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Book SynopsisThe groundbreaking study of the new religion, Eckankar and its founder Paul Twitchell. Written forty years ago by a then a young college student, The Making of A Spiritual Movement showed for the first time how the founder of Eckankar had attempted to hide his past and create a new biography replete with mythic characters such as Sudar Singh and Rebazar Tarzs. Paul Twitchell was also a plagiarist of the first rank and copied verbatim whole pages from the work of Julian P. Johnson and others. Many Eckists who read this book in its earlier editions chose to leave the movement and became harsh critics of Eckankar's persistent cover-up of its founder and his questionable activities. The Making of a Spiritual Movement caused such a tremendous uproar within the membership of the group that Eckankar issued a "Special Notice to All Eck Chelas," dated December 27, 1979, attempting to squelch the persisting controversy surrounding Lane's ﬁndings. The following excerpt reveals in a nutshell Eckankar's ofﬁcial opinion of this book and its ﬁndings: "It does not tell the straight story. . . was not completely researched and is untrue. These people [David Lane, Mark Albrecht, et al.] are being used by the Kal [Negative] forces to dismantle Eckankar and are referred to by Sri Paul Twitchell in a private tape he made. . . shortly before he translated. Paul said: . . '[These] pagans and heathens are in a conspiracy to destroy Eckankar, not only in the physical but in the psychic worlds. . . those who are bracketed within the category of these people are actually against us. They have been-since the beginning of mankind or the formation of the lower worlds. All these people are under the Kal forces. . Sn' Darwin [Second Living Eck Master] asks that [Lane's research as found in the 1979 SCP Joumal] be destroyed. . . ." Obviously, Eckankar does not agree with Lane's ﬁndings. However, as Dr. J. Gordon Melton notes, "The evidence that David Lane uncovered of Twitchell's creating a false history of his rise to leadership of Eckankar indicates extensive corruption. That the leadership has done nothing to correct Twitchell's false claims, yea, have perpetuated them, indicates a significant problem at the heart of that organization." This particular edition is based primarily on the 1978, 1983, and 1993 versions and thus reflects what was then known about Eckankar and its history. Excerpt from the prefatory section, "A number of researchers have discovered that Paul Twitchell's plagiarism was much more extensive and widespread than I even first imagined since it turns out that he had appropriated complete sentences and paragraphs from a variety of books outside of Radhasoami and Sant Mat circles. In light of the Internet and sophisticated scanning applications, it is now possible to track down most of Twitchell's sources word by word. Twitchell wrote at a time when he most likely did suspect that his massive plagiarisms would be discovered, but today it is relatively easy to see where the founder of Eckankar got his inspirations and where he indulged in literary piracy. Moreover, Twitchell's attempt to hide his past has come undone, with new documents and information showing that he never traveled to Europe or Paris at the times he claimed. Despite Twitchell's duplicity there are many who feel that he was a "master compiler" and a spiritual "smash up" artist before his time. As for myself, I find Paul Twitchell to be one of the most interesting religious leaders to have emerged from the 1960s.
About the AuthorDavid Christopher Lane has been a Professor of Philosophy at Mt. San Antonio College for over 29 years. He has taught at the University of California, San Diego; California State University, Long Beach; California School of Professional Psychology; and the University of London in England, among other institutions. Professor Lane received his Ph.D. and M.A. with a focus on the Sociology of Knowledge from the University of California, San Diego, where he was also a recipient of a Regents Fellowship. He also received another M.A. in the history and phenomenology of religion from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. Dr. Lane has written a number of books, including several controversial studies on new religions, such as The Making of a Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story of Paul Twitchell and Eckankar; Exposing Cults: When The Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical; and DA: The Strange Case of Franklin Jones co-authored with Dr. Scott Lowe, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Lane is most well known for his critical studies of certain new religious founders, including the late John-Roger Hinkins of MSIA, Sathya Sai Baba, and Sri Gary Olsen of MasterPath. This unsettling research has led to the robbery of his home, numerable death threats, and a series of cartneared lawsuits. His work has been widely cited in various encyclopedias and has served as the foundation for a number of investigative studies, including Peter McWilliams' widely read cult expose', Life 102: What To Do When Your Guru Sues You. Professor Lane was the first scholar to publish the life and work of Baba Faqir Chand under the title The Unknowing Sage which details the remarkable life of an Indian sage who claimed that all miracles and religious visions were projections of disciples' own mind but they unwittingly gave credit for such to their respective gurus and religious traditions. Lane has been instrumental in publishing a number of books and articles on Faqir's radical revelations and has coined the term "Chandian Effect" to describe how extraordinary experiences occur, even though they ultimately have a scientific explanation.