We New Age gurus have got to eat, at least some of us do

The Express, September 25, 1999

Baffled by Feng shui? Undernourished by Breatharianism? Then let me lead you through to New Age enlightenment David Robson at large As a spiritual guide advising those hungry for wisdom

Are you sitting comfortably? In a chair that is kind to your spine? Or are you in the lotus position perhaps? The room you are in - good feng shui? The colours - are they friendly? And have you breakfasted? On organic muesli? And herbal tea? Are you as relaxed as you might be?

Have you soothed yourself with essential oils? Are the planets favourable? Your biorhythms in harmony? Yes, I believe they are. I can feel the positive vibrations from here. You are certainly approaching the state where reading this will become rewarding. But not too fast now! Always remember that your time is your own, a blessed possession. Time is eternal, clocks are merely digital.

Before you begin to read my words, please join me in today's meditation from Conversations With God by my fellow spreader of enlightenment, Neale Donald Walsch, sage of Oregon (1.5 million copies sold worldwide): "See the Divine in a baby who needs changing at 3am...in a bill that needs paying by the first of the month. Recognise the hand of God in the job that's lost..." Perhaps now you are in a state to imbibe my sentences, savour their goodness, feel their power, experience their essential grace. And if their wisdom is not apparent to you, remember this - you are but one tiny grain among millions, for my readers are as numerous as the sands of the desert and my words informed by the souls of generations of masters. The elevation of my mind and refinement of my thought are, in one sense, merely the fruit of many years of study; in another, they are the legacy of countless centuries. For who can guess what I was in former lives? So come. My ability to guide you is to me a source of delight. Nothing, except my humility, gives me more pride. For only the poor of spirit cannot see the wisdom of my words. And if my paragraphs provoke bad feelings, remember this: it must be something within you, negativity blinding you to the light.

We will work together to open your mind. It may not happen immediately. We may need a new diet and a good deal of laying on of hands; with your goodwill we shall get there. But first open your purse: the willingness to hand over money is very often the prelude to enlightenment. You probably think this is easy - dispensing wisdom in what's known as the New Age. When the Prime Minister's wife wears a crystal and political pollsters keep The Road Less Travelled at their bedside, when every fashion designer's a Buddhist and Tesco has gone organic; when a total eclipse and the millennium come within months of each other, when the Government puts domes before homes. What more, you say, could a guru ask for? When Madonna studies the ancient wisdom of Kabalah, when neither homosexuality nor homeopathy raises an eyebrow, when The Little Book Of Calm has replaced Wicked Willy as loo reading, is this not the open door? I understand. I always understand. But you too must understand. Untoward things happen. An Australian woman who had gone to to Scotland to live in the spiritual community of Findhorn was found dead last week. Her efforts at Breatharian "self-cleansing" had led to starvation She was discovered on a remote hillside with a diary logging her 21-day fast and telling how, even as she set out on a climbing and camping expedition, she felt weak for lack of food and water.

This is not, as they were quick to say, the Findhorn way. In fact, among the signs of the community's rude health is near-celestial success with organic vegetables. "Visitors often comment on how good our food is," said the Foundation's manager, distancing himself from the fatality. "This is the first we have heard of Breatharianism." An isolated incident it may have been, but it made for a rocky week on the road to Nirvana.

On Wednesday evening the former Ellen Greve of Brisbane, now Jasmuheen, mother of Breatharianism, author of Living On Light, The Source Of Nourishment For The New Millennium, was on Newsnight, interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (the beneficiary of assertiveness training, unless I am much mistaken). There is no need for food, says Jasmuheen, you can draw your strength from chi-energy. (When, as she writes in her book, your four bodies - the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual - are in tune.) "This is nonsense," snapped Paxman. "If you don't eat, you die."

The 21-day fast, which is the prelude to giving up food completely, is not something to rush into. It is the end of a progress through a vegetarian, then a raw food, then a wholly liquid diet. Jasmuheen prepared herself for years.

A few words about her book, just in case you happen not to have it. It is full of the language of ancient wisdom: her guidance came from the Ascended Masters, who have assured her that the body needs only Liquid Light. At the time of her writing she was still socialising over cups of tea. "When I am able to stop drinking without feeling that I am denying myself, I will do so, for I wish to take every step of the way in joy, with ease and grace."

She also says, at the beginning of Chapter Six: "It is interesting to note that ageing and death can still be experienced by breatharians." I suppose that "interesting" is perhaps not the word that Mr Paxman, or indeed you, beloved reader, would choose, though wisdom tells us that death may be the most interesting experience of all.

Jasmuheen's words do not go unread. At Watkins Books - "specialists in mysticism, occultism, oriental religions, astrology, perennial wisdom, contemporary spirituality and Jungian psychology" off Charing Cross Road in the West End of London - they sell about 20 copies a month. Some time ago, Jasmuheen visited the shop. There were those on the staff who were sceptical about her. "I haven't taken nourishment from food for the last three years," she said. But is that the same as saying she had not eaten they wondered. This sort of thing, brothers and sisters in light, makes for bad karma. And the day-to-day travails of making a living purveying wisdom and healing are challenging enough without it. We gurus have got to eat too, you know (most of us anyway). And what a load we have to bear these days. I remember the time, in the Sixties when young hippies and eccentric old ladies were the only ones who needed us. How, in a blink of the eternal eye, things have changed!

We have become society's emergency service, bringing help where all else fails. Above the ruins of British society we float, above the wreckage of the old health service, the empty Christian churches, the schools where education has died, the offices where people lose themselves in work and the clubs where they lose themselves in idleness, the stores where they look for salvation through shopping - and the bedrooms where they struggle for salvation through sex. All we see are unhappy faces.

Western science with its bogus claims of all-knowingness has left people feeling empty and lost; conventional doctors, who cannot see beyond the symptoms of illness, and were long ago shorn of any aura of loving care, leave people feeling unhealed; teachers and priests, trapped in the deathly grip of Christian dualism, detaching the body from the spirit, offer only benighted delusion. Now there is an acupuncturist on every corner; and a harvest of biofeedback, biogenics and cranial osteopathy. The business is there all right, but allow me in all humility to share something with you. Sometimes such is the loss of faith in the ways of the West that we Understanding Ones are faced with challenges even we do not understand. Let me tell you a story: a young family found that the lightbulbs in their house were burning out with unwonted regularity. Spiritually enlightened people who would never think of consulting the worldly ones at the electricity board, they called upon a practitioner of feng shui. Was it a challenge too far? Only time will tell. But when they came to me with their question I offered them only the honesty of my wisdom.

"How many feng shui practitioners does it take to change a light bulb?" they asked. My answer was: "It depends if the lightbulb wants to change." And oh, though life is eternal, it is forever changing. And while the spirit is everywhere, it doesn't help much with your business plan. For how is a guru to thrive in the spiritual supermarket with 100 varieties to choose from, where last year's paganism is this year's shamanism, where graphology all too soon gives way to iridology as a window to the soul? At this precise moment there is an abundance of angels in the ascendant who, we are told, can take away all our ills and are said to be very good with cars. The life of Dr Doreen Virtue, author of Angel Therapy, changed when angels miraculously intervened and saved her from a car-jacking; Joan Wester Anderson, author of Where Angels Walk, became an angel-lover when angels rescued her son from a broken-down car in a blizzard without leaving tracks.

For those thereabouts, incidentally, next Tuesday is Angel Day at The Tabernacle, Powys Square, London W11 (£35 for a six-hour workshop). I could go into angels myself I suppose but will I be too late? It is all too likely they will have flown.

And so dear reader, this is indeed the age of abundance in the Guidance and Feeling market and, provided that you do nothing that bankrupts you or permanently damages your health, you may well find something that makes your life feel more harmonious - be it learning methods of contemplation, levitation or tofu cooking.As for me, I am very wise and very weary. I yearn for the simple days of yore when my only devotees were drugged-out hippies, when you had to go to health food shops to find brown rice, when GM meant General Motors. And my only pleasure was tantric sex.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.