Darwin Gross versus David Lane

     I recently received a letter from Darwin Gross attempting to defend Paul Twitchell and the early history of Eckankar. I have finished my rebuttal. Anyone interested in reading Darwin's letter and my response should send e-mail directly to me and I will send it; otherwise it will be available from Del Mar Press (P.O.Box 2508, Del Mar, California 92014) for free. It is five pages, single spaced.
     The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and Eckankar is also currently available in a new edition from Del Mar Press. Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York and London) had planned to publish it in 1993, but due to Eckankar's persisting legal threats they decided it would be best if they did not come out with a hardback version. I have also compiled some pertinent documents which may be of some interest to those who want to know the inside history to the movement. I should also point out that J. Gordon Melton has also written summaries of my research and that of SCP's in several of his encyclopedias, including the Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults. Garland Publishing has also published a critical history of Radhasoami guru succession (the main catalyst for Twitchell's Eckankar movement, John-Roger's M.SI.A., and a host of other New Age styled religions) which I wrote as my Ph.D. dissertation back in 1991. Also coming out is Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical (Garland: August 1994).
     I should also mention that there are a number of good "outside" studies of shabd yoga, sant mat, and radhasoami, which are written from a critical perspective. Juergensmeyer's Radhasoami Reality (Princeton University Press) is perhaps the best of its kind. There are now more than 30 shabd yoga related groups operating in America which have some genealogical connection to Sant Mat/Radhasoami. To list a few: Ching Hai (Buddhist/Sant Mat fusion: she was initiated by Thakar Singh); John Roger Hinkins (Mormon/Eckankar/Sant Mat fusion; he was initiated by Paul Twitchell; Jerry Mulvin (he was a higher initiate in Eckankar); Rajinder Singh (Darshan Singh's successor and the heir to Paul Twitchell's own teacher, Kirpal Singh); Gary Olsen (and the Master Path; followed Eckankar); Divine Light Mission (whose founder and Guru Maharaji's father was a follower of Sarupanand and Sawan Singh); and many more.

When God Responds
Issue Two
The Critic's Circular on New Religions
Sri Darwin Gross vs. Lane

"When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical"
Sri Darwin Gross versus David Lane

     Publisher's Note: In March of 1994 David Lane's newest edition of The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and Eckankar was published. Previous editions of the book (1978, 1979, 1983, and 1989) caused a tremendous controversy within the movement prompting thousands of Eckists to leave the group. [Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York & London) had originally planned to publish an updated version of Lane's text in 1993, but due to persisting legal threats from Eckankar the publishing house decided against it.]

     In December of 1993, Darwin Gross (former "Eck Master") sent out a communication trying to refute several of Lane's documented allegations. The following is Lane's point by point rebuttal:

Sri Darwin Gross:
" . . . It has come to my attention that David C. Lane, Ph,D. [sic] has revised his book about Paul Twitchell, the Corp"

     Whenever Darwin mentions the "Corp" or "Corporation," he is referring to Eckankar. The reason Darwin calls it the "Corp" instead of simply saying Eckankar is because he has been involved in a legal dispute with Eckankar over copyrighted terms. Apparently Darwin is worried that he might be sued if mentions Eckankar by name. See "When God Gets Dethroned: The Downfall of Darwin Gross" in the 1994 edition of The Making of a Spiritual Movement

" and Myself [sic]. You might say bad mouthing both Paul and Darwin. This article is an attempt to set straight some of the facts that, [sic] I know for myself to be true about Paul Twitchell and the organization he started while he was here in the physical, and some of the charges that David Lane brought up in his book,The Making of a Spiritual Movement, about Paul, about the corporation that Paul started, and some false accusations about Paul Twitchell, including myself.

     "First of all, there is no denying that there are a few paragraphs inThe Far Country that are similar to another book written by another spiritual author in Australia. Now, when one contemplates and goes to that temple within, that's going to the same well. That's something David Lane can't get into his head, let alone Mark Albrecht of the Spiritual Counterfeits and the die hard Christians."

David Lane:
      You claim that Paul Twitchell's book, The Far Country, contains a "few paragraphs" that are "similar to another book written by another spiritual author in Australia." On both accounts, Darwin, you are wrong. First, at least one-half of The Far Country was appropriated from the writings of Julian P. Johnson (author of four books on Sant Mat in the 1930s, including With a Great Master in India; Call of the East; The Unquenchable Flame; and The Path of the Masters). As for the "other" half of The Far Country, it appears that Twitchell copied from a host of other writers. I don't consider over 400 paragraphs to be few.
     Second, Julian P. Johnson was not from Australia as you erroneously claim. In fact, he was from Kentucky - the same state where Paul Twitchell was born.
     Third, you claim that Johnson and Twitchell went to the same "well" to get their information. Not only is your explanation a fairly lame attempt to condone plagiarism, but I can show you text-by-text, paragraph-by-paragraph, sentence-by-sentence how you are wrong. Johnson wrote in a distinctive style which reflected (for better or worse) his upbringing, his cultural values, his racism, his sexism, and the 1930s in which he was writing. Johnson also made a number of spelling and grammatical errors (which were only corrected in later editions in the 1970s and 1980s - long after Twitchell's own death). Now Twitchell not only duplicates Johnson's seasoned and nuanced style, but he also copies verbatim his grammar/spelling mistakes. Moreover, when Johnson does quote other writers from other "worldly" sources (read: not astrally deposited books), he properly cites them and their respective texts.
     When Twitchell plagiarized Johnson he forgot to differentiate between Johnson's own writing and Johnson's quoted material. Thus, by this very simple blunder Twitchell exposed the secret behind his writing: he was parroting what he had read from The Path of the Masters and With a Great Master in India. By the way, Darwin, I don't ask you to believe me; I simply ask that you read both books side by side and see for yourself. As you often say, "seeing is believing." Twitchell was, to be sure, a notorious plagiarizer and purloiner of copyrighted material. To deny that fact (and it is a fact) is to simply display your own ignorance of copyright laws (something which you must be familiar with after your legal battles with the "Corporation" - that is, Eckankar). Let me put it more bluntly, if one of my college students plagiarized just 1/10 of what Twitchell appropriated, he or she would not only receive an "F" in my class but he/she would be expelled from the college. Do you really want to have a higher moral standard for high school or college students and a lesser one for God-realized masters?

[Sidebar: I am convinced that Twitchell plagiarized a lot more than I even suggest - which is, of course, bad enough. Remember that I have touched only the tip of a huge iceberg of literary piracy.]
Sri Darwin Gross:
     "David Lane has made a statement that I asked the chelas to destroy the SCP Journal, back in December [sic] 27,

     The Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley, California, published an extensive critique of Eckankar's history and theology in 1979 largely based upon my 1977 and 1978 term papers for a religious studies class at California State University, Northridge. SCP's journal "Eckankar: A Hard Look at New Religion" was widely distributed.
1979. That is false and taken out of context. I could not find a record of his statement. At that period of time I was in Holland and had been for two weeks. He'll have to produce that one; I don't have a copy of it, and I've never asked anyone to burn or destroy anyone else's writings."

David Lane:
     Concerning the infamous December 27, 1979 document which you claim you have not seen and did not write, you must not have looked very hard since I included a photocopy of the original in the 1983 version of The Making of a Spiritual Movement. For your convenience, I append a copy. As you will no doubt see, you did clearly ask for the SCP Journals to be destroyed. Your claim that my statement is both "false and taken out of context" sounds like so much doublespeak to me. Better check with your secretary, Bernadine, since she (along with your memory) is the only one you can blame now.

Sri Darwin Gross:
     "Second, he called Paul a follower of the Radha Soami [sic] and initiated by Kirpal Singh.

     Darwin has his details wrong here. I actually said that Paul Twitchell was a follower of Ruhani Satsang (as founded by Kirpal Singh), which is an offshoot from the Radhasoami Satsang Beas branch.
"Both those charges are false. Had he read Paul's books and writings,

     If I may interject an autobiographical note to Darwin's incorrect categorical statement, I would like to mention that I have read every "available" book authored by Paul Twitchell. I say "available" precisely because some of his writings were distributed only to higher initiates in Eckankar. Perhaps to the chagrin of Darwin and Harold, I have also had the opportunity to read most of that secret material as well.
"he would have learned that Paul's mission was to study every cult, occult, and spiritual path on Earth, to learn how they were made up, what they do, and that includes Scientology and the all [sic] churches. In fact, his mother took him to the Catholic church when he was younger and he studied all groups of teachings that had any significance whatsoever.

     "I know for my own self, the corporation used to have a letter that Paul wrote to Kirpal Singh: (a) telling him to leave him alone; (b) that he never was initiated by Kirpal Singh; and (c) he was never a student. Paul only sat in on a satsang to learn how Kirpal Singh did it. I know David Lane went over to India in an attempt to find out something about Paul and he couldn't find anything."

David Lane:
     You are wrong again in saying that I went to India and found nothing concerning Paul Twitchell's connection with Kirpal Singh. As I mention in The Delhi Connection: Discovering Twitchell's Initiation Papers in my 1989 and 1994 versions of The Making of a Spiritual Movement I was privy to all of the letters Kirpal Singh received from Paul Twitchell over a ten year span. Not only did Twitchell receive initiation from Kirpal Singh in 1955 (the initiation papers, by the way, are personally signed by Twitchell), but his wife (and yours) Gail also received initiation in 1963 (her signature is also on record).

     In Twitchell's correspondence with Kirpal Singh he addresses almost every letter with honorifics, such as "Dear Beloved Master," "Dear Beloved Guru," or "My Holy Master," etc. There are tens of letters from 1955 to 1966 written by Paul Twitchell to Kirpal Singh, each filled with loving accolades to his "Guru." If you don't believe me, Darwin, then write to Rajinder Singh (Kirpal Singh's grandson) at Vijay Nagar, Delhi, India, since he now has control of the complete Twitchell/Kirpal Singh file.
     You claim, Darwin, that "Paul only sat in on a satsang to learn how Kirpal Singh did it." Again, not only is your claim wholly inaccurate and misleading, but it contradicts Paul Twitchell's own writing on the subject. Twitchell himself has stated in print in at least twenty different places that Kirpal Singh was his guru, the master who taught him shabd yoga. I am not the one making the claim about Twitchell's association with Kirpal Singh and Ruhani Satsang, your own teacher did.
     Moreover, we have numerous pictures, tape-recordings, letters, documents, etc., which attest to Twitchell's study under Kirpal Singh. You are being deceptive when you say that Twitchell sat "in a satsang." It was Twitchell who dedicated the original Tiger's Fang to Kirpal Singh. (I have seen Twitchell's own personal letter to this effect.). It was Twitchell who brought his second wife (and yours) to get initiated by Kirpal Singh in 1963. It was Twitchell who kept up a ten year correspondence with the Delhi guru.

Sri Darwin Gross:
"     Another fact, he was quoting that Paul changed Kirpal Singh's name to Sudar Singh. Some of the items of Paul's included a painting of Sudar Singh. It was nothing like Kirpal Singh or any of the Singhs associated with Radha Soami. It was an initiate of Paul's that did some editing for him in the Flute of God and was a former Radha Soami student, when he came to the name of Sudar Singh he changed it to Kirpal Singh without checking with Paul."

David Lane:
     I must confess, Darwin, that I am a bit surprised by your lack of ingenuity. If you want to defend your teacher, Paul Twitchell, there are no doubt many ways to do it. But to completely overlook the plethora of historical documents which univocally attest to Paul Twitchell's discipleship under Kirpal Singh is really not a very wise defense on your part. Why? Because all one has to do to refute your claim is to look at Paul's early writings before Eckankar was officially founded. In almost every one of his early articles (written for a wide variety of magazines, ranging from Orion to Psychic Observer to Search) Paul mentions Kirpal Singh.
     Your excuse that some former Radha Soami student edited out "Sudar Singh" in the original versions without Paul's permission contradicts not only Paul's early writings (before he started Eckankar) but also his early advertisements for Eckankar wherein he states that he was a follower of Kirpal Singh. Moreover, you have the story backwards. The name "Sudar Singh" does not appear in the original, manuscript version of Letters to Gail. The name Kirpal Singh does. Why? Because Gail was also a fellow initiate of Kirpal Singh and was well aware of his life and work. It was only after Eckankar was successful that Twitchell commenced an international cover-up concerning his actual spiritual heritage.
     The idea that one would switch "Sudar" to "Kirpal" and then back to "Sudar" displays how illogical you can be and also how completely misinformed you really are. Without intending to be patronizing may I ask you a very pertinent question: "Have you ever read my book, The Making of a Spiritual Movement?" I seriously doubt it. You seem to have your information upside down. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind honest criticism, but your points are so convoluted and so completely non-factual that I can only wonder if indeed you have checked the documented evidence for yourself. I sense that you are relying on second-hand reports of what I say versus investigating the matter for yourself. I say all of this primarily because the original "Flute of God" appeared in installments for Orion magazine, not as an Eckankar book. It is in that more "raw" form that we find the name "Kirpal Singh," "Swami Premananda," etc.
     Furthermore, we also have tens of other name replacements which occur after Eckankar is started in 1965, including changing the original source of the "Bible" to the "Shariyat-ki-Sugmad." What you fail to notice is that Sudar Singh's name does not appear in print until after 1964, whereas Kirpal Singh's name is mentioned repeatedly before and after that date. Additionally, there is no good reason for that Radha Soami student (I assume you are referring to Dr. Louis Bluth, who was initiated by Sawan Singh and eventually became the President of Eckankar, only to later disavow both you and Eckankar as frauds) to replace "Sudar" with "Kirpal," since Kirpal Singh was viewed as an offshoot from Radhasoami and not regarded as a genuine master. Indeed, it was precisely because Twitchell was a disciple of Kirpal Singh that he utilized the phony name of "Sudar" to cover his tracks.
     By the way, Darwin, do you have an address for Sudar Singh in Allahabad? Do you have any of his writings? Do you have any of his books? Why is it that I have seen tens of letters by Paul Twitchell to Kirpal Singh, but not one authentic one to Sudar Singh? Why is it that nobody in the shabd yoga tradition has ever heard of such a Sudar Singh? (Not to be confused with Sudarshan Singh, the nephew of Shiv Dayal Singh, who associated with Soami Bagh in Agra.). Why is it that when Mark Juergensmeyer, J. Gordon Melton, Daniel Gold, W.H. McLeod, Aaron Talsky, and a host of other Shabd yoga scholars investigated the history of Sant Mat and Radhasoami, Sudar Singh's life and work did not come to light?
     I know why and you should too: Sudar Singh, as such, does not exist. He is a cover-name to hide Paul Twitchell's association with real-life gurus like Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh, L. Ron Hubbard and others. I can present overwhelming documentation to "prove" Twitchell's association with Kirpal Singh. Darwin, can you give me just one "documented" piece of evidence proving Twitchell's association with the so-called Sudar Singh? And please do not tell me that a "painting" of Sudar Singh proves his existence. [Given that modus operandi for legitimizing truth, then I can say that Elvis is not really dead, but working in the witness protection program because he wanted to get his A.A. degree at Rio Hondo in southern California (Elvis was really upset about his lack of education).]
     Darwin, you definitely have the right to defend Paul Twitchell, but I would prefer if you would engage in facts instead of misconstructions of imagined or wanna-be history.

Sri Darwin Gross:
     "In putting together the corporation that Paul put together, an enormous amount of people misunderstood what he had written and spoken of from the platform. I don't recall who it was that did a study of Paul's writings, in regards to this plagiarism statement, that they found less than 1% of all that he wrote to be similar to another's writings. They forget the man, Paul Twitchell, had a photographic memory. He could read something and recite or write it later word for word. Now, if you call that plagiarism fine, but it's a fact."

David Lane:
     You have succeeded, Darwin, in the course of four sentences to contradict yourself four times. Either Twitchell's writings are original (which you claim by citing that unknown author who studied Twitchell's writings and found less than 1% similarity) or they are not. You can't have it both ways. So why do you then proceed to mention Twitchell's photographic memory and his ability to recite quotations from books word for word? What does that have to do with Twitchell's so-called originality? The answer, of course, is nothing except that you simply can't get the story straight nor can you decide how to properly defend the literary transgressions of your mentor. You are simply wrong when you try to buttress your argument that Twitchell did not plagiarize by invoking some unknown study by some unknown author.
     I know why you cannot remember who did the study because it was never done. And, if in the off chance that it was, I can assure you that its findings are completely mistaken. Twitchell is truly one of the great plagiarists of the 20th century. I don't say this lightly and I am not trying to over-hype my case. There are not many successful authors who have copied whole books from other writers and gotten away with it. Twitchell thought he could because he was using rather obscure material. Julian Johnson's book were popular to a very select audience and not generally known to the reading public. Twitchell didn't just plagiarize from Johnson; he plagiarized from a variety of sources; it just happens that Johnson was his favorite author to crib from. By the way, all Twitchell had to do was properly cite and contextualize his material. I don't see why this is so hard to do. Grammar school kids are taught to reference materials. Why can't an Eckankar Master do the same?
     Again, if you don't trust my seasoned observations on this plagiarism issue, then I suggest that you do your own cross-referencing. I guarantee you that your opinion will change if you really study how Twitchell copied profusely from other authors.

Sri Darwin Gross:
     "Another fact, Paul never tried to cover up his actual spiritual heritage. That is another story by David Lane, [sic] that Paul tried to cover up his spiritual heritage. You see, I have met those great teachers that Paul wrote about and spoke of. I have met them all, each one of the individuals, such as Gopal Das, off the astral plane, with his golden hair, a beautiful soul. Banjani, out in the Gobi Desert, very much alive. Then on up, clear up to the soul plane, every master on each level or dimension I have met, and other too many to mention. Fubbi Quantz appeared to me when I started out studying Paul's writings. It's a beautiful experience filled with Divine Love! I'll never forget it. Rebazar Tarzs appeared to me, and a host of other individual masters of this teaching that Paul brought forth to this world, which started in 1965, and still coming out and being perpetuated by myself, under a different name called "The Ancient Teachings of the Masters." It engulfs all of mankind's teachings, whether David Lane or some other die-hard Christian, TV preacher or what-have-you tries to rebuke it."

David Lane:
     I am happy that you have seen Fubbi, Rebazar, and Banjani in your dreams/visions. However, just because you have seen such individuals in your meditation or dreams does not mean that they actually exist as historical characters. As you know, thousands of people from around the world have all sorts of visions, many of which occur when they undergo a Near-Death experience. We have heard reports of individuals seeing Jesus, Guru Nanak, and Krishna. But such reported visions do not necessarily confer ontological status to such beings. Rather they simply reflect the cultural and religious interplay of information available to individuals at any one given time.
     As such, then, visions tell us more about what one has been taught or indoctrinated into than about the relative historicity or facticity of divine beings. Keep in mind that thousands of people see visions of non-historical beings; individuals who do not exist in actual fact, but are rather the outcome of a skewed combination of imagination, desire, fact, and fiction. Remember people also see Elvis, Bart Simpson, and even Flour Tortillas in the afterlife. [I am not jesting on the last point, since I personally talked with an Indian woman who claimed to have seen a radiant, beautiful chapatti - a whole wheat flour tortilla - in the middle of a tunnel of light; she claimed it was a truly exquisite piece of bread, with a wonderful halo around it.] Thus, just because you claim, Darwin, to have seen Gopal Das with his "golden hair" does not mean by extension or logic or circumstance that he does, in fact, exist.
     For that matter, we all see many things in our dreams which do not have an existence outside of our own perceptions. We should not confuse reported visions with so-called proofs of their empirical status. Twitchell literally created a galaxy of Eck names in order to deceive his followers from his real and imagined past. He also came up with such comical sounding names to give the would-be Eckist a sense of mystery and antiquity about their newly discovered religion.
     The trouble with all of this, of course, is that Twitchell was creating a mythology which intertwined (but did not distinguish) fact from fiction, imagination from reality. For your benefit, Darwin, I enclose a section from my forthcoming book,Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., August 1994) which explains in some detail about how we should be skeptical of our own religious visions.
     By the way, it was fun communicating with you and I invite you to write back with any further comments, suggestions, or criticisms. I only ask you to do one thing beforehand: do some research.


David Lane

P.S. I append the article, The Politics of Mysticism and the infamous 1979 document wherein you ask for the destruction of the SCP journal.

The Politics of Mysticism