Patrick Ryan (BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, Maharishi International University) is the founder and former head of TM-Ex, the organization of one-time members of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. His association with AFF involves frequent attendance at conferences, where he is often a speaker, work with other ex-cult members, and a book about his personal experience, Recovery From Cults, to be published this August.
TM recruiters were allowed into his high school in the mid-'70s, a time when the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a frequent guest on the "Merv Griffin" and other TV shows. Mr. Ryan attended an informational meeting which led to a weekend, then a week, with "no privacy, endless tapes of chanting, meditation, and lectures." Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, was one of the teachers. She and her husband attended MIU, to which she persuaded Mr. Ryan and 250 others to go for both "academics and enlightenment." `His five years there provided "a mixed bag academically."
The school was accredited through the Ph.D. in various subjects, and because courses were taught by the "block system," good faculty could be brought in briefly for good pay. Out of three months, two were allotted for academics, one for meditating, sometimes as many a 7 hours a day for 7 days at a time. There was an average of 4 hours' trance-inducing activity per day, and all for academic credit.
After graduating, Mr. Ryan worked a year for a Maharishi community. A family intervention when one of his sisters joined "a cult" (The Way) began his questioning process, and he started to see parallels in his situation. He sought insights from former TM-ers, and was further disillusioned. Several lawsuits against the organization exposed hitherto secret tales of "yogic flying," adding to its embarrassment. An attorney in one such suit urged Mr. Ryan to visit Dr. Margaret Singer, who put the "crowning touches" on his liberation. She sent him to a Cult Awareness Network conference where he met many families of TM members. Thus began his exit counseling career which, after he gave up a thriving import business, soon became full-time. He works with a variety of cult members, stressing that he does "no involuntaries."
The young man once trained as a "spiritual warrior" for TM (a distinction reserved for heroic meditators, not the mere 20 minutes a day kind) is now an internationally recognized cult expert, relied on by families and media in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. He is also another of those AFF associates whose advice to law enforcement officials might, had it been heeded, have helped avert the Waco debacle.
Cult Observer, Vol. 10, No. 06, 1993