TM's Deceptions

From "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Guru's Marketing Scheme Promises the World Eternal 'Perfect Health,'" Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Oct. 2, 1991, pp. 1741-45, 1749-50.

(In "TM Deceptions -- 1", the commentator described how representatives of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation organization systematically failed to reveal to the public, and academic institutions where they made presentations about the virtues of TM's trademarked Ayur-Veda medicine, that they were also deeply invovled in marketing and profiting from a host of questionable TM medical products and services.)

Submission to JAMA of "Letter from Delhi" was not the first time that writers to the journal failed to inform the editor of their intimate connections to TM. An earlier letter writer was found to be medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Medical Center in Pacific Palisades, CA. Similarly, the author of a favorable review of a book by a TM practitioner in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine failed to disclose that he also had an intimate professional relationship with TM. Yet again, Harvard Magazine published a glowing account of Maharishi Ayur-Veda medicine in 1989 without knowing that the associate editor, who authored the article, practices TM yogic "flying."

Indeed, TM has made many incorrect or distorted public announcements to advance its programs. Leading TM spokesman Deepak Chopra, M.D., claimed publicly that the Massachusetts Board of Education had virtually decided to accredit the Maharishi Vedic University's graduate degree programs. The state said it had merely received an application for such accreditation. In another instance, TM held a press conference in Tucson earlier this year to say that it would soon meet with state officials to discuss setting up a program to teach prisoners TM. The state said no preliminary conversations had been held; an official felt the media event was a stratagem to pressure the Department of Corrections to respond to the TM proposal. (Negative reports of the program from other states convinced them that they should not consider it for Arizona.) TM also has a recorded message at its facility in Maryland saying a seminar on Ayur-Veda is being offered at the National Institutes of Health, in Washington; in fact, an NIH staffer has permission to use a conference room after hours for the TM seminars. Moreover, TM put out a news release in 1985 saying the NIH deputy director had chaired an NIH conference on Maharishi Ayur-Veda. The deputy director says he did no such thing, adding that quotes like those attributed to him by TM, about TM, have been twisted and "exploit scientists who are willing to listen to their claims."

Chopra has impressed some scientists with the claim that there is a connection between the mysticism behind Ayur-Veda and the discoveries of quantum physics. The eminent physicist to whom Chopra refers this inference, Heinz R. Pagels, said that this is "nonsense. . . There is no known connection between meditation states and states of matter in physics. . . To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics. . . so willfully perverted," Pagels has written, "provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions."

Not Cost Effective

TM health care and treatment are not nearly so cost effective as the promoters claim. Chopra says TM-linked treatments cost "a lot less than a single day at a hospital or hotel," but the cost of just one of the products he recommends is approximately $1,000 for a 1-year personal supply (the total cost for health care in the U.S. was $2500 per person in 1989). TM health maintenance courses cost $3400. Seven days of cleansing programs cost $2700, and should be repeated three times a year. In case of actual illness, costs can rise steeply, to thousands of dollars. For example, ex-members claim a prescribed ceremony invoking a Hindu deity to treat endometriosis was priced at $11,500, although the simply "recommended" cere-mony for the condition was only $8,500, and one that would "suffice" was $3,500. Two physicians promoting TM in Britain were recently charged with serious misconduct by the British Medical Council for promoting and selling worthless herbal remedies to AIDs patients. Ayur-Veda promoters in the U.S. say that their herbal product Amrit Kalash can alleviate many AIDs-related symptoms and protect against opportunistic infections.

Style of Deception

Ex-members say that the TM movement trains them in the kinds of deception noted here. "I was taught to lie and to get around the petty rules of the 'unenlightened' in order to get favorable reports into the media, " said one. "We were taught how to exploit the reporters' gullibility and fascination with the exotic, especially that [which] comes from the East. We thought we weren't doing anything wrong because we were told it was often necessary to deceive the unenlightened to advance our guru's plan to save the world."

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