The Universal White Brotherhood is a New Age-oriented new religious movement founded in Bulgaria in the early 20th century by Peter Deunov and established in France in 1937 by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (1900–1986), one of his followers.
Their teachings are also known as " Dunovism", after the founder. The group proposes a Christian esoterism characterized by a number of practices, including prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga of nutrition and paneurhythmy.
A person can be both member of the group and of another religion.
In France, the group achieved notability in the media in 1971. It has two centers located in Sèvres and Fréjus and 2,000 followers in France, and is present in many countries, including Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. The 1995 and 1999 reports established by the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France, as well as the 1997 reports issued by the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission in Belgium listed the group as a cult.
The main criticisms by anti-cult associations are the alleged harmful effects of the doctrine on the psyche of some followers, the diet that can lead to nutritional deficiencies, and the authoritarian nature of education.
“Universal” refers to humans’ ability to understand universal concepts about life. It speaks to the idea that people can expand their consciousness with these concepts that extend to more than just one person or group.
“White” does not refer to a person's race, rather, it is, “the highest spiritual symbol, which is the synthesis of all colors, being the manifestations of the soul’s virtues." “Brotherhood” is meant to indicate that the Universal White Brotherhood’s teachings are for every human no matter what community, religion, or group they belong to. The Universal White Brotherhood believes that their teachings are for everyone so that they can expand their consciousness and embrace a virtuous spirituality.
The Universal White Brotherhood believes in centering oneself around the sun, which contributes to their practice of Surya Yoga. They believe that meditating at sunrise offers a host of physical and spiritual benefits. According to the movement, this practice has value given that the Earth and therefore human beings revolve around the sun.
The Universal White Brotherhood believes that universal brotherhood is “the only solution to the problems of humanity.” This brotherhood is described as “human beings work[ing] together no longer exclusively for themselves, but for the whole world.” This stems from the belief that all people are children of a universal Creator.
The Universal White Brotherhood teaches “that all human beings possess two natures, a human nature and a divine nature.” The human nature “is composed of the physical and etheric body … the astral body … [and] the mental body,” and the divine body “consists of the Causal body … or divine wisdom … the Budhic body [which] is formed of all our purest, most noble feelings … [and] the Atmic body [or] the higher will.” The UWB believes that humans should identify with their divine nature.
This is the belief that all human beings are naturally creative, but that art ought to be inspired by the divine rather than by the human. Within UWB thought, humans are considered to be works of art, and perfecting oneself is seen act of creativity.
The UWB teaches that “spiritual work is a matter of developing the divine part of yourself which in ordinary life is bullied and smothered by all kinds of occupations and worries...Learn to establish order and harmony in yourself, allow your divine nature to blossom in the light and love.” This is accomplished by “bring[ing] heaven into [one’s] physical body,” for example by means of eating, breathing exercises, and prayer.
Six of the major methods used by the Universal White Brotherhood to practice and reinforce their beliefs include: meditation, music and singing, eating in silence, respiration, spiritual gymnastics, and paneurhythmy. While each of these are different, they all possess the element of meditation and reflection that allow the practitioner to embrace their environment, connect with their community, and further understand their spiritual being.
The Master calls meditation “Surya Yoga” or “Yoga of the Sun” and it is a method that all disciples are encouraged to practice because it is at the heart of the teachings. Meditation is practiced between the Spring and Autumn equinoxes at sunrise. Sunrise is important because it is a time of renewal when the sun’s rays help to transform and renew meditators. In meditation, the practitioner concentrates their thoughts and forces on the sun to reinforce their connection with their spirit. Just as the sun is the center of the solar system, through meditation practitioners connect with their spirit, the center of their being. Meditation allows paths of communication to be established through bridges between people’s higher and lower natures.
There is also meditation with music and laser meditation. Meditation with music is when brotherhood centers hold collective meditations that start with 10–15 minutes of inspirational music. This music is thought to help practitioners relax and to stimulate the imagination leading to an enrichment of spiritual life and good will. Laser meditation is when everyone concentrates on a single image during intense and silent meditation. People are united at this time and even vibrate on the same wavelength.
Meetings begin with the singing of three sacred songs that were composed by Peter Deunov. Master Omraam says that music is a way to harmonize one's being with the rest of the community. It helps to establish unity between people and to purify the atmosphere to “disintegrate the darkness”. Through song, people are able to transform themselves. While singing, people should concentrate on what they need or want, like health or intelligence, and in the future they might find that they can find these things within themselves.
Practitioners eat in silence so they are able to meditate on how their food is grown in nature and by the Creator. By avoiding conversation and focusing on the food, people are able to love their food so that they are able to receive all of its treasures. The idea is that if you love the food you are eating, you will gain more from the experience.
The Brotherhood uses nostril breathing exercises that are often found in Hatha Yoga tradition. Breathing is considered a form of nutrition and to fully take in these nutritions, people must hold the air in their lungs. Through respiration, people also draw in forces of light and peace from the world. These methods are used to develop “inner qualities, strengthen the will, calm the nervous system and vitalize the body."
There are six exercise that when performed form an “inner request”. The exercises take the shape of gentle and flowing movements and by concentrating on specific movements, people are able to calm their nervous system and create inner harmony. These exercises can also be used to ask for spiritual blessings and to develop individual qualities of balance, vitality, health, and purity. These gymnastics allow people to create balance between themselves and nature that ultimately results in better health.
Paneurhythmy refers to a circle dance, which was created by Peter Deunov and he referred to it as “the supreme cosmic rhythm”. Through this dance people are able to harmonize with the rhythms of the universe. Omraam said, “dancing the paneurhythmy enables you to learn to adapt your thoughts, your sentiments and your actions to the most harmonious rhythms of nature."
Armstrongism is the teachings and doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong while leader of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). His teachings are professed by him and his followers to be the restored true Gospel of the Bible. Armstrong said they were revealed to him by God during his study of the Bible. The term Armstrongite is sometimes used to refer to those that follow Armstrong's teachings. Armstrongism and Armstrongite are generally considered derogatory by those to whom it is applied, who prefer to be known as members of the Church of God (COG). These doctrines were also espoused by his sons Richard David Armstrong (until his death in 1958) and Garner Ted Armstrong (until his death in 2003) with slight variations.
Herbert Armstrong's teachings have similarities to those of the Millerites and Church of God (Seventh Day) (sometimes referred to as "COG7" to differentiate it from similarly-styled sects which worship on Sunday), from which WCG is spiritually and organizationally descended. The religion is a blend of fundamental Christianity, non-belief in the trinity and some tenets of Judaism and Seventh-Day Sabbath doctrine. Armstrong himself had been a COG7 minister before the Oregon conference stripped him of his ministerial credentials and excommunicated him for his seeking to water down and change their long established COG7 doctrines. It was in the fall of 1937 when Elder Armstrong's credentials were revoked by the Salem Church of God organization. The reason given by the Board of Twelve Oregon Conference of the Church of God, 7th Day (COG7) for this adverse action against Herbert W. Armstrong, was because he taught and kept the annual Feast days. But the real reason seems to have been because of his bad attitude. Armstrong then began his own ministry.
Armstrong taught that most of the basic doctrines and teachings of Mainstream Christianity were based on traditions, including absorbed pagan concepts and rituals (i.e. religious syncretism), rather than the Judeo-Christian Bible. His teachings have consequently been the source of much controversy. Shortly after Armstrong's death in 1986, the Worldwide Church of God started revising its core beliefs towards the concepts, doctrines, and creeds of mainstream Christianity. This resulted in many ministers and members leaving the WCG to start or join other churches, many of which continue to believe and teach Armstrong's doctrines to one degree or another. Eventually, the WCG changed its name in 2009 to Grace Communion International (GCI). Today, the official doctrinal position of GCI is mainstream evangelical, although there are still GCI ministers and members who do not fully embrace all of the changes.Ascended master
In the Ascended Master Teachings, Ascended Masters are believed to be spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans, but who have undergone a series of spiritual transformations originally called initiations.
Both "Mahatma" and "Ascended Master" are terms used in the Ascended Master Teachings. Ascended Master is based on the theosophical concept of the Mahatma or Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. However, Mahatmas and Ascended Masters are believed by some to differ in certain respects.
According to the Ascended Master Teachings, a "Master", "Commoner", "Shaman", or "Spiritual Master" is a human being who has taken the Fifth Initiation and is thereby capable of dwelling on the 5th dimension. An "Ascended Master" is a human being who has taken the Sixth Initiation, also referred to as Ascension, and is thereby capable of dwelling on the 6th dimension. An "Ascended Master" is a human being who has regained full union with his "Mighty I AM Presence." When a human being has regained full union with his "Mighty I AM Presence," that state of full union is referred to as "Ascension." Technically, a human being "ascends" when he takes the Sixth Initiation, and not before then.
A "Chohan" (Lord) of a "Ray" is an Ascended Master who has been placed in charge of one of the 12 "Rays" (until recently, 7 Rays were generally known, and 5 Rays were "secret"), due to having an extraordinary natural spiritual affinity for that Ray. A "Ray" is a concentrated stream of spiritual energy emanating, ultimately, from the Godhead. Each "Ray" is the embodiment/expression of one of the 12 great God-Qualities, such as Divine Will, Divine Wisdom, Divine Love, etc. The "Chohans (Lords) of the Rays" thus constitute a special grouping of Ascended Masters (Sixth Level Initiates).
Those who have taken the Seventh Initiation hold the Senior Administrative Posts in the Great White Brotherhood on Earth. These senior administrative posts are divided into 3 departments: The Department of the Manu, the Department of the Planetary Christ, and the Department of the Mahachohan. "
A "Lord of the World" is a human being (or another organism) who has taken the Ninth Initiation. According to ascended master teaching, The Ninth Initiation is the highest Initiation possible on, what is believed to be a 9th-dimensional planet grid such as Earth by Ascended Master Teaching believers. They believe this will be until the end of 21 December 2012. Sanat Kumara (a "Lord of the Flame" originally from the higher-dimensional levels of the planet Venus) was the original being who held the spiritual office of "Lord of the World" here on planet Earth.
The term "Ascended Master" was first used by Baird T. Spalding in 1924 in his series of books, "The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East" (DeVorss and Co.). Godfre Ray King further popularized this concept of spiritual masters who had once lived on the earth in his book Unveiled Mysteries (1934) by Guy Ballard (1878-1939). Ballard was the founder of the first "Ascended Master Teaching" in modern times, known as The "I AM" Activity (in full: The "I AM" Religious Activity of the Saint Germain Foundation ). The teachings were continued and embellished by later organizations such as The Bridge to Freedom (founded 1951) (known in the 1980s as The New Age Church of the Christ, and later as The Bridge to Spiritual Freedom), The Summit Lighthouse (founded 1958) and its successor organization the Church Universal and Triumphant, and various other organizations such as the White Eagle Lodge (1936). A more modern form of the teachings, which did not rely on "channeled" messages, was given by a former associate of Godfre Ray King, Pearl Dorris, in Mount Shasta, California, beginning on October 20, 1972, and continuing until her death in Yreka, California in 1990 (See her biography: Lady Master Pearl, My Teacher by Peter Mt. Shasta, also the book she helped channel, Step by Step: Ascended Master Discourses). Her emphasis was on learning to feel and identify with the I AM Presence within, rather than invoking the "Presence" as an external mental principle. Under her tutelage, Peter Mt. Shasta was trained to continue the Masters' teachings, working today to incorporate the inner teachings of the Far East and their emphasis on self-observation, with the dynamic I AM teachings that uses affirmations to develop mastery in daily life. See Apprentice to the Masters: Adventures of a Western Mystic, Book II. In Peter Mt. Shasta's third autobiographical book My Search in Tibet for the Secret Wish-Fulfilling Jewel he mentions the widely held belief in Tibet that yogis ascend, jalus (Tibetan), by dissolving the five elements and raising the Nirmanakaya and Sambogakaya bodies into the Dharmakaya (known also as Atman, Monad, or I AM Presence).
The rays, the divine evolutions of peoples and planets are represented by 7 colors (new age) and more 5 colors (new age gold or solar rays). The colors of new age and solar rays are (in order): 1 blue (power of faith); 2 yellow (obedience); 3 pink (beauty; geniality); 4 white (ascension; peace; light); 5 green (nature); 6 red (true resurrection); 7 violet (New Age of Master Saint Germain); 8 turquoise (lucidity); 9 magenta (divine wonder; justiciars); 10 gold (materialization of wealth); 11 orange (sunshine); 12 Opaline (renewal).Governmental lists of cults and sects
The application of the labels "cults" or "sects" to (for example) religious movements in government documents usually signifies the popular and negative use of the term "cult" in English and a functionally similar use of words translated as "sect" in several European languages. Government reports which have used these words include ones from Austria,
Canada, China, France, Germany, and Russia. While these documents utilize similar terminology they do not necessarily include the same groups nor is their assessment of these groups based on agreed criteria. Other governments and world bodies also report on new religious movements but do not use these terms to describe them.Australia, though an official list has not been produced; has a few suspected cults including the following:
Religious and Values
the Magnificat Meal Movement in Queensland;
‘the Family’ (or Children of God);
the Vibrational Individuation Program;9
organisations offering ‘Personal
Development ‘programs and claiming to be religious organisations;10
the Solar temple cult in Canada and Switzerland;
the Branch Davidian cult, at the centre of an incident at Waco, Texas, in 1993,
Canine essentialsGreat White Brotherhood
The Great White Brotherhood, in belief systems akin to Theosophy and New Age, are said to be perfected beings of great power who spread spiritual teachings through selected humans. The members of the Brotherhood may be known as the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or the Ascended Masters. The first person to talk about them in the West was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Theosophy), after she and other people claimed to have received messages from them. These included Helena Roerich, Aleister Crowley, Alice A. Bailey, Guy Ballard, Geraldine Innocente (The Bridge to Freedom), Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Bob Sanders, and Benjamin Creme.Heresy
Heresy () is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.The term is usually used to refer to violations of important religious teachings, but is used also of views strongly opposed to any generally accepted ideas. It is used in particular in reference to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.In certain historical Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures, among others, espousing ideas deemed heretical has been and in some cases still is met with censure ranging from excommunication to the death penalty.List of Bulgarians
This is a list of famous or notable Bulgarians throughout history.List of Christian denominations
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church, convention, assembly, house, union, or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one denomination and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues including the nature of Jesus, Trinitarianism, Nontrinitarianism, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, conciliarity, and papal primacy among others may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity" or "denominational families" (e.g. Eastern or Western Christianity and their sub-branches).
This is not a complete list, but aims to provide a comprehensible overview of the diversity among denominations of Christianity. Only those Christian denominations or organizations with Wikipedia articles will be listed in order to ensure that all entries on this list are notable and verifiable. The denominations or organizations listed are ordered from ancient to contemporary Christianity.List of new religious movements
A new religious movement (NRM) is a religious, ethical, or spiritual group or community with practices of relatively modern origins. NRMs may be novel in origin or they may exist on the fringes of a wider religion, in which case they will be distinct from pre-existing denominations. Academics identify a variety of characteristics which they employ in categorizing groups as new religious movements. The term is broad and inclusive, rather than sharply defined. New religious movements are generally seen as syncretic, employing human and material assets to disseminate their ideas and worldviews, deviating in some degree from a society's traditional forms or doctrines, focused especially upon the self, and having a peripheral relationship that exists in a state of tension with established societal conventions.An NRM may be one of a wide range of movements ranging from those with loose affiliations based on novel approaches to spirituality or religion to communitarian enterprises that demand a considerable amount of group conformity and a social identity that separates their adherents from mainstream society. Use of the term NRM is not universally accepted among the groups to which it is applied. Scholars have estimated that NRMs now number in the tens of thousands worldwide, with most in Asia and Africa. Most have only a few members, some have thousands, and very few have more than a million. Academics occasionally propose amendments to technical definitions and continue to add new groups.Nikola Nedev
Nikola Dimitrov Nedeva (1886–1970) was a Bulgarian Major general, politician and military historian. He was the Minister of Interior affairs and Public Health in the third and fourth cabinets of Georgi Kyoseivanov (November 1938 to February 1940).
His first cousins were Lieutenant General Nikola Mihov and Major General Ivan Ivanov - descendants of the great Mollov’s family. Nedev was a friend of Petar Danov (also known by the name Beinsa Douno, and often called Master by his followers) who was a Bulgarian philosopher and spiritual teacher of the Universal White Brotherhood. Nedev was a follower of the Danov's teachings.Nova Religio
Nova Religio, The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions is a peer-reviewed academic journal of religious studies that focuses on New Religious Movements. The journal is published by University of California Press. First published in 1997 as a biannual, the journal changed to a quarterly format in 2005.Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (Mihail Ivanov) (January 31, 1900 - December 25, 1986) was a Bulgarian philosopher, pedagogue, mystic, and esotericist. A leading 20th-century teacher of Western Esotericism in Europe, he was a disciple of Peter Deunov (Beinsa Douno), the founder of the Universal White Brotherhood.Peter Deunov
Peter Deunov (Bulgarian: Петър Дънов, IPA: ['pɛtər 'dɤnof]; July 11, 1864 – December 27, 1944), also known by his spiritual name Beinsa Douno (Bulgarian: Беинса Дуно, [bɛinˈsа duˈnɔ]), and often called the Master by his followers, was a Bulgarian philosopher and spiritual teacher who developed a form of Esoteric Christianity known as the Universal White Brotherhood. He is widely known in Bulgaria, where he was voted second by the public in the Great Bulgarians TV show on Bulgarian National Television (2006-2007). Deunov is also featured in Pantev and Gavrilov's The 100 Most Influential Bulgarians in Our History (ranked in 37th place). According to Petrov, Peter Deunov is “the most published Bulgarian author to this day.”Religion in Bulgaria
Religion in Bulgaria has been dominated by Christianity since its adoption as the state religion in 865. The dominant form of the religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity within the fold of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. During the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, Sunni Islam spread in the territories of Bulgaria, and it remains a significant minority today. The Catholic Church has roots in the country since the Middle Ages, and Protestantism arrived in the 19th century.
In the latest years, there has been a decline of both the historic religions of Bulgaria—Orthodox Christianity and Islam—, which shrank respectively from 86% in 1992 to 84% in 2001 to 61% in 2011 and from 13% in 1992 to 12% in 2001 to 8% in 2011. In the 2011 census, the question about the religious affiliation became optional, and thus 21.8% of the total population didn't answer. Until the census of 1992, Bulgarians were obliged to declare the historic religious belonging of their parents and/or ancestors, while since 2001 people were allowed to declare personal belief in a religion or unbelief in any religion (irreligion and atheism). After the end of the People's Republic of Bulgaria (1946–1990), the revival of Islam was stronger than Orthodox Christianity. With the international rise of Islamic terrorism in the 2000s, however, there was a growing disaffection for the Islamic religion among Bulgarians. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has seen the most serious decline from 2001 onwards. The church's credibiliy has been undermined since the 1990s by its collaboration with the erstwhile Communist regime, fully revealed with the opening of the state's secret archives in 2012, according to which eighty percent of the clergy were members of the secret police.The Constitution of Bulgaria designates Orthodox Christianity as the "traditional" religion of the country, but guarantees the free exercise of any religion. Bulgaria has not experienced any significant ethnic or religious confrontation, unlike the case in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The religious communities in the country coexist peacefully. In fact, the capital Sofia is known for its so-called Square of Religious Tolerance; the St Nedelya Church, St Joseph Cathedral, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue are located within metres of each other in the very centre of the city.Religion in France
Religion in France is diverse under secular principles. It can attribute its diversity to the country's adherence to freedom of religion and freedom of thought, as guaranteed by the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité (or "freedom of conscience") enforced by the 1880s Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Catholicism, the religion of a now small majority of French people, is no longer the state religion that it was before the French Revolution, as well as throughout several non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second French Empire).
Major religions practised in France include the Christianity (include Catholics, various branches of Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Armenian Christianity), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism amongst others, making it a multiconfessional country. Sunday mass attendance has fallen to 5% for the Catholics, and the overall level of observance is considerably lower than was the past. According to a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2010, 27% of French citizens responded that they "believe there is a God", 27% answered that they "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", and 40% answered that they "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". This makes France one of the most irreligious countries in the world.Self religion
A self religion (or self-religion) is a religious or self-improvement group which has as one of its primary aims the improvement of the self. The term "self religion" was coined by Paul Heelas and other scholars of religion have adopted/adapted the description. King's College scholar Peter Bernard Clarke builds on Heelas's concept of self religion to describe the class of "Religions of the True Self".Varna
Varna (Bulgarian: Варна, Varna [ˈvarna]) is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Situated strategically in the Gulf of Varna, the city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia. Varna, historically known as Odessos (Ancient Greek: Ὀδησσός), grew from a Thracian seaside settlement to a major seaport on the Black Sea.
Varna is an important centre for business, transportation, education, tourism, entertainment and healthcare. The city is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria and headquarters the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. In 2008, Varna was designated seat of the Black Sea Euroregion by the Council of Europe. In 2014, Varna was awarded the title of European Youth Capital 2017.The oldest gold treasure in the world, belonging to the Varna culture, was discovered in the Varna Necropolis and dates to 4200–4600 BC.