Cult Awareness & Information Centre - Australia Abstract: John-Roger was a one-time follower of Eckankar. He started his own group in 1968. He is reflective of a new wave of offshoots from Eckankar.

The J.R. Controversy


Chapter Four
THE J.R. CONTROVERSY

A Critical Analysis of John-Roger Hinkins and M.S.I.A.


What would you do if you learned one day that your spiritual teacher sexually harassed his male disciples and covered up his sexual affairs; a plagiarist who lifted his teachings from other traditions without due reference; a spendthrift who lived extravagantly, though he took a vow of poverty; a questionable business man who engaged in risky and possibly illegal activities; and a religious charlatan who consistently told untruths about a variety of issues?

Break-off your discipleship? Leave the organization? Stay with the movement? How would you feel? Shocked, disgusted, saddened? Or, perhaps, a strong sense of rationalization: okay, he may be sexually manipulative, a plagiarist, a crook, and a liar, but I have benefitted from him spiritually!

Right now this is the dilemma of several members of M.S.I.A. (Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness) who believe that their teacher John-Roger has misled them and thousands of others. Based primarily upon the personal testimony of disciples of John-Roger about his hidden life, a scandal of devastating proportions has begun to rock the Movement's international membership. This article, the first of its kind, will take a close look at the present controversy, addressing the larger issue of how new religious groups should be studied in light of legitimacy and authenticity.

The Critical Imperative:

Legitimacy versus Authenticity

With the continuing growth of new spiritual movements, it is imperative for both the scholar and the seeker to be able to discriminate between groups which are fraudulent and manipulative and those which are genuine and beneficial. The failure to do so has troublesome consequences: witness Jim Jones and Jonestown. What is necessary, therefore, in the examination of religion and its mystical claims--be them old and traditional like Roman Catholicism or new and emerging like the Unification Church--is unbridled rational scrutiny. That is, the opportunity to fully investigate every facet about the particular spiritual movement: from the biography of its founder, the history of its organization, the value of its teachings, to the practical application of its techniques, etc. Nothing, in this purview, is too private, too esoteric, or too trivial for examination.

However, some of today's religions resist such inquiries, fearing the negative reprecussions that may result from an intensive study of their history and doctrines. For instance, note the reluctance of many followers to accept historians' allegations that many esteemed religious leaders plagiarized their writings from other authors, e.g., Joseph Smith (Mormonism) and Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science).

Though we may indeed find many unpleasant facts out about the originators and promulagators of spiritual movements, this does not in any way lessen our responsibility to uncover the truth (in whatever form it may appear). This above all else is the rational imperative and the duty of human intelligence: to question and probe unceasingly.

Ken Wilber, perhaps more than any other transpersonal theorist, has stressed the need for intelligent discrimination in the face of our modern cultic renaissance. In his books, A Sociable God (1983) and Eye to Eye (1983), Wilber has proposed a simple but dynamic paradigm in which to critically analyze new religious movements.

Borrowing his terminology from linguistics and sociology, Wilber argues that spiritual groups should be judged on two criteria: legitimacy and authenticity. The former deals with the relative degree of meaning value found in the group. How well do its teachings integrate one within both the membership fold and the exterior community? Does the leader/teacher live up to his/her own ethical standards? To the moral heights of other enlightened masters? What are the group's historical antecedents? How is it viewed by outsiders, etc.? Legitimacy is a horizontal enterprise, the valuation of the movement's aims within the individual, membership, and the society at large.

Authenticity, on the other hand, is concerned with the actual transformation offered and delivered by the respective sect. Is the group engaged with transcendent practices for uplifting the soul to higher realms? Or, just the alteration of social and political awareness? Are participants experiencing directly those desired aims, etc.? This, as Huston Smith in The Forgotten Truth has pointed out, is a vertical appraisement, gauging the spiritual focus and power of the movement both theoretically and practically.

With Wilber's astute reconnoitering of religious groups, it will enable us to examine John-Roger and M.S.I.A. more fully, taking into consideration both the integrative and transformative dimensions of his group.

A Brief History of M.S.I.A.

In 1968 John-Roger Hinkins, reportedly a former police dispatcher and ex-high school teacher raised in Mormonism, started his spiritual ministry in California. He was associated with Paul Twitchell and his group, having been a mail correspondent member and a second initiate. There are also reports that he was connected with other metaphysical groups, learning firsthand about meditation, light-attunement, and aura balancing, which he later incorporated into his own movement.

Although Hinkins' name appears in Twitchell's newsletter (dated in the late 1960's) as a convenor for Twitchell sponsored meetings in Southern California, John-Roger does not see his connection with Paul Twitchell as a master/disciple or teacher/student relationship. Be that as it may, the fact remains, however, that his group and his teachings are almost exactly the same as those taught by Paul Twitchell, not even excepting particular Twitchellian nuances. Likewise, some M.S.I.A. initiates recall that in the early meetings J.R. would "call in" the spirit of brother Paul Twitchell, as a master conversant in soul travel. It should also be recognized that M.S.I.A.'s organizational structure is almost parallel to Twitchell's group with regard to initiation, discourses, and cosmology.

John-Roger is known to members of M.S.I.A. as the physical manifestation of the Mystical Traveler Consciousness, an all-powerful inner spirit that guides the progress of soul travelers. (This concept, by the way, is quite similar to the Satguru in the Radhasoami tradition and the Mahanta in Twitchell's group.) According to Roger's account, the mantleship of the MTC was passed on to him in or around 1963. During this time, Roger claims to have met Sawan Singh, the late Radhasoami Satsang Beas master who died in 1948. "J.R.," as Hinkins is affectionately called, holds that Sawan Singh was the previous receptor of the MTC and passed on the "keys" to the Kingdom to him on the inner spiritual planes. In the beginning, however, J.R. did not recognize the luminous being as Sawan Singh. At first, he alleged to be in communication with Rebazar Tarzs, a 500 year old Tibetan monk, who, as it turns out, was a fictional character created by Paul Twitchell to hide his past associations. Accordingly, it was only later when Roger saw a photograph of the Radhasoami guru that he placed the picture of Sawan Singh with the powerful entity he encountered in meditation.

John-Roger's group has grown considerably in the last ten years, and now has centers throughout the United States and in several countries across the globe. M.S.I.A. publishes its own newspaper, The Movement, and the writings of J.R., including such books as The Sound Current, A Consciousness of Wealth, and The Christ Within. Recently there took place the creation of the John-Roger Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization which supports J.R.'s numerous activities. This Foundation backs the following enterprises:

1. Public Communication: Educational programs; NOW productions; Book division; The Movement Newspaper; and Audio tape division.

2. Educational Institutions: Insight Transformational Seminars; Koh-E-Nor University; PRANA Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy.

3. Health Treatment Baraka Holistic Center for Therapy and Research. 4. Community and Public Service: Insight Service Training; Insight Service Projects; and Individual Service Projects.

5. Spiritual and Philosophical Service M.S.I.A.; Counseling; Publications

At first glance, John-Roger and his Movement appear to be a viable alternative in today's expanding religious market. The official history of M.S.I.A. goes a long way in trying to portray J.R. and his mission as a great boon for humankind and society. At long last, the West has an authentic master of the Sound Current, one who can convey Eastern wisdom in practical, accessible terms--or so the general membership believes. But, according to a growing number of students of J.R. who have recently defected from the ranks, there is a hidden side to the history and design of M.S.I.A. which displays not a genuine spiritual teacher and a true path to God, but a misguided charlatan who will use anything in his power to achieve his aims. It is, no doubt, a controversial issue but, nevertheless, it is one that demands closer scrutiny. The following series of "allegations," which are at the heart of the scandal, will allow us to determine the ultimate legitimacy and authenticity of J.R.'s mastership.

J.R. is a Plagiarist

Since the inception of M.S.I.A., John-Roger has infused his group with a variety of teachings, practices, and New Age techniques from other spiritual traditions. At times this has been a source of embarrassment because his extensive "borrowing" has occasionally turned out to be blatant plagiarism. For instance, compare M.S.I.A.'s cosmology (as found in The Sound Current by John-Roger, dated 1976) with Twitchell's cosmology (as found in The Spiritual Notebook by Paul Twitchell, dated and copyrighted in 1971):

Paul Twitchell's Cosmology (Region and Sound)

  • 1. Physical (Thunder)
  • 2. Astral (Roar of the Sea)
  • 3. Causal (Tinkle of Bells)
  • 4. Mental (Running Water)
  • 5. Soul (Single Note of Flute)
  • 6. Alakh Lok (Heavy Wind)
  • 7. Alaya Lok (Deep Humming)
  • 8. Hukikat Lok (Thousand Violins)
  • 9. Agam Lok (Music of Woodwinds)

John-Roger's Cosmology (Region and Sound)

  • 1. Physical (Thunder)
  • 2. Astral (Roaring Surf)
  • 3. Causal (Tinkle of Bells)
  • 4. Mental (Running Water)
  • 5. Soul (Sound of Flute)
  • Sound of Wind
  • Humming Sound
  • Ten Thousand Violins
  • Sound of Woodwinds

Roger's cosmology is exactly the same as Paul Twitchell's. This is unusual because of Twitchell's own creative implantations which were uniquely his own. Both of the above schemas represent a radical departure from the Radhasoami esoteric version which was the primary source for Twitchell's understanding of the Sound Current and Surat Shabd Yoga practice.

Not only did J.R. copy from Twitchell's publications (consciously or otherwise), but he also appropriated word for word from other metaphysical texts. Perhaps Roger's most graphic example of plagiarism was from Florence Scovel Shinn's book, The Game of Life and How to Play It, published by DeVorss & Company and copyrighted in 1925. Take a close look at the following comparisons; not a sentence has been changed:

Florence Scovel Shinn (1925)

God is my unfailing supply, and large sums of money come to me quickly, under grace, in perfect ways.

Every plan my father in heaven has not planned, shall be dissolved and dissipated, and the Divine Idea now comes to pass.

Only that which is true of God is true of me, for I and the Father are ONE.

As I am one with God, I am one with my good, for God is both the Giver and the Gift. I cannot separate the Giver from the gift.

Divine love now dissolves and dissipates every wrong condition in my mind, body and affairs. Divine Love is the most powerful chemical in the universe, and dissolves everything which is not of itself!

Divine Love floods my consciousness with health, and every cell in my body is filled with light.

My eyes are God's eyes, I see with the eyes of spirit. I see clearly the open way; there are no obstacles on my pathway. I see clearly the perfect plan.

John Roger Hinkins (1981) [Affirmations]

  • God is my unfailing supply, and large sums of money come to me quickly, under grace, in perfect ways.
  • Every plan my father in Heaven has not planned, shall be dissolved and dissipated. The Divine Idea now comes to pass.
  • Only that which is true of God is true of me, for I and the Father am one.
  • As I am one with God, I am one with my good, for God is both the Giver nd the Gift. I cannot separate the Giver from the Gift.
  • Divine love now dissolves and dissipates every wrong condition in my mind, my body and affairs. Divine Love is the most powerful chemical in the universe and dissolves everything which is not of itself.
  • Divine Love floods my consciousness with health and every cell in my body is filled with Light.
  • My eyes are God's eyes. I see with the eyes of Spirit. I see clearly the open way. There are no obstacles on my pathway. I see clearly the perfect plan.

John-Roger appears to have a proclivity for taking other teachings, writings, and practices and developing them as his own. Besides the obvious similarities between Roger's Insight Transformational Seminars and Life Spring (as well as Est) one can see his tendency for "borrowing" in his curious use of the word "Sarmad" as a term for God. It seems likely, given J.R.'s track record in matters of religious shoplifting, that he first learned the word "Sugmad" from Paul Twitchell. However, after his exposure to certain Radhasoami Beas texts (particularly the one entitled Sarmad), he transposed Twitchell's term "Sugmad" (which stands for the Highest Lord) into M.S.I.A.'s "Sarmad." In any case, "Sarmad" is actually the name given for a famous Indian-Jewish saint in the Shabd Yoga tradition who died a martyr because of his claim that he was one with God.

Roger, coincidentally, has also taken over the "Holy Five Names" mantra from the Radhasoami Beas and Ruhani Satsangs. In doing so, though, J.R. has mistakenly rearranged the order in two of the names, betraying his ignorance in understanding Indian terminology. This type of indiscriminate borrowing, at least to practitioners from established centers of Surat Shabd Yoga, shows John-Roger to be an unscrupulous spermologos and his group M.S.I.A. to be a potpourri of unoriginal spiritual teachings. The allegation that J.R. is a plagiarist, to some disciples, looks more and more to be a statement of fact.

J.R. Sexually Manipulates His Disciples

Perhaps the most shocking thing to be alleged about John-Roger by a number of M.S.I.A. members is that he sexually manipulates his disciples into having a homosexual affair, claiming that it is for their best spiritual interests. According to several reports, J.R. has apparently been using his spiritual title in order to have sexual relationships with numerous male disciples.

In this regard, Roger joins the growing ranks of gurus who have crossed the ethical borderline between religious guidance and physical intimacy. This infamous assemblage now includes the likes of Swami Muktananda, who according to William Rodarmor's article in CoEvolution Quarterly (Winter 1983), was having numerable sexual encounters with his female followers both in America and India before his death in 1982; Neem Karoli Baba, Richard Alpert's teacher, who is recorded to have had "making out" sessions with some of his female American devotees; and Sathya Sai Baba, perhaps India's most famous mystic, who is described by Tal Brooke (one-time disciple) in Lord of the Air (1979) to be a practicing homosexual.

As sexuality is undoubtedly a personal matter and perhaps a skeleton in most individual's closets, it is not my wish to elaborate any further on this private issue which has turned public within the last decade. However, it should be pointed out that spiritual teachers by necessity must be judged by a high moral standard, for they are allowing themselves to be examples of what other humans can and should be. Though, indeed, gurus are human like the rest of us (and deserve our understanding and forgiveness), they represent a higher potential, a supposed enlightened state. Hence, when one does "fall off the pedestal" it should Inot be ignored or condoned with lame excuses. To do so only allows for more ethical transgressions to occur. Gurus don't hesitate to point out their devotee's weaknesses, nor should disciples be hesitant in criticizing their teacher's faults. Critical exchange is crucial and healthy for any type of relationship--including teacher/students ones.

J.R. is a Charlatan

According to many disenchanted followers, though J.R. claims to be the manifestation of the Mystical Traveler Consciousness he exhibits many of the qualities of a charlatan. Questions have been raised about Roger's lifestyle, business practices, and way of dealing with people.

For instance, it appears that M.S.I.A. (presumably with J.R.'s knowledge) has illegally used the Atman Travel Agency to secure discounts on flights for staff members and other interested parties. The way this is done is to introduce a staff member as a full-time travel agent. But, in most cases, the individual does not work in that capacity, thereby deriving benefit for a service never rendered.

This type of questionable activity extends even to J.R.'s Mandeville Canyon property. When the city of Los Angeles' Department of buildings and Safety sent a letter to John-Roger Hinkins to discontinue the operation of commercial ventures on his residential property, it appears that J.R. (under guidance from his attorney) tried to hide the business dealings going on at Mandeville. This included, among other things, the claim by Roger's lawyer to Senior Building-Mechanical Inspector (J. Anderson) that "editing" on tapes and books, etc., was a "hobby"--though obviously this was not the case.

J.R.'s personal lifestyle can best be described as luxurious. He has at his disposal hundreds of thousands of dollars for a number of projects. Though he claims to have taken a vow of poverty, Roger lives quite expensively, having the latest in technology and comfort.

Though the preceding sections only partially describe the hidden side of John-Roger, they do bring to focus the important question of whether or not J.R. has any genuine spiritual authority or if his group M.S.I.A. is at all a legitimate and authentic enterprise.

What About Credentials? The Traditional Analysis

There are two major ways that one can judge the legitimacy of a spiritual movement: from inside the tradition and outside of it. Our critical analysis, therefore, will be on these two fronts, first utilizing the principles of Sant Mat, Radhasoami, and Shabd Yoga for the practical critique; and secondly, applying the evaluations of transpersonal psychology (via Wilber and Welwood) for the external appraisement.

Since John-Roger readily admits that Sawan Singh, the late Radhasoami Beas guru, was the previous receptor of the Mystical Traveler Consciousness, it is only natural for our purposes to see if J.R. himself lives up to the guidelines of a true master, as posited by Sawan Singh and his predecessors. (It should be noted that Sawan Singh [1858-1948] was a highly esteemed master of Shabd Yoga "union of the soul with the Divine Sound" in North India and had a very large following. His guru was Jaimal Singh, the spiritual successor of Shiv Dayal Singh, who founded the Radhasoami path in the mid 19th century in Agra, India.) Below are the results of the comparison:

[SAWAN SINGH] 1. True masters never charge money for their services in any form
(this, of course, includes membership or initiation). Nor do they
live off the offerings of their disciples. True masters are self-supporting.

2. True masters must be initiated themselves while in the body by a
genuine guru. Successorship, naturally, necessitates an
acknowledgement on behalf of the departing master of his heir.

3. True masters are strict vegetarians and insist that their disciples do the same.

4. True masters do not drink alcohol nor take mind-altering drugs.

5. True masters do not claim psychic powers or perform public miracles.

6. True masters only have sexual relations with their spouse.

[JOHN ROGER]

1. M.S.I.A., under the direction of J.R., charges a yearly rate for
membership. (Initiation generally can only be secured if you are a
member first.) John-Roger, though he claims to have taken a vow of
poverty, has used thousands of dollars of his group's money for his own uses.

2. John-Roger disavows having taken initiation from any Shabd Yoga
master while living in the physical body (including Sawan Singh, who
had been deceased for fifteen years when J.R. claims to have met him).

3. John-Roger is a meat-eater. M.S.I.A. students do not take a vow of vegetarianism.

4. John-Roger is reported to consume alcoholic beverages and take a
variety of legal prescription drugs.

5. John-Roger, on occasion, claims psychic ability.

6. John-Roger, according to a number of disciples, has sexually
manipulated several males into affairs.

As is made obvious from the above analysis, John-Roger would not be regarded as a genuine master by Sawan Singh and the Sant Mat tradition. Rather, he has all the earmarks of a guru not to follow. This is further supported by the illuminating fact that Roger's spiritual and meditational advice is almost always opposite that given by Sawan Singh and other saints in India:

[SAWAN SINGH]

A) A disciple of a perfect master once initiated can never be
uninitiated or disconnected from the Sound Current or his guru. He
is, in the course of time, assured of his destination, God-realization.

B)form that may appear in meditation by repeating the Holy Names given
to them at the time of their initiation.

[JOHN ROGER]

A)"Your reconnections to the Sound Current did not hold and this is to
notify you that you are no longer initiates of the Mystical Traveler
and of the Sound Current."--letter from the Movement Board, under the direction of J.R.

B) Advises his disciples not to repeat their Holy Tones when they
encounter inner beings during their meditations.

In light of Sant Mat principles and history, John-Roger's story about receiving the mantleship of the Mystical Traveler Consciousness and contacting Sawan Singh on the inner planes, etc., cannot be taken seriously, as it would contradict the very teachings of Sawan Singh and Shabd Yoga. Hence, in this context, J.R. has no proof or rightful demand for his spiritual authority. Likewise, neither does M.S.I.A. (as a religious organization under the direction of Roger) have any substantial claim for being a true source or lineage for Sound Current practices and doctrines.

The Humanistic and Transpersonal Critique

Due to the pioneering work of Ken Wilber and John Welwood, it is now possible to critically analyze new religious movements and their leaders from a humanistic/transpersonal perspective.

If we apply Wilber's scale of legitimacy and authenticity to John-Roger, for example, we find that J.R. has a very weak case for his mastership, since he lacks both a documented historical lineage and outside confirmation from other well established Sound Current teachers. Concurrently, M.S.I.A., since it springs solely out of J.R.'s own creative enterprising, scores a low rating in legitimacy also.

In terms of authenticity (the actual transformative powers of the group), there can be no question that M.S.I.A. does ultimately aim for higher realms of consciousness and that some sincere individuals may be achieving those exalted states. However, these experiences have nothing to do, per se, with John-Roger or M.S.I.A. Rather, as I have argued elsewhere, it is the person's own inherent capability for transcendent insights that enables one to have inner visions and out-of-body experiences. This is most acutely exemplified in the reports of near-death patients who describe beautiful encounters with a being of light. The NDE experience, as Moody, Ring, and Sabom have indicated in their research, is a transcultural phenomenon, available to any person no matter what religion or country they may belong to.

Thus, following this line of reasoning, it would be erroneous for M.S.I.A. initiates who have mystical encounters to assume that John-Roger is necessarily the cause for it. Instead, it is one's own belief, faith, concentration, and potential for further structural adaptation which has acted as the catalyst for the elevation. This does not mean, though, that true masters do not administer spiritual benefit to their disciples, but only that the individual must first allow for further insight and advancement. Enlightenment, as Wilber so aptly points out, cannot be forced upon people--only slavery can.

Another important appraisement of spiritual masters and groups comes from John Welwood's classic article, "On Spiritual Authority: Genuine and Counterfeit," which appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Summer 1983). Welwood draws an important distinction between genuine and counterfeit gurus by illustrating the differences between Egocentricity and Being.

Diagrams Welwood:

[EGOCENTRICITY]

concern with maintaining appearances; concern with maintaining and validating a self-image; contraction around "I-ness"; sense of insecurity and inadequacy;

[BEING]

concern with discovering truth; interest in and appreciation of the world, independently of how it affirms or negates any self-image; expansion outward toward life and the phenomenal world; basic sense of wholeness, well-being, aliveness, and intelligence

If we accept the picture of John-Roger that has been drawn by a number of ex-followers (and outlined throughout this article) and place it through Welwood's grid, it becomes obvious that J.R. has more traits of Egocentricity than of Being. This will become even clearer when we review Roger's reactions to criticism.

The Red Monk Disease

The most telling sign of whether a master is genuine or fraudulent, authentic or counterfeit, filled with Ego or Being, is to see how he reacts to personal criticism. It is easy to "look" majestic and benevolent when everyone around is adoring you. But, the real test is to find out how the guru responds in a negative situation. Only then can a disciple witness the real merits of his teacher.

How does John-Roger stand up on the face of adverse publicity? Not very well it seems. For instance, when word got out that several disciples were talking about his personal/hidden life, J.R. immediately tried to squelch it by having his lawyers send letters pointing out the possible legal ramifications if they persisted. Not satisfied with just a conventional defense, Roger also declared to his membership that certain wayward students were now embodying the "Red Monk," a negative delusion, etc. Declares a letter from the Movement Board to one of these "straying" followers:

We will also once again be notifying those people that ask that you are once again embodying the Negative Power in the form of the Redmonk and the consequences that goes with this power. Please understand that this action is not against you but for those whom you would once again contaminate with this energy field. Most of the people in the Movement who have contacted us have noticed the peculiar actions around you that reminded them of the occurrences when your egos led you into patterns of deceit and half truths in the past...

What does this "Red Monk" do? According to the Movement Board it contaminates anything which comes into its field of energy. Who are the most likely candidates for the dreaded disorder? Students who criticize John-Roger or M.S.I.A. To show to what extent John-Roger will go in defending his actions, I have included some excerpts from letters that have been written on his behalf or M.S.I.A.'s to dissident students.

It has come to my attention that you and other individuals have been slandering and invading the privacy of several of my clients including John-Roger, the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Awareness...and others involved therewith...As attorney for these individuals and foundations, I have been instructed to request that you immediately cease and desist from said activities.

I direct your attention to California Civil Code Section 43 et seq. and related cases involving the possible penalties for your actions... (letter from attorney Marc Darrow on behalf of John-Roger)

This is to inform you that I am no longer in support of you being a minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and so I am requesting that you hand in your Ministerial ordination and pocket size credentials as soon as possible. Since you have effectively placed yourself under the power of the Kal power and its field of negativity known as the Red Monk I can also no longer support you as an initiate and ask that you request to have this relationship terminated...
(letter from John-Roger to a former minister and student of M.S.I.A.)

What emerges from these letters is not a compassionate and forgiving spiritual teacher, but a resentful, obviously insecure individual who possesses the failings of a common man. John-Roger, and not his questioning disciples, appears to be suffering from a bad case of over-exposure to the fearful Red Monk disease. The only cure available for J.R., it seems, is to concede to the fact that he is more a charlatan than a saint.

Postscript

This article was originally written in 1983 after I was approached by several highly placed members of M.S.I.A. who felt betrayed by John-Roger Hinkins. Since I was somewhat friendly with J.R. (we had met on several occasions at his home about my research on Paul Twitchell, shabd yoga, and Radhasoami), I called him on the telephone to get his response to the three main allegations made against him (plagiarism, sexual manipulation, and charlatanism). J.R. did not take kindly to my questions and did not want me to do any further research on him. Indeed, after that phone conversation in the Fall of 1983 I was subjected to a series of threats, including several made against my life and the lives of my friends/informants.

The situation reached a peak the following year on October 5, 1984, when my home was ransacked and a number of my research files were purloined. Documentary evidence (outlined in a special issue of UCSM entitled "The Criminal Activities of John-Roger Hinkins") implicates John-Roger with the Del Mar robbery, as well as engineering a smear campaign replete with death threats against his critics. Subsequently major news organizations began to investigate J.R. A number of provocative articles were published which exposed John-Roger in a negative light, including an extensive two part critique in The Los Angeles Times.

It should be noted, however, that when The J.R. Controversy first appeared I had to go to press without using the names of my informants, each of whom declined to go public because they feared for their safety. Thus, even though my critique was the first of its kind ever done on J.R. and the Movement, I was more or less a sitting duck for his retaliatory efforts. J.R. waged a systematic campaign against me by setting up a phony front organization entitled the "Coalition for Civil and Spiritual Rights." In order to mail out his threatening letters, J.R. rented a mail box in West Los Angeles under three pseudonyms: Peter Davidson, Ph.D., Michael Hunt, and Kip Ferguson. J.R. made one devastating mistake, though, in creating his front: he personally paid and signed for the mail box, betraying in one stroke of the pen his claim that he was not aware of C.C.S.R.

After discovering J.R.'s plot (and after receiving some of the stolen materials back which contained John-Roger's handwriting in the margins), I wrote another article which detailed his criminal activities. I also went on a couple of television programs, including the nationally syndicated Now It Can Be Told, and mentioned on air how J.R. was involved in a number of illegal dealings. Since all of my allegations were based upon extensive documentation, J.R. has never taken any legal action.

The ironic twist in all of this, however, is that J.R. is now more popular than ever. This is primarily due to his co-authoring a number of best selling books, with such catchy titles as Life 101 and Wealth 101. Despite a flurry of negative publicity around the world (the U.K. press has been especially hard on John-Roger and his Movement), J.R. has shown a remarkable resilience to rebound from adversity.

NOTES

1. See "Transcendental Sociology."

2. Personal interview with John-Roger Hinkins at his home in Mandeville Canyon (1978). Also refer to the May 12, 1973 issue of the Movement Newspaper which elaborates on J.R.'s association with Paul Twitchell.

3. Writes an ex-member of M.S.I.A., in a personal letter to the author (dated November 15, 1983): "You may be interested to know that years ago Roger Hinkins studied with a small group in Glendale, CA that still exists called the Fellowship of Universal Guidance. Some of us went there recently to hear one of their classes which consists of information about the 3 selves and the Christ. I believe Roger Hinkins very cleverly devised a saleable package by combining the material from [Paul Twitchell and his movement] with the material from this group. . . ."

4. An example of this is Roger's acceptance of Twitchell's unusual claim that the sound of the "flute" is heard on the soul plane and that the "tinkling of bells" is audible in the casual region. No shabd yoga tradition in India connected to Radhasoami has ever stated such a thing; rather, they make reference to the sound of a "vina" (or bagpipe) in Sach Khand and the "conch" (or drum) in Trikuti, the casual plane.

5. Paul Twitchell's group is also aware of this similarity and at one time threatened lawsuits against J.R. for his actions. Memos against M.S.I.A. have been sent out by Twitchell and his attorneys.

6. Personal interview with John-Roger Hinkins at his home in Mandeville Canyon (1978-1979). The latter interview has since been transcribed by John-Roger and copied.

7. See my book, The Making of a Spiritual Movement (Del Mar: Del Mar Press, 1994).

8. Personal interview with John-Roger Hinkins, op. cit.

9. This connection between Radhasoami and American Sound Current teachings is outlined in my paper "The New Panths: Shabdism in North America," which was first presented to the American Academy of Religion at Stanford University in 1982. It has subsequently been incorporated in my book The Making of a Spiritual Movement (op. cit.). Also see "Bhrigu Samhita."

10. Refer to Isaac A. Ezekiel's Sarmad: The Jewish Saint of India (Beas: Radha Soami Foundation).

11. Personal interview with John-Roger Hinkins (op. cit.) where he revealed the "Holy Five Names" to me off tape. Also this information was confirmed by several ex-members of M.S.I.A.

12. In early 1983 at a dinner date in San Diego, California, I had the opportunity to speak with author Tal Brooke about Sathya Sai Baba's alleged homosexual advances. Brooke informed me that Sathya Sai Baba had made a "pass" at him, overtly trying to handle his genitals. Undoubtedly this is a controversial issue, but one which is coming more into the limelight each day. Below is a list of gurus who are reported to have had sexual affairs with their disciples in some way:

  • 1) John-Roger Hinkins;
  • 2) Sathya Sai Baba;
  • 3) Thakar Singh;
  • 4) Neem Karoli Baba;
  • 5) Zen abbot Dick Baker;
  • 6) Swami Muktananda;
  • 7) Swami Rama; and
  • 8) Frederick Lenz (Rama).

13. Interviews with ex-members of M.S.I.A. Also refer to the television program, "Now It Can Be Told" (Fall 1991), which records on tape the various allegations made against J.R.

14. Ibid.

15. Refer to Julian P. Johnson's The Path of the Masters (Beas: Radha Soami Foundation, 1939)--excerpts of which are included in the last note--and Sawan Singh's Spiritual Gems (Beas: Radha Soami Foundation, 1965).

16. Interviews with former students of J.R.

17. For more on the history of shabd yoga and the lineages of Sant Mat and Radhasoami masters please refer to Mark Juergensmeyer's Radhasoami Reality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991) and this author's The Radhasoami Tradition (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 1992).

18. See Ken Wilber's A Sociable God (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983) and Eye to Eye (New York: Doubleday/Anchor Press, 1983).

19. Ken Wilber, op. cit.

20. Please refer to The Unknowing Sage: The Life and Work of Baba Faqir Chand (Walnut: Mount San Antonio College Press, 1993).

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. John Welwood, "On Spiritual Authority: Genuine and Counterfeit," Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Summer 1983, page 50).