Sunday, February 20, 2005

An Invitation To Truth And Reconciliation

By Hal

May all beings be happy!

As a contributor to this blog, I want to say that I am extremely happy with how this blog is unfolding. I feel that it is a place that may be unique, or at the very least, extremely rare on the Internet. I think that, together, all of us —from each contributor to every person who has given it the gift of their attention—have created a sacred place where a miracle of truth, healing and purification is occurring. Every one who enters here enters this sacred cyberspace, whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere. You are all welcome and all appreciated.

I want to especially extend my appreciation to the courageous people like Stas and Susan and some anonymous contributors who were willing to expose their own vulnerability, their insight and their pain. I want to equally thank those brave souls like Craig, Carter, Dave, Jeremy, Anne and others who have been willing to enter this forum and express their doubts and criticisms about what is occurring here, and their support for Andrew Cohen. And all those from outside the community of former and present students of Andrew Cohen, who have lent their own unique insights and perspectives here, must be greatly appreciated and thanked as well.

This work is not easy for any of us. It is very hard to engage in this kind of dialogue without regressing to a mode of “attack or defend.” I—the writer formerly known as Raging Bull—personally find this very challenging. That’s why I start out saying “May all beings be happy!” I’m no bodhisattva, believe you me; it’s just that I need to remind myself of my intention every single time. I pray for help from all the bodhisattvas and divine beings in this work.

It is also hard to hear the difficult truths of people’s experiences and let them stir and touch our hearts. They re-evoke our own memories and experiences. It would be easier to turn our eyes away. It would be simpler, it seems at times, to retrench and plow on. But opening to the rain of mercy that is always here means exposing one’s raw nerves and heart. I am certain that it is only through telling and hearing truth that a greater respect, understanding and empathy—for ourselves, for Andrew, for all concerned—will be possible.

I hope it isn’t too presumptuous for me to share my vision of what is occurring here with you. I see a pure lotus beginning to bloom from the muck and mire of this dark age. I hope you can find it in you to give it water and nourishment with your attention, your good intentions, and your courageous participation.

At this time I wish to issue a special invitation to Andrew Cohen to directly join this forum. We have heard his voice through his representatives Craig and Carter. But we have not yet heard Andrew directly. I believe that if Andrew were willing to speak the truth here about the events described by former students, it could be of enormous benefit. And to hear Andrew speak frankly about what has occurred—mistakes and all—would be much better for all concerned, including him, than to hear it come only from those who were affected by his acts.

I would like to suggest something about the kind of participation that is being invited, however. The point of this blog is not to bash Andrew, and the participation invited is not self-defense or aggression. Craig has received much criticism for the defensiveness and hostility in his posts. I think it is understandable to become angry when you perceive your teacher being criticized, so I empathize with his response. But I don’t think that kind of response is helpful for the truth-telling and finding that should occur here. If that is the best he can do, so be it. It may very well be better than nothing, and, as I said earlier, Craig’s participation here is appreciated. But I think that it is better to engage with a greater degree of respect and fidelity to the truth.

For example, Craig misleadingly minimized some of the events that were mentioned here, such as physical abuse. I mentioned in my post “Breaking The Code Of Silence” learning of incidents of a student being ordered to deliver messages consisting of delivering slaps “as hard as she can” to other students. Craig wrote, “I was the one mentioned in Hal’s letter who got slapped in the face and also had fake blood smeared on his wall—which, incidentally, we already wrote about in the magazine three years ago—so much for the ‘code of silence.’” Craig implies he was the only person to receive a slap, or receive messages written in fake blood, and that this had already been publicly disclosed. That is not true. It is true that the Fall/Winter 2001 edition of What Is Enlightenment? (the 10th anniversary issue) mentioned on page 24 that words were “scrawled in red graffiti” across his office walls, and that the editors had been going through a very difficult time. But, contrary to Craig’s misleading statement, he was far from the only person to receive slaps or messages written in fake blood. In the very incident mentioned in WIE (according to a participant), Craig, Carter and Amy Edelstein all were given messages from Andrew consisting of physical assaults in this period—and definitely more than once. The fake blood writing also occurred more than one time and with more than one person. And, as described by Stas (Ernest) in his letter here, and to me by many others, slapping, other physical abuse and the liberal use of fake blood—styled for purposes of guilt inducement as “the guru’s blood”—occurred numerous time in Andrew’s community.

One other example of a misleading “admission” by Craig. In his response to Susan Bridle’s posting, he admits but mischaracterizes an incident involving prostitutes that I had mentioned in an earlier posting. There is more to be said about this, but, given its sensitive nature and the feelings of those involved, I don't feel it is my place to go into all the details, at this time.

These are only examples meant to show how real frankness is needed, not obfuscation. There are many events that should be revealed and discussed, in truth and openness. They should not be hidden, minimized or misstated. Saying and hearing the truth isn’t easy. I know some would like to forget what happened. But I think that the only way to even begin to understand what has occurred around Andrew Cohen is to lay the facts out bare. That is why I am now issuing this heartfelt invitation to Andrew to participate in this process. I am sending a copy of this post by e-mail to Craig, Carter and Andrew at his Foxhollow World Center.

Please come into this forum, Andrew. Please be willing to truthfully admit your mistakes, and begin to help the process of truth and reconciliation. It will be much better for everyone—you, your community, your former students, and your friends—if you participate with humility and honesty in this ceremony of healing and purification. Whether you participate or not, however, the truth will come out. It must.

With love and respect,

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What Enlightenment??! - another view.

From Jeremy Lyell

Dear Friends,

As a former Formal Student of Andrew's, I too was sent the link to What Enlightenment ??! and it does indeed make interesting reading. Generally very well-written by intelligent, articulate people.

However, with all due respect I think it should be pointed out that most of these blogs amount to little more than victimised self-pity, however eloquent and however true in terms of detail. Doubtless there is some therapeutic value for those 'recuperating' from their experiences, but how about taking responsibility for your life (some of the articles refer to taking responsibility for one's actions and 'gratitude', but that is only lip service if it is but a small part of a long tirade - it's simply not for real) ?

And what's all this anonymous posting chickensh*t !? I know, you're frightened of receiving emotionally strenuous emails from your former brothers & sisters in the community - for God's sake, pull yourself together and if you do receive something unsavoury, post it on this blog.

I no longer recommend Andrew's teaching with the enthusiasm I held in the late '90s (ie.after I left in '96) because I am not in touch with the direction of his teaching and find the community journal WIE? uninteresting, but that doesn't mean that some seekers would not be very well-served by investigating it fully. The context in which all these "terrible" events occurred is not made clear - within a group of long-term students who had willingly committed to living Andrew's teachings together and responding to Andrew's demands to transcend the ego. We lived a life that, although exhausting, was for the most part an incredibly joyful adventure with some truly great people and an awesome master.

As for Craig Hamilton's post.... well. he's taken quite a bashing, but really he's an extremely sincere fellow who's defending his teacher and the community - what do you expect, dear Angry Ones ? But, Craig, I would like to have a go myself where you refer to Andrew's "revolution in consciousness".... since I first met Andrew in '90/91, his students have always spoken in what I can only describe as "community ravespeak", at the centre of which is almost daily reference to this revolution. "It's really happening this time..." is the constant refrain, year in, year out ... if & when "it" does happen, you won't need to tell anyone, so perhaps the less said the better, right, Craig ?

Please note I am not suggesting that the events described in the various blogs did not occur - I witnessed some of them myself - nor that Andrew's behaviour does not appear to be megalomania on occasion - but that's not the point. If you were there and chose to leave, get over it and move on : step into the Light, which is always there. And if you're not interested in paying the price and/or taking the risk of going further, admit it and don't blame Andrew.

One well-known definition of liberation is freedom from the illusion of self ; paradoxically, it's only those who take total responsibility for the actions of that small self that ever seem to truly understand this in a lasting way.

Thank-you very much for the opportunity to post to this blog !

Jeremy Lyell

PS. Dave/freewilly : are you the Dave who was living on Long Island and plays golf - if so, please email me ?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

In The Hope Of A Shared Inquiry Toward Deeper Truth

Although I have never been involved in Andrew Cohen's community, I have read with interest the dialogue currently appearing on this blog. The considerations raised are essential and challenging issues for anyone attempting to follow a spiritual path. What is the optimal relationship between student and teacher? How do we confront and penetrate the egoic resistance to obedience and surrender, while maintaining the very inner authority and responsibility that enable us to become truly useful, vibrant servants of the divine rather than thoughtless automatons? Without a guide in unknown territory, we almost inevitably become lost--so a teacher is necessary to real spiritual progress; yet in an age of epidemic distortion of ancient teachings, how do we discriminate between the false and the real, in professed teachers as well as in ourselves?

What I find particularly striking in reading the current dialogue, is the contrast it provides between examples of real self-observation with heartfelt inquiry, and examples of projection, diatribe, and attack. Unfortunately for those who are defending Andrew Cohen, it is the students who have left this teacher who provide examples of the penetrating practice of self-observation, which involves taking full responsibility for one's actions. Susan, Hal, and other former students engage in a respectful inquiry into the complexity of the human being, their teacher, and their own actions. Those who intend to defend Andrew ironically demonstrate precisely the weaknesses of which he and his community are accused. Craig's letters in particular are replete with simplistic, crude, and manipulative attacks and blame. They evidence emotional manipulation with a strong element of cruelty; disrespect and psychological invasiveness; personal attack and vindictiveness; refusal of responsibility; and cloying defensiveness of the teacher. From Craig's letters even more than from the measured considerations from former students, the relation to Andrew appears as that of abused child to adored yet abusive father, with both child and parent desperate to maintain the illusion of the parent's perfection, even godliness, that will make all the hurt alright.

Over many years as a spiritual practitioner, I have found that one of the ways to evaluate the effectiveness and integrity of a spiritual teacher is to observe his or her students. The students, however imperfectly they emulate their teacher, nevertheless reliably express the principles at the source of their school. A spiritual school in which the teacher lives as a servant of the divine, will produce students who also express this essential humility and selflessness. (Again, this expression is (in my view) inevitably imperfect, because this is the human condition, and both student and teacher have willingly made the sacrifice to enter this condition. I have come to think that the expectation and demand for perfection, in teacher or students, is one of the biggest doorways into self-deceit and hypocrisy. Human beings rarely if ever live up to this demand, and it is more healthy to see the flawed yet committed human being in all his or her faults and glories.) A teacher who, despite his inspiring rhetoric, actually lives from a basis of self-centeredness, manipulativeness, and competition for power, will eventually animate a community of students who express these same negations of true spiritual principles.

Susan, Hal, and Stas speak with heartbreak, respect, and even gratitude, toward their former teacher. At the same time they express with clarity the weaknesses, the fault lines, they discovered in Andrew and his community. Their heartfelt wish for the good of their former teacher and his students is palpable even in the midst of an anger that could be called righteously indignant.

The defenses of Andrew, on the other hand, are permeated with "cheap shots," while accusing others of such vulgarity. Craig attacks, belittles, and attempts to degrade those who have shared their observations of Andrew. His childishness is truly pitiful. To ask condescendingly of a former editor of the magazine, "Remember the magazine?" does not degrade the editor, as was the obvious intention, but it portrays Craig himself as totally out of relationship and even disconnected from reality. In what isolated, walled, impenetrable castle can he be living? The attempt to manipulate others by feeding self-doubt and to twist their emotions by auguring low self-esteem--this is an ugly tactic which corrupts and poisons his letters. It is not a savory invitation to his teacher and his community, for any outsider reading his communications. To dishonor others is not an effective way to honor his teacher.

I heard Andrew speak a number of times in the early years of his teaching. I was impressed by the pristine brilliance of his communication of the dharma, and I found his students at that time to be inspiring and challenging practitioners, deeply committed to inquiry and to living the principles they investigated. Yet even at that time, from my admittedly lowly position as a novice spiritual student, I felt uneasy hearing the vehemence with which he attacked a number of other spiritual teachers for their failure to live up to his rigidly pure standards. In my experience the people who attack with that kind of harshness, even viciousness, are those who have not honestly observed their own human failings and the endemic, painful imperfection of the human condition. Who was the far-right Christian television evangelist who lambasted others for their sins and sexual impurities, until he himself was caught with a prostitute in his hotel room (saving her from her sins, no doubt!)? Someone like Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, is too busy serving as a truly ennobling example to his people, to waste time with pillorying others.

The spiritual teachers I most respect are those who freely and intimately admit their own failings, as examples to their students of real self-observation and of confrontation with the forces that seek to subvert even the highest realizations. The tendency for Andrew to present himself as beyond reproach, and his community as advancing into realms never before touched by human beings, has over the years seemed to me a marked red flag. Yet I hoped that his obvious commitment to the spiritual path would bring its own natural self-correction and purification. Our troubled world desperately needs wise guidance, and it seemed that Andrew had the potential to provide guidance of a high calibre. The Ocmulgee Native Americans had a saying, "All things are connected." The interplay of real spiritual schools and committed practitioners provides a matrix of support for all of us that is unparalleled, unique, its flavor affected by each element even while the different schools remain distinct and in some ways vastly different.

Unfortunately based on the evidence of his own conversations reprinted in his magazine, as well as the energy in the letters of his apologists, it appears that Andrew's unexamined shadow has been progressively devouring that in himself and his teaching which was originally clear and bright. The tendency to megalomania has grown, and the openness to any corrective input from others has correspondingly shrunk. I see no evidence of real self-inquiry and deep dialogue between Andrew and any other teacher. I see only a kind of self-serving publication of those who offer him no real challenge, those whom he can control, manipulate, or use to his supposed advantage.

Watching the devolution of Andrew's teaching from pristine dharma to a psychologically and physically violent and abusive perversion of spiritual life, I see the central missing element as the lack of a lineage which holds and guides the individual teacher. Andrew is not the first or the last initially inspiring teacher to lead his students into this kind of cul-de-sac. Without the matrix of spiritual tradition, without the weight and wisdom of a lineage which guides and informs the individual teacher, it is perhaps almost too much to expect of the fallible human being, to hold steady against the immense forces of darkness which seek to distort and use the power of the light.

The poverty of spirit evidenced in Craig's letter, which undoubtedly was closely supervised and approved by his teacher, leaves little hope that Andrew will listen to the many voices which are trying to offer him help. There is still respect being offered to the man who was once visible; there is still obviously some faint hope among many people that Andrew might listen to these voices. It is Andrew himself who is choosing to act as less than he could be, notably in his total refusal even to recognize this respect and deep care that is still given to him. In a way his value now becomes that of a sacrificial example of one of the biggest traps on the spiritual path--an aspect of what Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called spiritual materialism; what the ancients called hubris: the pride of the human who thinks himself God.

What I find most ironic, painful, and even heartbreaking, is the fact that in spite of the demeaning and hurtful tone that pervades Craig's representation of Andrew's community, it is clear that Craig, Andrew, and their community as a whole consciously wish only the best for all beings. The problem is not the conscious intention, but the unconscious motivations, elements of what Carl Jung called "the shadow," which powerfully drive us in directions that can cause great harm while we justify and disguise them with our conscious sincerity. G.I. Gurdjieff said that even those who commit the greatest evil are doing what they truly believe is for the good. To see one's teacher fall off the razor's edge of the spiritual path is one of the deepest heartbreaks a student can experience. To be that teacher, whenever remorse finally breaks through, must be a heartbreak almost beyond bearing. The defense against feeling such a depth of sorrow and responsibility is deeply ingrained in all of us.

in the hope that this letter may contribute to a shared inquiry toward a deeper truth…

--Anonymous (received by e-mail)

Is This News - Or Did Nothing Ever Really Happen?

Once upon a time, I found a copy of The Promise Of
Perfection on a library shelf in Sheffield. I had to
meet the man who wrote it, and I went clear across the
Atlantic to Foxhollow for a weekend in order to do so.

After a retreat in Rishikesh (first ever visit to
India), I went to live in the Orientation House in
London, but my visible inability to fake happiness
"for the sake of the whole" must have embarrassed

So Ernest(Stas) suggested that I leave. Why argue? So I

Looking back on that brief few months, what strikes me
is that my intuition was good. There was no doubt that
Andrew was an awakened individual, and I had wanted to
meet such people to find out whether they made any
difference in the world.

The idea of Impersonal Enlightenment particularly
attracted me. It was so different from all the
narcissistic New Age crap. I imagined the IEF to be a
genuinely democratic group of independent people
engaged in social change, informed by a shared
experience of Reality which made them fearless, and
perhaps even humorous. Sort of a Davos for Enlightened
Masters, rather than the likes of Bill Gates, Bono,
Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone.

What I found was a middle-class, masochistic, somewhat
feminised, coterie of recycling-crazed
environmentalists, perpetually poor but never
discussing their situation, whose grasp of politics,
class, and society (yes, they do exist), was seriously
naive, but who did not think this mattered. And they
thought this was "revolution". (The food was great,

I'm not sure if I am the first to say this, but,
despite his obvious enlightenment, Andrew himself is
none too bright. This makes a difference. His life
story up until meeting Poonjaji was that of an
excessively over-psychoanalysed, financially spoiled

The scandal of Andrew is like the elephant in the
living room - and it is Ernest who should be thanked
for saying it. He is, in fact, doing Andrew a great
service - as a friend should, by being so frank with
him, and us.

The fact is that Andrew's attitude towards money is
less than perfect. From being "given" Foxhollow
(something I only found out when reading Andre's
book), to the extortion of money from students, I
simply cannot see any justification. No "Love & Peace"
hippy, is he? He should at least run a couple of soup
kitchens in New York, if only to feed all his former

The gap in wealth between Andrew and his community is
too wide. He should invest in his own business,
providing paid work and job security, certainly for
senior students. Has no one ever suggested this to

Since leaving London, I have been living in Amsterdam
for the past three years. As you might expect, in this
countercultural environment, I came across Da Free
John's Scientific Proof Of The Existence of God Will
Soon Be Announced By The White House, and The Method
Of The Siddhas (Franklin Jones as he then was), in a
second-hand bookshop. They blew me away - I was
"invaded" by him for about six weeks, all the while
reading the dirt about him on the Lightmind website
(The Knee Of Daism - much more humorous than this
blog, it must be said).

Barry Long's great work, The Origins Of Man And The
Universe, also fell into my hands, somehow.

And then, through a friend of a friend, I was invited
to visit a couple who live in Overlangel (near
Ravenstein). He is the 84-year old Oscar-winning
animator, Borge Ring, and she is his wife, sculptress,
and now Advaita teacher, Joanika Ring. Satsang is on
Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesdays. (

Instead of all the communal narcissism that Andrew's
community is quite as guilty of as Andrew himself,
there is simply a 54-year old wife and mother-of-two
who certainly "Is That", but can also make a delicious
Hutspot and share the washing-up. For me - End of

--Martin Stone (Received by e-mail)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Andrew Cohen's Fall From Grace

To Everyone Who Reads This Blog:

It is sad to hear Craig Hamilton—a strong practitioner, fine writer and reporter—sounding like nothing more than a childish mouthpiece for Andrew Cohen. I find Susan Bridle and Hal’s letters to be simple, straightforward and heartfelt. My instincts tell me that they speak the truth in the service of greater clarity, while there is a noticeable insincerity and a cloud of confusion that hovers over the convoluted denials of Craig’s letters to this blog.

I was glad to see that someone else also noticed the glaring fact that Lee Lozowick’s endorsement of Andrew Cohen was written almost ten years ago. Craig, why are you using ancient history to defend Andrew? Do you notice the disparity between your statement that Susan Bridle is “living in the past” because she cites abusive events that occurred in her relationship with Andrew Cohen and his students and your use of an endorsement written by Lee Lozowick almost ten years ago to justify your position regarding Mr. Cohen’s innocence with regard to these accusations? When we don’t see ourselves clearly, we are blind to the deeper motivations that permeate our actions and speech, and while others can see our hypocrisy, we go about blithely justifying and rationalizing our position.

However, the most important point is that, in the most practical sense, people change over time, and not necessarily for the better. The shadow has a way of making its presence known—revealing itself—especially to those on the spiritual path. There is much that can be said about how the shadow gets activated and brought to the surface on any genuine path, and undoubtedly Mr. Cohen originally had “the goods”—that is, the potency and authenticity of realization—to create a genuine transformational vehicle for his students. However, in such a process the teacher is also transformed, further clarified into deeper dimensions of realization. Not only is this process of transformation on the genuine path reciprocal between student and teacher, but between the teacher and the raw forces of the Divine which are called into play. It is an undeniable shake down in which everything is stirred up, brought to the blinding arc lamp of truth, scrutinized and subjected to processes of dissolution and purification through fire.

Again, the teacher himself or herself is not immune to this process because they have “gone beyond” in some way but goes through it with the students, disciples, devotees. In describing the psychological development through the three yanas or vehicles, hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana, we find this comment in Mudra, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: “It should be clear to all who read [the description] that a competent guide is needed since the tendency towards self-deception becomes increasingly dangerous as one progresses on the path.” (page 67.)

This wisdom should be taken to heart as it applies to everyone, for the path is never-ending, and it is said by some that “enlightenment,” that indefinable mystery, is only the beginning of it. It is spiritual pride and spiritual immaturity that says, “I am the teacher; I am infallible, complete, done, finished … enlightened like no one before me,” or, “I have been practicing for thirty years, therefore I don’t need to meditate anymore, and because of my attainment, vision and seniority, I can cut corners on integrity here, here and here…”

When the teacher or student succumbs to spiritual pride and the pull of personal megalomania, it is usually because they do not have the help of a “competent guide,” a true spiritual authority who is has gone farther on the path than him or herself. Andrew Cohen rejected his own master, Poonjaji, the source of transmission in his own case, because of “spiritual crimes” far, far less damning than those currently being levied against Mr. Cohen.

Every authentic tradition world-wide states clearly—and this is especially true once one enters the domain of tantra, or the vajrayana path, where the dangers that are inherent in such accelerated transformation are very great—that one must have a guide. An essential flaw in Mr. Cohen’s work at this point in time lies in the fact that he has the hubris to believe that he can go it alone, without surrender, gratitude and obeisance to his master, Poonjaji. He is flaunting his personal sense of power in the face of the cosmic law that governs us all.

The processes of spiritual purification and dissolution always yield up the truth of the matter: the darkness or knot of illusion or deeply buried psychosis that too often lurks beneath the veneer of intellectual brilliance and a charismatic, overweening character formation. The tendency toward fascism and paranoia in such a strong, super-sized personality is a fearsome thing to witness. Andrew Cohen’s fall from grace as an individual of great insight and possibility—whose personal ambitions have blinded him to the autonomous workings of his own shadow—is a powerful teaching to everyone on the path. He has become the very thing that he has lashed out against for so many years: teachers who lack integrity.

But again, there is a tremendous value in seeing ourselves in the mirror as well. Andrew Cohen strikes me as someone who started out as a teacher with something very real to offer, but whose delusions have grown greater than his realizations. Does he really think he is beyond being taught a hard lesson by the Universe? Does he think he is beyond the fundamental nondual truth that one’s environment—people, events, circumstances—is one’s very self, and what it reflects to us should be used as a message from a universal Source? No teacher, guru, avatar or saint is greater than God, that is, the inexorable universal processes, laws and Intelligence that governs us all. It is said that there is a great deal of negative karma accrued by teachers who lose their way in leading others; it is also true that it is never too late to change our ways.

--Anonymous (Received by e-mail)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Spiritual Watergate

This blog is an unfolding spiritual “Watergate Story.” Charges of crimes in high places and all the attendant denial and cover-up. It saddens me to read the sincere accounts of abuse experienced by past students of Andrew Cohen – and in the unfolding drama there is a story compelling enough that it’s the first thing I read every morning…

With Hal as Bob Woodward, and presidential enablers Kissinger, Colson and Dean now starring Craig and Carter.

But C&C’s strained cover-up attempts are childishly transparent. Why boast so vociferously about Cohen’s community if there weren’t some very dark abusive events hidden somewhere? “Heaven on Earth” –Come on gentlemen, I have to believe that or else I’m a cynic? Really, your polemics, if they weren’t so foolish, would be offensive.

“Visit us anytime”- for Christ’s sake, give me a break. Even the North Koreans invite you to visit. Madeline Albright did, and she saw only happy shiny faces. But she’s not stupid enough to believe she saw the real North Korea.

And nice try Craig, to come out front and admit to the whoring, just a little justifiable sadhana! Maybe in a movie or a novel I’d give the author the license for such a prank. But you’re dealing with real lives here. And real bad stuff can happen in the sex-for-money arena. It is revolting to think you (and therefore Cohen) can in any way justify this. You haven’t defused the horror of this issue one bit with your little explanation – in fact I’m all the more concerned about where you must be coming from.

What would be refreshing would be some openness coming from Cohen & Company and not a smear-the-critics campaign that frankly no one buys anyway.

Thank you for doing this blog and thank you especially to those of you who have bravely shared your personal stories. You are unfortunately being publicly reviled by Cohen’s editors. What a pity! And what that says about Andrew Cohen is truly awful. It is a real shame because at one time it seemed he had a very big gift in his ability as a spiritual teacher. Now he seems destined to go the way of Nixon.
- Roy

Friday, February 11, 2005

Support And Appreciation For "Letter From A Senior Student"

Here are a few comments expressing support and appreciation for "Letter From A Senior Student."

[A reminder to our readers--please don't forget to click on the "Comments" link on the bottom of posts to see how readers respond! Soon these comments should appear as "pop-ups" so you may wish to turn off any pop-up blocker on your browser when you view this site.]

At Monday, 07 February, 2005, Anonymous said...
Anastasi, your post in particular has really touched me. Thank you.

At Monday, 07 February, 2005, Anonymous said...
Thank you Anastasi,you have pulled back the curtain and the light is shining brightly on all that has been seething in the darkness. This is a great gift to all, including and most especially Andrew. Freedom abounds and the Truth is clear.

At Tuesday, 08 February, 2005, Simon Moore said...
Dear Ernest

i have always known you as Ernest.....

Someone just drew my attention to this site, and i havent had a chance to read much yet. i was a student of Andrews for about 4 years or so, in California, Fox Hollow and London, where i am from. Anyway, i will probably write about that soon....

Just wanted to thank you for what you have written and wish you well. i have always been impressed by those who showed so much Heart in giving so much to Andrew and his 'Community'. Some of these people were really consistently beautiful,and it was upsetting when they left. One aspect of the Community is that people really loved each other like comrades on the battle field ! That love seems to be alive and well outside Andrew's Community, so its not all bad !

Anyway its good to find out what happened and make up our own minds.

Mainly i just wanted to say hello and pay my respects...

Love Simon

At Tuesday, 08 February, 2005, Anonymous said...
Hi Ernest (Stas)

Peter M here - Thanks you so much for sharing your heart so clearly. As you know I left 'the Revolution' a few months before you, having smashed headlong into the same wall. Its been a roller coaster ride in the last two years trying to make sense of the whole experience - the undoubted taste of real freedom and truth and the horror of finding the impossibility of meeting Andrew's constantly escalating demands on my loyalty to him - you have articulated the whole process so clearly - I'm not sure that this is ever a dilemma I will fully resolve, but having the space and freedom to finally be able to voice all those doubts and confusions that kept growing because they could never be explored within the 'community', is a taste of freedom itself. Surrender could never mean a total abandonment of one's own critical faculties (as was actually expected in respect to Andrew's actions and demands - so much for Autonomy!). i only hope that Andrew hears what is being said, because I have no doubt that he is an Awakened One but one in whom the whole process is far from complete.....

At Thursday, 10 February, 2005, Anonymous said...
Dear Stas
Thank you so much for your contribution to this blog and also to the administrators who have let it stand out this week. I was with Andrew Cohen for several years and Ernest's heart felt, articulate and moving letter puts the whole of my own experience in perspective. There's almost nothing more that can be said.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Letter From A Senior Student

I am one of the many longtime students of Andrew Cohen who you don’t see around or hear about anymore. My name is Anastasi (or “Stas”). Those of you who’ve been (or are) in Andrew Cohen’s community have known me as “Ernest”. But for those readers who don’t know me, I was a student of Andrew for fifteen years before I left (read: ran away) in May of 2003. In later years, I was one of his ”senior” students leading centers for him in Tel Aviv, Stockholm and London, as well as being in a leadership role while we were all in California, then later in Massachusetts. I was also his so-called ‘close friend’, and even played music with him in his band.

Some posts on this blog suggest that things are “better than ever” in Andrew’s community. They always are aren’t they?…always evolving, changing, expanding, ”transcending and including.” Who would want to deny that? Yet, simultaneously there seems to be a kind of selective and collective exclusion of a shadowy side of things, of the past, which if constantly denied or minimized, in due course rears it’s ugly and angry head. Lke a “crazy” family member who, unable to openly voice perceived hypocrisy and emotional pain in the family becomes an uncomfortable embarrassment. How about some of those “disgruntled” and “whining” voices that just won’t shut up and go away, and let us be our squeaky clean, fantastic, ever-evolving, better-than-ever enlightened selves?

Like Hal and others, I feel strongly that it’s time that a fuller picture of Andrew Cohen, the teacher, be revealed and spoken about, a picture that includes some of the pitfalls and even dysfunctionality that are often encountered by his closer students. In saying this, I am not meaning to imply that Andrew isn’t a profoundly awakened individual, and a passionate and inspiring teacher with much to offer students and, for that matter, the larger “spiritual” world. Over my years with him, I’ve had such appreciation and unbelievable love for him, as he was one of the catalysts for my own awakening process —otherwise, why would I have gotten so close to him as a student and stayed for so long? For years, I considered him to be my spiritual “father.” But it took me quite some time to realize that ”daddy” has some fundamental issues of his own. Side by side with all of his gifts is an unquestioned narcissism, that, unacknowledged and unchecked by anyone, has led him to make some pretty serious mistakes with students. Because Andrew has a supporting cast of people around him (like me) who daily reaffirm his self-image as a “living Buddha”, or Perfected One, his personality traits, wounds and proclivities have somehow been “absolutized,” and viewed as an expression of the goal of perfection, or perfect response. We are all imperfect beings on a human level –Andrew, as well —yet there is a lot to protect if you’ve already closed the book on questioning your own motivations just because you’re “enlightened” (whatever that mean), and infinitely more so if you’re a teacher with no lineage or tradition to answer to. I communicated this point directly to Andrew in a letter 5 months after parting company with him. This is an excerpt from that letter:

“…Andrew, one problem I have is that you answer to no one. Even the holiest of the Orthodox Christian fathers and saints had elders and ‘brothers’ before whom they humbled themselves and sought spiritual guidance and correction if needed. You humble yourself before no one, and have no peers -- not really. Anytime you’ve seemingly “questioned yourself” before your closer students (the usual lip service is: ’Am I doing something wrong?’) of course no one dares suggest that you might be on a wrong course of action or that you’re reacting out of outrage or indignation rather than making an objectively appropriate call in the face of the transgressions of a student. At such times you frequently alienate people from you, and so from their conscience, and their own heart, further activating their ego rage. Please understand that I anticipate your usual response along the lines of how much you always have acted only out of care for the freedom/evolution of myself or whoever it happens to be. I don’t doubt this. However, my point is not to question your good-hearted intentions or motive, but to question your judgment, as borne out numerous times with respect to others and to myself…

…On the matter of humility, something has stayed with me – a little thing – but it’s just that you never gave any weight whatsoever to the reflection, given in semi-jest from your so-called ’brother and peer,’ Ken Wilber, when he suggested that you have some uninspected ’boomeritis’ of your own. You didn’t seem the slightest bit curious if there was maybe something to it. You just chuckled that one off. Perhaps your narcissism is on a messianic level -- but whatever the case, its effect is real, and has left the bodies and souls of some of your closest students strewn needlessly all over the world…

Now, I guess I run the risk here (like Hal and Susan Bridle) of having my weaknesses and flaws thrown up at me because I am daring to raise questions about the guru. Craig Hamilton's letter really felt like a personal ”slap” from Andrew to potential student-critics to get back in their place, spiritual peons that they are. He went right for the jugular with Susan, questioning where her confidence is coming from. Yet, I wonder how much sustained confidence Andrew would have in his position if he weren’t constantly supported and reaffirmed by everyone around him. This is not to let myself off the hook here. I never had the guts to break the “code of silence”, as Hal puts it, while I was his student. As one example -- I didn’t question or hesitate to carry out Andrew’s numerous orders for me to slap people for him, although it strongly went against my nature to do so. And I have also been on the receiving end of a number of these “messages” from him. (Contrary to what was implied in one of Craig’s posts, “slapping” and other forms of physical abuse were frequently used against many students over the years. Andrew explicitly ordered or directly committed these assaults himself.) So it’s pretty clear what a “wimp”-- one of Andrew’s favorite words -- I am.

My story isn’t really unique, yet often people inside the community don’t really know what goes down when a close longtime student or a leader leaves. They usually hear some variation of the vague party line that he or she “refused to live the teachings”, a two-dimensional picture with zero compassion or empathy, except to say how much Andrew has suffered because of this person. Then every effort is made to erase this ”mess” from all the ”new and amazing evolutionary things that are happening now.” Yet somewhere people must harbor feelings of uncertainty of how they will fare if they ever get close enough to their guru, Andrew, and hit that invisible and unchallengeable wall around his ”perfect responses.” I know I did.

I hit that wall for the last time almost two years ago in May of 2003. That’s when, feeling beaten down under the psychological and sometimes physical pressure to conform to what Andrew wanted from me, and unable to deal with or raise my own doubts about the situation, I packed my car without telling anyone, and drove away from Foxhollow, the headquarters of the Impersonal Enlightenment Fellowship in Lenox, Massachusetts, and headed south for New York City. Not a very dignified exit, I know, but sneaking away like this was really the only effective way one could leave after years of close association with Andrew Cohen. This is because close students have seen the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to prevent his longtime people from even thinking about leaving -- and now he was hot on my trail trying to track me down to get me to return. He had other students calling my family members trying to reach me. In the first month, I communicated with him via email, and knew that he was extremely upset that I had left. He had told me that my departure was making him look bad: what was he supposed to say to everyone who looked to me as his representative and close student?

In these first few months, I was an emotional wreck, feeling guilty, confused, alone, financially broke, trying to reckon with the fact that my guru was writing to me calling me a “coward,” but still knowing somewhere I didn’t want to go back – I knew it was over. Yet, perhaps sensing some unsureness, Andrew was now frantically pulling out all the stops. He even wrote me a bizarre email from his dog, pleading for me to “come home” (sounds weird, but I’m not kidding). I asked him to please not involve my family in this; that I needed some time on my own away from his constant badgering to return. Still, he persisted having people call my parents, my ex-wife, and my daughter. I knew I had to make a clear break, and so I wrote him the letter (excerpted above), which I’ve decided not to post in full. (In this letter, I describe a situation with some of the children in the community that I felt Andrew severely and completely mishandled. I’ve left this out because I want to write more fully at a later time about Andrew’s dysfunctional relationship through the years to the children in the community. This issue deserves special attention.)

A year later, after much soul searching and trying to understand more clearly everything I went through with Andrew – the awakening, the help, and the horror show – I wrote the following letter. In it I particularly address the extremely unethical way he extracts sizable monetary ”donations” from close students at times when they are struggling and under extreme emotional stress. I also tried to get him to do the right thing, and return the money he got from me under precisely such conditions. I received no response from Andrew to this letter, except indirectly, as reproduced below it.

October 7, 2004
Dear Andrew,

I wanted to let you know that in the months since my departure from you and IEF back in June of 2003, I’ve been trying to understand more clearly, the multi-dimensional, mixed bag of my fifteen-year relationship with you as my mentor and teacher. And, I’ve realized with unsettling clarity the staggering degree of emotional manipulation and abuse that I and so many others “close” to you have been unhappy recipients of. It’s been quite unnerving, but freeing, to finally recognize that despite your claims to the contrary, there is a strong subtext of narcissism that is deeply woven into your particular brand of guru-disciple relationship, which often seems to compel you to make inappropriate demands from your closer students. In this letter I want to elaborate in factual detail on this point, which continues to have an adverse affect on so many of your students, past and present. And, above all, I personally want to redress the unethical means that you used to get me to donate all the money that I did to you. The money I handed over to you was not in any way freely given, but was given as a result of intense emotional and psychological blackmail. And, I am writing to tell you that I would like it back now.

Andrew, for me, our relationship began with the ecstatic realization of my deepest Self and heart in meeting you, spending time and, in gratitude, working closely together for noble and lofty aims. During and after the blush of my awakening to a deep, transcendent Love, I felt very close to you in a fatherly way (even though I was older than you), and took you to be my guru, as you seemed to be the catalyst for my profound awakening. But, in time, I gradually found myself being beholden to you personally above anything or anyone else, including family, friends and even my physical, psychological and financial well-being, which I dared not question for fear of threatening my relationship to the self-proclaimed ‘Source’ of that love – you. In fact, what I have realized is that you treat all your closest students (male and female alike) as in a co-dependant romantic relationship with you – with all the hooks and emotional stickiness one finds in such a relationship. Guilt, betrayal, feelings of specialness, self-unworthiness, etc. all abound, as we hopelessly try with all our hearts to please you. Remember, I was there when you pulled Mary and Debbie back into this relationship with you after kicking them out months earlier, calling them “fucking bitches” and other demeaning epithets. I watched you court and manipulate them, trying to get them back in your fold with your most seductive “you’re mine” heart appeals. I sat with you in your car as you played Body and Soul, a song of romantic longing to Mary over the phone, relishing it as she started sobbing. After I had run away from Foxhollow to escape the overwhelming pressure, and regain, some sense of sanity, I got your warm, fuzzy and bizarrely repulsive letter to me from your puppy, Kensho, pleading to me to “come home”. I ask, what’s spiritual about all this? Is this “impersonal” Love? It’s sickness.

It strikes me that whenever one of your close students, God forbid, wants to or does part company with you, you always seem to hysterically re-enact your break-up with the first real love of your life, Donnatella. That’s exactly how we all feel on the other end. Is this supposed to show us what a real relationship to an enlightened master is all about? Relating your Donnatella story in one of your videos, in true narcissistic form, you’ve actually made the part where she “destroys the best thing that ever happened to her” – i.e., her relationship to you – a definition of what ego is. Wow! Maybe, she just didn’t want to be your girlfriend anymore, Andrew. Maybe she wanted to move on. I know it’s a hard one to swallow.

I, in fact, came to you for spiritual liberation, yet the added gift of a friendship with my teacher was something I was grateful for and cherished deeply. Still, I never really wanted to be in a position of making a binding commitment for life to you personally or to your organization. Through the years, I was constantly at odds in myself with my contradictory feelings of loyalty to you and to my own autonomy. And, instead of being given the freedom to choose, reassess and possibly change relationship to you or to my practical involvement with IEF over time, I was always made to feel that I was never giving enough in an ever-escalating level of commitment -- either as a community leader on your behalf or as a manager in the Audio Visual department. And when I didn’t meet these expectations, I was made to feel guilty for betraying you personally, for having no sense of obligation to you in return for everything you’ve given me. Yet, my real fault was my inability to be honest with you about all of this, to attempt to break the spell of this binding, ‘love’ relationship with you.

At your request, and out of loyalty to you, I led your communities fulltime for years, running your centers in Israel, Sweden and the UK. As a matter of record, although my rent was covered, I was never paid a cent. I did this out of love and dedication to you, and at great personal sacrifice, including the compromise of my relationship with my daughter, who, due to your demands, I could only manage to see for short visits once or twice a year for nearly four years. All this was during critical years of her development while she was growing up. Both she and I can never regain what we lost due to my total immersion in my work for you during those years. But this wasn't enough for you. On top of that, you insisted that I run the AV department long distance from Stockholm, then London by phone, a ridiculous idea that could never work. Anyway, since, as always, there was no disagreeing with you about this (or anything), when it didn't work, I was chastised by you for my ‘disobedience’, and made to feel like I had betrayed you.

When the same situation recurred while I was in London, you became outraged, and sent me packing to Sydney, Australia for a couple of weeks at my expense to be brow-beaten and counseled daily by Mary and Debbie, who were there for similar reasons, for the “betrayal of my master”. When I was sufficiently repentant, I was allowed to come to Lenox, stay in a motel room, again at my expense, until I proved to Bob, through endless meetings with him in my room that I was really “with you”, and ready to surrender to what you felt was best for me, which was to begin to make up for my defiant ways and “take on” the AV department.

You then allowed me to come to Foxhollow to do a half-time retreat in the morning, while burning my ‘bad karma’ by working the rest of the time in AV. Initially, you offered to loan me money to live on while I worked in AV, although you never actually made good on this offer. And, at no time was there ever the thought of paying me anything for my production work for IEF, which I felt resentful about. But, I never dared say anything, as it was considered a privilege to be able to work for you for nothing. After all, you already had “given me everything”, so I owed you everything. And so, the following downward spiral would occur on more than one occasion: (1) First, was your unreasonable demand on my time and dwindling resources, followed by (2) my unexpressed resentment, and ultimate “failure to produce”, leading to (3) your overly intense expression of outrage toward me for the personal betrayal of you, for which I was put under enormous pressure by you and my fellow students to feel remorse about, while making some gesture of contrition to you. As you well know, this psychological pressure and manipulation from you and others would even extend to being physically slapped in the face repeatedly, and verbally insulted and humiliated (often by women) until I could be “trusted” to turn over a new leaf. But at no time was I able to question you or your methods because I knew that at anytime if I didn’t comply, I could be out on my ear, ostracized and even shunned by all my friends of 15 years. (And you made it clear to me and others on numerous occasions that if I would decide to leave and make a go of it on my own, that would be equivalent to “spiritual suicide” (your words) and exile to the lowest realms of hell.) I have seen this sort of banishment happen to many others, and knew the anger and even hatred you harbored for those older students who left the community and/or according to you, didn't give you all their time, attention, respect, obedience and at times even their money.

Under the psychological intensity and despair of one of these early cycles with you, I was struggling to prove to you that I cared enough, and so took the course that had by then become the prescribed means of getting out of hot water with you, showing remorse and proving how much one cared – offering you money.

In desperation I wrote you a check for $3,000, I think it was. I remember distinctly when you received my offer, you stormed into my room, angrily throwing the check to the floor and shouting at me dramatically, “Do you think you can buy me off for a lousy three grand?” I was flabbergasted. Could it be that there was an amount that I was expected to give that would show the necessary amount of intention and resolve to change? The right amount of care for you? I had remembered a time when buying you flowers was a symbol for this; but times had changed, and now the currency of forgiveness and intention apparently was cash.

As you well know, I was around to watch as many others who “bottomed out”, and wanting to prove their sincerity felt pressured by you to buy their way back into your good graces. In fact, any longtime student in the community knew that sooner or later a “donation” would be required as the only way to resolve matters if they ever got into real trouble with you. Extracting “donations” from your students generally took place at a time when they felt victimized, emotionally overwrought, guilty, and trying to gain back your love, trust and affection. You actually even said to me and a few others at one time that when a ‘committed’ or a ‘senior’ student “blows it”, it’ll cost them $20,000 in karmic retribution. And all this, of course, normally happened without the slightest regard on your part for the student’s actual financial situation. As appallingly manipulative and abusive as I now see your attitude to be, I know that this was still the accepted way that things operated around you up until the time I left.

So, despite grave reservations about being able to do what your “rules” dictated in this situation, I dug deep, cleared out my bank account, borrowing the rest, and offered you what I thought would surely show my heart was in the right place – a check for $20,000. It was accepted and deposited by you. (This was followed by another pledge of $10,000. made to you a bit later when I was in London after having failed once again to meet all that you were demanding of me. I paid you $500. toward this at that time.)

I now find it all quite twisted and sickening. The benefit of leaving has afforded me the clarity I never had while in your world, and under the constant duress of enforced compliance to your wishes (being told this was for my liberation). So, now I am making a different and sane choice on my own behalf:

Without further elaboration of past events, I simply and directly ask you to return my money to me now in full -- $20,500. -- without conditions. This money can by no stretch of the imagination be considered a good faith donation to a nonprofit group, having been extracted from me under some of the most intense and extreme psychological stress imaginable.


Nearly a month later, this is the email response I received from Andrew’s assistant:

From: "Cathy Snow"
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2004 19:41:03 -0500
To: "Ernest"
Subject: from Cathy Snow

Dear Ernest,

We have reviewed your request and have decided to decline it. We wish you all the best.

Thank you,

Cathy Snow

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

My Turning Point

by Richard Pitt

Craig Hamilton’s response to Hal’s letter showed exactly the tactics consistent with life in Andrew Cohen’s community. A nasty attempt at character assassination under the guise of spiritual superiority. The language also reminded me of another cultic dynamic in our present time – the current US administration – with it’s rhetoric of freedom against the tyranny of evil doers, an administration that Andrew Cohen has vocally supported, for heaven’s sake!

To reduce all the points that Hal, Susan Bridle and others have brought up to be the clamor of cynicism reveals an arrogance and delusion that is a hallmark of Andrew Cohen’s community. When I left the community after 8 years, the turning point happened when I realized that there was no room for anybody to leave the community with Andrew’s blessing. There was no respect given to those who left and I realized that Andrew simply didn’t care. Initially that made me very sad, and then angry, and then I realized how bitter and deluded a teacher he must be when he can’t let people leave and wish them well and hope that each of them finds what they’re looking for in life. As far as he’s concerned, if you’ve gone, you’ve betrayed him and you’re going to rot in the hell of your own ego. I wrote to him saying that each person has to find their own way, that ultimately no other person can do that for another and we all have to walk our own path. Any teacher worth their salt would know this, but Andrew has been caught up in an expectation of betrayal from everybody he meets, his mother and teacher included, and so this is the prism of his own reality. Those that knew him and then left after many years just confirmed this expectation.

Craig Hamilton and Andrew’s community cannot reduce those behind this blog to being disaffected cowards, hyenas yapping at the ankles of Truth. That is too easy. One of the great things that happened in the community was the level of sincerity of those involved. That sincerity doesn’t leave when a person departs the community, contrary to the rationales given by Andrew to justify why people would leave him. Life is more subtle than Andrew Cohen would have us think. This is the trouble when someone attempts to live his life in such simplistic absolutes; everything and everybody who is not sitting in adoration of him is the enemy, a spiritual “axis of evil” to be battled with.
How many times in human history has this happened when one group of people think they have some kind of unique angle on Truth, and where those that disagree with them are viewed with suspicion, hatred and worse. This is what cults have always been about and whilst I joke that, yes, I was in a cult but it wasn’t as bad as many other cults, none the less it is still a cult and one day Craig may realize this. However, that will happen only after he leaves. Whilst in it, he will never be able to see what is really going on and can only resort to thinking that the very many people who committed many years to living in Andrew’s community and then left are nothing more than lost souls, unresolved individuals, whilst he, Andrew and others bask in the light of wisdom and truth. How noble of you Craig! However, it really is quite good out here with the rest of humanity - not perfect, but maybe perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, including our spiritual authorities.

How Not to Defend Your Guru

By anonymous 1

1. Don’t bring up Freud. Here's the first reason not to use Freud when defending a spiritual teacher:

Anthony Storr is a Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, an Emeritus Fellow at Green College at Oxford, and a former Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry at Oxford University.

Storr writes, “Freud’s dogmatism and intolerance of disagreement led to the departure of many colleagues, including Adler, Stekel, Jung, and eventually Rank and Ferenczi, from the psychoanalytic movement. When his associates remained faithful disciples, Freud gave them his approval; but when they disagreed, he abused them, or accused them of being mentally ill. Adler was described by Freud as a paranoiac; Stekel as unbearable and as a louse; Jung as brutal and sanctimonious. Psychoanalysis became more and more like a religious cult, and Freud himself applied the term heretic to defectors.”

2. Here's the second reason not to use Freud when defending your spiritual teacher:

Craig Hamilton, in his response to Susan Bridle's post, writes: "As Sigmund Freud saw clearly, and as Anna Freud explained in its details, the ego, or self-image, protects itself with an army of defense mechanisms which, in effect, endlessly reshuffle the details of reality in order to keep one’s picture of oneself intact."

In addition to the first reason I gave for not citing Freud when defending your spiritual teacher, the second reason is that what Craig says here applies, in theory, to Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Craig Hamilton, Susan Bridle, Andrew Cohen, me, and about six billion other people. We might be especially suspicious of individuals who have power over others and who represent themselves as being enlightened. Perhaps Craig can tell us if he believes and especially if Andrew Cohen believes that Andrew Cohen has no "defense mechanisms." If Andrew Cohen believes that about himself, and/or if his students believe that about him, then we will know that we are indeed dealing with a cult phenomenon (in the pejorative sense of the word "cult"). No one is without defense mechanisms at all times, anymore than anyone is infallible.

3. Don't accuse critics of your spiritual teacher of comprising a "cult," such as the "anti-Cohen cult," because it makes it appear that you are desperate to neutralize the term. If the term "cult," in its pejorative sense as it is typically used in psychology and sociology, does not apply to your spiritual teacher's community, then as long as critics don't slander your teacher or spread challengeable lies about the community, you have nothing to worry about if critics accuse your community of being a cult and your teacher of being a cult leader. If you think you do have reason to worry about that, then it makes sense to bring that word into the discussion.

4. Don't accuse critics (explicitly or by innuendo) of distorting reality unless you can show that they are distorting reality.

Craig wrote, again in his response to Susan: "The 'wisdom of the ego' as Harvard psychologist George Vaillant refers to it in his book by the same name, lies in its ingenious ability to distort reality to protect us from uncomfortable, even devastating truths."The problem here is that no one who fits into the category "human being" is incapable of distorting reality to protect themselves from uncomfortable, and even devastating truths, and that includes self-styled enlightened spiritual teachers. This goes back to the question of fallibility. If a spiritual teacher implicitly represents himself and/or if his students represent him (or her) as being infallible, that is a bright red flag that signals potentially serious problems. No one is infallible, not the Buddha, not Jesus, not Jerry Falwell, not the Pope, and not Andrew Cohen.

It's unlikely that all critics distort reality at all times. If only 1% of the criticisms directed at your teacher have merit, this should be vulnerably acknowledged. (An example of not vulnerably acknowledging that your teacher is indeed a fallible human being who is not perfectly skillful in his or her means at all times, would be to say, "We admit that the teacher uses harsh methods at some times and that this may cause some of his students distress, but the ego's stubborn resistance demands such means..." That's a rationale, not an admission. And let's be honest; if you honestly believe that your teacher's means are consistently skillful at all times and that he or she has never made a "mistake," then say so. It's okay... there are Catholics who believe the Pope is infallible, so you won't be alone in the world, and the rest of us will know where you stand.)

5. Don’t bring up Marpa and Milarepa, or how tough some Japanese Zen masters are reputed to have been with their students. At the time of this writing it is the early 21st century, and I imagine that most of us are not living in feudal or militaristic cultures that were at a relatively low level of "vMeme" development according to the Spiral Dynamics model which has been written about in What Is Enlightenment? magazine.

As for references to Marpa, see this post (which is elsewhere on this blog):

6. Don't quote Famous People who have penned endorsements for your teacher to defend your teacher against criticisms from former students, because everyone knows that the Famous People were most likely only exposed to the teacher's and the community's best side and that anything the teacher didn't want the Famous People to see was kept from their view. It's also well known that spiritual communities under suspicion of being toxic cults often respond by saying, "Our doors are wide open, visit any time!," and then make absolutely certain that visitors will see a squeaky clean community filled with shiny, happy people.

The upshot of all this is that it's difficult to defend one's spiritual teacher against critical feedback from former students when the critical feedback is as articulate and free of bitterness as is the critical feedback of Andre van der Braak, Hal, and Susan Bridle. It's possible that they and other former students are all thoroughly deluded individuals who simply could not stand the spiritual fire generated by Andrew Cohen. And it's also possible that monkeys fly out of Madonna's butt, as Garth of Wayne's World once said.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

An Angry Brainwashed Person

Craig--Your words sound like those of an angry brainwashed person to me. I have nothing to do with Andrew's community and never have, but I know the sound of someone who is brainwashed when I hear it.

The first thing of course, is to attack the character of someone who is speaking the truth. We all have character flaws. It's just a cheap shot to do that.

One other interesting thing is that you point to Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, as endorsing Andrew. That woman is the biggest fraud going! Joya, or Joyce Green, (which is her real name), is a total scam artist. A scam artist endorsing a scam artist! Great!

Good luck to you Craig. May you find the help and support and friends that you need when you finally find your way out of the mental torture chamber you have put yourself in.
- by anonymous

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Who then, does Andrew Cohen answer to?

Anonymous writes in response to Craig Hamilton's post:

You ask, "if Andrew Cohen really were the menace to society this blog describes, why would so many of today’s wisest and most respected spiritual and cultural authorities have expressed such strong support for his work?"

Does this blog describe Andrew Cohen as a “menace to society”? I certainly did not get that impression from Susan Bridle’s and Hal’s posts or from the few others I read here, but I have not studied the entire blog.

That aside, you ask why so many respected authorities have expressed such strong support of Andrew Cohen’s work, and you provide a link readers can follow to a "press room" at where a number of people whose names are undoubtedly familiar to many of us are listed, along with their praises of Andrew Cohen and his work.

Here are their names: Brian Swimme, Don E. Beck, John Roemischer, Andrei Codrescu, Ken Wilber, John White, Swami Chidananda, Wayne Teasdale, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, and Yvan Amar.

Ken Wilber, John White, and Barbara Marx Hubbard are on record as having at one time or another expressed strong support for the American self-styled Avatar/World-Teacher Adi Da and his "work." In a public announcement made in the late 1990’s, Ken Wilber said that he had come to see Adi Da as “problematic” and “pathological.”

Have any of the authorities listed on the pressroom page of ever lived as students over a period of time in Andrew Cohen's community? If not, they may be authorities on any number of things, but they are not authorities on what life as a student in Andrew Cohen's community is like.

You ask, "if the community around Cohen even remotely resembled the sort of life-destroying police-state this blog depicts, why would most of those writing on this blog have stayed with Cohen of their own free will for ten or more years? And why would so many others report it to be the most enriching, life-affirming, and genuinely evolutionary environment they have ever experienced?"

I missed the posts at this blog that depict Andrew Cohen's community as a life-destroying-police-state (and as I noted, I have not studied this blog), but if we put questions about Andrew Cohen aside, I think we can say that there is a great deal of evidence to the effect that many people have been known to stay in dysfunctional systems of their own free will, often for many years before they "wake up" and realize that the system they're in is indeed dysfunctional, while other people living within the same dysfunctional systems seem to thrive and might not see the system as dysfunctional. We might keep in mind that systems are not static, and that someone may stay for years in a system that becomes cumulatively dysfunctional or otherwise problematic over time.

You say that it is a cheap shot for anyone to suggest that Andrew Cohen sees himself as an infallible authority figure who answers to no one. As evidence you mention that he has gone out of his way to meet with other teachers and that he regularly speaks about his continuing evolution as a teacher. This begs the question if Andrew Cohen, in relationship not to other teachers but to his students, functions in the mode of an infallible authority figure (who is believed to be infallible because he is believed to be enlightened) and tells us nothing about how communication and feedback is processed within Andrew Cohen's community.

If it is a cheap shot for anyone to suggest that Andrew Cohen is an infallible authority figure who answers to no one, are we to assume that there are ways that Andrew Cohen’s students can bring grievances and critical feedback to him without fear of ostracism, exile, public humiliation, or other repercussions? Spiritual teachers do exist who disallow and disavow all critical feedback from students and who rationalize this by defining all of their students as unenlightened and "egoic" and therefore incapable of discerning when the teacher’s behavior is truly skillful, as in “skillful means,” and when the teacher may be acting out of unconsciousness. In communities presided over by such teachers, the benefit of the doubt always goes to the teacher and never to the students, and therefore there can be no such thing as legitimate grievances and critical feedback from students. Students who loyal to the teacher in such communities automatically see students who sometimes look critically at and question the teacher and/or who leave and then look critically at and question the teacher, as being caught up in unenlightened "egoic" reactivity. I would say that it is not a cheap shot to characterize such teachers as "self-proclaimed infallible authority" figures, but you are clearly indicating that Andrew Cohen does not fall into that mold or pattern (and that is good news).

Who then, other than other teachers, and beyond making general admissions that he continues to evolve as a teacher, does Andrew Cohen answer to?

WIE Editor Admits Slapping, Smeared "Blood" Incident

I nearly laughed out loud when I read Hal’s preamble to his “Breaking the Code of Silence” entry on this blog. How noble of you, Hal. You’re finally going to enlighten us all to what’s really going on around Andrew? What “code of silence” exactly are you referring to? As far as I can tell, so far the only code on this blog seems to be a code of kvetching. Let me try a new approach. I’ll call this entry “Breaking the Code of Victimization.”

My name is Craig Hamilton. I’m the managing editor of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, where I’ve worked full time since 1997. I’ve been a student of Andrew’s for nearly thirteen years, and have been a close friend and colleague for the past eight of those years. I’ve been watching this latest incarnation of the anti-Cohen cult with mild curiosity since its small handful of founders started repeatedly emailing announcements about it to all of the magazine’s advertisers and contributors. I never planned to respond, but at a certain point, the rhetoric of mischaracterization got to be too much to listen to.

So, for anyone who, upon reading the entries on this blog, finds themselves scratching their head at the bizarre, two-dimensional, and often surreal picture it paints; for anyone who finds it nearly impossible to reconcile the diabolical PowerLord depicted here with their own experience of Andrew Cohen (either through his writings, his magazine, his video dialogues on the web, or his public talks and retreats), I thought it would be worth offering a few words of explanation to help set the record straight.

First, a couple of questions:

(1) if the community around Cohen even remotely resembled the sort of life-destroying police-state this blog depicts, why would most of those writing on this blog have stayed with Cohen of their own free will for ten or more years? And why would so many others report it to be the most enriching, life-affirming, and genuinely evolutionary environment they have ever experienced?

(2) if Andrew Cohen really were the menace to society this blog describes, why would so many of today’s wisest and most respected spiritual and cultural authorities have expressed such strong support for his work? (A small sample of these can be found at:

For starters, just to be clear, yes Andrew Cohen is a demanding teacher. And if he accepts you as a student and you get close enough to him, he’ll likely challenge you in ways you have never been challenged. Sometimes warmly. Sometimes affectionately. Sometimes fiercely. But if you’ve been even a few steps down the path of transformation, and have begun to glimpse the usually obscured face of that dubious cluster of self-serving motivations traditionally known as ego, you’ve probably realized that, frankly, sometimes you need to be challenged. I know I had. In fact, a big part of the reason I came to Andrew for help was that, after years of meditation and therapy, I had managed to see myself just clearly enough that I was starting to become faintly disgusted by the self-aggrandizement, narcissism, and deep-rooted selfishness that was playing itself out in all my relationships. And it was clear that, despite my growing concern about it, I wasn’t in a hurry to give it up on my own. Andrew made it clear from the word go that he was in a hurry for me to give it up, and that it wouldn’t be easy, that I would at times resent him or worse for forcing me to confront and leave behind the self-image I had grown so fond of. But I was pretty convinced that without the kind of “evolutionary tension” a relationship with a teacher like Andrew promised, I would likely spend the better part of a lifetime in spiritual self-delusion, in love with my own image as a seeker.

In case there was any doubt, Andrew delivered. And then some. And he was right. There have been many times when I have resented him and worse for the sometimes stark or even severe reflection he has unfailingly provided. (I was the one mentioned in Hal’s letter who got slapped in the face and also had fake blood smeared on his wall—which, incidentally, we already wrote about in the magazine three years ago—so much for the “code of silence”). And if I had, at any one of those times, followed my bruised ego out the door, as a number of others have, I might well be joining the feeding frenzy along with them. The spiritual path has always been a high-stakes game. The mystical literature isn’t filled with metaphors like “Razor’s Edge” and “Chasm of Fire” simply for poetic effect. Indeed, before I met Andrew, I always wondered why the traditional stories were so replete with images of demons trying, and often succeeding, at tempting people from their own highest aspirations. For all of my meditation and therapy, I had encountered nothing in my own experience that could help explain their existence—metaphorical or otherwise. But in my thirteen years with Andrew, where the fires of transformation burn bright, I have seen in often painful living color just why the traditions made such a strong, if metaphorical, point of this. The sad and at times devastating truth is, not everybody makes it. And some barely make it to the starting line.

But for those who have remained steadfast through the struggles that come with the territory, something miraculous is unfolding. On an individual level, it manifests as a deep authenticity and vulnerability, a profound freedom of being, whose human face is care for others and for all of life. But the greater fruits of this sacred labor are revealing themselves on a collective level. Coming together beyond the fears and desires of ego, we are discovering a new way of being together, in which the autonomy of each individual is fueled and animated by the power and love of communion beyond difference. If you want to get a glimpse of what heaven on earth might look like, I strongly encourage you to pay us a visit. Our doors are always open, and many who have come through have commented that they’ve never experienced anything like what they tasted here.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Hal or any of the other writers on this blog shouldn’t have left. Nor am I suggesting that everyone who leaves this path does so because they have an ego tantrum. No path is for everyone, and least of all this one. But having known Hal for many years, I have no doubt that the reasons for his departure were as I described above. And that in light of that, we would do well to question his motives for writing what he has, and the accuracy of the picture he paints. (For the record, Hal served very briefly as the lead editor of What is Enlightenment? while it was making the transition from a two-color in-house newsletter to its first issue or two as a small, four-color magazine. Those of us who worked with him remember him as an emotionally unstable and often aggressive colleague. Indeed, it was his unwillingness to make any effort to control his fitful aggression that eventually compelled Andrew to give him the nickname “Raging Bull,” and which also ultimately led to his departure).

Finally, I think it needs to be said that this blog’s portrayal of Andrew as a self-proclaimed infallible authority who answers to no one is little more than a cheap shot. It ignores the fact that since he began teaching, Andrew has gone out of his way to seek out meetings with other teachers, traditional and non-traditional, with whom he shares not only his insights but his struggles and questions. It also leaves out the fact that Andrew regularly speaks about his own continued evolution as a teacher.

I was hesitant to write this letter. I recognize that, given the level of aggression we are confronting here, this small effort at explanation may well backfire, generating a yet greater wave of animosity, even if again only from that small minority whose axe will not be sufficiently ground until it is but a stub of a handle. But at some point, silence on such matters starts to look like consent. And if nothing else, perhaps this small statement will at least raise a question for anyone who might have been fooled by Hal and his gang. I guarantee that if you dig deep enough to find out for yourself, you’ll discover that the picture of Andrew Cohen portrayed on this blog is nothing more than a small-hearted rendition of loosely assembled half-truths, a coward’s caricature. Yes, there is another side to the story. It’s a side whose glory cannot be contained in the space of this letter. But one well worth investigating for anyone in whom the heart’s cry for freedom cannot be drowned in the clamor of cynicism.
Craig Hamilton

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Legacy of Scorched Earth

Reflections of a former student
by Susan Bridle

Hal’s recent very thoughtful posts to this blog have inspired me to send a contribution, also nonanonymously. I was a student of Andrew Cohen for ten years, and worked very intimately with him for many years in my work as a writer and editor for What Is Enlightenment? magazine and other Moksha Press publications. I have witnessed or experienced everything reported in this blog and a great deal more. I left Andrew’s community a little over 3 years ago, and while I am busy with new academic, career, and spiritual goals, I am still “digesting” my experience of my relationship with Andrew and my time in his community.
Bottom line, I experienced so much that was truly profound and transformative—and that I will forever be grateful for—and also so much that was really abusive and twisted—and that still deeply saddens me. The lightest light and the darkest dark. Both. All tangled together like miles of black and white yarn entwined in a big ball at the pit of my stomach. I guess for me, I feel my work is to digest the whole thing, tease it apart, and try to come to some real maturity and wisdom about it. And without saying that Andrew doesn’t have responsibility for where, in my considered opinion, he went off the rails, take responsibility for all my choices and actions, for what brought me to him, what kept me there, and what enabled me to finally move on.
One thing that continues to strike me with painful irony is that fact that Andrew would, almost tearfully, lament about other teachers who had shown such great promise, whose passion for the spiritual life and searing dharma inspired so many spiritual seekers to abandon “the world” and give their entire lives to a spiritual revolution—but whose abuses of sex, money, power, or other addictions in the end disillusioned thousands of seekers and instead promoted cynicism about the whole endeavor. This is, in fact, the reality of the situation now with Andrew. He inspires such passion, such commitment, such sacrifice in so many seekers…for a while, a few years, maybe ten, perhaps longer. But Andrew’s legacy is, for the most part, scorched earth. Hundreds of disillusioned seekers who, when they eventually extricate themselves from their highly compromised relationship with Andrew, are scorched souls, burnt out entirely on the spiritual life, afraid to risk or trust or commit again. Many, even most, of Andrew’s former students, at least those who spent significant time in his company, have lost faith in themselves, in their own aspiration and capacity, in the possibility of a healthy student-teacher relationship, in the whole enterprise. This is a crime, a sin. Worthy of a tearful lament.
When his students leave him, rather than wishing them well and hoping that they are able to make good use of their experience with him, his community, and his teachings, Andrew scorns them, heaps abuse upon them, calls them “pigs” and “monsters,” and asserts that they have “sold their souls to the devil.” Rather than hoping that they will go on to use what they’ve learned in living fruitful lives, continuing their spiritual paths, and doing good work to relieve suffering in the world, he responds gleefully when he hears news of former students who are struggling to find their way. “That loser!” he would laugh. He delighted in hearing news about struggling former students. It vindicated what Andrew saw as their personal betrayal of him, the one true living embodiment of all that is holy and evolutionary in this world. For Andrew, his game is the only real game in town; no other spiritual teacher, path, or practice can hold a candle to it. Former students’ continued belief in this myth makes it very difficult for them to consider other spiritual paths and practices.
It seems that around Andrew and his communities today is a revolving door of students who discover him through the magazine or books, and have visited one of his centers, and perhaps attended a retreat or two. They stay for a while, and probably benefit tremendously. The “core” group of students who have been with Andrew for longer periods—and who are exposed to the kinds of tactics reported on this blog—has shrunk markedly over the years. Foxhollow, Andrew’s large and lavish residential and retreat center in western Massachusetts, when not filled with people during retreats and seminars, is significantly less populated than it once was. Some report that it feels like a monument to what might have been, a pretense of grandeur elaborately and expensively maintained, a slowly shriveling relic. Whether this is what becomes of Foxhollow and Andrew’s worldwide spiritual community remains to be seen; Andrew’s teaching and community have changed and evolved significantly since he began teaching in 1986. Maybe he will be able to adjust course regarding some of the matters discussed on this blog. That is my hope.
One other painful irony I’d like to mention—among so many others—is Andrew’s early, strong criticism of “crazy wisdom” teachers. During this period, he asked Hal to interview the American spiritual teacher Lee Lozowick about it. Lozowick has enormous insight on this subject, and his comments almost seem prophetic:
WIE: What is crazy wisdom?
LL: One of the primary aspects of crazy wisdom is that crazy-wisdom teachers are willing to use any behavior, no matter how shocking or irreverent or disturbing, if, and only if, that behavior has a very high likelihood of provoking a shift in the student, a deepening in the student. Of course, in this day and age, because of the communications industry, we hear about every idiot throughout the world whose ego takes on a crazy-wisdom function and then goes about using shock techniques whenever they feel like it, with complete disregard for the timing of the matter. Everything is timing. Gurdjieff was a master of timing. He didn't just produce shock like a research scientist to see what would happen. He only produced shock when the likelihood of its being effective, in terms of deepening a student's relationship to the Divine, was high. It didn't always work because it is only a likelihood, but still he wasn't random about it. And the teachers who I call charlatans today are teachers who are completely irresponsible in their use of power and crazy manifestation. I would consider a crazy-wisdom teacher someone who might use anything, but who is never arbitrary, and never follows their own personal motives. They only use dramatic and shocking manifestations under specific circumstances at exactly the right time. It's like faceting a diamond—if you don't understand the structure of the stone and you just take a chisel and hit it, all you get is diamond dust. You've got to know exactly the structure of the diamond because you've got to tap it along a particular fracture point. If you tap it in the middle of two fracture points, then you just smash the stone instead of getting a perfectly faceted jewel. Human beings are the same way. They've got what we could call revelation lines, so to speak, or enlightenment lines. A crazy-wisdom teacher is a master at faceting. A charlatan is someone who just takes the hammer and chisel and whales away and hopes that there are some beneficial results—or maybe doesn't even care but just loves the euphoria of the exercise of power and people groveling at his or her feet.
…[The fact that Reality cannot be understood with the conceptual mind] is one of the revelations that can deepen a student's relationship to the Divine. So one might do something under a specific circumstance to produce the revelation that reality is nonlinear. But ordinarily, one wouldn't function like that all the time just to prove that point. One would do that only when the student was just on the edge of the real possibility of getting that point, beyond just knowing the party line. Another important consideration is that the kind of behavior that would demonstrate the absurdity of linearity would not tend to be violent behavior or the kind of behavior that would psychologically scar someone.
I think that, so sadly, Andrew became the kind of teacher Lozowick speaks about here, one “who just takes the hammer and chisel and whales away and hopes that there are some beneficial results—or maybe doesn't even care but just loves the euphoria of the exercise of power and people groveling at his or her feet.”
Andrew’s passion, inspiration, insight, and personal example melted my heart, and enabled me to take great risks in my commitment to the spiritual life. My association with him transformed my life in many very positive ways. I carry with me enormous benefits from my time with Andrew, and I do not regret those years. But now, reflecting on his techniques, I have to say that he is an exceptionally ham-handed teacher, willing to inflict great harm in his clumsy and often extreme dharma experiments.
On a personal note, I’m now quite involved with the Zen Center of Denver. I’ve been meditating there and very slowly getting more involved for the past couple of years. I did a sesshin (intensive Zen retreat) last June that was very powerful. I had been afraid to do an intense retreat like that before then because I guess I felt I wasn’t ready, that it would be too painful, that too much stuff around Andrew would come up. And sure enough, for the first half of the sesshin, layer after layer of stuff about my relationship to Andrew, to the spiritual life, to my own aspiration, to pain and cynicism came up. But I just sat with it, let it be, experienced it without clinging or pushing away. And layer by layer, it burned away like fog. I experienced a lot of pain and grief and sadness, but also a lot of gratitude about my whole experience with Andrew. And what was also amazing was that Danan Henry Roshi, the abbot at ZCD was at the same time coming to the end of a long process of coming to terms with his first Zen teacher, the renowned Philip Kapleau Roshi, who had died just before the sesshin. The sesshin was dedicated to Kapleau Roshi, and we listened to recorded dharma talks by Kapleau every morning. Henry broke with Kapleau more than 10 years ago, a few years after Kapleau had sanctioned him as a dharma heir and had sent him to open a Zen center in Denver. Henry had felt there was still something missing in his understanding, and began his Zen training all over again with Robert Aitken Roshi. (Aitken and Kapleau had both trained with the same Japanese Zen masters, but they developed very different teaching styles). Henry’s break with Kapleau was difficult for a few years, but he remained in an essentially friendly and respectful relationship with him. Nonetheless, he had a painful process of coming to terms with breaking with his first dharma father, with some of the painful and confusing aspects of his training with Kapleau, and the difference between Kapleau’s understanding of the dharma and the subtleties of teaching, and his own. Kapleau had a very passionate but also a militaristic style of teaching, and people would be beaten black and blue with the Zen stick during sesshins. Henry came to realize that Kapleau began to teach before his own Zen training was complete. While Kapleau had had a very powerful awakening, there was something incomplete in his understanding of the dharma and of teaching. In Zen, kensho and satori are by no means the end of the road. Henry suggested that he and many others were casualties of this incomplete training on Kapelau’s part. BUT, what was more interesting and helpful was Henry’s example of clear-eyed love, respect, and gratitude for Kapleau, even while knowing of his limitations. (Which it would seem were far less serious than Andrew’s; my point here is not to compare Kapleau with Andrew, but to share Henry’s approach.) Henry had dealt with most of this before Kapleau’s death, but there was still a bit further for him to go in coming to total peace with his dharma father. So, during this sesshin where I was doing the work I needed to do about my relationship with Andrew, Henry was finishing the work he needed to do around Kapleau. In the mornings we listened to Kapleau’s dharma talks, and in the evenings Henry would comment on them and put them in the context of his own teaching and that of Robert Aitken. He really modeled a way of being around this that avoided nothing, and was at the same time incredibly compassionate for both himself and Kapleau, wise, mature, respectful, grateful. So this going on in the sesshin was like a container for me to go through my own process. Interesting, I said very little to Danan Henry Roshi about it in dokusan (formal interviews with the teacher). Things just came up and burned off. Toward the end of the sesshin, Henry said of Kapleau, with enormous emotion, that he loved him and he owed him. And that Kapleau was fully himself, limitations and all, a great lion of the dharma, and could not have been other than he was. And at that moment that was exactly how I felt about Andrew. So, that sesshin was very powerful for me. The last couple of days of the sesshin were different. I went beyond my attachment to and interest in thought and insight, and glimpsed beyond a deep ego-entrenched fear/shame of my “self” being somehow antithetical to the Absolute. I was able to get past, at least briefly, some blocks that had always hung me up in all my practice with Andrew. I can’t say this big opening lasted very long, but I feel the sesshin planted my feet firmly on the path again. I regained the path, and my faith, and my willingness to risk again. And now it wasn’t attached to a particular person, but just to my own aspiration. I’m doing the Zen training here, gradually. It’s sooo different from Andrew’s community. Much more spacious, much more respectful of the individual, definitely not authoritarian. I’m finding my way with having a completely different, non-guru-like relationship with my spiritual guide.
May we all learn how to turn our challenges and travails on the spiritual path, and the path of life in general, into pearls of wisdom and compassion.
Susan Bridle