Last Sunday’s service at Unity Church of Peace was… not memorable. Apparently, the several people who are all responsible for putting the service together ALL decided to “wing it.” What was memorable, however, was the workshop I was invited to after.
These sorts of activities were why I had decided to settle down into the Unity congregation in the first place… I thought. The workshop, as originally described to me, was titled “Have You Had a Spiritual Experience?” Since it’s fairly difficult to imagine someone having the sorts of experiences they gave as examples–OOBE’s, for example–and not realize it, I assumed that it would be a sharing group.
It was actually a workshop on “ECKANKAR,” the self-described “religion of the light and sound of God.”
It was RIDICULOUS.
It is organizations like this that really give esoteric studies a bad name. The group–consisting of myself and about a dozen middle-aged women–sat around chanting “HU” (pronounced “hyoo”) and talking about dreams we’d had (well, I didn’t participate much…). “HU” was described as, I kid you not, “a love song to God,” which had been “used in ancient civilizations from Africa to South America.”
First of all, esoteric religions is my second-biggest hobby, just behind martial arts; and my best friend has a master’s degree from Oxford in Early Christian History and is working on his D.Phil. on the Roman occupation of sub-Saharan Africa. If “HU” was really this universal sound, ONE OF US would have heard of it.
Second, I haven’t bought God dinner. I’m certainly not going to meet His parents. As close as I may feel to God, we’re really not in the sort of relationship where I sing love songs to Him. Had Dr. Klemp–the founder of ECKANKAR–put forward the statement that he had worked with yogic mantras (or some other form of sacred vibration) and found “HU” to be particularly useful… I might have been interested. But I’m not going to work with any group that lies to its members.
There was also a Tarot exercise… except it wasn’t described as a Tarot exercise, and we didn’t use Tarot cards. Instead of universal symbolism developed over centuries of refinement, we used index cards with pictures the coordinators had clipped from magazines the night before. I was somewhat less than surprised when the exercise turned out to be useless to me.
Anyway, I certainly don’t recommend ECKANKAR, and I hope that I am exposed to something more substantive in the near future.