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Braco the Gazer

The Good Word

Karen Stollznow

April 26, 2011

The Silent Evangelist

There’s a new pseudoscience out there that doesn’t involve devices, dogma, or even claims—so they claim.

Braco (pronounced Braht-zoh) is a “gazer.” He is a spiritual healer with a difference: there is no consultation, no cold reading, no contact and no paraphernalia; his performance involves standing on a podium and simply gazing at his audience. Moreover, he doesn’t claim to be a healer. (But his advertising does.)

Hundreds of thousands in Europe have already experienced Braco’s silent gaze in the last 15 years. He doesn’t call himself a healer, but up to 10,000 people a day who come seeking his gifts happily say otherwise.

Braco doesn’t call himself a healer because he doesn’t make any claims directly; his claims are made by his staff and devotees. Furthermore, he doesn’t make any claims because he doesn’t speak in public.

It’s all very difficult to explain – that’s why Braco stopped speaking in public 8 years ago - leaving it up to the people to decide for themselves what it was about.

And with the help of his publicity machine, the people have decided that Braco heals with his gaze.

The Non-Healing Healer

Braco’s biography 21 Days with Braco describes him as a “Super Healer” and claims he has “a gift of healing that defies scientific understanding and human comprehension at this time.”1 Nevertheless, Braco’s team has found a few medical practitioners to attest to his “invisible powers.”

Many medical doctors have shared their opinion that Braco’s healing abilities are extraordinary, but cannot explain his work though the conventional scientific process.

However, these doctors dabble in the metaphysical. They include Professor Alex Schneider, President of the Parapsychological Association of Switzerland and founder of the World Healing Congress, and Dr. Wiesendanger, “one of the top experts on healers and healing” and founder of the International Agency for Outstanding Healers.

They all confirm, that those impressive reports from Braco´s visitors proove [sic] his successes and that they show that something flows through Braco, which can change the lives of thousands of people and solve even fundamental problems in health like cancer, epilepsy and psychological problems.2

But these “impressive reports” are anecdotal and Braco’s alleged healing abilities have never been “prooved” under test conditions.

Journalists and scientists who have studied Braco and his energy have been impressed by him and by the impact of his work, which has resulted in an incredible number of documented cases of physical healings and life transformations taking place in those who attend his gazing sessions.3

These “documented cases” are testimonials featured on Braco’s website. Apocryphally, he performs miracles, bringing healing and good luck to those who view his gaze. He has allegedly “cured” countless people of countless chronic conditions: anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, thyroid conditions, asthma, brain tumors and cancer of various kinds. He allegedly restored someone’s sight, healed a paraplegic woman, and even cleared someone’s blocked nostrils.4

He’s a modern-day Messiah, but he’s not affiliated with any religion.

Braco does not relate his successes to any form of religion or to a specific methodology, and he has changed his working-methods over time. He tries to develop his methods further and further to enable as many people as possible all over the world to feel this energy and consciousness.

However, it seems his one and only method is standing in front of a crowd and looking at people. There seems to be a lot about Braco that no one can explain.

The healings are unexplainable, yet undeniable. Reams of documentation recount stories of countless souls remarkably and often spontaneously transformed by standing before Braco’s silent gaze -- and not just physical healings, but emotional, spiritual, mental, and interpersonal healings, too.5

Braco makes many claims for someone who claims to not make any claims.

The Eyes Have It

Braco was born Josip Jelavic in 1967 in Zagreb, Croatia. In 1993 he became a student of the Serbian prophet and healer Ivica Prokic, who bestowed the spiritual name Braco, “Little Brother,” upon his talented protégé. Prokic died in 1995, and now Braco continues his work.

The experts are also impressed that Braco is able to have such a strong impact on his visitors, and began his work at the extraordinarily young age of 26. Braco has reached a level of consciousness now in his fourties, which even the most famous masters did not reach before they were sixty, seventy or eighty years old.

Braco’s gazing sessions usually last five to ten minutes, and during that time he only makes fleeting eye contact with each member of the audience. His powers are so potent that people only need look at his likeness to reap the benefits, but to avoid being “overburdened,” YouTube videos and DVDs of his gazing carry a warning.

Braco has been given firm guidelines from Spirit that no gazing in any DVDs or online can be longer than seven seconds.

It is further advised that people under 18 years of age and pregnant women beyond their first trimester should not view Braco’s gaze, for their own safety.

The energy could overburden children, so the sessions are not open for visitors under the age of 18, or to pregnant women after their third month. For your children and for other people who are not able to attend a session, it is recommended that you bring a photo of that person to a session instead. The power of Braco’s gaze can equally reach people through photos, and the same level of healing and transformation occur through this method.6

Braco also offers a line of Sunce (sun) jewelry that displays his mentor’s symbol: a golden sun with 13 rays. The price of the jewelry ranges from $190 for a pair of earrings to $2395 for a diamond pendant. Website testimonials claim these talismans bring good luck to the wearer.

The Gazing

Braco’s fame has stretched beyond Europe and he is currently on a tour of the U.S.

Braco does not take any money for his help, he does not accept donations and the sessions are always free at his Center in Zagreb. There is only a small fee at international events, when he visits other countries on tour, to cover the event facilities rental and organizational costs.7

Aside from his moneymaking books, DVDs and jewelry, the “small fee” is $8 to attend each session, but he conducts multiple sessions daily and hundreds of sessions annually, with hundreds of thousands of attendees. I attended a session in Denver, and was informed that 3,500 tickets were sold for that day alone.

The room was filled beyond capacity, with people lining the walls. Reminiscent of a Benny Hinn performance, there were many hoping to be healed, including people in wheelchairs. Everyone filed into the hall to the tune of singing glasses and a female vocalist warbling a mesmerizing song.

The female host appeared and conditioned the crowd for Braco, the “healer who doesn’t call himself a healer.” We were told to “take this time to frame your intentions. Everyone’s experience will be different,” but we were to expect healings and miracles. She assured us that after seeing Braco “skeptics become believers.”

There were some “bliss piggies” in the audience—people who had attended Braco’s sessions all day long. This was the final session for the day and we would be rewarded with some “extra gazing.” But Braco would not address us. “He doesn’t speak in public anymore,” the host explained. “He made a promise eight years ago. It’s not important what he says, but what people see.” However, she claimed that “The Voice” is healing.

New Age music began and all those who were able were asked to stand as Braco emerged and climbed the stairs of the podium. He stood before the room awkwardly at first, and then his pose grew majestic, like he was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Everyone watched him expectantly.

Then Braco gazed at the audience. For ten minutes.

He was expressionless, but his eyes scanned the room intensely. His head barely moved but he seemed to make eye contact, like one of those paintings where the eyes appear to follow you. As we all stared back we were looking at Braco for longer than the “safe” seven-second period.

As Braco “gazed,” some meditated or prayed, some rocked back and forth gently, and some were crying. Some held photos of sick or deceased loved ones to their chests. We’d also been told that if we had photos of people in our phones, Braco would heal them too.

Then it was all over.

Braco ceased gazing across the room and then appeared to go slightly cross-eyed. He took a step backwards, tripping slightly as he did so, then he stepped down from the podium and left the room. As he exited an audience member screamed, “Thank you, Braco!”

The After Gaze

Braco’s security guards, known as “guardians,” ran around the room with boxes of tissues for those overcome with tears. Then the host asked that we stand again to listen to “The Voice.” They proceeded to play a pre-recorded speech by Braco—in his native Croatian. Amazingly, some people claimed they could understand Braco! Braco-info.com claims:

It was very amazing to see, that even in Germany or other countries, where people cannot understand what Braco is speaking, the reactions of the visitors during the session with his voice are exactly the same as with those people who understand Braco’s words.

There are several possible explanations for these claims. In this context, people may simply guess the spiritual-related themes of Braco’s speech. As for claiming to “understand” Croatian, people may hear cognates: Croatian words that sound familiar because they are historically related to words in English. Also, like Electronic Voice Phenomena and other audio pareidolia, people search for recognizable patterns and perceive sounds they construe as familiar words.

Then the host asked the audience for testimonials. One woman claimed Braco fixed her car before she’d even seen him, so she could attend the gazing. A man who had recently suffered a stroke claimed Braco’s gaze left him with tingling, healing sensations. Others also reported tingling and other non-specific feelings; perhaps they were numb from standing for so long?

It seemed that Braco and his crew practiced a form of stage hypnosis on the audience, given the long periods of standing, the repetitive music, the suggestions of what we “would” experience, the testimonials and the disorienting speech read in a foreign language.

One source reports the following experiences during a session with Braco.

In one of his Youtube videos a viewer also claims Braco “shapeshifts” during his gazing sessions. This is a lot to live up to, so the host made some vague promises instead: “You will experience shifts, transformations and healings.” Like a psychic that encourages clients to connect the dots in hindsight, she said, “But it doesn’t always happen here in the room; it may happen later on when you’ve left.” Finally, she warned us, “There is lots of extra energy about, so be careful tonight!”

Those who arrived in wheelchairs left in their wheelchairs. No one in our large contingent of skeptics reported any healing, miracles or good luck during or after the event. We did have a 17-year-old in our party, but fortunately, he was not “overburdened” by Braco’s gaze.

Navel Gazing

Gazing is best classified as a type of spiritual healing, due to the claim that its major benefit is therapeutic, in conjunction with other ambiguous alleged benefits such as bringing good luck, “shifts and transformations,” and miracles.

Gazing for healing is popular for its simplicity and as a novelty, but it’s unlikely to become as common as other paranormal and pseudoscientific practices. But it’s not new. Will Johnson’s Rumi: Gazing at the Beloved: The Radical Practice of Beholding the Divine describes the “ancient mystical practice” of “intentional gazing” for the purposes of healing. However, this method is different from Braco’s. As seminar leader William Record puts it, eye gazing “involves 2 individuals coming together for the purpose of mutual healing. There is no healer/client distinction.”9

Johnson explains how eye gazing works.

When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared sense of union.10

Eye gazing is not only used for healing. Eye Gazing parties are events where people sit across from a partner and gaze at them to assess potential compatibility.11 Eye gazing is also a tantric sex technique, whereby couples use gazing to increase intimacy and bonding.12

There is no evidence that Braco’s kind of gazing has any benefits at all, but he takes credit for any perceived successes, and absolves himself of failure by claiming he makes no claims. However, the “no claim” claim is disingenuous; whether the claims come from the public or his crew, the claims are promoted by and therefore made by Braco.

References

1. Whitecliff, Angelika. 2009. 21 Days with Braco. Awakening Within. [Publisher?-JB]

2. Braco. Description of an invisible power. Accessed 03/30/2011. Available online at http://www.braco-info.com/dcms/what-does-braco-give/description-of-an-invisible-power?lang=en.

3. Braco.net. About Braco. Accessed 03/30/2011. Available online at http://www.braco.net/?page_id=152.

4. Braco America. Testimonials from the American road. Accessed 04/04/2011. Available online at https://bracoamerica.com/Braco_America/Testimonials.html.

5. Braco America. Accessed 04/04/2011. Available online at http://www.bracoamerica.com/Braco_America/Welcome.html.

6. Awakening Within. About Braco. Accessed 04/04/2011. Available online at http://awakeningwithin.us/about.htm.

7. Braco Pendant. About Braco. Accessed 04/04/2011. Available online at http://myjazzydays.blogspot.com/2010/07/braco-silent-gaze.html.

8. ibid.

9. Healing Through Eye Gazing. Accessed 04/15/2011. Available online at http://www.eye-gaze.co.uk/essay.php.

10. Johnson, Will. 2003. Rumi Gazing at the Beloved – The Radical Practice of beholding the Divine. Vermont USA. Inner Traditions.

11. Eye Gazing Parties. Accessed 04/15/2011. Available online at http://www.eyegazingparties.com/.

12. Tantra: Gateway to Ecstasy. “The Science behind Tantric Eye Gazing.” Accessed 04/15/2011. Available online at http://tantraecstasy.blogspot.com/2008/02/science-behind-tantric-eye-gazing.html.

Karen Stollznow

Karen Stollznow's photo

Karen Stollznow is an author and skeptical investigator with a doctorate in linguistics and a background in history and anthropology. She is an associate researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and a director of the San Francisco Bay Area Skeptics. A prolific skeptical writer for many sites and publications, she is the “Good Word” Web columnist for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the “Bad Language” columnist for Skeptic magazine, a frequent contributor to Skeptical Inquirer, and managing editor of CSI’s Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice. Dr. Stollznow is a host of the Monster Talk podcast and writer for the Skepbitch and Skepchick blogs, as well as for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Swift. She can be reached via email at kstollznow[at]centerforinquiry.net.