Paul Twitchell, the Man, Part 1
By Sri Harold Klemp
Paul Twitchell was the unique individual who brought out the teachings of Eckankar in 1965. The more I study his life and writings, the more I respect him.
I regard Paul as the great compiler. Some people like to believe that every time he put pen to paper the words flowed out in impeccable English, every punctuation mark in place, as befits a great message from the Godman of the twentieth century. It didn't happen quite like that.
Paul Twitchell was a spiritual traveler, and he did have spiritual power. He was seen on the inner planes by people years before he finally began his mission in 1965, while he was still training to become the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master.
One gentleman met Paul in the dream state fourteen years before meeting him in the physical. In the dream state, a man came up to the dreamer and said, "Are you ready?" The dreamer was puzzled. He feared this was the angel of death, and he knew he wasn't ready for that kind of invitation. "No thanks," he said. Then one day fourteen years later as he was leaving a bookstore, Paul Twitchell walked up to him in the physical body, took him by the arm, and asked him the very same question: "Are you ready?" The veil from the past snapped up like a window shade, and he recognized Paul as the man from his dream.
The spiritual power was working in Paul Twitchell even then. Instances of this kind have been related about all of the ECK Masters. Even while they go through the many years of training required before they take the Rod of ECK Power, they are already High Initiates in the secret teachings of ECK.
A Difficult Mission
Soul, through Its many incarnations in all the lower worlds, is a unique entity. We are each one of a kind. Each Living ECK Master comes to the position with a specific mission. In order to carry out his mission, the ECK Masters of the Order of the Vairagi help him develop specific talents and abilities unique to himself.
Paul was a man given a most difficult mission. As evidenced by the fact that a disturbed person attempted to kill him with poison in September 1970 and the resulting illness he experienced in the final year of his life, Paul had little to gain materially from this mission. Yet right to the end, he continued to gather together and put out the teachings of truth.
Paul planned very carefully. Whenever he started a book, he would write the book's title at the top of the page and then list the numbers one through twelve underneath it. These represented the twelve chapters of the book, and he would fill in the chapter titles as they came to him. At the time of his translation in 1971, he had several of these sheets started, including some that didn't have all the chapter headings filled in.
Eve of Translation
When Paul was to give a talk, he would write out an outline that started with only a title. He had a series of talks prepared for the seminar in Cincinnati, Ohio, the weekend he translated. You may wonder: Does a man like Paul know ahead of time the moment he is going to translate?
At the Fifth Initiation there is a point where some of the initiates know when they will leave. But in a higher sense, you come to the point where it doesn't matter. You are willing to let the ECK use you as a vehicle until there isn't anything more to give.
On the evening of Paul's translation, he joined a number of people in the hotel restaurant. He ordered a tuna-fish sandwich on white bread, but since he wasn't feeling well, he excused himself and took his sandwich up to his room. A little while later, according to the physician's report, Paul translated from a heart attack.
Some of the ECKists at the seminar knew that something had happened to Paul. They gathered in front of the elevator in the lobby and went into a contemplation. Soon the elevator door opened, and several people emerged carrying the stretcher with Paul's body. One of the ECKists watched the stretcher as it went past. He just could not believe that a human body could have gotten so worn out.
These remembrances of the ECKists who knew Paul represent the history of Eckankar. This is important for its survival in the future. One of the initiates who sat there observing him at the checkout counter on the eve of his translation recalls it this way: There stood the Godman, in rumpled blue clothing, carefully counting out his pennies and nickels and dimes.
Just before he left, the initiate said to him, "See you tomorrow, Paul." Paul looked at him in a very peculiar way. "Yes, you will," he said. Shortly after that, Paul left the physical body. But later during the seminar he appeared to this initiatebecause he said he would.
Not everyone will see the Spiritual Master after his translation, but one of the marks of a true Master is the power to reappear to those who were his close disciples.
Ultimate Service to God
Rarely does anyone serve so close to the total capacity of his human body as did Paul Twitchell. Even after he was poisoned in Spain, he carried on with his mission and his duties as the Mahanta. The ECK worked through the physical form which we knew as Paul Twitchell until it simply wouldn't run anymore. He continued to write the ECK discourses, and today the editors recognize by his writing the times he was too sick to write. But he did it anyway because there was a deadline.
This is the ultimate service to the Sugmad as a Co-worker with God. Paul served Spirit to the most extreme measure he was capable of. Without the full consciousness of the highly evolved spiritual beings, one's idea of serving God is more limited. We might think, Sure, I'll serve Godwhen I get off work at 5:00 p.m.
Service to God doesn't mean you have to work yourself into a state of exhaustion. Sometimes that happens, but usually life works in cycles. There are high periods of activity, and there are rest points in eternity. If we know this principle, we can work with it and use it to maintain our health.
You learn that you can drive yourself only so far; you can eat junk foods only so long. Some people's bodies are stronger than others, and they can do it longer. You have to know when you're strong and when you can do the things that tax your body. You also have to know when your physical energy is down and you need to be gentle and easy with yourself.
The same principle applies when presenting the message of ECK. You talk about ECK when there's someone who wants to listen. If no one wants to listen, don't tell them what they don't want to hear. You learn to go with the Spirit of life. This is a greater law than even the ECK-Vidya, whereby one can foresee the future in order to sidestep the troubles that would come.
When you rise in consciousness, you know that it doesn't matter where you serve the Sugmad. It doesn't matter if it's in the physical body or in one of the other bodies which are not seen by the physical eyes. Life in the inner words is as real as it is right here; the same things that you are doing here are probably what you will be doing there. The scope is going to be different since you will have a different state of consciousness: you'll experience more contentment and greater happiness, and yet there will still be something that drives you on to look for more of the truth.
What was behind Paul Twitchell? We know he planned, we know he had spiritual power. But what kind of training did he go through?
Paul was truly a character. An employer reviewing his résumé might have pegged him as a drifter because Paul had so many jobs that never lasted more than a year or two.
Paul had accumulated a wide range of experiences in public relations which he used creatively all his life. He was an assistant public-relations person at the United States Chamber of Commerce. He also worked for an association for the handicapped; he even wrote and produced two scripts for television on behalf of the handicapped, one including participation by well-known senators.
Writing was Paul's life and love. A Western story written by Paul appeared in Collier's, a magazine that was very popular in the 1950s; it was published under one of his several pen names. He had plenty of them. If he wrote along philosophical lines, he frequently signed his name as Paul Twitchell. But when he wrote Westerns or detective stories for the pulp market, he used pen names. Writers do this so their reputation in one market doesn't taint their credibility in another.
Paul's Seal of Approval
While working for a newspaper, Paul arranged with the staff artists to create stickers bearing either his personal seal of approval or his sour-grapes award. The one labeled "Recommended by Paul Twitchell" had a cartoon drawing of him wearing a sports cap. Underneath that was the OK signa hand with the thumb and forefinger formed into a circle.
Paul sent these seals of approval to many notable people: Eleanor Roosevelt (he included a nice little letter saying how much he liked a column she had written); Milton Caniff, the creator of the Steve Canyon comic strip (Paul complimented him on his upbeat story themes); and the manager of a Shakey's Pizza Parlor, in praise of the food and the atmosphere.
Paul was using these stickers to promote himself. As the reactions and questions came back to him from various recipients, he would incorporate them into newspaper articlesunder still another pen nameabout Paul Twitchell, that interesting fellow from Paducah, Kentucky.
Paul spent a large part of his life developing the ability to promote himself and his writings. At times Paul admitted that everything he did in his early years had turned out badly; he didn't have money or happiness. On the other hand, when he had on his public-relations hat, he gave the impression that everything was great. He once responded to a newspaper reporter's inquiry by saying although he had nothing against earning enough money to pay his own way, he would not work just for the sake of having luxuries.
Each day Paul read at least one book and twelve or more newspapers. At one point, an ad for a sausage company began to catch his attention. They had been using a series of slogans to promote their meats and sausages, and Paul invariably tried to improve upon the poetry. He not only sent them his seal of approval, he submitted his own suggestion for a slogan: "Our sausage is made with a curse; that's why our best is our wurst."
Paul was always experimenting with different promotional methods. One time a salesman in a men's clothing store agreed to conduct a little test for him. If a customer was having a problem selecting a tie, the salesman would randomly point to one and say, "This tie is recommended by Paul Twitchell." And Paul, ever the scientist of marketing studies, said the salesman reported that the tie often sold on this recommendation. The customers rarely even bothered to ask who Paul Twitchell was.
Paul also knew how to get under a person's skin. A customer of a credit-card company responded to a billing by writing a cute little verse. The company's publicity people decided to use it in an ad campaign. The reply was in the form of a poem from the general manager, which was supposed to show that the company had heart.
When Paul saw this poem, he fired off a long letter to the general manager. He called the poem the most infantile approach he'd ever seen in his twenty years of public-relations work. By the time he finished, you were left with the feeling that the general manager would have been totally devastated by Paul's letter.
About two weeks later, Paul had a change of heart. I don't know what prompted it, but this time he wrote a nice letter to the same general manager. He may have been a little harsh in his recent criticism of the man's poetry, he said, when it probably was just some adman's gimmick. But whatever the case, Paul wanted the general manager to know he used their credit card all the time because it served his every need as he traveled around the world. He then went on to suggest that the company might find a use for his personal seal of approval, and invited them to contact his agent. I don't know how this turned out, but I suspect Paul's letter ended up in the general manager's garbage can.
Part of Paul's training was to learn how to carry himself, his work, and his thoughts out into the world. But many people still like to think of Paul as an ascetic, a man who spent his early years in training with Rebazar Tarzs in the vastness of the Himalayan mountains. They believe he must have suddenly stepped from this ascetic life right into the twentieth century, probably surrounded by a shining light.
Paul came into this lifetime as an advanced Soul, but he had a difficult life. He was going through the fine-tuning needed to become the carrier of the message of Eckankar. He was training to be the spiritual leader who would bring word of the Light and Sound of ECK to the modern-day world.
Paul joined the navy in 1942, about the time World War II was heating up. As he usually did whenever he made a move, Paul wrote up a press release on himself and sent it to the editor of the newspaper in Paducah, Kentucky. He wanted to assure the folks back home that although he could have waited to be accepted into officers' training, the enemy made him so angry that he signed up as an enlisted man. But far from an assignment in the combat zone, Paul's first two years in the navy were spent at the public-relations office in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He was later assigned to ship duty, which brought him to Okinawa and the Philippines.
Discharged from the navy in 1945, by 1946 Paul had moved back to Washington, D.C., with his wife Camille, whom he had married in 1942. He took a position as correspondent for Our Navy, the old navy magazine which had been in existence since about 1892, and left a year later with a nice letter of commendation from the editor.
In Washington, D.C., Paul came in contact with Scientology. This was to haunt him later: some of the people in the movement were persistent and continued to pester him for a long time. Over the next several years, he also joined various Eastern groups. This was a wide-open period of searching in his life which culminated in the experience recorded in The Tiger's Fang. This experience in the God Worlds took place around 1957.
The Cliff-Hanger Period
By this time Paul's marriage was on the rocks. (He and Camille would later divorce in about 1961.) Paul then left Washington for England, saying he had grown tired of the whole artificial scene and especially the social consciousness which was prevalent at that time. Paul as the Cliff Hanger was now coming forth. He began to reassert himself as the rugged individual who had suffered a lot, simply because he wouldn't take life the way society dished it out.
When he had been in England for about six months, news came to Paul that his sister, Kay-Dee, was dying. He went back to Paducah, Kentucky, and remained there for the final two months of her life. Paul loved his sister very much, and her death left a great vacuum in his life.
He returned to Washington, D.C., long enough to sell off some things he had left in storage and then headed for San Francisco. At a stop in Des Moines, Iowa, he met a young lady named Edith who convinced him to come with her to Seattle, Washington, instead. And so Paul, a flesh-and-blood man, not a god who suddenly appeared from the mountain highlands, went to Seattle.
The ECK will draw us along in the way that is needed, many times through the power of Its love as It manifests through another human being. It will take us here and there, and if we are willing to go, It will always take us higher.
In Seattle, through his contacts in the newspaper business, Paul got a job with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One year was about all he could stand. But he had a way out. According to his correspondence, two of his books, including one written back in 1945 entitled To Walk Alone, sold to a major Hollywood studio.
All of a sudden his personal letters began to reflect life on easy street. He was now able to quit his job and travel. And travel he did. First he went down to Acapulco, back up through San Francisco, then on to Canada to visit a few Scientology friends who were staying at a ranch, followed by a swing across the southern part of the United States. After stops in Houston and Dallas, he went back to Washington, D.C., and even made a return trip to England.
Paul was the original rebel. He had money for a while, but after spending it or lending it, he didn't have it for long. But he was very confident in his abilityif he did it once, he could do it again.
The first indications of his future position as a spiritual leader came in 1961. A young lady, aware of his vast knowledge of Eastern religions, wrote him a letter expressing her desire to know more. Paul responded in November of that year by sending her his manuscript of The Tiger's Fang. He cautioned her not to read it too fast, but apparently this lady got quite caught up, either with his writings or Paul himself.
She began to make a nuisance of herself, often banging on his door while he was busy writing, entertaining guests, or in contemplation. Paul handled it by writing her a letter. He explained that her unexpected pounding on his door was very disruptive. When he was in a deep trance or in contemplation, he said it hurt his body to be forced back so abruptly. To soften the blow of his blunt request for privacy, he sent her a bottle of champagne.
Ever the diplomat, Paul was very kind to people who deserved it. But at times he also displayed a sharp tongue and a readiness to defend himself against those who attacked him.
Ancient Science of Soul Travel
By May of 1965, Paul was conducting Soul Travel workshops at the California Parapsychology Foundation in San Diego. In trying to find a way to express the movement of consciousnessSoul's movement from the human state to a spiritual state or one of the psychic states in betweenthe best word he could come up with at the time was bilocation.
He later discontinued use of the word: people were confusing it with the phenomenon of appearing in two different places at the same time, which, incidentally, Paul was also known to do. But this didn't reflect what he was teaching. His instruction was in the Ancient Science of Soul Travel, the movementor liberationof Soul to walk freely in the heavens while still in the human body. This was the gift he was giving to us.
As interest in these workshops grew by word of mouth, Paul was asked to put the teachings down in writing. This marked the beginning of the ECK discourses.
The ECK discourses were a reflection of what Paul was doing at any given time. If he was teaching Soul Travel, he expressed it in those terms. You can see the evolution in his writings from the very early days. As time went on, as people grew in understanding of what the Mahanta Consciousness meant, he was able to give out more of the truth.
The Future of ECK
On the advice of Paul's attorneys, in 1970 Eckankar was established as a nonprofit organization. This would provide financial stability, continuity of the ECK teachings, and insure the future of Eckankar.
We can dream and hope all we want that God gives truth to us simply because we ask, with no effort required on our part. This is a fallacy. The ECK exists here on earth as the teachings of Eckankar, but it doesn't just happen. To manifest and distribute these teachings takes a lot of planning and a lot of hard workby you and by me.
When the influence of the ECK comes into us, It says: You cannot live at peace with yourself unless you give out my blessings to the world. As this wisdom or knowledge comes to you, in some small way you have to serve the ECK, to carry forth Its message.
ECK is love. There isn't any truth unless we know that ECK is love. And if ECK is love, there is a way for us to put our forces together, individually and collectively, to bring forth the message of ECK to the people of the world who are ready to hear it.
World Wide of ECK,
Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 27, 1984
"Paul Twitchell, the Man, Part 1," excerpted from The Golden Heart, Mahanta Transcripts, Book 4, copyright © 1990 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.