German Court Cases
Issue: Has the German government found the Transcendental Meditation program to be harmful, or the Transcendental Meditation organization to be a cult?The Evidence:
The German government never conducted its own investigation of the Transcendental Meditation program and no German court ever ruled the Transcendental Meditation program was dangerous.
In the 1980s there were proceedings in the German courts involving the Transcendental Meditation organization and the Federal Ministry for Youth, Family and Health. The Ministry had published a critical report in 1978 concerning certain “Youth Religions” or “Youth Sects” among which it included the Transcendental Meditation organization. The inclusion of the Transcendental Meditation organization in this report was felt to reflect poorly on the German Transcendental Meditation organization.
Consequently, the Ministry was sued by the Transcendental Meditation organization to publicly correct any critical inferences the report was felt to contain with reference to the Transcendental Meditation program and the Transcendental Meditation organization. The Administrative Court of Appeals for the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, Docket No. 5 A 1125/84, in a ruling issued on December 18, 1985, held in favor of the Transcendental Meditation organization.
This ruling in favor of the Transcendental Meditation organization thoroughly rebuked a study by a private organization relied upon by the government ministry in its incursion against the Transcendental Meditation program.
The court made the following findings of fact in page 35 of its ruling:
“The documentary evidence submitted by the Plaintiffs and by the Defendant does not demonstrate that individuals who are actively involved in the Transcendental Meditation movement, or meditate according to the Transcendental Meditation technique, are more susceptible to mental illness than the average population.
The “Documentation about the Effect of Youth Religion on Minors in Specific Cases” prepared by the “Action for Mental and Psychic Freedom,” and the “Documentation on Transcendental Meditation,” as well as the study “Differential Effects of the Practice of Transcendental Meditation” prepared by the Institute for Youth and Society, headquartered in Bensheim, are not based on a scientific sampling.
These studies dealt only with isolated cases, and only persons who are hostile to the movement were interviewed. Moreover, in well over half the cases studied the persons interviewed had no direct knowledge, since the information was obtained from third parties, i.e., parents or spouses, without the presence of those who had been directly involved. These studies were prepared by religious-ideological opponents of the Transcendental Meditation movement, and are obviously biased.”
An appeal of the above ruling in 1989 by the Ministry resulted in a reversal of the Administrative Court of Appeals ruling which had required the Ministry to make corrective statements to the public. However, the reasoning was largely procedural and did not negatively reflect on the Transcendental Meditation organization. There have been various false and unsubstantiated characterizations of this appellate ruling.
One such false characterization states that the 1989 court affirmed the validity of the studies critical of the Transcendental Meditation program. Another states that the court held the Transcendental Meditation organization to be a dangerous cult, and yet another that the court held the Transcendental Meditation program to be harmful. No such conclusions were made by the Court. In fact, the Court explicitly held just the opposite.
1. Claims that the studies were affirmed or validated by the 1989 courts are false. The above cited finding of fact made by the court in 1985 criticizing the hostile studies was not reversed, modified, or corrected in any way by subsequent rulings. In fact, the studies were not mentioned by the 1989 appeals courts at all.
2. Allegations that the 1989 appeals court found that the Transcendental Meditation organization was a dangerous cult are false. First, it is not clear that the term “cult” is the proper translation. The term used by the 1989 court appears to be “youth sect” or “youth religion.” In any event, the 1989 court went out of its way to state that the general labeling and description of a number of organizations with these terms contained in the Ministry’s generalized report was not to be taken as a defamatory or pejorative reference to the Transcendental Meditation organization or its programs (opinion pages 7-7). Furthermore, the court noted that the Ministry would “make the required distinctions and limitations in the future” concerning the general nature of its characterizations of so-called youth sects without implying that the Transcendental Meditation organization necessarily possessed any of the qualities attributed to some or all of the other organizations.
3. The claim that the Transcendental Meditation program was found harmful by the 1989 court ruling is false. The High Constitutional court, at page 7 in its ruling, stated that “the federal government has not asserted a general or in any event significant, frequent and determinable causal relationship between membership in the Transcendental Meditation movement and the appearance of mental disorders.”
What did the 1989 appellate ruling state?
The proper characterization of the 1989 appellate ruling is clearly not that the Transcendental Meditation organization or program was criticized or condemned by the court. Rather, the 1989 appellate ruling found that the 1985 ruling went too far in requiring the Ministry to make corrective statements to the public that the Transcendental Meditation program was not harmful. The 1989 court ruling indicated that since the original report was general in nature it was not appropriate for the Transcendental Meditation organization to take offense at the language in that report as if it itself was being criticized. Therefore, the court held it improper for the 1985 court to require the Ministry to make specific corrective statements to the public concerning the Transcendental Meditation program and the Transcendental Meditation organization.
Link to Does TM Do Any Harm?
A Personal View.
The fact that the court ruling in 1989 did not required the Ministry to publicly correct its statements against the Transcendental Meditation organization or program was purely political, and does not mean that there was any validity to the Ministry's original allegations.