Feb 13, 2014

TM-EX NEWSLETTER, Volume V, No. 1, Winter 1993

Volume V, No. 1, Winter 1993

Maharishi Inc.

The bearded populizer of transcendental meditation has earthly holdings
that will blow your mind. His corporate empire includes land holdings,
hotels, publishing houses and plans for spiritual theme parks.

Here's the deal:

Some 2,400 masters of transcendental meditation fly into Baltimore,
check into a hotel at the harbor and start to meditate, each morning
and evening.

Within weeks, mugger begin to lose the urge to mug. Months pass, and
robbers forswear robbery. A year or two, and drug dealers are staying
off the corners. Within five years, crime has been--not reduced. Eliminated.

``With its cities free from crime,'' say newspaper advertisements
for the American City Project, placed over the last four months in
60 urban centers, ``the United States will radiate a powerful positive,
harmonious, and nourishing influence for the whole world.''

This is the laudable result of the Maharishi Effect, named for its
inventor: His Holiness, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, populizer of TM, once-upon-a-time
guru to the great, brilliant seer or shameless charlatan, depending
on whom you ask.

Here he is now, his lilting, authentic-guru falsetto coming via speakerphone
from Vlodrop, Netherlands. He is giving interviews to promote his
crime scheme.

``When people are involved in crime,'' he explains, ``the mind loses
its stress, that affects the atmosphere...In one, two, three weeks,
no more, the criminals will think of not using their guns. Their thinking
will be more positive. They will not know why.''

And you may have thought of him as a harmless eccentric, a slightly
dotty old man, a little too ethereal for this mercenary world.

If so, you might be surprised to learn that Maharishi today presides
over a corporate empire Indian sources have estimated to be worth
more than $2 billion, a sort of Wal-Mart of the spirit, encompassing
extensive land holding in India, hotels in Europe, and publishing
houses in the Unites States.

There's the Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Company, selling
schemes for suburbs built in harmony with natural law. There are Maharishi
Ayur-Veda medical clinics, curing with herbs and diagnosing disease
by taking the patient's pulse. There are plans for Maharishi Veda
Land spiritual theme parks in Orlando, Fla., Niagara Falls, India
and Japan.

There are Maharishi universities on three continents. There is Maharishi's
Natural Law Party, which fielded candidates in the British and U.S.
elections last year. There is Maharishi everything, it seems, right
down to the Maharishi Jyotish astrology service and the Maharishi
Yagya Hindu-good-luck-ceremonies-for-rent.

True, while the movement is prosperous, in some of its ventures there
may be less than meets the eye. Some ``universities'' are rumored
to consist of a hotel suite. A Heaven on Earth executive says development
has been stalled by the recession. The theme parks consist, so far,
of land purchases and press conferences. Natural Law Party candidates
drew far less than 1 percent of the vote.

But whatever the substance, the image is getting meticulous attention.
Maharishi's empire is served by an eager public relations operation,
the Age of Enlightenment News Service, ready to beam Maharishi's
pronouncement by satellite from his palatial headquarters in the
Netherlands or Fed-Ex videocassettes of His Holiness explaining
Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence.

Craig Berg, 43, an affable PR man in Fairfield, Iowa, grew up in
Baltimore.  [He] is one of thousands of devotees who serve Maharishi's
projects around the globe for room, board and a small monthly
stipend. Many dress in the coat-and-tie style he advises to change
TM's counterculture reputation: ``Throw your blue jeans into the
ocean,'' he once told them.

But for some former devotees who have left the TM movement, Maharishi
is the leader of a cult that literally entrances its subjects,
bombards them with propaganda and cripples their ability to think
critically.  Caught up in TM as teen-agers in the `70s, they now view
their involvement as a prolonged bout of self-hypnosis.

``For me, the age of enlightenment turned into the age of
embarrassment,'' says Roger Foster, 35, a Silver Spring computer
programmer who spent more than a decade serving Maharishi before an
anti-cult book changed his mind in 1988. ``I can't believe what I used
to believe.''

In retrospect, he sees a sinister side, recalling times when devotees
had their mail screened and were monitored by a ``Vigilance
Committee.''  Before qualifying as an advanced meditator, a ``Governor
of the Age of Enlightenment,'' he was asked: ``Have you ever strayed
from the movement, even in your thinking?''

[Another ex-member] tells of paying a small fortune for secret mantras
and miracle cures; of overhearing a down-to-earth Maharishi in India
talking profit margins with the Philippines head of TM; of selling
commodities by phone for the TM-dominated Fairfield franchise of
International Trading Group, Ltd., later closed in a major fraud case.

Mr. Berg dismisses TM-EX as a ``microscopic'' group of ``troubled
people. It seems their mission in life is to be unhappy.'' Maharishi's
mission is just the opposite, he says.

Indeed vanquishing crime from U.S. cities is only a piece of
``Maharishi's Master Plan to Create Heaven on Earth.'' It should be
well within the reach of a man, who, at various times, has claimed he
can teach others to fly, to walk through walls, to become invisible;
who can reverse the aging process, eliminate hunger, foretell the
future, end all war.

Maharishi wants $88 million a year from the city or private
benefactors--$36,000 in salary and expenses for each of the 2,400
mediators whose vibes would clear crime from metro Baltimore, quite
possibly from Washington and Philadelphia as well.

He would need this money on a continuing basis. ``When the lamp is
turned off,'' he explains, ``the darkness returns.''

It still sounds like a lot of cash.

Another chuckle.

``I never think about money,'' he says.

Various sources report Maharishi's father as a teacher, a tax inspector
and a forest ranger; his birth date as 1917 and 1918; his real name
as J.N. Srivastava and Mashed Prashad Varma.

Maharishi's real stroke of genius was to take the basic meditative
technique common to many traditions, give it the catchy, copyrighted
title ``Transcendental Meditation,'' add a dash of secrecy and
razzle-dazzle--and put a price tag on it. The introductory TM course
originally cost about $100; now it's $400. Enthusiasts pay hundreds
more for ``advanced'' courses, some of which amount to a ceremony to
pass on a new mantra, a sound the meditator concentrates on.

In 1975, Harvard psychologist Herbert Benson documented the physiological
effects of meditation in a best-selling book, ``The Relaxation Response.''

But Dr. Benson also confirmed that there was no magic to TM. Meditation
worked fine without TM's lectures on Maharishi's Vedic science, secret
Sanskrit mantras or fruit-and-flower initiation ceremonies.

The aging of the `60s generation gradually cut the number of new TM
recruits. Maharishi responded, like any good marketing man, with new
concepts: courses in advanced ``TM-Sidhi'' meditation and ``yogic
flying,'' which looks to outsiders like vigorous hopping. (The PR
photographs use a fast shutter speed to freeze yogic flyers in mid-hop,
leaving the impression they are floating cross-legged a few inches
above the ground.)

He promised world peace and took credit for the end of the Cold War.
Now, as Americans turn their attention inward, he is offering to make
their cities safe. Meanwhile, his products have proliferated.

In October 1991, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association,
having unwittingly printed an uncritical account of Ayur-Veda healing,
came back with a long article attacking the TM movement for ``a widespread
pattern of misinformation, deception, and manipulation of lay and
scientific news media.'' The movement fired back with a libel lawsuit,
which is still in court.

Maharishi's boosters say he has no personal wealth and dedicates his
waking hours to the betterment of mankind. His critics say he lives
like a potentate, traveling in a Mercedes, helicopter or jet and residing
in a mammoth former monastery in the Dutch countryside.

A Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary shows a brick complex
that might adequately house a royal family. Curiously, though the
many advanced meditators on the site presumably put out plenty of
crime-fighting vibes, the perimeter is patrolled by security men with

What about Fairfield, Iowa? It's a rural center of fewer than 10,000
residents with hundreds of meditators gathering morning and evening
in huge golden domes. If meditation can eliminate crime from Baltimore,
surely crime must be long gone from Fairfield?

Fairfield police chief Randy Cooksey sounds like he's answered this
question before.

``Crime here is about the same as any small town in rural America,''
says Chief Cooksey. Last year, he says, produced 9,501 calls to the
police, including four rapes, one robbery, 31 aggravated assaults,
84 burglaries, 461 thefts...

But are the meditators at least driving crime down?

``I'd say there's been a steady increase,'' Chief Cooksey said. ``I
think, based on my statistics in Fairfield, I can show they have no
impact on crime here.''  The Baltimore [MD] Sun, Scott Shane, February
5, 1993~


The Truth About Jonestown: 13 years later--why we should still be

Those who underestimated the fragility of the human mind could not
comprehend how anyone in California could remain a member, let alone
follow Jim Jones into the jungle. Yet those who believed in him could
not consider any alternatives that were not among the choices
provided.  Even those who might have been capable of imagining
themselves getting free of the cult knew about the stated policy of
murdering defectors.  And since any loved ones who were left behind
would suffer retribution, few dared escape while family members
remained in Jonestown. The practical effect of that double bind was a
twilight-zone reality in which people pretended to be enjoying a
Utopian existence while living in constant fear for their lives.

There was a deliberate malevolence about the way Jones treated the
members of his cult that went beyond mere perversion. It was all about
forcing members to experience themselves as vulgar and despicable
people who could never return to a normal life outside of the group.
It was about destroying any personal relationships that might come
ahead of the relationship each individual member had with him. It
was about terrorizing children and turning them against their parents.
It was about seeing Jim Jones as an omnipotent figure who could snuff
out members' lives on a whim as easily as he had already snuffed out
their self-respect. In short, it was about mind control. And, after
all that, it was not incidentally about Jones's own sick fantasies
and sexual perversions.

The first thing that struck me when I met the clients and got to know
them was that, although the specific details of their belief systems
and activities varied considerably, those who became involved in cults
had a frightening underlying commonality. They described their experiences
as finding an unexpected sense of purpose, as though they were becoming
a part of something extraordinarily significant that seemed to carry
them beyond their feelings of isolation and toward an expanded sense
of reality and the meaning of life. Nobody asked if they would be
willing to commit suicide the first time they attended a meeting.
Nor did anyone mention that the feeling of expansiveness they were
enjoying would later be used to turn them against each other.

Instead they were told about the remarkable Reverend Jones, a self-professed
social visionary and prophet who apparently could heal the sick and
predict the future. Jim Jones did everything within his power to perpetuate
that myth: fraudulent psychic-healing demonstrations using rotting
animal organs as phony tumors; searching through members' garbage
for information to reveal in fake psychic readings; drugging his followers
to make it appear as though he were actually raising the dead. Even
Jeannie Mills [a high-level insider] who later told me she knowingly
assisted Jones in his faked demonstrations, said she did so because
she believed she was helping him conserve his real supernatural powers
for more important matters.

Critical levels of sleep deprivation can masquerade as noble dedication.
A total lack of adequate nutrition can seem acceptable when presented
as a reasonable sacrifice for a worthy cause. Combining the two for
any length of time will inevitably break down the ability to make
rational judgments and weaken the psychological resistance of anyone.
So can the not-infrequent practice of putting drugs in the members'
food. The old self, the one that previously felt lonely and lacking
in a sense of purpose, is gradually overcome by a new sense of self
inextricably linked with the feeling of expansiveness associated with
originally joining the cult and becoming intrigued with its leaders.

Belonging to the group gradually becomes more important than anything
else. When applied in various combinations, fear of being rejected,
of doing or saying something wrong that will blow the whole illusion
wide open; being punished and degraded, subjected to physical threats,
unprovoked violence, and sexual abuse; fear of never amounting to
anything; and the fear of returning to an old self associated almost
exclusively with feelings of loneliness and a lack of meaning will
confuse almost anyone. Patricia Hearst knows all about it. So did
all the members of the Peoples Temple.

Once thrown off balance (in the exclusive company of other people
who already believe it) and being shown evidence that supports the
conclusion, it is not difficult to become convinced that you have
actually met the Living God. In the glazed and pallid stupor associated
with achieving that confused and dangerous state of mind, almost any
conceivable act of self-sacrifice, self-degradation, and cruelty can
become possible.

The truth of that realization was brought home to me by one survivor,
who, finding himself surrounded by rifles, was told he could take
the poison quietly or they would stick it in his veins or blow his
brains out. He didn't resist. Instead, he raised his cup and toasted
those dying around him without drinking. Then he walked around the
compound shaking hands until he'd worked his way to the edge of the
jungle, where he ran and hid until he felt certain it had to be over.

``Why did you follow Jim Jones?'' I asked him.

``Because I believed he was God,'' he answered. ``We all believed
he was God.''

The fact that some members held guns on the others and handled the
syringes meant that what occurred in Jonestown was not only a mass
suicide but also a mass murder. According to the witnesses, more than
one member was physically restrained while being poisoned. A little
girl kept spitting out the poison until they held her mouth closed
and forced her to swallow it--276 children do not calmly kill themselves
just because someone who claims to be God tells them to. All 912 Peoples
Temple members did not die easily.

It should also be remembered that Jones never took the poison he gave
to his followers but was shot by someone else during the final death
scene in Jonestown. He created a false reality around himself in which
the denial of his own mortality must have made his own demise seem
inconceivable. The fact that he had millions of dollars in foreign
bank accounts and had often alluded to starting over elsewhere led
[some] to speculate that he planned to escape the holocaust but was
murdered by one of his guards or mistresses.

Most of us don't think of ourselves as the kind of person who could
ever possibly become embroiled in a cult like the Peoples Temple.
We are not at all correct in that assumption. Given an unfortunate
turn of fate that leads to a moment of weakness, or a momentary lapse
in judgment that expands into a shift in our perception, nearly any
of us could find ourselves taking the cyanide in Jonestown--if not
passing out the poison to other people.

People end up joining cults when events lead them to search for a
deeper sense of belonging and for something more meaningful in their
lives. They do so because they happen to be in the wrong place at
the wrong time and are ripe for exploitation. They do so because they
find themselves getting caught in the claws of a parasite before they
realize what is happening to them.

Those who join cults don't do so with the intention of demeaning
themselves or torturing children. They join in the hope of creating a
better world, and because they believe in a lie, or a series of lies,
in the same way that the rest of us sometimes find ourselves falling
in love with the wrong person or allowing ourselves to be manipulated.
The only real difference between them and us is the extent to which
they are led to carry those same sorts of feelings to extremes.
Psychology Today, Keith Harrary, Mar/Apr 1992~ [Editor's note: The
author was director of counseling at a halfway house for cult
defectors founded by two Peoples Temples expatriates (who were later


MY FATHER'S GURU: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion,
by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

The guru of the title was Paul Brunton, the author of many popular
books about Indian mysticism, with titles such as ``The Hidden
Teaching Beyond Yoga'' and ``The Spiritual Crisis of Man.'' For much
of Jeffrey Masson's childhood and adolescence, Brunton lived with the
Masson family. Since Masson's father revered Brunton, and was proud to
be one of the guru's few close disciples, it is hardly surprising that
Jeffrey Masson believed in him too. Brunton's influence accounts for
Masson's choosing to study Sanskrit at Harvard, a subject that he
later taught in Toronto. But Harvard also helped him to become
skeptical and critical, and brought about his final disillusion with
Brunton.  As Masson acknowledges, the pattern of attachment to a guru
followed by disillusion was repeated when he turned from Sanskrit to
psychoanalysis.  I still think that Masson's well-known critique of
Freud, ``The Assault on Truth,'' is misguided and unfair, but this
fascinating account of his own childhood and adolescence provides a
partial explanation for the intemperance of that attack.

Brunton (1989-1981) believed in reincarnation, and convinced his
followers that many previous lives had endowed him with special
wisdom. He also claimed that, like Jesus Christ, he had descended to
Earth from a realm inhabited by superior beings. At night, he could
travel anywhere in his astral body. Meditation, he said, could lead to
higher wisdom and spiritual knowledge, but physical desires had to be
overcome if the spirit was to flourish. Vegetarianism, long periods of
fasting and abstention from sex would help the disciple's progress
along ``the Path'' to enlightenment. Like many gurus, Brunton did not
always abide by his own prescriptions, since he married four times and
fathered a son. It is also characteristic that he lived off his
disciples, who were please to support him financially and to offer him
accommodation.  Brunton had no higher education, although he claimed a

Spiritual leaders usually have enemies, and it is no surprise that
Brunton claimed that unseen malignant forces surrounded him and daily
attacked him. Sometimes these evil spirits manifested themselves in
communists who would have destroyed him if he had not been protected
by a higher power who was using him to write the books he wrote.

Brunton predicted a Third World War on the grounds that civilization
was ``sex-ridden.'' As a result of this prediction, a number of
Brunton's disciples, including the Massons, moved to South America,
often incurring considerable financial loss by so doing.  Before
transferring to Harvard, Jeffrey Masson attended the University of
Montevideo in Uruguay.

As every psychiatrist will recognize, Brunton's beliefs about himself
and the world constitute a paranoid delusional system. Mental hospitals
contain many patients holding closely similar beliefs that are labeled
delusions because they are impervious to reason and obviously fantastic.
So how do gurus like Brunton survive? The ordinary paranoid psychotic
usually gets into trouble because his delusions cannot be shared and
therefore isolate him socially. Eventually he usually engages in some
form of bizarre or antisocial behavior that causes him to be deemed
mentally ill. But if he can share his beliefs, the picture is entirely

Gurus like Brunton survive in the community because they succeed in
imposing their delusion on others through their writings and teaching.
So long as they retain disciples, they can function socially and
continue to find support for the delusion of possessing special powers
that has become necessary to maintain their self-esteem. We may marvel
at the gullibility of Masson's father, but we are none of us immune to
taking on irrational beliefs, especially if social circumstances
become chaotic or hopeless. What we don't know is why some people feel
a strong need for gurus even when life if good, while others remain
entirely unimpressed. Brunton was a harmless guru compared with Jim
Jones or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. But, as I'm sure Jeffrey Masson would
agree, all gurus eventually turn out to have feet of clay.  The
Washington Post, Anthony Storr, February 19, 1993~

[The reviewer is a psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of
Physicians. His most recent book is ``Music and the Mind.'']
The TM-EX Newsletter is published by the Transcendental Meditation
EX-Members Support Group (TM-EX), a not-for-profit educational

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Please be advised that TM-EX has received  tax exempt status as a
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For inquiries: P.O. Box 7565, Arlington, VA 22207, (202) 728-7580, FAX
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Natural Law: The Politics of Science

The Natural Law Party (NLP) in Victoria actually recieved 29,594 votes
for the Legislative Assembly out of 2,353,894 votes counted. This
contrasts with 92,703 for the growingly popular Informal party. Scientific
testing puts this at around 1.2%. In the Legislative Council, the
NLP figure was 13,708 from the 2,350,249 votes counted. Informal recieved
a little more at 13,881. This puts the NLP percentage under 0.6%.
Dr. Byron Rigby stood for the seat of Coburg and scored 652 votes
out of a possible 26,883 (2.4%). Informal came in with 1619. The Skeptic
[Australia], Adam Joseph, Summer 1992~

[Editor's Note: 32 candidates ran for the Natural Law Party.]


An MIU Graduate Speaks Out:

Thoughts on Natural Law as displayed by the followers of Maharishi
Mahesh Yogi.

I was recently on  a speaking tour of Australia. I quickly appreciated
the cleanliness of Australian cities. My home is in Philadelphia,
which is often referred to as ``Filth-a-dephia.''

Melbourne is vibrant with the arts.  One of the  arts festivals I
attended was there was the Moomba -- an eclectic festival of wandering
street performers, performances and bands.

As I strolled the streets, appreciating the artists, vendors and Australian
culture,  I passed Melbourne's Central Train Station. I was greeted
by trash blowing on the sidewalks and street. As I looked to see the
source of the trash, I was confronted by the sight of a team of American
``Thousand-Headed-Purusha'' frenetically handing out NLP promotional
literature. I reflected on how many times I had been in the mad TM

It certainly is ironic that the promoters of ``Life in Accord with
Natural Law''  would be so blinded by their fervor to spread the NLP
word, only to be oblivious  to the trash and filth they left behind.
They had their mission and living in harmony with the city of Melbourne
was not their program.

I picked up the Natural Law Party promo from the street and mused at
the number of candidates that were running in the March '93 election:
126. Even Bevan Morris is running for office in the city of Boothbay,
in South Australia. But wait--Bevan is the President of MIU, the head
of the NLP in the US, leader of the NLP for Australia, and a candidate
in Australia.

Mmm, could there be a conflict of interest?  Not to worry.   Bevan
received only 1456 votes out of 85,032.

Chris Wells (formerly at MIU) gained 1574 out of a possible 83,723
votes for the seat at Barker.   Cathy Knoles, (an American) the former
TM National Leader of Australia received 1297 votes out of 77,879
for the seat at Warringah, NSW. The NLP promotional literature labels
Cathy as ``spokeswoman for the Environment.'' 

Others did not fare as well: Jennie Benjamin received 179 votes out
of 74,024 for the city of Perth, WA. Dr. Roger Fay received 279 out
of 73679 for the seat at Macquarie, NSW.

All of the candidates lost their deposits as the result of not obtaining
the minimum required votes.

I think there should be election laws in the US that prevent foreign
political parties from entering into US elections.  Other countries
should do the same.  Patrick Ryan, Philadelphia, PA~

A Visit to the Shankaracharya, Part V

[Editor's Note: The following transcript is taken directly from the
taped conversations between Robert Kropinski, a former TM teacher
and follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Shree Shankaracharya Swaroopanand
Saraswati, a pre-eminent disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (Guru
Dev), who is considered Mahesh Yogi's Spiritual Master.]

Q: We have heard that Mahesh Yogi instructs mantras himself, and some
people believe in him as their teacher. He is a kaaystha (lower caste,
not a Brahmin) by birth. Do you think it is appropriate for him to
instruct like this?

Shankaracharya: My first information was that he used to place a picture
of Guru Dev behind him, that during initiation he would have people
worship it and then he would give out mantras. I have met many persons,
who, in reality, had their mantras from Mahesh, but they consider
themselves to be disciple of Brahmaleen Jagadguru Shankaracharya Brahmanand
Saraswati (Guru Dev). But, no matter whom they consider their teacher,
the fact of the matter is that a person who gives a mantra is to be
considered the real Guru (dispeller of darkness, Spiritual Master).
If Mahesh thinks that he is backed by Shankaracharya, then what is
proper on his part is to tell people to take initiation from Shankaracharya.

Q: Lord, Mahesh Yogi considers Vishnu Devanand Saraswati as
Shankaracharya of the Jyotish peeth.  As far as I know he was not
consecrated according to Vedic ritual.  Also, Mahesh is reported to
pay his monthly expenses?

Shankaracharya: I do not have any evidence of his giving money. This,
however, is certain, that he, Vishnu Devanand does not have offerings
which are enough for his living. Therefore, it seems that he gets
income from outside. Moreover, he calls Mahesh Yogi as puujya
(revered), as Maharishi (great seer) and stands up on his arrival,
these are all things which indicate that he is dependent on him for
money. So far as the question of Shankaracharya is concerned, only he
is made Shankaracharya who has all the qualities of Mahaanushasan
(great discipline).  According to Mahaanushasan, Shankaracharya is he
who has conquered his senses, knows all the other scriptures. Only
such a person, who has all these qualities should sit on the seat of
Shankaracharya.  In case a wrong person is found to be occupying that
seat, he should be dethroned. As far as I know, the scholars from
Baneras had held him unable for this seat. Even after that statement,
he has not acquired any competency.

Again, the so-called will of the deceased Guru Dev prescribes the
name of Dvarikeshanand Saraswati as the second person, not him. It
is written in that will (of Guru Dev) that this is clearly my order,
that so far as Dvarikeshanand Shastri is alive, there is no one who
has the right to make anyone else succeed to that seat unless Dvarkishanand
becomes mentally incompetent or else relinquishes the seat himself.
Depriving him of his seat is disobedience of the teacher's order.
Therefore, neither according to the Mahaanushasan, nor according to
the will of Shankaracharya (Guru Dev), is he (Vishnu Devanand) the
rightful successor.

When a Sammelan (conference) of all the four seats was called, he
(Vishnu Devanand) was not invited there as one presiding over the
Jyotish Peeth. Moreover, no other Shankaracharya of any seat allows
him to sit next to him.

He knows that in the days ahead he will be exposed. Before that moment
arrives, he wants to make sure that he will not have financial difficulty
in life. He created on Shankaracharya here. There is Shantinand sitting
there (pointing to Shantinand sitting on the stage). They, Shantinand
and Vishnu Devanand have no influence on the public. They are raised
by Mahesh's money. They just sing his glory.

Q: Mahesh Yogi claims that he preaches yoga according to the instruction
of his Guru. The truth of the matter, however, is that Guru Dev never
asked anyone who is not a Brahmin by birth to go and spread his teachings.
What is your opinion?

Shankaracharya: This is true. In reality, preaching, initiating, guiding
people engaged in spiritual pursuits, is the duty of those who are
born in a Brahmin family. If he is a follower of Sanatan Dharma (the
Hindu religion), he should not do what he is doing. This is against
the orders of his Guru. Moreover, making others write puujya (revered),
calling himself Maharishi (a great seer) is totally inappropriate.
No assembly of saints has either conferred upon him a title of Maharishi
nor has announced him puujya.

In the ashram he was doing the work of typing and writing and translation.
Then he became a sadhu. However, he has never practiced yoga.

It is said that Guru Dev was given poison. Who gave that poison we
don't know but we know that there was poison in his body. When Guru
Dev's body became unwell, then we wanted him to go to Kashi to rest.
But he (Mahesh) removed him from that trip forcibly and took him to
speak in Calcutta. There he died.

After that, this man spread his net. He went abroad. First to Singapore.
The expatriate Indians there, thinking that he is the disciple of
Shankaracharya, received him well and got him a ticket for the United
States. After going to America, he brought the Beatles back here.
It was rumored that he did inappropriate things with them and that's
why they left him and went away.

He later opened many camps and pretended that he could teach people
to read minds and levitate. No one, however, succeeded in learning
the things he promised. He himself does not know or practice yoga.
He does not know anything about those things.  Robert Kropinski, 1985~


The Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
(CSICOP) awarded their Responsibility in Journalism Award to Andrew
Skolnick, associate editor of Medical News at the Journal of the American
Medical Association (JAMA) on October 17, 1992:

The support that this award represents, from this unique committee--a
committee of champions for free scientific inquiry, academic integrity,
and the rule of reason--comes at a critical time. Like a growing number
of others who have spoken critically of litigious parties, I have
become the target of a multimillion dollar lawsuit for writing the
article that CSICOP honors tonight. I and my editor, Dr. George Lundberg,
are being sued for almost $200 million--plus legal expenses.

The article that CSICOP has chosen to honor this year has earned a
few other kudos. Earlier this year, the Columbia Journalism Review
awarded JAMA one of its coveted laurels for having the guts and integrity
to publish this expose in order to correct a previous mistake. This
mistake occurred when JAMA unknowingly published a report that promoted
Maharishi Ayur-Veda products marketed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
and his Transcendental Meditation movement.

The National Council Against Health Fraud has called this article
``one of the best exposes we have ever seen of a pseudomedical system''
and said it is ``a classic in the literature of consumer health education,
and is must reading.''

The article also was one of the five semifinalists to be judged for
this year's National Association of Science Writers' Science in Society

Last, but not least, the article was rated ``gutter journalism'' in
a press release from the American Association for Ayurvedic Medicine,
one of the parties that is suing me and my editor.

While opinion and truthful statements are almost always protected
from a successful lawsuit in the United States, such speech does not
appear to be protected from harassing lawsuits that are brought to
punish critics and to intimidate others who would speak out.

More and more now, opinion and truthful speech are being fought with
``SLAPP suits''--SLAPP is an acronym for `Strategic Lawsuits Against
Public Participation.' These frivolous and harassing suits are being
brought by powerful groups with deep pockets. Their intentions are
not to recover damages, but to stifle, to silence public criticism.

SLAPP suits are brought with little expectation of winning. Those who
bring SLAPP suits win no matter how the case is decided. Their rewards
are virtually guaranteed from the start, for the suit ties up
defendants, drains their energies and finances, and psychology
punishes them for having spoken out. At the same time, it warns others
what they could face if they dare to enter the public debate.I think
it is an outrage that in this free land, people have to risk financial
ruin in order to speak their minds. I think it is outrageous that many
publications in this land of liberty are not willing to publish
articles that are critical of SLAPP-happy individuals and groups.  And
I think it's outrageous that a journalist in the United States is
prevented from discussing his work at an awards ceremony for that


Statement from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Higher Education
Coordinating Council, Boston:

Regarding the status of the Maharishi International Institute of Vedic
Science (MIIVS), MIIVS has petitioned the Higher Education Coordinating
Council, through the Secretary of State's Office, to ament its Charter
for authority to grant the Master of Science in Ayurveda and Master
of Science in Vedic Science. The institution also requested a change
of name from Maharishi International Institute of Vedic Science to
Maharishi Vedic College.

The application is presently under review by the Higher Education
Coordinating Council. A team visit to evaluate the proposed programs
is tenatively set for Spring 1993.

The regional association of the New England Association of Schools
and Colleges will not accredit an institution until it has acquired
degree-granting authority. Therefore, the institution is not regionally
accredited.  February 9, 1993, Diane Van der Meer~


Breaking Camp: Rantoul adjusting to losing Chanute

For four years, [Rantoul, IL], a village of 18,000 has been preparing
to make its giant move, from an economy based on Chanute [Air Force
Base] to one that must try to survive without the base it grew up

So far, more than 60 companies have expressed interest in buying or
leasing buildings on the base, which hugs the south edge of Rantoul.

Some of the best possibilities, like a coveted United Airlines maintenance
facility that would have provided 5,000 jobs, have fallen through.
Other proposals, like one to turn the base into a giant transcendental
meditation school, appear to be collapsing, with the village's blessing.
Chicago Tribune, Laurie Goering, February 15, 1993

[Editor's note: For more on TM's proposed move to Rantoul, IL, see


`Healing' vs. `Curing': A Look at New Age Treatments

In this [PBS-TV] series [``Healing and the Mind''] broadcast journalist
Bill Moyers has dived head-first into the world of body-mind medicine,
the concept that thoughts and emotions can have an impact on physical
status. But the borders between the mainstream and the new age are
blurry in the world of healing, and this series shed very little light
on where reality ends and ``magic'' begins.

William Jarvis, professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University
Medical Center in California and president of the National Council
Against Health Fraud, said that the summary of the series he saw makes
it, ``seem like it is an extremely naive exploration into the field.''

``This is something I study and teach about,'' Jarvis says, ``and
I think you get a lot of false portrayals of regular medicine. You
get the impression that conventional medicine doesn't think the mind
is important.'' He agrees that some of the ``art'' of medicine has
been lost in the era of high technology and costs and too little time
spent with patients. ``There's no question that we need more humaneness
in medicine and we need to tap into people's psychological resources.''

The series skips around, sometimes examining the emotional support for
patients provided by a few unusual hospitals, at other times
eavesdropping on some cancer support groups. These last provide some
wrenching insights into agony and despair. Physician and author Dean
Ornish's stringent approach to heart disease via diet, exercise and
meditation is touched on, but so is a brain operation with mostly
acupuncture as an anesthetic.

To its credit, the series only occasionally lapses into what Jarvis
sees as the mystic aspects of alternative medicine. But he worries
that ``because the desperate are out there, charlatans and quacks
will rush in and salute the series'' as confirmation of their own
beliefs and techniques, ``while skeptics like me will pan it.''

``What they don't say,'' Jarvis said,'' is that the `true believers'
and the charlatans don't really help the desperate beyond giving them
attention. Massage feels great, but what does it do inside? Herbal
remedies can have natural stimulants and tranquilizers, but people
think something special is going on inside their bodies. The old snake-oil
salesmen used to lace their potion with opium or alcohol, and people
liked that, too.''

Jarvis believes meditation is fine but no better than learning how
to relax under the supervision of psychiatrists or psychologists.
``But meditation is mystical, while the other is mundane,'' he said.
``[The series] offers a lot of opportunity for the exploitation of
the desperate,'' despite periodic disclaimers.  The Washington Post,
Sandy Rovner, February 16, 1993~

Cults in the News

Cults Hook AIDS Patients Cults, sects, and fringe religious groups are
finding that there's money to be made and members to be recruited from
the large and growing population of AIDS patients. Among the most
egregious examples: The Transcendental Meditation (TM) cult of
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is selling a variety of Indian folk medicines as
a replacement for the modern medicine it recommends stopping;
representatives of a group known as Morningland promise an AIDS cure
via the healing touch of its leader; and Insight, a New Age
organization, is hyping its book, ``You Can't Afford the Luxury of a
Negative Thought: A Book for People With Any Life-Threatening
Illness--Including Life.''

Many desperate people with AIDS are being lured into becoming members
of such groups and into paying for useless `cures.' Physicians treating
people with AIDS should not be surprised if their patients ask them
about these and other such groups and should be prepared to carefully
respond to the questions.  Oncology Times, AIDS News, October 1992~

Father Cleared of Plotting to Kidnap du Pont Heir  Philadelphia businessman
Edgar Newbold Smith was acquitted yesterday of conspiring to kidnap
his son, a du Pont heir, in hope of breaking his devotion to the organization
led by political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

The three-week trial was described as the only federal case in which
a father has been charged with kidnapping for attempting to extricate
a son or daughter from a political or religious group.

Though members of various political and religious interest groups
used the courthouse as a stage to speak out against anti-cult groups
determined to steal their followers, the trial served largely as a
battleground for the Smith family.

In the mid-1980s, shortly after Lewis Smith lent the LaRouche group
more than $200,000, his father and other family members persuaded
a Philadelphia judge to rule that Lewis Smith was mentally unable
to maintain his own finances. An appellate court later upheld the
ruling, saying in part that the trial court properly found that Lewis
Smith was ``liable to dissipate his assets and become victim of designing

In the current case, Newbold Smith said during his testimony that
he had hired [Galen] Kelly, [a self-described deprogrammer] and paid
him as much as $35,000 in recent years to track his son, saying ``that's
the only way I could learn how he was.''  The Washington Post, Robert
F. Howe, January 1, 1993~


Biosphere 2: The True Story. Science or Science Fiction, Ecobusiness
or Amusement Park?  There's a weariness on the faces of the eight
men and women who were enclosed in Biosphere 2 in September 1991 for
a two-year stay in their brave new world. Supposedly untouched by
the world outside, they are raising their own food and recycling their
air, water and wastes to gain a greater understanding of the Earth's
balance of nature, while developing the technology that will allow
humans to create space colonies.

Ex-employees contend John Allen, Margret Augustine [the project's
founders] and their closest associates have created a twisted environment
where control and power are everything, where honesty is a virtue
only when it meets their needs, where dissent is systematically crushed
and where the public trust is held in as high regard as at a used
car lot.

Allen was reportedly preparing the group for a massive human evolutionary
leap. Western civilization, historian Lawrence Veysey quotes him as
saying, is dead. ``We are probing into its ruins to take whatever
is useful for the building of a new civilization to replace it,''
Allen told the historian.

That civilization wouldn't take root on Earth, but on Mars, where
a group of up to 80 people would found a colony in the foreseeable
future, made up of super men and women, people with the highest intellect
and scientific sensitivity. Their Martian-born descendants would undergo
tremendous evolutionary changes away from the poison of Western civilization,
eventually meeting and mingling with intelligent life forms from other
parts of the universe.  

Like many communes of the time, this one might have collapsed from
the weight of its own absurdity, but in 1974, it received a burst of
new energy, not to mention the money to fund its quest for
enlightenment: Billionaire Ed Bass met the group.

With Bass's backing, Allen's group embarked on projects around the
world, including an environmental conference center in France, a hotel
in Nepal, a replica of a Chines junk that sails the world doing undersea
research, and the Institute of Ecotechnics, a nonaccredited diploma
mill and think tank in London that has showered many of Biosphere
2's principals with degrees.

``They believe they are as much evolved over the rest of humanity
as the rest of us are above apes,'' filmmaker Lou Hawthorne says.

To be fair, allegation of cultish behavior can spur incredibly
sensational stories about Biosphere 2 that have little to do with the
project's scientific value. But they do have everything to do with how
that scientific value has been managed and presented. It demonstrates
a group that was eminently self-important, interested more in
self-aggrandizement and promoting their curious philosophies than in
the environment.  The group's slavish devotion to Allen, indicates a
deeper commitment to pleasing a leader than objective scientific
inquiry. A look at their history, too, illustrates paranoia of outside
scrutiny, hardly a virtue in the peer-review world of science.
Buzzworm: The Environmental Journal, Michael O'Keeffe, Nov/Dec 1992
Scientists Resign From Biosphere Oversight Panel  An independent committee
of scientists set up to help oversee a controversial Biosphere II
``space habitat'' experiment in Arizona has resigned, frustrated by
lack of cooperation, members said yesterday.

The 10 scientists, who oversaw the scientific integrity of the two-year
experiment, resigned February 5 during a meeting at the Smithsonian

``They [the operators of Biosphere II] weren't listening to us,''
the member said. Newsday, February 7, 1992~

Suggested Readings

Exit Counseling: A Family Intervention How To Respond to Cult-Affected
Loved Ones, by Carol Giambalvo.   Published by the American Family
Foundation, the leading professional organization devoted to cultic
studies, this important new book, with an introduction by Dr. Michael
Langone, provides practical information for families concerned about
a cult-involved relative. It describes the process of exit counseling,
a voluntary approach to helping cultists makes informed decisions
about their group affiliation. Exit counseling is the most effective
alternative to the controversial process of deprogramming, which involves

Combatting Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan.  MUST reading for
anyone who has been touched by cult phenomena.  A former Moonie tells
his story.

Zillions: Consuper Reports for Kids, P.O. Box 54861, Boulder, CO 80322
Kids learn critical thinking by evaluating popular culture and
advertising aimed at them.

TM and Cult Mania, by M.A. Persinger, Ph.D.  An in-depth investigation
into the claims of TM, hypnosis and research.  [Available from TM-EX]

Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. An in-depth exploration
into the commonalities of traumatic experience and the process of
healing. [See review, Summer 92]

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, by  R.J. Lifton, M.D.
A classic textbook and case study on victims of thought reform and
the elements of thought reform programs. [See excerpt, Winter 92]

Heaven on Earth: Dispatches From America's Spiritual Frontier, by
Michael D'Antonio.  A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter visits America's
spiritual communities including MIU, Fairfield, Iowa.  [See review,
Spring 92]

Cultic Studies Journal: Psychological Manipulation and Society. A
refereed semi-annual journal published by the American Family Foundation
(AFF), P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 33959. The CSJ seeks to advance
the understanding of cultic practices and their relation to society,
including broad social and cultural implications as well as effects
on individuals and families. [See ``The Use of TM to Promote Social
Progress in Israel, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1986]

Cult Awareness Network (CAN) News, 2421 West Pratt Blvd., Suite 1173,
Chicago, IL 60645, (312) 267-7777.   Founded to educate the public
about the harmful effects of mind control as used by destructive cults.
CAN confines its concerns to unethical or illegal practices, and passes
no judgment on doctrine or beliefs.

How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday
Life, by Thomas Gilovich.  An investigation of how even highly educated
people become convinced of the validity of questionable or demonstrably
false beliefs about the world, and the unfortunate impact of these

Skeptical Inquirer, Box 229, Buffalo, NY 14215. Journal of the Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which
attempts to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and
fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view.
[See Winter 1983-84, ``An investigation of the effects of TM on the

NCAHF Newsletter (National Council Against Health Fraud), P.O. Box
1276, Loma Linda, CA 92354. To aid in activism against health fraud,
misinformation and quackery.

Influence: The New Psychology of Modern Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini,
Ph.D.  A landmark publication in furthering our understanding of the
persuasion process.

Now Available From TM-EX
Reprints--including early TM studies, journal research and news articles.
Investigative reports from BBC, CBC and other news media available
on audiotape.  Write for a complete list.~

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