Apparently even a hernia operation couldn’t keep Madonna from her beloved “Kabbalah Centre.” Two days after a surgical procedure, which left the star “pale” with “no appetite,” she nevertheless showed up at the door of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles reported E Online.

No smiles a no beard for Ritchie at awardsRumors continue that the pop queen’s marriage to film director Guy Ritchie is on the rocks.

The two managed to weigh in for a brief, but it appears rather strained appearance, at the Brits Awards this week in London.

Almost a no show, Ritchie clocked just 30-minutes at the awards ceremony, where his wife picked up a Brit for “Best International Female.”

The two appeared somewhat cold and indifferent to each other. And in her acceptance speech Madonna thanked everyone but her husband reported Sky Showbiz.

Ritchie had no smiles for the camera and had lost his beard, which many of the men tied to the Kabbalah Centre seem to favor. Was this a visible sign of his newfound independence?

Elton John is supposedly offering the pair marriage advice.

“Elton and I have spoken to Madonna plenty of times lately. She and Guy are close friends of ours,” said David Furnish the long-time partner of the rock star reports Life Style News.

Maybe Sir Elton and his mate should talk to the troubled two about the Kabbalah Centre? 

Madonna has no thanks for hubbie at Brits bashIt seems that whatever spiritual guidance and influence the organization and its teachers have provided Madonna with it hasn’t done much good for the 47-year-old diva’s second marriage.

News also surfaced that the former “Material Girl” may leave England without Ritchie. “She thinks an extended break will do them…good” a source told The People newspaper reports Stuff online adding, “She feels like she is living in a goldfish bowl in Britain.”

However, the “Kabbalah” bowl the star insists upon swimming in appears to be a problem for her husband. And addressing that issue may require more than a simple geographical solution.

Perhaps if Madonna invested more time in her marriage and less time in the controversial group things might just get better. That likely would not sit well with her “Kabbalistic” handlers, but it may help her five-year marriage survive. 

Deepak Chopra

Dr. Deepak Chopra recently has done “a guest editor stint for the Times of India” reports Starpulse and he has supposedly “exploded the myth” about the Beatles breakup with their 1960s guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

According to the good doctor Maharishi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, “simply grew tired of the Fab Four’s drug use.”

The guru also didn’t really fool around with Mia Farrow as repeatedly rumored.

How does Chopra know?

Well, he bumped into the actress at an airport and she allegedly said, “she still loved” Maharishi.

Wow, isn’t that explosive?

Then there is yet another story about how George Harrison actually apologized to his former guru who then “forgave” him.

Touching isn’t it?

Again and again, readers just have to take the doctor’s word for it, since Harrison and John Lennon are gone and Paul McCartney appears disinterested.

But the consistent pattern to Chopra’s stories is that Maharishi is always right.

At no point does he in any way criticize his mentor or relate anything that the guru may have done wrong.

Doctor Deepak’s anecdotes were published by the Times of India, which afforded no less than two complete articles allowing him to essentially trash the Beatles and praise his guru.

One of these puff pieces is titled “Beatles are angels on earth, said Maharishi” and the other “When Maharishi threw Beatles out.”

Why were the Beatles “angels”?

Well, because Maharishi said so.

But they were bad little cherubs that had to be cast out of the guru’s heavenly kingdom.

At least that’s what Chopra wants readers to believe.

John Lennon told Johnny Carson a different story on the Tonight Show. He said that the supposed “holy man” was actually more like a “dirty old man.” And the revered rocker even wrote a satirical song mocking Maharishi called “Sexy Sadie.”

During the 1960s the guru that would one day go global used his association with the Beatles to launch a career that would eventually make him richer than all of them put together. The supposedly enlightened CEO rules over a religious empire estimated to be worth billions.

Chopra remains his steadfast and loyal disciple, despite all the bad press. And it appears that the medical doctor has also become Maharishi’s very own “spin doctor.”

89-year-old Maharishi Given the way Chopra has marketed himself, maybe he is after all just a “chip off the old block.”

And perhaps that chip wants a “piece of the rock” when the old guru passes away, after all Maharishi is now 89.

Who better than Deepak Chopra to take up or take over his substantial legacy?

Maybe there is a deal in the works?

Despite Maharishi’s advanced age the old guru remains a tireless self-promoter who comes up with one project after another, which almost always require copious amounts of cash for his corporate coffers to be fulfilled.

CutNews recently reported about his rather expensive “peace plans” and the Associated Press titled an article about him “All you need is love…and some cash,” an allusion to the Beatles hit somewhat modified to fit Maharishi’s style.

And the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported about the millions he says must be raised to build a new school.

In the end one thing is certain, Maharishi is no “Fool On The Hill.”

A source has told the press the “relationship” between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is basically over” and added, “They both agreed that the marriage wouldn’t work and they wanted to end it before they learned to hate each other” reports the Boston Herald.

Is it quits for the duo known as 'TomKat'?Have the days of the duo known as “TomKat” ended?

Supposedly a source says Holmes now has her own bedroom within Cruise’s Beverly Hills mansion and legal papers are already being drawn up to spell out the terms of their split and custody of Katie’s unborn child.

“The story is 100% false” proclaimed Cruise’s official spokesperson.

But in Hollywood such denials are often only the preview for marital and partnership breakdowns. And this relationship has been rather strange and/or strained from the beginning.

Has Katie Holmes conservative Catholic family finally weighed in?

Persistent rumors have circulated that the Holmes household is not happy that daughter Katie is planning to give birth as an unwed mother. Her father also reportedly is none too thrilled with Tom Cruise’s Sci-fi religion.

But despite the bad news circulating about him Scientology’s “Top Gun” was out partying.

Cruise was spotted at a LA concert venue and some of those attending said that the star was acting strangely.

Instead of his celebrated couch jumping this time it was balcony dangling and cable climbing reports Jeanette Walls for MSNBC.

One glib spectator summarized the scene saying the star “went nuts.”

Ever the crusading missionary Cruise also reportedly worked the crowd preaching for his church.

“Not true,” said the superstar’s probably overworked spokesperson once again.

So is Tom cruising into a nervous breakdown over another failed romance?

Despite a new spokesperson that replaced his sister, the middle aged man often called the “world’s biggest movie star,” continues to prove he can’t maintain that past perceived persona as a Hollywood good guy.

Whatever the truth is about “TomKat” its doubtful that the public image of Tom Cruise will ever be restored.

Increasingly, the superstar just seems to be getting stranger and stranger.

Did that make 27-year-old Katie Holmes head for the proverbial Hollywood Hills baby and all?

CultNews has reported before about the outrageous claims and bizarre behavior of Ronald Lloyd Spencer, who calls himself “Buddha Maitreya” and runs the self-proclaimed “Tibetan Foundation.”

'Buddha' Ron posing with his crownIn fact, Spencer is a former truck driver and has often been called a “cult” leader rather than a “Buddha.” He has also been repeatedly denounced by Buddhist leaders, such as an official representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. 

Spencer’s rampant megalomania has now reached new heights. It seems that the truculent ex-trucker has taken to bullying Buddhist monks.

Apparently not satisfied with past self-anointed titles and grandiose claims, such as his radio announcement that he would one day be “sitting on [a] throne” next to the Dalai Lama, Spencer now wants to be recognized as the reincarnation of “Buddha” and “Jesus.”

Does this mean he thinks that Christians and Buddhists should bow down to him?

So much for Rev. Moon’s messianic pretensions, he has been topped by the man who claims to be both messiah and Buddha too.

Apparently some Buddhist monks refused to bow down to Spencer and the supposedly fully enlightened sage got nasty.

Spencer had sponsored seven Tibetan Buddhist monks on a visit to the United States, but when they refused to recognize him as the reincarnation of “Buddha” and “Jesus,” they were “abandoned without money in Arizona” reported the New York Times.

Eventually the monks managed to make it to Omaha, Nebraska where they were arrested by immigration officers in riot gear.

Sounds like this lucky seven will no doubt return to their native land with glowing accounts of American hospitality.

Who informed the authorities?

Could it have been our very own American “Buddha”?

If so, the one-time trucker isn’t exactly a benign Buddha now is he?

But this type of behavior fits well within the profile of Ronald Lloyd Spencer, the man some former friends seem to see as a grifter, who has been accused of theft, sexual abuse, fraud and brainwashing.

One former associate said that he is little more than a “con man.”

Sadly, it looks like Spencer for a time successfully conned the monks into believing he would be a good sponsor and kind host for their journey.

However, in the end not only does Spencer come up short as someone who has achieved full enlightenment or the role of supposed savior, he doesn’t even measure up as a decent human being.

Don’t worry about Iran getting the bomb or the spread of global terrorism. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM) has a “peace plan” to save the world, but like many of his plans it’s expensive.

Maharishi's multi-billion dollar smileHis “perfect and supreme defense system for every nation of the world” is called “Vedic Defense” according to a recent press release.

“Governments…will be wise to adopt Vedic Defense,” says  the 89-year-old guru who was once spiritual mentor to the Beatles in the 1960s.

“Vedic Defense means defense on the grounds of Veda, the Constitution of the Universe,” says the man many have called a “cult leader.”

What is this defense plan?

It’s based upon the “Sounds of the Veda,” which means chanting.

Supposedly these “sounds” somehow “prevent a dangerous confrontation between two nations.”

However, these sounds require more than a mouth to make them, they also require a place to be mouthed, and that means cash.

Maharishi wants everyone to pay for so-called “peace palaces” where his devotees will do all this chanting. This is what he calls the “secret of creating an effect from a distance,” which supposedly culminates in a “Transcendental field.”

As usual Maharishi wants people to “put their money where the mouth is,” or that is pay for chanting.

Some might say that’s ridiculous and that no matter how much the guru’s followers chant a mantra it won’t make the world any more peaceful.

However,  buying up pricey properties  for all those proposed palaces could certainly expand the guru’s global financial empire.

Maybe he can’t create a “Transcendental field,” but Maharishi has proven to be quite adept at scooping up good real estate and at times flipping those properties for profit rather than peace.

Maharishi Global Financing, a Dutch foundation affiliated with the Indian guru is also now marketing as much as $10 trillion of “World Peace Bonds” reported Bloomberg Financial News

All of his financial deals and shrewd investments over the years has made the guru perhaps the richest purported “cult leader” in the world.

The TM global portfolio of assets has reportedly been estimated at between $5 to $9 billion dollars. Making Maharishi probably richer than Rev. Moon, the billionaire leader of the Unification Church.

How about that?

Maybe Maharishi hasn’t brought the world peace, but he certainly controls quite a piece of the world.

A Jewish housewife from Brooklyn that transformed herself into a purported “cult leader” has now been proclaimed “Mata Maha Mandaleshwar” a “Hindu senior Abbott.” This is supposedly “the first time that an American has been given this great honor” reports India Monitor.Joyce Green now known to her devotees as just 'Ma'

The recipient of that honor is a 65-year-old woman born Joyce Green, who now calls herself “Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.”

Ms. Green, whose devotees prefer to just call her “Ma,” runs the “Kashi Ashram,” located in Roseland, Florida near Palm Beach.

“Ma” is a controversial figure that has at times been mired by scandal. This has included a widely reported and bitter divorce that involved a former follower turned outspoken critic. That man, once a designated spokesperson for the group, said he was “brainwashed.”

In another scandal during 1989 a SWAT team with a court order retrieved a minor child from Ma’s 47-acre compound and returned the girl to her mother, yet another disenchanted ex-disciple.

A Web site “Ma Jaya and the Kashi Ashram Revealed” offers a “critical look” of the controversial group and its leader as seen by former members.

Ms. Green began her journey to Ma-hood in 1973, when during a private meditation she claimed to receive a personal vision and divine dispensation. Jesus supposedly told Joyce to “teach all ways, for all ways are mine.”

In the years since Ma’s “ways” have managed to net her quite a few assets and followers.

“They think she’s God. That horrifies me,” observed one former member.

But according to the accolades accompanying her latest title she’s on a “mission of selfless service,” though others apparently feel that Ma’s mission is self-serving.

“I have no doubts Kashi is a cult and that Ma is a cult leader” wrote Richard Rosenkranz, once a designated spokesperson for the group and now its most outspoken critic. “The community fits classic cult definitions,” he stated.

So it seems there are two ways to look at “Ma.”

As Joyce Green from Brooklyn who ended up a “classic cult” leader.

Or, as a “Hindu senior Abbott” honored for her “mission of selfless service.”

How would a SWAT team fit into the historical context of that type of “mission”?

As rumors persist that Madonna’s five-year marriage to film director Guy Ritchie is winding down the Kabbalah Centre keeps coming up as one possible cause of their marital problems.

Guy Ritchie sick of Kabbalah Centre?The pop diva recently felt it was important to deny reports that she has forced Ritchie to study with the controversial group reported the Daily Record.

“I didn’t meet him and say, ‘You have to believe in the same things I believe in.'” she said.

However, her husband certainly didn’t come to the Kabbalah all on his own, but instead only after he became “Hung Up” on the pop queen.

Madonna is to the Kabbalah Centre what Tom Cruise is to Scientology, its number one booster and cash contributor.

Cruise didn’t waste time getting Katie Holmes hooked up with Scientology and Madonna apparently did the same with Ritchie. It is unlikely that either group would be very happy if their top stars did anything else.

CultNews has received repeated complaints of marital and romantic breakups supposedly due to the influence of the Kabbalah Centre.

The scenario goes something like this; if a current or would-be significant other does not demonstrate an interest in the group and its teachings committed students have been warned that this may mean that they are not “spiritually right” or a “good match” for them.

A frequent analogy used by the Kabbalah Centre is that its students are in and/or receiving “the light.” Therefore those that are disinterested or worse persistently critical, may actually be in “spiritual darkness.” Such people subsequently represent a potentially negative influence, which might pull those who are enlightened back into the dark.

Is Guy Ritchie in the dark?

Madonna says, “I would say he studies (Kabbalah), but probably not as enthusiastically as I do. He does it in his own way. He’s into more of the intellectual side of it than I am.”

Is it bye bye time for Madonna's second husband? More and more Madonna is appearing in the media spotlight alone. She visited the US recently without Ritchie.

Attempting to laugh it all off the star told Ellen DeGeneres, “Really? We split up? OK. Well, he’s still calling me every five minutes.”

However, Guy Ritchie did not accompany his wife to the Grammys and he will not be with her for the Brit Awards coming up next week reports Entertainment Wise.

“There is a real power struggle going on…” a source told the Daily Mirror.

But who is struggling? Is it just between Madonna and her man, or is the Kabbalah Centre also pulling in this tug-of-war?

“Brits are kind of allergic to the idea (of God),” Madonna told Ratethemusic to explain Ritchie’s less than enthusiastic embrace of her beliefs.

Maybe the explanation is far simpler and much more specific, Guy Ritchie’s is sick of the Kabbalah Centre. 

Falun Gong had something of a public relations meltdown in San Francisco this month. And despite its best efforts at spin control could not right its sinking ship within the Chinese American and gay communities in the Bay Area.

Master Li's followers demonstrating devotion to his cause It all started over a popular holiday event. The group, which has been labeled an “evil cult” in China, claimed it was experiencing discrimination because its devotees would not be allowed to march in the Chinese New Year parade.

However, parade officials saw things quite differently.

“We have strict rules: No political statements,” said Wayne Hu, president of San Francisco’s Chinese Chamber of Commerce, which runs the parade.

Falun Gong frequently uses whatever events it can to promote itself and increasingly Chinese American communities have decided to rebuff such efforts.

The group put pressure on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for a statement of support, but that effort seemingly backfired, ending in an empty resolution without mention of its avowed nemesis the Chinese government.

But this should come as no surprise to the followers of “Master Li Hongzhi,” the founder of Falun Gong, who has been repeatedly described as both “homophobic” and a “racist.”

The exiled leader of Falun Gong who now lives in New York teaches his followers that gays are “disgusting” and somehow a “black substance” accumulates within the bodies of gay men. “Disgusting homosexuality shows the dirty abnormal psychology of the gay who has lost his ability of reasoning at the present time,” says Hongzhi. And one day he claims gays will be ’eliminated’’ by ’the gods.’’

In the liberal and gay friendly city of San Francisco even an empty resolution of support for Falun Gong has angered many.

“What a disappointing vote. I have compassion for the practitioners but I think the supervisors have been duped by the master’s party line.” Thomas Brown told the Bay Area Reporter.

“I challenge any gay person in this city to get any Falun Gong practitioner to state they do not agree with their master’s belief. I have never heard them refute what he has said. There is deception here,” Brown said. “I think it is a vote that will come back to haunt some of the supervisors.”

Brown’s roommate, Samuel Luo, called the resolution “a huge disappointment” and warned that the group will use it “to recruit members. It makes it hard for people like me to get family members out of the cult.” Luo’s parents are involved with Falun Gong and he has expressed concern for how the group has affected their lives.

“I think it is great that the leadership in the Chinese community recognizes the homophobia of this group and I would support their efforts not to let them march,” said Thom Lynch, executive director of the LGBT Community Center

Interestingly, in a letter published by the San Francisco Sentinel Samuel Luo noted an apparent contradiction in Falun Gong’s battle for human rights. “Last year when the International Cultic Studies Association organized a program on the Falun Gong in which I was one of the presenters, the Falun Gong threatened the organization with a lawsuit and successfully suppressed our freedom of speech” he said.

It seems that Hongzhi’s followers have become adept at an old Scientology strategy. That is, filing what can be seen as harassment lawsuits against their perceived enemies. Lately this also included suing an Australian official for restricting their use of loudspeakers and banners outside a Chinese embassy reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Apparently Falun Gong wants everyone to recognize its right to speak out loudly and boldly, but not the right of its critics like Luo to tell what they know in an organized public forum.

Falun Gong reportedly will be crashing the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco, even though its members remain unwanted there reports Bloomberg News.

“They crashed the parade…[last year], and I am prepared for them to do this again this year,” Wayne Hu told the press.

Hongzhi’s followers don’t seem to care how much they upset Chinese Americans, gays or anyone else, as they pursue their master’s agenda.

Meanwhile North American Chinese communities just want to celebrate the coming New Year without political statements or “cult” entanglements.

L.A. Chung writing for the San Jose Mercury News said that Falun Gong “could espouse a doctrine based on loving fluffy kittens or for kicking Tibetan monks. I don’t think the group’s philosophies really matter to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.”

Li Hongzhi’s followers have now filed a legal action to stop San Francisco from using $77,000 in city money to support the parade, which has left local Chinese leaders fuming and the public perception that they are spoilers.

The San Francisco parade in Chinatown is the largest such celebration in North America and the Chinese community there is the second-largest in the U.S. followed by New York. Fallen Gong has caused similar problems in New York surrounding community events there.

The narrow focus of Falun Gong devotees upon their own self-serving agenda continues to alienate many Chinese Americans. And after this most recent fiasco it appears doubtful that the controversial group will regain any ground or goodwill it has lost in the Bay Area.

PI Pellicano may know some Scientology star's secretsThis month a 60-page criminal indictment came down on Hollywood PI Anthony Pellicano. The alleged wiretapper “was trying to gain a tactical advantage for his clients by uncovering embarrassing information on their courtroom opponents” reports the Los Angeles Times.

More interesting is that LA lawyer Bert Fields, well known for his hardball legal maneuvers, is apparently implicated.

“The names cited in an indictment of private eye Anthony Pellicano read like a road map leading to Bertram Fields and his famous clients” reported the Times.

Among the famous that Fields has represented are stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta. He also took up the cause of Madonna’s Kabbalah Centre, when the controversial group was exposed through a Radar Magazine series.

Digging up dirt to embarrass its enemies is a long-standing strategy of the Church of Scientology, which includes amongst its list of long-time true believers Cruise and Travolta. The church, which has often been called a “cult,” frequently dumps its collected dirt about critics into what it calls “dead agent” files.

Bert Fields, hardball lawyer for Scientology starsIt looks like Fields and Pellicano may have followed in Scientology’s footsteps, reportedly practicing the same tactics to win battles or an advantage for their “cult” connected clients.

What might prove potentially devastating if this indictment eventually unwinds Pellicano’s wiretapping tapes, is the substance of what the PI has recorded.

This might include telling and candid conversations of someone such as Nicole Kidman, once embroiled in a contentious divorce with her ex Cruise, or say a revelation or two about the private life of John Travolta.

Both Cruise and Travolta were recently lampooned by the comedy show South Park as being “Trapped in the Closet.”

Does Pellicano have tapes regarding what goes on behind closed closet doors?

There must be a few Hollywood stars sweating out this one.

Meanwhile Bert Fields has put on his best face. “I try to keep practicing law and not pay a lot of attention to it,” he said.

Jehovah’s Witnesses historically have predicted the end of the world four times. Needless to say nothing happened and they now insist that no such specific prophecies were ever really made. Now the organization claims the “end is fluid,” whatever that means.

But for a group that seemed so sure that the end was near the Witnesses made some pretty savvy long-term investments.

Prime Witness property with Manhattan viewFor example, they bought up real estate in Brooklyn right on the East River opposite Manhattan, which has paid off quite handsomely.

Recently a huge windfall came to the controversial religion through the redevelopment of an old distribution center located in Brooklyn at 360 Furman Street. This building will be replaced by new luxury condos.

The Furman property will become 450 “swanky condominiums” called “One Brooklyn Bridge Park” reports the New York Daily News.

The developer says that it will have “exquisite waterfront views,” with a  “lush 85-acre park setting, meditation room,” “refrigerated storage for grocery delivery” and that “residents may purchase their own … private riverfront cabanas.”

Most Witnesses probably couldn’t afford a cabana, let alone a condo.

And these luxury digs will be a far cry from the humble dormitory-like existence Witness full-time workers known as “Bethelites” endure. These “volunteer ministers” survive on a small monthly stipend and work for little more than room and board.

However, that low-cost labor force combined with the income from the publications they produce and of course donations, enabled Jehovah’s Witnesses to amass a real estate empire. The Brooklyn development deal is just one example of how the organization has cashed in on its member’s hard work.

Did the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses ever really believe the end of the world was so imminent?

If this was so, why didn’t they just lease?

It seems they did believe that the “end was near” for the hot real estate market, so they sold short. 

Note: CultNews previously reported that Jehovah’s Witnesses “see Jesus as an angel rather than the Son of God.” For further clarification they specifically don’t acknowledge Jesus as the “only begotten Son of God.” At times Jehovah’s Witnesses may parse their language to obscure or avoid this point.

Postscript: CultNews correctly should have said that unlike Christians who believe that “Jesus is also God” included through the trinity, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny this historical Christian doctrine (see comments below).