America Looks Inward: to Self-Realization, to Reincarnation, to Inner Guides – Program 3

By: Sri Darwin Gross, Tal Brooke; ©1988
How can you know if a mystical experience is real? Can they be real, but dangerous?

Evaluating Mystical Experiences


Tonight, John Ankerberg will interview a man who claims to be a Living Master, that is, one who supposedly has reached the highest level of spiritual attainment. John’s guest is Sri Darwin Gross, the former leader of the religious group called Eckankar. At one time, three million people supposedly received wisdom through him from spirit beings called The Ascended Masters. He says his body is a unique vehicle which God’s essence uses. The man who is currently the Living Eck Master once said about Sri Darwin Gross:

Excerpt from previous program

Dr. John Ankerberg: Okay, what does it mean to be a living Eck Master?
Harold Klemp: He is the individual who, during contemplation the Eckists… we look to our inner, and many times we will see Sri Darwin Gross on the inner. And this is responsible for a number of healings….
Ankerberg: What does it mean to see him? How do you see him?
Klemp: Just as real as you’re sitting here, John, and myself and Debbie and Mike. We see him and we speak with him….
Ankerberg: Do you remember going out of your body and guiding and speaking to Harold Klemp inside of his inner space?
Sri Darwin Gross: The majority of the time, negative. I do not. I’d have to become like Krishna – a vegetable, have somebody take care of the body and feed it if I were to observe what I’m doing in other bodies constantly. I’m like no one else here in this audience.
Ankerberg: But actually God invades your body and works through you. Do you know that He’s working through you?
Gross: Oh yes.

As a Living Master Darwin claims that he is in contact with and is guided by nine spirit beings, who call themselves the Ascended Masters.

Gross: When I was confronted by the nine silent ones and when Paul Twitchell confronted me with….
Ankerberg: The Ascended Masters?
Gross: The Masters, the Vairagi Masters. I could have said, “No,” but I chose to say “Yes.”

Ankerberg: You’ve got to counsel with them in the spirit world?

Gross: Yes. In Soul.

John’s second guest is Tal Brooke, once part of the inner circle of India’s most powerful miracle-working guru, Sai Baba. One day Tal realized he was being deceived by Sai Baba and the evil spirit beings behind him. In desperation he cried out to Jesus Christ to rescue him, forgive him, and become his only savior and lord. In a tremendous demonstration of power – more overwhelming than anything he had ever experienced under Sai Baba – Jesus Christ immediately freed him. Tonight, are millions of Americans being deceived through mystical encounters with Living Masters? We invite you to join us for this week’s edition of John Ankerberg.

Program 3

Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you’ve joined us. We’re talking about the mystical experiences that people like Shirley MacLaine and other people that are on television, making movies today, are talking about. Are they for real? Is it all it’s cracked up to be? And my guest tonight, Sri Darwin Gross, is the 972nd Living Eck Master of the group called Eckankar. Eckankar is a spiritual organization that says that they have the oldest path to God that’s known to man.
Second, my guest is Mr. Tal Brooke, who was the assistant to Sai Baba, one of the strongest, most powerful gurus in India, that had hundreds of thousands of people that came into his presence to see the miraculous done. And he claimed to be the God-man. And he could give them that which they needed.
But I’d like to get down to, what happens, fellows, to the people that don’t start out with god-consciousness; do not start out with the mystical experiences, but they want it? What do they have to embrace? That “All is One”?
Brooke: I had an experience before going to India that was very similar to this, and this is not uncommon in studying Eastern occult paths that there is a consciousness expansion. It seems to be experience. Right now I’ll tell you that it’s like confusing fool’s gold with real gold or saccharin with real sugar. It is an experience. And there’s something we need to deal with about experience.
Now, what happened with me is that on a full course of LSD in the Virginia countryside I went through what seemed to be a tunnel of light and seemed to recall all my archetypal names and became like every character in a Shakespearian play. It was a very Lucas’ “Star Wars” type of experience in which I thought I became God. And I will tell you in retrospect it was more like the serpent in the Genesis garden. You know, we talked about an IQ of 500,000 doing a number on me. Let me tell you! But it was enough to propel me to India with a tremendous zeal. Because it was a very, it seemed, pleasurable experience. And let me also say that people who first inject heroin into their veins have a very pleasurable experience.
Now, by experience alone I was catapulted on a spiritual search in which I went all over India and met a number of self-proclaimed masters. My belief then as I read in the different books of the gurus, like Rama Krishna and Vivekananda and Kirpal Singh and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and then the Indian scriptures like the Upanishads, here’s what’s happening. It’s a figure-ground reversal of the Genesis 3 lie. Let me explain this one, and then we’re going to go on. In the Genesis 3 account, basically Satan promises godhood to man. That caused the fall. That’s the sin. In the Eastern way of thinking, the sin is to think you’re not God. Okay, do we have that one clearly? It’s the other way around.
Now, here’s what the Eastern path requires. It’s an attempt to break you out of your supposed amnesia that you’re just a human ego, just a man, and not God, so there are any number of yoga paths like Subud yoga, Kriya yoga, Kundalini yoga, etc., etc., etc. – there are a lot of them – that supposedly break the delusion of the person so that he can understand that he’s one with God again. My question is, is he not getting into a deeper delusion? Okay. I had a very powerful experience. But I’ve learned that if you make experience your sole key, you’re going to get deceived because the devil is known as the great deceiver, and the truth is this….
Ankerberg: Okay. But right in that area, Darwin raised a good question. Okay, you have Scriptures saying that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
Brooke: As an angel of light.
Ankerberg: And his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. [2 Cor. 11:14-15] In Timothy Paul tells us that in the later times that some will follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. [1 Tim. 4:1] Now, obviously that’s either true or it’s a lie. Let’s talk, if it’s true, are you saying then that what you experienced, what other people are experiencing was caused by the demonic that were taking advantage of your opening yourself up and were programming you to think in a specific way, which is basically the same pattern as going right across the boards with these mystical experiences?
Brooke: Yes. This is what happened to me. I reached a crisis point. I was under a guy who basically materialized different things, read minds, did all kinds of things, supposedly healed, and I had a crisis point. Here’s what I had to deal with. I had my own series of experiences that seemed to validate this way of thinking, which is now the basis of the New Age Movement. “You’re basically God; you’re in amnesia; you’d better find out your divinity.” I had spent a number of years in India and before that, and being validated by different masters – Sai Baba – as a very high adept, ready to be a master. And then something happened where I felt, “Uh-oh! There’s something that’s trying to possess me.”
Now, I found out something very demonic about this miracle-working guru, so here’s what I did. I went up on a hill in South India, I looked down at his prayer hall. He claims full deity. I sort of gave the God of the Bible one last chance. I said, “You know, if you’re real, now would be a good time to speak to me.” I did Russian roulette with the Bible and I flipped it open and I said, “You better talk to me now because I can’t explain – how do you explain someone who claims to be God and does miracles?” And Matthew 24:24 is what my eyes hit and it said, “And there shall come false prophets and antichrists working great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the very elect of God.” Okay?
When I did call Christ into my life, that experience was more powerful than the initial LSD thing, but I learned something else as well; and that is that the powers of evil through deception wanted to take over my life fully. The word is “demon possession.” There are accounts in the Bible of exorcisms of demons, the greatest being Legion, and with one word Christ drove them out. And the physical sign that they were driven out was that they went into a herd of swine which charged right over the cliff and drowned in the lake. [Mark 5] So, there are demons, there are powers of evil. For years I ridiculed this. I didn’t want it to be. It seemed so “unevolved.” But the deeper you get into this stuff, there’s some things on the other side, entities, that want to take you over for good.
Ankerberg: Okay, we’ve got to take a break here and then we’ve got to give Darwin a chance to talk. And, Darwin, maybe you can respond to what we have just said here. But, also, what I’d also like you to pick up is that you have warned your students about having bad experiences and I’d like to hear a little bit more about that, why it is that you did that…
Gross: Certainly.
Ankerberg: …as well as, answer the question, if you would when we come back, of why it is that people that are having these mystical experiences all seem to be coming up with the same kind of philosophical worldview. Okay? And we’ll come right back and tackle that when we get right back.

Ankerberg: Okay, we’re back, and to start this off, Shirley MacLaine in her autobiography said this about becoming “one with the All.” This started her off. Each person that seems to get into the mystical experiences has this kind of experience. Maybe, Darwin, you can see if this relates to something you’ve had as well. She said, “My whole body seemed to float, too. Not only my arms, but all of me. Slowly, slowly I became the water, and each tingling bubble was a component part of the water. I felt the interconnection of my breathing with the pulse of the energy around me. The air itself seemed to pulsate. In fact, I was the air, I was the air, the water, the darkness, the walls, the bubbles, the candle, the wet rocks under the water, and even the sound of the rushing river outside.” I can’t tell you how many accounts just like this I’ve read, even in Paul Twitchell, in your books, in other people. Why is it that you’re having and many people are having these kinds of experiences that gives you this unity feeling?
Gross: I’m not having those experiences.
Ankerberg: Did you ever have one?
Gross: Many years ago. Now, the quote I believe that you read, Tal, was out of The Tiger’s Fang which was Paul Twitchell’s experience.
Brooke: Absolutely right.
Gross: Which coincides to some degree with your experience. Now, Paul Twitchell, and I believe it was Julian Johnson, both in their writings said, “This is not my work.” Paul – to not defend him but to clean the record a little bit or clear it – I believe in the Eckankar: Key to Secret Worlds he stated that it was part of his mission to go through all sorts of paths and learn what he could in order to bring out, and attempt to bring out the message of Eck.
Now, ECKANKAR, in capital letters, is a corporation. I’m not affiliated with it. I’m affiliated with the religious part of the teaching and it’s a one-on-one sort of way. I don’t have an organization. I sustain myself through my books and whatever lectures I do throughout the world.
The individual, if they haven’t gained certain experiences, for instance the Christian, is going to rely upon Jesus when they go across and leave this earthly plane. I wanted to know for myself. I wanted to walk on water, and do the things that some of these great mystics, saints and saviors have done. I started seeking within myself because of what I heard as a child. The emotional factor of my mother’s church and others – my grandfather was a Baptist Mennonite-type preacher, and my father had his own way, which was a happy-go-lucky sort of way, but yet never made enemies; never owed a person. I’ve learned a tremendous amount through my teachers as well as my physical parents. And I believe every child, whether it’s in a church, Christianity, or some religious teaching, for the first six years should get a good, firm spiritual foundation.
Ankerberg: You had these experiences starting at three years of age, which is awfully young. And so you’ve had – what would you call them? Guides?
Gross: Yes, I was going out and coming back, and anyone who dreams will know that they’ve been out of their body, whether they realize it or not. There’s different levels. You have a dark area, a gray area, black and white, and you have full color. These are astral experiences, and this is where those mystical individuals that go into a trance, or channeling some entity from the past, it’s only off the astral worlds. So maybe perhaps some of Satan’s or the devils do work here.
Ankerberg: Now you warn the students in your writings about the traps of Kal, which is in Eckankar the evil side of God; besides the philosophical problem of why God who, if He is all, would want to fool Himself at that point. Because pantheism states, “God is all and all of God,” so even the emanations ourselves are part of God. God is thinking through us but that’s blocked too by illusion. It gets a little technical there. But the fact is that then Eckankar tells us, and these other religions of the East tell us, that you also have these traps and so on that you’ve got to break out of. Now, is there any reason why you think that God, as you see Him, does that?
Gross: The only thing that we can take with us when we leave this plane of action or earthly world are the experiences and the knowledge that we have gained while here. So, it’s purely….
Ankerberg: Is that a choice, that that’s the only thing we can rely upon? I notice that in the writings that as they go through the different initiations that the second thing that the student is told to do is starting to surrender his mind to these experiences and not to think. First of all, you’ve got to have…..
Gross: Not really.
Ankerberg: Well, that’s what you say in….
Gross: You learn how to drop the mind. You go beyond it, and utilize Soul.
Ankerberg: But isn’t that “refusing to think”? Why is it that you’re warning the students not to think and just to experience?
Gross: No, the individual must be responsible, totally responsible, for their actions as well as their thoughts.
Ankerberg: The first step in Eckankar is that you have to have the initiation. There’s got to be a contact with a spirit guide, a higher one, as you call it. There’s got to be some guide/master that they pick up there.
Gross: For certain people this is true. Others have reached a certain point on the spiritual ladder of life where they have not gotten out of their path or teaching that they are seeking within themselves. I have a number of people that have come to me in that light and who have worked from a lofty position, spiritually speaking.
Ankerberg: According to the books you say that, “In the fourth circle the initiate here understands that the mind is the enemy that must be overcome.” That’s a direct quote. “Thought and intelligence only leads to unhappiness.” And another quote, “From the time the initiate left the circle of the fourth initiation, he has been watched carefully by the adepts of Vairagi,” many spirit guides that are watching over. And I get the idea here that the abandonment of the mind in this fourth step is the hallmark where these masters take notice. It seems like this person is open. I would assume from your point of view you would say, “Therefore that person is open, he’s teachable.” But isn’t that also dangerous at that point?
Gross: The individual keeps an open mind, but yet is in control and understands, as Jesus put it, “You reap what you sow;” Emerson, “compensation,” etc.; or “action/reaction,” or “Karma,” however one thinks of it. You must be responsible for your own thoughts and your own words, and you must develop the mind to a point, but it’s a tool only.
Ankerberg: Let me ask, with Sai Baba, was there a conditioning, a deadening of thought and just an opening to the experience?
Brooke: Yeah, what happens from the biblical viewpoint…. Let me just say this, if we are in the image of God, which the Bible says, [Gen. 1:26] then what’s happening is that certain things have to be severed. They would say to get into a higher stage of consciousness, you have to learn this surrender without any holding back. So intuition, sense of good and evil, many of the checks and balances we have, the intellect, are systematically severed. That’s certainly true with Rajneesh. So there is a systematic pulling away of all the things I would say God gave us, the whole package of goods that God gave us.
Gross: Not in Eckankar. Not in Eckankar.
Brooke: I know that. Believe me, I know that. Trust me on that one.
Gross: Yep.
Brooke: And, you know, these things have been systematically cut so sometimes the follower is a little like someone who’s had a lobotomy. Would you say that’s true?
Gross: That’s correct. Yep.
Brooke: So there are a number of lobotomized mystics running around. The Christian viewpoint is that man in the image of God has all these things to keep him coherent. Now, let me throw something out. The real criterion of judging experience in the Christian viewpoint – and the Reformers really pointed this out in the 1600’s – see, there are two things that are happening in life. There’s a whole parcel of experiences in this hand, and there’s God’s revelation. What you learn in the Scripture, you have this revelation that judges experience because, frankly, my friends, there’s such a marketplace of divergent experiences that you can be all over the map. We could take an instant flight into the local loony bin! We could take an instant flight into the local “nut house” and have experiences that are as wild as any astral travel.
Gross: Right.
Brooke: We could take a jet to India today and run into any number in the spiritual marketplace of experiences. Unimaginable things. And you see this happening with devotees and chelas. You asked me earlier about my experiences under Sai Baba. I had him astrally visit me. I had him appear in dreams. I saw his miracles. I saw different things happen. I went to that mountaintop and I did open the Bible and I did look at Matthew 24:24, and it said, “And there shall come false prophets who shall work great signs and wonders to deceive the elect.” I looked through more of the biblical schema of watching reality and evaluating all things and I found out that there is indeed a way of interpreting all this stuff. There are really honestly powers of evil in the universe.
Ankerberg: Next week we’re going to go into the fact, as an initiate, as a student in Eckankar goes up the ladder, he finally comes to a point where “his responsibility is exceedingly greater and cannot be shirked. Members will not be permitted any shirking of responsibilities.” And we want to talk about what happens if they do. And what happened to you, Tal, when you did? And we will talk about that next week, so please stick with us.

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