Thursday, March 03, 2005

Cruelty, Vengeance And Crazy Wisdom

Breaking The Code Of Silence--Part II
by Hal Blacker

May all beings be happy!

It is now more than ten days since I wrote Andrew Cohen an “Invitation To Truth And Reconciliation." So far, there has been no response.

This is a disappointment. Andrew’s utter silence now, after previous hostile posts made here by his representatives, seems to signify a complete unwillingness to face the harm he has caused. So now I am compelled to continue this journey into Andrew Cohen’s heart of darkness. Because this is bitter medicine, it will be served in small doses.

Let no one think that the few specific instances of slapping described previously here were the only ones. There were many others. The slapping of several What Is Enlightenment? staff members by another staff member, on Andrew’s orders, has been chronicled earlier on this blog. A former senior student reports slapping other students on Andrew’s orders, including former and present students such as Steve Brett, Harry Dijkshorn, Bob Voss, and others. He saw Andrew personally strike Calvin Phipps, Arjan Kindermans, Mike Dutka and several other men. A former female student reports that women were slapped at Andrew’s direction even more often than the men.

In addition to slapping, groups of male students were ordered by Andrew to assault other students. In 1997, while the community was still in Marin County, California (shortly before I left it), a group of men roughed up former student Ingo. He had recently been “promoted” and was living in Andrew’s household along with other closer students. I did not find out about this until years later. I was incredulous at first, thinking it must have just been “rough-housing.” with obviously no harmful intent. Ingo stressed that this was not the case. He was very frightened by the incident. He was not seriously hurt, but while it was occurring he feared that he might be. He fled the community soon after, never to return. Around this time Stas (Ernest) was also jumped and “beaten up” a number of times by a group of fellow students. He also was extremely frightened and panic-stricken by the attacks. Again, he was not seriously harmed physically, but felt emotionally traumatized from the events. These kinds of physical assaults were rationalized by Andrew, however, as a way to get certain men in touch with their inner rage.

Some forms of physical abuse did not involve direct assaults on the person. For instance, at the Foxhollow World Center, Andrew once ordered that a large plastic bag of garbage, containing food waste and other trash, be obtained from the center’s kitchen. He had a student empty its entire contents on the bed of a student living there named Mary Acton-Adams.

Andrew also appears to be capable of engaging in a sustained effort, lasting over years, to demoralize a student with whom he is particularly angry. This seems to have been the case with Donna, Stas' (Ernest's) former wife.

Donna and Stas became students of Andrew’s in the late 1980’s. By the time the community moved from the East Coast to Marin County, California, they were among his closest. When I joined the community in Marin in 1990, I lived briefly with Donna, Stas and their young daughter, Sophia. Donna and Stas achieved the rank of “senior students” (the highest level in the student hierarchy, for a time) and were leaders of the community for years. For years, they were also one of the only—perhaps the only—married couple in the community that Andrew did not break apart. By the time the community moved back to the East Coast to its new home in Foxhollow, however, Donna had fallen from grace, been separated from Stas, and Andrew was very unhappy with her.

In approximately 1999, Donna was a lay student, living off the Foxhollow campus. Although she had fallen into disfavor with Andrew, she tried to keep some connection with him and the community. The community was involved with extensive re-modeling of the Foxhollow Center, and Donna volunteered to help. One day, she was working at the center with others, painting, and during a lunch break, close student Bob Voss approached her. He asked her if she could “come downstairs” into the basement. She was met there by four close female students, including Andrew’s wife, Alka. They guided her to a plastic sheet that was on the floor. Alka approached Donna and told her she had a message from Andrew. Saying “Thanks a lot” (or words to this effect) in a sarcastic voice, Alka poured a full bucket of paint over Donna’s head. The other students proceeded to do the same, pouring a total of 4 buckets of paint over Donna.

Donna recalls being completely devastated. She remembers standing covered with paint and crying. One student helped her to a shower, where she disrobed and stood under the water for 45 minutes, broken and sobbing. She was given coveralls to change into before she left. She tried as hard as she could to hold herself together emotionally long enough to leave the premises without breaking down and making a scene. She had trouble keeping control. Later, a fellow student telephoned Donna and called her a “coward.” After the incident, and perhaps because of its emotional trauma, Donna became very ill with a bad flu.

Donna never returned to Foxhollow. She drifted away from the community, although she maintained contact with Stas, in part because of their daughter Sophia. But this was not the end of Donna’s humiliation at Andrew’s hands. Andrew seemed to feel the need to cause Donna more pain. He would eventually accomplish this through emotional abuse and manipulation involving her daughter Sophia.

As Stas described in his letter posted on this blog, he often had little time for his daughter Sophia due to Andrew’s demands on him. Sophia, naturally, came to resent this. Several years after Donna was assaulted with paint in the basement of Foxhollow, Sophia, then 15 years old, and her mother were living together separately from Stas. Sophia was angry with Stas for his neglect, and wanted little to do with him. She was, however, very close to Donna and held her in high esteem. Andrew became aware of this, and felt that something should be done.

Some years earlier, Andrew had learned about infidelity by Donna that had occurred in the distant past, years before Sophia was born. Over time, Andrew had used this against Stas and Donna on a number of occasions. He revealed this embarrassing information to many people in the community. When Andrew heard that Sophia wanted little to do with Stas, while holding Donna in high regard, he decided Sophia’s love and respect for her mother should be undermined by telling Sophia of her mother’s past infidelity. Andrew was outraged that Sophia would dare to be disrespectful of her father because he had given his life, his time and his priorities to Andrew, rather than her. Through the years, Andrew had often told the parents that they should not hide from the children that their dedication to him comes first, even before them. He also said he felt that it would somehow be of personal benefit for Sophia to “know the truth” about her mother and that it would help Stas’s relationship with Sophia. Andrew discussed this idea with Stas and other close students numerous times.

Andrew kept pressing Stas to tell Sophia directly of her mother’s past infidelity. As a result, when Stas was visiting with Sophia, he told her how her mother had been unfaithful before she was born. Upon hearing this, Sophia cried. But Stas felt that telling her might have had the desired effect. He called Andrew and told him this. Andrew, pleased with himself, said jokingly, “OK. So, now you owe me another $20,000.”

After Stas left, however, Sophia became physically ill and threw up. She called her mother, upset by everything she had been told. When Donna heard what had happened, she became furious. She rightfully suspected Andrew’s involvement in the affair, knowing that Stas would do nothing without Andrew’s direct instruction. But before she had a chance to speak at length with Stas about it, Alka called him and told him, “Andrew says, to leave him out of this.” Andrew had not only Stas but others told to engage in a “cover-up” for him. Later, when Stas spoke to Donna and was questioned by her, he denied any involvement by Andrew. Shanti (Mary), another long-time student and close friend of Donna’s, vehemently denied Andrew’s involvement in the affair.

Donna, Stas and their daughter Sophia have all felt the brunt of Andrew’s wrath, in cruelly novel and unexpected ways. They are not the only ones. Donna recalls Andrew once comparing himself to the controversial and scandal-plagued guru Adi Da (Da Free John), saying, “In terms of crazy wisdom, I’m the craziest.” Crazy wisdom, something Andrew once vociferously condemned in his teaching, had become a matter of pride for Andrew. The thing about crazy wisdom is, it has no limits. Let us hope—against the evidence—that Andrew’s cruelty and vengeance does.

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22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sick reading this post. This is very hard to take in but I thank you for having the courage to tell the truth, to expose just how deep the abuse went.
How can anyone justify such cruelty in the name of Evolutionary Enlightenment? It is clear that the spiral is downward, and the destination is dark and sinster. I feel deep sorrow and want to express my empathy to those who have been hurt through wanting to give their all to a noble vision. This is very very sick. How can Andrew or anyone justify these incidents? They cannot.

Thursday, 03 March, 2005  
Anonymous John said...

To all who contribute to this blog - congratulations on a sincere investigation into the confusion you have all felt as a result of being on your particular spiritual journey with Andrew Cohen. I was not a student of Andrew's but of another little-known western teacher, and there is much similarity in the experiences.

I discovered the following article on a Yahoo Group called Guru Ratings, and it seemed relevant to the discussions here - an interesting analysis of the different types of spiritual teachers by Timothy Conway.

As this is not exactly a reply to Helene's post, please feel free to move it elsewhere or delete it if you feel is is a bit off-topic.

I have to say from personal experience that when you discover that the person you 'worshipped' is not what you imagined, or wanted to be, and also that you are not the failure or 'bad student' that you had decided that you were (due to not being able to live up to the ideas of perfection that you so believed in), it is quite hard to understand what in spirituality is real at all.

Was the entire experience false, or just that you took it too far to the extremes, or was it that the leader of the group was not perfect or experienced enough to deal with the rawness of the issues that develop between the often vulnerable and confused people in the group??

I haven't fully discovered the answers to that yet, and to be honest, as time goes by, I less and less care for a reason. What I've discovered is that I sure am enjoying a life away from the pressures of having to say, do and think the right thing all the time. Turns out life 'In The World' isn't half as bad as we all imagined!

Anyway here is the article that I found.

Best wishes to you all,

John



Timothy Conway:

Within the nondual dream conjured up by Consciousness, made of nothing but Consciousness, we have the “relative reality,” the conventional world of “rights and wrongs,” “justices and injustices,” “wellness/ease and unwellness/dis-ease(s).”

To heal the various forms of dis-ease and injustice, we have three types of authentic spiritual figures: 1) The free beings who conduct themselves in the traditional manner of a sage, saint or adept, that is to say, exemplars of genuine freedom from attachments and aversions (the samskaras or vasanas, as Hindu and Buddhist sages term them), exemplars of peace, bliss, compassion, generosity, courage, equanimity, and selfless sacrifice on behalf of apparent sentient beings (recall the wonderful paradox given by the Buddha in the Vajracchedika [Diamond] Sutra: “one must save all sentient beings” / “there are no sentient beings”), and these exemplary free beings communicate a traditional wisdom emphasizing transcendence/immanence of the Absolute, impermanence and insubstantiality and unreliability of all phenomena, awakening from the egocentric dream, the need for both earnestness (“striving”) toward freedom and also gratuitous divine Grace, methods for awakening, and so forth.

Then there are: 2) The wild men/women or holy fools (avadhutas, majdhubs, masts, saloi, yurodivye, idiota, yu jen, mahasiddhas, et al.), within what is sometimes called the “crazy wisdom tradition.” These rather mysterious folks have spontaneously or deliberately gone beyond all societal conventions, sometimes simply because God-realization came for them in such an unusually powerful way that it blew out the circuits of normal psychological and social functioning. These wild ones, who usually display no regard for their own comforts and even many basic bodily needs (food, liquids, sleep, shelter, basic hygiene), have been known to scream at, punch, push, piss on, completely ignore and in various ways “abuse” those whom they encounter, with an unexpectedly quite positive, beautifully transformational affect on the recipients of such “holy abuse.” In other words, there is a palpable, just as with the free beings of category #1, there can be an edifying sense of divine blessing or transmission (saktipat, kripa, baraka, wang, descent of the Holy Spirit, etc.) that is experienced by the recipient during or after the bizarre encounter with a “wild fool” of category #2--bringing with it an amazing sense of freedom, peace, equanimity, bliss, love, and nondual identity with the One and all beings.

I would say that there is a third type of genuine spiritual figure: 3) the “good friend” (kalyana mitra) or spiritual teacher/mentor/counselor who may him-/herself not be 100% established in spiritual freedom, fully awake and always lucid within the dream, but such a one is nevertheless a very helpful, enlightening figure who empowers those s/he encounters. This person does not try to “role-play Guru” by presuming to be fully awake and/or taking responsibility for the welfare and direction of disciples. S/he just serves as much as possible, sharing from the heart the wisdom, caring compassion and gratitude for Divine grace that has served him/her thus far on the pathless, spaceless journey HOME to full, free Awareness. Such a person may actually be quite a gifted teacher, healer or catalyst for fellow sentient beings, truly empowering them with certain wonderful qualities. Some persons may even become fully awake through association with this type of teacher/healer who is, himself, not yet 100% free and awake.

In addition to the above two types of authentically free spiritual adepts and the not-quite-fully-realized spiritual teacher/mentor/friend, there is another figure in the Divine dream of manifestation: the inauthentic pretender. This is someone who is, at best, no more spiritually accomplished or free than the spiritual teacher/friend mentioned above in category #3, but is pretending to be someone in category #1 or #2. In other words, here there are flashes (even frequent flashes) of brilliance but there still occur occasional (or even frequent) lapses of lucidity into egocentric states of attachment-aversion toward dream phenomena. These attachments-aversions, the binding likes and dislikes, what Hindu Vedanta-Yoga terms “raga-dvesha” and Theravada Buddhism calls “lobha-dosa,” are also generally known as one’s samskaras or vasanas. The inauthentic pretender, bless his heart, cannot admit to others and probably not even to himself that he is still samskara-driven and bound, i.e., not totally free, and so the pretender must rationalize (in a classic Freudian defense mechanism against anxiety) that his lack of freedom is somehow “okay,” “Divinely ordained,” “part of the perfect manifestation,” “not really a problem because whatever happens is perfect.” Rather than earnestly endeavor to realize the insubstantiality of the deluded ego-sense with its attachments-aversions, and actually live from FREEDOM, the pretender tries to convince others and himself that he is, in fact, free, while still dragging around his samskaric chains. Freedom, for these pretenders, is INSIDIOUSLY RE-DEFINED to include states of being bound (e.g., a misinterpretation of the old Mahayana idea: “Nirvana is Samsara”).

In a competitive marketplace of “spirituality,” whether in India, Japan, China, Europe, the USA, etc., we see quite a lot of this last figure, the pretender. Such persons chronically present themselves as higher and freer than they actually are, in order to draw attention and recognition, lure followings of students/disciples, make money, attain fame, and get high (psychically inflated) on the subtle or not-so-subtle adrenaline rush that comes with being granted power, influence and concomitant comforts by a social group that fawns over them and defers to them as a “spiritual authority.”

And now we must look at a very specific phenomenon: what happens when such pretenders, such not-quite-free teachers (or not-very-free-at-all charlatans), are exposed for certain exploitative behavior, usually around the good ol’ issues of “lust and greed”--inappropriate sexual or financial behavior.

At this point of being exposed, the spiritual pretender and those among his followers who identify/align with the pretender rather than with the Dharma (authentic spirituality) usually fall into deeper trouble. The pretender and the lackeys/cronies (peace and divine blessings be upon them!), rather than act with authentic courage, sincerity and remorse--which would include humbly admitting their own lack of freedom and also include issuing heartfelt APOLOGIES and making some kind of meaningful AMENDS toward the parties exploited--instead thicken their samskaric web of complications. Problematic defense mechanisms against anxiety are hastily deployed, not just passionate identification with “our righteous cause” (a major samskaric attachment!) but also rationalization that nothing terribly wrong has happened, denial of either the claims of injury or severity of the situation (this denial often involves blatant forms of lying and aggressive cover-ups), and, of course, projection in the form of blaming the victims and also any sympathizers who try to bring further light to the dark situation and remedy the injustice by enacting forms of justice and healing (including clarifying what is true Dharma and what is not).

One of the classic rationalizations, remember, that the pretender and the cronies chronically deploy, especially when the flaws of the pretender are being exposed, is the idea that “nothing is really wrong,” that his lack of freedom, as reflected in the exploitative behavior, is somehow “perfect,” “Divinely willed,” “part of the Divine dream,” therefore “not a problem.” Unfortunately, this rationalization is easily available to pretenders who labor in the field of mystical nondual spirituality, because nondual traditions usually articulate quite clearly this absolute level of truth, the paramartha satya, over the conventional or relative level of phenomenal truth, the samvriti satya.

It needs to be stated in no uncertain terms that these pretenders are actually anarchists, for they attempt to destroy any rational or intuitive basis for morality and ethics. In this pseudo-nondual realm, “anything goes”--at least for themselves and their cronies. There are no ethical standards by which to determine appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.

The discerning reader will notice that the type of “wild holy fool” of the crazy wisdom tradition, briefly discussed above as an authentic spiritual figure in category #2, also doesn’t abide by the conventional-looking ethics of human societies. Clothed in rags, sometimes virtually or completely naked, usually ungroomed or even unwashed, often abnormally silent or using language in bizarre forms, frequently maintaining strange postures or movements, such wild free ones, as mentioned, have been known to roundly “abuse” their visitors and would-be “disciples” (such holy fools often do not let anyone stay around them for long in the conventional apprentice relationship found in the traditional lineages of gurus-disciples, masters-novices, or teachers-students). Again, one hears tales of folks being hit, struck, yelled at, utterly ignored, and in other ways treated rather shockingly by these crazy wisdom characters.

But there are huge DIFFERENCES between the pretenders and the authentic holy fools.
For one thing, disciples of the holy fools feel blessed, not exploited, after their contact with the holy fool, the opposite of what happens when trusting disciples are exploited by the pretenders. In short, there is no empowerment of the disciple, but rather a sense of having been exploited for the gain of the pretender. The pretender, in short, functions as a taker, not a giver.

Secondly, the holy fools are quite unattached to whatever happens in the dream of life, especially concerning their own bodily welfare, whereas the pretenders are usually quite interested in making sure they are properly fed, clothed, sheltered, honored and, yes, remunerated. Rather than rely on spontaneous Divine Grace for whatever happens, these pretenders and their cronies make definite plans, arrange things to insure the most pleasing and lucrative outcomes, and so on. They are clearly operating from the mental level, not the transmental/transpersonal Identity, in their strategic planning and calculating of revenues and expenditures, marketing strategies, schedules, meeting site set-up and configurations, writing and publishing ventures, etc. Obviously, some of the pretenders aren’t so much involved in this side of things--they have their willing cronies to manage everything or nearly everything for them, and so the pretender can easily “flow with situations” and trust that their acolytes (not God) will take care of everything while the pretenders can appear to be serene and “above it all.”

Thus, for such pretenders and their “true believer” slavish followers to make the claim that they are part of the crazy wisdom tradition is utterly bogus. They are not utterly “abandoned unto Divine Providence,” they are not thoroughly surrendered. No, they are to some extent or another quite attached to outcomes. In short, they still labor under the sense of “doership,” i.e., being egocentric agents of action.

Such persons, I would also submit, are trying to have it both ways: they want to be seen and valued as lineage-holders of a tradition--this obviously adds to their status and influence as “an authority.” And yet they have the audacity to ignore and/or distort their tradition’s teachings about morality and ethics, and the need for staying as free as possible from samskaric attachments and aversions. And when anyone tries to raise the issue of traditional moral requirements for disciples and gurus, they immediately will say that “they are not bound by tradition,” that “this is a living tradition that must shock people out of their hypnotic trance state,” and other such malarkey.

This might seem persuasive to those who chronically defer to them, but anyone with any discernment can see that these pretenders are trying to have the best of two opposing worlds: traditional authority and anarchistic “anything goes” license to act out their samskaras. To put it in still more words, they exploit, for their own recognition and aggrandizement, the concept and social institution of the Guru and the lineage of Gurus, but they do not want any accountability within the criteria set by that tradition’s previous Gurus for who is and who is not an authentic spiritual master.
Hence, one finds here a major violation of “Truth in advertising”: the pretenders are passing themselves off as “Gurus” in a “lineage” (sampradaya) within a “tradition” of “advaita”--and then, whenever it suits them, they anarchically depart from what that tradition values as authenticity and they engage in rogue behavior.

These pretenders (may the God-Self spare them from their karmuppance) are claiming special immunity in putting themselves above society’s rules on basic decency, and also putting themselves beyond the conventions of their own sacred traditions from which they try to draw their high status.

Thursday, 03 March, 2005  
Blogger Daeneon said...

I remember sitting in Satsang in the early nintys, when I heard Andrew talking about purity. He was ever so quick to bring up teachers that had fallen from grace, saying that they lacked purity. At that moment I felt a chill run down my spin because I knew that he would have to face his demon. It was so obvious that he fell into the trap of the "pure one" I saw that he was out of balance with his thinking. I am not surprised what has happened, but sadden because it had to go as far as it did, and hurt so many people.

Power can be so dangerous. I say, if you have an awaking, be careful not to fall into the pit of thinking you are the chosen...

I still would love to hear from the students,in what they have learned from this nightmare that they participated in. I am not saying that I am above this. I guess I had to learn abuse in another way. I think it would help so many people if you would talk about what you have learned ,so that if someone met a teacher and started devoting themselves to him/her, that they could be aware of the danger that a teacher and commuity could blind them from doing the correct thing in the moment. Also, was there a time when you knew that this whole thing was wrong, or were you so brained washed, that you thought you were doing the right thing?

Friday, 04 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The flu symptoms experienced by Donna, Stas's x-wife were caused by paint poisening. Our pores breathe. A body covered fully with paint that has dried causes death. The paint episode alone is truly evil.

Friday, 04 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also find the paint incident to be very scary. Paint is a very toxic substance. To have 4 buckets poured on someone is not only a violation of basic human respect and kindness - but a serious health risk - one which could have long term effects. That this was done in the name of liberation is appalling.

Friday, 04 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my Lordie, this is just getting worse and worse. Im not out (and i dont think any of us are),to bring Andrew down or something under some evil intent, but seriously, he needs to stoppped...seriously folks, he does need that wake up call.

Friday, 04 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not part of Andrew's community, but reading what went on, I do think that he should be stopped. These are not merely the actions of someone who is deluded. These are the actions of someone who is also dangerous, and he could become even more dangerous if allowed to continue unchecked.

Has anyone considered that beating people up, slapping them, and pouring buckets of toxic paint on them are actually illegal actions? Isn't that considered assualt?

Saturday, 05 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago in Amsterdam, as I listened to Andrew speak about enlightenment, I kept seeing his face turn into that of Hitler. At the time this was disturbing, yet after reading of his horrific acts in the name of crazy wisdom I think I was given a gift that evening. I certainly felt a lack of attraction to this so-called enlightened master!

May this blog be a beacon of TRUTH so that Andrew will be stopped from doing more hideous damage to other people!

Saturday, 05 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most, if not all of those ex-students of Andrew would agree that what drew them in was the powerful, sublime experience of Enlightened Mind. That was definitely my experience with Andrew. From that point on, his teaching was about living up to what we had realized, what had been revealed to us, through the experience. I can't think of one of us who was able to do that, except in fits and starts. By the time I decided to leave, it wasn't because of Andrew - I always found him supportive, encouraging, warm, approachable. The main reason I left was because of the way in which I was being treated by some of his students, a few of whom have revealed themselves on this 'blog'. Hal, you have referred to the name, Raging Bull. Can you say more about what that was about? Can you take responsibility for how aggressive you were in a community that was supposed to be about Enlightenment? And others, can you also take responsibility for your inability and unwillingness to live up to the beauty that you all experienced in Andrew's presence? You want him to admit his mistakes and accept responsibility - how about you, and the hurt you caused many of us - I know I was pretty heavy-handed and aggressive towards many of you.

Many years ago, Andrew talked about how we empower him. I wonder what it would have been like if we had lived up to what he revealed to us. No need for outrageous acts to try and wake us up, reflect our craziness back to us. The finger that is pointing outward needs to be turned around and pointed towards ourselves, as well. Otherwise, it is an unbalanced and unfair picture that is being painted for those who were not part of what we were trying to do. We said we wanted to go all the way. We said we would do anything for it. Now, we whine and cry about how mistreated we were. In Letters of Love, Hal praised Andrew, equating him with Shiva - Shiva what? Shiva the Destroyer. Destruction is what we said we wanted. Be careful what we wish for. In the Bible, God told Abraham to sacrifice his own son on the altar. Abraham tied his son down and was ready to go do it. He was more devoted to God than to his own son. It's not a new thing.

These acts (paint tossing, etc.)-- when did they happen? Is this still happening in the community? I don't know. Maybe things have changed. We all need to grow up and get on with our lives.

Saturday, 05 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go again. The only defense anyone can come up with is to blame the victims. They "signed" on for the mistreatment according to the previous poster. They themselves abused each other it is said. The Bible is quoted. Tell me, is this to say that the poster would not mind if Andrew tied up his students and put them on the alter and was willking to kill them unless he got a sign from God not to do so? This is bizarre rationale to say the least.
All this in the name of Enlightenment????
"What is Enlightenment" indeed!!!

Sunday, 06 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hal, a couple of questions, and an observation/recommendation -

1. Observation first - I noticed that in a previous thread, there was at least one deleted comment.

Recommendation (two actually)

a. Please put comment deletion policies as a small link, regarding when you will and will not delete comments.

b. In the blogosphere deleting comments is a big no-no, unless there is some rationale behind it. Also, it sometimes better to remove the comment, by editing the comment, replacing all text with a [Removed due to language]. This example of course assumes that language is one of the grounds for deletion of postings.


Also, remember that it is vey possible to look up cached histories of this site (or any other site) at a variety of locations. So if you delete a comment for reasons other than posting rules, it can most likely be found, and this could act to undermine what you attempting to accomplish with this site.

2. I'm attempting to figure out what exactly you are attempting to accomplish here, and I'm afraid you may be succumbing to wishful thinking.

The main goal of course, is exposure of Andrew Cohen's misdeeds. In this, I commend you. In my own opinion, you are accomplishing this well.

However, as a secondary goal, you have recently asked Andrew to come participate on this site, in this forum.

You must understand this is incredibly unrealistic. Even if Andrew wanted to participate (which I'm sure he doesn't), from a legal perspective alone, he can't. Not to mention to go to a forum that someone else controls, is folly. If anything, he should respond to allegations on his own site, or at a neutral forum.

So, your invitation for Andrew to come here and participate is either wish fulfillment - which I can understand, especially if you did experience higher states of being around the guy. The wish to heal a rift with a guru, like a parent, can be very powerful.

Or, this invitation of yours is, simply, disingenuous.

Back to the request - what is really up with this second request? Are you thinking he will respond elsewhere?

Its very hard to know for sure, of course, but I can only observe that, with this last revelation of misdeeds (and a sickening one to the stomach, I must say) you preface it with "since Andrew has not responded", and go forward.

I would ask you to drop that type of preface - you are in an oppositional position now, and there will be no Perry Mason style witness stand breakdown, or any sort of conflict resolution for the foreseeable future. This simply won't happen, and the wish or pretense that it will, should be ended.

Note - I'm taking a snapshot of this page after I post, so don't delete it...

Sunday, 06 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The genuine spiritual teacher recognizes the One True Self as the Essence of the student. Why is all this battle being waged against the ego? Why is Andrew Cohen causing slapping and paint-tossing to the Christ of the student who is being abused? Clearly, Andrew has forgotten Who he is dealing with.

Monday, 07 March, 2005  
Blogger ombrother said...

Having personally survived the extreme craziness of a spiritual cult in many ways similar to Andrew Cohen's group as described on these pages, I now see (many years later) just how profoundly deluded I must have been back then to mistake such a sick and twisted mockery of "spiritual community" for the real thing.

Wake up! These people are crazy! Why do any of you who read and contribute to these pages have anything to do with Andrew Cohen at all? Shake the cobwebs from your brains and catch the next train out of town. Your one and only life is passing and you don't have time for this pathetic foolishness.

Accept no substitutes. Peace itself is out there/in here. Nowhere itself is calling.

Monday, 07 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several posters have given excellent wise guidance in overcoming the trauma of your experiences with Andrew Cohen and his community.

Blame no one!. Accept your responsibility in each and all situations that you were in with Andrew and community. Ask yourselves why you continually tolerated abuses by Andrew and community members without taking a stand when you were able to do so, right there and then.

All of you empowered Andrew to allow his abuses of you by you giving over your love and power to him. The power Andrew appears to possess is the power all of you surrendered to him. Ask God to sever every cord and conmnection with Andrew and to free you from oppression.

Release and share all trauma and abuses inflicted upon you until you are empty of it. Hopefully some individuals will think twice before joining Andrew and community. Then your blog was well served.

Do not ignore the brave souls who have shared their stories on this blog, experiences alike to yours. They have moved on with their lives and found God within themselves.

Ask God for His help in overcoming. He will not fail you. Christ freed us, why become enslaved all over again. Know that God is in charge and that Andrew Cohen will not get away with any wrong doings. God is not a respecter of persons. We are all accountable for what we do. Claim this truth!.

May we all live within the heart of God with love and foregiveness for all.

Within the Light of God,
Freebird

Wednesday, 09 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Freebird!
Peace

Wednesday, 09 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, thank you freebird!

Freedom from the tyranny of cult leaders is in the here and now through Christ!

Andrew knows, and we shall see how he responds, eventually.

with warm regards,

Santosh Basu

Wednesday, 09 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reflection on some of the Dynamics


I think there are profound human dynamics at work here for the students and for
the teacher. When we say take responsibility, yes, that is true, but when you
are in it, there are profound forces that make it all less clear-- because of which our understanding and sight eventually may become clearer often through
the very pain of our mis-steps. A teacher has a profound experience with his or her teacher that is completely transformative. There is information embedded within the experience that changes the world view -- at the same time, the
context is not really yet clear and it is the teacher that provides the initial context. And if the teacher's context has illusions, where they are not yet in a real understanding about what it means either because of the context passed on to them or simply their own misconceptions -- because when you're in a state of
unity it is totally different -- how does it interplay with the dualistic world?
Some things are clear, some may not be so clear. So the teacher may be led to believe things that are incorrect and in the explosion
that happens that is definitely transformative, some things are really clear (the intensity of the change and some of what it means) but some things are less clear (what it may mean in relation to the world or the life one now lives.) So that is from the teachers's side. As they go on,they may listen to the context
they were given but then inside there is a sense that some of it is off, a sense that something isn't right about what they were told. Do they listen to that? Do
they listen to their teacher even when it seems off?

So then from the student's point of view, they have this profound transformative experience with their teacher -- a taste of true Self. The old life view is
shattered. Values are magnetized to more spiritual values, to values of the Oneness. In this and many traditions there is a context of surrender. We surrender to that Oneness of which we are all a part, it is our own Self. How
does surrender though relate to submission? So when the student is asked to do things and the voice of conscience or some sense within senses something is off or wrong -- do you listen to that sense or do what the teacher says? Are you
surrendering to the Self or submitting to the teacher. It is supposed to be one and the same, but when it isn't? In subtle or larger ways -- what do you allow
to guide you?

Mixed in with that can be gratitude for the awakening experience -- as if you owe all to the form that gave it to you. But is it the form we owe or being true
to the formless or to the true Self -- that perhaps in time as we live it more, allow it to live us, are one with it, we will in turn radiate that Being and spark other cells of our one body.

We repay the teacher as we pass on the gift, as we embody that consciousness and radiate that truth.

At the same time it is clear that pure devotion can be transformative --
depending on what we are devoted to. If we are devoted to that Oneness of which we are all apart, that is our true Self, we become more one with That in our
consciousness, because in truth we have never been apart -- though our values and actions will change according to our awareness because we act from the bubble of our own understanding. So someone says I see and you don't yet, because you are still in that bubble. If they lead you to do something that
feels wrong, do you do it?

There is clearly an evolution of consciousness going on. There are profound
transformations and explosions of awareness on that path. I think in the end we must all be true to the Self to the best of our understanding. I think there is
always deep love and gratitude to whatever form gives us that first explosive taste of a deeper reality. As we stabilize in that reality or do what it takes
to live in oneness with that Awareness, it is an interior job of dismantling all that keeps us from it within our own consciousness.

It seems like some traditions are better at giving that first profound
transformative taste, some seem better at giving a more accurate wholesome context. If we begin to experiment with old traditions to fit our times, wedding parts of different traditions and also listening to the insights, allowing the wisdom of the oneness itself to come through us -- there are bound to be mis-steps, even the potential of losing the way. Our times and our place seem to
require this transformation -- everyone involved here is seeking to respond to that call -- and at the same time make needed adjustments.

Between listening to that inner sense of when things are off or wrong and also seeing some deep themes that run through all the teachings regardless of culture
-- to do no harm to any living creature -- because all are our own Self, we may find our way when we become confused. Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita is helpful. The Dhammapada's first chapter. The teachings of the New Testament on
love. A new book called _Power vs. Force_ by David R. Hawkins may be useful in
sorting much of this out. Some of the basic deep principles are clear -- when we may feel like we are unclear or have lost our way -- or our own sense of what is
right varies from an authority, even one who may be deeply loved and who has passed along much to us -- we can refer to these deep principles especially when
they are confirmed by what we sense within.

This is where we may be told or led to believe that the sense within telling us something is off or wrong is coming from the part of us keeping us from the Oneness -- rather than the part of us we all have at all times that is the
Oneness itself guiding us. This sense within of knowing when something is off is given to all of us -- true it isn't the same as when we open to it all more
completely and there is direct knowing, but until that time, if we aren't true to that sense within us, even if it seems we are following something to lead us
to that Oneness, in not listening within we actually add distance to our own knowing, our own birthright of the true Self. Once we have gone down that path,
we can be made to believe almost anything because our own guidance system is being disowned.

Complicating that understanding is that there truly are times where we surrender -- our thoughts and past habits, our old worldview is completely transformed.

And in much of that surrendering we are going against the voices of our culture. So then when we are asked to go against that inner sense -- and we are told that
is an enculturated voice, a reflection of the culture we are a part of -- some of it may truly be. It is to each of us to discern the truth.

Yes, be responsible, but it is to each of us to enter the depths of seeing what that really means.

There are floods of awareness that come through and we are bringing that awareness into reality here on earth. In that translation from pure awareness through to form, all kinds of distortions can happen. A simple test is that the
means and the end are the same.

Personally I feel a profound compassion for our transforming humanity. The work of self transformation continues.

In that self transformation is another potential confusion. In the higher states
of consciousness, there is no pain, no conflict. There is a harmony. There is a deep sense of ease. Self transformation is often awkward and can be painful. So
the teacher says the pain being inflicted is the pain of the self
transformation. We see our discomfort as the discomfort of our transformation.
This is where we may easily lose our way, equating all pain as useful, necessary, good or justified. This is where we turn away from our own inner sense, equating it with something to be transformed as well.

In the Oneness there is no desire to harm anything. There is also the knowledge that nothing can be harmed, the real is not born, does not die. But knowing that
does not give license to treat anything however -- indeed there is a deepening sense to be utterly harmless -- even though from a point of the deepest reality
nothing is harmed and harm can only be experienced through ordinary dualistic
consciousness. There is a deep awareness within us and a deep longing for pure love, wisdom and understanding-- on one hand that could be seen to support our
frailties, but there is a deeper knowing that these qualities are
transformative. At the moment of the opening to the true Self, for the teacher, for the students, it is pure Love, infinite and all encompassing. You are one
with it and everything or to the degree that there is no you left. But it still
happens in a context of this profound love. So then we have "tough" love. How
far does it go? I think that is the area we are lost in here, where it seems anything goes.

If the sun shines and we get sun burnt, that is not the fault of the sun. But if the sun comes and burns us, that is something different entirely. So teachers
like Ramana Maharshi simply radiated the higher consciousness and the evolution happened around them.

The question is, how does that relate to this impulse of transformation? In the potentially quite accurate sense of urgency about our times -- what is
justified? In seeking to make a machine of transformation, in a sense, where people are working together for a greater good or goal (used somewhat
interchangeably so when people leave the work continues), if people experience harm in the process, that is chocked up to the pain of transformation itself.

Ironically if in a sense of urgency or a spirit of transformation we jettison
the very qualities that are inherent to the world we seek to create, inherent to that very Oneness and higher consciousness, what is actually happening? As has
happened from time beyond memory, levels of violence, strife and discord are happening in the name of religion or the spiritual. Is it just happening to free us? Or does it devolve and lose inherent strength as lines are crossed? The
first being do no harm. So how does the teacher awaken without doing harm? By staying in the higher consciousness of the Oneness and radiating those
qualities, that will be what is replicated to the best of each's ability. If that is seen as not good enough -- the truth is that is what is happening anyway. People transform to the best of their ability and then are leaving. But in resorting to such painful and sometimes even violent techniques, the essence of what is being done is compromised -- and inherently the movement loses strength to the degree that goes on. Because it is the highest in
people that draws them to the endeavor to begin with -- and when those ideals are compromised, eventually people must leave. In this, the very ends are harmed
by the means being used. Sometimes it may seem slower, but in staying true to what is most deeply good, the power builds and spreads enormously -- and creates the change we truly wish to see.

Friday, 11 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Transformed into the Fruition of a Still Greater Truth


I extend my respects, and my ever-breaking heart, to the contributors of this blog. To those who are suffering, to those who are healing and thriving. . .and to Andrew, and to his serious and dedicated students who pour out their hearts’ sincerity and the depth of longing into what they hope to be the greatest possibility for their lifetime. None of us is so different from each otherblind but sincere voyagers on this Ship of Fools.
I am not a student of Andrew, but have followed his work for many years, and have received teachings from him on more than one occasion that were of valuable help to my sadhana. I would like to share a precious teaching lesson Andrew once offered me, and with open hands and heart offer it back to him in return.
Many years ago, as a young practitioner on the path, I visited Andrew. At the time I was like many of us, totally ambitious, totally naïve, believing that my wish for Truth was greater than the others, that I was destined for spiritual greatness, that I was, somehow, special. Surely many of us can admit to such a feeling, if only in the privacy of our hearts? That is why Hafiz wrote, “But still God is delighted and amused, you once tried to be a saint.”
Though I believed nothing could come between myself and the most radical and uncompromised truth, I was struggling with a broken practice, with resistance.
I shyly raised me hand, “Andrew, how do I work with the great NO inside of me? How do I overcome this tremendous resistance to practice that keeps me from Truth?”
“Give me an example, Andrew flashed back, playful suspicion in his eyes. “Tell me how this great NO shows up in practical terms.”
I told him of my fall from grace earlier that day, which amounted to a breach of practice so minor as to be perceptible only to myself.
“Oh my God!” Andrew theatrically jumped in, laughing, instantly disarming my self-seriousness and grandiosity. “Did you hear that?”
“Listen, sweetie,” he turned to me with the piercing swords of discernment, the mood instantly changed. “You’re young, you’re serious and you are just beginning. On this path you are going to make a LOT of mistakes, and some of those mistakes are going to be BIG ones. Everybody does. It is guaranteed. Save your energy and remorse for the big mistakes because you are going to make them and you are going to need your energy to get through them. Got it?”
I think we all got it in that moment, the inevitability of a fall I could not imagine, the humanness of it, the humility of it, and the need to show up as a true spiritual warrior when the time would come.

It is 10 years later. Andrew has made some big mistakes. Some of the ones he said we would all make. The accrual of casualties in terms of the abuse of money, power, emotional manipulation, and coercionjust to name a few of the “crimes of unconsciousness”are undeniable.
It is a precious moment. What appears to be a devastating shock can become a healing crisis if it is related to with deep courage. A doorway is open that may not stay open for too long. It is a moment in which Andrew can use the fruits of his sadhana, the energy that he still has accumulated, to gracefully work his way through his present predicament. This is the moment in his own life that he was telling me aboutone of the BIG mistakesin which we cash in some of our hard-earned accumulation of energy in order to create a significant healing and transformation.
People can be tremendously resilient and forgiving. When approached from the humility of true remorse and heartbreak, and the admission of human error, hearts open and karma is undone.
Those hurt by Andrew were, of course, mutually complicit in the drama they were a part of. Our neurotic wounds and needs unconsciously kidnap the teachings in service of themselves, and so both neurosis of teacher and student were feeding off each other. This is an inevitable symptom of the times we are ina time of great possibility and a time in which our collective psychological wounding has penetrated to such a collective and epidemic level that none us, including teachers, are immune from its influence. The question is, “Can we work our way out of it?” If we really believe in evolution, this is the humble domain in which it is learned and lived.
Many years ago, Claudio Naranjo, after being fully enlightened for three years, running a thriving spiritual community, came to the stark realization and admission that his enlightenment was not complete. In spite of protests from his students, he dismantled his organization and dethroned himself as guru. He later explained that his own enlightenment had to be sacrificed in order to illuminate that which was still dark within him.
A friend of mine was a very close student of Yogi Amrit Desai. In fact, she was one of those who sued him for his sex scandals (enacted on her) and won the lawsuit. Much later, they did mediation together. Eventually, therapy. Many years later she returned to him as his student, and they now have a mature, thriving, adult relationship as guru and disciple. Corruption and transmission can coexist! Change is possible. Forgiveness is possible.
Let us remember that none of us are beyond falling. Most of us have not been given enough power, authority and fame to fully appreciate the subtlety and pulls of its temptations. We actually cannot know that we would not do as Andrew has done, given the complexity of historical and karmic factors he faces. Most of us have not penetrated the subtleties of dharmic wisdom deeply enough to fully appreciate the degree to which the still unconscious aspects of ego can co-opt Truth into a sterling silver layer of armor and defense, all flawlessly justifiable in the language of Truth itself. Most of us are not beyond falling into the traps that Andrew has fallen into.
However, as a world teacher and model, Andrew is now in an incredible position to offer us an extremely potent teaching lesson about how an authentic teacher can allow himself to become dismantled and dethroned in order to assume the true throne of Disciple of Truth, of Love, of Life. Through his own umcompromised practice, Andrew could, through an essential and brave gesture, undergo the greatest teaching lesson of his own lifeturning toward EVERYTHING that is within him (including deep psychological wounds and their consequences, humility, hurt, blindness)in order to demonstrate to all of us that a true visionary will stop short of nothing in his journey to Truth, even the dethroning of his own empire. I envision that the humility of such an action would invoke the forgiveness and support of all of those who, in their heart of hearts, still love him. Difficult things that still may be to comelawsuits, more difficult books, this blogall could be dropped, forgiven, erased, and even transformed into the fruition of a still greater truth.
I am sure the Gods would sing. The great gurus would arise from their cremated ashes and bestow blessings, forgiveness, the undoing of karma, and true praise for an act of such human bravery. The hearts of present and former disciples would be disarmed in the beauty of Andrew’s humility, and something deep within them could forgive, let go, and all of us could learn something painfully deep and humanly real about the teaching that “there is no other.”
Andrew, you offered me that precious lesson long ago: “Save yourself for the big mistakes because you are going to make them and you are going to need your energy to get through them.” Now demonstrate to all of us how it is done, so when our time comes we will have the courage to do the same.

With All Respects

Saturday, 12 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that this last poster would give Andrew another chance to abuse the same people again is so ludicrous that I can't begin to imagine it. Andrew's days are over. And if he doesn't wind up in the cooler for many years he should consider himself VERY lucky.

Saturday, 12 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Response to last poster re ludicrous. I fully agree with you.

To be abused the first time, shame on the abuser, to be abused the second time, shame on the abused.

Saturday, 12 March, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anybody ever slap back? What if you happen to have a student with super fast reflexes. Someone other than the intended slapee could end up with a bloody nose of note. Then what?

Thursday, 19 August, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When one is touched by the absolute, it's grace. What they do with this seeing through the dream, is totally up to three things. Are they willing not to get caught in: power, sex, or money. Those are usaully the three that brings each so called guru down. Oh, I might add another one: Arrogrance.

Friday, 28 June, 2013  

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