Eckankar: A Journey of Spiritual Exploration Religion Emphasizes Personal Experience as Best Way to Connect to God

Article excerpt

ECK is the current that sustains all life, according to the followers of the Eckankar meeting in Naperville and Darien.

Debbie Bryk-Serva of Naperville, a pediatric cardiologist who has been a member of Eckankar for 21 years, explains that the teachings deal with the basic concepts of reincarnation and karma.

"God is the life source," she said. "Soul is the higher self. We connect with our higher self for self realization and to become one with God. Soul exists because of God's love for it."

To help show them the way, followers rely on religious leaders, or guides. Sri Harold Klemp is the current spiritual leader who provides protection, love and guidance to members of Eckankar. The spiritual leaders show followers the way back home to God, Bryk- Serva said, but each member must decide for themselves if they will follow.

"The guides show us the way, but we walk it ourselves," Bryk- Serva said.

While the spiritual home, or Temple of ECK, was built in 1990 in Chanhassen, Minn., there are members of Eckankar in 100 countries around the world. The Illinois Satsang Society is the official ECK organization in this state that brings the ECK teachings to members through centers, classes, worship services and seminars. Locally, an ECK center in Naperville hosts worship services on alternating Sundays throughout the month. Services are in Darien on the other Sundays.

The ancient teachings of ECK surfaced in 1965, when they were written down by spiritual leader Paul Twitchell in Las Vegas, Nev. The teachings of the light and sound of God had been passed among believers by word of mouth until Twitchell gathered them together and put them down on paper.

"We can't learn all we need to know in one lifetime, that's why we believe in reincarnation," Bryk-Serva said. "Lots of people have experiences and dreams that they are trying to figure out. We learn how to enhance these experiences and figure them out through the exercises and teachings of our spiritual leaders."

Theirs is a spiritual exploration, emphasizing the value of personal experience as the most natural way back to God. The teachings of the spiritual leaders show their followers how to look and listen within themselves to expand their consciousness and enjoy spiritual connectedness.

Followers believe that light and sound are twin aspects of the Holy Spirit, the divine life current that flows from God. This current, known as ECK, sustains all life. Some examples of sound and light are chants, hymns and stained glass.

ECK followers also perform spiritual exercises to bring them closer to God. Their spiritual leaders, all men, are chosen by God, and Bryk-Serva said that they have the skills and qualities that are right for the times during which they lead.

ECK masters, who serve God and all souls with love, are spiritual teachers. …