The problem of religious cults is terrible, and parents are to be encouraged in taking an aggressive watchfulness toward groups that coerce, kidnap and brainwash. But in watching for the invidious, we must be careful not to condemn the beneficial {Style, July 2}.

I have practiced Transcendental Meditation for 12 years. I started because I understood I would gain freedom to be fully myself, with greater energy and clarity. That is still why I meditate. No one associated with TM has ever made a demand or cast a restriction on me -- not then, when I was an excited new meditator, and not now that I am a successful novelist. I have expanded, not restricted, my freedom to enjoy my own profession, my own family and the religion of my choice, using the stress-free zest I gained from TM for my goals entirely. I'm grateful to have TM, but my gratitude is more to the human nature I was born with than to the technique or its creators. Happiness is my birthright; TM has simply helped me unfold the gift I had already been given.

It is true that aspects of TM and its advanced programs look peculiar to our American eyes. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is an Indian in white clothing, who claims he has a solution to all world problems; it's easy for cult-wary parents to suspect him of strange designs, without looking beyond a couple of discontented ex-TMers who may simply be like many ex-anythingers -- they cast disappointment and hostility backward at a previous involvement. The fact is that, in my 12 years of listening warily enough, Maharishi has expounded no stranger goals than natural happiness for each individual and no stranger theory than that happy individuals make up a peaceful world.

-- Bruce Brooks

The Post's article on Transcendental Meditation and the irresponsible charges of the cult awareness network inspired me to respond. I have been practicing the TM technique for more than 17 years. My wife and two children, ages 7 and 12, also practice the technique. The results for us in terms of greater health, productivity, energy and happiness have been clear and profound.

I am also a stockbroker who spends a large part of the day trading options and commodities. Anyone who watched me for a couple of hours interacting with clients and traders would probably conclude that I am the last person on this earth who would join a cult! I feel sorry for these misguided people wasting their time trying to prove that the TM movement is a cult.

In fact, it is precisely the opposite of a cult. As a group, the many people I know who practice TM are the most independent, creative, diverse group I have ever met. What impresses me most about the TM movement is that the technique is self-sufficient; once learned, it is yours for life. It is not required or necessary to partake in any movement activities again.

I would like to respond to several comments of the article based on my own experience. First, I have never met anyone involved in TM who considers Maharishi a god or who even attempts to follow him. Maharishi is an Indian monk from the Himalayas and I am a Jewish boy from New York and, believe me, I'll never be a monk. Naturally, I give Maharishi the profoundest respect that one can give to any teacher because it is he who gave me this knowledge.

Second, far from taking away my freedom, the TM technique has given me the freedom and confidence to be myself and to fulfill my goals and aspirations.

Third, anyone who compares TM to addiction to drugs and alcohol is just plain stupid. It is clear that drug and alcohol addiction destroy physical and mental health and ultimately destroy life. It is equally clear that the TM technique and TM sidhi program promote health, longevity and happiness. Why don't these people bother reading even one of the volumes of scientific research that prove these benefits beyond a shadow of a doubt. If TM is an addiction, then I suppose sleep is too. Of course, these people would probably be against sleep if someone had just discovered it.

Finally, I would like to ask those in the anti-cult movement why they have so easily latched on to two or three "disgruntled" TM practitioners. Why don't they go out and interview just a few of the more than 1.5 million people throughout the United States and the world -- doctors, lawyers, business executives, clergy, teachers, housewives and students -- who are enjoying the profound benefits of this simple, natural technique?

I would also encourage The Post to be more responsible in reporting on this area in the future. -- Charles Lieb