In recent weeks, there have been a number of articles written by the media stating that Universal Medicine may be a cult organisation. However, these articles have not provided any evidence to this claim, and obvious facts about Universal Medicine have not been published. The intention of this article is to address these ‘Universal Medicine cult’ accusations and to outline the true facts. In doing so, the reader will have an opportunity to be more informed in making up his or her own mind.
The facts about Universal Medicine are:
- All Universal Medicine events are publicly open to all, and there is no pre-qualification to attend entry-level events of any kind.
- There are no recruitment methods used by Universal Medicine. This is in contrast to cults, as world-renowned cult-expert Dr Margaret Thaler Singer states ‘contrary to the myth that those who join cults are seekers, it is the cults that go out and actively and aggressively find followers’ (Singer, 1995, p. XXIII).
- People who attend Universal Medicine events are clearly informed of what the organisation is that they are becoming involved with. For example, extensive information can be gained from the public website, which states key messages presented by Universal Medicine. Instead, cults typically use deceptive recruiting methods and often exhibit secret stages within the organisation (Singer, 1995).
- People are free to attend none, some or all of the events presented by Universal Medicine. To attend an event, each person is required to individually register for every event they wish to attend. For example, some people attend only the Friday evening lectures, held once per month, at $5 per person. In contrast, cults have an expectation if not a requirement that attendees at cult events become members of the cult (Singer, 1995; Singer, 1996).
- There are no recurring fees or memberships at Universal Medicine.
- People are free to leave an event at any time. For example, the events are held in public rented venues and the entrance door remains unlocked at all times. Events are not held in communes, and Universal Medicine publicly announces that any attendee can obtain a full refund and exit the premises at any time without penalty of any kind.
- Universal Medicine collects standard attendee registration information. Any person can obtain full disclosure of their personal information held by Universal Medicine at any time. This is in contrast to cults whereby cult records are typically confidential and/or hidden by members and not shared (Singer, 1995).
- There are no rituals, no mantras, and no exceptional practices.
- Serge Benhayon is the founder of Universal Medicine. At the core of Serge’s presentations is the importance of brotherhood and living a loving life to the best of one’s ability. In other words, Serge presents that we are all equal, and that no one is more gifted, special or chosen than any other. The essence of Serge’s presentations is about choosing to live a more loving life and treating all others equally with that same level of care and love. Serge also presents that we all have an equal and innate ability to know what is true in life and what is not. On numerous occasions, Serge has also publicly announced that he does not consider himself to be perfect in any way, and that he makes mistakes like we all do.
- The first teaching of Universal Medicine is how to discern energy and the importance of discerning all presentations, including by Universal Medicine so that people can choose, for themselves, whether what is offered is true or not.
- Universal Medicine publicly advocates freedom of choice. For example, people are encouraged to make up their own minds with regards to their chosen religion and political views, as well as whether they accept or reject some or all of what Universal Medicine presents.
- People attending Universal Medicine events are free to choose their friends and family associations (including their selection of a partner or spouse). There is no restriction of access to information in relation to television, radio, telephone, mail or reading material. This is in contrast to cults which typically isolate their members from their loved ones, and from society in general (Singer, 1995; Singer, 1996).
- Universal Medicine does not tell people what to eat or wear or where to work, sleep or bathe. Universal Medicine presents the importance of regular exercise and a sleep rhythm that honours the body’s natural rhythms. This is in contrast to cults that rarely encourage members to maintain good health practices or fitness (Singer, 1995). For example, Universal Medicine presents that the body functions well with an earlier bedtime (e.g. 9 or 10pm) and an earlier rise time, rather than doing things at night when we are tired. However, no bedtime is prescribed. Similarly with food, Universal Medicine presents the importance of discerning for oneself what food is right for you. Universal Medicine openly states that the food that one person eats will not necessarily be right for another. It is up to each person to feel this for themselves. If a person decides to make dietary changes, the main changes may include ceasing consumption of alcohol, gluten, and/or dairy. Alcohol has been well researched and scientifically documented as a chemical poison to the human body. There are also large numbers of people worldwide who do not eat gluten or dairy, as evidenced by the many restaurants that include gluten and/or dairy free meals in their menus.
- Universal Medicine publicly encourages medical treatment. For example, many people who attend events are themselves medical and allied health professionals. The Practitioners Committee of the Esoteric Practitioners Association (EPA)* consists mainly of medically-trained professionals, such as General Practitioners, Dentists, and Surgeons. This is in contrast to cults which typically discourage or forbid medical treatment (Singer, 1995).
- Although some of what Universal Medicine presents is unconventional, people are not asked to believe it, and there is much evidence showing that people are encouraged to question what is presented. Furthermore, unconventional statements made by any group in society do not necessarily constitute a cult. For example, there are many well-established religions that advocate a variety of beliefs, values and ideals related to reincarnation, Heaven and Hell, spirit and soul, and miracles. In fact, these beliefs are considered part of conventional society in both western and eastern cultures.
- People from varying locations around the world attend events by Universal Medicine, such as Australia, New Zealand, Holland, England, Germany, and many other parts of the world. This is in contrast to cults that typically isolate their members geographically from society (Singer, 1995; Singer, 1996).
- Families who attend Universal Medicine events live in normal society, attending school and participating in normal societal events. For example, children of attendees are enrolled in a variety of public and private schools.
- Universal Medicine presents that if needed people can perform a ‘gentle breath meditation’. This is a brief meditation (publicly recommended to perform in less than 10 minutes) in a comfortable seated position, in order to allow people to feel their own gentleness. The emphasis behind this is that if a person is feeling gentle, thus at ease and more calm, they are able to make clear and informed decisions for themselves. In contrast, when people are feeling emotional they are reactive to life and thus tainted by their experience. For example, a person feeling stressed is likely to make decisions that will be influenced by this stress.
- Universal Medicine presents that it is not a sovereign entity receiving any exceptions to the law or to any legal proceedings. In contrast, cults often consider themselves to be above the law and accountable to no-one (Singer, 1995).
There are many more true facts about Universal Medicine that could be mentioned. Suffice to say, it is clear that Universal Medicine is the antithesis of a cult. These facts show that there is more pressure to join your local swimming club or to shop at a retail store than to attend a Universal Medicine event. Swimming clubs, for example, typically advertise their services via pamphlets and newspaper advertisements, and they generally encourage their members to obtain a membership subscription (which can total 6 or 12 months). In contrast, no recruiting methods are used by Universal Medicine.
Whilst unconventional or even unpopular statements may be made by Universal Medicine, no organisation in society should ever be labeled a cult when there is absolutely no evidence to justify this claim. The term ‘cult’ carries heavy stigma for those involved and should never be used carelessly or irresponsibly. To do so would severely denigrate and demean the thousands of people who have been inspired to make truly loving changes in their lives and to support those around them. The real stories about Universal Medicine will be found here, in the countless numbers of individuals who now bring a sense of wellness to family life, to the workplace, and to all of society. So I leave it to you the reader to determine. Universal Medicine: Cult or the Antithesis?
by Brendan Mooney, Registered Psychologist BPsySci (Hons) AmusA
Brendan Mooney works as a fully-registered Psychologist. He has studied up to the level of a PhD in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Queensland. Brendan works as a Psychologist both privately and in the rehabilitation sector.
* The EPA (Esoteric Practitioners Association) is a branch of Universal Medicine. It was instigated by Universal Medicine to monitor and accredit the modalities that were founded by Universal Medicine.
Singer, M.T. (1995). Cults in our midst: The hidden menace in our everyday lives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers
Singer, M.T. (1996). Crazy therapies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.