Temples of Wisdom.org

Introduction | History | Organization | Grounds | Death, Reincarnation, and Karma | Courses | Traveling Spiritually | Counseling | Dreams | Visiting | Reincarnation Counseling | Rebazar Tarzs - Founder of the Brotherhood | The Brotherhood and Defense | Conclusion

Rebazar Tarzs -
Founder of the Brotherhood of Light
and the Temples [Golden] of Wisdom

The origins of this site began many years ago when its author read Paul Twitchell's spiritual travelogue in a book describing his inner journey through non-material worlds to encounter the divinity. The book's title was The Tiger's Fang. At one point while reading the book, the author asked the question, "Why don't I have these experiences?" An inner voice responded, "Do you want to have these experiences?"

The voice was that of Rebazar Tarzs, Paul Twitchell's teacher and guide during the inner travels described in the book. This interaction began a decades-long dialogue with this teacher and other members of the Brotherhood. Rebazar Tarzs was described by Twitchell as an Eck Master, and one of the principal gurus in the Eckankar lineage of teachers.

The Temples of Golden Wisdom are spoken of fairly often in Twitchell's writings although the details about how these temples are structured and run are sparse. However these temples seem to be ignored or forgotten by the current leadership. It seems that they have largely lost touch with them. The brotherhood is however in touch with some members and communicates mostly in dreams with these individuals.

In this essay, we are going to describe Rebazar's life, and the process of the development of the Brotherhood of Light and the Temples of Wisdom.

The history of the Brotherhood of Light can be traced to its origins in North India during the Mughal period in the first part of the 17th century. One of its primary founders was a man whose title was Rebazar, a name that can be traced to his family's merchant background. It was a title of honor given to respected and successful merchant families and traders. Rai Bazaar or Ray Bazaar (Rai is pronounced rye like the bread) meant king of the merchants, the wisest and shrewdest person in the bazaar or shopping area.

There has been much speculation on the origin of the name Rebazar Tarzs. Because Rebazar had a Muslim family name, Twitchell preferred to address him by this title fearing a Muslim sounding name might alienate Eckankar followers. But a second name was required to fully identify a person. So Twitchell searched for a last name that might be acceptable to people. Twitchell's background in Science Fiction and adventure writing made him sensitive to the importance of choosing a good name when embellishing a story.

When Rebazar was recounting his travels during his life in the physical world to Twitchell, he mentioned that he had visited Tarsus in modern day Turkey, the place in the Bible where the evangelist Saint Paul was born. Paul Twitchell thought that connecting himself with the biblical Saint Paul and connecting the name Tarsus with his guru might create a subconscious association that would appeal to people and enhance both their reputations.

Twitchell decided that Rebazar would be given the shortened, single syllable name "Tarzs" instead of Tarsus to keep the association but vary the name enough so the subtle connection would be maintained. The new name had the advantage of rhyming and adding the "z" before the "s" put the "z" in both names. Both changes made the full name sound more mysterious, and made it difficult to trace to any culture, language, or existing religious tradition.

As he describes his life, Rebazar Tarzs came from an area of mountains and deserts, a largely colorless land with occasional oases and groves. His father led caravans which carried textiles - mostly cotton and wool. Silk was not available there. Rebazar rode with his father and soldiers on his own horse from the time that he was a child. All trade at that time required soldiers since there were many bandits or dacoits on the roads.

Rebazar passed by monasteries and wandering sadhus and dervishes, and always wanted to know more about them.

But his father said,

These are lazy people unwilling to work who live off the charity of others. They are like dogs. You should have nothing to do with them.

Rebazar went out trading for many years and made his father proud in his old age because of his success. But when his father died, he transferred his portion of the business to his mother and brothers. He chose to help struggling artists, merchants, and musicians with his portion of the inheritance, and eventually decided to leave the family. He had not married and had no children, and was therefore free of any family responsibilities.

Rebazar went out on the pilgrim trails visiting temples and monasteries. His family followed the laws of Muhammad, but like the Sufis of the time, he wanted mystical experience and to experience God directly without relying solely on holy books and rituals. He kept enough money to have food for his journeys and walked or rode on old horses. He dressed in white like a Sufi and went to many of their meetings and festivals. They seemed to fit his ideals best and he wished to be like them.

Rebazar continues with his account of his life:

I was also a singer and I sang as I traveled through the desert. I went through many desolate valleys which created strange echoes as I sang. In one place, my voice circled all around me, and the sounds created a pathway to the worlds of djinns and angels. This was my first experience of the sound current.

As I roamed, I met other groups of pilgrims, some of whom did meditation on sound. Some were musicians who earned their living through playing flutes, drums, and stringed instruments. These travelers started out playing for beauty and ended up playing for spiritual transcendence.

Our group did not have a spiritual teacher as leader, so we made our vows directly to God. Our path would be the teaching of spiritual music to others and the group would do this both in life and after death. We would help those that wandered mad, or took wrong paths in their religious search as best we could.

We created our own khanqah or religious community, and this later became the origin of the Brotherhood of Light. The community dwelling we created was out in the desert. This was the earthly lodge which preceded the supernatural one. The lodge was built of white marble, for some of its members came from wealthy families, who knew that they would gain merit from the donation. They gave time, land, and materials to make the monastery a beautiful one. It was located in a rocky desert, so workers had to travel a long way transporting stone, metal, and wood. There was water nearby for drinking and bathing, and food was brought once a week, first by relatives and later by devotees.

The group decided to try a settled life instead of wandering. Most of the day was spent in contemplation, except for the time for eating and work. There was cooking and cleaning, and some of the people knew how to make musical instruments. That became one way we supported ourselves. We did not beg or act like dogs, as my father had described sadhus and their begging for alms.

Our group did meditation on both instrumental and vocal music. The prayer room had white marble floors, and it had rugs that were given to us by householders. Some were for our own use, but others were prayer rugs to be used for a year only. People believed that a rug used by a saint for a year would sanctify the rug and then they could use it back in their own homes to gain blessings.

At this point, the community's meditations were still somewhat unstructured. But over time, traveling sages and saints came to visit the community. The group gave them hospitality and the visitors gave them teachings. At this point one of the other founders of the brotherhood came to visit and ended up staying. He had been an administrator in his worldly life and had become a wanderer when he left it. He had become part of the sound current or Shabda Yoga meditation tradition, a path which seemed both new and familiar to the group. He had learned from other teachers and wanted to take the organizational and administrative skills he had learned and use them to create an ideal monastic setting.

He divided us into different groups: counselors for visitors with problems, artists and creative people, maintainers of the physical setting, and later experts, specialists, and consultants. But we would pray before God as equals and we accepted all names of God.

So the earthly lodge preceded the heavenly one, and eventually the range of visitors expanded from human visitors to include disembodied spiritual visitors. We lived apart from the world and word spread bringing people to us. We offered prayers for the sick and the mad, and while our prayer room was marble, we lived simply. We fasted each week and ate lightly otherwise. We kept up the daily prayers and followed purity rules, but we avoided the endless wars of the local Muslim rulers.

Our group was based on South Asian Sufi Islam but we understood that the 99 names of God included Hindu, Buddhist, and other forms of the deity. God was beyond all form but could show himself in many forms. And God was a singer who created songs of infinity, and the currents of sound that traveled through the oceans of time and space.

We learned from all who came to visit us. Some had special relationships with ghosts and spirits, and we learned about their worlds too. It was a good and meaningful life. When orphans of war came to us, we gave them shelter and some stayed with us. We were not able to allow women - it would have scandalized the pious people around us. But I believe that we should have found a way - there are many women who are both wise and devoted.

However, in contrast to our earthly lodge, our supernatural lodge is not limited to men and has women as counselors and in other positions of authority. For this reason, the term brotherhood may be considered less descriptive than in the past and needs to be interpreted more broadly as the brotherhood of all mankind (which includes all women).

As we grew older, we wondered if it was possible to have a group like ours continue after death. This was a difficult question. Many sages believed that people had no choice in their afterlife, for God determined everything. Others were open to the idea but had no idea how to go about it. Death was a veil that blinded us.

However we had some magicians come to us who had been trained in creating worlds by organizing sacred letters and numbers. They called their god El. They could create ladders and nets that went through non-physical worlds, and they could create smaller worlds as their god had created the universe. We gave them hospitality and talked long into the night. The next day they spoke among themselves and agreed to exchange mystical teachings with us.

So they stayed for weeks and then months and we came to see how our currents of sound were like their structures of letters and numbers of light. We realized that intersections of our knowledge could be created and used. So we got together and created a great plan. We would build an institution like our lodge in the next world. It would be below the heavens so that we could help travelers who passed through the gates of death. Our visitors could act as visualizers and create great beauty, and we could be counselors for the needy.

Each night, they built the non-physical lodge brick by brick. Having wandered in our barren land, they wanted to build a place of mountains and rivers and forests. We all helped with visualizing the lodge, but they were the experts. We located a plane that was not claimed by any religion, and was far from any danger. This would be the location of our supernatural lodge.

So in the later years, we served visitors in our desert monastery and spent our afternoons and evenings working on the lodge. One of our members had been an architect early in his life and he gave us designs for buildings and grounds. We had to design the landscape first before we could start on the buildings. There would be special areas for visitors, for living quarters, for shrines and libraries and public spaces which later became courts and classrooms. We created lakes and gardens and rocky cliffs. It was enjoyable to imagine and create a perfect world.

It is difficult to train the imagination. It tends to go off into flights of fantasy, and be influenced by moods and emotions. But to visualize correctly, these tendencies must be controlled, and all powers of the mind totally focused. With one lapse of concentration, an entire edifice can fall. It is like acrobats who perform by building a human pyramid - when one person leaves or even sneezes, the whole pyramid of people can collapse.

So we contributed to the work. Because our expert group of visualizers did not follow Islam, we decided that we would not emphasize a single religion. We would be followers of God however he showed himself.

One of our founding members changed his name to begin with El instead of Al to show his respect for the tradition of our visualizers. He went from al-Morayya to El Moriah, and he has kept his new name ever since.

Different members chose to emphasize different areas. Some focused on the healing center and developed niches as doorways to other worlds for destructive spirits. Others emphasized areas for teaching and contemplation. I wanted an area for meditation and negotiation, important skills that are forgotten in times of war and antagonism.

We practiced going to the inner temple in our dreams. Some people have undisciplined dreams and imagine what they desire and what they fear. Our dreams were controlled to teach our members how to enter the lodge at death. We also created pathways for good souls to follow to the lodge. This was not easy, and the mental training necessary takes years. Even controlled entrance into dream states takes years for those without natural ability.

So slowly over the years we built the inner hills and valleys and rocks and trees. When they were stable enough, we worked on the buildings. It was exciting to think we could build a paradise.

We did not have many enemies. We were outwardly poor, so bandits were uninterested in us. Our only real valuable thing was the monastery itself, and it is hard for bandits to carry away walls and floors.

Besides we prayed for everyone, and tried to heal whoever came to us. We cared for neglected and abused children, and sometimes parents became red and embarrassed to ask for their children back. We left the decision up to the children. We did not want to force them back into situations of abuse and cruelty. Not all parents are good people.

We also fed the poor on Friday with food we cooked the day before. Travelers and pilgrims would come on that day and we would pray for them. Our noon prayers and meditations were public, but others were private.

In order to research decoration of the lodge, I decided to travel for a year. The other monks were fine with this. There were many wandering Sufis, dervishes, and fakirs. So I would not stand out. I saw many wise men and saints but they were more useful for determining our beliefs than for decorating our rooms. I went to temples, masjids, and churches and saw underground cells for monks and rooms in palaces for visitors and entertainers which were spacious and open to sun and wind. They had beautiful gardens which I would duplicate at the lodge in the future. I saw many types of cloth which we could use and many ways to store knowledge as scrolls, as letters incised in gems, as books, as letters in bark and wood and flesh. Our lodge would have a place to gather knowledge.

And I saw artwork from different lands. While Islam limits the arts, other traditions revel in them. On this I would wish to be as open as possible. The lodge would be full of beauty.

I traveled through many lands and sometimes took the role of a ragged fakir - exactly what my father would have despised. But it is the safest role in lands of war, bandits, and poverty. In safer regions, I appeared as a merchant. I had money and jewels sewn into the sides of my shoes. If necessary, I could act as a fortune-teller, an astrologer and a reader of gems.

I got many ideas for how the lodge should be made. I did go to the cold Himalayan mountains where the only warmth is in monasteries and hostels. I met Buddhist monks in my travels and we taught each other meditation techniques. I also met yogis whose paths were made of spiritual sound.

I traveled with Shabda Yogis in both the physical world and the spiritual worlds. They gave suggestions for sound worlds to visit, and I told them of our project of building the lodge. The yogis who resided permanently in these inner currents of sound thought it was a good idea - a place they could send the confused and unworthy souls who had somehow made it to their realms and needed help. It was a good option for them.

But sound yoga was only one of our meditation techniques. We had visualization and ways to build bridges between planes and ways to shed bodies as we traveled and then take them on again when returning. Thus souls could leave bodies and return to them, putting them on like robes taken off for bathing.

When I returned to our group from travel, I had many ideas for landscapes and gardens and buildings. Meanwhile, El Moriah had been organizing members by skills, and inviting new people he found worthy. I found them a fine team to work with.

We spent many years designing and visualizing. Our lodge would be worthy of our dreams. In building the place, the visualizers made roads of sound to get there. The mantras YA and HU would generate waves and tunnels that could take souls there.

From the Persians, we took trees made of sound, whose leaves and flowers chimed. From the North Indian Sufis, we took the idea of sacred dance to honor God. From painters, we took the colors of the lodge's landscape - bright blue and gold for the sky, turquoise for the lakes, violet and mauve for the mountains. We took design ideas from many places.

Our shrine room in the dome was made to be circular, with murals of the spiritual growth of the soul and the symbols of many spiritual paths. By this time there were many people building the lodge, especially at night in their dreams. The land grew with rocks and trees, and the lakes had fish. It did not take years. It took centuries. But here time has no limits.

In answer to the question of whether the people in the group went to live at the visualized lodge after they died, and what skills were required to enter the lodge after death, Rebazar answered in the following way:
At death, both body and soul disintegrate, separating into pieces. The sins from the past turn into a mass of obstacles that prevents the soul from traveling on. The soul must have yogic concentration to overcome those obstacles. They may appear as beautiful or frightening, alluring women or hideous monsters, anything which brings forth the passions. They may also be responsibilities, successes almost reached, or sorrows shared with others. All of these block the soul's movement.

If the soul is strong and dedicated, it will overcome these obstacles. But if these obstacles are powerful and hidden, they are more difficult to deal with. The more hidden they have been, the more hypnotic they will be. If all are confronted and their claims resolved, the soul can pass through these obstacles. For a modern metaphor, they are like a belt of meteors and planetary fragments that a rocket ship must pass through to get deeper into space. Some strong souls can pass through; others are dragged down by the power of these obstacles. They must then reincarnate to resolve the passions brought to the surface.

With respect to the original lodge group, most of them made it from this world to the next. They had years of meditative practice, dissolving the passions and helping others to overcome sin from destructive acts. For those who did not make it the first time, we left spaces for future attempts. People with serious sins did not stay in our community but returned to the world of flesh and war.

One of the bridges to our community is a slide that takes the soul to the silver gates at its entrance. The path is opened by the mantra YA which is energized (and followed) by the mantra HU. It takes the soul up mountains and down waterfalls in dizzying leaps with dramatic rising and falling. There are bridges over chasms which are invisible until the projected spiritual light illuminates them.

Eventually, almost all the original group came here. Over time, so did many more.

Twitchell's Development of
the Rebazar Tarzs Persona

This is a speculative commentary on why Twitchell decided to embellish and change the nature of the Brotherhood and its founders to fit into previous occult systems and categories. These older ideas were popularized in England and America about 70 years prior to Twitchell's writings.

Twitchell created a Theosophical "Tibetan ascended master" persona for Rebazar. He presented him as one of a long line of 972 such teachers that stretched back into the distant past. As in Theosophy, these Eckankar masters were believed to understand the "ancient wisdom" that was the source of all the world's religions. Twitchell had studied how successful Theosophical writers were in England in the late 1800's, and apparently used a similar marketing approach focusing on ascended masters to help popularize Eckankar. The approach taken by Twitchell (a novelist, science fiction, and adventure writer) required a "good story" and Twitchell chose to tell the story of Eckankar by repeating themes from Theosophy.

Though Rebazar was said to have a physical body, he appears almost exclusively to Twitchell in his subtle body (as would an ascended master).

The general idea seems to be that these teachers can appear anywhere at any time (in physical form or otherwise) which is consistent with Rebazar's role as a highly evolved ascended master. Twitchell was once interested in the Kriya Yoga of Paramhansa Yogananda. Yogananda describes a master named Babaji who seems perhaps more similar to Rebazar Tarzs having many of the same magical qualities such as a life span of hundreds of years and the ability to transport himself anywhere physically or spiritually.

Babaji who is sometimes described as an avatar was also supposed to have maintained his physical body as did Rebazar and in that way differs from most other ascended masters. However keeping the physical body does not seem to have limited their abilities in any way relative to other ascended masters who did not maintain their physical body.

This ascended master mythology is dubious based on the current biography but one thing about his story may be true. Twitchell said Rebazar was 500 years old and retained his physical body all that time. Based on the timeline presented above, Rebazar was an estimated 500 years old because he retained his memories and the personality of his earthly existence after his death. He therefore has had the same identity from the time of his birth in the 1600's to the present. He is in this sense about 500 years old even though his physical body lasted only the time of a normal human lifespan.

In general, joining a religious group that claims to be headed by beings (i.e., ageless masters of an ancient mystical order) who are believed to order and run the universe is more desirable that joining a relatively small group of volunteers who wish to help and guide reincarnating souls. The idea that the evolution of the human race is being guided by set of superior spiritual beings towards some ideal spiritual future is a very optimistic and attractive one to many spiritual seekers.

Twitchell was also perhaps appealing to the vanity of Eckankar followers by presenting the group as being special and superior to other religions and philosophies. But every religion claims to be the true religion although Twitchell's claims like those of the Theosophists were perhaps more grandiose than the claims of many other religions.

His success in attracting people to Eckankar speaks for itself. Whether these followers would have been better off spiritually if they had never heard of Eckankar remains an open question. Eckankar followers sometimes seek to reconcile the value of the core tradition (which closely resembles the traditional Indian Sant Mat or Radha Soami system) with the many false mythological claims of its founder. The Sant Tradition of which Sant Mat was a later version was a mixture of Sufi Islam and Yogic Hinduism popular in the Mughal period (1526-1857) in Northern India.

But as with many new religions created and promoted by charismatic leaders, the true is bound up with the false in a single package, and it is a challenge to separate them. More curious followers who learn more about world religions will eventually question notions that Rebazar is a "Tibetan" at all and read religion studies scholars who trace the true origins of Twitchell's religious ideas. This will likely lead to some disappointment and skepticism over many of his claims about the origins of Eckankar and questions about how much stretching of the truth is acceptable in order to create and spread a new religious movement which appeals to westerners such as Eckankar.

However, regardless of the created mythology, the strong connection cf Twitchell with the Brotherhood appears to show that in the early period, Eckankar was a viable mystical tradition with spirirtual depth which accounts for the wide variety of spiritual experiences of the members of the group and also perhaps the longevity of the group.

One approach to dealing with false claims which serve to publicize and spread a religious system is to view them as a delivery system which carries new and valuable ideas to an audience of religious seekers. This is like the hull of a seed which allows the inner fertile portion of the seed to safely spread. The hull has done its job when the inner part of the seed is exposed to soil and begins to grow. The hull is then cast off. The false outer mythology attached to a religious system is like the hull of a seed which is discarded once the seed reaches the fertile ground of sincere religious seekers and takes root.

Introduction | History | Organization | Grounds | Death, Reincarnation, and Karma | Courses | Traveling Spiritually | Counseling | Dreams | Visiting | Reincarnation Counseling | Rebazar Tarzs - Founder of the Brotherhood | The Brotherhood and Defense | Conclusion


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