The following excerpts are taken from letters to the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association responding to "Letter from New Delhi -- Maharishi Ayur-Veda: modern insights into ancient medicine" (JAMA, 1991; 265:2633-2634, 2637). The letters appeared in JAMA, 1991; 266(Oct. 2): 1769-1773.
Maharishi Ayur-Veda stands out as having a coherent and easy-to-understand philosophy, and it is backed up by rigorous scientific research. . . I hope we can look forward to more of this kind of information being published in the leading journals.
Michael T. Greenwood, M.B., B.Ch., Victoria, British Columbia (Dr. Greenwood reports using Maharishi Ayur-Veda in his practice.)
As a board-certified neurologist, I have found that my training in Maharishi Ayur-Veda has been absolutely invaluable in dealing with those problems typical to this specialty.
David Pearlmutter, M.D., Naples, FL. (Dr. Pearlmutter reports that he is an Ayur-Vedic physician.)
Just as quantum mechanics was incorporated into physics, it is time for medicine to transcend classical mechanics and to investigate the benefits of quantum field-based health maintenance.
Steele Belok, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston. MA.
The article . . . does not belong in JAMA. . . I am frightened that JAMA would print , and thus give credibility to magic, astrology, rituals, and potions for the prevention and cure of disease. . . [The authors] are followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. [They] are "converts" to his religious system. . . By failing to cite the contraindications/problems with headaches, insomnia, concentration, gastrointestinal upset, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and destruction of personality of Maharishi Ayur-Veda, the authors violate the ethics of informed consent.
Patrick L. Ryan, Philadelphia, PA.
(Mr. Ryan is a former TM member who speaks publicly against the organization as an educational consultant.)
I recommend that you follow "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Modern Insights into Ancient Medicine" with republication of "The Emperor's New Clothes." The use of the word "ancient" in the title is the key: the ideas expressed were pure hocus-pocus and truly ancient ignorance. Pathetic.
Gary Gorlock, M.D., M.P.H., Los Angeles
A Destructive Cult
As president of the American Family Foundation [publisher of the Cult Observer], an organization of professionals including lawyers, psychiatrists, and psychologists, as well as religious leaders dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of destructive cults, I am appalled that this letter [on TM] found its way into your journal. Clearly, this letter is part of a carefully orchestrated and well-financed plan by the TM movement to obtain credibility and acceptance in our society for its unscientific jargon and religious rituals.
Lending your journal to a campaign of this kind seriously exposes you to legal liability for those who might rely on your reputation and follow the described advice and practices. . .
Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq., Weston, MA.
I have been working in the field of destructive cults for 20 years and have concluded that the TM movement is a dangerous cult, damaging both physically and, especially, psychologically to its followers.
Marcia R. Rudin, M.A. (Ms. Rudin is director of the International Cult Education Program [and a member of the editorial board of the Cult Observer].)
A Recruitment Enterprise
[The letter] is a subtle attempt to recruit new followers into the TM movement. . . The Maharishi, referred to as "His Holiness" by his followers, aggressively markets his brand of meditation, TM, as a health benefit to improve quality of life. In fact, the meditation instruction is a front for a missionary enterprise, encouraging students to meditate for large parts of the day, along with increasing participation in a form of demythologized Hinduism. This conversion is done by the gently titrating exposure of TM devotees to Hindu philosophy and practice, without initially defining them as such.
. . . Many Jews and Christians with limited knowledge of their own heritage are misled by TM to believe that their new activities and beliefs are not incompatible with the religion of their births. . . those on spiritual quests should be aware that meditation practices are found within Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, and also in a true secular format via contemporary psychology.
John Hochman, M.D. , Los Angeles [Dr. Hochman is a member of an advisory committee of the American Family Foundation, publisher of the Cult Observer.]
School for Abuse
My work has provided a disturbing view of wife abuse, violence against children, health abuse, and a total disregard for the psychological horrors that TM techniques foster and justify. The causes of these practices are, like TM Ayur-Veda medicine, woven together by TM's strain of Hindu mythology. . . The medical program of TM, based as it is on TM's notoriously suspect "research," is a form of "mind over matter" magic. . . . [The letter's description of the mind, for example] as "a physical expression of the self-interacting dynamics of an underlying abstract field of intelligence" . . . is a reference to Hinduism's concept of Maya (matter is an illusion), Maya's integral relation to Monism (all things are made of one substance), and the belief that this substance is spirit. Transcendental Meditation defies all medical knowledge because it accepts the archaic belief that disease is the result of assault by female demons! This bit of truth, of course, is not acknowledged to Western audiences. If a method's veracity and effectiveness should be tested before being recommended and applied, then your readers have the benefit of over 2000 years of de facto research. The laboratory is India itself - chaos, epidemics, caste-dominated cruelty, and bizarre superstitions reign. This - rather than a pristine world of joy, health, and serenity - is what TM breeds.
Kevin Garvey, Hamden, CT.
(Mr. Garvey is a paid consultant on TM activities for attorneys [and a member of advisory committees of the American Family Foundation, publisher of the Cult Observer].)
According to TM-EX, TM uses deceptive recruiting practices and the organization's rules and regulations are presented to members as being absolute. A new vocabulary is taught to recruits to explain ordinary phenomena, and the group uses undue influence techniques of mind control, guilt, and phobia induction to maintain membership. . . JAMA should have looked into this movement a bit more before giving it such a bold place in our premier medical journal.
Ralph Smith, Jr., M.D., Charleston. WV.
[Dr. Smith is a member of an advisory committee of the American Family Foundation, publisher of the Cult Observer.]
Cult Observer, Volume 8, Number 10, 1991