Universal Medicine

A controversial health and healing organization blending esoteric philosophy with alternative wellness practices.

Religion: New Age / Alternative Healing
Founder: Serge Benhayon
Founded: 1999
Location: Australia
Other Names: The Ageless Wisdom Teaching, Esoteric Healing, Esoteric Medicine, The Way of the Livingness
Website: universalmedicine.com.au

Universal Medicine, often abbreviated as UM, is a movement founded by Serge Benhayon, a former tennis coach with no medical qualifications. Benhayon, who has been a controversial figure, claims to provide esoteric healing services, which have been heavily scrutinized and criticized for lacking scientific evidence and for promoting potentially harmful practices.

Benhayon’s teachings include a wide array of beliefs and practices that have attracted significant controversy. He has made claims that people with disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism, are experiencing karma from past life sins. Furthermore, Benhayon has been reported to suggest that illnesses are caused by possession of the body by evil spirits. His views extend into areas of personal life and well-being, advising against certain sexual practices on the grounds that they transfer bad energy and suggesting that diet can influence spiritual alignment. Critics have described these teachings as dangerous and manipulative, especially when they interfere with personal choices and relationships​​​​.

The organization has garnered a following in Australia, the UK, North America, and Europe. However, it has also been labeled by critics as a cult responsible for a trail of broken families and exercising a level of control over its followers’ lives. There have been legal attempts to suppress allegations of being a cult from public discourse, with reports of Universal Medicine using legal threats to remove negative media coverage from search engines in Australia. Despite official denials of being a cult, the organization’s actions, such as pressuring media outlets and mobilizing legal resources against critics, have raised concerns​​​​.

Universal Medicine’s practices have also been brought into legal scrutiny. In 2019, the Supreme Court found that Universal Medicine had engaged in misleading conduct, made false claims about healing, and was considered an exploitative and socially harmful cult. The organization offers practitioner training through its Esoteric Practitioners Association Pty Ltd, although these qualifications are not recognized by any accredited medical or health organization. Benhayon’s therapeutic practices, such as the “esoteric connective tissue therapy,” have been denounced by medical professionals as nonsensical​​​​.

Critics have also raised concerns about the organization’s influence on diet and exercise, suggesting that followers are subjected to severely restricted diets which could potentially lead to health issues, particularly in children. A case was reported where a child of UM member parents was hospitalized due to a diet-related illness, highlighting the risks of such restrictive dietary practices​​.

Moreover, Universal Medicine has been implicated in influencing its followers to cut off relationships with non-believers, including family members, and to live according to a strict set of guidelines that govern nearly all aspects of life, from music to personal relationships. This level of control has been described by detractors as a form of mind control, leading to significant emotional and sometimes financial consequences for those involved​​​​.

Overall, Universal Medicine represents a complex case of a new religious movement that has drawn significant attention not only for its unconventional beliefs and practices but also for the controversies and legal challenges surrounding its operations and its founder, Serge Benhayon.

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