Eckankar was founded as a religious movement in 1965 by Paul Twitchell. Its headquarters is in Chanhassen, Minnesota where a temple and other facilities exist. Its website claims tens of thousands of adherents worldwide. According to its own writings, Eckankar means a co-worker with God. An Eckist (follower of Eckankar) is a person who has experienced the sound and light of God and works with him in daily life. The term Eckankar is also a word used to refer to the name of God is Sikhism.
What do Eckists believe? What is Eckankar?
A central teaching of Eckankar is that a person's soul (usually written with an uppercase S to identify the "true self") can escape the physical body and travel freely within other planes of reality. This takes places by what is described as soul travel. The chanting of HU (pronounced like the English "hue") is used in meditation to help facilitate such experiences and can be practiced individually or as a group.
Adherents are encouraged to keep dream journals to record experiences of soul travel. Eckists are taught that continued growth and meditation lead to reaching higher states of being and that they can even reach self-realization (realization of self as God) and God-realization (realization of self as spark of God) during their lifetimes.
Eckankar also has its own scripture, a writing called Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad meaning "Way of the Eternal." This writing includes the teachings listed above as well as the eastern concepts of reincarnation and karma. According to Eckankar, sin was a false belief created by Kal (its word for Satan) to keep the Soul ignorant. Jesus is associated with Kal and is considered evil or limiting to the Soul.
Most Eckists practice individually. In addition, the Eckankar website offers a weekly course and provides hosted events in many cities each year. Materials are offered individually and on a subscription membership basis for additional growth.
The teachings and beliefs of Eckankar are clearly contradictory to many Christian beliefs. In contrast with a perfect, Triune God of Father, Son, and Spirit, Eckankar present an impersonal god with whom we can attain oneness. In contrast with the perfect revelation of inspired Scripture in the Bible, Eckankar offers Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad that teaches soul travel and a false view of God. In contrast with salvation available through Jesus Christ, Eckankar claims there is no sin for which people need forgiveness, that liberation is available now through meditation, and that reincarnation takes place after this life.
Eckankar presents a god and way of spirituality that is the opposite of biblical teachings. Dangerously, Eckankar associates Jesus, our true Savior and God, with Satan, God's enemy. Eckankar is a dangerous false religion that involves itself in the things of the spiritual world yet denies God. The Bible teaches belief in Jesus (John 3:16; Roman 10:9-10) and growth in God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) as the way to know God, grow in Him, and experience true life (John 10:10).
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