A syncretistic religious organization, founded by John-Roger Hinkins (b. Roger Delano Hinkins, 1934), usually referred to as ‘John-Roger’ by his followers, MSIA, pronounced ‘Messiah’, is also known as John-Roger Insight Seminars. Born in Rains, Utah, of a Mormon family (see Church of Jeses Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (Mormons)),

Hinkins completed a psychology degree at the University of Utah in 1958. In 1963, while undergoing surgery for a kidney stone operation, he entered a nine-day coma, in the course of which he claimed a Near Death Experience. John-Roger is said to have spiritually met Sawan Singh (1858-1945), a past leader of the Radhasoami sect in the same year and received initiation as ‘the Mystical Traveller’.

From 1968 John-Roger organized a series of six seminars in a friend’s home; as interest grew, he was unable to lead every group, and hence some seminars used tapes. These tapes were transcribed and named Soul Awareness Discourses. In 1971 MSIA was incorporated, and the magazine On The Light Side was launched; its name was later changed to The New Day Herald. Hinkins purchased a large house in Los Angeles, which was named Prana (meaning ‘wisdom’), and at its height there were 130 residents. Dissemination of teachings is now mainly by seminars, correspondence courses and Internet contact.

Hinkins studied the teachings of Eckankar, and is also said to have been influenced by Lifespring Seminars. Similarities between the teachings of Eckankar and MSIA have caused critics to accuse Hinkins of plagiarism: Hinkins denies having been initiated into Eckankar, however, but acknowledges similarities between the two sets of teachings, arguing that Traveller Consciousness’ is revealed by many religious leaders, including Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao-Tzu, Confucius, and St Francis. John-Roger claims to synthesize the various ‘cosmic energy routes to soul transformation’, but does not claim exclusivity, contending that his teachings are compatible with all other faiths. He does not claim to be a guru, but a ‘way-shower’. A distinctive element in his teachings is the role ascribed to Jesus Christ, who is claimed to be the ultimate head of MSI A, a Mystical Traveller, whose work potentially enables human-kind to enter the heart of God.

MSIA’s fundamental aim is ‘Soul Transcendence’. John-Roger teaches that creation emanates from God, and that each soul has the task of recognizing its oneness with God, ‘practically’, as well as theoretically. Individuals have chosen the particular physical bodies, which their souls currently inhabit, but this physical existence is an illusion, which one should endeavour to transcend, enabling the soul to return to God, experiencing its true reality. The soul undergoes various births, gaining experience and dealing with the karma it has accumulated in past and present lives, progressing through higher levels of existence towards this greater reality.

Important in MSI A teaching is the ‘sound current’, into which John-Roger initiated his students from the organization’s early years. There are five levels of initiation, which are explained in John-Roger’s Q & A from the Heart: the astral, the causal, the mental, the etheric, and the Soul, relating respectively to the imagination, the emotions, the mind, the unconscious, and one’s true self. The astral initiation is said to occur in a dream in which the seeker encounters the Mystical Traveller; the other four initiations work by means of MSIA’s teachings and spiritual exercises. These exercises consist of mantras which followers chant or meditate on, principally ‘Ani-Hu’ and ‘Hu’, both of which lead to the ‘attunement with Spirit’.

John-Roger describes his path as ‘practical spirituality’. It is said to yield pragmatic benefits, such as ‘health, wealth, happiness, abundance, and joy’, as well as virtues such as ‘unconditional love’ and service to others, and techniques for dealing with imperfections such as guilt, temptation, resentment and indecision. These techniques and teachings are addressed in John-Roger’s many writings, tapes and electronic resources. John-Roger’s fifty books include Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts (co-authored with John McWilliams, and later renamed Do It! A Guide to Living Your Dr eams), first published in 1992 and a best-seller in the USA. John Morton, who became MSIA’s Spiritual Director in 1988, has authored The Blessings Already Are (2000).

In 1976 John-Roger founded the University of Santa Monica, of which he is Chancellor, and which offers ‘soul-centred education’. He is also founder and President of the Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy, which offers Masters’ and doctoral degrees in Spiritual Science.

MSIA is not a membership organization, but there are some 5,000 subscribers to Soul Awareness Discourses worldwide, mainly in the USA but also in Canada, Latin America, Britain, France, Japan, Australasia, and West Africa.

Next post:

Previous post: