Compulsory Buddhism in schools


How a religious cult has gained government approval to groom your kids


A meditation technique linked to an occult group that believes planetary meditation can usher in the return of Lucifer to rule earth, is being rolled out in schools near you, in what its followers hope will boost the use of their meditation prayers by children. The courses have been compulsory because the Ministry of Education denies the religious link. IAN WISHART breaks the story



They say they’re against religion in schools, but government academics are rolling out a nationwide Buddhist meditation system for schoolchildren and it is planned to be compulsory in every classroom.

The system is called “Mindfulness”, and it’s a New Age psychological variant based on modern Buddhism. Parents in provincial schools where the Ministry of Education has been running a pilot programme are outraged, and say their complaints are being ignored.

“My concern,” wrote one parent who sat in one a Mindfulness training programme at her local school wrote, “is that this Mindfulness programme is being presented as totally secular and non-religious, despite the fact that its roots are spiritual from deep within the Buddhist religious worldview, and it is being taught and promoted by a team of adherents to these religious practices and beliefs.

“I am not comfortable with these practices and beliefs being taught to my children. I am not comfortable that other children, parents and whanau with a similar worldview or beliefs were not given the chance to decide for themselves.”

The programme has echoes of one in American schools that purported to teach “tolerance” to Islam by forcing children to pray to Mecca and recite verses from the Qur’an.

In her report to her local school, obtained exclusively by Investigate, the mother continues:

“[The Principal] was therefore in a difficult position and felt that the course had to go ahead. It was part of a national trial for the Department. He had spoken with the National Director of the programme from the Mental Health Department, had been assured it was not religious, and had received a letter to forward to parents. The course would be going ahead. We were invited along to observe, and [my child] could opt-out of the class.

“We talked a bit about the course and my concern that it was religious, sharing a few personal stories and perceptions. [The Principal] mentioned that the course had felt a bit like Sunday School at times, and that when the children used ‘praying hands’ to symbolise ‘spiritual’, Jamie [the instructor] had reacted and instructed them to use a different posture.

“I received an email from [the principal] on Monday morning. This email (Attachment 3) was addressed to all families of [the class], included a letter from Grant Rix of the Mental Health Foundation (Attachment 4), and requested parents to provide authorisation for the videotaping of their children within the session.

“On Monday afternoon, just before the session was to begin at 1:30pm, [my spouse and I] were given some time to talk with Jamie before the class. [Class Teacher], joined us about half way through this discussion. Jamie stressed his educational background and credentials, and the University-led educational study being applied to Mindfulness. We discussed the huge need for children to receive support towards mental health and emotional resilience. He provided some background regarding the Mental Health Foundation (a non-for-profit charitable foundation); its long-standing work with the Ministry of Education, particularly in the area of Health Curriculum; and Jamie’s role in delivering the Health Curriculum to primary and secondary students.

“After a trial at [another school], Jamie had had 10 minutes to present on Mindfulness to [a group of Principals]. XXXX schools then took up his offer to present the course in their school: XXXX Schools, in addition to the initial pilot at XXXX School. This is part of a national trial involving many schools across NZ, particularly in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Gore. AUT will be reviewing feedback.

“I mentioned our [child’s] discomfort, and asked whether they would be giving other children who didn’t wish to take part the opportunity to opt-out. [Class Teacher] was quite clear in saying No, that this is what we’re doing and that the other children would have to participate. (Our [child] and one other child, whose [parent] had called the school and asked that [they] be excused, did not attend the class.)”

Investigate readers who have seen a copy of the book Totalitaria will understand what is happening, and indeed it was readers of the Totalitaria book in Southland who blew the whistle last month as Mindfulness rolled out as a compulsory ongoing class activity at Riversdale School in northern Southland.

“A bitter dispute is raging,” wrote the Southland Times, “due to the school wanting to introduce a calming technique for its pupils in the wake of bullying…Education Ministry head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said mindfulness was a relatively uncontroversial relaxation technique, not specifically tied to Buddhism, and used widely.”

The statement is not accurate.

An educational facilitator from the Mental Health Foundation named Grant Rix is deeply involved with the schools programme. Riversdale parent Basil Patterson says the programme is being pitched to parents as a ‘relaxation technique’ that was not in any way religious, but he says that just isn’t true.

Grant Rix is named on the website of one of New Zealand’s “Theosophy” groups, an occult order whose founders taught that Lucifer will return to control earth if enough people practice techniques like mindfulness. The website, under the heading “Mindfulness in practice” clearly acknowledges the religious basis of Mindfulness, and advocates ways of getting it into wider society:

“Continuing the theosophical awareness of other religions and philosophies, we invited Grant Rix who gave a presentation about how to bring Buddhist awareness into everyday life on July the 14th.”[i]

This confirmation of the religious basis of Mindfulness, together with an agenda to get it into the whole community, is what casts the rollout in schools in a new light, say critics.

“It doesn’t matter whether we as parents believe in this mumbo-jumbo,” said one woman who didn’t wish to be named, “what matters is that they are teaching our kids this mumbo-jumbo but because the Ministry of Education is calling it “secular” we cannot pull our kids out of these classes. It’s not ‘mindfulness’, it’s mind control.”

The report obtained by Investigate describes one of the class sessions:

“We then had an opportunity to observe the class. Perhaps in response to our presence and its reference in my email, Jamie removed the ‘Singing Bowl’ bell and its wooden stick from near his chair, ready for use in the session, replacing it with a desk bell. Jamie, [The Principal], [Class Teacher] and the children sat in chairs arranged in a circle around the room. Jamie instructed the children to sit still, breathe, let everything settle. He showed them a bottle of fruit juice, and was pleased when one of the children recognised that the imagery of the pulp settling.

“Jamie chimed the bell. Feet on the floor, mindful breaths, awareness of sounds outside the room. He chimed the bell again, and then a third time.

“He invited them to stand and play a game: They were to sit down one at a time, but if two sat down at the same time, they would all stand up and start all over again. The children quickly got the hang of communicating without words. The next stage for standing up one by one, until all children were back on their feet. The next game involved them standing up and switching seats in response to questions. The children relaxed and enjoyed the games.

“Jamie gave the children an opportunity for voice; expressing their observations of how they had been finding Mindfulness. The children asked some questions, resulting from what they had learned the previous week:

“Did they need to sit in a circle when they were practising Mindfulness?

“No. It was just about being present, however, being in a circle meant they could better support each other.

“Did they need to close their eyes?

“No, however it could help stop distractions.

“What was the purpose of ringing the bell?

“Jamie appreciated their curiosity – it was a good thing. The sound is a trigger. It meant it was time to practice mindfulness.”

The “Jamie” referred to in the document is a Buddhist teacher, Jamie Howell, says the document:

“Mindfulness is a core tenet of Buddhism. (See Attachment 5.) The foundations, source and execution of this programme cannot be divided from this religious root. While it may have measurable success for psychology and mental health, it is fundamentally based on Buddhist religious practices and beliefs. Truly secular Mindfulness can be taught, but in the hands of a practitioner of Buddhism, it returns to its Buddhist roots.

“ Jamie Howell and Grant Rix (Project Manager for Mindfulness at Mental Health Foundation) and his wife Natasha are practitioners of Buddhism, Dharma, Meditation, and Buddhist Mindfulness, as well as exponents of Mindfulness programmes for children in New Zealand’s public schools. (See Attachment 6 for info from their own websites.)

“The course taught by Jamie cannot be separated from Buddhist foundations and the religious leadership of the Wangapeka Dharma Study and Meditation Retreat Centre, which he references on his own website. (See Attachment 7.)

“ Jamie’s words, actions and explanations during the course present his worldview and practice as Buddhist. While subtle to those unfamiliar with such terms and concepts, his use and context for words and phrases such as trigger, calm, presence, centred, breath, grounded, kindness, guided relaxation, being present, awareness, three mindful breaths, bring your awareness to, give yourself to, I welcome my toes, thanks to (rather than for) 8 toes, pinnacle of exploration, and food being transformed by the belly into learning – all indicate immersion in the worldview, practice and evangelisation of Buddhist beliefs.

“The course includes “religious observation” with Buddhist rituals. Buddhists will ring a bell 3 times to begin a time of meditation. The ringing of a bell is core to the practice of Buddhism. Jamie referred to it as being a ‘trigger’. For what? There is great attention to the symbol and sound of the bell. Jamie rang the bell 3 times at the beginning of the session, and 3 times at the end of the ‘relaxation’ time. I saw very little difference between ‘guided relaxation’ and the religious meditation required of Buddhist Mindfulness teachers.”

Paterson and other worried parents say that politicians have been making an issue out of Bible in Schools, but it seems to be a pretext to slide Buddhism into schools instead, without even declaring it as a religious ritual.

Readers wanting greater detail on the agenda can read Totalitaria.