Light and sound
I’d never heard of the Eckankar faith, but I looked forward to checking out one of the small group-study meetings at the public library in Old Town Mall.
On my arrival, I was greeted with open arms and eager questions about my interests in Eckankar, and my intention to remain an unobtrusive observer disintegrated immediately. The three women were not at all discouraged by the fact that I was a reporter. They proceeded to detail their faith faster then I could scribble down the details.
The Eckankar faith is also called “The religion of the light and sound of God.” The Eckankar religion was introduced in 1965 by Paul Twitchell as a path to God that was neither Orthodox nor Evangelical, Buddhist nor Hindu, but rather a conglomeration of all the positive aspects of these and other religions into one faith.
ECK is the name for God in the Eckankar religion, which is based on the teaching of the Mahanta or the living ECK master. A picture of the current ECK Master, Harold Klemp, can be seen in the back of one of his many books or pamphlets regarding Eckankar. The black and white photograph is of a middle-aged white man with a polite face, glasses and a tie, wearing a comfortable smile. According to the Eckankar faith, this man is a guide to all people in the spiritual plains that lead to God, guiding anyone in not only the physical world but also spiritual, mental and dream travels.
A member of the Eckankar religion can incorporate sound in their faith through the HU song, which has been described as “A love song to God.” The HU, pronounced “hue,” is one continuous note that is repeated for as long as that person feels necessary to realign themselves to God and their life.
The Eckankar religion is a combination of all the good aspects of other religions, according to AnnMarie Roy, a member of Eckankar. Mrs. Roy has been following the Eckankar religion since the ‘60s. She says she found God through Eckankar. She went on to say that Eckankar is not often in the news because it has no political agendas or outside motivations other than strengthening a spiritual relationship with God.
The primary focus of an Eckankarist is the refinement of the soul throughout the many lives a person lives here on earth, with the goal of becoming a co-worker with God upon reaching the final spiritual plain. Lessons on dream interpretation, understanding karma, soul travel, and reading into past lives are the some of the tools of this faith for understanding life. The Eckankar membership pamphlet describes the purpose of the faith as “seeing the bigger picture of life,” and “climbing the stairway to spiritual freedom.”
Eckankar has reached more than 100 different countries since its introduction in 1965.
The number of people that practice Eckankar in Reno is fairly small. There is a full worship service that takes place on the first Sunday of each month at the Reno ECK Center. There are several meetings and discussion groups regarding recent books about the faith as well as gatherings to sing the HU Song throughout the month. There are also programs aired on public access television. Most of the meetings are held in the Reno ECK center, though there are meetings throughout Reno, Sparks and Carson City at various public locations, such as the Old Town Mall Library in Reno or at the Carson City convention center.
A yearly membership fee of $130, or $14 a month, is required. This provides believers with a quarterly publication of The Mystic World, notes from the living ECK master, and a membership card.