Spiritual Center tells TM residents to vacate

Residents of the Parusha community at the Spiritual Center may soon be seeking a new residence.

A rift between the group that helped establish the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement at Heavenly Mountain and its current practitioners continued to widen last week when the board of directors of the Spiritual Center of America demanded full-time meditation groups leave the center’s residential facilities.

After a unanimous decision by its five-member board, center chairman Earl Kaplan said he sent notices “requesting possession of the premises” by July 6 to the men’s and women’s groups (Parusha and Mother Divine).

The announcement came amid several legal battles against Kaplan and his twin brother, David, who have both been named in lawsuits by Heavenly Mountain homeowners.

Last week, most of the lawsuits were dismissed in civil court, but David still faces one suit by some Heavenly Mountain homeowners, who claim they bought homesites based on a belief that the development would remain TM-centered.

Last month, David Kaplan publicly cut all ties with the TM movement. In a letter, Kaplan said he and his brother investigated the movement’s leader, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the TM movement closely, and subsequently he could “no longer support or be associated with Maharishi, his ideas, his knowledge or any of his organizations in any way whatsoever.”

Transcendental Meditation

“Transcendental Meditation was ruled a religion by the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, Docket No. 76-341 (H.C.M.) Civil Action, in the case of Alan B. Malnak. et al., Plaintiffs, v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, et al., Defendants, in a summary judgment issued October 19, 1977, followed by an order and judgment, filed December 12, 1977.”
Is TM a religion?

David Kaplan helped start Heavenly Mountain, which is located east of Boone near Triplett in 1993 by investing $8 million of his own money.

He avidly practiced TM for 25 years, often meditating for several hours each day, and donated more than $10 million to the organization.

He began to consider leaving after 1999 when he became so sick he nearly died. Later, he decided to get married and left the Parusha program for single men.

“For that I was kicked out of the movement,” he said in an earlier letter. David said he will continue to develop a 5,800-acre parcel of land he owns privately and said he hopes Heavenly Mountain will become a “normal development, not a TM development.”

At least one Parusha resident, who asked not to be named, said he knew nothing about the notice to vacate the residential unit and seemed surprised to hear about it.

Representatives of the Parusha and Mother Divine refused to comment on the notice, spokesman Bob Roth said.

The TM movement originally established the Spiritual Center “to bring fulfillment to the spiritual and material aspirations of all Americans through Maharishi Vedic Science and Technology,” according to the center’s Web site, which has now been disabled.

Earl Kaplan said the center would soon be opened to people of all religious faiths or spiritual beliefs for meditation or worship.

Although it is not known how many men and women live at Parusha and Mother Divine, most spend several hours a day meditating and voluntarily segregate themselves from members of the opposite sex.

The campuses, separated by several miles of mountainous terrain and privacy gates, are surrounded by thousands of acres of undeveloped forest near the Triplett community.

While it is not known where most practitioners will go after July 6, the TM movement operates several communities throughout the world, including a university in Fairfield, Iowa.

Officials claim more than 5 million people practice TM.

Heavenly Mountain consists of two parts: the 500-acre nonprofit Spiritual Center of America and about 1,000 acres of for-profit development of private lots and houses.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Watauga Democrat, USA
June 11, 2004
Jason Reagan

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 11, 2004.
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