As press conferences go, this is a modest one: no klieg lights, no media crush; just a few writers and photographers gathered at Sharp Memorial Hospital, one of the six hospitals operated by Sharp HealthCare, one of San Diego's largest health-care providers.
The occasion is Sharp's announcement that it is establishing a pair of major new programs in mind-body medicine, the Institute for Human Potential and Mind Body Medicine and the Center for Mind Body Medicine. Having prospered in the complex world of high-tech scientific medicine, the hospital system will now venture into unfamiliar territory, sponsoring research and even basing patient treatments on some of the most innovative and controversial alternative medicine theories.
``We're sure there's a relationship between the mind and the body,'' square-jawed Sharp CEO Peter Ellsworth tells the press. ``But we don't know what that is.'' Sharp, he suggests, may soon know more.
Then Ellsworth turns over the podium to the institues's new executive director. Though he is dressed in a conservative brown suit, it's clear from the moment he begins to speak that his ideas fall far--very far-- outside the medical mainstream.
Modern medical treatments too often ``sow the seeds of the illness of the future,'' he declares in a resonant voice modulated by a Indian accent. Eighty percent of the pharmaceuticals prescribed by doctors are either ``optional, or of marginal benefit'' because ``they don't affect the outcome of the disease.'' He describes the body as something akin to a computer network infused with a soul: ``The fact is we have a thinking body,'' he says. ``Our cells are constantly eavesdropping on our minds.''
Even growing old is a kind of mass hallucination, the speaker asserts. ``What people consider normal aging is really just the psychopathology of the average.'' We live in a ``recreational universe,'' he tell the media, and are made for happiness.
Hardly the typical pronouncements of a corporate medical insider. But then, Deepak Chora, M.D., has not become one of America's best-known maverick healers and alternative medicine advocates by masking his beliefs. A best-selling author whose seven books combined have sold some two million copies--his latest best seller, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind , has topped the 800,000 mark and recently spawned a companion journal--Chopra has became a certifiable celebrity, racking up appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in the pages of People magazine. He drives a Jaguar and recently bought a home in the posh LaJolla section of SanDiego.
But Chopra is not just rich and famous; he is fiercely controversial as well. Chorpra's longtime association with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation, and one-time guru to the Beatles, has cause him to be reviled by much of the medical mainstream, most notably the powerful American Medical Association (AMA). TM's vocal critics say the doctor's credibility has been seriously undermined by his association with an organization they regard as a cult. Conversely, Chopra's recent decision to break with his spiritual mentor, abandon the TM organization, and sign on with Sharp HeathCare sent shock waves through the TM community. What's he doing on their side? many must have wondered. Just as many skeptical doctors are no doubt wondering, What's he doing on our side?
Central to the controversy--and to the doctor's meteoric rise to prominence--is Chopra's promotion in his books, tapes, lectures, and workshops of Ayurveda, an ancient Indian folk medicine revived and updated by the Maharishi in the early '80s and now, thanks to his organization's promotional skills, experiencing something of a renaissance. At times arcane, even by the standards of alternative medicine, Ayurveda's multifaceted approach to health that relies on meditation, herbal remedies, pulse diagnosis, panchakarma purification techniques (which use massage, healing oils, and enemas), and special diets keyed to body type and personality. Treatments may include aromatherapy, stimulation of marmas, or sensitive points on the skin, even music therapy. Yoga is recommended for strength and flexibility, as well as specific kinds of exercises that vary depending on the time of the year and the patience's constitution.
Ayurveda's approach to health--indeed, its entire worldview--represents a marked departure from that of Western medicine. In ayurvedic medicine, health comes when the forces of the body and mind are in balance, and restoring balance begins with a knowledge of the patient's mind-body type.
While Maharishi Ayurveda shares much in common with other forms of alternative medicine, including an emphasis on diet, herbs, and meditation, many of its theories remain unproven. Despite the popularity of Chopra's books--not to mention TM's claim to have reached two million Americans with the Maharishi teaching--only about 300 US physicians have been trained in Maharishi Ayurveda. Only one school, Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, teaches the techniques, and no state licensed practitioners. Even some of Chopra's admirers wonder whether ayurveda's ancient treatments will stand up to the rigors of scientific research. For now, the practice remains at the very margins of American medicine.
And yet, it has found a home at Sharp HealthCare. Though the new mind-body center also uses other alternative treatments, such as biofeedback, ayurvedic techniques will be the basis of most of the care delivered there. Those same techniques will be researched in studies, one which--exploring the efficiency of an ayurvedic health-promotion program--recently received funding from the National Institutes for Health's Office of Alternative Medicine. Sharp's willingness to experiment with such a program distinguishes it from virtually every other not-for-profit community hospital system in the nation. Though there are a few other hospitals with programs that explore similar territory, virtually all the other do so within a university setting. And no other American hospital system is investing resources in testing ayurvedic treatments. The Sharp-Chopra alliance can truly be called ground-breaking.
Sharp Healthcare isn't the kind of place you'd expect to find perched out on the farthest frontiers of mind-body medicine. Though San Diego is considered something of an alternative-health mecca, and Sharp itself enjoys a reputation for innovation, the six-hospital, $1.14 billion operation has hewed mostly to the confines of conventional wisdom.
But, well ahead of most others in one of the nation's most competitive health-care markets, Sharp saw the value in preventive medicine--especially as consumer preferences and the Clinton Administration's reform plan push hospital systems to adopts new roles. Certainly it's no secret that market concerns are central to Sharp's involvement with Chopra. ``All you need to do to assess the public's interest in [alternative medicine] is to go into a bookstore and see what people are buying,'' asserts Peter Ellsworth, the Sharp CEO.
A major study published last January in The New England Journal of Medicine provides more concrete evidence of the rising interest in alternative treatments. A research team headed by Harvard Medical School instructor David Eisenberg, M.D., calculated that Americans in 1990 had spent a staggering $10.3 billion out of pocket on alternative healing techniques--comparable to the estimated $12.8 billion they paid out of pocket for hospitalization. Though Eisenberg used a loose definition of ``unconventional therapies'' that also encompassed chiropractors and diet centers, the basic thrust of the study has not been lost on hospital officials looking anxiously to figure out where their market is heading.
Testing ayurveda's preventive power, then, has become one of Sharp's primary missions. If all goes as expected, for example, a program in the coronary-care unit will examine whether relaxation techniques can decrease the incidence of cardiac irregularities. Cancer patients will be tracked to see if ayurvedic treatments reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and the length of their hospital stays. Those suffering from digestive disorders, which are often related to stress, will be offered ayurvedic treatments, as will chronic pain patients. Ravi Shankar, the famed sitar player who also influenced the Beatles and who now lives in San Diego County, will contribute to the institute's music program. Taking a cue from ayurveda's emphasis on the soothing power of music, researchers will seek to determine whether playing music in the hospital wards each evening can reduce patients' need for sleep medication.
In addition to the five Sharp-affiliated physicians on the new center's staff are a number of ``ayurvedic technicians''--massage therapists, a yoga instructor, two registered nurses, and people teaching nutrition and biofeedback. The institute will also spread the word about mind-body medicine by offering talks to the public and seminars for health professionals. Participants in Sharp's health-maintenance organization will be able to attend special seminars for a nominal fee and receive a discount on ayurvedic treatments, but other patients--or, in a few cases, their insurance plans--will pay the going rate: $265 for a three-hour consultation with a physician, a health educator, and a yoga instructor; $3,000 for a week-long residential program.
David Simon, M.D., a neurologist and the chief of staff at Sharp Cabrillo Hospital, is the medical director of both the institute and the center. Simon, a long-time TM adherent who did his undergraduate thesis on shamanism, played the key role in recruiting Chopra to Sharp. Joining the Center for Mind Body Medicine represents a considerable risk for him and his physician colleagues, Simon acknowledges. ``I've certainly received more that my share of concern from colleagues,'' he says. Why are these doctors willing to take that risk? The Indian approach, Simon says, appeals to their yearning for a renewed emphasis on healing: ``Are hospitals and doctors just going to be technicians of disease, or are we going to start being experts on health?''
Simon--whose acupuncture chart is displayed in his office as prominently as his samples of Midrin, a prescription headache drug--emphasizes that the center's staff will draw on both Eastern and Western approaches: ``We're not going not going to do this in lieu of standard medical treatment. We're talking the bold step of offering these programs complementary approach to everything else Sharp does.''
It is an attitude, he says, that partly inspired by Chopra himself. ``One of Deepak's great values,'' Simon explains, ``is his ability to translate the principles of mind-body medicine into scientific language, and talk to people on both sides of the divide.''
If Chopra can talk like the consummate Western-style scientist, it is because, for many years, he was one. Born and raised one.
Several years before, a chance encounter with a book on Transcendental Meditation had led Chopra to take the TM training. Impressed by the technique's ability to help him reduce his stress level and his reliance on tobacco, coffee, and alcohol, he used it regularly and eventually began to explore its roots in his native India.
After establishing a close relationship with the Maharishi, Chopra began to write a series of books detailing the insights inspired by TM and his lengthy conversations with his teacher. Written in clear and engaging language, the books mix the doctor's own medical case histories with Eastern philosophy on health and the nature of consciousness. As he told a wide-eyed Oprah, ``When you get to the level of thoughts, you're not just a human being who has occasional spiritual experience. You're a spiritual being who has occasional human experiences.''
Slowly the TM movement and his relationship with the Maharishi grew to dominate his life. By 1990 Chopra had abandoned his practice in endocrinology to practice and spread the word about ayurveda. He traveled abroad to see his guru every six weeks. Even the growing demands of fame came second to that relationship: Once, a friend recalls, he canceled a book-promotion appearance on Good Morning America at the last minute because the Maharishi had requested that he come immediately to his residence in Holland.
Chopra became the best-known of several prominent Western scientists who spread the word about the Maharishi's teaching. ``The Maharishi loves to use scientists,'' asserts Joseph Kelly of TM-EX, a small group of former TM practiononers that is highly critical of Chopra and TM. ``He'll take someone in a position of influence and power and use him to promote his program.''
Meanwhile Chopra's books and tapes were being snapped up by TM practitioners and others, more than a few of whom visited his new clinic, Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine, in Lancaster, MA. Founded in 1986, and still in operation, the facility under Chopra's direction treated about twenty people a week on an outpatient basis, with about a dozen patients participating in its week-long residential program within the walls of what was once a family estate.
Before Chopra left the TM movement and cut his ties to the Lancaster center last year, there was a story TM practitioners loved to tell about him. In 1985, a psychologist friend persuaded him to fly down to a Washington, D.C., hotel to hear the Maharishi speak on ayurveda. Several hours into the talk, Chopra and his wife, Rita, quietly left their seats in that back of the crowded auditorium, intent on catching their fight back to Boston. Quite inexplicably, as Chopra tells the tale, the Maharishi himself suddenly appeared in the hotel lobby, offering them flowers and asking them to come upstairs to talk with him in private. They protested that they had a plane to catch, but he persuaded them to stay. In more than two hours of discussion, the guru and the endocrinologist formed the basis of a relationship that would, for the disciple, bring wealth, fame, and a form of enlightenment--and would, for the master, supply an astoundingly bright, charismatic devotee with the gospel according to Maharishi.
But there is another part of the story that is told less often, because it reflects the deep doubts Chopra had even before he plunged into the Maharishi's inner circle. Those same doubts help today to explain his departure from the TM movement.
``As we headed home, I thought about Ayurveda and Maharishi's desire for me to become involved in it''' Chopra writes in Return of the Rishi . ``Now that I was away from him, my inner silence evaporated, and the buzzing of thoughts started up again...Some silence remained in my awareness, but now it was spoiled by anxiety. Over and over, a thought repeated itself to me: "Don't become an outsider.''
But Chopra's close relationship with TM would virtually guarantee him a outsider status--and attract controversy. He claimed in Perfect Health , for example, to have treated 10,000 patients in five years using ayurveda, treatments that--according to TM-EX cofounder Patrick Ryan--could be quite expensive. Ryan, who makes his living these days as a cult ``exit counselor,'' says Chopra's patients have told him the doctor would charge $700 for brief instruction in a mantra technique, and that at least one Lancaster patient claims to have been charged $11,500 for treatments that included a healing ceremony performed for her in India while she remained in the United States.
Chopra dismisses claims made by TM-EX as coming from a group of fanatics prone to extreme exaggeration. ``Everyone in TM-EX is a former fanatic on the inside who is now a fanatic on the outside,'' he says with a wave of his hand. Nonetheless, the cult like stigma attached to the TM movement was a key factor in Chopra's decision to leave the Lancaster clinic, and led him eventually to conclude that his affiliation with TM and the Maharishi was preventing him from reaching many people who might otherwise benefit from ayurveda.
Criticism of Chopra has been especially harsh from mainstream doctors who were once his peers. They deride Chopra's blend of physics, biology, and spirituality. Many even scoff at claims by Chopra and the TM that the meditation technique has beneficial effects--though the claims have been explored over the past two decades in numerous studies, some of considerable validity.
The most serious criticism followed a May 1991 article in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association co-authored by Chopra, Hari M. Sharma, M.D., of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, and Brihaspati Dev Triguna. Reviewing the literature on Maharishi Ayurveda, the authors concluded that ``with rigorous scientific investigation, Maharishi Ayur-Veda may provide useful new insights and approaches to the prevention and treatment of disease...and may give access to therapeutic and preventive modalities that have been previously ignored or considered unscientific.''
Publication these thoughts in the bible of mainstream medicine caused jubilation in the TM movement and among advocates of alternative treatments. But the authors could scarcely have provoked a more heated response from the medical establishment had they advocated that doctors be trained to kill babies. The barrage began with a lengthy ``correction'' from JAMA's editors. Sharma, Chopra, and Triguna, they said, appeared to be inconsistent in disclosing their financial interest in various ayurvedic programs and products.
It's a charge Chopra heatedly denies: ``My source of income was never from the TM organization or primarily from the practice of ayurveda, '' he says. In fact, he says, he resigned from Maharishi AyurVeda Products International soon after having helped to create the herbal medicine company, be cause ``I knew that people would say there's a conflict of interest.''
The JAMA correction was just the first blow, however. Though a few readers wrote JAMA to praise the article, many more weighed in against it. Among the critics was TM-EX cofounder Ryan who called Maharishi Ayurveda ``hocus-pocus medicine.'' He added: ``I am frightened that JAMA would print, and thus give credibility to, magic, astrology, rituals, and potions for the prevention and cure of disease.''
Wallace Sampson, M.D., of San Jose, CA, wrote that the TM movement ``makes false medical claims'' and called the article ``trashy, pseudoscientific blather.'' Nearly twenty other letters leveled accusations of greed, deception, and fraud against the writers.
The worst blow came from JAMA itself, in the form of a lengthy October 1991 article by associate editor Andrew A. Skolnick, which attacked, among other things, TM's past claim to being able to allow meditators to walk through walls and fly through the air. Skolnick's manuscript, which contained as much invective as documentation, seemed to take Chopra and his co-authors to task for every exaggerated claim ever made by TM, and some made by Chopra himself.
The article's publication elicited widely divergent responses. The American Association for Ayur-Vedic Medicine, which Chopra headed, and the nonprofit Lancaster Foundation, filed a multimillion-dollar defamation suit (since put on hold, pending negotiations) against Skolnick and his JAMA editors. The Columbia Journalism Review , however, applauded the article's publication, while the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal--in a move rich with irony for ayurveda proponents--honored Skolnick with its 1992 ``Responsibility in Journalism'' award. Today, Chopra dismisses Skolnick's work as ``a tabloid thing'' and the AMA as a ``business lobby more than anything else.''
But Chopra was clearly affected by the JAMA furor. ``Right after the AMA thing, I left the movement,'' he relates during an interview. ``I said, Who needs this?''
A subsequent incident drove home the cost of continuing involvement with TM--and how it was turning him into a permanent outsider. Researchers for Bill Moyers spent considerable time with Chopra as they were doing background work for what became Moyer's hugely popular PBS series and book, Healing and the Mind . But Chopra says he eventually heard secondhand that Moyers had decided not to interview him or mention his work. ``Apparently he was a little fearful that if he had me on his show, he might run the risk of supporting a specific group. The word cult always crops up.''
Chopra says the JAMA and Moyers experiences coincided with his growing desire to reach a wider audience. ``I wanted to mainstream the knowledge and not confine it to one group,'' he explains. ``I didn't want to be restricted by being TM's representative. I felt that if I confined myself to just this, a whole body of knowledge that could find legitimacy would never do it.''
By mid-1992 he had left the guru's inner circle, though it was a year before the split was publicly acknowledged. ``I continue to respect him and be grateful for all that I have learned,'' says Chopra, who still practices and recommends Transcendental Meditation.
``Deepak realized he has to start talking not only of Maharishi's truth but of his own truth. But when that actually happens, it's like a divorce,'' says psychiatrist and author Harold H. Bloomfield, a friend of Chopra's who also remains an intimate of many in the TM movement. Bloomfield, who wrote a best seller on TM in the mid-70's, says his friend also underwent something of a spiritual crisis: ``Deepak had to deal with a certain pain in his heart. He wanted to remain loyal to the master but also needed to be true to himself--and therein lies what each of us has to confront.''
The shock waves of Chopra's departure from the Transcendental Meditation movement are still being felt by many of its practitioners. TM's inner circle heard the news at a Washington, D.C., gathering in July 1993. The announcement that the movement was no longer endorsing his work referred to him as ``our dear friend.'' Hoping to soften the blow of his departure, the doctor sent out a letter of explanation to directors of the nation's largest TM centers.
Meanwhile, Chopra has another best seller and is once again affiliated with a mainstream health-care system. Gregory Dennis, New Age Journal, January/February 1994~
To the Editor:
``Beatles' Guru Offers Nirvana to Mozambique" (news article, Feb. 10) notes with apparent whimsy the grandiose plan of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the transcendental meditation guru, to purchase one-forth of all the land in the southern African country of Mozambique for what his prospectus terms his ``Heaven on Earth Development Project.''
Your lighthearted tone, however, should not obscure a dangerous fact in Mozambique: dubious government land-tenure policies risk provoking renewed warfare at a time when Mozambique and much of southern Africa are on the verge of peace and stability for the first time in decades.
Mozambicans are in precarious condition after 16 years of internal war, which displaced some 5.7 million people and left 4 million others dependent on international food aid. Amid the chaos of postwar Mozambique, tens of thousands more Mozambicans peasants are being disposed of their traditional land because of massive and often secret land concessions that were granted by Mozambican officials in the in the last year to South African companies, former Portuguese colonists, speculators and other outsiders.
In a country of poor, largely illiterate farmers, whose livelihoods depend on land, land tenure is particularly explosive issue. Three-fourths of the land in Mozambique is unfit for agriculture, leaving about 16 million hectares suitable for farming.
About 8 million hectares, and that includes some of the country's best agricultural land, have been granted to large private concessions, according to research by the Land Tenure Center of the University of Wisconsin. The center has conducted extensive investigation of the dubious land deals that have been arranged by Mozambican officials.
Small farmers, who are key to the hungry country's difficult recovery, gain nothing from these mega-deals. Indeed, they lose the land altogether.
During the 1970's, Mozambican rebels exploited widespread rural disenchantment over Government land confiscations to fuel 16 years of one of the most brutal wars that Africa has ever known. The war left, it has been estimated, a million people dead. It was clear during our U.S. Committee for Refugees fact-finding trip to Mozambique last year that Mozambican peasants yearn for peace, food and development.
However, new violence is possible, if their precious land continues to be sold out from underneath them.
If the Mozambican Government does not put a halt to these largely uncontrolled sales of land, which uproot the war's impoverished survivors, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi might want to contemplate renaming his potential huge development ``Hell on Earth.'' Jeff Drumtra, African Policy Analyst, U.S. Committee for Refugees, Washington, DC, February. 10, 1994; The New York Times, Editorials/Letters, Saturday, February 19, 1994 ~
In this issue of the TM-EX Newsletter we will begin a series of articles that explore the claims Maharishi Mahesh Yogi makes about reducing crime, war, natural disasters and improving the quality of life. Our focus will be on Fairfield, Iowa.
Fairfield is the home to Maharishi International University (MIU), World Plan Executive Council-US (WPEC-US) and the world's largest contingent of advanced TM practitioners called "Sidhas" (perfected beings).
According to the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, the population of Fairfield is ``just about 10,000.'' The Sidha population has been reported at 2,500. That means 25% of the population of Fairfield are meditators. Maharishi claims that only 1% of a population need meditate to create an ideal society.
Are Maharishi's claims of transcendental meditation lowering crime and improving the quality of life true?
Maharishi affiliated researchers consistently use selection bias in collecting their research data. In effect they ` `paint the bulls-eye around the arrow ,'' selecting only data that is favourable to the movement claims.
Using this same technique, ``we will paint the bull's-eye'' around events--to draw attention to the absurdity of the Maharishi-movements claims.
The Maharishi Effect 1978
In the Age of Enlightenment Newsletter (1978 WPEC, Age of Enlightenment Press U15-4407-478) the movement makes the bold claim that:
``His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, ..has single-handedly turned the trend of time from chaos and problems towards wisdom and fulfillment.'' The publications goes on to offer ``Invincibility to every nation'' ``Invincibility to all nations in not a conditional offer to the family of nations; it is a unconditional gift to all countries from the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment''
``In offering Invincibility to Every Nation, we are offering the world a chance to rise to that brilliant majesty and dignity of life which is the birthright of every individual and every nation. In the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program we have the practical knowledge needed to ring the Bell of Invincibility and forever free mankind from bondage. The nature of life is unbounded and invincible bliss consciousness. There is no need for any individual to suffer or for any nation to face problems.''
`` A voluminous library already recording more than one hundred thousand experiences of higher states of consciousness, including the TM-Sidhi phenomena, or supernormal abilities, is being compiled in the archives of Maharishi European Research University, attesting to the reality of the dawning Age of Enlightenment.''
``The effects of these experiences are not limited to individuals practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi techniques, but are having a profound influence on world consciousness. In December 1974, the ``Maharishi Effect'' was discovered, wherein one percent of any population practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique was found to reduce the levels of crime, sickness, and accidents for the entire community. On the basis of this discovery, Maharishi inaugurated the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment for all mankind. Since that time news media from around the world have begun to report the new and positive trend in the tide of world events. These changes are so contrasting to previous direction of world events that Maharishi was inspired to proclaim an end to suffering and a commencement of life in invincibility for all mankind.''
The Maharishi Effect
``Communities approaching one percent of their population participation in the Transcendental Meditation program show reductions in crime and accidents and improvements through society. This principle, of a few individuals increasing orderliness in their individual consciousness and bringing harmony to the whole society, is known as the Maharishi Effect.
~ When this influence reaches sufficient intensity to bring coherence to the collective consciousness of the nation, then cultural integrity is restored and the nation rises to enjoy invincibility.' ' ~
Fairfield's crime rate is a static one, according to Chief of Police Don Raymond. He said there was little fluctuation -- up or down -- between 1992 and 1993.
I see no significant increase between the two years,'' Raymond said. ``There would appear to be an increase in liquor violations, but not any significant increases anywhere else. I'd say it was status quo.''
Raymond presented his annual crime report to the Fairfield City Council last week.
In 1993, six rapes were reported, although none was prosecuted as actual rape in the courts. That's two more than reported in 1992.
Raymond says incidents are placed into categories as specified by the National Crime Information Center.
The statistics in his annual report indicate only the offense which is reported by the complainant, whether or not the description ultimately fits the actual offense.
Seven people committed suicide in Fairfield last year, compared to six the year before. Also, two dead bodies were found last year.
There were none in 1992.
Liquor violations rose three-fold in 1993, with police responding to 53 calls related to liquor offenses, compared to 17 a year earlier.
There was very little violent crime in the city last year, as is typically the case in Fairfield, the chief said.
Overall, police responded to 10,340 calls in 1993, compared to 9,501 in 1992. That figure, however, may be skewed a bit because of changes in the method of compilation. Traffic stops, for instance, are included in the latest report; they were not in 1992.
Police stopped 1,474 vehicles last year for various reasons, according to the report.
Many categories saw declines in reports, while others rose slightly. Thefts decreased from 461 to 427; disorderly conduct dropped from 675 to 656; intoxication fell from 27 to 16; motor vehicle theft declined form 33 to 26; and sex offenses went from nine to five.
On the upswing were assault (31 in 1992, 61 in '93); possession of a controlled substance, six to 11; offenses against family and children, 73 to 82; and OWI [operating while under the influence] , form 82 to 86.
Burglaries stayed the same, with 84 reported in both 1992 and '93. The number of traffic accidents rose from 482 to 504.
The police department handled 2,100 assist and service calls, down sharply from 3,071 a year earlier. That number is expected to fall even further next year, since police no longer answer calls to unlock vehicles.
In his report to the council Raymond lauds the ``real spirit of cooperation and enthusiasm'' he sees in his department.
``Through cooperation, our building has received a real facelift and new pride in our facilities and equipment is very evident,'' Raymond said. Bill Draper, The Fairfield Ledger, March 21, 1994~
Vandals tore up O.B. Nelson Park during the weekend, according to park superintendent Dean Haney. In a season when park work was considered at an end, repairs have to be made to a water fountain, telephone, shed and the pool has to be cleaned out, Haney reported at the December meeting of directors of the Park and Recreation Department.
Haney said the water fountain was torn up and the phone box was ripped from the side of a shed. The shed roof was damaged and debris was thrown in the pool. Fairfield Ledger, December 10. 1993 ~
Robert L. Rasmussen appeared in Jefferson County District Court Monday afternoon for sentencing on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, second offense.
Rasmussen, 61 and mayor of Fairfield, had pleaded guilty to the charge, which was filed by a Fairfield police officer July 10 after he stopped Rasmussen's car because of a broken headlight.
There were two continuations of the case while Rasmussen spent a month in a Minnesota rehabilitation facility.
The sentence was fairly typical of similar cases handled by Associate District Court Judge Lucy J. Gamon. Rasmussen was fined $750, plus 30 percent surcharge and costs, which amounted to $1,020. He was given a nine-month jail sentence, with all but seven days suspended and credit for seven days at the Hazelden Institute. Probation is for one year, or less if terminated by the Department of Correctional Services. The Fairfield Ledger, August 24, 1993~
A debt hangover from last summer's floods has Iowans on edge this spring.
Calls to a state hotline are at the highest level in seven years and more that half deal with financial problems.
Many of the financial woes involve farmer's who already had debt problems before last year's crop-eating floods stuck, said Margaret Van Ginkel, who coordinates the Iowa Concern hotline. But some were from Iowans whose debts grew as a result of flood damage to homes or businesses.
There were 801 calls in February to the Iowa Concern hotline, an increase of 60 percent from the same month a year ago and the highest total for any February since 1987, Ban Ginkel said Wednesday during a panel discussion on rural affairs at Iowa State University
Stress was evident in nearly one out of three calls, and 91 of those 237 callers either showed signs of depression, cried, were very angry or talked about suicide as an option, she said. AP, The Fairfield Ledger, March 24, 1994~
For the second time in less that three years, Fairfield Mayor Robert Rasmussen has been arrested for drunk driving.
According to the police department, officer Mark Kukuzke pulled the mayor over at 12:24 a.m. Saturday at Broadway Avenue and Second Street for an equipment violation.
Upon suspecting that Rasmussen may have been drinking, Kukuzke put the mayor through a series of field sobriety test, including a preliminary breath test.
After taking the test, Rasmussen was detained and taken to Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center, where he refused to take a breath test to determine blood alcohol content. He was held and later released on his own recognizance.
In addition to drunk driving charge, Rasmussen was ticketed for not having a Iowa driver's license and having an insufficient number of headlamps.
Rasmussen was arrested for first offense OWI Feb. 20, 1991, in Clear Lake. He was convicted of the offense four months later.
In March of that same year, Rasmussen was ticketed for driving while his license was suspended. He had protested the ticket on the basis that a 20-day license under which he had been driving was still in effect. He later pled guilty to the charge and was fined $300.
Second-offense OWI carries a minimum $750 fine and seven days in jail. Much of the jail times are routinely suspended by the sentencing judge. In addition, a person convicted of second-offense drunk driving looses his driving privileges for a year.
However, since Rasmussen refused to consent to the breath test, he stands to lose his license for 540 days under Iowa's implied consent law.
Chief of Police Randy Cokes says the mayor could lose his license for that period of time, regardless of whether or not he is convicted of drunk driving charge. ``Implied consent is separate from OWI charge,'' says Cooksey. Bill Draper, The Fairfield Ledger, July 12, 1993~
A 58-year-old Fairfield man is charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting of a neighbor he reportedly didn't even know.
Thomas D. Stone, [TM teacher/Govenor of the Age of Enlightenment] 45, of 807 North B St., is in serious condition today at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City after being shot in the chest in his apartment just after 6 p.m.
Police arrested Harold Lee Lane, 806 North B St., near the scene of the shooting and seized a .44-caliber revolver in Lane's possession.
Since the shooting, Stone, who remained conscious, has told friends his 9-year-old daughter, Serenity, had answered the door shortly after 6 p.m., and that he pushed her aside and slammed the door shut when he saw a gun in a man's hand.
According to Ed Malloy, a family friend, Stone did not know the man, but responded to the sight of the gun. The gun was fired through the glass of the Stone's front door. Malloy said the glass may have reduced the projection and saved Stones's life.
Stone's diaphragm was punctured, but doctors expect him to recover with the same type of scar tissue as in a Cesarean section, Malloy said.
Stone, 45, is co-partner in Intricut Inc. with an office in his home.
Lane is held in Jefferson County Jail with bond set at $32,500.
``The neighborhood is not feeling good about the bail amount,'' Malloy said. ``With 10 percent of the bond, the man could be out.'' Fairfield Ledger, December 8-9, 1993~
The Jefferson County unemployment rate for February is higher that the state average, but the jobs picture has improved since January, according to unemployment figures released today by the Department of Employment Services.
The county rate stands at 6 percent unemployed, compared to state average of 4.9 percent. The seasonally adjusted average for Iowa is down to 4.1 percent.
The county's 6 percent rate for February is an improvement over the 7.8 percent rate in January. A year ago, the February rate in Jefferson County was 4.3 percent.
A short month with fewer pay periods partially accounts for the difference.
The U.S. rate of unemployment for February stands at 6.5 percent, down both from January's rate of 6.7 and from the February rate in 1993 of 7.1 percent.
In bordering counties, the February rate for Henry County was 5.5 percent, down from 6.6 percent in January; Keokuk County 7.9 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January; Van Buren County 6.5 percent, down from 8.8 percent; and 4.9 percent in Washington County, down from 5.5 percent.
Some of the higher rate in January is attributed to temporary shutdowns in manufacturing over the holidays and into the first of the month. Fairfield Ledger, March 17, 1994 ~
When the survey is completed, there is no doubt that Maharishi International University will continue to stand as the largest single piece of tax-exempt property in the county. Blough set the MIU valuation at more that $40 million. Valuation was $9.4 million in 1981.
The price for the Parsons College campus was down to $2.5 million when the sale to MIU was completed in 1975. Parsons' secured debt was more than $12.6 million at the time.
Since then, MIU has constructed a number of new buildings, including the addition to Maharishi School, two recreation buildings, a swimming pool, two domes, a child care center and major remodeling of Henn Mansion.
Only 10 of the condominiums on campus are owned by MIU. The rest are privately owned and are taxed. The Utopia Park of trailers also is taxed.
MIU as a single entity is the most vauable county property. The Fairfield Ledger, December 3, 1993 ~
Dr. R. Keith Wallace has been named executive vice president of Maharishi International University by the board of trustees.
Wallace's appointment is designed to fill an administrative gap created by the extensive time President Beven Morris is spending abroad to develop other schools based on transcendental meditation.
Wallace, 48, was the founding president of the university in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1972 and continued as president when the school moved to Fairfield, and until 1976. He is a trustee of the university.
At the first public gathering at MIU in September 1974, Wallace spoke of a ``very unique university. and one which is very conscious of the community and the world around us.''
Wallace is credited with the first scientific research on TM and early publication in 1970. The study constituted his Ph.D. thesis in physiology at the University of California-Los Angeles. He did post-doctoral research at Harvard University, looking at the effects of TM on high blood pressure. Fairfield Ledger, November 26, 1993 ~
Maharishi International University, one of four Iowa universities producing low-level radioactive trash, ins't worried about storing its own waste.
Dr. John Fagan, chairman of MIU's chemistry department, says his department deals with very minimal amounts of chemicals with very low radioactive lifespans. Because of such, the school already has been storing and disposing of its own radioactive waste.
``We do things on a micro-scale,'' Fagan said. ``We never have to use large amounts of radioactivity. We produce so little waste, we'll just continue to store it on site.''
Waste products at MIU are stored until they burn themselves out, Fagan said, and themselves out, Fagan said, and then are simply thrown into the garbage.
``We have three different machines on campus that allow us to measure radioactivity,'' he said. ``We have very strict monitoring guidelines. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets the guidelines. We fulfill those, and go even further.'' The Fairfield Ledger, December 20, 1993
Three Brief Exit Counselings and Post-Cult Recovery Workshops for Ex-Members
AFF coordinates and publishes academic research about cults and psychological manipulation, educates the public about cults, and provides recovery assistance to ex-cult members and their families and loved ones.
In 1989 AFF launched 'Project Recovery' in order to professionalize the assistance former cult members and their families receive during the recovery process. Under 'Project Recovery' AFF has published two major books about cult recovery, held conferences for professionals, families, and ex-memberes, and sponsored a series of workshops for ex-cultists.
These workshops are small, with extensive interaction between workshop leaders and participants. They are designed for ex-members only; family members or friends may not attend.
The sessions of each workshop are divided into two tracks; registrants will choose which track most suits their needs. It is preferable that participants not change tracks once the workshop has started. Tracks will meet separately and at times together.
Track I: Brief Exit Counseling -- for those not previously familiar with the psychologically manipulative tecniques destructive groups employ to control members
Track II: Recovery Issues -- for those who have learned previously about psychological manipulation but are still dealing with long-term recovery issues.
Two additional tracks will be offered at the June Stony Point, NY workshop only .
Track III: Recovery Issues for Those Born into Cults
Track IV: Recovery Issues for Women who were Sexually Abused in Their Groups.
Overview of the Recovery Process
Coping with Triggers
Margaret Singer's Six Conditions for Mind Control
Introduction to Robert Lifton's Eight Criteria of Thought Reform
Depression and Guilt
Hypnosis and Trance
Anxiety and Decision-Making
Reestablishing Trust in Yourself and Others
The Grieving Process: Getting Beyond it
Reintegration: After the Cult, Who am I?
Spiritual and Philosophical Concerns
All sessions will be led by cult-recovery experts or mental-health professionals. A detailed list of workshop leaders will be sent with registration confirmation, although changes in workshop leaders may occur.
Workshop I - New York
June 4 and 5,
9:00A.M to 5:00P.M.
Stony Point Conference Center, Stony Point NY.
$150/person (double occupancy)
$180/person (single occupancy
Workshop II - Colorado
July 23 and 24
9:00A.M to 5:00P.M
St. Malo Center, Estes Park, CO
Workshop III - California
October 1 and 2
9:00A.M to 5:00P.M
Manresa Retreat House, Azusa, California
$165/person (single/double occupancy)
For information and a registration form, contact : AFF, P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 33959, (212) 249-7693 ~
Dear TM-EX : I am a ex-TM initiator who walked away about ten years ago. I was trained at Humbolt, Majorca, and Italy, and have been instructed in the Sidhi program.
I recently read Langone's Recovery From Cults and was thunder-struck at the recognition of how much baggage and painful wound I still carry. I realized that I am still protecting Maharishi and granting him God status and powers. My efforts to develop a realistic spiritual life, I now know, have been sabotaged by TM's elitist, all or nothing claims and its toxic ideas about the nature of God and religious experience.
I have been fighting this battle aided by my wife and a therapist for ten hard years. I haven't been able to share with any ex TM people and I have been fearful to discuss my ideas and new, frail freedom with my old friends who might negate (or worse: appropriate) any growth.
Mind control, manipulation, and megalomania are new ideas for me but I look forward to learning more. I do know that when I saw Maharishi as the embodiment of perfect love and knowledge, he was an impossible foe to defeat.
I contacted AFF, CAN and Pat Ryan who gave me your address. I received some information from these organizations which has been extremely helpful. I'm somewhere in the reentry, retreat, recovery process but I'm not exactly sure where. Can you help?
I've seen TM from what I thought was the inside, lied about mantras, excused unethical practices, accepted unexamined ideas, and pawned the whole thing off as gospel truth. I've invoked foreign gods, laid my life at their altar, and mailed them the check. I've been trying to shake their curse for the last ten years: Can you help me out and/or is there any way I can help you? Sincerely yours, TT, WI
TM-EX : I read with great interest `` A Consumer's Guide to `Alternative Medicine ''' by Kurt Butler, with your listing.
Please send me information about resources you may have. (I am especially interested in Ayurveda and AIDS treatments). Thank You, CA
TM-EX : I am interested in what your group has to say about the TM organization. I practiced TM from 1972-1980, became a teacher, went to MIU etc. I became disgusted with the organization -- their politics, arbitrary admission to courses, outrageous prices and, I now believe, false promises.
Please send information. Thank You, CA
Dear TM-EX : Hello--I'm writing to inquire about your organization, and to look for TM-critical information. If you have an ``intro. packet'' or flyer, that would be excellent.
I spent several years in the movement, and became a sidha in 1980. Later, I dropped the practices of TM entirely.
Over the past couple of years I've found myself reviewing those years, and engaging in discussions over various computer networks. In these discussions, I like to be able to cite references for certain things I believe to be true (e.g., much of the research regarding TM is pseudo-science).
A bibliography, reprints, or whatever would be more than welcome. I'm certainly willing to make a contribution to cover the associated costs, and then some for your trouble and overhead. TA, Fort Collins, CO
Dear Sir/Madam: I am glad that Mr. Steven Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control (the just published Japanese translation) has informed me of your group and brought me to contact you. As far as I know, his book is the first (and so far the only) publication in Japan that warns of possible harm done by TM and the TM movement. I would like to get more of objective information from America, because the tones of reports by the Japanese media are only favorable to TM in most cases. I therefore would appreciate it if you would send me some materials about TM and your activities.
Now please let me tell about myself. Since I learned TM ten years ago, the TM-Sidhi program nine years ago, and the Advanced Technique twice a few years ago, I have been practicing the meditation several time a week, if not twice a day. I don't think I am under strict 'mind control,' because I have always doubted or disapproved of: the one-percent effect, Vedic horoscope, recent TM-related political movements, TM teachers' statement that you can perfectly levitate (float) during the Sidhi program if only you reach 'cosmic consciousness,' that the 'transcendental consciousness' is identical to the basic field of quantum physics (I'm a physics major!), that the meditation plus Ayur Vedic treatments bring about perfect health, and that all people used to be enlightened until thousands of years ago, etc.
Moreover, I still like beef hamburgers and chocolates!
It seems to me that TM teachers are too assertive and too optimistic about the fruits of the meditation. In recent years I have seldom attended any TM-related sessions, but I still pay monthly about $10 to Maharishi Research Institute in Japan for the membership as well as a magazine entitled ' UTOPIA .' I strongly wish to know what is fact and what is not fact with regard to TM. This is why at this time I would like to ask you for information.
I would also appreciate a catalog.
Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, HK, Osaka, Japan
`` LETTERS '' is a forum reflecting the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent those of the editors. Due to volume of letters, not all can be published. We reserve the right to edit for space and clarity. Please send letters, essays, and articles to TM-EX. Because of the sensitive nature of our publication, authors' names printed by request only.~
According to an in-depth article in the Washington City Paper (October 1, 1993), Newslink once supplied all the camera crews to CNN's Washington bureau, a contact now taken over by another company with Unification Church ties, Potomac Television Services.
In an attempt to corner the video-production business, Max Hugel of Newslink and Jonathan Park, president of the Unification Church-financed Atlantic Video, Inc,. established a string of dummy companies to mask Unification Church involvement.
In 1989 Concept Communications purchased Newslink. Concept Communications also bought Pyramid Video, Inc. out of bankruptcy and purchased Potomac Television Communications, Inc.
At that point Concept controlled a White House uplink, often used by networks, tape and film-editing services, and an exclusive contract to supply equipment and satellite capabilities to foreign journalist located in the National Press Club building. The Concept companies served at least 100 of the 600 independent television stations around the country, even producing news segments for clients. CAN News, November, 1993~
Skeptical Inquirer , Box 229, Buffalo, NY 14215. Journal of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which attempts to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view. [See Winter 1983-84, ``An investigation of the effects of TM on the weather.'']
NCAHF Newsletter (National Council Against Health Fraud), P.O. Box 1276, Loma Linda, CA 92354. To aid in activism against health fraud, misinformation and quackery.
Influence: The New Psychology of Modern Persuasion , by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. A landmark publication in furthering our understanding of the persuasion process.
TM and Cult Mania , by M.A. Persinger, Ph.D. An in-depth investigation into the claims of TM, hypnosis and research. [Available from CAN]
Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. A through exploration into the commonalities of traumatic experience and the process of healing. [See review, Summer 92]
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism , by R.J. Lifton, M.D. A classic textbook and case study on victims of thought reform and the elements of thought reform programs. [See excerpt, Winter 92]
The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power , by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. Examines the most extreme example of one person giving power to another: the guru/disciple relationship. "Guru" is a metaphor for anyone who manipulates others under the guise of "knowing what's best" for them.
Reprints--including early TM studies, journal research and news articles. Investigative reports from BBC, CBC and other news media available on audiotape. Write for a complete list. ~
Look under Newsgroups:
Join in a lively debate with current and former members of the movement.
Let your opinions be known!
The TM-EX Newsletter is published by the Transcendental Meditation EX-Members Support Group ( TM-EX ), a not-for-profit educational corporation.
Subcription Information: Receive the TM-EX Newsletter , plus special Bulletins and Research Review for a donation of $100 or more; OR with a minimum donation of $25, receive the TM-EX Newsletter .
Please be advised that TM-EX has received tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization .
For inquiries: P.O. Box 7565, Arlington, VA 22207, (202) 728-7580, FAX (703) 841-2385. Our volunteers respond more quickly to mail requests; all telephone calls will be returned collect. ~