Eckankar, a major owner of land in Chanhassen, has begun inviting the public to its campus once a month for a "public HU."
May the HU be with you.
The HU, like the mystical Force in the Star Wars movies, is in everything and has been around since the beginning of time, according to followers of Eckankar, a religious organization based in Chanhassen.
"The HU is God's greatest gift to all people," said Peter Skelskey, the CEO of Eckankar International, which has been in Minnesota for almost 25 years and which last month held its annual worldwide seminar in Minneapolis.
The organization has been increasing its public outreach, most notably by having a "public HU," inviting people to the campus on the third Sunday of each month to chant, hum, sing or think of the word HU collectively.
Eckankar, it is said, means "co-worker with God." Although the basic teachings go back to "the dawn of human history," according to its website, it is a relatively new religion.
It was founded in California in 1965 by a writer named Paul Twitchell, an acquaintance of L. Ron Hubbard in the early days of Scientology.
Since the mid-1980s, when it came to Minnesota, the group has expanded internationally, claiming to be in 120 countries. The group, along with the singer Prince, is one of the largest landholders in the city of Chanhassen.
The group has a large campus, complete with walking trails and a temple, housed on about 175 acres of prime land at 7450 Powers Blvd., east of Lake Ann Park.
'All these rumors'
Former Chanhassen City Council Member Tom Workman said there was a lot of controversy with the religious group coming into the city in the 1980s and buying up so much land.
"There were all these rumors," said Workman, a Carver County commissioner whose district includes Chanhassen. "It sort of became a religious war a little bit. They were fundamentally different from what Chanhassen was used to."
The one controversy that lingered was over public access to the trails, which residents wanted to wander even though they are private.
Skelskey said the group allows anyone to walk around the campus, except in the evenings when the roads are closed, much like at a state park.
Skelskey acknowledges there have been misunderstandings and misconceptions about the organization in the past, but he believes the group has become part of everyday life in Chanhassen.
"They've been great neighbors. We really don't hear a lot about them," said Laurie Hokkanen, Chanhassen's assistant city administrator. "They have a lot of trails that people use."
The group, which believes in soul travel, reincarnation and karma, has other events and amenities at its campus, such as seminars, tours and a reading room.
According to Eckankar members, HU is an ancient name for God, but also a love song to God, the sound of all sounds woven into all things.
"The HU has been here since the beginning of time," Skelskey said. "This HU is for all people, all souls ... with this word you can see your life from a greater perspective, from a higher viewpoint, from a spiritual viewpoint and see how you can better adjust your life and have less stress and inner peace."
Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994