Eckankar, Religion of the Light and Sound of God

ECK Masters—Paul Twitchell

Paul Twitchell's Spiritual Search

By Sri Harold Klemp

Part 1

The 1985 World Wide of ECK is a commemoration to Paul Twitchell. I've been sifting through early information about Paul, trying to put together a picture of the individual who would one day bring out the ancient teachings of Eckankar.

I thought about presenting a chronology of the events in his life, but merely reciting the facts would have no value to someone who is looking for the high realization of God. Nor would it serve any purpose to tell only inspirational stories whereby we create a god.

There was a news report the other day about somebody who was selling little Jesus dolls made of vinyl. That's human nature for you: First the people made a God in their own image, and now they've put him up for sale.

We must be careful that we in ECK don't create gods out of past Masters, no matter how much we love and revere them, no matter how important they have been to the history of ECK. As soon as we start to look to a past ECK Master for our present guidance, we become no different from an orthodox religion.

Following a Single Path

There were people during Paul's time who tried to split their inner life two ways by trying to follow ECK as well as some other teaching. One of the individuals who helped Paul when he started to bring out the ECK teachings was a sincere woman whom Paul liked very much. She was in charge of the Eckankar Office in Las Vegas and did most of the work out of her home. One day an ECKist who worked closely with this woman reported to Millie Moore, one of the earliest ECK students, that there were boxes and boxes of mail that hadn't been answered. Somebody should tell Paul, she said.

Millie wasn't sure how to handle this. She had already gotten the message from Paul: Don't complain or gossip to me about anyone else, because if I hear about it, I have to act on it.

Finally, against her better judgment, Millie called Paul and told him about it. "What do you mean, boxes of mail?" Paul said. "I don't want to hear it!" And he slammed down the receiver. Millie, of course, was shattered.

A few weeks later the office manager moved away without even telling anyone she was leaving.

Paul telephoned Millie. "She flew the coop," he said. Paul and Millie went over to this woman's vacated house to get the ECK files; they found stacks and stacks of unanswered letters. In later correspondence Paul remarked that there were letters that hadn't been answered for over a year.

While this woman was acting as the Las Vegas representative for Eckankar, in charge of distributing ECK materials, she was also a spiritualist. She had kept this to herself, but after she left, a letter came from a minister in Orange County, California, addressed to Reverend Paul. Gail Twitchell, under the pen name of Ann Atkinson, wrote a letter back to him questioning his use of the term reverend. The minister responded that the woman who had worked at the ECK Office was also affiliated with this spiritualist church and claimed to have ordained Paul as a minister of that church.

Paul thought it was humorous. In a letter to somebody else he wrote, "Yes, I am a minister, but I usually don't carry the title of reverend." But when this religion tried to ride on his coattails, that was too much. Paul's name had become well-known through a series of articles he wrote around 1967 for the New Cosmic Star, one of the new-age magazines of the time. He was among their most popular writers. By claiming that Paul Twitchell was one of their ministers, this spiritualist church apparently thought they could gain more prominence.

Gail wrote to the man one more time to inform him that, regardless of what the former Eckankar office manager had said, Paul Twitchell was never a minister of their church. She asked them to stop using his name to promote their church's interests. No more correspondence followed, so it appears the man got the message.

Predictions Attributed to Paul

Paul's name was eventually misused by the New Cosmic Star too. Many of the earlier predictions laid to his credit were randomly concocted by the magazine's editors and published under his name. Paul's name sold copy. A spiritual quality came through in his writings, and the readers could tell this man had something.

Paul wrote a letter of protest to the magazine. "I never made those predictions that appeared under my name," he stated. "Please stop doing this." These predictions were printed only once, but they were picked up later by someone else and passed along as Paul's. Naturally the predictions didn't come true, and that, of course, was considered a reflection of Paul's ability.

Another prediction wrongly attributed to Paul was made in response to a soldier who expressed concern about the war in Vietnam. One of the secretaries handling Paul's mail decided to answer the soldier under Paul's name. "Don't be concerned about this issue," the letter said. "Very soon the war will be over and South Vietnam will win." Of course, it turned out that North Vietnam won and the United States left. Many predictions of this nature that supposedly came from Paul were made by others, and to this day they are being passed along as his.

Free Will

In The ECK-Vidya, Ancient Science of Prophecy Paul points out that the future is changeable. Often, the Living ECK Master has a hand in the changes that occur. World events signify a karmic burn-off for the human race, but the pace of the burn-off can speed up or slow down, making it hard to pin down the timing for an event to occur.

Here we get to the issue of free will. Individuals have the freedom to do what they will, and the outcome of an event depends upon what they choose to do at any point in time.

People who make predictions are all in the same boat. The one who happens to hit the mark on a number of different issues may be touted as the new prophet of the age for a while, but it won't last. In the lower worlds the psychic waves are very strong, constantly pulling people—and thus the destiny of nations—this way and that way. The element of choice makes prophecy a very uncertain profession.

Prophecies can complicate matters, too. For instance, if you make a prediction about an earthquake, millions of people might evacuate the area. What then? Where will they all go? And why have you interfered with the karmic pattern?

Paul's Spiritual Search

In researching Paul's life, I was looking for the trail that he followed as the seeker of God moving closer and closer to God Consciousness. Paul sincerely cared about the high states of consciousness. From his earliest years in writing and public relations, his sideline was research into spiritual issues. Everywhere he went and everything he did was guided by one compelling impulse: his curiosity about the nature of God and his relationship with the Divine Being.

In 1955 at the ashram of Swami Premananda in Washington, D.C., one of the disciples, whose name was Harry Hart, attacked Paul in the kitchen of the chapel. The fight took the two men out the back door, across the lawn, and through a screen door into the parsonage. Paul, being the smaller of the two, sustained a permanent injury to his right eye, a cracked rib, and a severely bruised face. Two of his friends took him to Florida for several weeks to recover.

Paul was married at the time to a woman named Camille. They came to a parting of ways because she wanted to stay with the swami, while Paul felt there was more to the spiritual life than the swami could offer. Paul had outgrown the church, but just like the rest of us, he was reluctant to give up the old for the new and unknown. Yet the ECK was pushing him on: It used the man named Harry Hart to drive Paul out of the swami's church.

Paul's only recourse was to write a letter to the swami, threatening legal action against the man who had attacked him. You fight with what you have.

Soon thereafter, Paul returned to Washington, D.C., and took a job at the YMCA. He was no longer welcome at the swami's church. Harry Hart was still there, and so was Paul's estranged wife. The ECK had firmly closed that door to him.

Some of Paul's correspondence reveals that the swami knew about his deteriorating relationship with Camille. In fact, Paul urged her to talk over their situation with the swami. And even after she asked him to begin divorce proceedings, Paul continued to stall, citing shortage of money as his excuse.

My point is this: Though we may like to think of Paul as a man who was able to circumvent the trials and hardships of life, he actually had to go through all the heartaches. He experienced whatever it took to soften him, to bring him ever closer to the state of God-Realization. In the meantime, he was growing in spiritual stature.

There was now a gap in Paul's life that needed to be filled with the energy of spiritual associations. He was ready to take the next step upward on the ladder.

Obeying Divine Spirit's Directives

The Mahanta, the Living ECK Master has to listen to and follow the words of the ECK with total, unquestioning obedience. When anyone who carries the Rod of ECK Power is given a directive from the Sugmad, he has to carry it out. Personal feelings have nothing to do with it.

Other leaders in history have been in similar situations in their relationship with the divine principle. The Bible gives several examples of how the leaders of men must do the divine bidding without question. One example appears in Exodus, with a second account of the same story given in Numbers. While both versions make the point, I suspect the peculiar paradox between the two has its own story.

After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness of Zin, the people, on the verge of dying of thirst, demanded that Moses get them some water to drink.

In Exodus, the Lord told Moses to strike a certain rock. After he struck it, water would come out of it and the people could drink. Moses did exactly as the Lord said, and everything was fine.

The same episode appears in Numbers, but with a different twist: When Moses appeals to the Lord to help, the Lord tells him to go to this rock and speak to it. Not strike it, but speak to it. So Moses goes to the rock, strikes it once, and nothing happens—because he was supposed to speak to it. He hits it again, and this time the Lord lets the water run so that the people can drink. But according to this account, because Moses did it wrong, the Lord said he would never be able to bring the children of Israel to the promised land.

Christ Consciousness and the Mahanta Consciousness

There is a saying in the Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad that behind all faces and all people is the Mahanta. Certain people have had the experience of seeing a divine being who helped them in times of trouble. At the time they thought it was Jesus. A Christian tends to clothe himself with feelings and thoughts of the Christ, and everything is seen in that context. Years later these particular individuals found that it wasn't Jesus at all; it was the ECK Master Gopal Das.

The Christ Consciousness is the Mahanta Consciousness geared to fit the individual's understanding. Each spiritual master is a manifestation of the ECK through which the Mahanta operates in order to reach the individual at his level of consciousness.

How Consciousness Grows

At the time of Lemuria, just as now, there was a Mahanta, the Living ECK Master who worked with the people at whatever level they could understand. But if a person from Lemuria were in the audience tonight, he would understand very little. The state of consciousness today is expanded so far beyond what it was then, he would have no mental concept to use as a point of comparison. Nothing would be familiar enough to act as an intermediate step to help him understand what he must do next on his way into the heart of God.

By the same token, the consciousness of the ECK initiates a few thousand years from now will be expanded to such a degree that their concepts would mean absolutely nothing to you at your present level of awareness. Yet the wave of ECK is such that Souls today who are ready for the path home to God can have spiritual liberation in this lifetime, here and now.

Paul Defines Eckankar

Paul referred to Eckankar in many ways. At various times he called it a path, a mood, or a way of life. At other times he pointed out what ECK is not or stated that nothing could be said to describe It. But when corporate papers are being filed, the state officials want information about the organization. "ECK is not like anything you've ever heard of before" is not considered an acceptable answer. So, in addition to Paul's mission to bring out the teachings of ECK and somehow establish them in the world, he was faced with the dilemma of how to define Eckankar for legal purposes.

In the early days Paul was totally against making Eckankar a nonprofit organization. If we can't take care of ourselves, he said, how can we serve anybody else?

Eventually the hard realities of the constricting tax codes, coupled with the possibility that he might translate before the next Living ECK Master was named, brought Paul to a difficult decision. If he didn't bend from his original opinions, if he didn't carry out the will of the ECK and do whatever it took to insure the survival of the teachings, they wouldn't survive. After considering all these factors, Paul realized he had to provide the legal stability that would permit the teachings to continue. And so Eckankar became a nonprofit organization, and a board of trustees was appointed to deal with the day-to-day management.

Paul was a prolific letter writer. His numerous letters to friends revealed his ever-changing opinions about Scientology, Swami Premananda's church, and the Kirpal Singh group. At various times he thought each group was either the best or all wrong. Contrary to our image of Paul as a man who always walked from here to there in a straight line, he often went back and forth. He needed the lessons of life to dip him in the bath of hardships, pull him out, slap him around, and throw him in again on the other side. Each time he fell, he would get up, fall down, and get up again.

The Force of Love in Paul's Life

When I learned that Paul had tried to become a member of the Catholic Church as late as 1961, several years after his experience in 1957 which was recorded in The Tiger's Fang, I tried to figure out why. Finally I discovered that it had to do with a woman. He was motivated by the force of love.

No matter who you are, you need love. If you can't love another person or even a pet, at least you can love yourself. Even the egoist has a place in this world. Love has to start somewhere; if it can't be the kind that goes out into the world, then even the introverted kind might be a start. I don't know how to say it better, but the force of love has to be somewhere in one's life, and love of a human nature is necessary before one can understand divine love.

Paul was in love with a Catholic woman, and the reason he tried to join the church was that he wanted to marry her. You might say he was just about as foolish when he was in love as anyone else is. When he loved, it was with his whole heart. But the relationship never went anywhere, and he was deeply hurt by it.

Paul knew that somewhere there was a woman who would help him with his mission. He looked for love, and when it came he loved sincerely. But for one reason or another his relationships often ended with heartache on both sides.

Desire for God-Realization

Paul once told a story about a boy who wanted to know more about the state of God-Realization. The boy wanted it so badly that he pestered his teacher all the time.

One day when he'd really gotten on his master's nerves, the man took him to a river, stuck the boy's head under the water, and held him there until the boy was fighting like a wildcat. Finally the teacher let him up.

The master said, "When your head was underwater, what was the one thing in the world that you wanted most of all?"

Sputtering and gasping for breath, the boy said, "Air!"

"When you want God-Realization that much," the master said, "you shall have it."

Working with Higher Consciousness

Many people don't quite understand what it means to work with the Mahanta Consciousness. They think merely opening up in their consciousness makes them a pure channel for the ECK at the highest level of the Mahanta Consciousness. If this were true, a Second Initiate of pure heart could become the Mahanta, and the outer initiations wouldn't count.

To fully have the Mahanta Consciousness means to reach a certain inner as well as outer initiation. In ECK there is always the balance between the inner and the outer. Until we have this balance, we have yet to become a Co-worker with God.

Paul once wrote about what it meant to work in the God Consciousness. The two forces always at work are power and love. Some people are enraptured with the power of ECK, others with the love of ECK. Paul made a fine distinction here which is important to know as you walk your own spiritual path to God. It has to do with the topic of no power.

In a God-created universe, he said, the secret of life is no power. When we come to the Kingdom of God, we find there is no power, only grace. It is by this grace that we survive in all universes, and no power of any kind can operate against us, in us, or through us. This puts us in a very humble position. As much as we may dislike it, we must acknowledge that we, of ourselves, do nothing.

May the blessings be.

World Wide of ECK,
Atlanta, Georgia, Friday, October 25, 1985

Part 2

Research on Paul's Life

Researching history—even the life of a past Living ECK Master—can be hard work. I do whatever is necessary to clarify a particular aspect of the spiritual principles, to make it more understandable for those of you who want a lifetime filled with experience.

One of Paul Twitchell's letters revealed that he experienced the cosmic consciousness at the age of eight, when a tall being with long hair and a robe came to him. The being said he would look after Paul's spiritual welfare until Paul reached maturity. This early contact with the Cosmic Light of ECK, or Spirit, made it very difficult for Paul to fit in with his classmates, and probably accounted for many of the problems he had in school.

The cosmic consciousness brings only the Light. The ECKshar consciousness, which is what we are looking for, brings both the Sound and Light of God. The Light shows us the pitfalls, and the Sound directs us home to God. We can do without the Light, but never without the Sound.

In about 1959, Paul left Washington, D.C., and moved to England. Six months later he found out that his sister Kay-Dee (Kate) was dying of an incurable illness. He immediately returned home to Paducah, Kentucky, and stayed with her for the final two months of her life.

Paul's Search for Love

Paul's sister gave him some advice that was to lead him in a new direction. She had a feeling that if he went to Iowa, he would meet a woman who would be good for him. "Until you find someone that you can love more than yourself," she told him, "you're never going to make much progress in your search for spirituality."

Being mainly interested in himself was definitely a problem with Paul, but at the same time he had a great love for God. Over the years the lessons of life pounded and shaped him until less of the ego was left, allowing more and more of the pure spiritual being to come to the foreground.

I can assure you that Paul's life was hard. Maybe he brought it on himself. With the higher consciousness stirring in him, he was the awakened one among the sleeping. He found it very difficult to interact day-to-day with other people.

In a letter to a friend, Paul wrote that he and his second wife Gail moved so often that they never really got to know the neighbors very well. He didn't seem to mind, and probably the feeling was mutual—he had quite a knack for riling people.

Many private insights about Paul are included in Paulji, A Memoir by Patti Simpson. It's a look into the life of a man who became a spiritual leader—what he had to contend with and the conditions he had to work under. It was a difficult but rewarding life for Paul, and it's a rewarding life for me. Even on a bad day, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. Paul, too, knew that his entire life's experiences had led him to this position, and when the time came to serve, he did so gladly.

World Wide of ECK, Atlanta, Georgia,
Saturday, October 26, 1985

Excerpted from Cloak of Consciousness, Mahanta Transcripts, Book 5, copyright © 1991 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.

ECK Master Paul Twitchell
Paul Twitchell

Personal Experiences with Paul Twitchell

The following real-life stories are by people who had extraordinary experiences with Paul Twitchell in the spiritual worlds before, and after, encountering Eckankar:

Eckankar, Religion of the Light and Sound of God
Last modified July 9, 2013   070408dc