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Maharishi’s Theory of Management

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Natural Law Based Management:

A Review of Theory and Research

Dennis P. Heaton, Ed.D.

Maharishi University of Management

Fairfield, IA 52557-1143

Phone and Fax: 641/472-1191

Emails:

dheaton@mum.edu

Keywords:

Meditation

Management

Natural Law

Yoga

Performance

Bhagavad-G¥tå

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Maharishi’s Theory of Management

Abstract

With the passing of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 2008, we take this occasion to

review a number of his writings which bear on the field of management. Maharishi described a

formula for achieving success in management through Yoga, the integration of transcendental

silence and dynamic activity. Vedic technologies to align the consciousness of the manager with

Natural Law, which administers the universe, are described. Maharishi’s theory, placing primary

emphasis on developing higher individual and collective consciousness, is considered as a deeper

development in management thought than other management approaches, which focus more on

the superficial levels of action, thinking, or feeling. Empirical evidence supporting Maharishi’s

theory of Natural Law Based Management is presented from two streams of research: one

focusing on the effects of systematically cultivating transcendence in organizational settings

through the Transcendental Meditation program, and the second correlating peak performance

with transcendental experiences.

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Establishing in Being, Perform Action

The field of management would appear to a field of action, while meditation is a practice to

settle down from activity to profound silence. It may seem at first glance that these two opposites

—action and silence—have little to offer to each other. Yet the main principle of Maharishi’s

theory of management is that action can be most powerful, most effective, and most free from

mistakes when the actor can perform action while established in the silence of transcendental

consciousness.

In his 1963 book The Science of Being and Art of Living,Maharishi explained that the power

of action depends on the power of thinking and powerful thinking depends upon the degree to

which one is able to consciously experience one’s own Being. Conscious awareness of Being is

cultivated by transcending thought in meditation (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963). When one

comes out of meditation and acts in the world in a natural manner, inner silence gradually

becomes more and more stabilized throughout the activity of the day and the sleep of the night:

With more and more practice, the ability of the mind to maintain its essential nature

while experiencing objects through the senses increases. When this happens, the mind

and its essential nature, the state of transcendental Being, become one, and the mind is

then capable of retaining its essential nature—Being—while engaged in thought, speech

or action…. Being brought to the level of the individual mind provides the key to clear,

purposeful, and fruitful thinking; put into action, it provides the key to self-confidence

and increased efficiency in all undertakings. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963, p. 37, 41)

In his translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-G¥tå , Maharishi (1969) again

explained how transcending can make thought and action increasingly powerful. Maharishi

presents Chapter II verse 45 of the G¥tå as a key verse in which Krishna instructs Arjuna that

he must transcend before he can perform resolutely. In his commentary on this verse, Maharishi

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writes: ‘It is difficult for a man to improve his business affairs while he himself is constantly

immersed in all their details. If he leaves them for a little while, he becomes able to see the

business as a whole and can then more easily decide what is needed (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,

1969, p. 127).

Maharishi’s commentary on Chaper II verse 48 of the G¥tå advocates a routine of

alternating meditation and action to become ‘established in Yoga’—the integration of inner

transcendental silence into dynamic engagement in the world. ‘To shoot an arrow successfully it

is first necessary to draw it back on the bow, thus giving it great potential energy. When it is

brought back to the fullest possible extent, then it possesses the greatest dynamic power (p.

136).’

yogSq’ k⁄® km;R…,


yogastha˙ kuru karmåˆi Bhagavad-G¥tå 2.48

Established in Yoga, perform action.

Maharishi’s explains Yoga to be ‘a means of bringing into harmony the inner creative silence and

the outer activity of life, and a way to act with precision and success (p. 135-136).’ Through

becoming established in Yoga ‘the small individual mind grows to the status of the cosmic mind,

rising above all its individual shortcomings and limitations (p. 136).’

A Formula for Creativity to Blossom in Business

Maharishi’s 1978 book Enlightenment to Every Individual and Invincibility to Every Nation

brought out another analogy in which inner silence and outer dynamism are related to the bank

and the marketplace: if a businessman finds no time to take advantage of his reserves in the bank,

he remains like a frantic hawker on the street, never gaining his full potential in business. In this

analogy, going to the bank means fathoming the genius that is hidden in the silent settled state of

the mind, from where creative thoughts emerge. Maharishi offers the Transcendental

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Meditation® (TM) technique, practiced 20 minutes twice a day, as a formula for each manager

and worker to ‘create infinity within himself (p. 173)’ for inner fulfillment and outer success. [1]

Then in his 1986 volume of lectures, Life Supported by Natural Law, Maharishi expressed

further insights into the theme that the science of technology of consciousness is science and

technology of effective management. The lecture on ‘Unified Field Based Economics’ identifies

transcendental consciousness with the level of the integrated value of Natural Law at the basis of

cosmic life, the Unified Field of All the Laws of Nature. [2] Modern science holds the unified

field to be the source of the ever-evolving order of the physical universe (Hagelin, 1987, 1998).

Vedic Science is a tradition of knowledge based on direct experience of this same unified field,

‘experienced as an eternal continuum underlying all existence’ in ‘a completely unified,

unbounded and simple state of awareness’ (Chandler, 1987, p. 8).

Experiential knowledge of the dynamics of nature’s creativity within this basic level of

consciousness, through Vedic Science, enlivens in the mind the creative and dynamic qualities of

nature’s intelligence for practical success:

When consciousness is flowing out into the field of thoughts and activity, it

identifies itself with many things, and this is how experience takes place.

Consciousness coming back onto itself gains an integrated state… [This] self-

referral state of consciousness is that one element in nature on the ground of

which the infinite variety of creation is continuously emerging, growing, and

dissolving…If this state of consciousness, or the state of nature’s activity, could

be brought on the level of daily life, then life would naturally be as orderly and as

full as is the nature of this self-referral state of consciousness. (Maharishi Mahesh

Yogi, 1986, p. 25-26)

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Maharishi envisioned the practical possibility that his technology of consciousness could unlock

latent creativity on ‘the level of nature’s self-referral activity (p. 125)’ not only for the individual

and the firm, but so that ‘the whole nation will rise in productivity, creativity, and self-

sufficiency. It will rise in invincibility (p. 127-128).’

Engaging the Managing Intelligence of Natural Law

The theme that success in management rests primarily on harmonizing the individual

manager with the cosmos was further elaborated in Maharishi’s 1995 book on management,

Maharishi University of Management: Wholeness on the Move. Natural Law is there defined as

‘that infinite organizing power which sustains existence and promotes the evolution of

everything in the universe, automatically maintaining the well-coordinated relationship of

everything with everything else’ (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1995a, p. 8). The Vedic approach to

management ‘maintains the managing intelligence of the manager in alliance with this supreme

managing intelligence of the universe’ (p. 8), so that it is ultimately possible to attain

‘administration as automatic, problem-free, ever-progressive, and ever-evolutionary as the

administration of the universe through Natural Law’ (p. 8) by developing the full potential of

human consciousness. The Veda, Maharishi explains, identifies transcendental consciousness as

the ‘Home of all the Laws of Nature’:

prmù e Vyomÿ nÖ (

y‚Smnÿ ( dvÖe ; a…/ ô ivê ÿe inWdÖe ‘


parame vyoman

yasmin devå adhi vishve nishedu˙ Âk Veda, 1.164.39

The transcendental field, the Self,

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In which reside all the devas, the impulses of creative intelligence, the laws of nature

responsible for the whole manifest universe.

Maharishi describes the performance of Natural Law, cosmic mind, as ‘all-directional’ and ‘all-

encompassing’ (1995a, p. 10). The manager who is in alignment with Natural Law can

spontaneously achieve progress without pollution; but the creation of imbalance and degradation

of the environment is the inevitable side-effect of technology that is based on intellectual

knowledge that is not grounded in experience of the Unified Field of Natural Law.

Maharishi’s approach to management puts primary emphasis on development of individual

and collective consciousness. As consciousness is more highly developed, then Natural Law

spontaneously guides action to producing the best results with least effort, as depicted in the

following verse from Âk Veda :

dxÿ mô e ygûu e ytÖ In; ÿ' b˜Ö[ ; .vÿ it ô s;r…

ÿq" 6 Âk Veda 1.158.6

dashame yuge yat¥naμ brahmå bhavati sårathi˙

For those established in self-referral consciousness, the infinite organizing

power of the Creator becomes the charioteer of all action.

This ‘Automation in Administration’, Maharishi (1995b) explains, can be applied in

organizations and in governments by having groups practicing the TM-Sidhi program together to

create a field effect on the purity and positivity of the overall collective consciousness.

Evolution of Management Thought toward Natural Law Based Management

Maharishi’s spiritual or transpersonal view of management has some precedents in the

management literature. Harmon (1988, p. 119) presented the outlook of deep ecology which

‘goes beyond the contemporary scientific framework to a subtle awareness of the oneness of all

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life, the interdependence of its multiple manifestations, and the irrepressibility of its tendencies

towards evolution and transformation.’ Wheatley (1992) spoke of the possibility of an

organization which moves gracefully in the unfolding dance of order which is already lively in

the self-organizing universe (Jantsch, 1980); and Ray wrote of a new paradigm of business based

on ‘wholeness and connectedness’ and ‘doing business from our most profound inner awareness

and in connection with the consciousness of others and the earth’(Ray, 1993, p. 4-5). In this

viewpoint, organizing is not an act of control which man imposes on the environment; rather it is

the manifestation through man of the inherent capacity of living systems to create order.

Harung, Alexander, and Heaton (1999) took the occasion of the new millennium to reflect on

the historical significance of Maharishi’s theory of Natural Law-based management in the

context of the development of management thinking and practice. In their typology, the

discipline of management can be considered as progressing through four stages which are

concerned with deeper and deeper intrinsic aspects of life. The first stage is concerned with

managing the performance of tasks. In the second stage, the focus of managing is on

understanding the integrated processes of delivering a service or product. The third stage focuses

on managing values; management at this stage stimulates intrinsic motivation, organizational

alignment and a healthy corporate culture. What is deeper than this? The direction of evolution in

the field of management is toward a fourth stage which focuses on experience of the Unified

Field of Natural Law as a foundation for holistic success in the values, process, and task domains

of management. Harung et al. discuss characteristics of Natural Law Based Management, which

operates from the transcendental field of consciousness which is deeper than action, deeper than

thinking, deeper than feeling. These include harmonious collective spirit, achieving prosperity

along with environmental balance and social value, spontaneous creative progress, and

leadership which develops the full potential of every individual.

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The Transcendental Meditation Technique

Maharishi’s theory that transcending strengthens activity is made operational through the

Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, a systematic practice which opens awareness to that

level of life which we have discussed in terms of Being, transcendental consciousness, or the

Unified Field. Maharishi describes the TM technique as:

… an effortless procedure for allowing the excitations of the mind to gradually settle

down until the least excited state of mind is reached. This is a state of inner

wakefulness, with no object of thought or perception, just pure consciousness, aware

of its own unbounded nature. It is wholeness, aware of itself, devoid of differences,

beyond the division of subject and object — transcendental consciousness. It is a field

of all possibilities, where all creative potentialities exist together … but as yet

unexpressed. It is a state of perfect order, the matrix from which all the laws of nature

emerge, the source of creative intelligence (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1976, p. 123).

TM is normally practiced for 20 minutes twice daily sitting quietly with the eyes closed. In this

technique a specific sound or mantra—utilized for its sound value without reference to meaning

—is used to shift attention away from its habitual outward direction. During meditation the

mantra is experienced at progressively deeper and finer levels until the mind settles down to

transcendental consciousness—a state of quiet self-awareness beyond thought (Roth 1987).

According to Shear (2006), Maharishi’s TM technique made the experience of transcendental

consciousness accessible through an effortless practice that is “independent of all matters of

belief and affiliation” (p. 47).

The TM technique has been taught in a consistent manner around the world and thus has lent

itself to scientific study of both of the effects on mind and body during meditation and on the

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stabilization of those effects outside of meditation as the result of repeated practice. During the

practice of the TM technique there are reductions in heart rate and oxygen consumption, and

increased electroencephalographic (EEG) coherence indicative of a state of profound restful

alertness, distinct from eyes-closed relaxation or sleep (Alexander, Cranson, Boyer, & Orme-

Johnson, 1986). The profound relaxation gained during the practice is said to dissolve the stress

in the mind and the body. The TM technique has been associated with improvements such as

decreased anxiety (Eppley, Abrams & Shear, 1989), reduced health insurance utilization (Orme-

Johnson, 1987; Herron, Hillis, Mandarino, Orme-Johnson, & Walton, 1996), improvements in

ego development and moral reasoning (Chandler, Alexander, & Heaton, 2005), creativity (Travis,

1979), fluid intelligence, constructive thinking, self-actualization, and reaction time (So & Orme-

Johnson, 2001; Alexader, Rainforth & Gelderlos, 1991; Cranson, Orme-Johnson, Gackenbach,

Dillbeck, Jones, & Alexander, 1991). Reviews of this research and its applications to

management education (Schmidt-Wilk, Heaton, and Steingard, 2000) and leadership

development (Heaton & Schmidt-Wilk, 2008) have been published in the management literature.

Other Technologies for Natural Law-Based Management

Maharishi (1995a) brought out a number of other Vedic technologies which, in addition to

the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, align the human mind with the managing intelligence of

Natural Law and thereby improve efficiency, quality, pollution-free progress, fulfillment, health,

and prosperity. Maharishi Sthāpatya Veda SM is a traditional system of designing buildings

which is said to quietly harmonize individual life with cosmic life. The principles of Maharishi

Sthapatya Veda concern orientation of a building toward the east, as well as the slope of land and

orientation toward bodies of water; dimensions and proportions of building design; and

placement of rooms. Maharishi Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) is another of the Vedic technologies

concerned with the connection between individual and cosmic life. Jyotish is said to be a highly

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mathematical approach which calculates the influence of the planetary cycles on our lives,

individually and collectively. It is the science of predicting the future to avert the danger that has

not yet come. Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture uses ancient knowledge to produce food that

brings maximum nourishment to life. The classical melodies of Gandharva Veda music are

described as the expression of the eternal music of Nature, with melodies and rhythms that

match the cycles of Nature. Maharishi Gandharva Veda is said to enliven ‘harmony, wholeness,

and unity in everything that is separate from everything else’ (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1995a, p.

225). Another Vedic approach is Ayurved for the ‘prevention of disease, cure of sickness, and

promotion of longevity (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 46).’

Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program in Business Settings

Research on the effects of the TM program for business people has provided a means of

empirically testing the theory that systematic transcending promotes balanced success in activity.

Studies have found that business people practicing the TM technique report improved health,

decreased anxiety, increased productivity and improved relations (Frew, 1974; Alexander,

Swanson, et al. 1993; Schmidt-Wilk, Alexander and Swanson, 1996; Schmidt-Wilk, 2000;

Alexander, DeArmond, Heaton, Stevens, & Schmidt-Wilk, 2004). In an eight-month pretest-

posttest control group study in one company (McCollum, 1999), subjects who learned the

Transcendental Meditation technique grew significantly more than controls in their expression

of leadership behaviors, as measured by the Leadership Practices Inventory (Kouzes & Posner,

2007).

Qualitative studies have found that managers practicing the Transcendental Meditation

technique grew in holistic thinking (Gustavsson, 1992), resiliency in stressful situations and new

abilities to resolve conflicts (Schmidt-Wilk 2000), and in behaviors which solve cross-functional

problems proactively and collaboratively (Schmidt-Wilk, 2003). Herriott (1999; Herriott,

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Schmidt-Wilk & Heaton, in review) found that entrepreneurs who were long-term practitioners

of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs reported a secure feeling of being

anchored to inner fullness, inner silence. These managerial subjects also described their business

performance in terms of growing intuition, holistic perspective, and fortunate coincidences.

Intuition was described by interviewees as a hunch or subtle impulse from within, and as a

knowing-ness that does not require intellectual analysis. Subjects also commonly referred to a

pervasive sense of being part of a larger wholeness. According to Herriott, her subjects reported

‘an awareness of a more holistic, all-encompassing level of truth and reality, as a sense of

integration of the inner and outer dimensions of life’ (p. 168). This feeling of a deep sense of

connectedness led entrepreneurs to adopted ‘more universal values: going beyond individual

interests to the wider interests of employees, community, or environment as a whole’ (Herriott,

1999, p. 172). These entrepreneurs described an association between instances of things

‘organizing themselves’ and feelings of settled-ness. Taken together, these qualitative findings

seem to describe genuine experiences of engaging the managing intelligence of Natural Law for

more holistic success without strain.

Research Correlating Transcendental Experiences and Peak Performance

Maharishi’s theory expounds that effectiveness in activity is most easily and automatically

gained when consciousness in grounded in the transcendental basis of the mind, which Âk Veda

identifies as the home of all the Laws of Nature. One stream of research which has been derived

from and lends support to Maharishi theory is a series of studies of experiences of transcendence

in peak performers—subjects who were selected for their ability to function at the top in their

fields, irrespective of their practice of any meditation technique. Harung, Heaton and Alexander

(1995) asked a group of world class leaders how frequently they had experienced an even state

of silence coexisting with but untouched by activity. Forty-five percent (10 of 22) reported

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having the experience at least once a week (compared with 6% of a comparison group), and

36% (8 of 22) at least once a day. These same world-class leaders reported more frequent

experience of fortunate coincidences which are predicted to be associated with the growth of

experiences of silence during activity

Another study of peak performance (Harung, Travis, Blank, & Heaton, in press) was 

conducted with the National Olympic Training Centre in Norway (Olympiatoppen) and the

Norwegian School for Sports Sciences (Norges Idrettshøgskole). Thirty-three Norwegian world-

class athletes were selected who had placed among the top 10 in major competitions (Olympic

Games, World Championships, World Cup, or similar) for at least three different seasons. They

were compared to 33 average performing athletes on five measures: two tests of human

development: self-development (Loevinger, 1976) and moral reasoning (Gibbs, Basinger &

Fuller, 1992); two tests of neurophysiology: the Brain Integration Scale (Travis, Arenander &

DuBois, 2004, and speed of adaptation to a loud tone; and the same measure of frequency of

transcendental experiences used by Harung et al. (1995). Compared to the control athletes, the

world class performers had higher levels of brain integration, faster habituation to a loud tone,

higher levels of self-development, and higher levels of moral reasoning.

Harung et al., (in press) also investigated physiological and psychological characteristics of

20 top-level managers in Norway compared to 20 middle or low-level employees on three

measures of self-development: 1) brain integration, 2) moral reasoning, and 3) frequency of

peak experiences. The top-level managers had significantly higher scores on brain integration,

moral reasoning, and on frequency of experiences of transcendental consciousness—during eyes

closed quiet time and during activity and during sleep. These peak performers reported in

interviews that their transcendental experiences were associated with extreme feeling of

happiness, with a sense that everything is right and with intuitive insights that proved to be right.
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These studies of peak performers provide another angle of support for Maharishi’s theory

that the integration of transcendental silence and dynamic activity is the inner condition for

achieving success in management. Harung et al. (in press) point out that while transcendental

experiences are found to be spontaneously present more frequently in peak performers, the

widely researched Transcendental Meditation Technique appears to be a practice that could be

adopted by managers to enhance performance.

Conclusion

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi revived ancient Vedic knowledge as a contemporary science and

technology of consciousness with practical applications to management as well as other fields.

His contribution to management illustrates Mukherjee’s (2004) thesis that spiritual traditions

from India offer a non-conventional approach to management learning that can unfold ‘the

dormant energy in every individual in the organizational fold and channeling the same toward a

higher purpose that includes and transcends business goals, to make work and life individually

fulfilling and collectively enriching (p. 24).’ One can learn to manage as Natural Law manages

the cosmos, Maharishi’s theory asserts, by cultivating experiences of the field of silence.

Empirical evidence supporting Maharishi’s theory of Natural Law Based Management has

accumulated through two streams of research: one correlating peak performance with

transcendental experiences, and the second focusing on the effects of systematically cultivating

transcendence in organizational settings through the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Through such research, the field of management is coming to acknowledge the contribution of

Vedic knowledge toward advancing the theory and practice of management.

Notes:

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[1] ® SM Transcendental Meditation, TM, TM-Sidhi, Maharishi Sthāpatya Veda, Maharishi

Jyotish and Maharishi Gandharva Veda are registered trademarks or common law trademarks

licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation and used under sublicense.

[2] In quoting or expressing Maharishi’s concepts of Natural Law, Nature, and Unified Field, the

words are capitalized to be consistent with his specialized usage of these terms.

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