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TranceNet: Yes, We Are No Religion!

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DISCLAIMER: Acid-tongued prose may not be to your taste. But we believe the final unveiling of the Maharishi's hoodwinking of America deserves at least as much.
According to former Maharishi International University professor Anthony D. DeNaro, the Maharishi once snapped, "When America is ready for Hinduism, I will tell them."

Well, hold on boys and girls, it looks like the Maharishi is finally coming out of the Hinduism closet. And we have the documentation and the interview to prove it.

Let's get everybody up to speed....

40 Years of
"Scientific" Deception

1955 In the Maharishi's first book, Beacon Light of the Himalayas, he preached, "For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal Gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal Gods and make us happier in every walk of life."

1959 The Spiritual Regeneration Movement is incorporated with the words "this corporation is a religious one" and "the Spiritual Head of this corporation who is MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI, need not be a member of the Board of Trustees, but can be; he shall devote his attention to the spiritual welfare of the members of the corporation and shall have the right to name his successor."

1964 International Meditation Society incorporated as a separate religious corporation.

1965 Students International Meditation Society incorporated without the words "religion" or "religious."

1967 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi writes at some length about Vedic Karma Kanda [yagyas] in his On the Bhagavad-Gita: "The gross aspect [of yagya] deals with ritualistic performances to please different Vedic gods and win their blessings, while the subtle aspect [of yagya] deals with training the mind to contact higher powers and receive their blessings..... [They deal] with the rites and rituals necessary to establish coordination between the different aspects of individual life: coordination between man and other creatures, between man and the different forces in nature, between man and angels, and between man and God in heaven."

1970 Based on the success of the secularly packaged Students International Meditation Society, the articles of incorporation of the International Meditation Society are amended, removing references to "religious" and "religion."

1975 Former TM teachers who founded the Spiritual Counterfeits Project help Time magazine publish portions of the "secret" TM initiation ceremony, which includes obeyances to the "whole galaxy of gods"; the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and most frequently to the Maharishi's dead teacher, who is worshiped as Brahman, the Hindu Godhead.

1975 Anthony D. DeNaro's private meeting with the Maharishi, recalled in a sworn court affidavit: "I spent a great deal of time trying to persuade him to adopt a more honest, less commercial, approach to meditation, the Sidhi courses, the curricula, the disguised religious element masquerading as a science, inter alia.... Maharishi had a very cavalier, almost elitist, view about very serious injuries and trauma to meditators. His basic attitude towards the concealment of the religious nature of TM was: 'When America is ready for Hinduism, I will tell them.'"

1975 Robert N. Bellah meets with Robert Winquist, a well-known TM movement insider and faculty member of Maharishi International University. Robert Bellah was Ford Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies, UC Berkeley and author of the highly regarded Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World . During the meeting, as related in his sworn affadavit for the New Jersey Court case, he "expressed [his] opinion that TM definitely seemed to to be a religion and I wondered why the people in the TM movement denied its religious nature. [Winquist] 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." Winquist has remained a key figure and major spokesman for the TM movement to this day.

1987 New Jersey Federal District Judge Meanor offers his summary judgemen when a group of parents seek to block teaching TM in the schools: "Although [TM] defendants have submitted well over 1500 pages..., 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 SCI/TM course in New Jersey public high schools violates the establishment clause of the first amendment, and its teaching must be enjoined."

1989 TM movement begins selling yagyas, said to "remove obstacles," "bring about prosperity," "ensure success in business." yagyas come in classes, A, B, and C. Although no official word is given, insider rumors speculate that class A are sacrifices to avert astrological influences, classes B and C are to obtain favor from Ganesh, Lakshmi, and others.

1989 New Jersey Court case upheld by Federal Appeals Court, Third District.

1992 Malnak v. Yogi cited as an important precedent in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education -- the epoch-making ruling barring teaching Creationist science in public schools as a religious activity.

1996 Superior Court of the District of Columbia rules that TM is a religion, subject to all protections and restrictions, in Hendel v. World Plan Executive Council.

1997 The TM movement begins mailing calendars of "Auspicious Days" for yagya performances, naming Ganesh, Lakshmi, Surya (the Sun), Vishnu, Radha, Bhuvaneshwari, Saraswati, Durga/Kali, Shiva, Hanuman (monkey god), and many other gods. It should be noted that most of these gods are invoked by the TM mantras -- as revealed by their secret meanings.

The Transcendental Meditation movement for years has secretly been performing sacrifices to Hindu gods, such as Shiva, Kali, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Krishna -- going so far in the last year as to mail calendars to insiders listing "Auspicious Days" for "more comprehensive effectiveness."

Say what? Cute, little "yes-we-are-a-science-and-not-a-religion" TM? Harmless, wacky Natural Law Party? How'd we get to such a bizarre place?

Way back in the smoke-hazed magical mystery tour we called the '70s, there was a short, plump guru who called himself the "Maharishi."

It was a more innocent time. We all watched a grinning Merv Griffin interview grinning Hollywood stars, instead of Ricki Lake's sobbing parade of "Spouses Who Abuse and Those Who Are Enthused."

So it was only natural when Merv came out as a closet TM meditator on his TV show -- along with Clint Eastwood, Mary Tyler Moore, and others -- that the giggling guru caught national attention.

The "Maharishi" promised all gain, no pain. Simply repeat a meaningless, albeit secret, sound over and over silently, and you'd get smarter, stronger, healthier, more business success, improve your love life, and bring on world peace.

But best of all, TM wasn't a religion! Anyone could practice it without fear of eternal damnation! This was better than sex!

Never mind that man beneath the dhoti: The multi-billion-dollar organization selling TM served up priests, rabbis, Buddhist monks -- all willing to declare that TM was a mental technique that in no way conflicted with their respective religions.

Problem was, it was all a lie. A deliberate lie. When your TM teacher insisted at your introductory lecture that TM was not religious, he or she was looking you in the eye and lying -- usually without so much as a blush.

A quick glance at the time line at right shows there was never a time that TM insiders didn't know TM's secret agenda of making America safe for Hinduism.

And now in 1997, the Maharishi's organizations, the TM movement, Maharishi Ayur-Veda, the Natural Law party all promote performing yagyas -- Hindu sacrifices, performed on special calendar days, that involve making traditional offerings of ghee, flowers, incense, hymns, and more to statues of the gods.

An activity about as scientific and "nonreligious" as the votive candles, incense, and Liturgical Calendar of saint's days from my Roman Catholic youth.

Religion? Heck, TM not only walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it's beginning to smell like the business end of a duck.

If you've never been involved with TM, it may not be easy to understand why whether TM is or isn't a religion is such a key point. After all, other controversial groups like Scientology fought the IRS for years to gain church status -- and the nonprofit tax advantages thereof. What benefit could TM expect from the opposite play -- claiming not to be religious? From the first, the Maharishi has had his eyes on the vast sums of government money available for social programs: schools, prisions, military education, and so forth. The problem throughout most of the developed world, however, was this money could never be available to any organization wrapped in even the faintest scent of religion.

So by claiming publicly not to be religious -- all the while gradually instructing his followers in the finer points of Hinduism -- the Maharishi has been able to amass a fortune both in money and good PR through education, government, prison, and even corporate programs -- that should by all rights be illegal under the constitutions of most of the nations on Earth.

As a former TM insider, I of course had known this for decades. But when I received my "Maharishi Yagya Program of Auspicious Days" for performances to Ganesh, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Radha, Bhuvaneshwari, Saraswati, Durga/Kali, Shiva, Hanuman (monkey god), and dozens of others, I couldn't help myself.

I dialed the National office for the Maharishi Yagya Program and checked into this matter a little further with Linda Brittingham.

"I'm a meditator initiated in the early '70s, and I haven't hung around the center much in the last few years. A friend recently started talking to me about yagyas, and I just have some basic questions."

"Of course. Let's see if we can get them cleared up." Linda was pleasant, accommodating, but she did surprise me with an immediate question: "Are you a Sidha? Or a Governor? Or are you a Meditator?"

"Why? Does that make a difference?"

"Well, I want to have a picture of your level of understanding so I can give the best answer for you."

I told her that I had gotten the sidhis in the late '70s, had been regular in my program, but really hadn't kept up with newer developments like the yagyas.

"Can I see the yagyas?"

She giggled. "No, they are done in India. I haven't ever seen them. Very few in the movement have seen them."

"Well, then who performs them?"

"Pandits [Hindu chanters or priests] especially trained by Maharishi. It's a very precise technology that enlivens the Laws of Nature on the level of the Unified Field. The changes that come about from the yagyas come from within. The pandits bring the influence of those Laws of Nature to you. They refer to you by name and specific items on your [astrological] chart. It's a very ancient, very powerful tradition revitalized by Maharishi."

My mind may have been confused by "Laws of Nature" and "Unified Fields," but my heart said follow the Hindu priests.

"But I don't get it. Where do the pandits come from? They're not TM teachers, are they? They must initially come from outside of the Movement."

Linda tinkled her most endearing giggle. "I'm not really sure. We all came from outside of the Movement at one point. But there are a very large group of them. But really I've been in this office for about 4 years now. And people tell me the most wonderful experiences, really. It's part of the program. You are required to call this office and report your experiences."

I wasn't getting any new information on the priests, just another plug for her product. I tried another tack.

"I have here a mailing that my friend gave me. It's labeled something like 'Auspicious Days for Maharishi Yagya Performances around the Year.'"

There was a brief moment of silence from Linda's end of the phone. Hmmm, good chance this wasn't supposed to be in my hands.

"Yes?"

"Now, some of these names I recognize: Krishna's Birthday, Ganesh's Birthday, Vishnu, Saraswati, Lakshmi. These are gods' names aren't they? And I asked a Vaishnaivite friend . . . ."

"I'm sorry," she interrupted quietly, "Vaishnavite?"

"It's one of the main branches of Hinduism. Anyway, he said these are just Hindu high holy days. Are they?"

Another beat of silence.

"Well, they are festival days. They [Ganesh and others] are Laws of Nature, impulses of Nature that conduct evolution. There are impulses at every level of nature that keep it intelligent, orderly, progressive."

"So Ganesh and Mother Divine and all the rest, that's what we meant all these years as 'Laws of Nature'?"

"Yes. It has a distinctive Eastern flavor. Nature is universal -- I think everyone can agree with that. So every impulse must be the same everywhere. But because Maharishi came from the East, he describes Nature in terms of the East. Maybe if he had come from the West...."

"But let's be specific if we can." I wanted to get as many cards on the table as I could as quickly as I could. "When the pandits perform these yagyas they don't spoon ghee [sacrificial, clarified butter] over statues or Shiva lingams, do they? Do they strew flowers or leis? Do they make offerings of fruit?"

"I really don't know. It could be." Honestly? Her giggle was beginning to wear thin. To many, many devout Christians, Jews, Moslems, and Buddhists these details that the TM movement hid from the public for decades were no laughing matter. "Main ingredient is consciousness, diving into consciousness."

"I don't know, when I started TM it was just 20 minutes twice a day and it definitely wasn't a religion. Now I've been away a bit for a few years and ...."

"Was it shocking?" Another giggle. "A lot of things are in the Movement. It's almost like you forget, it's such an intimate experience.... But this is one Movement program you don't even have to meditate to get benefit."

"You're kidding!"

"No, some nonmeditators have paid to have yagyas done and reported good benefits."

"That's a good question, what do these yagyas cost?"

"Planetary yagyas are most common. Because planets have the most powerful effect on life. When you go for a consultation, they may suggest 3 to 8 to 10 yagyas. These usually cost several hundred a piece. But most people simply try one first to see the results for themselves. That is probably the best thing you could do. Talk to people at your Center who have had yagyas performed and hear about their benefits. It's a wonderful program."

"So we're talking about thousands of dollars? And these are the lower-level yagyas? How much do the advanced ones cost?"

"Oh, the Class B yagyas start at $800 and may be many thousands of dollars. But some of them may last for days."

"These are the yagyas to Ganesh and Shiva and the others?"

"Uh, yes."

"I want to get back to my Hindu friend. He's telling me that I can get the same sacrifices done at a local temple for $50 or so."

"These yagyas haven't been available for thousands of years as they are now. So many religions or philosophies, if they don't have consciousness, the spirit is gone. It gets lost over time." Yet another giggle. "But I'm not sure your friend would like to hear that."

"No, I guess not. Not the other religions, either."

"These yagyas -- Consciousness which is the leading factor, which allows the yagyas to work. Very precise, very systematic, very subtle." I couldn't believe that Linda was willing to go on record this way putting TM as superior to other religions. "Maharishi does talk about TM as sort of like a jet whereas other techniques do have some strain, don't deliver the fruit as fast. Although I don't think your friend would appreciate that."

"And you think that goes for the yagyas, too?"

"Oh, definitely."

So there it is folks. All tied up with a ribbon and a bow. Straight from an official spokesperson.

It isn't simply that we were given the names of Hindu gods to chant. Nor was it just the TM initiation ceremony [puja] that was religious. Nor the Science of Creative of Intelligence that was our religion.

The Maharishi intended from Day 1 to gradually lead us through small, persistent deceptions to the religion he always knew was best for all of us.

An extremely fundamentalist Hinduism.

I'm wondering what those monks and priests and rabbis who endorsed TM back in the '70s would say today. Will they -- and we -- turn the other cheek as the TM duck just keeps on quacking its siren's song to yet another deceived generation?

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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.