Don't Confuse Twitchell's Spiritual Schizophrenia with Spiritual Enlightenment:
A Reponse to mysti and mark
I think the biggest mistake we make when purviewing Twitchell's novelistic creation of Eckankar is the belief that he was somehow trying to "enlighten" the West, since most people couldn't "handle" the Eastern truths in their encultured format. Now on the surface I think a Western shabd yoga master would be a refreshing change of pace. It would be nice to have a mystic, well informed in shabd yoga practice, who reflected the best of those teachings. Yet invariably those who claim this mantle (I am thinking of Twitchell, John-Roger, Jerry Mulvin, ad infinitum) reflect not Eastern wisdom, but Western capitalism. It would be nice to see a western sound current teacher who did not: 1) charge money; 2) lived a remarkably non-selfish moral life; 3) consistently tried to serve people, instead of being served; 4) and did not want to be a guru, but was "forced" into the position (by the preceding master), and who did not make any claims whatsoever about his inner attainment. But this is not what we find in Twitchell and crew. We do not find a Westernized version of Sant Mat, with all its merits left intact. Instead we find a "money/capital/egoistic" version of shabd yoga practice. This is especially disconcerting because in the West, where our affluence transcends the expectations of most Indians, we don't need to charge money for spirituality. If genuine gurus don't charge money in the East, where the money imperative is much stronger, why should they charge money in the West? Jerry Mulvin, for instance, charges 100 bucks for the "Connection". Why? Because he wants to live off the disciples who are willing to fork over the cash. Why did Twitchell start Eckankar? Because he was fairly broke at the time (just ask Gail) and it was an opportunity to make more money. I do not understand why people think that Twitchell was being benign by starting Eckankar and helping the spiritual hungry West. Remember it used to cost hundreds of dollars for personal interviews with him. I am not against people making money, but let's not confuse a businessman with a spiritual benefactor. Twitchell was the former, Ramana Maharshi (and others like him) was the latter. Twitchell "used" shabd yoga to make money, not to dispense divine wisdom for the needy. I think we should raise our standards on supposed gurus, masters, and teachers. We may be ordinary, we may be unenlightened, we may be tained by maya, but that's exactly the point: we don't make extraordinary claims to the contrary. Gurus do. Therefore, let's see if they pass the test--usually a test they themselves devise. If they don't pass, fail them, don't lamely condone it. Most of what I hear is simply rationalizations for cosmic "smuckness". Now I happen to think Twitchell was a wonderfully interesting guy--maybe too much of a liar for his own good--but all the same quite intriguing. But that's what he was--a classic b.s.ing sort of character; he wasn't enlightened (by his scale or others). Yet, we persist in trying to find a method to his spiritual schizophrenia (that is, his predisposition to include widely varying spiritual teachings in his group). The method was perfectly in sync with businessmen the world over: money, and a little more money. Now this seems so obvious (Twitchell himself has stated this on a number of occasions--just check out his earlier writings) that it is fairly amazing that we forget it. We should shave with Occam's Razor daily, especially when it comes to the would-be claims of gurus in the West or East.