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Religious Movements of the 1980s

Ancient Teachings of the Masters (also referred to as ATOM) is the name given to the original teachings of Paul Twitchell after Darwin Gross was removed from Eckankar. He used this system of beliefs for his own independent uses. In this article, you will learn more about Gross, as well as the controversial religious movement of Aum Shinrikyo.

Ancient Teachings of the Masters

Twitchell was a spiritual writer, author and founder of Eckankar. The group accepted him as the Mahanta (or Living ECK Master) when he was alive. He directed the development of Eckankar up until his death. However, Gross took over as the new Living Eck Master when Twitchell passed away in 1971. In 1981, Harold Klemp was named to take his position over while he continued to run the Eckankar Corporation as a president.

With rumors of misappropriation of funds and other accusations, Gross’ relationship with Eckankar became strained and he was formally terminated with the group. He lost his status of Eck Master and was no longer part of the corporation. After this, Gross started to teach independently. He clearly stated that he was not creating a new teaching, but that he was maintaining the original teachings of Paul Twitchell.

Since he had retained copyright of all of his writings and music, Gross published his work and the work of his students. He used the name SOS (“Sounds of Soul”) and continued to do so until he died in 2008.

Aum Shinrikyo

Aum Shinrikyo (or Aleph as it is currently known) is a new religious movement that originated in Japan in 1984. Shoko Asahara founded the group and has since gained attention by leading his followers to commit the sarin gas attack that took place in 1995 on the Tokyo subway. He is also charged with other crimes and has been given a sentence of death. An appeal of the sentence has been declined and he is currently awaiting execution.

The meaning of the religion that Asahara founded translates into ‘religion of Truth’ or ‘Supreme Truth’ that combines beliefs and practices associated with Buddhism, Christianity, yoga, and even the writings of Nostradamus , who earned a reputation for his prophecies. The religion involved connections to popular anime themes and touched upon space missions, powerful weaponry, and world conspiracies.

In a 1992 book published by Asahara, he declared himself ‘Christ’ and called himself the only fully enlightened master and ‘Lamb of God’ in Japan. He claimed that he wanted to take upon himself all of the sins of the world. Asahara believed that he could transfer spiritual power to his followers and take their bad karma and sins away. He also told his followers that he had seen dark conspiracies that involved rival Japanese religions, the Dutch, Freemasons, the British Royal Family, and the Jews. He also spoke of a doomsday prophecy, which he believed would result in a Third World War with a final conflict that could end in a nuclear ‘Armageddon.’