cult recovery 101

Transcendental Meditation

Yet Another Look At The Transcendental Meditation Paper

Forbes

Larry Husten

November 25, 2012

Editor’s note: Below are two responses to Robert Schneider’s defense of his Transcendental Meditation paper, which Schneider wrote in response to my earlier article about the publication of his paper.  In the first part I respond to some of the general issues raised by Schneider. The second part, from Sanjay Kaul, addresses the statistical issues discussed by Schneider.

I’m grateful for Kaul’s highly technical analysis of the statistical issues raised by Schneider, but I don’t think this case really requires a terribly high level of technical expertise. Common sense actually works pretty well in this case. A trial with barely 200 patients cannot be expected to provide broad answers about the health benefits of a novel intervention. As Kaul and others have stated on many other occasions, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and it is quite clear that the evidence in this trial is not extraordinary, at least in any positive sense.

Questions About Trial Reliability And Data– In his response Schneider tries to skate away from the inevitable questions raised about this paper when Archives of Internal Medicine chose to withdraw the paper only 12 minutes before its scheduled publication time. Schneider can pretend that this incident never occurred, but outsider readers can not help but wonder what sparked this extraordinary incident, and will not be satisfied  until the details are fully explained.

There are additional red flags about the trial. Schneider told WebMD that since the Archives incident “the data was re-analyzed. Also, new data was added and the study underwent an independent review.” Said Schneider: “This is the new and improved version.”
This is an extraordinary claim, because a clinical trial cannot be “new and improved” unless there were serious flaws with the earlier version. What exactly does it mean to say that a paper published in 2012 about a trial completed in 2007 is “new and improved”? (According to ClinicalTrials.Gov the study was completed in July 2007, while June 2007 was the “final data collection date” for the primary endpoint.)

The 5-year delay between the 2007 completion date and the publication of the data is highly suspicious.
What exactly caused this delay? The paper hints at one possible source of delay: as Kaul notes below, the investigators refer to the primary endpoint as a “DSMB-approved endpoint.” This suggests that the primary endpoint was changed at some point in the trial. As Kaul points out, it is not the job of the DSMB to either choose or approve primary endpoints. Since the trial was not registered until 2011 with ClinicalTrials.Gov it is impossible to sort this issue out unless the investigators choose to release the initial trial protocol and statistical plan.

Schneider’s response also fails to explain why there is a difference in the number of primary endpoint events between the Archives paper and the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes paper, since the collection date for the primary outcome measure is listed as June 2007 on ClinicalTrials.Gov. I see no reason why the reason for this discrepancy shouldn’t be explained. Although the difference is only 1 event, it inevitably raises questions about the reliability of the data.

Trial Interpretation– Finally, I am deeply concerned about the way this trial will be used, or misused, to “sell” the brand of Transcendental Meditation in the broadest possible population, ie, everyone. Though the study was limited to African-American with heart disease, here’s what Schneider told the Daily Mail:

‘Transcendental meditation may reduce heart disease risks for both healthy people and those with diagnosed heart conditions. The research on transcendental meditation and cardiovascular disease is established well enough that doctors may safely and routinely prescribe stress reduction for their patients with this easy to implement, standardised and practical programme.’

Meditation may of course be beneficial, but it will never be a cure for heart disease, and it won’t replace other treatments. But here’s what Schneider told WebMD:

“What this is saying is that mind-body interventions can have an effect as big as conventional medications, such as statins,” says Schneider.

It shouldn’t be necessary to say, but the evidence base for statins is several orders of magnitude greater than the evidence base for meditation. Further, there have been no studies comparing meditation to statins. Any claim that meditation is equivalent to statins is preposterous.

To be clear, I have nothing against meditation. Generic meditation is cheap, safe, and even possibly effective. Branded Transcendental Meditation, on the other hand, is a cult, and it is out to get your money. An initial TM program costs $1500, and increases the deeper you get pulled into the cult. Here’s what Schneider told Healthday:

“One of the reasons we did the study is because insurance and Medicare calls for citing evidence for what’s to be reimbursed,” Schneider said. “This study will lead toward reimbursement. That’s the whole idea.”

Here’s the real source of my discomfort with this trial. For true believers like Schneider, fighting heart disease is important only insofar as it can be employed to further the interests of TM. Scientific standards and medical progress are unimportant in the larger scheme of promoting TM.

Read the comments left by Michael Jackson and Chrissy on my earlier post to learn more about the dangers of TM. Or do your own research on the internet.

Here’s Sanjay Kaul’s response:

Power calculation

By convention, the difference that the study is powered to detect (delta) varies inversely with the seriousness of the outcome, i.e., larger delta for ‘softer’ outcomes and smaller delta for ‘harder’ outcomes. This does not appear to be the case in the current study. For the first phase of the trial, the power calculation was based on a 36% risk reduction in death, nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke, rehospitalization or revascularization (the original primary endpoint). Then, for the 2nd phase of the trial, the power calculation is based on a 50% reduction in a narrower but harder outcome of death, nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke (the revised primary endpoint). I find it curious that the authors justify their choice of the revised primary endpoint as ‘DSMB-approved endpoint’! Since when is the DSMB charged with choosing or approving trial endpoints?

Incidentally, the Proschan-Hunsberger method refers to conditional, not unconditional, power. To compute conditional power, the investigators had to have looked at data by arm. Thus, some penalty should be paid for the ‘interim look’ in the form of requiring a larger z-score (lower p value) to claim statistical significance. They did not appear to do this.

Strength of evidence

The conventional frequentist approach relies heavily on the p value which tends to overstate the strength of association. Complementary approaches such as the Bayesian inference are available that utilize Bayes factor, a more desirable metric to quantify the strength of evidence compared with p value. For instance, the Bayes factor associated with a p value of 0.03 (observed in the trial) is about 10, which means that at a prior null probability of 50%, there is still a 10% chance of null probability based on the trial results, more than 3-fold higher than that implied by a p value of 0.03. So the evidence falls in the category of at most ‘moderate’ strength against the null.

Another way of assessing the strength of evidence is to quantify the probability of repeating a statistically significant result, the so-called ‘replication probability’. The replication probability associated with a p value of 0.03 is about 58% which is unlikely to pass the muster of any regulatory agency. The FDA regulatory standard for drug approval is ‘substantial evidence’ of effectiveness based on ‘adequate and well-controlled investigations’ which translates into 2 trials, each with a p value of 0.05. At the heart of this standard (or any scientific endeavor) is replication. The replication probability for 1 trial with a p value < 0.05 is only about 50%; replication probability of 2 trials with p value <0.05 is about 90%. In 1997 the rules were changed to base approval on the basis of a statistically persuasive result obtained in 1 trial, i.e., p value <0.001 for a mortality or a serious irreversible morbidity endpoint. The p value of 0.001 is equivalent to 2 trials with 1-sided p value of 0.025 (0.025 x 0.025 = 0.000625 or 0.001). Thus, the current trial results do not comport with ‘substantial’ or ‘robust’ evidence.

Distribution of endpoints

It seems highly unusual that 80% of the primary events were fatal. If true, it means that the subjects were dying either from a non- MI-, non-stroke-related events such as sudden cardiac death or heart-failure death (as in patients with advanced heart failure) or non-cardiovascular events not accounted for by the adjudication process.

Adjusted analyses

Although many have discussed how adjusting for baseline covariates in the analysis of RCTs can improve the power of analyses of treatment effect and account for any imbalances in baseline covariates, the debate on whether this practice should be carried out remains unresolved. Many recommend that the analysis should be undertaken only if the methods of analysis and choice of covariates are pre-specified in the protocol or statistical analysis plan. This is not easily discernible without registration of clinical trials.

Heavenly Mountain Tract To Be Sold

The Watauga Democrat
by Kellen Moore

A 225-acre tract and three large buildings that were once part of the Transcendental Meditation center at Heavenly Mountain are now up for auction.

The property, owned by the Maharishi University of Enlightenment, will be sold online Oct. 25.
Once used for women’s educational programs in Transcendental Meditation and Vedic sciences, the buildings have sat vacant for several years.
The Maharishi University purchased the properties in May 2011 from Blue Mountain Holdings, a company associated with David and Earl Kaplan, the original developers of Heavenly Mountain, according to land records.
Thomas McMahon, a broker for Sperry Van Ness that is coordinating the auction, said the university did not explain why it was selling the properties now but is working to create a different campus for its programs in New York.
“After they bought them back, I think they had some change of heart,” McMahon said.
Representatives of the Maharishi University of Enlightenment could not be reached by press time Tuesday.
The property includes two dormitory buildings and a dining hall constructed in 1997, perched on a ridge with long-range views between Boone and Triplett.
The largest building includes 112 suites with living areas and kitchenettes, as well as a conference hall and several smaller meeting rooms, McMahon said. The second building is set up more like a hotel, with 98 rooms.
The third structure is a 13,000-square-foot conference hall with kitchen area on the bottom floor and an open dining area with large windows on the second floor, he said.
According to a property condition report provided by the sellers, the buildings are structurally sound with the exception of the main lecture hall, which they said can be strengthened without demolition.
As to be expected with an unoccupied space, there are some areas of mold and disrepair, as well as cosmetic repairs that would be necessary, the report states.
The buildings and the properties on which they sit combined have an appraised tax value of $8,189,100, according to Watauga County tax records.
Part of the acreage also was originally designated for single-family home sites and townhomes, McMahon said.
Bids on the property will start at $3.9 million, and the university does have an undisclosed reserve amount that must be met, McMahon said.
“This was a property that cost over $30 million dollars to build, so the sellers are putting it out there at a very, very attractive price point,” he said.
McMahon said the land originally was for sale on a traditional marketing plan before Sperry Van Ness offered a special auction plan to the owner. He said he already has received interest from multiple states and countries.
“We’re increasing this exposure to the world, instead of just to North Carolina,” McMahon said.
The “East Campus,” as it was once called, is separate from the 381-acre parcel called Forest Summit that was purchased in October 2011 by the Art of Living Foundation. That site is now the home of the International Center for Peace and Well-Being, which offers short-term and residential meditation, yoga and stress management seminars.
A foundation spokesperson could not be reached by press time Tuesday about whether the foundation might be interested in bidding on the new tract.
More information about the auction and the property is available online.
McMahon said even community members with no interest in the property could benefit economically from the sale of the property and possible future redevelopment.
“I really hope the community looks at this as a new beginning and a new opportunity and they would embrace the new ownership that would be coming,” McMahon said.

Additional Images

 
 

Group Says Movement a Cult

By Phil McCombs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 2, 1987; Page C03
On the eve of a “yogic flying” demonstration by followers of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi set for the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives next week, a group of concerned parents and others known as the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) has gathered here to debunk the flying as fake and sound an alarm about cults.
The group charged in a press conference yesterday that the maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement, of which yogic flying is an advanced stage, is not simply a method of relaxation through meditation, but a cult that ultimately seeks to strip individuals of their ability to think and choose freely.
“They want you to dress and think and speak in a certain way and not to ask questions,” said Steven Hassan, a former follower of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon who has studied cults for a decade. “They go into hypnotic trances and shut off who they are as a person.”
A spokesman for the maharishi, Mark Haviland of MIU’s College of Natural Law here, said yesterday that “TM is a very simple, useful thing {with} practical benefits of relaxation, of increased inner potential.” He added that TM is “not a philosophy, a life style or a religion.”
Two former TM adherents who studied yogic flying at the Maharishi International University (MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa, Joe Kelly and John Taity, gave a demonstration of it at the press conference by sitting cross-legged on the floor and hopping in an awkward forward motion that lifted them completely off the floor a few inches.
“It’s strictly physical exercise,” said Kelly. “There’s nothing spiritual about it.”
“It’s purely physical,” said Taity.
Another former MIU student, Patrick L. Ryan, said that he studied yogic flying there in a “totalitarian environment” where every minute of his day was programmed.
Yet, he said, “I never saw anybody fly.”
Dean Draznin, who teaches TM here and identified himself as a spokesman for the movement, discounted CAN’s claims, saying that TM is “a very simple, effortless mental technique that’s practiced 20 minutes, two times a day. It doesn’t involve beliefs or a life style. It gives more energy, more dynamism.”
Draznin also disagreed that TM involves any mind control. “We don’t force people to take courses,” he said. “They can take advanced courses if they choose.”
A press release from the maharishi’s Age of Enlightenment News Service advertises his “program to create world peace” and is headlined: “TM-Sidhi ‘Yogic Flying’ Technique to Be Demonstrated in the Nation’s Capital.”
Haviland said yesterday that “hopping” is the first stage of yogic flying. He added that “hovering” and “actual flight” — the second and third stages — have not yet been achieved.
“Given the results we’ve experienced so far, we feel that it won’t be long before we’ll be getting onto the second and third stage,” Haviland said. He said the important thing is the “coherence” that the “flying” creates individually and collectively, “which leads to world peace.”
Ex-members of the TM movement said at their press conference that TM is in fact a religion for its adherents with the maharishi seen as a god. Patrick Ryan has sued the maharishi for compensation for the eight years he said he devoted to raising money and promoting the cause. In leaving TM, Ryan said he had help from CAN and a related group, FOCUS, which offers support for those seeking to leave “cultic or totalistic involvement.”
These groups are holding an anticult conference open to the public at the Shoreham hotel starting at 9:30 a.m. today and continuing through tomorrow.
A new group called TM-EX, for those leaving the TM movement, is being formed, according to Ryan.
A spokesman for Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) said yesterday that the congressman set up a room in the Rayburn Building for the maharishi’s adherents to demonstrate yogic flying after receiving a request from the MIU, which is located in Leach’s congressional district.
The presentation will be made for the benefit of members of Congress and their staff, according to spokesmen for Leach and the maharishi.
Leach’sspokesman said the congressman, after being told of yesterday’s criticisms of the TM movement, responded that MIU is “accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and also recognized by the Federal Interagency Commission on Education.”
He quoted Leach as saying, “I have no objection to any American citizen expressing their First Amendment rights on Capitol Hill or elsewhere.”
Hassan said at the press conference — held at the Shoreham yesterday at the same time that the Maharishi Continental Assembly, a conference for followers of the maharishi, was getting underway in another part of the hotel — that TM adherents suffer a “destruction of personality. It’s an addiction, akin to alcohol and drugs.”
He handed out a pamphlet saying that “physical and psychological harm” may result by using TM techniques “even if only for a short time.”
Patricia Ryan, the daughter of Leo J. Ryan (D.-Calif.), the representative who was shot to death on Nov. 18, 1978, in Guyana as the Rev. Jim Jones led hundreds of his followers in a mass suicide, said that “bright, idealistic people are the most vulnerable” to movements such as TM. “They become unsuspecting victims.”
TM became popular in the 1960s when a number of celebrities, including the Beatles, traveled to India to study with the maharishi. Draznin estimated that 1.5 million Americans have learned TM techniques.
Outside the hotel yesterday, a group of parents from CAN carried pickets against the maharishi’s conference.
The signs said: “Don’t Be Fooled by Maharishi’s Flying Circus,” “Parents Against Cults” and “Cults Steal Minds.”
One of the parents, Rudy Arkin of Washington, said he lost his son to the Hare Krishnas several years ago. The son eventually “walked out, but without deprogramming. I fear he’s out there floating, because we haven’t heard from him in over a year.”
© Copyright 1987 The Washington Post Company

"Maharishi Ayur-Veda: guru’s marketing scheme promises the world eternal ‘perfect health’"

Andrew A. Skolnick,  JAMA, Medical News & Perspectives, Oct. 2, 1991


IF THE CLAIMS of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi prove true, those who follow him soon will be blessed with eternal youth, “perfect health,” and the “strength of an elephant.” They will be able to “walk through walls,” make themselves “invisible,” and “fly through the air” without the benefit of machines.


In addition, there will be no more war or crime. Automobile accidents will be a thing of the past, and even the weather will have to obey their collective consciousness.


Such are the widely promoted claims of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement and Maharishi Ayur-Veda, some of which were presented by authors Deepak Chopra, MD, Hari M. Sharma, MD, FRCPC, and Brihaspati Dev Triguna, in their “Letter From New Delhi” (“Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Modern Insights Into Ancient Medicine,” JAMA.1991;265:2633-2637).


According to a number of experts on religious cults, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Hindu swami from India, began his rise to fame and great fortune in the 1960s when the Beatles rock group briefly joined his following of worshipers. Today, he leads many thousands of devoted followers who are dedicated to bringing about his widely publicized “Master Plan to Create Heaven on Earth. “Many of these disciples are prominent in science, medicine, education, sports, entertainment, and the news media. According to Indian newspaper reports, his master plan has created an empire for the guru conservatively estimated to be worth more than $2 billion. But according to representatives of the TM movement, the Maharishi’s plan to turn earth into heaven is not just wishful thinking; they say they have more than 500 scientific studies to prove they can do it.


Among them now is the “Letter From New Delhi,” which is being pointed to throughout the TM movement as a sign that the Maharishi’s plan is gaining scientific respectability. However, among many authorities on quackery and long-time watchers of this movement, the article in JAMA has brought anger and dismay. (Please see Letters, pages 1769 through 1774.) They say that Maharishi Ayur-Veda is not traditional Indian medicine, but the latest of the Maharishi’s schemes to boost the declining numbers of people taking TM courses, through which the movement recruits new members. This June, members of the TM community in Fairfield, Iowa, were called to a special assembly at one of the Maharishi International University’s “Golden Domes of Pure Knowledge” to celebrate the news of JAMA’s publication of “Letter From New Delhi.” The same month, The Fairfield (Iowa) Source, a monthly newspaper that is run by members of the movement, reported that the “Letter From New Delhi” was “the lead article in JAMA.”(The newspaper has since published a correction identifying it as the first article in the issue rather than the lead scientific article–a subtle but important difference.)


Failure to Disclose Connections


What the newspaper didn’t report was what editors of THE JOURNAL learned shortly after the article was published: The authors are involved in organizations that promote and sell the products and services about which they wrote. Despite this, they submitted a signed financial disclosure form with their manuscript indicating that they had no such affiliations. The statement, which all authors of articles accepted by JAMA must sign before publication, says: “I certify that any affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript (eg, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, expert testimony) are listed below. Otherwise, my signature indicates that I have no such financial interest. “The authors of the “Letter from New Delhi” listed no involvements or affiliations. Upon learning otherwise, THE JOURNAL immediately requested a full accounting from the authors, which was published as a financial disclosure correction (JAMA.1991;266:798). Although the confusing list apparently holds the record in terms of length for corrections published in THE JOURNAL, it still is incomplete. In addition to being the medical director of TM’s premiere health facility, the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine, in Lancaster, Mass, and a former consultant and board member for Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products International (MAPI) Inc, also in Lancaster (the sole distributor of Maharishi Ayur-Veda TM products, an extensive line of herbs, teas, oils, food supplements, incense, and devices said to prevent or treat disease and reverse aging), Chopra performs many of the unproven and expensive Maharishi Ayur-Veda services throughout the country. Indeed, he claims to have treated more than 10 000 patients with these remedies between 1985 and 1990 (Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide.New York, NY: Harmony Books; 1990:6). 


 

Ran Marketing Company

 

Chopra has yet to inform JAMA that he was the president, treasurer, and clerk of MAPI until sometimes in 1988. Nor did he tell THE JOURNAL that he had been the sole stockholder of the marketing company until May 1987, when he transferred the stock to a trust he set up, called the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation. Until sometime in 1988, he served as chairman of the foundation’s board of directors (the two other board members were Parkash Shrivastava, of New Delhi, India, a nephew of the Maharishi, and Neil Paterson, TM’s Governor General of the Age of Enlightenment for North America).


When the authors submitted their article, Chopra and Sharma were both consultants to MAPI. During a taped telephone interview on June 17, Chopra acknowledged being a consultant to MAPI; however, in a letter faxed on June 20, he claimed he no longer had any connection to MAPI or other organizations related to the marketing company.


Yet, MAPI has the same telephone number and address as the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation and the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (AAAM), of which Chopra is president. MAPI and AAAM letterheads have identical logos–a vessel of Maharishi Amrit Kalash, the herbs touted by the authors in their JAMA article. Chopra was president of another entity that uses the same telephone number and address, the Maharishi Ayur-Veda sometimes Ayurveda Association of American (MAAA). Dean Draznin, director of public relations for the Ayur-Veda News Service, would not say whether Chopra is still president of MAAA, nor would he explain the difference between AAAM and MAAA.


Despite claims to the contrary, Chopra is still connected to MAPI and the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation. Chopra lectures widely and teaches the Maharishi’s techniques for the foundation, which owns the marketing company.


The fee to attend one of Chopra’s 1-day seminars on “Quantum Healing” is usually $100.Attendees usually are instructed to make checks payable to the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation. Chopra recently boasted in an interview in The Fairfield Source: “It’s mind-boggling. In San Francisco, I did a seminar that 3000 people attended. I had to get one of the civic centers. The average audience now is anywhere from 500 to 1000…. I’m booked right through 1992 for lectures.”


Chopra also gives instructions in two special “health” techniques, which patients must pay $700 apiece to learn. In the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Psychophysiological Technique, Chopra instructs patients to concentrate on the heart while meditating. For the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Primordial Sound Technique, he provides patients with a health mantra to repeat during meditation. For each technique, he provides patients with a private consultation of less than 20 minutes following a general lecture. At one TM gathering in Washington, DC, in June 1989, Chopra raised more than $25,000 just teaching the Primordial Sound Technique.


In an undated letter sent to “Friends of Maharishi Ayurveda,” Chopra, who identified himself as president of the marketing company, called the concoction of more than 20 herbs, which costs about $95 for a 1-month supply, “pure knowledge pressed into material form. “He wrote, “Maharishi Amrit Kalash forges the link between mind and body at the critical junction points everywhere in the physiology. “While admitting that research on its health benefits is just beginning, Chopra emphasized the need for everyone to take the cure-all/prevent-all. “It should be placed in every home as quickly as possible,” he urged.


Chopra explains that he did not think he needed to inform JAMA of his connections to the marketing organizations or of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he raises through these activities because he doesn’t keep any of it; the funds go to help promote Maharishi Ayur-Veda, he says. But Chopra’s dedication to the Maharishi’s world plan has not gone unrewarded. In 1989, the guru invested Chopra with the title “Dhanvantari Lord of Immortality of Heaven on Earth.”


 

Selling Herbs and Pulse Readings

 

In addition to being a consultant to Maharishi Ayur-Veda in Prathisthan, India, coauthor Triguna was and/or is director of the World Center for Maharishi AyurVeda in Maharishi Nagar, India, and vice chancellor of Maharishi Vedic University in Vlodrop, The Netherlands — all of which are involved in the promotion of the Maharishi’s “master plan” for the world. Triguna has appeared at TM gatherings here and abroad, where he performed thousands of “pulse diagnoses.” Patients in the United States are usually charged $200 for the approximately 3-minute health consultation, which requires translation since he speaks very little English.


The authors claimed in their JAMA article that this procedure (which critics such as William Jarvis, PhD, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, Loma Linda, Calif, describe as a variation of palm reading) can diagnose diseases not limited to the cardiovascular system, including asthma, cancer, and diabetes. (When asked if he would agree to a test of these claims made in JAMA using a blinded protocol, Chopra declined on the grounds that a blinded experiment would “eliminate the most crucial component of the experiment, which is consciousness.”) Many of these “diagnoses” are followed by a prescription for herbal remedies available through Triguna’s pharmacy in India.


Triguna is described in Maharishi Ayur-Veda promotional materials as a “doctor.” However, when asked whether Triguna has any medical or graduate degree from an accredited institution, Chopra said that the question represents “ethnocentrism, prejudice, bigotry, and racism carried to the extreme. “He suggested that “the degree you put after his name is ‘Ayur-Veda Martand,’ the Indian acknowledgment of illustrious fame and achievement in his profession. “MAPI has honored Triguna by placing the likeness of his head, surrounded by a glowing halo or aura, on the label of Maharishi Amrit Kalash.


In the financial disclosure to many Sharma reports his connections to many of the Maharishi’s promotional organizations, including two of the Maharishi’s many “universities” that are not accredited by any recognized authorities. (Only the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, is so accredited.)


The disclosure lists the Lancaster Foundation Inc (in North Bethesda, Md, not Washington, DC, as Sharma stated) and the Abramson Family Foundation, North Bethesda, among the sources of Sharma’s research funding. However, it does not make clear that the Lancaster Foundation is run by members of the TM community and that the foundation supports and promotes research only on Maharishi Ayur-Veda products and services. The Abramson Family Foundation has the same address and telephone number as the Lancaster Foundation. 


 

Serious About Financial Disclosure 

 

The authors misrepresented Maharishi Ayur-Veda to JAMA as Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient, traditional health care system of India, rather than a trademark for a brand of products and services marketed since 1985 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s complex network of research, educational, and commercial organizations.


JAMA is serious about its policy regarding authors’ disclosures of potential conflicts of interest, says George D. Lundberg, MD, editor of THE JOURNAL, who adds: “Even if the financial association between the author and organizations that may profit by his or her article is remote, we need to know about it. The associations between Chopra, Sharma, and Triguna and the promoters of the products and services they wrote about may well have affected our decision to publish their article had we known about them. At the very least, the reader should have been informed of the author’s involvement with those who profit from Maharishi Ayur-Veda.”


Lundberg says that “JAMA has long had an interest in publishing responsible articles on traditional health care practices from other parts of the world. We published ‘Letter From New Delhi’ in THE JOURNAL’s international health theme issue believing that the authors were acting in good faith and that they were disinterested scientists who had expertise in the long-practiced system of folk remedies of India known as Ayurvedic medicine. At that time, we did not know that ‘Maharishi AyurVeda,’ ‘Transcendental Meditation,’ and the ‘TM-Sidhi’ programs promoted in the article are brands of health care products and services being marketed by the TM movement.” 


 

Pattern of Deception 

 

An investigation of the movement’s marketing practices reveals what appears to be a widespread pattern of misinformation, deception, and manipulation of lay and scientific news media. This campaign appears to be aimed at earning at least the look of scientific respectability for the TM movement, as well as at making profits from sales of the many products and services that carry the Maharishi’s name.


The TM movement frequently boasts of the “sophistication and effectiveness” of its publicity programs in helping to bring about the Maharishi’s “Master Plan to Create Heaven on Earth.” Recently, it has had good reasons to brag.


In June, the movement not only saw THE JOURNAL publish an article in which the Maharishi’s remedies were described as if they were scientifically-acceptable, it also held a “Medical Conference on Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Diseases,” in San Diego, Calif, that was approved by the American College of Preventive Medicine for 13 hours of the American Medical Association’s Physician’s Recognition Award category I Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.


The course description gives the impression that Maharishi Ayur-Veda is thousands of years old, rather than a trademark name for a line of products and services introduced in 1985. Nothing in the course description indicates that the majority of conference speakers are affiliated with organizations that promote these products and services.


According to Hazel Keimowitz, MA, executive director of the American College of Preventive Medicine, the college was not aware of connections between the conference organizers and efforts to market TM products and services.


This was the second time the American College of Preventive Medicine accredited a Maharishi Ayur-Veda conference for CME credit. Shortly after the first time in December 1989, Chopra announced that the AMA had accredited Maharishi Ayur-Veda courses for CME credit.


Speaking during the global satellite broadcast of a gathering in India to celebrate the Maharishi’s birthday on January 12, 1990, Chopra said, “This is the beginning of a great alliance that Maharishi Ayur-Veda Association is going to form with the established associations, such as the American Medical Association and all the associations of medicine throughout the world.”


Expressing joy over Chopra’s “beautiful news,” the Maharishi said, “I hold the Medical Association of America to be the custodians of perfect health for all mankind . . . from today I’ll cease to think that the American Medical Association has been, and is continuing to be, a puppet of the multinational [pharmaceutical companies.]”


According to Dennis Wentz, MD, director of the AMA’s Division of Continuing Medical Education, that news was untrue; the AMA has not accredited any of the Maharishi’s programs for CME credit. 


 

The Wrong Stationery? 

 

In March, the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (AAAM) sent two letters to the American College of Preventive Medicine in application for accreditation. The letters were printed on AAAM letterhead, which lists among its research council members Tony Nader, MD, PhD, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), both in Boston.


According to spokespersons for these institutions, Nader was a graduate student at MIT and a research fellow at MGH and Harvard until he earned his PhD degree in neuroscience 2 years ago. His former advisers say they haven’t seen him since he graduated.


The use of “old stationery” was an innocent mistake, says David Orme Johnson, PhD, chair of the Psychology Department at the Maharishi International University, and a spokesperson for the TM movement. “We are very careful not to do anything like that — not to misrepresent things,” he says. “I can’t tell you how much time I spend checking facts so that such things don’t happen. I assure you that this is not intended fraud on our part.”


However, earlier letters from AAAM list Nader as having only an MD degree. Presumably after his graduation from MIT in September 1989, the association reprinted its stationery identifying Nader as having an MD and a PhD degree and as being at MIT, Harvard, and MGH, even though he no longer was affiliated with these institutions. What’s more, the TM movement continued to make these claims elsewhere.


Nader is one of the researchers most cited by the movement as an authority on Maharishi herbs. In June 1986, after discovering a Los Angeles Times report about Nader’s herbal research, his advisers warned him in writing not to embarrass them any further by claiming to be doing MIT- and Harvard-sanctioned research on Maharishi’s herbs. Despite their warning, the claims continued.


In a TM news release announcing a June 18, 1991, press conference in London, England, Nader is identified as a “professor” and “eminent researcher and medical doctor who will present the findings of his recent research at Harvard and MIT and discuss the scientific basis through which Maharishi’s Technology of Consciousness can bring about world health and world peace.”


According to the release, Nader also would “discuss how the new brain imaging techniques can be used to assess the orderliness of brain functioning in students, corporate executives, politicians, and other leaders, and thereby ‘ensure that only the best brains are running society.”


Also, on the back cover of the 1991 paperback edition of Chopra’s Creating Health: How to Wake Up the Body’s Intelligence (Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin Co), an endorsement by Nader identifies him as “neuroscientist, Harvard Medical School and MIT.”


A newsletter published in 1988 by the Maharishi Ayurveda Association of America appears even more fallacious. The headline and lead paragraph state that Nader was honored by Harvard with “the Whitaker Health Sciences and Technology Award” for his “landmark studies” carried out over 2 years on the effects of Maharishi’s herbal remedies on immune functioning and aging.


It also claimed that Nader, who was identified as a clinical researcher and not a graduate student, was also conducting “several more ambitious and complex project at major research centers” including “overseeing studies at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Departments of Immunology at Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts — all testing the effects of Maharishi Amrit Kalash on the immune system.” Orme-Johnson says these errors were the fault of the reporter who wrote the article. 


 

‘Prejudice and Bigotry’

 

Nader’s MIT thesis adviser, Richard J. Wurtman, MD, professor and director of the Clinical Research Center, and Nader’s former Harvard/MGH adviser, John H. Growdon, MD, professor of neurology, say they know of no such research at their institutions.


However, according to Chopra, Nader’s “superiors were threatened by his paying more attention to Ayur-Veda research than to projects that they were interested in Dr Nader was censured and asked to discontinue his Ayur-Veda work This in no way reflects on the quality of the research. If anything, it reflects the prejudice and bigotry of so-called objective scientists, even in prestigious institutions.”


In a recent statement, MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton, PhD, said that Nader ended his connection with MIT upon graduating. “During his time as a student, from October 1985 until Sept 20, 1989, he held a visiting physician appointment at MIT’s Clinical Research Center. He was not authorized to undertake any research on his own,” says Wrighton. “MIT has called to the attention of its law firm recent comments and documents which indicate an effort to suggest a continuing research relationship between Dr Nader and MIT.”


However, Chopra protests that Nader did conduct research at MIT with Paul M. Newberne, DVM, PhD (who is now professor of pathology at Boston University School of Medicine). The Lancaster Foundation also cites Nader’s research with Newberne and says that it was presented at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB), Washington, DC (abstract in Fed Proc. 1987;46:959).


According to Newberne, in 1985 he had allowed himself to “be charmed” into providing Nader support for a short-term study that the student wanted to do but couldn’t get anyone to help. He said that Nader “was like a shadow. He moved in, used my facilities and resources, and was gone. I never wanted anything about this work to be published because there was nothing to warrant publication. His data were few and equivocal.”


Newberne says this is the first he has heard of the research being published. He says that while the signature on the application to FASEB appears to be his, he has no recollection of signing it. He says there is no way he would have knowingly submitted such a “pseudoscientific” paper for publication. “The abstract describes tests on a mixture of unidentified herbs and minerals. This isn’t science. I never would knowingly put my name on such a study,” he adds.


However, says Ayur-Veda public affairs director Draznin, it’s got his (Newberne’s) signature on it and that should speak for itself. Newberne says that if necessary, he will seek legal counsel to prevent this use of his name.


Nader could not be reached for comment. 


 

‘Dog and Pony Show’?

 

In its listing of “recent research on Maharishi Ayur-Veda,” the Lancaster Foundation cites research by Nader, Orme-Johnson, and others that was presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany, held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in June 1987.


However, according to Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD, research professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, and director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine, what was presented could hardly be called scientific papers.


According to Farnsworth, the Maharishi’s people showed up with a television news crew from the local CBS station in Chicago and put on a “dog and pony show. “He says: “They had no interest in the conference other than to grab a scientific forum–they showed up just before their time slot and split as soon as the publicity stunt was over.”


What they presented hardly resembled the two abstracts they submitted, he says. Instead, they gave a marketing presentation extolling the Maharishi’s meditation and herbal products.


Charlotte Gyllenhaal, PhD, a research associate at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, who served as cochair of the botany meeting’s organizing committee, agrees that the behavior of the Maharishi’s representatives was “entirely inappropriate.” She says, “While the submitted abstracts seemed reasonable, what they presented had little to do with their abstracts. In one presentation, they couldn’t even provide the scientific names of the medicinal plants they claimed to have tested. The other presentation was a pitch for the Maharishi’s meditation techniques–hardly appropriate for a botany meeting. It was a bait and switch ploy and a publicity stunt.”


Gyllenhaal says there is “so much potential for finding useful drugs from the thousands of years of interesting observations made by India’s traditional healers. It’s really a shame that this group’s deceptive activities may become associated with all of ayurveda.” 


 

Publications Misled 

 

Submission of the “Letter From New Delhi” was not the first time JAMA was uninformed about an author’s connection to the Maharishi’s organizations. THE JOURNAL had previously published a letter praising the beneficial effects of TM (JAMA. 1989;262:2681-2682) written by Brian M. Rees, MD, MPH, who gave the Rees Family Medical Clinic, Pacific Palisades, Calif, as his affiliation. Rees turns out to be the medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center in Pacific Palisades. However, in correspondence with THE JOURNAL, he used “Rees Family Medical Clinic” stationery, which lists an address and telephone number that are identical to those used by the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center located within the TM center complex.


JAMA is not the only prestigious journal to have published an article highly favorable to Maharishi AyurVeda without its editors or readers knowing of the author’s involvement with the TM movement. Prominent on the back cover of Chopra’s book Quantum Healing (New Yok, NY: Bantum Books Inc; 1990) is an endorsement attributed to the New England Journal of Medicine. This was not the view of the journal, but the opinion of John W. Zamarra, MD, Brea, Calif, in an unsolicited book review (N Engl J Med. 1989; 321: 1688). According to a New England of Journal of Medicine editor, Zamarra signed a conflict-of-interest disclaimer as the journal routinely requires. Despite its policy that requires the disclosure of all connections between reviewers and the authors of the books they review, the journal was not informed of Zamarra’s long-time connection with the TM movement. Indeed, he is an author of a 1975 study on TM, which is cited in movement literature. Recently, a receptionist at the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center in Pacific Palisades identified Zamarra as being on the center’s staff. However, Zamarra claims he is associated with the center only as a patient, although he says that he has treated patients there on a voluntary basis after his book review appeared.


Harvard Magazine’s readers may have been similarly disserved when the magazine published in its 1989 September/October issue a cover story on Chopra, which gave a glowing account of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. According to associate managing editor Jean Martin, the TM movement ordered a large number of reprints for promotional distribution. The magazine’s readers were not informed that the author, associate editor Craig A. Lambert, PhD, practices TM-Sidhi or “yogic flying,” the Maharishi’s technique to develop levitation and other supernatural powers. 


 

Highly Exaggerated Claims 

 

According to an interview with Chopra in the June issue of The Fairfield Source, Chopra is president and chair of the board of trustees of the new Maharishi Vedic University in Cambridge, Mass. Chopra is quoted as saying that the university will soon offer three degree programs, including a “Master’s in Maharishi Ayur-Veda,” which will “be very popular because anyone with a bachelor’s degree can enroll, and when they graduate they will be able to hang out their shingle and become practitioners of Maharishi’s Ayur-Veda. They can prescribe, they can treat, they can do anything they want, just like any other health profession. This is a major breakthrough. . . .We’ve been talking to the State of Massachusetts Board of Education and they have given us more or less complete assurance that that accreditation of the Maharishi Vedic University’s graduate degree programs will happen. . . .In fact, they seem even more keen on it than we are.”


Not so, says Tossie Taylor, PhD, associate vice chancellor for independent institutions at the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “We have accepted some paperwork from them, but we haven’t conducted a review nor have we done all the things we generally do in the process of granting accreditation. We have given them no such assurance,” Taylor says. 


 

Breaking Into Prisons 

 

Such premature–and often wrong–public announcements appear to be a promotional tactic used by the TM movement. On January 29, a press conference was held in Tucson, Ariz, to announce that TM representatives were about to meet with the director of Arizona’s Department of Corrections to discuss setting up a program to teach prisoners TM. The next day, The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix daily newspaper, reported this claim and quoted Charles H. Alexander, PhD, a psychologist at Maharishi International University, as saying that “right now, TM is the only effective way of rehabilitating prisoners.”


The media event angered corrections department officials. According to John R. Thompson, administrator of pastoral activities, the press conference took place “before any conversations with representatives of the department were held. . . .It seems to have been a strategy to put pressure on the department to respond to TM’s proposal.”


Thompson says that they investigated other prison systems in which TM had been used and received negative and uncomplimentary reports. At the meeting with TM representatives, “it was made clear that the Arizona Department of Corrections was not interested in their proposal,” says Thompson.”If and when funds become available for rehabilitation programs, TM will not be considered for such purposes.” 


 

Maharishi Ayur-Veda at the NIH 

 

An introductory free seminar on Maharishi Ayur-Veda is being offered every month at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md, says a recorded telephone announcement from the Ayurvedic Health Education Services in Bethesda. This claim appears to be true if somewhat misleading.


According to public information specialist Donald Ralbovsky, an NIH staff member has obtained permission to use a conference room after hours for the seminars. The NIH has no policy restricting use of space on its campus, even for groups that want to use it to promote unproven health products, Ralbovsky says.


The NIH had been a target of TM exploitation before. The World Medical Association for Perfect Health, Washington, DC (not to be confused with the World Medical Association, based on Ferney-Voltaire, France), one of TM’s many front groups, issued a news release dated October 15, 1985, that claimed that Thomas E. Malone, MD, then deputy director of the NIH, had chaired an NIH conference on MaharishiAyur-Veda.


According to Malone, who is now vice president for biomedical research at the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC, he had been approached by TM representatives and asked to set up a meeting with Triguna and anyone at the NIH who might be interested in hearing what they had to say. Malone says he never chaired a conference on Maharishi Ayur-Veda.


Nevertheless, the July 25, 1985, issue of The Uptown Citizen (Washington, DC) quotes Malone as saying: “I am convinced that the meditation being practiced here and the utilization of natural law can prevent disease . . .As I sat listening to the various speakers I could but wonder what will happen in the future when we see this movement spreading out to all the centers of the earth and what a great impact it will make for man’s happiness.”


“They twisted my words and made up those quotes,” Malone says. “It appears that’s how they do things. “He is “dismayed,” he says, that the promoters of TM would exploit scientists who are willing to listen to their claims. 


 

Expensive Flights of Fancy 

 

The TM movement similarly exploits other scientific institutions and universities that lend or rent their facilities for TM events. Their names are prominently displayed in advertisements, giving the impression that the events are sponsored by the institutions.


One extremely profitable example, reported in The Skeptical Inquirer (1980; 4:7-8), involved the rental of a gymnasium at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst during the summer of 1979 for TM’s yogic flying courses. Three thousand students enrolled, one third of whom paid $3000 each to learn the Maharishi’s TM-Sidhi program. According to promotional materials, the TM-Sidhi program allows one to master the forces of nature to become invisible, walk through walls, fly through the air, and have “the strength of an elephant.” The Skeptical Inquirer article says that the other students learned more down-to-earth TM skills for $800-$1000 tuition and that the TM movement reaped between $ 3 million and $ 5 million, before expenses, from the courses at the University of Massachusetts. 


 

How Cost Effective?

 

Whether Maharishi Ayur-Veda products do any good or not, they are hardly as cost effective as their promoters claim. While Chopra claims that their treatments cost “a lot less than a single day in the hospital or a hotel, even,” the cost of just one of the products he recommends, Maharishi Amrit Kalash, is approximately $1000 for a 1-year personal supply. By comparison, according to federal sources, the total cost for health care in the United States in 1989 was $2500 per person.


A few of the other products and services recommended just to maintain health include TM and TM-Sidhi instruction, which costs $3400, the Maharishi Psychophysiological and Primordial Sound Techniques for $1400, and 7 days of panchakarma (cleansing programs that use oil massages and enemas to rid the body of its “ama”–the “foul-smelling, sticky, noxious residue” that otherwise accumulates, according to Chopra) repeated three times a year for $2700 to $6600 or more.


However, the costs of Maharishi Ayur-Veda can rise steeply in case of actual illness. Patients with serious illnesses often pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for gemstones prescribed by Jyotish consultants (Hindu astrologers) at Chopra’s Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center in Lancaster. According to former movement members, they also may be asked to pay thousands of dollars for a “yagya,” which is a religious ceremony performed to solicit the aid of one or more Hindu deities. Patients who pay for these ceremonies do not take part in them or even get to see them performed, say the ex-members.


During an interview in June, Chopra denied that yagyas are part of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda program. Nevertheless, there are many references in Maharishi Ayur-Veda literature that describe yagyas as one of “the 20 different treatment approaches” available to patients. In a US Internal Revenue Service document (form 1023) dated September 10, 1987, and signed by Chopra as a trustee, yagyas are identified as one of 20 research activities of the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation.


In a written reply to questions about their recommending yagyas, Chopra said that while their literature may describe yagyas as one of their 20 different treatment approaches, they don’t prescribe them to patients. However, according to the July/August 1991 National Council Against Health Fraud newsletter, and the fall 1990 newsletter of TM-Ex, a support organization for former movement members in Arlington, Va, “a yagya prescribed for endometriosis was priced at $11500” for one patient, although a “less than recommended’ yagya was also available for $8500, as was a $3300 yagya that would suffice.” JAMA has obtained a copy of one Marharishi Jyotish Gem/Yagya Analysis for a patient. According to the analysis, the patient’s Jyotish horoscope indicated that she needed two kinds of yagyas for her health, one to be performed then and another “every birthday ” It also recommended that she purchase gems that cost between $2000 and $3000. The recommendations appear on a Maharishi Ayurveda Association of America form. The address and telephone number on the form is the same as Chopra’s at the American Association for Ayurvedic Medicine. Asked to explain this document, Maharishi Ayur-Veda director of public relations Draznin says that because the operations and staff of these organizations are modest, they have to share the same office and telephone number, so the document doesn’t prove anything. 


 

Maharishi Physicians Face Charges

 

Two physicians who are the chief promoters of Maharishi Ayur-Veda in Great Britain have been charged with “serious professional misconduct” by the Professional Conduct Committee of the General Medical Council in London.


According to British newspaper accounts, evidence was presented at the hearing that allegedly shows the physicians promoted and sold “worthless” herbal remedies as an effective treatment for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Laboratory analyses presented by Timothy Langdale, counsel for the General Medical Council, showed some of the herbal preparations were composed of plant material, fungus, feces, and bacteria, which may have caused the gastrointestinal problems reported by the patient (now deceased) with AIDS, on whose behalf the charges were brought.


According to the newspaper accounts, persons with AIDS were charged $500 a month for the herbal remedies. In addition, they were persuaded to spend hundreds of dollars more to learn TM. Some also were encouraged to discontinue taking the AIDS drug zidovudine.


The physicians charged with these actions are Leslie Davis, MA, MB, BCh, FRCS, who said he is dean of physiology at the Marishi University of Natural Law, Bedfordshire, and Roger A. Chalmers, MA, MB, BCh, MRCP, who advertised himself as the dean of medicine at the new Maharishi Ayur-Veda College of Natural Medicine and president of the World Association for Perfect Health in Bedfordshire. The schools are not recognized by the General Medical Council or other accrediting agency.


Davis has been charged with seven counts and Chalmers with six. Among other charges, they are accused of giving dietary advice that could endanger the health of patients with AIDS and of distributing promotional literature that boasted of a weight gain of 6 kg and other improvements in the health of a patient who was already dead.


The hearing, which began in July, has been postponed until October 21. Chalmers would not comment about the proceedings or charges against him. Le Brasseurs, the London solicitors firm that represents the Medical Protection Society, of which Chalmers is a member, wrote to JAMA that the above account “does not in any way present a fair reflection of the evidence in toto. We cannot comment further while the case is still pending.” According to Chopra, “the testimony on fecal contamination was totally refuted to the satisfaction of all experts.” He would not say how it was refuted nor who these experts were. Sources close to the hearing in England say they have no idea what Chopra is referring to.


While the promoters of Maharishi Ayur-Veda in the United States do not openly claim to be able to cure AIDS, they do claim that their system offers “unprecedented advances in its management” and that scientific evidence suggests their herbal product Maharishi Amrit Kalash can alleviate many AIDS-related symptoms and protect against opportunistic infections.


After receiving the newspaper reports of fecal and bacterial contamination of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda remedies in Great Britain, the US Food and Drug Administration has decided to investigate the Marishi herbal products sold here, says press officer Brad Stone. 


 

Physics and Mystical Medicine 

 

Some of those have been favorably impressed by books and presentations on Marishi Ayur-Veda say they are intrigued by the apparent connection between the discoveries of quantum physics and the mysticism behind the healing system. In his 1990 book Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide, Chopra claims that the practices of TM and Maharishi Ayur-Veda are supported by quantum physics, and refers readers who want “more insights into these ideas” to The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Inc; 1982) by the eminent physicist Heinz R. Pagels, PhD.


In that book, however, the physicist denounced as “nonsense” attempts to tie quantum physics to Eastern mysticism. He wrote, “Individuals who make such claims have substituted a wishfulfilling fantasy for understanding.”


In his capacity as executive director of the New York Academy of Science in 1986, Pagels submitted an affidavit on behalf of a former TM member who was suing the movement for fraud. “There is no known connection between meditation states and states of matter in physics,” Pagels wrote. “No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud. . . .The presentation of the ideas of modern physics side by side, and apparently supportive of, the ideas of the Maharishi about pure consciousness was only be intended to deceive those who might not know any better. . . . To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics, the labor of generations of scientists, so willfully perverted provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions.” 


 

Mastering the ‘SIMS Shuffle’

 

In his book Return of the Rishi (Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin Co; 1988:139), Chopra repeats an old Indian saying, “Four things in life you must cherish: first the guru, then your parents, next your wife and children, and finally your nation. “Former members of the TM movement say their belief in the Maharishi was so great that they would have done anything the guru asked.


Ex-members say that the movement widely practices a style of deception some call the “SIMS shuffle. “Curtis Mailloux, a former member who lives in Fairfax, Va, says the name is derived from the Student International Meditation Society, one of the Maharishi’s front groups, where many members develop this skill. Mailloux says he “left the cult” in 1989 after 15 years. As a former TM teacher and chair of the TM center in Washington, DC, the largest in the United States, he is one of the highest ranking members to defect.


“I was taught to lie and to get around the pretty rules of the ‘unenlightened’ in order to get favorable reports into the media,” says Mailloux. “We were taught how to exploit the reporters’ gullibility and fascination with the exotic, especially what comes from the East. We thought we weren’t doing anything wrong, because we were told it was often necessary to deceive the unenlightened to advance our guru’s plan to save the world.”– by Andrew A. Skolnick

Does transcendental meditation to help veterans with PTSD?

By Steve Vogel

This story has been updated.
Seeking new ways to treat post-traumatic stress, the Department of Veteran Affairs is studying the use of transcendental meditation to help returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The reality is not all individuals we see are treatable by the techniques we use,” said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, told a summit on the use of TM to treat post traumatic stress Thursday in Washington.
The VA is spending about $5 million on a dozen trials involving several hundred veterans from a range of conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Results from the trials will not be available for another 12 to 18 months.
But Gould said he was “encouraged” by the results of trials which were presented at the summit.
Two independent pilot studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showed a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress after eight weeks, according to the summit’s sponsor, the David Lynch Foundation, a charitable organization founded by the American filmmaker and television director.

Results from the initial phase of a long-term trial investigating the effects of Transcendental Meditation on 60 cadets at Norwich University, a private military college in Vermont, have been encouraging, school officials said at the summit, held at The Army and Navy Club.
Students practising TM showed measurable improvement in the areas of academic performance and discipline over a control group. “The statistical effect we found in only two months was surprisingly large,” Carole Bandy, an associate professor of psychology who is directing the study at the university, said at the summit.
“For us, it’s all about the evidence,” said Richard W. Schneider, president of the university, who added that he was a skeptic before the trial began.
“Conventional approaches fall woefully short of the mark, so we clearly need a new approach,” Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School.
Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the foundation, is providing TM training to troops recovering from wounds at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Troops report “dramatic improvements” in sleep, according to the foundation, as well as significant reductions in pain, stress and the use of prescription medications
Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet,” “Mullholland Drive” and the television series “Twin Peaks,” is a longtime practitioner of TM, a meditative practice advocates say helps manage stress and depression.
By Steve Vogel  |  02:45 PM ET, 05/03/2012