Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: The Neural Surfer Publication date: 1996
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to go back to the home base now.
Why Does Lane Persist In Writing About Eckankar: a response to Steve's question First, to answer your question about why I continue to research Eckankar, I have responded to this issue a number of times (see Dodie Bellamy's long article in the SAN DIEGO READER on Dave Rife's unauthorized Eckankar page and several posts under the Eckankar section in my Neural Surfer website). However, since you have asked and you may not have seen those pieces, I will try to answer as simply as possible: 1. I enjoy detective-like research, uncovering hidden or forgotten facts. Paul Twitchell and Eckankar caught my attention back at CSUN when I did a term paper for a religious studies class in 1977. Since Eckankar threatened me with a lawsuit when I sent them a copy of my term paper at the time, I naturally got more interested in why they would even care about some young kid's research. That started my interest and I must confess that I find it quite fun to discover information that has been concealed or denied or covered-up. It is like a cross-word puzzle, I suppose, and the more I understand those pieces the clearer the picture becomes. 2. Doing research on Eckankar has also provided me with a helpful template in which to look into other religions, including my own traditions. When I realized that Twitchell was attempting to "genealogically dissociate" himself and his group from his true biographical history (Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh, and L. Ron Hubbard) and replace it with a mythological gloss (Sudar Singh, Rebazar Tarzs, Fubbi Quantz, etc.), I began to understand how other religions have tried to do the same thing. [Sidebar: In Chapter One of the Radhasoami Tradition, for example, I elaborate on this concept and how it relates to the life/work of Shiv Dayal Singh (http://weber.ucsd.edu/~dlane/point2.html)]. For instance, I was intrigued to note how John-Roger Hinkins of MSIA tried to downplay his connection with Eckankar, and, in turn, how much Eckankar had in fact influenced the development of MSIA. So I contacted J.R. back in the late 1970s. I am very happy to say that my initial research of J.R. in 1984 led to a huge re-evaluation of his life/work. And I feel gratified that Peter McWilliams has had the courage to write LIFE 102: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR GURU SUES YOU. Peter McWilliams at one-time didn't like me much. He thought I was being "negative" about MSIA. I remember when I appeared on the "upscale" (oxymoron alert!) Geraldo show, "Now It Can Be Told," and Peter McWilliams was upset with what I said. Later, he told me that It was only when he did the research himself and found out that I had only touched the tip of an iceberg (J.R. has done some incredibly sick things to people; besides robbing my house, threatening to kill me, he has ruined the lives of many of his followers, including McWilliams who is still being sued and harassed by J.R. and crew) that McWilliams saw that I was not being negative at all. I was just trying to get certain facts into the light of day. McWilliams once thought of me as part of the "Red Monk" and like some Eckists thought I was "attacking" his religion. Later he switched his views and wrote very glowingly of my research in his book. I then also began to see how this "genealogical dissociation" applies to other sound current groups, like Gary Olsen's MASTERPATH. After someone sent me Gary's discourses I noticed that he had plagiarized extensively from the writings of Jagat Singh and Daryai Lal Kapur, among others. In some of his plagiarisms, he didn't even bother to re-type the stuff (he just photocopied the page and added a few things!). So naturally I contacted Gary and after several nice conversations, he agreed to publicly apologize on the NET and re-do his discourses. Gary never accused me of being negative because all I did was call him on the carpet about literary transgressions. He apologized. Moving on, I noticed that Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind had plagiarized his book (in parts) The Radiant Road to Reality from Julian Johnson's With a Great Master in India. I also found out that Thind was apparently initiated by Sawan Singh but had attempted to conceal it. This type of denying or concealing behavior may be part of being human. However, because religions try to hold us to a higher standard, I think it is imperative that we check those religions to see if they are themselves living what they are preaching. 3. So besides liking detective-work and enjoying discovering hidden things, I also found out that my research on Eckankar has apparently helped lots of people, or at the very least that is what thousands of letter writers have told me over the years. Personally, I am grateful to those people who have uncovered secrets that were not known, even if they are somehow disturbing. Thus, I feel it is important that the history of any (and I do mean any) religion be thoroughly scrutinized. Critics are our best friends, since they do show us things about ourselves that we may not perceive. In this light, I have always tried to respond to my critics with a light hand, a bit of humor, and the facts as I see them. I don't mind being flamed and I have been flamed a lot. I have received well over 10,000 letters (conservative estimate) in the past decade or so directly relating to my research on Eckankar. Now a number of those letters were genuinely pissed at me for doing my study. A larger number, however, were quite grateful. Why? Because it allowed them to learn more about both Paul Twitchell and the founding of Eckankar. Thousands, I am told, have left the group over the years; some due to the research of John Sutphin, J. Gordon Melton, SCP, several contributors in this newsgroup, and myself. Naturally, I am still discovering more things about Twitchell that I didn't know and I like sharing this new information. Steve and others don't like my research, my biases, my slants, etc. Perhaps they wish I never posted or never did the work. Others have a different view. I can only say that I welcome research (even if viewed "negatively") on all religions and all human endeavors. My hunch is that there is nothing to fear from such attacks. No matter how many times we get pissed at Newton for saying an apple drops because of gravity, we can always re-test him. If the apple all of a sudden does not drop, then we can revise the theory to suit the new behavior. Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about. I have documented the plagiarism. I have documented the name changes. I have documented the biographical contradictions. I have documented the lack of empirical information concerning certain Vairagi Masters. And yet we speak about negativity? I will tell you what is negative: ignoring that Paul Twitchell lied. Call me anything you wish, say I am close-minded, a loser, a bad surfer (hey, don't say that!), etc. But remember all I have ever done to Eckankar is write about their history and my interpretation of it (for good or bad). 1. I didn't attempt to sue Eckankar (though they have threatened me several times) 2. I didn't try to go to Harold's boss and get him fired (Eckankar sent a letter to the Catholic Bishop of San Diego trying to get me fired in 1983 from my high school job) 3. I didn't sue a 19 year old Eckist named Jim Peebles for a million dollars for writing a ten page term paper. 4. I didn't rob John-Roger Hinkins house. 5. I didn't make death threats to followers of other religions (I have gotten over twenty-five death threats from disgruntled Eckists in the past ten years--again I am being conservative) 6. I didn't legally harass IWP over one of their books (Eckankar legally harassed Garland about publishing a new version of the Making of a Spiritual Movement) 7. I didn't send out world-wide memos saying that Paul Twitchell was the reincarnation of the Negative Power (Eckankar has sent several circulars out against me/SCP saying that I/we was predicted from the beginning of time... We apparently recycle to destroy the true teachings of Eckankar.....) 8. I didn't legally threaten FATE magazine about Eckankar's letters to them (Eckankar wrote to FATE about a letter I had written about them, threatening legal action). 9. I don't call cult members on the phone every fudging day and play death threats (this past year at MSAC I was receiving, on average, one phone call a day threatening me.... Is it any wonder I don't have a phone?) 10. I didn't ask Darwin Gross to be an expert witness for me against Eckankar (but, of all ironies, that is precisely what Darwin asked me to do for him back in 1984! Imagine, an expert witness for Darwin!) All I have ever done (and listen carefully) is write and say things about Eckankar in print. Now clearly I have strong opinions, but I have also given ample evidence to show you why (rightly or wrongly) I think the way I do. Let's rip in the medium of print..... I see nothing negative about it. And if you really truly think that it is negative, then don't read the post. I don't mind. There are those who like critical exchange; there are those who don't. Okay, but I see nothing negative or wrong about taking Paul Twitchell to task, or any guru to task. A God-man (or a God-woman), if there is such a creature, should be able to survive David Lane's questions. What I don't understand is why we have such fucking low standards. (sorry, I just had to get that word in there). Keep ripping.