Chapter Seven


The Selective Process

     It can be argued that Eckankar is nothing more than the sum-total of Paul Twitchell's experiences; or, if not entirely his own "personal" observations, at least his own unique choice of differing spiritual and occult teachings. [1] Thus, the following study is designed to show how Eckankar is the result of an ongoing selective process, what I have termed the Twitchellian choice.

[1] Writes Paul Twitchell: "Eckankar, which I formed out of my own experience is the term used for the philosophy I have developed for the Cliff Hanger."
Cosmological Superstructures

     Most of what Twitchell teaches (a.k.a. Eckankar) is garnered from Ruhani Satsang. The differences, however, between the two movements are not only distinctive but fundamental. The variances, which in part can be traced to Twitchell's inclusion of alternative spiritual concepts (from "Tone Scales" to "Golden Temples"), reveal some crucial points of departure for Eckankar from the ethical and practical foundation of Ruhani Satsang.
     One significant change that Twitchell brought about in Eckankar was his restructuring of the traditional Sant mat "eight plane" cosmology. Twitchell did this, though, only after having used the original Sant mat cosmology in several of his earlier books--most notably in The Tiger's Fang and The Far Country. The intriguing aspect is that Twitchell's revised and copyrighted "twelve plane" cosmology (which is given in the Spiritual Notebook and was standard in Eckankar by 1971) contradicts his previous "eight plane" one. The following is a comparison chart of the two cosmologies:
Original (based upon the Sant tradition; depicted in Twitchell's first books on Eckankar):

1. Sahasra dal Kanwal; sounds - bell and conch
2. Brahm Lok (Trikuti); sounds - big drum (thunder)
3. Daswan Dwar; sounds - violins (sarangi)
4. Bhanwar Gupha; sounds - flute
5. Sach Khand; sounds - vina (bagpipe)
6. Alakh Lok*
7. Agam Lok*
8. Anami Lok (Sugmad)*

* Twitchell does not give the exact sounds of the higher regions above Sach Khand in this particular cosmology, nor does Sant mat, Radhasoami, or Ruhani Satsang.

Revised (as given in the Spiritual Notebook and standard by 1970):

1. Elam (Physical); sounds - thunder
2. Sat Kanwal Anda (Astral); sounds - roar of the sea
3. Maha-Kal/Par Brahm (Causal); sounds - tinkle of bells
4. Brahmanda Brahm (Mental); sounds - running water
5. Sat Nam (Soul); sounds - single note of flute
6. Alakh Lok; sounds - heavy wind
7. Alaya Lok; sounds - deep humming
8. Hukikat Lok; sounds - thousand violins
9. Agam Lok; sounds - music of woodwinds
10. Anami Lok; sounds - whirlpool
11. Sugmad Lok; sounds - music of universe
12. Sugmad/Living Reality; sounds - music of God

     The most noticeable difference in the two cosmologies is in the location of the various sounds (known in Radhasoami as shabd dhuns). Note that in the first "eight plane" cosmology the sound of the flute is heard on the "fourth" plane (Bhanwar gupha), one region below Sach Khand (the eternal "soul" realm), whereas in the "twelve plane" chart, the sound of the flute is now heard on the "fifth" plane (Sat Nam; the "soul" region). This contradiction, while perhaps not noteworthy in any other spiritual tradition, is crucial in Shabd yoga, where the whole essence of the path is based upon the internal hearing of the "sound current" or "audible life stream." The knowledge of which sounds to listen to and which to discard is an extremely important part of the teachings. Other variances in the cosmologies include:
1. The sound of the thunder which was heard in Trikuti (causal realm) in the original Sant mat cosmology is now according to the "twelve plane" chart heard in the physical region (Elam).

2. The tinkle of bells which was originally heard up to and through the first plane (Sahasra dal Kanwal) is now heard in the third region (MahaKal-Par-Brahm).

3. Par Brahm which used to be in Daswan Dwar (i.e., beyond mind and matter) is now in the causal realm--a region which was previously inTrikuti (the home of the mind).

     The preceding comparisons are important in understanding that, although Twitchell employed basic Sant mat concepts in the beginning of his group, the teachings themselves have undergone an evolution in Eckankar. This not only signals Twitchell breaking off from Ruhani Satsang doctrines but also indicates an evolving (and not a stationary) superstructure within Eckankar. More precisely, what may have been taught in Eckankar in 1965 and 1966 may not necessarily be disseminated in 1989.

Ethics: The Moral Edifice

The two principles that all Sant mat and Radhasoami groups agree upon are:

1) A pure moral life. This includes, among other things, a strict vegetarian diet (no meat, fish, or eggs) and an abstinence from narcotics and alcohol.

2) The teachings of Surat shabd yoga should be made available for free. That is, there are no charges for either initiations, instructions, or personal audiences with the Satguru. Also included under this guideline is the rule that a "perfect master" should earn his own living. The guru does not live off the donations made to him by his disciples. [2]

     Paul Twitchell has taken portentous exceptions to the two most agreed upon principles in Sant mat and Radhasoami. First and most glaring, Eckankar charges for their teachings. In fact, the group was originally incorporated as a business organization for this very reason. (It was only later that it switched its status to a "non-profit" religious movement.) Second, though he took a vow of vegetarianism in 1955, Twitchell and Eckankar advocate eating animal flesh. Argues Eckankar's founder:
"The vegetarian who is motivated by a religious creed takes his stand on the moral issue that eating flesh is against the principles of spirituality. Anyone who is a chela of ECKANKAR knows that after he has become efficient in Soul Travel and can go into the fifth (soul) plane, there is no right and no wrong, no beauty and no ugliness - only the one reality. Those who believe that vegetarianism is an asset to their spiritual growth are mistaken about the moral issue." [3]
Concerning meat-eating, Twitchell remarks:
"And one should eat plenty of meat, especially brains, kidney, and liver. These are generally good for the human system." [4]
[2] Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters (Beas: Radhasoami Foundation, Ninth edition, 1974), page 227.
[3] Paul Twitchell, Herbs: The Magic Healers (San Diego: Illuminated Way Press, 1971), page 78.
[4] Ibid., page 52.

     Third and finally, Julian P. Johnson in his book, The Path of the Masters, lists several objective indices of a "perfect master." The very first guideline is that a master does not charge money for his services or live off the offerings of his devotees. Twitchell, interestingly, copies Johnson's list almost verbatim. However, the first objective indice Twitchell does not include. Below is a partial comparison:
Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters (pages 227- 229):

     2) Masters never boast of their mastership or of their spiritual powers or attainments. If any man claims to have attained the highest in spiritual development, that claim itself may be taken as conclusive proof that he has not attained so much. (8) A real Master never performs miracles for public exhibition. He may do them on special occasions, and for particular reasons. But in every case, the thing is kept secret from the public. It is a fixed law with real saints that they will never do miracles to win disciples. Yogis often do miracles, healing the sick and other things, but real masters never do them except on very special occasions and (for) urgent reasons.

Paul Twitchell, Eckankar: The Key To Secret Worlds (pages 74-75):

     The first thing about the Mahanta is that he never boasts of his spiritual powers or attainments. If any man claims to have attained the highest in spiritual development, that claim itself may be taken as conclusive proof that he has not attained much. No spiritual traveler ever performs miracles for public exhibitions. He might do them on special occasions, and for some particular reason, but in every case, the miracle is kept secret from the public. No traveler will go about doing miracles in order to gain followers. This is a fixed law in the universe. Some yogis often do miracles, healing the sick and other things, but a real spiritual traveler would never do them, except on special occasions and only for urgent reasons.
     The first objective indice, which Twitchell does not in any of his publications cite or include, reads as follows from Julian P. Johnson's The Path of the Masters:
1. First and most noticeable of them all is the important fact that real Masters never charge for their services, nor do they accept payment in any form or any sort of material benefits for their instructions. This is a universal law among Masters, and yet it is an amazing fact that thousands of eager seekers in America and elsewhere, go on paying large sums of money for "spiritual instructions." Masters are always self sustaining. They are never supported by their students or by public charity.
     Harold Klemp, the present living Eck Master, receives over two-thousand dollars per month as head of Eckankar. Twitchell, in his day, was reported to have earned a comparable amount. [5] To have a personal audience with the Eck Master can cost anywhere from $100 to $500. The seminars held around the world by Eckankar also charge admission fees. The preceding clearly indicates that although Eckankar has similarities with Sant mat and Ruhani Satsang, it is ultimately different.

     [5] On Darwin Gross' and Gail Atkinson's divorce papers, their respective salaries are listed. Gross reported earning $2,000 per month as head of Eckankar at that time. Later his salary went up to sixty-thousand plus a year. See Part Five, Eckankar in Turmoil.

Talk To God:

Prophecy, Sex, and Liberation

DEAR GURU: Things are so bad for this country that I must ask you to talk to God about the political future. I am asking as a loyal reader of Candid Press.
--Jan Baldheim

DEAR JAN: I didn't want to make any predictions on certain events, but you caught me on a technical point. I did promise to answer the questions of all Candid Press readers. I predict a bad year for my competitor, Jean Dixon, as she will have illness and financial loss. The war in Vietnam will increase until late in 1968 when the doves of both sides come to the negotiating table. In 1968, Johnson and Humphrey will run against Romney and Percy--and win again!.
--Paul Twitchell
[In his featured column "Talk to God" for CANDID PRESS (December 10, 1967)]

     Perhaps the most controversial document to surface about Paul Twitchell's hidden life is his featured column, "Talk to God," for Candid Press in 1967. In the column, Twitchell claims to speak directly with God about reader's personal and spiritual problems. The founder of Eckankar always ends his words of advice (which he states comes from God Himself) with the bold statement: I HAVE SPOKEN!

     The article raises some serious questions about Twitchell's personal motives for founding Eckankar. For not only does Twitchell make erroneous prophecies (as in the preceding quotation, Johnson never did run for office in 1968 as Twitchell predicted, nor did his proposed running mate, Humphrey, win the race. Nixon, not Romney as Twitchell wrongly prophesied, finally won the Presidential Election), but he also indulges in satirical sexual admonitions. A few graphic examples will best illustrate the latter:
DEAR MR. TWITCHELL: My penis is too long. Can you ask God to shorten it for me?

DEAR PETER: Why? That's what God said when He heard you wanted a smaller sex organ. God says that we can all be happy with what He gives unto us and you shall be happy to.
--Paul Twitchell

DEAR GURU: I have the strange desire to wear lace panties. As I am a normal man in every other way, I want to know if God thinks this is bad?

DEAR FRILLY: He doesn't think it is good. We talked over your fetish - for that is what you have. We both feel that your fetish is due to lack of female companionship. You wish to secure a relationship with a woman whose initials are P.I. Do not ask how I know nor shall you question this advice which I now sayeth unto you: Call her and ask her for a date. She will accept. Do not wear your panties on the date. . . and you shall never again have a desire to wear panties. I HAVE SPOKEN!
--Paul Twitchell

DEAR LEARNED ONE: My penis is too small for a man of my age. Can you talk to God and make my penis grow?

DEAR TINY: God and I talked about your penis--and God has good news for you. He says that your penis is of average size and that you only believe it is too small for you failed to satisfy one woman when you were 19. Because it is of the proper size, there is no need for God to make it grow. I HAVE SPOKEN!
--Paul Twitchell

     In the midst of Twitchell's incorrect prophecies and sexual innuendoes, he also talks about Rebazar Tarzs and Eckankar to his Candid Press readers. One can't help wondering, however, how serious Twitchell is in presenting his bilocation philosophy with such a humorous and mordacious context. Below are a few excerpts from the column on Eckankar:
DEAR ECK TEACHER: After learning bilocation, I sent my sole-being [sic] to Vietnam to visit my son who is stationed there-and he didn't recognize me. Why?

DEAR MRS.: I was with you that day and I wanted so to allow your son to see you--but I was hopeless to help you. You see, Eckankar is only able to function as a path to God--and as such, it is no good if learned for ulterior motives. You bought my book "Introduction to Eckankar" just so you could visit your son. As entering God's universe wasn't your goal, so the true power of Eckankar failed to work fully for you. I HAVE SPOKEN!
--Paul Twitchell

DEAR PAUL: I am only 16 and my problem may not be the type that you normally talk to God about, but here goes. I am still a virgin! My three best friends aren't and they always tease me. I want to wait until I marry, but they keep kidding me. What should I do?

DEAR M. OF MICHIGAN: If a problem worries a person, then it is important enough for me to talk to God about. First and most important is what Rebazar Tarzs once told me. He said: "Unto thine own self and not beyond." My teacher meant that you must do only what you feel is best for yourself and these are God's sentiments exactly. By the way, God wants you to know that your three friends are still virgins. They are merely trying to sound sophisticated and adult. I HAVE SPOKEN!
--Paul Twitchell

     "Talk to God," probably more than any other piece of evidence, raises the question about the genuineness of Eckankar and about the authenticity of its founder. It is an issue which we will explore at length in the next chapter.