditation sessions then as “exhilarating… awareness of expansion… eruption of lava… lightness of spirit… dizzy… peace… centeredness… breath so deep… delight… a wave… amazing… how blissful… euphoria… deep rest… such a gratified feeling… a sweet flavor.”
Together, such experiences left me with a strong commitment to continue with my TM practice to this day, though I’m not yet sure just how the childhood desire to become a minister will manifest!
Together, such experiences left me with a strong commitment to continue with my TM practice to this day.
John Miller lives in Fairfield, Iowa, with this wife Vina. He is a senior volunteer coordinator for RSVP, which is sponsored by United Way.
Thanks for these great insights into your wonderful story, John. You’re an enlightened leader of an enlightened family, absolutely ideal in every way. Interesting how you count — 54 — may you add on to that number every single day!
I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Tom. Your words give inspiration to continue with one’s program, which I shall do!
I might clarify, Harbour, that I believe my childhood thought about religion alluded to several biblical quotes. First, Christ’s words: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Sometimes it’s translated as, “within your midst.” I found it fascinating as a child that one might directly experience this–as St. Paul did, when he said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Yet another reference, to inner experience: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Finally, Jesus’ words again: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Taken together, who wouldn’t find these intriguing as a child? I certainly did. They all seemed to speak to me of inwardness and joy. One could, of course, find similar expressions in the texts of other religions; my childhood experience just happened to be of Christianity.
Thank you for this addition to your wonderful story, John. These verses beautifully reveal the universality of inward spiritual experience in Christianity and the world’s religions. People of all faiths have found that practicing TM helps deepen their religious understanding and experience. You might enjoy these videos of a priest and a rabbi talking about TM and religion, as well as Maharishi’s talks https://enjoy.tm.org/group/guest/video-tm-and-religion. Thanks so much for expanding on this conversation!
Harbour, I found those videos above for which you sent the link–Father Dubi, Rabbi Schainberg, and the two videos of Maharishi on TM and relgion –very well done. The Rabbi stated, “Everything Maharishi said is exactly the Torah. It’s a path to God….the wisdom of the ages.” Maharishi said it best: “TM is a friend to all religions,” enabling one to enter more deeply into Christ’s words (as Father Dubi said). Maharishi again: “TM is an automatic procedure to get to the kingdom of heaven within; a practical way for every religion to achieve its goal.” Then one starts “living the religion” as he said. Beautiful.
Thank you, Harbour, for sharing these. They enrich my above-described experiences.
Thank you, John, for sharing these beautiful insights and quotes. I’m glad to hear these talks and interviews resonated with and enriched your experience. Maharishi often spoke about the mutually enhancing relationship between knowledge and experience in developing our full potential and higher states of consciousness. Thanks for demonstrating this principle of growth!
Thank you for your responses, Renee and Jim! It was such a pleasure to work with John and learn about his incredible journey and wonderful family. We’re inspired and honored to share his story with our meditating community. Thank you John!
John Miller heads a family of enlightened souls who were destined to find TM in this lifetime. John is a quiet leader of high ideals, moral courage and commitment. Vina is all that too. And their children are glowing examples of lives well lived and the consistent practice of the TM technique. So happy you published his letter!
Jim, your sincerity shines through. My family is my good fortune. And I might add that working with Harbour Fraser Hodder, editor of TM News, on composing my story, made it a most gratifying experience.
John is a sacred activist who embodies devotion through service in Fairfield and beyond. As a senior volunteer for RSVP, he inspired me to volunteer, too, in our hometown in Iowa. Inner and outer bliss!
A very touching remark from Renee. My wish is that my story inspires others to not only remain regular in their program but to consider sharing their own stories as well!
I should add one experience to my story. In 2013 I took Dr. Fred Travis’ course, “Physiology, Consciousness, and the Veda” while completing the Maharishi Vedic Science Master’s degree program. One day, he asked the class to share an example of how our practice of TM and the TM-Sidhis provided personal benefit. I said that I found a significant reduction in the post-traumatic aggressive impulses that had been troubling me as residual challenges ever since my military service. I now suspect that this “internal house-cleaning” may have helped enable the bliss to shine through, as I’ve noted above.
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