As noted by defendants' expert, "religion is notoriously difficult to define." Harned Affidavit P. 7. Judge (now Chief Justice) Burger has noted that resort to dictionary definitions reveals that "the terms 'religion' and 'religious' in ordinary usage are not rigid concepts." Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 249 F.2d 127, 129 (D.C. Cir. 1957). Subjective characterizations of actions and beliefs as religious or scientific or philosophical will vary among individuals because of their varying concepts of religion or science or philosophy. To allot "critical," Harned Affidavit P. 21; Rao Affidavit P. 21, or determinative weight on the question whether or not an activity or belief is "religious" under the first amendment to the proponents' subjective characterizations of their activities and beliefs would be to inject a variable into the first amendment test which would preclude a fair and uniform standard. Under this approach, courts would be bound to accept the proponents' representations of its activities and beliefs as religious or secular unless the court determined by evaluating the proponents' demeanors in the witness box that the proponents were insincere in their characterizations of their activities and beliefs. The courts thus would be forced to examine and to accept the intellectual classification system of each proponent of certain activities or beliefs. The only inquiry left to the courts would be into the sincerity with which the proponents hold their systems of classification. "Religion" under the first amendment would take on a different meaning in each case, and similar or virtually identical practices would be religious or not religious under the first amendment depending on the classification system of a particular proponent. For example. one of the clergymen meditators deposed as a fact witness on behalf of defendants testified that "[r]eligion to me, is my personal relationship to God. The concepts about Gods in other religions are philosophy." Roberts Deposition at 85. If this clergyman were to offer a course in the philosophical and moral teachings of a religion other than his own in a public high school, some taxpayers no doubt would sue under the establishment clause to enjoin the teaching of the course. In deciding whether or not the teachings were religious, if the court were required to place determinative weight on the characterization of the teachings by the clergyman and his students, then the court would be bound to rule that a system of teachings considered by society to be religious are not religious under the first amendment. In the context of the life and ideas of the clergyman and his students, to whom the teachings were presented as philosophical, the teachings carry no religious significance; they are merely philosophical discourses. A substantive analysis of the teachings, of course, would tend to show their religious nature and a court certainly would be justified in finding the course "religious" under the first amendment despite the sincere characterization by the clergyman of the teachings as secular philosophy.
In a vein similar to defendants' clergyman-fact witness, defendant Jarvis testified to an intensely personal and subjective definition of God: "To me, God is a personal appreciation, something that is developed in my heart and mind with respect to my relationship and communication with my creator, and it falls into my religious development because I include God within my own religious life."19 Jarvis Deposition at 1049. In contradistinction to God, "a personal appreciation" of his creator, defendant Jarvis defined creative intelligence as an objectively demonstrable phenomenon. Id. at 878. If Mr. Jarvis believes that his religion derives from "a personal appreciation" of his creator, then it is not surprising that he would fail to view what he believes to be an objectively demonstrable phenomenon and the teachings thereon to be religious in nature.
The problem of placing heavy emphasis on subjective characterizations of certain beliefs and activities by the proponents of those beliefs and activities is illustrated by Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333 (1970). Welsh sought classification as a conscientious objector under section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act. Section (6j) allowed classification of a registrant as a conscientious objector only if his objection to war sprang from religious beliefs. Although Welsh disavowed that his conscientious objection to war derived from religious beliefs, the Supreme Court held that Welsh's beliefs were religious within the meaning of the Act. The Court of Appeals had relied on Welsh's disavowal of a religious basis for his objection in upholding the Appeal Board's denial of conscientious objector status to Welsh. In reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court stated that the lower court had placed:
undue emphasis on the registrant's interpretation of his own beliefs. The Court's statement in [United States v.] Seeger that a registrant's characterization of his own belief as "religious" should carry great weight does not imply that his declaration that his views are nonreligious should be treated similarly. When a registrant states that his objections to war are "religious," that information is highly relevant to the question of the function his beliefs have in his life. But very few registrants are fully aware of the broad scope of the word "religious" as used in S. 6(j), and accordingly a registrant's statement that his beliefs are nonreligious is a highly unreliable guide for those charged with administering the exemption.
Id. at 341. The Court also noted that Welsh had amended his original disavowal through a letter to his Appeal Board which stated that his beliefs "were certainly religious in the ethical sense of the word." Id.
The unreliability of proponents' characterizations of their actions and beliefs is illustrated by the instant case. The first organization in this country to offer instruction in the technique of Transcendental Meditation was incorporated in California in 1959 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others under the name of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation. Jarvis Deposition at 858, 861. Until 1965, the Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation was the only organization in the United States which offered instruction in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's teachings. Id. at 852. Defendant Jarvis served as secretary of this corporation from 1963 to 1965. Id. at 854. One of the articles of the certificate of incorporation, as amended, of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation stated that "this corporation is a religious one. the educational purpose shall be to give instruction in a simple system of meditation." Id. at 861. The proponents of SCI/TM before the court today characterize their activities as secular in nature.
To the extent that the standard recommended by defendants places critical or determinative weight on the subjective characterization of the proponents of their activities and beliefs, it must be rejected. The inappropriateness of a standard which places such importance on the proponents' characterization of their beliefs and activities is particularly apparent in the context of an establishment clause case in which the proponents have enlisted the aid of governmental entities in the propagation of their beliefs, teachings, theories, and activities. While the characterization of proponents is properly admissible evidence, proponents cannot propagate concepts which society recognizes as religious in nature merely because the proponents view the concepts as secular.
The court finds it unnecessary to improvise an unprecedented definition of religion under the first amendment because it appears that this case is governed by the teachings of prior Supreme Court decisions. Careful inspection of the facts in this suit reveal that the novel aspects of the case are more apparent than real.
The textbook clearly teaches20 and assumes that there exists and has existed eternally an unmanifested or uncreated field of life which is unbounded or infinite. This field of life is present everywhere, both within and without everything in the universe; it permeates everything and every being and is the ultimate reality of everything in the universe. This field of life is active in the form of "creative intelligence," is the source of all power in the universe, has "unlimited power," and encompasses all knowledge. This field of life is pure and perfect and contains all qualities of the universe in their pure, perfect, and infinite form. This field of life is alternately termed perfection of existence, bliss, and intelligence. This field of being contains love, justice, and truth in their pure and infinite forms. Contact with this field of being bestows upon individuals the ability to choose between right and wrong spontaneously, without regard to moral codes and laws. T at 180. Manifestly, the textbook describes some sort of ultimate reality which in its various forms is given the name "god" in common usage. Over a dozen years ago, a unanimous Supreme Court took judicial cognizance of "the ever-broadening understanding of the modern religious community" concerning the concept of God. United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, 180 (1965). The Court noted that "[t]he eminent Protestant theologian, Dr. Paul Tillich...identified God not as a projection 'out there' or beyond the skies but as the ground of our very being." Id. The Court then quoted Dr. Tillich as follows:
I have written of the God above the God of theism.... In such a state [of self-affirmation] the God of both religious and theological language disappears. But something remains, namely, the seriousness of that doubt in which meaning within meaningless is affirmed. The source of this affirmation of meaning within meaningless, of certitude within doubt, is not the God of traditional theism but the "God above God," the power of being, which works through those who have no name for it, not even the name God.
Id., quoting P. Tillich, II Systematic Theology 12(1957).
The Court followed this excerpt with a quotation from a contemporaneous pronouncement of the Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church:
Ever since primordial days, numerous peoples have had a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events that make up the lives of men; some have even come to know of a Supreme Being and Father.
* * *
The Church regards with sincere reverence those ways of action and of life, precepts and teachings which, although they differ from the ones she sets forth, reflect nonetheless a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.
Id. at 182, quoting Council Daybook, Vatican II, 3d Sess. 282 (1965).
Finally the Court quoted the views of a leader in the Ethical Culture Movement on that Movement's conception of the term "God:"
What ultimate reality is we do not know; but we have the faith that it expresses itself in the human world as the power which inspires in men moral purpose.
* * *
Thus the "God" that we love is not the figure on the great white throne, but the perfect pattern, envisioned by faith, of humanity as it should be, purged of the evil elements which retard its progress toward "the knowledge, love and practice of the right."
Id. at 1831 quoting D. Muzzey, Ethics As a Religion (1951).
In his concurring opinion, Mr. Justice Douglas outlined concepts of "god" as expounded in Hinduism and Buddhism. Concerning Hindu conceptions of "god," Mr. Justice Douglas notes:
Though Hindu religion encompasses the worship of many Deities, it believes in only one single God, the eternally existent One Being with his manifold attributes and manifestations.
* * *
Philosophically, the Supreme Being is the transcendental Reality which is Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss. It is the source of the entire universe.
Id. at 189-90 (Douglas, J., concurring). Mr. Justice Douglas continued:
Buddhism--whose advent marked the reform of Hinduism--continued somewhat the same concept [of God or Brahman]. As stated by Nancy Wilson Ross, "God--if I may borrow that word for a moment--the universe, and man are one indissoluble existence, one total whole. Only THIS--capital THIS--is. Anything and everything that appears to us as individual entity or phenomenon, whether it be a planet or an atom, a mouse or a man, is but a temporary manifestation of THIS in form; every activity that takes place, whether it be birth or death, loving or eating breakfast, is but a temporary manifestation of THIS in activity. When we look at things this way, naturally we cannot believe that each individual person has been endowed with a special and individual soul or self. Each one of us is but a cell, as it were, in the body of the Great Self, a cell that comes into being, performs its functions, and passes away, transformed into another manifestation. Though we have temporary individuality, that temporary, limited individuality is not either a true self or our true self. Our true self is the Great Self; our true body is the Body of Reality, or the Dharmakava, to give it its technical Buddhist name.
* * *
....if "God" is taken to mean a personal Creator of the universe, then the Buddhist has no interest in the concept. Id., p. 39. But if "God" means something like the state of oneness with God as described by some Christian mystics, then the Buddhist surely believes in "God," since this state is almost indistinguishable from the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, "the supreme Reality;... the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible Peace." Id., pp. 39-40
Id. at 190-91, citing Conze, Buddhism (1959) (Douglas, J., concurring).
The foregoing quotations, of course, are not relied upon by this court for their technical accuracy. Rather, the quotations demonstrate the substantive content attributed to the term "God" by contemporary society. It cannot be doubted that the concepts encompassed by this substantive content are recognized as "religious" concepts. The similarity, indeed, virtual identity, between some of the concepts used in the quotations to describe "God" and the terms used in the textbook to describe creative intelligence is unmistakable. For example, compare the Buddhist concept that "[o]ur true self is the Great Self," with the textbook statement that "[w]e know that the true nature of the self is unbounded pure creative intelligence, bliss-consciousness--that most self-sufficient field of life." T at 121. Compare the Buddhist concept that "God--if I may borrow that term for a moment--the universe, and man are one indissoluble existence," with the textbook statement that "[t]he universe is a continuous, unified whole, an unbroken field of creative intelligence." T at 137. Compare the Buddhist concept that "[a]nything and everything that appears to us as an individual entity or phenomenon, is but a temporary manifestation of THIS..." with the textbook statements that "everything in creation is nothing other than the expression of unmanifest creative intelligence," T at 260, and that "all aspects of life [are] manifestations of unmanifest creative intelligence." T at 262. Compare the Buddhist concept of Nirvana as "the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible Peace," with the textbook's description of the field of pure creative intelligence as the eternal, T at 242, unmanifest, T at 30, unbounded, T at 24, silent, T at 82, nonchanging, T at 94, immovable, T at 40, field of unbounded harmony, T at 138.
Compare the Hindu concept of the Supreme Being as Truth, Knowledge, and Bliss with the textbook statements asserting that the field of pure creative intelligence is "an ocean of bliss," T at 152, "a field of unlimited happiness," T at 32, the basis of all knowledge. T at 97, "the home of all knowledge," T at 149, and truth, T at 76, 81. Compare the Hindu concept that the Supreme Being is the source of the entire universe with the textbook statement that creative intelligence lies at the basis of every individual life and of everything, T at 189, and is the source of all existence. T at 171.
Compare the Catholic concept of God as Truth with the textbook's indication that the field of pure creative intelligence is truth. T at 76, 81. Compare the Protestant theologian's concept of God as "the very ground of our being" with the textbook's description of the field of pure creative intelligence as "the very source of life-energy," T at 98, and the "universal basis of life." T at 188-89, and "the stable foundation of our life [sic]," T at 271.
These concepts concerning God or a supreme being of some sort are manifestly religious when they appear as tenets of Christianity or Buddhism or Hinduism. These concepts do not shed that religiosity merely because they are presented as a philosophy or as a science.21 Similarly, whether an unmanifest and eternal field of life with all the characteristics attributed to it as the textbook attributes to creative intelligence is called a supreme being, god, the ultimate reality, Brahman, Tao, Allah, Nirvana, THIS, creative intelligence and the field of creative intelligence, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it, or the One is immaterial to determining the religious nature of the concept; although the precise conceptions or definitions of the ultimate reality or supreme being will differ from religion to religion, the religious nature of the concept is incontrovertible. Whether "God" is considered an ultimate universal principle or being or essence or entity or field of life on which the universe is based, has no bearing on the religious nature of the concept. It cannot be doubted that concepts of "God" or an ultimate level of life or ultimate reality are religious concepts."21a E.g., Engel v. Vitale, supra; Torcaso v. Watkins, supra; Seeger v. United States, supra; DeSpain v. DeKalb Community School District, supra.
The puja chant is an invocation of a deified human being who has been dead for almost a quarter of a century. An icon of this deified human being rests on the back of a table on which is placed a tray and offerings. During the singing of the chant, which identifies the items on the table and in the room as offerings to this deity, some of these offerings are lifted from the table by the chanter and placed onto the tray. It cannot be doubted that the invocation of a deity or divine being is a prayer. Engel v. Vitale, supra, at 424. The religious nature of prayer has been recognized by many courts, e.g., Engel v. Vitale, supra;22 DeSpain v. Dekalb County Community School District, supra, and the proposition needs no further demonstration here.
A recognition of the religious nature of the teachings and activities questioned is largely determinative of this suit since the entanglement of both the federal and state governmental entities is apparent. Under the establishment clause, a three-part test has evolved to determine whether governmental action in regard to religious activity constitutes a violation of the constitutional prohibition. In order to avoid contravening the establishment clause, the law or governmental action in question
first, must reflect a clearly secular legislative purpose, second, must have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and, third, must avoid excessive government entanglement with religion.
Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist, supra, at 773 (citations omitted).
19 In this connection, defendant Jarvis also testified that it is his belief that God created the physical universe and human beings. Jarvis Deposition at 1059. When asked if he believed that God created pure creative intelligence, defendant Jarvis expressed uncertainty: "That is a question I have not as yet answered for myself." Id. at 1051. Later defendant Jarvis stated: "I can accept the statement that God created pure creative intelligence, but I don't understand it enough to develop that statement." Id. at 1060. Defendant Jarvis also attributed a passive role to creative intelligence as the ultimate source of everything in the universe: "It is the source in that it is the ultimate constituent," which God would use to create. Id. at 1050. While the field of pure creative intelligence may be inactive, any description of creative intelligence as passive is contradicted directly by the textbook. See pages 11-13 supra.Defendants call attention to defendant Jarvis' religious views as demonstrative of the lack of religiosity in SCI/TM, Db at 26, and these views illustrate one of the problems with the teachings of the SCI/TM course. While defendant Jarvis is able to accept as a matter of religious faith that God created creative intelligence, he was unable to explain in terms of reason how something that has existed "always," was created by God who also has existed always. The same metaphysical conundrum no doubt would confront some high school students of SCI/TM. In addition, those students who doubt or deny the existence of God or any other unmanifest field of life will be subjected to inculcation of a belief in an unmanifest field of life which is pure, perfect, and unbounded. [ back ]
20 The court, of course, does not concern itself with the truth or falsity of defendants' teachings. See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78. 85-88 (1944). [ back ]
21 A philosophy well may posit the existence of a supreme being without functioning as a religion in the sense of having clergy and houses of worship. For purposes of the first amendment, these philosophies are the functional equivalents of religions. Surely the prohibition of the establishment clause could not be avoided by governmental aid to the inculcation of a belief in a supreme being through philosophical instruction instead of through conventionally recognized religious instruction. [ back ]
21a Plaintiffs have placed in the record an affidavit of a professor of theology which states that certain attributes, which plaintiffs contend are ascribed to creative intelligence by the World Plan defendants, are possessed exclusively by God in the tradition of both Hebrew and Christian theology. Although defendants ridicule this affidavit as "meaningless," Db at 28, they do not refute it; defendants' only response to the affidavit is a paragraph in the affidavit of a professor of religious studies which entirely misinterprets plaintiffs' affidavit. See Harned Affidavit P. 29. In light of the discussion supra at 59-63, however, the court finds no need to rely, and does not rely, on the affidavit in ruling on plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. [ back ]
22 In Engel v. Vitale, supra, the New York State Board of Regents composed and recommended the use of a prayer. Only the teacher of each class was required to recite the prayer. Id. at 438. (Douglas. J., concurring). Attendance by the students was not mandatory. Id. at 423 n.2. In the instant case, attendance by all students taking the elective SCI/TM course is mandatory. The students also are asked to participate in the ceremony to the extent of bringing flowers, fruit, and a handkerchief which are used as offerings to the deified Guru Dev during the puja chant. The compulsion placed on students in the SCI/TM course to attend a religious ceremony thus is greater than that placed on the students in Engel. While the prayer in Engel was recited daily and the puja is performed only once for each student, the prayer in Engel was recited without any of the trappings which are part of the puja. The fact that the puja chant is sung in Sanskrit, of course, has no bearing on the religious nature of the ceremony. [ back ]
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