UNDERSTANDING CULTS AND SPIRITUAL MOVEMENTS
Vol. 2, No. 2 and 3, 1987
Editor: David C. Lane
Published by Del Mar Press

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WHEN GOD GETS DETHRONED

by David Christopher Lane

The Downfall of Darwin Gross

     When Darwin Gross appointed Harold Klemp as the "Living Eck Master" in 1981 he had no idea that two years later his successor would excommunicate him from Eckankar, ban his books from sale, and instigate a lawsuit against him for business impropriety and copyright infringement. But that is exactly what happened. In a "Personal and Confidential" letter dated January 4, 1984, Harold Klemp informed Darwin Gross of his removal from Eckankar:

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Dear Darwin:

     The Order of the Vairagi ECK Masters no longer recognizes you as an ECK Master. As the agent of the ECK, I have removed all of your initiations in ECK as well as terminated your membership in ECKANKAR. You are not capable or authorized to act or speak for or about the Vairagi ECK Masters, ECKANKAR or the ECK teachings, nor are you to hold yourself out as an ECK Master or ECK member. Do not directly or indirectly associate yourself or your activities with the sacred teachings of ECK or ECKANKAR in any way.

     I have refrained from coming forth with this pronouncement sooner for the sake of those new to the path and still setting their spiritual foundation. Dap Ren [spiritual name for Darwin Gross] served the ECK well at one time but the negative forces were allowed in through lack of vigilance and discipline, causing spiritual decay. No one has done this to you--you have brought this upon yourself. Will the meaning of this discipline come clear or will you remain like an actor lost in his role?

     You have been given many opportunities to avoid this, but you have continued your unseeing actions, forsaking the good of the whole for the whimperings of the little self. Your misuse of a sacred trust; your self-serving mismanagement of ECKANKAR; your acts against the MAHANTA, the Living ECK Master, and against other initiates; your false statements; all of this misconduct is the result of a fall from grace. No one, including an Eck Master, is exempt from the laws of Spirit.

     And so it stands. The Divine plan continues unfolding while the ages roll by and Souls make their way home to SUGMAD. IT will receive you through the MAHANTA, the living ECK Master, when you are ready.

Sincerely,

Sri Harold Klemp [The MAHANTA, The Living ECK Master]

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     Naturally, Darwin Gross did not accept Klemp's excommunication, since it was Gross himself who appointed Klemp as the Living Eck Master. In a letter, dated February 1984, and widely distributed amongst interested Eck chelas, Darwin Gross presented his own version of the breach between Klemp and himself.

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Dear One:

      Many individuals who are spiritually awake are concerned about the misguided information coming out of Menlo Park. The Vairagi Masters do recognize me as a Vairagi Master. My initiations cannot be removed by Harold or anyone else. Harold Klemp does not have that authority. He was given a spiritual responsibility, which he has lost. He no longer holds the Rod of Eck Power.

     It is my duty and responsibility as a Vairagi Master to inform you that there have been many severe charges and false accusations made against me by ECKANKAR, the Corporation, Harold Klemp and others, at the World Wide of Eck, 1983, and on the tape of the 1983 World Higher Initiates Meeting. I was removed from the World Wide program, for it would have upset their plans. The schism that has come out of ECKANKAR was started by the ECKANKAR board, for I did not start this rift in ECKANKAR.

     ECKANKAR has initiated legal action against me, dated August 20, 1983, and I was forced to go out and find a lawye in Portland. This is not the way of honorable and ethical human beings. . .

     People have been listening to misguided Higher Initiates who have been told by Menlo Park to remove my pictures, destroy my writings, tapes and music, and this has not been authorized by me; it is under the control and guise of someone working in the psychic world. Neither Paul Twitchell nor I have planned any of This psychic negativism that has been coming out (of) Menlo Park. It smacks of control and fear. What has been happening is taking away the individual's freedom of choice. Those individuals who have been reporting psychic attacks and concern about magicians need to ask Divine Spirit or SUGMAD, where is the spiritual protection that Eckist has? Have they been receiving spiritual protection from Harold Klemp? It does not appear so. . .

These excerpts (sic) from letters come from Eckists around the world:

     Very quietly, this was what was spoken from the Eck. "Harold has been removed." I asked by whom? "Yaubl Sacabi." Who is the replacement, I asked? "Darwin Gross." [January 12, 1984]

With love and blessing in Spirit,

Sri Darwin Gross

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What Went Wrong?

     Darwin Gross' troubles didn't first begin in 1983; they started twelve years earlier when he was appointed by Gail (Atkinson) Twitchell to succeed her late husband, Paul Twitchell, as head of Eckankar in 1971; because, regardless of Eckankar's myths to the contrary, there is no historical basis for the "Vairagi Order of Masters." The concept is a literary fiction invented by Paul . Twitchell to invoke a double sense of mystery and antiquity. Succession in Eckankar is not made on some inner, subtle plane by a congregation of highly evolved mystics with comical sounding names like Fubbi Quantz, Rebazar Tarzs, and Yaubl Sacabi, but is rather the outcome of a very human process, replete with all of the trappings that such human enterprises entail. Simply put, Paul Twitchell as an ascended master did not appoint Darwin Gross; Twitchell's wife Gail did, who (interpret as you want) married the "new" master, Darwin, shortly thereafter. Likewise, Harold Klemp was not ordained by the Vairagi Order on some illustrious night in October, he was chosen by Darwin Gross, who for a variety of reasons (including the fact that he had bad back problems and that he could "control" Klemp), did not want to continue as the "Living Eck Master."

     Thus, Darwin's first problem was that he was not an enlightened being in an authentic religious tradition. Instead, he was a two-year chela in Eckankar who "made good" by being in the right place at the right time. Gross never lived up to the expectations that sincere followers of Eckankar had for him. Given his real status (as that of an ordinary student in an extraordinary, titled position), Darwin attempted to "pose" as a fully realized master. But he could never succeed in his charade because he lacked the necessary intellectual and managerial skills to pull it off. In other words, Darwin Gross got "caught" in his own web of deception. Ironically, it was Gross' hand-picked successor, Harold Klemp, who prompted his final undoing.

     According to court documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon by Eckankar's attorneys ESLER & SCHNEIDER, Darwin Gross breached his contract as President of Eckankar (and his lifetime employment agreement which gave him $65,000 a year for the rest of his life) by the following "material" respects:

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[CLAIMS MADE BY ECKANKAR AGAINST DARWIN GROSS]


A. Diverting corporate opportunities to his own private benefit and profit;

B. Using corporate assets for his own private benefit without any legitimate or reasonable benefit to defendant [Eckankar] or its corporate purposes;

C. Regularly and habitually failing to perform his duties as an officer of defendant [Eckankar];

D. Failing to live up to the high moral image expected of an officer and Trustee of a religious corporation;

E. Failing to support and assist the Living ECK Master [Harold Klemp] in spreading the message of ECKANKAR;

F. Failing to show reasonable respect and courtesy to the Living ECK Master [Harold Klemp].

G. Converting and attempting to convert property of ECKANKAR to plaintiff's [Darwin Gross'] advantage;

H. Transferring and attempting to transfer property of and rights outside the direct control ofdefendant in contravention of the direct instructions of the Living ECK Master and defendant's Board of Trustees;

I. Teaching and spreading doctrines which, in the opinion of the Living ECK Master, are not consistent with the teachings of ECKANKAR;

J. Failing to retire when requested to do so; and

K. Failing to retire from public activities upon his termination as defendant's president and when requested to do so by the Living ECK Master.
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     Yet, Gross' followers do not see any impropriety in their teacher's actions. Rather, they see him in a dual function where his spiritual power is not stripped or questioned by his human wants and desires. Most of Darwin's work, these chelas contend, is done on the inner planes in his "other," higher spiritual bodies. What Darwin presents on the outer is not what he is on the inner. Perhaps Bob Brant summarizes this position best in his brief article, "Travels With Darwin," which was published in the first issue of Focus, Darwin's bi-monthly newsletter published by Sounds of Soul.

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Travels With Darwin [Excerpts by Bob Brant]
     A spiritual giant can look very much like you or me, walk the earth in normal clothes and be hard to pick out of a crowd, except for his eyes and a presence that you feel. Why can I say this? Because I've had the opportunity to travel around the world with a spiritual giant, Sri Darwin Gross, a Vairagi Adept Master....

     It is a real honor and privilege to be closely associated with a Vairagi Adept Master in the physical. All your preconceived notions and images about Masters are shattered daily as Darwin demonstrates the true meaning of his three "L's"--Love, Life and Laughter; [He] truly lives the principles, and teaches us by his own example. My own personal preconditioning was shattered several years ago when I first sat down to a meal with him, and thought, "My God, he's eating." I didn't know Masters did such things. The image was completely demolished as I watched him consume a chocolate crepe.

     But in the physical body he puts his pants on like the rest of us and never holds himself above anyone. He recently commented to someone, to set the record straight regarding rumors they had heard regarding Darwin being into drugs, alcohol, and sex: "I have taken prescription drugs that are prescribed by the doctor, due to various operations I've had. Alcohol? I've had a sip of schnaps now and then. Sex? Yes, I love it. Sex has nothing to do with one's spiritual unfoldment. It is a form of communication between lovers and for reproduction."

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     How can Gross' exodus be properly explained without usurping the very foundation of Eckankar's belief system? How can a Living Eck Master, who allegedly has access to the very highest plane of Consciousness, get thrown out of Eckankar and not even be considered an initiate? Or, more bluntly, how can "God" be dethroned?

     The forthcoming answers for Klemp and the higher initiates of Eckankar are not easy ones. For at the very least Darwin's removal indicates that Klemp himself can "fall" from grace at any moment. The "Rod of Power" is not infallible. Hence, for the average Eck initiate the prospects are a bit gloomy: if the Highest Master of God Consciousness can blow it and become a person non grata, then what does that say about his/her chances? Darwin's excommunication points to a fatal flaw in Eckankar's philosophy: spiritual realization is not moral salvation. Indeed, given Darwin Gross' behavior it appears obvious that attaining "Eck Mastership" does not in any way prevent one from still being immoral and self-serving.



DARWIN GROSS' LIFETIME CONTRACT
by David Christopher Lane

     One of the major disputes between Eckankar and Darwin Gross was over the latter's lifetime contract. Before Darwin Gross resigned as "Living Eck Master" in 1981 he signed an agreement with Eckankar which would pay him $65,000 for the rest of his life, plus other perks such as use of a company automobile (and insurance), complete medical and dental coverage, entertainment expenses, and other assorted business expenses. Unquestionably, the contract is a lucrative one which is both beneficial to Gross before and after retirement. In August of 1983, however, Gross' contract with Eckankar was terminated. Today, Darwin Gross has no official connection with the movement he once led for ten years. Below are pertinent excerpts from the October 1981 Employment agreement.

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Employment Agreement

     Agreement made this 1st day of October 1981 between ECKANKAR, a non-profit corporation. . . (hereinafter referred to as "the employer") and DARWIN GROSS (hereinafter referred to as "the employee").

1. TERM OF EMPLOYMENT. The employer hereby employs the employee and the employee hereby accepts employment with the employer for a period beginning July 1, 1981 and terminating on the resignation of employee. . .

2. DUTIES OF EMPLOYEE. The employee shall serve as President of the employer. He shall do and perform all services, acts or things necessary or advisable to manage and conduct the business of the employer, subject always to the policies set by the Board of Directors and act as chief executive officer.

3. COMPENSATION OF EMPLOYEE. 3.01 Salary: As compensation for services hereunder, the employee shall receive salary at the rate of 65,000.00 per annum, payable in semimonthly installments, or in such other installments as may be generally applicable to employer's business during the employment. 3.02 Deferred Compensation: If the employee remains in the employ of the employer until age 65, or on his earlier retirement at the option of the employee, the employee shall be entitled to receive from the employer the sum of $65,000.00 a month (sic) pay able on the first day of each month commencing with the first full month after he attains such age or reaches earlier retirement and continuing for the remainder of his life. 3.03 Salary continuance during disability: If the employee becomes disabled during the employment term because of sickness or mental disability or for any other reason so that he is unable to perform his duties hereunder, the employer agrees to continue the employee's salary during such disability for the life of the employee.

4. EMPLOYEE BENEFITS. 4.01 Use of automobile. . . coverage (including the employee in the minimum amounts of $2,000,000.00 for bodily injury or death to one person in one accident and $50,000.00 for property damage in one accident. 4.02 Medical and dental coverage.

5. BUSINESS EXPENSE. Entertainment expenses: The services required by the employer will require the employee to incur entertainment expenses on behalf of the employer and the employer hereby agrees to make available to the employee for this purpose the su me of $2,400.00 per annum payable in such amounts and at such times as the employee shall request.

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End Quote. From "Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements," Vol 2, 1987


THE SAGA OF HAROLD KLEMP
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