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NLP's Second Letter to TranceNet

Congressional Candidate David Smithstein, January 2, 1996

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Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 20:04:50 -0500
From: DSmithstei@aol.com
Message-Id: <960102200445_30047102@emout05.mail.aol.com>
To: jmknapp53@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Costs vs. Benefits

Thanks for the response John.

I can see already that being a public figure will be a unique experience.

As you can imagine, having had no negative experiences, and not knowing anyone who has, it is hard for me to believe that such a simple and innocent technique can be justly accused of having negative effects.

Especially since all of the published research in the last 20 some years has failed to document any negativity from the practice of TM. (Unless you know something I don't, be sure to quote your references if you do.) And it is also suspicious to me that there is all this anonimity[sic] surrouding[sic] those who have. Even if there is any validity to the complaints, a few thousand (or whatever "thousands" actually means) compared to the over 4 Million meditators is still less than 0.05% having complaints. And it is probably true that "you can't satisfy all the people all the time", but 99.95% is pretty close in my book.

I don't mind if you post our correspondence, as long as my comments are not edited in any way. As an engineer by training I wholehardedly[sic] support the use of acurate[sic] information. My experience with journalists, so far, has been that there is considerable more emphasis on "entertainment" than accuracy.

If you choose to misquote me, edit my comments, or fail to post/print my comments in there entirety, this dialogue will no longer be of service to the public and my participation will end.

For example, the use of the word "Karma" in a single sentence, which could easily be synonomous with a familiar "American" saying like; "what goes around comes around," is hardly enough information to draw a conclusion about a person's (or political parties) beliefs. For the later I suggest you check out our platform at www.natural-law.org/nlp.

Both myself and and[sic] Natural Law Party believe that government decisions should be based on scientifically verifiable facts and data which prove the viability of their solutions. So the fact that I used "karma" in a sentence seems a little trivial to the issues at hand.


David Smithstein
8th Distrtict[sic] Congressional Candidate - S.F., CA
Natural Law Party

TranceNet Editor's Reply, January 3, 1996


I hardly know where to begin. It seems that you have a lot to learn about being a public figure, just as you say.

I certainly cannot promise to never edit or post your comments in their entirety. This is a "courtesy" only extended to the Unabomber.

I'm sorry that you have such a low opinion of journalists. Yet I note that both your party -- and to some extent yourself -- are quite willing to take advantage of journalists by holding frequent press conferences, engaging the services of PR specialists, and so forth.

On to more substantive issues. It's unfortunate that you became involved with the Natural Law Party without doing some minimal research on Transcendental Meditation. I recommend reading abstracts and entire studies archived at http://minet.org and http://www.trancenet.net. You will find roughly two dozen peer-reviewed studies that have found negative or inconclusive results from the practice of TM. Some date back to the mid-70s, some were conducted in the 90s. You will find research that tends to indicate epileptic-like seizures, severe psychological disturbance, and more among long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program.

I have no doubt that you are unaware of these studies, as you say. It seems that the TM movement publishes "Transcendental Meditation: The Collected Papers, Volumes I and II" but neglects to list any research critical of TM. Given the title of their publication, I can see why you might assume that you had access to all research on the TM and related programs.

I have no idea what you refer to with regard to "anonymity." These studies are published in peer-reviewed journals with the authors names prominently displayed.

You may be referring to the nearly 100 personal accounts at TranceNet, http://www.trancenet.net/personal/. These are the stories of long-term TM meditators and "sidhas" (those who practice TM "levitation") who feel that they have been harmed in various ways by TM. Many of these authors have requested that their names be withheld because they fear various forms of reprisal from the TM movement. The others are anonymous because of an excess of caution with regard to privacy law -- even when reprinting publicly available court documents.

You may be particularly interested, also, to read the testimony of two former Maharishi International University professors, Dennis Roark and Anthony DeNaro, who allege, from personal knowledge, that TM-movement-sponsored research was routinely faked (archived at personal).

As to your comments regarding "Karma." I will take at face value, for now, your apparent insistence that you used "Karma" in the American slang sense that you imply. I think you can understand, however, that as a signer of the secret oath at secrets/index.shtml#oath and a 20+ TMer and 17+ year TM teacher, I assumed you meant it as a not-so-veiled spiritual threat aimed at me. On my 1978 TM Teacher Training Course for instance, we were told by representatives of the Maharishi that this secret agreement had no legal force, but that the TM movement relies on the "laws of karma for enforcement -- which operate for all eternity."

Finally, if you are not a TM teacher, I strongly suggest that you read the secret booklet, "The Holy Tradition" archived at secrets/index.shtml#ht, before you continue to insist that the Transcendental Meditation program is based on scientific principles. I suspect that you will find there sufficient documentation to convince you that TM is based on the worship of the Maharishi's long-dead teacher and various Hindu gods and goddesses.

If you don't find that convincing, perhaps these words from a U.S. district judge will sway you:

"The teaching of SCI/TM and the Puja are religious in nature, no other inference is permissible or reasonable...although defendants have submitted well over 1500 pages of briefs, affidavits and deposition testimony in opposing plaintiffs' motion for summary judgement, defendants have failed to raise the slightest doubt as to the facts or as to the religious nature of the teaching of the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Puja. The teachings of SCI/TM courses in New Jersey violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and its teaching must be enjoined."

-----19 October 1977, from conclusion of Judge Meanor, Federal Court, Malnak v. Yogi, District of New Jersey, Civil Action No. 76-341 (Current reference 440 F. Supp 1284 (1977)). Upheld United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit 592 F.2d 1978 (Full Text).

As a candidate for U.S. Congress, you may want to become familiar with the Malnak Case. It has become important precedent in U.S. law. For instance, it is cited in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, a ground-breaking case in which teaching Creationism in public schools is disallowed ( http://cns-web.bu.edu/pub/dorman/McLean_vs_Arkansas.html ).

In light of these legal precedents, I do have one question for you.

How can you justify the potential outlay of $15 million in federal matching funds for the Natural Law Party, given the separation of Church and State in this country?

I wish you and your party success in your goals. There is no question that a majority of Americans seek serious political reform today.

I hope that you personally, and the Natural Law Party as a whole, reconsider basing so much of their platform on the Transcendental Meditation Program of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in light of the information that I am giving you.

John M. Knapp
Editor, TranceNet

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