I was devotedly plugged into a spiritual teaching for four decades of my life. That is by far the longest ‘constant’ I’ve enjoyed with any meaningful associations aside from a few friends and obvious family relationships. Two marriages combined together fall short of this record, just to provide perspective. I know the ideal of ‘till death do us part’ is a desired outcome in a perfect world. But between my marriage and church upheavals, I absolutely never imagined parting ways with my connection and love for Eckankar. Even the first ‘ex’ was shocked speechless when I told him. A former member himself, his disillusionment came a lot sooner than mine.
The individual quest for spiritual freedom
These are condensed insights of how my own departure from the group unfolded. I am grateful for people and occurrences within the organization that showed me, unintentionally, the futility of expecting spiritual freedom if I hung in there. It is a relief to finally discern your own truth around perplexing situations. I remember when other former church members would publish books or share accounts on social media of what led them to leave. The varied reasons fell like water off a duck’s back to me, because their ‘why’ was only personal to them. I thought, well, ok, an inner connection to source exists wherever you find yourself. All ground is holy.
I know it was a divine set-up to discover the path in the first place, along with divine intervention in realizing its limitations. I relied on my intuition both walking in the door and then leaving years later. An ironic twist is that trusting your nudges always informs your best good. I was as surprised as anyone to be alienated from the very teaching that sustained me in valuing my inner voice in the first place.
My new clarity came from energy healing sessions with Jen Ward. Her Spiritual Freedom Techniques (SFT) untangle whatever your challenge is to be free from. I was at a standstill with a blockage that I could not identify without her help. Reading Akashic records is her lifetimes-of-training passion, and she pinpointed a significant past life trauma right away. I knew the resonance of it immediately, and that it was time to understand its impact on my life now. She understands how to scatter negative energy to the wind. It really is a miracle how freeing that is.
Childhood church experiences
I was fortunate to grow up without serious indoctrination into any particular religion. My single parent working mother was busy otherwise, living the golden rule… ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Her resistance to churchgoing was partly from her own mother’s intrusions as a Christian-type zealot. We lived a few blocks from my grandmother after my parents’ divorce. She would often overstep child rearing boundaries. One Sunday morning she rang my mother on the phone and told her she had called a cab to deliver us all to a church service near downtown. Although it was not voiced, my mother’s vibes were not happy to be railroaded into going anywhere that morning, especially to church.
What I remember about that day (we went one time only) was the beautiful old brick structure and cathedral type sanctuary inside. We sat in a balcony section and my young eyes took in all the formal grandeur of the opulent surroundings. I knew to stay reverently quiet. Afterwords, there was some sort of fellowship activity. We followed others to a narrow turning stair passageway, similar to a secret hidden tunnel of an old castle. Those enchanting stairs excited me as a young kid. Now in remembering the joy of encountering them, they seem an analogy of the ‘stairway to heaven’. That day they were the stairway to snacks and small talk and a mother wishing to go home. I realize in looking back that her preferred version of worship happened on her own turf by appreciating beautiful flowers and pets and kindness, overall.
Simplicity in satsangs
But as a teenager, I wondered and read about different religions and philosophies and trusted that one might take hold. Then in my early 20’s this out-of-the-blue (kind of literally, in more ways than one) spiritual path became known to me. Concepts of dream interpretation, reincarnation, and the ‘temple within’ completely resonated. These aspects of spirituality made sense over conventional options. I was at home with the simplicity of everything. No fancy building or church, just small group ‘Satsangs’ in individual homes, with others’ background stories of ‘searching’ for truth similar to my own. We bonded in shared gratitude to be with others of like kind.
The group changed over several years into a larger presence ‘religion’, with typical organizational challenges. The original sparks of truth and its intent as an ‘individual’ path got overshadowed. Minor issues crept up slowly unnoticed, until wow…how do you miss the signs? A ‘hierarchy’ order was established, top down in addition to the spiritual leader. It was explained as a streamlining of spiritual services for smoother organizational accountability. It was to assure a crosscheck of keeping the teachings ‘pure’ for future generations of truth seekers. I was advised to ignore ‘personality’ rifts among certain members. But personalities and worrisome past life engrams proved a too glaring challenge to ignore. It is a confusing scenario to sort through unchecked egos thinking they know whatever.
The struggle of conformity in spiritual groups
My voice and input around questioning the guidelines or new procedures were both subtly and overtly squelched. I began to see how the organization derailed from caring about the individual’s sovereignty, contrary to its very purpose. The outer aspects of towing the line were interfering with my overall well-being. It happens when the social and group consciousness takes front seat center. To be fair, the social consciousness is the same major hindering of spiritual truths that human beings face in any family, society, or culture. Being accepted, loved, and safe within your tribe is basic to survival. So conforming is what you learn in group settings of every kind, it is natural. But eventually all outer interference concedes to the individual’s sacred connection to Source.
Most functions of church groups depend on donations and volunteers. Sincere devotees are happily trained to ‘serve’ in any way agreeable to their resources and talents. It is a true giving of the heart in gratitude for the bounties received. But a confusion and resentment can surface as to how much and how good are your efforts? Is it an unspoken requirement and obligation in order to earn a step up? Is goodwill or a grudge happening?
Spiritual freedom means dropping all facades and being a responsible caretaker/source of your own unique expression. And that means coming to terms with illusions thwarting it, like past life engrams (ingrained patterns) that hold you back. I was amazed with Jen Ward’s assistance in revealing the cause and effect of my present life’s hurdles. I shared my gratitude with a circle of friends about this profound help. It turned out that trusting a shaman with an unfamiliar healing process was my experience to savor alone.
A couple of my friends actually had remote private sessions with Jen but spoke nothing about it to me afterward. The sense I got was that her style of confronting ego with raw direct honesty jarred their expectations. A tough love approach is ego’s nemesis when it comes to ‘ripping layers’ of illusion. Jen has a courage and fortitude as a true adept to tell it like it is, knowing your soul’s freedom is more valuable than temporary hurt feelings. Her Spiritual Freedom Techniques (taps) work to untangle any blockage at a very deep level.
The journey away from the known
My solitary aligning with Jen’s energy healing work was followed by a painful and lonely adjustment. I was clearly guided to relocate and reciprocate any assistance to help advance her healing work in the world. Family and friends watching this change of direction, well, the inevitable juicy gossip thread can only be imagined. Being a child in the wilderness references a book title that the group members know. It is an account of the leader’s own struggles toward spiritual enlightenment, which is an uncomfortable stage common to every soul. Facing your ‘demons’ is a huge step. And the fear of going against the herd is an important breakthrough to manage.
My dear (former?) friends have yet to initiate meaningful dialogue with me about how releasing past life trauma is an imperative step to real freedom. I can speak sincerely to the truth of this. I see group members as loving souls with varied talents and willingness to serve. I see their indifference (to accept Jen’s pure healing intentions) as an affront to my personal integrity, actually. Our history together warrants better consideration of open mindedness. Perhaps this article will reach their hearts.
Revealing the group’s fallibility
Two particular occurrences happened that helped me understand the group’s fallibility. Again, orchestrated by spirit to clue me in. I had volunteered to help at a workshop at one of the major seminar hotel venues. It was evidently a popular topic for ‘high initiates’ only, and room capacity was limited. We were informed to close the doors when all seats were taken and refer the latecomers to other workshops. The mayhem that ensued when we had to shut out several disappointed participants was unfathomable to me. Their desperation and anger of missing this particular presenter (personality worship?) and workshop was nothing I could imagine among seasoned veterans. Their diligence had proven them worthy of accessing their own answers. What had they missed in all their years about understanding ‘the temple within’? Is that not the essence of the teaching? Witnessing this drama opened my eyes to seriously pause and think about why these individuals were not standing in their own empowerment and creating their own worlds.
In another incident, I was asked to facilitate a round table event at a retreat held exclusively for long-time members. At one point in discussing insights on a particular topic, I shared a concept I had just enjoyed reading from one of the teaching’s exclusive monthly discourse series. After returning home, the following day, a ‘hierarchy’ next-up person called me to say that it was not appropriate to divulge any ‘sacred information’ from any discourse series. She participated in the round table led by me and apparently monitored it closely to critique after. To put it mildly, I was taken aback. For one thing, every person in that room owned every written discourse series available from stockpiling them over the years. What secrets were being violated? And secondly, is sacred truth a big secret found only within discourse pages that require close guarding? I have no respect for a hierarchy system that subjugates my ability to access my beautiful in-the-moment sovereignty.
The true spiritual journey
Ultimately, your spiritual journey is to free up the full expression of your own beingness. It is initiating your special courage and strength without, and beyond, any consent or opinion of others. This is a lesson to learn about any ‘cult’ mentality. Unless you allow it, no group using your energy to advance an agenda can override your own sacred connection to source. It is accessing your own omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. These esoteric concepts can be understood for what they truly mean, just for the asking. Your inner voice is a clarity wellspring, an empowering church of useful information. This is when a reverent, respectful quietness counts the most. Why not belong to the church of your own innate wisdom.