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Associated Press/February 15, 2006

Claims of fraud

"Anger, stress, tension, depression, sorrow, hate, fear -- these things start to retreat," said American movie director David Lynch of "Twin Peaks" renown, who has practiced TM for 32 years.  "And for a filmmaker, having this negativity lift away is money in the bank. When you're suffering you can't create," he told hundreds of students at Amsterdam's Vrije Universiteit, or Free University.

The movement claims more than 600 studies have proven the benefits of TM. Most scientists agree it can ease stress, high blood pressure, pain and insomnia. But some argue it's no more effective than many other mind-body relaxation techniques.

But meditation, once dismissed as Eastern mysticism, has gained legitimacy. The National Institutes of Health has had a Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine since 1998 to research nonconventional practices.  Maharishi's claims of the power of TM, including the ability to fly, have led to occasional claims of fraud.  "I let people make remarks about me, but it doesn't touch me, all those remarks," Maharishi says, dismissing the skeptics.  The Hindu holy man took up residence in 1990 on the 65-acre grounds of a Franciscan monastery in a secluded forest near Vlodrop, an eastern Dutch village near the German border.  Inside the security fence, huge satellite dishes provide his daily link with the world. His wood-and-glass pavilion -- built without a single nail, his aides say -- has a dozen conference rooms for visiting experts and researchers who lodge in temporary huts on the grounds........

........"Few local people know anything about them. It's a closed community," said Ton Wolswijk of the Roerstreek Heritage Society.


Greater Tulsa Reporter/October 24, 2005

On August 29, 2002, the Washington Post reported that The Global Country of World Peace issued bonds which, according to information provided by Maharishi, the owner of the Camelot in Tulsa, will pay 6 to 7 percent. He has enthusiastically encouraged investors to "Create world peace – and make money!"............

University of South Carolina sociologist Barry Markovsky, who researches social networks, has referred to TM as a "stealth religion" and questioned the benefits of exposing students to it. Maharishi adherents emphasize that the movement is not a religion. They are quoted in a Kansas City Star September 27, 1999 article on this subject: "It is a mental and spiritual exercise that allows the human mind to come closer to its full potential."...........

...........Despite the educational successes claimed by officials at Maharishi educational institutions, concerns have been raised by some about issues of violence and drug abuse. The reported on March 4, 2004 that Maharishi University of Management (MUM) student Shuvender Sim, 24, of Lancaster PA, was charged with first-degree murder and assault with intent to commit serious injury after the stabbing death of fellow classmate Levi Butler, 19, of LaQuinta Calif. The attack occurred in front of dozens of students in the campus dining hall. Sim was also charged with a stabbing attack that occurred earlier in the day when he allegedly stabbed a classmate in the cheek with a ballpoint pen during a class called Teaching for Enlightenment. School officials intervened after this incident and said they had "handled the problem" and reminded officials the MUM was a place of peace and enlightenment. No one could determine what led to the assaults. Sim was arrested and held on a $1 million dollar bond.


Associated Press/June 7, 2006
By Carl Manning

Smith Center, Kansas — Supporters of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi see his Transcendental Meditation movement as fostering world harmony. But in this farm town in the heart of the heartland, the movement's plans to build its "World Capital of Peace" here are creating more tension than tranquility.   Folks became alarmed when the outsiders bought up large tracts of land. Nine local pastors warned the movement that it is encroaching on their spiritual turf. And when a TM representative started throwing around terms at a meeting like "waves of coherence" and "silent zero point," the farmers just shook their heads.  "It hasn't split the community, but it has caused a lot of tension," said Mayor Randy Archer. "We're an older community, and new things that come to town are scary for some people."  The TM movement _ whose founder, the Maharishi, was the Beatles' guru _ has announced plans to spend $15 million to build a dozen marble "peace palaces" facing east in Smith County. Because TM's practitioners want to disperse "waves of coherence" as widely as possible to influence others, they chose a spot just 10 miles west of the geographic center of the Lower 48 states..........


Des Moines Register/October 24, 2006
By Marc Hansen

If you follow the news, you might have noticed two seemingly unrelated developments.  One, the hurricane season has been a dud. Last year, it was one killer tropical storm after another. This year, we're still waiting for the big one to crash onto the shoreline.

The forecasts were frightening. This hurricane season was supposed to be worse than the last, when Katrina and her friends led to more than 2,000 deaths and billions of dollars in destruction.  Two, the stock market has moved into record territory, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at 12,116.91, its best historical close.   A coincidence? No, the Maharishi Effect.   It's the 1,200 advanced Transcendental meditators who are camping out for six hours a day in Fairfield and elsewhere, "creating coherence in national consciousness" and changing the national mood.   Granted, it sounds flaky. One physicist called similar research on falling crime rates in Washington, D.C., "voodoo science."   But since the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself predicted this would happen back in July, who are we to argue?.................


New York Times

ENCOUNTER; Outer Peace

When I visited Vlodrop this spring, Maharishi agreed to a rare interview. I was permitted in his house but was not allowed into his upstairs quarters. His followers told me that seclusion preserves his energy and that he talks in person to only a small circle of attendants. I spoke to Maharishi by videoconference from a downstairs room where his red velvet gilded throne sat empty.

Framed in a flat-screen monitor, he appeared more than ever a mystical creature, his thin face sketched with a white beard. He was dressed in his customary white silk dhoti, a fresh necklace of yellow petals around his neck. His aim, he explained in English, is to create coherence in a world undone by our stressed brains, artificial national borders, terrorism and irrational violence. ''My coherence-creating groups are going to put out all this mischief-mongership in the world,'' he said in a high-pitched voice, holding President Bush up as the greatest mischief-monger of all. ''The world is going to come out to be a neat and clean world. All these countries will fade away.'' ............


................Another element of his vision is to rebuild the world according to Vedic principles. He has called for the demolition of ''improperly oriented'' buildings, believing them to be toxic, and includes among them the United Nations and the White House. There are proposals for New York and Paris to be cleared to make way for 3,000 marble peace palaces. (His organization operates such palaces in Bethesda, Md., Lexington, Ky., Houston and Fairfield.) Maharishi is also convinced that every country's capital is wrongly located. In India and America, his organization has bought land near what it calls each country's ''brahmastan'' -- or the geographical and energy center. The future capital of the United States would be Smith Center, Kan., population 1,931.  Despite the support of celebrities from David Lynch to Donovan, Maharishi has been disappointed in his efforts to recreate the world. Hagelin's poor showing in the 2000 presidential race did not lift his spirits. Locked in legal battles, his organization has not gained permission to raze a Franciscan monastery on its property in Vlodrop. It was also unable to establish sovereignty on 100 acres of Rota, an island in the Pacific. But even so, he has managed to transform, if not the world, then at least his gated utopia into an eerily peaceful place. At nightfall, the lawn, mowed by robots, lights up with decorative deer.




New York Times


..........Several thousand followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi have followed him here in recent days to meditate and emit positive unity force fields to cut the world's crime rate, reduce traffic accidents, raise the stock market and generally ease global tensions............

.........But many of the residents of the bustling little community of Fairfield are picking up a different set of vibrations. ''A lot of people just wish these wackos would go home,'' said Charles Barnett of the Chamber of Commerce........

.......Police Chief Frank Johnson reports no change in Fairfield's crime rate except many more parking tickets issued around the university. ''Economically,'' Mayor Rasmussen said, ''these people are a positive force. But socially, the jury is still out. We have to get along, all of us. In fact, I'd like to talk with this Maharishi, tell him some of our concerns.''


New York Times

All this is a far cry from the first classes given at Maharishi University back in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1972. Rhoda Orme-Johnson, sipping her hot water and talking in knotty phrases about knowing versus the knower, has been at the university the whole time. A professor of comparative literature and a founding member of the university's faculty, she says she is never embarrassed to stand up at a conference and identify herself as being on the faculty of Maharishi International University.  "We are really thinking in a cosmic sense," she said. "By being here we can create world peace."  But her view of the world may be colored by the world she, and the others, are trying to create. Mr. Mailloux, the high-ranking member of the meditation movement who left in 1989 and is now a mortgage banker in Fairfax, Va., said that when he has filled out job applications, he never admits that he went to Maharishi International University.  "I lie," he said. "and tell them it was M.I.U., Marshall International University. You've heard of it, haven't you?"


New York Times

Maharishi University claims it is not a religious institution. But people who have left the movement call transcendental meditation a cult, and the university its training ground. "Students there are getting a medieval education and a medieval view of what life is," said Curtis Mailloux, class of 1979, and a former director of the Transcendental Meditation Center in Washington, D.C., until he left the movement in 1989. Now involved in "deprogramming" former meditators, he called the Fairfield campus a "coercive environment" with a "propensity for fraudulent research."  Officials responsible for the university's accreditation, aware of such accusations, say they have been aggressive in checking Marahishi International's academic freedom.  "Every move the university's made has been monitored," said Steven D. Crow, deputy director of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the organization that grants accreditation to colleges in the Midwest and has found Maharishi University's faculty, library, classroom space and academic mission "appropriate" since 1980.  The accreditation itself has been questioned. "It's a crying shame," said John W. Patterson, a professor of material science and mechanical engineering at Iowa State University. The North Central Association, he said, "does nothing more than to lend credibility to these crackpots."


AP / New York Times

LEAD: A jury has awarded nearly $138,000 to a former Transcendental Meditation insructor who charged the movement falsely promised he could learn to fly by using self-levitation techniques.   A jury has awarded nearly $138,000 to a former Transcendental Meditation insructor who charged the movement falsely promised he could learn to fly by using self-levitation techniques.

After deliberating nearly six hours since Monday, the jury found Tuesday that two Transcendental Meditation organizations were liable for fraud and negligence. But the jurors refused to award punitive damages to the former instructor, Robert Kropinski, who said in his $9 million lawsuit that he suffered psychological harm from his 11-year association with Transcendental Meditation.

The jury found the World Plan Executive Council-United States, which runs meditation programs, and the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, liable for fraud and negligence.  Mr. Kropinski accused them of making false scientific claims that meditation would reduce stress, improve his memory, reverse the aging process and promote good health and world peace.

Jurors in the monthlong trial before Federal District Judge Oliver Gasch have heard testimony about Mr. Kropinski's unsuccessful attempts to learn how to fly by self-levitating.  Dwight James, an attorney representing the meditation organizations, said the only suffering Mr. Kropinski experienced resulted from a head injury that occurred when he bumped his head on a door at a Philadelphia department store where he worked. The company paid him $25,000 to settle a $500,000 lawsuit.


Definition: Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a religious movement largely developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, although he learned much of it from his teacher Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj. TM became popular in the West to a great extent because of various celebrities, like the Beatles, who started to join it. Adherents believe that dedicated following of TM teachings will not only allow them to attain supernatural powers, like levitation, but will also allow them to gain psychic influences over society. For example, groups have meditated in an effort to reduce crime, but to no real effect. Although followers will try to claim that TM is a science rather than a religion, courts have ruled otherwise and have prohibited the teaching of TM courses in public schools as a result.


August 1, 2005 –

by Ron Gunzburger

Former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton III (R) has been less than candid in how he and his campaign are spinning his close and continuing ties to the purported international pseudo-religious cult led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi -- despite his claims these connections no longer exist. With polls now showing Scranton running within a few points of incumbent Governor Ed Rendell (D), voters have a right to know what influence these cult connections could have on how Scranton would govern the state if elected.

In 1986, Scranton saw his gubernatorial campaign get derailed in the final days when his Democratic opponent launched a hard-hitting spot that attacked Scranton’s ties to past drug use and the Maharishi. Scranton has long explained that he first became involved in the Maharishi's movement when he had a drug problem and they helped him quit. The “Guru” spot, as it was called -- with sitar music playing in the background -- even used an old photo of a youthful Scranton with long hair and a beard. Days later, Scranton’s lead evaporated and he narrowly lost the race.

To avoid a repeat of the 1986 implosion, Scranton’s current gubernatorial campaign now likes to downplay those past problems. “People look at things like this much differently now then they did in 1986. No one will care that Bill likes to go off and spend fifteen minutes meditating at the end of each day,” campaign spokesman Mike Devaney told Politics1. The truth of Scranton’s close involvement with the Maharishi cult, however, consists of much more than just a few minutes a day spent alone in quiet contemplation. Considering this is a cult group that advocates a universal government, a one-world currency, and has a detailed political platform -- with the Maharishi touting himself as world's new leader ("Founder of the Global Country of World Peace") -- these connections could well have serious import into the Governor's Mansion should Scranton win next year.


Apparently, MUM’s accounting practices were on par with their scientific research. Attorney Anthony D. DeNaro was hired by MUM in 1975 as Director of Grants Administration and legal counsel. In an affidavit signed in 1986 and presented to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, DeNaro stated

it was obvious to me that [the] organization was so deeply immersed in a systematic, wilful pattern of fraud including tax fraud, lobbying problems and other deceptions, that it was ethically impossible for me to become involved further as legal counsel.

I discussed this with Steve Druker [the University’s Executive Vice President], but agreed to remain as Director of Grants provided certain conditions and restrictions were met. In practice, however, because I recognized a very serious and deliberate pattern of fraud, designed, in part, to misrepresent the TM movement as a science (not as a cult), and fraudulently claim and obtain tax-exempt status with the IRS, I was a lame duck Director of Grants Administration.*

According to DeNaro, “there is no difference at all between other meditation techniques, and TM except the much-publicized propaganda and advertising claims.” He also claims in his affidavit that MUM was characterized by a

disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome....even outright lies and deception are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing techniques).

Defenders of TM claim that DeNaro is just a disgruntled former member who has sour grapes. He is not alone.

Patrick Ryan is a graduate of MUM and practiced TM for ten years. He founded a support group for former members (TM-Ex). Ryan also claims TM is not simply a "harmless way to relax through meditation." He agrees with DeNaro that TM uses a good deal of deception.