Healing guru's 'cult resort'

Neil Doorley
Today Tonight

Serge Benhayon has no medical qualifications, but with thousands of followers worldwide, he says he has nothing to hide.

A controversial healthcare movement which had its origins on a toilet thirteen years ago now has 15,000 believers worldwide.

It all started with a feeling that Benhayon says he just knew he had to share with others.

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“Once I discovered this loveliness, I thought ‘wow, if the world found out about this, perhaps, just perhaps there might be a way to not feel so miserable, or so unhappy and may lead to a new feel for health, a new understanding of health’,” Benhayon said.

And what a lovely feeling it is for him, knowing Universal Medicine continues to expand from its Australian headquarters just outside Lismore.

The business has a $2 million yearly turnover - not bad for a former tennis coach who once described himself as a reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci.

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In this life, the 48-year-old father of four says he's simply helping devotees find their inner peace - something he might struggle to maintain in the face of mounting criticism which he says are just a smear campaign.

There are men who claim their partners left them because he modified their love-making through his lectures and 70 per cent of Benhayon's clientele are women, not because he can control them he says, but because they're open to change.

After using conventional treatment to overcome cancer and heart problems, Anne McRitchie turned to Benhayon and his healing therapies eight years ago.

“I wouldn't keep paying if I thought I wasn't getting anything out of them,” McRitchie said.

Student Rebecca Baldwin has been involved with Universal Medicine for more than a decade after hearing one of Benhayon’s lectures.

“Their care and dedication is second to none,” she said.

Professor John Dwyer is the former head of medicine at the University of New South Wales. He says that Universal Medicines “is dangerous nonsense. There are absolutely no suggestions that these people have any professional skills, or know anything about how the human body works.

“They're saying you can talk to your ovaries - when you read that you would think these people are mentally unhinged,” Dr Dwyer said.

However as Benhayon sees it, “he’s never tried anything that we do and we respect him, you know, he should respect us.”

Benhayon's healing work for now won't involve some of his own products - which he's stopped selling until an investigation by the Therapeutic Goods Administration is completed.

This reporter is on Twitter at @NDoorley