by Craig Pearson, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Maharishi University of Management
TM Magazine, issue 5
11 Feb 2012
If you are planning to go to college, or have children who are approaching college age, it’s important to ask: What do I want from my college education?
For most of the history of this country, the purpose of higher education was to create well-educated, well-rounded individuals who would be successful in their chosen professions and serve as responsible citizens. This was to be accomplished through study of the liberal arts—the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Study of the liberal arts was seen as “the best way to develop critical and integrative thinkers, productive and creative employees, committed and compassionate citizens, and happy and healthy human beings.” 
But this view of higher education has been growing narrower. Increasingly, the purpose of education is seen as the ability to get a good job.
This is understandable, given the widespread concern over jobs and economic security. But the result is that higher education is rapidly becoming reduced to vocational training and workforce development.
So interest in the traditional liberal arts is declining rapidly, giving way to training in accounting, business administration, computer programming, insurance, law enforcement, nursing—areas where job prospects seem highest. The broader purpose of higher education is being lost.
Education for enlightenment
Forty years ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded a university with a remarkably broad focus. He saw the purpose of higher education as more than vocational training—more, even, than the lofty goals of the liberal arts. Higher education should be for higher consciousness—education should be for enlightenment.
At Maharishi University of Management, we honor desires on both ends of the spectrum. Students can major in liberal arts areas (e.g., literature and writing, art, Maharishi Vedic Science) or practical training fields (business, computer science, media and communications). Whatever their major, they will gain knowledge and skills comparable to what students elsewhere gain.
But students gain far more than this. They gain substantial growth toward enlightenment.
What do we mean by enlightenment? We can understand enlightenment from several perspectives:
* Enlightenment means the full development of your inner potential—intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual. This means having full access to the infinite ocean of creativity and intelligence, energy and bliss, within each of us.
* Enlightenment means living in the perpetual freedom of unbounded awareness, being anchored in the unshakeable blissful silence of your unbounded Self—being totally awake, totally fulfilled within yourself.
* Enlightenment involves living in accord with the laws of nature, so that your desires are fulfilled with least effort. This is the way to be of maximum value to yourself and those around you and of maximum value to society.
* Enlightenment means higher states of consciousness. Ultimately, in the highest state of consciousness, it means experiencing the reality that the entire universe is simply an expression of your own Self.
A technique for enlightenment
If it’s true that we use only a fraction of our full potential, how do we develop it?
It’s not a matter of taking liberal arts courses, or studying harder, or getting a PhD. Growth of enlightenment depends on development of consciousness. Development of consciousness in turn depends on experiencing deeper levels of the mind and cultivating integrated brain functioning.
At MUM, in addition to academic studies, all students practice the simple technique of Transcendental Meditation. This technique gives the effortless experience of transcending—diving within and experiencing the simplest, most silent form of awareness, pure consciousness, where consciousness is awake to itself alone — a state of deep inner peace.
Repeated scientific research has confirmed that during Transcendental Meditation practice, brain functioning becomes integrated and coherent and hidden brain reserves are enlivened. With regular meditation, the brain begins maintaining this coherent style of functioning during the day, outside of meditation—indicating you are gaining increasing access to your brain’s full potential.
The practical side of the growth of consciousness
—unparalleled student outcomes
What are the practical results for education? This simple addition to a traditional university curriculum produces unprecedented outcomes. For example:
* Increased orderliness in brain functioning
* Increased fluid intelligence (IQ)
* Increased practical intelligence
* Increased creativity
* Increased learning ability
* Increased moral maturity
* Increased field independence
* Increased ego development—the development of the personality as a whole
* Improved academic performance (GPA)
* Improved physical and mental health
Some of these values—for instance, increased creativity, moral maturity, field independence—are also the desired outcomes of a liberal arts education. Whether a liberal arts education measurably produces these outcomes is a question. But here they are being directly developed from within, with the eyes closed.
Especially remarkable is that intelligence, moral maturity, field independence, and ego development grow through childhood but then level off in adolescence—and not even an Ivy League education has been found to make a difference. But now they can be developed in anyone at any age.
Objectively documenting the growth of enlightenment
These studies, and many more, show us what growth of full potential—enlightenment—looks like. Growth of enlightenment can be measured objectively, and the scientific research documenting this growth is arguably the most exciting research being conducted in our time.
Our students can see for themselves how their brain functioning becomes increasingly integrated through their Transcendental Meditation practice during their years at MUM. They do this through the Brain Integration Progress Report. MUM is the only university in the world offering this assessment—because our Consciousness-Based approach is the only approach known to produce increasingly integrated brain functioning.
[This article is continued in the Excellence in Action article: Integrated brain functioning as the basis of success in any field.]
1. “A Vigorous Case for the Liberal Arts and Presidential Leadership,” The Council of Independent Colleges, 2012 Presidents Institute, “Champions of the Liberal Arts: Presidential Leadership in Higher Education”
© Copyright 2012 Maharishi Foundation USA, a non-profit educational organization.