THE SAGA OF HAROLD KLEMP
How To Dismantle Eckankar Gracefully
Here's the scenario: you are a devoted and longstanding member of a new religious movement. After slowly moving up the ranks, you secure a good position in the religion's publishing division. After 10 years in the group, you write a well-received book about your great experiences following the Spiritual Masters. Then, in a surprising turn of events, word comes that you have been appointed to be the leader of the group. You now find yourself the object of devotion among thousands of disciples. But there's a catch: after assuming the mastership you discover that the founder of your religion and his successor were corrupt; not only did the originator plagiarize and cover-up his past, but his successor misappropriated funds and led an immoral life-style. Now for the key question: if this was your situation, what would you do?
Unbelievable as it may seem in fiction, the above scenario actually did happen in real life to Sri Harold Klemp, the third "Living Eck Master".
I realize that devoted Eckankar members would argue that there have been over 970 Eck Masters prior to Gross and Klemp, but it should be remembered that Paul Twitchell invented the number in order to impress his following that his newly founded religion was really ancient. The bottom line is that there is no galaxy of Eck Masters who hang out in obscure corners of the planet earth waiting for spiritually advanced Eck chelas. Besides being one of the truly great plagiarists of the 20th century, Twitchell was also one of the century's great fibbers or yarn tellers. The only problem is that his numerous devotees don't know when to separate fact from fiction, genuine spiritual masters (like Kabir) from comic book Eck characters (like Fubbi Quantz), and authentic teachings (like listening to the inner sound current) from adolescent imagination (like "Temples of Golden Wisdom").
In a bold move (but not a politically wise one), Klemp excommunicated Darwin Gross from the Eck fold, even rescinding his lower level initiations. Klemp also tried to clarify Eckankar's dubious past by revising much of its "official" history. In a series of articles in The Mystic World and his public talks, Klemp admitted that Eckankar's founder, Paul Twitchell, was a follower of Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh and L. Ron Hubbard. Prior to Klemp's announcements, the official word through Eckankar was that Twitchell was not involved with these teachers. In an article for the Mystic World entitled Stop The World I Want To Get Off. . .Or When Will You Leave ECK? Harold Klemp wrote the following about his mentor, Paul Twitchell:
"Here comes Paul Twitchell, a social rebel and spiritual giant in a single package. His personal life and habits were a jolt to people who thought a man of God should be of another order. . " .Klemp's allegation that Twitchell was an "outsider" to Scientology is patently incorrect. Twitchell was a member of Scientology and deeply admired L. Ron Hubbard for years until he later broke off his connection.
"Although he claimed to have acted as Ron Hubbard's press officer for several years in the District of Columbia, he wanted no "gas" from these professional people. Paul's tie-in with Scientology during his training as Godman is another bitter mouthful to chew for some people."Klemp even went so far as to admit that Twitchell's writings appeared similar to Julian P. Johnson's, the author of the now famous The Path Of The Masters, and other religious writers. Yet, Klemp did not go far enough. Instead of honestly telling the truth to the Eckankar membership that Twitchell was a notorious plagiarist and a first rate liar, he recoiled and sought to give a ludicrous explanation about how there is an akashic library in the astral plane where writers, like Johnson and Twitchell, go to copy their books. In other words, Twitchell didn't plagiarize The Path Of The Masters in its copyrighted form, he simply copied it word for word from the original, "astral" version of the text. Klemp implies also that Johnson copied his writings from the same text too.
With such a convoluted use of logic, it should then follow that anybody could copy from Eckankar copyrighted materials and not get in trouble for doing so. But such has never been the case. Even Darwin Gross, the former leader of Eckankar, was not exempt from allegations of copyright infringement when he used the terms "Eck" and "Ek" to describe his ministry. Simply put, Klemp has invented a story to cover-up Twitchell's plagiarism so that Eckankar can still get away with publishing "stolen" materials. If Twitchell's plagiarism was ever examined in a court of law, Eckankar would have to forfeit thousands of dollars and every book its founder wrote. There is not one Eckankar book by Paul Twitchell which does not contain lifted material from other authors.
Harold Klemp also suffers under the delusion that even though Eckankar is fraudulently based (from start to finish) that he can somehow keep the "integrity" of the movement intact. How can this be possible when Twitchell's own wife (and, I would suggest, co-founder), Gail, has privately admitted that Eckankar is a "fraud"? How can this be viable when the history of Eckankar's
origins is a fanciful, literary (and, at times, borrowed) fiction? The forthcoming answers are a sad indication of the state of some modern religions: money, blind faith, power, and ignorance. For if Harold Klemp was truly honest and sincere, he could only do one thing to Eckankar: dismantle it gracefully, but quickly .
However, misguided Eckists need not fear, for Klemp has directed Eckankar into a new direction, one which has paranoia as a cornerstone. I don't think it is coincidental that the number of Eckists who have had "bad" astral experiences has increased steadily since Harold Klemp published his article, Methods of the Black Magician, in the Winter 1983 issue of The Mystic World. In 1987 alone I have talked with more than ten Eckists who have reported terrifying experiences of "losing" one's mind and mental balance; some even claim to be haunted by internal beings and powers taking away the inner recesses of their personality. A close look at the following passages from Klemp's article shows clearly where these Eckists are getting their fears:
"The black magician depends upon simple, inexperienced people to provoke worship of the personality, for in ignorance is his power. Signs of one in whom the Kal power is stronger than the ECK are several, including: 1) Show him money and he wonders how to get it from you, 2) make peace in your household and he will try to break it up and 3) if you say, "This is Truth," he tries to prove it is not so.The danger of Klemp's warning against "black magicians" (some former Eckists feel it is a thinly disguised criticism of Darwin Gross) is that it allows for impressionable Eckists to start having the very experiences he warns against. Indeed, several of the Eckists I interviewed did not have troubles in their meditation until Klemp's warnings of the "black magician [who] creeps into his prey's life step by step. Every emotional trick is used to bind the two ever more closely together." Such mind games can only run havoc on immature and impregnable personalities. In this way, Harold Klemp has done a great harm to his following. Eckankar has been the source of tremendous mental imbalance for a growing number of devotees because its doctrines are not systematic, psychologically sound, and spiritually authentic. Rather, they are the outcome of Twitchell's schizophrenic plagiarism (he copied widely varying and contradictory teachings), which are replete with unsound (and unproven) meditation techniques, sophomoric advice about "internal beings," and dangerous spiritual counseling. The net result is that Eckankar is anything but a beneficial and uplifting religion.
Harold Klemp would do a service to himself and the spiritual community at large if he would simply resign from his post and tell the unvarnished truth to Eckankar followers. If this was done, thousands of Eckists may then have the opportunity to search again for an authentic path, instead of being misled by a religious corporation riddled with inept leadership and corrupt politics.