New Age Teacher A Danger, Warns Rector

Newswire, April 06, 2000

A New Age teacher who claims to exist on fresh air has been branded a danger by the rector of a university after she gave a talk to students.

Robin Harper, a Green party member of the Scottish Parliament who was elected rector of Edinburgh University several weeks ago, issued the warning last night at an address by the guru Jasmuheen.

The Australian teacher - real name Ellen Greve - was criticised for promoting her philosophy of "breatharianism" - the idea of "living on liquid light" and almost entirely without food.

Her teachings sparked controversy last year when 49-year-old follower Verity Linn died in the Scottish Highlands after giving up food and water in accordance with a 21-day spiritual fast.

Mr Harper arrived outside the university's chaplaincy centre where the talk was being held to urge students to seek spiritual help or approach the health centre if they had dietary problems such as bulimia.

Mr Harper said: "I think she is dangerous. Some young people are impressionable. They want to try new things. I can see many people thinking, 'I will have a go at that, it sounds interesting', then put their health seriously as risk.

"I know very little about it, but what I do know I don't like." He said he did not blame the university for hiring out a room because it was unaware of Ms Greve's background when the booking was made and had decided not to cancel because it did not want to impinge on principles of free speech.

"If they had known more about her they might have thought twice. I don't think this qualifies as a religion," he said.

Yesterday, Ms Greve told GMTV viewers she had survived on less than 300 calories a day for seven years because she absorbed nourishment direct from a creative source.

Her teachings were attacked by the show's doctor Hilary Jones as "dangerous".

About 30 people paid £10 a head for an evening of songs, meditation and an explanation of her ideas by Ms Greve, a mother of seven.

She told them her work was "very controversial" and claimed to have been misquoted by the media. She said she was telepathic and could talk to dead people who approached her for a chat while she was meditating. She claimed survival on very limited nutrition was thanks to strict discipline and denied being part of a cult.

"It's not a movement, it's not a cult, it has no organisation. It's a movement of consciousness."

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