Over the past few months I have been in contact with the author of another blog on Universal Medicine known as 'Bad Beliefs and Fraudulent Faiths', which was established before this blog and was very useful in fostering in discussion and sharing information, about my site and others. Yet it now appears that her blog has been removed, and upon trying to email the owner I received an automated reply that her email address 'no longer existed'. Her Facebook account has also disappeared, as has the group she established on that website to discuss and post about Universal Medicine.
Now this is obviously rather worrying and disturbing, as this woman was a very vocal and enthusiastic critic of Universal Medicine who felt very strongly about the need to provide an alternative viewpoint to that given by the organisation's official propaganda. Unfortunately I cannot help but wonder if she was threatened or pressured by members/leaders of UM. It just seems highly unlikely that this person would have shut down all her efforts against Universal Medicine simultaneously, without some kind of threat or provocation.
Of course if it is the case that Universal Medicine is actually attempting to surpress those who speak against it, then that suggests an even deeper level of malicious intent than was previously assumed, but given the fact that Universal Medicine fits most indicators of a Cult, coercing those not responsive to its dogma is only an expected feature of the group. An initial response was already noticeable before this; both on the blog and facebook page that no longer exist, UM followers attempted to post in Serge's defense, writing in the sort of unthinking, standardised and mechanical way that is common for members of cult groups. Furthermore, given that similar posts were made across various websites, this suggests that this is a coordinated response organised by Serge and the UM leadership to try and protect the reputation of the cult. Thankfully we live in an age of open information where such facts are much more difficult to surpress in the past, so they will have to try a lot harder than that!
I sincerely hope that the owner of the previous blog on Universal Medicine is safe, but in the meantime I will post the entirety of her website below.
I sincerely hope that the owner of the previous blog on Universal Medicine is safe, but in the meantime I will post the entirety of her website below.
FRIDAY, 15 APRIL 2011
Universal Medicine (and a world of associations)
Little has been written about Universal Medicine other than by those who lead the movement, or those considered to be part of "the Hierarchy". Obviously this presents an issue regarding neutrality! What I've collected here is as much information that highlights questionable teachings, counterfeit beliefs and bad practices. I've received emails from previous members, relatives of members, experts in new age religion and psychology and have attempted to contact the group's leader, Serge Benhayon, personally.
Another difficulty regarding an assessment of Universal Medicine is the innumerable links it has to other leaders, groups and theosophical ideas due to its association with the "esoteric" teachings of spiritual leaders and writers Alice A. Bailey, Helena Blavatsky, Djwhal Khul and others known as the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, (the Spiritual Hierarchy, or simply the Hierarchy). These links show an immensely complex history of ideas that are often contradictory, disproved or as I've found in my research, impossible to back up with any shred of evidence. From here, their followers appear to rely on blind faith. The aforementioned theosophists have all been at different times announced as being fraudulent, racist (due to their racial theories, especially those regarding the Jewish people and those of African descent), or in Blavatsky's case, a charlatan, a false medium, and a falsifier of letters. The Hodgson Report by the Society for Psychical Research concluded that Blavatsky was "one of the most gifted, ingenious and interesting impostors in history." Blavatsky is also alleged to have categorised indigenous Tasmanians and certain hill tribes in China as belonging to semi-animal tribes or races of "Lemurian" ethnicity due to the amount of hair covering their body.
I would argue that all humans are animals, since we are mammals after all. Try making sense of her racial theories. Written without the aid of modern genetic studies, they moreso resemble theosophically Darwinist eugenics.
Now onto the group in question: Universal Medicine (UniMed) and its revered founder and director Serge Benhayon.
There is no mention of Benhayon pre-1999, aside from rumours he was once a junior tennis coach. He came flying out of the 90s with a New Age belief system basically using the writings of Alice A. Bailey and other theosophy figureheads as a foundation. While he does acknowledge these so-called "Masters of the Ancient Wisdom", he manages to distance himself just enough to justify writing his own books - something of a modern take on the subject, or merely an equally ambiguous and convoluted regurgitation of ideas. The most frustrating thing of all is that his writing is so poor, he seems to rely on excruciatingly long sentences, poor syntax, little punctuation, bad grammar and invented words to get his point across - which, due to these factors, is not often. It is almost as if you're expected to take his word for truth simply because it would take years to actually extract relevant and useful meaning from his "studies".
Testimonials and positive comments/feedback can be found on the books from figures known only in initials - J.W and D.K for example. J.W. is actually Janet Williams, an early student and author of the "What If" treatise (it is actually an essay, although the less used word does give it a sense of importance).
D.K. is Djwal (or Djwhal) Khul, an eastern guru who may or may not have existed - the only evidence being his influence in the writings of theosophists and a grainy photograph (I've got a grainy photograph of the Loch Ness Monster too!) K. Paul Johnson asserts that he may be moreso an idealisation of one of Bailey's mentors. In fact, the Hierarchy to which Benhayon refers is a cloud of characters, some real, some unknown and some long, long dead. In an interview with Gayle Cue of Radio Bay FM, he actually claims to be part of a spiritual lineage following Djwal Khul and Alice Bailey. Even if we assume for a minute that they present genuinely useful and ethical ideas, it strikes me as arrogant for someone who has emerged from a career as a tennis coach to suddenly announce himself as a spiritual leader (or presenter) and claim telepathy with these characters. In that same interview he claims to know where Elvis Presley's reincarnation is living as a 13 year old girl - the information is classified, obviously. He also dismisses Buddhist beliefs regarding reincarnation with striking smugness ("we do not come back as caterpillars or anything like that, sorry Buddhists, we do not”) as though his Elvis theory is far less ridiculous......
Serge Benhayon also homes in on a few words that are key to his teachings. Most important among these are the words esoteric and energetic truth. Esoteric is commonly understood to describe something that is "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest." This seems counter-productive when attempting to bring joy and love to a greater number of people. In Universal Medicine, however, esoteric means simply "inner-most". However, it is so ubiquitous that it loses that meaning as well, and seems to be more of a buzzword to begin or fill out weak sentences. Benhayon claims that everything in the world is energy - a claim that has some scientific truth when viewed from certain perspectives. His definition of energetic truth: that which is said, spoken, stated, thought, acted and/or expressed with absolute energetic integrity, which stems from the Inner-Most truth.
One really does need to put in days of reading to get to the heart of it all and understand it. The problem one faces is - what's really at the heart of it all? Where's the evidence for any of it? What is it about Serge Benhayon that compels people to listen and believe? Is it the mysticism surrounding the Hierarchy, the dulcit tones of his monotonous and hypnotic FM radio voice, or is it really the information he presents? His radio interviews show his lack of nous regarding the English language just as readily as a paragraph of his books. At times one can hear Gayle Cue struggle to connect what he says with a central idea, and relies on him to continue talking to find the next idea to rest on.
I think I'll have to leave it here for this post. Trying to cover the multitudinous errors in this groups belief system, its presentation etc., is a hard slog. It's perhaps more difficult working out why it is so convincing to some when it is so convoluted in the first place. What is it members really latch on to?
THURSDAY, 21 APRIL 2011
Assessment of Universal Medicine
There is no doubt that Serge Benhayon is skilled in what he does. His following is evidence of this. He uses a non-threatening way of speaking to deliver complex theories that center around bring joy and love (self-love) included to the world, enabling people to feel empowered and closer to their supposed soul. But this relies on a few simple factors.
Demographic and Attraction
Universal Medicine is based in the Byron Bay area, an area known for its alternative culture. It is a hotspot for various eastern-influenced healing, meditation and yoga groups, and has an abundance of alternative medicine, hypnotherapy and psychic clinics. A perfect place to start a group which incorporates elements of these practices. What's more, those attracted to the area fit the target demographic for this kind of cult. Those seeking a deeper meaning not offered by the big religions of the world and those already open to alternative ideas. What's more, there is plenty of money in the area, much of it flowing towards counterculture groups.
What Serge has done is used the ideas of Theosophy, and further incorporated elements of major religions around the world to create something that can relate to a wide demographic. Jesus Christ, God, astral energy, the chakra, the Buddhist figure Maitreya, various Sikh, Islam and Hindu ideas and various other eastern ideas all make an appearance in his teachings. None of this is his own, of course, although that is not a crime in itself. However, he presents the information as though all those before him (except the Hierarchy) have misinterpreted these ideas and teachings, elevating his cult to a superior level. And it is Serge Benhayon that asks (discussing Religion, Nationality and Culture in his study on Fiery Sutra) "where does this imposing arrogance come from?" Despite his claims to endorse self-expression and the individual search for one's essence, it's hard to believe when it is followed by claims that (take a breath): There is only one path to God. There are many ways to express that One-Path and so the seeker is left with the confusion of whether something is the true path expressing itself in its many ways or alternatively, is it the astral path pretending to be the path.
It is because of the breadth of his influences that Benhayon can attract followers with his empty rhetoric. But why do his followers stay?
Universal Medicine runs intensives of various lengths (up to a week long) in which followers and those merely "curious" or "experimenting" can meet. A large group of people, all of whom have found something that resonates with them deeply, many of whom recovering from a difficult time in their lives or feeling vulnerable, are given time to socialise and form relationships. They form a bond which strengthens their belief in Universal Medicine, as it is what brought them together in the first place. Their doubts are dismissed as they seek to establish friendships, and hope to find what others appear to have found to be such a positive change in their life. It is no wonder at all, then, that many find joy or a renewed faith in humanity when they join Universal Medicine - they have found a group of like minded souls that they can rely on for support in their beliefs. It is truly a positive thing, except that it is based on a belief system consisting of highly counterfeit information and convoluted pseudo-science.
My assessment of Universal Medicine is not purely a cynical outsider's perspective. In my research I have met several ex-followers who I have spoken with over the phone, and even since my first post on this group have had several people share their experience of Universal Medicine with me. The stories are astounding. I thank sincerely for their openness, and for letting me share some of their stories with the world - I think they deserve a separate post. (The more I research this topic the harder it is to stop - at first I only expected one blog post, and now it seems I will triple that.)
Esoteric Breast Massage (EBM)
Perhaps the most suspect area of Universal Medicine is Esoteric Breast Massage. What Esoteric means here is again ambiguous - perhaps few know how to perform the massage, or few know why it is performed in the first place. Regardless of its name, there seems something fundamentally wrong about a breast massage. There are no muscles in the breast, so one must accept Benhayon's rhetoric that the "Esoteric Breast Massage (EBM) can help clear the imposed ills that come from ourselves and from those who impose on us." In fact, there is a page of poorly worded information about the role of breasts and the ills imposed upon the breasts by men and society. The fact that Benhayon uses common self-image problems regarding breasts to justify such a ludicrous therapy is insulting to women, and his assertion that it is a "lack of self-nurturing" or "energetic imposts" that contribute to breast cancer is another slap in the face. There are also continual allusions to the ills of men, playing on women with previous negative experiences with men, and thus nurturing a misplaced sense of empowerment. Also available is an "EBM cream that has been esoterically designed by Serge Benhayon, the founder of this healing process that is available for women to purchase from their EBM practitioner after their fourth massage. You cannot clear the breasts by using the cream, but you can use it to maintain them. It is a self-nurturing gesture to apply this unique cream to your own breasts as the EBM cream has been specifically designed to lovingly support this self-nurturing process." I wonder what is in the cream?
Take a look at the products on offer from the Universal Medicine website, www.universalmedicine.com.au
Serge Benhayon's six books, available for a total price of $210 plus postage and handling, complete with testimonials from the Hierarchy (long since deceased, and so must communicate via telepathy with Serge himself).
Audio files, totaling $19.
Various healing symbols and related products, totaling $566.
House clearing symbol - $80 (not laminated)
Pillowcase (with meditator symbol). The meditator pillowcase is for sale for $ 15 plus $5 postage/handling.
- Mineral Salts - esoterically designed by Serge Benhayon - $35
- Eso-Herbs " " - $40
- Schisandra drops - $15
- Swisse Chlorophyll - $20
- Cherry Juice Concentrate - $25
Total: - $135 plus postage/handling
CDs, produced by Chris James and Serge Benhayon
- Walk with your Heart - $25
- Fiery Eyes, Chris James - $25
- Silk in the Clouds - $25
PLEASE NOTE: there is a NO REFUND Policy on CD sales.
The total cost of these products, excluding the EBM cream, is $895.
Consider that a five day intensive costs upwards of $1500, and that as a conservative estimate one might spend a further $200 on products. How much do these beliefs cost if one is to truly dedicate themselves? And why is it that one must pay such extortionate fees to attend intensives based around a belief and lifestyle? Where does the money go? There are obviously expenses involved in running the organisation, but how many groups charge such huge sums of money merely to participate in what is expected?
So much of Universal Medicine's system is focus on energetic truth, but where does the information for its basis come from? In his book, A Treatise on Energetic Truth, Serge Benhayon focuses so strictly on the nature of energetic truth and the ways of energy in relation to our soul, spirit and body, he forgets to properly clarify how he is certain of the accuracy of what he preaches. So, who do we look to for an explanation of energetic truth?
Serge Benhayon, founder and director of Universal Medicine (ex tennis coach)?
Alice A. Bailey, discredited writer and theosophist (anti-semite, removed from theosophical society)?
Helena Blavatsky, discredited writer and theosophist (alleged imposter and charlatan)?
Djwal Khul, one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom (existence in question)?
Khuthumi (Koot Hoomi), one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom (existence in question)?
How many years must one look back before the basis for these beliefs is seen to be scientifically outdated, or simply fabricated in the first place?
Hypocrisy and Presumption
Serge Benhayon has criticised major religions for their reliance on guilt to ensure the continuation of their practices. Why, then, does he frequently assert that "humanity is suffering" and that "humanity is desperate and not knowing of itself", and cite the use of caffeine, alcohol, "deep mental interests" and even sugar as being a symptomatic of "lovelessness", a lacking of "self-love" due to our disconnection to our "inner-most" being. It is these gross generalisations that show not only great presumption, but a lack of understanding or acceptance of how many people choose to live - and do so quite happily, or "joyfully", as Benhayon would put it. Who is he to claim that "one cannot escape the fact that [our life] is a life we all deeply know is not the true life it could otherwise be."
Benhayon cites examples of the rise in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV and cancer on human excesses. While there is merit to this point, his claims that these excesses are caused by a sense of disconnection from the spiritual plane and that the answer is Esoteric Healing are either enormously misled, or a fabrication designed to ensure continued membership to his schools and more enthusiastic followers. How does Benhayon have the audacity to criticise major religions for their methods when his are even more underhanded?
My next post should finish all this up with the stories of those I've spoken to who have now left Universal Medicine, The School of Livingness and affiliated Esoteric Healing groups. I hope I haven't alienated any readers with my harsh criticism of the group and its leader, but I feel it is necessary. It personally offends me, has harmed the lives and families of others and I think for these reasons, the breadth, severity and length of my assessment is warranted.
Thank you for continuing to read
THURSDAY, 28 APRIL 2011
Experiences and Comments (regarding Universal Medicine)
I've put together a collection of quotes from emails I've received in my research and as a reaction to my blogging. It was a delicate process and I hope I've respectful in my reproduction of what I've received. None of the names I've used are real, but their stories and hurt are.
Kate came to Universal Medicine in 2004 and found it resonated with her deeply, before it was recommended she participate in an Esoteric Breast Massage.
"I find the idea preposterous now. I was content to follow Serge's teachings, but I can't understand the focus on breasts. It's sad because I found the whole philosophy very interesting, but this doubt led me to question the whole thing. In the end, it wasn't EBM but Serge's affiliation with [Alice A.] Bailey that left me too unsure to continue with Universal Medicine."
John came to UM through his wife, and became enthusiastically involved for several years. He left after it begn to cause problems in his family.
"I could understand why my family were a little unsure about it, but I felt like I could really connect with it. I think my wife found some of Serge's stuff a bit spooky, and the kids felt a bit neglected when we'd drive down from Brisbane to Goonellabah and around those kinds of places. It sort of started to cause a few fights, and a few of my friends looked into it and they showed us the inconsistencies of some of Serge's ideas about emotion. I think the reason we stuck with it for so long was because of Serge's charisma."
Julie joined an esoteric meditation group in Bendigo, which led her to UM.
"It's such a shame - I feel sort of silly. It ended up costing me so much money, which is the really stupid part. But I'm trying not to blame myself. It was a bit of group psychology and the social acceptance that I craved, and a few friends and I have left. We can laugh about it now, but it's worrying how easy it is to get sucked in."
Comments from others who were never affiliated with Universal Medicine:
"It's a clever kind of organisation - based right in the heart of alternative culture, lots of ideas that resonate broadly, and some really effective affiliated groups. A good business plan to begin with, really."
"It does show a lot of the characteristics of being a cult. Vague ideas that people relate to and a competent leader. What you said about counterfeit information and manipulation is correct, and that is the unequivocally deceptive part about it. I wouldn't say it's sinister, but it's dangerous in the effect it can have on people."
While leaving a group such as this is a big step, I know from my experience with my own family that the process can be as empowering as the belief systems presented, and that it can bring families closer together. What I hope most of all, though, is that this is not patterned behaviour. I hope those who are attracted to groups such as Universal Medicine don't continually look for other belief systems to find solace.
It is enough to believe in oneself and in humanity, despite whatever flaws and problems one can see or encounter. As Benhayon has said, one cannot find "truth" outside of oneself. If you are searching for something, question what faith in something intangible will really bring.With all groups, in fact, please endeavour to consider the basis for information that is presented, and what evidence there is for its truth above any other equivalent faith, belief or lifestyle.
This month has been a tough one - a lot of time and effort has gone into these blog posts, so I'll give myself a break from research after my next one. The last post for the month will be on Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian spiritual figure and his affiliated organisations which have been plagued by controversy, including allegations of sexual abuse.
Further Reading (for all three posts on theosophy, esotericism and Universal Medicine)
K. Paul Johnson, The Masters Revealed: Madam Blavatsky and Myth of the Great White Brotherhood Albany, New York: 1994 State University of New York Press
Nicholas Weeks, Theosophy's Shadow: A Critical Look at the Claims and Teachings of Alice A. Bailey. blavatskyarchives.com.
Bruce F. Campbell, Ancient Wisdom Revived: a History of the Theosophical Movement, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980.
Janet Williams, The What if...? Treatise, universalmedicine.com.au.
Vernon Harrison, Ph. D. H. P. BLAVATSKY and the SPR: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885, theosociety.org
Various Alice A. Bailey books, notably A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol 4: Esoteric Healing. Lucis Trust. 1953.
Various Serge Benhayon books, notably The Way It Is: A Treatise on Energetic Truth, UniMed Publishing, 2006. (note the almost identical cover to Bailey's books.)
THURSDAY, 5 JANUARY 2012
Let's Go Viral
Long time no see! So I didn't end up moving to wordpress - I'm just not quite slick enough to operate it!
I've had a lot of communication from people wanting to get in contact, and so I think the best thing I can do is to encourage everyone to share an email address, or visit the newly unveiled Facebook page!
I'm also really pleased to see this blog is being shared around, with a bit more traffic now than when I was writing regularly, and seeing our address pop up in a discussion re: UniMed on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Forum. This isn't narcissistic delight, I just really hope that this blog can become a bit of a central focus for people who are determined to try to expose Universal Medicine's fraudulent ideas and moneymaking schemes.
Let's try to get in touch with each other and see if there is anything we can do to raise awareness about the negative aspects of UniMed and affiliated bodies. And the more people visit this blog, the higher it goes on Google's list when people do a search regarding Serge Benhayon or Universal Medicine - this can only be a good thing in preventing people being lured in. When the first thing that comes up on Google's search bar after universal medicine is "cult", we might be helping to raise a red flag to those curious about Serge's teachings.
Let's raise a bit of awareness on Facebook as well. There are so many examples of how the viral spread of information in social networking can be super fast and effective in raising awareness and mobilising people in a very short space of time. We've got a bit of catching up to do in the media arena.
WEDNESDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2012
I'm not sure quite how to put this, but I will try to be discreet.
I've had some communication from several media sources who would like to make contact with those who have been affected/involved by Universal Medicine in some way. I'm not entirely sure they would appreciate me airing this, but unfortunately this is my only real means of communication with a larger audience than my personal acquaintances.
If you are curious about how you can help raise further awareness for the pitfalls of certain spiritual groups, please email me at '' so I can pass on your details to those concerned, or theirs to you.
This is very exciting, and any privacy matters that may concern you I'm sure can be addressed. If you are unsure, why not send an email and then at least you can find out a bit more.