THE SEARCH (1950-1963)
Paul Twitchell's Association with Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh, and L. Ron Hubbard
"I remember very well when Swami Premananda of India, who has a Yoga Church in Washington, D.C., said, "When someone asked Bertrand Russell what his philosophy of life was, he wrote several volumes of books on the subject." --Paul TwitchellOrion Magazine printed Twitchell's book, The Flute of God, in bimonthly installments. Note that Twitchell later changed the name Swami Premananda to Sudar Singh when he republished the book at Illuminated Way Press. Refer to Part Three of this book.
Paul Twitchell and his first wife joined the Self-Revelation church of Absolute Monism around 1950. Swami Premananda, the founder of the Church, was closely associated with Paramahansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship (known as Yogoda Satsanga Society in India). It was from Swami Premananda that Twitchell learned Kriya yoga, a psycho-physical discipline for mastering the pranic life-current. Concerning his study under the Yoga Satsang, Twitchell recounts:
"One of my experiences while serving under the Yoga Satsang line of masters, was that I found one of the masters on the guise of a beggar. I had been in difficulty for sometime, and very unhappy over the fact that nothing could be found to solve my problem. . . .
In 1950, Paul Twitchell and Camille moved to the Church compounds. During much of this time he edited the Church publication, The Mystic Cross. In 1955, Twitchell was requested to leave the Church by Swami Premananda for personal misconduct. In that same year, Paul and Camille were separated. They were finally divorced in early 1960.
"I have studied under many teacher [sic], and may yet have to study under more. Like Meher Baba, the Indian Saint, who was said to have had nineteen teacher [sic] to help him gain his place in the universe, I have so far had seven, some outstanding ones, including, Sri Kirpal Singh, of Delhi, India. Each has had their place in my growth toward the spiritual goal; each are equally great in their respective work for mankind. However, I have felt a closer kinship and friendliness to Kirpal Singh, who has shown me a lot of the other work during my first year or so under him. . ."After leaving the Self-Revelation Church in Washington, D.C., Twitchell came in contact with Kirpal Singh, the founder of Ruhani Satsang. It was Kirpal Singh who was to have the greatest influence of any teacher on Twitchell's spiritual life. In fact, years later Twitchell would create his own movement, Eckankar, based almost entirely on the teachings of Kirpal Singh and Ruhani Satsang.
Kirpal Singh was a disciple of the Radhasoami Satsang Beas master, Sawan Singh.
He was initiated in 1924 and served his guru steadfastly for over twenty-four
years. In 1948, after Sawan Singh died and bequeathed his spiritual ministry to
Jagat Singh, Kirpal Singh claimed that he was the true heir to his guru's
mission. Subsequently, he founded a new movement named Ruhani Satsang, which
was a center "for imparting purely spiritual teachings and training for mankind,
irrespective of class barriers, such as caste, colour, creed, sect, age,
education or advocation."
It was in the year 1955 that Kirpal Singh made his first tour of the United States. In that same year, Twitchell was initiated and became a follower of Kirpal Singh and his Satsang.
For over eight years, Twitchell kept in friendly contact with Kirpal Singh. In the latter part of the 1950's (1956/1957) Twitchell lived in Washington, D.C., and attended the satsangs (meetings) held by Tricholan Singh Khanna, who was Kirpal Singh's first representative in the United States. On such occasions, Twitchell would bring his spiritual writings and share them with the other
satsangis (as initiates of Kirpal Singh are called). Some of those same satsangis are still alive today.
It was around this time (1956/1957) that Twitchell told Betty Shifflet and Wave Sanderson (both initiates of Kirpal Singh) at a dinner date that Master Kirpal Singh had appeared in his Nuri Sarup (light body) over the weekend and dictated some of the book to him. In this regard, Kirpal Singh comments:
"Paul Twitchell used to write to me every week, 'Master came and sat down on the chair and dictated his teachings to me. He published them in the Tiger's Fang.'"Writes Twitchell:
"I have talked with and taken down the words of Kirpal Singh who appeared in my apartment in Nauri-raup [sic], his light body, although his physical body was six-thousand miles away in India."Although Paul Twitchell continued to follow Kirpal Singh and Ruhani Satsang until 1966, he joined another spiritual movement, Scientology, in the late 1950's.
"Ron Hubbard was trying to get people out of their body with his HCA courses, but frankly, he was failing badly. When I was a staff member, occasions came up that I was asked to help some member of the graduating class to get a reality on out-of-body experiences...Hubbard would never acknowledge this ability of mine, and after leaving him I did a lot of experimenting. . . ."Paul Twitchell joined Scientology--the religious outcome of Dianetics--in or around 1958. It appears that Twitchell was a staff member of the group and had attained the much sought after title a Clear.
[Paul Twitchell, op. cit.]
Although very little is known of Twitchell's association with L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, it is quite evident that the group's teachings left a profound effect on him. Three of Twitchell's later works, The Flute of God, Letters to Gail (Volume One and Two), and The Far Country contain Scientologist and Dianetic terminology. In a personal letter to Mr. Fish, dated February 6, 1961, Twitchell writes:
"Sometime ago I wrote and requested a couple of things I left with you. 1) "The Science of Survival" & The Yellow Booklets, "Technique 80."All three of the quoted books are Scientology publications. In a later letter, dated May 6, 1961, Twitchell writes:
"Want to make a couple of trips into western Canada before going South. Like to see a Scientologist living up in central British Columbia who I know very well. . . Want to see Rosina Mann again in England."
Both of the preceding letters were written by Twitchell to a Scientologist auditor who later joined Eckankar. The "Rosina Mann" mentioned in the above excerpt was considered one of the best "auditors" in England. In a letter, dated May 23, 1963, to Gail Atkinson, Twitchell devotes several pages to L. Ron Hubbard's teachings regarding "Tone Scales." Remarks Twitchell:
"This is a unique yardstick drawn up by Ron Hubbard a number of years ago, and is one of the best for determining where an individual stands on the existence scale of life."Although Paul Twitchell did not stay very long in Scientology, he did refer to many of L. Ron Hubbard's practices in his own writings on Eckankar.
Paul Twitchell also makes several references to a teacher named "Bernard," who ultimately settled in England. In light of Part Three of this book, it could well be that "Bernard" is a cover-name for Hubbard. Note that the same amount of letters are in each name; also, L. Ron Hubbard lived in England during the early 1960's. However, it may be that "Bernard" was one of the Self-Realization Fellowship monks whom Twitchell had close contact with. Refer to Part Three of this book.
After an assortment of jobs--which included working for the Seattle Post Intelligencer --Twitchell met Gail Atkinson, a young college student. Recalls Twitchell:
"We met in the Seattle Public Library in 1963. She had a part-time job there while she attended the University of Washington as a full-time student. . . I wouldn't marry Gail until she turned twenty-one. I wanted her to understand that our marriage would be for keeps. She persisted and I persisted. I went to San Francisco in late November of `64 and left her in Seattle. Then I couldn't stand it there without her so I drove back to her home near South Bend, Washington, and married her."Before Twitchell and Gail Atkinson were married in 1964, Kirpal Singh made his second tour of the United States in 1963. At that time, Twitchell brought his wife-to-be, Gail, to see the eastern adept. She attended the satsangs held both in San Francisco and Seattle. Finally, Paul presented Gail to the Ruhani Satsang master and she received initiation into the path of surat shabd yoga. The records of both Paul and Gail's initiation under Kirpal Singh are currently on file at Sawan-Kirpal Ashram in Old Delhi, India.
For a number of years I could not trace Twitchell's initiation records. For example, Thakar Singh, one-time spiritual head at Sawan Ashram, wrote to me in a personal letter (dated October 10, 1977): "It is regretted [sic] to inform you that the record regarding Mr. Paul Twitchell is not available over here. There has been a search so many times, I feel no hope of finding it now." The files at Sawan Ashram have been subject to a variety of mistreatment since the death of Kirpal Singh in 1974. In some cases, the records of initiates were destroyed; in others, misplaced. When I visited Sawan Ashram in the summer of 1978, I found the classification system to be in a total disarray. It is not surprising, therefore, that Twitchell's file could not be traced. However, after Thakar Singh's removal from Sawan Ashram (there is a continuing controversy over Thakar's systematic abuse--sexually and violently--of women), the records were recently discovered. For more on this see The Delhi Connection.
Although Twitchell had brought Gail Atkinson to see his spiritual mentor in 1963, he broke off formal ties with Kirpal Singh and his group shortly thereafter.
"Master Kirpal Singh spoke briefly of these masters when he took me through the several invisible worlds in 1957. The sotry [sic] of this trip has been recorded in my bookThe Tiger's Fang."In 1963, Paul Twitchell sent in manuscript form his book, The Tiger's Fang, to Kirpal Singh in Delhi, India. Kirpal Singh did not approve of the work because the inner experiences Twitchell described having were not complete or accurate.
Reno H. Sirrine in a personal letter to the author, dated February 22, 1977. Writes Sirrine: "Master Kirpal Singh told me that he did not return the manuscript, The Tiger's Fang, because many of the inner experiences he described were not complete or accurate."
About this episode, Kirpal Singh comments:
"I tell you one American was initiated by me--I've got the initiation report in
his own handwriting. Then he wrote to me, "The Master's Form appears to me
inside." That form used to speak to him, dictate to him, inside. And all that
dictation was put into a book and the manuscript was sent to me in 1963.
Later he sent me another letter, "Return my book, The Tiger's Fang." I returned
his book.That was dictated by me on the inner planes, and that's all right.
He changed that book before printing; where he mentioned my name, he changed it
to another guru's name. . . ."
The year 1963 was to prove to be a pivotal time for Paul Twitchell, for not only
did he break off friendly ties with Kirpal Singh, but he also began to prepare
the foundation for his own movement.