Author: By Jack O’Sullivan, Scotland Correspondent
The rector of Edinburgh University has warned students not to attend a lecture to be given by a New Age guru who says it is possible to live without eating and survive on air and light.
Robin Harper, who is also a Green member of the Scottish Parliament, calls Ellen Greve dangerous and has issued his warning after a number of student suicides at the university.
Last year, Verity Linn, 49, a Scottish disciple of the “live on light” doctrine, died after apparently not drinking or eating for at least eight days. Ms Linn was the third person to have died after following the teachings of Breatharianism.
Mr Harper, who has a degree in pastoral care, accused Ms Greve of preying on vulnerable and impressionable students. “She is a very dangerous woman and I am very worried about her visit,” he said. “It is a strange decision to let her come and talk and it is fraught with difficulties. People have said this is an issue of free speech but that won’t stop me standing outside and trying to warn people off.”
Mr Harper said he was not empowered to ban the lecture. “But I will ensure that student body will be there to stand outside and warn people off.
“With 20,000 students at Edinburgh, there has to be one or two that might be taken in by her powers of persuasion.”
During her visit, Ms Greve is also expected to pay her respects at the Highland grave of Ms Linn, who lived at Findhorn on the Moray coast for 10 years before her death last year. The Findhorn Foundation, the respected educational and spiritual establishment of which Ms Linn was a member, said it was angered by her visit.
During a European tour last year, Ms Greve was questioned about Ms Linn’s death and challenged her critics for not instead focusing on the thousands of people who died each year from obesity. She said Ms Linn “did not follow my guidelines. She did not act responsibly”.
Ms Greve claims to be able to live on air and light alone. However, an attempt last year to test her capabilities ended in near disaster. The controlled experiment, held under tight security, ended after four days amid fears for Ms Greve’s rapidly deteriorating health. She blamed the failure of the experiment on the stressful circumstances under which it was conducted rather than on her lack of food and water.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Edinburgh University confirmed Ms Greve would be appearing at the university and that the authorities had no objections to the lecture.
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