Dialogue in the Age of
It's All Poetry:
Many years ago, a friend at work came over to my office near the end of the day to talk. He had recently joined the Mormon Church after his marriage to a Mormon woman, and he found the religion helping him focus his life. He could see that he had been without direction before, and now found a sense of purpose and meaning. However, being an engineer, he was having some problems dealing with the Mormon doctrine.
I listened as he explained the parts he found contradictory. He tried to reason through his concerns, but was clearly troubled by some of the teachings. I offered a few thoughts to help him, but I could see that although my words were answering an inner part of his unconscious, his conscious mind was still struggling with the conflict. That night he had a dream.
As he told me the next morning, during his dream he was still wrangling with the logical contradictions of his teachings when he saw someone approaching. As he looked closer he realized it was Jesus walking towards him. Standing before Jesus who was glowing radiantly, all of my friend's concerns and anguish came pouring out and he found himself asking Jesus for help. Jesus smiled and very quietly said, "It's all poetry."
My friend stood there in his dream trying to understand what this meant, when Jesus waived his hands in a huge sweeping motion and repeated, "It's all poetry."
All at once my friend understood. Something beyond words had been communicated to him. Not only was the written doctrine simply poetry, but all of life, all existence. It was all poetry.
In other words, religious doctrines should not be read literally because life is not literal. Everything spoken, everything that happens is pure poetry. My friend was suddenly seeing the world through the spiritual vision of Soul.
The purpose of the ECK books, even as Paul wrote many times, is nothing more than to say this same thing. To bring spiritual seekers to the point where they can find the Spiritual Path speaking to them directly. This is the way of unfolding into deeper and deeper wisdom.
What my friend had learned was the first step in understanding.
Mysti Easterwood, an ECKist, shared some deeper insights when she posted an article to ARE on July 28, 1997. Following are a few excerpts:
Speech is "about" things. You can describe a tidal wave, a hotflash, a jasmine babybreath, a carved bone gunstock - without becoming them. Ah, but utterance is - as we say - "another matter." Utterance is truth, the *sound* under the speech, the flesh tearing itself to pieces, then collaged as the wall you touch, the pushpull of your breath, the redness you can say, the firstworld. There is a rich spectrum of relationship between these two "forms" of language, and a speech artifact which appears to be "lying" from one side of the spectrum can be heard as purest lucubration (light-world-bestowing) from the other...
I knew that Eckankar would soon be working directly with the energies involved in the second kind of language. And that more Initiates would soon be enabled to speak their Being. But before this could come to pass, a reckoning would have to take place between the "founder" of the religion and the creative (read: feminine) force he misprised while commandeering its most sensitive process (i.e., speaking/writing).
This reckoning would, as it turns out, produce some theatre on a rather grand scale. Desire, politely referred to in Paulji's writings as "necessary for spiritual imagination" would run rampant. She would hang like a honeycomb in the throat center of every Initiate who believed themselves to have "mastered" the five passions, amping desire to intolerable levels. So, like our spiritual godfather, a few thousand of us would lie, our tongues riding the iridescences between speech and utterance, unable to stop saying what we *want to be* rather than what is....
Do you see why I have been drawn to the question of "honesty" lately? It isn't a matter of literal replication of facts, it has to do with keeping one's mouth free for sudden wisdom... Why? Because I am Hers. Because She charges my speech with utterance, and makes it come True.
Did Paulji come to this surrender in his lifetime? The magical precision of some of his language tells me that he did... (I'm speaking of his ability to shape the Sound into something hearable/tasteable to the tongueless and utterly deaf.) Why we didn't see the "corrections" in his lifetime, or during Darwin's tenure, probably has something to do with the dharmic knots tied throughout the membership, and the multiple, meticulous gestures required for us to correct the master who would correct us. Pars pro toto.
What Mysti is describing here is the language of poetry itself. It might seem too difficult to decipher fro some - especially those who have not yet bathed in the waters of Utterance and seen for themselves how the line between what we perceive and what we create is invisible. Spiritual perception and creation are in fact not two separate things, but one inseparable truth.
This is perhaps one of the greatest of spiritual laws: Spirit, which we call the ECK, wants to be known and seen by Soul. Soul, when self-aware, longs for the inspiration of the ECK. The ECK rushes to fill the desires of the lovers of God, and the lovers are drawn in search for the Voice of God. In the awakened seeker, Soul and Spirit intertwine and weave the fabric of life itself.
Therefore, we come into this world to create, and we are creating continuously whether we realize it or not. The key is to become conscious of our creations, and to take responsibility for whatever we give birth to. The whole secret to this is the use of our attention and attitude.
For many ECKists these principles that Paul taught were new discoveries. They unleashed a wave of creative outflow and a feeling of deep spiritual freedom. However, as Mysti Easterwood says, there are laws that lovers must learn.
For example, riding the iridescent waves of "higher" and "lower" has nothing to do with surrendering to our Beloved. That One is greater than our little self and speaks through our being. And there are some things that are secret, like intimacies between lovers that are not meant to be shared.
So, the hidden poetry here is that this whole dialogue between David Lane and ECKists for the last 20 odd years was part of a larger story. His criticisms, in a strange way, were part of the correcting force for the inflation of desire run rampant, as Mysti called it. David's negative portrayal of ECKANKAR was used as a natural corrective to bring about a balance of the creational forces.
This is hardly new. It has happened at the emergence of every religion. The world reacts to a new teaching, and this reaction provides great spiritual lessons for the lovers of God.
Yet now we stand before a different time. The movement of ECKANKAR is about to enter a new phase, and therefore the energy behind this decades old conflict is changing and taking on a new appearance. The sting behind David's research is already fading, not just because new facts have overturned many of David's accusations, but because the hand of time has moved to a new hour, and a new stage of unfoldment.
This is why, as this book was being posted to the Internet, Len Campbell-Rossen, an ECKist, wrote to say he found himself going back and rereading Paul's books with a new found sense of discovery, as if Paul had come back to life again. And why another ECKist, Jan, wrote to share a recent dream where she met Paul, something that had not happened to her for many years. Near the end of the dream Paul Twitchell transformed into the actor, Paul Newman, which confused her. She wondered about this shift until she realized that Newman meant New Man, and that Paul now was emerging with a new life for her.
ECKists look to witness such hidden changes, the real and true forces behind the outer events of life. And as said above, even to witness or perceive these shifts in consciousness is to bring about their creation in some way. Thus, we become the conscious co-workers of Life.
Not all things uttered become truth, however. Some ECKists have gone down paths of delusional utterance, you might say, where they used the forces of utterance to create what they wanted, sometimes just to prove their own powers. They fell out of step with Life, with the ECK, trying to move from co-worker to "master". They stumbled along the way, because they did not realize that the states of true Self-Realization and God-Consciousness cannot be gained by assumption alone.
Many have fought this spiritual law. It is popular these days to say that no one is any greater than anyone else, and therefore we should look up to no one else. Ignorance has always been a common trait of the human race.
Unfortunately, the correction needed for the misunderstanding of these powers unleashed by Paul's teaching did not take place during Darwin's time. Why? Because Darwin was still learning about these principles himself.
Recently an old friend wrote to me, after reading some earlier chapters of this book. My friend told me a very interesting story:
For some reason I just feel compelled to tell you this, given the work you're trying to do...though typically I make it a policy not to discuss such things.
This happened during a conversation at the Las Vegas [ECKANKAR] office...It was the day after [X] had been sent home. Darwin had told me in no uncertain terms that [X] was being brought in to replace me, but had requested that I stick around to train him. Now Darwin was trying to patch things up with me, and he was a bit teary eyed. I think he was almost as exhausted from our endless fights as I was...
In the course of our chat, he switched gears and volunteered this: "You know, I was only supposed to be an interim master. Two years at the most. But the next guy wasn't ready, so I had to stick around."
It took me aback, that he would say something that intimate to me, of all people, but it seared itself in my mind and haunted my view of everything that came later.
Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but if you look at Darwin from 1971-1973, it's a very different guy from the Darwin we saw from 1973 on. Even my conflicts with him took a very dark turn after '73.
My humble opinion is that masters are never 100% ready beforehand anyway, that it's accepting the Rod of Power that makes them ready, and that Harold probably could have taken the reins in 1973 just as easily as he did in 1981. Of course, what the hell do I know?
Nevertheless, ever since Darwin told me that I've always believed it was HE who wasn't ready - ready to let go, that is.
Darwin was one of the most humble souls I had ever met, back in 1973. What happened?
I told my friend, as we reminisced about those days in Las Vegas, that in the process of researching my book I had looked back to see when Darwin started referring to himself as the Mahanta, rather than just the Living ECK Master. My friend and I found it prophetic that this began not long after the conversation he described above, in 1973.
It began with an article in The Mystic World, which showed Paul's writings using the term, Living ECK Master, with the term Mahanta, side-by-side. In other words, the two terms were often used together, and belonged together. Then, by the end of 1973 and early 1974 Darwin was being introduced as the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master, at all the major seminars, and in the ECK publications.
I've often wondered how differently things might have gone if Darwin had heeded Paul's warning, in his Illuminated Way Letter of January 1971:
The next MAHANTA is about fifteen years away. He is now in training but where he is nobody knows and won't know for a long time yet. Meanwhile, I am serving as the MAHANTA, the Living ECK Master, until the time comes to appoint an ECK Master who may serve in the interim until the next MAHANTA is appointed. So those who make claims to the spiritual title are being boastful and exceeding the very characteristics of any of the ECK Masters. The Masters of ECKANKAR are not at all forward in temperament but quiet, almost shy in nature and frankly very brusque in speech and manner.
The strange thing about those who make claims that they are to receive the spiritual title of the MAHANTA when I give it up is that they never think about their own welfare in this case. Those who do this are punished in some manner or other. Their claims leaves them without any foundation for it shows that they are making false statements knowingly and this is a lack of spiritual growth.
In other words, Utterance is the act of Creation that takes place neither ahead of nor behind Perception. To speak forth from that state where both creation and perception are one and the same is to reveal Truth. When utterance is used to manifest WHAT WE WANT TO BE, we lose touch with WHAT IS, and the repercussions can be severe.
This has been the lesson we must learn before moving on to the next stage. It was clearly a lesson that Darwin struggled with, as did many other ECKists after Paul died. Yet, as we are about to see, these things all fit into a larger story. Darwin filled the role he was intended to, and Harold brought with him a new cycle to the teachings. There really are no accidents.
A Meeting With Rebazar Tarzs:
Suddenly, the Tibetan ECK Master, Rebazar Tarzs, was standing before me in the dim alley where I walked. His gaze was intense.
"Did you understand what the Living ECK Master was trying to show you with your last experience?" he said, abruptly. "I don't think you do!"
The sudden appearance of this maroon robed adept sparked a deep emotion within me, for he had been in my thoughts constantly all day. For some reason the sound of his voice and images of his face had been just beneath the surface of my thinking, as if about to emerge. And now here he was, with his black hair and beard fading into the dark shadows of the twilight, and a peaceful glint in his eyes.
"Do you mean the Soul Travel experience last night?" I asked.
"I thought Harold was letting me have a chance to see that Soul survives as the individual. That the individual is the true state of Soul."
Rebazar Tarzs turned to see the curious face of a black and white cat peering through an opening in the fence. The cat seemed caught between some inner desire to approach this ECK Master and its natural instincts for survival through safety. Rebazar Tarzs took a few steps and knelt down to scratch its furry ears, and the cat purred.
As I felt the power of the ECK Master's presence move with his attention to the cat, I began to wonder if indeed I had missed something very important from my experiences. Finally, he turned to me and said:
"Now look, this Living ECK Master we have is a very subtle Master and not many understand him. But I am going to be a bit more blunt when I say that he was trying to move you to that state where you could see the whole of ECKANKAR. You are close to catching it, and when you do, nothing will be able to shake it from you.
"You might think that after all these years studying you would have caught this secret, but remember not many will reach this point in this lifetime. Look at all the masses of people on this planet. Look at movement after movement. They continue to abuse and take advantage of the individual because they have not understood.
"The one thing you should always remember is that all these movements, all these groups, are battling for the individual. They have found the secret that only Soul, the individual, is the central operating unit in the worlds of God. Nothing can happen except through Soul. Nothing can exist without It. The ECK, or reality, will only respond to Soul, and nothing else. This means that whoever can capture Soul, like you might net the fish of the sea as the Christians put it, then you will have the greatest power known.
"So why does man continually throw himself into groups and movements? He sees himself as a Buddhist, Democrat, Communist or a thousand other designations, but never as Soul, the individual. He feels the need to belong, so he searches out a group consciousness. He dearly loves to live by rules and regulations, so he joins an organization. Alone he feels helpless, so he takes part in some action team with high aspirations to change the world. This is Soul's way of looking for survival.
"But one day Soul outgrows these outer movements, and they lose their fascination. Soul begins to ask questions like; Who am I? Where am I going? But no one can answer these except the individual. Then Soul begins the long hard road to extricate Itself and regain Its individuality. This is when the ECK Masters step in to offer their assistance, and thus the path of ECKANKAR appears when the time is ripe. Now do you see how this all ties together?"
"I think so," I answered. "But then how can there be an organization carrying the name of ECKANKAR if it is an individual path? Isn't this a contradiction?"
"There is not much in this world that isn't a contradiction," he said. "When the ECK, the life force, flows into this world it takes every form. It might be a flower, a river, or a solar system. It might be a mirage in the desert or a vision of God. The ECK flows into this world but never finds completion, or perfection, so it is always changing. It is always dying in its old forms to be born into the new. It might come together to produce a spiritual era, or it might hide for ages behind the traditional teachings, known only to a few. The ECK is all of life so don't try to fit it in some little box.
"The Living ECK Master might use an organization if his mission dictates it, or he might work with a few close ones as a team. He is free to use whatever means he can. But the minute his followers begin to feel they are above others, the minute they begin to talk in "shoulds" or "should-nots," or limit in any way a person's individual path of Truth - then they can become more of a hindrance than a help. He might try to lift them beyond these areas, but he cannot force them, and if the situation grows bad enough he might just leave everything behind and walk the lonely hills by himself, searching for those who truly seek the light of God.
"Now don't shake your head because this has happened in the past and will happen again. This is indeed what makes for a contradiction. Thus, unless the seeker looks beneath the surface of what he sees, he may never glimpse the true teachings of ECKANKAR. He might miss what the Master is trying to say.
"Okay. Now I want to go back to this subject of the ways Soul searches for survival. If It cannot find survival through individuality, then Soul might find it in fame or infamy. In other words, if Soul can preserve Its image or name in the memories of others then sometimes It feels It has survival. Or It might find survival vicariously through Its own offspring, such as the father or mother whose whole interest are the lives of their children.
"It might take up some job that It feels is important in the running of some organization. This can be Its mission, you see? Or It might find survival in the feeling that It is one of the few who knows some secret, ages old. This is how the Mystery Schools have preserved themselves. They claim to be a brotherhood that has survived from the ancient days of civilization by passing down certain secrets. These secrets may not bring immortality, but the individual finds survival by feeling a part of this brotherhood.
"The point is that when Soul has a purpose or a goal, then It has survival. But when Soul accepts the dreams of others It loses something vital. Once the individual begins to act out someone else's goal, or some purpose established for It by others, then the interest and affection It has for what It is doing becomes weakened. Do too much of this and Soul can lose the very source of inspiration and ideas that will lead It out of Its troubles and into the higher spiritual worlds.
"So you see, the true freedom of Soul to act upon Its wishes is the very origin of your power to succeed. The greater your goal, the greater your power to reach it. And out of this freedom and power comes the deepest love for every act you perform. These are the three aspects as I have said before: Freedom, Power and Love.
"Now, those who have said that harmony should come first, and freedom second, are wrong. Without freedom, harmony is an act or show; but with freedom, harmony is the greatest expression of the divine law. This is what the movements of today have overlooked. They have hidden the secret that Soul is the central operating unit of life. This is why the individual is such a trampled on unit in our modern world.
"So, if you wish to have freedom within the worlds of God, to become the spiritual traveler yourself, then you must first learn to control your own will. An undisciplined will is your worst enemy. Next, you must control your imagination; let nothing limit it, nor conform it. Last, you must begin to make contact with the spiritual power itself. You must learn to live in the ECK and through it. The ECK Masters are always near those who are bold and adventuresome.
"This is some of what you should have gotten from the experience the Living ECK Master gave you!"
"I had no idea," I said.
The Tibetan nodded his head and pointed his finger at me. "There is always more to ECK than meets the eyes," he said, and let out a hearty laugh that was infectious, it was so full of life.
I wrote this story in the mid-80's, and please remember this is a story. Some might try to claim that such writing only serves to build up the mythology of the ECK Masters. Let's be perfectly honest about this.
I didn't know this information beforehand. Where did it come from? What was this source of awareness I had tapped into?
I could have written an article as if these we "my" ideas. That would have been a lie in my mind, although one that our ego-culture would find acceptable.
I discovered the source that had been guiding my whole life. I was now aware of Those who opened up these inner teachings, and this new connection flooded my consciousness with a whole new reality of where this wisdom came from.
Through this story I could share but a small portion of what I learned. That is all I've ever been able to share. So, how could I honestly portray them as my ideas? Wasnt the true source of this knowledge even more important than the information itself? What could be more truthful than writing this as a story that captured the sense of discovery and gave credit to the real Beings who can bring this experience to others?
My own answer to these questions came during the very act of writing, which flowed from my pen and opened up my understanding even further as I wrote. Even my choice of words was guided, while I sat before my paper, pen in hand.
As I said before, let's be perfectly honest about this. The reality and truth of this story can be found in the experience of it. Look no further than that. That is, after all, the proper way to read poetry.
The time period of this story reminds me of when I met with Harold, late at night in the parking lot of the local community center. I never spoke about these meetings to anyone (except my wife) for many years until Harold himself began mentioning them to others.
I have seen others use their association with the Master as some form of rank, or as a way to gain outer recognition. After Rebazar Tarzs' dialogue, more than ever, I could never walk that path. It seems too dangerous a path to walk for someone interested in the true path of ECKANKAR. For the same reason, when my story above, A Meeting With Rebazar Tarzs, was published in an ECKANKAR publication, I chose to have it printed under the pseudonym of Dan Stryder.
I have also reluctantly shared some of my experiences with Harold and Darwin in this book, since they are personal memories, but I felt they served a larger purpose than my own. And as I've been writing these chapters, I've come to realize that Harold himself had, even in the mid-80's set me on a path that would lead to this book.
For example, Harold offered me a few projects when I asked to help him. I loved taking on little tasks that might assist in some way. One of the jobs he offered was to take some transcribed talks that he gave me from Paul and his own lectures that I could edit for later publication. One of those talks happened to be the talk that I quoted in an early chapter of this book, called Personality And The Message of ECK, by Paul. Two of the talks were Harold's own talks about Paul, which I used in Chapter Ten. Until I was writing this book I didn't realize the pattern of the talks that Harold gave me.
And, as I mentioned before, Harold also spoke with me about his discoveries with Paul's early life while he was uncovering them, and the many books Paul had used as sources for his own writing. Harold also shared the difficulties that arose between himself and Darwin during those times.
Looking back, it was almost as if I was being prepared to write this book. I probably should have seen this sooner. However, there was another encounter I had with Harold that sent me off into a deeper exploration of the hidden side of this whole story. It began to unravel for me a thread that would change forever how I saw this teaching of ECKANKAR....
Returning the Sacred Stones:
Harold has received more than one death threat in his many years as the Master. It is an unfortunate part of life in this world that people will try to destroy or stop those who say things they do not like. They have not yet learned the value of dialogue with all of Life.
It was one particular evening, just before a trip that Harold was making to Europe, when Harold told me about some of the dangers he faced. He was silent for a moment and then looked at me and said some of the strangest words I've ever heard him say:
If I don't return, Doug, you should go to India. You won't find anyone here in America who can teach you what you still need to learn.
What even made those words stranger to me was that I had no sense that Harold was nearing the end of his life. My classes with Harold on the ECK-Vidya had opened up an inner certainty that would come to me at times, and it seemed quite clear to me that Harold would be safe this trip.
Then why would he say this?
I had long before read the books of Kirpal Singh and Kirpal's guru, Sawan Singh, because of Paul's connection with them. I had found their teachings interesting but disappointing. Their writings seemed to hold but a faint flicker of the flame that I saw in Paul's writings. Perhaps time had reduced their fire and they were in their own time more alive, I didn't know. I had also read the Sar Bachan, by the founder of Radhasoami, since Paul had once called this book his bible, but the book only hinted at the sort of things I was looking for.
My readings included dozens of other spiritual teachers from India, where I found even less luck. In short, I had little desire to go traipsing off to that country searching for who knows what.
So, I did, of course, what most anyone else would do in such a situation: Once Harold returned from Europe, I forgot about his strange comments, and went on with my life.
However, an odd thing began taking place in my inner worlds. An image began to grow. It was an archetypal story unfolding, like something from outside of time, and yet it involved me in some way. Patterns began to emerge of something ancient and yet seemed a part of present time. It took shape as I watched it, questioned it and wondered about it.
I have experienced these inner stories many times before in my study of ECKANKAR. Generally I have taken to writing these things out, using words to give flesh to the invisible. Breathing life into the Utterances. It has often left me feeling like a vehicle for something Universal and Ancient. It is like offering birth through consciousness, you might say. This was one of the most powerful elements in Paul's writings that I wanted to experience for myself.
However, in this case I found that I was grasping the tail of a comet too faint to hold together. Too ethereal to take form.
It began as a story that revolved around a young man's journey. He had been given an old parchment by his spiritual teacher to be brought to a monastery in Northern India, without any explanation. The young man knew nothing of what the parchment contained, and in fact sometimes it seemed more as if it were an ancient jewel, or a sacred stone, as the story unfolded.
I should have seen how this story was sparked by Harold's cryptic comment, as something within me was searching for its meaning, but this didn't occur to me until much later.
In a similar way, the young man in the story didn't understand the purpose of his voyage either, but he knew what he carried was very valuable and had been protected for ages. Therefore, he tried to avoid social entanglements along the way on his lengthy trip.
The young man eventually finds the monastery with difficulty, and delivers what had been entrusted to him. However, he comes to discover that what he was delivering was something that had once been taken away. He was returning a sacred stone, or an ancient manuscript that had been loaned out long ago. He found that the return of this sacred element had also been prophesied at the monastery long ago. He even saw the records saying that this stone would one day be returned.
As the young man studies at the monastery, however, he finds elements of the greater teaching that his own teacher had never given out. He then realizes that parts of the teaching had been held back. As he reads through the other parchments, he finds the missing pieces and suddenly realizes how they all fit together.
At this point the young man has an epiphany, and realizes that he himself has absorbed and become the ancient parchments. That he now carries the teaching within his being, and this was the real reason for him being sent on this journey. It was not just to restore a sacred stone, but was to become restored himself.
My pen shook at writing such a story. I could not bring myself to putting it down on paper, because the story was still too large for me. It overshadowed me and I didn't understand it. Even now the story seems almost too intangible to describe.
Another thing began to take place after Harold's strange utterance. I found myself experiencing with great frequency a recurring dream that I had not had since my early days in ECKANKAR. It was a dream that took many forms, but at its roots it was about searching for the lost manuscripts of Paul Twitchell.
Sometimes I was looking for writings from Paul's youth, long before he began the writings of ECKANKAR. Sometimes I seemed to be digging up buried books and records of Paul...old coins that belonged to him...stories about him from his early life. I was always on the verge of discovering the thing I was looking for. But what was it I was looking for? I didn't know.
Although I don't remember exactly when these dreams began, they probably started shortly after I found the dusty pile of Paul's audio tapes tossed into a box in the loft at the old ECKANKAR office in Las Vegas. It was like discovering a forgotten treasure.
Once I had permission, I then began going through the tapes one by one, not only to listen to Paul's talks, but to trace back where each tape had been made, and thus piece together the timeline and location for each talk. That's when I found that many of the tapes had been spliced together, because someone thought it would make better listening to hear Paul's thoughts on one subject, such as Love, rather than the individual continuous talks as Paul gave them. I found myself unraveling something that had been covered up and buried.
Now, back to the time of my meetings with Harold - a few months after Harold returned from Europe, Darwin turned Paul's old library over to Harold, and Harold invited me to look through it. Once again the dreams came back, but this time sitting down reading Paul's old letters and manuscripts I began to realize that I was searching for something else. Something that couldn't be found in such files.
The dreams continued. They would come from time to time. They always left me with a feeling that there was something I was missing, something I needed to keep looking for.
Then one day, while in a bookstore looking through bookshelves of old volumes from India, I got my first lead. I ran across a book titled, Sar Bachan Poetry II.
Could this be another volume in the series of the Sar Bachan that Paul had written about?
The answer is yes. Sar Bachan Poetry was from the pen of the same author. However, the volume I found was published by a completely different group, located in Agra, India, claiming to be the Parent Faith. They had not only a book of Prose named Sar Bachan, but also two books of Poetry under the same name, all written by Shiv Dayal Singh, the founder of Radhasoami. But where was this leading?
I am going to try describing here an outline of the discoveries that followed. Forgive me if some of this story seems tedious, with lists of names that may not mean anything to you. However, I think when we get through to the end you will see the meaning of these puzzle pieces.
So, as I studied further, one of the first things I learned was that the Beas Radhasoami group, where Kirpal Singh and Sawan Singh had been initiated, was an offshoot of the Parent Faith, headquartered in Agra. A very different history of the Beas group began to emerge. In fact, the Beas group never published these two books of Sar Bachan Poetry, and had even removed critical sections from the Prose book, because these writings didn't agree with their teaching, even though they were written by the founder of their religion. How ironic this seemed, after hearing David Lane, who was also an initiate of the Beas group, accuse Paul of being an offshoot of Radhasoami and wandering from the original source.
I ordered more books from the Parent Faith, and as I read them I felt like I was getting closer to something significant. The flame was growing warmer.
A few interesting bits of information increased my curiosity. For example, the nephew of the founder of Radhasoami, who was one of the most highly respected satsangis by all the followers of the Parent Faith, was a man by the name of Sudarshan Singh. David Lane also mentions him in his writings, wondering if this could be the one who Paul called his Master, Sudar Singh.
Interestingly, Sudarshan Singh moved from Agra to Allahabad around the time of Paul's birth, and Sudarshan lived there until his death. The reason he moved there was to be near the Sant Sat Gurus of the Parent Faith, who lived in Allahabad at the time. Allahabad, of course is where Paul said that Sudar Singh lived and had his ashram.
Paul said that he thought Sudar Singh died sometime around 1936-37. It turns out that Sudarshan Singh died in December of 1936. The next year, in 1937, the fifth Sant Sat Guru, Babuji, moved to Agra, to bring the center for the Parent Faith back to its origins.
Another fascinating bit popped up when I read a small booklet from the Parent Faith printed in 1981. The book tells a story of reincarnation that was published in the Allahabad Pioneer in 1906. It takes place with a family located on "the Canning Road" just outside Allahabad, which apparently was not far from where Sudarshan Singh and the Sant Sat Gurus had lived (since they all lived close to each other). I've never seen this road mentioned anywhere else before or since in any of my studies of the Radhasoami books. Yet, when Paul described where Sudar Singh lived, he said it was on "the old Canteen Road" just outside of Allahabad. Was this the same road? The description sounds similar. Had Paul, like so often before, used a similar sounding word by mistake?
Fascinating coincidences, but what do they prove?
I don't think this means that Sudarshan Singh was Sudar Singh. In fact, Sudarshan Singh never had an ashram, from what I can tell, nor did he ever leave India his whole life. And Sudarshan Singh never pretended to be a guru, even though he was considered so by some.
While these coincidences caught my attention, I was looking for something more significant than this. Running across these things gave me the feeling I was picking up a trail of clues from long ago, however, it was the spiritual connection that I was trying to trace back, not the shadows on the wall. As I read the writings of the Sant Sat Gurus of the Parent Faith, I felt like I was getting closer.
The flame of spiritual awareness seems to be much brighter in their writings than anything found in the writings of the Beas gurus, or Kirpal Singh's works. I can see the essence of the Mahanta Consciousness coming through their teachings. Also their teachings show a much stronger Sufi influence, whereas the Beas tradition shows a far more traditional Sikh approach.
In many ways Paul's teachings are closer to the Sant Sat Gurus of the Parent Faith than the Beas gurus, as I've mentioned before. However, I've seen no evidence that Paul ever made physical contact with them or quoted from any of their writings.
What I'm trying to say with all this is that I was following an inner thread. It seems almost as if Paul was in some way connected inwardly, but not outwardly, to the teachings of these Sant Sat Gurus. The meaning of this, however, did not hit home until I began reading a book by the fifth Sant Sat Guru, known as Babuji. Shortly after running across the following passage, the puzzle began to fit together:
When a Jiva comes into the presence of the Sant Sat Guru, takes initiation from Him and withdraws inward even slightly, in full consciousness, he is saved from the wheel of birth and rebirth. His account with the Lords of Karma stands closed and his connection with Kal is severed for good. He will then, in a way, have conquered Death...This is the gist of the teachings of the Radhasoami Faith...
To obtain the bliss of Shabd, the sound current, or to remain absorbed internally or externally in the darshan of Sant Sat Guru amounts to the same thing. If slowly and gradually Soul emerges in perfect humility and submissiveness accompanied with a sense of gratitude and thankfulness, even for once, and also engenders love for the Sant Sat Guru...even for a moment, this is far superior to performing spiritual practices for ages...
Where the current of Shabd becomes centered, there is Nam [the Name or Word of God]. It is only through contact with the current of Shabd that karmas can be eradicated, slowly and gradually. Therefore, we should make this current our sustenance and support. It will bring to us serenity and comfort in the face of calamities, and will, by and by, develop our power of endurance so that we will be less disturbed by them...
He [Sant Sat Guru] is the intimate and very real friend of the devotee. He is an ancient Being and Soul is also ancient. When they meet, they at once recognize each other as old acquaintances.
After reading this passage, I felt strong currents of the ECK pulling me within. I set the book down and began moving my attention toward this inner tugging to find out what it was.
Almost immediately I found myself outside my body looking across a vast world. A light was approaching, like a small boat crossing a great ocean, and I immediately thought of the opening scene in Paul's book, The Tiger's Fang. The light became a being who seemed both timeless and familiar. He reached out his hand, and the whole feeling and image were so identical to what Paul had described that I couldn't help but feel it was the same exact experience. I was stunned. Nonetheless, I grasped this Great One's hand and continued on with the journey.
How could this be? What did it mean?
That night I had a dream. In the dream, I found myself reading the same book by Babuji while realizing, like some great light dawning on me, that this was what I had been looking for in my search for Paul's old writings. In my dream, there was no doubt at all. My search had come to an end.
I had this same dream repeat itself, almost exactly, two more times in the next few weeks. Inwardly there was no doubt. I had found what I was looking for. But outwardly I didn't yet understand what this meant.
After all, the last of the Sant Sat Gurus in this lineage was Babuji himself, who passed on in 1949. It was predicted by Sant Das Maheshwari, who was Babuji's personal secretary, that the next Sant Sat Guru would appear in the early to mid-60's, but none have ever been recognized officially. Some claim that Sant Das himself was the Sant Sat Guru, but he denied it numerous times. Others split off from the group with their own gurus.
Many of the practices of the Parent Faith would clearly be foreign to Westerners, such as the strict vegetarian diet, the practice of eating food blessed by the guru, and long periods of contemplation. As Paul said, these fit very well with the traditional guru traditions of India, but were not suited to Westerners.
However, while I was trying to understand this inner connection that I experienced through Babuji's writings, more bits and references began popping up. For example, later in the same book of Babuji's, I found him saying that Annie Besant, the famous leader of Theosophy, had visited and studied with Salig Ram, the second Sant Sat Guru in the Parent Faith line. Annie Besant was so taken by Salig Ram's presence and teaching, that she stayed on studying with him. Finally, the Theosophists sent a contingent to coax Annie Besant to return, telling her that they needed her back. I wondered if her brush with Salig Ram could be the source of that familiar spark I've always seen in her writings?
I also learned that Julian Johnson had his first contact with "The Path of The Masters" when he read the little red book, as he called it, written by Salig Ram. This in fact was truly the first text in English that laid out the principles of Radhasoami. Julian Johnson read this before he even met Sawan Singh in Beas, and in fact it was this book that set Julian on his search for the Sant Sat Guru.
Radhasoami was a significant factor in another writer's life as well. Paul Brunton writes a whole chapter about his meeting and studies with Anand Sarup of Agra in his book, A Search In Secret India, one of Brunton's most famous works. Anand Sarup was the leader of Dayal Bagh, which is a branch of Radhasoami that split off from the Parent Faith after the third Sant Sat Guru.
Strangely enough, as I was writing Chapter Ten, I suddenly realized it was these two writers, Julian Johnson and Paul Brunton that Harold specifically mentioned, when he described how some writers gain access to the Inner Libraries and the inner knowledge there. Few are able to contact these original teachings at their source, as Harold said, but he named these two as examples of some who had. And both had contact with the Parent Faith's teachings, just like Annie Besant.
It was also interesting to see that Jaimal Singh, the founder of the Beas Radhasoami group, had also studied with Salig Ram, as well as Shiv Dayal Singh, the founder of Radhasoami. And Sawan Singh had contact with the Sant Sat Gurus of the Parent Faith as well. Sawan attended the satsang of Babuji on a few occasions, and when he did so he sat on the floor at the feet of Babuji amongst the other satsangis. Sawan Singh was the last of the Beas gurus to have direct contact with the Sant Sat Gurus of the Parent Faith. Is this why both Jaimal and Sawan's writings seem so much more alive that any that followed them in the Beas teaching? Is this why Paul once observed that the line of spirituality in the Beas group stopped with Sawan Singh?
However, as I traced this light in Babuji's writings back through the earlier Sant Sat Gurus writings, I found this same essence of the Mahanta Consciousness that I saw coming through Babuji's works. How far back did this Consciousness go?
The same spark of the Mahanta jumped out at me when I began reading the Sukhmani, a famous section of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. This section was written by Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh guru, who first compiled the Guru Granth Sahib around 1604. Here is a short excerpt:
No praises can describe the one in whom God sends His Name to reside.
Devotees are yearning for Your one glance. O God, keep me in the society of such lovers.
God's Name is the ambrosia and the Bestower of happiness. God's Name resides in the hearts of the True saints.
By remembering God, Soul no longer goes through the cycles of birth and rebirth.
By remembering God, the Lords of Death retreat.
The gift of the remembrance of God is obtained in the society of true devotees. All treasures of wealth are obtained by sincere devotion and love for God.
By remembering God, our thirst is quenched.
By remembering God, the dirt of karma is washed off.
God sits on the tongues of the true saints, but only those whom He showers His grace upon become attached to His remembrance.
By remembering God, one hears the unsurpassed heavenly music.
By remembering God, even the lowly and downtrodden become famous throughout the spiritual worlds of God.
Remember, remember God.
It was for the remembrance of God that He created the whole world.
Where God is remembered, His presence is found.
In reading this, the similarity in consciousness to Babuji's words struck me. It was not just the same principles they were describing. It was the same flame, the same awareness that I had experienced after reading Babuji's book.
Going back even further, I came to the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, whom Paul has written about many times. Guru Nanak's most famous piece is known as the Japji. Written around 1522, it was chosen by Guru Arjan to begin the first edition of the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred Bible of the Sikhs. The Japji opens with these words from the first stanza:
Ek onkar satnam karta purakhu
Obviously, as others have pointed out, it is likely that Paul's name for ECKANKAR came from this poem of Nanak's. A translation of the whole opening stanza goes like this:
The One Reality, the True Name, the Eternal and Creative Source of all,
Without fear, without hatred,
Timeless, unborn and self-existent,
The Enlightener through grace,
Present in the beginning before all the ages began,
He is present even now, O Nanak,
As He will always be.
Although not exactly the same in its expression, it was here that I found the first traces of this consciousness. Such a strange trail I was following. Such strange pieces of the puzzle Paul had left behind.
These inner and outer threads seemed woven together in some strange fabric leading me on to something much larger. At each step I went within to get a clearer picture from the spiritual vision of Soul. However, there was now no doubt at all that I was glimpsing this same conscious that Paul had described in The Tiger's Fang, and although it had changed its outer cloak over and over down through the centuries, there was an inner stamp of identity that I could no longer miss.
In Nanak's writings I found the first sign of this inner flame. It grew and matured through the writings of Guru Arjan. I found it glowing in the poetry of Tulsi, and in the teachings of Shiv Dayal Singh, the founder of Radhasoami, and his successors in the Parent Faith, and there were many others in between. Although the words and practices of these teachers varied, and their personalities were different in many ways, it was this identity at the core of this consciousness that struck me.
Apparently even Madame Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy had come into contact with this stream of teaching. Some researchers who studied her life and writings state that in her journeys through India and Tibet she likely spent time with the Naths, an offshoot of Sant Mat, since her teachings are closest to theirs.
Paul first described his experience of the whole of this consciousness in his Tiger's Fang journey. However, when he first wrote that book in 1957 Kirpal Singh had been his teacher. Strangely, I had this same experience at the hands of Babuji, but this consciousness, this inner flame, is something much greater and much older than Babuji or Kirpal Singh.
I have studied the lines of spiritual teachers in many traditions, including Sufi, Sikh, Tibetan, Buddhist and Sant Mat lineages. Although the outer teachings are often passed down from generation to generation and are easily traced, I rarely found this to be true with the inner consciousness. Rumi's teaching, for example, contains an awareness and understanding far beyond any of his successors, even though his teachings have been passed on down through the modern day Mevlevi Order.
Although the fundamental practices of Buddhism can be found from its inception to the teachings of today, the inner consciousness is not at all the same. The enlightenment of the Zen teachers in the last hundred years may have a connection to those of five hundred years ago, but they are hardly similar. Certain images may be common, but huge changes in consciousness have taken place, and the attainments of the teachers has varied greatly.
Paul once said that the line of ECK Masters is not the same as any traditional religion, because he was referring to this inner consciousness, not the outward form. But what confused me was discovering this consciousness had such a singular identity down through the time of Guru Nanak. I could not trace it back any further than that.
Although Kabir is considered by many scholars to be the father of Sant Mat, I could not find that same singular flame in his teachings. Kabir's teachings show all the signs of the high teachings of ECK as Paul pointed out, however it seems to me as if Kabir's teaching consciousness belongs to an earlier era, like many of the Sufis before him.
Then, what was I seeing? What was this singular consciousness?
If such continuity, such a clear identity existed through all of the writings of these spiritual teachers, then must not such a consciousness derive from some One? As I asked myself this question, the whole meaning became clearer. Such continuity could only be kept if it was in the hands of one being. Only Soul can hold such a continuity of consciousness and identity intact.
But what Being could carry this flame of consciousness since the time of Guru Nanak, almost 500 years ago?
No sooner had I asked my question when I realized the answer. The image of Rebazar Tarzs filled my awareness, and it seemed as if a great mystery was being revealed.
This consciousness could not have been handed down, or it would have changed shape and form to match the consciousness of each individual teacher. What I was seeing was in fact the fountain and wellspring that each of these teachers had derived their inspiration and teaching from.
I felt a deep change come over me upon this realization. It changed everything I saw about the teachings of ECK. I suddenly realized how little I really knew about this teacher Paul spoke so often about.
It seemed as if, inwardly, some part of me was standing next to Rebazar Tarzs, as I thought about him. An image came to me of a cliff looking out over the mountains and valleys that reached out before him like a vast ocean. It seemed like Northern Tibet, or somewhere in that region of the world. In the presence of this Being, looking out over the expanse of the whole world, I understood something I had never known before.
I have always wondered about Paul's comment that Rebazar Tarzs was over 500 years old. What an outrageous statement. Why even say such things when there is nothing to prove or verify such a claim? But now it seemed as if it all fit together. It was just another breadcrumb on the trail that Paul had left behind. It was just another sacred stone that I needed to return to its source.
Turning my attention back to this Being, Rebazar Tarzs, his thoughts came to me from within my own awareness, as if coming from some deep well:
"We each stand at the center of a long line of spiritual beings reaching forever into the heart of God. It is as if half are before us and half behind.
"This is true for everyone.
"Therefore, we come into this world both to teach certain others and to learn from those who came here to teach us."
I felt the greatest feeling of love and humility from his words. It seemed to touch all beings and all of life.
"Who are your teachers?" I asked Rebazar Tarzs.
His thoughts came again like from a deep well within me:
"Beings of pure Action. Beyond speech."
"The Silent Ones," I thought.
The image of Rebazar Tarzs shaking his head caught my attention.
"Mere words and names trying to describe what has no name," came the inner wisdom.
And then I saw an inner image much different than I expected. Looking across the centuries in awe of the subtlety that Rebazar Tarzs' touch had left upon the world, I could now see that this was nothing next to the invisible imprint of those Beings who were his teachers.
"My teachers leave not even a trace upon the lips," came his thoughts. "One cannot distinguish their acts from the Sugmad, Itself."
My understanding of the mission of these spiritual travelers we call the ECK Masters has changed. I now see something completely new and meaningful in Paul's use of Rebazar Tarzs' image in the teachings of ECKANKAR. For the first time the reality of it all sank in, because, you see, although the spiritual teachers through the last centuries have captured glimpses and elements of this inner flame, Paul's teaching for the first time brought us to its source.
Now I was seeing THE ECKANKAR, and the whole of the Consciousness. It was a flame watched over for the last 500 years by Rebazar Tarzs, and now being brought out directly for the first time. As Paul had said, even though he made his first contact through Sudar Singh, it was not until he met Rebazar Tarzs that he began to see the whole of the teachings of ECKANKAR.
Guru Nanak, when asked, would not say who his teacher was. Perhaps, he realized as Paul did, that there was Another. Eventually Paul realized how he had been led from teacher to teacher under the invisible influence of Rebazar Tarzs.
Paul scoured the writings of mystics and saints, following a thread and searching through the spiritual teachings of the world, trying to find that One. He was tracing this same flame just as I had. No wonder he gathered the writings of Julian Johnson, Paul Brunton, Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Guru Nanak, and dozens of others. Paul himself was returning sacred stones. He was gathering sparks that had been sent out from the same flame, to bring the teaching back to its source. Back to the whole of the Consciousness.
It is, after all just as Paul had said. And I realized that in some way I had found myself caught up in this archetypal story of returning sacred stones as well.
To discover who our Teacher is - to become conscious of those who have come here to teach us, is a part of what it means to return the sacred stones. And this is the heart and core of the ECK teachings: we must find our Teacher. It is both an inner and outer search.
It began for me with a few strange words from Harold. Indeed, there is no difference between perception and creation when it comes to true Utterance. It is only there, where the two meet that the Path of ECK can be found.
This is the meaning of a living teaching.
The Making of a Spiritual Movement:
In a strange way, David Lane's belief that ECKANKAR needed to recognize its true source now seems to hold new truth for me, but not for the same reasons David suggested. I've spoken with dozens who've taken up the study of Kirpal's teachings or joined David's own Beas teaching looking for an outer link to the source of Paul's teaching. Most were disappointed because they did not find the same inner connections. I don't believe the real answer can be found that way. No true spiritual teaching can be found in the shadows on the wall. It's an inner search that provides the real connection.
After completing this journey, I felt a wholeness and a groundedness that I had not known with the teachings of ECKANKAR before. Oddly, I could see that at its essence David's book was asking us to tear away the veils and pass through the outer appearances. Indeed we must return the sacred stones if we are to find the hidden truth.
This, of course, was my own experience, and it may not mean anything to anyone else. However, just like the archetypal story of the sacred stones, I believe this story has a universal meaning.
Having returned to the source, I have also learned something else. I found an organic change taking place within me, like a physical connection had been restored.
I believe it was this missing ingredient that has caused spiritual "desire to run rampant," as Mysti Easterwood put it. What we really needed was more of WHAT IS. It was as if Paul, through his inner link, had brought forth the inner teachings, yet had left the physical link for someone else to restore. With this new connection, the teachings became more grounded for me, both spiritually and physically. I was finally seeing the whole of ECKANKAR.
In one of Harold's talks, he describes an old letter of Paul's that he found, where Paul writes about a being who visited him when he was eight years old. "The being said he would look after Paul's spiritual welfare until Paul reached maturity," said Harold. Paul would have turned eight in 1917, only a few years after Babuji became the Sant Sat Guru of the Parent Faith. Babuji died in October 1949, only one year before Paul joined Swami Premananda's ashram, as Paul began looking for his new spiritual teacher. Eventually Paul made contact with Rebazar Tarzs, who showed him the complete teachings of ECKANKAR.
In other words, Paul did not give out all of the teachings during his six years as the Living ECK Master, nor can any Master, because it is the search and discovery of the untold teachings that make up the Path Itself. This is an inner path, but there is also a physical connection that needs to be made. The physical link also carries some of the current to complete the circuit, which is why a physical Master is also needed.
This leads me to a new subject. There is one more element that I have been given by the ECK Masters during my search that I would like to share here before I close this book. This next thread is going to take us in a very different direction, however it plays an important role in a real understanding of what The Making of a Spiritual Movement really means.
I first began catching hold of this new thread as I read through Paul's long list of recommended reading books. That's where I ran across these comments:
"[T]he readying of the ground for a mass movement is done best by men whose chief claim to excellence is their skill in the use of the spoken or written word; that the hatching of an actual movement requires the temperament and the talents of the fanatic; and that the final consolidation of the movement is largely the work of practical men of action...
"A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action...
"It is usually an advantage to a movement, and perhaps a prerequisite for its endurance, that these roles should be played by different men succeeding each other as conditions require. When the same person or persons (or the same type of person) leads a movement from its inception to maturity, it usually ends in disaster."
When I ran across these paragraphs, the description startled me. Paul was clearly a man of words. It describes him perfectly. Although I think the term, fanatic, is too extreme for Darwin, still his complete belief in Paul's work made him the perfect leader for a growing movement. And Harold is indeed a practical man of organization and action.
The pattern of ECKANKAR's evolution jumped out at me. After reading this I wondered if I had overlooked some deeper underlying thread in the early days of ECKANKAR.
These words I ran across came from the famous book, The True Believer, by Eric Hoffer, who Paul called the "longshoreman philosopher." Hoffer offers the results of his own research and study on the subject of mass movements. He demonstrates the insights and observations of a truly independent thinker.
Although many have come to think that Hoffer's True Believer is referring to the problem of cult followers, in fact Hoffer has realized something far greater in scope than this. Unfortunately, like so many other great ideas, Hoffer's has been reduced down to fit into a little box. For example here is the conclusion to Hoffer's book:
"J.B.S. Haldane counts fanaticism among the only four really important inventions made between 3000 BC and 1400 AD. It was a Judaic-Christian invention. And it is strange to think that in receiving this malady of the soul the world also received a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the dead - an instrument of resurrection."
Hoffer is referring to many great movements that have changed our world, such as the French and American Revolutions, the Renaissance and the age of Enlightenment. We do not usually refer to America's founding fathers as fanatics and True Believers, but that is still the roll they played in fanning the flames of revolution. Hoffer writes:
"The men of letters of the eighteenth century France are the most familiar example of intellectuals pioneering a mass movement...The Frenchmen of the enlightenment who debunked the church and the crown and preached reason and tolerance released a burst of revolutionary and nationalist fanaticism which has not abated yet."
In other words, The True Believer is not necessarily someone lost in delusion, but describes those caught up in the vision of some great crusade, some mission or purpose worth sacrificing their comfort and personal lives for.
"In the eyes of the true believer," says Hoffer, "people who have no holy cause are without backbone and character - a pushover for men of faith. On the other hand, the true believers of various hues, though they view each other with mortal hatred and are ready to fly at each other's throat, recognize and respect each other's strength."
It is this strength gained from being part of a selfless and worthy cause that is unmistakable to anyone who has experienced it. Yet, with the rise of such a movement, individuality can get trampled. This can be exactly the opposite of what the founder may have intended.
"The genuine man of words himself can get along without faith in absolutes. He values the search for truth as much as truth itself. He delights in the clash of thought and in the give-and-take of controversy. If he formulates a philosophy and a doctrine, they are more an exhibition of brilliance and an exercise in dialectics than a program of action and the tenets of a faith...The fanatics and the faith-hungry masses, however, are likely to invest such speculations with the certitude of holy writ, and make them the fountainhead of a new faith. Jesus was not a Christian, nor was Marx a Marxist."
In the same way we could say that Paul Twitchell was not an ECKist, if we take that term to mean a follower. Even Harold has wondered aloud how Paul might fit in today. Remember, Paul began his writings on ECKANKAR like this:
The Cliff Hanger is a one-man cult. I am the original Cliff Hanger and its sole disciple. The name was coined to explain my attitude regarding this age of mass culture as a lot of abracadabra. The name is synonymous of a man hanging on the edge of a cliff safe from the crowd; more outside than the outsider, happier than the angry young men, and at the opposite pole from the Existentialist who claims man has no hope in life.
The ways of this kooky civilization has left the Cliff Hanger with no alternative than to turn his back on our homogenous society and go his way with those who might have been called Cliff Hangers, i.e., Byron, Tom Paine, Rimbaud, Lawrence of Arabia, and others who have earned the various tags of non-conformist, individualist, rebel, and lonely oddballs...
This zany character is called the vanguard of a new religion entitled "Eckankar," a Hindu word meaning Union with God.
Can you see the element of rebellion here? But how could such a teaching turn into a movement? Wouldn't such a teaching attract only individualists and non-conformists?
However, only six years later Paul said the following in his talk, Personality and the Message of ECK:
I look back five or six years ago, since the time I started bringing out the teachings of ECK, and I see a change in myself. I see a change in the people who come to study the ECK works. I see a change in many things; in communities, groups and people I meet, and then later meet again. I feel that the personality has grown smaller as the message has grown greater. And I'm always feeling that I personally don't count; I'm just the instrument being used to get the message out.
I say used, and I feel well used at times. The personality pretty well gets battered, bruised and beaten when it tries to get in the way of the message coming out. It gets to the point where the personality feels like it has no place, and this is true. The personality has no place in the works and the message of ECK. Of course, to some extent it has to be there, because after all I'm living in a human body too. And living in a human body, I must have what we call the personality and all the faculties of a human self.
Because of this, I feel there are times when the personality does get in the way, just as I know many times it gets in the way with you, too. So, I hope we can forgive each other when the ego or personality arises, because I know that isn't the real you, and you know that isn't the real me.
Paul described watching ECKANKAR take its first steps, like some bumbling baby, then standing up and recognizing its purpose. He was, of course, describing the movement of ECKANKAR. And Paul, like a good father, saw that different sustenance and nutrition was needed in different phases. That's why he moved his emphasis from the zany antics of individualism to the self-sacrifice of the co-worker with God. This is a significant point.
What this means is that as the movement passes through its phases, it inspires and draws out different qualities because it has new needs. These new requirements can be met by the same group of people, if they are willing to change for the sake of the movement, just as Paul changed. However, for many, these changes can be too much. The movement has changed too radically for them, and it no longer seems the same as when they first joined.
"The reason for the tragic fate which almost always overtakes the intellectual midwives of a mass movement is that, no matter how much they preach and glorify the united effort, they remain essentially individualists...
"The creative man of words is ill at ease in the atmosphere of an active movement...The result is that, once the movement starts rolling, he either retires voluntarily or is pushed aside. Moreover, since the genuine man of words can never wholeheartedly and for long suppress his critical faculty, he is inevitably cast in the role of the heretic. Thus...he is likely to end as either a shunned recluse or in exile or facing the firing squad...
"The fact that mass movements as they arise often manifest less individual freedom than the order they supplant, is usually ascribed to the trickery of a power-hungry clique that kidnaps the movement at a critical stage and cheats the masses of the freedom about to dawn. Actually, the only people cheated in the process are the intellectual precursors."
How often have I seen old-timers in ECKANKAR struggling with this same feeling. For example, I remember Patti Simpson once saying that she felt the new ECKists were missing an important part of the individual path of ECK, since they were starting right off in Satsang classes. The early ECKists, however, had to start on their own, simply because there was no one else around. This forced them to develop a strong inner connection first, before going to Satsang. In other words, Patti was warning the newer ECKists not to get too caught up in the group consciousness, since essentially the path of ECK is an individual one.
However, as time went on, the movement of ECKANKAR grew, and the strength of the group consciousness grew at the same time. It was for this reason that some of the old-timers left ECKANKAR after Darwin became the Master. They could not see the individualistic characteristic of Mastership that they had seen in Paul. Darwin was not enough of an outsider or rebel for them. He was too much of an evangelist. However, what the ECK movement needed was not a zany character, but a true believer in the teaching and that was the role that Darwin filled.
More people have left ECKANKAR as it has moved from phase to phase than any other reason. From their perspective, ECKANKAR had changed and was no longer the same.
Indeed it has changed, and continues to. Some left when ECKANKAR passed into its second phase, under Darwin, because they felt it had lost its spirit of individuality. Others left after entering the third phase under Harold, because they felt the loss of the wild and spontaneous growth. The last thing they wanted was to be part of an organization.
I know all of these feelings very well. But after seeing these stages spelled out so clearly, I began to sense something greater behind it all. Suddenly I was realizing that these were not just accidental changes, but necessary ones. But why?
Hoffer goes on to describe the True Believers, who bring in the second phase of the movement:
"When the old order begins to crack, he [the fanatic] wades in with all his might and recklessness to blow the whole hated present to high heaven...He shoves aside the frightened men of words, if they are still around, though he continues to extol their doctrines and mouth their slogans. He alone knows the innermost craving of the masses in action: the craving for communion, for the mustering of the host, for the dissolution of cursed individuality in the majesty and grandeur of a mighty whole...
"The danger of the fanatic to the development of a movement is that he cannot settle down. Once victory has been won and the new order begins to crystallize, the fanatic becomes an element of strain and disruption. The taste for strong feeling drives him on to search for mysteries yet to be revealed and secret doors yet to be opened. He keeps groping for extremes...
"If allowed to have their way, the fanatics may split a movement into schism and heresies which threaten its existence. Even when the fanatics do not breed dissension, they can still wreck the movement by driving it to attempt the impossible. Only the entrance of a practical man of action can save the achievements of the movement."
Reading these quotes was in some ways like reading a prophecy for what was to come. Darwin felt compelled, spiritually, to pass the mantle of leadership on to Harold, but still could not settle down. Darwin eventually tried to split the movement because he did not want to see this second phase die. According to Darwin, ECKANKAR should not become the organization that Harold was establishing in its place. Darwin wanted to continue the revolution, not to organize it.
Over the years, many ECKists who were a part of the revolutionary days have said that they miss the sense of those strong emotional feelings from when the movement was growing rapidly. It was almost as if a certain element went out of the activities. It is hard for newcomers to understand this, not having seen those times. However, what the old timers were really sensing was this change from the active phase of the True Believers, to the consolidation phase of the Men (and Women) of Action. The need for revolution against the establishment had passed. It was now time to build.
"The man of action saves the movement from the suicidal dissensions and the recklessness of the fanatics. But his appearance usually marks the end of the dynamic phase of the movement. The war with the present is over. The genuine man of action is intent not on renovating the world but on possessing it. Whereas the life breath of the dynamic phase was protest and a desire for drastic change, the final phase is chiefly preoccupied with administering and perpetuating the power won.
"With the appearance of the man of action the explosive vigor of the movement is embalmed and sealed in sanctified institutions. A religious movement crystallizes in a hierarchy and a ritual; a revolutionary movement, in organs of vigilance and administration; a nationalist movement in governmental and patriotic institutions. The establishment of a church marks the end of the revivalist spirit, the organs of a triumphant revolution liquidate the revolutionary mentality and technique; the governmental institutions of a new or revived nation put an end to chauvinistic belligerence. The institutions freeze a pattern of united action. The members of the institutionalized collective body are expected to act as one man, yet they must represent a loose aggregation rather than a spontaneous coalescence. They must be unified only through their unquestioning loyalty to the institutions. Spontaneity is suspect, and duty is prized above devotion.
"The chief preoccupation of a man of action when he takes over an 'arrived' movement is to fix and perpetuate its unity and readiness for self-sacrifice. His ideal is a compact, invincible whole that functions automatically. To achieve this he cannot rely on enthusiasm, for enthusiasm is ephemeral. Persuasion, too, is unpredictable. He inclines, therefore, to rely mainly on drill and coercion...The genuine man of action is not a man of faith but a man of law."
For some ECKists, moving into the phase of organization was a welcome change. The previous phase had been too chaotic and disruptive. However, for others, there is still to this day a feeling that the movement, and the revolutionary spirit, should never die. Hoffer explains why this would not be a good idea:
"No mass movement, however sublime its faith and worthy its purpose, can be good if its active phase is overlong, and, particularly, if it is continued after the movement is in undisputed possession of power. Such mass movements as we consider more or less beneficent - the Reformation, the Puritan, French and American Revolutions, and many of the nationalist movements of the past hundred years - had active phases which were relatively short, though while they lasted they bore, to a greater or lesser degree, the imprint of the fanatic. The mass movement leader who benefits his people and humanity knows not only how to start a movement, but, like Gandhi, when to end its active phase.
"Where a mass movement preserves for generations the pattern shaped by its active phase (as in the case of the militant church through the Middle Ages), or where by successive accession of fanatical proselytes its orthodoxy is continually strengthened (as in the case of Islam), the result is an era of stagnation - a dark age. Whenever we find a period of genuine creativeness associated with a mass movement, it is almost always a period which either precedes or, more often, follows the active phase... It is not the idealism and the fervor of the movement which are the cause of any cultural renascence which may follow it, but rather the abrupt relaxation of collective discipline and the liberation of the individual from the stifling atmosphere of blind faith and the disdain of his self and the present. Sometimes the craving to fill the void left by the lost or deserted holy cause becomes a creative impulse.
"The personality of the leader is probably a crucial factor in determining the nature and duration of a mass movement. Such rare leaders as Lincoln and Gandhi not only try to curb the evil inherent in a mass movement but are willing to put an end to the movement when its objective is more or less realized. They are of the very few in whom 'power developed a grandeur and generosity of the soul.'"
It would have been an easy thing for Harold to continue the fervor of the ECK movement, but this was not in him to do that. As if knowing exactly his allotted role, Harold began to gently bring an end to the movement, while setting in place an organization where the spirit of the teachings could blossom.
I was amazed to see how accurately many of Hoffer's observations were. Had Hoffer tapped into some greater understanding about the phases of growth in a movement?
Why these phases? Why only three? Why always the same order? I felt there was something behind Hoffer's pattern that was important if I was going to really understand.
I struggled with these questions for many years. Once again, I felt as if I were returning sacred stones to their original source so that I might know their real place. Hoffer had glimpsed something. Where did his insight come from? What was it that foretold the phases of ECKANKAR before even the first word was written? I was gradually putting some of the pieces together, but the complete meaning came only after certain inner experiences with the ECK Masters.
What follows is a story that I hope captures what I learned, along with the feeling of discovery and wonder from this path of Truth. But please remember, it is only a story...
The Five Modes of Creation:
Quan Tu startled me when I walked into my study one day. The ECK Master was in contemplation, his eyes shut, seated on the old covered rocking chair in the corner of the room. He was wearing his usual grey robe and brown sandals, and a feeling of peace surrounded him. His eyes blinked open when I entered.
"I want to tell you some things," he said. "If you can put this information down into words I think it would be helpful to others."
"Well..." I mumbled, as I watched my plans for the evening falling apart. For some reason I always felt like I was catching up with this Teacher. I often had to think through his words over and over again before I could grasp what he was saying. This time would be no different.
I searched for some paper to write on.
"Okay," I said. "What's this about?"
Quan Tu began slowly to describe a whole new area of thought I had never heard anywhere before. He called it the Five Modes of Creation.
"There are five basic forms of society," he started. "We must learn to deal with each of them to find survival in the lower worlds of God.
"For example, Soul is born into the physical world as part of a Family. Soul cannot experience life in this world any other way. It must have birth through a woman, and there must be a father who provides the seed. This is the law of this world, established at the very early formation of the physical plane, billions of years ago."
Quan Tu spoke with a faint Chinese accent that gave his voice a melodious singsong quality. His presence was calming. He continued:
"Both the man and woman possess half of the seed, you might say, that has been passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, this becomes the survival of mankind through the Family. If Soul is to have survival in this world it must learn to live with this unit we call the Family.
"However, what you may not know is that birth on the Astral Plane takes place in a very different manner. There is no body that grows from a seed in that world. The basic substance of that world is not matter like the physical, but is what we call imagination and emotion. This Astral fabric of life radiates out from a great Mountain of Light there, known as Arhirit. This current streams forth in many rays out into all reaches of the Astral Plane, bringing new forms into existence.
"This is how life is created on the Astral Plane." Quan Tu looked at me, with his dark brown eyes to see if I was following him.
"Are you saying," I asked, "that Soul is born on the Astral Plane through the rays of lights?"
"Not exactly," he answered. "It works like this: Communities form around these rays of imagination and emotion. Each group draws sustenance from these rays, and these rays become the source of their life. They gain knowledge and inspiration from these rays, like we might from radio broadcasts here on Earth, except no radios are needed, of course. Their own bodies are the receivers.
"When Soul incarnates onto the Astral Plane, It must enter through the Group Consciousness of these communities. Creation of life there begins in this way, from the rays striking upon the Group Consciousness, giving birth to new forms. It is just as if the Sun of that world supplied the seed and impregnated the Group Consciousness with potential for new life. See?"
"Does this mean that children there don't have mothers and fathers?" I asked.
Quan Tu nodded. "The communities raise the young ones there. There are some in the communities, the Care Givers, who take on most of the teaching and training, but all in the community are considered equally responsible. Soul is not born into a family there, but into a Group Consciousness that is guided by the Light of that world."
I tried comparing my own inner travels on the Astral Plane with this new information. I realized that I had never actually witnessed birth on the Astral Plane.
I thought out loud, "Is that why some people want to live in communes here on Earth, because they remember their life from the Astral Plane?"
Quan Tu smiled. "Yes," he said, "and the idea of Virgin Birth comes from there as well, since the seed is planted by the Holy Spirit or Light as a gift to the community. The Lord of that Plane is known to the spiritual travelers as Jot Niranjan. Jot means flame."
Quan Tu stood up from his seat and began to pace slowly. He put his hands together, with his two forefingers pointing outward. He looked like a Chinese monk perhaps in his early 50's.
"Now, the next world you call the Causal Plane," he continued. "It is sometimes known as Brahmand, or the world of Brahm, who is the great being who rules that world. He is the god of all creation there; few can approach him directly without the help of a spiritual traveler, since he is the head of a great hierarchy.
"This hierarchy is not just the form of government there. In that world, creation itself flows through this hierarchy. The wishes and dreams of Brahm pass down through the chain of beings in that world. Life forms and all new things enter the Causal world in this way. This is the key principle of causation there.
"Therefore, Brahm is the Creator god that most orthodox religions worship. He teaches that he is the all-in-all, and that there is no reality beyond him, but this is not true. He is not the source of the ECK, or what we call the spiritual element of reality. Yet, almost all in that world believe there is nothing greater than He because this is a part of the appearance that hierarchy creates.
"So, for Soul to take birth into this world, it must come through the blessings of Brahm. Soul does not start as a baby there, for each being is granted a stage of maturity in the hierarchy as Brahm decides, and in the place where He assigns it. Brahm is exceedingly wise in his appointments. Therefore life in this world is like the images given out about the Throne of God in heaven with the city of gold and jewels."
"Are you saying that Soul has less freedom and free will in that world than in this physical world?" I asked.
"No." Quan Tu smiled. "Soul has far more freedom there, and far greater wisdom as well. The so-called struggle for freedom here on this planet is hardly more than a struggle against ignorance and will power. On the Causal Plane, Soul knows that everything is in its proper place, and everything is as it should be. The causes of all things and the organization of all things is seen and understood there, because Brahm's presence can be felt everywhere. It is like seeing God's hand in all things. You see?
"Okay, now the next world you call the Mental Plane is known as Daswan Dwar by the travelers. The creation of this world pours out of Sat Lok, or the Soul Plane above. It filters down into this world like a silver mist, taking form through the interaction of small teams focused on particular missions. Each small group, or team, takes up their own task with their own ideal. It is not a world of talk, but action. Nothing can exist in this world without working through the dynamic of some purpose or ideal. Spirit Itself manifests there through their focus and action.
"This is not a world of absolutes directed by some Lord like the world of Brahm, but a world where all truth is relative and must be understood through the goal and purpose from which it springs."
Quan Tu paused, and sat down in lotus fashion on the floor.
"Are you saying there is no Universal Truth in that world?" I asked.
"That's right. Relative truth is accepted universally. Universal Truth is considered a narrow, lower world concept there. You will also find communication is often in the form of symbols in that world, because everything is a reflection of something else. Nothing is spoken of directly since words are action and transformation there. It is this interaction and interchange with Life that draws people together into action teams of creation.
I nodded, although I knew much of what I was hearing was going over my head. I still felt as if Quan Tu's words were showing me something I had never seen before, and I wanted to hear more without slowing him down.
"Therefore, Soul can only exist in this world," he continued, "with a mission and a purpose. If Soul is not at work with Its business, then Its own form dissolves away, and loses shape and identity. Its life and substance spring from Its goals, which always involve the interaction and exchange of life.
"It is not easy to describe the incredibly subtle creations and work of this world. They are like harmonies of the most beautiful music pouring through the musical instruments of Soul's own forms. Like a tapestry of Sound and Light, Soul and Spirit, entwined in a magnificent dance of meaning and ideals that becomes revealed through their work.
"So you see, Soul's own thought in action fashions Its own body and form in that world. It is an intensely creative process."
"But there is no hierarchy?" I asked.
"Well, there is the spiritual hierarchy," Quan Tu answered with a smile. "But it is not the same as the organizational hierarchy of Brahm, if that's what you mean."
"What's the difference?" I asked.
"The organizational hierarchy of Brahm is not the actual source of power, like many people think, but only a structure for the control of power. It is a way of funneling and managing power. Just like our physical bodies, where our bones protect the beating of our heart and the intelligence of our brain, but our bones are not who we are. The bones merely provide a structure. The principles of the Universal Mind offer this same structure to all of the worlds below Brahm, but this hierarchy is not the source of the ECK, or Life Force.
"The spiritual hierarchy is very different. It needs no rank and title, offices and positions, rules and laws, because all spiritual authority is inherent. It is not assigned. The spiritual hierarchy is not based upon control, but upon the flow of Love and Wisdom. The Spiritual Teachings pour out of the Ocean of Love into the lower worlds like a wave that returns Soul back to God. So, as soon as Soul becomes conscious of Its essence as a spark of God, Soul takes Its place in the spiritual hierarchy.
"Let me put it this way. No one in the Spiritual Hierarchy can ever hold anyone back spiritually. It cannot be done. When even one person takes a step spiritually they automatically bring spiritual growth to every one they are connected to. Their own upliftment in consciousness also goes out and helps their family, friends and co-workers. This is how the Spiritual Hierarchy works. This is why whatever is right for the individual within the Spiritual Hierarchy is also right for the whole of Life.
"Okay, let's return to the Five Modes of Creation. As you know, there is no birth or death in Sat Lok, which you call the Soul Plane. Soul is not clothed or covered by any substance there, but is composed of only Truth and Beingness. Each being looks to Itself to make Its own laws in this world, and it is this very act of Self-Awareness that describes Soul's experience in the body of God.
"There is no rest nor sleep upon the Soul Plane, because there is no form or body to grow weary. The action of Light and Sound here is a continuous expression of Isness, Nowness and Hereness, which springs out of Soul's own Awareness of Itself and God.
"Therefore, Soul is the only lasting unit in the spiritual worlds, as Rebazar Tarzs told you before. Soul has existence through eternity. It cannot be lost or taken away, since Soul's self-awareness is Its individuality. What can stop or prevent Soul from being aware of Its own relationship with God? Nothing. It is all within Soul's own Law and Plan how it will unfold Its own Self-Awareness. However, for Soul to take up life in the lower worlds, it must accept the laws of the action team, the organization, the group consciousness and the family, or it cannot create or survive in those worlds."
"This is fascinating!" I said. "So, you're saying that the action team, organization and group consciousness are reflections in this world from the Mental, Causal and Astral Planes? Amazing!"
Quan Tu looked at me patiently, with a look that told me I was not keeping up with him again.
"Well," he said, "that shouldn't be too much of a surprise since all things in this world are reflections of the higher worlds. But here is why I'm telling you this information - because it explains the forms that a spiritual teaching must take in this world.
"Do you see what I'm saying?"
I'm sure the blank look on my face provided his answer.
"Okay, let's go back over this," Quan Tu said, while tracing his finger through the air as if he were drawing it all out. "Do you see how religious beliefs are passed on in this world through the family, since this is the basic unit of creation in this world? Most people accept their family's religious beliefs without even considering what they mean or where they came from. They become unconscious beliefs that shape the choices of their life. However, this is not enough for a religion to survive in this world. See?
"For a spiritual teaching to survive it must use at least two of these modes of creation to transmit its message. This is the secret law that gives a religion roots and longevity.
"I'll give you some examples. The Jewish religion has been passed down through their families from generation to generation, but it also draws upon a group consciousness centered around their teachings. Rabbis give out the words of their tradition to link a Jewish follower to their group consciousness. Their synagogues are the assemblies of their group consciousness for the purpose of worship. You see? It uses two of the five modes of creation: The family and the group consciousness.
"But look at how St. Paul broke with this idea when he established the idea that Christianity was for everyone, not just the Jews. Jesus' teaching was then able to reach far more people. So, St. Paul made a break with the family as the main mode of creation for Christianity. The organization of The Church took the place of the family to give it longevity and stability. So, Christianity uses the organization and group consciousness to survive.
"When Mohammed founded Islam, six or seven hundred years later, he tried to overcome many of the ills of the Roman Catholic Church by declaring that there were no priests in Islam. You see? He was going back to a family basis for his teaching, this time appealing to the Arabs rather than the Jews. He broke with the organizational structure of the Church, but kept the same group consciousness that tied back to the early Christian and Jewish Prophets. Can you see how his holy wars were his way of delivering his message to form a new movement?
"You can study any of the religious groups in this way."
"I think I see what you mean," I said. "Let me try a few cases. How about the Theosophists, for example. I don't see them tied to any family, but they did seem to develop a strong central organization and they had a group consciousness through all of their meetings and books. Is that right?"
Quan Tu nodded.
"Or how about the old Masonic Lodge." I continued. "It has lasted for centuries, so it must have been using these modes of creation. It sure is big on titles, order and rituals. That's obvious. So I guess that makes the organization a central principle for them, but I don't think there is much of a group consciousness, since they never actually had any teachings that I know of. But wait - they did seem to focus on activities. And the lodges seemed to work almost independently, so that would make them action teams, wouldn't it?
"And without combining both action teams and an organization they would not have survived as long? Is that what you are saying?" I asked.
"Yes," the ECK Master answered. "Many of their activities were actually done in secret, which is not uncommon with action teams that are more interested in action rather than words. It was for the purpose of those missions that members were attracted, and sometimes even recruited. You would be surprised at how much of the American Revolution was incubated through their activities. That's why their symbol of the eye at the top of a pyramid of bricks made its way onto your paper money. It is the symbol of Masonry, or Building Through Secret Action, as the foundation of life, you might say.
"So you see, if an organization is only driven to perpetuate itself, and has no other purpose, it will not survive for long. If a movement is driven only by its desire to spread its group consciousness across the world, it will end in ruin. There must always be at least two of these modes of creation active within a group or it cannot survive for long."
When Quan Tu said this, I thought back to Hoffer's book.
"Now I understand," I said. "Hoffer was describing the growth of movements. He said that movements grew from True Believers, through their emotion and self-sacrifice to the cause. That's the group consciousness, isn't it?
"Then if the movement is going to survive it must settle into an organization. So, that's why the group consciousness is unstable by itself. Right? That's why they must consolidate into an organization. That's what you're calling an alignment between two modes?"
Quan Tu smiled as my thoughts came pouring out in a jumble.
"But why must it always follow this same order?" I asked, feeling confused again. "Why did Hoffer say it starts with men of words, and then come the True Believers and then men of action? And doesn't action mean teams instead of organizations?"
The ECK Master laughed, and I realized how little I really understood what he was telling me. It would take me a long time going over his words before I felt differently. However, Quan Tu showed his patience, as usual.
He said, "Look, this is no different than the stages that any group or organization passes through when it grows. It always starts with an individual. All new changes start with the individual, because someone must carry the torch, you might say, and light the fire. Nothing can happen without it coming through Soul.
"However, a new teaching is strongest when it next wins over the family, or it forms a family. You see?"
"Wait," I spurted out. "That's why Paul needed Gail! He had been writing the ECK teachings for seven years, but it wasn't until he married her, and she encouraged and supported his work that he was able to start ECKANKAR. I've always wondered about the catalyst that Gail provided, and why it seemed that Paul was waiting until he found her."
Quan Tu nodded. "You'll find," he said, "that almost all spiritual leaders were family men, and they also formed a family of close followers as well. Jesus was one of the few who wasn't married, but his teaching was for the Jews, who were his extended family, and he also had his Twelve Apostles. Mohammed was married and had his Companions. The Bhagavad Gita shows Krishna taking the side of Arjuna and his family in a battle they are fighting, as a way of giving out his teachings. It can of course be done alone, but it is much harder without a close group to support and protect the leader.
"From that base, the leader begins to give out the teachings and a group consciousness begins to form. The group consciousness grows to dominate the feelings and emotions of most of the followers. If it appeals to the masses, it can even become a movement."
"But why does Hoffer call True Believers fanatics?" I asked.
Quan Tu smiled. "What do you see when you endanger a hive of bees? That is how the group consciousness reacts. The individual forgets his individuality when he acta as a part of the group consciousness, often without even realizing what he is doing. He is moved and inspired by the emotion and imagination of the group consciousness.
"However, if a group consciousness is going to survive it must not become isolated from the rest of life. Therefore, it must begin to form a structure, an organization. If the organization then begins to grow too strong, at some point it will begin to limit its own growth. If the teaching wants to grow it must work with teams who are the creative action units that bring about change and growth.
Suddenly the pattern seemed clearer, and Hoffer's descriptions made more sense.
"But why does it always follow this pattern?" I asked. "Why this particular order?"
Quan Tu nodded his head as if I was asking a good question, and as I listened to his answer I realized my question was better than I thought. He explained:
"Look at the stages of growth a fetus goes through in the mother's womb. Those stages trace out the evolution of life on this planet. First, we see merely a seed, like a plant that germinates. Then a pupae. Next like a fish, and then it grows into a tadpole, or amphibian. Next a bird. It takes the form of all these things before assuming the form of animal and then human.
"It is tracing out the imprint of life.
"In the same way, when a child grows and matures it also traces out the whole history of how the human race has learned. First it learns through fairy tales and song, like the early hunters told around the campfires. Next through mythological stories that explain the order of things, just as the early civilizations taught their people why the world was as it was. From there a child learns law and order, as Moses and Hammurabi had set down for their people. Next come the challenges of competition and the skills of endurance and strategy, like the Ancient Greeks practiced in their Olympics.
"Finally the child is ready to understand the arts and sciences, just as these things came later in the cultures of the human race. You see? The child is tracing out the evolution of the human race. Rudolph Steiner detailed this whole pattern in his writings. You've read his works?"
"Yes," I said, recognizing immediately what Quan Tu was saying. For once I felt like I was keeping up. "So, in other words, when a movement or organization grows through the stages of the Five Modes of Creation it is tracing Soul's journey from the physical world upward through the Astral, Causal, Mental and Soul Worlds? Is that what you are saying?"
"Yes, we trace out and repeat these very patterns," Quan Tu answered, "because all of life is trying to return to its source.
"Look at the way that Soul comes down through the higher worlds before being incarnated here. In the same way, visions, dreams and the spiritual teachings first incubate in the higher worlds, then take shape as ideas, eventually develop into plans, and next gather feeling and emotion before taking form here in the physical. Once birth occurs here, all things sooner or later trace a path back to their origins. It is the cycle of Life.
"So you see, all things grow as a replica of the way life evolves, and life evolves as it traces its own path back to its origins. We are all cast in the image of this ebb and tide from the Ocean of Life Itself."
As I listened to Quan Tu, it seemed like I was learning about some kind of Spiritual Sociology. It shed a light on many things the more I thought about it. But there were still a few things that confused me.
"What I still don't understand," I said, "is what it was about the True Believers that so frightened Hoffer. He often seemed to think that a movement could be the most dangerous of trends because it could wipe out the individual's ability to think for themselves. The anti-cult groups have used these same fears to attack new religious groups.
"I can see that Hitler's Nazi movement endangered all of Europe and this worried Hoffer, but what was it that made Hitler's movement so powerful? The way you are describing these modes of creation, they are natural forms of growth."
Quan Tu nodded. "It is very interesting. The secret power behind Hitler was not his message or his teaching. It was not the impoverishment of the German people at the time either. Historians have gotten this wrong. It had to do with a new technology that had just been invented: The radio."
"The radio?" I said.
"Yes. You see, for the first time in man's modern history a whole nation could all listen at the same time. It had an electrifying effect. It created a group consciousness of such power as had never been known before. Hitler recognized this. That's why he used loudspeakers to address groups of thousands, while the rest of the country listened on their radios, and the people were carried away with the feeling of something great and powerful. Hitler filled his messages with imagination and emotion that enflamed the group consciousness with a feeling of destiny and historical importance.
"The people of that day had no defense against this new power. They became confused by it because they had never experienced such a thing before. It seemed superhuman. But things have changed today. While your advertisers and corporations use their broadcasts to manipulate the masses, most people today are at least aware of what is happening."
While Quan Tu was saying this, another event popped into my thoughts from those same days. It was a special radio broadcast called, The War of the Worlds, made by Orson Welles in New York. It was supposed to be a dramatic enactment of the H. G. Wells book by the same name. However, Orson Welles wrote the radio script as if a real live attack from Mars was being reported over the radio. People who tuned in after the show began had no idea it was a radio play, and began thinking it was a real attack.
The result was hysteria and mass panic as had never been seen before. Thousands began fleeing New York City, as they thought they were under attack by Martians. The freeways were jammed as people tried to escape. Mobs of citizens got out their guns to protect themselves, and some even shot holes through water towers, mistaking them for looming space ships in the night sky.
I always wondered why people could lose so much of their common sense like that, but now I understood: People were overwhelmed by the powerful new feeling of group consciousness. They had never known this before. They had become a mob.
Nothing like this has happened since. People soon came to realize that you can't believe everything you hear on the radio. And based on what Quan Tu was saying, I could now see that people have learned to recognize when the group consciousness is being played and manipulated. Yet, indeed, the radio has become a major force in our modern society.
"Why would a radio broadcast have such an effect on the group consciousness?" I asked.
"Any kind of broadcast does the same thing," said Quan Tu. "Don't you see how closely it resembles the Mountain of Light on the Astral Plane? This is how a group consciousness is formed. This is why every musician and every actor has their cult following. These one-way transmissions are like rays that create a group consciousness.
"If you look back, you will see similar changes took place in history when Gutenberg invented his printing press. It broke the hold that the Christian Church had on the people. For the first time written teachings could be distributed outside the control of the Church. That is why words have such power.
"This created a number of revolutions, such as the Reformation with Martin Luther, who was a writer that led the Protestants away from the control of the Catholic Church. The free press turned the Renaissance into a real revolution of the arts and sciences because it made the works and ideas of Ancient Greece and Egypt, which the Church had buried for centuries, available once again. Thus the meaning of the term, Renaissance.
"But look at all of these five modes of creation - the families, groups, organizations, teams and individuals. These units are at war with each other. Do you see how corporations have broken down the power of the family, so that family members hardly ever stay together any more? The group consciousness of most traditional religions is under attack by the new science action teams. Government and institutions are always trying to control the artists and musicians. That is why there is so little stability in the world these days, because there is so little alignment between the modes of creation."
Listening to Quan Tu, another issue began to emerge. It came out of something he had said earlier. I tried to remember what it was, and then I realized the question that was going through my thoughts.
"Are you suggesting," I asked, "that ECKANKAR will pass into another phase in its growth, from the organizational phase to the action team phase?"
Quan Tu nodded. "If it wants to grow it must."
Something about this made me feel uneasy. There was something about this change that was bothering me.
I said to Quan Tu, "Won't those caught up in the organization object to something outside their control? Isn't this similar to what happened between the Christian Gnostics and the Catholic Church? That change ended with the Church aligning itself with Rome and then turning on the Gnostics to have them killed."
"Yes, that's true," he replied. "The Gnostics wrote the original Gospels of the Apostles. They wrote their words down as they received them inwardly through their spiritual experiences. These early Christians were fervent in their belief that only the inner teachings mattered. They were very free spirits, and did not accept the idea of organizing the teachings. That's why the Church saw them as a threat."
"Yes," I said, "and this very slaughter of the Gnostics is what led to the dark ages of Medieval times, because the iron fist of control that the Church held over the Christian world stopped its spiritual growth. The Church wanted the organization to be the only mode of creation and tried to suppress everything else."
"However, look to the story of the Sufis," said Quan Tu. "They are an example of action teams that succeeded. At first, they ran into a similar conflict within Islam. A few were killed for speaking intimately of Allah, and strong feelings were growing against them because of their non-traditional approach until a famous Sufi, al-Ghazali, who was trained in law, explained the teachings of the Sufis in a way that the organizationally minded Islamics could understand.
"He showed how the Sufis studied the Koran and the example of Mohammed as a never ending well of new wisdom and meaning. They believed that Mohammed's own words were speaking of a truth and reality beyond words. These Sufis gave up all care for the world in search of glimpses of what Mohammed had seen.
"Later, when Ibn al-Arabi, another famous Sufi, was being tried before a court for the use of profane images in his teachings, which was against Islamic law, he took the time to explain in detail that his writings were all symbolic of his love for God. Love for his Beloved, was love for God, not for another woman. The curls of his Beloved were simply symbols for the beautiful way the Light of God spirals down into the lower worlds. The wine he spoke of drinking was the intoxication of God's presence. The profane love he hinted at was his feeling of love for God that threw all caution to the winds and caused him to willingly put his life at risk.
"In other words, the Sufis did not turn their back upon their religion and try to break away, but took the time to create bridges and alignments with the organization and group consciousness of Islam. And this connection has produced some of the most beautiful spiritual writings the world has ever known.
"In fact, the influence of the Sufis goes beyond what most people realize, because so much of what they did was in secret. They changed the world in many ways.
"If you are looking for examples to emulate, look at how the Sufis formed their teams around principles of action. They had the Alchemists, the Troubadours, the practitioners of Spiritual Chivalry, and many others. The Masons had their beginning amongst the Sufis, just as there were the Copper Workers, the Carpet Weavers and other craft-based groups that sought spiritual revelation through their work.
"Did you know that Sufis took on refining the principles of chivalry as a form of spiritual practice, and this was the source of the age of Chivalry throughout Europe? A text of Sufi Chivalry can be found dating to the 10th century. Before that time, the stories of King Arthur told no tales of Chivalry and honor, but only the stories of the formation of Britain through wars and battle. The Holy Grail was a symbol that came out of the Sufis' teaching, to describe their search for Truth.
"The original stories of Chivalry came to the English courts through the Troubadours, who were offshoots of the Sufis. They put into song and dance, the stories of love and Chivalry that were woven with spiritual principles. The love song was their creation. It was a symbolic expression of Soul's love for God in the form of man's longing for woman. It sparked a revolution in thought leading to the new idea that union between man and woman should be based upon love, not social rules, which changed forever the way marriage in the Western world has been conceived.
"The Alchemists were offshoots of the Sufis, who practiced their search for spiritual truth by the study of interactions and transformation. They looked for spiritual principles in the laws of combinations between things. They sought the touchstones and Philosopher's stones that could catalyze change through spiritual action. This evolved eventually into the science of Chemistry down through the centuries.
"In fact, most of the foundations of science were laid down by the Sufis or groups that were offshoots of the Sufis, since they taught spiritual action and transformation, rather than theoretical talk. They believed in tests to prove out truth, both physically and spiritually, while the Europeans of their day were still arguing over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
"This should show that the greatest creativity and growth comes when there is alignment between the action teams, the organizations and the group consciousness. This is a reflection of the spiritual growth of the individuals involved."
Quan Tu paused, but I could see he was finding the words to say something else, as he pointed his finger at me.
"Now, please don't get the idea that making a mark on history for the sake of the world is what I'm talking about here. No. That's not the point or purpose of the path of ECK. It all comes back to Soul, the individual, and how It grows spiritually through its work for a higher ideal.
"I have seen many who follow the path of ECK who walk it alone, not wanting any connection with an organization, group consciousness or even their family. They believe that this way they can come closer to God, but this is never true. We find the greatest spiritual growth when we are active in the world, following the spiritual principles and the path of Spirit as it manifests. This is why Rebazar Tarzs says that we should be co-workers with God.
"This is an important point, which is why I'm telling you this. You, as the individual, need to stay active in the modes of creation to have the greatest spiritual growth. The Individual needs at least one of these other four modes to have the greatest survival in the lower worlds. The Path is much stronger this way. Do you understand?"
Finally the whole of what Quan Tu was telling me began to sink in, and the personal message he was giving me hit home as well. I realized that he was saying the same thing that Paul had once said about the four margs, the four paths for the ECKists, and in fact these four margs were the same: Service to others like the help we give to our families, Teaching for the group consciousness, Missionary work for the organization and the Creative action of the artists, writers and musicians. These are of course what Paul called the Bahkti Marg, the Arahata Marg, the Vahana Marg and the Gyani Marg.
It also struck me that the recent rise of the Writer's Conference, which has now grown into a forum for artists, musicians and all of the creative arts, is a sign of the next phase emerging for the movement of ECKANKAR.
"In other words," I said, "you are saying that the path of ECK is beyond all of these modes of creation, but these modes are needed to manifest the spiritual principles and to help realize the growth that the ECK teachings contain."
"Yes," Quan Tu nodded. "Those who think that the group consciousness of ECKANKAR is the whole of the path are wrong. Those who hold some rank in the organization and therefore think they know the inside of ECKANKAR are also wrong. And those who live the individual life or the creative life and believe they are the closest to The Path are wrong as well. The whole of ECKANKAR is far beyond these outward forms.
"And yet each are right in their own way, since these are all aspects of the ECK and they are all important to the unfoldment of Soul in this world. Therefore, if ECKists can work to build alignments between the five modes of creation they will find The Way is stronger and the spiritual growth is greater in their lives. They will find this bringing them closer to the whole of ECKANKAR that is behind all religions and all spiritual teachings. It is the very teaching of Life Itself.
"To work through the modes of creation, one by one, and return to the individuality of Soul, is the path of the ECK chela.
"Starting from the center of that individuality, while working consciously with the modes of creation, is the way of the Masters.
"I hope this can be of help to the spiritual seekers and students of ECKANKAR."
With those final words, the Chinese ECK Master, Quan Tu, stood up, raising his right hand in farewell, and faded away before my eyes.
This book has been a long journey. It began with the criticisms of David Lane and the many fascinating spiritual lessons to be learned from those challenges. This led to deeper insights into the spiritual path, and eventually to the changes and conflicts that we face in our society and civilization.
It has been a journey of viewpoints, interpretations and states of consciousness, as the spiritual path always is. I think it has shown some glimpses into the amazing thing we call this movement of ECKANKAR, both inwardly and outwardly.
It has brought out some new information on Paul, the founder of this movement, and the meaning and purpose that dialogue can play in discovering truth. It also explains some of the significant differences between the ECK teachings and those of Sant Mat, while at the same time showing the inner connections that tie them together, along with many other spiritual teachings.
This book has evolved through the discussions and responses of many people who have been drawn to this dialogue, and I hope I have represented their ideas faithfully.
However, I realize that this book largely shows my own perspectives. Each person will tell the story differently. Different insights. Different lessons.
I see no line separating spiritual seekers of truth. Whatever name they might call themselves - Buddhist, Christian, Sufi or ECKist - they are to me all brothers and sisters on The Path. The only difference is in how we each see ourselves, which shapes our thinking and goals.
For this reason I hope the words on these pages will have a meaning for many others. I hope that something can be drawn from these chapters that might help the path of whoever might read them. And I hope they read it all as poetry.
I have been blessed in many ways by the care and guidance of some very great teachers. More than anything I hope my appreciation for them can be seen and felt in these writings.
It is in their honor that I dedicate this book.
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Copyright © 2000 by Doug Marman