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
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
Thanks for doing this website. It is of great interest. But you have,
in my opinion, given your lowest rating to the greatest teacher.
[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.
[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."
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
Where please, is the spiritual principle that says it is right and good
to deceive others in order to get your "teachings" out there?
[Sarlo: This last correspondent has now supplied a link to documentation of this, found at link in Sri Gary's write-up.