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Dialogue in the Age of

Criticism

 

Chapter Nine

     Now we can turn to the chapter that David calls: When God Gets Dethroned - The Downfall of Darwin Gross.

     David writes:

     When Darwin Gross appointed Harold Klemp as the "Living Eck Master" in 1981 he had no idea that two years later his successor would excommunicate him from Eckankar, ban his books from sale, and instigate a lawsuit against him for business impropriety and copyright infringement. But that is exactly what happened.

     Well, let's say that's a very simplified form of what happened, leaving out the most interesting parts.

     Without a doubt, this period of time shortly after Harold became the Living ECK Master was a time of significant change in ECKANKAR's short history. The difficulties of students trying to adjust to the subtle inner shift of a new Master have always been a challenge. However, ECKANKAR itself was also passing into a new phase, as I describe more thoroughly in Chapter Twelve.

     Harold told me, in a conversation shortly after becoming the Master, that in fact, more than a year earlier, Darwin said he was going to appoint Harold as the Living ECK Master. Darwin, from his own inner guidance, knew that it was time to pass the leadership of ECKANKAR on, but the 1980 World Wide Seminar went by without a word. In October 1981, Darwin finally made the announcement. Then, in a number of talks shortly afterward, Darwin indirectly suggested that while Harold was now the Living ECK Master, Darwin might still be the Mahanta. What was going on?

     Having spoken to hundreds of ECKists about these times, I can tell you that there were hundreds of different experiences and viewpoints of what was happening. The perspective of one ECKist often didn't agree with the next. Some tried to explain what it all meant, but this only tended to create factions and differing ways of seeing it.

     For example, some were reminded of a quote from one of Paul's discourses where Paul told of seeing two ECK Masters fighting with each other, even throwing stones (fortunately as Paul humorously said, they were such poor shots that they couldn't hit each other.) Others felt this reference was inappropriate, since the problem was simply that Darwin was no longer the Living ECK Master. Others still found the inner experience of Darwin's form coming to them as the Inner Master.

     As time passed, it became clear that each ECKist had to sort out the meaning for themselves, which is exactly how it should have been all along. Dependence upon the outer Master, the outer organization and outward announcements hid the inner shift that was really taking place. Therefore, this conflict between Darwin and Harold forced ECKists to the inner to discover what was true. There really was no other choice, because there was nowhere else to turn to decide the matter. This was one of the greatest benefits of this time.

     If you think this is a unique experience, or that something was wrong for this to take place in ECKANKAR, then you will not be far from the thoughts many ECKists had at the time. Like others, I took my questions inwardly into contemplation, and using the Soul Travel techniques, I asked other ECK Masters what was going on.

     The response I got shocked me. The ECK Masters all smiled, asked me what all the fuss was about, and said that this was nothing new. It had all happened many times before. That was my inner experience, and it certainly was not what I expected. Clearly I had a lot to learn about the manifestation of the Living ECK Master.

     Over the years, I've come to understand the truth of what the ECK Masters were trying to tell me then. Conflict and confusion often follow the arrival of a new Master. In fact, such episodes should be expected, as Babuji Maharaj, the fifth in a line of spiritual leaders with the Radhasoami Parent Faith, centered in Agra, India, wrote about the subject:

    "The advent of Sants [Masters] is always accompanied by increased activity in the lower centers of Kal and Maya, as they make the desperate efforts to impede the work of spiritual emancipation. These negative forces are represented in one form or another in Satsang itself...

     "These activities are useful in their own way. Although adopted by the lower forces with the purpose of putting obstacles in the path of the devotee, these challenges are helpful to the true Satsangi in developing that sublime spiritual instinct, which is necessary to lead Soul back into the purely spiritual regions."

     Commenting on these words of Babuji Maharaj, Sant Das, a chief disciple of Babuji's, wrote:

    "The sifting and weeding out alluded to above, has ever since the laying of the foundation of the Faith been taking place at the departure of each Sant Sat Guru and it is essential that this should be so, for the spiritual growth and advancement of the main stock. People not having true and unmixed longing for spiritual growth break away, congregate together and form sects of their own."

     Looking back, we can see in a similar way that the turbulence for Paul, when he became the Living ECK Master, was no easier than for Harold. Spiritual authority is something inherited from the Sugmad of Itself. It is not something appointed or passed on by a written will or by proclamation. Therefore, it is natural to expect that there will always be forces at work to rise up against the manifestation of the Living ECK Master.

     Anyone close to Darwin could see that he was forced to give up the Rod of Power, as the leadership of ECK is called. He tried to hang on to it, but it was virtually burning him alive. He was having all sorts of physical problems, because the phase of Mastership that he was leading had come to an end, and it was time for the next cycle. In the end, however, I believe that Darwin did honor the inner guidance he was given, and willingly chose to step aside.

     Even Paul, himself, said:

    Why certain things happen in this work or the reasons why they want a successor, why the Masters want certain things to be done, are not revealed to me. Perhaps it's just as well. Because if I did know, then I would be in that position of having the future already laid out for me in my own knowledge.

     In the February 1, 1971 Wisdom Note, Paul made the meaning of these comments a little clearer:

     Some people try to find a pattern or standard formula for the life spans, types of bodies, and destinies of these spiritual giants. But I can tell you there is no pattern and the only formula that exists is one that demonstrates the impersonal nature of SUGMAD...

     Whether a master has a long or a short life, what kind of body is given to him, etc., does not depend upon the individual at all, but is according to the work to be done and how he is to be used...

     Now this may not seem to be in accord with many people's concept of a loving and compassionate God, but that nevertheless is the case and once the consciousness is opened sufficiently to understand this, it can be observed that adverse reaction to this knowledge stems from not remembering that the body is, after all, a temporary vehicle for any man, but in the case of the workers of the SUGMAD it is used directly by the SUGMAD to work out Its purpose in the world.

     Indeed, this may seem impersonal. In the days when Paul was the Master, he was often known to give initiations very quickly to some people. Sometimes initiations were given even faster than one per year. This caused troubles for most of these people, since their consciousness was changing so fast, and their karma was being worked off so quickly, that it was not uncommon for them to have real difficulties later on, and many ended up leaving ECKANKAR. I don't think they had the time to establish a strong foundation with the basic principles of the spiritual path. I remember Darwin, himself, pointing this out one time, while explaining that he was slowing down the initiation process, for the sake of the ECKists.

     This might sound cold, that Paul would do something that could cause such problems, but in fact these individuals wanted more than anything to work with Paul and Paul knew that the ECK was calling them forward to be channels to help in the establishment of this new teaching of ECKANKAR. They were brought up in initiations to help in the work so that they could have that rare gift of participating in those few short years when the teaching grew into a spiritual movement.

     Darwin, himself, went from joining ECKANKAR in 1968, to a Fifth Initiate in 1970, to ECK Mastership in 1971. This is simply too fast, even if he had much of this training in a previous life. But as Paul said, this is the way of the Sugmad to work out ITS purpose in the world.

     David Lane wrote:

     What Went Wrong? 

     Darwin Gross' troubles didn't first begin in 1983; they started twelve years earlier when he was appointed by Gail (Atkinson) Twitchell to succeed her late husband, Paul Twitchell, as head of Eckankar in 1971; because, regardless of Eckankar's myths to the contrary, there is no historical basis for the "Vairagi Order of Masters." The concept is a literary fiction invented by Paul Twitchell to invoke a double sense of mystery and antiquity. Succession in Eckankar is not made on some inner, subtle plane by a congregation of highly evolved mystics with comical sounding names like Fubbi Quantz, Rebazar Tarzs, and Yaubl Sacabi, but is rather the outcome of a very human process, replete with all of the trappings that such human enterprises entail. Simply put, Paul Twitchell as an ascended master did not appoint Darwin Gross; Twitchell's wife Gail did, who (interpret as you want) married the "new" master, Darwin, shortly thereafter. Likewise, Harold Klemp was not ordained by the Vairagi Order on some illustrious night in October, he was chosen by Darwin Gross, who for a variety of reasons (including the fact that he had bad back problems and that he could "control" Klemp), did not want to continue as the "Living Eck Master." 

     Thus, Darwin's first problem was that he was not an enlightened being in an authentic religious tradition. Instead, he was a two-year chela in Eckankar who "made good" by being in the right place at the right time. Gross never lived up to the expectations that sincere followers of Eckankar had for him. Given his real status (as that of an ordinary student in an extraordinary, titled position), Darwin attempted to "pose" as a fully realized master. But he could never succeed in his charade because he lacked the necessary intellectual and managerial skills to pull it off. In other words, Darwin Gross got "caught" in his own web of deception. Ironically, it was Gross' hand-picked successor, Harold Klemp, who prompted his final undoing. 

     David is speaking about things here that are so far beyond his personal understanding that it sounds as if he, himself, is posing as "an enlightened being." Fortunately, David admits that he is no such thing. Once again, David thinks he can use his rational mind to understand the trans-rational. His analysis doesn't even come close to recognizing what took place.

     As we have already seen, Gail, herself, would never say that she appointed Darwin Gross, so by what right does David declare that she did? And from his state of omniscience, David also proclaims that there is no line of ECK Masters. Why? Is it because David himself has come from what he calls "an authentic religious tradition," and therefore he knows better?

     Paul wrote about the ECK Masters, in The Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad, Book II, page 207:

    These spiritual Masters are within their own line of spiritual descendents, and do not concern themselves with those of religious or philosophical groups. The ECK Masters are of a true, clean line spiritual family that does not include those commonly known in the orthodox religions.

     In other words, the line of ECK Masters is not part of any "authentic religious tradition," as David would call such lineages. The ECK Masters belong to that line of beings who have inherited their spiritual authority not from any outer source, but from the Sugmad of Itself. If David could for once stop seeing ECKANKAR as some cheap copy of Sant Mat, he might see that the line of ECK Masters is nothing like the lineage of Sant Mat gurus.

     Because this is such an important and interesting point, I'd like to make this as clear as possible. In Sant Mat, the disciple surrender's his spiritual welfare over to the Guru. This is the physical Master who represents a lineage of Gurus and a religious tradition passed from Guru to disciple. In fact, this is why it is called The Path of the Masters, which is what Sant Mat means. Therefore, the disciple enters into a deep bond with the whole lineage and teaching tradition, with the living Guru as the current carrier of the message.

     The line of ECK Masters is different from that. The ECK Masters are those who have inherited their spiritual mantle from the Sugmad, not from a religious tradition or a single line of teachers. Therefore, ECKists don't surrender their spiritual lives to a physical Master, nor to a tradition, but to the Mahanta Consciousness of Itself, the Inner Master. The Rod of ECK Power can pass from one region of the globe to another. It has passed from Ancient Egypt to Greece, to Tibet, Persia and India. There is always one who holds this position, but it is not tied to any traditional religion. This is closer to the Sufi concept of the one who they call The Pole of the World, than the idea of a Sant Mat Guru.

     Because of the importance of the physical Master in Sant Mat, the need for a Perfect Master is key. Any limitations in the Guru's understanding become a limitation for his disciples. However, amongst the ECK Masters this isn't the case, because the Mahanta Consciousness is not limited by its channel anymore than the sun is limited by clouds. This is why Paul and Harold have so often mentioned that the Living ECK Master lives within the human condition like anyone else. There is no need to look for perfection in the physical Master.

     David clearly does not recognize this difference, which is why every time he finds some human aspect to Paul, Darwin or Harold, he feels that this is proof that they are not Masters. In Sant Mat this might be true, but in ECKANKAR there should be no expectation of perfection in the Master, only in the Mahanta Consciousness of Itself.

     The results of these differences are significant. Here is a quote from Paul's Illuminated Way Letter, dated October 1969:

     The body is limited by time, space and physical energy. But that part of each of us which is Soul, the Divine spark of God within us all, is not limited and, therefore, can be set free. It is that part of man which is able to roam the universes and be completely free of law; that which the religionists and the metaphysicians call the Spiritual Law of God...

     Once you understand this, you are no longer encased in the materialistic belief of moral codes. Not that society does not need moral laws, but you are above such laws which belong only to the lower worlds...

     These moral laws are what is passed down in traditional religions. Certain behavior becomes expected. This is the bane of true spiritual seekers, who should look to become free of such limitations if they are interested in the path of ECK. For this reason ECKists should retain their individuality and should not be bothered by the imperfections of the physical Master.

     David seems to believe that this breakdown between Darwin and Harold is another proof that ECKANKAR is not authentic. But, in fact, to see the power of the ECK forcing Darwin to step aside was one of the greatest proofs of ITS power I have ever seen. The difference here, is that the power of the ECK Teachings does not originate or even depend upon the physical Master, as it does in Sant Mat, but the Sugmad of ITSELF finds one who can carry on ITS work of bringing the spiritual teachings to the world.

     The great lesson from this episode in ECKANKAR's history is that to find and follow the new Living ECK Master requires going within, and faith in the Mahanta to reveal Itself to us. We cannot depend upon any outer source.

     Interestingly, the Radhasoami Parent Faith in Agra, India, has adopted a very similar approach to this matter, contrary to other Sant Mat groups, such as the Beas group David belonged to. Radhasoami Parent Faith says that the Living Master, at the most, gives hints or suggestions of who their successor might be. It is not up to them to appoint their successor. Rather there is always a period of time after the past Master has stepped aside, before the new Master becomes revealed. This revelation comes inwardly to the general group of seekers and satsangis. Once a number of the higher and more respected satsangis say who they accept as the new Master, then it usually becomes widely accepted. But it is up to each person to decide for themselves.

     This is exactly what happened after Paul died. Although he left hints as to his successor, he did not declare who he was outwardly. However, Gail, along with Patti Simpson and Millie Moore, amongst many others, recognized that Darwin had received the mantle of ECK leadership. Although it was then announced at the Fifth World Wide Seminar, when Gail handed Darwin a blue carnation on stage, still each ECKist needed to confirm for themselves who the new Master was.

     Although this naturally leads to the schisms and offshoots that Babuji spoke about above, this is the necessary result of a lineage of Masters based upon inner spiritual authority. The authenticity of the ECK Masters can be proven and verified in no other place than within each of us. Even when Darwin appeared to be appointing Harold as his successor, in fact this only created more confusion until the ECKists finally were forced to ignore the outer announcements and went inwardly to verify the truth for themselves.

     This period of time after one Master steps aside, before the next Master becomes generally recognized, is given a special name by the Radhasoami Parent line. They call it Interregnum. It is a period that can last months or years. It is based upon the faith and belief that the new Master, or what they call the Sant Sat Guru, will reveal him or herself. That when the time is right, many will recognize and know the truth. This doesn't mean that there is a period of time when there is no Master, but that the Master only reveals his spiritual authority when the time is right.

     Sant Das, who I referred to before, in his book, Interregnum, wrote the following:

     The divine current never recedes. This is proved by the fact that even during interregnum true Satsangis do experience bliss and ecstasy of ascension of Soul and mind to higher regions.

     Even during an interregnum those Satsangis, who perform their spiritual exercises sincerely and assiduously, experience internal bliss. Also, those who carefully, and in the true spirit, read the holy books, find their doubts and misgivings resolved by and by. This would not have been possible had the spiritual current not been present during the interregnum in this region. And if it is present in this region, it must be located in some human form. Incognito, He is taking care of His flock.

     Therefore the search to find the next Master is nearly the same as the original search to find the Master in the first place. There is a great value and purpose in this search. This is when all the preconceptions and expectations must be dropped. It requires absolute reliance upon the Inner Master and the inner teachings. The help is there inwardly, and the connection is always there, but during Interregnum there is no other place to turn.

     Although Darwin announced Harold as the next Living ECK Master in 1981, there was still a period of time for many before they inwardly accepted Harold as the Master. This is as it should be. The confusion of that time, however, came from the belief that somehow this inner recognition should have been automatic and immediate. This was the result of dependence upon the outer announcement instead of the inner revelation. Sooner or later each ECKist had to struggle through this period until their own understanding took place.

     As Sant Das says, this process should not be rushed:

     So long as one has not got some proof or recognition of Sant Sat Guru...one should regard him as one's superior or as an advanced traveler on the path...If a person acts hastily...and his understanding has not yet become firm befitting his conviction, nor has he any experience, internal and external, then his faith will falter during vicissitudes of life and often at the time of troubles it will waver and then his interest in his spiritual practices will also slacken.

     Nobody can beguile the true devotees and practitioners, because their Surats (Soul) cannot be satisfied until they get spiritual nourishment.

     While it might seem cold and unfair that the Master should not reveal Himself immediately, in fact this period of time, this Interregnum, serves a most valuable purpose. Brahm Shankar Misra, the third Sant Sat Guru in the Radhasoami Parent line, put it this way:

    Problems concerning children can be understood by children alone. If an elderly person were to intrude in their fold, they would run away out of fear. The teacher occasionally leaves the classroom purposely to give the students an opportunity to discuss among themselves. The students have an open discussion among themselves. In like manner, the Sat Guru, when He deems fit, departs from the world. Satsangis feel shy and hesitant before the Sat Guru. Hence, when He departs they meet together and discuss and solve subtle points.

     In other words, the dialogue between brothers and sisters on the path can be much more open and freewheeling during interregnum. It allows for many questions and issues to arise to the surface that had been held in check while the Master was in their midst. This was exactly what took place during this time after Darwin stepped aside as the Master.

     Not many ECKists realize it, but Harold waited patiently for about two years before stepping forward and establishing his position. He let everyone say whatever they wanted about him, and he let Darwin continue on in whatever way he wished. Gradually, for most on the ECKANKAR board of directors and those in the ECKANKAR office who were working with Harold, the recognition of Harold's inner authority and strength revealed itself. Finally, in 1983 it reached a point when a conflict arose between Darwin and Harold, and it came down to the Board of Directors having to make a choice. Would they side with Darwin, who had been their Master, or with Harold? By that time it had become clear to the board members that Harold was the Living ECK Master, and Harold then stepped forward and began to set his plans in motion.

     I met with Harold on almost a weekly basis during this time, and saw a great deal of what was taking place. For example, early on, Darwin suggested to Harold that Harold should turn his focus to the spiritual teachings, writings and lectures. Darwin offered to manage the business side. I think that Darwin was sincere about this, and it wasn't such a bad idea. However, for the plan to work, Darwin needed to accept Harold's lead and not try to tell Harold what to do. This was not the path that Darwin took, unfortunately. I don't know what Darwin was thinking, that he could be in charge when Harold was the Living ECK Master and the spiritual leader of ECKANKAR, but this was what he tried to do.

     Harold went along with Darwin's suggestion for a while, until Darwin announced a price increase in the membership fees. Harold saw this would have a direct impact on the spiritual teachings and was not some isolated business matter, so he stepped in to head the price increase off. He asked why such an increase was needed, and in the process began to uncover what the state of the finances really was. ECKANKAR was on the verge of losing money, but Harold wanted to focus on cutting costs rather than raising prices. Harold went through the books himself, found more than a few areas where the spending was higher than needed to be, and offered a new plan. Darwin didn't like it.

     I know that Harold tried to bridge the gap between himself and Darwin. On a number of occasions Harold tried to meet and talk with Darwin to work things out, but for whatever reason, Darwin decided to hold the position that he was still the leader of the organization of ECKANKAR. He even went so far as to withdraw sums of money and take records and files from the ECKANKAR office, to set up another office that he could run in a different state. This action, however, caught the Board by surprise, and ended in a lawsuit between Darwin and ECKANKAR.

     Shortly afterwards, in what David Lane claims was a "Personal and Confidential" letter dated January 4, 1984, Harold Klemp informed Darwin Gross of his removal from ECKANKAR. Since this letter was never distributed by Harold or ECKANKAR, I must assume that David received what was in this letter from Darwin. Here is what David printed in his book: 

Dear Darwin: 

    The Order of the Vairagi ECK Masters no longer recognizes you as an ECK Master. As the agent of the ECK, I have removed all of your initiations in ECK as well as terminated your membership in ECKANKAR. You are not capable or authorized to act or speak for or about the Vairagi ECK Masters, ECKANKAR or the ECK teachings, nor are you to hold yourself out as an ECK Master or ECK member. Do not directly or indirectly associate yourself or your activities with the sacred teachings of ECK or ECKANKAR in any way. 

     I have refrained from coming forth with this pronouncement sooner for the sake of those new to the path and still setting their spiritual foundation. Dap Ren [spiritual name for Darwin Gross] served the ECK well at one time but the negative forces were allowed in through lack of vigilance and discipline, causing spiritual decay. No one has done this to you--you have brought this upon yourself. Will the meaning of this discipline come clear or will you remain like an actor lost in his role? 

     You have been given many opportunities to avoid this, but you have continued your unseeing actions, forsaking the good of the whole for the whimperings of the little self. Your misuse of a sacred trust; your self-serving mismanagement of ECKANKAR; your acts against the MAHANTA, the Living ECK Master, and against other initiates; your false statements; all of this misconduct is the result of a fall from grace. No one, including an Eck Master, is exempt from the laws of Spirit. 

     And so it stands. The Divine plan continues unfolding while the ages roll by and Souls make their way home to SUGMAD. IT will receive you through the MAHANTA, the living ECK Master, when you are ready. 

Sincerely, 

            Sri Harold Klemp

David Lane writes:

      How can Gross' exodus be properly explained without usurping the very foundation of Eckankar's belief system? How can a Living Eck Master, who allegedly has access to the very highest plane of Consciousness, get thrown out of Eckankar and not even be considered an initiate? Or, more bluntly, how can "God" be dethroned? 

     The forthcoming answers for Klemp and the higher initiates of Eckankar are not easy ones.  For at the very least Darwin's removal indicates that Klemp himself can "fall" from grace at any moment. The "Rod of Power" is not infallible. Hence, for the average Eck initiate the prospects are a bit gloomy: if the Highest Master of God Consciousness can blow it and become a person non grata, then what does that say about his/her chances? Darwin's excommunication points to a fatal flaw in Eckankar's philosophy: spiritual realization is not moral salvation. Indeed, given Darwin Gross' behavior it appears obvious that attaining "Eck Mastership" does not in any way prevent one from still being immoral and self-serving. 

     David raises some interesting questions here, but the flaw he points to is hardly fatal. It is once again based upon his confusion between moral law, which is man-made and tied to traditional and cultural beliefs, and the spiritual freedom of Soul, which is the foundation of the Law of God, as taught by the ECK Masters.

     David also continues to forget that Darwin was not the Living ECK Master, and had not been the Master for over two years, when Harold wrote his letter. Therefore, no Living ECK Master was thrown out of ECKANKAR, as David states. And Harold states it very clearly; even the ECK Masters are not exempt from the laws of spirit.

     In other words, yes, David is right, initiations and spiritual attainment are no guarantee. The higher states of consciousness must be re-won on a daily basis. And yes, indeed, this was a graphic example to see Darwin's fall from grace. I'm not talking about whether Darwin was considered an ECK Master by others or not, that's hardly what I mean by his fall from grace. I am referring to the very visible change that came over Darwin after Harold became the Master.

     In his last years as the Living ECK Master, Darwin began giving music concerts. He played his vibraphone and sang, with a light, uplifting jazz ensemble. It was not uncommon, in those days, to see him slip here or there and miss a note or two, but he always recovered with some great inspirational improvisation, and the Grace of the ECK was visible in his playing.

     Shortly after he stepped aside as Living ECK Master, Darwin gave another concert in the Bay Area of California. The performance was dramatically different. The magic was gone. His mistakes were multiplied, but more importantly there was no graceful recovery. The inner support that had always been so visible to the inner senses in Darwin's talks and music was suddenly missing from his performance. Even David Lane, who saw the concert in San Diego a short while later, noticed the difference and wrote about how he could not help feeling sad watching Darwin's strained condition.

     Contrary to David's views, I found this one of the greatest proofs of the reality of the ECK teachings. The grace I had always seen with Darwin, even when he made mistakes from time to time, was suddenly gone. It had been passed on. It was not even subtle. I wondered how it all seemed to Darwin, and my heart went out to him to have to go through such a loss in such a public way. However, the ECK calls those whom It chooses, and before It we can have only humility and awe.

     There are some who claim that Darwin was never a real Master, but I cannot agree with them. Such a statement completely ignores the amazing love and devotion that Darwin displayed toward his chelas and they to him. I have had so many personal inner and outer spiritual experiences with Darwin as the Master, and have witnessed so many miracles of spiritual awakening in those around him, that I will never be able to forget his gifts and his teaching.

     For example, I remember an incident at the ECK Seminar in San Antonio, Texas, in 1974. I was 20 years old, working for the ECKANKAR Office, and came to help tape the seminar and help where I could with the stage arrangements. Before one of Darwin's talks, I was invited into his room with a few others.

     Darwin asked me how the seminar was going. He was interested in a few new speakers who he felt showed a lot of promise. I remember him specifically asking me if I heard Harold's talk, which was Harold's second time in front of a major seminar. I told him I had and that it was a good one. Darwin then went on to talk about some of the subjects he was trying to get across to ECKists. He began explaining that, no matter how he seemed to put his points across, most missed his message completely.

     I have never been one overly impressed with authority figures, and I certainly didn't see Darwin any differently. I highly admired him and had the greatest respect for his example, but not as an authority symbol. So when he began heading down this road of how the ECKists weren't listening to him, I spontaneously said:

     "Awwwwww," as if he was a poor little boy that no one was listening to.

     I remember the expression on one of the other ECKist's face when I said that. He could not believe I had just spoken that way to the Living ECK Master! But Darwin wasn't bothered by it in the least. In fact, without missing a beat, he immediately smiled, laughed, and said, "Thank you."

     Darwin then launched into some funny stories and the whole spirit of the room shifted from a serious tone to lighthearted upliftment. About a half hour later, Darwin began looking pensive again and checked his watch. He said something like this:

     "Well I'm not sure what I should talk about tonight. Maybe it would be better if I didn't say anything. Perhaps someone else should give the talk tonight."

     Then Darwin turned to me and asked: "What about you giving the talk tonight, Doug."

     His question floored me. Not for a minute did I even consider it a possibility, but there was something much more going on in his question than that, and I sat there stunned trying to grasp what I was feeling. When I looked toward the other ECKist in the room, I had a real chuckle, because I could see he was visibly worried that I might say yes. But what happened when Darwin asked me that question, was that I suddenly felt the whole weight of what Darwin was feeling, and the burden of it was overwhelming. It was like the weight of the world.

     This reminds me of a time when Milarepa, the Tibetan Saint and ECK Master, spoke about the weight and burden of the Spiritual Teacher. A doubter, who did not believe such things asked for some proof. To this, Milarepa transferred his burden to a thick wooden door, which immediately began to creak and groan from the pressure. However, this proved nothing to the doubter, so he asked to have the burden transferred to him.

     Milarepa said he would transfer but a part. The doubter then began to feel such suffering and pain that he begged Milarepa to take it back. Immediately, the doubter realized that this pain and suffering that Milarepa could transfer whenever he wanted was nothing like the pains and suffering of the average person. Simply because Milarepa could transfer such a burden when he wished proved he chose to carry it of his own free will, and that it was not his own personal problem.

     I didn't realize until later how subtly Darwin had taught me this same lesson. It was I who couldn't see or understand what he had been saying any better than the ECKists that Darwin was trying to reach. Yet, indirectly, he brought the conversation back to show me, and give me a glimpse of the experience, so that I might understand. While carrying on conversations with others in the room at the same time, he showed me the burden of the Living ECK Master and that he consciously chose to carry it out of love. There is no question for me that this is the mark of a real Master. The subtlety of it was incredible, yet unmistakably real.

     I had many experiences with Darwin like this through the years I worked with him. Another experience that comes to mind took place shortly after I started working at the ECKANKAR Office when it was still in Las Vegas. I had discovered a box of audio tapes in the back of a loft where boxes and office supplies were stored. In going through the tapes I discovered they were the originals of Paul's talks. With all the changes in general administrators, the tapes had been forgotten and were laying there abandoned and gathering dust.

     I asked Darwin for permission to go through the tapes and sort them out. Then, usually in the evenings after work, or on weekends, I would bring home a reel-to-reel tape player, and started going through the tapes. In the process I found dozens of talks by Paul that had never been released on cassette tape. I also found that some of the talks that had previously been sold were actually spliced together sections from a variety of talks, because someone thought it would be more interesting to hear Paul's thoughts on one subject at a time.

     I began the slow process of splicing the tapes back to their original form, and trying to date and place where each talk had been given, as well as electronically cleaning them up as best I could, given the technology available at that time. It was from the year or so that I spent on this task that I gained an insight into Paul that has never left me, and has influenced me greatly in how I see the man and why I've decided to write this book to correct the misleading picture that has been created about him.

     Anyway, back to the story: Darwin was very supportive of my self-assigned task and would ask me about it from time to time. One day I told him that I'd discovered a tape like no others in the box. It was a personal recording by Paul, apparently done in his home. It sounded like Paul was experimenting again. This time he was trying to create an audio version of something like Dialogues With The Master.

     The tape started with Paul's voice describing a visit by Rebazar Tarzs. Then we hear Paul's voice lower into a deep, gravely sound, saying something like, "Well, Paul, are you ready?" Paul was mimicking the voice of Rebazar Tarzs! The tape went on to give a discourse from Rebazar on a spiritual topic. This was so long ago I can't remember much more than that, but the tape was amazing to me, and I wish I could hear it again to see what I might think of it today.

     So, when I told Darwin about the tape, I asked him if he had ever heard anything about it before. He immediately became interested, told me that it was news to him, and asked if I could get it for him. I told Darwin that I had left it in my apartment with all the other tapes I was sorting through, but I would run home to get it for him. I immediately jumped up to head for my car.

     It was at this point that Darwin said something that left me with a deep impression. He saw that I was hurrying toward my car in my desire to get the tape for him, and he said, "Take your time." He then paused, as if he was saying something very important, and he added, "There is never any reason to rush."

     While these words hardly carry with them anything that sounds very significant, Darwin's words carried an inner power and depth that told me there was something very significant going on. So, the whole way back to my apartment, and then driving back to the office, I found myself working through the inner teaching that came with those words. Once again I found that Darwin had transferred something inwardly, which was an experience I had never seen from anyone before in my life.

     The meaning of these words, "there is never any reason to rush," unfolded as I thought about it. First, the rhythm of the ECK behind Darwin's words showed me that in hurrying I was not in synch with life or spirit. By rushing, I was trying to move faster than the ECK, and thus putting myself out of alignment with Life Itself. I remember asking myself, while driving in my car, was Darwin really right that there was never any reason to rush? Never? But the more I worked through the inner meaning, I realized that Darwin was right. To rush was to become disconnected from the ECK, and that Life has its own pace. To find that pace and align with it, whether fast or slow, is what the path of ECK is all about. This will be the best thing in any situation, no matter what it might be.

     Besides personal experiences with Darwin, there was a widespread experience that many ECKists talked about, shortly after Paul died. They saw Paul's image and face coming through Darwin while he was giving a talk. Sometimes it appeared this way for just a moment, but other times for nearly the whole talk. It seemed as if Paul's presence was up on stage, and as if Paul himself were giving the talk. In fact, this experience was so common that a drawing of Darwin's profile with a silhouette of Paul inside became widely distributed, and it was eventually coined into a medallion worn by ECKists. This was just one of many proofs to ECKists that Darwin had received the Rod of ECK Power.

     What I find fascinating is that this experience of seeing the past Master in the form of the new Master is not unique to ECKANKAR. I've run across similar stories told by the satsangis of Salig Ram after Shiv Dayal Singh, the founder of Radhasoami, passed away. And when Brahm Shankar Misra succeeded Salig Ram, similar reports were popular. What does this mean?

     Everything in this world is touched by electricity in some way or other. Electricity flows everywhere, but it flows mainly through conductors. It is the same with Spirit, or what ECKists call the ECK. The spiritual force flows into this world through the channel of what we call consciousness. Spirituality touches everything. There is nothing that exists without some element of Spirit, and therefore some element of Life, yet this Power mainly enters this world through the conduit of consciousness.

     When a spiritual teaching is brought forth into this world, it is like a wave that enters the consciousness of the planet. But, since it must come through some person, some individual, it uses the vehicle of that Teacher to flow through. Those who become students of a Teacher find that their Master's image becomes a matrix and a channel for the inner teachings. This wave of consciousness pours through that image like electricity flows through an electrical conductor. Without this inner connection to a spiritual teaching, all of the books and writings become nothing more than empty words. Therefore, according to ECKANKAR, before one can discover the secret teachings, one must have this inner connection with the Teacher.

     When a student reports seeing the image of a past Master coming through the form of another, this is an indication that the same wave of consciousness is flowing through them. The inner matrix of the previous Master still remains active until the new Master's image becomes established as a symbol for the spiritual current in the students' consciousness. Therefore, the form of the previous Master naturally becomes replaced by the image of the new Master, whose consciousness the teaching now flows through.

     I should mention that while ECKANKAR and the Radhasoami Parent Faith, in Agra, both recognize this fact, the Beas Radha Soami Satsang that David Lane has been associated with does not. The Beas group teaches that once a Guru has initiated you, that Guru becomes your Master for your whole life, even if that Master dies. Strangely, the founder of Radhasoami, Shiv Dayal Singh, spelled it out quite clearly in his book, Sar Bachan, that until the spiritual seeker gains the high states of consciousness and has established themselves in such states, they are still in need of the Living Master and should seek them out after the previous Master dies. However, the Beas group has removed this reference from their version of the Sar Bachan.

     This is one of many examples where ECKANKAR is actually closer to the original teachings of the Radhasoami Parent Faith (as they call themselves) than the teachings of Kirpal Singh or Charan Singh, who were associated with the Beas Satsang. This, I believe, is another indication showing that while Kirpal Singh may have introduced Paul to the Sant Mat teachings, that Paul was connected to a teaching very different than the teachings flowing through Kirpal himself.

     Returning back to the discussion, such experiences of the images of a previous Master coming through the form of a new Master have been described down through history by spiritual students, but misunderstandings of what is taking place have mislead some disciples to think that their previous Master has reincarnated in the form of the new Master. The Tibetan Buddhists often search out the birth of the reincarnated Teacher for this reason. The reincarnation taking place, however, is the reincarnation of the spiritual current through a new human form. Therefore, the transmission of a spiritual teaching is a very real thing, but it can become hidden beneath the surface of outward events.

     The student rarely understands the way that this inner matrix of the Master forms and changes. It forms within the consciousness of the student, but the seeker often thinks it is the Master, himself. The transmission of the inner spiritual currents and teachings come through the form of the Master, but they create a highly personalized matrix in the consciousness of the disciple, and this is what causes the inner image of the Master to lead and guide them to the Inner Form of the Mahanta Consciousness.

     When the student begins to find the higher states of consciousness, they should be able to connect to the source of the spiritual teachings, themselves. Then they should begin to access the teachings directly, and can see why they will never be separated from the Mahanta again. This is the state known as Self-Realization.

 

The Challenge of The Self:

     This leads the discussion to the greatest challenge that faces every seeker of the spiritual path: The challenge of the self. If we seek God for our self, then we will fail. If our ultimate desire is to benefit our self, then sooner or later we will find ourselves standing in our own way, for at the bottom of most struggles for God and spiritual illumination, is the problem of the self. Yet, what other motivation do we know but what springs from our self?

     Here we come to one of the most interesting things to be learned from this dialogue over David's book. How does Sant Mat solve this problem of the self? Fundamentally, the Guru solves this problem for the disciple. The disciple must place total faith and love in the Guru, thus taking attention off themselves. Therefore love for and worship of the Guru is the whole crux of Sant Mat. Any doubt that might creep in could send the disciple reeling back to the fearfulness of his own self, and once he begins listening to the whisperings of the self, he has lost all that he once attained.

     Therefore, in Sant Mat, surrender to the Master is required. This is the way of losing the little self to find the Greater Self. All doubt springs from the fears of the little self and must be forgotten. It all comes down to this. Sacrificing the little self for the Guru.

     After dozens of years studying this matter, I've come to the conclusion that ECKANKAR resolves this problem of the self in a very different way. Although love for the Inner Master, the Mahanta, plays a significant role in many of the most critical turning points on the spiritual path of ECK, there is another principle at work that is even more far reaching in the life of the ECKist.

     Paul writes in The Flute of God, page 18:

    "In a way, man lives in two worlds. The outer life that man lives is limited, but the Prince of God lives in a boundless inner world. One can become a slave to the influences from without instead of being free, influenced from within as Soul.

     "Now you must remember that until coming into the awareness of "I AM HE" or God ITSELF, you are still the Prince, the potential heir to the throne. Each of us must learn the responsibility of the throne which we, as individuals, will inherit someday, as well as the principle by which the King, Our Father, governs all His subjects.

     "Do you understand this simplicity? Savants, sages, rishis, saviors, munis and avatars have expressed this idea to the peoples of this world. We are the offspring of the Eternal who must recognize His spirit in all men and greet them as part of the Eternal.

     "Each Soul desires to be the Prince, to live like the Prince. The heir to the throne knows his power, his position in life. He lives in confidence, leaning upon the support of his high estate, upon the knowledge that the King is his Father.

     "Therefore, the principle involved here is, "We live and have our being in the Supreme Being." Lai Tsi, the Chinese ECK Master, said it this way, "we live and move and have our being in the SUGMAD."

     To put this another way, in ECKANKAR the problem of the self is fundamentally solved by the seeker once they take up the spiritual work, which is not a work for the sake of the self, but for the sake of Life, or the ECK. It is the Greater Work. We take up this work not to solve our problems or to make our life better, but simply because it is our rightful place in life.

     Once we step upon this path, and take our place in the spiritual hierarchy, wherever that might be, our whole life begins to change. We fall under the graces of God and the events of our life take on a whole new significance. We still find difficulties, we still find illness, but our struggle is no longer just a problem of the little self, but something with larger meaning and purpose. The language of life begins to speak to us and show us the hidden plan. We, as the Princes, cannot always know all that Our Father does, but we see enough to know and see the spiritual force at work moving all of life closer to the awareness of God.

     This is why Paul wrote the following in The Flute of God, pages 35-36:

     "The basic principle in this study of purification is the learning of relaxation from all tension...

     "The great law of the universe is to "Love one another." Every teacher has told us this. Why? Simply because when we love others our heart and consciousness are relaxed, and our attention is taken off of self. What happens then? We relax when we forget ourselves. That is the natural and universally recognized result...

     "When one loves another as himself, his attention is focused outward. He is therefore relaxed. There is no stranglehold within. Then he becomes a channel for the power, and often demonstrates his conscious union with God. Yet when he asks for something for himself, his attention is focused inwardly. He instantly becomes tense and feels that it is a great struggle to get that which he desires..

     "One must relax utterly, then the Divine ECK Power flows through."

     I am pointing out these differences here, because I believe a real way in comparing religious teachings is to study how each teaching solves the problem of the little self. This is a crucial aspect of any spiritual path. The obstacle in our path is our own ego, our human fears and what the Sufis call the Commanding Self, which is that part of our human consciousness that desires to make the world as it wants. I believe this method of comparison is as helpful as any of the perspectives that Ken Wilber has offered.

     For example, in Christianity, the image of the suffering of Christ, is one intended to subdue the little self. The idea of suffering for others, putting one own's self down below the needs of others, and charity to the poor and ill, are teachings designed to reduce the power of the little self, to let the spiritual teachings flow in.

     In Buddhism, the teaching is based upon the illusory nature of the little self. Buddhists teach meditation designed to reveal the trickery of the mind and how it creates this false reality we think of as our self. The little self is not real, but a false image created by reflections of the world upon our consciousness and it leads to mistaken beliefs of separation from all of Reality.

     One could go through all of the religions and see that they are different because of the way they deal with the little self. This characteristic marks them and shows their uniqueness. In the same way, Sant Mat differs from ECKANKAR. The two approach this matter of the little self from different ways. Even the ECK concept of self-surrender to the Inner Master is very different from Sant Mat.

     From Paul's first Illuminated Way Letter, dated April 1966, he writes:

     Self-surrender is the real key to spiritual success in the out-of-the-body state. If one is looking for success on any plane in the invisible worlds, this is the way; for only by self-surrender do we gain the illumination and knowledge of true spirituality and, of course, entrance into the Kingdom of God.

     The question then arises in the mind, to whom does one surrender? The surrender is to the Inner Master, of course, not to the physical form that is seen with the outer eyes, but to Him who comes to you in the radiant form. This is the true Master...

     The release of all tensions and conflict is the first step to self-surrender. Turning all difficulties and problems over to this Inner Master and, of course, turning your inner life over to him, also. It is when anyone can come to this stage that he knows Spirit (Inner Master) has taken over and controls and guides him on the path to God...

     Giving up to the Inner Master, Spiritual Traveler, or Spirit, whichever you wish to call it, is not letting go of free will but making use of it for the Divine Cause. The attention is put upon the inner form of the teacher and, therefore, one plans according to the instructions and wisdom received from the inner planes.

    Paul explains this difference even further in The Far Country, page 36:

     These mystics, as well as those who wrote the Bible, the Buddhist texts, and the Upanishads believed in authority. In the Bhagavad-Gita there is a line which goes something like this "Worship me with a leaf, a flower, but worship me!" This is what Krishna, the Christ of India, says to Arjuna, his disciple. This is authority speaking.

     The spiritual traveler who seeks the authority of the Sugmad or God, whatever name you wish to call IT, is on the path to failure. No one, who knows anything about the Far Country, will attempt to look for authority anywhere, be it on this Earth plane or be it in the worlds beyond, in the Far Country.

     Gasset y Ortega, the Spanish philosopher and statesman, came closer to the truth when a few years ago he wrote in one of his many books, "Man is being forced by his nature to seek some higher authority. If he succeeds in finding it of himself, he is the superior man; if not, he is a mass-man, and must receive it from his superiors. To exist in a community, men must harmonize their desires; some kind of general equilibrium has to prevail. Men who leave the inner check, as Babbitt called it, must therefore submit to an outer one; they become mass-men, ruled by their superiors.

     "A man without the interior armor of value has no defense against the pressures of his society. It is precisely the loss of value which has turned the inner directed person of the nineteenth century to the outer directed automaton of today."

     Therefore, ECKists do not surrender the little self to the outer Master, nor do they look for outward authority, but rather it is a matter of self-surrender to that inner spiritual authority. Thus, a traditional lineage is not important and would only distract from the real Teacher. And the physical Master who carries the current of the teaching need not be perfect. This is not a passive state, like most Eastern practices, but one of learning to work with the inner spiritual currents for the purpose of taking up the spiritual work.

     Paul wrote in The Flute of God, page 56:

     We must not seek the solution to our problems from the outer. We must have faith in our ability to use the God state that is within us, which we have been using constantly all our lives. Have you not experienced this state at times when everything has come your way and you felt at ease with all? This suggests trust in God.

     If you want to express yourself or do anything intensely enough; dream it, imagine it and believe in it, and you will make contact with the ECK Power and it will be so. It is the inner with which you make contact. In this way you become magnetized with your faith and then you are drawn into the situations and circumstances that you are longing for.

     Our creed should be, "I believe." How can one become any simpler in his language than this? It gives the wildest scope to the experience of regeneration by relaxing, by letting go (at least psychologically) of the tension held to the breast. It is the acceptance of the grace of the ECK Life Force that comes pouring in to rebuild the body, and keep it youthful, poised and ready for emergencies. It is giving the body and mind direction and letting the Real Self, Soul, express.

     Spirit has a single motivation, a primary impulse, which is to express Truth, the love and beauty it feels itself to be. Thus, I know that the essence of Spirit is nobility, aesthetics, life, love and beauty.

     Soul expresses these qualities of nobility, beauty and love when it is involved in Its spiritual work. This is what ECKists call being a co-worker with God. Encapsulated in this teaching is both a selflessness, and a continued yearning to grow spiritually. Therefore, a truth of ECK is that when you do what is best for all of Life, you also do what is best spiritually for yourself, and vice versa, and this is what it means to be a co-worker with God. This is a very different teaching than you will find in Sant Mat, showing that these two teachings in their essence are not the same teaching at all.

 

The Act of Belief:

     When Paul says that our creed should be, "I believe," he is raising the final subject I would like to discuss in this chapter. Paul is using the verb, to believe, in an active, creational way. He is also speaking of consciously choosing what we believe.

     Our modern society, with its rapid growth of technology, has turned against this idea of belief. Today, the average person is taught to be ever critical of what they believe. To avoid the trap of blind belief and to question everything. Therefore, there is a great embarrassment in discovering what you have believed is "wrong."

     It is amazing how much fear and limitation there is in our modern thinking. Such thoughts are filled with all sorts of unconscious beliefs. Our own social culture is so pervasive that its beliefs become invisible to us. They are beliefs nonetheless, only they are unconscious and what they create is a self-limiting spiritual trap.

     This reminds me of a similar belief that was perpetuated back in the 50's, when Paul first wrote The Flute of God. It was the idea that daydreaming could be harmful. This might sound hard to believe today, but back then there were a number of psychologists telling people that there could be real dangers in allowing children to spend too much time in daydreams. They advised people to avoid such imaginary excursions that could take us away from the real world. They considered it unhealthy and a risk to a child's psychological well-being.

     Can you see how much fear and self-imprisonment there is in this belief? Yet, it spread because people believed it was the result of scientific discoveries in the new field of psychology. Today such a belief is not spoken about much, except in extreme cases. Today we realize that our imagination can open up doors in seeing and understanding life, as well as help in achieving the goals that we create and set for ourselves.

     However, today the idea of Belief is now seen in a negative light. Any religious belief is seen as blind, and the scientific establishment now encourages something very close to: "Do not believe anything!" Or as David Lane has put it: "Doubt everything!" This, whether it is realized or not, is a belief all its own, based upon fear and self-limitation. Why would anyone think such a belief is a better choice than trust in Our Father to show us the path back to our own Home?

     So, a book such as David's fits in perfectly with the current cultural beliefs of the day. Expose the foolish thinking of those who believe. Embarrass people for believing in something by uncovering the dark underbelly of reality. What a strange culture we live in.

     Clearly, the path of ECK, as Paul wrote about, makes a break from such negative thinking. It is founded on the principle that we can consciously choose our beliefs, and that this process creates and makes a world for us that leads to spiritual freedom. That it is our birthright to consciously choose, and that we are Princes to the Throne.

     In fact, this process is a way we learn to work with our attitude and attention, so that our spiritual senses become like subtle webs that catch the currents of the ECK, which bring inspiration and revelation. We do not accept the idea that we are forced to believe things because of outward evidence or rational thinking alone. We also have the power to choose what we believe as an act of creation.

      When we gain the inner experiences that prove for ourselves the reality of our belief, we begin to form a bowl that catches and holds the inner spirit, which becomes the substance of our inner dreams. This bowl becomes a source of grace and blessings that uplift our daily life. But when a book, such as David's, comes along and causes doubt about the very foundation of our beliefs, then our bowl becomes cracked, and the fluid of our dreams slowly begins to seep away. This is what I wrote over ten years ago, in an article I called, The Cracked Bowl:

     "What happens to those who reject their inner lives and accept only the outer world? From that moment their life slowly erodes. Like a bowl that is cracked, their life spirit slowly begins to drain, and no longer can the world reflect the rhythms of their heart. They have given up their birthright, they have denounced their keys to the God worlds, and now they can only ask: Why should I care about my work, my family, my future? There are no answers to these questions until their inner dream is restored...

     "But such total faith cannot be summoned like the genii from a bottle. It must spring from our experience and our understanding...

     "Therefore, our life needs to be whole - grasping a great dream that does not run from the "real" world, but out of strength, transforms the world itself. A dream that flows from spiritual reality and is tied into the fiber of all life. It must illumine our day, reveal purpose to our existence, and open our heart to love. We must not feel it shrinking our capacity, but expanding it to the point of unlimited capacity.

     "Thus, a true dream leads us to surrender our limitations out of love, not fear...It must be an individual, personal experience that liberates us. It clears from our eyes the darkness so that we no longer see evil or weakness within ourselves, or within others, for such weakness is only the lack of a dream.

     "The key of the cracked bowl, then, is that we will never find our spiritual dream, ourselves, unless we first grant everyone else their dream.

     "Unless we love and respect the beliefs of others as much as our own, the door to spiritual truth is closed. This is why Soul is required to blindly pass through the lower states of reality before coming into the light of the Self-Realization state: To pay homage to the gods, rulers and peoples of all worlds...

     "Attaining the higher states of consciousness, alone, cannot solve the problems of this world. To see and care for all life as an expression of God is the door that leads to the God-state Itself."

     Therefore, ECKANKAR is not a single belief that all ECKists must follow, but rather it is a process of using belief to contact the spiritual currents. In other words, we can try on a belief to see how it changes our worldview, like we might put on an overcoat. And we can drop a belief when it is time to move on to something new.

     This might sound revolutionary, but life is a spiritual journey, and our dreams are the states of consciousness we move through along our way. We sail across the Ocean of Life in our ships of belief.

     Therefore, the beliefs we hold must continually change as we learn and grow, and as the path of ECK unfolds beneath our steps. The world is also changing, and our brothers and sisters bring changes to the path, as well. When such changes take place, just as when the Living ECK Master steps aside for the next Master, we must go within to find our next step.

     The universal principle of ECK is: When one door closes, another door opens somewhere else. The closing of a door is not the end of the Path, as David suggests, but rather the sign of a new beginning. This is the way of the eternal unfolding teaching of ECKANKAR.

     It is our individual responsibility, then, to find that new door and the new phase of The Path of ECK that lies behind it.

 

 

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