Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar Publication date: 1996
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hey, this book sucks..... I enjoyed Bruce's and Denise's critique of the Making of a Spiritual Movement. In this regard I heartily agree with Nick that we are better served by close examinations of all written works--both positive and negative. That's the nature of the learning game and that's the nature of science. So in that spirit let me first of say quite simply that there are three main issues that are central to The Making of a Spiritual Movement: 1) Twitchell's cover-up of his association with previous spiritual teachers, specifically Kirpal Singh, L. Ron Hubbard, and Swami Premanada; 2) Twitchell's plagiarism of other authors, particularly Julian Johnson and L. Ron Hubbard; and 3) Twitchell's reworking of his personal biography. On these three central points there has been no documented rebuttal as such. Rather, the central criticism has been centered on my biases, prejudices, slants, comments, and spins upon Twitchell's lying, cover-up, and plagiarism. In this regard, I think many readers (including Paul Johnson who rightly brought up this point with regard to Chapter Ten) are correct. It is much better if you don't like my slants, my interpretations, and my commentary, to simply dismiss them. Indeed, one can actually discount them entirely. They are merely the ruminations of a guy who has thought long and hard on the subject, but who has nevertheless developed a perspective on why Twitchell denied his associations with spiritual teachers, his indebtedness to several key books, and his changing of pivotal biographical details. I recommend that for those interested readers who don't like the "filter" or "filler" in The Making of a Spiritual Movement they should focus their own research on just these three points: 1) Did Paul Twitchell plagiarize? 2) Did Paul Twitchell cover-up his spiritual sources/inspirations? And 3) Did Paul Twitchell reconstruct his actual biography? Instead of "buying" into Lane's interpretations (which are, quite naturally, slanted), the would-be seeker/reader/researcher should check out the sources themselves and see empirically why the accusations of lying, plagiarism, and cover-up have been habitually showing up at Twitchell's grave. Now to some specific points that Bruce and Denise raise: 1) Concerning the "Talk to God" excerpts, where Twitchell in 1967 wrote a column for Candid press, I am not "shocked" by Twitchell's sexual banter ("tiny man"="small penis")--actually I laughed really hard and still do when I read that Twitchell has talked to God about a guy's lace panty fetish--but I was a bit surprised by the fact that not one of his prophecies turned out to be correct. Indeed, he gets even the political details wrong, as the following direct excerpt will show. (By the way, I am including the sexual stuff too, since I think we need more humor these days): 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!. I HAVE SPOKEN! Paul Twitchell [In his featured column "Talk to God" for CANDID PRESS (December 10, 1967)] DEAR MR. TWITCHELL: My penis is too long. Can you ask God to shorten it for me? --BIG PETER 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. I HAVE SPOKEN! --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? --FRILLY FRED 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? --TINY MAN 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 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? --MRS. HELEN AYNEZ 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? --M. OF MICHIGAN 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 2) When I compared Twitchell's statements about inner regions, vegetarianism, money, taxes., etc., with other statements in shabd yoga books, my point was not necessarily to say that Eckankar cannot be different from other groups, but to demonstrate that what was once taught in 1965 originally could be changed by 1971, and could get changed again by 1985, and so on. My primary example, of course, was how Twitchell's inner plane cosmology as found in The Tiger's Fang and The Far Country contradicted his later cosmology as found in the Spiritual Notebook. And I do mean "contra-dict" (difference in text), since he changed which sounds one heard on several of the inner planes--so much so, in fact, that given the two road maps one could get lost (if sounds were a guide). 3) Twitchell liked to copy Johnson's writings, especially when Rebazar Tarzs spoke, but he was selective. So selective, in fact, that he didn't include Johnson's very first criteria for a genuine master (even though Twitchell, more or less, copied the rest of the list verbatim).... Why? (oops, I am interpreting again). Let's just say this: the first criterion was that a master never charges for membership. 4) Thus, in this regard, I wanted to demonstate empirically how Twitchell had "changed" shabd yoga into his own system. Naturally, one can think that Twitchell's changes are for the better. On this point, Bruce and Denise and others are perfectly correct to call me on the carpet. I do have way too many blinders in this regard. I just happen to be biased into thinking that a guru should be honest about his past, not lie, deceive, cover-up, or plagiarize (there i go again...... where's Ronald Reagan when you need him?). That Twitchell didn't follow my prejudices is what makes Eckankar unique. 5) Bruce and Denise and others have repeatedly mentioned that Eckankar has evolved since Twitchell's days, and they further elaborate that Eckankar is not to be equated or merely collapsed to its founder, Paul Twitchell. To be sure, I have clearly noticed the changes over the years (from the excommunication of Darwin Gross, the Second Living Eck Master in the Modern Era, to the establishment of Eckankar as the Light and Sound Religion). But I am also well aware of the fact that the entire superstructure of Eckankar was developed by Paul Twitchell, and it is to him that Eckankar owes almost all of its concepts, vocabulary, terminology, lineage, masters, etc. No doubt, Eckankar may have added lots of stuff along the way, but the debt it owes to its founder is not incidental..... It is so fundamental that one cannot even talk about the concept of "Living Master" or "Mahanta" without first acknowledging Twitchell's incorporation of those terms in his writings. 6) Twitchell's ideas (if not his writings) will remain absolutely central to Eckankar. If not, then Eckists will have to literally stop using almost every term they are presently employing. Why? Because Twitchell was the source (or, if not the "real" source--at least the appropriator). Thus, much of my work has been focused on him and shall remain so. This is not to suggest that work shouldn't be done on Gross and Klemp (by all means it should), but that is a task for better suited researchers. In this regard, I should also say that I 100% agree with Denise and Bruce when they state that they wished the Making of a Spiritual Movement contained more biographical information on Twitchell. 7) I will be the first one to agree that there is a lot of work that needs to be done on Twitchell's life (indeed, the Making of a Spiritual Movement has not even scratched the surface, and as such is merely an outline of what should be done). I think I have mentioned to David Rogers and others that there is a veritable mine out there to be explored on Twitchell's biography..... Let the digging begin. 8) Finally, I think Bruce and Denise should know that I don't think badly of Eckists, nor do I wonder late at night why some Eckists don't like me. Quite to the contrary, I quite understand why some may not like my tone or my style or my interpretations. If I were in Eckankar I wouldn't like my slant either.... And I would do perhaps just as Denise and Bruce and others have and call my biases into question.... I think that is healthy and wise. 9) Having said that, however, I also think it would be wise to really investigate Twitchell's past/plagiarism/cover-up for yourself. Read the early Orion, Search, Psychic News; look at Twitchell's correspondence with Hubbard and Kirpal Singh; talk to those who knew Twitchell personally. Build a libary of information on Twitchell's life and work. Why? Well, if he were the founder of my chosen path I would surely want to know everything i could because I would realize that he started the Eckankar foundation. And whoever lays the foundation to a building, for better or worse determines its ultimate fate..... 10) Unless, of couse, you happen to want to demolish the building and start fresh. It was for that reason that I wrote that Harold Klemp should dismantle Eckankar (I realize that this has really pissed people off--rightly so--since it's Lane's two cent opinion). But why did i say such a thing (and why, interestingly enough, do I still think so)? Well, and keep in mind that we are entering into Lane's slant here, I think that unless one is willing to fully examine Twitchell's life and work (and also Darwin's, by the way, especially when he held the "rod of power"--don't worry I won't make any sexual jokes right now), then the remaining structure that is built will always be suspect. I say this precisely because if Twitchell did lie consistently to his following, then one never knows what is true and what is false, since they have been intertwined by the fact/fiction narratives of Twitchell's pen. It is that pen, I would argue, that is instrumental to Eckankar's future since it started the cosmology, the theology, and the practice of what constitutes Eckankar today (with modifications and nuances added by Gross and Klemp). In a weird way, I think Twitchell is Klemp's noose, and he will continue to haunt Eckankar like a bad ghost. I mean to put it bluntly, why did Twitchell lie about his age? And if the word lie is too judgemental then let us say "change". Why? Well, there may be many reasons, but I think Eckists should want to know, since if Twitchell changes those kinds of things, how does one know that he has not changed other significant details? (like the issue of the Vairagi masters?). 11) Finally, let me honestly say that I would love to be dead-wrong in many of my slants/interpretations. I welcome any empirical data on Rebazar Tarzs or Sudar Singh. Geez, I would be stoked if Rebazar Tarzs actually existed..... We could go surfing together in Baja and I could introduce him to his name's sake (just teasing, I couldn't help but to slip that in). But seriously, I think it would be wonderful to discover that Sudar Singh actually did have an ashram and that Twitchell and his sister did really meet him. I could add his name to my genealogical tree in Juergensmeyer's book entitled Radhasoami Reality. I love adding new gurus to the list. I invite any new documents in this regard. 12) But I do have to reveal something that is a bit sad. For the past 17 years, nobody (not once) has provided me with any empirical data on Sudar Singh. I even tried to track him down myself on my numerous trips to India. Not even an address. But guess what? I did find Twitchell's initiation papers with Kirpal Singh (and also Gail's); I did find tens of letters by Twitchell to Kirpal Singh spanning over a decade; I did find articles by Twitchell in Scientology publications devoted to L. Ron Hubbard. And yet, sadly, not one piece of documentation on Twitchell's alleged travels to India in the 1930s with his sister (indeed, it looks like he was in Kentucky and other mundane places)..... Oh well, but I won't mind being wrong..... I look forward to the day that I can write to Alt.religion.eckankar and say that Jagat Ho is not a bad attempt at mixing a Radhasoami master (Jagat Singh) with a cookie (Hi Ho).... And that Gakko really did live on Venus in the city of Retz.... And to think that I thought Venus was too hot! P.S. I would be very happy to include Bruce's or Glen's or anybody's critique of the Making of a Spiritual Movement on the Neural Surfer Home Page. I have already included a link to Eckankar's home page and I think it would make for good reading to have some nice rips of Making and other items on the page..... That way, it would make the discussion more lively...... Written in appreciation of Bruce's and Denise's critique. March 30, 1996
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