For those of you who have never heard of it, Eckankar is a cult founded by a man named Paul Twitchell in 1965.
Born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1908, he began dabbling in the Dianetics of L. Ron Hubbard and studying a variety of spiritual and occult writings. He eventually joined the Premananda Giri’s Self-Realization Church of Absolute Monism in 1950 but was asked to leave the church in 1955.
From there, he latched onto Kirpal Singh of Surat Shabd Yoga or Sant Mat in Washington DC. He claimed that Singh appeared to him in his apartment and would dictate teachings to him which he would type up and send to Singh in New Delhi.
During the same time, he also became involved in Scientology. Twitchell and Singh had a falling out in 1966 but by then he was already compiling materials about a new teaching that he called Eckankar.
The core teachings appear to be derivatives of his lifetime of dabbling, such as how the Soul (which is the true self) can be experienced separately from the body and can travel freely through other planes of reality in a practice known as Soul Travel. He also taught that personal spiritual experiences, which are attained via this Soul Travel, are the most natural way to God. Spiritual growth is had through the Sufi practice of chanting a mantra known as “Hu” which is said to be a “love song to God” that draws one closer to the Divine Being.
In addition to espousing karma and reincarnation, Twitchell also taught the importance of dreams as teaching tools, and that all persons can achieve Self-Realization, which is the realization that we are all sparks of God. The goal of the Eckists spiritual life is to become a conscious “co-worker” with God.
But the “god” they’re talking about isn’t the one we worship.
In a book entitled, Cult Watch, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Eckankar is described as an offshoot of Hinduism and “an anti-Christian religious sect” which teaches that the Christian God is the devil and that Jesus is the son of the Devil.
In addition, “Eckankar claims its wisdom comes from ascended masters and other spirits in the supernatural realm and that it is the world’s oldest religion, originating from a former inhabitant of the planet Venus who came to earth six million years ago.”
As the authors document, “Since shortly after its inception, Eckankar has been embroiled in controversy amidst charges that it is a religion based upon fiction and deception.”
Various cult awareness groups list this “religion” as a cult and warn the public to stay away from it.
Our reader, BMH, learned this the hard way:
“I would like to share my experience of leaving the path. It was a simple question to God. I was an eckist for almost 25 years (Prior to that a Christion since a very early age) and had reached my 5th initiation .
“My husband and I moved to Northern California, and things were going OK. We settled in with no real issues . . . . until my husband had a heart attack. I reached a real low and reached out to my understanding of God. I challenged my Higher Power and, in desperation , asked, ‘will the true Master please step forward?’
“To my amazement that night in a dream, Jesus appeared in a blinding white light. His silhouette appeared and what stuck out was the crown of thorns upon his head. That’s all I needed. I came back to my Lord Savior and experienced a peace I had not felt for a long time. Since then I feel more on fire for Jesus than ever before. That peace continues in my heart. It was all about faith and trust. Enough said, I just wanted to share “that when we ask for answers spirituality to our God, he will answer.”