TM Is A Religious Practice, Court Rules

By Peter Maarbjerg

The organisation, Transcendental Meditation, which offers everyone a technique to remove stress and iMprove their human potential, has often been discussed. The discussion has dealt mainly with the question whether TM is a religion or not. Some people uphold that TM is hinduistic; TM itself claims to be a neutral technique, which can be used by everyone regardless of belief.

In October 1977 the U.S. District Court Judge in Newark ruled that the use of taxpayers money to teach Transcendental Meditation and its theoretical
counterpart the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) in New Jersey public schools is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, as SCl/TM is clearly religious in nature. This legal battle began in February 1976 and was spearheaded by Spiritual Counterfeit Project of Berkeley, California, an evangelical Christian ministry which researches into cult and occult groups and personalities and publishes its findings.

Among the affidavits there are some which have particular interest:
From October 1970 to October 1974 Gregory J. Randolph was practising TM as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. From January 1973 to May 1973 he participated in a teacher training course which took place in La Antilla, Huelva, Spain. He was personally trained by Maharishi to be an initiator or teacher of TM. In his declaration he testifies, that “there is a definite hierarchy of information and the further you go, the more you know. The general public has most of the truth about TM deliberately concealed from them ….. It’s only as a person advances to the level of initiator, or beyond, that he begins to get the teachings on an esoteric level.”

During his training he was told by Maharishi that he, as initiator, was “only supposed to give out 1 percent of the teaching he had received to the people he initiated.”

“Maharishi’s world-view is basically the Hindu world-view. The language has been changed to sound more scientific, but the underlying ideas are the same.” He was also taught by Maharishi about the mantras:
“The teachers were taught to give the definite and deliberate impression to the general public and to the individuals they initiated that there are a very large number of mantras and that each meditator receives a mantra which is individually chosen for him and is uniquely suited to his personality. In actual fact, however, each teacher has a list of 16 mantras which are then assigned to meditators on the basis of age classification.” A copy of the list of mantras together with the age brackets to which each mantra applies is attached to this affidavit and it appears to match the list published in Up-Date no. 1, 1977.

“At the end of my teacher-training course, all of those whom Maharishi had qualified as initiators were required to sign an oath of loyalty to Maharishi, to Guru Dev (Maharishi’s dead master) and to the TM movement in general. At the time I signed the oath, I was in such a state of mental confusion from long hours of meditation, that I was only vaguely aware of the significance of the document I was signing.”

Two affidavits were given by two professors.

Robert N. Bellah is employed by The Regent of the University of California and hold the position of Ford Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies.

He introduces himself: “I am qualified by academic training and professional experience to evaluate the religious nature of sociological groups, movements and institutions, being particular familiar with the characteristics and phenomena of Eastern/ Asian religious movements.”

The conclusion in his affidavit is: “It is my opinion that TM fits a basically sociological or anthropological definition of religion.”

Later in his statement Bellah tells about a visit he had from Mr. Robert Winquist, a representative of Maharishi International University (MIU) in Fairfield, IOWA. From their conversation Bellah reports: “…in the course of the conversation with him I expressed my opinion that TM definitely seemed to me to be a religion and I wondered why the people in the TM movement denied its religious nature. He replied by affirming that it is certainly true that TM is religious but stated that they did not admit that to be the case for public relations reasons.”

Gerald James Larson holds the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies, University of California. He introduces himself: “I am qualified by academic training and professional experience to do research and teaching in the general history of religions with a special focus on the religions and philosophies of South Asia.”

On the basis of very thorough studies of the TM-publications “On the Bhagavad-Gita” by Maharishi Mahesh yogi, “The Holy Tradition”, and the Puja, he concludes: “I would describe TM as a form of Hindu spirituality.”

From the very comprehensive Opinion a few things should be mentioned:
“The first organisation in this country to offer in-struction in this technique of TM was incorporated in California in 1959 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others under the name of Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation One of the articles of the certificate of incorporation of the Spiritual regeneration Move-ment Foundation stated that “this corporation is a religious one, the educational purpose shall be to give instruction in a simple system of meditation.” (page 64).

“(The) field of being contains love, justice, and truth in their pure and infinite forms. Contact with this field of being bestows upon individuals the ability to choose between right and wrong spontaneously, without regard to moral codes and laws.” (page 65) Here is referred to the book “Science of Creative Intelligence for Secondary Education. First-Year Course” page 180. This is the textbook used in the New Jersey high schools.

The Summary Judgement concludes:
“Although defendants have submitted well over 1500 pages of briefs, affidavits, and deposition testimony in opposing plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement, defendants have failed to raise the slightest doubt as to the facts or as to the religious nature of the teachings of the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Puja. The teaching of the SCl/TM course in New Jersey public high schools violates the establishment clause of the first amendment, and its teaching must be enjoined.”

Naturally this article can only serve as an introduction to the large number of documents in this ruling. For further information consult the following:
Civil Action No. 76-341
Alan B. Malnak and Edwina K. Malnak vs Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
United States District Court, District of New Jersey.

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