Sometimes, I forget that not everyone is aware of all the information on the Transcendental Meditation that has been released over the years.
Sunday, I spent some hours being interviewed on my counseling work with former members of the TM Org. I happened to bring one document that amazed the interviewer.
While many former members believe the Maharishi was a "simple monk" who had no idea of the damage meditators were reporting from extended meditations of up to 8 hours a day, below is evidence he knew.
And didn't care.
The interviewer couldn't believe that not only was meditation known by the Maharishi to be dangerous for some individuals, but nothing was done to help such individuals by the Maharishi's "spiritual" movement.
Below is a signed, 1986 affirmation from Attorney Anthony D. DeNaro, equivalent to a sworn affidavit presented to Judge Gasch of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as part of Robert Kropinsky's civil suit, #85-2848. (You may view the facsimile GIF here.)
In this document, DeNaro alleges -- with force of sworn testimony -- "a very serious and deliberate pattern of fraud, designed ... to misrepresent the TM movement as a science (not as a cult), and fraudulently claim and obtain tax exempt status with the IRS." Further he states that early accreditation of MIU was due to "a clear conflict of interest" on the part of the Chairman of North Central's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Other quotes from the affidavit that highlight important themes: "A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome, and even outright lies and deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing techniques). "The Movement, the defendants, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, WPEC-US, and Maharishi International University (MIU) were so committed to advancing the organization and its ideology that they were, and are, very willing to violate the law and engage in criminal behavior." "I've also read the affidavit of Bevan H. Morris, President of MIU, and find that it is replete with transparently false statements." "The consequences of intensive, or even regular, meditation was so damaging and disruptive to the nervous system, that students could not enroll in, or continue with, regular academic programs." Finally DeNaro clearly believed that the Maharishi personally knew of, and was therefore responsible for, the damge being done in the name of his organizations. "[He] was aware, apparently for some time, of the problem, suicide attempts, assaults, homicidal ideation, serious psychotic episodes, depressions, inter alia[among others], but his general attitude was to leave it alone or conceal it because the community would lose faith in the TM movement. 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.'"
ANTHONY D. DENARO, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York, affirms under penalties of perjury that: 1. I reside at 151 Littleworth Lane, Sea Cliff, New York 11579.
2. On or about August 1975 I was invited to the MIU campus in Fairfield, Iowa by Steve Drucker, an attorney at law, who was Executive Vice President of, Maharishi International University.
3. I was hired as a professor of law and economics, and began teaching in September 1975. However, I returned home briefly (Long Island) to complete travel arrangements, arrange to lease our house to tenants, and bring my wife to the campus.
4. Prior to coming to MIU I was a professor of law and economics at Hofstra University, Adelphi University Graduate School, and Cornell University School of Labor and Industrial Relations. I was admitted to practice in New York in 1964, and began teaching law and economics at graduate and undergraduate levels in September 1964.
5. On November 21, 1975 I began work as Director of Grants Administration at MIU, and had over-all responsibility for all of the grants and funding programs including World Plan Executive Council- United States (WPEC-US). I was also legal counsel and reported directly to either Ed Tarabilda, Vice President of Legal Affairs and/or Steve Druker, Executive Vice President. In addition, I had a full time teaching schedule in economics and business law. Prior to coming to MIU I was initiated into the practice of TM. My wife worked at MIU as an administrator and researcher, and we resided in Frat #108. I continued to work as a professor of law and economics until my last day on campus, July 13, 1975.
6. Within a week, after reviewing tax matters and previously submitted grant applications to federal, state and private agencies (public and private) it was obvious to me that organization was so deeply immersed in a systematic, wilful pattern of fraud including tax fraud, lobbying problems and other deceptions, that it was ethically impossible for me to become involved further as legal counsel. I discussed this with Steve Druker, but agreed to remain as Director of Grants provided certain conditions and restrictions were met. In practice, however, because I recognized a very serious and deliberate pattern of fraud, designed, in part, to misrepresent the TM movement as a science (not as a cult), and fraudulently claim and obtain tax exempt status with the IRS, I was a lame duck Director of Grants Administration. The only project I initiated was an internal education program with valid and rigorous academic and scholarly demands. (Not very popular with many of the faculty, who were inclined more towards mysticism than academically sound content). In effect, I was nominally Director of Grants, and when time permitted I attended outside symposia for grants procurement. As noted, the fraud and deceptions vis a vis IRS and government agencies was so systematic and wilful, and known to lawyers Steve Druker and Ed Tarabilda, that it was not ethically possible to work in this capacity. Occassionally[sic], on an ad hoc basis, where the legal issues did not present any ethical question, I was able to render legal service. No part of any information disclosed here is privileged, and was not obtained through an attorney- client relationship.
6.[sic] I continued as professor of law and economics, and nominally (except for a limited, strictly academic proposal) as Director of Grants, and, in effect, quit as legal counsel to MIU and WPEC-US before December 1975.
7. In my capacity as professor, Sy (Seymour) Migdal, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Faculty Affairs tried to exercise improper and academically unsound control over the curricula. Ultimately all of the course content in any discipline was controlled by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Business law and economics was somehow, through some tortured manipulation and drastic tampering with content, supposed to be subordinate to SCI, Science of Creative Intelligence. SCI in reality was a peculiar blend of mysticism, voodoo academics, bastardized Hinduism (bona fide religious Hindus and gurus are appalled by the debasement of a major world religion), hucksterism, pop-philosophy and pseudo-science. For example, in a basic macro-micro economics, first year course, I've been teaching for ten (10) years at Hofstra University, I spent a little time on Irving Fisher (1867-1947), a professor of economics known for his quantity theory of money. Fisher is a useful bridge for understanding John Maynard Keynes. Sy Migdal wanted me to teach some esoteric mysticism Fisher apparently was involved in, and delete the only real economic content of the course. This would be somewhat analogous to teaching about Einstein's stamp-collection or, worse, demon worship, for example, of a pioneering medical researcher like Pasteur. In sum, the course would have little academic merit if Migdal and the Maharishi had their way. The normal criteria and obstacles towards acquiring accreditation from North Central States Associates of Colleges and Universities was surmounted in large measure, to the best of my knowledge and belief, by their association with Paul Silverman, Chairman of North Central's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Professor Silverman was a trustee of MIU, a clear conflict of interest. Per letter for distribution to the trustees and others of November 25, 1975, Ed Tarabilda, an attorney, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, writes that Paul Silverman is being nominated for trustee: "As you know, Paul Silverman serves as the Chairman of North Central's Commission on Instructions of Higher Education, and was very influential in our gaining the status of candidacy for accreditation." Migdal, Druker, Tarabilda and the Maharishi, for example, relied heavily in their contact and relationship with Silverman to acquire accreditation. In reality, the course content, syllabi, course descriptions were so seriously tampered with and camouflaged to make them appear bona fide and academically sound, that a wilful, systematic fraud was present. The course in every discipline, humanities, arts, social and behavioral sciences, and the physical sciences, which had to be subordinate to SCI, were essentially worthless. The final arbiter, who exercised day-to-day control over curricula and content was Maharishi. The control was exercised by telex and telephone even when Maharishi was at MERU in Switzerland or elsewhere. In psychology, the manipulative adulteration and dilution of the course was so substantial, as to constitute a hazard to the usually impressionable and naive students. Maharishi personally told me in early December 1975 that western psychology was "no good" and not "natural." The only course with real academic content, to my knowledge, were the ones I taught, since I insisted on teaching undiluted and unfiltered economics and law without the over-riding ideology of SCI. It is inconceivable that the curricula and course materials could have received proper scrutiny and evaluation by the accreditation committee.
9. The deliberate pattern and practice of fraud, deceit and misrepresentation by knowledgeable, aware, educated and intelligent people, including lawyers, Tarabilda and Druker in tax (IRS) matters, corruption of the curricula, inter alia, is very pertinent and material to understanding and gaining some insight into how and why the practices of the defendants was able to continue without interruption for so long. It also suggests why they are seeking to cover-up a very substantial and injurious pattern of deception, fraud and corruption: They demonstrate, for example, that:
a) The Movement, the defendants, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, WPEC-US, and Maharishi International University (MIU) were so committed to advancing the organization and its ideology that they were, and are, very willing to violate the law and engage in criminal behavior;
b) Essentially the attitude and philosophy was, and, to my knowledge, is now: "anything goes";
c) There is religiously based justification for this criminal conduct in Hindu texts, for example, the colloquy between Arjuna and Lord Krishna;
d) Scienter [informed or guilty knowledge] was clearly present in the frauds, but was justified in the name of a higher ideology, which presumably means they can lie, come into a federal court, and commit perjury;
e) More significantly, an understanding of their wilful deceits and machinations in these areas, provides a useful insight and perspective into the more serious areas resulting in psychological and physical injury to very vulnerable, and easily manipulated young men and women;
f) If it can be demonstrated that the zealous, and often fanatical, educated people, including lawyers associated with the TM cult, are willing, even eager, to engage in an active, deliberate, systematic pattern and practice of major fraud involving hundreds of millions of dollars against the federal government, it might reasonably be inferred that they are willing to deceive and injure (if necessary) innocent and very vulnerable private citizens, i.e., young students; and,
g) Has specific and direct relevance to actual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint.
10. The inside, confidential files and correspondence from and between Edward Tarabilda, attorney for MIU and Charley Egner, State Coordinator-Ohio, 1818 W. Lane Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43221: (614) 486-9298) and IMS (International Meditation Society) and illegal deceits to avoid the consequences of IRS Sec. I-501(c) (3) et seq, sheds important light on a multi-million dollar tax fraud over a couple of decades. See, for example, Charley Egner's letter of 10/25/75 to Edward Tarabilda. Egner writes: ..."the report (for lobbying) was written in the first person, so Guy would seem independent from the organization." (emphasis added) Steven L. Schwartz, an attorney and MIU Director of Legal Affairs, answering in Tarabilda's absence, in his response of 12/17/75 writes: "If you have an 'outside' party willing to lobby...." The letter suggests how to conceal an integral and ineluctable connection of presumably "independent" lobbyists from the TM movement and/or World Plan Center. Similar correspondence between and among Tarabilda or Schwartz, inter alia, Ginny Hafner, Secretary to the midwest regional TM program (RR3, Box 67, Long Grove Road, Barrington, Ill., 60010; (312) 381-1610), letter of 6/23/75, Amy Roosevelt of 124 High St., Denver, Colo. 80218 (303)-722-3825), Tim Gautherat, Chairman of IMS at 248 S. Adams, Birmingham, Mich. 48005 (6/11/75, ltr.), contacts with Lt. Governor Bill Christensen of New Mexico; and, other correspondence with, among others, Jerry Jarvis, Director of WPEC in Los Angeles concerning, for example, the behind-the-scenes lobbying by the secret world-wide network of 108's are particularly instructive on the attitude, ethics and duplicity of high ranking cult leaders and lawyers in pursuit of the Holy Grail.
11. I have read an affidavit consisting of one and a half pages, sworn and subscribed to by Professor John W. Patterson on June 30, 1986, and agree with his observations and conclusions. At para 3, page 1, Professor Patterson suggests more than "gross scientific incompetence" is involved and believes the misrepresentations are the result of "dishonesty, deliberate deceit and fraud." I agree unequivocally. The deceptions are systematic and planned. My personal and professional experience over the last 12 years (since 1975) convince me that the leadership and upper echelon, for a variety of reasons, ideological and economic, has systematically and wilfully deceived the federal government, state and local governments, private and public funding sources and agencies, the students, and inter alia, the general public about the nature, purpose and consequences of the TM-Sidhi and SCI programs. Some deceptions have economic or financial consequences: for example, a massive and deliberate fraud against the federal government. However, a disturbing number of wilful deceits have the potential for serious psychological and physical trauma, particularly among young, impressionable uncritical and very vulnerable young men and women.
12. The deceptions are intricate, fairly sophisticated, intentional, and are mainly designed to sell or market TM. I've also read the affidavit of Bevan H. Morris, President of MIU, and find that it is replete with transparently false statements. Professor Morris, in his 6/19/86 affidavit, resorts to standardized, canned script propaganda, written and disseminated to an uni[n]formed public over the last several decades to support his application. The only genuine observation he makes about the need for confidentiality and protection for a trade secret appears at the end of para. 24-4, i.e. they need the trade secret shield "to protect the economic viability of defendants." Actually there is no difference at all between other meditation techniques, and TM except the much- publicized propaganda and advertising claims. Dr. Robert Benson's Relaxation Response, for example, produces with less time and effort, a safer result. It also spares the meditator from using nonsense mantras with mystical undercurrents. It's also a lot cheaper: a three dollar paperback (or newspaper article) versus $125.00 [now $1,000] for an "exclusive, tailor-made" mantra. (Actually not exclusive, as they falsely and deliberately claimed for years.) The extent and scope of the deception before, during and after becoming "initiated" (their term) into TM-Sidhi programs is so vast and far-reaching with enormous potential for severe injury, and, even death, that it is impossible, within this necessarily abbreviated brief, to document it all. At para. 17, President Morris claims "heightened intellectual clarity." As a professor who taught at MIU that claim is false. The effect is the opposite: a spaced-out, unfocused, zombie-like automaton, incapable of critical thinking is the more usual "benefit" of prolonged meditation. In fact, meditation was used as an excuse (probably valid) by my students for not completing a project much in the way a "virus" or "the flu" debilitates the average college student. The consequences of intensive, or even regular, meditation was so damaging and disruptive to the nervous system, that students could not enroll in, or continue with, regular academic programs. Many of my students offered as an excuse for not being able to sit for an examination or write a paper, the fact that they had a "bad meditation" or just "got off rounding" (group TM) and haven't gotten "back to earth yet."
13. The source of my statement that the deceptions existed, were substantial and material, were intentional, and have detrimental consequences are my personal and professional observations (I lived on campus with faculty, staff and students), internal "secret" correspondence (not privileged), president council meetings, faculty senate meetings, executive sessions and conferences with MIU and WPEC-US hierarchy. The individuals I spoke to included, but are not limited to, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, on or about December 6-9, 1975 on campus (at least two private conferences while he presided over a physics conference at MIU), Keith Wallace ([then])President), Steve Druker, Steve Schwartz, Sy Migdal, Robert Winquist ([then]Vice President), Ed Tarabilda, Dean of Students Dennis Raimundi, Robin Babov, Professors Michael Weinless, Barbara Edison, and Franklin Mason, Vice President David Clay (Vice President of Administration) and psychologist Jonathan Shapiro.
14. A simple review of internal correspondence reflects the inconsistency between the outward, sanitized, "safe" public image they try to present, and the frequently dangerous reality of TM-Sidhi techniques. A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome, and even outright lies and deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing techniques). Euphemisms are employed to describe essentially dangerous, unstable and injurious behavior. "Unstressing," for example, "Baking" is another. For example, a memo dated 5/21/75 from Dean Sluyter, a copy of which is annexed (with original markings and notations) to Jon Shapiro, the head of psychological services, acknowledges that rounding results in bizarre behavior. The memo notes that it includes a recommendation from the President's Council [of MIU].
"The effectiveness of a course leader depends largely on his ability to maintain and manifest a fee[t]-on-the-ground, non-rounding perspective. Constant immersion in the usually "baked" atmosphere of a long rounding course presents a challenge to that perspective. Course leaders in Europe have a notorious tendency to get baked."
Jonathan Shapiro, and other experienced Forest Academy and TTC leaders, in a moment of candor, have personally acknowledged that rounding can result in a nervous breakdown. However, this is not the term they prefer to use.
15. The care and attention devoted to maintaining the right and proper image is illustrated from this excerpt from the President's Council Meeting minutes of 5/28/75.
"The BBC are scheduled to visit MIU on June 3-5 to film a documentary... Everything we can possibly do to prepare for the visit including the elimination of all objects in the Bookstore resembling Indian handicrafts such as tapestries, brass incense holders, etc., and the incense must be discretely displayed. All Indian objects will be removed from the Bookstore. It was felt by members of the Council that MIU must project a conservative image that is, as Jon Shapiro put it, "as American as apple pie." We should be "supersensitive" to what we are doing and it should be a matter of policy that we do not have anything Indian in the Store."
16. The TM-Sidhi movement makes absurd claims that meditation reduces collective stress, crime, violence and assorted social problems. This is contradicted by their own experiences within the MIU community.
a) "Ed Tarabilda wrote a letter to the boy who allegedly stole a Puja [brass, initiation] set suggesting that if he has it in his possession it would be wise to return it." (President's Council Meeting, minutes 7/3/75.)
b) Upon information and belief a married couple experienced psychotic episodes and manifested irrational and bizarre behavior in the summer and early fall of 1975. This may have been related to the following excerpt from the minutes of the President's Council Meeting of 10/15/75.
"The situation of Phil and Madeline Simon was discussed, and the Council agreed that they should be asked to leave the campus immediately. A note to this effect was drawn up and delivered to them by Campus Security. The Council felt it would be better for MIU if they left the state as well. "
c) Another example of how a meditating community reduces crime:
"MIU PERSONNEL CHARGED WITH CRIMES The Council discussed the policy of MIU with regard to volunteers who commit crimes. A recent incident involved the alleged theft of a bicycle from a paper boy by an MIU volunteer who works for Food Services. It was felt by the Council that because MIU is in the eyes of the public at all times, it should not be necessary to retain volunteers who have these kinds of social problems. If guilty he will be asked to leave MIU. (Minutes, Pres. Council Mtg., 7/16/75)"
d) "The case of Gary and Patsy Wells was discussed. This couple has been asked to leave MIU because of unsuitable work and behavior... it was felt we should offer to financially assist them to get to their families in Wichita... (Minutes, Pres. Council Mtg., 10/8/75)"
There were meditators who experienced serious breakdowns during and following meditation. MIU and the counselling staff usually opted for banishment in these cases, although their practices often triggered mental breakdowns. Many students who experienced severe and uncontrollable trauma from meditation came to me for assistance and counselling since Jonathan Shapiro and his staff were punitive and hostile in their "therapeutic" approach. Banishing people who have problems not only from the campus, but attempting to keep them out of the state [Iowa] through extortion, threats or intimidation is not unusual. In many cases, the problems are precipitated or worsened by TM-Sidhi practices and/or by activities of the TM hierarchy. Essentially they cause the problem, blame the victim for his or her breakdown, and then threaten them with injury or other means if they don't leave the state permanently.
17. The affidavit of Joanna Feinberg of 6/20/86 submitted to the USDC is so patently false and joltingly absurd that Mrs. Feinberg must be testifying falsely with scienter or guilty knowledge of its fabrication. It is absolutely false to state that no claims were ever made about reversing the "ageing process," "perfect health," "purified nervous system," "personal enlightenment," or "prevention of misfortune or difficulties" in TTC introductory courses by any individual teaching under the auspices of WPEC- US. This is directly contradicted by, inter alia:
a) Scores of papers written by my students in a writing course. In a typical, non-cult college or university students might volunteer to write about "how I spent my summer vacation." At MIU they write about "how I achieved eternal bliss consciousness in ten easy lessons, and loved every ecstatic cosmic moment."
b) Hundreds of conversations, interviews, term papers, class discussions inter alia, with students who took similar courses under WPEC-US auspices.
c) In the Spring of 1976, I took a course in Science of Creative Intelligence. (I was pressured into it by Steve Druker and Sy Migdal.) Basically I had to attend the course to retain my position as professor of law and economics although it had absolutely no relationship to my qualifications or competence in my teaching and research disciplines. Not only were these claims about "personal health," inter alia, made , but the instructor, a young man, made the astounding claim in class that higher consciousness, achieved through regular meditation over a long period of time, would make the meditator impervious to the effects of a tornado (a major risk in this part of the country). Most of the vague nonsense of "purified nervous system" (in fact everything Joanna Feinberg claims is not part of the course) I left unchallenged. However, since there were about 30 young, very impressionable and gullible men and women in the class, I questioned him further. He literally meant that physically a person would be left unscathed if a tornado swept him or her away. Several weeks later, about three or four in the morning I was awakened by noise and excitement outside of my dorm. A twister (and possibly more than one) was west of the campus in the direction of Ottumwa and clearly visible. The students were outside their frats (dorms) in their nightclothes to test their "supernatural" powers. No one was injured simply because the twister did not hit the campus. Nevertheless scores of students believed (I questioned them the next day) that somehow the meditation safeguarded them.
18. These experiences and myths perpetrated by the TM cult might appear humorous or silly, but in fact I saw many casualties from their irresponsible lies and deceptions. Teaching methodology, for example, is actually indoctrination or brain washing and one of the very few (perhaps only) classes where genuine learning was attempted was in my classroom.
19. I have more than five (5) years family court law guardian experience and work with young drug abuses and addicts. In addition, I was involved in implementing a drug addiction program in Nassau County, New York. My observation and experience of some of the erratic and volatile "unstressing" (actually nervous breakdowns) on campus was similar to the reactions I've observed from people who had a "bad trip" or "freaked-out" from dangerous hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.
20. In early December 1975, while the Maharishi was on campus, 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. He was aware, apparently for some time, of the problem, suicide attempts, assaults, homicidal ideation, serious psychotic episodes, depressions, inter alia, but his general attitude was to leave it alone or conceal it because the community would lose faith in the TM movement.
21. 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."
22. The claims of flying and levitation in the Sidhi courses are more than just false and dishonest, and an ambitious, cynical money making scheme by a group of cosmic merchants. They are exceedingly dangerous to a small, but significant, percentage of people who believe this and uncritically accept these outlandish claims.
23. In his more subtle and very sophisticated way Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his charlatanism is [sic] a far more destructive and dangerous cult leader than Jim Jones who induced more than 900 people to commit suicide in Guyana.
24. Based on specific and personal observations and knowledge, inter alia, there is no question, but that the Maharishi had prior and actual notice and knowledge of the detrimental consequences of some meditative and Sidhi practices. However, he made a conscious decision and choice a long time ago to make money, develop a world-wide network of TM-SCI-Sidhi programs, irrespective of the trauma he caused to many vulnerable and uninformed people who were willing to trust him.
The above 9 page affirmation by an attorney is the equivalent of an affidavit in New York, and is true to the best of my knowledge and belief. [signed]ANTHONY D. DENARO DATED: July 16, 1986 Sea Cliff, New York