America Looks Inward: to Self-Realization, to Reincarnation, to Inner Guides – Program 4

By: Sri Darwin Gross, Tal Brooke; ©1988
There is a process a disciple must go through to move up the ladder in Eckankar to the “higher spiritual plane.” What is that process, and are there spiritual dangers along the way?

Moving Up the Ladder


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 4

Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re talking about the mystical experiences that many people are having in our country. And they turn into an altered state of consciousness that persuades the person of a different worldview. Tonight, my guests have both experienced this kind of mystical experience. My first guest, Sri Darwin Gross, is one of the former Eck Masters of the spiritual group called Eckankar. And my second guest is Tal Brooke, a man who experienced these altered states of consciousness under Sai Baba, a guru in India, that attracted many, many thousands of people to him.
What I’d like to come to, tonight, is in Eckankar, Darwin, the actual levels of initiation that a student goes through, and what, apparently, Paul Twitchell said about these. I’m going to quote him hopefully exactly here. In the first initiation he said that to start things out, a person comes in during the dream state and it involves contact with what he calls “the higher ones.” I find that interesting because when we had Jose Silva from Silva Mind Control, the third day of their course he teaches them how to invite two spirit guides to come into their minds to stay with the person forever. But apparently in Eckankar the dream state, contacting the higher ones, is stage 1. Stage 2 or “the second circle” as it’s called here, the chela or the student, disciple must decide to take either the path of what he calls “black magic, white magic, or the center path of Eckankar.” Third circle, “The initiate then learns to look at his past lives in order to live in the present.” He’s got to get the whole scope, apparently, to check out his Karma….
Gross: Negative.
Ankerberg: Huh?
Gross: Not necessary.
Ankerberg: But he’s got to at least examine it, according to what….
Gross: If he chooses to, yes.
Ankerberg: Okay. And then the fourth circle, fourth stage, “Here one understands that the mind is the enemy that must be overcome. Thought and intelligence only lead to unhappiness,” according to Twitchell. That’s a direct quote. The fifth circle, “The chela, the student, travels above the psychic worlds into the first true spiritual world. And here the balance of the ordinary state of mind is swept away and a new balance is achieved.” And what this is, the traveler, the student, may expect “attacks upon himself.” And Twitchell describes here what seems to be a rather severe psychic disorientation that sets in during this time. Apparently the chela is undergoing severe testing of his ability to dispense with the normal functions of the mind. Twitchell says illumination occurs “when the mind has finally come under control.” And it’s at that point that the student begins to use and control all the psychic faculties within himself.
Gross: Including the mind.
Ankerberg: That’s right. And “he is now ruled by Soul and can view all life from this lofty position.” This is the new consciousness for the old. “This initiation develops new ways for breaking up conceptual thought patterns,” etc. And then the sixth circle he says that, “With this initiation comes complete sacrifice and uttermost suffering. The initiate must lose everything in life that means anything to him and sacrifice himself even unto death.” Twitchell says, “If the acolyte, the initiate of the fifth circle knew what lay ahead for him, he might leave the path of Eck at this point.” But at this point the chela, the student, has become 100% subservient to the Living Eck Master. The seventh circle, “He exists in a world of silence. He must choose to stop or at this point to take the next five initiations at which point he will belong to the brotherhood of the Ancient Order of the Vairagi. And at this level it is learned that no initiation is of any value unless it is the Eck initiation.” Now, these are some steps that are pretty serious steps. How many of those steps have you gone through?
Gross: All of those.
Ankerberg: Are you in the 9th? 11th?
Gross: The 9th.
Ankerberg: The 9th.
Gross: To go beyond that I’d have to leave earth – or drop the physical body; to be servient. Let me clarify the air a little bit.
Ankerberg: Well, let me read those to you, because I didn’t realize you went that far. “The 8th circle,” according to Twitchell, “brings one to the crossroads of eternity, where he has the choice of whether he will remain upon the earth to help the progress of humanity, or pass onward to the realm of spiritual development outside this planet,” which means “movin’ on,” death. Right?
Gross: Right. Correct.
Ankerberg: This level also teaches – there are many deities, according to Twitchell, who start at the bottom rung of the spiritual ladder and end up with the Sugmad, the god for Eckankar, the greatest of all. And then the 9th circle he becomes – the initiate, if he goes on – “the vanguard of the race and sacrifices whatever is necessary for other Eckists.” That’s where you’re at. And the 10th one “engenders the true wisdom not of the lower world but beyond human capacity,” and the 11th is “entrance into God-consciousness.” You’re past 8; you’re into 9 going toward 10 and 11?
Gross: I’ve gone to the 11th but not in this physical body or experience. That took place in Soul. That’s as high as one can ultimately reach while here on earth.
Ankerberg: So you’re faced with the decision right now of what?
Gross: To get the message out – for those who have ears to hear only.
Ankerberg: In other words, you haven’t chosen to go on, you’ve chosen to stay to teach others. Is that correct?
Gross: That’s correct.
Ankerberg: Okay. This path, I find, is very interesting in that it parallels many of the other groups. And, Tal, when I was reading your life’s story, I couldn’t help but think, “Goodness sakes! Why are the parallels all there?” What are the ones that stand out in your mind?
Brooke: The parallels? Well, there’s a whole thing of evolving to higher levels of consciousness. The whole matter of having spirit entities or guides or different creatures you get in contact; in Hinduism, “god” sometimes.
Gross: Each level of heaven has a deity.
Brooke: Yeah, well….
Gross: A ruler. A ruler.
Ankerberg: Another spirit guide or another deity picks you up and helps you?
Brooke: I mean, the Mormons even say that.
Gross: Yeah. Yeah.
Brooke: There’s the idea of the divinization of the self. It’s the whole idea of the droplets remerging with the primordial ocean or the bits of mercury melting together. Standard pantheism is what it is.
Ankerberg: I want to ask Darwin right there, because you just brought up something about these little droplets….
Brooke: Sure.
Ankerberg: Twitchell, after we got through that list, I came up against a quote, and maybe you’re familiar with this one. At the spot that you’re at, you’re not home free yet, apparently. He says this….
Gross: I’m still here.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I know. He says that “Eckankar teaches the soul usually begins life on earth as a mineral” – and here’s your wheel of Karma – “and progresses….
Brooke: It’s called the “Wheel of 84.”
Ankerberg: Okay. “And progresses upward through plant, amphibian, reptile.” Then you get to “a mammal, human forms, involving 8,400,000 incarnations” – which is called “The Wheel of 84.” But when you get up to where you’re at, if you don’t choose God-consciousness, or if you flunk out somehow here, he says, “you blow the chance for God-consciousness while in human form. You may start over again as a common chunk of granite.” And then the play goes back through another 8,400,000. I mean, have you thought about that?
Gross: Oh, I’ve experienced a god-conscious state. The choice was mine. It was lonely and it was difficult. I don’t know why anyone in this God-given earth would want to become a Master after I’ve reached it.
Brooke: Well, you don’t have much choice though.
Gross: Wait a minute. I had a choice. I could have said no 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 got a council with them in the spirit world?
Gross: Yes. In Soul.
Ankerberg: In Soul, okay. In the spiritual plane….
Gross: And I was physically, consciously aware of it, of the experience….
Ankerberg: What was their advice?
Gross: There was no advice. I was asked if I want the responsibility. And one must ultimately, within themselves, man or woman, as one unfolds spiritually – I don’t care what path it’s on in the lower world, as one is praying, meditating, or whatever spiritual exercise one does – ultimately has to become responsible for their actions, their thoughts, their words and deeds. And I don’t perform miracles, as Baba did and some others out there in the world. I don’t rely on anyone but myself and god itself.
Ankerberg: Yeah, let me ask you this. I asked this to Tal off camera at a break before we got here, and I’d like to ask you the same thing. And then I’ll come back to you, Tal. And that is: Is there anything right now in the progression in the stages that you’re at that would be able to come in to persuade you of a completely different worldview: namely that the God of the Bible is not a pantheistic God, but He’s a transcendent God over the creation; and man was made in His image and is responsible to Him, and that His Son Jesus gave us the evidence in real history that He should be listened to. Is there anything like that that would come into your mind that would be a red light or a flashing signal that would say, “Wait a minute! You have chosen the wrong path. There’s still time.” Or is there nothing now that would persuade you otherwise?
Gross: There would be nothing. Nothing that can shake me. Nothing that would persuade me. I say that in all sincerity, not just due to my experiences. I questioned. I challenged Paul Twitchell, when I was handed over to him for spiritual guidance and further unfoldment. And I’m still unfolding, still learning. You never stop learning. The individual and the choice you, myself, or anyone in this audience makes must be their own, not someone else’s. In this respect, that they have looked at the full, I’d say, parameters, or have viewed it from all points of view. What’s right for me is not going to be right for somebody else.
Ankerberg: I’ve got to take a break right here, and when we come back, Tal, I’m going to ask you, you went down this same initiation route of bit by bit, because of the experiences, you were asked to surrender your mind, to surrender all of yourself to these spiritual guides that were leading you. And they were asking you for total, 100% sell-out. And you got about as close as anybody I’ve ever heard of getting there….
Brooke: Right.
Ankerberg: Alright, and I want to know what is it that broke into all of those experiences that maybe a lot of other people that are having “good” experiences, okay, would say, “Well, listen, why should I depart from these things?” What would you say to Darwin sitting next to you there about the fact of all these experiences? Why would he choose something else when he’s got it going his direction? We’ll talk about it when we come right back.

Ankerberg: Okay, we’re back, and we’re talking about, what thing might change a person who has had these fantastic experiences. And before we get into your story, Tal, maybe I could bring up one thing. I’m sure that you must be aware of some of the criticism concerning Paul Twitchell’s writing. And the article I have here from this book, and I’ll get the title here for you in a flash, states that, “The problem with Twitchell’s mythology is that most of it is either made up or plagiarized,” this writer says, “from other religious texts. In essence, Twitchell has invented a tradition which does not exist in historical fact.” And he documents all of the facts concerning that, and says that basically that Paul’s “basic writings were plagiarized, whole chapters at a time. He lied about biographical details, commenced vast cover-ups concerning the true origin of Eckankar doctrine, and of all people to substantiate this, the president of Eckankar,” probably one of your buddies, Dr. Bluth is it?
Gross: Dr. Bluth.
Ankerberg: President of Eckankar, and Paul Twitchell’s personal doctor, said that he knew that he was lifting this, and had actually asked him not to lift this information, but Paul had plagiarized this, saying that he had gotten it from the Ascended Masters when actually every time he said that he picked a book off the shelf and wrote the chapter down. The question is, when you have that kind of information as the basis of what you believe, wouldn’t that stop to make you think about the experiences?
Gross: No, because what I found to be true for myself, and all heaven and earth could drop away and I know I’m going to be taken care of, that it’s not in a book. Even the Bible has been plagiarized, many, many times.
Ankerberg: So the things of Eckankar that were taught by the founder or the guy that gave you the mantle, which were plagiarized, don’t matter at all that that never happened because your experiences supersede that.
Gross: True – boundless! I mean, endless! The word is the “Logo” or the “Shabda” or the sound current, as the Bible states, “The Logo….”
Ankerberg: No, don’t say the Bible states that.
Gross: Oh, yeah.
Ankerberg: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…
Gross: The Word, but…
Ankerberg: …All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.” [John 1:1-3] So you have Jesus Christ being that Word, making all things, not being a pantheistic god.
Gross: That’s true, perhaps. I would not try to change your thinking in that respect.
Ankerberg: It’s just the fact of that’s what it says!
Gross: However, that same substance that sustained Jesus today is sustaining trees, animals, flowers, plants, yourself, and every person in this room.
Ankerberg: The question is, are we responsible to the One who is sustaining it all. The Bible says, yes; that He made us in His image. But the fact is we’re accountable, responsible. There’s real guilt. God made a provision in sending Christ and He died on the cross. That’s waiting for us, and there’s great consequences if we do not accept the forgiveness provided in Christ, which is a free gift. That’s our choice. We are responsible under Christianity.
Gross: Yes, you’re allowed to believe what you want. In this country….
Ankerberg: True, but the only thing we have to come to is what’s the evidence, and I’m saying, if you’ve got evidence on your side of the tracks that you say, “Hey, our founder Paul Twitchell back here, or the Eck Master plagiarized that, and it doesn’t matter.” I’m saying then, “Boy, wasn’t that part of the thing that got you into the very experiences that you’re in?” If we can’t trust them, you can’t trust….
Gross: Not the writings.
Ankerberg: Huh?
Gross: Not the writings. The writings, the books and discourses that he wrote, is information only to feed the mind. A person must, with their mind, challenge, sift what is good for them and decide what is good for them.
Brooke: John, the writings are actually 44 paragraphs plagiarized in The Far Country in the very first chapter. And there are hundreds of plagiarisms. I’ve got them side by side.
Ankerberg: The question is for all the people that are in Eckankar, why would they then accept spiritual guidance from a confessed plagiarist?
Brooke: We’re talking about the foundation of something where people are balancing their eternal souls. The thing about Christ is that biblically there is total and absolute credibility. No one has ever been able to disprove Jesus, either archaeologically or through historiography. And lives today are changed, immensely, profoundly.
Ankerberg: Yes. If we were to come up in this program and say, “Well, listen, I can prove that Jesus committed adultery with a woman,” would that have any significance on my experiences that I’m supposedly having with Jesus? The Bible says it would shoot it right down the tubes. It rests on the credibility of Christ…
Brooke: Right.
Ankerberg: …of His life and what He has said. And if He is not who He says He is, namely God in the flesh, perfect, did not sin, claimed all these things, I have a hard time seeing where you can claim all these things and find to have clay feet, but it doesn’t matter. Because then I wonder, how in the world do we get information any place that we can trust. What does this do to all the people in Eckankar?
Gross: In what respect?
Ankerberg: Well, I’m thinking of, you’ve got that problem with Paul Twitchell and his writings; you’ve got the two Masters conflicting with each other….
Gross: Okay.
Ankerberg: …in power positions. I mean, it must put everybody into a very tough position.
Gross: It’s an individual’s choice. I stress that and I always will.
Ankerberg: Yeah. I would hope they would choose, though, to at least consider that as evidence in making the choice, wouldn’t you?
Gross: When this takeover took place, there’s only two people that came to hear my side of it: one from Las Vegas – drove night and day to get to me on the Oregon coast, and one higher initiate from Portland that drove 85 miles.
Ankerberg: Yeah. The thing I see, though, is that – I want to certainly be kind to what you’re saying – but the claims of the job that you had, you had supernatural help.
Gross: I still have that job. I’m still a Vairagi Eck Master.
Ankerberg: But the problem is that with that help, you blew it. You made a mistake.
Gross: No. I didn’t. It was impressed upon me by others.
Ankerberg: But you….
Gross: Sure, I chose it. I did make an error. I give that to you.
Ankerberg: Okay, final wrap-up statement that you’re going to have here.
Brooke: In the Christian tradition, what happens in this world is very important. If I go out and shoot somebody, it matters. Under Rajneesh or Charlie Manson it doesn’t matter. Twitchell even said, “If you do it in love, it’s okay.”
Gross: No.
Brooke: Yes, he said that. So the point is that it really matters…
Gross: I disagree with that.
Brooke: …what you believe. You may disagree, but he said it.
Gross: Because I believe different than that.
Brooke: Alright, but let me talk. You’ve had your moment. And that is that what you do and what you believe matters, and it matters forever. Okay.
Ankerberg: We’re going to pick this up next week, and I’d like to go to the fact of Eckankar, basically, like many other Eastern religious groups in our country says that they are very open to whatever anybody else wants to believe, and they’re not against somebody else’s belief. And we want to examine if that’s really true. So please join us next week.

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