Under Spell of Couple who Preached ‘Breatharianism’
In Ethan Sacks’ article “Michelle Pfeiffer: I was in ‘cult,’ under spell of couple who preached ‘breatharianism’,” for the New York Daily News, 4 November 2013 (http://nydn.us/1DnvyGt), he discusses Pfeiffer’s, a popular Hollywood actress, run-in with a couple who practiced breatharianism philosophy. Breatharianism, also called Inedia, is a Hindu-based philosophy in which the members believe that they can live without food and water. Their foundation is in the belief that prana, the vital Hindu life source of sunlight is the only sustenance they need.
According to Pfeiffer’s experience, it seems breatharianism displays attributes of new religious movements, but also falls into the category of the formerly called “New Age Movement.” According to George D. Chrysssides, New Age Movements involve an assortment of interest such as “human potential, and Eastern religions, among others.” This is relevant to the Inedia lifestyle because it has the basis in the Eastern religion of Hinduism, as well as relating to human interests in survival.
I agree with what Chryssides mentions about Rodney Stark and William S. Bainbridge’s typology of New Age Movements having roots in a “‘client cult’ – spiritual services that are offered to clients on a commercial basis.” Specifically in Pfeiffer’s circumstance, who remembers a couple that practiced breatharianism from her twenties who very controlling but also happened to be personal trainers. They’re careers likely gave them a wide clientele to not only train but to share their beliefs with.
In the article, Pfeiffer acknowledges that, “‘I had to pay for all the time I was there, so it was financially very draining.’” This is not surprising considering that this financial dependence is a characteristic of New Religious Movements, in which “those who join who dedicate their assets tot their new membership group, or that they would pay sometimes larger fees to experience the training and socialization processes of the group.”
There are many New Religious Movement attributes that Michelle Pfeiffer recalls from her experience with breatharianism, but I do believe that there are some holes in Sacks’ article. Most importantly being that Pfeiffer recollects that “their thing was vegetarianism,” when discussing the couple’s philosophy. Vegetarianism, or eating anything, is a direct opposition of what the breatharianism philosophy practices. Although there is not enough information in the article to prove it, the vegetarianism and adding in the fact that she was paying the couple for her time there, hints at the likelihood that Pfeiffer was the victim of scam more than anything. Regardless, the article discovers a new religious movement that is not as headline making as others, but just as fascinating.
Chryssides, David G. New Religious Movements. Edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Richardson, James T. New Religious Movements. Edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Sacks, Ethan. “Michelle Pfeiffer: I was in ‘cult,’ under spell of couple who preached ‘breatharianism’.” New York Daily News, November 4, 2013. Accessed on February 22, 2015. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/michelle-pfeiffer-cult-article-1.1506261.
 David G Chryssides, New Religious Movements, ed. by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 247.
 Ibid., 248.
 Ethan Sacks, “Michelle Pfeiffer: I was in ‘cult,’ under spell of couple who preached ‘breatharianism’,” New York Daily News, November 4, 2013, accessed on February 22, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/michelle-pfeiffer-cult-article-1.1506261.
 James T Richardson, New Religious Movements, ed. by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 50.
 Ethan Sacks, “Michelle Pfeiffer.”