A member of the new age family of cults, Eckankar teaches a process which after a series of reincarnation culminates in a god existence, or Christ Consciousness.
The process itself involves the adherent progressing upward through twelve astral planes through the attainment of classified levels of knowledge (gnosticism).
"The primary spiritual exercise is soul travel or out-of-body experiences... (using) meditation, trance... contact with spirit guides... (and) almost all forms of occult mystical consciousness-alteration...," (A Guide to Cults and New Religions, ed. Ron Enroth, pp.66-67).
Eckankar was the invention of Paul Twitchell who in 1965 proclaimed himself to be the ECK Master, an incarnation of God. He also incorporated Eckankar that year.
Following Twitchell's death in 1971, Darwin Gross succeeded him as the 972d ECK Master and led the group for 10 years. After his controversial reign, he was cut off from the organization and replaced by the current leader, Harold Kemp.
Unlike most New Age groups, Eckankar is exclusivistic in that it claims that through it alone one may reach enlightenment.