Law and Religion

Lawsuit Over Chicago Public School Transcendental Meditation Program Can Go Forward

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From Separation of Hinduism from Our Schools v. Chicago Public Schools, decided Friday by Judge Matthew F. Kennelly (N.D. Ill.):

From 2015 to 2019, students and teachers in a handful of Chicago's public schools participated in a program called "Quiet Time." The plaintiffs in this case allege that Quiet Time included elements of both the Hindu religion and a practice known as Transcendental Meditation. In this suit, the plaintiffs assert two claims….

Quiet Time took place during the school day and used space on school property. The program consisted of two 15-mintues meditation sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon—on every school day. Sessions were typically led by Transcendental Meditation instructors who were certified by the Maharishi Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who developed the Transcendental Meditation technique. When a Transcendental Meditation instructor was unavailable, CPS teachers were expected to lead meditation sessions.

Though defendants represented Quiet Time as non-religious in nature, as discussed below, the plaintiffs allege that the program had what they call "hidden religious" elements….

Quiet Time required participation in a "Puja" initiation ceremony. Students were expected to "actively participate" in the ceremony.  The Puja ceremonies were led by the Transcendental Meditation instructors. During the ceremony, items were placed around a picture of Guru Dev, a former teacher of the Maharishi. After the items were "presented" to the picture of Guru Dev, the Transcendental Meditation instructor chanted in Sanskrit and performed rehearsed movements.  Translated into English, the words chanted in Sanskrit included "statements recognizing the power possessed by various Hindu deities and invitations to those same Hindu deities to channel their powers through those in attendance." …

When students were taught to meditate, they were instructed to "silently repeat" an assigned mantra to assist them in their meditation. Students were told to use only the mantra that had been assigned to them by their Transcendental Meditation instructor. The mantras were in Sanskrit. Though students were taught how to pronounce their mantra, they were not told the meaning of the words. Instead, the Transcendental Meditation instructors told students that the mantras were "meaningless sounds."  The plaintiffs assert that, to the contrary, the mantras "honor or reference specific Hindu deities." …

Students in Quiet Time were asked to keep to an oath of secrecy. The oath required them to keep their experience in the program secret from others, including their parents, guardians, and other students. Instructors explained that failing to keep this "oath of secrecy" would make the practice of Transcendental Meditation "wholly ineffective." …

To indicate the beginning of a meditation session, the Transcendental Meditation instructor rang a small handheld bell known as a "Ghanta." The plaintiffs allege that these "ritual bell[s]" are commonly used in Hindu religious practices and that, in Hinduism, bells are "used to indicate a desire to interact with a deity and to prepare a listener's mind [for] said interaction." …

The court allowed former student Amontae Williams' claim under the Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act to proceed against the school. Most of the discussion was about procedural matters, such as standing and statutes of limitations, but here is a substantive snippet:

[The Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides:] "Government may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest." … Illinois courts have said that "the hallmark of a substantial burden of one's free exercise of religion is the presentation of a coercive choice of either abandoning one's religious convictions or complying with the governmental regulation." …

Amontae [Williams]… contends that he was coerced to participate in Quiet Time's daily components, that he was assigned a mantra, and that he was pressured to take part in a Puja ceremony. Amontae also alleges that after he learned of the "hidden religious nature" of Quiet Time, he sought to tell students about his suspicions and was reprimanded and threatened with suspension. Finally, Amontae claims that while participating in the program, he suffered a possession-like experience that he describes as contrary to his religious upbringing.

Amontae has sufficiently alleged that he was presented with a coercive choice to participate in a program that was contrary to his religious beliefs and suffered harm as a result. His allegations are sufficient to state a claim under IRFRA and more than sufficient to provide notice of his claim to the Board….

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  1. Thought experiment: a public school has students use beads in sets of ten, with a various colored bead in between them, and while fingering the beads, they recite a “mantra,” while meditating on various sorrowful, joyful, or luminous mysteries of another faith.

    1. The mantra is in a dead language that the students don’t understand, and starts “Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem.”

      1. By their nature and the tradition that they come from, “bija” mantras have no meaning in any language. They are pleasant sounds meant to attract attention “inward.”

        The students were taught bija mantras.

        TM works by starting to shut down the brain’s ability to be aware of anything at all. The meaningless mantra — a pleasant sound held (according to tradition) to become more pleasant the “deeper” meditation practice goes — facilitates this process of “fading of experiences.”
        As Fred Travis, lead researcher in much of the 21st Century studies published on TM, likes to put it: “the purpose of the TM mantra is to forget it.”

        That is not accurate, but neither is any other discussion of the process of TM on the experiential level, and that fact is the actual reason why TMers are asked not to discuss the teaching and process: intellectual discussion can only detract from an intuitive practice which is mean to “transcend its own activity.”

        It is easier to tell kids (or most adults): “keep things learned in private, private” (or “a secret”) then it is to go into a long-winded discussion of philosophical or physiological theory about how TM works.

        THere is a nascent physiology-based theory about how TM works and why such vagueness is important, but the margins are too small to discuss it here.

        One simple aspect might suffice: TM enhances (rather than represses, as with virtually all other well-studied meditation practices) the activity of the main resting network of the brain — the default mode network (DMN) —and because DMN activity is anti-correlated with intellectual discussion and other mental tasks, intellectual discussion can only detract from the practice and should be kept to a minimum.

        1. This comment also appears at later in the comments section. I’ve repeated it here because of long, off-point comments that gaslight the discussion this topic deserves.
          Over the past 15 years the David Lynch Foundation has spent many millions of dollars to achieve their stated goal of “Teaching TM to a million public school students.” They have paid for TM training for thousands of public high school students in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. They have also sponsored numerous “education conferences” which are nothing more than TM love-fests. Frequently they will trot out a bunch of cute kids and their teacher who talks about how wonderful TM has been for them. Many times former Lynch Foundation Advisory Board member, Russell Simmons, is on stage along with leaders of the David Lynch Foundation. Russell took time from allegedly raping and assaulting at least 20 women to go to Chicago’s Bogan High School to recruit Quiet Time students. His appearances have been less frequent since he fled the country. Another former Lynch Foundation Board member, Stephen Collins, is a self-confessed pedophile.
          TM teachers are missionaries. They sign a pledge to TM’s founder, that reads in part: “It is my fortune, Guru Dev [the Maharishi’s dead master], that I have been accepted to serve the Holy Tradition and spread the Light of God to all those who need it. It is my joy to undertake the responsibility of representing the Holy Tradition in all its purity as it has been given to me by Maharishi and I promise on your altar, Guru Dev, that with all my heart and mind I will always work within the framework of the Organisations founded by Maharishi. And to you, Maharishi, I promise that as a Meditation Guide I will be faithful in all ways to the trust that you have placed in me.”
          The Quiet Time program has been a colossal failure. San Francisco was the model with five schools and thousands students. San Francisco shut down because it was deemed a failure. In November 2019, the Chicago Public Schools shut down a David Lynch Foundation-funded program for over 3000 high school students operating for over three years. All took was a four minute speech to the Board of CPS by a substitute teacher and a 14 year-old-inner city high school student. At the end of the presentation, Chicago’s Chief of Education states the information presented had been withheld during her due diligence on the program. Chicago shut down the program before the lawsuit because the Lynch Foundation refused to teach TM without the puja ceremony. https://youtu.be/yMJV-3z1kh4 New York canceled as major expansion of Quiet Time that had an $8.2mm study attached to it. Why is the puja so important? Following is a quote referencing the puja from an address given in 2007 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

          “We are fortunate to perform Puja to Guru Dev because in Guru Dev we have the reality of Krishna—reality of Total Knowledge is embodiment of Total Knowledge. “Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnur, Guru Devo Maheshvarah, Guruh Sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah.” Guru Brahma—Guru is the creator. Guru Vishnu—Guru is the maintainer. Guru Devo Maheshvarah—Guru is eternal Shiva, absolute silence. And Guru Sakshat Param Brahma, and Guru is the summation of the three, diversity, and unity. Tasmai Sri Guruve Namah. That is why we bow down to Guru Dev. Bowing down to Guru Dev is in essence, in reality, subjecting ourself to that eternal unified state which is the be-all and end-all of existence.”

          Quiet Time is over. It is no longer even mentioned on the Lynch Foundation website.

      2. The mantras taught to the students are called bija, and traditionally they have no meaning:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bījā#In_Tantra

        “In Vajrayana Buddhism and Hinduism, the term bīja is used for mystical “seed syllables” contained within mantras. These seeds do not have precise meanings, but are thought to carry connections to spiritual principles. The best-known bīja syllable is Om, first found in the Hindu scriptures the Upanishads”

        1. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM, speaking in 1955 at a Hindu religious gathering in Kerala, India, admitted that any word or sound could be used to meditate. Holding a microphone, he said that even the word mike could serve as a mantra:

          By reducing the sound of the word ‘mike’ to its subtler and still subtler stages and allowing the mind to go on experiencing all the stages one by one, the mind can be trained to be so sharp as to enter into the subtlest stage of the sound ‘mike.’42
          So, if any word can be used to transcend, why would anyone need a TM mantra? The answer is that TM mantras invoke the influence of Hindu gods. In Maharishi’s words:
          But we do not select the sound at random. We do not select any sound like ‘mike,’ flower, table, pen, wail, etc. because such ordinary sounds can do nothing more than merely sharpening the mind . . . For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods. [Emphasis A. Siegel.]

    2. If a claim can go forward for the nitpicky use of a meaningless mantra, what about a claim to void any legal utterance containing a Latin phrase, promoting the Catholic religion? Indeed, not just promotion, actual plagiarism from the catechism, as in all the homicide statutes of the states.

      Here is 1857 from the catechism:

      1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

      1. Insanus est David.

        1. Anyone caught selling a mirror to a Democrat is violating the laws against torture, and is committing a crime against humanity.

      2. I’ll bite. What state lifts the catechism in writing it’s homicide statutes? If there were any, I’d be shocked. If it’s “intent” that matters, I hardly think that’s a big deal at all, because law has always recognized intent as a cogent point in deciding guilt, or level of guilt, anyway.

        Since you’re were talking about Aquinis the other day, (and Catholic theology leans heavily on the Summa Theologica) the whole passage about what makes an act “evil” or not basically falls on three points; the type of act, the outcome and intent. It’s possible to make a good act, donating to the poor, an evil act, if done with the intent to try to try to show off your wealth in a prideful manner.

        1. What about forcing other people to donate to the poor?

          1. If you’re asking about the morality of taxes? I’m no theologian, but I’ll take a swing.

            Christ didn’t tell people to pay taxes to the Romans to throw bread and circus parties, he said they themselves had to do charitable works. However, he did say to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s (an early version of the separation of church and state one might say). So, I’d say forcing people donate to the poor, by force, would be a kind of theft and thus immoral, unless it was taxes from a legitimate government to aid the poor as some sort of benefit to the common good, with the bounds of reasonability I suppose

            1. That’s not a bad try, Kalak. I think I’d probably come down somewhere near there too. Some Christians would wonder what exactly is Caesar’s though, if “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

              1. Thanks for the compliment. And yes, you do pose an quandary.

      3. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM, speaking in 1955 at a Hindu religious gathering in Kerala, India, admitted that any word or sound could be used to meditate. Holding a microphone, he said that even the word mike could serve as a mantra:

        By reducing the sound of the word ‘mike’ to its subtler and still subtler stages and allowing the mind to go on experiencing all the stages one by one, the mind can be trained to be so sharp as to enter into the subtlest stage of the sound ‘mike.’42
        So, if any word can be used to transcend, why would anyone need a TM mantra? The answer is that TM mantras invoke the influence of Hindu gods. In Maharishi’s words:
        But we do not select the sound at random. We do not select any sound like ‘mike,’ flower, table, pen, wail, etc. because such ordinary sounds can do nothing more than merely sharpening the mind . . . For our practice, we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods.

    3. THought experiment: 6,800 students are randomized into a TM group or a control group and do TM for 9 months and the TM group shows a 65-70% lower arrest rate for violent crime compared to the control group.

      Now find a similar study on using beads in sets of 10, etc. that has that same finding in an RCT involving 6,800-ish students that is done by a reputable public university (University of Chicago, one of the plaintiffs in this case).

      Waiting…

      1. Interesting that you present a statistic for a study that has yet to be published.

        1. That yet-to-be-published study was the reason why TM was being taught in that school in the first place: to investigate the effect of TM on children.

      2. The study which is supposedly in progress related to this lawsuit (which may or may not still be active given the circumstances and at least one report that it was no longer so) is not “done by a reputable public university.” The study is allegedly being done by individuals who are working in a politically-motivated project at a *private* university. You continue the decades-long habit of TM promoters, of name-dropping institutions, when the *individuals* who work in those institutions or collaborate with others in those institutions may well have a personal, emotional interest in the outcome, as meditators or even TM teachers. That is true of many of the studies that TM promoters wave around while name-dropping those institutional names, as if those names carried some magical endorsement or were a symbol of quality. That is not necessarily the case.

        1. You are correct. My bad.
          The study is being done by a reputable *private* university:

          “University of Chicago’s ranking in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #6.” -Newsweek Best colleges https:// http://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/university-of-chicago-1774

  2. In all seriousness, the secret oath is the biggest problem here, it’s what child predators do when grooming victims.

    1. My thoughts exactly, it’s a big red flag for lots of reasons.

      1. after a picture of Pope Francis surfaced of him smiling at a priest about to make a presentation on teaching TM (and TM’s levitation technique) to children as therapy for PTSD, the governments of Latin America took notice and recently the TM organization announced that they have state and national government contracts in the region to train about ten thousand public school teachers as TM teachers, whose day job is to teach everyone in their school — students, faculty and administrators — TM. All told, about 7.5 million kids are expected to learn TM this way over the next few years. The contracts also say that as the students meet the age and meditation-experience requirements, the school teachers will receive further training and teach TM’s levitation technique to all concerned as well.

        .

        The relevant point is that virtually none of the school teachers were practicing TM when the contracts were signed to have them trained as TM teachers; however, they remain employees of their government even after they start teaching TM. They are required to practice TM as long as they remain active as TM teachers, and are required to adhere to the teaching methodology that they were trained to use (including kids not to discuss things) but they are still government employees and are not required to even believe in TM *or* the puja ceremony when the perform it, any more than the student is.
        As far as levitation goes, the same applies: they are required to practice the technique, teach the technique as trained, but are not required to believe that the practice will ever lead to “sitting in the air.”

        It is unlikely that ANYONE involved (outside a few in teh TM organization) believe that levitation practice will ever lead to floating around the room, but the monk who founded the TM organization insisted that as long as the practice was taught in exactly the right way, the outcome would be the same, regardless of belief.

        And Pope Francis (who authorizes the teaching of TM and levitation in Church-run schools), as well as the heads of state who are signatory to the contracts, are willing to ignore grandiose claims in the face of findings like that of the other plaintiff — the University of CHIcago Urban Labs — which reports that 9 months of TM practice has reduced violent crime in the TM group by 65-70%.

        That’s what the author of the Reason article left out: this is a lawsuit over a multi-year, randomized control, longitudinal SCIENTIFIC STUDY being performed independently of the David Lynch Foundation (they supply the TM teachers and nothing else), funded independently of the TM organization, involving 6,800 kids randomized by home room into meditator vs non-meditator.

        https://urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/news/director-david-lynch-wants-schools-to-teach-transcendental-meditation-to-reduce-stress

        Why would a *Reason* article leave out context?

    2. Not sure it’s the biggest problem, but completely agree it’s a really big one. It’s evidence of intent and of culpable state of mind. It also reflects a coercive attempt to take control over the children and prevent parents from exercising supervision.

      If I were a parent, I would consider on violation of parental privacy grounds, not just establishment and free exercise clause grounds. Secret coercive problems hidden from parents are a big problem even when nothing to do about religion. They open the door to subjecting the children to physical and sexual abuse.

      1. The David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time program has been taught in about 1,000 public schools world-wide.

        In order to avoid lawsuits liek this one, parents are briefed (often *taught* TM, as are all faculty and adminsitrators, in order to avoid the controversy) and if there is a SINGLE parent who objects after all and said and done, the David Lynch Foundation simply moves on to the next school rather than risk this kind of hooplah.

        And this was done under the supervision of the University of Chicago’s Urban Lab:

        https://urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/news/director-david-lynch-wants-schools-to-teach-transcendental-meditation-to-reduce-stress

        and was not some random school thing.

        Given that the Urban Lab’s initial finding from the first year’s data is that TMing students have a 65-70% lower arrest rate for violent crime (almost an order of magnitude more effective than anything else the UL has ever tested), it seems obvious to this conspiracy theorist that this was a Rope-a-Dope strategy to trigger a lawsuit over the 10-year-old David Lynch Quiet Time program and that the plaintiffs knew from the start all the details that they now complain about.

        Given the religious background of the plaintiffs and how notorious the Malnak v Yogi ruling from 22 year ago was in those circles, it is unreasonable to think that they had never heard of TM before.

        The lawyers for the lawsuit are from a firm that *specializes* in religious rights for Fundamentalist Christians.

        1. This is absolute bullish-t. Parents get a permission slip, sometimes in a language they don’t understand. TM is hyped to the sky. The slip says TM isn’t a religion or is silent on the issue. The students in Chicago reported being bribed, coerced, and threatened to stay in the program.

          1. Bribed as in pizza was bought for the class.

            Participants in studies are often compensated for participation (usually are compensated). In this case, pizza was furnished.

    3. The “secret oath” is merely to keep details of instruction and experience private.
      TM is a process that is anti-intellectual. It actually *enhances* activity of the mind-wandering “default mode network” and by the nature of that network, which is anti-correlated with literally ALL intentional activity, attempts to describe the process or teachign procedure can only detract from teh process and teaching procedure.
      As the founder of TM liked to put it: “you can’t learn ‘innocence’ [not knowing what will come next — the “technique” of TM] from a book when the first sentence in the book is: ‘Let us close our eyes.'”

      TM instruction is a highly choreographed teaching play that TM teachers learn over a meditation retreat lasting 5 months. Some aspects are as carefully choreographed as any opera (e.g. the puja ceremony). When you attempt to reproduce teaching TM (already a highly abbreviated process from the traditional teaching method) to what can easily be described, it becomes just another relaxation exercise with no more effect than what is found by reading Benson’s Relaxation Response.

      Keeping details of instruction private or “secret” as kids are taught only helps ensure that the teaching process remains effective.

      1. Keeping secrets from parents is bad enough. A complete stranger (TM teacher) meets with kids one on one for 40 minutes in a darkened, incensed-filled room and performs a weird ceremony in a strange language-and then tells them not to discuss anything with anyone, even their parents. How is any part of this okay. I hope these kids get a bundle.

        1. More like for about 10-20 minutes.
          And no-one has alleged any hanky-panky during the private session, neither in court nor in the press artcles.

          That is a concern that people not involved with the lawsuit have raised.

          There was never any such allegation in any of the points raised by the plaintiffs.

    4. STudents of TM, adult and child, are asked to “keep private, what is learned in private.”

      TM is an intuitive practice and is taught in an intuitive, minimalistic way and intellectual discussion of the details of practice and teaching are believed to disrupt said practice and said teaching.

    5. The biggest problem, according to the ruling, is that the the student’s First Amendment right regarding coercion wrt to their religious freedom was violated.

      They were randomly assigned to be a meditator in the RCT, without being told the “religious nature” of the puja or the mantra.

      The puja’s stated goals are:
      1. to honor the guru of hte founder of TM
      2. to recall to the teacher that that they are part of a tradition of meditation, and should keep to the teaching as they were taught.
      3. to facilitate the teaching of TM, presumably by some effect it has on the student’s direct witnessing of the puja (otherwise it could be done in another room)

      The other complaint that was given standing was about the nature of the mantra.

      The court dismissed all complaints about the University of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation, so your worry about “secret oath” seems completely unfounded: the court dismissed that for all plaintiffs, from my reading:

      .

      .

      The Williamses’ section 1983 and IRFRA claims against DLF and the University are dismissed for failure to state a claim. As a result, no claims against DLF or the University remain in the case. Darryl’s IRFRA claim against the Board is dismissed for failure to state a claim. What is left are the Williamses’ section 1983 claims for damages against the Board and Amontae Williams’s IRFRA claim against the Board.

      .

      .

      Which goes back to whether or not TM is a religion or if a ceremony that the person is required to watch is religious.
      TM requires no change in lifestyle or belief to learn or practice (you can do it simply because it is a condition of your parole, for example).
      The puja likewise requires no such belief to witness.

      .

      TM teaching requires no belief either; nor does performance of the puja. Currently the TM organization has state and government contracts to train about ten thousand public school teachers in Latin America as TM teachers, whose day job, working for their own governments, will be to teach everyone (students, faculty, administrators) to meditate.

      Relevant to this discussion is the fact that few, if any, of the school teachers even practiced TM when the contracts were signed.

      Because TM teacher training is conducted on a meditation retreat, obviously TM teacher trainees must be meditating by the time that retreat starts, and must continue to meditate regularly during training. They are also required to continue meditating regularly as long as they are teaching TM, and are required to teach TM exactly as they were taught to teach, including performing the puja ceremony at the start of teaching.

      HOWEVER, they are not required to believe in TM, nor in the puja ceremony. In fact, recognizing that religious leaders who wanted to learn TM wouldn’t be believers, back in 1973, Maharishi Mahesh YOgi released “cliff’s notes” for new TM teacher trainees which described the appropriate feeling/attitude to project during the ceremony: as long as the TM teacher could project the appropriate attitude, whether via belief or simply through method acting, the monk believed it would have the same effect.

      .

      How is this any different than a Jewish diva singing Ave Maria?
      She doesn’t convert to Christianity during her performance of the song, but her ability to project emotion as she sings is part of what moves the audience (many of whom remain atheists despite the meaning in German of the song, which many in the audience may not understand anyway).

      .

      The purpose of the puja and traditional mantras is secular: to make the meditation practice as effective as possible.

      I understand that some people might object to practicing TM or learning TM, but some people object to being required to photocopy Buddhist religious symbols for a report on comparative religious because certain *Buddhists* believe that photocopying religious symbols is a religious act.

      Do you declare the act of photocopying Buddhist religious symbols to be a religious act because a specific religion says it is?

  3. “Students in Quiet Time were asked to keep to an oath of secrecy. The oath required them to keep their experience in the program secret from others, including their parents, guardians, and other students.”

    This is utter insanity.

    1. Remember, that’s so far only from the plaintiff’s complaint assumed to be true only for review under a motion to dismiss.

    2. At this link is a Transcendental Meditation teaching agreement, which is rather clearly some form of nondisclosure agreement, which dates to the mid-1990’s. The colloquial verbal statement made during the instruction process, as has been disclosed by former TM teachers, is “All that we learn in private we keep private. Do you agree?”

      The allegation made by the student bringing this suit, which I previously reported on at the same blog, was that they were told, “whatever happens in this room, stays in this room.”

      https://tmfree.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-transcendental-meditation-teaching.html

  4. “Not religious in nature”

    For hints on how the arguments will play out, see Dragon Ball Z fans screaming how Chi, which lets you punch out planets, isn’t actually magic.

    1. I thought most sci-fi/fantasy pretty much agreed on that.

      Chi is preternatural, magic is supernatural.

  5. It’s not just the oath of secrecy that’s problematic here. Puja is the regular word for a religious offering. At least that’s what I recall from traveling India.

    1. Thus this is considerably less silly than a Yoga ban on religious grounds. Especially since Yoga exercises are really just Danish Gymnastics :
      https://mereorthodoxy.com/call-danish-gymnastics-yoga-body/

  6. “Amontae claims that while participating in the program, he suffered a possession-like experience that he describes as contrary to his religious upbringing.”

    This is a big issue if this was a mandatory program.

    My Puritan faith holds that certain things are dangerous for this very reason.

    1. Up next, Ouija Board hour with the Freemasons.

      I’m not kidding, they’d do it too.

    2. TM’s main effect is to start to reduce the brain’s ability to be aware of anything at all towards zero, just as happens when you fall asleep.
      However, unlike with sleep, TMers tend to stay alert, which allows for a different style of rest than sleep.

      IF a TMer DOES fall asleep during TM, they might easily dream something unusual, but that is due to falling asleep and dreaming, not due to TM.

  7. What is the mission statement of the District and does this fill the mission statement?
    The obvious test has already been mentioned, substitute quiet time led by Jesuit Priests.

    But for me this is far afield what parents want from public schools.
    Just like CRT does not belong. This all delves into the moral education of the student. The govt should not be involved. One, because its the parents job. Two, because the govt can only fail miserably. Govt lacks any agency to get involved in this way.

    1. The idea I think is that it’s an ancillary program, like recess or doing stretching exercises, to ‘wind down’ kids or relax and focus them so they then can do their best learning the ‘real’ school stuff.

    2. That said, the parents may have done well to pick an organization with a different name and purpose. An organization that seeks to expunge a single religion from reference in schools while leaving all others intact is arguably seeking to establish religion every bit as much as an organization seeking to promote a religion.

      The bias inherent in this organization’s name could affect its credibility and possibly its case if the plaintiff’s allegations are hotly contested. If the plaintiff parents created this organization, they would be wise to rename it to something more neutral and less overtly and hostilely anti-Hindu.

      1. The legal team is a law firm that specializes in bringing anti-anti-Christian lawsuits on behalf of Fundamentalists. My own suspicion is that this was a setup from the start.

        The David Lynch Foundation briefs parents and faculty (and TEACHES all faculty and any intereseted parent TM) and holds public briefings on the program and will simply withdraw from teaching a school if a SINGLE parent objects during that phase of the process.

        This is the first time in nearly 15 years that a lawsuit of this type hasn’t been dismissed for lack of standing because any parent that could object already did, and so prevented the program from being taught in the first place.

        1. The implied assumption misleadingly presented by lifelong meditator and TM defender Saijanai here, that all criticism of Transcendental Meditation is motivated by Christian fundamentalism (or that legal cases are the outcome of an intentional “setup”), is a toxic falsehood historically perpetuated by TM devotees, used among them to discredit any factual discussion about the TM organization’s, and the David Lynch Foundation’s, marketing claims and methods. The fact that a number of cases against TM, including Malnak v. Yogi which resulted in an injunction against TM programs in public schools, were brought by Christian groups does not support the conclusion that objections to TM are solely generated by Christian, or other, religious fundamentalists. Scientists and others with no such religious affiliation (including me) have long criticized and objected to TM on various irreligious grounds.

          Having created the first website critical of TM almost thirty years ago, disclosing the supposedly secret “mantras” (already published on the front pages of several newspapers) and other foolishness, I have personally been falsely labeled a Christian fundamentalist by TM promoters for a very long time, because obviously that’s easier than engaging with an atheist who’s fluent in the internals of the TM movement.

          The court’s opinion and order is quite explicit, that even those with no clear religious faith, or no faith, would have standing to bring a case against the TM organization or the DLF were they to have been in the situation of the student named in the suit. From the court:

          “Even if Amontae were unable to establish any religious beliefs, he would still have standing under the Free Exercise Clause, as the guarantees of the Religion Clauses are not limited to only those Americans who practice a religion. “[T]he government may not favor one religion over another, or religion over irreligion, religious choice being the prerogative of individuals under the Free Exercise Clause.” McCreary Cty. v. Am. C.L. Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 875 76 (2005) (emphasis added); see also id. at 884 (“The Religion Clauses . . . protect adherents of all religions, as well as those who believe in no religion at all.”) (O’Connor, J., concurring). Relatedly, the Seventh Circuit has said that “[a]theism is a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics, and it is thus a belief system that is protected by the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.” Kaufman v. Pugh, 733 F.3d 692, 697 (7th Cir. 2013) (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks omitted). Again, Amontae’s allegations at bottom are that his school compelled him to participate in religious activity that was against his beliefs. That would be enough to establish standing under the Free Exercise Clause.”

          1. But IS TM as taught in this school a religion?

            The puja has a stated secular purpose: to make TM teaching effective.
            Ever since he started teaching, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has insisted that the puja be performed for several reasons:
            it honors his teacher. It honors the tradition of “masters” that it comes from. The practice doesn’t work the same way without the student first witnessing the ceremony.

            The first two are self-explanatory, but until recently, we had no way of explaining why the latter might possibly be true.
            People who listen to such ceremonies tend to go into a TM-like state while listening to them, and so the TM mantra is learned *while* the student is already in a TM-like state, and when remembered in the context of TM, immediately evokes that state even during the very first TM session which begins a few seconds after they first learn their mantra.

            ACEM, which was meant to be “just like TM” without the puja or traditional mantras, apparently does not evoke the EEG signature of TM, which lends support to the idea that the puja is the sine qua non of the practice.

    3. TM teachers are not required to believe in any aspect of what they are teaching.

      In Latin America, the TM orgaization is training about ten thousand public school teachers as TM teachers, most of whom were not even practicing TM when their governments signed the contracts for them to be trained as TM teachers. As long as they agree to teach TM exactly as they were trained to (including using the puja ceremony before the mantra is taught to the student) the TM organization has nothing to say about anything that the school teacher may believe or do outside the context of teaching TM.

      How is being a TM teacher even remotely like being a Jesuit priest?

      Are you suggesting that Jesuits take random people off the street, baptize them, train them to speak a few rote-learned sentences in Latin, and that these are now also Jesuit priests who can now baptize others?

      The TM organization maintains taht it is the “sound value” of the puja (performed in person) that is the relevant thing, not the belief of the person performing the ceremony. IN fact, the monk who founded TM provided “cliff’s notes” for TM teachers who didn’t believe in the puja, explaining how they should project a specific attitude/feeling during the relevant portions of the ceremony, *because* he knew that many TM teachers didn’t believe the details.

      This is exactly what a Jewish diva does when she projects emotion during a performance of Ave Maria, and neither she nor her audience are seen as having converted to Christianity by performing the song or responding emotionally to her performance, even though the emotional response of the audience can be measured both by their applause or even by EEG and other brain imaging methods.

  8. Yeah, this is blatant establishment even without that weird oath.

    1. The oath serves the same purpose that an abuser does when swearing the child to secrecy: it protects the abuser from the connsequences of other people finding out.

      In an abuse case, it is evidence that the abuser knows that what he is doing is wrong and subject to sanctions that can warrant greater culpability and a more punitive approach (e.g. a longer sentence).

      It could argued something similar happened here.

      1. That’s a bit melodramatic. Not everyone telling people to keep something secret is an abuser.

        It does seem like evidence they knew what they were doing was hinky.

        1. It has been the case for 63 years that people who learn TM are asked to keep what they learn private.
          TM is an intuitive practice and intellectual discussion or attempts to describe the details of teaching or practice inevitably lead to distortions that reduce the effectiveness of the practice, not only for the person hearing them, but for the person attempting to explain their own practice.
          You can’t explain an intuitive practice that reduces the brain’s ability to be aware of anything at all unless you are already “enlightened” and by definition, no longer need to engage in such a practice in the first place.

  9. While it is clearly possible to do a “quiet time program,” and may well be possible to do a meditation program, that is not religious in character, this program was clearly different. Numerous elements were religious in character.

    The fact that the children were sworn to secrecy is evidence of intentional wrong-doing. The reason why the program would be ineffective if others found about about it is doubtless that the instructor anticipated exactly what happened here: if parents found out, they would object to the program’s blatantly religious elements.

    I, and some of the court’s justices, are inclined to give some dispensation for non-coercive displays of religion in public life. But what is alleged to have happened here could not possibly benefit from any such leniency. It was blatantly coercive.

    1. “Sworn to secrecy” is a bit much.

      Students of TM (adult and child) are asked to keep private what is taught in private, and to not speak their mantra aloud nor write it down once they learn it.

  10. This is the first time in a while the comment section here has been unanimous about anything, even if some are skeptical of some of the facts in the case.

    You must really have screwed up for that to happen.

  11. Oddly enough, the public intermediate school I attended more than 30 years ago required TM training. But we didn’t have a Climate and Culture Manager charged with keeping the training secret, we found nothing wrong with repeating required mantras (such as “I pledge allegiance…” ), and we embraced study of comparative religions (including religions such as Secular Humanism).

    I’m glad the judge noted the following in his order: “The first time he was sent to the principal’s office, Amontae met with the school’s Operations and Climate and Culture Manager, Sharon Dixon. She told him to stop telling other students that Quiet Time involved religious practices or Hindu rituals. The second time he was sent to the office, Amontae met with Dixon again. This time, Dixon threatened to suspend Amontae if he continued to tell students about any alleged connection between Quiet Time and Hinduism.”

    1. I’ve never heard of this before, either.
      This may have been part of the study design to avoid “contaminating” the study or something by allowing crosstalk between participants that would bias the study results.

      *Reason* left out the context of the program: it was part of a 6,800 subject, randomized-control study being done by the University of Chicago (also one of the plaintiffs — also not mentioned by *Reason*).

    2. I said:
      >*Reason* left out the context of the program: it was part of a 6,800 subject, randomized-control study being done by the University of Chicago (also one of the plaintiffs — also not mentioned by *Reason*).

      Also one of the *defendants*, not *plaintiffs*…

  12. Agree that swearing the children to secrecy is a wrong and a state violation of parent-child privacy separate from any religion issues. It opens the door to subjecting the children to things like physical and sexual abuse. And when done by the state it represents state intrusion on parents’ rights to bring up their children.

  13. “This is perfectly legit – now, promise not to tell your parents.”

    1. I’ll try to respond again without links which tends to trigger moderator review:

      Parents are encouraged to learn TM as well. They also are asked (not sworn to secrecy) to never reveal their mantra, nor details of TM instruction.

      I’ll violate that agreement slightly:
      The student (parent or child) brings flowers, fruit and hanky and hands them to the TM teacher.
      The TM teacher takes them and uses them in the ceremony.
      The student watches the TM teacher.

      After an intuitive amount of time passes (not long) the TM teacher turns the the student and teaches the mantra and how to use it.

      The student closes their eyes and meditates until the TM teacher tells them to stop.

  14. Huh. So transcendental meditation is an actual thing that people do, not just something the (All My Ex’s Live in Texas) songwriters made up because the sound of it fit well in the song? I suppose I need to get out more.

  15. I don’t see any comments by the Rev. He must be really conflicted: does he denounce the school for surreptitiously introducing religious superstition, or the clingers who think they know more about how to raise their children than the experts? Which one should be compelled to open wider?

  16. For the detailed background on this case, take a look at the ongoing coverage at the TM-Free blog, which takes a skeptical/critical view of all things Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation:

    https://tmfree.blogspot.com/search/label/TM%20in%20Chicago%20schools

    Instruction in TM always involves a devotional ritual that is hard-wired to the religious, world-transforming goals set out by its founder. That religious ritual in this case was conducted on public school property. The organization’s leaders, whose aims and methods overlap and connect with those of Hindu supremacist (Hindutva) movements of India, wrap religious dogma with dubious rhetorical connections to science and scientific and medical institutions. They seem particularly adept at insinuating themselves into situations where individual consent to participate is easily compromised: schools, prisons, military and sometimes employment. The specific parts of the court opinion/order quoted here are just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. You left out a bit of context here. There are three plaintiffs:
      David Lynch Foundation
      Chicago Public Schools
      University of Chicago’s Urban Lab

      The context was an *independent* study of TM being done by the UCUL. The David Lynch Foundation provided the TM teachers and the overall process used: The DLF Quiet Time.

      The study divided the participating school by randomized homeroom: TM and non-TM.

      The TM homerooms learned TM; the non-TM homerooms did not.
      During the Quiet Time session, school-wide (not just in the QT homerooms), all students and faculty are required to not-talk. In *both* QT and non-QT-control homerooms, students are free to meditate, pray, read books, draw, do homework or any other school-allowed activity *except* talk.

      Obviously only students in teh QT homeroom could be doing TM as only they were taught TM, but any quiet school activity (including prayer) was allowed, as long as it didn’t involving talking or other disruptive activity.

      Again: this is in both QT and control-homerooms.

      And again: the study was NOT funded by the TM organization or the DLF but by the usual funding sources for a study being done by a major public university, and the DLF had no input into the study design.

      1. The “study” was irrelevant to the lawsuit, but I don’t expect you to understand that. The TM devotee obsession with such things (for the sole purpose of generating marketing claims) doesn’t justify likely civil rights violations.

        1. Well, it is the reason why the school, the DLF and the University of Chicago were having the kids learn TM: to do the study.

          Now, the school might have been willing to have the DLF come in without participation of the University of Chicago, but that was the purpose of those particular group of kids learning: to be part of the study.

          And it was a study being conducted independently of the TM organization.

          And of course, it is a marketing ploy: the founder of TM realized early on that “enlightenment” is not a reason why most people would learn TM (or why most schools or prisons would have it taught), but health and academic matters are such reasons.

          The TM organization and the DLF are currently gathering commitments to funding (the study we’re discussing received several large anonymous donations to help fund it), as well as courting independent researchers and venues to perform 4 major phase-3 level studies:

          1. TM’s effects on academic performance and behavior (like this study but much larger).
          2. TM’s effects on PTSD.
          3. TM’s effects on hypertension and cardiac health in general.
          4. TM’s utility as a a followup to drug rehab.

          The hope is to sway policy-makers world-wide to have TM taught to everyone that a given government has influence over.

          A 5th large-scale research programme was recently announced that is was actually started without the TM organization even knowing about it:
          because the David Lynch Foundation is teaching COVID-19 relief workers for free, the 5 largest HMO/Insurance companies in the USA have been tracking the effects of TM instruction on medical workers and their first study is already in the publishing pipeline.

          The companies themselves are looking into the idea of teaching ALL medical personnel in their employ TM as a way of staving off the COVID-19 medical worker burnout that threatens to reduce the number of medical workers in the USA by about 30% over the next few years.

          Once that study is published, I’ll make sure that *Reason* hears about it, and you can contact the researchers and make sure that your perspective is well-communicated to them.

      2. And someone really needs to ask John Wolf what his relationship is with respect to Transcendental Meditation.

        1. You mean https:// urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/people/john-wolf, the program manager for the study?

          I suspect that he does TM, but haven’t been able to verify or invalidate that assumption.

          While I agree that all meditation researchers should be required to say whether or not they practice what they are studying, are you saying that the project leader also must divulge such things?

          Perhaps you should identify your own background in this regard.

          Mine is as a TMer of 48-ish years (37 with the TM-Sidhis), and active moderator of a forum about TM on reddit.

          Your turn.

  17. Wolf sounds like a recent convert sort of TM meditator to my ear. He is in this video, and at 1:33:07 he says, “a lot of us have an escape from that stress” as if he himself did TM.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipt7gjpduik&t=5175s&ab_channel=DavidLynchFoundation

    While the convention in academic research is that only substantive conflicts of interest or funding must be disclosed, the fact is that most research on TM for the past few decades has been propelled by TM devotees who do not disclose that, if they’re MIU/MUM faculty, the existence of the institution that employs them is entirely dependent on maintaining the alleged legitimacy of Transcendental Meditation and all the rest of the Maharishi branded products. They don’t disclose their connection with TM, often as TM teachers who spent many months being indoctrinated in the underlying, antiscientific, religious fundamentalism from which TM springs, and they determine what questions to ask, the design of the research, and the interpretation of the data. In this case, that the students were allegedly coached if not coerced to practice TM and to not raise objections to the program would eliminate any pretense that this program was part of a legitimate research study. As I have written recently, coaching and expectation-setting are inherent to TM instruction, but those elements (considered private and proprietary) are never opened for inspection by independent researchers who may actually raise the question of what might be the cause of the alleged benefits of TM among some people.

    As for me, as I mentioned upthread, I created the first website dedicated to the criticism of TM almost thirty years ago, disclosing the supposedly secret “mantras” and other information, most of which had been published elsewhere. I co-moderate a blog on the subject, writing about what I’ve learned on my own time and on my own dime. I did TM for about ten years, starting at the end of 1977, before realizing it was a waste of time, and the worst I can say about my involvement with TM is that in hindsight it’s trivially embarrassing to admit ever having believed for even a moment, anything that is taken as absolute truth among TM devotees like yourself.

    1. Actually, I had to sit through quite a while to get to the money quote at: 5574 rather than at 5175.

      Here is what he actually said:

      “So we know what that stress is like. Fortunately for a lot of people, you’re able to get away from that stress — whether that is exercise, or you go home and have a glass of wine with your family after a long day at work, or you’re able to tap into something like TM — a lot of us have an escape from that stress. Unfortunately for the young people in Chicago, far too many of them are living with this traumatic stress day in and day out.”

      I honesty don’t hear him saying anything remotely like “I do TM ”

      Perhaps he does, but in my opinion, you’re really reaching to claim that you got that from this passage.

      1. I’ll just summarize my opinion of Wolf’s rants by saying that he sounds exactly like you, Lawson.

        1. I wish. He’s got a nice job working for a major university in a scientific field. I’m a retiree with an associates degree in computer programming.

          By the way, isn’t it against most online discussion etiquette to hail a person by their real name online when they have chosen to use an alias?

          1. The association between your name and handle is already quite public, by your own hand, as far back as seven years ago.

            In case anyone is under the misimpression that my comment is ‘outing’ anyone’s identity.

            “Saijanai = Lawson English It’s not like I have a sekret identity (I’d need a life to have a secret identity).”

            https://www.dogsonacid.com/threads/anybody-have-experience-with-transcendental-meditation.760026/page-3#post-11107466

            1. Even so, it’s not your place to do that. Some forums permaban you automatically.

  18. Learning TM requires the student’s participation in a Hindu religious ceremony known as the “puja.” During the ceremony, an assortment of Hindu deities and gurus are worshiped by the TM teacher, who bows repeatedly and makes seventeen offerings before a guru whose photo is the centerpiece of an altar. TM teachers believe during the puja, the deities and long-dead gurus being worshiped attend the ceremony as invited guests.

    In 1977, teaching TM in the New Jersey public schools was challenged as a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The Court ruled the puja and TM’s underlying Hindu philosophy was indeed religious and immediately barred TM from all New Jersey public schools. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/440/1284/1817490/
    All TM mantras are the names of Hindu deities. All monotheistic religions would consider TM an idolatrous practice. All of this is hidden from parents who receive a permission form that either states TM is not religious or it does not mention religion at all. Consider the Pastoral letter written by Cardinal Jaime Sin on Christianity and TM’s underlying philosophy.

    Pastoral Statement on Transcendental Meditation
    Author: Cardinal Jaime Sin
    THE BASIC CONFLICT BETWEEN MAHARISHI AND CHRISTIANITY
    Following is the 1984 Pastoral statement of His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, on certain doctrinal aspects of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, held after consultation with theological experts.

    The Maharishi’s doctrine and teaching on (1) God, (2) man, (3) the way to go to God, (4) pain and suffering, and (5) sin is in open contradiction to Christian Doctrine.

    1. The “God” of the Maharishi is impersonal, as opposed to the God manifested in Christian revelation where God is a personal God who loves each human person in an intimate way.

    By denying the Creator as Supreme and teaching that “All is One,” Maharishi removes the distinction between the Creator and the creature. This directly leads to, or is an equivalent form of, pantheism.

    The “mantras” given to the followers of the Maharishi have been discovered to be invocations, in most of the cases, to deities of the Hindu pantheon, thus in a real sense denying the oneness of God and fostering polytheism.

    2. Man is considered capable of attaining unlimited perfection, of being totally liberated from all pain and suffering through the instrumentality of Transcendental Meditation practiced in the Maharishi way. Similarly through this, TM, man can find solution to all human problems ranging from control of the elements to the attainment of indestructibility and immortality.

    Two flaws, among others, appear clearly in this doctrine: (a) It does not accept the immortality of the soul, nor life beyond, as belonging to the nature of the soul; (b) ignores completely the existence of original sin, a Christian dogma, and the consequences for the realities of life.

    3. The way to God is placed by Maharishi in TM as understood by him, his books, and his followers, and it is placed on TM as the exclusive way to God.

    Two flaws, again, are hidden in these affirmations: (a) the abuse of the term TM which has been appropriated by them as if theirs was “the” TM par excellence, the only authentic one (there is Christian mysticism, even authors speak of Hindu and Buddhist mysticism, and certainly there is also the well-known za-zen method of meditation); and (b) the way to God in the present economy for all is the way of the Cross as long as we are pilgrims, as explicitly preached by Christ himself, accepted in Christian doctrine and life. The heroism of Christian faithful suffering with the greatest courage and dignity appears to be absent in the Maharishi way to God.

    4. Implicit in the Maharishi approach to the problem of pain and suffering is the rejection of the redemptive value of suffering and of the existence of Christ as the Redeemer. In fact, Maharishi in his book, Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (New York, Bantam Books, 1968, p.23), writes explicitly: “I don’t think Christ ever suffered or Christ could suffer.” (This statement has been repeated in many places by the Maharishi followers.)

    5. Sin. Maharishi tries to ignore the existence of sin. In this, Maharishi follows the Vedic doctrine that regards sin as a bodily matter and has nothing to do with the spirit or soul of man. The whole concept of “sin,” if implicitly accepted, is considered as something external and legalistic. The real sense of freedom and responsibility is absent, and the “effects” of sin are the object of rituals, mantras, and TM. There is no interior conversion, but a rather manipulative use of TM to attain liberations.

    At the basis of this concept and approach is the concept of God, man, the way to God, pain and suffering, described above. From this point of view, one cannot be a Christian and a Maharishi.

    6. As for TM, it may be considered as doctrine (content) or as technique (method). From this point of view of doctrine it is not acceptable to a Catholic, or a Christian at that. As for TM as technique, in the way the Maharishi group presents it, it is not acceptable either because of its intrinsic connections with the doctrine (cf. “mantras” and 1 and 2 above).

    This kind of TM is to be distinguished from various forms of prayer proper to the Oriental religious attitudes, some of which may be acceptable, and even beneficial, if properly scrutinized and used. TM, however, as proposed by Maharishi and as the end-result looked at by the Maharishi doctrine and followers, is, to say the least, quite risky. It becomes not a remedy but an escape. Its unavoidable result, within the Maharishi doctrine context, is the desensitization of conscience by trying to relieve not the guilt and the real disorder but only its symptoms and its accompanying restlessness.

    Maybe TM should tell the truth and let people make an informed decision. It certainly doesn’t belong in public schools.
    One final statement. David Lynch Foundation Advisory Board member, Russell Simmons made presentations at Chicago’s Bogan high school to convince students to start TM. At last count, Mr. Simmons stands accused of raping or sexually assaulting over 20 woman. Former long-time Lynch Foundation Board member, Stephen Collins, is a self-confessed pedophile. There are other relaxation techniques that work as well as TM without the baggage TM brings to the table.

    1. What’s your take on Father Gabriel Mejia teaching TM to children?
      What’s your take on the Bishop of Curacao contracting to have all Church-run schools in the country teach TM?

      And your concern about TM and morality is not taught to the children in the school. They learn TM, practice it 15 minutes, twice-daily, and that is it.

      According to the preliminary research that was the entire point of teaching TM in that specific Chicago school, 15 minutes of TM twice-daily seems to have reduced the arrest rate for violent crime in the TM group by 65-70% compared to the control group.

      This is not due to some teaching on morality, but merely the physical effect on children from doing TM.

      The purported explanation, of course, is that TM is an extremely effective stress-management tool and the reason why most children (and adults) misbehave is due to their inability to handle stress well.

      1. I could care less about what some priests do as individuals. The point is you ignore the Pastoral letter which shows TM is fundamentally in opposition to Christianity.
        Also you don’t comment about the other is for TM to tell the truth about its mantras being the names of Hindu deities and the puja being a Hindu worship service. By the way, Quiet Time has been dropped from San Francisco, and the Lynch Foundation no longer talks about public schools.

        1. What about Pope Francis?

      2. Modified Barnum: there’s at least one convenient sucker out there somewhere.

  19. I am a former TM teacher (my teacher training was in 1972) who has taught a competing meditation technique for the past 14 years. I teach mostly through the Internet, and have never taught meditation in public schools. I do not represent the TM organization or any of the parties in this case. My opinions, as expressed here, are my own.

    I have long been familiar with the Quiet Time program, and have been impressed with the success of this program in helping kids in difficult neighborhoods develop a love of learning in an atmosphere of reduced anger and weapons, not only in Chicago but in other school systems as well. Objectively, grades improve (documentation and research are required for a school to participate in the Quiet Time program). Students in schools offering this program must spend a few minutes twice a day sitting quietly, but they are not required to learn Transcendental Meditation if they wish to pray or read quietly during that time.

    I am rather upset with the TM organization for allowing TM to be taught in the public schools without modification that would respect church/state separation, an important issue of our times. While it is certainly true that TM is not a religion, it is hard to convince a parent of this fact when a “ceremony of gratitude” (puja) is performed, and other failures to adapt TM appropriately are not followed.

    While it is true that most parents are grateful for the Quiet Time program, especially after they see the wonderful results in their children, it only takes one or two disgruntled and motivated parents to bring a lawsuit. We saw this happen already in New Jersey (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/440/1284/1817490/), where parents got TM banned from the school system in 1977.

    I have many religious clients who have found the secular practice of deep meditation useful in their lives, and transformative. I would never offend them by any behavior on my part that could be interpreted as religious or sectarian. For shame, TM organization, for not caring enough about religious students and teachers to ensure that TM is presented in a completely secular way.

    David Spector

    1. You’re ignoring the claim of the TM organization that the puja adds something extremely valuable to the teaching:

      such performances put the student in a TM-like state before they even learn their mantra and so they are already in a meditative state when they start the practice for the first time.

      1. It that a trance state? If so, shouldn’t I as a parent sending my kid to a public or any other school, be told as part of a “non-religious” instruction, my kid will be put in a trance. Maybe “self-hypnotized” is a better description. Just tell the truth. Why is that so hard for the TM organization unless things are deliberately covered up?

        1. It is a state of more efficient rest. It is correlated with greater success in life, such as better grades at school, or winning in Olympic games.

          1. All of which is TM organization dogma and propaganda, produced by lifelong devotees and TM teachers, not necessarily supported by any independent research or analysis.

            1. If there WAS independent research, would it still be propaganda?

              I noticed that you qualified your assertion about research, but not about the propaganda.

              And TM research quality is all over the place, just as all research on meditation is.

    2. I think we are on the same page except TM can’t get rid of the puja because then it become Benson’s Relaxation Response which works as well as TM without the Hindu baggage.

      1. The only relatively large head-to-head study of TM vs the RR is that it doesn’t do much of anything.

        When the American Heart Association evaluated the RR’s effects on hypertension, they said that the research was too low quality and/or too inconsistent to allow them to say that it could be recommended by doctors for the treatment of hypertension.
        Several years later, they issued a new review that said that the RR had effects on several measures of heart health, but not on blood pressure.

        The interesting thing about virtually ALL meditation research is that virtually ALL of it is on the first few months of practice. THere are no multi-year longitudinal studies on the effects of the RR that I am aware of and only one multi-year longitudinal study on the physiological effects of mindfulness and only one multi-year longitudinal study on the physiological effects of TM.

        The mindfulness study found that by the end of the second year, ALL physiological measures were statistically non-different than the control. The TM study fared significantly enough better that the AHA reviewers called it the best study on meditation and hypertension ever done (it DID find long-term effects from TM, in case you were wondering).

    3. Excerpt of my analysis and interpretation of the puja, the full series can be found at the link below. It basically serves two purposes, one in the direction of the initiate, the other to satisfy the organization’s basic premises:

      The first apparent reason for a required puja is that it provides a certain experience to the new meditator that they will remember, intended to reinforce the supposedly life-changing benefits of the meditation itself. It also serves as a memorable point of transition, its intent being that an individual joins a worldwide movement, with a self-image more akin to that of a devotee receiving some allegedly precious esoteric knowledge than that of a customer who simply received meditation instruction. It is an expression of power, legitimacy and dominance of a religious tradition over the new meditator, and also serves as a reminder of that dominance and authority to the TM teacher.

      The second apparent reason for a required puja addresses the religious beliefs and Hindu eschatology of the founder of TM and of others in the Hindu/Vedic tradition that was his point of origin. Some of those specific beliefs, as they relate to the function of the puja itself, are likely not known to many outside India or even among Western TM teachers. In short, as each offering made during the puja is connected to a specific, anticipated individual benefit of TM, they have evidently believed that the new meditator would not obtain the benefits of TM practice without a religious ritual in which offerings are made to the central supreme beings of that Vedic tradition. The puja is performed on behalf of the meditator with fruit, flowers and white cloth that he or she brings with them to instruction; the meditator is required to actively contribute to the offerings used in the ritual and is thus not merely a bystander unconnected with, or simply witnessing, its performance.

      https://tmfree.blogspot.com/2021/02/introduction-demystifying-puja-3-part.html

      1. You’ve just side-stepped my claim that there is a measurable effect on meditation practice from learning meditation with puja vs without.

        1. No, I haven’t sidestepped the question. My explanation is that the puja is not some magical incantation; it is part of the process of influencing the new meditator in various ways, so that they both believe that benefits will result and that they are more likely to accept the laundered Hindu/Vedic models of the mind as valid.

          But since all that you do is mindlessly projectile vomit Maharishi/TM talking points and rhetoric (as you’ve done for decades now online) I take for granted your ability to absorb alternate explanations for TM’s existence and ridiculous claims is somewhere around zero.

          1. I think I have yet to use any kind of insulting terms in my interaction with you over the past few decades and I intend on keeping it that way.

            1. Pointing out that, as is obvious to any disinterested reader of this thread, that your activity is best compared to “projectile vomiting” is hardly insulting. What might be a slight bit insulting is to instead mention that, despite the incessant mantra (haha) repeated endlessly by TM marketers that TM is “not a religion,” your activities are best compared to Duane Gish and his well-known “Gish Gallop” tactic used to push Christian creationism. You’re defending a very similar, at its root, religious fundamentalism of a different sort, and after a few decades the tactics you and Gish use become obviously identical.

              You swamp comment threads like this one (and even, some years ago, comment sections on the blog I coordinate before I kicked you out on your ass) with cut-and-paste meaningless chaff, and display not a shred of rational thought with respect to those endlessly repeated snippets of decades-old TM sales rhetoric. Just like Gish, repetition and overwhelming everyone with sheer volume of sewage is the only tactic left when countering concrete expressions of reality, be that the statements of fluent and informed TM critics, and even, right here, mention of a real live Federal case, that is effectively against TM and its methods, which may continue (if they don’t immediately fold and settle) against an element of government that, likely in violation of Federal and State law, allied itself with TM promoters.

              You evidently don’t have a smidgen of understanding that an individual’s civil rights are more important than your ridiculous need to save the planet by pushing enormous piles of bullshit involving magic words (mantras), secret ceremonies (the puja among others), circular, repetitious rituals with no way out (the “checking” method) and a whole raft of dogma that’s presented throughout the TM induction process, whose purpose and meaning are never, ever formally disclosed by its teachers, and all of it is never, ever opened to critical analysis. That’s why almost all the supposed “evidence” for TM comes from “research” almost always directed by TM teachers who are privy to all of that and who will never allow anyone who hasn’t, like themselves, demonstrated loyalty to Maharishi and his heirs, to “test something other than what they’re supposed to test,” to use the phrase that TM movement attorney Steven Druker once personally mentioned to me.

              1. So you think that John Wolf, should he prove to be a TMer, has contaminated the Urban Crime Lab’s research on TM to the point that it doesn’t matter what the findings are?

                Have you run this past the Urban Lab powers that be or even their bosses?
                These are pretty serious charges, you know.

              2. By the way, you seem to have missed the memo:
                the case can only continue against the school board. Both the University of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation have been excluded from the lawsuit with the ruling that this article is about, or so I read things.

                1. More meaningless chaff out of your keyboard. The story itself is quite explicit about that, I need add nothing one way or the other.

                  1. “which may continue (if they don’t immediately fold and settle) against an element of government that, likely in violation of Federal and State law, allied itself with TM promoters.”

                    How did the school board “ally” itself?

                    They gave permission for a study to go on, after first going through the DLF Quiet Time proposal process as described on the David Lynch Foundation website.

                    What are the steps to implement a schoolwide Quiet Time program?

                    Approval

                    Certified Transcendental Meditation teachers give separate presentations to each of these groups, who must strongly support the Quiet Time program in order to move forward:
                    * school leadership
                    * school governing body (written approval required from district or board)
                    * school faculty and staff

                    Implementation

                    The Quiet Time program is implemented in four stages—sign-off to proceed is required after each:
                    1. School leadership receives TM training as a professional development / wellness course*
                    2. School faculty receives TM training*
                    3. School principal (a) signs letter of intent, (b) secures program funding, (c) meets with parents to get their feedback and support and (d) adjusts school schedule to include two 15–20 minute Quiet Time periods each day.
                    4. Students receive voluntary TM training and follow-up from a certified TM teacher (parents sign a permission letter in order for their child to learn the TM technique).

                    *Funding for stages 1 and 2 can come from the school or a funding organization

                    .

                    At no stage did any parent, faculty or staff member object, for if they had, the DLF would simply have not taught at that school. In the non-study Quiet Time format, any student objects to learning, they are not taught TM. From what John Wolf said in the video link you gave, even in the study, if a student who ended up in a TMing classroom objected, they also were not taught TM.

                    .

                    1. You can’t resist the opportunity to regurgitate TM propaganda documents, can you?

                      The actions of the defendant(s), as determined through the discovery process, are what matter here, not the DLF’s marketing materials.

  20. Over the past 15 years the David Lynch Foundation has spent many millions of dollars to achieve their stated goal of “Teaching TM to a million public school students. They have paid for TM training for thousands of public high school students in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. They have also sponsored numerous “education conferences” which are nothing more than TM love-fests. Frequently they will trot out a bunch of cute kids and their teacher who talks about how wonderful TM has been for them. Many times former Lynch Foundation Advisory Board member, Russell Simmons, is on stage along with leaders of the David Lynch Foundation. Russell took time from allegedly raping and assaulting at least 20 women to go to Chicago’s Bogan High School to recruit Quiet Time students. His appearances have been less frequent since he fled the country. Another former Lynch Foundation Board member, Stephen Collins, is a self-confessed pedophile.
    TM teachers are missionaries. They sign a pledge to TM’s founder, that reads in part: “It is my fortune, Guru Dev [the Maharishi’s dead master], that I have been accepted to serve the Holy Tradition and spread the Light of God to all those who need it. It is my joy to undertake the responsibility of representing the Holy Tradition in all its purity as it has been given to me by Maharishi and I promise on your altar, Guru Dev, that with all my heart and mind I will always work within the framework of the Organisations founded by Maharishi. And to you, Maharishi, I promise that as a Meditation Guide I will be faithful in all ways to the trust that you have placed in me.”
    The Quiet Time program has been a colossal failure. San Francisco was the model with five schools and thousands students. San Francisco shut down because it was deemed a failure. In November 2019, the Chicago Public Schools shut down a David Lynch Foundation-funded program for over 3000 high school students operating for over three years. All took was a four minute speech to the Board of CPS by a substitute teacher and a 14 year-old-inner city high school student. At the end of the presentation, Chicago’s Chief of Education states the information presented had been withheld during her due diligence on the program. Chicago shut down the program before the lawsuit because the Lynch Foundation refused to teach TM without the puja ceremony. https://youtu.be/yMJV-3z1kh4 New York canceled as major expansion of Quiet Time than had an $8.2mm study attached to it. Why is the puja so important. Following is a quote referencing the puja from an address given in 2007 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    “We are fortunate to perform Puja to Guru Dev because in Guru Dev we have the reality of Krishna—reality of Total Knowledge is embodiment of Total Knowledge. “Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnur, Guru Devo Maheshvarah, Guruh Sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah.” Guru Brahma—Guru is the creator. Guru Vishnu—Guru is the maintainer. Guru Devo Maheshvarah—Guru is eternal Shiva, absolute silence. And Guru Sakshat Param Brahma, and Guru is the summation of the three, diversity, and unity. Tasmai Sri Guruve Namah. That is why we bow down to Guru Dev. Bowing down to Guru Dev is in essence, in reality, subjecting ourself to that eternal unified state which is the be-all and end-all of existence.”
    Quiet Time is over. It is no longer even mentioned on the Lynch Foundation website.

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