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Religion of the Light and Sound of God

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Sponsored link.

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The following terms are trademarks owned by Eckankar: ECKANKAR, ECK, EK, MAHANTA, SOUL TRAVEL and VAIRAGI.

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Eckankar is a unique religious and spiritual path, sometimes called the Religion of the Light and Sound of God. Its name can be translated " co-worker with God". Eckankar members are called ECKists or ECK chelas. ("Chelas" means "student").

Eck teachings have ancient roots. Unfortunately much knowledge was lost to history until Paul Twitchell (Paulji) rediscovered it. He founded Eckankar in 1965 and established it as a non-profit religious organization in 1970. Details of Twitchell's life are obscure: his date of birth has been listed variously as 1908, 1912 and 1922. Eckankar followers believe that he studied under two Eck Masters: Sudar Singh in Paris and India, and a elderly monk Rebazar Tarzs in Tibet. They believe that he received the title of the 971st Eck Master from Tarzs in 1965, thus becoming the latest in a series of Masters which began before recorded history. Some of the past Masters are known historical figures; most have been solitary practitioners or have taught small groups. Paul Twitchell apparently gained additional knowledge from Kirpal Singh, an Eastern Guru, founder of the Ruhani Satsang movement.

After Paul Twitchell's death in 1971, Darwin Gross, the 972nd Eck Master became the Mahanta of Eckankar. (A Mahanta is the spiritual leader of Eckankar, a "living manifestation of God"). Subsequently, Sri Harold Klemp (1942-) became the 973rd Eck Master in 1981; he now heads the movement as its Mahanta.

Eckankar currently has over 50,000 members, who live in over 100 countries. They maintain facilities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. The main spiritual center is the Temple of ECK, located in Chanhassen, MN near Minneapolis-St. Paul. A public reading room, chapel, fellowship hall, classrooms and administration offices are located on the same site. They publish a periodical, the Eckankar Journal.

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bulletSugmad is a sacred name of God. God is perceived as neither male nor female.
bulletAn ECK Current connects every person with the Heart of Sugmad. It flows from the Creator to the lower levels of existence and then returns to God. It is often called the Holy Spirit. ECK manifests itself in two forms:
bulletan "Inner Sound", the "Voice of God calling us home". The Sound may be present as a sound of nature or as music.
bulletan "Inner Light which is a beacon to light our way". During spiritual exercises, the light sometimes materializes as "brightness or colors on your inner visual screen".
bulletEckankar believes in the duality of the soul and body. The soul is the inner, most sacred part of an individual. It is eternal, without beginning or end. It lives only in the present. One's soul can exist and travel separately from the body and even from the mind.
bulletA person is capable of exploring other planes of existence, through Soul Travel. Unlike "Astral Projection" which is taught by other spiritual traditions, Soul Travel is not limited to the Astral Plane; it allows you to go further and explore any of the God worlds.
bulletAmong the 11 worlds there are 5 lower (psychic or material) and 6 upper (spiritual) planes. Each has a regular name; a classical name; an associated sound and light; a Temple of Golden Wisdom and a guardian. The lower planes are:
bulletPhysical plane: the coarsest material level
bulletAstral plane: the "source of human emotion, psychic phenomena, ghosts and UFO's".
bulletCausal plane: where memories of previous lives are stored
bulletMental plane: which contains the source of ethics, moral teachings and philosophy
bulletEtheric plane: this is the boundary with the higher worlds. It is the source of the "subconscious and primitive thoughts".

Before entering the spiritual levels, the chela (student) discards their mind and continues in their Tuza (soul).

bulletEckankar has a concept of Karma which is somewhat similar to that found in Hinduism. Through attachment to the five passions (anger, greed, lust, undue attachment to the physical world and vanity) one's bad karma accumulates. This requires a person to be reincarnated at death, in order have an opportunity to work off the debt of karma in their next life. The goal of Eckists is to pay off all of this accumulated debt and achieve Self-Realization in their present life. Once this state is reached, at death one need not return and spend another lifetime on earth. One is freed from the endless cycles of reincarnation.
bulletEckankar is regarded by its followers as the best (but not the only) path to God-realization. Christianity is recognized as an alternative path that can aid a follower to achieve a degree of enlightenment. Christians, and others, may join Eckankar without renouncing their existing religion.

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bulletEckankar does not attempt to evangelize the world by aggressively converting individuals to their religion. They do not actively proselytize. However, they do advertise their presence and distribute literature to interested persons.
bulletMembers generally sing or chant a mantra for 20 to 30 minutes each day. HU (pronounced "hue") is a common mantra; it is an ancient name for God, and is considered a love song to God.
bulletVarious spiritual exercises are promoted by the organization: chanting, contemplation, meditation, singing, trance work and visualization techniques are used to achieve soul travel. Travel during dreams is an area of growing importance in the movement. Dreams are regarded as an important teaching tool; a "look into the heavenly worlds". Members are urged to keep a dream journal to facilitate study.
bulletWorship Services consist of a readings, singing "HU", silent contemplation and an open discussion. It "may also include music, group singing and talks".
bulletInitiations mark an individual's spiritual progress within Eckankar. At the Second Initiation, one makes a personal commitment. At the fifth initiation, one becomes a Mahdis (High Initiate) and a member of the ECK clergy.
bulletMembers who have reached the Second Initiation are urged to conduct a partial or full fast each Friday.
bulletEckankar considers abortion, divorce, sexual orientation, and a decision to terminate life to be personal matters. They discourage the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Many followers are active in a community service.

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Sponsored link:

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Eckankar Texts:

Shariyat-Ki-Sugmand is the Eckankar Scripture. Paul Twitchell wrote many books including Eckkankar, The Key to Secret Worlds, Consciousness, The Key to Life, and Stranger by the River.

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Criticism of Eckankar

Like all successful religions which deviate from traditional conservative Christianity, Eckankar has attracted its share of critics. Most published opposition comes from the Anti-cult and Counter-cult movements. A book by David C. Lane accuses Twitchell of covering up his past, lying about his age an copying his material from other religions. In response, Doug Marman published a "Dialogue in the Age of Criticism," and later updated it as "The Whole Truth, The Spiritual Legacy of Paul Twitchell." They analyze Lane's book and finds "that the picture David tries to paint of Paul Twitchell and ECKANKAR is off base, with a few elements of truth mixed in." See:

bulletDavid C. Lane, "The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and ECKANKAR" Del Mar Press, (1993), Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
bulletDoug Marman, "The Whole Truth, The Spiritual Legacy of Paul Twitchell"," at:  http://www.spiritualdialogues.com
bulletNara5, "Eckankar: The Religion," at: http://www.youtube.com/

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Amazon.com's online bookstore lists the following books on Eckankar:

If you see a generic Amazon ad here, please click on your browser's refresh key

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Internet and communication references:

bulletEckankar maintains a home page, which describes the religion, has an audio clip of chanting and offers free information. See http://www.eckankar.org/
bulletThey have a toll free number accessible from the US and Canada at 800-LOVE-GOD (800-568-3463).  They suggest that you ask for Dept. 151.
bulletThe postal address is ECKANKAR Spiritual Center, P.O. Box  2000, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2000. Their telephone is (952) 380-2222 weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CT. Fax is (952) 380-2196.
bulletA welcome WWW site for newsgroup alt.religion.eckankar is at:

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bulletTod Cramer & Doug Munson, "Eckankar: Ancient Wisdom for Today", Eckankar, Minneapolis MN (1993).
bulletSri Harold Klemp:
bullet"The Spiritual Exercises of ECK". It lists 131 exercises.
bullet"The Dream Master". It teaches how to become more aware of the meaning of dreams.
bullet"The Eternal Dreamer, The Golden Heart, How to Find God," Mahanta Transcripts, Books 7, 4 and 2.
bulletD.C. Lane, "The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and Eckankar", Del Mar Press, Del Mar, CA. Excerpts of this negative portrayal of Eckankar can be seen at: http://www.geocities.com/eckcult
bulletDoug Marman, "The Whole Truth, The Spiritual Legacy of Paul Twitchell." See: http://www.spiritualdialogues.com
bulletG.A. Mather & L.A. Nichols, "Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult", Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI (1993), P. 96-99
bulletR.E. Olson, "Eckankar: From Ancient Science of Soul Travel to New Age Religion", Article in T. Miller, Ed, "America's Alternative Religions" , SUNY Press, Albany NY (1995), P. 364-370

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Site navigation: Home page > World religions > here

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Copyright 1998 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JUL-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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