Available from Del Mar Press, P.O. Box 2508, Del Mar, California 92014. $15 Author: David C. Lane



[1983 Edition]

    This book is the product of over five years of extensive research. It began quite simply as a term paper for a Religious Studies class at California State University, Northridge. However, after sending my first paper to Eckankar's headquarters and receiving a letter from their attorneys threatening me with a lawsuit if I published my work, the project quickly evolved into a full-time investigation. The controversy over the paper primarily stemmed from my findings on the early life of Paul Twitchell, the movement's founder. They were completely contrary to what Eckankar had written.

    After about a year more of study, I wrote a second paper, The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and Eckankar. Little did I realize then that the work would cause such an intense dispute within Eckankar. Through a process which I do not completely understand, and which is probably best described as "through the grapevine" , the manuscript found its way throughout different parts of America and even went so far as Europe. [1] The large response that the paper elicited is best indicated by the fact that Darwin Gross, the then Living Eck Master, had to devote part of his October 1978 article in the Mystic World concerning it:

"Those who have withstood the attacks have not been affected by the material written by people who have not done their research or homework, and gotten the facts straight. These attackers are on a very low scale of spiritual [sic] according to the survival scale."

"There have been some manuscripts being passed around that are trying to degrade ECKANKAR, its teaching as well as its present spiritual leader and past spiritual leader."

     In Arizona, where the work had its most significant impact, Darwin Gross wrote a personal letter to all Eckists in order to try to squelch the controversy. Asserts Gross:

-------------------- [1] It was only after I returned from a research project with Professor Mark Juergensmeyer to North India in the summer of 1978 when I learned that several Eckists had photocopied my manuscript and distributed it throughout North America.]

" My biography is coming out sometime this year and will put a lot of things straight. Don't get involved with people who gossip or have things to say about Eckankar that are defamatory. This is true also about the David Lane manuscript that has been circulated amongst many of the chelas. His untruths will eventually catch up to him."
     My paper had caused such a tremendous rift among the Eck disciples that Eckankar hired a business consultant to review the manuscript, trying to find any possible loopholes in the research. But because the work was thoroughly documented, Eckankar could not take any legal action. This did not stop them, however, from pursuing legal action against individuals whom I quoted in the text.

     In 1979, Eckankar tried to take a two-and-a-half million dollar lawsuit against Professor Ed Gruss of the Los Angeles Baptist College for allegedly "publishing" a highly defamatory term paper by James M. Peebles, a fellow classmate of mine at California State University, Northridge. Prompted by a letter to their office, Eckankar sent one of their own officials, Mike Noe, down to southern California to secure a copy of the twelve page report, which claimed, among other things, that Eckankar was skirting tax laws and that Darwin Gross had fathered an illegitimate child. Mike Noe, as it turns out though, asked for the paper from Ed Gruss under the false disguise that he was a member of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (a conservative Christian research ministry centered in Berkeley). Gruss, who had not read the work, kindly gave Noe a photocopy. Noe went back to Menlo Park and Eckankar then proceeded to take a lawsuit against Gruss for "publishing" the report. Though the lawsuit never did come to trial, Eckankar used it as the basis for several half-page advertisements in which they claimed that their group and its teachings were being attacked by conservative Christians. These advertisements were run in some of the major newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times.

     Due to Eckankar's increasing efforts to undermine any open and objective investigation into its founder's past, Brian Walsh and I printed a limited edition of my manuscript in the summer of 1979. Within three weeks of its publication, the work sold out. It even earned the distinction of being stolen from Shambhala bookstore in Berkeley; the five copies were presumably purloined by some disgruntled Eckist.

     Around this same time, the Spiritual Counterfeits Project published their own journal on Eckankar which was largely based on my manuscript.Their work was widely distributed, reaching almost every Eckankar center in the world. This caused quite an uproar and many initiates left the movement. Eckankar's headquarters again attempted to repress the furor over the controversy by sending a bulletin -- this time, worldwide. Declares the memo:

"Sri Darwin was not allowed to edit the SCP-Journal publication as had been promised by the Spiritual Counterfeit group, and it does not tell the straight story. The SCP material, taken from a college thesis submitted by David Lane, was not completely researched and is untrue. These people are being used by the Kal forces to dismantle ECKANKAR and are referred to by Sri Paul Twitchell in a private tape he made in July 1971, shortly before he translated...."

" Sri Darwin asks that these SCP-Journals be destroyed. Many ECKists who have been on the fence have dropped ECKANKAR due to this SCP material, and the Living ECK Master will not be responsible for the karma being built by these SCP people."

     Since the private publication of The Making of the Spiritual Movement, I have received letters from interested Eckists and seekers in countries around the world, including West Germany, Sweden, England, South Africa, Nigeria, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and India, about my investigation on the history of Eckankar and its founder, the late Paul Twitchell. From these letters, I have learned that some Eck chelas were being harassed by officials higher up in the group and that several lawsuits were being taken against Eckankar and its questionable activities. Three Eckists even claimed that they had received death threats because of their turning away from the movement. [2] In light of this disturbing news and in response to the growing number of requests for my manuscript, I decided to revise and update the work, making it more uniform both in appearance and content. This book is a result of that endeavor.

------------------------- [2] I, too, have been on the receiving end of several threatening letters from Eckists who were displeased with my research work. One Eck chela said that, "The army of Eckankar soldiers will come after you!" Another disciple, perhaps a bit more serious, drew skeletons on his letter and told me that I was not worthy to tie Paul Twitchell's shoe laces. From what I have seen over the past four years, I am not in the least surprised by Eckists claiming that they have received death threats. It may not be a reflection on the movement, as such, but on the fanaticism of a few who get carried away.]

    Although I cannot possibly thank all the people who have helped me in this research, I would like to express my gratitude to the following individuals: James M. Pebbles, Mark Albrecht, Brooks Alexander, Ed Pecen, Steve Morrow, Paul Gayeski, Neil Tessler, Robert Leverant, Daniel Caldwell, Michelle Greye, Kimball A. Lane, Joseph A. Lane, Michael S. Lane; Professor John E. Sutphin of Mississippi State University; Professor Mark Juergensmeyer of the University of California, Berkeley, for his scholarly advice and pertinent foreword; Louise Lane, for her enthusiasm, support, and concern; Brian Walsh, without whose help I could not have possibly finished this book. And finally, and most importantly, to my dear wife, Jacquelyn Ann, who has shown incredible patience throughout this entire project.

Chapter 1 - The Early Years of Paul Twitchell