Want to learn the secrets of the universe and discover the true nature of reality? Do you have at least $100 and a half day to spend attending a workshop? If so, that’s enough to get you started on the path toward enlightenment. For an additional $299 and two ongoing daily meditations sessions, you can learn additional secrets via CDs and DVDs. And, you don’t even need to shave your head, wear new age robes or perform sacrificial rituals to participate. Sound too good to be true? Apparently not to the thousands of people around the world who have followed Eric Pepin, a 42-year-old self-described world psychic from Beaverton, often paying up to $800 to meet with him one-on-one and some even willing to pay $1,000 or more for the chance to attend retreats with Pepin in locations such as Hawaii and Mexico.
Pepin considers himself “enlightened”, not a “guru”, and he sees his adherents as “clients”, not “followers”.
“I believe in enlightenment. I am enlightened,” Pepin told his clients at a recent gathering in California attended by a Willamette Week reporter. “I can take you beyond this world. I can bring you to the doorway of what one would consider the kingdom of heaven. Whether you choose to walk through it is up to you.”
[See excellent Willamette Week article here] Pepin started his venture, Higher Balance Institute, six years ago after leaving his job as a telemarketer for The Oregonian. He apparently has no credentials beyond a high-school GED and a keen eye for generating revenue. He and his colleagues built a website, advertising by direct mail and email. Business took off, eventually reaching $2 million in worldwide sales. By 2005, they had eleven full-time employees and an office in Beaverton, according to Willamette Week.
Pepin teaches that developing psychic powers can help you expand your consciousness, understand the universe and even become closer to God. These powers can be developed through special meditation which in turn allows one the ability to read minds, see auras, travel across dimensions and even communicate with spirits. Pepin claims he has all of those powers and can teach others to attain them as well.
According to Pepin’s biography on the Higher Balance website, he has been on the path to enlightenment since his early childhood. “Throughout the course of his life, Eric has been dedicated to the path of developing his own modern techniques for spiritual and self-development. From his early childhood, he began pondering upon the workings of the universe, concepts of God, and the evolution of the human race itself. Through his journey of self reflection he began to find a way to convey the knowledge and experiences he has had in order for others to do the same.”
As one might expect, Pepin has generated plenty of controversy and skepticism along the way, including claims that he’s used his guru status to sexually prey on followers and employees. Pepin was charged with child sex abuse in Washington County back in 2007, but was acquitted and denies the allegations.
Others see vulnerable individuals looking for greater meaning in life, as well as those disillusioned by existing religious institutions, as being especially susceptible to spiritual advisers like Pepin. Driven by growing dissatisfaction and loneliness in their lives, many people are being lured by the increasing sway of the internet and are drawn to people like Pepin who promise greater satisfaction in this life and beyond.
However, Pepin also has his share of backers, including many seemingly rational, educated and wealthy individuals. Testimonials rave about the deep and fulfilling impact Pepin’s teachings have had on their lives, and he has multiple repeat clients. His website claims he has clients in almost every country across the globe.
“Our purpose and mission at Higher Balance is simple: to give you all the tools and knowledge you need to empower yourself, to transform your life into something amazing and to awaken the wonder that lives within you. We hope that what began as just a whisper on the wind grows and becomes an energizing, life-giving storm of change sweeping across the globe.”
Despite such audacious claims, Pepin insists in interviews he remains humble. “I tell people, ‘Don’t call me an enlightened master,’” he told Willamette Week, “I can’t live up to your expectations. I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to make errors, and you’re going to put me in a stature that I can’t uphold. That’s my worst fear.”
Further information Willamette Week article here
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