Harold Klemp
The Spiritual Leader of Eckankar
P.O. Box 2730[0]
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55427

July 15, 2003

Re: Open Letter
[From: Ford Johnson]


Dear Harold,

It seems only appropriate that I should transmit to you one of the first copies of my new book, Confessions of a God Seeker: A Journey to Higher Consciousness. This book was the outgrowth of a period of intense study of the Shariyat, which you recommended I undertake as a discipline and a condition for remaining active in Eckankar. It followed your review of the spiritual experiences of an Eckist contained in a journal that I sent to you more than a year ago. I was quite surprised at your rejection of this chela’s spiritual experiences with you and other masters. I could not understand how my inner experiences and those of other Eckists could be distinguished from his. Indeed, if his were the work of the Kal, as you indicated, then ours would be open to a similar description. In spite of your response, I began this discipline with the intent of doing whatever was necessary to understand the spiritual lesson it was to teach me.

As you know from my letters to you over the years, I had committed my life to spiritual service in Eckankar. Over a period of thirty years, some working directly with you, I have traveled as many miles and spoken before as many people as anyone in Eckankar. I was perfectly prepared to continue this service for as long as I was capable, such was my dedication, belief and love for this teaching. During this period of discipline, I also attempted to reconcile your response to this chela’s journal of spiritual experiences with Eckankar’s basic teachings. In this search, I discovered disturbing information that challenged my fundamental understanding of and belief in Eckankar and its doctrine. Ultimately, I was presented with a choice between dedication to a person and a religion or dedication to truth itself. For me, there really was no choice; I had to follow truth wherever it led.

It was clear from these discoveries that the real story behind Eckankar was different from what is the common belief among Eckists. I was shocked to learn that Eckankar had no ancient lineage whatsoever. Indeed, how could anyone have known that even Gail Twitchell, Paul’s wife and the co-founder of Eckankar, had declared some years earlier, that Eckankar was a fraud and that “Paul had simply made up the whole Eckankar thing?” A startling admission, but one that explains why she has had nothing to do with Eckankar since. How could anyone have known that Paul literally invented an entire “line of masters” and gave them a history that came to life in his imagination and his writings? Fueled by our belief and our imaginations we projected them into existence and they became real to us in our inner and outer lives just as children have inner and outer experiences with Santa Clause and as Jesus appears to Christians. And, how could Eckists have known that even the position, title and concept of Mahanta was part of what Gail Twitchell meant when she said, “Paul made up the whole Eckankar thing?” And, virtually no one knows that you acknowledged as much in court documents during the Darwin Gross v. Eckankar legal battles. Through your lawyers, you admitted that Eckankar "was not used to describe any religious doctrines [the Mahanta, a necessary inclusion] until the mid-1960's when it was coined, adopted and first used by Paul Twitchell "; far from the ancient teaching that the Shariyat and other Eckankar books proclaim.

When I first read Gail‘s statements, I was astounded. I was not prepared to believe what she had said nor could I then fully understand the ramifications of her statements. That is why I sought independent verification of her assertions. But, the deeper I dug into the history of Eckankar — what Paul did and how he did it — the more I uncovered. My discoveries were beyond shocking, beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Unfortunately, Gail was correct in her claims, for the evidence presented in Confessions points to no other conclusion. I would not have believed the extent of Paul’s fabrication and lying if I had not spent more than one year untangling the web of distortions with which he surrounded the spiritual truths that Eckankar also contains.

Confessions documents how and when Paul invented the concept of the Mahanta and where he got the term. It shows the four techniques he used to create the names and histories of many of his Eck Masters and the source from which he plagiarized or created his writings on the Hu, the blue light of the Mahanta and other parts of Eckankar’s doctrine. The book also reveals how Paul injected dire warning and “curses” into the teaching, describing what would befall anyone who left Eckankar or challenged the Mahanta, even though he openly admitted that this was just a tactic used by spiritual leaders to keep their followers in line. He wrote:

The oldest technique of keeping the loyalty of the chela …is with fear. These threats are very common. They usually go like this: “If you leave me you will get caught in the astral and won’t get out.“

Having warned us of what to look out for and that this was a technique of “those masters on the lower planes…” Paul injected the following warning in his own writings:

Within the Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad is found the quotation, He who leaves the path of ECK, or refuses to follow it, shall dwell in the astral hells until the Master takes mercy upon him and brings him upon the path again.”

Confessions illustrates how Paul repeats this pattern over and over again. He warns us of what to look out for, thus gaining our confidence, then springs the same device on the unsuspecting reader. The detrimental effects of these obviously manipulative “curses” on vulnerable and unwary Eckists can be found all over the Internet. Paul engendered mystical trust and devotion in his followers while surrounding the boundaries of Eckankar with subtle — and not so subtle — threats. This explains, in part, the almost magical spell — and often fear—that seems to permeate the Eckankar community. For, Eckists are totally convinced — as was I — of the truth, integrity and benign quality of Paul Twitchell’s writings and of Eckankar’s doctrine.

Perhaps this open letter will help break the spell long enough for Eckists to remember why we came to this teaching in the first place. It was because we sought truth and a direct path to God. And, we thought that we had found both. Our goal was never to substitute one dubious mythology and entrapping dogma for another, no matter how comforting and caring it may appear. This open letter may serve as a wake-up call to Eckists to take off the blinders and look at the evidence contained in Confessions. If they allow themselves to view the facts, they will be able to intelligently determine what is right for them. But, if there is anything in Confessions that you, the Board, or the management of Eckankar regard as untrue, misstated or inaccurate, which bears on the ultimate veracity of Eckankar, I urge you to bring it forward. We have long since past the point where silence, “get it on the inner”, or warnings about reading anything that questions Eckankar, will suffice. As Paul often wrote but followed less frequently, it is time for “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” To remain in a teaching believing in a false set of assumptions when another is shown to be true, is, in my view, self-deception of the worst kind. Yet, it is still a matter of individual choice. I believe that every soul has an obligation to help another in their search for God — if they want the help. It is in this spirit that I undertook more than one year of intensive research and wrote Confessions.

Even as I discovered fact after fact about the real Paul Twitchell, I struggled to reconcile this deceitful manipulative aspect of Paul Twitchell with the benevolent, loving and enlightened man who also authored such majestic words as those found in Stranger by the River. Then I discovered what the evidence points to as the likely answer. Confessions reveals that Paul Twitchell was troubled with a condition called Mythomania. Paul deceived himself and others, because he could not control his impulse to lie and fabricate the most incredible stories, which at times he fervently believed. And they literally number in the hundreds. He even incurred the wrath of his family. Upon reading his biography, Paul’s brother-in-law remarked: “His book is full of lies. Most everyone who knew him considered him a crook. The entire [immediate] family is now deceased. I am sorry to hear of anyone being hooked on any of his teachings.” So important is Paul’s psychological state to an understanding of the true story behind Paul Twitchell and Eckankar that Confessions devotes an entire chapter and extensive documentation, consisting of more than sixty endnotes, to reveal this very apparent but unrecognized dimension of the man.

However, in spite of all that has happened and all that I have discovered, I hold no animosity towards you or Eckankar. Quite the contrary, I have enjoyed great love and spiritual growth while in this teaching. But this does not mean that I should abandon common sense and overlook the lies and deception with which Paul corrupted the teaching and misled hundreds of thousands of God-seekers who came in contact with his writings.

My life has always been about serving truth and God — what I have come to call ALL THAT IS. I believed that I was doing this while serving in Eckankar. But I have learned that while the truth contained in Eckankar can take the seeker part of the way, it cannot take him all the way. For, Paul falsely substituted his invented “Mahanta” for the guidance that comes only from soul and spirit. In his troubled zeal to create the “oldest”, “greatest” and “highest” religion in all the worlds, he usurped “spirit” and “God” itself, proclaiming “all the power of God must reach these worlds through the perfect instrument of the Mahanta, the Living Eck Master.” An incredible claim, especially from a religion and an exalted title that appeared for the first time ever in 1965. Paul placed his line of three Eck Masters between soul and the reality of their being. Everyone needs teachers and guidance, but soul cannot realize this final step in awareness so long as it looks to an intercessor, be he mahanta, savior, master, messenger or by any other name. In truth, we are all microcosmic replicas of the ONE and have full access to its power, for this is what we are. Our journey to higher consciousness is to fully realize this reality, summarized in the following aphorism:


Part IV of Confessions elaborates on this axiom and provides the balm of insight that eases the discomfiture of a truth confronted. It explains the next step, embodied in the Great Work, which is dedicated to helping souls realize the divinity that lies within them. It is about liberating soul from all forms of spiritual entrapment or the glorification of an intercessor. The web sites, www.higherconsciousnesssociety.com/ and www.thetruth-seeker.com have been created to facilitate the goals of the Great Work. Indeed, this is what Eckankar would probably have been, if Paul had not infected it with his countless distortions and fabrications.

Perhaps you will finish what you started in your 1980’s talks when you began to reveal the truth about Paul Twitchell. Obviously you did not go far enough. Instead, both you and Darwin Gross settled into Paul’s mythology, perpetuating and reinforcing his fabrications. I know how difficult it would be to remove the lies in Eckankar — extensively detailed in Confessions — and strip it of the distortions of truth that mislead soul. However, I believe that Eckankar could survive the cleaning. Not in the same form that it is today, but in a purer form that accomplishes what all paths to God should; to teach, to empower and then to set souls free to realize and experience their oneness with ALL THAT IS.

Confessions invites all lovers of truth — and Eckankar itself — to join the mission of the Great Work, which is devoted to spiritual liberation, spiritual enlightenment, and the spiritual empowerment of every precious spark of God.


Ford Johnson

See: Second Open Letter to Harold Klemp

See: Confessions of a God Seeker