Government statistics released by the Transcendental Meditation program here today indicate that Rhode Island last summer became one with the universe during a hot spell of "unbounded consciousness" triggered by the heavy meditation of 300 professionals.
According to figures from a variety of government agencies, from the Rhode Island Department of Health to the FBI, comparing the summer of 1978 with the previous year, murder plummeted 49 percent, suicide dropped 41 percent and traffic fatalities were down 54 percent. The state also had the highest total employment rate and the highest quarterly marriage rate on record.
Reaction to the report ranged from Pawtucket Mayor Dennis Lynch's observation, "I think anything helps," to muttered obscenities from reputed New England crime boss Raymond Patriarca.
However, TM officials, surrounded by graphs and charts, today insisted they had achieved victory in their war against hostile vibrations.
"With just a handful of people we allowed Rhode Island to have a dusting of orderliness and coherence," said Al Constantineau, chairman of the Providence TM Center. "We were able to turn the trend of time for the whole society from problems and negativity to harmony and progress."
Even the weather got better.
According to the National Weather Service, June was the sunniest it's been since 1953, and although August was 15 percent less sunny, TM officials note that the excess rain was accountable for a 63 percent drop in pollution.
And the best part: Rhode Island, not widely known a "state of enlightenment," can purportedly buy itself some bargain basement cosmic status, forever cure its social ills as well as come out of the deal with the best weather in the nation-for just under $300,000.
And for just $3 million, it is claimed, salvation is in the bag.
The pitch to make the nation's smallest state the home of "Om"-"a model of an ideal state . . . a problem-free society," according to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi-is part of a Transcendental Meditation experiment dubbed "the ideal society campaign."
Officials of the TM program, which has been hailed nationwide for its physiological benefits, are so optimistic about the results of their new findings that they plan to ask Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to include TM in his proposal for a national health insurance package.
"This is absolutely the most cost-effective way to reduce problems in society," said Constantineau. "Government program for government program, you can't match it."
Rhode Island state police and FBI uniform crime reports show that aggravated assault declined 22 percent and auto thefts were down 11 percent last summer. The Rhode Island Department of Health states that cirrhosis declined 26.1 percent, while marriages increased 7.1 percent.
The State Department of Employment Security indicated that unemployment fell 26.1 percent. The state's Liquor Control Administration says beer sales were down 9 percent and a monthly cigarette tax report says there was 1.6 percent less cigarettes sold.
However, the meditators' zealous enthusiasm has been greeted in many cases by the Yankee skepticism of the state's citizens and officials-and scientific doubt.
J. Allen Whitt, assistant professor of sociology at Brown University, said of the study: "This is an isolated period in a small state subject to random fluctuations because of the small population. I'd be very surprised if their claims are true."
The original plan of the ideal state campaign called for a massive infusion of TM instructors, or governors of the age of enlightenment, as they prefer to be called, to get 4 percent of the population meditating for the benefit of the rest of the state.
Instead, researchers found that just by bringing 300 teachers here they began to see dramatic changes. And when the instructors left, conditions reverted to their normal unenlightened state.
But curing social ills is expensive-$3,000 for a supercharged course in TM in addition to the initial course fee of $300 for a couple, $200 for a single adult, $150 for a college student and $100 for a high school student.
The maharishi predicted that the state would only need about 100 "sidhas" for it to begin to clean up its act forever. One thousand of them would insure and speed up the process.
Today TM officials announced that the state has recently achieved the mark of 100 nonimported "sidhas" and can expect to see some improvement this Summer-good news for Ocean State sunbathers.