Signs of the times
Crop circles, weeping Madonnas and the strange esoteric world of Benjamin Creme
It was the kind of sign any self-respecting journalist would find hard to ignore. The flier posted on a Midtown storefront was printed on bright orange paper, and across the top of the page bold black type proclaimed, “Breaking the Biggest Story in History.” What reporter hasn’t dreamed of doing just that? And this truly was no ordinary story. According to the flier, it was nothing less than the second coming of Christ.
Indeed. It literally was the second coming of Christ.
A tear-off tab at the bottom of the page offered the date and directions to a presentation where compelling evidence of Christ’s imminent return would be offered. Which is how I found myself in the East Sacramento Room at the Clunie Community Center on a sparkling Saturday afternoon in November, immersed in the strange esoteric world of Benjamin Creme.
Creme’s name is well known in New Age circles. In 1959, he claims he was contacted telepathically by one of the Masters of Wisdom, a group of spiritually advanced beings who’ve allegedly been pulling humanity’s strings from behind the scenes for millennia.
With the advent of the atom bomb, the Masters decided to break cover, and selected Creme as their emissary. Since 1975, the Scottish artist has toured the globe, heralding the coming of the Masters, including the greatest Master of them all: Buddhism’s Maitreya, or Christianity’s Christ, Judaism’s Messiah, Islam’s Imam Mahdi and Hindu’s Krishna all rolled up into one tidy omnipresent being.
The flier hinted that Creme would be present at the seminar, but upon my arrival at the center I was disappointed to discover he was absent. Instead, three rather nondescript individuals from the Bay Area, Monte Leach, Rich Teich and Francia Friendlich, informed me that Creme was back home in London. The trio, volunteers for Share International, the nonprofit organization that spreads Creme’s gospel, would be handling the afternoon’s presentation.
“What we have in common is the belief that an unprecedented positive event is unfolding in the world,” said Leach, the U.S. editor of Share International magazine, Creme’s monthly publication. A dozen or so people had turned out for the lecture, men and women, young and old alike. Leach told us that we’d be watching a short film of Creme explaining “who Maitreya is, why he is here and what it means for our future.” Leach then would field questions from the audience.
Who Maitreya is already has been mentioned: the supernatural being forecast to make an appearance in the near future by nearly every major religion in the world. In fact, Creme claims that Maitreya is already here and has been since 1982, living in London’s Pakistani/Indian district under a secret identity. Maitreya, Christ or whoever has returned to promote a variety of progressive causes: to bring peace to humankind, to end famine and poverty, and to restore the earth’s environment. If we follow Maitreya’s lead, these causes will be realized in the near future.
“We can go the same way we’re going—the greed, the war, the corruption—or we can go another direction and heal the planet,” Leach said after the film concluded. “Maitreya and the Masters are teachers. They can’t interfere with our own volition.”
The Masters have passed down the world’s basic truths through the ages, according to Creme, who has borrowed heavily from the Theosophic teachings of Helen Blavatksy and Alice Bailey. Theosophy takes many of its cues from esoteric Buddhism, including ideas such as karma, reincarnation and universal brotherhood. Bailey in particular taught that such precepts were passed down by the Masters, a concept Creme has adopted lock, stock and barrel.
However, he’s added a few twists of his own. For one, he teaches that ordinary people can channel the spiritual power of the Masters through a process called transmission meditation. He likens it to an electrical transformer that reduces voltage before sending it into your home. Those practicing transmission meditation “step down” the higher spiritual power of the Masters in order to transmit it to the general population, where it becomes a positive force for change. One of the primary purposes of Share International’s outreach program is to introduce people to transmission meditation.
Creme also claims that the signs the Masters are coming forward are all around us: crosses of light in high-rise windows; crop circles supposedly made by UFOs (including the one found near Fairfield in 2004); the milk-drinking religious statues reported in India; and the weeping Madonna phenomenon that has been observed worldwide, including the occurrence at a Vietnamese Catholic church in Sacramento one year ago. In fact, it was that incident that prompted Share International to begin passing out fliers in the Sacramento area, Leach said.
“Benjamin Creme confirms that it was the Master Mary,” he said, adding that such occurrences are caused by a “science unknown to us”—an esoteric explanation to which no one in the room objected. “We’re providing this information for your consideration,” he continued. “You have to decide whether to accept it.”
That’s a caveat heard often in Creme’s circle.
Creme answered the phone on the second ring. I pictured the 86-year-old white-haired artist and esotericist in his London flat, located not too far away from the Pakastani/Indian district where Maitreya first established a physical presence in 1982. But Creme said he made first telepathic contact with Maitreya’s spiritual being in 1959. He described the event like it had happened yesterday.
“It was as if a tremendous energy came through the top of my head, filling my whole body,” he recalled. “My heart melted. I was filled with all the love in the world. Tears [of joy] rolled down my cheeks. I shook a little bit. It was a pure heart experience. I was in a huge sphere of light.”
When he looked to the right within this sphere, he saw the past. To the left, the future. He heard a voice he came to recognize as Maitreya’s.
“You will have a role to play in my coming if you accept it,” the voice said. “The time is coming when you will be expected to act upon it.”
Creme took up the calling on faith, “not blind faith, but faith in the experience, that this had happened to me, that I believe it and I’m not afraid to say so.”
By the mid-1970s, he was reading the telepathic transmissions he received from various Masters into a tape recorder, then transcribing the recordings onto paper for later inclusion in books (he’s written 10 so far) and magazine articles. He formed transmission meditation groups in England, Holland and Belgium. In 1979, he made his first visit to the United States. He estimates there are now 45,000 adherents worldwide, all of whom, including himself, volunteer their services free of charge. I asked him if he received any financial compensation at all for his work.
“Nothing actually,” he insisted. “I’ve given my word. I’ve pledged to do it. I’m not making money from it. We’re all volunteers. The only people who get paid are the printers.”
In Creme’s scheme, Masters are beings comprised of light and vibration who normally exist on the spiritual plane but are capable of manifesting themselves on the physical level. Maitreya is the most advanced Master, capable of existing in the material world and incorporating the Christ consciousness at the same time.
Creme believes Maitreya will make his existence known to the entire world soon, in part because the number of signs worldwide appears to be increasing. A mysterious handprint on a bathroom mirror in Spain reappears as soon as it is wiped off. In Lebanon, shards of colored glass emanate from a young girl’s forehead. Crop circles continue to crop up everywhere.
“These are signs that something extraordinary is taking place,” he said, adding that the crop circles are particularly significant. “The UFOs have an enormous part to play in the security of this planet at the ecological level. [The crop circles are part of] a new science that will give us energy directly from the sun. Oil will become a thing of the past. No one will be able to sell energy in the future.”
Peace on earth, goodwill toward men, an end to global warming and the energy crisis—noble goals, one and all, but people are bound to be skeptical of the means. What does Creme have to say to such skeptics?
“I say I provide this for your information and consideration,” he said. “You have to decide whether to accept it.”
Most of the people at the Clunie Community Center seemed perfectly willing to accept the information that was given.
“It doesn’t contradict anything that I’ve known about,” said Kaye Thompson, a local woman who was attending the presentation with her friend, Ilona Ireland. She appreciated the fact that Leach “wasn’t trying to sell anything.”
“I’ve known about Benjamin Creme for a number of years,” Ireland added. “He’s been on [Art Bell’s paranormal radio program] Coast to Coast. As Kaye said, there was a lot of information without a big push to believe. (I think the message is that humanity needs to wake up. Western civilization has been in a dream world for many years.) The only way we can survive is to recognize that we can’t live with inequality.”
James Morin has followed Creme for several years and immediately recognized last year’s appearance of the weeping Madonna at the Vietnamese church as a sign.
“When the miracle situation happened in November, I tied it in with this stuff,” he said. “It sounded to me like the stuff Creme talks about.” He counts himself as an adherent because it gives him hope.
“Look at the world situation,” he said. “Two-thirds of the people live and die in poverty. I want to see the world change for the better. I’m happy to hear there are miracles in the world, that they might be possible. It certainly seems like something special is happening—or might be.”
I smiled at Morin’s hedge. Like the folks from Share International are prone to say, this information is offered for your consideration; you have to choose whether to accept it. Morin admitted he still had his doubts, and I certainly have mine. But perhaps something special is happening. Maybe war, famine and ecological damage will become things of the past. Maybe I am breaking the biggest story in history.