Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: February 1997
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DICK P. WRITES: "Interesting. As you know, Dr. David Christopher Lane, in November of 1978, after his visit to India, got accepted for initiation by Maharaj Charan Singh Ji of Radhasoami Satsang Beas (see "The Great Sage of Hoshiarpur"--where this information, albeit brief--is mentioned). Maharaj Charan Singh's book was published in 1974 which was 2-3 years after Paul's death. The question may have come from the 1966 -1971 time period since the questioner speaks as if Paul is alive. Thus, someone in Radha Soami was aware of the similarities of the two paths well before Dr. Lane ever considered the matter. I can't recall if Dr. Lane attributed his lead on the matter to this publication, but I think it the likely source. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Nice try but actually incorrect. I can well understand why you may think that THUS SAITH THE MASTER was my lead on Twitchell's plagiarism or the similarity between Shabd yoga and Eckankar, but in point of fact it was a Kirpal Singh disciple. Let me detail the story as it may clarify a few things: I was going to school at CSUN and I had the chance to visit Del Mar for the day (I had spent some summers there when I was a kid and even then was enchanted). I was with Jim Herron if I remember correctly. I noticed a health food store by the name of "Kirpal's." So knowing of Kirpal already I was intrigued. I met the owner and we talked about Kirpal Singh and related subjects. I think I mentioned Eckankar and my class at CSUN. He then told me that Paul Twitchell was an initiate of Kirpal Singh and that much of his teachings were taken from shabd yoga. Naturally, I was intrigued. He mentioned a book by Kirpal Singh called HEART TO HEART TALKS, wherein the connection was mentioned. That was my first Kirpal Singh-Paul Twitchell lead. Then I decided to write a letter to T.S. Khanna (you know him, Dick) and he wrote me back and mentioned that I contact Professor Sutphin who used to be a member of Eckankar. Dr. Sutphin and I corresponded for several months. He had done some amazing research back then and it is to him I owe a great debt. As for the "plagiarism" connection, I had found this on my own after reading THE TIGER'S FANG at Bodhi Tree Bookstore. By the way, Charan Singh appears to be incorrect about the source of Twitchell's plagiarism. It seems to me that THE PATH OF THE MASTERS was much more influential. I am not even certain if Twitchell cribbed from MYSTICISM by Puri. I eventually did read Charan Singh's comments about Twitchell but this was after my Kirpal Singh lead in Del Mar (nice coincidence), my letters to Khanna, Sutphin, and (very importantly) Reno Sirrine of Ruhani Satsang. The Kirpal Singh people were very helpful to me. They helped me tremendously in the early stages of my research. Hope that clarifies things a bit, Dick. ------------------------------ Dick P. Writes: Two questions: 1) Why does Dr. Lane differ from his guru on the treatment of ECKANKAR? 2) Why does Dr. Lane deny any interest in promoting Sant Mat over Eckankar? DAVID LANE REPLIES: 1. I know what Charan Singh thought of my 1978 term paper (not to be confused with the 1977 one nor the later versions; very important caveat, by the way) since he read it himself. 2. Since this issue keeps cropping up, it is probably best to tell some history about how Charan Singh came to read my 1978 term paper, THE MAKING OF A SPIRITUAL MOVEMENT. 3. First, I want to thank Dick for bringing these kinds of questions up since it provides me a wonderful opportunity to remember some very sweet moments in my life. INDIA (Summer 1978) 1978, as I mentioned in my preface to my MA thesis, was probably the best year of my life. Lots of very intriguing things happened, not the least of which was my first trip to North India as Professor Mark Juergensmeyer's Research Assistant. I first met Juergensmeyer because of Professor Robert S. Ellwood. I had met with Ellwood about my research on Eckankar and he told me about a Professor at GTU who was doing historical research on Radhasoami. Juergensmeyer and I naturally got along well and he invited to go to India as his Research assistant. He also encouraged me to get my MA at GTU in Berkeley, which I eventually did. Juergensmeyer is a very well-known scholar and his book, RADHASOAMI REALITY (Princeton University Press), has emerged as the most cited scholarly source on R.S. history. Juergensmeyer, by the way, is NOT a follower of any Sant Mat group. My job was to track down obscure gurus in the R.S. lineage. I had a knack for this kind of work anyways (I had already been corresponding with Faqir Chand by this time) and I very much wanted to go to India. So off I went in the summer and it was a major culture shock for me. The very first ashram I stayed at for a week was Thakar Singh's! Eventually after visiting with the Saint of Tarn Taran, Faqir Chand, S.D. Maheshwari and others, I got to stay at the Dera where Charan Singh stayed most of the time. One day I had lunch with Janak Raj Puri, a well known Professor and author of several books on the Mystics of India. I had one copy of my term paper with me and I gave it to him, saying it may be of some interest. Little did I know then that he would personally give it to Charan Singh and that Charan Singh would read it closely. He also gave it to several of his staff members to read. Charan Singh also wrote me an extensive letter about the term paper as well. It was a very nice letter indeed. I also know of several letters that Charan Singh wrote about my research on Eckankar. They too were also quite nice. Charan Singh also had his Western Representatives read copies of the 1978 term paper. Sidebar: The reason I am stressing the 1978 version is that it contained a huge appendice with photocopies of most of the major documents. It also had a different tone than my later editions (for example, Chapter Ten was not put into the book until the mid to later 1980s). Now, Dick, as to your second question: As for "promoting" Sant Mat over Eckankar, let me say the following: 1. The single most devastating critique of formal Radhasoami that I know of is THE UNKNOWING SAGE which contains the life and work of Baba Faqir Chand. It is an insider's critique and I have heard from many "orthodox" believers that this text alone shook their faith to its roots. Indeed, some even cried after reading it. I came out with the manuscript version of this book in 1981. I was asked by several people NOT to publish it. I have taken a lot of heat for it from the very people you imply that I am intending to "promote." I am belaboring this point about Faqir Chand since I was EXPRESSLY asked by the Dera NOT to publish my book on him. Indeed, I lost a lot of good will and some friends over this book. I guess my promotion skills are pretty weak when you stop to consider that the UNKNOWING SAGE point blank CONTRADICTS mainstream Radhasoami. Even the RADHASOAMI TRADITION (see what I say about Shiv Dayal Singh and see what I say in the conclusion) has pissed off a lot of my associates in India. Last year I got a letter from the Radha Swami Satsang at Tarn Taran by a Chemistry Professor who literally "went off" about what damage I was doing to the cause of Radhasoami by writing the book. I was also asked NOT to publish that book either, Dick. Oh well, I am just one lousy promoter, I guess................. P.S. But do you think I might win and influence friends with THE GURU HAS NO TURBAN? --------------------------------------- Dick P. Writes: Consider the following: "For instance, if spiritual seekers discover that most of Eckankar's teachings were borrowed from Radhasoami and Ruhani Satsang, they may, in turn, join those movements instead of Twitchell's, especially when they consider that Eckankar charges a yearly membership fee and the Indian groups do _not_." David Christopher Lane, "The Radhasoami Tradition: A Critical history of Guru Successorship," (New York: Garland Publishing Company, 1992) p. 48. Suggestive, isn't it? Also, it isn't entirely accurate. The "yearly membership fee" can be waived for economic reasons. No one is turned away from ECANKAR because they can't raise the $120 annual suggested donation. In fact, I haven't paid it in 15 years although I have contributed to the building fund, etc.. Of course, one would tend to omit such information if one were selling another path." DAVID LANE REPLIES: I didn't say people were turned away from Eckankar because they didn't have the money. I said that they "may" join those movements which do NOT have a yearly membership fee. And I do know of a number of people who are "turned off" by the money requirement--even if that requirement can be "waived" by economic necessity. Certain college fees can also be waived by those claiming economic hardship, but when "applying" to a college it so happens that some prefer those schools with NO entrance fees whatsoever. Moreover, a number of neophytes don't know that such fees can be waived. Now I also fully realize that strict vegetarianism and 2 and 1/2 hours of meditation can also be a turn off. Certain clientele don't like money obligations and certain clientele don't like restrictive moral obligations. I think some of this is discussed in that Ph.D. dissertation on Rife's website. I have discussed Eckankar's money angle primarily because Twitchell in the beginning was quite vocal (and I would suggest forthcoming) about it. That tune slightly changed, of course, after Eckankar went from a business to a religion. As you must know, Twitchell likes Johnson's objective indices for a Master (so much so that he plagiarizes sections of it without credit), but he leaves off the very first one [and the one that Johnnson--rightly or wrongly--thought was crucial]. What was that? Johnson argued that a master never charges money. Okay, so Twitchell has a different take on it. He wanted to make some money for his efforts. Understandable, but contrarian to the tradition from which he cribbed lots of his writings from. As for your larger and more looming question about "selling another path" (nice word play, by the way), I must confess that I am a terrible businessman and haven't done very well selling anything, much less "my" path. Gosh, let me list the ways in which I sabotage such perceived efforts: 1. THE UNKNOWING SAGE (a primer in "heresy") 2. THE ENCHANTED LAND (how? read what I say about Faqir, read what I say about Ramana, read what I say about "karma") 3. THE SOCRATIC UNIVERSE (read my editorial comments at the end of the book; see what Churchland says about mysticism--this is the highlight of the book) 4. WHY I DON'T EAT FACES (no..... yep, my argument for vegetarianism has NOTHING to do with karma; rather focuses on a purely neurophilosophical perspective which takes materialism (not spiritualism) as its cue. 5. THE KIRPAL STATISTIC (self-evident) 6. MY M.A. THESIS (The Dera didn't like it because it raised controversial issues dealing with succession history at Agra) 7. THE RADHASOAMI TRADITION (oh yea, that conclusion is a real good ad...) Quite frankly, Dick, I am not perceived by R.S. circles as a promoter, but rather as a skeptic. Now having said that, I do think certain gurus are better than others and I don't have any hesitancy in saying this. For example, I find Eckankar's modern gurus much preferable to Thakar Singh (by a factor of ten plus some). I find Paul Twitchell preferable to J.R. I find Darwin Gross preferable to Thakar. I find Harold Klemp preferable to DA (though not intellectually). --------- I clearly have preferences, but as you already know I cannot at this stage absolutize such preferences and say ontologically that such and such a path is the highest or the greatest..... I simply don't know such things. However, I am pretty sure that I don't dig a guru butt fucking me, or a guru blindfolding my kid for five years, or a guru embezzling my donated funds, or a guru beating me up physically. Again, I have no path or guru to sell to you. I am like Hafiz in this way: (paraphrase) "I will tell everyone I can of your wicked and cruel ways. Why? Because then I can have you all for myself." -----------------------------------
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