Eckankar – Origins and Background
Eckankar, which calls itself “The Religion of The Light” and “The Sound of God,” was started by Paul Twitchell in 1965.
Twitchell was born in Paducah, Kentucky sometime between 1908 and 1912. He was a journalist and a very prolific writer. After a stint in the navy, he moved to New York in 1942, where he continued his journalistic career. He attended many different types of churches and was an avid reader of occult literature. In 1945, he and his first wife Camille joined the Self-Revelation Church of Absolute Monism, which is system of yoga founded by Swami Premananda. In 1950, they were kicked out of the church for personal misconduct.
Following his expulsion, Twitchell immersed himself in the Radhasoami movement, a yogic teaching that was designed to enable the soul to ascend beyond the physical body to higher spiritual regions by means of an internal sound or life current. He also studied under the Hindu guru, Kirpal Singh, who had similar teachings. He drew heavily upon the concepts and teachings of these two sources, as well as what he learned from Swami Premananda, when he finally started his own religion.
In 1964, shortly after he married his second wife, Gail Atchinson, he had a vision of a 500-year-old Tibetan monk, by the name of Rebezar Tarsz who visited him in his dream state and gave him the ‘Rod of Power.’ He was to be the 971st Living Eck Master, the Mahanta. The Mahanta is said to be able to link a seeker up with God. After that vision, Twitchell wrote many booklets about how to leave the body at will.
The current leader, or Mahanta, of the Eckankar movement is Harold Klemp. The Temple of Eck is located at Chanhassen, Minnesota, where they offer study programs, public classes, and seminars.
Eckankar – Basic Beliefs
Eckankar is a system of belief and practice that seeks to unify a person’s soul with the light and sound of ‘god,’ which they say are twin aspects of the ‘holy spirit.’ Eck is the divine spirit or current that flows through all living things.
Eckankar teaches that the soul is eternal, and that ‘god’ loves the soul that is on a journey back to ‘god.’ They believe in reincarnation, which is borrowed from the heavy influence of Hindu philosophy. The journey back to ‘god’ can be hastened through the practice and teaching of Eck. Through these teachings, a person can learn from his past lives and redeem his karma.
In order to achieve this state, it is necessary to be initiated by the Living Eck Master, the Mahanta. He is to guide the seeker on his inward spiritual journey. There is a fee involved for this guidance. During the initiation, the seeker will hear a sound and see visions. To some, the sound has been like a bell going off in the head. To others, it’s like bagpipes. These sounds and visions are supposed to guide one on his spiritual journey. From then on, the spiritual exercises consist of quiet contemplation and the repetition of a word or sound. Group sessions involve chanting a name of god “Hu,” (pronounced “hue”) for up to half an hour.
After a meditation session, the seeker is to say, “I now put my inner experience into your hands, Mahanta. Take me wherever is best for my own unfoldment at this particular time.” That is supposed to be the springboard for out-of-the body experiences, which is highly sought after by Eckankar practitioners.
There is no moral code of conduct in Eckankar for marriage, divorce, abortion, or sexual orientation.
Eckankar – Basic Christian Response
The Bible teaches that the only way to heaven is through what Jesus has done for us. We have all sinned and become separated from God (Romans 3:23). We can never find our way back to God on our own. There is no way to work off Karma. And a Holy God cannot abide with sin. It must be punished. But God has provided a way of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus. God loved mankind so much that He didn’t want to lose any of us. So He sent His son Jesus, to take the sin punishment in our stead. It says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." We must open-heartedly believe and receive that gift which He has provided for us.
The Hindu doctrine and Hindu-type New Age philosophies of reincarnation are false. It says in the Bible “And just as it is destined that each person dies only once,” not many times but once, “and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The judgment will be like this: “All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King (Jesus) will say to those on the right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father, Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.’ Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!’” (Matthew 25:31-46, LB). After a person dies, there is no second chance.
So why then are so many people trying some other way? It is because the Prince of the Power of the Air, Satan, has blinded their eyes. He fooled Eve in the Garden of Eden. This looks good. Try it. We know the outcome of that! He even tried to fool Jesus by telling him to bow to him and he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (see Matthew 4:8-9). In the same way, he tries to fool people today. Try this religion, it’s easy, it does not require anything of you. You can do what you want. But there will be a judgment.