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Dialogue in the Age of

Criticism

 

Chapter Five

     David calls this chapter "The Cover-up." It is obviously a critical chapter in David's exposť, since what sort of exposť can you have without a cover-up? Here is what David has to say:

      Today, in Eckankar's extensive literature, there is no mention whatsoever of Swami Premananda or Kirpal Singh. Most Eckists have never even heard of either of these two gurus.   The reason why is because from 1964 to 1971, in a slow but finally accelerated process, Twitchell had both names, which appeared throughout his original writings, The Tiger's Fang, The Flute of God, and other assorted articles, edited out.   He replaced the names of his actual teachers, Swami Premananda and Kirpal Singh, with the names "Sudar Singh" and "Rebazar Tarzs." And, although Twitchell spent a total of eight years studying under Kirpal Singh, he denied in 1971 that he was ever initiated by him.

      The cover-up was commenced by Twitchell after the "Tiger's Fang incident" in 1963.  It was in his preparation for founding Eckankar which led Twitchell to create a whole new mythology--a mythology which included a new biography for himself.  Twitchell's biography included new teachers, new travels, and new insights.  Yet, Twitchell could not destroy all of his previous articles, associations, or his family heritage. These remnants were too vast and too scattered to eradicate.  It is from these records that we find the "old" Paul Twitchell.

     While David supplies us with a lot of interesting quotes in this chapter from Paul's early writings to prove his point, unfortunately David's facts don't support the picture of Paul he tries to paint. This is not obvious at first glance, however.

     For example, although David seems quite sure that, "The cover-up was commenced by Twitchell after the "Tiger's Fang incident in 1963," it is quite clear now that it was not the Tiger's Fang incident at all that precipitated Paul's sudden decision to remove the names of his previous teachers. We also now know that these changes did not take place gradually from 1964 to 1971, as David claimed, but happened all at once in mid-1966. Therefore, David’s statement that "It was in his preparation for founding Eckankar which led Twitchell to create a whole new mythology,"is also wrong, since it was a year after Paul officially founded ECKANKAR, in 1965, when Paul's story began to change. And David has not been able to offer a single bit of evidence showing Paul ever denied that he was initiated by Kirpal Singh. This seems to be another misunderstanding. Surprisingly, David's own facts bear all of this out.

     David uses the following quote to support his assertions:

      Twitchell's first cover-up or editing appears in the January 1964 issue of Orion Magazine, where he introduces Sudar Singh for the first time.  It reads:

     I began my study of bilocation under the tutelage of Satguru Sudar Singh, in Allahabad, India.  Later, I switched to Sri Kirpal Singh of old Delhi.   Both were teaching the Shabda Yoga, that which is called the Yoga of Sound Current. I had to learn to leave my body at will and return, without effort...

     Also among my writings are numerous discourses from many masters,  in  the flesh and those on the inner planes.  I have talked with and taken down the words of Kirpal Singh who appeared in my apartment in his Nari-Raup, his light-body, although his physical body was six thousand miles away in India.

     At first glance, January 1964 seems to follow the 1963 Tiger's Fang incident date fairly closely, as David suggested. However, this quote doesn't show Paul editing out Kirpal Singh at all, but in fact shows Kirpal’s name quite prominently. This is consistent with the fact that although Paul did send his manuscript to Kirpal Singh in 1963, Kirpal never said anything negative about the book to Paul, and it was late 1966 before Paul would ask for it back. Therefore, there is no reason to even imagine there was a Tiger's Fang incident. Later, after going through these events in detail via the Internet, David admitted the whole idea for the Tiger’s Fang Incident was not his own, but came to him from some of Kirpal Singh’s followers.

     Interestingly, this early reference of Sudar Singh, in 1964, is the only quote that David published mentioning either Sudar Singh or Rebazar Tarzs before 1966. I produced two other quotes [see Chapter Eleven]. They also showed the names of Kirpal Singh, Swami Premananda, and others side-by-side with Rebazar Tarzs and Sudar Singh. No sign of name replacements yet.

     However, this is where the story gets interesting: All of these articles were later republished in late 1966 almost verbatim in a booklet called, "Introduction to ECKANKAR." In this new edition, the words bilocation and Shabda Yoga were changed to ECKANKAR, and all references to Sawan Singh, Kirpal Singh and Swami Premananda were replaced by either Sudar Singh or Rebazar Tarzs - except for one error in the index.

     David writes:

     The editor lists the name "Sawan Singh" as occurring on page five of the text; yet, on page five, it reads "Sudar Singh." The first four editions of the booklet carried the error; the fifth edition finally corrected it.

     I have an old version of this booklet and have verified the mistake in the index that David mentions. So, we can see that David’s claims about the name replacements are true, but not his explanations for why Paul made such changes.

     David references another interesting quote that ended up as a part of this same booklet. David writes:

     In the original article, Twitchell had mentioned Kirpal Singh three times; in the revised edition his name has been changed to read "Sudar Singh." The original reads:

     Kirpal Singh who is still at his own ashram in India, has the ability to appear to his own people, in his Nuri Sarup body, no matter where they may be.  A skill which almost anybody can learn who gets the knack of bilocation.  Among my numerous discourses from many gurus in the flesh and those on the inner planes, are those taken down when Kirpal Singh appeared in my apartment in Washington, D.C., in his light body, although his flesh self was six-thousand miles away in India.

     The revised article, with name replacements, reads:

     Sudar Singh, who lived in his ashram in India, had the ability to appear to his own people in his Atma Sarup body, no matter where they might be.  A skill almost anyone can learn who gets the knack of Soul Travel. . . Among my numerous discourses from many gurus in the flesh and those on the inner planes, are taken down when Sudar Singh appeared in my apartment in New York City, in his light body, although his flesh self was six thousand miles away in India.

     As David points out, not only has Paul replaced Kirpal's name with Sudar Singh, but also the city where Paul was visited has changed from Washington D.C. to New York City. This suggests to David that Paul may have started changing his own personal history at about the same time, in late 1966, and for perhaps the same reason that be began replacing Kirpal Singh's name. We'll come back to this point a little later.

     David’s evidence seems to be building.

     David also finds a key source for Paul's early quotes from the first published version of "The Flute of God," printed in installments in Orion Magazine from late 1965 to 1967. The first few chapters mention the names of Kirpal Singh and Sawan Singh a number of times. However, by the time the text was published in book form, in 1970, every reference to Kirpal Singh, Sawan Singh and Swami Premananda had been replaced by the names of the ECK Masters. In even a few cases, some of the early quotes that Paul had originally credited to Jesus were changed to Gopal Das or another ECK Master. Here are a few of the most interesting of these quotes:

     Chapter 1, March-April, 1966, Orion Magazine: "I have studied under many teacher [sic], and may yet have to study under more. Like Meher Baba, the Indian saint, who was said to have nineteen teachers to help him gain his place in the universe, I have so far had seven, some outstanding ones, including Sri Kirpal Singh, of Delhi, India."

     Chapter 1, The Flute of God, 1970: "I have studied under many ECK Masters only they have led me to the highest truth.  Like Fubbi Quantz, the ECK saint, who was said to have nineteen teachers to help him gain his place in the universe, I have also had several, each outstanding, one being Sudar Singh of India."

     Chapter 1, March-April, 1966, Orion Magazine: "Each has had a place in my growth toward the spiritual goal; each are equally great in their work for mankind.   However, I have felt a closer kinship and friendliness to Kirpal Singh, who has shown me a lot of the other work during my first year or so under him.  Since we have parted he keeps an impartial view toward me and my research.  Therefore, if I quote him in these pages it is because I feel that he is sympathetic and interested in my work."

     Chapter 1, The Flute of God, 1970: "Each has had a place in my growth toward the spiritual goal; each is equally great in his work for mankind.  However, I have felt a closer kinship and friendliness to Sudar Singh, who showed me a lot of the other work, during my first year or so under him.  Since we have parted he has retained an impartial view toward me and my research.

     "If I quote him in these pages it is because I feel that he is sympathetic and interested in my work and led me to Rebazar Tarzs."

      Chapter 2, May-June, 1966, Orion Magazine: "This is what Kirpal Singh speaks of in his discourses.  `We must become the conscious co-worker of God.' Meaning, of course, that once man is freed of his imbalances he inherits the throne and does his work for the whole."

     Chapter 2, The Flute of God, 1970: "This is what Sudar Singh spoke of in his dialogues.   `We must become the conscious co-workers of God.'"

     There should be no doubt after reading these quotes that Paul did indeed decide, for some reason starting in mid-1966, to start replacing the names of his previous teachers. David's claim that the Tiger's Fang incident triggered this, however, clearly doesn't hold water, and neither does his explanation that Paul made these changes before the founding of ECKANKAR, since there is not a single case before mid-1966 where this occurs. David didn’t realize this until I pointed it out.

     Then why did Paul suddenly change? Why, after Paul had been so open about crediting the teachers he had studied with up until 1966 – why would he decide to not only stop mentioning their names, but to also go back and edit their references out of his published materials? What is it that took place in mid-1966 that could have caused such a change?

     Well, it appears that there was an event that took place at this time. If you will remember, back in Chapter Three, I mentioned that Paul began a six-month series of workshops on the art of bi-location at the California Parapsychology Foundation, in San Diego. These lectures began in late 1965 and continued into early 1966. Near the end of this series, apparently Kirpal Singh sent out the copy of a letter to his American satsangis that described Paul's workshops at the Parapsychology Foundation and called Paul a fraud. (David wrote to me recently to suggest that it might have been Kirpal’s American representative who took it on himself to distribute this letter.) Is this the real trigger to Paul's sudden change of heart? I believe so.

     Let's read again what Paul had written only months before Kirpal's letter was sent out:

    However, I have felt a closer kinship and friendliness to Kirpal Singh, who has shown me a lot of the other work during my first year or so under him.  Since we have parted he keeps an impartial view toward me and my research.  Therefore, if I quote him in these pages it is because I feel that he is sympathetic and interested in my work.

     How could Paul possibly feel that Kirpal was sympathetic and interested in Paul's work after Kirpal’s letter was sent out? How could Paul continue mentioning Kirpal's name in his lectures and writings knowing that Kirpal was not sympathetic with his work after all? It would hardly be fair to either Kirpal or to Paul’s readers. I believe this offers the real reason for Paul's sudden changes. Paul's response was simply to drop any further references to Kirpal. It is after this incident in mid-1966 that Paul writes to Kirpal to ask for his manuscript of The Tiger's Fang back, which Paul finally publishes in 1967.

     David honestly thought that Paul's removal of Kirpal's name was a cover-up with devious intentions. David also believed that the essence of Paul's teaching came from Kirpal, and therefore to hide Paul's true lineage was tantamount to keeping ECKists in the dark about their own true spiritual parents. However, no matter how much it might have appeared this way to David or other satsangis of Radha Soami or Ruhani Satsang (Sawan Singh and Kirpal Singh's teachings,) the facts simply don't support this belief.

     Paul studied a tremendous number of teachings. Anyone can read his Letters To Gail to get an indication of this. It includes hundreds of books and spiritual groups. He took up with Swami Premananda's group not only as a student, but also to write and help, since he had already studied the spiritual field extensively by this time. He went on to work for L. Ron Hubbard's group as a staff writer about the same time he met with Kirpal Singh on Kirpal's first American tour, and Paul began writing while he studied with Kirpal, right from the beginning.

     Originally it appears that Paul offered his writings as a gift to Kirpal, which is why he mentions Kirpal's name in The Tiger's Fang and offers the manuscript to Kirpal for his use. But apparently Kirpal didn't want Paul's gift. Paul continued on in a friendly manner, sharing what he had learned and speaking highly of Kirpal. But apparently Kirpal had changed his mind toward Paul by then. David even offers a quote from one of Kirpal’s satsangis that proves this was true.

     So, what did this say to Paul? Paul had found a connection to spiritual Truth, but Kirpal did not agree with the way Paul was expressing these teachings through his writings. A traditional Indian disciple might have grown up being taught to accept the criticisms of the Guru and obey him, but Paul was very much a Westerner. Paul had already written in his Tiger's Fang that there was a strange part of himself that was deeply creative, and that this force could not be quenched or controlled by the conventions of mankind. So, what did it mean if Kirpal did not agree with Paul's writings and teachings?

     I think at this point, not only did Paul begin to realize that it was no longer fair to continue using Kirpal’s name in association with his teaching, but Paul also began to understand that Kirpal didn't see how different the nature of Paul's writings really were. What had seemed to Paul a friendly encouragement and sympathy between the two of them had become a point of contention for Kirpal.

     In other words, this incident must have made it abundantly clear to Paul that the teachings of ECKANKAR should not be based on an association with other teachings from Paul's past. Using the names of these teachers, if they were not sympathetic to his teachings, was not fair, and more importantly, referring to them was distracting from the vision of the ECK teachings that Paul was bringing out. While Paul started out talking openly about his previous teachers, he suddenly realized that although they had contributed to his education – they were not be a part of the real lineage of the spiritual teachings that Paul was trying to teach.

     This, then, was Paul's test, just as he had described the tests of his successors in training, in our last chapter. Paul could fall back on his past teachings or he could rely completely on the spiritual path of ECK as it was unfolding before him. He chose to rely on the ECK.

     In a very strange way, I think Paul was forced to realize that this inner teaching he had made contact with, which was moving him forward, did not have the lineage he had thought. I believe Paul searched for a home through which he could share these inner teachings. He tried to offer his writings to his teachers, but they could not accept them. Then, after Kirpal's break with Paul, what could Paul have thought about the Master's Form (as Kirpal called it) that visited and taught Paul? Paul had graciously credited Kirpal for these teachings, but how could Kirpal have been the source, if Kirpal himself did not recognize those teachings once in print?

     However, even though Paul gave credit to Kirpal, in hopes of finding a home for his writings, Paul already understood the greater significance of the Master's Form.

     In Paul's book, Dialogues with the Master, which was apparently written around 1956-57, Paul asks an inner master by the name of Rami Nuri about the meaning of the Master:

    PAUL: "I wish to ask a question of you, Lord."

     RAMI NURI: "I am not your Lord, but ask."

     PAUL: "Is there such a being as MAHANTA?"

     RAMI NURI: "Only as the manifested power...The God-Power can take any shape it desires. Usually, the Godman takes the shape of others in the inner cosmic worlds to appear to certain teachers, and devotees to give them the true Light."

     PAUL: "If he appeared in his own form then they would either not know him, or perhaps would not believe."

     RAMI NURI: "He appears to all ECK chelas as the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master and the Master to any of his disciples.

     "He is in as many forms as he desires to be. He could appear to one or many in contemplation. He can appear as a thousand or even a million different forms to a million different people in contemplation at the same time...

     "However, let us say this - those who do not see him in his true form as the Godman, Himself, will see him only as their teacher or guru, and to them he gives the inner teachings as only they, the disciples, can accept."

     While it is likely that Paul later added the ECK terms to this text before it was published in 1970, still the meaning is clear. And, finally Paul had to realize that with everything he had experienced, and with all his writings and creative expressions that he wanted to share, they could no longer fit with any of his previous teachings. He could find no home for those teachings with his past teachers. Therefore, ECKANKAR was something that would have to stand on its own.

     It was indeed a significant turning point for Paul. It reminds me of a turning point as significant in the history of Radhasoami, that took place in the mid-1800's. Shiv Dayal Singh, who is widely credited as the founder of Radhasoami, had until this point been teaching along the traditional lines of Sant Mat. He had not yet started public satsang, and he had not begun teaching about the spiritual realities beyond Sat Lok, which had been the highest teaching of traditional Sant Mat.

     Shiv Dayal Singh then attracted a new disciple by the name of Salig Ram. Shiv Dayal Singh was obviously pleased with Salig Ram's capabilities and ardor for the teachings. After Salig Ram's long and prayerful requests, for the sake of other seekers, Shiv Dayal Singh began open satsang. But after a time, when Salig Ram had already shown Shiv Dayal Singh real progress and inner development, Shiv Dayal Singh made a great challenge to his disciple. He said to Salig Ram, "Bring me a gift beyond any other that will please me."

     Salig Ram took this challenge into the depths of his heart and contemplated and meditated upon it for days. Finally, he made the spiritual change within himself that his Guru had been looking for. Then Shiv Dayal Singh began the teachings of Radhasoami, and revealing the secrets of the planes beyond Sat Lok, because of his love for his "Gurumukh," Salig Ram. On his deathbed, Shiv Dayal Singh once again credited Salig Ram, his chief disciple, as the source for the teachings of Radhasoami, when he said:

     "The Faith I had given out, was that of Sat Nam and Anami. Radhasoami Faith has been introduced by Salig Ram. You should let it also continue."

     The difference with Paul Twitchell's gift, The Tiger's Fang, is that Kirpal could not recognize it for what it was. It was then that the two were forced to break their ties. It is first this closeness between Teacher and Student, followed by the challenge to produce a great gift that I have seen is the stepping stone to many a great spiritual teaching. Jallal-uddin Rumi's relationship with his teacher, Shams-i-Tabriz, was the same, producing some of the greatest mystical poetry the world has ever known. Here is how Rumi described the way that Shams would inwardly coax him on to write of the spiritual truths:

    Shams says to me: "For the sake of our years of companionship, tell one of those sweet ecstasies, so earth and heaven may laugh with joy, and the intellect, spirit and vision can increase a hundred fold."

     I say, "Do no lay tasks upon me, for I have passed away from myself. My senses have lost interest, and I do not know how to praise. How should I, without a vein of mine being sensible, describe that Friend who has no equal? The description of such separation and heart's blood - leave for another time."

     He says: "Feed me, for I am hungry. Make haste, for time is a cutting sword. A Sufi is the son of present time, O dear one. It is not the creed of the Way to say, 'Tomorrow.' Are you not a Sufi then? By postponing payment, you only reduce what you have in hand."

     I answer, "It is better to keep the secret of the Friend disguised. Don't you see it hidden in the contents of this tale? It is better that the secrets between lovers should be told through the stories of others."

     He says: "Tell it forth openly and nakedly, without holding back. Do not put me off, O trifler! Lift the veil and speak nakedly, for I do not wear clothes when I sleep with the Adored One."

     Some of the greatest spiritual teachings have come forth as a gift from the student to their Master, as a result of their inspiration from the Inner Master, but Kirpal could not recognize this quality in Paul. From this we can see that Kirpal was hardly Paul's real Master. Paul was, in fact, writing to Another. And after Kirpal's break with Paul, Paul moves to Rebazar Tarzs as the name of this Other being, who had been showing him the depths of the teachings of ECK.

     Now, of course when we start talking about these sorts of stories we can be accused of working in the field of mythology, since each religion has its own way of seeing things that are consistent with their beliefs. It is certainly possible that my explanations here are inaccurate in some way, since I really don't know for sure what Paul's experiences and thinking were. However, I know that David's explanations simply don't fit with the facts. They don't fit with who Paul was or the situation at the time.

     As an interesting aside, I've found it curious that I have never heard of any ECKists who have claimed inner experiences with Sudar Singh, while thousands have reported experiences with Rebazar Tarzs. It is almost as if, when it comes to Sudar Singh, that there is no one there, inwardly, behind the name. Is this an indication, I wonder? We will revisit the subject on the legitimacy of the ECK Masters in a later chapter.

     In Appendix Three of David's book, he tries to offer another explanation for Paul's sudden change. David writes about a visit he took to Old Delhi, India, where Darshan Singh, the son of Kirpal and also considered one of Kirpal's successors, showed David the files of Paul Twitchell's letters to Kirpal, along with Paul's initiation records. David writes:

     From a close reading of the correspondence, it is obvious that Twitchell's inspiration for Eckankar came directly from his contact with Kirpal Singh and Ruhani Satsang.  In fact, Twitchell even goes so far as to ask Kirpal Singh to publish his book The Tiger's Fang in 1966, well over a year after he founded Eckankar. 

     Apparently Twitchell's break with Kirpal Singh had more to do with economics than anything else.  If Eckankar had not taken off as it did (attracting a large number of Americans interested in astral travel and other esoteric matters willing to pay money for membership, books, and interviews), Twitchell most likely would have kept in friendly contact with Kirpal Singh. As it turned out though, Kirpal Singh represented a significant threat to Twitchell's emerging empire, since, unlike Eckankar, Ruhani Satsang offered its teachings for free.   In sum, Twitchell's decision to cover-up his past associations with Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh, and others appears to be financially motivated.

     We will deal with David's beliefs that ECKANKAR was derived from Kirpal's teachings in a later chapter. However, David does reinforce here my assertion that The Tiger's Fang incident of 1963 could not have been the source of Paul's sudden change. On the other hand, David's claim that it was financial matters that motivated Paul are completely without any foundation. Not only would the idea strike anyone who knew Paul as ridiculous, since he was anything but motivated by money, but it is also at total odds with Paul's situation at that time.

     In 1965 and 1966, Paul had no finances to protect, so how could Kirpal have been a threat to it? There was no emerging empire in those early days. In fact, as Paul told on numerous occasions, he struggled through those times trying to make ends meet any way he could. As we will see in a later chapter, Paul wrote a strange column for the Candid Press in 1966-67 simply because they offered to print him 2000 copies of his booklet "Introduction to ECKANKAR," since Paul didn't have the money to afford it himself. He sold these for only two dollars apiece, so where were these fortunes that David is talking about?

     In those early days Paul often wondered if the whole thing was going to survive or not. He was living, at least partially, off Gail's income, and promised Gail that one day she would be able to return to college to finish her degree. Paul also gave ECK-Vidya readings in those days, for a fee, just to keep some money coming in so he could afford to continue working with building the teachings of ECKANKAR.

     At the Youth Training Seminar, Las Vegas, March 1971, Paul shared the following:

     You know, back in those days when this whole thing was starting...I could see this ECK in the vision. It was like a big bumbling baby. It would fall down and we'd say, "Well, this is the end of everything." And then, you know, it would get back up and walk again. The job that we were performing in Las Vegas on the Distribution end [the distribution of books and discourses] starting back in those days, in about '66 maybe '67, I'm not sure, we really were doing a bad service but we couldn't help it because we had no facilities to handle things. Everybody who took the job over, I'd say that they didn't last over two years, because it was actually too much of a job. It was a man-killing job. Until we got John [Nero] in here on a regular basis, we were just fumbling everyway, and finally we have begun to get some organization and some direction in this...One time we had our Distribution agent walk completely out. [He left] everything just like that, just that way. I thought, "Well...Everything's done. [We're] through." And I thought, "Well, this is the end of it."

     I came over here [Las Vegas], finally made arrangements and got it going back again. But this happened until the time that we set up and started an office, and Millie [Moore] took over, despite the fact that she had a full time job working in an admisitrative position with Urban housing here in the City. She came down at nights and worked and got this thing going on its feet again. Then it gradually began to take hold until we got John in, and John began to move it out and make it a workable system, and I began to see this thing grow into a certain amount of maturity. It is no better than the channels that it has. And since all of us are both the collective and an individual channel, then how can anything work unless we're working effectively?

     Therefore, it wasn't until 1968, when Brad Steiger wrote his biography on Paul, that Paul first began to see any sort of financial stability at all. So, how much money could there have been then in 1968? Whatever it was, it was many times more than Paul was seeing in 1965 and 1966.

     It is assertions by David, like these, which show how far he is from painting a true picture of Paul. In fact it seems quite often that we are seeing more of David's own projections than we are of who Paul really was.

     David offers us another insight he received from reading Paul's initiate's letters to Kirpal. This is also from Appendix Three:

    In 1955 alone Twitchell had written ten letters to Kirpal Singh; each one describing, albeit briefly, Twitchell's inner experiences in meditation.   Concerning these experiences, a close reading of Twitchell's descriptions indicates that most of them occurred while he was asleep. That is, Twitchell's inner voyages are, for the most part, dream excursions, which may or may not have been consciously produced. One comes away with the impression that Paul's technique for inducing out of body experiences was to lie down and fall asleep, only to awaken minutes or hours later in a lucid (read astral) dream.  It may have been precisely for this reason that Kirpal Singh dismissed many of Twitchell's inner experiences as inaccurate and incomplete. Kirpal Singh's responses were also revealing, since in none of the letters that I read did the Ruhani Satsang master reprimand Twitchell for his behavior. Rather, Kirpal Singh was tolerant of Twitchell's ways, and always appeared interested in the work that he was doing. In one letter, Kirpal Singh even asked for Twitchell's help in getting one of his books published in America.

     This reinforces the explanation I have been giving. Kirpal and Paul had a friendly relationship until 1966 when Kirpal (or his American representative) sent out a letter denouncing Paul. It also shows how teaching through the dream state, something that is a fundamental principle in ECKANKAR, is not seen in the same light by Kirpal, who was a teacher of traditional Sant Mat where only fully conscious meditation is of value. This is simply one of many significant differences between the two teachings.

     David's conjecture that Paul suddenly changed his treatment toward his previous teachers because of The Tiger's Fang incident clearly has fallen completely apart. David's claim that Paul began making these changes in preparation for the founding of ECKANKAR doesn't match the dates. And his assertions that Paul was motivated by financial desires to turn against Kirpal is not consistent either with Paul or the reality of the times. So, David is without a real explanation for why Paul would suddenly change his open, friendly relations with Kirpal, or change the name of his teachers.

     David says he was unaware of this incident of mid-1966 in relation to Paul's workshops at the Parapsychology Foundation. However, Harold Klemp, the current Living ECK Master, mentioned this event in a talk, which he gave about Paul's early experiences, and we know David read this because he took Harold to task on his comments.

     Here is what Harold actually said:

     The second thing that occurred was Kirpal found out about Paul doing these Soul Travel workshops, so he wrote a letter to the foundation and he said, 'These works are very much like my own,' but he never said that he himself had picked them up from someone before him. He was trying, in a way, to possess this truth.

     What David gave Harold a hard time about was Harold's phrase that Kirpal was, in a way, trying to possess truth.

     Here is what Paul said, in the book, Difficulties of Becoming the Living ECK Master, pages 151-152:

     I've had pot-shots taken at me all the time...Now, one time a woman wrote a letter to me. She was awful mad at me because she'd asked me to put money into her organization and I refused to do it. It was a parapsychology group in San Diego, and I had made some talks down there at one time. She claimed that I should give her a big donation for her place; maybe a thousand, two thousand dollars, but I didn't pay her, see?

     She gets mad and she writes this man in India. She tells him that I am a crook, a fraud, a confidential man, and everything else, and you know what happens to that letter? Now, I don't know how they got it in Washington, but this letter went to a tremendous amount of people around the country, see? And this American representative [in Washington DC] was sending it to people.

     Even though David had seen these references during his research, it apparently never occurred to him that his theory of a cover-up might be wrong. It seems David accepted the whole story as truth from Kirpal’s satsangis. David wrote:

    The inherent contradictions in Twitchell's denial of his association with Kirpal Singh were too blatant for some Ruhani Satsang initiates to ignore. Several knowledgeable disciples began to give out the actual details of Twitchell's involvement with Kirpal Singh. Even the Ruhani Satsang Master himself commented on Twitchell's unusual actions:

     Yes, Yes.  Too much propaganda.  I tell you one American was initiated by me--I've got the initiation report in his own handwriting.

     That is what such-like people will do.  They had some little thing, got stuck fast there. Now he's carrying on propaganda.  He says he was never initiated by me. He was initiated in 1955.   Some people get stuck fast on the way.   This little ego is very difficult to get rid of unless there's some kind of protection. This is a living example. He has written other books.   I need not mention his name.

     As we can see, these actual details that the Ruhani satsangis were giving out contained a significant undercurrent of condemnation. But, still, to David this is seen as trying to correct a deep dark lie, trying to expose the evil Paul Twitchell. In other words, they are doing an act of charity, while Paul's attempt to back away and break his ties quietly is considered the blackest of cover-ups. Yet, even in the light of these continued charitable intrusions by the satsangis of Kirpal, still David has the temerity to suggest that Paul would most likely have kept in friendly contact with Kirpal if it had not been for his growing financial empire.

     David continues:

    It is unclear how Twitchell finally heard of Kirpal Singh's comments about him.   Nevertheless, by whichever means he heard (through tape, letter, or word of mouth), the fact remains that Twitchell was highly displeased. The reason why is obvious: if word got out that Paul had indeed been initiated by Kirpal Singh but was denying it, it would imply that the founder of Eckankar was lying; and a master who would lie (or deceive or cover-up) is to many spiritual seekers no master at all. Thus, in a strange but predictable maneuver, Twitchell sent a letter bombasting Kirpal Singh, denying that he was initiated by him, and threatening-- totally without legal basis--a lawsuit if Kirpal Singh pressed the matter any further.

     I have seen a copy of this letter that Paul wrote, when Harold Klemp gave me permission to go through Paul's old files, and the impression I got from reading it was that Paul was trying to make it perfectly clear to Kirpal that he was not Paul’s master, and Paul was not Kirpal's initiate, so Kirpal had no rights over what Paul taught. In other words, Paul's initiation into the teachings of ECK came from Someone else.

     Also, we’ve seen no evidence that shows Paul denying Kirpal initiated him. This key piece to David’s “cover-up” seems to be another misunderstanding. David thought an article from the July-August-September 1976 issue of Leadership in ECK, called, “All That Glistens Is Not Gold,” would back his accusations up. However, this article only has a short quote from Paul’s letter that says:

     “I have never recognized you as a Master, or that you can give initiations, and that your work is not in the best interest of spirituality. Your teachings are orthodox, and as a preacher you are not capable of assisting anyone spiritually.”

     Remember, this was a personal letter Paul sent to Kirpal. (Even when the above short quote was printed after Paul had died, it still never mentioned Kirpal’s name.) Paul never publicly denigrated Kirpal, or tried to publicly turn others against Kirpal. It was Kirpal and his satsangis who were doing this openly and publicly to Paul. It was only a few months before Paul died, when Paul finally wrote his letter to put an end to it.

     David then throws in this juicy morsel:

    A copy of the letter that Paul Twitchell sent to Kirpal Singh shortly before his death is still in the possession of Gail Atkinson.   According to several Ruhani Satsang initiates who were present in India when Twitchell's letter was received at Sawan Ashram, Kirpal Singh made the following comment: "We are all born with a large noose around our neck.  He hasn't much rope left." Shortly thereafter Twitchell died.

     Aren't these word-of-mouth stories wonderful? Unfortunately, David knows all too well that it is poor journalism to report them as if they were facts. Of course it is an interesting tidbit, and we all love to read such gossip. Just as the stories I've heard from those who claim to know, that Kirpal in his last days told his Anaheim California group, his main headquarters in the US, that he would have no successor, and that 25 years after his death they should return all their satsang funds to his nearest heir at the time. Apparently, this story had enough validity that the center did send their money back to India, and the two foremost leaders of that group never accepted any of those who claimed to be Kirpal's successors.

     Or how about the rumors that Kirpal was having great doubts about himself in his final years, which is why he stopped giving initiations for about three years? I am merely relaying these stories from David Lane's own Radhasoami discussion web site. Or how about the story I have heard a few times that Kirpal had said his successor would be an American?

     I take all of these stories as the sort that quickly grow and take on their own life after the death of the Teacher. Each person actually hears something, but they each interpret it a little different and the meaning it takes on can be far from the Teacher's original intention. Without a written record, as David often insists upon, we cannot know what really took place, and even with such a record a great deal of interpretation could be at work. Besides, what sort of comment is this for a spiritual teacher to tell his students - that we are all born with a noose around our neck?

     Jallal-uddin Rumi gave a discourse that is relevant to this point:

    Rumi said: The stories that have been spread against this girl are lies and should go no further. But I can see that even though we may put aside these rumors as false, something has settled in the imagination. Our imagination and heart are like a vestibule - thoughts first enter the vestibule, then they move into the house.

     The whole world is like one house, and every image that lodges in our deepest thoughts must appear and become visible in the house...Whatever you see entering the vestibule, know that one day it will become visible in the house. And all these things, good and evil alike that you see in the world today, all first appeared in the vestibule before becoming visible here.

     This is one of the greatest problems with the exposť style of writing. The author creates shocking images that stick in the imaginations of the reader. If we accept these images we will begin to see everything according to the colored glasses we have put on. If they are glasses that are intended to show someone as deceitful and slander their character, then we begin to see things everywhere this way. It can soon lead to the feeling that all spiritual teachers are fakes and frauds. On the other hand, it is just as easy to see our heroes or Teachers in a light that is too perfect, and then we become unable to accept their human qualities.

     Therefore, we must be very careful and watchful of what we let into our imagination and understand very well the impact it will have upon our experience of life. If we consciously choose what we let into our inner home, then we will be making the little moment-by-moment choices that create our life experience. This has nothing to do with wishful thinking, but simply being aware of where we are putting our attention and what we are letting into our thoughts and hearts. Where our attention goes, eventually we become that, ourselves.

     There are a few more quotes from David's chapter that should be mentioned here. These come from the time when Darwin Gross was the Living ECK Master, many years after Paul's death:

     David writes:

     In the 1970's, the International Headquarters of Eckankar vehemently denied that their founder was ever initiated by the late Kirpal Singh, or that Twitchell considered the Ruhani Satsang adept a Master.  In pursuance of Eckankar's official stand on this issue, I sent a letter of inquiry to their headquarters in Menlo Park.  Below are excerpts of what I received:

     [Note: I have added back the beginning of this letter, which David left out. I think it helps show that this letter was hardly a vehement denial. DM]

     Dear David:

     Thank you for your letter of March 19th requesting some information about Sri Paul Twitchell in conjunction with your comprehensive report on the ECKANKAR movement. I trust I can be of some service along this line.

     Kirpal Singh and the Radha Swoami [sic] tried to "claim" Paul Twitchell and use him for their own purposes, as have other groups from the East and West. Paul mentioned this several times and at one point wrote a letter to Kirpal Singh and his associates stating that he, Paul, would take Singh and his associates to court if necessary. Due to the threats and harassment and material Kirpal Singh and Mr. Khanna tried to use against Paul Twitchell by faking Paul's signature on many papers, Paul wrote that letter that his widow, Gail Twitchell, gave me permission to read.

     Sri Darwin Gross, the Living Eck Master of Eckankar has stated that he knows for a fact that Paul Twitchell only had two Eck Masters during his earthly stay here; the Tibetan Rebazar Tarzs and Sudar Singh, and no one else. They were the only Masters to initiate Paul Twitchell...

     In his tape entitled NAMES, PLACES & SOUNDS IN THE DISCOURSES, Paul states: "Sudar Singh was the first teacher under whom I studied. He was a Sufi but he was teaching a sort of splinter group of the ECKANKAR study because he'd left Sufism and gone somewhat into this and he had a little monastery or little Abbot, Abbey, up above Allahabad, India."

     --Bernadine Burlin, Personal Secretary to Darwin Gross

     By saying that Rebazar Tarzs and Sudar Singh were the only two Masters to initiate Paul, it appears that Bernadine was referring only to ECK Masters. If she meant any spiritual teachers, then she is mistaken, since David has shown strong evidence that Paul was once initiated by Kirpal Singh. Unfortunately, the story of people forging Paul's signature appears to be wrong as well, although I haven’t found the origins to this story, or where it came from.

     This brings up a most interesting point. I have seen in many cases where the followers of a Teacher or Master take these issues as if they were a sort of test of obedience. As if it shows a sign of loyalty and love to the Master if we will make statements in his defense, even if we don't really know for ourselves what is true. But the seeker is much better served speaking from what they know for themselves and avoiding the bottomless pit of propaganda.

     Which reminds me of a story that seems relevant to the discussion here. Back, about six months to a year after I had first started studying ECKANKAR, a fellow ECKist and I were attending an ECK seminar when we met two disciples of Kirpal Singh. After introducing themselves, the Ruhani satsangis told us that Paul Twitchell was once a disciple of Kirpal Singh and had been initiated by Kirpal.

     I found this interesting. They then went on to say that Paul's teachings of the Light and Sound came from Kirpal's teaching. I thought this was also quite interesting. So I asked, "Do you have Soul Travel as well?"

     No, they answered, but during meditation the Master could take them within.

     There was something in their answer that sounded more like they were discussing a theory rather than a personal experience, so I asked them if they were having many spiritual experiences like that. They seemed a little shocked by the question, and looked at each other. Then they both went on to honestly admit that they had yet to experience the inner master's form taking them on any inner journeys, but that Kirpal had told them that it often takes many years of meditation to reach this state. I should add here that Kirpal was still alive at this time.

     I remember the event because I realized while talking to them that I had already been given so many inner experiences it would have been difficult counting them. It gave me a feeling of gratitude toward the gifts I had received. But even more significantly, I could see the difference between people speaking from their own experiences, from what they know, compared to those who are merely giving out the teachings they have read or been taught. There are worlds of difference between the two.

     David is right, I believe, in calling attention to the message he got from Bernadine. And I wish I could say that this was a solitary incident, but my experience is that there are many ECKists who, with the best of intentions, give out something they have read or something one of the Masters once said as if this were the official answer. From my experience, there are no official answers. It is for each individual to discover the truths in this work for themselves, and we are far better off speaking from what we know and not from the position of outer authority. I certainly hope that my discussions here will be taken in this light, as well.

     On the other hand, I believe the student's desire to stand up for and defend their teacher is a sign of love. Hopefully it comes not from the desire to destroy anyone who speaks out against their teacher, but from their desire to speak up for and share some of the wonderful gifts they have received from their teacher. We need not change the opinions of others, but we need not stay silent about our own opinions either, and we often learn something about our own real feelings when we speak up.

     David includes another reference that I believe needs some correction:

     I have personally seen the name "Kirpal Singh" crossed out in the manuscript form of Letters to Gail.   The name "Sudar Singh" was written above it.   I believe that Gail did the editing.

     - Former Editor of the ECK World News, David Stewart.

     David writes:

     I should add that David Stewart was under severe pressure not to talk with me or see me.  I remember vividly when Brother Joseph Connell, President of Moreau High School, and myself went to Eckankar's international headquarters for a friendly chat with David Stewart.  Mr. Stewart was very shaken and fearful when we met him at the headquarters; apparently he was frightened of losing his job and being the subject of harassment.  I never saw David Stewart again.  Weeks after talking with me, David Stewart  "resigned" from his position and went back to Texas.

     Well, once again David Lane has strayed far from reality into his own special world of innuendo. I happen to have been working as co-Editor of the ECK World News with David Stewart at that time when he spoke with David Lane. I remember when David Stewart told me of this meeting. Although I had never seen the originals of the Letters to Gail, I wasn't terribly surprised about the editing, since I had seen the original The Far Country manuscript, along with a few others, and I had seen the same type of editing made by Paul.

     Neither David Stewart nor I thought that anything should be hidden about this, and although I do remember David Stewart wondering what Darwin or others might think of what he had told David Lane, he wasn't terribly concerned about it. He was, as usual, simply doing what he felt was the right thing. Anyone who knew David Stewart would know this is simply how he always works.

     David Stewart resigned, as he explained it to me, because he felt it was time to move on. He didn't seem to feel the vision of where the ECK World News should go next, and the general policy in those days was that ECKists would come work in the ECKANKAR Office for one to two years, or so, and then go back into the "real" world. I never heard anything even remotely close to suggesting he left under pressure, and he is still certainly a member of ECKANKAR, living in California, the last I heard from him.

     In my effort to be as thorough as possible, I think it would be remiss if I left this chapter without addressing a few more issues that arise here. First, although we cannot know for sure what Paul's motivations really were for his sudden change from openly discussing his teachers, and even though I think I have offered what appears to be a reasonable explanation, this doesn't in itself explain why Paul went so much further than simply removing references to Kirpal Singh.

     Why, for example, did Paul replace references to Swami Premananda? Why would he change references to Jesus?

     Paul did leave us some clues to answer these questions. For example, if we go back to the earlier quote in this chapter, we can see that Paul had not only replaced Kirpal's name with Sudar Singh, but had changed the location of his visit from Washington D.C. to New York City. If Paul had taken out Kirpal's name to remove any association with Kirpal, then it certainly makes sense that Paul was changing the location for the same reasons - to remove this association as well.

     It is interesting that Paul was making a number of other association changes to his teachings at this time. He made great efforts to remove all references to "bilocation," for example, since it was creating the wrong impression in people's minds. Paul wrote and spoke about this a number of times, explaining that he was not referring to astral projection but something very different. Paul finally seized on the term, Soul Travel, to better describe this movement of consciousness.

     Paul also began introducing new terms, such as ECK, Mahanta and Sugmad. Paul explained himself here as well, that he wanted to use terms that did not evoke preconceived images, because otherwise people thought he was just talking about the Christian idea of spirit and God, or the Hindu idea of a guru.

     At one point, near the end of his life Paul said (from the book, Difficulties of Becoming the Living ECK Master, pages 118-120):

    There's one thing I want to break in here and say something about. For example, when you write an article upon ECK, or the aspects of ECK...the more you say or use the work ECK within the paragraph, the more powerful your message becomes to get across to the reader. Or, in the same token, the more when you're speaking and talking to people as an audience, or even in a conversation, the more that you use the word ECK, you will find that it becomes a symbol or a channel for the power to flow through...

     The light will shine through or will use this word as a channel to let it flow out to the audience or the readers. You'll also find the same principle applies to the word, Mahanta, the Living ECK Master, or the word, Paulji...

     I used to use this a great deal in the early days when I was writing or testing out something to find out just how far it would go. Now, you don't have to speak this word out loud, but you can put this word down as something within your mind. You can let it flow through the mind and set it up as a symbol, or set up the face of the Mahanta and let it flow through that.

     If people don't know and don't understand this so far, it's because I have never talked about it. I've never gotten my message across...that this is the way it works...

     The word, ECK, or the symbol of EK used, is the powerhouse through which it comes through. The word, Mahanta, or the face of the Master is that in which the power comes through, and this is the principle that you'll have to learn in your own writings, your own speeches from the stage, and the way to get it across to the public. It is the channel through which the ECK power flows...

     One time somebody asked me, from the audience, just how would I ever define ECK. This was when I was making a talk in the early days, and I replied that if you have to ask, you're never going to know what ECK is.

     Therefore, we have this problem of working between information or data [on one hand] and the emotions [on the other.] This is a [point] which we must bear in mind - that we are as a whole, or a race, an emotional group of people. But we [also] cannot work [without] the intellect...so there must be a balance between the two.

     Paul is explaining here that the teachings of ECKANKAR are not communicated through the descriptive use of words alone, but also through their symbolic use. The emotions can catch this inner current, but the intellect still needs to see and learn how this operates as well. However, while Paul is describing something very interesting here, it should be remembered that when we use the terms, ECK or ECKANKAR, while thinking of the organization, then it will not act as this symbol for spirit in the same way. We must be referring to that Inner Reality, if we want these words to act as channels for Spirit.

     In another very memorable piece, Paul went on at length explaining that he didn't want ECKists to use the term "my soul" or "your soul" since we are really speaking of Soul, Itself. He was trying to show that in choosing the right terms and phrases that we are in fact speaking in a form that others who are spiritually aware will catch and understand. That we are using language to describe something beyond language, and therefore by taking and using these newly established terms we can more readily evoke the meanings we are trying to describe.

     In Paul's last words before his death, at the Cincinnati Seminar, as recorded in the book, Difficulties of Becoming The Living ECK Master, pages 134-135, he said:

     A lot of the impressions that I first set out in my first work, I'm having to go back and redo these things and try to correct them. I'm like the fellow who felt his way along in a college course. They told him he had to write a book in order to keep in the work, and he didn't know what to say. He had to go and he had to do something, but when he did, he got it all wrong. And by getting it all wrong, ten years from there, he had to go back and correct his book and rewrite it, and nobody believed him because they were believing the first impression of what he made. And this is the position I'm in.

     If you follow what is being described here, you will see that in all these ways Paul was choosing associations. He was trying to avoid or remove associations that carried preconceived connotations and replace them with new terms that could act as symbols and clear channels, making it easier for others to connect with the Reality that our language does not have words for.

     In doing all this, Paul was bringing to ECKANKAR a freedom from past traditions while incorporating the elements from them that were vital. The concept of spiritual lineage was important, but the restrictions, traditions and worship that go along with physical lineage was not. Therefore, Paul described the spiritual line of ECK Masters, not for its historical accuracy based upon historical records, but to show that as the Sufis say there is always one who is the spiritual Pole of the world, and this light has passed from continent to continent, from race to race, from culture to culture, down through time.

     Therefore, when Kirpal changed his attitude toward Paul, and Paul began to remove Kirpal's name from his writings, replacing it with Sudar Singh or Rebazar Tarzs, Paul also began to see a whole new direction for his teaching of ECKANKAR. It was one wholly connected to an inner source, not tied to history or tradition, or even his own past.

     If you want to see for yourself how this occurred to Paul, go back to the early part of this chapter and compare the paragraphs where Paul replaced the names of Kirpal Singh and Meher Baba. Can you see the difference in inner awareness from those passages once the names of the ECK Masters is used? This is because these names become channels for the inner teachings, just like the word ECK or Mahanta that Paul spoke about in his quote.

     Through all of these changes, Paul was trying to move our attention to his new vision of the whole. He was also removing those religious references that seem to make it difficult for people to grasp these teachings in a new light.

     There is another very significant element that Paul introduces into ECKANKAR. It is best understood by quoting Paul's own words from his Introduction to his book, The Tiger's Fang:

     The book [The Tiger's Fang] came out of personal experience. What is written on these pages is not as important as the recording of those worlds that few Souls, other than saints, have ever visited.

     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. However, I am prepared to make my statements out of pure experience and one must remember that all experiences are unique only to the experiencer.

     Although many have read this quote, I'm not sure everyone has understood what Paul is saying here. Paul says that The Tiger's Fang "came out of personal experience." He is not saying this book is a literal record. Paul is also saying that nothing is really made up in the imagination since all images are the reflections of some inner truth, and therefore fiction can come closer to truth than non-fiction.

     These are not the sayings of someone who cares about ritual and tradition or historical lineages. These are the sayings of someone who wants only to express that spiritual reality so that others can make inward contact in the greatest possible way, including the use of stories, journeys into the invisible worlds, love poetry, history from a spiritual perspective, or inner psychology for the seeker of God, as Paul's many books have displayed.

     This is not about a teaching that can be reduced to writing, as with many religions. Rather this is about expressions of a spiritual truth in the form of hints and clues that can connect us and align us to the inner realities themselves. Paul was doing exactly what he said we was doing; bringing the teachings of ECKANKAR out into the open from the inner worlds. He was putting clothes on the naked experiences of Soul.

     I find it unfortunate that David Lane should reduce this all down to who were Paul's teachers, and whatever human motivations Paul may have had for what he did. As I said before, this is far more a reflection of David's own state of consciousness than a reflection of who Paul was or Paul's vision and goals.

     This leads me to the last point of discussion I wanted to address in this chapter. I don't think David Lane has intentionally tried to make Paul out to be worse than David really believes is accurate. Just like I don't believe the followers of Charan Singh and Kirpal Singh think they are being anything but generous when they paint negative pictures of ECKANKAR to save seekers time exploring something that they see as a cheap copy of their original teachings.

     These perceptions are the results of paradigms, or worldviews, and can seem as real as absolute truth, when in fact they are more an indication of the blindness that comes with all belief systems. ECKists are not immune to this same problem, which is why I think this point is so important.

     Self-intoxication is one of the gravest dangers on the spiritual path. We all unconsciously reinforce what we believe, and find hundreds of justifications to make us feel better for doing what we want to do and believing what we want to believe. But this human trait is hardly limited to spiritual seekers. The world of scholarship is deeply tainted with this problem, as is politics, and news services that feel they are representing popular opinion.

     One of the strangest things about this, however, is that this behavior, which is often called cultish behavior, is generally seen as a problem of religious belief. This masks the real nature of the issue, however. For example, one well-known book on cults, called "Snapping," describes the ways certain extreme cults apply pressure until disciples suddenly "snap" and accept their paradigm, their worldview. The authors' solution to this problem is to deprogram cult members by snapping them back to the popular cultural belief system. Yet, the authors never once see that they are simply paradigm shifting from one belief system to another.

     Because of this blindness of their own worldview, they believed they were truly free while the cultists were trapped. They were so sure of this that apparently it never occurred to them to question it, even though they were fully aware that the cultists felt exactly the same way about the followers of popular culture. And, strangely, this is exactly what the cultists were trying to escape.

     The lack of awareness surrounding this subject is amazing. It is for this reason that people, not knowing anything about ECKANKAR, can read a book such as David's and accept what he as written, and shake their heads while saying to themselves, "Oh well, what can you expect from a cult." They will not see that they have simply reinforced their own beliefs about cults, and they have done so without any effort on their own to find out from first hand experience what the truth is. In fact, such an attitude is sure to stop them from exploring further, even if the opportunity presented itself.

     If we are going to really understand this matter we need to explore it deeper. To help, let's take a quick look at a quote from an article by D. Shaw that was recently posted on the alt.religion.eckankar newsgroup, "What Is a Cult, and Why Do People Get Involved in Them?"

     "One reason cults are so successful is that they have mastered the art of seduction, using techniques of undue influence (Cialdini, 1984). As Hochman (1990) notes, cults, by employing miracle, mystery, and authority, promise salvation.

     "'Instead of boredom -- noble and sweeping goals. Instead of existential anxiety -- structure and certainty. Instead of alienation -- community. Instead of impotence -- solidarity directed by all-knowing leaders' (p. 179). Cults prey upon idealistic seekers, offering answers to social problems and promising to promote bona fide social change."

     At first glance, when reading Shaw's comments, we nod our heads and say, "How true. How true." But after some real introspection, the first question I had was, "What is Shaw saying that is new, or unexpected here?"

     For those who have not studied similar articles on cults, Shaw's comments here may offer some new ways of seeing cults. But having read numerous articles and books on the subject, what strikes me about Shaw's quote is that it seems to offer nothing new, and nothing very helpful. He talks about the dangers of cults without any real understanding of what makes a cult, and why those dangers really occur.

     After really looking at what Shaw says, in fact, I came away thinking he was not really offering up facts and truths or insights about cults, but rather he was simply reinforcing commonly held beliefs. To show what I'm saying here, take Shaw's second paragraph above, and apply it to the world of academia.

     Clearly professors offer up their academics with noble and sweeping goals, with artificial structures and overly stated certainties, and certainly a sense of community. But when applied to a University, or College, suddenly these qualities don't seem so bad. This is an indication that the negative images and perceptions being offered up are more based upon preconceptions than reality.

     To illustrate my point, let me try to offer up something more useful and perhaps something of a new insight: I would say that one quality that distinguishes a cult from non-cults, is the quality that cults have of developing a world of their own. This occurs because the subject matter often requires specialized focus to explore its meaning.

     Therefore, it is the quality of focus that creates a cultic atmosphere. This is why reading a book, which requires concentration, can create a sense of entering into a new or different world, all of its own. Watching TV, or a movie, can as well. And this is why those who watch Seinfeld, Star Trek, or read Stephen King, can easily be seen as cult followers.

     The same takes place in Universities, or Colleges, where a sense of detachment from the "real" world is created, with the intention of concentration and focus upon academic learning.

     Therefore, anytime there is focus and concentration, there is an element of a cult, but this is a very helpful and useful sort of thing. So where does the danger really come from? I would say it arises from those forms of concentration that don't really help illuminate the rest of reality, and don't really offer useful connections to the rest of life, but only reinforce the beliefs, ideas and goals of the group, itself.

     Spiritual and religious cults, therefore, can offer the greatest help for connecting to all of Life, or can become the worst offenders of disconnecting from the world.

     Now, using this analysis, I would say that Shaw's own comments fail the test of useful focus, since his comments are really only reinforcing the common beliefs and not offering helpful insights. His comments are simply statements that his cult of scholasticism is better than someone else's religious cult.

     It was exactly for this reason that Paul methodically and consciously tried to remove the sorts of associations that could trigger old and dated worldviews of the past. This is also why he stated so often that it must be our own personal experiences upon which we should base our spiritual path, not upon mere belief. He was not trying to show us the way into some closed, secret community, but was showing us the way out. He was not trying to replace old beliefs with new ones, but trying to describe the path of personal experience and inner self-discovery that can free us from all the paradigm baggage that we carry around. In a strange way, then, by choosing new terms, new words, new names, Paul was better able to show the real meaning of ancient truths and realities that have become overgrown by the weeds of preconceptions.

     Patti Simpson describes this wonderfully in her book, Hello Friend:

    Here are a few examples of fatal mind attacks: Joe Doakes signs up for a series of discourses. He reads them, plus several books, for six months or so. Joe has read a lot of Eastern thought, and he comes upon passages that ring a bell. 'I know what this is: it's nothing more than warmed over Hinduism,' He writes his local travel agent and cancels his journey.

     At the same time, on the other side of town, Floyd Flak has been reading the discourses too, and several other books. What Floyd sees are references and thought patterns that he came across years ago in Theosophy. 'Ah, I know what this is. It's nothing more than warmed over Theosophy.' He, too, cancels his journey.

     Floyd and Joe are gone now. They got it all figured out; all solved and explained away. Since they are very proud of how clever they are, if you happen to meet one of them, they'll be more than happy to explain it all to you. They'll particularly enjoy showing you Paradox Island.

     Of course they have totally missed the point, which is, that in the written material of ECKANKAR you will find similarities here and there to every religion, science, and belief system on the planet, and a whole lot from other places. This is because in his training for the task ahead of him, Paul Twitchell studied every religion, science, and belief system he could find on the planet, and a whole lot from other places. In this process he found the universal thread and he laid it out there for us so that he could meet each individual on his home ground, regardless of what that is. Gradually, and carefully over a period of time he shows you where that fits in with the Whole, in the universal scheme. This, to me, is one of the most interesting aspects of Paul's work.

     According to David Lane, what Paul did was a cover-up. But the way I see it, what Paul really did was the Great Uncovering. Which paradigm do you find the most helpful? Which travel plans do you want to make.

 

 

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