What do Paul McCartney, Donavan, Eddie Veder, Sheryl Crow and maybe Moby have in common?
Well, besides being celebrity rockers it seems that they can all be seen as supporters of a “cult” recruitment scheme that targets kids.
That’s right, these recording artists not only hope you listen to their music, they want to promote religious beliefs, or at least help to fund programs that are thinly disguised proselytizing aimed at schoolchildren.
Is this yet another example of stars trading on their celebrity status to preach, not unlike Tom Cruise and his endless ramblings about Scientology?
On April 4th McCartney, Veder, Crow and Moby will “Come Together” at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City, to raise money for the David Lynch Foundation.
The director is a longtime devotee of the recently deceased Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement, which has often been called a “cult.”
Apparently Lynch managed to persuade McCartney and others in the music industry to help him fund pet programs “used to teach Transcendental Meditation to a million kids” reports Examiner.com.
This is nothing new for the eccentric filmmaker, who seems to be more concerned about pitching his old guru’s teachings, than coming up with new movie projects.
And it wasn’t difficult for Lynch to get 1960s singer Donavan on board, since he is also a longtime TM devotee.
Sir Paul reportedly will be joined by his old band mate Ringo Starr at the NYC benefit event, who is the only other remaining Beatle.
There is a certain symmetry to all this since it was the Beatles that launched Maharishi (photo below) and his “meditation” techniques into the mainstream of popular culture during the psychedelic sixties, though John Lennon eventually became disenchanted and denounced the guru.
But Maharishi was no fool when it came to making money. The guru amassed a global spiritual empire that included assets valued in the billions.
TMers often make ridiculous claims, such as that their mass meditation somehow helped to bring down Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War.
However, TM critics see the group’s practices as little more than self-hypnosis or trance induction.
The Middle European Journal of Medicine found that out of 700 studies on TM spanning 40 years, only 10 were conducted in the clinical tradition of using strict control groups, randomization and placebos. Of those 10, four of the studies recruited subjects that had already shown an interest in TM.
Peter Canter a researcher from the Peninsula Medical School of the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in the United Kingdom concluded, ”there is a strong placebo effect going on which probably works through the expectations being set up.”
TMers have nevertheless continued to make preposterous claims, for example that their “technologies” can create an “all-powerful field of invincibility” that will “make any nation invincible.”
These claims certainly contradict what happened at Maharishi University in Iowa, where a student went berserk, viciously attacking and ultimately murdering another pupil.
Whatever supposed mystical benefits occur from TM helped neither of them avoid this tragedy.
In 2004 lawsuits were filed against Maharishi U alleging the school was “negligent” and failed to protect its students properly from the murderer, who was known to be violent reported the Associated Press.
Just this month the University quietly settled one lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.
The one time TMer turned murderer who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
A former 17-year TMer wrote in an article featured at CultNews, that Maharishi (more recent photo left) was a “diverter of seekers, seducer of minds’ and “stealer of souls.”
Not exactly the kind of person you would expect Sir Paul McCartney to support.
Perhaps this knighted Brit is a bit more gullible than the average chap.
After all he was taken in by an alleged “gold digger” and went through a rather expensive divorce after a brief marriage.
In fairness though it seems the list of those taken in by David Lynch and/or TM is growing.
Ben Harper, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and Erykah Badu may be playing along with McCartney at the NYC fundraiser according to recent reports.
So Sir Paul won’t be the only “Fool on the Hill.”
However, David Lynch didn’t fool concerned parents in California.
When the movie director tried to unload his TM program in Marin County, a bastion of liberalism, it was soundly rejected.
Amidst allegations that TM was nothing more than a “cult,” Lynch’s proposed program was ultimately dumped reported NBC News 11.
The funding source for the program was none other than the David Lynch Foundation, that same entity that Paul McCartney and company seem so anxious to help through the coming New York fundraiser.
And the Lynch failure in California wasn’t the first time that TM devotees have targeted schoolchildren.
According to a report filed by Associated Press TMers have made similar attempts to promote their beliefs at public schools before in “New York, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and other places.”
Barry Markovsky, a University of South Carolina sociologist labeled such efforts “stealth religion.” And almost 30 years ago in 1977, U.S. District Judge H. Curtis Meanor ruled against TM being taught at public schools.
These efforts were done through something called the “National Committee for Stress-Free Schools.”
Just when you thought that Madonna was the one to watch out for when it came to a music icon peddling religion, along comes a former Beatle and his virtual tag team of celebrity rockers.
Postscript: An interesting comment came in subsequent to this article appearing at CultNews. According to one TMer, “The one thing all the above mentioned outstanding musicians have in common is that they all practice Transcendental Meditation.” Shades of Tom Cruise indeed.