Dialogue in the Age of
David Lane calls this chapter "The Search" since it covers those years from 1950 to 1963, when Paul studied with a number of spiritual teachers. This began when Paul and his first wife, Camille, joined the Self-Revelation Church of Absolute Monism. Swami Premananda was the founder of the Church, and was also a close associate of the better-known Paramahansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship.
Before this, we don't have much information about Paul's studies. In a letter to David Lane, from Camille, written in 1977, Camille simply states:
"He [Paul] was always interested in spiritual matters. Spent much of the time in meditation, read everything he could find on spiritual subjects. In New York we attended many churches and religious services. Only as visitors...I have always thought of Paul as a seeker of religion."
However, in 1950, Paul and Camille did more than just visit. They joined Swami Premananda's group, and moved into the Church compounds in Washington, D.C. Paul also edited the Church publication, The Mystic Cross, during much of his time with the group.
David then writes:
In 1955, Twitchell was requested to leave the Church by Swami Premananda for personal misconduct. In that same year, Paul and Camille were separated. They were finally divorced in early 1960.
It is likely that this experience of Paul's is what he was referring to in a talk he gave at the 1971 Youth Conference, when he said:
I have always been against people living in monasteries or ashrams because I have lived in some of these places permanently, and the biggest fistfights I have ever had in my life came in one of these places. I got thrown out. I wasn't the fellow that started it, but I got thrown out. The problem when people begin to live together permanently, old people in old folks' homes, or anyone else, their karma begins to work off awfully fast, especially in an ashram. It's working off so tremendously fast that these people don't know what's happening to them and they become very quarrelsome. It's just like [the saying] familiarity breeds contempt. And after a while they're at one another's throat.
David was unable to turn up any more information about Paul's time with Swami Premananda, but he has provided a few quotes of Paul's that confirm Camille's information. David quoted the following passage from The Flute of God, by Paul, when it was first printed in bimonthly installments in 1966, in Orion Magazine:
I remember very well when Swami Premananda of India, who has a Yoga Church in Washington, D.C., said, "When someone asked Bertrand Russell what his philosophy of life was, he wrote several volumes of books on the subject.
This quote might sound familiar to you if you've read The Flute of God recently. However, when the Illuminated Way Press finally printed Paul's manuscript in book form, the name of Swami Premananda had been changed to Sudar Singh. Since David deals with this matter in more detail in a later chapter, we'll wait to discuss it there. In this chapter, David offers this quote and a number of others, simply to show that Paul was originally quite open about who he studied with.
David quotes from a letter to the editor written by Fredricka Sutton to the Movement Newspaper, dated May 12, 1973:
"In the early 1950's Jack Hapner who founded the Personal Creative Freedoms Foundation and Charles Burnek who founded the Ability Center and Paul Twitchell and myself were students of L. Ron Hubbard studying Dianetics and Scientology."
Paul Twitchell joined Scientology - the religious outcome of Dianetics - in or around 1958. It appears that Twitchell was a staff member of the group and had attained the much sought after title of a Clear.
While Paul's work with L. Ron Hubbard certainly marks another interesting phase in Paul's spiritual studies, it's hard to understand why David suggests the date of 1958. In the previous quote that David offered, Fredericka Sutton placed the time in the early 1950's. And David includes quotes from an article that Paul wrote for L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, called "The Psychology of Slavery," which was copyrighted in 1957. Therefore, it looks like the early 1950's would make more sense. This would have been the time when Scientology and Dianetics were first beginning to grow into a movement.
It also appears that David may be underestimating the amount of time Paul spent with Dianetics and Scientology, when he writes:
Although Paul Twitchell did not stay very long in Scientology, he did refer to many of L. Ron Hubbard's practices in his own writings on Eckankar.
However, this matter of dates and timing is a minor point. And the fact that Paul studied and wrote for L. Ron Hubbard is well substantiated. Two of the most interesting quotes that David offers are first, a personal letter from Paul to John and Ann Fish, dated June 5, 1965:
"Ron Hubbard was trying to get people out of their body with his HCA courses, but frankly, he was failing badly. When I was a staff member, occasions came up that I was asked to help some member of the graduating class to get a reality on out-of-body experiences...Hubbard would never acknowledge this ability of mine, and after leaving him I did a lot of experimenting."
The second quote comes from Paul's book, Letters to Gail, Volume One, dated May 23, 1963 on the subject of Tone Scales:
This is a unique yardstick drawn up by Ron Hubbard a number of years ago, and is one of the best for determining where an individual stands on the existence scale of life.
As David has said, Paul uses a some of L. Ron Hubbard's terminology and discusses a number of his principles in Paul's books, Letters to Gail, and The Flute of God. However, during this same period when Paul was working and writing for L. Ron Hubbard, Paul also made the acquaintance of another spiritual teacher:
I have studied under many teachers, and may yet have to study under more. Like Meher Baba, the Indian Saint, who was said to have nineteen teachers to help him gain his place in the universe, I have so far had seven, some outstanding ones, including, Sri Kirpal Singh, of Delhi, India. Each has had their place in my growth toward the spiritual goal; each are equally great in their respective work for mankind. However, I have felt a closer kinship and friendliness to Kirpal Singh, who has shown me a lot of the other work during my first year or so under him.
This quote comes from the same Orion Magazine series on The Flute of God mentioned earlier. The name of Kirpal Singh was also changed to Sudar Singh in the book form of The Flute of God, like the previous quote from Swami Premananda.
David then wrote:
After leaving the Self-Revelation Church in Washington, D.C., Twitchell came in contact with Kirpal Singh, the founder of Ruhani Satsang. It was Kirpal Singh who was to have the greatest influence of any teacher on Twitchell's spiritual life. In fact, years later Twitchell would create his own movement, Eckankar, based almost entirely on the teachings of Kirpal Singh and Ruhani Satsang.
From Paul's quote, above, I can see why David would suggest that Kirpal Singh had a significant influence on Paul's spiritual life. But David's last sentence goes way too far. It should be mentioned here, in case the reader is unaware, that David was a student of the Radha Soami Satsang, of Beas, India, when he wrote his book, which is also where Kirpal Singh studied.
Although David doesn't mention his involvement with Radha Soami in this book, he has openly explained it at length during public discussions. So, it shouldn't be surprising that David has a bias of his own in this matter. I'll address these differences more in later chapters.
It was in the year 1955 that Kirpal Singh made his first tour of the United States. In that same year, Twitchell was initiated and became a follower of Kirpal Singh in his Satsang.
David has tracked down the actual initiation records not only of Paul, but also the initiation records of Gail, later in 1963, both under Kirpal Singh. David has also seen years of initiate reports that Paul wrote to Kirpal between 1955 and 1966.
It was around this time (1956/1957) that Twitchell told Betty Shifflet and Wave Sanderson (both initiates of Kirpal Singh) at a dinner date that Master Kirpal Singh had appeared in his Nuri Sarup (light body) over the weekend and dictated some of the book to him. In this regard, Kirpal Singh comments:
"Paul Twitchell used to write to me every week, 'Master came and sat down on the chair and dictated his teachings to me.' He published them in the Tiger's Fang."
Paul also wrote in his article "The God Eaters," that appeared in the Psychic Observer, November 1964:
Master Kirpal Singh spoke briefly of these matters when he took me through the several invisible worlds in 1957. The story of this trip has been recorded in my book 'The Tiger's Fang.'
It is obvious from these and other quotes, that Paul was quite open about his relationship with Kirpal Singh. For some reason, however, by 1966 this had changed, and Paul felt it important enough to delete any references he made to Kirpal Singh in his writings. According to David, the breakdown between Paul and Kirpal began in 1963, after Paul sent his book, The Tiger's Fang, to Kirpal Singh, in Delhi, India. Kirpal Singh didn't approve of the book, although he didn't tell Paul this for many years.
Reno H. Sirrine in a personal letter to the author [David Lane] dated February 22, 1977. Writes Sirrine: "Master Kirpal Singh told me that he did not return the manuscript, 'The Tiger's Fang,' because many of the inner experiences he described were not complete or accurate."
About this episode, Kirpal Singh comments:
"I tell you one American initiated by me - I've got the initiation report in his own handwriting. Then he wrote to me, 'The Master's Form appears to me inside.' That form used to speak to him, dictate to him, inside. And all that dictation was put into a book and the manuscript was sent to me in 1963.
"Later he sent me another letter, 'Return my book, The Tiger's Fang.' I returned his book. That was dictated by me on the inner planes, and that's all right. He changed that book before printing; where he mentioned my name, he changed it to another guru's name."
While Kirpal Singh says it was all right, it doesn't sound like it really was all right with him. So, it is no surprise that Paul and Kirpal would eventually break off friendly ties. We'll discuss this in more depth later.
So where does this bring us? David has taken us through a parade of facts, dates, quotes and personalities that describe a few of the spiritual teachings that Paul studied and influenced him. I find it quite interesting, since it covers parts of Paul's life that Paul didn't discuss much later. It provides another little glimpse into his life. But I find something significant is missing.
Here is a quote from Paul Twitchell's The Tiger's Fang, Chapter 7, page 92, which was written in 1957, during this same time period:
There is a strange part of me which is deeply creative, and that part doesn't care how it creates as long as it can work with words, or arts and similar things in nature. It is a strange part of myself, that part that always controls me, more or less.
In the past there have been those who tried to quench this spirit or turn it into channels for their own benefit, but I rebelled, regardless of what my senses tried to tell me objectively. This spirit will not be controlled by the conventions of mankind.
Unless I give the spirit its way within me, its own methods of doing, then life gets into hardships, becomes paralyzed and sinks into a mire.
From the time Paul spent with Swami Premananda's Yoga Church, when Paul wrote for The Mystic Cross, through his time spent as a staff writer for L. Ron Hubbard, and during his years with Kirpal Singh, Paul was always writing. He was following an inner impulse and deep desire that forced him onward. As he said, this spirit could not be controlled by others. This creative impulse was pushing Paul to share through writing, or other art forms, and this describes what really moved Paul along from one spiritual teaching to the next. In other words, not only was he searching for spiritual growth, Paul was also searching for a place to express this creative wisdom that he found unfolding within himself.
David's focus on the outer influences of Paul's life could leave us the impression that these outward events are the forces that made Paul what he was, as if they defined him. But Paul, like many of us, was much more than the effect of the teachers he met and what they taught. This leads to an important point that is connected to what I'm talking about here. Paul expresses it well in a talk he gave in 1971 to some of the youth in ECKANKAR:
The [Ancient] Greeks were Oriental in their thinking. They were probably the first of the Westerners to ever think in the whole. All of the rest always thought in parts. And this is the secret and trick of the people who [make good teachers]... They speak from the whole of something instead of speaking in the parts...
So when an instructor gets up and wants to put across a point, he speaks from the whole to the group, and the majority of his group will find something in it for themselves.
Now, this is a very interesting thing. The classics always bored me, from the time I was big enough ever to read them to the present time, but there are times I go back and I occasionally read the classics, and I find that they did the same thing of speaking in the whole.
Emily Dickinson, who was a New England poet, and I think she died in the 30's, was a spinster who spent all of her time within her own home. She never left her home at all. I don't even think she went to the corner grocery. She always had everything brought in, she never got any farther than her backyard, and she died as a woman in her middle thirties. But her poems are written in this same form [of speaking from the whole].
[Note: Just like the errors in Paul's own age and birth dates, Paul also got Emily's wrong as well. She was born in 1830 and died in her mid-fifties. However, Paul's point still stands. She lived her whole life in the same house, and except for one trip to Washington D.C. and a few trips to Boston for eye treatment, she never left the town of Amherst, yet she wrote almost 2000 poems that have been considered some of the finest in American literature.]
You say, where do these people get this sort of thing? What happens that they themselves can get a vision of the whole, when we're out here talking to people and we haven't even got an inch of it, and the people themselves haven't got an inch of it?
But after a while you catch this thing. And teaching, I think, is the greatest way in the world to get it. I believe that the way to learn a subject, whether you have it or not, is to go out and teach it. And if you teach it, you'll get it. If you don't, it's going to be a hard way of going in, trying to study, and being the effect of something. If you're sitting out there in the audience listening to somebody, you're the effect.
And this is always what made me a poor student, because I never would believe in sitting out in the audience, trying to find out what made things in algebra, geometry, trigonometry or any of these subjects, even history or anything else, because it didn't make any sense. I wasn't interested in what the teacher was saying. I was interested in what I could know, learn and find out for myself from [my own] research...
So, it is quite clear that Paul was not one to simply be the effect of his teachers. He had discovered that we all learn much more if we do our own research, and actively become involved in trying to teach and share what we are most interested in learning.
This is why Paul talked about the great value in ECKists taking up some aspect of teaching ECKANKAR, or trying to express their vision of the whole of the spiritual path. This active form of outflow, as Paul often called it, was such an important part of Paul that I don't see how it can possibly be left out of any discussion of the forces that made Paul what he was. He stressed this over and over in his teaching, and shaped the path of ECKANKAR to include this as a fundamental principle.
In other words, the spiritual teachings are not something that we should simply absorb passively. We will never catch the vital essence of the ECK teachings in this way. It is something, rather, that comes more from the inside out, than the outside in.
This is what Paul could not find with the other spiritual teachings that he spent time with. They were looking for him to be only the follower and the student, never a leader or a teacher, but as Paul came to understand we can only grow spiritually once we accept the fact that we are both. We are not a bunch of pieces; we are a complete whole. For this same reason I say we will never be able to understand Paul by simply looking at the outer pieces of his life. Paul was a man of vision, and we won't understand who he really was until we can also see his vision of the whole.
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Copyright © 2000 by Doug Marman