Monday, April 18, 2005

Through a Mirror Darkly—continuing to try to see clearly!

Further Reflections from Roberta Anderson

Dear Friends,

Trying to get clear about my time as a member of Andrew’s community has been and continues to be a challenging and extremely emotional process. In talking with an old friend from the community recently it occurred to me that it’s actually quite a bit like the grief process I went through when my mother died a number of years ago. I kept thinking it was “over” and that I had reached some kind of “resolution”, and then, lo and behold, yet another “wave” would hit me often when I least expected it. I want to say that I really appreciate this blog a lot, as it has provided a great forum for me and many of us to sift and resift through these incredibly intense years many of us shared together. Finally getting the courage to participage and throw in my two cents has been far more helpful than I’d expected. In beginning to shake up and examine and re-examine so much that I hadn’t seen clearly and probably still am not. I actually think that this, like the grief process, may well go on for a long time! Many experiences and incidents from this time with Andrew are continuing to burble up to the surface which I’d forgotten about or filed away “safely” because I really didn’t know what to make of them at the time.

For me the really hard part about all of this is to hold and acknowledge it ALL, in all of its craziness, ecstatic revelations, agonizing humiliation, intense joy, incredible fear, unbelievable ongoing pressure, etc. The mind continually insists on something very white or very black, and to try somehow to stay in that really uncomfortable middle place of discomfort and confusion where nothing is denied or left out and the whole actually wildly confusing thing is attempted to be seen all at once—well, I continue to find that this is really difficult!

I think that as Brook pointed out in her post, part of why it’s so challenging to see this all clearly is that undeniably so many of us had enormously powerful and ecstatic realizations of Self when we met Andrew that literally blew our minds. His charisma, confidence, brilliant grasp of the dharma, and willingness to be “on the edge” enchanted us all. Also, the fact that he was an “independent teacher” actually living and teaching from nothing but his OWN understanding instead of some “stodgy tradition” –the incredible aliveness and freshness of all of this really appealed to so many of us “dharma renegades”. Our teacher was a handsome New York Jew who wore Italian clothes and knew everything about jazz. He was hip! He had a great sense of humor, was an incredible mimic, had great timing, and everything he did and said seemed to delight us. He seemed to have an amazing gift for cutting through obscuration and making the dharma simple and accessible and clear. Everyone and everything seemed to “glow” when we were with him. The fact that everything really did seem terrifically new and “unknown” was incredibly exciting. We were explorers out there on the edge, investigating new and uncharted lands with our brave and beautiful teacher at the helm. We were definitely a special and chosen lot!

As things slowly began to change and become not only not very ecstatic, but actually quite scary, many of us including myself felt that finally we were really entering the “true spiritual life”. Although it became often painful and really uncomfortable more and more of the time, everything we’d read and studied from the traditions told us that this was The Way. Slowly and progressively things got harder and weirder. NOW we were definitely “doing it”! Throughout this time lots of new innovations came into play, many of which were in fact skillful and very useful for all of us. We had freqent “discussion groups” where we would go into and explicate subtle points of the teachings with each other, and all of us learned a great deal about how to actually listen to others, articulate our thoughts and ideas much more clearly, and try follow each other’s train of thought with some intelligence. I’ve already written a lot (some would say ad nauseum!) about how all of these years with Andrew really did have a powerfully transformative effect on me and on many of my friends.

But now slowly, because I continue to stare into all of this and reflect and re-reflect from as many angles as I can find, I have to say that I am starting to fall off my high horse and to see that there was indeed a great deal that was just plain old weird, cruel, and abusive, and way over the top. It’s helped me to think about what “went wrong” in terms of looking at the fact that Andrew didn’t really have a real model of “how to teach”. He hadn’t really worked closely with a deeply realized teacher who was steeped in a time-tested tradition where many of the kinks had a chance to get ironed out through centuries of learning from lots of mistakes. He was actually making it all up as he went along, and while we first thought that this was great because he was only teaching purely from his own understanding (which was undeniably profound)--and this was indeed probably why the teachings had a truly "alive" quality, his main and really only strategy became to simply continue to “up the ante”, no matter what. The force and domination and control indeed became quite nazi like. No situation was tailored for individual students at particular times (although I still believe that “intensity” at the proper time and with a great deal of sensitivity and finesse can actually be helpful on occasion). Every month and every year the intensity and “abuses” (already fully documented here on this blog) appeared to escalate to a degree that was beyond extreme. I never really participated myself in being aggressive with others (I was in fact considered rather weak and “wimpy” in that I was always pretty bad at giving “strong feedback” –this seemed to be a sign that I really didn’t care about the freedom of others!)

Truly weird as it was, I think that Andrew thought and probably still thinks that this extreme force was necessary for the “liberation” of his students. I really don’t think he knows any other way to teach, and will probably justify his “methods” to the end. A big part of the underlying setup, as many have described, was that once you accepted Andrew as your teacher that was it. He knew best (as he often said, “why would you come to a teacher if you already know better?”) and because of his rather incredible confidence, managed to set himself up as the unquestioned Authority on Everything! Because of this I think there must be some kind of underlying fear that the whole thing would fall apart if Andrew ever admitted to having made a mistake. This in itself is symptomatic perhaps of how and why it all got so crazy.

So I am finding it really helpful to just keep looking at all of this, trying to keep seeing the holes and blockages in my own understanding, my areas of denial, where I may be still protecting anything for whatever reasons, etc. As I’ve said before I am not bitter about all of the quite long time I spent in this situation, crazy as a lot of it was. For whatever reasons, mostly because I really wanted so much to believe in Andrew’s “vision”, I chose to stay and tough it out through a great deal of wild and crazy and quite painful stuff. I definitely learned a lot and changed deeply in ways I needed to. It was an unbelievably wild ride, and I must say that I both don’t regret it and I am also really glad I’m no longer in that situation! I know that there is still probably a great deal more for me to see about all of this, really appreciate the posts from everyone, and want to thank Hal for providing this much-needed forum.

With love and thanks to all,

P.S. Something I’m finding kind of interesting to think about is that early on with Andrew he had all us us ex-Da Free John students (there were six or seven of us) get together to get “de-programmed” and see and face clearly what a mad teacher he actually was. We all sat together for a number of hours going over and over our experiences. I remember actually feeling a bit “seasick” from just being forced to see and tell the truth. It’s just rather ironic and weird that now I am going through this again with Andrew! Wow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for this Roberta! I've been reading your posts with great interest, knowing you well in the community and really appreciating your investigation into all of this. I find it really helpful to see the transparency of your process and how sincerly and courageously you are trying to come to terms with such an incredibly charged time. I was with Andrew also for quite a stretch, 11 years, and have found this blog generally very helpful to start to bring things to the light of day. I have sometimes had a problem with very rigidly held positions and personal attacks from both camps and also don't think its helpful to paint our experience as black or white. And I also don't regret my time with Andrew, do appreciate the power and passion generated there and also think a lot of the work Andrew is doing now to bring so many voices together is fantastic. But I'm also very glad I'm not in a student/teacher relationship with Andrew anymore and do strongly feel that many of his means and methods were at least counterproductive and at worse harmful. I'm not sure if those two poles can be resolved or bought together or maybe they are not as contradictory as they appear. All I can say is that's where I'm at with it now.

Anyhow, there is so much that's been said already on this blog, I don't think I really have much to add. But thanks again Roberta and also Stas, Hal, Susan and others for your guts and vulnerability in bringing all this up for question.

Much Love, Lisa

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous One said...

Roberta, your reflections reveal a humble heart. This is what I feel Andrew is missing. He is a warrior to be sure, and without a battle to fight, what would he be required to face in himself? We all saw a tender radiant beingness of profound love when we first approached him. Very soon we also experienced the blade of his razor sharp wit and determination to crush the ego. These two aspects of love and the sword of Truth in the teacher, when balanced, can bring freedom to the students. When the balance shifts and the sword becomes heavy-handed, without the core of humility and love, well, we all know what happens then.
Ego is a personal narrative which runs non-stop in the mind. The sword of Truth can stop it dead and when that happens, Space, The Impersonal Reality is experienced. This is like breath to a drowning man, and once experienced, the intensity of desire to live in that space will motivate the willingness to go through anything.
Now we are awakening to the realization that things are out of balance. We have not been guided to freedom, we have been enslaved and abused. Thankfully we are waking up out of a grand illusion, the grandest illusion of them all...that there is a special One who will take us home. We can no longer rely upon the wisdom of another. Perhaps this is the Whole Point.
Like you, I am grateful for the journey, every twist and turn. And I am deeply grateful for the letting go.
By the way Roberta, your open heart and unwillingness to participate in aggression towards others in the community is a testament to your strength of Integrity.
Love to all who are sharing the journey together here on this blog, and finding the courage to see what is really true.

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous barryg said...

I'm at work and must be very brief, but "WOW"! I've been going though a bit of a parallel investigation on my own looking at community life from both sides and have likewise found the blog incredibly helpful in spurring the investigation. You've been very balanced and insightful in your approach. Roberta - you "big mind", not wimp.

with appreciation & love,

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just listening to a conversation between Andrew and Ken Wilber on the Integral Naked site, which to me sounded as though it may in part have been prompted by a reaction to this site. The talk is titled "Is there such a thing as a perfect teacher?"

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last poster about the Inaked talk. You are EXACTLY right. You hit the nail on the head. I have inside info from a friend works for Ken Wilber and that talk was prompted by the increasing criticism of Andrew. And I know that Ken and the Integral folk do know about this site.

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Integral Naked the synopsis of the Talk entitled, "Is there such thing as a perfect teacher?" continuing dialogue between Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen.

One of the key realizations for those on the spiritual path is that there is no perfection in the relative world. In fact, in many of the great contemplative traditions, the world of time, space, and differentiation can be, and often is, defined by the quality of suffering inherent in its every manifestation. And yet, within most spiritual seekers is an impulse that tells them that there is something about their experience that is indeed Perfect, Complete, Whole. But what is it?

Spiritual teachers help students find and recognize that ever-present, radical Wholeness, and choosing a teacher is often one of the most important steps on a student’s spiritual journey. But even though a teacher may be a conscious, explicit expression of timeless Spirit, it’s fairly meaningless to say that someone is a “perfect” teacher, because perfection really only means anything in terms of the Great Perfection of the entire Whole itself. From that perspective, you could vomit on your student and it would be a perfect teaching lesson, literally—but that doesn’t really tell us anything that useful, does it?

This dialogue is a profound exploration of the things that do tell us something useful. For example, enlightenment is not an all-or-nothing affair, and percentage can help explain why. If 51% of one’s identity has shifted to the Great Perfection, that means that 49% of one’s identity is still subject to the bumps, bruises, and vicissitudes of relative imperfection. Even if one has awakened to the ever-present Witness that persists, 24 hours a day, throughout waking, dreaming, and deep-sleep states, that realization is going to be expressed though a vehicle—a human form—that has developed certain habits, structures, and modes of being that have their own relative peculiarities and faults.

Entering into a student-teacher relationship is a voluntary action, and as strange as it may seem, many people appear to forget that. What is also often forgotten is that the only reason one would enter into a formal relationship with a teacher is because, in terms of enlightened awareness, you trust their judgment more than your own. You believe that they see something clearer than you, and you want them to help you see what they see. You are asking that they judge the quality of your understanding, which, in a postmodern culture of pluralistic sensitivity, is a pretty unique request.

When teachers go about fulfilling the role they have been asked to perform, and point out the ways that students are contracting in the face of Infinity, students can get a little cranky; which is fine. Everyone has bad days. But when students respond in a fundamentally self-righteous manner, it would serve them to remember that they requested to be in this relationship.

On the other hand, a teaching mandate doesn’t give teachers absolute power or absolve them from the responsibility to use skillful means in their communication. Nor does it remove them from assuming responsibility for the lingering faults in their relative personality, which no teacher is without. Even great teachers can, and will, make mistakes. It’s up to students to decide whether the perceived benefits of working with a given teacher are worth the risk of unnecessary rug-burns due to the teacher’s imperfections, and it’s up to teachers to be conscientious and discriminating in the application of the power they have been given. All relationships entail mutual responsibility, and this fact is perhaps amplified in the student-teacher relationship.

But since all teachers, without exception, have faults, and a fault is by definition something you either don’t notice or can’t change, then responsibility for dealing with a teacher’s faults lies primarily with students. At the same time, the best you can hope for from a teacher is a frank acknowledgment of shortcomings and a fair warning to students. More than that, a student will not get and should not expect. Less than that, and find a new teacher. Buyer beware, is the ancient, good advice here.

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it important to remember that this discussion is purely the opinion of Andrew and Ken. It's the usual Andrewspeak and Wilberspeak. My feeling is that both Ken and Andrew have their limitations. It is obvious that they are friends and support the other. So, inherently we have a bias.

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wilber wants our credit card numbers so he can charge us $10/month to hear what his majesty has to say. I wonder if Andrew gets half of it. The charge is recurring every month. It reminds me of the porno sites that get hold of your credit card numbers and continue charging you every month. Getting them to stop charging your credit card is often quite difficult to achieve. I wonder if the same is true for Wilber's site.

Monday, 18 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roberta, YAY for you, here is a line of inquiry that you and others might find helpful as you seek meaning from all of this. Its hard to get your head around so be patient .

Many of the people who identify with Andrew and his teachings , identifying with allot of extreme conceptualizations. Conceptualizing has been recognized by many of the Eastern movements as a form of grasping for 1000’s of years. When thought focuses on things that have no inherent meaning we end up in endless cycles of trying to create form through trying too conceptualize the inexplicable . Narayagan spent allot of time working through these spiritual issues and why they were in fact hindrances to dropping the ego rather than an aid to transcendence.

The cause of this whole sphere of confusions and misunderstandings about the nature of freedom is the human tendency to speculate and theorize about the unknowable.
Were there not this tendency, then one would never perceive transitory phenomena as enduring in the first place, which in turn would prevent one from developing passionate attractions and aversions regarding phenomena (ego).

Without such passions, the dispositions, graspings and cravings would not develop, and thus suffering. Without these passions, one would not create the concepts of eternal life, identity, self or difference, the infinite nature of the universe were things that Buddha refused to discuss as they were empty of meaning.

The Eastern notion of emptiness is meant as an antidote to this chain we in the west get very confused trying to give emptiness form through rhetoric and words , the Coheneque conceptualization of emptiness is born of confused understanding and its result is suffering and not freedom. For, "when all things are empty, why [speculate on] the ego, the egoless, infinite or finite , self and non-self, when in reality both the ego and the egoless and neither the ego nor the egoless is all true and false?. Why speculate on the identical, the different, the eternal, the non-eternal, both, or neither?". its all compulsive grasping its just empty it doesn’t matter what your level of intention to be absolutely free or indeed your brilliance (in Ken Wibers case), the greater that intention for anything the further you are from dropping the ego.

I mention this fascination with grasping through speculation of the unknowable as it seems to be the central point of the Cohen community and philosophy. Enlightenment seems to have been objectivitized, into a conceptual framework that’s self supporting . Do the following with any of his writings, grab one of his books and read it being alert to terms that conceptualize something that is inherently devoid of meaning. Note carefully how many promises of ecstasy and realization should you adopt his point of view or suggestions of infinite suffering if you don’t.

For example having an “Absolute relationship to Life” He starts by stating that not many people have it (the promise of something rare and valuable), the lack of it cause s all kinds of suffering , selfishness and sorrow (generalized concept that nearly all people are lost allowing the reader to focus on the ego trigger of individualization through suffering or the ecstasy of realization), he defines it as “when we stop waiting for things to happen” (another conceptualization ) , he relates it to suffering and if we achieve an absolute relationship to time its one of the stepping stones to an absolute relationship to life, he in turn works through having an absolute relationship to feeling and thought as pre requisites to having an absolute relationship to life.

You can run yourself ragged trying to grasp these concepts, if you try defining life, time, thoughts or feelings you do give yourself allot to wrestle with but in the end its devoid of meaning its just your own constructs., its your ego grasping for meaning from nothing. What is absolute ? and what is time?, what is life? What is enlightenment?, lets then answer these with further impossible to know concepts and you have an elegant architecture for just about anything you want to justify. Its all peppered with truism that cant be refuted because they are ideals of conceptualization , face everything avoid nothing, who isn’t going to agree to that on first blush.

The trouble is when you meet things in life that should be avoided, you realize that both facing and not facing things are just concepts, that are equally true and false and neither true or false. Andrew in his inability to “face this” blog is a case in point, Andrew has taught to face things absolutely, not when it suits him or its rational , he has taught what it is called in other traditions “ Holy or Divine” trust.

Jesus was persecuted and showed his absolute relationship to his truth and trust. What if Andrew’s authentic path as a guru was to face persecution, inquiry and debate for a while? It may be very beneficial for everyone involved to see him manage it within the context of his teachings, you see if you have an absolute relationship to time, thought, feelings and life it wouldn’t matter much what happened to you. So lets not assume this blog is either disloyal or loyal , constructive or destructive to Andrew .

All of his central tenets are conceptualizations that cant be disagreed or refuted , who would argue against such things as facing everything and for the good of all , these truths support further theoretical constructs that simply reflect grasping and ego rather some form of ultimate truth, it can be done with any of his central tenets, face everything avoid nothing, . For a start what is everything and nothing?, and how do you face it if you find it and who is actually doing the facing?.

He individualizes it as something rare by suggesting that the unenlightened face nothing and avoid everything (setting us apart from the others) , he then paints the greater world across a sea of despair (some more individualization for the ego), we are all selfish, unconscious, self absorbed etc (again assumptive negation of the collective reflected in generalized negative observations about the whole so that one can take a positive individualization from it ) .

Then you always get to the promise of salvation if one accepts these concepts “ absolutely” (absolute being a common concept). If we accept his conceptualizations the implications are always grandiose further conceptualizations that lead to freedom (another concept). In other words the whole world is rotten, most people are rotten, most people don’t get it, he is one of the rare or maybe only ones, if you want to get it, and reap the rewards of realization, make me your guru and I will show you how, but you must submit totally to him without question, if you dont its another negative concept (your ego)

So when I have experienced this in his teachings, especially when they have been in person, I have interpreted it as a call to the ego to manifest itself differently conceptually. In many respects his call is to do the very opposite of the traditions, that is not to drop the ego as a concept devoid of meaning, a concept empty to itself but too re conceptualize the ego into something that sets you and him apart from the rest(ego)

That’s how we get the rarity of “hens teeth” which is ironically something that does not exist in form. That why everything is so coloured with almost mythological descriptions of ego’s, battles, putrid muck, conquests, grand experiments, lofty ideals, it’s all grasping at around about Tier 1 Mythical blue meme, Like many materialists loose the plot on their never ending conquest for goods and possessions, the spiritually inspired do the same by creating their attachments to theories and ideas that cant be resolved .

There is a saying in the Eastern traditions that transmission occurs between teacher and student when the teachers compassion for the student is equaled by the devotion and the trust of the student. Lets accept that sometimes this happens that’s ok but it doesn’t mean that Andrew did it, anymore than the blame for another disciple not seeing his child very often for 12 years can be blamed on Andrew. It’s a subtle point and requires thoughtful consideration.

If you listen to some of the Guru and the Pandit series with Ken Wilber the dialogue is extraordinarily revealing. Andrew made a curious statement in a 1996 interview about not feeling enlightened unless he was teaching , “feeling like everyone else most of the time, like Jack Kornfield said ; after enlightenment the washing, Andrew’s states of consciousness probably does cycle like everyone elses’s. Ken Wilber has a term “stage of development’ He believes that state’s of consciousness can be jumped , but doesn’t believe that stages of development can be jumped.

We all develop through the ethical, cognitive, psycho sexual, emotional stages. The theory goes that even though you might jump stages of consciousness you will always interpret them from the stage of development that you are at and this development can evolutionary context eg Buddha never saw computers or as Ken Wiber suggests “got to drive a jeep”.

From what I have read here its hard to place Andrew at a very high level of development and this is reinforced if Ken Wilbers theory is accepted, it sounds to me like hes had a cosmic flash of realization, but had little development to provide this realization any foundation. Roberta , that’s why if feels like hes making it up as he goes along ( because he is making it up as he goes). Andrew has not spent t much time as a student of ethical issues or working though the stages of developments. If Ken is correct he might have had some level of realization of consciousness but because of his underdevelopment in other areas he is interpreting these from a fairly low level of development (hence the mistakes). If his own observation that he only feels realized when he teaches is in fact an accurate reflection of his consciousness he is very liable to attributing many of his realizations egoistically.

I think Andrew is reflecting his own doubts as well. He muses in the latest Pandit/Guru discussion that “I am not sure if I am onto something really really big here or it is in fact my own narcissism” , but “time will tell us” (usual mad giggle).

Andrew is a Tier One, Blue Meme teacher masquerading as a 2nd Tier Orange or
Turquoise. Its kind of ironic that Ken Wilber ( of all people) ends up as the cheer squad for an absolutist mythical blue.

My view is that his teachings and his work have the potential to do some significant damage to human development and evolution. His teachings have certainly done some harm to people I know.

In the latest talk Ken Wilber suggests that if people dont like it then they should leave. I agree my view is that the greatest act of love you might make is leave his communities, his teachings so that evolutionary tension forces him to evolve.

Craig T

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listened to the latest Wilber/ Cohen discussion today . Andrew seems to be trying to restate the broad concern with himself and his teachings as "people think I am claiming to be perfect". They both try and trivialize the issues revealed in this blog as a small number rebellious, angry and wayward students.

Andrew I am not angry at you for being human or fallible. I simply believe that your teachings represent a menace to both the individual and collective evolution of the universe. I believe your a manipulative plagiarist with little real compassion for others. I think there is a good chance you’re a smart charismatic psychopath with one or even two personality disorders (narcissistic or borderline disorder). Time will tell I hope you are listening carefully. I know some of you will recoil at these references to Andrews mental health. To those of you who do please do some reading into these issues you will find that Andrew’s pathology presents all the text book symptoms for these disorders. Charismatic Psychopaths are common right across every area of endeavor , these people learn how to operate effectively at the top in business, politics or any area of endeavor that you might name, including spirituality.

Being duped by a charlatan can be extremely painful for all those involved. Roberta has shown an unbelievably courageous example of just letting things be as they are , she’s told her story and in the most vulnerable way possible.

Russell Ledwood

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous james said...

So happy to find this blog and hear your voices discussing what must be surely a very emotional matter. Never been a student of andrew's although was very influenced by Ken's writing. Finally the multitude of your voices, from the "bottom up" are putting the wise/ brilliant/ genius/ stubborn and criticism-averse voices of Ken and Andrew in perspective.

They have given me so much. WIE is a wonderful magazine. And now there are new voices that are emerging that point to a very different kind of awakening by the many.

Go check out Michel Bouwens work at and read a revised integral approach that ditches all the toxicity of a weirdly fused spiral dynamics/wilbur model.
& go look at by chris corrigan.

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Entering into a student-teacher relationship is a voluntary action, and as strange as it may seem, many people appear to forget that."

To this I would say that ending a student-teacher relationship also needs to be a voluntary action in a free society and as strange as it may seem, Andrew Cohen has certainly forgotten THAT. (duh)

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous One said...

This blog has accomplished something very significant. Andrew and others can no longer presume they are operating in an authoritarian vacuum. The cat is out of the bag and now we know that any actions of abuse can and will be found out. Others will be spared the pain and suffering of these abusive tactics because now this spotlight has been focussed on the issue. The students can now begin to realize that this is not acceptable practice, even if they have voluntarily entered into a student-teacher relationship. I wonder if the possibility of such abuses are openly disclosed to the student before their voluntary agreement?

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the possibility of such abuses are openly disclosed to the student before their voluntary agreement?

In theory?

In reality....?

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Blogger said...

Re: Michel Bouwens' work, and Ken and Andrew.

A recent issue (#63) of Bouwens' newsletter concentrated on the issues with Wilber's (mis)representation of Spiral Dynamics(R), and his focus on an imaginary "Mean Green Meme." It included excerpts from the following critiques of SDi by Don Beck's former partner, Chris Cowan:

Page 14 of Cowan's (and partner's) March, 2005 (
newsletters/SD_March2005.pdf) newsletter describes their failed attempts at placing an ad in WIE--that apparently being rejected so as to not offend Beck.

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon wrote "Entering into a student-teacher relationship is a voluntary action, and as strange as it may seem, many people appear to forget that.

No one has forgotten that as Ken Wilber warns "let the buyer beware" so be warned all future students , do not take the man or his teachings seriously.

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Clive Grisholm said...

Let us not forget.

Roberta's line has not fundamentally changed.

The issue still is "Do you want liberation bad enough to have your ego blasted?"

Whether you can stand the heat is another thing.

We don't get to choose except in our dreams - and that ain't real.

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As J. Krishanmurti said, "No guru, teacher, religion, school can teach you about yourself ,except yourself. The teacher is only here to guide you on your path to self-discovery of your true self. Do not seek extremes to find liberation or know yourself, but walk the middle path."
One of my favorite quotes is by Ramana Maharishi who request that each of us meditate on "Who am I?" All that we need to know about our self is in each of us. Guru, [remover of ignorance] are enlighten teachers who guide us in our growth. As the saying goes, "when the student is ready the teacher appears." Do not go looking for a guru. When you are ready you will meet the right teacher for your growth. A true guru never has sole ownership over a student nor claims to have one. A true guru will also guide you to move on to other teachers to learn other aspects of the self. Do not become attached to a guru or have a codependent relationship with a guru. The whole idea of a guru is to find liberation not attachment or slavery to another being.

When this much unanswered public doubt is placed on a teacher it is only prudent that one considers very carefully all elements of their relationship with that teacher. May I impress on our loving friends within Andrew's community to very thoughtfully consider everything that has been spoken of to date. Reject and detach from any posts that do not represent truth and love from either side, seek your own truth through detached witness, see the truth that has been written on these pages, detach from outcomes and untruth, simply be and observe what is.

Joshu Avertnut
Summer Hill
Sydney Aust

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Roberta, Lisa and others who are leading this discussion with your own examples. Not all of us necessarily wish to post non-anonymously, which is my first point to some who strongly disparage anon posters. Let the truth of heart expressed be the identity of each poster.

Secondly, hearing that Andrew Cohen is attempting to rewrite history and say he has never claimed perfection – how about any of us former students with stories and quotes of his claims to perfection bring those claims forth on this blog. Here are a few such, first posted on the site Jekyll Hyde (see list of links on this site):

"Anyone who loves me is guaranteed enlightenment".
"My teaching is 100 percent perfect".
"If you trust me, I have the power to completely destroy your past".

- All quotes from Andrew Cohen. But there are tons more!

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clive said "The issue still is Do you want liberation bad enough to have your ego blasted? Whether you can stand the heat is another thing."

Clive, I get your "ends justify the means" premise but where's the beef? Where are the liberated students? Your argument could be used to justify ANYTHING on the part of the "teacher". Jeesh

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russell Redwood (in his comment above) brings up the possibility of Cohen being a charismatic psychopath or having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This type of analysis though painful to Cohen supporters is germane. Why not consider all the possibilities?

There seems to be support for this possibility if one looks into Cohen’s behavior.

If we are to really look at the entire issue, should we not be peering into an issue like NPD along with considering claims that Cohen has created a “heaven on earth”?

By the way, in earlier posts on WHAT enlightenment?!! there was some discussion along the lines of NPD, see The Narcissist Claims Infallibility
by Sam Vaknin – October 27, 2004.

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW Sam mentioned above has written a No1 best seller on the topic called Malignant Love.

Craig T

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: the earlier post about Integral Naked Ken & Andrew dialog see "ebuddha's" second post at the link below:

really brief, but insightful analysis of Cohen's self-rewriting, but revealing guru maneuvers, where he attempts damage control of abuse allegations (although he thoroughly avoids the matter itself.)

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Roberta said...

This is something I posted on the "What-enightenment-uncensored" blog in response to Matthew D'Arcy's reference to the "WE Blog Spin Roberta Anderson's Story"--mostly in the interests of trying to keep us all at least remotely in the same loop!

Imagine my surprise in finding my post to the WE blog appearing here on this site. It’s probably my own dim-wittedness, but having read through the posts on this blog I can’t figure out what you guys are up to or why you are spending so much energy on what appears at least to my reading to be pretty silly stuff. It’s certainly okay to be concerned over “unfair censorship”, but to make a whole blog devoted to this boggles my mind just a bit. Despite the fact that you apparently have several bones to pick with the WE blog, the truth is that at least as I see it, there are actually a number of sincere people posting there who are genuinely struggling together to sort out and come to a deeper understanding of their own experience. And they really want to do this because they are actually interested not only in their own evolution, but in trying to learn more about what works and what doesn’t work in this arena for everyone who finds themselves drawn into wanting to grow and evolve. They want to do this because they actually do care about these rather delicate and profound matters of the human heart! I can’t seem to find anything like this “heart” on this blog..

And furthermore (!), my own experience does not to me resemble anything like my “psyche caving in”after being played and being manipulated by some kind of insidious “good cop-bad cop routine”! Wow! I am merely continuing to see more and more deeply into this pretty confused situation because I am continuing to look..and look…and look…because of my own genuine interest in wanted to come to terms with it all. I definitely agree that I “still have some way to go to sort out my reality”!—and I frankly hope that this will always be true. One of the many valuable things I learned from Andrew is that the best we can to is to find tentative hypotheses about the truth of anything, and to keep our eyes open and continue to try to keep examining whatever it is. This matter of “Truth” I think is a pretty subtle matter, and whenever we think that we “have it down” we have lost it. This is part what I tried to express in my last post about the difficulty of holding All Of It simultaneously.

And as for “being casually dropped” by these evil WE blog editors in a week or so –I can’t even wrap my mind about what this could mean. Despite what may appear to be differences between us in trying to come to terms with our own experience, the fact is that all of us are very old and dear friends. Even if we may appear to have different ideas, we actually respect what each other have to say and know that we can all learn from each other--there is something far deeper going on than one face or another appearing and disappearing every week on one blog or another.

And re your last point about the “manipulative exit counselors fighting over my spare dollars”! I don’t unfortunately seem to have too many spare dollars, and if I did, I am pretty sure I would find quite a few other things to do with them than using them to get “deprogrammed” or whatever!

With warm regards,
Roberta Anderson

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wouldnt take SholinMonk seriously. My guess is that there is only one of him . His motivation seems a bit odd in that he seems to personalise everything and distort things , there seem to be hints of mania as well.

He tends to take us off topic as we try and address his crazy accusations and posts etc. So my suggestion is that we all ignore him completely.

Your latest post will trigger a bunch of crazy posts from him, my suggestion is that when they appear we all ignore them and stay on topic.

My guess is that he is a Cohen supporter who wants to discredit the site.

Craig T

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the real story !

Thursday, 21 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

again -- here's that link to interesting analysis of Cohen -Wilber dialog on IN by "ebuddha" (and subsequent discussion):

Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen tap-dancing around the elephant in the room

Thursday, 21 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The integral naked site is full of goofy scattered comments of the same ilk as the bizzare commentary on the other goofy blog which comments on this blog. Man this is weird.

This blog is goofy too actually. Not to minimize what some of the ex-Cohen students are going through emotionally, but since this is just serving as therapy for them - why not just go to therapy? Why not form a self help group?

I came to this blog assuming that I was reading about just another teacher who messed up. But, I've become more amazed that there is actually a teacher out there "taking students on." I thought that was a thing of the past in a way.

What is curious is hearing some ex-Cohen students who don't sound anti-Cohen. Several defend their time with him and also talk about their own limitations that made them leave. The curious part is I don't hear that at all from the anti-Cohens, but it HAD to be part of their experience didn't it? I wonder if the anti-Cohen people posting here just went further and got burned hotter, or if they are just like those who "go postal" and shoot out their whole office because they felt wronged? Maybe some of both but the latter better explains the dichotomy.

The same kind of "going postal" response would also fit with rebelling after being slapped (which i'm sure was not for being a humble servant right? musta been some wrongdoing there on the students parts?), feeling betrayed after donating money (where previously I assume all these students were very clear they would do ANYTHING for the cause) or on an even more base level just plain being angry that teacher did not pet them enough.

I keep thinking of the zen sticks, the catholic donations and other correlations that are widely accepted.

I'm not accusing any of the anti-Cohen people here, but I'd be very curious to hear what they have to say on these matter. One thing is for sure I will give Andrew Cohen a visit - with my antennae up - and judge for myself.

Ariel Londono

Thursday, 21 April, 2005  
Anonymous ted said...

to earlier poster re: Integral Naked discussion of Andrew and Ken -- here's an excerpt from a post by "zenman" which raises some of the important questions not dealt with in their dialog:

"...I think what most of us want to hear from Andrew are his rationale in doing things like:

1. Having a student destroy his expensive car.
2. Having students physically assault other students.
3. Controlling student's love lives.
4. Accepting HUGE checks from students who are clearly just trying to seek his forgiveness and approval and who he knows are financially strapped.

Ken, if you're listening, please don't pull any punches in your next IN dialogue with Andrew. I truly would like to know if these tactics of Andrew's are effective in creating fully realized beings."

link to this discussion:
Latest Cohen Talk


PS -- to previous poster, Ariel, you certainly do have your "antenna up", I'm just not sure up where?

Thursday, 21 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cult of the Narcissist

I just came across an interesting article by Sam Vaknin of the title above. Here's a short quote from it: "The narcissist's cult is "missionary" and "imperialistic". He is always on the lookout for new recruits – his spouse's friends, his daughter's girlfriends, his neighbours, new colleagues at work. He immediately attempts to "convert" them to his "creed" – to convince them how wonderful and admirable he is. In other words, he tries to render them Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

Often, his behaviour on these "recruiting missions" is different to his conduct within the "cult". In the first phases of wooing new admirers and proselytizing to potential "conscripts" – the narcissist is attentive, compassionate, empathic, flexible, self-effacing, and helpful. At home, among the "veterans" he is tyrannical, demanding, willful, opinionated, aggressive, and exploitative."
This helps explain why some shorter term students of Cohen report good experiences, whereas almost all long term students report the opposite.
You can read the entire piece at:

Friday, 22 April, 2005  
Anonymous Graham Blenk said...

What qualifies anyone at "WHAT enlightenment??!" to make speculative psychiatric diagnoses?

It seems this secular mania for pop psychology and pill popping is missing the mystery of guru grace.

Graham Blenk

Friday, 22 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Blenk,

Haven't you heard? Psychology is the new religion. Forget gurus we can do it ourselves.


Friday, 22 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GB commented: "It seems this secular mania for pop psychology and pill popping is missing the mystery of guru grace."

Yes, we do need to hear more of this mystery, the guru's grace.

Up until now we have only heard questionable tales of guru face slapping, guru paint throwing, guru extortion, guru lake dunking, guru car crushing, guru beating sanctioning and guru humiliating cartoon drawing. A little guru grace would be welcome manna to this unsavory potpourri.

Friday, 22 April, 2005  
Anonymous Chrissie said...

Haven't you heard the good news?

Seems that some folks never get it why seekers get something from Andrew

Friday, 22 April, 2005  
Anonymous not getting it from Cohen said...

Chrissie (almost certainly a pseudonym for a Cohen camp inmate--Craig Hamilton perhaps?--haven't heard from him for a while since his last debacle of an appearance) wrote:

Seems that some folks never get it why seekers get something from Andrew

Yes, and some folks "get something" from heroin and Hitler, too.

Saturday, 23 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Blenk writes:

What qualifies anyone at "WHAT enlightenment??!" to make speculative psychiatric diagnoses?

It seems this secular mania for pop psychology and pill popping is missing the mystery of guru grace.

What qualifies Andrew Cohen as an enlightened teacher?

Cohen is not enlightened. He's very much like Jack Rosenberg, who was excellent at sales and self-promotion and at marketing "transformation." Cohen's skills are the same as those of any good salesman. (As part of his self-marketing campaign, Jack Rosenberg changed his name to "Werner Erhard.")

Monday, 25 April, 2005  

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