First of Two Parts


To LORD NARAYANA, to lotus-born BRAHMA, the Creator … to GOVINDA, ruler among the yogis, to his disciple; SHRI SHANKARACHARYA, … to the tradition of our MASTERS, I bow down.
… To the personified glory of the Lord, to SHANKARA, emancipator of the world, I bow down
To SHANKARACHARYA the redeemer, hailed as KRISHNA and BADARAYANA, to the commentator of the BRAHMA SUTRAS, I bow down.
To the glory of the Lord I bow down again and again, at whose door the whole galaxy of gods pray for perfection day and night.
Adorned with immeasurable glory, preceptor of the whole world, having bowed down to Him we gain fulfillment.
Skilled in dispelling the cloud of ignorance of the people, the gentle emancipator, BRAHMANANDA SARASVATI, the supreme teacher, full of brilliance, Him I bring to my awareness.
Offering the invocation to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, I bow down.…
Offering cloth to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, I bow down.…
Offering a flower to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, I bow down.
Offering incense to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, I bow down.…
Offering fruit to the lotus feet of SHRI GURU DEV, I bow down.…
Offering camphor light
White as camphor, kindness incarnate, the essence of creation garlanded with BRAHMAN, ever dwelling in the lotus of my heart, the creative impulse of cosmic life, to That, in the form of GURU DEV, I bow down.…
Offering a handful of flowers
GURU in the glory of BRAHMA, GURU in the glory of VISHNU, GURU in the glory of the great LORD SHIVA, GURU in the glory of the personified transcendental fullness of BRAHMAN, to Him, to SHRI GURU DEV adorned with glory, I bow down.

This translated excerpt of the hymn chanted in Sanscrit by the teacher during the initiation into Transcendental Meditation identifies the initiation as a traditional Hindu “puja” or worship ceremony. It is also apparent from this text that the particular Hindu tradition followed is that of Shankara, the ninth-century Hindu philosopher-reformer whose non-dualist doctrine of the unity of all being (monism) is perhaps the most widely held view of reality in modern Hinduism. The primary focus of worship, however, is not Shankara himself but his most recently acknowledged successor, the late Brahmananda Saraswati or Guru Dev.

Under the form of Guru Dev (whose pictured image is on the altar during the “puja”), the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu, And Shiva are worshipped as manifestations of the formless absolute, Brahman. Guru Dev is the dead master of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose Transcendental Meditation is made available to would-be meditators only if they bring, in addition to the course fee, the flowers, fruit, and cloth (a handkerchief) offered to Guru Dev in the initiation ceremony. Novice meditators normally are also expected to join their teacher in kneeling before the image of Guru Dev in order to receive mantra, the secret Sanscrit word by means of which they are to meditate twice daily for twenty minutes. What the Bible designates as “others gods” (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) are worshiped in this ceremony, and the worshiper bows down to an image representing deity in the form of mortal man, the picture of Guru Dev. This means that initiation into TM requires formal involvement in violations of the First and Second Commandments.

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Because few understand Sanscrit and because Maharishi and his teachers keep insisting that TM has nothing to do with religion, most meditators are ignorant of the full significance of the initiation ceremony required of them. Maharishi International University (MIU) professor Jonathan Shear says of the initiation ceremony that “as any teacher of the TM technique will tell you, it is not a religious ceremony at all. In no way does it involve religious belief.…” Professor Shear is well aware of the religious content of the ceremony. His statement is an attempt to mislead those who are ignorant of it. This is typical of the deception practiced by TM teachers in general; they deny what is apparent to all who understand the text of the hymn cited above, that TM at its core is a Hindu religious practice.

Although it has long been apparent that TM is a way to union with “God” or Brahman through the recitation of a mantra (mantrum yoga), the publication of the translated text of the “puja” (excerpted above) by the Spiritual Counterfeits Project of Berkeley Christian Coalition (formerly CWLF) makes it apparent that a system of devotion to guru and gods (bhakti yoga) is also integral to TM. The doctrinal aspect of Maharishi’s system of yoga is called Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI). SCI includes a restatement of quasi-scientific language of the postulates of Shankara’s monism: the unity of all being, the identity of the soul and the essence of being, and the place of yoga as the means to experience the identity of soul and “Being” (atman and Brahman). For the meditator who gains enlightenment by means of the knowledge of SCI and the practice of TM in “cosmic” or “God” consciousness, the final goal is that of traditional Hinduism, according to Maharishi’s writings. The “enlightened” man at death gains Moksha or “liberation” from the cycle of reincarnation as the soul rejoins the “bliss consciousness” of Brahman.

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Maharishi’s teaching of TM conflicts with Christianity in its view of God, in its view of man, and in its view of the way to reach God. Maharishi does not acknowledge the personal God and Creator as supreme, and by accepting the monist postulate that “All is One” he denies the Creator-creature distinction fundamental to the biblical revelation of God. The highest being is held to be impersonal and is known in SCI as the “field of Creative Intelligence” rather than by its traditional Hindu name of Brahman. Maharishi views man not as a sinner helpless to save himself from God’s judgment but as an autonomous being capable of experiencing his own divinity. The way to experience man’s divinity is to take part in a system of works based on practices of meditation (TM) and devotion rather than to place faith, through God’s grace, in the atoning death of Jesus Christ for the sins of men.

By persistently denying the religious significance of TM and of its initiation ceremony, Maharishi has succeeded in expanding his movement rapidly in the United States, where he has had his greatest success, and around the world. In the United States alone, more than 700,000 people have been taught TM since 1965. Thirty thousand Americans are reportedly initiated into TM every month. The Student’s International Meditation Society (SIMS) of the Maharishi reportedly received $14 million during the fiscal year ending September 30, 1974. At the present rate of initiation, SIMS income from initiation fees alone would reach about $36 million a year.

Flexibility and growth are certainly hallmarks of Maharishi’s movement. Its official name of incorporation as a non-profit educational organization in California was changed in 1974 to World Plan Executive Council (WPEC). Other organizational names in prominent use are Student’s International Meditation Society (SIMS), International Meditation Society (IMS), American Foundation for the Science of Creative Intelligence (AFSCI), and Spiritual Regeneration Movement (SRM). Specialized fronts for taking TM to particular groups judged open to a missionary thrust may be generated overnight. Black TM Centers, Incorporated, for example, is a group formed especially to take TM to the black community.

The world-wide outreach of Maharishi’s missionary Hinduism, called simply the “World Plan,” has headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland. This ambitious plan has the purpose of making TM available to every person in the world. It calls for establishing 3,600 SCI teacher training centers around the world—one center for every million persons. The centers are to train one teacher of SCI for every 1,000 persons. In the United States the quota of 280 centers has been far surpassed; there are 370 World Plan centers. Six thousand Americans have been trained by Maharishi as TM teachers.

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The seven substantive goals of the World Plan include these: “(5) To solve the problems of crime, drug abuse, and all behavior that brings unhappiness to the family of man. (6) To bring fulfillment to the economic aspirations of individuals and society. (7) To achieve the spiritual goals of mankind in this generation.” While Christians taking the realistic, biblical view of the fallen nature of man may be sure that such millenarian goals will not be attained before the Second Coming of Christ, they should not underestimate the attractiveness of such goals to those educated in a milieu dominated by secular humanism. The 1975 session of Congress, for example, saw Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) introduce a measure (SR-64) that would put the U.S. Congress on record as affirming that all seven World Plan goals are attainable by means of Maharishi’s SCI. Other senators who have entered favorable statements about Maharishi’s programs in the Congressional Record include Adlai Stevenson III (D-Ill.) and John Tunney (D-Calif.). Ten U.S. senators and congressmen reportedly practice TM. Senator Charles Percy (R-Ill.) and Congressman Richard Nolan (D-Minn.) are two who publicly acknowledge the practice. Senator Tunney’s laudatory statement about Maharishi International University (MIU) in the Congressional Record serves as a kind of quasi-official imprimatur on the concluding pages of the MIU catalogue.

Maharishi International University (MIU) is a key element in fulfilling the World Plan. It occupies a 185-acre campus in Fairfield, Iowa, bought for $2.5 million in 1974. Faculty, students, and even the janitors practice TM. All students must qualify as teachers of TM before graduation. All courses are integrated by the monist world view of Shankara and by the experience of TM, which is held to verify Shankara’s teaching directly. Of the two doctoral programs listed in last year’s catalogue, one is in the Hindu Scriptures, the Vedas, while the other is in the “Psychophysiology of Evolving Consciousness.” This year 600 students are pursuing “enlightenment” at MIU. They are being formed into an elite band of missionaries committed to the worldwide spread of SCI and TM.

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In its pursuit of governmental support for the World Plan, Maharishi’s World Plan Executive Council has been rewarded by expressions of official approval from several states and more than fifty cities. Maharishi has addressed the legislatures of Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Iowa. A California Assembly resolution encouraging the use of SCI and TM in state schools, however, died in committee early in 1974. It had drawn fire from Christian groups as unconstitutional support of sectarian doctrine and practice.

According to a Time cover story on Maharishi (October 13, 1975), seventeen research grants involving TM have been funded by the federal government. They include the following:

1. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism granted $72,000 for training in TM for thirty alcoholics in the Washington, D.C., area.

2. Federal funds of $35,000 were provided for a Title III educational research program in New Jersey schools training 150 students in TM.

3. State and federal grants totaling $29,000 for training in TM were made to the South County Regional World-Study Program in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

In the United States, TM was first introduced as an extra-curricular course at the high school level in Eastchester, New York, in January, 1971, under the direction of school superintendent Dr. Francis G. Driscoll. In the fall of 1971, the SCI course was introduced for regular credit at this school. The Dade County Public School System (Miami, Florida) offered the SCI course to twenty-two teachers in 1973 preparatory to offering it to students. TM is made available to these SCI students as an “optional lab.” TM has been offered as a separate course in itself in some schools at levels as low as the primary grades. Through the fall of 1975, approximately twenty-five high schools offered SCI as a regular course. Introductory lectures offering TM on an extra-curricular basis have been presented much more widely at many schools where the integrated SCI/TM course has not been presented. SCI is the academic part of the course while TM is called the laboratory-

Much of the impetus for teaching TM in public schools has come from preliminary research indicating that drug-users who persist in meditation tend to reduce their use of drugs. However, since many drug-abusers are not interested in practicing TM, and others drop out after starting it, the notion that TM is an effective solution to the drug-abuse problem is an illusion.

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Opposition to the teaching of SCI and TM in public schools on grounds that its concealed religious aspect violates constitutional guarantees against sectarian indoctrination at public expense has emerged, notably in California and New Jersey. In California, Lutheran pastor William Grunow filed a class action suit in the superior court for the County of Alameda against the San Lorenzo Unified School District over the teaching of TM to fourteen seventh-graders in 1974–5 and the teaching of an SCI course at San Lorenzo High School. In view of the lawsuit, the school district filed a declaration with the judge promising never again to recommend these courses. A legal precedent is still lacking, unfortunately, since the court found it unnecessary to rule on the plaintiffs’s suit in view of the defendant’s promise to oppose teaching SCI and TM in the future. Even so, educators who become aware of the San Lorenzo court action will be cautious about committing themselves to courses likely to provoke legal action.

Another lawsuit opposing SCI and TM in public schools is pending in New Jersey, where the federal government (which has provided funds for teaching SCI in New Jersey) is among the defendants. The Counterfeits Project has provided plaintiffs with information developed for the San Lorenzo court action. It is hoped that the New Jersey case will bring a definitive legal judgment on the issues involved.

Maharishi has had an extremely favorable press treatment, though recently the very success of his movement seems to have brought about some critical scrutiny. Favorable feature articles on TM have appeared in many magazines, ranging from Mademoiselle to Soldier’s (the official U.S. Army magazine). Academic, scientific, and business journals have also published favorable reports along with occasional adverse comments and a few critical articles. Time’s cover story for October 13, 1975, was on Maharishi.

A major breakthrough on commercial television came in April, 1975, when Maharishi was interviewed by Merv Griffin (a new and enthusiastic meditator) on Griffin’s talk show. Other guests giving testimonials for TM on that show were TV actress Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton), California state senator Arlen Gregorio, and psychiatrist-TM teacher Harold Bloomfield. Because of the show’s great success, another was taped for release on Halloween, 1975. Special guest meditators for the second show were film actor Clint Eastwood, television personality Mary Tyler Moore, psychiatrist Bernard Glueck, and Minnesota congressman Richard N. Nolan.

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The April Griffin interview with Maharishi was significant also for a revealing remark made by the guru. It was observed that a drug offender had been sentenced to four years of TM by a judge in Detroit, Michigan. Maharishi’s enthusiastic comment was: “This is the judgment of the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment where the man is forced to develop his pure consciousness by law. This is the law of the Age of Enlightenment. By penalty he is forced to evolve” (emphasis mine). The unchanging law of the “Age of Enlightenment” that Maharishi has been heralding since January, 1975, is, “… gain the knowledge of Science of Creative Intelligence and practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day” (Western TM Reporter, Summer, 1974, p. 10). What will become of those who reject the knowledge of SCI and the practice of TM as a matter of conscience? The answer has not been stated directly, but Maharishi has said:

There has not been and there will not be a place for the unfit. The fit will lead, and if the unfit are not coming along there is no place for them In the Age of Enlightenment there is no place for ignorant people. The ignorant will be made enlightened by a few orderly, enlightened people moving around [Atlanta Gazette, April 2, 1975, p. 17],

Maharishi’s “Age of Englightenment” apparently is not to be characterized by tolerance for opposing points of view.

In addition to favorable publicity on commercial TV, the WPEC has recently gained educational TV channels on both coasts of the United States. These stations can broadcast the videotaped lectures of Maharishi presenting the principles of the Hindu monism of Shankara as the “Science of Creative Intelligence.” They may also develop programs with meditating public figures such as singers Stevie Wonder and Peggy Lee and sports stars Joe Namath, Bill Walton, and Craig Lincoln.

The two best-selling books promoting TM appeared last year. In hard cover, TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress by Harold Bloomfield, Michael Cain, and Dennis Jaffe was the third best non-fiction seller nationwide for 1975. Chapters two and seven of this book are valuable for their choice examples of the postulates of Hindu monism translated into psychological terminology. In soft cover, The TM Book by Denise Denniston and Peter McWilliams sugar-coats the TM pill with the usual religious disclaimer, graphs of research studies, and whimsical illustrations by Barry Geller. The TM Book begins with the assertion “TM does not involve religious beliefs.” In answer to the questions “Does TM conflict with any form of religion?” testimonial letters from a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest, and a Lutheran theologian who practice TM are presented. Two of these letters will be considered later in this article.

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The American Foundation for the Science of Creative Intelligence (AFSCI) was formed to take the message of TM to business corporations. It is claimed that TM increases efficiency and job satisfaction among employees and is even more helpful in relieving the tensions of managers. AFSCI has succeeded in convincing corporations like AT&T and General Foods to offer the TM course to their employees.

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