Readers of Irregular Times will remember our coverage over the years of the Ram Bomjon fraud. Ram Bomjon is a teenage boy in Nepal who, starting a couple of years ago, claimed the ability to sit and meditate without moving or eating or drinking for months and months at a time. Bomjon attracted many pilgrims, who called him the new Buddha and made many donations, but also attracted the skepticism of scientists and the government of Nepal. When medical doctors attempted to examine Ram Bomjon to confirm that his claims were true, they were told that they would only be allowed to look at the boy from a distance. Just as the government of Nepal was closing in on Ram Bomjon’s scheme, the boy disappeared, and reappeared only briefly to announce that he would be at a secret, undisclosed location in the jungle for six years, meditating. After only a few months, however, Ram Bomjon appeared again, in order to set up a new operation in a new location, happy to take donations.
When I wrote about Ram Bomjon, back in 2005 and 2006, I thought that the fraud he was perpetrating was uniquely audacious. Yesterday, researching the activities of the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign in Arizona, I found out I was wrong. It seems that there is a long tradition of religious hucksters doing what Ram Bomjon did – claiming the ability to survive without eating for extremely long periods of time through the use of supernatural powers, and obtaining personal profit as the result of these claims. That long tradition continues today.
I’m disturbed to say that I found one of these Ram Bomjon fakers at an event associated with the Kucinich for President campaign. Her name is Ellen Greve, though she prefers to be called Jasmuheen.
At first glance, Jasmuheen appears to be a silly but well-meaning practitioner of the standard variety of sloppy New Age thinking. Born in Australia, but working to promote her enterprises worldwide, she operates a web site called the Cosmic Internet Academy, which has the mission of promoting “personal and planetary peace”. That doesn’t seem to be so bad, in itself. I like peace myself.
Jashmuheen’s work, unfortunately, goes far beyond a cosmic mission for planetary peace. It also includes something called breatharianism. Jasmuheen makes money with materials and consultations convincing people to become breatharians.
What is a breatharian? Breatharians believe that they don’t need to eat. They believe that their bodies can get all the energy they need just by breathing in and out, and soaking up fresh sunlight. So, breatharians might have some juice, or coffee, and an occasional snack every few months or so, but they don’t believe that they need anything else to survive and be healthy.
That’s the belief, anyway, but the reality is much less rarified. Jasmuheen claims to be a breatharian, to live on almost no food, much like Ram Bomjon, but investigations have proven her claims not to be substantiated. In the 1990s, an Australian television show challenged Jasmuheen to prove her ability to be healthy without eating anything by being filmed doing so in a controlled environment. After a few days, the challenge had to be cancelled because Jasmuheen became gravely ill. At another time, when a journalist travelling with Jasmuheen caught her ordering a meal on an airplane, Jasmuheen insisted that she intended to get the meal but not to eat it. When a team of reporters visited Jasmuheen’s home in Brisbane, they found the pantries filled with food.
One of Jasmuheen’s followers, Wiley Brooks, the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America, was caught ordering a chicken pie during a time he claimed to be living on nothing more than the energy of light. Wiley Brooks still runs the Breatharian Institute of America, which offers Empowered Ascension workshops that promise to take participants to a place called Earth Prime, a member of “the federation of positive planets of the Universe” in the 5th dimension. The cost of participation in one of these workshops starts at ten million dollars.
This breatharianism of Jasmuheen definitely goes beyond a simple agenda for planetary peace. Sadly, it’s more than just delusional thinking. It’s also deadly. People have died trying to follow Jasmuheen’s path of living without eating.
For all of the obvious fraud and fatal fakery of her breatharianism, Jasmuheen has never been held legally responsible. She’s still roaming around, claiming to have super powers, and asking people to follow her, or at least to buy her stuff.
What does any of this have to do with Dennis Kucinich and his presidential campaign? Well, I found out about Jasmuheen through the Dennis Kucinich for President campaign. Elizabeth Kucinich, Dennis’s wife, will be giving one of the keynote addresses at an alternative diet and spirituality conference, called the called the Raw Spirit Festival, in Sedona, Arizona this October. Giving another keynote address will be Jasmuheen. Dennis Kucinich is also said to be planning to attend the conference.
This link between Elizabeth Kucinich isn’t merely personal, or incidental to the Kucinich for President campaign. The Kucinich campaign actually promotes Elizabeth Kucinich’s speech at the conference as a part of the campaign. The Kucinich campaign web site even gives the name of the Raw Spirit Festival’s founder and “Chief Visionary Officer”, a woman who calls herself Happy Oasis, as a contact.
The exact nature of the relationship between the Kuciniches, the Raw Spirit Festival and Jasmuheen is not clear. I don’t know if Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich know Jasmuheen personally. I don’t know whether they endorse her schemes. I don’t know if the Kuciniches are aware of the Raw Spirit Festival’s work promoting the breatharianism scam.
I would hope that the staff of the Dennis Kucinich for President campaign had the intelligence to investigate the proposed content of the Raw Spirit Festival. Certainly, if Dennis Kucinich thinks that he can be President, one would hope that he would consider the kind of people he is being assocated with at such events. If George W. Bush can be judged for visiting Bob Jones University, then surely, Dennis Kucinich can be judged for promoting and perhaps taking part in an event that promotes Jasmuheen and her breatharian cult.
If Dennis Kucinich does not know that his name and the name of his wife are being associated with a dangerous con artist, then that’s a sign of sloppy campaigning. If Dennis Kucinich does know that he and his wife are being linked to the likes of Jasmuheen and her deadly breatharianism, and is allowing this campaign event to continue, then it’s a strong sign that Kucinich lacks the ability to exercise rational judgment required by the presidency.