No TM at TL: Filmmaker David
Lynch pulls grant for high school
Article Launched:10/19/2006 12:30:24 AM PDT
Marin Independent Journal
A controversial plan for a Transcendental Meditation program
at Terra Linda High School was dropped Wednesday after the David
Lynch Foundation withdrew a $175,000 grant.
Principal Carole Ramsey said a few people created such a stir
over the issue that it became a distraction. Nonetheless, she
is encouraging students to pursue their interests in meditation
because it remains an effective way to reduce stress.
"I don't regret bringing it (to students) at all,"
Ramsey recently announced the school would start a Transcendental
Meditation club as part of a new wellness program that also encouraged
students to eat balanced meals and exercise more. But she abruptly
ended an informational meeting for about 75 parents last week
when opponents raised a ruckus over claims the program is linked
to a religious movement.
Transcendental Meditation was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
to improve mental and physical health. Maharishi was a spiritual
adviser to the Beatles in the 1960s.
It is not, supporters claim, a religion or philosophy and practitioners
do not change their lifestyles or experience any type of mind
control even though the founder, Maharishi, is referred to as
Ramsey attended a lecture by Lynch, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker
who established a nonprofit organization to spread Transcendental
Meditation in schools, after more than 60 students expressed interest
in a meditation program.
Shortly thereafter, she applied for and received the $175,000
grant, which would have been the organization's first program
Participants would have taken several workshops, including
90-minute classes for four consecutive days. The program involves
sitting silently with eyes closed for 15 to 20 minutes twice a
A consultant with the state Department of Education did not
see a problem with the program in a public school.
Bob Roth, a 1968 graduate of Redwood High School who is a spokesman
for the Lynch Foundation, said pulling back was the best thing
for his organization and the school following the outcry. He said
the grant will go to another school.
"There's a long waiting list," he said.
Ramsey said that, aside from a few opponents, most parents
either supported the program or were open-minded. But the deep-seated
beliefs held by critics threatened to overshadow what she set
out to accomplish.
"This is a program that was supposed to reduce stress,"