What do Eckists believe? What is Eckankar?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. According to its own writings, Eckankar means a co-worker with God. It views each person as a Soul (usually written with an uppercase S to identify the "true self") or a particle of God sent to lower worlds in order to gain spiritual experience. That experience is said to purify the person so that they come into contact with the ECK (whom they also call the "Holy Spirit"). The goal is to gain spiritual freedom during this lifetime to then become a co-worker with God in this world and the next. The term Eckankar is also a word used to refer to the name of God in Sikhism.
Eckankar teaches that the soul is eternal, it exists because God loves it, and it is journeying to self-realization and God realization. The religion seems to be centered around spiritual experiences, particularly experiencing the "Light and Sound of God." Eckankar teaches that "spiritual unfoldment can be accelerated through conscious contact with the ECK, Divine Spirit." The religion is headed up by the "Mahanta" or the Living ECK Master, who is viewed as a prophet and a guide. In 1981 Harold Klemp became the leader.
According to Eckankar, the ECK helps individuals purify themselves of karma (which they also term "sin") so that the person can accept the full love of God. In so doing, the person "gains wisdom, charity, and freedom." Klemp says that those who find the Light and Sound of God undergo a spiritual change, which he compares to life becoming fresh as in early childhood.
A central teaching of Eckankar is that a person's soul can escape the physical body and travel freely within other planes of reality. This takes place by what is described as soul travel. The chanting of HU (pronounced like the English "hue" and what they claim to be the ancient name of God) 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 spiritual liberation.
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, which Eckankar says are primary beliefs.
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. Eckankar views itself as the most direct path to God but not the only way to be connected to God. The religion views Jesus as a messenger of God and a spiritual guide for Christians.
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 presents an impersonal god with whom we can attain oneness. It terms the ECK the "Holy Spirit," but this is clearly not the true Holy Spirit the Bible speaks of. In contrast with salvation available through Jesus Christ, Eckankar claims there is no sin for which people need forgiveness. It may use "sin" as an alternate word for "karma," but it is not the same concept of sin as presented in the Bible.
Eckankar views people as particles of God living in a lower world and seeking to be reunited to God. The Bible presents people as being created in God's image, not as part of Him. Eckankar teaches spiritual liberation available through meditation and reincarnation after this life. Eckankar says that the ECK helps one purify himself of karma, whereas the Bible says we are powerless to rid ourselves of sin. The Bible says that we are dead in our sin and the only way of true life is through God's grace received by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is fully God and fully human. He lives a perfect life and then died on the cross. His death paid the penalty for sin and His resurrection proved He is who He says and His sacrifice was effective (Ephesians 2:1–10). Those who put their faith in Jesus are forgiven of sin and brought into intimate relationship with God, including the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our lifetimes involve the process of sanctification through which we learn to put sin to death (Philippians 2:12–13; Galatians 5:22–23). While the ECK helping one purify himself of karma and then the person experiencing a refreshed life may seem similar, these are vastly inadequate imposters for the true life only God can give.
Eckankar presents a god and way of spirituality that is the opposite of biblical teachings. Eckankar is a dangerous false religion that involves itself in the things of the spiritual world yet denies God. It hints at biblical truth but completely misses the reality of who God is, who humans are, and how we can experience true relationship with God and life in Him. Eckankar is like the false religions warned of in 2 Timothy 4:3–4 (see also 2 Timothy 3:5). The Bible teaches belief in Jesus (John 3:16; Romans 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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