Eckankar, known as “the path to spiritual freedom,” remains a mystery to many in Lincolnshire, yet for some, like husband and wife Steve and Liz (pictured above) Mallett, it represents a life-changing journey of over 40 years.
Eckankar’s spiritual leader, Sir Harold Klemp, the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master, describes the faith by saying: “There are many routes we can take to heaven.
“God has established so many different paths and means for us that there is a way for everyone… If you are ready, the Spiritual Exercises of ECK will help you to find your own custom-made approach to the Kingdom of God.”
Steve and Liz spoke passionately about "the path of spiritual freedom" known as Eckankar which they have followed for over 40 years. Photo: The Lincolnite
Steve, 63, said being involved with Eckankar made him realise that he was a spiritual being and it helped him find answers to questions he had.
Back in his early 20s he had an “uplifting” spiritual experience that made Steve want to search for answers, which he found in Eckankar.
He said: “There was a dramatic one where I had an out of body experience when I was ill in my early 20s.
“I found myself suddenly above my body and I could look down on my friends and I having a conversation.
“It wasn’t a long experience, but it gave me that certainty that I’m not my physical body and our soul is what we are.
“It was very uplifting and felt wonderful, a feeling of unconditional love.”
One of the most important aspects of Eckankar for Steve is that “there’s a living teacher who acts as both an inner and outer guide”, who is known as the ‘Mahanta, the living ECK Master’ and is respected, but not worshipped.
“This enables him to teach me through my dreams and other inner experiences as well as through books and public talks,” he said.
Steve explained that the most basic practice of Eckankar is to do daily spiritual exercise.
One of the practices of Eckankar is the chanting of a sacred word or mantra, with HU one of the most common. Photo: The Lincolnite
This usually involves the chanting of a sacred word or mantra, with HU (pronounced Hue) one of the most common. People can listen to recordings of others chanting, and sing along, or you can chant or sing yourself, for around 20 to 30 minutes in “a long, drawn out breath” - listen to HU here.
“For me, it starts to purify my thought stream and brings me into the present moment and allows me to let go of any anxieties,” said Steve. “It brings a feeling of peace and love.
“Spiritual exercises are about tuning into higher consciousness then putting it into practice and living it.”
Eckankar has been a life-changing journey for husband and wife Steve and Liz Mallett. Photo: The Lincolnite
Liz, 56, said she has always wanted to know who she is and what life is about, and it was at age 16 she first found out about Eckankar.
“I had a lot of questions about life and started going to church for a few months, but it didn’t quite answer my questions,” she said.
“One day a friend of mine who I walked to school with was telling me about something she’d heard about Eckankar and how you can see a blue light coming towards you. That intrigued me and I wanted to find out more.
“When I explored it more I found out that the blue light was a guide who works with us inwardly - the Mahanta. We seek guidance from the Mahanta all the time in different ways.”
The couple chant or sing HU in the morning and before they go to bed at night, which can mean they get answers through their dreams.
“When singing HU I can feel my heart opening and get ideas and inner guidance coming to me,” said Liz.
Eckankar is not as commonly known as other spiritual paths, but Steve and Liz Mallett are happy to share their experiences with others who are interested. Photo: The Lincolnite
Compared to other spiritual paths, Eckankar is not as commonly known, but those practising it “share a lot of tools and techniques with people from other religions and faiths,” added Steve.
The holy book in Eckankar is called shariyat-ki-Sugmad which is roughly translated to ‘the way of the eternal’. The word Sugmad to people following Eckankar means god and comes from ancient script.
“We don’t see God as a personification, but the source of divine love which is sometimes referred to as the ocean of love and mercy,” the couple said.
Although there appears to only be a handful of people in Lincolnshire who practise Eckankar, the couple would love to share their experiences with anyone interested in their spiritual life.
Anyone interested in finding out more can email email@example.com and meetings around the county are posted online here.
The Lincolnshire Faith Council committee is made up of many faiths. Pictured left to right - Subash Chellaiah, Executive and Partnership Director at The Centre for Reconciliation; Carole Glover who follows the Brahma Kumaris faith; and Liz Mallett and her husband Steve who practise Eckankar. Photo: The Lincolnite
Eckankar is one of many faiths that is part of the Lincolnshire Faith Council (LFC) committee.
LFC was started by The Centre for Reconciliation in 2020 as a united interfaith committee in Lincolnshire. In 2021, it compiled the Lincolnshire Faith Directory - a list of faiths across Greater Lincolnshire.
Subash Chellaiah, Executive and Partnership Director at The Centre for Reconciliation. Photo: The Lincolnite
Subash Chellaiah, Executive and Partnership Director at The Centre for Reconciliation, said: “It is a committee of mutual respect where there is no syncretism or proselytization. We all have mutual respect for each other’s faith and beliefs.
“It is here to raise awareness that Lincolnshire actually has quite a lot of faith and cultural diversity and it is great to celebrate this too.
“LFC is here to formalise the work already happening, connect many smaller faiths not already involved and to build links with educational and civic institutions.
“There is a need for faith councils in the world today – dialogue and friendship between people of different faiths happens informally in daily life, but there is a place for established interfaith groups and councils with the explicit intention of furthering mutual understanding.”
The committee is made up of many other faiths, and those without a faith. This includes: Baha’i, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity (Anglican, Church of England), Mormon, Pentecostal African and Unitarian), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Paganism, Sikhism and Zen Buddhist.