Faqir Chand, Dismantling Eckankar, and Paul Kurtz

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: February 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.


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?


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.


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?


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

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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
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?


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

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.


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 

Let us find it in the mystical, agnostic wonderland of inquiry.


Good questions. Did you ask Paul Kurtz any of these?




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).


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

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.


third-rate and counting,


E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.