Declaration of Robert N. Bellah
I, ROBERT N. BELLAH, declare as follows:
1. I am a resident of the County of Alameda, State of
2. I am currently employed by The Regents of The
University of California and hold the position of Ford Professor
of Sociology and Comparative Studies, University of California,
3. I am qualified by academic training and professional
experience to evaluate the religious nature of sociological groups
movements, and institutions, being particularly familiar with the
characteristics and phenomenon of Eastern/Asian religious
movements. My qualifications are set forth by my "Vita" and
"Bibliography" of publications, marked Exhibits and ,
respectively, which are both attached hereto and each is
incorporated herewith by this reference as though fully set forth
4. I have a knowledge of transcendental meditation (TM)
as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which is not based on an
exhaustive study of the writings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or my
own practice of transcendental meditation, but which comes from
both scientific and personal sources. I have a knowledge of
transcendental meditation and of some of the organizations and
institutions which constitute the TM movement since from 1971 to
1974 I was the director of a study of "Religious Consciousness
in the San Francisco Area" sponsored by the University of
California. As part of that study we gathered information on TM
from the answers to extensive survey questionnaires which were
administered to approximately 1,000 respondents. Further, I
have spoken in depth about TM with many of my students who have
been involved with the practice of TM. I have three children
who underwent initiation into the practice of TM, and have
discussed the subject with them. Finally, I have professional
knowledge of Asian religions similar to TM and reflecting the
same traditional background as TM.
5. I believe that my knowledge of TM is sufficient to
permit me to evaluate the particulars of its religious content
as well as its more general and underlying religious nature. It
is my opinion that TM fits a basically sociological or anthropological definition of religion. On the basis of my studies
in sociology and comparative religions, I would offer a definition
of "religion" as follows:
"Religion is a set of symbolic forms and acts which relate man to the ultimate conditions of his existence." (See my book, Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World, Harper and Row, page 21)
While this formula is of my own devising, it is related to one
given earlier by Professor Clifford Geertz. Geertz' definition
is generally considered to be the classic description of
religion in psychological/sociological terms:
"A religion is a system of symbols which acts
to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting
moods and motivations in men by formulating
conceptions of a general order of existence and
factuality that the moods and motivations seem
uniquely realistic." (Quoted in Beyond at
I believe that either of the two definitions given above would
clearly categorize TM as an essentially religious phenomenon.
Certainly by any standard of evaluation, TM has an obvious
and close "family" resemblance to Indian (i.e., Hindu) and
East Asian religion in general. Indeed, the only instance in
which TM would not fit a definition of religion would be one
in which the definition involved was basically biblical or
Judaeo-Christian. In other words, TM is not a religion which is
monotheistic, creedal or prophetic. Needless to say, such a
definition of religion would be so restrictive and limited as
to be inadequate for any comprehensive or comparative purpose,
whether legal or sociological.
6. In August 1975, or thereabout, I was visited by Mr.
Robert Winquist in my office at the Center for Japanese and
Korean Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Mr.
Winquist introduced himself as a representative of Maharishi
International University (MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa. I cannot
recall verbatim the conversation I had with Mr. Winquist, but
what follows is a paraphrased rendering of its relevant portions
to the best of my recollection. Mr. Winquist stated that the
given purpose of his visit was to invite me to a lecture at MIU in
the 1975 Fall Semester. I eventually declined the invitation,
but in the course of the conversation with him I expressed my
opinion that TM definitely seemed to me to be a religion and I
wondered why the people in the TM movement denied its religious nature. He replied by affirming that it is certainly true that TM is religious but stated that they did not admit that to be case for public relations.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Dated: January 23, 1976
ROBERT N. BELLAH
STATE OF CALIFORNIA )
COUNTY OF ALAMEDA )
On January 23, 1976, before me, the undersigned, a Notary Public in and for said State, personally appeared ROBERT N. BELLAH, known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged that he executed the same.
WITNESS my hand and official seal.
M. HELEN TORVIK
Notary Public in and for said County and State
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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of
everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the
physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because
Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather
than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by
introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not
by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.
Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of
a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the
tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can
think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or
yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the
intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap,
after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and
flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest
life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from
the material and physiological, through the psychological,
intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from
transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this
essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of
nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of
manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole
How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other
forms of meditation?
Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation,
in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind.
Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the
mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can
be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But
with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any
interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the
conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.
Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing
mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has
purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind,
uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation,
because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of
The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings
about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields
of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or
transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental
The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such
as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole
universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals
only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its
settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects,
though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them
all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.
Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:
Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.
Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.
Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.