From: The late Lieutenant Dan Burke, U.S. Navy SEAL Teams (Retired)
Subject: Transcendental Meditation for Military Professionals
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
Benefits for individuals
To the right is a photograph of me in Panama during combat operations in 1989. My teammates and I were on a rest break during a jungle patrol. While sitting in our security perimeter, I closed my eyes and practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique and a friend took this picture. I found the technique tremendously beneficial during those weeks in terms of stress relief as well as performance enhancement, e.g. more energy, more vitality and more clarity of mind. This experience was invaluable to me, perhaps even life-saving. I think governments should provide TM training for military professionals on active duty, as well as for veterans who suffer from combat stress, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As a SEAL on active duty, it was easy to see the benefits of TM practice on the individual level. This came from my own direct experience as well as from the numerous scientific research studies on the TM technique, for example, regarding improved performance, broad comprehension, field independence, greater alertness, quicker reaction times, etc. I even remember coming across a study that showed improved night vision.
These findings were very motivating for a young elite warrior aspiring to be the best that he could be. Later in life I realized that, on the one hand, training for peak performance was a thrill and an achievement, but on the other hand, I was fully capable of serving in and leading top-performing groups without ever having to prove myself in combat. In fact there is a way to win with ease without fighting.
Benefits for society as a whole - how to win with ease
In a little-known chapter of The Art of War the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu describes his "Principle of the Sheathed Sword," stating, "To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting." He also wrote, "What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. But his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. For inasmuch they are gained over circumstances that have not come to light, the world at large knows nothing of them, and he therefore wins no reputation for wisdom; and inasmuch the hostile state submits before there has been any bloodshed, he receives no credit for courage."
Winning with ease, under unknown circumstances, and receiving no credit for the ceasing of hostilities: these points remind me of a quote from Maharishi: "On a very subtle level of action, at the root of action, in silence we can stop the birth of an enemy." The Vedic literature says Heyam Dukham Anagatam: "Avert the danger that has not yet come."
Fifty scientific replications and 23 studies published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals have confirmed that the collective practice of Maharishi's TM and TM-Sidhi programs by large groups creates a measurable influence of orderliness and harmony throughout society. By enlivening subtle field dynamics of human consciousness, such groups have been shown to reduce crime and violence, end ongoing conflict, and ultimately prevent an enemy from arising in the first place.
As a combat veteran who has seen enough reckless fighting in this world, I would like to see more people averting the dangers that have not yet come. Talk about winning with ease! This is a Win-Win and it is easy.
The Transcendental Meditation program is not about flower power or mood making. I have direct experience of this kind of skill in action. I have seen groups of meditators tangibly dissolving enmity in their surroundings where others predicted intensifying hostilities.
I have always been struck by the one-pointed devotion to duty of my fellow military members. They all want to do their duty. They all want to do the right things. They all want to prove themselves, but many fail to realize what their ultimate duty can be.
It is not just about willingness to sacrifice your life for your country or for your religion. It is not only about proving yourself in battle. It can also be about preventing an enemy from arising. Our noble military profession can achieve its goals more effectively. The ultimate goal should be to achieve victory before war.
Return to The Center for Advanced Military Science.