Friday, January 19, 2007

The Guru's Guinea Pigs: The Maharishi and "Impermissible Experiments"

First there was the recent submission on the Transcendental Meditation Age of Enlightenment techniques. Then followed the lively discussion pointing out that the Maharishi tried first one version then another on unsuspecting 6-Month course participants.

The guy was basically making it up as he went along. If one thing didn't work, why then he'd try something else. Older readers here may remember that the Maharishi referred to the Age of Enlightenment techniques and the later sidhis as "research experiments into consciousness" after all.

As Joseppi justly pointed out, we were just lab rats to the Maharishi. Worse, we were paying lab rats. We paid not only the equivalent of $25,000 in today's money, we paid in time from our lives. And some of us paid in psychological damage from "spiritual" experiments that the Maharishi had no idea how they would turn out. Until we lined up to sip the psychological Kool Aid.

This isn't just morally wrong. It's criminal.

After the Nazi horrors of World War II, during which Nazi scientists experimented medically and psychologically on Jews and others, the world reacted with shock. They passed the Nuremberg Code of Ethics, parts of which were later incorporated into the Geneva Conventions. International law made it illegal to perform any type of human experimentation without the informed consent of participants. Informed consent requires that "test subjects" be told in advance that they are taking part in experimental procedures – and the possible side effects. "Impermissible experiments" on humans explicitly included not just medical, but psychological experimentation as well.

From the victims of the Maharishi's experiments known as the Fiuggi Flipouts, to the course participants of the 6-Month Course, to the continuing experiments of Ayur Veda and even the million-dollar Raja course, the Maharishi is conducting impermissible experiments on unsuspecting human subjects.

Not informing us that he is experimenting, that there are unknown risks and dangers to physical and mental well-being – that he is in fact making it up as he goes along – is a crime against humanity.

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