Author: David Christopher Lane Publisher: MSAC Philosophy Group Publication date: 1996
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I enjoyed Dennis' query very much, as it raises a number of interesting issues that no doubt need to be addressed. Dennis asks several good questions, but the central one concerns my overall "goal" in doing research on Eckankar, especially in light of Sant Mat and the like. Dennis also quotes a passage from the late Sant Kirpal Singh to underline his questions. I have numbered my response: 1. I have never considered researching Eckankar my life's work. It has been a very fun hobby, no doubt, and I enjoy discovering new things about Paul Twitchell. I am decidely less interested in Darwin Gross and Harold Klemp, primarily because they don't spark my interest or imagination. As I mentioned in another posting, I have stopped researching John-Roger and MSIA primarily because he and his group are so boring. Moreover, Peter McWilliams has done such a beautiful job that there is not much I can add to the debate. I have continued to research Twitchell and Eckankar because it is both fun and interesting. Naturally, my findings have had an impact on past and future membership, but I see nothing wrong in exposing the underside of any religion--be it Catholicism, MSIA, shabd yoga, or Eckankar. 2. I do not think that my research is "harmful" or "unkind" in any way. I never have. Rather, I think it is actually helpful in some ways. Let me give you an example from my own tradition. In the 1950s until the 1980s there was a writer/scholar in Soami Bagh, Agra by the name of S.D. Maheshwari (many know him because of his translations of Sar Bachan Poetry into English) who wrote over a hundred books in his lifetime. Many of these books were considered polemical and unsavory, since they revealed things about shabd yoga history that people didn't like. I read almost all of Maheshwari's books when I was in my teens and early twenties and felt that despite his obvious prejudices/slants (just like me, let's say, with Eckankar) that he provided a wealth of information that I could not secure elsewhere. Indeed, I consider Maheshwari's books the most valuable English texts we have on the early history of Shiv Dayal Singh and Rai Salig Ram. Without Maheshwari, much of the "underside" history would not be known either in India or the United States. Now I don't necessarily agree with all of Maheshwari's interpretations (just like many in Eckankar don't agree with my interpretations of the data), but that's okay since I can still read and glean from him very important stuff. I even met Maheshwari back in 1978 with Juergensmeyer. He was a tough old chap and quite acidic..... but he was a kick to be around and knew lots of history. I say all of this because I know many who think Maheshwari is negative or has harmed the cause of their path. I don't think so at all. Rather, he has simply (albeit unconsciously, since Maheshwari was an avid follower of Soami Bagh and probably didn't intend the opposite effect he had on me and others) shown the humanness of it all.... The humanness of religion, of spirituality, of gurus. 3. Quite frankly, I have no idea what my life's work is. If one's life is defined by those things which one spends the most time on, then clearly the following are my passion: A. Reading way too much B. Surfing too much C. Missing my teacher too much D. Teaching too much (actually that's changed this year since I am on sabbatical!) E. Developing the website too much F. Seeing too many movies There may be some more, but that covers the essential elements. 4. Concerning my writing projects, I have written much more on Faqir Chand, Sant Mat, Ken Wilber, etc., than Eckankar or the like. It just happens that Eckankar has this groovy public forum which accelerates the debate. My current writing projects are centered on consciousness/neuroscience/evolution/quantum theory, which as everybody knows has had a publishing boon as of late. 5. So finally I don't think that I am somehow maligning the Light and Sound teachings by trying to show the politics underneath the cracks. It's about time that our gurus get inspected with the same type of scrutiny that we give our used cars. signed: water-logged
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