Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: February 1997
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DICK P. WRITES: Dear Kent, I agree. It is important to recognize Dave's works as being in progress. He is much more intelligible on the subject of meditation in '97 than in '87. I'm just waiting for his vast erudition in the field of sociology to kick in . Did Dr. Martin Luther King, a scholarly man, try to preach the work of theologian Paul Tillich to his constituency? Did King's plagiarism slow the civil rights movement. Have the Seventh Day Adventists shut down their operation because Mrs. White was a plagiarist? Plagiarism is not a crime. No one is going to put you in jail for it. You might get kicked out of a university, but why would anyone want to be incarcerated in such an institution anyway? On the other hand, copyright violation will land you in a heap of trouble. Has ECKANKAR been sued for copyright violation? DAVID LANE REPLIES: I never mentioned jail, by the way. However, try plagiarizing Eckankar without attribution, or try using one of their "trademarked" terms. Darwin Gross did and he was "former" Eck Master. By the way, Eckankar took him to court over the matter. Paul Twitchell himself threatened to sue John-Roger Hinkins for "stealing" his materials. I just happen to think, like Jay, that Eckankar should come clean about this. Invoking "astral" libraries and "source manuscripts" just doesn't cut it with me, since a much easier (and accurate) explanation is already available. Sidebar: I was reminded the other day by a former Eckankar official that back in 1979 I was shown Paul Twitchell's personal copy of THE PATH OF THE MASTERS. Apparently, Darwin Gross was upset when he learned that Bill Popham had shown it to me at the Eckankar International Headquarters. Geez, I must be getting old: I forgot all about it. DICK P. WRITES: Why does Dave bother? Is this one of those starfish stories? No, Dave just doesn't know why he's doing this. It is fun. It is just that simple for him. I'm complicating matters by just trying to figure out what makes it so fun for him. Silly me, won't that spoil the fun to find out why it is so fun? DAVID LANE REPLIES: I have already given an answer many times to why I find it fun to research Eckankar. I like detective work and Twitchell's life/writings is a treasure trove for uncovering new tidbits of information. In contrast, John-Roger Hinkins is quite boring to me. His writings lack that intriguing plagiarism component and, moreover, Peter McWilliams has already written such a funny expose', LIFE 102: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR GURU SUES YOU (by the way, hold on to those copies since the book's copyright has been given over to J.R., as part of a 2 million dollar settlement that Peter won from J.R. and crew). DICK WRITES: I'm open to discussion about the a neurological basis for mystical experiences. I'd love to find out that the reason Rebazar Tarz appeared to me in 1959 and delivered a discourse on holography to me is because I'm genetically predisposed to fantasy. But, hey, I've already had my eyes, ears, head checked and I test out as normal, a little near-sighted, better than average hearing, no screws loose. So, no psychotropic medication or the vacation in a rubber room for me. Certainly would make things easier if I could explain how the mechanism works, but I just don't know. So, if Dave wants to talk about the how of meditation, I'm all ears. If Dave wants to talk about bhakti and devotion to one's guru, I'll watch. If Dave wants to talk about neurology, I'd be happy to grab a scalpel or MRI machine and lend a hand. DAVID LANE REPLIES: You know, Dick, I have already asked you this and I don't know if you replied or not (if so, direct to where I can read it), but when you wrote to Paul Kurtz did you tell him you were a member of Eckankar? If so, what did he say about it? (I think you gave him some money for his cause, so I would imagine he would be willing to answer). Did you ask Paul Kurtz about your vision of Rebazar Tarzs? If so, what did he say about it? What does he think of Vairagi Masters and the like? I would be quite interested to know. DICK P. WRITES: But, if he wants to pontificate on the presumed intentions of Paul Twitchell's statement of age or whether he plagiarized from J. Johnson or H. Kahn or who Thakar is doing this week, or what Bubba-da-Free-John is doing in his out-rigger canoe, or why it costs money to field a church, then I'm gonna' git a littl' crazy. DAVID LANE REPLIES: No need to get a little crazy; just don't read that stuff. And if you have disagreements of substance then air them by all means. As you must know, I like the critical interplay. DICK P. WRITES: ECKANKAR is working for some people. Why does it work for them? What sociological apparatus is in operation here. People have spontaneous OBE experiences. Why? What neurological process is happening? What is the Chandian effect? Has anyone ever concentrated their contemplation on a person and had them report to you that you appeared in their inner vision? What is happening here? Coincidence? Something more? Is it testable? Why does Dave keep flip-flopping on this issue? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Lots of questions here and I am not sure I can do justice in this space to all of them, but let me tackle the one about Faqir Chand. You see, when I met Faqir when I was 22 it seemed pretty obvious to me that he was on to something. His frank admission about "not knowing" and about other gurus "not knowing" seemed on the mark. Thus, when I first came out with THE UNKNOWING SAGE I didn't put any "caveats" or "exceptions" to his categorical statements about the guru not knowing. However, for the next few years I got the chance to ask some notable shabd yoga gurus what they thought about Faqir's unknowingness. A few said Faqir Chand was only partially correct and that certain gurus do in fact have "knowledge" of appearing to their disciples. Darshan Singh, for instance, was quite assertive in this regard, as were several "officials" at the Dera. So when I came out with the second or so edition of THE UNKNOWING SAGE I included a revamped essay wherein I quoted several instances from shabd yoga literature and elsewhere (specifically Ramana Maharshi, for whom I have great admiration) where it appeared that the guru did "know" of his bilocation. Yet, I added a footnote to that essay (near the end) wherein I stated that I was personally more and more convinced of Faqir's argument of unknowingness. Indeed, even if Faqir Chand's statement is not universal (let's say, for argument's sake, that there are "knowing" bilocations), it still holds that lots of visions are of the "un-knowing" kind. Now it is not a question of flip/flopping (thank God or Natural Selection that philosophy is not politics; Bill Clinton made promises to secure votes), but something a bit more mundane, if profound: I really don't know and even though I have seen much more evidence to suggest that gurus don't know (and that Faqir is right), I have also seen testimony (both in and out of shabd yoga literature) which points to rare episodes of "knowing" gurus. Yet, if I were a betting man (I am not) and if I were in Las Vegas and somebody asked me to lay a bet on Faqir's unknowingness or "knowing" bilocations, I would put my money down on the Chandian brother. But that's precisely the point: it is still a bet all the same and my odds are not perfect (Faqir Chand could be partially wrong, for example). So what you see as "flip/flopping," I see as merely: I am not sure, but I clearly lean in the Chandian direction--as anyone who reads THE UNKNOWING SAGE can tell. Of course, I wouldn't mind being wrong on this, since it would be groovy to verify "knowing" bilocations. Maybe Harji or some shabd yoga guru can bilocate over to my home and tell everyone how many cokes I drank today. That would be a good start to make me lean in a different direction. DICK P. WRITES: What is baraka? Why does Sam think Paul made up an Egyptian word when its been in Sufi parlance for millennia? ba - ra - ka check the hieroglyphs. What is this narrow fascination with Sant Mat? Paul borrowed from everybody. Why did he cobble teachings together the way that he did? Does the mixture make sense. Is it drinkable. "Perhaps, a changeful, finite creature cannot fathom the infinite depths of Power with 'a foot of twine.' The Sufic echo is treading close to the agnosticism of which the Sufis have sometimes been accused. It is only here, in this narrow strip between faith and disbelief, that the truth is to be found." Let us find it in the mystical, agnostic wonderland of inquiry. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Good questions. Did you ask Paul Kurtz any of these? Thanks. ---------------------------- DICK P. WRITES: However, ECKANKAR is not going to shut down because of the publications of a third-rate academic (Sorry, Dave, but you do teach at a two-year institution). DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, need to say "sorry" since I am well aware of MSAC's status in the world of academia. Though it is a large school by community college standards (25,000 plus students), it is in no way comparable to UCSD (where I got my Ph.D.). Indeed, my running joke is that MSAC is really Msuck, or the University of California, Walnut. What you may not know is that I "consciously" chose MSAC even though I got offers from much "higher-rate" schools. In point of fact, when I interviewed at MSAC they brought this very issue up to me, asking why I was willing to "settle" for a community college when I could teach elsewhere. My answer then and my answer now is a simple one: I love to teach and those at a 2 year school (what I call a halfway house for those who are unclear or uncertain) is a haven for helping young people go on to much better schools. I learned this first when I taught high school in the early 80s. MSAC is a wonderful place to help those who tend to limit themselves. As for the "shutting" down of Eckankar by a "third" rate academic, I think you are quite right; it won't happen. But maybe this third rate academic can allow more, verus less, information to come out and thus those wishing to joining Eckankar can make a wider-eyed decision. That's already happened, I believe, and I can live with that. Thanks, third-rate and counting, dave
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