More on Sri Gary Olsen 
(updated, now includes pro and con)

I’m a student of Sri Gary Olson, and I’d like to address your evaluation. The introductory information on the Master Path web site would not entice me either, but what can you say on an introductory site? It must address the mind and the mind is not the issue. When I became a student, the introductory material was in the form of a little booklet, and it too said very little. What could be said? For me, I simply knew this man had a spiritual power and that his teaching could benefit me. I have been his student for fifteen years now, and the balance he maintains between the contradictory need for our own effort and for our surrender and acceptance of divine aid is pitch perfect. The same balance is maintained between his own modesty and his understanding that he represents transformative power. 

As for plagiarism, yes there is plagiarism. He doesn’t deny it. His plagiarism doesn’t bother me as much as Martin Luther King’s did, for King’s occurred in an academic setting, where the rules against plagiarism represent the essence of the activity, of that kind of research. Yet MLK was the greatest public figure of the last century and did more to evolve the collective consciousness than any one else. In the realm of spiritual truth, where the individual consciousness is the issue, the game is different. Sri Gary’s newer books open with an “acknowledgement” that shows he is sensitive to the charges and also reveals he doesn’t have a distinct understanding of, or is indifferent to, the academic standards for acknowledgement. Who owns the statement, “God is love?” I don’t recall where it occurs in the “Bible” but I am certain that the Bible is by far not the first occurrence of the statement and god help us if it is the last. Must the prophet in the field, in the moment of urgent delivery of his vision, pause and say, “Oh, yes, this was said before me by . . . .” You know better. It is not the essence of this kind of research. There are areas of teachings—Pythagorean, Christian, Sufi, Hindu, and, over the ages, many others--that the spiritual teacher had better “plagiarize” or at least had better repeat, for they contain enduring truth that out wears religion. A complete scholarship of these sources would be an enthralling human activity but it is not needed by a living representative. 

Thanks for doing this website. It is of great interest. But you have, in my opinion, given your lowest rating to the greatest teacher. 

~ DoDalDiddy

[Sarlo: The author of the above has added some further thoughts:]

On the issue of plagiarism and Sri Gary Olsen, I have come to doubt that any plagiarism has occurred. A few former chelas have made the accusation but, I am thinking, the idea was planted back in Fargo, North Dakota, around 1990 when parents of some students brought in "deprogrammers." This was before I became a chela of Sri Gary's, but I have heard some accounts from both students of Sri Gary's and from those who have called MasterPath a cult. I heard that one of the "anti-cult experts" who came in made the statement that she was amazed that the Hare Krishna movement had not sued Master Path for plagiarism. From this I deduce that the majority of the claims of plagiarism comes from people who have no knowledge of terms from the Upanishads and Vedas. I am not at all familiar with literature of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness but I would be astonished if it does not include terms and concepts found in the ancient texts of Hinduism. How could it not? This would not be plagiarism on their part anymore than mention of "sin" or "grace" is plagiarism of Christian sources. I don't think it's possible that Gary Olsen learned of the gunas or the wheel of 84, for example, from the Hare Krishnas. Wherever he first heard these concepts, probably in Eckankar, such fundamental concepts cannot be copyrighted. The ultimate source is not some document, however old it may be. So a lot of the talk of plagiarism simply comes from people who first hear of ideas from Sri Gary and later learn that they are older than Sri Gary. As for me, I would be more wary of a teacher who came up whole cloth with a system that claims no truth ever came before him.

Rick Ross makes the statement, "Much of Olsen's writings were plagiarized from the earlier works of Eckankar founder Paul Twitchell." And again, "Gary Olsen essentially plagiarized his teachings/material from the writings of Paul Twitchell the founder of Eckankar--another group, which has been called a cult." I think it is true that Twitchell was one of Sri Gary's teachers. There is no question of plagiarism when a concept much older than Eckankar occurs in anyone's writings, including Gary Olsen's. Now, if an early MasterPath document was simply lifted from Paul Twitchell's work, with a few words changed here and there, and used as a teaching tool, that would be plagiarism. Show me that that happened and I will agree, this is plagiarism. If you can't do that, stop throwing the word around irresponsibly.

Even if this plagiarism exists, even if there is a MasterPath document somewhere put together for the early chelas from the exact words of Paul Twitchell, I would defend it. "Teachings" cannot be copyrighted or plagiarized. If a teaching represents the truth and it is formulated in an original way, then it is a well founded courtesy to name the source, under leisurely enough circumstances. But our need for truth is urgent, not leisurely. If anyone be speaking or writing truth deep enough to transform us, her concern is surely not with recognition. "Materials," on the other hand, can be copyrighted and can be plagiarized. If Sri Gary did plagiarize Paul Twitchell or anyone else in an effort to get his teaching up and running, good for him. 

~ DoDalDiddy

[Sarlo: Another correspondent has weighed in with a contrarian position, first quoting DDD, then . . .]

"If Sri Gary did plagiarize Paul Twitchell or anyone else in an effort to get his teaching up and running, good for him."
~ DoDalDiddy

Really? So, it's okay to cheat, which is what plagiarism is, if it furthers your cause? Given this mind-set, "good for Gary," can we also say then good for Bernie Madoff who cheated to create profits; and good for Barry Bonds for taking steriods to improve his game? Hey, if it furthers the cause, why should cheating matter? Is what you are saying?

Plagiarism/cheating are black and white issues. If Gary had something to say, he could have written it himself to get his little group started. When you copy down other people's words and then put your name on it as the author...that is a lie. It is cheating. It is not a gray area. If you know the difference between right and wrong but think that it does not apply to you, because you are somehow special, that my friend defines a sociopath. So is it really "good for Gary" that you want to convey in your defense of this so-called spiritual leader?

If you think for yourself and are truly concerned with being a decent human being, then I would gently suggest that your character may need some attention with regard to how you hold the idea of "cheating." Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of really good people who join the MasterPath in hopes of becoming better human beings and instead end up compromising their own integrity in the defense of Gary Olsen.

And a point of historical accuracy in all of this: Gary Olsen himself admited to plagiarism with a nudge from David Lane who gave Gary the choice of self-admission or exposure by Mr. Lane. Gary chose the former, as it provided better damage control. And if you do a little research on the magic of the Internet, you will see that the plagiarism that Gary was initially accused of was a blatent and overt "copying" of someone elses words. Since then, Gary has become much more slick in what and how he copies from others.

Cheating matters. It is indicitive of one's character and personal values. You can dress it up any way you like, but cheating is still cheating. It is still a lie. In the schools that I attended the rule was: copying from someone elses paper will get you thrown out of the classroom.

Where please, is the spiritual principle that says it is right and good to deceive others in order to get your "teachings" out there?

~Remembering You~

[Sarlo: This last correspondent has now supplied a link to documentation of this, found at link in Sri Gary's write-up.

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