Why Eck Research?

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar
Publication date: 1996

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

I want to go back to the home base now.


Thanks for your several posts. I have put a few things on the Net to
respond to some of your arguments, especially about the 1% copying

You have also made a few inferences about my motivation and about my
career that are inaccurate:

1. You claim that I "parlayed" my research on Eckankar into a
Ph.D. Actually, my Ph.D. dissertation was written on the politics of
guru successorship in India and was not on Eckankar. My two M.A.'s,
as well, were not on Eckankar, but rather the history of Sant Mat.
Eckankar has never been the major focus of my research since my
undergraduate days. Rather, I have concentrated on other areas,
though I do love from time to time to explore more about Paul
Twitchell's life and work. I have also had a wonderful time on
A.R.E. and have along the way made my share of friends and
detractors. It is an interesting forum from many perspectives.
If you want to know what I am currently
reading, just check it out on the Neural Surfer:      


My undergraduate major in college was religious studies with a minor
in history. The paper I wrote on Eckankar was done at CSUN when I
was 20 and 21.

2. You have also stated in one of your posts that I have an
animosity towards Eckankar due to the lawsuit they took back in the
mid-1980s over the 1983 version of THE MAKING OF A SPIRITUAL
MOVEMENT. (You also incorrectly state that I somehow "lost" the
case; actually my lawyers and I perceived it as a "win". I lost
nothing, didn't have to do anything, and even got to sell out the
rest of the copies of the book, with the tainted cover. Not bad for
Again, you are wrong, since as I have repeatedly told you
that I enjoy doing this type of research. Read Dodie Bellamy's
article on the NET about my work on Eckankar (via Dave Rife's
homepage). I even admit to a
certain kind of fondness for Twitchell and Eckankar. 

The one thing that did irritate me was when Eckankar sued my
classmate and Eckist friend, Jim Peebles, for a million plus dollars
when he naively sent his term paper to their Menlo Park

I don't know what your motivations are, so I can only tell you mine:

Since I like detective work, I have found Paul Twitchell and
Eckankar to be a treasure trove of new discoveries. Thus, my
interest in it has persisted. I love finding new plagiarisms, new
cover-ups, new biographical incidents, etc.

Now clearly John-Roger Hinkins and MSIA have treated me much worse
than Eckankar (robbery, death threats, etc.), but I have not done
any research on them for a long time (McWilliams, of course, has
written the definitive text on them--LIFE 102: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR

Why haven't I continued my research against J.R. and MSIA, a group
which I should have some animosity towards?

Because I find J.R. and MSIA really boring....

That's it, nothing more sophisticated than that. J.R. is boring.
He didn't plagiarize that much, his cover-ups are lame, and his
books cause me to sleep.

Whereas I find Twitchell lots of fun.

Sorry, but if it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it.

Now, I don't intend this "fun" aspect to indicate or suggest that I
am not aware of the devastating consequences of what my research can
do to a neophyte..... I just mean that I work on Eckankar not out of
some "grand goal", but because I find it interesting.

I also think that some people are helped by having such information
on the net.

3. You make some references about me as fraudulent researcher and my
methods are suspect and that if I were a real scholar I would have my findings
published in academic journals and the like.

In this regard I must admit I have been somewhat lucky. A large
number of academic studies/books/encyclopedias have already done me
the huge favor of citing and approving of my research. I could give
you a list of some of them, but it's pretty long. Just check out the
new book from SUNY on ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS which has a section on
Eckankar, or try Melton's Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults, or his
tome on religions, or Ellwood's book on new religions, or some of
Juergensmeyer's books, or any number of encyclopedias on new
religions. God forbid, I was even invited to give a talk at the
London School of Economics back in 1993 for a conference on new
religions where I presented my findings on Eckankar and other groups
in front of a large number of academic scholars from around the
world. They seemed to really enjoy it.  I also presented the same
many years ago at Stanford University to the American Academy of
Religion, where I first presented the concept on genealogical
dissociation--a concept that is starting to get some circulation.
Also, Garland did accept the MAKING and wanted to publish it in
their library series, but as everyone knows Eckankar got wind of it
and threatened to sue. Garland withdrew it, even though the book was
typeset and advertised. Garland wanted to back me up, but lacked the
deep pockets that a lawsuit entails. I was a bit bummed, but I
decided that I would not let Eckankar squelch this side of the
story; thus due to the kind efforts of Dave Rife, it is on the web
for free.

But, frankly, all this means little. The key is to simply see if the
findings can be duplicated outside of Lane's biased filter. 

4. Steve also says that I tried to make some money on my research on
Eckankar in the late 1970s. Again, you have your inferences and your
details wrong. I have already gone to some length to explain that
instead of making money, I have actually lost thousands. Why?
Because I have no desire to make money on this project, never have,
and never will. We have given away more books (especially to Lagos,
Nigeria) than we have ever sold. 

Again, I just have fun doing research on Eckankar. Money or the lack
of it has never been a motivation.

A surfer does not need much to be happy, anyways.

5. Finally, you seem to think my personal status has some bearing on
my research findings. As I have said before, I don't mind being
ripped (again, I kinda of perversely enjoy it), but my status or
lack of it has nothing to do with the ultimate consequences of my

Throw Lane overboard. 

(I like the water anyways).

Just go and find out how "accurate" Twitchell was about starting
Eckankar. Go find out about what Darwin Gross actually did WHILE he
was the Living Eck Master. See if Harold Klemp's accounts tally with
Twitchell's or even Gross'.

Present your findings.

We can then debate.

I don't mind that you are an Eckist....

All i care about is whether your findings on Sudar Singh and the
like can be replicated by outsiders.

Replication is really helpful to secure a finding.

You don't think Sudar Singh is instrumental.

Yet, if Twitchell is to be believed, then Sudar Singh was the link
between him and the Vairagi Masters. If Twitchell is lying, then it
speaks volumes about the integrity of his movement.

Keep up the work.


the rich guy
who is living
off the royalities
in Fiji at a surf
camp known as

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

I want to go back to the home base now.