September 13, 2004

An Afternoon With Benjamin Creme

The constant drone of Tokyo traffic lingers like a heart murmur in the background, as the audience meditates to the directions of Benjamin Crème’s calming voice.

I can’t help myself from taking a peek at all the people around me with their stoic focused faces. As my head glides about, another rebel’s eyes catch my own. He is obviously very sceptical of today’s proceedings. Suddenly, without warning, he stands up and barges out of the room, crackling his plastic bags on the way.

While all of this is going on, Mr Crème sits with his hands raised and turning very slowly from side to side. Supposedly, it is during this time that Maitreya, the future Buddha, channels his energies to each of us.

Crème, who is a lot older than the youthful publicity shot would have us believe, is convinced that not only is Maitreya already here, but he is currently a resident of the Asian community in London. For the past 25 years, Crème has travelled the globe as a dutiful disciple, promoting the presence of the Maitreya.

A man in his seventies and in possession of an impressive full head of swirling white hair, he resembles a plumper Jon Pertwee. His voice is a rich plumb English accent that betrays his Scottish background, but adds the authority and prestige he wishes to exude.

His lecture began with a cross-sectional analysis of all issues concerning the world at present, and the possible outcomes that lay ahead in the future. With remarkable self-assuredness, he wrangled with world economics, politics, the environment and human nature. But he did not demonstrate a sense of knowledge that went any further than that garnered by a regular newspaper reader.

However, the audience seemed enraptured, and were obviously extremely impressed. Perhaps, for a Japanese audience, they were enchanted by his British charm, in the same way that Asian mystics engage Westerners with their exoticism. For me, he was just another Scotsman, albeit an eccentric one.

He had started out on this path in the Fifties, when he was a curious young man, who had an insatiable appetite for the occult. His passion brought him to the writings of the controversial 19th Century Russian mystic, Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

The Theosophy Society, which she founded, attempted to bring together the various mystic paths of the world. She proposed that there were great Masters who resided high up in the Himalayas and other mountain regions, waiting for appropriate times to disseminate their wisdom. Her idea was in itself not new, as Asian religions had long held such beliefs, but to the West it was a revelation.

The 19th Century was a time of huge contradictions, where old superstitions had been wiped out by scientific discoveries, only to be repackaged as pseudo-sciences, such as Spiritualism. Even Queen Victoria, with her obsession to communicate with her beloved late husband Albert, was drawn into this fad.

Blavatsky perpetuated the fanciful allusions of Romanticism, appealing to such people as W.B. Yeats, who always considered himself ‘the last of the Romantics’.

In many ways, Crème is a genuine old fashion Romantic. His passion and conviction are without denial. And his sincerity in believing that an ancient mystic of astounding age, decided to walk down from the top of a 6000-metre mountain and reveal himself at a time of dire warnings, is admirable.

Crème claims that the Maitreya has been involved in influencing several recent major historical events. He asserts that both President Reagan and President Gorbechev worked towards the ending of the Cold War, because of visionary visitations that they had from Maitreya. It would be easy to dismiss such stories as hokum, but in Crème’s magazine, Share International, there is an article written by none other than Mikhail Gorbechev!

For the majority of the people present, their reason for going to his lecture was in the hope of discovering some kind of confirmation that there are still individuals who possess great powers and infinite wisdom.

In a time with few miracles, historical religious figures, such as Christ and Buddha, require some kind of present-day equal, so that the myths surrounding their distant lives seem more palatable and plausible. How much longer can people continue waiting for the return of a Messiah? As time passes, faith must surely diminish, and the corresponding culture with it.

Unfortunately, no such confirmation was produced at Crème’s lecture. The only available proof for Maitreya's existence were several photographs of a robed, bearded Asian man, walking through a crowd in Ethiopia. Is he Maitreya? You can take Crème’s word for it…

El-Branden Brazil © 2003

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