Paul Twitchell: Difference between revisions

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Some critics including the former (High Initiate of Eckankar) [[Ford Johnson]] who is referenced, have started spiritual organizations of their own, such as The Higher Consciousness Society as outlined in Johnson's Wikipedia article. The neutrality of their criticism of Twitchell has been called into question by some members of Eckankar. The debates about Twitchell continue to be of interest to those who study such work. In Ford Johnson's book ''Confessions of a God Seaker'', he details his journey as a ''High Initiate'' within Eckankar and his eventual disillusionment which caused him to leave.
 
Some critics including the former (High Initiate of Eckankar) [[Ford Johnson]] who is referenced, have started spiritual organizations of their own, such as The Higher Consciousness Society as outlined in Johnson's Wikipedia article. The neutrality of their criticism of Twitchell has been called into question by some members of Eckankar. The debates about Twitchell continue to be of interest to those who study such work. In Ford Johnson's book ''Confessions of a God Seaker'', he details his journey as a ''High Initiate'' within Eckankar and his eventual disillusionment which caused him to leave.
   
Unfortunately, most of Johnson's research was based upon the writings of David C. Lane, and most of his accusations have now been shown to be flawed. See, The Whole Truth.
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Unfortunately, most of Johnson's research was based upon the writings of David C. Lane, and most of his accusations have now been shown to be flawed. See, The Whole Truth. <-- Says who? What make Marman the final authority on this?
   
 
==UPDATE==
 
==UPDATE==

Revision as of 10:52, 28 May 2008

Paul Twitchell (d. 1971) was an American spiritual author best known as the originator of the teachings he called Eckankar. Through books and lectures Twitchell claimed the title of Mahanta (the Living ECK Master) from 1965 until his death in 1971. Twitchell is also referred to by his spiritual name Peddar Zaskq by members of the Eckankar teaching. Some critics, such as David C. Lane, have charged that Twitchell plagiarized in his work. They have compiled documentation of Twitchell's plagiarism of other authors to create the Eckankar teachings. These claims have largely been discounted by new research by Doug Marman. This research can be found in Marman's book The Whole Truth

Biography

Birth and early life

Much of the detail of Twitchell's early life is not well known. Refer to the above link to The Whole Truth for the most comprehensive study on the man to date. His birth date has been in dispute, since no birth certificate was ever filed when he was born, but much of this confusion has been cleared up by the Marman research. The whole issue over Paul's birth date is just one example of many that were amplified into controversies by critics who wanted to make it look as if Paul had lied about his age and birth date. However, it all turned out to be baseless conjectures and humorous misunderstandings. The fascinating part of this story is that two Twitchell family bibles recorded Paul's birth date, but both showed different birth dates and years from each other, and both were wrong. Paul's father later filed a belated birth certificate for Paul, when Paul joined the Navy, but it also was wrong. For Paul, his wife, and those close to him, this was a running joke, since Paul wouldn't give out his age or birth date to anyone, and he did nothing to correct the errors. All he would say was that age doesn't matter since we are Soul. That this subject would be turned into a controversy, as if it showed how Paul lied, when in fact he never spoke about his age since his youth, only shows how far critics will go to discredit those they do not agree with. No doubt, to Paul, it was all great fun and a great joke, showing how foolish it is to get get caught up in matters that are so unimportant.

Twitchell attended Murray State College and Western Kentucky University in the 1930s.[1] He married for the first time in 1942.[2] During the 1960s he lived in California, with his second wife, Gail Atkinson. He had always been an avid reader, reading thousands of books per year, which is how he met Gail, who was working as a librarian at the time.

He also became a student of spirituality, studying almost every religion and spiritual teaching he could find. Critics who were students of Sant Mat have claimed that Paul took his teaching from Kirpal Singh, one of his teachers, and that Paul later tried to hide his past by covering up his time with Singh. However, this, like so many other controversies, were simply conjectures based upon misunderstandings. Paul did study with Singh for a couple years, and kept a friendly relationship for more than ten years, as both Twitchell and Singh exchanged letters between the US and India over this time. Twitchell did not start Eckankar after his work was rejected by Singh, as they have claimed, since records show the two both kept writing and supporting each other in their letters until more than a year after Paul started writing about Eckankar. There are, however, many similarities between Paul's teaching and Sant Mat, as Paul himself pointed out, but there are just as many significant differences that distinguish the teachings as well.

Role in Eckankar

Paul Twitchell is the modern day founder of Eckankar. He stated in books and lectures that he was "re-awakening" an ancient truth and was trying to teach people a way to re-connect to their divine source. In his authorized biography IN MY SOUL I AM FREE, Twitchell stated that it was actually Gail's idea that Twitchell "do something" with his spiritual education and as a result of this he formed a new religion, Eckankar.[3] However, many of the foundational books that Twitchell used to explain the path of Eckankar were written long before he had even met Gail in 1962. For example, Dialogues With The Master was written in 1956, The Tiger's Fang was written in 1957, and The Flute of God was written in 1959. See Marman's book, The Whole Truth for more information.

Death

Twitchell died of a heart attack in September of 1971. His death, like his life, was not free of controversy. However, like all the other controversies surrounding his life, the issues all were created years later by those who became his critics. For example, a prominent member, Dr Louis Bluth, who arrived just after Paul's passing and who wrote his death certificate, said at the time that he saw Paul Twitchell "Ascending to heaven in the company of Angels". After Bluth was not selected as Paul's successor as he hoped, and Darwin Gross became the Living Eck Master instead, Bluth left Eckankar. Years later, when he was interviewed by a Christian group attacking Eckankar, he reversed his original claim, saying he had seen Paul being carted away to hell by demons.

After Paul Twitchell's death in 1971, a new Master, Darwin Gross, was acknowledged by Paul's widow. (See; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_Gross). After ten years as the spiritual leader of Eckankar, Gross appointed Harold Klemp as the Living Eck Master.

As a writer

Twitchell had a notable career as a journalist and writer in his youth. He won a number of awards and was the subject of numerous newspaper articles, due to his rise as a freelance journalist. Some of his early works are noted in the Paducah Library. He had several works published early in his life and many more published later by Eckankar.[4] Later, he wrote some 26 manuscripts relating to Eckankar, most of which were published through the teachings publishing house, Illuminated Way Press. Twitchell told biographer, Brad Steiger, that he expected The Tiger's Fang to be controversial, having announced that it "would shake the foundation of the teachings of orthodox religions, philosophies, and metaphysical concepts." Twitchell even claimed to have been informed that the Pope saw the book and "was greatly disturbed by it, perhaps to the point of condemning it."[5]

The greatest criticism of Twitchell as a writer is that he plagiarized some of his work. This had been hotly disputed for many years. Of note on the newsgroup alt.religion.eckankar Rich Smith asked for an open forum where all plagiarized examples could be compiled to see exactly what could be considered re-used writing from other people, and what was Paul Twitchell's original work. The net result of a survey held over six months was that less than one percent of Paul's writings could be shown to be plagiarized from other sources. In The Whole Truth, Marman also showed that during Paul's day, journalism did not have rules against plagiarism as it does today, and in fact openly encouraged plagiarism in its main teaching texts. He also showed that Paul had openly discussed his approach to spiritual writing and his talks, and that the whole field of spirituality is rife with exaggerated claims of plagiarism as a means of attacking spiritual teachers.

David C. Lane is a critic of Eckankar who believes that Twitchell plagiarized much of his work from the writings of Julian Johnson, Kirpal Singh, and others. However, according to a pro-Eckankar online publication by Doug Marman's Dialogue in the Age of Criticism, Twitchell was praised for his work--even prior to starting Eckankar, and he had supporters of his work as a writer. Marman presents information that challenges the critiques of David C. Lane and Ford Johnson by presenting examples of historical references related to Twitchell's career and personal information. [6] Lane's thesis and his debates with Eckists and Eckankar officials are available online as well as Doug Marman's critques of David C. Lane's findings. Marman's research was updated in his book The Whole Truth - The Spiritual Legacy of Paul Twitchell.

Additional comments

Some critics of Twitchell claim that Twitchell has never really been criticized for simply "starting" the Eckankar religion. The controversy about Twitchell, they say, has always been mainly about "how" he started Eckankar, using plagiarized passages from other author's books, covering up his past, threatening those who leave Eckankar with doom, as well as other reasons.

Some critics including the former (High Initiate of Eckankar) Ford Johnson who is referenced, have started spiritual organizations of their own, such as The Higher Consciousness Society as outlined in Johnson's Wikipedia article. The neutrality of their criticism of Twitchell has been called into question by some members of Eckankar. The debates about Twitchell continue to be of interest to those who study such work. In Ford Johnson's book Confessions of a God Seaker, he details his journey as a High Initiate within Eckankar and his eventual disillusionment which caused him to leave.

Unfortunately, most of Johnson's research was based upon the writings of David C. Lane, and most of his accusations have now been shown to be flawed. See, The Whole Truth. <-- Says who? What make Marman the final authority on this?

UPDATE

Doug Marman has released what must be considered the most authoritative current source of information regarding Paul Twitchell. His book The Whole Truth - The Spiritual Legacy of Paul Twitchell has been applauded by both Twitchell's widow (Gail) and his biographer (Brad Steiger) as the most comprehensive and well researched book about the man and his mission.

Books

  • Twitchell, Paul (1967) The Tiger's Fang, Illuminated Way Press, ISBN 0-914766-17-1
  • Twitchell, Paul (1988) Dialogues with the Master, Illuminated Way Publishing, Inc.; ISBN 0-914766-78-3
  • Twitchell, Paul (1969) Eckankar: The Key to Secret Worlds, Forward by Brad Steiger. Illuminated Way Press, ISBN 1-57043-154-X
  • Twitchell, Paul (1978) Letters to Gail, Volume 1, Eckankar, ISBN 1-122-54173-2
  • Twitchell, Paul (1977) Letters to Gail, volume II, Illuminated Way Publishing Inc., ISBN 0-914766-33-3
  • Twitchell, Paul (1971) Herbs: The Magic Healers, Eckankar, Library of Congress Catalog Number: 86-80814
  • Twitchell, Paul (1972) The Eck-Vidya Ancient Science of Prophecy, ISBN 1-57043-030-6
  • Twitchell, Paul (1999) Stranger by the River, Eckankar ISBN 1-57043-136-1
  • Twitchell, Paul (1988) Far Country, Illuminated Way Pub., ISBN 0-914766-91-0
  • Twitchell, Paul (1998) Sharyat Ki-Sugmad Book I, Eckankar, ISBN 1-57043-048-9
  • Twitchell, Paul (1998) The Spiritual Notebook, Eckankar, 1998, ISBN 1-57043-037-3
  • Twitchell, Paul (1999) The Flute of God, Eckankar; ISBN 1-57043-032-2
  • Twitchell, Paul (1999) Sharyat Ki-Sugmad Book II, Eckankar, ISBN 1-57043-049-7
  • Twitchell, Paul (1999) Talons of Time, Authorized Eckankar ed edition Twitchell, Klemp and Klemp, ISBN 1-57043-147-7

References

  1. ^ Johnson, 98.
  2. ^ Johnson, 100.
  3. ^ Johnson, 94.
  4. ^ Doug Marman, 2005
  5. ^ Steiger, Brad. In My Soul I Am Free. Eckankar: 1968, p. 60, ISBN 0-914766-11-2.
  6. ^ http://www.littleknownpubs.com/Dialog_Ch._One.htm/Marman

External links

The Whole Truth, Doug Marman