Unknowingness, Eck, and Visions

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

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

I want to go back to the home base now.

RIch and Lane dialogue

> Yep, rich, there is NO objective standard by which I measure my love
> or my longing. It is purely relational, purely subjective.

Yet you do, like every other human _know_ without a doubt that Love

> Yes, we can talk about our loves, our longings,
> and the like, but I cannot differentiate true/false gurus on the
> basis of it..... 

Why not?  With experience most everyone learns to differentiate true
love from puppy love, sexual attraction, a crush or passing fascination
ect. and yet they are "purely subjective".

> just like i couldn't differentiate true/false
> mothers on the basis of "my" love of "my" mother.

But you can tell the difference between the love you have for your
mother  and someone else's mother.

> I think my experiences are merely subjective. 

Merely?  Why disregard all experiences that are outside the the small
percentage of your brain that is used for 'rational' thinking?

> As for "objectifying" it
> or claiming that such and such darshan was "real" in the ontological
> scheme of things, I simply and utterly can't do it.

So can't say that the love you have for you mother is "real"? 

> No problem---i think the same must hold for my relationship to my
> brother or mother.

> I love them precisely because they are "my" relations.

And you recognize _that_ kind of love.  Why the denial of recognizing
the kind of love that comes from the guru?

> It, rather, indicates how much "I" love him.
> Moreover, the whole point is that it is "my" guru, or "my" brother,
> or "my" mother.

Yes!  Everyone can also recognize "their" master.  I am not arguing that
everyone would recognize only one guru as _the_ master. I am saying that
a subjective experience that is universal could be considered as "real".

> My experience of something does not confer its utlimate status.

Ultimately she *is* your mother.
> It merely reflects "my" relationship with it.
> get it?

No, what's the difference.  If everyone can recognize the kind of love
they have for their mother, then can't we say that this subjective



I clearly recognize that I love my guru and that I had perceptions
that my guru loved me as well. But the whole point I was trying to
make was that such perceived love does not necessarily indicate or
suggest the ultimate status of my "guru."

It merely reflects my experiences and my feelings on the subject.

I think subjective experiences are quite important, but I think they
should be doubted when we give them some ontological interpretation.

The same, I would argue, for outer experiences as well.....

The question is not whether we experience such emotions and such
events, but how we ultimately interpret them in the grand scheme of

My hunch has been that we inflate our guru's status on the basis of
our perceived relationship with him/her.....

Nice, but that it does not then follow that such inflation is
necessarily true, real, and universal.

It merely reflects my views or my state or my relationship....

In science, we tend to argue that all theories should be potentially
open to being proved wrong.... Which is another way of saying that
all experiments are subject to error and can be revised.

I would simply apply that to inner experiences as well....

Subject to revision, subject to doubt, and subject to being wrong.

What is fair without is, I believe, fair within.



Dear Unknowing Dave,

Thanks for your answer. I've enjoyed this discussion as well, and with
your above answer, I now feel we are on a little firmer ground to continue.
I know it's been almost two weeks, since your answer above, but I've been
traveling (this time on vacation to Carmel and Big Sur) and wanted to give
a thoughtful response.

First, I think your point that you are unknowing enough to realize that
there may be others who can know, is a very important point. This indeed is
where the student of spiritual knowledge must begin. In fact, I think it is
so important to understand this starting point properly, that I don't think
we should try to jump ahead too quickly. As Rumi used to say, "Don't try to
shorten the story, listen to the whole tale."

The realization that we do not know is a necessary step. However, with
this awareness comes an empty feeling, as if we know there must be more. It
is really an emptiness, looking for something to fill it. What many
religionists do is try to fill this lack of knowing with something to
believe in. What many materialists try to do is fill this lack of knowing
with critical opinions of the religionists' foolish beliefs. Both of these
attempts to fill the void will prevent these people from finding true knowledge.


I think your last two lines here are suspect, since there may be
many options (not one or two or three) in confronting one's lack of
knowing. Moreover, I don't see why "emptiness" should necessarily
arise when one realizes how little one knows. It may be quite the
opposite: a feeling of wonderful openness and a feeling of bliss
(oh that popular statement comes to mind, "ignorance is
bliss"?--just ruminating). 

Additionally, you have already jumped the gun (at least in terms of
laying out your argument to me) with this uninspected assumption
called "finding true knowledge."

It could well be that there is no such thing as "true" knowledge in
an infinite sense. Or, perhaps realizing ignorance is "true"?

In any case, I find your last few lines filled with unwarranted and
uninspected leaps of logic.


In other words, the path must begin with doubt, and this doubt must grow
into the realization that we do not know. And then this realization must
grow into a deep understanding of the emptiness that comes from truly not
knowing. It is only after this emptiness is truly understood, and allowed
to exist without being filled with any kind of spiritual fast food that can
be found to satisfy that hunger, that one can begin to separate the true
from the false.


These are all nice platitudes and I may even agree to some degree
with bits of it, but you have assumed a lot in your leaps here: from
emptiness to doubt to "true" understanding to "true from the false."

In other words, you have quite implicitly layed out an epistemology
that does not necessarily follow. You may believe this is the
trajectory that occurs in human beings and spiritual growth, but I
don't see why it is so or why it must be so.

I see instead your belief system.

Fair enough, but beliefs systems (including my own) border on
on an infinite number....

DOUG writes:

Paul Twitchell, in an early talk of his called, "Doubt," mentioned that in
the past, spiritual students had been asked to first believe in certain
basic beliefs, but that this has changed, and today the seeker must first
begin with doubt. I agree with him on this point. 

Paul then went on to tell a story of when his master appeared before him,
one day. Later, when he had a chance to see his master physically, he asked
him, "Was that you that appeared before me?" His master answered, "Well,
why don't you go back and ask that great soul."

From this, Paul realized that his master was saying, in a sense, "Well, do
you know or don't you know?" And Paul realized that we must each decide for
ourselves this very important point. It is not something to be glossed over
too quickly. We must be willing to honestly cross that dry desert of not
knowing, before we can expect to find that oasis of knowingness.

David, there is an important point here. The masters will often not say
whether they have indeed consciously appeared to others, or not. They will
often not directly answer such questions. They are right in doing so,
because it is vital that the seeker decides these issues for themselves. If
they cannot find the inner authority to distinguish the true inner
experience from the false, then they should recognize that they have not
yet arrived at this point, but they should not look toward outer authority
to fill this void. If the master were to answer, directly, such questions,
it would prevent the student from solving this riddle for themself.

DAVID LANE replies:

Again, I find your last few lines detailing what you believe to be
the case, but not why it must be necessarily so. We may believe all
sorts of things, but that does not mean by extension that your
beliefs are translated as universal truths or insights.

For instance, I think it would be perfectly appropriate for the guru
to say whether he knew or didn't. Indeed, it may be quite
refreshing. My hunch is that in most cases the guru doesn't know but
for whatever reasons (some benign perhaps, some sinister perhaps) he
or she allows the disciple to "think" that the guru "knows."

As for not directly answering the question, again I think it may be
related to honesty. Lots of gurus like to take credit for that which
they didn't do.

Moreover, I don't see why a master answering the question "would
prevent the student from solving this riddle for themself," since
regardless of whether the guru says "yes or no" the neophyte is
still stuck with "believing or disbelieving" his guru's answer.

In other words, the student still doesn't "know" if the guru is
telling the truth or not (he could be taking credit for it, but
still not be conscious of it).

Additionally, I am too painfully aware of how easy we let our gurus
off the hook with this type of "he knows best" kind of rhetoric.

Again, Doug, it sounds like your belief system. Okay, but it just
doesn't convince me in terms of an argument.

I can think of lots of alternative explanations for the above guru
strategies and they seem a lot more compelling....

DOUG writes:

However, you have argued that after talking with Faqir Chand, you realize
now that the masters may not be answering for another reason. It is
possible that they do not really project to these seekers, and that all of
these experiences are simply the seeker's own inner creations. But what I
was trying to show, with my last post to you, is that there is a
fundamental flaw with anyone thinking that they can know this.

For example, Faqir Chand had some experiences where he saw a vision of his
master, but his master admitted not being aware of creating such a
projection, and other experiences where Faqir's students saw Faqir appear
before them, but Faqir had no awareness of such an event. This lead him to
conclude that his experiences were subjective, and belonged to his own
personal projections within his inner worlds. And there is nothing wrong
with such a conclusion, if indeed it is a recognition of unknowingness.

However, Faqir Chand goes on to say that from this he has also concluded
that all of the experiences of all seekers, and all visions of all masters,
are also nothing more than the projections of the seekers' own inner
beliefs. But such a conclusion is seriously flawed, since if indeed Faqir
is admitting that he has no real inner perception beyond his own personal
inner worlds, then how can he possibly draw conclusions about the inner
experiences of everyone else? He cannot. At best, he can only offer it up
as a possibility.

But Faqir was not just suggesting it as a possibility. He was not just
saying that he doesn't know but others might. He was acting as if he had
discovered something important: That masters pretend to create such
experiences, for the sake of the seekers. But based upon his own
admissions, this is something he cannot possibly know. It is at best a
theory that, if it is true, can never be verified.


First, Doug, you better go read Faqir Chand a bit closer. Faqir
repeatedly states that he may be wrong, that he may be incorrect,
that he may be limited in his perceptions, that it is ONLY his
experience and others may differ.

Indeed, for this VERY reason Faqir met with Charan, met with Kirpal,
met with Thakar, met with Sawan, met with scores of gurus. He asked
them in private and in public to "CORRECT" him if he was wrong in
his insights.

He asked each guru in the R.S. Tradition to give him their views on
the subject.

Yes, he was convinced that he had uncovered a crucial insight (I do
too), but he was most willing to be challenged and corrected.

It just turned out to be the case that the gurus he met didn't give
him a better explanation or a more convincing view. Instead most of
them "confessed" their ignorance and their duplicity.

Moreover, just because someone cannot "disprove" a possible theory
does not then make it "right."

In Critical Thinking, this is called the fallacy of arguing from
ignorance. Let me give you a pertinent quote to illustrate why I
find this line of reasoning on your part sophomoric:

"This rule applies to cases of existence versus nonexistence, too.
Most often, the burden of proof should fall on those who claim
something exists rather than on those who claim it doesn't. There
are people who believe in ghosts [hmm, or true gurus? or conscious
bilocations or souls?], but because nobody has shown there are no
such things. (When someone claims that we should believe in such and
such because nobody has proved that it ISN'T so, we have a subtype
of burden or proof known as appeal to ignorance.) This is burden of
proof of pseudoreasoning because it MISTAKENLY places the
requirement of proving their position on those who do NOT believe in
ghosts (Of course, the first rule applies here, too, because ghosts
are not part of background knowledge for most of us." (Critical

In other words, Doug, you faulted Faqir for doubting conscious
bilocations because he has seen no evidence for them. You then argue
that just because he hasn't seen them does not mean that they don't
exist. Well, given this line of reasoning (an appeal to
ignorance--ironic huh?), one can argue just about ANY-thing.....

Just because you haven't experienced Gumby and Bob's Big BOY eating
hot dogs together on Tuza doesn't mean that they don't exist.

This is called Fill-In the blanks.....

From Souls to Elvis to David Lane is a Martian......

I think you get the drift.

DOUG writes:
Therefore, what I am saying is that when people do not know the answers to
these questions such as: Is there a true reality beyond what we perceive?
What is God? Are there real spiritual masters who can connect one to the
path? ...then, most people will try to fill this void with opinions and
beliefs, and are not willing to live with that emptiness and hunger of
unknowingness that leads one to true knowingness.


This is amazingly curious on your part. Since, the one trying to
the emptiness in this particular episode is YOU. Faqir simply states
that he dosn't know and that he wants gurus to correct him if he is

Moreover, arguing that there is indeed something beyond your
"emptiness" puts the BURDEN of PROOF on the claimant not the one who
doubts it.

Faqir can at least show you and others why he doesn't know.

Now the ball is in the court of those who claim otherwise.

They, not their doubters, need to show us convincing evidence why
they know, why Faqir is wrong, etc.

I am game for it, but your line of argumentation doesn't do that.

It simply reflects one of the oldest logic fallacies we know of:
appeal to ignorance.

Instead of that, show us once again your proof. I am willing to

Instead, I am getting your belief system.

I don't mind, but it is not proof and it is not convincing in the

DOUG writes:
The state of unknowingness, therefore, is an advanced stage, if it is
accompanied by the hunger and desire to learn. And that emptiness will
indeed be filled one day, with true knowing. For this unknowingness is a
question being asked from the heart, and such sincere questions will always
draw Spirit to fill such emptiness with truth. But this story cannot be
rushed. We should not try to shorten the process.

Hmm, "unknowingness is an advanced stage."

To whom? How do you "know"?

You are making lots of assumptions--none of which you have
substantiated. You have merely layed out your opinion as if this was
the process for growth....

There could be a whole series of alternative reasons.

And as for "Spirit" filling such emptiness you have jumped the gun
by introducing something which you have neither proven nor

Again, nice religious talk, but like painted cakes and painted
prostitutes, not very edible or usable.....

Finally, I don't know if unknowingness is a question so much as it
is a realization......

As Nicholas of Cusa wrote: The unattainable is attained by its

I simply find your argument a reflection of what you believe and as
such lacks the very proof and evidence that should be forthcoming.
Again, Doug, nice platitudes, nice religious talk as I might say.
But geez you are making leaps all over the place. Advanced stage?
To whom? Emptiness that will indeed be filled? How do you know?
Moreover, maybe there is no emptiness with confessing unknowingness,
maybe there is just wonderful bliss....

Again, you are merely stating what you tend to believe.

This is not evidence, Doug; this is merely what you believe in.

No different in substance than what a Mormon might think or a 7/11

As for compelling?

Nope../.... but keep trying

DOUG writes:

If that emptiness of unknowing, however, has been filled with opinions and
theories and beliefs, then this is not unknowingness at all. And the cup is
full, so there is no room for the real answers.

Now, you say that my explanations have not convinced you. Actually, that's
good, since such a proof will never be long lasting anyway, and that was
not my intent. I see no purpose in trying to convince you, or the world,
and am not particularly bothered by the fact that you, or the world,
doesn't believe what I say. The whole point here is that it is not
important what you believe or don't believe, what is important is knowing
what you know, and knowing what you don't know.

DAVID LANE replies:
This is precisely where you and I depart company. You say that you
are not bothered by the fact that neither me or the world is
convinced by your argument. But that's exactly how we learn: by
being WRONG, by being corrected, by being Open to revision.

Let me put this in reverse: my unknowingness is such that I must be
open to the possibility that others may know.

Is knowingness so dogmatic that it too can not be shown the error of
its ways?

Faqir was willing to be corrected and shown wrong, so am I.

So, can our "knowing" gurus turn out to be wrong as well?

Or, are they exempt from this standard because of their knowingness?

Your lines here suggest a closed system and that's precisely what
I find incoherent.

Give me some evidence or some proof; as such, you have merely given
me your opinion and your belief system.

Fair enough, but just not compelling.

DOUG writes:

To keep this discussion as simple to follow as possible, I will add only
one more thought to this post: You say that all inner experiences must come
through our brain, which modifies everything we experience, so how can you
ever be sure what we are seeing is real? Well, this same argument can be
said also about looking through the instrument of a telescope, or
microscope, or even through our own eyes or ears. The brain modifies all
such tools, and how can you ever be sure what you perceive is real?

Such reductionist thinking leads only to theories that, once again, if
they are indeed true then there is no way to verify it. If we are indeed,
hopelessly trapped in our brains, unable to perceive anything directly, and
completely at the whim of our brain's modifications, then there is no way
to ever know this. There is also no way to really talk about this with
others, or be sure we are really saying anything to anyone else.

However, no matter how faulty the instrument, it is still possible to see
beneath the surface to touch the reality behind it all. A fascinating test
that has been done, has been to place mirrors, colored glasses and prisms
before people's eyes, and allow them to wear these contraptions for days.
The amazing thing that happens, is that the brain's of these people will
correct for these distortions and eventually turns the picture they are
seeing back to normal. The color of the lens disappears. The upside down
image turns rightside up.

What this shows, is the wonderful innate nature of our brain to show us
the truth, not to hide it or twist it. It is the same with inner
experiences. However, for most people, it is their dependence upon outer
authorities, and outwardly learned beliefs and traditions, that prevent
them from seeing what is within. Clear away these beliefs, even educated
beliefs or beliefs that come from reading spiritual books, and opinions,
and arrive at that empty state of unknowingness, and then the mind begins
to start seeing the inner reality as it really is.


Sorry, Doug, but you better go back and take a neuroscience course.
First, our brains don't necessarily reveal what is Real, but what
we have Adapted and survived with long enough to pass on to our

Human vision is limited and not even accurate on the
multi-dimensional nature of things; our hearing is limited; our
smell is limited; our neural structure is limited.

We see colors; some animals do not. Indeed, our brains can deceive
us in many ways and indeed it does it all the time. Our brains are
filters and there are many different kinds of filters in the animal
kingdom--some have sharper eyes, some better hearing, some better
muscles. My point is such an obvious one and can be better
understood by reading books on neurology. A particularly fun book is
Paul Churchland's Engine of Reason, Seat of the Soul (MIT press) or
Francis Crick's Astonishing Huypothesis.

The brain does all sorts of tricks, and some of them dupe us into
believing things and spaces and times that may not be there at all.

Sorry, Doug, but this is your weakes argument so far. Study

Reality? Nope, filtered views by a meat machine that may not be
revealing truth but methods of survival. A telescope and a
microscope also suffer that same limitation. Remember your
Heisenberg; it is a great analogy here: the instrument of
experimentation alters the results of that experiment. Observer
alters the observered.

Or, in our case, the brain maps "reality", but the map is LESS than
what IS.

DOUG writes:
It is a valuable treasure to obtain this, but it is not the sort of
treasure that can be shared with others, except those brothers and sisters
upon the path that recognize the hints, and know the signs. They are the
ones that know. And they know that they know.

Looking forward to your "evidence to the contrary."



Pretty dogmatic stuff here, Doug.

"And they know that they know".....?

Hmm, I guess if we want to play dogmatic platitudes we could say the
opposite: Those who claim to know, don't know.......

I think Lao Tzu said that a long time ago.....

Or was he an Eck Master forgotten?

Re-read what you are saying here Doug.

It is no different in structure than a fundamentalist Christian....

They say the same about their experiences as well.

Could the "knowing" ones be wrong?

Or is that only left to us unknowing ones?   

Think about it......


P.S. Perhaps the best critique I can give of your entire approach
here is MICHAEL MARTIN.....

He too would argue this same line of reasoning....

So much for "inner" visions as deep penetrating insights.....

I don't think I need to say anymore.


a happy gorilla


MARK writes:

BTW, rereading Bruce's postscript is interesting. I think I will post it
here and wait for David Lane's response:


A postscript:

While rereading Lane's book, I have noticed other troubling elements
that I didn't pick up on in my original critique.

For example, although Lane acknowledges the "polemical and prejudiced"
nature of Woodrow Nichols' and Mark Albrecht's paper, "Eckankar, the
Ancient Science of Deception," I noticed that he quotes from this paper
throughout his book. It seems that Lane's self-proclaimed skepticism is


Noticing an author's slant does not then necessarily mean that his/her
paper is without merit.

Lots of things are slanted but still contain valuable information.

I think Julian Johnson is an anti-semitic, for instance, but that
does not mean that he doesn't have informative data on Sawan Singh.

I think you get my drift....

BRUCE writes:

Another example of this lack of discrimination is in Chapter four, where
Lane quotes two conflicting accounts by Dr. L. Bluth regarding Paul
Twitchell's death. Evidence of Bluth's inconsistency doesn't stop Lane
from liberally quoting him on a variety of other topics as it suits him.


Again, you seem to forget that Bluth's testimony can be informative,
even if he himself may be slanted.

The real question is can we correlate his testimony with others?


BRUCE writes:

There are other examples where Lane chases his tail.

DAVE LANE replies:

Are we talking about how Eckankar defends Twitchell again?


For example, in Chapter 10 he claims -- without substantiation -- that
"Eckankar has been the source of tremendous mental imbalances for a
growing number of devotees" and that Eckankar practices "dangerous
spiritual counselling" and promotes "unsound (and unproven) meditation


Yes, it should have been footnoted much more extensively.

I have spoken with at least 50 Eckists (both in person and in
letters) who claimed that Harji's letter on the Black Magicians
caused them severe mental trauma and severe nightmares.....

But I accept your point of criticism.... (see even I can learn!!!)

BRUCE writes:

In this same chapter criticizes Harold Klemp for warning members of
Eckankar about psychic attacks, on the grounds that such warnings could
cause "impressionable Eckists to start having the very experiences he
warns against" and "can only run havoc on immature and impregnable

When I asked Lane on a.r.e. whether he felt his own warnings about
Eckankar might not "run havoc on immature and impregnable personalities"
he, characteristically, didn't reply.


"Characteristically, didn't reply?"  Hmm, whenever you feel I have
not replied to a specific point, please do bring it up again. That's
your job and it is my job to reply to each and every point.

I am a bit backlogged, as you may know, but I should reply to each

If I haven't, please don't assume that I wish not to..... It is
merely one of time and space.

Now to your point: my warnings simply say such "black magicians"
DON'T exist.

Harji's claim is that THEY do exist.

Telling somebody a monster exists is different than saying the
monter does NOT exist....

think about it.

BRUCE writes:

Another passage that caught my attention this time around is in Chapter
Eight, "The Manifestation of Rebazar Tarsz," where Lane says:
"Therefore, an Eckankar member may achieve a higher state of
consciousness and behold a vision of what he/she believes to be Rebazar
Tarsz. But it is not the Tibetan monk who is bestowing the elevated
experience; rather, it is the devotee's own inherant capability for
advanced structural adaptation (manifested, for example, in N.D.E.'s)
which allows for such mystical heights... (structurally speaking, it
matters little if one beholds the Virgin Mary, Buddha, Krishna, or Fubbi

I guess this means that Lane's tears over Paulji's "genealogical
dissociation" from earlier teachers are of the crocodile variety.


Sorry, but I simply don't get your last line.


one dense gorilla

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

I want to go back to the home base now.