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Dialogue in the Age of

Criticism

 

Chapter Eleven

Dialogue on Dialogue:

     While preparing to write this chapter, I ran across a book called, The Argument Culture, by Deborah Tannen (Random House, 1998). Her observations struck me as connected and closely aligned with the theme of dialogue. She writes:

     The culture of critique undermines the spirit not only of people in public roles but of those who read about them, afraid to believe in anyone or anything because the next story, if not the next paragraph, will tell them why they shouldn't. The aggression culture makes it harder for leaders to solve problems because it encourages citizens to lose trust in their leaders. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts notes this danger: Not only government, but "all American institutions - religious institutions, educational institutions, the family - all have been under attack. Who is then left to fix anything, if you're constantly running down every institution that is in a position to do so?"

     In other words, this question about dialogue that we've been addressing, in our age of criticism, is not just a problem of David Lane versus ECKANKAR. It is something that involves our whole society. We are seeing merely the reflection of a larger social crisis.

     Deborah Tannen writes in her book:

     Philosopher John Dewey said, on his ninetieth birthday, "Democracy begins in conversation." I fear that it gets derailed in polarized debate...

     The argument culture urges us to approach the world - and the people in it - in an adversarial frame of mind. It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done: The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as "both sides"; the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to attack someone; and the best way to show you're really thinking is to criticize...

     More importantly, this polarized form of communication ends up becoming merely a barrage of monologues. Its purpose seems to be the control and shaping of public opinion. Truth and understanding often get lost in this battle of words, leaving the public with a feeling of distrust. When opposing experts each come up with opposite conclusions, who are you supposed to believe? Often the answer is nobody.

     What has led us to this point? What are the underlying causes? These are questions that the seeker of Truth should ask, because these invisible influences shape and color our spiritual search as well.

     The discussion that took place over the previous chapters of this present book, during the last year via the Internet, was, in a fascinating way, a mirror for this crisis of criticism that our society is experiencing. With a close study of the exchanges, we can see it revealing to us a deeper meaning and direction for where we are heading. That's why I call this chapter: Dialogue on Dialogue.

     Harold calls this practice, The Golden Tongued Wisdom, when the events before us in our day-to-day life act like an oracle and show us something much larger and greater. This method of viewing, this perspective, is a part of the ECK-Vidya teaching of spiritual knowledge taught by the ECK Masters. It is a valuable tool for anyone hunting the trail of real understanding.

     One thing is clear: The reactions to David's book have changed significantly over the last year. These changes came bit by bit, as each chapter was posted, but even David's own comments today, compared to his comments before the book, show a significant change in perceptions.

     Let's jump into the discussion and see how it began.

The Plot Starts Twisting:

     David's story started changing right from the first chapter I posted. It took everyone by surprise. Most of us had accepted a lot of what David had written in his Preface at face value. However, once David began pointing out errors that I'd made in my book, his own story began unraveling. Following are comments from the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.eckankar (ARE).

     David wrote:

    Eckankar found out about Peeble's paper because I had quoted it in my term paper, The Making of a Spiritual Movement. Otherwise, Peeble's paper would have remained unknown (stuck in a file cabinet).

     Eckankar then took advertisements out in several newspapers claiming that they were being attacked by Extremist Christians and thus they had to take the matter to a court of law.

     But what the advertisements failed to mention was that the lawsuits were NOT against SCP or David Lane (whose work was widely circulated) but against AN ECKist named Jim Peebles...

     Eckankar lied about the lawsuit's true history.

      Instead of saying, "hey we are suing one of our members for writing a term paper that has defamatory information", Eckankar instead implied that they were suing the Christian Extremists.

     Go read the ads for yourself.

     A number of requests were made for David to scan the ad and post it through the Internet, as David had done with other documents, so that everyone could indeed read it for themselves. Unfortunately, David could not find his copy to show us what he meant until much later (see the discussion in the Preface). However, the point soon became moot as David continued:

     You seem to forget one important point here.

     Jim Peebles was an ECKist, NOT a Christian when he wrote his term paper.

     Eckankar didn't sue some extremist Christian.

     They sued one of their OWN.

     Ed Gruss [who was also a defendant in the lawsuit, along with Jim Peebles and LA Baptist College] was merely the chump in the legal play.

     He wasn't passing out bad information concerning Eckankar; he was rather the one guy who had a copy of Peeble's paper...

     Eckankar sued an Eckist.

     Keep that in mind....

     Also keep one thing in mind.

     Nobody was reading Peeble's paper.

     It was not distributed.

     It was dead in the water, as most term papers are.

     Shortly after this post from David, however, Richard Pickett turned up some unexpected facts about Ed Gruss on the Internet. Richard posted an interview he found in which Ed Gruss explains his experience as a former Jehovah's Witness that prepared him for his career as a teacher and writer against cults.

     Ed Gruss said:

     During that time, I was asked to be a teaching fellow. They felt I was interested in the cults so they said you can go ahead and teach this "Cults" course in the Bible Institute, which I did...ultimately I went on to get a Th.M., my thesis being The Apostles of Denial [an expose of the Jehovah's Witness]. In 1960 they needed someone to teach a cults course and also geology, so I started my teaching career teaching a cults course.

     This led him to writing a series of critical books, including; Their Monuments of False Prophecy, about the Jehovah's Witness; What Every Mormon Should Know, about the Mormons; and The Ouiji Board: Doorway to the Occult, about other cults.

     Apparently Ed Gruss, and the LA Baptist College where he taught, were not just chumps. They taught classes and published books against those they considered cults. Might they even be considered extremist Christians, perhaps?

     But this was just the beginning. David wrote to correct me on some other points, which Rich Smith then responded to in the following post:

DAVID LANE:

     You have your timeline a bit off here.

     The first term paper I ever wrote on Eckankar...was in 1977.

     Eckankar threatened to sue me then in 1977 for that first paper. That VERY legal threat is what prompted me to do further research for the next year...

     If I am not mistaken, the SCP Journal came out before Jim Peebles got sued.

     RICH SMITH:

    That would be *very* telling if it is true, since that means that Peebles had gone to the SCP *before* Eckankar brought suit to Gruss, Baptist College and him...if you believe correctly, you have just blown your whole story of Peebles being innocent.

     DAVID LANE CONTINUED:

     Sorry but you have your information wrong again. SCP ALREADY had Jim Peebles' term paper.

     Try reading the acknowledgment section of the SCP Journal where it mentions Jim Peeble's name.

     RICH SMITH:

     So there it is David! You have blown your own sob story about Peebles being innocent. Peebles had already gone to Gruss, SCP and who knows who else and then Eckankar sued. How innocent is that?! You knew this all along!!!

     More of the story came out with further dialogue: Jim Peebles and David had in fact both written term papers on ECKANKAR for the same professor. Jim, who had grown up a Baptist, had only studied ECKANKAR for a short time, and when he heard David's critical term paper he became disillusioned. Jim then went on to offer help and information to people he contacted in the anti-cult movement.

     However, David continued to contradict himself. At one point he told us that he and Jim Peebles were sharing information about their term papers while they were still in the process of writing them. It was after finishing his term paper that Jim left ECKANKAR and went back to his Baptist roots. Then, Jim subsequently went on to contact Ed Gruss at the LA Baptist Church and the SCP. However, later on David reversed himself on these details, saying that Jim had first contacted the SCP while still working on his term paper, and had not heard of David's research until their term papers were done. This left everyone confused.

     Yet, one thing was certain, Jim's name was listed in the acknowledgment for the SCP Journal, as David had said. In fact, Jim was quoted by the SCP Journal in a number of places. So how could David have claimed Jim's term paper was dead in the water, collecting dust in a filing cabinet, when he just admitted Jim had given it to the SCP?

     It turned out, in fact, that it was Jim who introduced David to the SCP.

     David admitted that the issues of the lawsuit were mainly over statements in Jim's paper that claimed Darwin had fathered an illegitimate child and Eckankar had skirted tax laws. Jim had no evidence to back up either of these statements, according to David.

     Clearly such statements would be considered defamatory, which was the basis for the suit. This is probably why Jim agreed to settle the matter out of court, and why he also agreed to pay legal expenses for all the parties.

     Yet David actually said at one point that Jim was "completely innocent" and that what Jim wrote was "pro-ECKANKAR." Whether or not Jim's term paper was intended to be positive when he wrote it, by the time the SCP Journal was published, over two years later, Jim was clearly working to help those who were attacking ECKANKAR.

     So, how could anyone consider Jim an ECKist at that point? Why would David say that ECKANKAR was suing an ECKist? Well, David was playing a game with words. You see, David actually says that Jim was an ECKist when he wrote his term paper. David meant that Jim was totally innocent "when he wrote his term paper."

     David was right that I had the chronology wrong. Unfortunately, the chronology I had used came from David's own book. That was where I got it.

     At this point, while many of us were completely amazed at David's own contradictions, Joe Homsey, an ECKist, posted this:

     Busted!!!!!!

     Bada Bing, Bada Boom!!!

     (Joey whispers) "The silence is palpable...Here we have it Ladies and Gentlemen, David Lane caught red-handed in an outright LIE (albeit not the first time this has happened)"

     What will David Lane do???

     Attempt to deny the undeniable???

     Here was David's response:

    Dear Joey,

     Lying about what?

     All I have done here is try to respond to whatever posts anyone makes....

     Peebles got sued and he wrote his paper as an Ekist.

     I don't think a 20 year old kid can really threaten the God Worlds.

     Do you?

     Jim may have written his paper as an ECKist, but he clearly was not sued as an ECKist. However, by this time most readers were starting to see the word games that David was playing. Yet, David continued, still trying to show what he thought were unconscionable acts by ECKANKAR. He wrote:

     Dear Rich:

     I don't think you are familiar with the threatened lawsuit against Gruss of LA Baptist College.

     The way Gruss got sued was for "publishing" the term paper (which allegedly had defamatory comments).

     You see, Rich, if Gruss never "xeroxed" the paper he could NOT have been sued (it would have been his private copy and we cannot be sued over owning materials that may contain defamation).

     He got sued for "publishing" defamation.

     That is why I keep emphasizing the point.

     He gave ONE xerox copy of the paper over to Mike Noe of Eckankar...

     But now think.

     Did Gruss really publish something?

     Indeed, David did keep emphasizing this point, through a half dozen posts where he said the same thing over and over, until I responded with the following comments:

    David, I agree that if a person has defamatory information, but keeps it to themselves, then there can be no cause for a lawsuit. But the word "publish" as you are referring to, is being used in the legal sense, since it is part of a lawsuit. The legal meaning of the word, publish, is to make public. It doesn't have to be distributed by a newspaper or magazine...

     The legal sense of the word, publish, means to make public. Therefore, the answer is yes, Gruss did make it public by handing it out to someone outside the College.

     David continued:

    I see the whole thing as a ploy.

     I am fairly certain now (thinking this through these past few days) that Eckankar most likely ALREADY had a copy of the term paper...

     And, IF Eckankar already did have a copy of the paper in their hands (which I now suspect they did), then Mike Noe's tactic was a legal ploy to force "publication."

     My response to David went like this:

     You are trying to make ECKANKAR's intentions the issue...but none of us know ECKANKAR's intentions. [Since the case was settled out of court and the court documents were sealed.] You are imagining what those intentions were, because then you don't have to face the legal issue, which is what the lawsuit is about.

     And now, by thinking it through, you are further imagining even more accusatory intentions. And since you can imagine it, you think this justifies further criticism of ECKANKAR...

     Here is another scenario for you to consider: In one of your posts, you said that Gruss told you "more or less" that Noe had impersonated an SCP employee. Those words, "more or less," struck me as very strange.

     So here is an example of my imagination at work: I then start wondering what it was that really happened. Did Noe walk in asking for the term paper, and Gruss assume Noe was someone from the SCP? Perhaps Noe didn't even realize Gruss thought he was from the SCP? Or maybe Noe realized Gruss was mistaken, but simply didn't correct him?

     Then how long after this did Gruss get sued? And how clearly did he remember what really happened?

     He then calls you up, all upset about being sued, as you have said, and rambles on about how unjustified the whole thing was. So Gruss starts feeling as if the whole thing was unfair, and he realizes he didn't even know that Noe was with ECKANKAR. In fact, he had thought, for some reason, that Noe was with the SCP. He had been duped.

     But the question, David, is what exactly happened, and what exactly did Gruss say to you?

     You should know the later part better than any of us, so perhaps you could illuminate this and why you said "more or less."

     My writing this out, however, was just to show that this is all the imagination at work. That's why I used question marks. But you choose to act as if your imaginings are facts, and pass judgments based upon them.

     David never did share what Gruss actually said to him, but I wrote this post because the theme of making accusations against ECKANKAR based upon negative things that David could imagine, without any support or evidence, was a pattern that was starting to show up throughout David's book. The further we went through the book, the more this became evident.

     As strange as it may seem, based on what I've just written, I don't think that David has intentionally lied to make ECKANKAR look bad. I think that what we see here is something that happens to all of us: When we are for or against something, it alters our perceptions. When we love someone, we naturally overlook their faults and see only their beauty and grace. When we are opposed to someone, we cannot see their positive virtues, and imagine negative intentions when there are none.

     Yet, the question we must ask is, what is this a reflection of? What is the Golden Tongued Wisdom showing us here?

     Strangely, the whole anti-cult movement has lately been coming under attack. It appears that the story they have been telling about the dangers of cults has been significantly distorted. They too have been making accusations based upon their own imagined projections.

     Cheryl Gruendemann posted a number of articles she discovered on the Internet showing in great detail that the claims of brainwashing and mind control have proven to be false and misleading. Here are a few quotes from A Critical Evaluation of Cult Mind Control Theories, by Bob and Gretchen Passantino:

    [I]t stretches one's credulity to believe that what CIA, Russian, Korean and Chinese highly trained and technologically supported experts could not accomplish under extremes of mental, emotional, and physical abuse, self-styled modern messiahs like David [Koresh] (high school dropout), Charles Manson (grade school dropout), and Hare Krishna founder Braphupada (self-educated) accomplished on a daily basis and on a massive scale with control methods measurably inferior to those of POW camp torturers. Do we really believe that what the Soviets couldn't do to Alexander Solzhenistyn during years of forced labor and torture in the Gulag, Sun Myung Moon could have done by "love bombing" for one week at an idyllic wilderness retreat?

     I responded to Cheryl's post:

     Cheryl,

     Thanks for this link and quote. It is a real shocker that this whole idea of brainwashing by cults is a big lie! David Lane should get on to this cover-up as soon as he has a chance. <G> [Note: <G> is an Internet symbol for a Grin.]

     I thought the following quote [from the same article] was interesting:

     Medical doctor J. Thomas Ungerleider and Ph.D. David K. Wellish show the fallacious presuppositions used by the deprogrammers (now exit counselors):

     If the member never does renounce the cult, then he or she is regarded by the deprogrammers as an unsuccessful attempt, or failed deprogramming, not as one who now has free will and has still chosen to remain with the cult.

     Whether this is called circular reasoning or a "double-bind," the net result is that the "proof" that the cultist has been coerced is unfalsifiable...If you leave the cult as a result of deprogramming...that proves you were under mind control. If you return to the cult, that proves you are under mind control. The standard for determining mind control is not some objective evaluation of mental health or competency, but merely the assumed power of mind control the critic accords to the cult.

     What is so incredible about this whole subject is that it is based on nothing more than a belief that these terrible things are true, even when the evidence doesn't support the extreme ideas they are claiming. The article gave a perfect example of this:

     Galanti says that mind control (which she equates with brainwashing) "refers to the use of manipulative techniques that are for the most part extremely effective in influencing the behavior of others." ...we encounter these pressures constantly "in advertising, in schools, in military basic training, in the media." They are a part of the socialization process, a part of life, Galanti maintains.

     Yet when describing her own visit to a Moonie indoctrination center, where contrary to expectations, she was allowed plenty of sleep, food, and to observe horsing around among the Moonies (some even joking about brainwashing!), Galanti concludes: "What I found was completely contrary to my expectations and served to underscore both the power and the subtlety of mind control."

     While she was there, she felt much of the experience to be a positive one. Later, Galanti decides that what she really experienced, despite all evidence to the contrary, was an even more seductive form of mind control than she'd previously imagined could exist. It nearly fooled even her. In short, the lack of evidence for mind control among the Moonies was really evidence for just how insidious their methods of mind control had become!

     The article goes on to show that, over time, far more than 90% leave even cults with the worst reputations, of their own free will. However, deprogrammers' techniques barely manage to convert even a small percent of those they try to deprogram. What does the incredible ineffectiveness of the deprogrammer's techniques prove? That people don't like being forced against their will to leave? No, to the anti-cultists it proves the amazing power of mind control that cults truly wield!

     Clearly, trying to convince people that they have been brainwashed and that they are victims rarely works simply because it is not true.

    This data, confirming low rates of conversion and high rates of disaffection, is deadly to the mind control model. The data reveals that the theory of cult mind control is not confirmed by the statistical evidence.

     The whole idea of brainwashing and mind control, when really studied, turns out to be nothing more than mere persuasion, which we all experience every day. This is the same conclusion reached a few years ago by the American Psychological Association, when they made a study of the matter and declared that the concepts of brainwashing and mind control could not be supported by evidence. Of course, even persuasion is something we should watch out for, but it hardly fits the frightening image of mind control or brainwashing. The article goes into great detail to demonstrate this point.

     An ex-ECKist, who posts under the name of Arelurker, responded to this article. He added:

     I think this is great stuff. I'm not familiar with the mind control model these authors are critiquing, but it deserves the same scrutiny as any other models and should not be exempt from challenges.

     Often anti-cult groups cross the line and become cultic with their ideologies...

     I look to assess the level of authoritarianism operating within the groups. Within spiritual groups, when we are talking about teaching people about their own spirituality, whether the group is authoritarian is important.

     Lurk, as he is generally known, then shared a quote from a book called, The Guru Papers, Masks of Authoritarian Power:

    Behind the masks of authoritarian power is the idea that there is some greater intelligence that knows what is best for others. What this always amounts to is that someone either claims to have that intelligence, or to have a direct line into properly interpreting it. This can occur in any realm and in differing degrees. Its most extreme forms occur when moral superiority is linked to infallibility. The image of the guru represents the epitome of this construction, which is the reason for this book's title.

     I responded to Lurk like this:

    Lurk, thanks for these quotes and your thoughtful commentary. I basically agree with most of what is being said here...

     However, in the whole scheme of things, for the seeker of Truth, it is one of many pitfalls to watch out for.

     I, personally, think the way Truth is destroyed by popular belief and public opinion is the worst problem for the spiritual seeker. The first tough choice to be made is: Are we willing to walk the unpopular path and face the criticisms of others when we think it is the right thing to do?

     If we aren't, then we certainly are never going to see the depths of the spiritual path...

     Next, I think there is the great danger of accepting outward authorities, such as Scientists, Professors, Psychologists, etc. These come across from a "professional" approach, and have far more influence as authorities than spiritual leaders have in our day and age...

     Therefore, as the previous quotes would tell us, we find significant levels of authoritarianism in these fields. And these authorities have the power to establish what is taught in our schools, how parents should treat their children through court cases, and most significantly - when a person is not capable of making their own choices so that their choices must be made for them by trained professionals.

     So, in light of all these outer influences, the challenge for the seeker is to find those who can guide them to their own innate knowledge. This must be done in a way that does not take away our own choice or self-responsibility. And this is not as easy as it sounds, since many seekers want to give up their free choice and want someone to tell them what they need to do to find illumination, or whatever else they might be seeking.

     This is why, in my mind, the importance of the Inner Master and the Inner Teachings are of prime importance on the path of ECK. The unfolding of the spiritual path, therefore, takes place in one's daily life, between the outer events and inner events that are brought into our path by the Inner Master.

     On every side of you, you might see others following the outer writings, or the group consciousness, or leaders in an organization, but you should never let these outer authorities tell you what to believe. Faith in only the Inner Master, or Life of Itself, the ECK, will lead us to what we need to gain.

     There is no authoritarianism in such a path as I am describing.

     Frank Weeden, an ECKist, put it this way in a post:

     I think the error that many detractors make, is that once one is a member of Eckankar, critical thinking gets checked at the door. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but this is the assumption that gets made, I've found.

     There are many things in the ECK books/writings/transcripts that I read and take with a grain of salt. I have my doubts about many things, and both Paul and Harold have repeatedly said not to take their word for anything, but to weigh things in the balance of one's own experience.

     Doubt, practicality, discernment, and critical thinking are all things that are not only encouraged, but are also the by-products of spiritual practice.

     I know, I know: Boring, right? <G> Not nearly so interesting or sinister sounding as the label of "Cult," and the accompanying images of brainwashed masses bowing like zombies before a self-proclaimed guru on a dais. LOL [Laughing Out Loud.]

     Lurk was right that watching out for authoritarianism is worthwhile advice for the seeker. However, only in an age of Criticism and Polarization could such theories as Mind Control and Brainwashing have fooled so many people for so long. And the public accepted these ideas because self-proclaimed authorities promoted them. Imagine that!

 

The Shifting Sands of Consciousness:

     Needless to say, based on the previous discussion, we all began to look closer at David's own words. Joe, an ex-ECKist came to David's defense, and both David and Joe carried the previous discussion on for dozens of posts, to the amazement of most of us.

     This prompted the following series of comments:

     KEN STOLTZFUS:

     It's funny. Seems as though Lane and Joe are unable to concede even one point. Like they're afraid that the whole "Making" tapestry will come unraveled if they let even one little thread of it get pulled out.

     (Hey, let me have just a leeeeetle tug on that loose string in the corner...)

     MICHAEL WALLACE:

     You know Ken...It "really" is beginning to look like this. Maybe we have stumbled onto some important hole in the fabric of the argument that will explode the Lane Myth <G>

     If someone doesn't do it first, the thing is likely to go up in a big fireball of unfounded assumptions due to spontaneous combustion.

     RICH SMITH:

    I like this meme. I think this may be the beginning of the end of David's credibility with "The Making". Doug's book will stoke each one of these smoldering assumptions. Pretty soon David and Joe won't be able to put out all the small fires no matter how much they repeat themselves. When the oxygen outside of ARE feeds these, the backdraft will cause a firestorm that will flash across the unsubstantiated 'facts' turning them to ashes, out of which will rise the biased opinions completely surrounding the few verifiable facts.

     DAVID LANE:

     Oh my dear Ekists this is the silliest thing I have read yet.

     What doesn't fall apart is the very crux of the argument:

     1. Twitchell lied about his life (even Doug admits it)

     2. Twitchell redacted his spiritual associations...

     3. Twitchell plagiarized.

     These three things are not going to disappear.

     If you look at Doug's analysis of Chapter One, he more or less concedes that Twitchell lied about his birth, his birthplace, and other details.

     Yes, we can debate the interpretations, but the facts will be discovered regardless of how old or young I am.

     Even though Ken, Michael and Rich were just having some fun, I think these posts show the shifting feelings at the time.

     However, David was right that more facts would come out. Unfortunately, David was wrong about his Unholy Three, as he has called them down through the years. They have not stood up like he thought, but we wouldn't get to the name redaction and the plagiarism issues until later chapters, so we hadn't even addressed them yet. As for the facts about Paul's birth date, I was just about to learn how I, myself, had trusted too much in what David had written.

     Steve Runfeldt posted the following question to me:

     Are you certain about the date on Paul and Gail's marriage certificate? I do not recall Lane having any evidence at all for Paul's supposed 1922 birth date, except for his death certificate...

     Of course if Paul did "lie" on his own death certificate, it was a pretty neat trick. But I do not recall that Lane has actually seen Paul and Gail's marriage license.

     So I wrote David a post:

     I thought I heard you mention before that Paul's marriage certificate to Gail also showed the 1922 date. Is that true?

     David answered:

     No, I don't have Gail's and Paul's marriage certificate.

     That left only two other sources for what David claimed was proof Paul had lied about being born in 1922: An article written by Jack Jarvis in 1963, and Brad Steiger's book on Paul, written in 1968. Paul wrote neither of these.

     During a discussion at this time with Arelurker, he reflected his frustration with ECKists who continually offered spiritual explanations in response to what Paul had done. Arelurker wrote:

     I'm saying that all one has to do is allude to the mystical when discussing empirical facts and there is no way to prove or disprove such information that is conveyed from such allusion. It strains dialog because it is mixing of categories. That was my main point.

     I responded to Lurk like this:

     I think what you are saying is that when we are talking about empirical facts, hard facts, that we shouldn't mix the discussion with trying to understand the mystical content behind those facts.

     If this is true, then why is it okay to mix the discussion with your personal opinions about the meaning of those facts?

     If we want to talk about the empirical facts, then fine, let's talk about the empirical facts. I think you'll be surprised how little there really is in this category.

     Let's take David's accusation that Paul lied about his age. Well, first of all, we now know that there are no empirical facts that prove that Paul ever lied about his age...

     David has shown that in 1963 Jack Jarvis wrote an article called "The Square Peg" about Paul. In it Jarvis says that Paul had just turned 40 years of age. It does not say where Jarvis got this information. What can we conclude from this empirical fact?

     Next, in 1968, Brad Steiger wrote in his biography about Paul: "While the teenaged Paul Twitchell sat there listening to the fanatical swami he slipped out of his physical body to explore the other rooms in the ramshackle old house..."

     Four paragraphs later, Brad writes: "Kay-Dee and Paul arrived home in China Point shortly before the outbreak of World War II."

     From this, David has concluded that Brad is suggesting a birth date of about 1922, like Jarvis. What can we conclude from this?

     Remember, the empirical facts don't tell us where Brad got his information about Paul's age. We do know that Brad read some of Jarvis' articles, since he commented on them in his book. So, for all we know, Brad got it from there. The point being that we are not supposed to be mixing such categories of presumptions in here, but just sticking to the empirical facts.

     Last, David has located a copy of Paul's death certificate, which shows a birth date of October 22, 1922. The source of this information is recorded as Gail...What can we conclude from this?

     These are David's empirical facts. So, does it show that Paul had the remarkable talent of getting others to lie for him? Or does it show that Paul couldn't care less about his age, so he didn't care when others got it wrong? The empirical facts don't answer these questions for us.

     With all the books that Paul had written, and all the talks he gave, the one thing that does stand out is that Paul never once spoke about when he was born or how old he was. That is an empirical fact. Therefore, Paul certainly never lied to any ECKists about his birth date.

     However, the point that Lurk raised is an interesting one. He noticed that ECKists kept putting these discussions into the perspective of the spiritual path of ECK, and how insignificant these issues about birth dates were. ECKists see Paul as telling stories to illustrate spiritual points or lessons in his teaching, not to give out historical information. This was frustrating to Lurk, because he felt it was a sign that ECKists were not facing the empirical facts.

     What Lurk did not see, however, but became more and more obvious to most ECKists, was that the supporters of David Lane continued to cast the discussion into the perspective of their own beliefs, just as they accused the ECKists of doing. They believed David's story that Paul was intentionally conning ECKists, just like other gurus that David has exposed, but they made such accusations without seeing that the empirical evidence proved nothing of the sort.

     What a strange turn of events.

     However, David did not give up yet. He then began suggesting that Paul had lied about his birth date from his youth. The first empirical fact he presented was the date when Paul entered college. David scanned in a letter he received from the registrar of the college as proof that Paul had recorded his wrong age. But on further reading, I pointed out that the registrar was clearly referring to when Paul had first been admitted, which means the date when his application was accepted, not when he actually started classes, and therefore this supposed one year error disappeared.

     Next, David referred to Paul's marriage certificate to his first wife, Camille Ballowe, which showed a birth date of 1912, which was wrong by three years. However, a little searching showed that Paul's father had filed a belated birth certificate for Paul less than a year before Paul's marriage, probably because such a document was needed for Paul to enlist in the US Navy. Paul's father, however, recorded 1912 as the date of Paul's birth. This, it seems was the source of the 1912 date on Paul's marriage certificate. Once again, not from Paul's pen.

     While these certainly strike us as strange coincidences - not to mention the fact that Paul's own family had numerous family Bibles that recorded Paul's birth date everywhere from 1908-1910 - we need to remember that David Lane has been looking for anomalies in Paul's life for more than 20 years, to build his case.

     Therefore, it became clearer and clearer that the whole discussion was coming down to a religious debate clothed in the appearance of empirical facts.

     Steve Runfeldt wrote me personally, saying:

    Doug,

     I find it very telling that even you, who clearly are not interested in supporting Lane's position, were under the impression from his first chapter that Paul had lied about his age. It just demonstrates Lane's ability to spin his web. I had to read and reread the chapter [in David's book] to make an outline of known facts and suppositions in order to see what was really going on.

     Obviously, I began to check more carefully before accepting what David wrote. It was shortly after this that Melodie Chrislock sent me documents she had copied at the Paducah Library, the hometown where Paul had grown up. Finally, here were some new empirical facts.

     As Melodie said, the impression one gets of Paul's youth after reading these documents is not at all what we expected. Had David's book and his comments about Paul been accepted by so many people for so long that we'd actually come to believe things that were totally wrong about Paul? Even ECKists, who admired and loved Paul?

     It seems that way. But with new facts, once again our picture of Paul changed. I posted the new information, which is now included in the addendums to this book, which showed that Paul had been quite successful in two separate careers long before ECKANKAR. In fact, Paul's early success as a freelance journalist was so notable it became the subject of articles about him printed by a number of newspapers.

     The records at the Paducah Library also contained proof of the real year in which Paul was born. The spring 1910 census showed Paul as a baby of 6 months old. This settled the mystery of Paul's birth date that had been swirling around since David's book came out.

     The stories about Kay-Dee's trip to Paris to study art, which came from Brad Steiger's biography on Paul Twitchell, took another fascinating turn. Iverlet claimed that Kay-Dee never left the United States her whole life. What came out in another post, however, was the information that Kay-Dee had indeed gone to Paris to study art - however, it was not Paris, France but Paris, Kentucky.

     The story in Steiger's, In My Soul I Am Free, tells us that Paul also visited Kay-Dee while she was in Paris. According to the book, this was one year after Paul graduated high school. Wouldn't you know it, but a biographical listing on Paul that appeared in the Kentucky Who's Who for 1927, found in the Paducah Library files, showed that Paul lived in Paris, Kentucky the year after he graduated High School!

     But why call it Paris, France instead of Paris, Kentucky?

     Oddly, David Lane provided the answer to this as well. He had confronted Brad Steiger and asked Steiger why he had published such false stories about Paul in his book. Brad Steiger answered, according to David, that it was common to substitute names and places in biographies back then.

     Such a simple answer.

     This would explain how Paris, Kentucky became Paris, France, and how Paducah was turned into China Point in Brad's book. What else does it explain? Did Brad fiddle with the dates of Paul's history as well? Is Sudar Singh the name for another teacher? Did Paul meet that other teacher in the US instead of in France? Was that teacher's ashram in the US instead of India?

     This caused a long dialogue around this whole subject. Seen from the eyes of today such stories seem like lies. Why stretch the truth? Why fictionalize the facts?

     As the discussion developed, however, it became clear that what Brad Steiger said was true. Biographies were commonly exaggerated back in those days.

     Steve Runfeldt shared, in an e-mail to me, the following example. It referred to a movie he had seen from the 50's about the life of George Gershwin, the famous composer:

    After the film was over, the narrator came on and explained that almost none of the personal information in the film - love affairs, travel to Paris, meeting with famous classical composers, etc. was true.

     A glance at Brad Steiger's other works suggests that his style of writing followed this same vein.

     Indeed it did, as even Brad admitted, but this was far more widespread than most people realize. Up until the 50's and 60's, it was common for writers and publishers to overly romanticize the heroes of society, the great institutions of government and education, and even everyday products sold by corporations.

     I remember growing up in those days and being mystified at the exaggerations that most advertisers spread. I couldn't understand why, if people were supposed to tell the truth, why was it okay for companies, governments and advertisers to stretch the truth so blatantly? It is only after I've grown up and looked back at those times that I can see this was the endpoint of a grand era in mythology - a practice that grew out of the industrial revolution and from the new power of broadcast media.

     For example, if you look back at advertising before the 50's, as strange as it may seem, you will see the symbol of smoke stacks used to represent the great accomplishments of mankind. They were proud symbols back then, used by many companies to represent man's ingenuity and accomplishments in mastering the laws of nature. They stood for the success and the grand dream of the industrial revolution. Now it is not possible for us to see the symbol of smoke stacks and see something positive.

     In the 60's this all began to crumble. The threat of pollution turned smoke stacks into images of evil corporations that stood for the destruction of nature, endangering our right to clean air and clean water.

     Back in the early 80's I wrote an article called, "Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone?" In it I showed that the once common practice of adapting, modifying and passing along songs, stories and other creative works had almost completely disappeared. Such folk art became enriched as it passed through the hands of many people, each adding a bit, changing a bit. But we have now lost this whole culture as we've turned to professionalism and commercialism for our art.

     During our discussion, David Lane posted the following:

    I think, ironically enough, once there is a wholesale acceptance of what Twitchell did in the past (lying, plagiarism/redaction), then there can be a much greater appreciation for what he did that was positive.

     I guess I am a bit disheartened to see so many ideological spins about this or that action...

     There is a simple solution:

     Acknowledge it (without spin).

     And then move on.

     David is raising a good point. In explaining these things, are we just putting a more favorable spin on what Paul really did? I responded like this:

     I agree with your first paragraph above. That's pretty much why I've been writing my book...The most important part of what has taken place, from my personal opinion, is the dialogue that has come up from the book. This process of open discussion is not nearly as simple as you make it sound.

     The big problem I have with what you're saying, David, is that you make it sound like acknowledging something without spin is so easy. Your book is filled with spin. Why is it that you aren't able to just acknowledge that and move on?

     In other words, the problem with our own spin is that it really takes time and thought to work through it and find higher ground, meaning a truer perspective.

     The more I delve into your book and dig back into Paul's past and the early days of ECKANKAR, the more I see that we are dealing with the conflicts that arise from cultural changes and the shifting sands of consciousness...

     Therefore, we can hardly understand those days. We almost need to take a trip back in time to really see the thinking back then. Remember, people did not lock the doors of their homes back then. The media did not try to intrude on the personal life of the President.

     I've been thinking about this for a couple weeks now, and I wrote to Richard Pickett about some of my memories. He did a little research and came up with some interesting things. For example, I remembered a landmark case against Wonder Bread, which was the first time I remember truth in advertising being enforced.

     If you can recall, Wonder Bread used the slogan that its bread "builds bodies ten different ways." Television commercials contained a "fantasy growth sequence, a visual insert in which a small child was shown growing to the size of a 12-year-old in a few seconds." Clearly they were just selling white bread with enriched flour, but they stretched this into a promotional campaign that left a very different impression upon children.

     What they were doing was no different than had been done for decades, but the sensibilities had changed. People had been hit by so much advertising and media exaggeration that the masses began to revolt. They began demanding truth in advertising (something never heard of in advertising before.)

     The case against Wonder Bread took place in 1976, from Richard's research. They lost and were forced to print ads retracting their false and misleading information. This is the same year that you [David Lane] started working on your term paper. It was only a couple years or so after Watergate, which marked the loss of innocence by the public, and began the popular trend of exposes...

     So, a lot of what we see taking place here is simply a reflection of the changes in our culture.

     For the past few thousand years, up until the last few decades, the mythology of a religion was an intimate part of how a spiritual teaching was passed on. There is no reason to think that this is not a perfectly valid way for transmitting a spiritual path.

     It is our modern culture that has become so jaded that it cannot stomach such religious teachings any longer. Now it is called lying or deception. This is more a reflection of the narrow-mindedness and jadedness of our modern culture than it is some kind of more advanced understanding.

     I look back through time into the many lives I've lived here in these lower worlds, and the thing that strikes me is how different the culture has been in each age, and how each culture had its advantages and disadvantages. The subtlety of our own cultural spin is generally invisible to us because it is so pervasive. A seeker of truth must find a way of getting beyond such limitations if they are interested in finding the path of ECK.

     Such a challenge is no simple thing, but takes a real dedication to look beneath the surface to find truth...

     Just a few more thoughts for the soup.

     Of course, David and his supporters were not yet ready to accept this. Joe, an ex-ECKist who supports David, asked these pointed questions:

    OK. Explain why a spiritual master needs to make things up about his past.

     We're listening. <g>

     I'm serious here: can you give a cogent explanation to this question?

     I responded to Joe's question like this:

     Anyone who has written as much as Paul, and even as much as I have, knows fully well that it is impossible to write anything about one's past without writing fiction. It is simply impossible.

     It is the inexperienced writer who takes up the task in earnest, as if he could write something historically accurate. Yet, even when a simple car accident takes place, if you ask each person to tell you exactly what they saw, the testimony will vary dramatically and you will hear a different story from each one.

     Ask them again a year later, and you will hear another story from each of them then.

     It is all stories, Joe. The pursuit of factual truth has value in the scientific study of material substances. It has little value to the study of the human spirit.

     If you think I'm wrong, go ahead and write for us a truthful biography of your own life. If you dictate only facts, it will have no meaning to anyone. If you tell us something meaningful, it will be a story, not the factual truth.

     Our life is a story, Joe. Not a bunch of facts. It is often through our fiction that we glimpse the essence of each other best. Certainly a bunch of facts will never tell us the essence of a person.

     And if anyone is trying to talk or write about something meaningful to Soul, then it can only be in the form of stories. We must leave the sterile world of facts far behind.

     I've said this numerous times in many ways to David - that Paul's whole focus was on giving form to the formless teachings he named ECKANKAR. His whole body of writing is telling stories or hinting at something that can hardly be spoken about directly. It is not a matter of scientific facts, but spiritual truth.

     In looking back at Paul's early life, it is easy to see that he was a great promoter and a great storyteller. The success of his job as Physical Activities Director for Paducah, as well as a Coach, Athletic Director and Recreation Manager for a number of colleges and schools, hinged on his natural skills as a promoter. David doubted Paul really had such a successful career, until I posted some of the headlines from the hundred or so articles in the Paducah files that show the activities Paul advertised, organized and brought to life.

     Later, as a freelance writer, Paul used his promotional skills with his writing, and he certainly used it to promote himself and sell his stories as well. (See the addendums for more about Paul's early days.)

     So, Paul was a born promoter, and without this skill it is hard to imagine ECKANKAR ever surviving as a teaching. But times have changed, and today it seems like the practice of demotion gets more respect than promotion. Once again the Golden Tongued Wisdom is giving us an insight into something much bigger.

     Deborah Tannen, in her book, The Argument Culture, shows how Watergate spawned a change in journalism that led to a whole new negative form of reporting, often creating more misinformation than the cover-ups they try to expose:

     Investigative reporting is the jewel in the crown of journalism. A role that only journalists can fulfill, it is the tradition that helped expose the scandals of Watergate and Vietnam - vast programs of illegal action and public deception that had disastrous consequences. But in the search-and-destroy culture of critique, investigative reporting has metamorphosed into prosecutorial reporting. An investigation sets out to determine the facts. Prosecutors set out to build a case against someone...

     Many journalists prominent today were high school or college students at that time and were inspired to enter the profession by the example of Watergate and Vietnam: They, too, would fight government duplicity and expose government lies...

     But how does a newspaper prove its mettle when there is no Watergate to expose? The need to find scandals to uncover can become a danger. According to [David] Remnick, [Katherine] Graham [owner and publisher of The Washington Post that broke the Watergate scandal] worried about:

     a newspaper's need to guard against "the romantic tendency to picture itself in the role of a heroic and beleaguered champion, defending virtues against overwhelming odds." Watergate, she writes, "had been an aberration, and I felt we couldn't look everywhere for conspiracies and cover-ups."

     Yet this is exactly what happened....

     What we have now is a kind of scandal inflation plus predictable cover-ups that are their inevitable by-products. The result is not only elevating commonplace indiscretions...but also inuring citizens to concern about serious governmental wrongdoing: Appending -gate to so many less serious, even trivial matters has made Watergate itself seem less significant in retrospect than it really was. Astonishingly, a June 1997 poll found that nearly half of those polled (44 percent) thought Watergate was no worse than any scandal before or since.

     For anyone who really knows the facts behind Watergate, this is a gross misperception. To show how far from truth this whole form of reporting is leading us, Deborah Tannen added the following:

     James Fallows cites a Times Mirror study which found that a majority (53 percent) of journalists "thought public officials as a class were more honest and more honorable than the general public was!" Journalists, in other words, know that the stories they write are not the whole story. But the public, judging from this survey, tends to think that it is: "Four-fifths of the public believed that politicians' morals were worse than those of the average citizen. Four-fifths thought that political authorities could 'never' be trusted to do the right thing. (In the early 1960's, 70 percent of Americans thought the government could be trusted to do the right thing.)"

     Therefore, we can see that expose journalism, ironically, is not leading us closer to the truth, but farther away. In other words, contrary to its claims, this form of reporting is often not exposing truth at all, but is hiding and distorting the real story.

     This trend in journalism has not only gotten out of control, but it also seems headed for its own self-destruction. Deborah Tannen puts it this way in her book:

     [T]he focus of attack has shifted from the domain of public policy to the vaguer notion of character in the form of personal foibles and inconsistencies. And rather than exposing specific acts of wrongdoing, the aggression often surfaces as a sneering and contemptuous tone that has been remarked - and questioned - by journalists themselves. Adam Gopnik, for example, calls it "a kind of weird, free-form nastiness - spleen without purpose." Kenneth Walsh describes it as "adding opinion or 'edge' - often in the form of a derisive tone or smart-ass attitude." James Fallows calls the tone "snarl" and notes that it is typical for articles about the president to drip in condescension without bothering to provide any factual basis for the disdain. He quotes a newsmagazine writer: "Pieces that are harsh and snide and critical and quizzical always do better and get bigger play and attract more attention." And as with an addiction, ever-greater doses of attitude are needed: "Yesterday's edge becomes today's tedium," says Adam Gopnik, "and the only way to get more attention is to continually up the ante."

     Peer pressure drives the engine, according to Walsh:

     Reporters feel pressured by their editors and colleagues to have a harder edge, to take shots at those in power, and almost never to praise anyone in public office. Journalists are simply afraid of being labeled as shills for those in authority, and with good reason.

     James Fallows quotes ABC reporter Charles Peters, who agrees:

     There is nothing that the average journalist fears more than ridicule. You are really going out on a limb if you say, "This is a good idea. This is what is good about Bill Clinton" - or Bob Dole or Newt Gingrich. Or if you say, "This is an important idea." You immediately lay yourself open to people saying that you're being boring, and getting laughed at.

     Anyone who has seen the posts from David and his supporters will recognize an unmistakable resemblance to the above remarks. But what all of this is showing us is that our culture has passed from a society that once idealized and romanticized its institutions and its heroes, to a society that would now rather criticize and attack those in the public eye.

     The results are a society that is quick to criticize, and yet afraid to speak openly about individual beliefs. We like to think we have freedom of speech, but without respect for each other we really just have a new form of conformism ruled by the fear of public embarrassment.

     Therefore, David is merely using today's standards and ethics to mis-judge things that happened in a different time.

     My purpose, as I've said before, has never been to justify or condone anything that Paul did, but rather to simply show it from Paul's viewpoint. How can we ever understand Paul's purpose and motivation without seeing it from his viewpoint?

     This is nothing new, as Deborah Tannen wrote in her book:

     [D]istinguished journalist and author Orville Schell points out that in his day journalists routinely based their writing on a sense of connection to their subjects - and that this sense of connection is missing from much that is written by journalists today. Quite the contrary, a spirit of demonography often prevails that has just the opposite effect: Far from encouraging us to feel connected to the subjects, it encourages us to feel critical, superior - and, as a result, distanced. The cumulative effect is that citizens feel more and more cut off from the people in public life they read about.

     If we are not able to see from another's perspective, to feel some kind of connection to them, how can we even have dialogue? That is the real question our society is facing.

 

The Cover-up Vanishes:

     The whole basis for David's book is that Darwin, Paul and Harold were all covering up some dark facts about ECKANKAR's past. Little by little this story has vanished. Even David's own words support this.

     For example, when I first posted my Preface and stated that I did not see enough evidence to show that Darwin was trying to cover up any hidden secrets, David responded like this:

     Eckankar did not want the general public to know about Twitchell's past, including his first wife, including Kirpal Singh, including Scientology...

     Butterball it all you want, but clearly Darwin didn't want the general population (nor did Twitchell) knowing the FULL facts about his life.

     However, once we had gone through all of the chapters and the FULL facts were really examined, the foundation for David's accusations about a cover-up fell apart. For example, David recently asked the question:

    Well, if it had been no big deal then why did ECKANKAR try to deny it?

     Here is what I wrote back:

    Only Darwin can answer this for sure, but it seems to me, from all that I have read and seen, that Darwin may simply not have known about this...He thought it was just part of the whole big propaganda campaign by the SCP Project, which you were assisting.

     It wouldn't have been the first time Christian fundamentalists had made up stuff about ECKANKAR.

     This is why, it seems, that after Darwin did finally sit down to go over your claims that he backed away from any more legal threats.

     I don't see any evidence that shows he was actually trying to cover up something that he knew about but didn't want others to know about. I think that he simply didn't investigate the matter and thought it was bunk, like a lot of the other bunk being thrown at him and ECKANKAR.

     David responded:

    Dear Doug:

     That is a very fair reply on your part and I deeply appreciate it...

     I think you may be on to something here...

     It may be that Darwin didn't think through his response (of course, he still hasn't)...

     That's fair.

     David's accusations that Paul was trying to cover up his past, when Paul began redacting the names of his previous teachers, also fell apart. My book showed that David's three proposed motivations, which he claimed were Paul's reasons for editing his own writing, were all at odds with the facts.

     First, Kirpal never shared his criticisms of The Tiger's Fang to Paul, which even David now admits. So, "The Tiger's Fang incident," as David called it, could not explain why Paul began removing Kirpal's name from his writings. Second, there was no emerging empire for Paul to protect at the time, as David implied, but in fact quite the opposite, since both Paul and his wife Gail were barely making ends meet. Third, Paul didn't begin removing references to his previous teachers so that he could start ECKANKAR, since he actually began the practice one year after he started ECKANKAR. Before then he had openly given credit to those teachers.

     This last point came as a surprise to David, since he wrote in his book that the practice started in 1964. However, even though David brought up a number of references and tried to argue this point, not a single case of name replacement shows up in Paul's writings until mid-to-late 1966.

     However, what did come to light, strangely enough, was the fact that David himself had redacted one of the names in Paul's writings, in his own book. Ken Stoltzfus wrote the following post about this surprising news that Rich Smith had discovered:

     Let me see if I understand this correctly. In the original "Making" book, David Lane skipped over the name Sudar Singh and replaced it with "...". Then in the web version he simply DELETED the name, ellipsis and all? Which in effect changed the intended meaning of the author?

     If that's true then it's pretty clear that David Lane changed the words that someone else wrote in order to present his theory in a better light. He deliberately deceived his readers...

     And Joe laughs it off while Lurk ignores it, all the while calling Paul Twitchell a liar because he changed *his own words*.

     Michael's right. This is bizarre.

     David tried to argue that Sudar's name in this article was a name replacement for one of Paul's other teachers, but Sudar's name was side by side with Kirpal's name, as well as Swami Premananda's name.

     I have since found two other early articles of Paul's, that show the same thing: An article that ran in early 1966 called, Can You Be In Two Places At The Same Time?, shows Sudar Singh, from Allahabad, India, along with Bernard of England, a Self-Realization Swami who has a retreat in Maryland, Kirpal Singh of Delhi, India, and Rebazar Tarzs, a Tibetan monk.

     The second article was called, The God Eaters, and ran in the November 1964 issue of The Psychic Observer. In the article Paul talks about Rebazar Tarzu [sic], who he "made contact with...through bilocation," and Kirpal Singh as his teachers. These examples clearly show that both Sudar Singh and Rebazar Tarzs were referred to, side by side with Kirpal Singh. It was not until late 1966 before Paul suddenly stopped referring to Kirpal Singh.

     The whole problem with David's argument is that Paul merely edited his own writing. There is nothing wrong with this. David is trying to tell us, however, that Paul's motivation for doing this was to cover up his past. David doesn't have a single piece of evidence to support that this was Paul's motivation, but for over 20 years David has been proclaiming this as if it were a fact.

     The truth is, however, that the only quote we have from Paul that shows his motivations is the quote that I reprinted in Chapter Five, which makes it clear that the reason Paul referred to Kirpal in his book, The Flute of God, when it was first serialized, was because he felt that Kirpal was sympathetic with his work. Therefore, when Paul learned that Kirpal was no longer sympathetic, which it appears he learned in mid-1966, then this offers a perfect explanation why Paul removed references to Kirpal in his published writings.

     David didn't let this matter drop easily, however. He argued his side over a long series of posts. For example, the following is from one of these series:

     DAVID WROTE:

     Twitchell was not as open about his teachers as you claim.

     Tell me how many references do we see to L. Ron Hubbard?

     Your point, apparently, is that Kirpal got nasty against Twitch in 66.

     Okay, show US the PROOF...

     That seems to be a reasonable request.

     DOUG WROTE:

     How many references do we see to L. Ron Hubbard? Well, let's see, David, how many articles altogether do we see before 1965 by Paul? [Not many.]

     How many of them have some reference to one of his teachers? I think the percentage is quite high [well over 50%]...

     You have presented nothing more than a theory and a hypothesis. I have shown how the evidence doesn't jive with your theory. So, I've offered another theory. I've shown evidence to support my hypothesis, and I've shown that it's consistent with the evidence available.

     If you want to prove my theory wrong, all you have to do is show quotes where Paul redacted Kirpal's name before 1966.

     DAVID WROTE:

    Dear Doug:

     I don't think you get it.

     Eckankar wasn't "officially" founded until October 22, 1965. 1966 is just two plus moths away.

     So, just a couple of months after Eckankar is officially founded guess what we find?

     Kirpal's name redacted.

     DOUG WROTE:

    No, David, it turns out that we do not find Kirpal's name being redacted just a couple months after ECKANKAR was officially founded.

     Go back and check your quotes. Paul ran three or four chapters of The Flute of God in Orion magazine that contained Kirpal's name. This continued until mid-1966. Then suddenly [in the November 1966 installment] none of the further chapters contained Kirpal's name. And suddenly all the books and materials written and printed by Paul after that no longer contain Kirpal's name.

     DAVID WROTE:

    I have shown you an article in 1964 with the name of Sudar Singh in it.

     DOUG WROTE:

     The 1964 article that you showed with Sudar Singh's name also includes Kirpal's name. So this isn't evidence of name redaction.

     The other quote with Sudar Singh's name that occurred before the founding of ECKANKAR was the quote that you redacted Sudar Singh's name from. That quote also included Kirpal and Premananda's name.

     DAVID WROTE:

    Doug:

     If I understand your theory correctly, then Paul edits out Kirpal's name because Kirpal dissed Paul...

     There may be a simpler explanation to all of this:

     AFTER Paul creates Eckankar...he just changes the name infrastructure and sets himself up with a past that CANNOT be traced historically.

     Not to sound like Church Lady, but isn't that convenient?

     DOUG WROTE:

    No, David, you apparently do not understand my theory correctly.

     I showed a quote from Paul where he clearly states that his reason for mentioning Kirpal's name is because he feels Kirpal is sympathetic with Paul's work. It has nothing to do with Kirpal dissing Paul. Even if Kirpal politely stopped being supportive, or politely disagreed with Paul, that would be enough reason for Paul, based on his own words, to no longer continue referring to Kirpal.

     However, we know from Kirpal's own words that he became openly critical about Paul. So, it was not just a matter of polite disagreement...

     Your "simpler" explanation doesn't fit the facts. Look at the Orion magazine printings of The Flute of God chapters. The first few chapters that ran to mid-1966 include Kirpal's name, as well as the name of Paul's other teachers. This proves the changes did not begin when ECKANKAR was officially founded, or even a few months later.

     You see, David, it was when I realized that Paul was still openly referring to the names of these other teachers well after he began ECKANKAR, that was when I had to ask myself, well, why did Paul suddenly change his approach?

     After reading this series of posts, Len Campbell-Rossen posted the following:

     David's book now looks like a staccato of facts, hearsay, half and wrong information. Some information, which was not investigated by David before he put them into his book [Len then refers to the facts in Chapter Four where almost everything David wrote was wrong]...

     But it's the glue, that invisible element, that has risen-up to become much more pronounced for me in David's book. It's really the emotion, the "sap" which glues the pieces together. Negative, angry, inflexible, intangible glue.

     This is what Deborah Tannen called "sneer."

     However, perhaps the most significant problem with David's argument that Paul was trying to cover up his past, came after I read the following post on David's ECKANKAR newsgroup, written by an ECKist who posted under the name of TuzaHu:

     I got in Eckankar when I was in the 8th grade. A local neighbor introduced me to the teaching who knew Paul back in the old days with Kirpal Singh (Vandella Walker) who, at the time was the highest initiate in ECK (a 7th at the time). Through Vandella I got to spend a lot of time with Paul...

     This was when I was a new Eckist in Ohio. I got in Eck in 1968 and can remember when Paul had a good deal of hair left!!!

     After reading this, I then remembered how many of the early ECKists had followed Paul from Kirpal's group and from L. Ron Hubbard's group. The idea of Paul trying to cover up or deny his previous associations with those teachers is ridiculous. There were way too many in ECK who knew all about Paul's past. David's whole theory just doesn't work.

     TuzaHu went on to write some other interesting things about the interesting time he spent with Camille Ballowe, Paul's first wife:

    Off the top of my head I can recall a few interesting things. She and Paul dated in High School...

     Paul also was involved in the beginning of Scientology and wanted to teach Soul Travel but L. Ron would have nothing to do with it. [I have heard this same thing from a number of old timers, even though David refuses to accept it. DM.]

     Paul was a promoter for a while with actor Jimmy Durante and baseball star Dizzy Dean...Paul was a born promoter...

     Paul was practicing forms of Astral Projection, as it sounds from his early years according to her. He would sit for hours at the kitchen table staring into a flame from an oil lamp he had. He did that for years, hours on end. He later wrote and published a song that was recorded called "the Lamp."

     According to her Paul had a deep spiritual side, he read the Bible almost every day for many years along with other spiritual books. His interest in out of the body movement was his main interest, but little was written about it. He called it dreamwalking at the time. He wanted to control and teach it from the time they married.

     This information completely undermines the idea that David has tried to promote; that Paul learned out of the body travel from Swami Premananda and Kirpal Singh, in the 50's. In fact, Paul had always been interested in spiritual truth, as Camille said, even in his teens.

     By the time Paul wrote "The Lamp," when he was in his twenties, Paul was making a serious study of Soul Travel, although he called it by a different name back then.

     Therefore, when Scientology started, in 1952, Paul was already proficient at out-of-body projection and was trying to help others learn these techniques. This is completely contrary to David's story. David's perspective started from the assumption that Paul's teaching was merely a rip-off of Sant Mat, which Paul did not run across until 1955, along with a splattering of what Paul learned from Swami Premananda in the early 50's.

     To summarize: David didn't have proof that Darwin was covering something up. Even David admits this. David's claims that Paul was covering up his past have also fallen apart. And as we have seen in Chapter Ten, Harold brought out and spoke about Paul's past over a period of years and numerous articles, contrary to David's assertions.

     Therefore, the whole basis of David's book, that ECKANKAR covered up some terrible information, is without any real support. It was a myth of David's creation. How could such a review of ECKANKAR get so far off base? Well, the Golden Tongued Wisdom is speaking to us again:

     This time we are seeing a reflection of the academic world, where David teaches. Deborah Tannen, also a teacher in academia, writes in her book, The Argument Culture:

     The standard way of writing an academic paper [such as a term paper] is to position your work in opposition to someone else's, which you prove wrong. This creates a need to make others wrong, which is quite a different matter from reading something with an open mind and discovering that you disagree with it. Students are taught that they must disprove others' arguments in order to be original, make a contribution, and demonstrate their intellectual ability. When there is a need to make others wrong, the temptation is great to oversimplify at best, and at worst to distort or even misrepresent others' positions, the better to refute them - to search for the most foolish statement in a generally reasonable treatise, seize upon the weakest examples, ignore facts that support your opponent's views, and focus only on those that support yours. Straw men spring up like scarecrows in a cornfield.

     Sometimes it seems as if there is a maxim driving academic discourse that counsels, "If you can't find something bad to say, don't say anything."...There is an advantage to this approach: Weaknesses are exposed, and that is surely good. But another result is that it is difficult for those outside the field (or even inside) to know what is "true." Like two expert witnesses hired by opposing attorneys, academics can seem to be canceling each other out.

     This practice, according to Deborah Tannen, is an old one in academia, and is used to sharpen the mind and the critical faculties. Yet strangely, when dealing with the real world and real events this practice seems to be more of an exercise in distortion than the pursuit of truth. It seems to encourage the twisting of facts and words, if that's what it takes to win the debate. That may not have been the original intention, but that seems to be the end result.

     Deborah Tannen offers what she thinks might be a good antidote for academics to try:

     "The doubting game" is a name English professor Peter Elbow gives to what educators are trained to do. In playing the doubting game, you approach others' work by looking for what's wrong, much as the press corps follows the president hoping to catch him stumble or an attorney pores over an opposing witness's deposition looking for inconsistencies that can be challenged on the stand. It is an attorney's job to discredit opposing witnesses, but is it a scholar's job to approach colleagues like an opposing attorney?

     Elbow recommends learning to approach new ideas, and ideas different from your own, in a different spirit - what he calls a "believing game." This does not mean accepting everything anyone says or writes in an unthinking way. That would be just as superficial as rejecting everything without thinking deeply about it. The believing game is still a game. It simply asks you to give it a whirl: Read as if you believed, and see where it takes you. Then you can go back and ask whether you want to accept or reject elements in the argument or the whole argument or idea. Elbow is not recommending that we stop doubting altogether. He is telling us to stop doubting exclusively. We need a systematic and respected way to detect and expose strengths, just as we have a systematic and respected way of detecting faults.

     Does this sound familiar? Only a few chapters back, I talked about how the ECK Masters have taught the practice of belief, not like something that we need to passively accept, but as an active verb - To Believe. It is like trying on a cloak to see how it feels and to experience the state of consciousness where such a belief can take us. How else can you discover what is really there?

     Once we try believing what Paul wrote, we have a chance to experience that change in consciousness Paul was trying to communicate. Then we can realize how insignificant these outer facts really are, and how little they prove. We should never imagine that a person's human side contains or limits their true Self or their true Reality.

 

The Clash of Realities:

     The discussion over plagiarism went through a long debate. Looking back over the dialogue, however, I can see it was mainly a battle of perspectives.

     For example, Rich Smith responded to a challenge by David Lane, and began posting a running percentage of all paragraphs that even remotely resembled something that could have been copied. This sparked a new effort by David and his supporters to itemize and total all of the known similarities. To date, according to Rich's calculations, this total is still less than 2% of Paul's written works.

     Richard Pickett summarized the feelings of many ECKists:

     Given Doug's explanation of routine journalistic practices during Paul's time, it would not surprise me to find that less than 2% of what Paul wrote was not original. However, Paul's original arrangement of the compiled materials is indisputable. It is this unique arrangement of a wide array of source materials that is Paul's unique contribution to the field of religion.

     Not surprisingly, this did not go over well with the detractors. They still wanted to portray the matter of plagiarism as a huge issue, and the fact that plagiarism was a common practice amongst journalists in Paul's day seemed wrong to them. In fact, I was accused of misrepresenting the matter for the purpose of justifying or excusing what Paul did.

     Here is what one ex-ECKist asked me:

    If you are not in a defense posture however, then why did you try to portray Twitchell's copyright infringements as an accepted practice during the period in which he wrote the Eck books?

     Here was my response:

     Chuck, thanks for asking this question. As I explained in Chapter Six, I felt that David had done a great disservice by never once trying to represent Paul's viewpoint...

     Whenever a study is made of a person's life, there is always a study of their times and the conditions present in their world. This sheds important light on the matter, so that we can understand their actions from their viewpoint.

     Therefore, my reference to the article by Phillip Meyer was to show that, as surprising as it might seem to us, the fact is that the re-use of other writer's words, without giving credit to the original author was not only common - it was also recommended practice amongst Journalists in Paul's day.

     The sort of re-use that Meyer was talking about was not just derivations of ideas, etc. Meyer is quite clear, it means using the words, the exact words of other authors without crediting them. It means making the material sound as if it were new and original.

     You seem to be rejecting this article by Meyer, but it was printed in USA Today, a national newspaper, and Meyer holds a very credible and recognized position in Journalism and professorship of Journalism at a prestigious university.

     We are often surprised, as I wrote in my book, by the practices of professionals in industries that we are not familiar with. Clearly the practice of journalists in those days is something that surprises us. However, a little study of the matter shows that it made perfectly good sense in those days.

     There is nothing deceptive, that I am aware of, in what I've written.

     So, if you follow what I'm saying, I'm not trying to excuse anything that Paul did. I, personally, think that even though it was common practice in Paul's day there will be many who will never be able to accept this, or believe that it could be viewed as ethical. This is the problem with ethics. The line changes, but people forget that the line is always changing.

     That is the reason that the study of these facts and the times of a person are important, because we naturally overlook critical factors just like this.

     Even David recently admitted that plagiarism of itself was no longer the issue, in his mind. David thinks the real issue, now, is over the fact that readers thought they were reading Paul's words, or sometimes the words of Rebazar Tarzs such as in The Far Country, yet these turned out in some cases to be the words of Julian Johnson, or some other writer, instead.

     David put it this way, during one of his many posts on this subject:

    Again, the point I still don't get is this:

     Why not have Rebazar's REAL dialogues?

     You see, it is misleading to say Rebazar is talking when it is Julian Johnson.

     It is a very simple issue, regardless of Twitchell's motives.

     While I agree that Twitchell may have had many differing motivations, it still does not excuse the fact that he is misleading his reading audience.

     My response to David:

     So, David, would you say it was misleading when Mohammed claimed that the Koran came to him from Allah?

     Or is it possible that this was the best way he knew to describe the truth he wanted to share?

     Would you say it was misleading to claim that Jesus spoke the words credited to him in The Bible, after we find out that those words were never his, nor were they written by the Apostles, but were written some 100-300 years after Jesus lived?

     Or is it possible that the writers of the Gospels were trying to portray a greater truth, to give the reader a feeling of being right there seeing and hearing Jesus speak, and used the form of parables and outward stories to convey Jesus' teaching?

     Would you say it was misleading for Plato to claim that Socrates spoke those words credited to him, when we find out that indeed Socrates never did say them?

     Or is it possible that Plato was more interested in the truth expressed, and found it best put in the form of a dialogue rather than a dissertation, and wanted to give credit to his teacher?

     I think the problem here is that if we follow your outline of what is misleading, we will be forced to reject just about every spiritual teaching known to man. Why? Because you are trying to judge these writings of spiritual truths by your own culture-bound criteria...

     In other words, Paul cast the material in the form of a dialogue with an ECK Master because, quite simply, he felt it was a better way of portraying the truths he was trying to share...

     I think this is all that Paul cared about. I think that was his intention, and it was certainly his choice to make as an author and creative writer.

     If you can only accept Truth in the form that you demand, it is likely that you will miss its real depth and manifold forms.

     If we look at Paul's own words, from his Introduction to The Far Country, this becomes even clearer.

     For example, Paul says that he wrote The Far Country out of "The deep concern which I have for the human race." Notice he did not say it was because of Rebazar Tarzs' concern.

     Paul says that he tried to lay down "the patterns of the most breathtaking and far reaching esoteric teachings known to man," not Rebazar Tarzs' words and teaching. These statements give us glimpses into Paul's intention and motivation for writing The Far Country.

     However, when Paul describes Rebazar Tarzs as the "moving figure" in his book, we sense the importance of the role that the Living Master plays. This is why he states that "the relationship between the ECK chela and the MAHANTA, the Living ECK Master is clearly outlined."

     This explains why Paul used this same form of dialogue with Rebazar Tarzs in his books, Stranger By The River, and Dialogues With The Master, which were both published a few months before The Far Country.

     Therefore, we can see that the image of Rebazar Tarzs looms large in Paul's writings because the relationship of the Inner Master is central to the teachings of ECKANKAR. This is one of the most important elements of what Paul is trying to impart. The immense power and strength that comes through these images to the reader cannot be underestimated in the role they play with Paul's teachings. Paul is transmitting an essential inner truth through this form of writing.

     Paul writes, "Rebazar Tarzs never lets up with the reader, who is considered the chela, the God seeker." Paul didn't write that Rebazar Tarzs never let up with him, Paul, whom Rebazar Tarzs was addressing in the book. Therefore, Paul is the one who is addressing the reader. Paul is casting himself as the God seeker for the reader to identify with, in this story of spiritual discovery.

     Imagine how differently this book would have read if Paul had cast himself as the God-Realized Master. Clearly, Paul is not trying to say that these are his own teachings, but it is the forceful image of Rebazar Tarzs and the "constant revelation of the greater results of Soul Travel with each trip into the inner worlds," that Paul is trying to communicate.

     If there is any problem at all, it is that Paul doesn't specifically say that his book should not be read literally, like Mark Twain's famous introduction to his book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

     NOTICE

     Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

     By the Order of the Author.

     However, as we will soon see, Paul made statements not far from this.

     This whole issue is one that has special meaning for me, since I faced this strange paradox for myself when I first tried recording my own experiences and inner teachings with the ECK Masters.

     I soon learned that there is no way you can take down words while in the ECKshar state of consciousness, as Paul called it, as if it was some form of dictation. The information that comes through from such inner transmissions is far beyond mere words. Yet, like the poet searching for the right phrase, it is possible to let the body consciousness cast about for language to communicate something of the reality that is taking place. Later on one has to edit and rewrite, looking for a saying or a quote that captures the essence, or an image or feeling that can provide links to connect the reader with the spiritual currents.

     I believe this is exactly what Paul meant when he said that his writings in Dialogues With The Master were as close as possible to the original words Rebazar Tarzs spoke. Not that he was taking a literal dictation, but that he was trying to record, as closely as possible, the meaning of the wisdom he learned from the great ECK Master.

     In other words, the problem is how do you describe inner experiences as real without people treating them like physical experiences?

     You could say your story comes out of an inner experience. You might mention that the reader should not worry about the literal meaning of your story, since it is only the principles and teachings it describes that are important. But isn't this exactly why Paul wrote the following in his Introduction to The Tiger's Fang?:

     What is written on these pages is not as important as the recording of those worlds that few Souls, other than the saints, have ever visited...

     No spiritual traveler really cares a hoot whether we accept him or his words but he does desire that we listen, weigh and judge what he says. Here is the catch of the thing. For if we listen, weigh and judge his wisdom then his words are planted in us and we shall never again be the same. I rightfully state that we become "A Hound of Heaven," as Francis Thompson so aptly titled his little book.

     When a traveler speaks, we, in ignorance, think he speaks to the physical self. This is wrong. He addresses the Soul, not the mind nor the body, and awakens the Soul to its true destiny.

     However, to the literal minded, these experiences are merely fiction, and therefore lies. To such people, leading others to think that the inner teachings are real is a form of deception. Such a belief, however, invalidates the whole spiritual journey of Soul that Paul was trying to teach.

     This is indeed a significant dilemma and paradox.

     The conflict here arises because we are talking about something that is a new form of reality for many people. This helps explain why Paul wrote in his Introduction to The Tiger's Fang:

    Some will say this book is the wild fantasy of a highly developed imagination, but one must understand that there is nothing in the world of God without some degree of truth. Even fantasy is cast out of the material cloth of God, so how can fantasy be a complete untruth?

     This statement should stagger the mind of man and shake the foundation of the teachings of orthodox religions, philosophies, and metaphysical concepts.

     Can you see that Paul is talking about spiritual Truth here? That he is saying, even in fantasy Truth is present? That the so-called spiritual basis of most orthodox religions is no different than the Truth that can be found in fantasy and fiction?

     Now can you see why this would stagger the mind of man? It is truly a powerful insight into the nature of spiritual reality.

     David sees it as deception, and apparently can only see it as deception. On the other hand, from the ECK viewpoint, David's characterization of Paul is a deception, because David never represents Paul's true message.

     Thus, we are not dealing with lying here, as David maintains, but a huge gap in paradigms about the nature of Truth itself.

     From what I see, Paul has paved a path for new ways in communicating the truths gained from our inner experiences and the guidance of the spiritual travelers. Fortunately, there are many, like myself, who have seen this as Paul meant it.

     David's stance has changed in many ways since I first started posting my book. It appears to me that he has softened his comments considerably. However, David continues to formulate new arguments and new ways of seeing ECKANKAR in a negative light. This only proves that if one wants to spend one's creative energies making someone look bad, and they spend over 20 years working on it, they can always find something to harp on.

     What is not so obvious about this is that there are significant underlying reasons for David's approach. Reasons that reflect significant changes in our culture and what we mean by the search for truth. What the Golden Tongued Wisdom is really showing us here is a clash of realities.

     Allan Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago, gives us an interesting insight into the changes rippling through our colleges and universities. In his book, The Closing of the American Mind, he writes:

     Actually openness results in American conformism...Thus what is advertised as a great opening is a great closing. No longer is there a hope that there are great wise men in other places and times who can reveal the truth about life...Gone is the real historical sense of a Machiavelli who wrested a few hours from each busy day in which "to don regal and courtly garments, enter the courts of the ancients and speak with them."...

     Practically all that young Americans have today is an insubstantial awareness that there are many cultures, accompanied by a saccharine moral drawn from that awareness: We should all get along. Why fight?...

     One of the techniques [used by educators] of opening young people up is to require a college course in a non-Western culture...The point is to force students to recognize that there are other ways of thinking and that Western ways are not better. It is again not the content that counts but the lesson to be drawn. Such requirements are part of the effort to establish a world community and train its member - the person devoid of prejudice. But if the students were really to learn something of the minds of any of these non-Western cultures - which they do not - they would find that each and every one of these cultures is ethnocentric [in other words they believe in the superiority of their own beliefs]...

     The reason for...ethnocentrism is clear. Men must love and be loyal to their families and their peoples in order to preserve them...A father must prefer his child to other children, a citizen his country to others. That is why there are myths - to justify these attachments. And a man needs a place and opinions by which to orient himself. This is strongly asserted by those who talk about the importance of roots...A very great narrowness is not incompatible with the health of an individual or a people, whereas with great openness it is hard to avoid decomposition.

     In other words, without deep convictions in our own beliefs and world views, it is as if the sails of our boat were torn, and the wind of Spirit can no longer carry us along on its breath.

     Sea captains of old chose stars in the night sky to chart their voyages across the open sea, and our cultural and religious beliefs pick stars as guiding lights to help us find our way through the subtle terrain of our spiritual journey. But there are many today who are trying to tell us that no star is better than any other, no stars are even fixed points since all are in motion, and therefore we should not look to the heavens to guide us. All constellations, they tell us, are empty and meaningless projections of our own hopes and dreams.

     No wonder this kind of openness leads to decomposition.

     Yet, how can our understanding attain any depths of real nourishment with reductionistic thinking that says all things are relative? We miss the soul-stirring search for Truth Itself if we do not believe there is a Truth that can be known. And we certainly miss the value of dialogue if we think that words cannot reveal such Truth.

     David Lane has often promoted this kind of reductionistic thinking, and as a professor of sociology, this should be no surprise. Perhaps this is why David often seems far less concerned if he has falsely accused Paul Twitchell, since he fundamentally believes that all religious teachings lead people into fooling themselves. Why? Because we cannot really know truth, and therefore all beliefs are merely relative to the believer and mean nothing beyond that.

     Here is how David put it in a post to me on ARE:

     You see, Doug, I think that the whole affair is as Nietzsche says,

     HUMAN ALL TOO HUMAN.

     And this, I believe also applies to me, to you, to Charan [Singh], to Jesus, and to the Pope.

     Human beings inflating things in order to get through the day.

     That you think otherwise is underlined by your argument. I just happen to think it is silly.

     But that's okay.

     Otherwise these discussions wouldn't be interesting.

     Here was my response to David:

     Well, David, I think the fact that we don't agree does make it more interesting, but I find your answer amazing.

     You seem to be saying that all people are basically motivated only by base human motivations. Those who have been the great leaders of history should be reduced down to the same level as the greediest and most self-serving. Is this what you are saying?

     I get the part about Paul, as well as everyone else, being human. Paul said the same thing many times.

     I don't get how this justifies deconstructing the world's great leaders simply because they are human.

     Are you trying to say that to see the quality of greatness in another human being is always a form of deception?

     Do you really think that the basic urges of self-survival explain all the great acts of courage and devotion and loyalty and sacrifice for the sake of others that have been hailed down through history? Do you really think you can reduce all human emotions and insights and thoughts down to the same level as the bank robber and murderer?

      David answered like this:

     A bank robber and a murderer are motivated by WHAT?

     That is the key question.

     A guru and a spiritual leader are motivated by WHAT?

     That is the key question.

     Where do these "motivations" arise from?

     Transcendental planes or human architecture?

     Yes, I think the whole lot - from me, to O.J. to the Pope - act/react from human impulses...

     For me, it is a human arena, not a divine one.

     Whether the arena is Divine or human is not really the issue here, as I see it. What David is really arguing is that what we think of as meaning and understanding is really "inflation." That all of our motivations are merely biological, and that we want to believe in a purpose because it makes us feel better. In other words, David is arguing for the deflation of all that we think and do.

     The same day as the above post, David also wrote the following to me:

     You look for a mystical undercurrent for Paul...

     I think it is silly and sophomoric.

     I would say the same to anyone who tried to justify Charan's actions as well as someone being spiritual or mystical or cliff-hangerish

     No, Charan was HUMAN and that very humanness, I would argue, led him to behave the way he did.

     The same with Twitch.

     In terms of ontology, I see no difference between Charan and Twitch.

     I don't believe in a grand hierarchy of good and bad masters.

     Indeed, I think at the end of the day we are left with human beings, each trying their best to get through the day.

     I am just tired of the inflationary hype.

     These cats aren't god, in my book.

     They are merely posers who are driven by some very HUMAN and Social needs.

    I answered David's post like this:

    David, when have I ever said that Paul was god?

     I think Paul was very human, and openly showed his human qualities and joked about himself all the time.

     So, you don't believe in a "grand hierarchy of good and bad masters." And based on this belief, you can only see human qualities and human drives behind all the great works of art, science and religion. In other words, your belief is shaping the way you see the world.

     Fine. We all have myths, like this one of yours. We use them to help us understand the world and life.

     But why are you not able to respond in a respectful way toward the beliefs of others? Why are they "silly and sophomoric"? Don't you see that the blindness of a belief is not defined by how "silly and sophomoric" it appears to you, but by an inability to relate to the beliefs of others?

     I see a huge difference between the human drives that cause one person to only see from their own belief system, calling all others "silly and sophomoric," and the drives that cause another person to try understanding the viewpoints and perspectives of others.

     You might want to reduce these drives all down to the same level, but I see huge differences.

     You say: "You look for a mystical undercurrent for Paul."

     David, you are wrong about this. It is not something I am looking for. This is something that I see, and a great deal of my fascination with Paul comes from the amazing way that this quality permeates his writings. This doesn't mean that Paul is not also human. The two qualities can both exist together. They are not mutually exclusive.

     Although David's approach might be more direct and blatant than most educators, what he is saying represents a vast trend in academic teaching. This creates a serious danger for the students who face it, as Allan Bloom explains in his book:

     Science now appears as a threat to culture and a dangerous uprooting charm. In short, they [modern day students] are lost in a no-man's-land between the goodness of knowing and the goodness of culture, where they have been placed by their teachers who no longer have the resources to guide them. Help must be sought elsewhere.

     To put this another way, some scientists seem bent on overcoming the delusions of beliefs, especially cultural and religious beliefs. It is as if science has determined that belief itself is the problem.

     In its place, science promotes criticism. "Doubt everything," as David says. Challenge every belief. But such a practice leaves the student without any inner light to guide them, without a reality to search for. The thrill of catching glimpses of a Universal Truth have been replaced by a drab theory that everything is relative, everything is human.

     Allan Bloom put it this way:

    It is important to emphasize that the lesson the students are drawing from their studies is simply untrue. History and the study of cultures do not teach or prove that values or cultures are relative. All to the contrary...

     Thus there are two kinds of openness, the openness of indifference - promoted with the twin purposes of humbling our intellectual pride and letting us be whatever we want to be, just as long as we don't want to be knowers - and the openness that invites us to the quest for knowledge and certitude...This second kind of openness encourages the desire that animates and makes interesting every serious student...while the former stunts that desire.

     Here we gain an insight into our modern Age of Criticism, for this is exactly what is being taught by a growing number of educators in the Western world today. Challenge and criticize - not for the purpose of finding ultimate truths, but to prove that it is all relative and we are nothing but a mass of human motivations. The next step is then to prove that all of our urges are the result of neurological and chemical reactions, further reducing Soul down to mere biology.

     No wonder David would find himself at odds with the teachings of ECKANKAR, because the Path of ECK stands firmly opposed to his philosophy.

     The ECK Masters teach that we are Soul, and that Soul survives death and is part of a great spiritual reality that can be known and experienced directly by Soul. These are not teachings based on mere belief, but upon personal experiences that can be verified by anyone that learns the art of Soul Travel.

     In other words, the ECK Masters tell us that the real riddles to these questions of who we are and why we are here can only be answered by the innate wisdom of Soul, our true Self. The mental acrobatics and scientific theories that teach us to distrust our own awareness only split us from our own selves and separate our awareness from spiritual reality.

     The following story, from Allan Bloom's book, really captures exactly what I am saying here:

    When I was a young teacher at Cornell, I once had a debate about education with a professor of psychology. He said that it was his function to get rid of prejudices in his students. He knocked them down like tenpins.

     I began to wonder what he replaced those prejudices with. He did not seem to have much of an idea of what the opposite of a prejudice might be... Did this professor know what those prejudices meant for the students and what effect being deprived of them would have? Did he believe that there are truths that could guide their lives as did their prejudices?

     Had he considered how to give students the love of the truth necessary to seek unprejudiced beliefs, or would he render them passive, disconsolate, indifferent, and subject to authorities like himself, or the best of contemporary thought?...

     I found myself responding to the professor of psychology that I personally tried to teach my students prejudices, since nowadays - with the general success of his method - they had learned to doubt beliefs even before they believed in anything. Without people like me, he would be out of business...

     One has to have the experience of really believing before one can have the thrill of liberation. So I proposed a division of labor in which I would help to grow the flowers in the field and he could mow them down.

     Prejudices, strong prejudices, are visions about the way things are. They are divinations of the order of the whole of things, and hence the road to a knowledge of that whole is by way of erroneous opinions about it.

     Notice that Bloom is trying to lead us to the "whole of things," which is exactly the essence of Paul's message.

     Therefore, Bloom is saying that while we must have beliefs to arrive at understanding - beliefs being our way of temporarily seeing the world to make sense of it - still, it is real Knowingness, not just belief, that we are in search of. It is the ultimate Truth that we are after. We must be willing to cast aside our beliefs at every turn as we outgrow them and learn, but this doesn't mean we should cast aside belief itself.

     Mythology has a place in all of our lives, whether we want to admit it or not. We all carry myths around of how we see the world. What is so strange, however, is to see how unaware modern day academics and scientists are about their own myths that underlie their own actions. They often talk and act as if they have no myths, but in facts their myths are just as strong as anyone else's.

     The difference is that their myths shed no light on who we are, or why we are here in this world. They offer no self-awareness, nor any meaning that speaks to Soul. They are simply myths for the mind, leading to only outer truths.

     A discussion that took place between David and I illustrates this point. It began with the discussion of Jesus' words in The Bible, and how we now know that they weren't committed to print for over a hundred years after Jesus died. I pointed out:

     Researchers found copies of manuscripts that show at least some of the Sermon on the Mount was from a previous tradition, not to mention the star and the three wise men, virgin birth, the resurrection from the dead, etc.

     However, whether Jesus said those words or not doesn't change the teaching they are relaying. It is the meaning that is important to me. Believe it or not, this is the traditional way of religious teaching. It is the insight and inspiration gained from reading that is important, not its historical accuracy.

     I agree that we cannot know for sure what Jesus taught, and The Bible may not be historically accurate, but the teaching has still been of value to millions down through the centuries.

     David responded to my post like this:

    I have a much different view of the Bible and its value.

     I think it has, to be polite, mind fucked more people in history than any other book with the possible exception of the Koran.

     I think...it is a mind virus, and I find little of true value in it.

     Nietzsche's critique of Christianity, embodied in The Antichrist, illustrates for me what is contemptible about the Bible and those religions based on them.

     They are, to the core, anti-human.

     A later discussion between David and I picked this subject up again when David said:

    I think we should demand our spiritual leaders to be upfront and clear and honest with us.

     So, yes, if we find that the Gospels are cribbing dialogue from other sources (without attribution) we SHOULD KNOW THAT.

     I wrote back:

     You think we should demand our spiritual teachers to be and act certain ways. I, personally, think you are bonkers.

     I think our teachers should teach as they think best, and students should chose the teachers that they think they can learn from...

     Let's just imagine that we were talking about authors, instead of spiritual teachers. Do you think that readers should demand that authors must be up front about why they wrote a book, where they got their ideas from and who's books influenced them?

     Do I think these things are interesting to know? Yes, of course I find them interesting, and maybe even helpful. But that doesn't mean I have the right to demand that they write as I tell them to.

     David responded:

     You apparently think that gurus, prophets, and teachers should have the right to teach the way they deem fit.

     Hmmm, so given that pretext, don't we also (as students, as critics) have the right to argue the way we deem fit?

     You see, gurus are not exempt (because they are teachers) from being criticized.

     Teachers, gurus, and prophets are not shy about pointing out the flaws and faults of others or other systems of inquiry.

     So why should they have the pulpit, but we shouldn't?

     You see, Doug, I think you give way too much credit to these gurus...

     I like to look at things straight on.

     Where you and I differ is that I think I am much more willing to call a spade a spade when it comes to my own path than you are.

     You are constantly trying to reconcile or defend Twitch against the obvious.

     Whereas in my case, when confronted with similar evidence against Charan I have opted to take the straight up approach.

     Which is?

     Charan fucked up.

     He made mistakes.

     He should have been more frickin honest.

     See how simple it is?

     Try it, you might find yourself liberated in the process.

     Here is how I responded to David:

     Do I think you are much more willing to call a spade a spade concerning your own path than I am?

     No, I don't think so, David. I'm not impressed with your apparent honesty, because I find it rather shallow.

     Criticizing your own beloved guru does not impress me. However, the love you have shown for him, and the way you have held back from criticizing him, which is obvious to many of us from your other posts, does impress me.

     A lot of people are willing to talk about the imperfections of their path. That's no big deal. But I don't know anyone that really believes their path is wrong and bad.

     If they did, they would not be following that path anymore.

     So, by criticizing Sant Mat, you are not criticizing your own path...That's a false front. You're criticizing something that you no longer believe in...

     David, there is a big difference between constructive criticism, which is respectful, versus demanding that other people change, whether they like it or not.

     There is also a big difference between constructive criticism, especially given in private, and trying to cast someone in a negative light, publicly, to turn public opinion against them.

     You simply live with this mythology that some great crime is being perpetuated by spiritual leaders. That you are the David attacking those Goliaths. But this is merely your own religious belief, David. This is what drives you in your religious zeal.

     You are not criticizing your own path at all, you are criticizing the paths of others, whether they want it or not...

     Your path, however, is trying to beat home your points, and trying to sway public opinion to your cause.

     Personally, I do not find that conducive to real learning at all. It is a public gesture with little insight to be gained.

     If you see what has happened here, you will see that David is basically arguing that everyone's opinion is equal, and therefore one opinion is just as valid as the rest.

     It is not the equality of people's rights that are in question, however, but the search for understanding and spiritual insight. If we think everyone's advice is equal in spiritual knowledge, then we are saying that no way of seeing the world is any better than any other. And this means there can be no true spiritual teachers that know the path of inner revelation.

 

Of Shadows and Light:

     This Clash of Realities is at the root of the deep divide in our society today. But where has such a conflict come from? What is the underlying cause of such differing world views?

     Cheryl Gruendemann posted another Internet link to an interesting article that she had discovered in her searches. She said that the piece explained to her a lot of what was taking place on ARE, especially David's arguments. Indeed it does.

     The article, "Two Kinds of Criticism: Reflective Self-Scrutiny vs. Impulsive Self-Validation," by Joseph Baldacchino, is an excerpt from Humanitas, Volume XI, No.2, 1998. Joseph Baldacchino starts it off like this:

     Do the good, the true, and the beautiful exist as universals applicable to all times and places? If so, are they philosophically knowable as such and potentially accessible to all persons through the media of spoken and written communication? Or do these designations represent merely the arbitrary and subjective assertions of competing individuals and groups?

     In older Western thought, both classical and Christian, such universals not only were recognized as real but were seen as the object of any education - and any human life - worthy of the name. The Enlightenment thought of the eighteenth century, though in many ways a rebellion against the older traditions, also centered on the existence of universal truths that could be discovered through human rationality.

     Yet in the humanities departments of contemporary American academia - and in contemporary culture at large - an increasingly influential school of thought asserts that universality does not exist or that, if it does exist, it is unknowable and therefore useless as a guide to human life and learning.

     Joseph Baldacchino goes on to point out that after study and research into the writings of previous times, it became clear that writers of old used criticism in a very different way than the "postmodernists" do today. Joseph Baldacchino reviewed the research of James Seaton, who found:

     "[The older thinkers] acknowledge the authority of literature, especially the literary works generally acknowledged as classics, as a source of truth about the human condition...[T]heir authority is derived from...the presumption, which they share with at least part of the public, that a close and thoughtful reading of literature and of belles lettres generally - history, philosophy, biography, etc. - can throw light on moral issues and political dilemmas."...

     So what characteristics, at bottom, distinguishes the two varieties of criticism and, in Seaton's assessment, makes the older tradition more valuable? The fundamental difference, he concludes, is that those in the older, humanistic tradition look to literature for cultural self-criticism, while the postmodernists look for reinforcement of their pre-existing impulses...

     Fish [Stanley Fish, a self-described postmodernist] concludes that "critical self-consciousness is at once impossible." In everyday language, what Fish is saying is that the common perception that we humans can think for ourselves - that we can reflect freely and change our minds based on that reflection - is an illusion...

   Fish argues that history offers no objective way to rate one way of life or political regime as morally superior to another. For him, regardless of historical particulars, the answer to "Who gets to make the rules? . . . who gets to say who gets to make the rules?" is always the same: "something like 'whoever seizes the opportunity and makes it stick.'" In short, the sole determinant of history is force...

     Fish goes so far as to say... "there is always a gun at your head...in the end, we are always self-compelled, coerced by forces - beliefs, convictions, reasons, desires - from which we cannot move one inch away."

     What a strange gun to aim at the head of new students entering our colleges and universities! So, if it is only force that determines what beliefs are held in society, then does this explain David's efforts to criticize Paul and ECKANKAR even to the point of distortions, exaggerations and misinformation?

     Joseph Baldacchino puts it this way:

     By refusing to acknowledge that history has meaning, postmodernists skirt the obligation to adjust their own actions to the needs of the real world. Instead of reworking their actions to accord with truth, they merely adjust the truth to accommodate their desires, however arbitrary. No need for self-doubt if "there is nothing outside the text." Postmodernist textualism is a license to lie without guilt - to others and, perhaps most importantly, to oneself.

     No wonder David rejects Paul's point of view, but is willing to believe his own imagined selfish motives for Paul. No wonder David is willing to play word games that clearly mislead and distort the truth, while still feeling that he is proving something important and true.

     If you think this is going too far, or is too critical of David, then you have not seen the discussions on ARE. Numerous exchanges could illustrate this point. Here is one example:

     It began with a comment from David:

     I really don't think Twitchell "sacrificed" when he created Eckankar...

     [T]here was certainly a financial incentive and that is very obvious to me given Paul's own words about paying his own way.

     Clearly, he was making more money in 1970 than he was in 1962/63 when he was borrowing money from Gail.

     It may not be the sum total of his motivations, but it certainly played a factor.

     I responded like this to David:

     I thought you had studied Paul's life. Paul wrote some 6 books per year, almost 2 complete discourse series per year, along with dozens of articles, dozens of talks at seminars around the world, and probably hundreds of letters PER YEAR, for the six years that he led ECKANKAR.

     Besides that, he was running the organization, setting up and leading the youth toward involvement in the organization, appointing and meeting with his leadership, and developing plans for the future.

     Do you have any idea how much time and effort such a feat takes?

     Even Paul's own doctor told him he needed to slow down, that he was working too hard. But he kept going until his death.

     And then, just when ECKANKAR was starting to become successful, he gave it away! He turned over his ownership to a Board of Directors, and made it a non-profit organization...

     [W]hy try to distort the picture of his life to the point of casting innuendos without any support but your own imagination?

     Please, give us a moment of Self-Scrutiny here, David.

     What are your motivations for saying such things?

     David responded:

     I really do believe Paul had a financial incentive to start Eckankar and I don't see why this bends you so out of shape...

     Now he may have had other motivations as well and I won't deny those.

     I just made the argument that a financial motivation was clearly one of them.

     Your reaction is very telling, Doug...

     I am sure Twitchell was taxed...

     Fair enough, and as for the sacrifice part...I am sorry but I don't see Paul as Mother Teresa....

     I don't consider promoting your own name and your own religion as a sacrifice.

     Geez, given that criterion then Bill Gates has surely sacrificed a lot.... hmmmm...

     Finally, I am sure many people work very hard in their lives....

     Personally, I think a single mother with a few kids works a lot harder than the Paul Twitchells of the world.

     Paul had a nice life.... he got to travel and talk about himself and his status in his new religion....

     I think that is easier than working at Taco Bell supporting three kids and having nobody listen to you and nobody think you are God-enlightened...

     Relax, Doug.

     There really isn't anything wrong with admitting that he had a financial incentive along with other incentives.

     My answer went like this:

     David, you obviously missed the whole point of my post.

     I would have written the same thing if you were talking about my brother, or a close friend. Why cast negative innuendos on anyone, when the evidence shows nothing negative at all?

     I was asking you this question because I was looking for an answer with some element of real Self-Scrutiny.

     What is your reason for taking such a cheap shot on Paul when there is nothing at all to show there was anything negative about this matter?...

     You compare Paul to Mother Teresa. Well, I'm sure her organization was bringing in more money in 1970 than in 1960, 61 and 62, as well. So what? Does this suggest that she was doing it for the money? That's ridiculous!

     Your comments are bogus, and they are avoiding the question. I don't see you taking pot shots at Mother Teresa. What is your real motivation for making cracks like this about Paul?

     Let me put this another way: It seems to me as if you just can't walk by Paul's house without throwing a stone at his windows. You just can't help yourself. You've got to throw a stone. You've got to try breaking another window from his house...

     My question is: Why on earth can't you walk by Paul's house, or talk about Paul, without throwing another stone at him?...

     Now you are suggesting that there was nothing wrong with Paul's behavior at all.

     So, then why did you bring it up in the first place?

     I'm not asking this question as a game, David. I'm hoping that you could shed a little light of Self-Scrutiny on the subject...

     So, by your reasoning, Paul's efforts are lower than the efforts of a single mom working at Taco Bell to support her kids.

     And where would your efforts to attack and throw stones at Paul be on this scale of worthiness?...

     Is this just a sport, or is this some kind of mission you are on? It is all so meaningless, David, and I know you are an intelligent person, so I really feel like I'm missing something...

     Can you spend a moment of Self-Scrutiny and share with us what your motivations are for why you are doing these things?

     David responded to this post like this:

     I do think there is meaning in pointing to the financial incentive behind creating and sustaining Eckankar.

     I think it is a factor and, I would suggest, an important one...

     As for my "motivation" for pointing out Paul Twitchell's monetary incentives, I think they are probably manifold.

     The primary one would be that Gail insisted (Paul's words, not mine) that Paul do something with his abilities and that Paul was relatively out of money at the time he met Gail.

     I think one of the reasons Paul charged membership fees and the like is precisely because he didn't have much money...

     You then go on about Paul's "sacrifices" and the like.

     Again, I don't view his work as that.

     Or, more precisely, I think it isn't a "sacrifice" when you are doing what you love and getting some money for it.

     I also don't think Mother Teresa felt she was sacrificing in that altruistic sense....I think she LOVED what she was doing and she received enormous compensation for it (from the world, from their love, from flying around the world).

     I think the person at Taco Bell probably DOES think he or she is sacrificing!!! and that is who we should respect! (I am slightly teasing here, Doug).

     I don't think Paul is subhuman, but quite frankly Doug I don't think the guy working at the front counter at 7/11 is somehow LESS than Twitchell, or Kirpal Singh, or Charan Singh.

     Quite frankly, I think the guy who works at Manny, Moe, and Jacks for 30 years and lives in Duarte, California, and drinks a 6 pack of beer is just as valuable as ANY of these proclaimed god-men.

     This guy doesn't think he is god, he doesn't think he is enlightened, but he goes about his business and is nice to his friends, family, and others...

     So, yes, Doug, I think these god men are not different than anyone else.

     Indeed, I think I admire the local teller or box boy more...because they (unlike their religious counterparts) don't indulge in hyperbolic entitlements.

     Now on to the other subject that you raise: Doug, I actually understand your point here about the constant criticism of Paul Twitchell.

     You know, I had left this newsgroup a year and a half ago.

     I had no intentions of coming back...

     Then, of course, you came out with your analyses (which I am enjoying)....

     I basically RESPOND to things.

     Of course, I think the nature of the "god-claim" is itself prone to being critically appraised, especially since those who dress themselves in such titles seem never to be able to live up to it.

     More to the point, the reason Paul Twitchell gets roasted or toasted or criticized has MORE to do with his claims than they do with him per se.

     Or, even more precisely, the theological claims of the Eck Master seem contradicted by the living example of him or her in daily life.

     And, that, I would suggest, is why Twitchell and others get defrocked or dethroned.

     The greater the claim, the greater the scrutiny...

     So, I think you will always see religious leaders (of any persuasion) get more criticism than others, especially if they cannot live up the exalted heights that they claim...

     Hopefully, I have addressed some of your concerns.

     David's point about why religious leaders are criticized more often makes some sense, but unfortunately it is the same justification used to attack all leaders today. Since no one should be considered any greater than anyone else, that means we should chop all of our leaders down to size.

     The real point here is not that men and women, themselves, should be held up as perfect, but that their lives make great examples of those blessed by creativity, courage and inspiration. These same sources inspiring our greatest leaders come from beyond the normal human day-to-day consciousness. However, they make great examples precisely because their inspiration is accessible to any of us.

     Therefore, all the credit belongs to the source itself, that great ocean of love and mercy that pours into the hearts of those who search for and love truth. Our greatest leaders, then, are symbols of our own true birthright.

     Unfortunately, while this makes an interesting aside, David was once more avoiding the main question that I had asked him. Here was how I responded back:

     David, thanks for answering. Although you faithfully restated things you said before, I kept looking for your answer to my question. I asked you for a moment of self-scrutiny, if you were willing, to share a real explanation of your motivation.

     I didn't see that in your response. Did I miss something? Are you saying that this post represents your motivation? If so, how?

     For example, when you wrote this:

     As for my "motivation" for pointing out Paul Twitchell's monetary incentives, I think they are probably manifold.

     Well, I thought, all right, we're going to hear David's motivations now. But then this is what you wrote:

     The primary one would be that Gail insisted (Paul's words, not mine) that Paul do something with his abilities and that Paul was relatively out of money at the time he met Gail.

     But, David, that's not YOUR motivation. That's Paul's motivations we are talking about again.

     I did sense a slight tremor of self-scrutiny when you wrote this:

     Doug, I actually understand your point here about the constant criticism of Paul Twitchell.

     But all this led to, David, was your revelation:

     I basically RESPOND to things.

     And of course you made the following statement:

     And, that, I would suggest, is why Twitchell and others get defrocked or dethroned.

     The greater the claim, the greater the scrutiny.

     But this isn't showing us why you keep trying to dethrone Paul, David. This is simply showing us why you think it will keep happening by others.

     Do you see what I mean? What is so strange about all this, David, is that Paul's motivations are such a large part of what you write about in your book. You accused Paul of a variety of motivations, including a cover-up to deny his past, intentionally trying to hoodwink his readers, and breaking with Kirpal "mainly for financial reasons."

     You seem to be willing to assign negative motivations to Paul without a care in the world. However, as I've shown in my book, you have no evidence that comes even close to proving any of these things are true. You continue to profess knowledge of Paul's motivations, but for some reason you hold back sharing your own motivations for doing any of this...

     What even concerns me more, however, is the way that your twisting of words undermines meaningful dialogue. For example, you started this latest exchange by stating two things: First, that you thought Paul was clearly motivated by money to start ECKANKAR, even though he may have had other motivations. Secondly, you added that you didn't think Paul made any significant sacrifices in his efforts to launch the teachings of ECK.

     Statements such as these leave a clear impression when they are read. However, now, after further investigation, we find that you have no idea what Paul's motivation for money really was. You only know that Paul had some basic need to live, therefore he needed some money, and he didn't have much when he started.

     Well, that...tells us nothing whatsoever. It certainly doesn't mean that Paul started ECKANKAR even partially to make money. It only shows us that Paul charged up front for his books and discourses, to some extent, because Paul needed some money to live, if he was going to continue full-time working with ECKANKAR. There is a huge difference between this and starting ECKANKAR to make money, which you have tried to make sound the same...

     As for the point about sacrifices, you now tell us that you don't think there is any real sacrifice when a person enjoys and believes in what they are doing. Well, this reduces down to meaninglessness what the word, sacrifice, even means.

     For example, you now admit that even Mother Teresa enjoyed what she was doing, so there was no real sacrifice there. But for some reason the single mom supporting three kids working for Taco Bell counts as sacrifice to you.

     Don't you see that once we find out that this mom intentionally chose to raise those kids because she really wanted to and thought it worth while, then according to this same logic there is no sacrifice there either?

     Do you see my point? You are merely reducing everything to meaninglessness. Paul is no greater than the box boy, you say. Based on what criteria, David?

     Based on spiritual leadership? That's what we are talking about, isn't it?

     Statements such as these, and your defense of them, seriously undermines the ability to have a meaningful dialogue.

     Is that what the problem is? Do you, and your followers, have enough respect in a knowable Truth that you can have respect for words as well? Do you see how misleading statements, the twisting of words, reducing to meaninglessness, and numerous other similar tactics simply undermine our ability to have a public dialogue that leads to real meaning?...

     When I asked you to reveal your real motivations, it was because I wondered if you had an ideal of your own that was driving you. A higher purpose and greater meaning that moved you to do what you continue to do. That, I thought, would at least lead us to a productive dialogue...

     I hope my own dialogue makes it clear that I think words can reveal Truth, and that there is a greater meaning, which public dialogue can produce...

     As always, I say these things in hopes of producing a greater self-awareness for everyone. I hope you won't take my criticisms as unfair or unkind. And as always, I look forward to your response.

     David responded:

     Dear Doug:

     Paul's intentions are only ascertainable by looking at his actions. You and I cannot know what is in his heart or his intentional stance.

     That is unknown to us.

     Indeed, the interior cognition or intentional stance (metaphorically, the "heart" of a man) of ANYBODY (I am even tempted to say of ourselves as well) is UNKNOWN to us AS IT IS.

     What we get, instead, are outward signs/symbols/actions which we then interpret in certain ways to determine what we think may be his/her intentional stance.

     And that is certainly an impasse that all of us confront.

     It is the human dilemma of communication.

     Even words can betray the one who produces them, so that even if one were to say "this and this is my motivation" we would still be stuck to his OUTWARD symbols....

     We never get the "inner" man.

     Or, as Daniel Dennett suggests, there may be NO inner man...

     In any case, I agree with you.

     We are certainly at an impasse.

     Before we continue with David's response, I think we need to take a moment to digest what David is saying here. He is now suddenly arguing that no one can ever really know someone else's motivations. In fact, we may not even be able to know our own. This, after just telling us that some of Paul Twitchell's motivations for starting ECKANKAR were financial.

     David then says that he agrees with me on this. However, that was never something that I said. In fact, what I have been saying is that all the evidence shows Paul was never driven by the desire for money, even in his youth. Yet, now when the evidence comes out to show that David's motivational accusations are without foundation, now suddenly we cannot know?

     And now we find out that David cannot share his own motivations because, apparently, he cannot even understand his own?

     David continued:

     And when I make the argument about Twitchell's financial motivation I am clearly conjecturing based upon the fossilized remains of what we know...

     But, yes, I quite agree with you here.

     I do NOT know the heart of Paul's motivations.

     I can only conjecture about them.

     Yes, I do NOT know the heart of Paul Twitchell.

     I only know the fossilized remains that have survived and from those I have discovered that much of what he claimed to be the case seems (at least to me) to be INACCURATE AND/OR MISLEADING.

     This probably explains the wide gulf between the pro-Eck and the anti-Eck factions.

     Eckists see the descriptions in a different light (mandalic reasoning?), whereas those Doubtful Of Eck (I will call them "DOE'S") tend to see Paul's writings as a form of bullshitting.

     David is doing a good job, himself, of misleading here. The issue is not whether we are using "mandalic reasoning" or not. The issue is whether we are correctly interpreting what Paul was trying to communicate, and his reasons for doing so. Agreeing with Paul is a separate issue.

     I can't go along with David that we are trapped by our biases and cannot see or know truth. One thing I know for sure, however, is that we must look into our own motivations clearly and deeply before we can ever attempt to understand the intention and meaning of others. How can we try looking into the hearts of others when we don't even believe it is possible to understand our own motivations?

     David continued:

     If one believes Paul as a guide then whenever there are incongruencies in the narrative they may indeed look for a deeper or a subtler meaning, whereas those who do not see Paul as a guide (but rather have been DIS-appointed [literally] by his guidance and descriptions) will tend to look for more MATERIALISTIC (non-spiritual) explanations.

     This, Doug, may explain why I have (and am) looking at a financial motivation.

     I don't think it was his sole motivation, of course.

     Well, if this is David's explanation, then he is simply admitting that he is looking for base selfish motivations in Paul because this fits with David's beliefs about Paul, not because they are true or accurate descriptions.

     David is also saying that since Paul is a public figure who has disappointed David and others, then this explains why David is trying to look for Paul's base motivations.

     And yet, for over 20 years David has been telling ECKists that they were blinded by their faith in ECK, and they needed to face the facts. Now David is admitting it is all a matter of interpretation, and that he is probably just supporting his own beliefs, just like he has accused ECKists of doing.

     David continued:

     In any case, let me underline once again that this gulf between us may be due to the fact that I have found Paul to be unreliable in his descriptions.

     Of course, this does not mean that I "know" the heart of Paul.

     I certainly agree with you, Doug.

     I do NOT know that.

     And, yes, I would most definitely pepper my statements differently if I wrote a new book on Eckankar.

     Based on how David misrepresented his facts, how he has distorted the picture of Paul and ECKANKAR, and the way he made up negative motivations for Paul without anything but his own personal biases - well, yes, based on this I can understand what it means to feel distrust toward someone because they are an unreliable source. But is not David simply saying that he does not agree with Paul's teaching, and this is why he finds Paul an unreliable source? Isn't this the whole basis for his being disappointed?

     However, just because I don't buy into David's teaching doesn't mean that I feel David is trying to mislead people intentionally. I, personally, think David is doing what he believes is right and true. In the same way, David has no good justification for portraying Paul as intentionally trying to deceive others. Simply because we don't agree doesn't mean that we should go around painting the motives of others as evil and selfish.

     David continued:

     Now on my front...I do believe in the interior journey, but I have come to doubt the DESCRIPTIONS or ONTOLOGICAL IMPUTATIONS that have been intertwined with such a quest.

     I believe in the journey, but I doubt the paintings on the numinous wall.

     It is a strange space, actually.

     If you look at my romantic writings of the 1980s, and compare them with my writings in the mid 90s and beyond you will see a contradiction (as in contrasting dictations).

     What happened?

     I doubted the very NOTION of a permanent self/soul.

     In other words, I doubted the internal journey's METAPHYSICS.

     Like Marx turning Hegel on his head to get his materialist economic theory, I turned Ken Wilber on his head to find a neural basis for human consciousness.

     But in this endeavor I have become ecstatically CON-fused.

     And thus I am in the process as we speak of writing my mid-life autobiography...aptly titled

     I DON'T KNOW: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CONFUSED SOUL.

     Now, instead of seeing this as a terrible turn of events, I have become rather stoked by it all...

     In any case, Doug, perhaps a radical "self" scrutiny can reveal that there is NO self at all.

     So, here we have it. David's mythology and David's current religion is that "there is NO self at all."

     To have faith in an Ultimate Discoverable Truth - arrived at not by the dictation of some outer authority but through personal experience and self-discovery - such a belief rests upon a fundamental trust in our own Self to Know when such Truth has been found. It requires faith in a Real Self.

     Does this explain why David cannot believe in teachings that are based on the search for Truth and Knowingness? If there are spiritual travelers and teachers who KNOW, such as the ECK Masters, they would prove David's mythology wrong. Is this why it is so important to discredit them?

     Is this why David accuses Paul of starting ECKANKAR to make money, when he has no real evidence to support this? As one ECKist put it, where are the fancy cars and clothes, the Swiss bank accounts, the lavish lifestyles? Paul showed no interest in any of these things. Is David just looking for base human motivations because in his belief system there cannot be a higher purpose?

     These matters are not quite as mysterious as David is now making them out to be. For example, take a look at the life of Bill Gates, as David alluded to earlier. We can see that a lot of Bill's efforts have worked toward building a financial empire. Sure, we can say that Bill sacrificed for his dream, but it is also fair to say that part of Bill's motivation in helping start Microsoft was to make money.

     Now, look at the life of Mother Teresa. We don't see this. Therefore, it would not be fair to say that she started her mission of helping the sick and underprivileged in order to make money. It's not even fair to say that this was part of her motivation, since there is nothing to support such a statement.

     What jumps out from David's book and writings down through the years, however, is David's incredible sensitivity towards Paul's practice of charging for his books and discourses. It does not strike most people as a strange or immoral practice, but it has always been an issue for David. This all springs, as David has told us, from the Sant Mat teachings, where to derive any profit at all from the teaching is considered wrong. This seems to be where it all started for David, and is clearly the reason why David first drew attention to the fact that Paul made a profit, and used those profits to live on.

     Yet, today, David admits he has changed his mind about this. David recently wrote:

     Now, ironically Doug, I think that Paul's approach...of charging money...is MORE HONEST in the long run than one might imagine at first glance.

     I have clearly changed my views in this regard...

     The charging of money for membership is, in the long run, more honest to the would-be consumer in this precise sense: it tells the seeker that the money is UPFRONT and doesn't use (let's hope) the manipulative tactic of collecting donations via the back end (using Indian buzz words like seva is, to me, simply dishonest--and we find it in way too many Indian Sant Mat groups.)

     David had originally thought Paul's practice of charging money up front was wrong because David also saw ECKANKAR as simply a cheap rip-off of Sant Mat. David makes this clear throughout his book. This is why David began to assert that Paul broke with Sant Mat about the practice of charging up front, because he felt Paul started ECKANKAR in order to make money. However, since showing in detail the significant differences between Sant Mat and ECKANKAR, David no longer makes these claims either.

     After dialogue and seeing from Paul's perspective, David has now come to realize that charging for books and discourses is not immoral.

     We can see the same sort of shift over the matter of plagiarism. At first it was proof that Paul merely ripped off Julian Johnson, until we come to realize how little of Paul's writings are even involved, and how significantly different Paul's use of those materials was. Once again, these things are not difficult matters to discern.

     For example, if we look at the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, we can see that his masterpiece of the Madonna and Child was done in a long standing tradition of painting the Mother Mary with baby Jesus in her arms. Literally hundreds of such paintings had been done before Leonardo. Yet we consider Leonardo's painting original and unique. We don't call it copying, or plagiarism, but see it as a great work of art.

     This, of course, explains why David agrees that plagiarism isn't really the issue any more. However, now it is a new issue, over whether we are really reading the literal words of Rebazar Tarzs or not.

     In the dialogue with David that I showed above, we can also see that David is moving away from his claims that Paul intentionally tried to cheat or deceive others. David now admits that he does not really know Paul's intentions. Now, David's argument is that he finds Paul's writings to be unreliable, and therefore misleading, and yet how much more misleading could David's own book have been?

     There is a clear pattern here, which is exactly what we saw with the claims of the anti-cult movement. First they claimed brainwashing was common and that deprogramming was necessary. Then they were forced to retract this, and started using the terms Mind Control and exit counseling. Now they are backing up further and calling it tactics of persuasion.

     Although their claims have been proven wrong, and they were forced to change their arguments significantly, the one thing that stays consistent through the decades is that cults (or in David's case - Paul and ECKANKAR) are bad. Their whole focus is on characterizing their opponents in a negative light - not in trying to bring forth understanding. They never stop trying to show the dark side and the shadows.

     Down through the ages, philosophers and theologians have taught over and over again that the light is real, not the shadows. Shadows appear to be separate things, but they are merely the absence of light. Therefore, if we are in search of the real source, if we want to know Truth, we must look to the light, not the shadows.

     Yet, what is common practice today? Today we look for base motivations to explain even the greatest inspirations and acts of devotion or sacrifice. Today we use biological or chemical reactions to explain the source of life and intelligence. Today we call those who believe in an Ultimate Knowable Truth deluded and caught up in their own inflation. Today we must find a way of reducing down every great leader to the level of everyone else.

     For the first time in history, we live in an age where we seem intent on proving that shadows are real, but the light is an illusion!

     Something of great significance has been lost over the last few centuries. Something unmistakable. Something vital.

      Back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, public dialogue was spirited and captured a deep interest throughout all of America. An early cartoon from that era, illustrating how pervasive this was, showed a farmer pushing a plow with a book propped up on it, so that he could read while plowing. It was a contagious enthusiasm for words and for ideas.

     This explains why even farm hands would travel miles on horseback to hear the public debates, and listen to them for hours. It was not uncommon for such lectures and debates to even break for dinner and come back in the evening to finish.

     What was it that captured the hearts and minds of Americans back then?

     It was a belief that such dialogue was revealing and helping them understand Truth. It was a feeling that words were showing them meaning and illuminating their lives.

     Listen to the following words from even a more recent time. They are from Brown Landone's epic series on Civilization - An Appreciation of Art, Volume 1, written in 1923:

     Appreciation is a God-like quality and enduring gratitude a most exalted attribute of man.

     It is a basic truth that nothing so ennobles a man as thankful recognition of the services rendered him by his fellows. Nothing adds so much to the dignity and honor of a nation as grateful acknowledgment and appreciation of the sources of its life and culture. But it is not enough that a few members of the society of a nation should be grateful. True appreciation, to be enduring and to be ennobling to a nation, must be widespread.

     Can you imagine such a statement being made today?

     This is a statement of one who is looking toward the light, not the shadows. It is a statement made by one who is looking to understand and discover Truth. It is a statement made from a person who believes in the greatness and inspiration derived from others.

     Once again we find that Paul was ahead of his time in understanding these matters. Here is what he wrote in his Letters to Gail, dated, April 4, 1963:

     Today, we have what is known in literature as the anti-hero. This anti-hero is a symbol of human ineffectuality and cowardice in the face of a world the individual can no longer control nor comprehend. He is the protagonist to whom things are done, not the one who does things!...

     You notice that the anti-hero represents the common man whose intense fears and despondencies are brought out in a hurrying, incomprehensible world. Hence, a great spiritual vacuum has settled on the world, and stories, novels and movies are now featuring the anti-hero instead of the hero!...

     The political crises which continue daily are only the result of an underlying moral erosion of the spiritual defeat man has to face. More significant than the Berlin wall is the wall each individual erects around himself to keep out strong sentiments. Man is pleased with being feeble! However, not all men - some have made the effort to break down this inertia in individuals, like T.S. Eliot, the poet, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hemingway, Santayana, and dozens of others...

     What does this have to do with spirituality? Plenty, for the individual who takes up the study of the divine ECK wisdom finds himself in an antagonistic state with the worldly life! It cannot be helped - the two do not mix!...

     My meaning in the foregoing is intended to convey the thought that it isn't necessary to be as others want you to be - provided you know how to avoid the troubles which hard-boiled thinkers experience at the hands of the conventional bloodhounds. The way to escape this difficulty is to be non-resistant! If you remain non-resistant, then the problems which others try to pile upon you will flow past, through you, etc. No savior has actually been a popular person during his lifetime. The path to The ALONE is a lonely one - hence this is why I term the deity as The ALONE! For certain It is ALONE, as one would realize for nothing can be near IT in all Its glory. As you climb the ladder toward The ALONE - or approach the Divine Center of all things, you will tend to become more of a lonely person! This often causes one much grief at first, but thereafter you will be more self-contained, have greater strength and not require the friendship, love or feelings of others, except those whom you want near.

     I've gone into great detail to make my point, which is: WITHIN THE ECK SPIRITUAL LIFE YOU GAIN HEROIC QUALITIES! YOUR NATURE BECOMES HEROIC! BUT TO BE HEROIC ONE MUST ENDURE LONELINESS! ONE MUST ENDURE THE ARROWS AND FLINGS OF OUTRAGED FORTUNES OF LIFE! TO ENDURE THE PROBLEMS YOU MUST DEVELOP HEROIC QUALITIES! Therefore, the difference today is that society has become the hero, and the individual is the anti-hero - the very opposite to that which should exist in life! A hero is never popular because his qualities of raw life are not of the type which the ordinary man can accept! The common man doesn't want to accept this for it would interfere with his comforts and ease of life.

     And thus we have now revealed this clash of realities, this clash of light and shadows. It is important for the seeker of Truth to see these influences in this world we call our temporary home. However, this is only a part of the picture. This describes only the outer shadows on the wall, you might say.

     What are the Inner Realities that have brought about these outer trends and phases in our society?

     What is the hidden side of this story of the Making of a Spiritual Movement?

     What do the ECK Masters have to share to this narrative?

     To get a glimpse of these answers we need one more chapter to this book.

 

 

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